Unraveled

Living Life in Real Time

Chapters 11 & 12…Staying in the Stronghold of God & Lives What She Believes December 8, 2009

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It seems like yesterday that the semester started and now we’re wrapping up our final chapters with great expectations for a wonderful Christmas spent with friends and family.

There are many things we’ve learned over the semester…like valuing truth over perception…extending mercy instead of judgment, refusing to be bullied by fears.  So many things…but when it all comes down to the one BIG thing to remember…we’ll get that this week.  Really in the end all you need to worry about is staying close to God.  And that’s were we are at this week…the uncommon woman stays in the stronghold of God.  The uncommon woman stays close to God so that the pressures and temptations that lie all around us don’t draw us off track and get us all hot and bothered about things that don’t really matter.

The bottom of page 175 reads like this “The only way we can ever hope to make the kinds of choices that translate into the powerful lives we were destined for is to live under the shelter of the Most High.  it’s to walk in the Spirit and not gratify the desires of the flesh.  It’s to stay so connected to the Vine that when considering our choices we are willing to say, ‘If I have to let go of Him to take hold of that, then I don’t want it.  If I can’t reach it while hanging on to the Vine, then it’s not for me.’  To continually and instinctively take the high road requires that we live close enough to God that we feel His heartbeat.”

So, how do we stay in the shelter of God’s arms?

  1. We Trust! If we don’t absolutely trust in God and all of His goodness then we will continually step out from under His protection…and leave ourselves open to the enemy.  We will continually be tempted to solve problems our own way…and like we read last week “solve our problems with our own understanding and the $32 bucks in our back pocket.”

    Proverbs 9:10 tells us that “Knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”  Spoken simply it means that the more we get to know Jesus the more we will understand how He is guiding us.

    Here’s how it is written on page 177…”When the ground shakes beneath your feet…I will trust You, Lord!  I will not be afraid!  When slanderous words find their way to your ears…You are the One who defines me, Lord!  When temptation feels like it’s lassoed your ankle, declare…You are my stronghold and my Deliverer!

  2. We Obey God’s provision protects us.  We don’t have to go out on our own.  He will meet our needs.  His wisdom warns us.  We will know the difference between right and wrong.  His peace will lead us so we’ll know which way to go.

    When God tells us to make the call, to send the note, to forgive someone, to not take action based on our own pride…We obey.

    I love the way Susie write it on page 178 in the middle of the page…”We are not called to be perfect by ourselves, but to be perfectly joined to the One who can make us like Him.”  We don’t have to know the whole story and precise steps on how to do it…we just have to obey when He calls us to take the next step.

  3. We live as one who is spoken for.
    We are called to such a close personal relationship with Christ that everything else pales in comparison.  Christ deserves from me an undivided heart.

    Unless we have a consistent, intimate walk with Christ we will never really know who we are.  Unless we learn to love His presence, we will never really know what we possess in Him.  Unless we consider living in His stronghold, the greatest place to be, we will never understand what it means to have all of heaven on our side.  Unless our hearts beat in sync with Jesus, we will never know what kind of impact we can make in this world.” Page 182.

Remember that you are not what you do, but someone that He enjoys.  First and foremost He loves you for you.  This is from our final chapter…where we learn to live what we believe.  Greet each new day with this bold proclamation…“I am my Beloved’s and He is mine.  His banner over me is love; and I am going P.L.A.C.E.S!”

P – Prized – You are a Prized possession.  You are the apple of His eye.

L – Loved – You are Loved.  You are provided for, cherished and covered.

A– Accepted – You are Accepted.  You don’t have to strive or pretend to be someone else.

C– Called – You are Called.  You have such a high calling to your life that you can never accomplish even a fraction of that calling unless you stay connected to Him.

E – Equipped – You are Equipped.  you could never exhaust all of the resources made available to you in Christ Jesus.

S– Sent – You are sent.  You are comforted in your trials that you might be a comforter.

Pages 190 & 191

What About You?

Here are some practical questions I’ll walk through with my class.   (As always…when you join me live you get the goofy stories from my everyday life.)

1.  Read Psalm 116:9

Living in the stronghold of God is not a static place.  Kingdom living requires walking in His presence as we live here on earth.

  • Describe a particular area in your life where you have a tendency to “step out of your stronghold.”
  • What can you do differently from now on?

2.  Read Psalm 26:3

Ask yourself these questions?

  • How much of the day do you keep God’s love ever before you, in the forefront of your mind?  What can you do to increase you constant awareness of God’s great love for you?
  • Is there any discrepancy between what the Word says about Him and what you think of Him?  How are you doing with walking in His truth?  In other words, to what extent are you able to make your emotions submit to the truth in God’s word?

We’ll end our classes with this prayer from your book.

“Beloved Bridegroom,

You are my highest desire!  Awaken my heart to love You more.  Take my affections and make them Yours.  Keep me hidden in my vulnerable moments and set me apart when I am weak and susceptible to sin.  Draw me to extended times in Your presence and pour fresh insight into my prayer life.  Show me what it means to live as one who is spoken for.  Heighten my conviction and strengthen my resolve to say no to the world and yes to You.  You deserve all that I am and more!  Thank You for loving me.  I say YES to You, Lord!  Amen.

It’s been a great study and I’ve enjoyed spending my semester with you.  We’ll begin a new study on February 3.

