Abide in Love ~ Abound in Thanksgiving ~ Work in Joy...
Live Fully ~ Suffer Rightly ~ Trust Deeply ~ Bless Truly!


"Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths,
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long."
~ Psalms 25:4,5

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Monday, October 31, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 21

Monday, October 31, 2011 - How is a Christian to respond to Halloween?

This post isn't specifically related to my personal journey of surrendering, but it was a significant process of the week and does involve surrendering in a sense...

Since having children my DH and I have wrestled with the "holiday" of Halloween.  There is something in each of us that is sensitive to the fact that the roots of Halloween are Satanical and we obviously don't want any part of that.

The first Halloween we were married we had friends who attend a PCA church (with deep roots in the Reformation movement started by Martina Luther.)  The husband was not in favor of Halloween, while the wife did not share his leaning, so they each had a party - both celebrating their Oct. 31st holiday - The husband had a Reformation Day Party, celebrating the Reformation Day of October 31, 1517 and the wife had a Halloween party - same address, same time...husband was dressed as Martin Luther himself!  It was a social time for mostly their Christian friends, with food, pictures, and laughter.  What a creative way to be set apart in the way they, as Christians, celebrated October 31!  We attended the party for the following 6 years.

This year with Halloween being on a Monday and having two young kids and non-fabulous costumes (we've done a cute theme each year in the past), we opted to skip out on the Halloween/Reformation Day party.

For some reason (nostalgia/cultural pressure) we still wanted to "celebrate".  Our son is now old enough to observe and understand the way the world works, so how do we introduce him to Halloween?  Is it necessary as Christians to do it differently than the world?  What does it look like to be called to be set apart?  Does this apply to something like Halloween?  And of most importance, how should we respond to this stirring (presumably by the Holy Spirit) in our consciences?  

Do we just partake as not to make anyone feel awkward or give Christians the name of "prude"?  Do we reject Halloween altogether or just celebrate Reformation Day?  Do we join in but just not promote the ghost and goblin aspect of the holiday?

I am convicted that because of the directly Satanic ties to Halloween, it should look different the way, I, as a Christian, partakes in Halloween.  I should be set apart in a way that the world is "surprised when you do not join them," even if they malign us (1 Peter 4:4).  But for our family, I'm not sure if having no part of Halloween is the best call either.

And then there is the variable of: The Candy.  Since our family strives to eat real food and not processed chemicals, a three pound bucket of individually wrapped high fructose corn syrup toxins does not align with our philosophy of treating one's body as the Temple of God.

So, we have a two fold challenge with October 31st: the Halloween heritage AND how it has evolved into a candy feast.

So, this year we "surrendered" traditional Halloween in a sense, and this was our last minute best attempt at honoring the holiness of Christ and be set apart as one who bears His name:

We took 8 food items from the pantry that our kids consider treats: raisins, go go applesauce, gum, cups of diced peaches, 100% juice fruit snacks, juice box, & fruit leather and pre-delivered them to our 8 surrounding neighbors.  Daddy then took our firefighter and "butterfly princess" (what her brother called the "Fairy" costume:)) to collect their treats.  They were delighted and returned to examine their loot.  They were then just as excited to help Mommy pass out Dollar Tree Party Favors to the Trick or Treaters.  I wasn't sure what kind of response we'd get from not having candy, but we had several positive responses and no overt negative ones!  Next year I'll have to get some better ones for the older kids, but they weren't rude about it and I apologized at the end of the night that it was kind of picked over. (But that's what they get for being middle schoolers and trick or treating til 8:30pm!:))

I like the creativity of the dressing up and I like the relationship building opportunity with the neighbors and I like the set apartness in the candy aspect.  Is it "right"?  I don't know.  Will people equate our being different with us honoring the holiness of Christ?  I don't know.  But for now, we believe it honors God by being in the world but not of the world in the way we respond to the evil and candy corruption of October 31st.

1 Peter - Old Testament Quotations

As I studied 1 Peter, a structure of the Old Testament quotations stuck out to me.  I am not educated in Greek and Hebrew enough to know if there is any significant merit to my observation.  If per chance there was a scholar educated in this topic who happens across this blog, I would be interested in your humble and gentle (Matt. 11:29) critique.
My observation is that in each of the four chapters of the body of the letter (chapters 1 through 4, omitting chapter 5 as a final farewell) Peter uses a direct Old Testament quotation.  It then seems that after each one there is one sentence and then the text moves on to a new thought.  It seems to me that the sentence following each OT quotation is a summary of not only the quotation, but possibly pointing out His main theme of the chapter, then echoed in the “summary statement” after the quotation in chapter 4. 
Our Sunday school class’s outline structure, Grudem’s break down and my ESV bible has chapters 1, 2, & 4 with a sentence after the quotations and then starts a new paragraph or chapter.  However, in chapter 3 it seems the common break down is before verse 13.  Verse 13 seems to be used as the start of a new thought.  Now I am not claiming to divine authority on this matter, but if the other three chapters have this one sentence afterward that seems to highlight the theme of those quotations or even the whole preceding chapter, when one chapter differs, it makes me ask, “Why?” and “Maybe it shouldn’t break there before the verse?” 
So, this is my best attempt at unpacking my thoughts in written form, whereas verbal explanation might be more concise or “smooth.”  The words used in the OT quotations are highlighted in yellow and then the corresponding words of the “summary sentence” are then highlighted in green with my explanation following in red.

