Monday, February 11, 2013

What is the Good Life?

I have great news from Scotty Hill's grandmother:

The tumors in his abdomen are shrinking, and the one on his adrenal gland has stabilized. They did show some increased decaying in the bones in his back from the cancer in his bones, but they are going to treat that with radiation. That will be done in about 10 to 12 days after this chemo treatment. We will continue the same course of action with the treatment's for as long it takes. The Dr's have been great and I could feel the joy in her voice when she gave us the news. I have always told her that the Lord was going to heal this child. I believe he is the one that give's her the knowledge to know what kind of treatment's to give him. I am thankful for everything they do for him here they are wonderful with him. Scotty has a Great School ,Church Community and many more people that believe in the power of the Lord's healing and that has helped him more than anyone will ever know.

If you don't think my God can do amazing things then you are missing out on tremendous blessings.  Please continue to keep Scotty and his family in your prayers.  There are also two other KMMS students that need prayers: one with a brain tumor and another facing treatments for lymphoma.  I have said it before....God is doing some amazing things at this school because these students and this community have really joined hands to help their peers. 

Please also be in prayer for the family and friends of Alan Biggerstaff who lost the battle but won the victory last night.  I know he is playing a mean guitar riff right now and watching over his sweet family.  I was blessed enough to teach his two youngest boys in 5th grade.  I am praying tonight for all of them...please join me.

I've been fortunate enough to be the Sunday night facilitator for the ladies' Bible study at my church.  We are doing Beth Moore's Mercy Triumphs and it is amazing.  It is a study of the book of James. [And since the book of James speaks directly to the taming of the tongue it's a GREAT book for me.]

Tonight, our session focused on James 3:13 - 18 (NIV):  
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

Beth Moore repeated the question, from scripture, "What good is it?" 

From James 2:14-17 (NIV):
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

The lessons that she shared, straight from scripture, pierced my heart tonight. I love understanding and clarity when I read my Bible. [As do most people I hope.]  I don't claim to be the brightest bulb in the lot...especially when it comes to reading.  I have a great deal of difficulty extracting meaning from the scriptures sometimes. [This was my excuse for not reading my Bible for many, many years of my life.  Now I read it, read it again, ask Craig, Google it, then sometimes, read it again. Judge me.] But tonight, as I read the passages again and listened to her explain it I was so excited to share this message.

So...what is the good life?
1. It is one that saves us [me] from ourselves [myself].  In her opinion, we are raising a culture of narcissists. Our culture has a social illness because we are not consumed with fighting selfishness but being selfish [include myself].  We can only truly live this good life if WE get out of the way and let God do HIS work in us. As Christians, [*insert huge foam fingering pointing straight to me'self*] we are growing more and more insecure because we are so full ourselves. When insecurity weighs us down we cannot be filled up with God. [This was the moment of clarity for me: I have really been struggling with turning 40 and feeling old. I have allowed my insecurity and self-loathing to push me down so far that I thought I would never get up. I haven't hit the pavement to run in nearly 6 weeks. Why? Because I felt sorry for myself and the fact that I am not as good a runner as others. Insecurity. I'm not losing weight as fast as Craig. Self-loathing. I'm turning 40 and feeling old and fat. All of those statements start with "I". Clarity.] 

2. One that has a track record of yielding, being submissive, moving out of the way for others but mostly for God's work.  This one makes sense to me on so many levels.  I believe, as a parent, we realize that we must yield [not to the demands of the 6 year old militant midget when he doesn't want what's for dinner] but to the needs of our children.  We have to be submissive and realize that the ultimate submission for us was paid on the cross. One statement that Beth Moore shared was so powerful that I underlined it several times: We must die to competition but be for others.  Especially us women.  Guilty as charged. Why not pray, in earnest, for others to be so filled with God that they might explode...even if that means we yield our lofty positions?  She asked the question, "How many times are we taught to put ourselves first?" only have to read Facebook and Twitter to see that loud and clear. [Still pointing finger at myself too.]

3. One that is full of mercy. She spoke for a long time about if we were to give mercy then we must first be filled with mercy.  What does that look like?  We allow God to bring us opportunities.  Beth Moore says, "Mercy morphs into depression when we take on God's responsibility instead of our possibility."  God isn't asking us to fix everything that is wrong...that ain't our job. He just wants us to begin to look at the possibilities and people that God puts in our path.  Sometimes she says we can "speak empty blessings" when we avoid situations because we don't know what to say.  If we fail to act then our faith is dead.

4. One that is full of good fruit. God wants us to live our lives in a way that we continue to bear fruit over and over and over again.  We should be like seeds that are planted, grow, bear fruit, and start again with new fruit.  Our faith should be demonstrated through our deeds.  I wrote down that we are supposed to live our lives in way that opportunity after opportunity after opportunity is there for us to get out of the way, yield to another, and show mercy. 

I also wrote these words that Beth Moore said:
"We are created in God's image --> We are made to serve and to love --> We are only satisfied and fulfilled when we are pouring out what God has given to us."

My prayer for you [and for myself] is that we begin to get out of the way and allow God to move in our lives.  I am so excited about all of the wonderful ways he has touched my family and I need to share those blessings through my works.

This past weekend my two oldest children each gave their testimonies during Upwards Basketball at our church.  Each of them shared what Christ was and is doing in their lives.  As a mom I couldn't be more proud.  They are both so amazing anyway [no bias] and to know that they are willing to share God's will for their lives made me so happy.  But they can't stop there.  Just as I am charged to put faith into action so are they charged to do the same. Craig and I encourage them, daily, to find these opportunities.  I believe, just in simple conversations with them and by watching them with friends, at church, and through sports, that both of them are listening to God's call for their life.  Even Emma is getting mature enough to realize that God is placing her in positions to show mercy, to yield, and to get out of the way. 

I thought I lived the good life with this amazing family but God has so much more in store that I could EVER do for myself. Just like one of my favorite songs from Jesus Culture says:
Here I am before you
Falling in love and seeking your truth
Knowing that your perfect grace
Has brought me to this place
Because of you I freely live
My life to you, oh God, I give

So I stand before You God
I lift my voice because you set me free

So I shout out your name from the rooftops I proclaim
That I am Yours, I am yours