If you’d like to join this study in real time…I’m teaching it at HopePark Wednesday Mornings & Thursday Nights. If you’re a Nashville local, the door is always open. We’re at 8001 Hwy. 70 South, just off I-40. Online at http://hopepark.com and on twitter @hopepark.

Me…well you can find me twittering @jodytodd.

Have a great week!

Jody

Questions and assigned quotes from the study by Susie Larson entitled The Uncommon Woman.

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Chapter 10 – Believes His Promises are True December 1, 2009

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The chapter starts off with a simple question:

Tell me about the most amazing God-moment you’ve ever experienced.  What story has inspired you to faith more than any other?”

Then the story that continues as a response to this question is one from a man named James who travels to Africa to minister to some missionaries who have been emotionally depleted by their position.  As James tells his story of the plane arriving in Africa and the missionaries there to greet him…one says “can you feel the darkness and oppression in this land?”  And this is how James replies to the missionary…”You listen here.  I have the living, powerful God of heaven alive in my soul.  When I step foot on this land, that oppression feels me.”

Just reading these words gave me chills.  How many times I have been the missionary that has felt depleted, ready to toss in the towel, concede defeat.  Then I read those words …I have the living, powerful God on my side…that oppression feels me.  Just the thought of it has me falling to my knees.

So many times I say I believe His promises, but do my actions show it?

What Susie says on the bottom of page 160 is this…”Uncommon woman, when you keep Jesus on the throne of your life every single day, and when you determine to be done with attitudes and activities that are beneath you, you will be positioned to march into your next place of promise.” When I keep Him on the throne and not my fears, what other people say, or any number of other things that sway my focus, I am able to confidently say and feel…”You listen here…I have the powerful God of heaven alive in my soul.  When I step foot in this room, the oppression feels me.”  Not one of you reading out there can’t say that this statement just makes you stand a little taller.

But still we as earthly people have the tendency to grumble and lose sight of our calling.  In pages 161 & 162 Susie draws the comparison between us and the Israelites when it comes to losing sight of God’s promises.  On 162 she wraps it up like this “We live in captivity when we lose sight of our destiny.  We won’t take hold of God’s promises if we don’t believe they are true for us.  The enemy’s greatest desire is to get us to doubt the goodness and the honor of God, because then we will let go of expectancy and faith and hope and love.”  “What you do matters.  What you say matters. If you pray, it matters.  And if you choose to live a life without faith, it matters very much.”

The Israelites spent their greatest years wandering around in a wilderness spending 40 years on what should have been a days journey.  How many times do we spend our greatest years wandering around without the faith to believe what God says is true.

Consider this on page 163…”If we don’t believe God’s promises are true for us in this day, we will pay little attention to our bad attitudes and behaviors.  Our feet will be crusted with dirt, but that won’t bother us so much because everyone else, at least that we can see, has more dirt on their feet than we do on ours.  Our heart’s soil might be a bit hardened, but for good reason, right?  If we don’t believe God’s promises are true, we will give the enemy’s lies free rein in our brain as if those lies are just little irritants and not some kind of deadly poison.  If we don’t believe God’s promises are true for us today, we will think nothing of taking care of our problems in the way we always have:  with our own understanding and the thirty-two bucks we have in our wallet.  We will live earthbound lives with little hope, small faith, and conditional love.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m just not willing to settle for this kind of faith.  There’s nothing about this that is appealing to my sense of adventure…and yes I do believe that God equips us with a wonderful sense of adventure to go out and claim our reward.

There is a reason we’re called “believers” and that’s because we believe.  We believe all the time, not just when it’s convenient.  We believe even when we don’t feel like it.  On page 165 Susie talks more about how to make this true for you…”As believers we are called to progressively grow in our capacity to believe.  This requires a continual willingness to seek.” The more we know Him, the more we will love Him and the more we will trust Him and the more we will believe Him.  It all keeps coming back to a relationship.  You can try and try and try to do the set of “rules” and you’ll never succeed.  It’s in the relationship that you’ll find your success.

“Don’t put more faith in your obstacles than you do the promises of God.  Don’t give more credence to your limitations than you do to God’s unlimited capacity to intervene.”  Page 167

What About You?

Here are some practical questions I’ll walk through with my class.   (As always…when you join me live you get the goofy stories from my everyday life.)

1.  Read Matthew 7:7 and write down these three things.

  • What things are you asking the Lord for today?
  • In what ways are you seeking after intimacy with God?
  • In what ways are you knocking, or inquiring of the Lord (in other words, what are you searching out that you might understand Him more?)

2.  Read Matthew 7:9-11

Ask yourself these questions?

  • Describe the type of Father you believe that God is toward you?
  • Is there any discrepancy between what the Word says about Him and what you think of Him?

3.  Read Matthew 7:12

  • In what ways are you affecting the world around you?

We’ll end our classes with this prayer from your book.

“Faithful Father,

You’ve been so good to me.  Forgive me for the times I’ve chosen fear and unbelief over faith and hope.  You are my richest treasure, and I possess all in You.  Help me to live above and not beneath my circumstances.  Help me to function from a place of overflow and not emptiness.  Open my eyes to really see who I am in You, and who You are to me.  I know this isn’t about doing more, but rather “being more” with You.  When I abide closely to the Vine, I bear much fruit.  Keep me close enough to feel Your heartbeat and to hear Your voice.  I am Yours and You are mine.  Your promises are true and You will make a way for me.  I believe this with my whole heart.  Amen.