 24 for
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

One theme of chapter one is Peter establishing the imperishable word of God as the foundation to build one’s hope and life on.  So he uses an OT quotation to emphasize that and summarizes the quotation and chapter with that theme.

 6 For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,” [fn1]
8 and
“A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense.”
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

The quotation of verse 6 seems to be summarized by highlighting the honor (no shame) being the one who believes the chosen cornerstone (who is the WORD (cf. 1:25) of God, Jesus).

The quotation of verse 7, in contrast, describes the one who rejects the cornerstone as the one who disobeys the word.  Thus, this disobeyer will not be honored and by inference “be put to shame” and therefore the one who believes the word should obey the word. (cf. James 2:19).

So, thus far Peter has established and highlighted – believe and obey the imperishable Word of God, Jesus!

 10 For
“Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
11 let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good

It seems this question may be bringing up the idea that suffering causes harm – what harm will you really suffer if God’s eyes are on you and His ears open to your prayers and His face being against those evil doers who are trying to cause you harm you with suffering? 
“Now” seems to be an acceptable follow-up word to this paragraph and not necessarily a word that starts a new thought.  One may argue that verse 14 starts with “but” and therefore would be a conjunction with verse 13 rather than starting a new thought.  However, the new paragraphs succeeding the quotations of chapter 1, 2, & 4 start with the words “so”, “but”, and “so” respectively, so verse 14 starting the new thought with “but” after the OT quotation and potential summary statement would even mirror the other transitions.
So as a summary thus far we would have something like: Believe and obey the imperishable Word of God to do good, for none can harm you as you suffer

18 And
“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” [fn3]
19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

“Righteous” reiterates “doing good/right” (which is portrayed in the context especially of suffering) and “saved” underscores “salvation”.  And thus the summary statement that summarizes the summary statements essentially says: Believe and obey (entrust; cf. Ch. 2:6-8 – believe, not reject/disobey) God’s will (His imperishable Word, Jesus; cf. Ch. 1:24,25) to do good in the midst of your suffering unto salvation (cf. Ch. 3:10-13; 4:18,19 - “saved”, “souls”).

And to tie it with the previous summary statement we were building: Believe and obey the imperishable Word of God to do good, for none can harm you as you suffer unto salvation.

And with one side note (because detail oriented people can rarely be briefJ) to include the phrase “God’s will”: Believe and obey the imperishable Word of God: (which is God’s will, which is to be like Jesus, the Word of God who did good while suffering unjustly) do good, for none can harm you as you suffer unto salvation.

Unpacked and repacked for your summary pleasure.  I still like my original overview based on the “calls” of 1 Peter ("Be holy while you suffer and bless with the hope of eternal glory!"), but they complement each other, so I’ll “proclaim” them both!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

God Guides

God Guides is a little booklet I received from a dear friend who used to be my staff director when I was a college campus minister.  It is the stories of an Indian missionary about examples of God Guiding through times of Listening Prayer.

Let Go
Stay in Step 

40 Days of Surrender - Day 20

Saturday, October 29, 2011 - Forgiveness

I had two chances yesterday to humble myself and ask for forgiveness.  Both to people close to me, both people I can tend to speak sharply to.  And that AGAIN was my sin in which I was needing to ask forgiveness for again.  In both instances 21 days ago I would justified the sin of my harsh words in my mind and then not addressed it with the person and keep going as if I hadn't just spoken degradingly to a human being who is bearing the very image of My Creator God. (James 3:7-12)

But The Fast held me accountable, I surrendered my temptation to justify my sin, humbled my pride of "being right" and sought reconciliation in the relational withdrawal through asking forgiveness.  And the one instance was a special challenge because I "corrected" a friend in front of my son, so I had to make sure I asked forgiveness in front of my son also.  Hard, but freeing and peaceful.

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

"I am so Thankful!"

So, I have been practicing Ann Voskamp's "Verbal Thanksgiving."

I want to grow in Godly Joy and recognize that a root of Joy is Thanksgiving.  Thus, "I am so thankful..." rolls off my tongue with much more ease than it used to.  (Thankfully:))

This afternoon, my DS3 comes in having unwrapped the bandage protecting him from scratching his itchy, raw eczema.  I say, "Oh, it's getting better." (as there wasn't even a scab left, just the healing pinkish scars!)

And HE says, "Yea, I am so thankful!" (with the same inflection I use:))  From the mouth of babes...

They are listening...they are little learners...what are they learning from me, LORD...what are they learning of YOU!?!

Friday, October 28, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 19

Friday, October 28, 2011 - I should have been armed YESTERDAY!

Yesterday has been the most trying day so far regarding things not going "my way".  From my almost four year old pooping his pants (for I think the second time ever since he was potty trained a year ago) to him scratching his eczema til it bled (both within 15 minutes of us needing to leave the house) to miscommunications, to fighting the temptation to "argue", to having trouble finding a babysitter, to getting a half hour phone call from a distraught new mom as I'm about to go to bed, all the way to leaning over to kiss my son good night as he decides to sit up and bops me in the mouth giving me a fat lip!  That was the straw that broke this camel's back as I was crying from the hurt and crying because I just couldn't handle one more thing not go "right!"