Next week is our last time together and we’ll be covering the final two chapters of the book….where I stay in the stronghold of God and live what I believe.

If you’d like to join this study in real time…I’m teaching it at HopePark Wednesday Mornings & Thursday Nights. If you’re a Nashville local, the door is always open. We’re at 8001 Hwy. 70 South, just off I-40. Online at http://hopepark.com and on twitter @hopepark.

Me…well you can find me twittering @jodytodd.

Have a great week!

Jody

Questions and assigned quotes from the study by Susie Larson entitled The Uncommon Woman.

 

Chapter 9 – Will Not Be Bullied By Her Fears November 17, 2009

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Fears are real and natural and at times bigger than the thing that we fear.  Today we’ll be spending our time discovering how the uncommon woman isn’t defined, held back or bullied by her fears.  I like to think of myself as an non fearing person, but by reading this chapter I have been reminded that far too often I’m stopped in my tracks by some fear that rears its ugly head.  For me my fears are in the shape of what others might think.  What if no one listens to me.  What if I say something that I think is a good idea but it really isn’t.  What if my ideas don’t work.  My fears are the silent killers I call the “whatifs.”  What if….what if…what if!

As an uncommon woman, I will not be bullied by my fears!

What Susie says on the bottom of page 143 is a constant challenge for me.  Here’s how it goes…”I am challenged once again to remember in my core that God is who He says He is.  He redeems, He restores, He delivers. And He establishes.  When God is for us, who can every successfully stand against us?” So true.  God is for me.  God is my biggest cheerleader.  He helps me.  He gives me an extra push when I need it.  He protects me.  He makes everything possible.  When I have him in my corner why do I need to worry?  But yet I do.  I think I’d like to change that!


So, what is fear anyway?

Fear is the sense that something bad is going to happen.  It is the acknowledgment that somewhere close by is impending doom.  There’s something that’s going to launch into a crisis at any moment.  Someone is going to hurt me either with their words or by their hand.  And with this momentum building within ourselves along comes the fear.  Here’s how Susie brings it all together on page 147.

We all have a ‘pain pendulum’ that compels us to react when we are first hurt in some way.  Then later on in life when situations arise that are remotely reminiscent to our initial memory, we tend to overreact and overcompensate, and our beliefs are once again confirmed that people and circumstances (and sometimes God) cannot be trusted.” True…especially about the overreacting part!  Here’s the real good part as she continues.

“Until we are willing to dig beneath the surface and reconcile our wrong beliefs and fears with the wonderful truths of God, we will be held captive by our past experiences.  Unless we deal with our fears, the beliefs about our painful past experiences will continue to hurt us because they will continually translate into current wrong beliefs.”

Preach it sister!!!  Our past has a nasty way of defining our future.  I cannot tell you how many times I have been held by my past experiences…and I have a lot of them.  As real as they are, they have no right to dictate my position in life.  And the worst part is that it sounds so good saying it, but it’s so hard to do.  Here’s a great resource on making progress in this area.  It’s a study called “Making Peace with Your Past” by Tim Sledge.  Go get it.  It’s a deep study and is best paired in a group setting.

We all have pasts that we need to work on.  The best part is that Jesus knows our heart and He knows every one of our weaknesses.  He understands the shifting sands where I often life my life.  He knows I’m likely to give into the oncoming waves.  He knows the things that will give me encouragement and the things that will take me out of the game.  And, in my more sane thoughts, I know that He is on my side.  He is the one who will keep me standing upright and able to take on the next thing that’s headed my way…because there is always something headed our way.

How many choices do you suppose we’ve made out of fear; choices that sabotage our victory and the abundant life God promises. Just for fun take our poll this week and give voice to the fear that has most recently held you back.

For us to be the uncommon women that God wants us to be we must face our fears.

I appreciated the perspective Susie places on this subject of facing our fears on page 150 where she writes “Not that we should go carelessly running into traffic in the hopes that Jesus will rescue us before the traffic clobbers us. Jesus isn’t asking us to run haphazardly toward the things that scare us half to death. That would be silly. But are we willing to step out in faith when God calls us to something new?  Most of what we fear will never happen.  Yet we destroy our joy and interrupt our journey just in case there’s the tiniest, remotest possibility that they will.”

Do you love God more than your fear?

I know it sounds like a tough question that we instantly want to say “Well, of course” too.  But think about for a moment.  What would change in your life if you really loved God more than your fear?  What is holding you back?

The devil is a real force in our lives.  His main purpose is to sneak into those small cracks that life leaves behind and work in there planting doubt and confusion.  He interjects a little fear and pettiness from others…stirs it up a bit and then lets it sit.  And before you know it we are held captive by the fear that has grown.  I like what is written on the bottom of page 152 on the topic of who we are.  It reads “Where ever you go, Jesus is there with you.  Remember, when you walk into a room the spiritual climate changes because you belong to the Most High God and He has assigned angels to your care.  You are someone He loves and wants to protect.  KNOW WHAT YOU POSSESS IN CHRIST.”

Isn’t that amazing…I can just picture it now.  When I walk into a life situation where the devil thinks he has control, the temperature of the room changes because I’m walking in with a fist full of angels.  It’s like the scene out of a great movie where the bad guy jumps out the window when he sees the superhero enter.  And this time I get to be the superhero!  I’m just captured at the moment of how differently I would walk about my everyday life with the knowledge of what company walks with me.  How many times have I walked into that same room with the thought…”Well, you’ve got me.  Why fight it.”  When all I really had to say was “move it on out of my way I have things to do.”