Interestingly enough Tuesday I thought "be prepared for a spiritual attack today, Jill" because Monday night we had had a Teen Mom over for dinner from the ministry we're involved in.  I expected the enemy to not be happy with our sharing Christ's love with her and so I was conscious to think that challenges on Tuesday might be the result of a spiritual attack.  However, I wasn't thinking about that on Thursday as my personal kingdom of toothpicks played dominoes (even though I had watched her son Wednesday morning when she went to court).

And the enemy sure does know how to "get me" -- it's in the "subtle agenda things".

So, this morning during journal processing time, God helped me get "re-armed" through Ephesians 6:10-18:

Belt of Truth --> secured knowing God is in control, desires good and sanctification, Christ is coming to make all things right.

Breastplate of Righteousness --> protected before God in righteousness of Christ -- my weaknesses, failures, and sins in these times are covered.

Shoes -->  I walk in peace because of the gospel in which I believe - though sinful and broken, God's grace reached down and rescued me and continues to deliver me.

Shield of Faith -->  My faith is in what is unseen - the powerful, trustworthy arm of God at work and not shaken by the fiery darts of the evil one

Helmet of Salvation --> Over all is the hope that one days Christ WILL come back and take me into His dwelling place where all things go "right" and as they "should be" all the time for all eternity!  (These are temporary struggles)

Sword of the Spirit -->  Fight back the enemy with God's word...hmmm...wish these had been on the forefront of my mind yesterday:
          I have been created in Christ Jesus to accomplish the good works God prepared in advance for me to do. (Ephesians 2:10) (Satan cannot thwart that.)
          Jesus invites me to come to Him weary and burdened to take his light and easy yoke (Matthew 11:28-10)
          Love is patient... (1 Cor. 13:4)  (I am not justified in getting impatient with my son for not staying in step with "My Agenda" when he hasn't done anything wrong!  So not worth tempting me there, Satan.  Thank you, God, for bringing that to my attention at the time so I wasn't ultimately consumed by "My Agenda" and experienced your grace by ASKING forgiveness of my son.

Pray in the Spirit --> Thank you, LORD, that I was conscious to do this, though maybe not very well.  I haven't thought of "prayer" as one of the specific weapons mentioned in the "Spiritual Armor" list, but rather as a "add on"..."and do this" sort of thing.  But as I read it this morning, it seemed like it could be a "type of sword"?  I wonder if the Greek grammar supports that type of reading?

Keep Alert --> Again, interesting because I would have been alert for this type of attack Tuesday.  And when you are expecting it, you can be better prepared.  So, of course, the Enemy chose the day I wasn't alert and had more of an agenda.

Perseverance -->  Keep enduring on this Fast For Surrender, Jill; even though you've hit a two week slump.  Thank you, LORD, for fanning the flame through Ephesians 6.

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 18

Thursday, October 27, 2011 - Jumbled emotions

It's a train...the illustration, it's a train -- FAITH is the Engine, FACT is the Car, FEELING is the Caboose. structured order on the train - Train Wreck.

I was FEELING...and the feelings were fighting for some position other than caboose - stress, anxiety, heaviness, emotions I am not even able to put labels on.  And FAITH was not absent - I could articulate: "LORD, I know this isn't significant, it will all work out...I don't like the weight...Father, I want to hear what you have to say to me, but I am too tired and stressed it seems to even quiet my heart to listen."

And then it came, the still small voice...Surrender...surrender that which is weighing you down.

And I did.

And that is obedience.  And that builds FAITH.  And that puts the FAITH Engine in its rightful position...God, the Engineer of FAITH, the Engineer of the TRAIN of life.

May I continue to Learn to let FAITH in God be the Driver in "my" life.

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 17

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - Hesitancy, Talk with God

This isn't necessarily a "surrender" lesson, but it's what was on my heart this morning.  Yesterday, I posted about the Teen Parents ministry our family is getting involved in.  It's interesting I even use the term "is getting" because we committed to it at the beginning of the summer and have gone almost every week to serve in one form or another since then.  Even as the ministry and girls and guys and kids are heavy on my heart, I still feel a disconnect.  So, I asked God,

"Can you shed light on my hesitancy?"
"Is it from myself or from You?"

"Keep your eyes and heart open, stay in step with Me."

I have failed in the past by trying to be "The Rescuer" (trying to meet needs only Christ can) and have been burned by not having healthy boundaries in my own heart/mind/life.  I want to be a healthy influence in their lives and not be an enabler, nor be used, nor be burned out.  I want to walk in wisdom, but I'm hesitant because I don't know what I'm getting myself into, I feel ill-equipped, and I don't know how much ministering in this avenue is going to take from me - time, emotions, money and I don't know how much it should.  I don't have a grasp on the balance between boundaries and sacrifice.

"Keep your eyes and heart open, stay in step with Me."

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

40 Days of Surrender - Day 16

Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - Surrender Self-Sufficiency

Since I was little I have strove for independence, which has developed into self-sufficiency.  I have been convicted by it a number of times since trusting Christ, but it is certainly deeply rooted.  During my study of 1 Peter 4 this morning, I was struck by verse 11. Verse 10 says, " As each has received a gift, use it to serve on another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:" followed by verse 11, "whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God, whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies - in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.  To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."  "Whoever serves, as on who serves by the strength that God supplies"...Theologically, I know in my head that "apart from Christ I can do nothing" (John 15:5), but in practice I tend to serve out of "my skills and abilities."