Uncommon women refuse to be bullied by their fears.  Fears are real and they are at times daunting.  Be the woman He intended for you to be.  We’ve spent 9 weeks talking about the kind of woman God wants us to be…full of love and mercy, seeking truth, full of prayer.  There is simply no room to let fear take hold.

What About You?

Here are some practical questions I’ll walk through with my class.   (As always…when you join me live you get the goofy stories from my everyday life.)

1.  Discuss the scripture references found on pages 154 & 155.

  • What are some ways where these verses are speaking to you today.
  • What is one verse you can take with you this week that will apply to where you most struggle with fear?

2.  Read Luke 8:40-48

Write down your thoughts.

  • This woman had a horrible life and was probably shunned by society.  Consider what drove her actions.
  • Your fears are something that diminish your ability to life out your God-given life.  What is keeping you from living out your life the way God wants you to live?

3.  Joyce Meyer says that FEAR stands for “False Evidence Appearing Real.”  Read John 8:44

  • Write down ways you have been deceived by him in the past.  What did you learn from those times?

4.  Read Isaiah 54:4

  • Write out this verse in a personalized prayer from God to you.

We’ll end our classes with this prayer from your book.

“Precious Lord,

You are my dearest Friend.  There is no one like You.  Though my fears are many, Your love is greater than all of them.  I will, by faith, press through the things that scare me that I might lay hold of all You have promised me.  You’ve made me for the high places.  You’ve appointed me for victory.  It pleases You to see me conquer fear.  Fill me up once again with more of You.  Increase my capacity to comprehend Your perfect love.  you precious, perfect love casts out every fear, every foe, and every defeating thought.  I say this today, out loud for everyone to hear:  I will serve You, and not my fears.  By the power of Your great name, I pray. Amen”

In two weeks – Chapter 10 where I believe His promises are true.

If you’d like to join this study in real time…I’m teaching it at HopePark Wednesday Mornings & Thursday Nights. If you’re a Nashville local, the door is always open. We’re at 8001 Hwy. 70 South, just off I-40. Online at http://hopepark.com and on twitter @hopepark.

Me…well you can find me twittering @jodytodd.

Have a great week!

Jody

Questions and assigned quotes from the study by Susie Larson entitled The Uncommon Woman.

 

Chapter 8 – Chooses Prayer Over Pettiness November 10, 2009

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The most universally practiced act, yet the least understood human experience – Prayer – is one of the great mysteries Christian’s practice.  In its’ most simple definition is just communication with God.  Yet so many times we approach prayer like a one-way conversation with us at the speaking end.  This week we’ll see how prayer works in the picture of us becoming more and more uncommon.  This week we’re seeing how the uncommon woman chooses prayer over pettiness.

So many times we approach difficult situations with the intent that we’re going to make things right…according to whatever definition of “right” is working for us at the moment.  So many times our determination of what is right hinges on our feelings and not the facts…we saw that in our previous chapters.

In our attempt to become more uncommon we’ve seen that we should: 

1. Base our actions on truth rather than perception…and 
2.
Give mercy in hard situations instead of standing in judgment.

But what about those feelings that are still left behind….well….that’s when we pray!  It seems that if we can accomplish those first two techniques, the natural next step with what to do with those feelings that are left behind is to choose to pray instead of being petty.

Here’s how Susie puts it on page 127…”People are fickle.  Groupthink is a powerful force.  When we listen to others spew their condemning opinions about others, our own thoughts begin to run wild.  And when our thoughts are no longer held at bay by our holy convictions, words start to flow.  And when words start to flow, so goes the current of petty behavior and wrong perspectives.  If we’re not careful, we will get swept up in a movement that seems right, but in the end leads to death.” And the Bible warns us of this in Proverbs 16:25.
If we face our issues with other people in a conversation with God, we will instead change the spiritual atmosphere around us.  At the very beginning of this chapter Susie begins by retelling the story of David and Saul in the Old Testament when David was being relentlessly pursued by Saul.  Fearing for his life, David ran for his life.  Then came a day where David had the opportunity to put a finish to the run by taking Saul’s life…and what did he do?  Nothing…and everything.  At the time when David was taking flight for his life…he prayed.  He walked closely with God, he hid in His shelter.

How many times do we come out swinging over something petty instead of bowing our heads and praying for the situation? Spending time with God gives us perspective on our situation.  Spending time in prayer give insight into what God’s plans are and reminds us again of His plan and His love for us.

Every time another woman bothers us we are faced with a choice.  Every time.  We can either pray for the things we see in her (and ask that we would have more grace for others), or we can carry a grudge with us so the next time her name comes up, we have something to throw in the pile.

How many times have you spoken too soon and unleashed a whirlwind of chatter and drama that never needed to happen?  The by-product of a mis-spoken word is ANXIETY!  How much  anxiety are you responsible for putting into play.

Most people get to us when we are not right.  But when we’re walking closely with God and spending time with Him, His peace will rule in our hearts.  And what’s in our heart will come out of our mouth!

Over and over again the Bible tells us to remember what God has done on our behalf.  And it’s when we remember what God has done that we are more likely to do what He would do.  This is the whole thought behind communion.  When we are in those situation where we are likely to be pulled off course He is there with a continual reminder that we are His….He says to us Remember this…Remember us….Remember me. Shake of pettiness and pursue the higher road of prayer.

What About You?

Here are some practical questions I’ll walk through with my class.   (As always…when you join me live you get the goofy stories from my everyday life.)

1.  Read Ephesians 4:29  “…Let your words be an encouragement to those who hear them…”

One of the great temptations for women is what Susie calls “selective sharing.”  When we share the dirt on a woman with someone we know already dislikes her, that’s selective sharing.  Wehen we’ve been bumped by a woman, and we share news with someone who has been shove by her, that’s selective sharing.  When we selectively give information to someone to add weight to our criticism, that’s selective sharing.  Read Eph. 4:29 and ponder its meaning in regard to this issue.

  • What is the uncommon thing to do?
  • How is this adding to the weight of our own accountability?

2.  Read Psalm 119:11

What sorts of things are hiding in your heart?  In one way or another they will find their way out of your mouth.  Rewrite this verse in your own words.

3.  Read verses Numbers 14:5, 16:4, 16:22, 16:45, 20:6

  • What was Moses and Aaron’s consistent response in each of these circumstances?
  • Why do you think they responded that way?

4.  Write Luke 16:28 in a prayer form asking God to transform you into His likeness.

We’ll end our classes with this prayer from your book.

“Precious Lord,

I ask Your forgiveness for every time I’ve chosen pettiness over prayer.  Forgive me for so easily giving in to catty thoughts and useless words.  I long to be an uncommon woman.  I am an uncommon woman!  Fill me up afresh with a sense of Your love and holiness.  Compel me to walk in a more noble way.  Draw me to prayer.  Speak to me when I’m there.  And help me to listen.  I want to change the world by the way that I love.  Thank You for leaving me with such a tangible example of what true and humble love looks like.  Continue Your good work in me.  In your name, I pray. Amen.”

Next week – Chapter 9 where as an Uncommon Woman I will not be bullied by my fears.

If you’d like to join this study in real time…I’m teaching it at HopePark Wednesday Mornings & Thursday Nights. If you’re a Nashville local, the door is always open. We’re at 8001 Hwy. 70 South, just off I-40. Online at http://hopepark.com and on twitter @hopepark.

Me…well you can find me twittering @jodytodd.

Have a great week!

Jody

Questions and assigned quotes from the study by Susie Larson entitled The Uncommon Woman.

 

Chapter 7 – Chooses Mercy Over Judgment November 4, 2009

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How many of you have taken a spiritual gifts assessment?  I’ve taken several over the course of the past several years.  They give great insight into the things that God has specifically wired you up to do.  Each time I have taken the test the same two or three gifts always make an appearance…Leadership, Administration.  What I find interesting is that 15 or so years ago I had taken one such survey and Mercy had shown up as one of my spiritual gifts.  I was a little perplexed about what this gift was even about. 


It’s this…Mercy is compassion poured out. Mercy is good favor poured out when we don’t deserve it.
I was feeling pretty good about myself just about then.  I wanted to be seen as someone that had compassion for other people.  What I find interesting is that at that time I had little girls around the age of 4 & 5.  Now my girls have grown into teens (responsible, good mannered, but still teens).  Not too long ago I took another spiritual gifts test and found that my Mercy gift wasn’t in my top list anymore.


Aughhh…I’ve lost my Mercy!
Maybe it had something to do with having teens:)

Do you feel like you’ve lost your Mercy…or maybe you’ve never had it.  Do you feel like when around other people do you feel like you get more judged than given the benefit of the doubt?  Let’s look more at what Susie has to say about showing mercy over judgment.
Susie begins this chapter by painting a picture for us about the importance of boundaries in our lives.  This doesn’t mean that you put up a wall and don’t let anyone in.  Quite the opposite in fact.  Boundaries are a healthy part of life.

Here’s how she says it on page 111 “To be transformable is to give the Lord easy access to the things of our character that Jesus might make us more like Him.  But opening our souls up to anyone who wants to say a cross word to us is not wise.  Not to say we should keep difficult people out of our lives.  They are usually the ones God uses to refine our character.”  “Deep in our souls there must be an inner chamber where only Jesus resides.”There must be a bigger gap between the way people affect us, and how God affects us.”
Far too many times in my life have I been guilty of letting that gap get turned around and people’s opinions and rather useless comments took a staggering toll on my sense of identity and purpose.  Consider this on page 112 “Sometimes the act of being a doormat is mistaken for true humility, and yet those two are polar opposites.  True humility never lets go of identity.” You see, I’d given up my true identity in Christ in favor of whatever people thought of me…and trust me…they were merciful.  Far too often I’ve felt myself at the short end of the judge’s gavel.


So, when you don’t want to live at the whim of someone’s judgment and you want to extend mercy to others…where do you start.

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.  For you will be treated as you treat others.  The standard you use in judging, is the standard by which you will be judged.” Matthew 7:1-2

Here’s the hidden truth in that verse.  If you treat others like they have power over you and your identity, they will treat you as though they have power over you and your identity. I had never thought of it that way.  How many times had I just willingly handed over the reigns to my identity.  It wasn’t even as if they had to ask.  Then she goes on to say “Conversely, when you walk in the truth of who you are, you are telling others the truth about who they are.  Loved.  Called.  Chosen.  Forgiven.”
We know it feels bad when other women come at us with judgment in their eyes…and we’ve all certainly been guilty of judgment as well.  There is always something we can call out in other people.  It’s so simple to find fault in what someone else is doing.  Certainly I can do it better, say it better, act it better…whatever it better.  Right?  And to make it worse, there is always going to be a little bit of truth to what we see in others. 