The LORD has brought me to an interesting place in my "serving" this year.  Our family has committed, at least this school year, to serve a ministry to teen parents.  I've known about the ministry for the 7 years of its existence and always "had a heart for it," knowing these were needing girls (and guys) and little kids.  After studying James our small group was convicted to reach out to the poor, the widow, the orphan more and chose this ministry.  God demonstrates his heart throughout scripture for the helpless and the hopeless through His special concern for the moneyless (poor) , the homeless (sojourner), the husbandless (widow or unwed mother), the fatherless (orphan), and the childless (barren).  These teen parents (and their children) often fall in the first four of those five "helpless and hopeless" categories.

Our family has taken a extra step of involvement and I have started to get to know the girls in more of a mentorship capacity.  And this is what I have learned: I am ill-equipped!  And that is such a GOOD place for me to be as it forces me to "serve by the strength (and wisdom) God supplies"!  These girls come from backgrounds of generational poverty and family/personal brokenness and issues that I cannot related to nor have I dealt with in my meager Christian leadership training.  Normally when I feel inadequate, I would tend to feel useless and defeated.  However, although those temptations have surfaced, I have been able to respond to them with a humility and trust in God to work in and through me.  So, ministering to these teen parents (in their life issues more than in their parenting skills) is a specific way I am learning the beauty of surrendering self-sufficiency and there is certainly splash-over lessons in all areas of my life!

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

40 Days of Surrender - Day 15

Monday, October 24, 2011 - Lifelong Surrender

As I was thinking about my last 14 days of my 40 day surrender, it dawned on me that it hasn't been as HARD as I expected.  It has been hard in the humbling sense but that in itself has been freeing and peaceful.  I realized that although I would say I've had more victory than failure (thank you, Jesus!) the end of the 40 days is not going to be the end of my struggle of surrendering mySELF, Pride, Control, Anger, etc. And I knew that, but it sunk in a little more as I do like "arriving at the destination" and "accomplishing/completing the task".  But I can look at this 40 days of surrender as a powerful catalyst into a beautiful, freeing, peaceful Lifetime of Surrender!

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 14

Sunday, October 23, 2011 - Not everyday has a significant lesson

As the day came to a close nothing stirred my heart as a significant lesson.  But even within that there were a couple of lessons.

1)  It's OK that not every day do I receive noteworthy words from the LORD, but then again, yes I do.   I guess, it's a matter of how much I am impacted by them.  I am amazed (and I probably shouldn't be) that every day for two weeks straight I have sensed lessons from the LORD specifically regarding "surrender."  He must desire me to learn about that and my heart must be in the right place of learning in this season!

2) I didn't journal with the LORD this morning.  I find that often in those times of exchanging words and when I have stilled my heart (or am striving for a stilled heart) before Him, is when I sense that still small voice  (Psalms 46:10, Isaiah 30:21, 1 Kings 19:11,12).  It's OK that I didn't journal with the LORD today, but it's also a good reminder of the value of this discipline in hearing from our Father.

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

40 Days of Surrender - Day 13

Saturday, October 22, 2011 - Surrender Ease, Comfort

This morning - email that Mother in Law may have lung cancer for the third laws' dear Christian neighbor in her late 70's lying weak & bed-ridden with bone cancer...the timing of my morning not going as I thought it would...none following the "smooth" plan we plan for ourselves...all suffering to (very) varying degrees. All calls to surrender our striving for ease and comfort.  We don't need to go and look for suffering; living in the Post Eden World is enough to live with suffering (whatever varying degree it might be that life is not matching up to your "smooth" plan.)  Does anyone plan out their course to be intentionally difficult?

My study of 1 Peter is continually reminding me that we are exiles in this Post Eden World and we shouldn't feel comfortable.  Maybe when we feel comfortable we should ask "What's wrong?" instead of when we face suffering.

For the first 5 years of my marriage, it would rock my world when my DH would (unintentionally) do things that made my life "not easy."  My perspective was that having a husband would make my life more comfortable, rather than adding difficulty to it.  Grace would be slow because his action (or lackthereof) was an assault on my striving for ease and comfort.  In this last year, the LORD has been refining that perspective and I am starting to learn how to surrender the striving for ease and comfort.  This morning I was reminded that life is not so much about "smoothness" but about SUFFERING WELL, and that involves surrendering ease and comfort and ABOUNDing IN THANKSGIVING.

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 12

Friday, October 21, 2011 - Depression

After my break down yesterday morning and the proceeding conversation with God, it still took a bit for my heavy cloud to lift.  But my heart was certainly sensitive to what God was doing and saying in my heart and life.

I was walking in to teach swim lessons, knowing that I had to be professional and friendly, though inside I was overwhelmed, heavy, sad (though not as much as earlier that morning!)  And God showed me how my tendency is to hold on to my "depression" instead of being quick to 'let it go,' 'lay it at His feet.'  I think that in my self-sufficient, independent (prideful), good ol' American "pull yourself up by your boot straps" kind of spirit, just surrendering something like depression to God seems like a "cop out."  I "should" deal with it.  And where that idea came from, I'd like to know because it's certainly not biblical nor anything I remember being specifically taught.