Aside from who we are in Christ, every last one of us is a big mess. It would be valuable to keep that in mind as we’re deliberating on just how we’re going to exact judgment on someone else’s messy life.  Here’s what Susie write about this on page 119 “Every time we judge, or build a case, or just plain gossip, we are acting out of a lie.   When we react to someone’s actions rather than respond to God’s love, we act out of a lie.  When we believe that another person has the power to diminish our worth, we are staring a lie in the face…We all get out of step at times.  That okay, as long as we find our way back to the uncommon path again.

Be uncommon.  Put yourself in the situation and consider how you’d like to be treated.  What response would mean the world to you?  Now, give that to the person you’re thinking about.  It’s time to seek the high road.  Love and mercy can change a heart.


What About You?

Here are some practical questions I’ll walk through with my class.   (As always…when you join me live you get the goofy stories from my everyday life.)

1.  Read James 2:12-13

When we judge, we “try, give a ruling on, conclude, surmise, conjecture, regard as, rate as, reckon, appraise, examine.”

  • Read over this list and search your own heart.  Write down the initials of people whom you are currently judging according to the above description.
  • Spend some time prayer over this list, and ask for forgiveness.  Pray for your offenders.

2.  When we show mercy we show…”clemency, compassion, grace, charity, forgiveness, soft-heartedness, tender-heartedness, kindness and generosity.

Read over this list.  Think of the instances in the bible where mercy was shown.  Moses put himself between the people and God and assumed their need.  God wanted to destroy them for how they treated Moses.  Jesus went before the Father on our behalf.  This is aforeign way to respond to an offense.

  • Pick two aspects of mercy and write your thoughts about them.
  • Describe a time when you showed mercy.
  • What was that like for you?

3.  Read 1 John 2:9

  • Rewrite this serve in your own words and apply it to women.
  • Explain how bad attitudes can darken your perspective on life.

4.  Read Provers 26:20

  • Write down a few tangible ways you can apply this verse.

We’ll end our classes with this prayer from your book.

“Precious Jesus,

You are all that I need. Forgive me, Lord, for the times I’ve held on to judgment and forsaken mercy.  Everyday, You offer mercy to me.  Every day.  This perpetual gift is a priceless one, and I don’t want to miss a drop of your morning mercies.  Bring to mind those who need mercy from me.  Show me any hidden judgments that I’ve neglected to bring into the light.  Refresh me in Your presence and draw near as I pray.  Help me to love mercy, Lord, the way You love me.  What a treasure it is to belong to You.  Lead me on, for Your name’s sake.  Amen.

Can you believe it!  We’re over halfway through out study.  Next week – Chapter 8 where the Uncommon Woman chooses prayer over pettiness..

If you’d like to join this study in real time…I’m teaching it at HopePark Wednesday Mornings & Thursday Nights. If you’re a Nashville local, the door is always open. We’re at 8001 Hwy. 70 South, just off I-40. Online at http://hopepark.com and on twitter @hopepark.

Me…well you can find me twittering @jodytodd.

Have a great week!

Jody

Questions and assigned quotes from the study by Susie Larson entitled The Uncommon Woman.

 

Chapter 6 – Values Truth Over Perception October 28, 2009

Filed under: Uncommon Woman - Online Study — Unraveled @ 7:58 am
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I live in the world of Marketing.  I’ve been doing church marketing for the past 17 years and I’ve really seen and done it all.  And one of the most frustrating equations I’ve come in contact with is that perception=truth.  It doesn’t really matter what you intend or even what you say, it’s how people view it that determines their “truth” of the situation.  Does that make it right?  Certainly not!  But for some reason we, as a nation, have gotten very good at reserving the right to determine the truth of a situation based on our feelings and not on the facts.  The “common” way of thinking is certainly perception over truth.  You can tune in to any channel on the tv and see real life examples of how how quickly the flame is fanned when it comes to perception and how little space there is for truth.

The Uncommon Woman values truth more than perception.

How can we become “uncommon” when it comes to our perception and the truth? I think one of the best ways to begin to embrace truth over my perception is to begin by understanding God’s truth.  His truth is constant despite our feelings and beliefs.  His love for us never changes.  It’s kind of like gravity and math – what goes up will always come down and  1+1 will always add up to 2. (If you’re some kind of math genius don’t whip out any funky formula on me.  I like it when 1+1=2).

I like the way Susie says it on page 96…”God’s precious and powerful truth sets us free…not accomplishments, not money, not impressive associations, not a respectable position, not a polished presentation, or even the world’s perception of us.  Only our acceptance of God’s divine love and our belief in His ability to restore will set us free and make us into the uncommon women we were always meant to be.”

So in a image driven world, how are we supposed to know what the truth is.  With enough marketing and exposure you can be led to believe just about anything about anybody.  We see it every day.

Here’s how it’s stated on the bottom of page 97:  “In a postmodern culture that’s made a negotiable, organic, fluid, optional item, why is it essential for the uncommon woman to defy the norm and stake her life upon the truth?  What is truth, exactly?” Truth isn’t arbitrary depending on your feelings for the day.  Truth is a person.  If you’re looking for truth…look at the way that Jesus lived His life.

I’ve found that when you start with a good foundation, you can apply what you know to a larger set of circumstances.  So, let’s look as Susie takes us back to the basics on page 98.

  1. The truth of God’s Word forgives our sin…and we sin…so we need this truth.
  2. The truth of God’s Word restores…and we get depleted…so we need this truth.
  3. The truth of God’s Word convicts…and we are selfish…so we need this truth.

When we look past the outward appearance and begin to look through the lens of Jesus we start seeing our circumstances with a different set of eyes.

As we move further into being an “uncommon woman” in this area it is critical that we begin to respond to the truth rather than to react to someone’s actions.  When we respond to actions we’re basing our perception on feelings, misinterpretations, and conjecture rather than the truth.

It’s when we allow God to work in those dark places in our lives that proves our willingness to be the

“uncommon woman” He wants us to be.  I like the way Susie bring it all back together on page 100 where she writes “Even though we are clean because we are in Christ…we still have the problem of our dirty feet.  This issue isn’t with our identity, but with our whereabouts.  Our dirty feed do not speak of who we are, but rather of where we have been.” Stated to the point.  Once we’re on God’s team we won’t be cut, the issue is are we sidelining ourselves because of the things we say, the places that we go, books that we read (for women this is especially true), the thoughts that we allow to invade our thoughts…the list could go on.  This is the dirt that covers our feet.

Where have you been walking lately?

People are going to do things to wrong us.  They are going to say things about us that we’d rather they kept to themselves.  They are going to fling dirt at us that we simply can’t avoid.  It’s kind of like my 6 year old and the mud hole that forms every time it rains.  It is simply unavoidable.  And the sad thought is that we’re going to do the same to others.  So, how do we deal with it.

I’d like to finish this week with this thought from the bottom of page 101.

  1. Remember the muddy water from our own sin and remember how good it feels to pull your own clean feet from the bowl.
  2. Strive to have a gentle heart toward others.
  3. Accept God’s grace and make a commitment to pass it on.
  4. Remember what Jesus did for us and do the same for others.
  5. Be determined to see others how Christ sees us:  Loved.  Forgiven.  Called.  Chosen.

It’s when we know who we are in Christ that we are able to let go of others perception of us and embrace Truth instead.

What About You?

Here are some practical questions I’ll walk through with my class.   (As always…when you join me live you get the goofy stories from my everyday life.)

1.  Read Proverbs 9:10

Knowing the Holy One results in understanding.  The more we know God’s heart, the more we appreciate the work of His hands.  The more we trust His intentions, the more we entrust ourselves to Him.

  • Look back over this past year of walking with God.  Do you see anything differently today than you did a year ago?
  • Have certain values or convictions changed?  Explain.

2.  Read 1 John 3:1

Divide this verse into three parts.

  • When was the last time you just sat in the presence of God.  How often do you slow down long enough to “catch” all of the love He is pouring out for you?
  • Being identified as someone the Creator loves totally affects your identity.  How has being associated with Jesus affected your identity?  How has it affected your everyday life?
  • In what ways do you feel misunderstood by the world because of your belief system?  How does that make you feel?

3.  Read 1 John 3:2

  • Describe in your own words what you think this verse means?

4.  Read 1 John 3:3

Though we spend millions of dollars trying to improve ourselves, and way too much energy trying to prove ourselves, when what we really need is to be purified.  The pure in heart see God.

  • Dare to take a look inside yourself and identify those areas where you are striving for position and perception and write a prayer committing those areas to God.
  • Ask Him to renew your heart and your perspective.

We’ll end our classes with this prayer from your book.

“Precious Lord,

The more I learn about myself, the more I realize my need for You.  And the more I get to know You, the more amazed I am that You delight in knowing me.  Open my eyes to see beyond what’s in front of me that I might live more fully for You.  Open my ears to hear what You’re saying above the clamor and striving of this world.  Settle my heart to know that it’s through intimacy and abiding that my life will bear much fruit.  Enlarge my heart to love others no matter what the world thinks of them.  Take me by the hand and lead me along the uncommon path that I might know and give the other worldly love You have given me.  Precious Savior, lead me on. Amen”

Next week – Chapter 7 where the Uncommon Woman chooses mercy over judgment.

If you’d like to join this study in real time…I’m teaching it at HopePark Wednesday Mornings & Thursday Nights. If you’re a Nashville local, the door is always open. We’re at 8001 Hwy. 70 South, just off I-40. Online at http://hopepark.com and on twitter @hopepark.

Me…well you can find me twittering @jodytodd.

Have a great week!

Jody

Questions and assigned quotes from the study by Susie Larson entitled The Uncommon Woman.

 

Chapter 5 – Love Sees & Love Covers October 21, 2009

Filed under: Uncommon Woman - Online Study — Unraveled @ 7:40 am
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A healthy definition of love is crucial to understanding this week’s chapter.  Often when we think of love we think of it as physical and emotional.  The love that the Bible actually talks about isn’t a feeling at all.  Then what is it?  Biblical love is a commitment.  And love as a commitment isn’t dependent on good feelings, but a consistent and courageous decision to extend ourselves for the benefit of another person.  That gives this chapter a little different feel that what I was expecting.

What what does it mean when Susie says “Love Sees”

Certainly I have eyes and can see.  But the way love see is seeing others the way Jesus sees them. How many times have I been guilty of not even trying to see people the way Jesus sees them.  Let’s just admit it – we’re all guilty of this because we’re not perfect people.  How many times have I passed by someone on the street and passed judgment without knowing what they are working through?  How many times have I casually dismissed the interests of another person just because it wasn’t something I cared about?  How many times have I dominated a conversation without a thought to the feelings of another?  How many times have I thought I’m just a little better because at least my life “isn’t like that?”  Let’s make it really close to home…how many times have I not really seen what the people living in my home are feeling and experiencing.  Sometimes its those that are closest to us that get lost when it comes to our really seeing their needs.