And then I realized that my way of "dealing with it" is to wait until something happens to lift my depression.  (Getting enough things done on "The List" that I don't feel so overwhelmed, something good happening, someone giving me a compliment, getting good time with a friend, etc.)  And that mindset is communicating that I am waiting for a circumstance to make me "feel" better instead of trusting the LORD to care for me and putting my hope in His promises - comfort, provision, grace, peace, joy, eternal glory, and the list goes on.  I need to learn to have the mindset of Christ (Phil. 2:5).  The bible teaches that our hope and joy are rooted in the character and works of God, not based on our feelings!  May I surrender that depression quickly!

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 11

Thursday, October 20, 2011 - Conversation with God

Heavy.  Tears.

Guilt.  Speeding Ticket.  Pressure from Mom that we’re being too extreme in dealing with R.G.’s eczema.  Mom’s been taking care of the kids a lot, I’ve been gone.  Guilt.

But none of that was sin.

Heavy. Tears flowing.

Burdened.  Overwhelmed.  “Take my yoke upon you …my yoke is easy and my burden is light.  Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest,” says Jesus.   “Let it go,” says Cindy (a friend who doesn’t even walk with the LORD!)

I can’t.  Why can’t I let go, LORD? 

I feel a responsibility to “deal with it.”  I brought it upon myself, so I must “deal with it.” 

I know you don’t think like that, God – You don’t hold me to that responsibility.  I just feel like I have to “figure it out.”

Figure what out? 

The “why” it happened, why I got overwhelmed?  “How” to fix it and “how” to avoid it in the future.

But you know you get overwhelmed, Jill, by filling your schedule with too much.

But I feel like if I dwell on it, I can understand it better.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

Sigh…try to crack my neck – I’ve had this stubborn kink for days, I tried in vain to undo it myself, when’s the next time I can go to the chiropractor?  I want to put myself in the hands of him who is skilled to unkink me.  Hmmm…I want to put myself in the Hands of Him who is able to carry my burden, who delights to lighten my load. 

You can “Let Go” of the overwhelmedness,  Jill, if you can surrender your pride…surrender your need to understand all the details, surrender your drive to “be responsible” on your own strength for your own shortcomings…

Wow, God, I am not OK with You taking my shortcomings for me.  Isn’t that what you did on the cross with my sin!?!  Why then do I think that I’m burdening you too much to take my feeling of being overwhelmed and worn out!?!

Mercies anew every morning. (Lamentations 3)  It’s a new day, walk in it with Joy, Dear Daughter.  I want you to walk – light and joyful – that reflects Me.

Lord, I want to surrender this heaviness, this worn out, depressed, overwhelmedness.

I know I can trust You to take it, will I let you?

For Your glory, not just my comfort, For Your glory, LORD, for Your glory…

That’s it!  I feel like if I just let it go for my comfort, I’m cheating somehow, taking the easy, shortcut road…but if my motive is to walk in step with The Spirit, that frees me to let go for Him to be glorified through my surrender!


For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 10

Wednesday, October 19, 2011 - AHHHHHH!

I don't even know what to title this one.  I don't know what lessons the LORD is trying to teach me.

I got a speeding ticket yesterday - going THRITY-SIX miles an hour!!!!  No, that's not 36 miles an hour over the speed limit and no it was not in a school zone.  It was in a 25 mph speed trap!  And to highlight the irony of this whole situation, this is only my second ticket in my 16 years of driving...and the other one was at the EXACT SAME SPOT six years ago!  You would think that I would be aware to be extra careful and usually I am but I was coming from a different direction and it is just that much of a speed trap.  And so now I am tempted to justify myself.  But was it really sin that even qualifies for "justifying"?  Yes, by the letter of the law I was breaking the law by driving at a speed higher than the posted speed limit.  BUT (justifying?) I was turning from a road that was 35 miles per hour, and the 25 mph zone lasts about 6 houses before it turns into 55 mph...I was driving, not in a hurry, but at the rate natural for that space!

I was quiet before the officer because I figured he gets people trying to weasle their way out of tickets consistently and I wanted to be "set apart"...UNTIL he came back to explain everything to me and said, "OK?"  And I started crying and said, "Well, no it's not OK and went on to explain how ridiculous this was but how I understood he was doing his job."  Then he left and I bawled.

Why?  Because I "failed" or because it was going to be 85 bucks (when money is tight) and 8 hours of a Saturday for STOP class or because of the injustice?

And I don't know WHY God let it happen because I came to the intersection and had to make a quick decision on whether I was going to go to the nicer Wal-Mart to the right or to the older Wal-Mart to the left, which was more on the way home.  But I wasn't in a hurry (i.e. not speeding to get somewhere!) so I turned right.  And by the way, my errand to Wal-Mart was because our Bible Study brings a meal to a ministry to Teen Moms once a month and I had offered to pick up items for my friend since she had been out of town.  So, I got a speeding ticket for not speeding on my way to do a good deed for a needy ministry!  I don't get it, God!

I know it's so minor in the scope of things, but the failure/expense/injustice really rocked my world - and I haven't recovered.  What lesson am I supposed to learn in this?  Am I supposed to surrender something?  What?

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 9

Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - Breath in the present presence of I AM

I got angry twice yesterday.

In the morning, I wanted to go for a run and got frustrated with my son because he was moving slowly and resisting me asking him to put on pants since it was chilly outside.

In the evening, as I was trying to get the house pulled together for my mom's arrival while simultaneously getting the kids ready for bed, my 18 month old daughter drew on the upholstery of my favorite pink chair with a blue dry erase marker.  (I am so sick of dry erase markers staining clothes!)  That was the straw that broke this camel's back - I got so overwhelmed, I fell to the floor and cried.  And then I realized I was just angry.  With a cry out to God, I stood up and figured I better attempt a rescue on the chair sooner rather than later.  (And remember, I have tried in vain with dry erase marker so many times!)  The thought came to me (Thank You, Holy Spirit) to use rubbing alcohol...and IT WORKED!  I made a big deal about it to my son, that God was so merciful to allow us to get it off the chair, even though the blue mark was still on sis's pajamas.

So, instead of being defeated by my sin, I want to be sanctified by it, so I wanted to process with the LORD through journaling this morning.  He helped me see that the first instance was an issue of my agenda being challenged.  And the second was me feeling out of control.  There it is - anger rising from pride --> me not having my agenda met and my not being in control!

This is such a pattern, LORD; what am I to do next time to respond in a more godly manner?

*"Take a deep breath in the present presence of I AM"

Sigh, yes, LORD.  That will help me realign my thoughts - from being caught up in my mind and emotions and being "made new in the attitude of my mind."  (Ephesians 4:22-24 - came across this verse during Scripture Memory review this morning, seemed so appropriate!)

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pride vs. Brokenness List (Nancy Leigh DeMoss)

This list is from Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s “Brokenness: The Heart God Revives” book.  It is a non-exhaustive (as she describes) list comparing a proud person’s attitude to a broken person’s.  She starts the chapter saying, “Years ago a missionary served in a region in Africa that had known seasons of true revival.  He reported that whenever he would mention the name of any Christian, the national believers would ask him, ‘Is he a broken Christian?’  They did not ask, ‘Is he a committed…knowledgeable…or…hardworking Christian?’  They wanted to know, ‘Is he a broken Christian?’  Are you a broken Christian?  Am I?  How can we know?”

I appreciate reading in black and white the prideful sins I so easily try to make gray in my justifying.  Before I even read the first list of “Attitude toward others” I knew I was guilty of being critical and judgmental.  O, LORD, may I not justify these character traits and see clearly as the comparison to the proud, self-made rules I have in my own head.  Ugh!  May I feel them as ugly as soon as the thought enters my head and Cut ItOff!

I was convicted that I needed to get permission before posting this copyrighted material, so I removed it and will hopefully follow through and receive permission.  In the mean time the list can be found on pages 88-101of Nancy Leigh DeMoss's book "Brokenness: The heart God Revives"

Sorry, for the inconvenience.

40 Days of Surrender - Day 8

Monday, October 17, 2011 - Arguing

In the last two days I have recognized my temptation to argue.  Praise the LORD He granted me the recognition and self-control to not engage in the argument.  Neither was anything significant so I am thankful that the LORD is easing me into this trial with fairly easy temptations.  It helps me recognize though that I have good practice arguing and I think I'm pretty good at it, if I do say so myself...not that that's much to take recognition in!  I see how arguing fans the flame of my pride causing me to persist in having "my way be right."  Ugh!  And thus another way "my way" and "me being right" and "having the best way" rears its ugly head!  May I feel them as the ugly sin they are as soon as the thought enters my head and Cut It Off!

Galatians 5:16-19 was a memory verse I was reviewing today.  “The acts of the sinful nature…” It’s easy to skim over the list as it appears “extreme.”  If I’m honest with myself, though, I’m guilty as charged by a majority of them and especially idolatry, fits of rage, and selfish ambition in this current trial of surrendering.  That’s enough for the death penalty – “…those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” May I feel them as the ugly sin they are as soon as the thought enters my head and Cut It Off!

I was also reading a small portion of DeMoss' "Brokenness" book and I got to The List that I recall from reading the book years ago.  The List of comparing Proud people with Broken people. It was eye opening then and freshly convicting now in this season of Surrendering Pride.  I am realizing that in this 40 Days of Surrender, I'm learning to surrender a lot of things - control, irritation, frustration, "my way" being best, arguing til I'm seen as "right"...but the root is My Pride.  I think that's why this book "Brokenness" has been such a good tool in this 40 Days of Surrender - More of You, LORD and less of Me!

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 7

Sunday, October 16, 2011 - Cut It Off!

The sermon text this morning was Matthew 5:27-20.


"You won't say, 'No!' to lust, until you say, 'Yes!' to something you love more."  ~My Pastor

3 Words to be "Cut off" from Lust:
1) Transparency: Live your life in such a way that people can see it - live in the light and invite others in
2) Community: You were not meant to fight sin battles alone
3) Love: You won't say, 'No!' until something else is more appealing; until your love for God is greater than your love for your sin.  The Gospel will become more sweet when your sin becomes more ugly.

The seriousness of sin: If you could fix it by mutilation, it would be worth it!