When I think of how lacking my “love seeing” part of me is…it leads me to look for a better way to do things.

On the bottom of page 78, Susie writes:  “The common woman thinks nothing of casually dismissing another woman in her moments of weakness….As I have suffered from the pain that has both come at me and come from me, I’ve come to realize something very important.  Christ’s work in all of us is sacred…  The highs and lows of our journey mean something to God.  And when I casually step all over your holy ground as if it’s nothing but dirt and sand, I become blinded by my own ignorance.”

So, how do we love like Jesus loves?

1.  First we have see ourselves the way Jesus see us!

That means to really accept…really accept that Jesus sees us as His new creation.  When we commit to walk with Him and let him be the leader of our life…everything we’ve done in the past is gone.  Our life is new.  That means we don’t have to be defined by all the rocks and stones we’ve thrown in the past.  He’s come before us and with his big strong hands has knelt before us and washed our feet.  We are clean.

2. We begin accept people just like they are.

Well that sounds easy…but have you ever tried it.   Friends will hurt us, people at work will treat us unfairly.  What are we supposed to do with that?  How many times have I written off people because they are just too much work?  Sometimes I refer to them as EGR’s (Extra Grace Required).  How many times have I turned and walked the other way because I didn’t like the attitude of someone else?  Love sees even through the muck of our still, often “common” lives and brings us to a place of being “uncommon.”

Susie has this to say at the bottom of page 81:  “Instead of seeing ourselves (and others) as a sum of flaws and attributes, we must constantly look for and see before us beautiful creations, designed for a marvelous purpose.  Because that’s what we are.  That’s who we are.” You don’t have to feel it…just start believing it!  The feelings will come in time.

Love Covers

I have to admit…I laughed a little at the story that Susie used to begin this part of the chapter.  She’s talking about having the flu and you’ve been in bed for days…the house has gone to “@#&!” in a handbasket.  And her point is that even when we’re at our lowest, our family loves us anyway.  They’ll come to our aid and hold our hair as we’re bent over the “porcelain god,” they’ll hold a cold cloth to our forehead and love us despite our current condition.  As I read this clip in the chapter all I could do was smile and think what an accurate word picture.  We’ve all been there.

Her point is that there are always times in our lives where we aren’t “spiritually” together.  She called it “the spiritual flu.”  And what a relief it is to have someone there that can hold your head, speak those encouraging words and maybe give you a mint when it’s all over.

So let’s talk more about how Love Covers–

On page 84 Susie talks about how the only kind of love is a humble love.

What’s Humble Love?

I think what she’s meaning is having the kind of love that doesn’t consider itself better than everyone else.

I’ve been met with well meaning people over my lifetime who have strutted their “love stuff” into my life with the anticipation that their superior love strategy was going to save me. My general response to this kind of love is “don’t do me any favors…go ahead and keep your superior love.”  However I have also had friends who have some into my life and walked with me through circumstances and provided that shoulder to lean on when I didn’t have another.  Even when my life was stinky messy…their love cared for me and covered me.

And even in their love they still spoke truth into my life.  To cover someone with love doesn’t mean that you agree with everything that got them there.  Love doesn’t enable dysfunction. Quite the opposite.  To cover someone means that you care enough to provide insight and wisdom.  That’s the true measure of love covering.

That’s the kind of love I think she’s talking about when she says to have a humble love!  There is an amazing sense of community and comfort that comes from a love such as this.  It brings together a bond that grows beyond the bounds of circumstances.

Consider this from page 89:  “Am I daily growing in my capacity to love the unlovely?”  “Am I speaking words of power, life and healing to the people around me?”

Here are some questions to take with you this week:

  • Read 2 Corinthians 5:14-16 and consider three things:
  1. Who did He die for?
  2. Who are we supposed to live for?
  3. How are we supposed to view others?
  • Read Proverbs 28:13 – Sometimes it’s so tempting to be transparent with someone else’s life rather than our own.  It’s easier to point at someone else’s “junk” than it is to point at our own.  Write your thoughts on this verse and the ways we tend to mishandle information.

We’ll again end our time this week with Susie’s prayer from her book on page. 88

Precious Lord,

I’m amazed by You.  My righteousness amounts to a pile of filthy rags, and yet when You look at me, I’m wearing a royal robe.  I need You every day and I have You every moment.  Please, Lord, give me eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to do Your will.  Grant me a willingness to love the unlovable.  Help me remember that pride goes before a fall and humility precedes honor.  Grant me the capacity to cover those who are walking through a vulnerable time.  may there be such integrity in my words that anyone and everyone will feel safe in my presence; just as I feel safe in Yours.  What a treasure You are to me, Lord.  Lead me on.  Amen”

If you’d like to join this study in real time…I’m teaching it at HopePark Wednesday Mornings & Thursday Nights. If you’re a Nashville local, the door is always open. We’re at 8001 Hwy. 70 South, just off I-40. Online at http://hopepark.com and on twitter @hopepark.

Me…well you can find me twittering @jodytodd.

Have a great week!

Jody

Questions and assigned quotes from the study by Susie Larson entitled The Uncommon Woman.