Cutting off that which is most dear to you for the sake of righteousness!  (The right eye and hand would have been of utmost value in a culture where life depended on it: archery using primarily the right hand & the right eye and the soldier swinging his sword in his right hand, looking on with his right eye while his shield is mainly covering his left eye).

If your computer causes you to sin, cut it off!
If the route to work causes you to sin, cut it off!
If the game causes you to sin, cut it off!

If my pride causes me to sin, cut it off! does one go about cutting off their heart!?!

Ah, tis the ambition of this have the scales cut off day by day by day...

This much, O LORD, I want You, this much!

The pain is worth it because YOU are WORTHY!

(Note: Most of these thoughts are from My Pastor)

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

40 Days of Surrender - Day 6

Saturday, October 15, 2011 - "The Greatness of My Sin and the Surpassing Greatness of His Grace"

This was a quote from DeMoss' "Brokenness" book.  And this is what a meditated on today.  It's not a new thought.  And it's even the idea that was a catalyst for this Fast.  I need to understand the depth of my sin, the ugliness of me justifying my sinful thoughts and attitudes, how it offends God Almighty and is the cause of the chasm between us.  I cannot be fully healed in my broken relationship with God until my heart is broken of its prideful sin.

O LORD, please, Let me Learn the Greatness of My Sin.

And THEN the Surpassing Greatness of Your Grace.

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Friday, October 14, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 5

Friday, October 14, 2011 - Motive for Freedom

I sensed that drive to be free from this "thorn in my flesh." And I realized that it's not even that I am anxious for the "process" to be done, which is a step in itself for me as I am usually looking for the end of the journey instead of being content IN THE MIDST of the Journey.

What I noticed in my drive to be FREE was not by striving for the end of the process as much as looking forward to the comfort and benefit it will be for ME and in MY life when God uses this fast of surrender to graciously break me from this ugly addiction.  And in that itself I was convicted of how my perspective is so caught up in MySELF. (Which is the root of this whole surrender!)  I DO want this brokenness to be for God's glory, but if I am honest my main motive is for MY good.

Reading 1 Peter 3:1-12 this morning for Bible Study...

"so they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives"
"quiet and gentle spirit"

May I win souls souls be won by and to Jesus through my quiet and gentle spirit!  (Even as I wrote out that prayer, I had to change my wording to correct perspective.)

May THAT be my motive!

It's not just worthy to surrender in my own life, but it's worthy for Christ's eternal Kingdom.

LORD, please be molding my heart so that its motive is more and more FOR YOUR GLORY!

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 4

Thursday, October 13, 2011 - Addiction

I was reading again in DeMoss's Brokenness book and a story caught my attention as the man described his addictions holding him back from brokenness.  I recognized that my current issue of surrender could be seen as an addiction.  I am addicted to thinking that my way is best more than I have a submissive heart that lives a life of surrender to the Way of the Sovereign Lord.

My natural pattern that I have gotten addicted to is to justify my thoughts and actions.  It is a natural, fleshly pattern, not "natural" as in "healthy" spiritual habit.

It's as ugly as the addiction of cigarette smoking -- cold turkey, Jill -- be done with it, don't flirt with the temptation by justifying sometimes.  You hang on to addiction because you feel some benefit.  The only benefit of your "Self-Will" demanding its way is that it feeds and comforts your bloated pride.  That's it - I haven't wanted to completely let go of justification & my Self-Will because it has been a protective covering of my pride.  When I see it for what it really is, its root and its why, it is easier to see the ugliness of the SIN (call it what it is and don't JUSTIFY it!) and its offensiveness to God Almighty!

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

40 Days of Surrender - Day 3

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - I WILL sin, confess quickly, don't justify

Ugh!  It's only Day 3 and already I slipped up (a.k.a. SINNED) and had a disrespectful tone because DH didn't use the wash cloth I thought he should to clean up DS's pee pee accident.

As a recovering perfectionist, it urks me that I "failed".  Oh, I want to be so committed and disciplined.  But, ah, the revelation - I WILL NOT be perfect in this process of sanctification, in this process of being healed from the disease of "Self-Will," I WILL SIN.  The response to that sin demonstrates my growth.  Will I revert back to my habit of justifying my attitude and words or will I be quick to confess the sin without attempting to justify it?

Upon this Spirit prompting, I told my DH that I was sorry for over-reacting about the wash cloth and he was quick to say, "I forgive you, thanks for acknowledging that."  (i.e. he's not used to me acknowledging my disrespect in "little" things like that).  THAT's victory - one "little" battle won in this war waging against my soul.

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

40 Days of Surrender - Day 2

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - "God is Sovereign and this is not sinful"

When things don't go as I think they should, God is the One who is truly in control and sovereign over the details of what is happening.  If it is not direct sin (and more just things not going according to my preference), I need to accept graciously and not try to finagle "my way."

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

40 Days of Surrender - Day 1

Monday, October 10, 2011 - Convicted, Lead to an act of Obedience

Fast from getting irritated when things don't go "your way", fast from justifying your disrespectful tone when things don't go "as you think best" - for 40 days, with the intention that the extended intentional fast will break this habit of your "Self-Will" getting its way and the result being walking more intimately in step with the Spirit.

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Daily Lessons

Day 1 - Convicted, Lead to an act of Obedience
Day 3 - I WILL sin, confess quickly, don't justify
Day 4 - Addiction
Day 5 - Motive For Freedom
Day 6 - The Greatness of My Sin and The Surpassing Greatness of His Grace
Day 7 - Cut It Off!
Day 8 - Arguing
Day 9 - Breath in the presence of I AM
Day 10 - AHHHHH!
Day 11 - Conversation with God
Day 12 - Depression
Day 13 - Surrender Ease, Comfort
Day 14 - Not every day has a significant lesson
Day 15 - Lifelong Surrender
Day 16 - Surrender Self-Sufficiency
Day 17 - Hesitancy, Talk with God
Day 18 - Jumbled Emotions
Day 19 - I should have been armed YESTERDAY!
Day 20 - Forgiveness
Day 21 - How is a Christian to Respond to Halloween?
Day 22 - To be Angry is to Murder
Day 23 -
Day 24 - Even the Customer Service Lady
Day 28 - Mouth
Day 29 - Surrender The Judge (A Lesson in Grace)
Day 30 - Surrender Perfectionism
Day 31 - Surrender THE LOAD
Day 33 - Surrender Trying to Make Things Happen
Day 58 - Keep Surrendering
Day 61 - Surrender "Getting it all right" NOW
Day 68 - Surrender Status Quo (Exhorting Holiness)

40 Days of Surrender

Here it goes...

It will be worth it, it will be worth it, it will be worth it...

YOU are worthy, LORD, You are WORTHY, LORD, You ARE Worthy, LORD!

So, 31 years to this place.  And I've been here before, but this time I truly want it to be different.  I want to say that I "desperately" want it to be different, but although the "desperate" feeling has poked it's head in, it hasn't taken root.  I think because it's going to be HARD...

It's going to be hard to surrender my SELF.  Not my spirit, not my personality, but my SELF-WILL.  Ugh!  That thing that continually causes conflict between me and those I love - heck, the thing that causes conflict within myself!  (Galatians 5 - we do not do want we want to do because our flesh and spirit are at war with each other.)

So, I had posted that I had fasted Sunday, October 2nd in order stir up my hunger for God.  Less of me, more of Him!  Throughout that week, that stirring was present.  Then Sunday, October 9th the sermon was on Matthew 5.  Our Pastor made the point that the commandment "Do not murder," which applies to very few, quickly applies to EVERYONE when Jesus gets to the heart of the Law -- anger toward others, insults against God's image bearers.  As many times as I've read this passage and heard messages on the Sermon on the Mount, it seems as though the LORD was preparing me for such a time as this - fasting the previous week, having my mother-in-law visiting who I spoke disrespectfully to, stress of company leading to quicker disrespect toward my husband.  Nothing over the top, no blow-ups, just that annoying continual drip.  That underlying irritation of mine that gets fanned and then expressed in harsh words and does as much damage as a spark of fire in a dry forest (James 3).

I came home Sunday and read some of Nancy Leigh DeMoss's book "Brokenness, the heart God revives"  I've read it twice before.  It's a short book that I return too when I know there is need for brokenness in an area of my life.

And so, Monday, journaling, it occurs to me that fasting is what I need again, a brokenness from that idol of "self" in my life.  That which makes me strive for control, that which makes me irritable (another word for angry) when things don't go "my way", that which is so strong that it blurts out what it's thinking before I can reign in that powerful tongue - words that hurt or heal.

LORD, I want to SURRENDER my self-will, so that I am able to have the gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4) that is pleasing in your sight.  An open-handed life, a soft spirit that is moldable in Your hands and flexible toward the people and circumstances around me.

Oh, this is going to be HARD...but doing the RIGHT thing IS often hard...Obedience is sometimes hard but always right...LORD, I believe you are calling me at such a time as this to Obey this Hard road - so I look more like your Son, Jesus and thus bring You more glory!  It will honor You and those around me (specifically my husband and those close to me who get hurt by the affects of my Self-Will expecting it's way:))

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chart Tool for Child's Whining

Whining is the current "issue" we are dealing with in our almost 4 year old's heart.  I find it tricky to address as it isn't a "defiant sin" with a clear commandment and clear disobedience, but certainly tempts me to sin in my anger (Eph. 4:26) with the annoyance of it!  (Not to mention that it is doing his heart no favors to linger in whining). This chart was inspired from the "Anger Chart"...taking the biblical concept and applying it in a way that trains our children what to put off and put on when faced with temptation (1 Cor. 10:13, Eph. 4:22-24).  The other charts have seemed to be fruitful tools and I pray this one is for our family as well (and maybe yours!)  As I'm even typing this I'm recognizing that the root of whining is often an issue of selfishness and discontentment (not getting "my way" and not thankful for what you do have).  It's always good and helpful to keep the root of sin in the forefront when pruning it.


Whining is: Speaking in a tone that is not honoring to God or others.

 “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight,
 O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”  ~Psalms 19:14

God has given you the ability to speak words so they can be life-giving, beneficial, and persuasive.

We are called to: Do everything without complaining or arguing” ~Philippians 2:14
When you are tempted to whine:
Put off:                                                                                              Put On:
Draining Words                                               Life-giving Words
“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.” ~Proverbs 10:11
Destructive Words                                         Beneficial Words
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” ~Ephesians 4:29
Deterring Wording                                         Persuading Words
“The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.” ~Proverbs 16:21