Wednesday, August 31, 2011

FINDING GLORY Wednesday

What a wonderful summer it's been reflecting together on the presence, love, power, and purposes of God. Especially when life is hard, it is easy to get confused or angry and tempting to question our faith. It is such a privilege to have God's Word to keep us rooted in the Truth! These weekly reflections have been designed to keep us all focused on those Truths while providing an opportunity to explore how they apply to us personally and how they relate to the circumstances of our lives. Being able to discuss these things with an online community of people from all over the world is another of God's great gifts. We certainly pray that this summer's study has been that for you — a gift.

As we wrap up this cycle of "FINDING GLORY Wednesdays," we hope you'll continue to join us on Wednesdays as we circle back to the beginning and start a new discussion series this fall? In churches from Apple Valley, Minnesota to Brooksville, Florida, we are hearing about new groups starting, old groups continuing and some individuals just joining us as part of this "cyber group" online. We are praying new friends will join us and we hope you will help spread the word. If this has been a helpful process for you, please tell us about your experience and talk about it with others. May the Lord use it to encourage and bless many in their walk with Him.

Your "Glory Story" has influence with others by the power of the Holy Spirit. Talking about how God is present in Your life and heart has the power to change eternity for someone else. And besides that, sharing a faith story is part of your spiritual act of worship! Consider today’s scriptures and discussion questions:
"And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!" Revelation 12:10-12
In this passage, what two things have the power to conquer the accuser?
If you had 60 seconds to give someone the "word of your testimony" today (knowing it has this kind of power), what might you say? In other words, what would your Glory Story be?
Please consider sharing a Glory Story right here in the comments section below today's post or by writing us at info@walkrightin.org. I can already envision God's enemy shuddering at the idea that we are all sharing boldly of Christ's power and presence in our lives!
This series has been based on the Finding Glory collection of resources by Larry and Lisa Jamieson and has included copyrighted excerpts taken from Finding Glory in the Thorns: Group Discussion Guide. For more information about Finding Glory Groups, visit http://www.findingglory.com/findingglorygrou.html.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Packing Up for Someplace New (Part 1 of 2)

The Jamieson household seems to be moving in the direction of new things these days. We have just launched our oldest daughter into college; within days, we expect to receive official tax exempt status for our non-profit ministry; we’re also praying a lot about how to support our middle daughter’s blossoming music career. Many of you may also be facing new adventures or promptings from God as a new school year begins and the fall season nears.

In Genesis 31:13, God told Jacob,

“I am the God you met at Bethel, the place where you anointed the pillar of stone and made a vow to serve me. Now leave this country and return to the land you came from.”

As sisters Rachel and Leah gathered up their things and packed for the new adventure ahead, it seems Rachel included items that would give her a sense of security (31:19) or connection to her past. The idols Rachel hid and the patterns of behavior that Jacob and Rachel took with them were harmful. Rachel would have been better off walking away from things that would keep her stuck in comfort zones, fear, fantasies and sin — embracing, instead, what was ahead.

Rachel had everything going for her (29:17-20) yet it seemed like nothing would ever be enough for her (30:1-2,24). She even had an opportunity to come clean from her sins but she kept things hidden in fear and shame (31:33-35).

I hope you’ll take time to read chapters 29 through 31 of Genesis. I’m prayerfully asking these questions and making some very helpful discoveries. I’m trusting God will speak to your hearts also because He promises that His Word will never return void. (In her book Idols of the Heart, Elyse Fitzpatrick brings some very practical examples to her reflection on Rachel’s story that would resonate with many of us too.)

How would you describe one “new place” where God is sending you in life right now?

As you follow God’s prompting into a new season, what do you need to leave behind?

I hope you won’t rush through these questions like I was tempted to do at first. It helped me to brainstorm a list of things that came to my mind and then I prayed over where these ideas might be coming from the Holy Spirit in my life.

Come, LORD Jesus, teach our spirits to yield! AMEN

By the way, I don’t usually stay in one place very long but this story has so gripped me that I’ve decided to do a “Part 2” next week. I hope you’ll join me!

Friday, August 26, 2011

It's "Marriage Prayer Friday!"

My husband is out of town for 2 weeks and it got me thinking about what distance means in marriage. For some, career travel and other physical separations are common or frequent. (We might praise God for Skype and FaceTime!) For others, the distance is at a soul level and there is deep grief. I am personally thankful that physical distance, or any kind of distance for that matter, CAN be an opportunity for couples to learn new ways of connecting. Let's seek the Lord on this!

A prayer for your own marriage—

JEHOVAH SHAMMAH (Lord My Companion), thank You that Your presence with me is not limited. I am so thankful that you are always accessible to me and my husband/wife, no matter where we are. We have experienced numerous separations as a couple. Sometimes the distance between us is physical and sometimes it is emotional or spiritual separation that affects us at a soul level. By the power of Your Holy Spirit, I ask You to intervene on our behalf against any forces that would come to harm our marriage. Thank you that every separation can be an opportunity for growth, new perspectives, deeper appreciation, increased longings, and a spirit of adventure that is exciting when we yield to Your grace, power and purposes. Please help us to use all the resources available to us, by Your wisdom, to ensure that our marriage is growing, thriving and reflecting You to our children and others. Dwell in our marriage, God, as You dwell in us. AMEN


Something to pray for a friend's marriage—

JEHOVAH SHAMMAH (Lord My Companion), thank You that Your presence with us is not limited — that you are always accessible no matter where we are. I have married friends and family who have experienced numerous separations as couples. Sometimes the distance has been physical and sometimes it has been emotional or spiritual. By the power of Your Holy Spirit, I ask You to intervene on behalf of these couples I name in my heart right now. Come against any forces that would try to harm these marriages. Thank you that every separation can be an opportunity for growth, new perspectives, deeper appreciation, increased longings, and a spirit of adventure that is exciting when yielded to Your grace, power and purposes. Please help my married friends to use all the resources available to them, by Your wisdom, to ensure that their marriages are growing, thriving and reflecting You to their children and others. Dwell in these marriages, God, as You dwell in these people I care deeply about. AMEN

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

FINDING GLORY Wednesday

God wants to do BIG things with the intersections of our lives so we hope that you'll do more than just experience this series privately but also step out in new levels of faith and share what you're thinking and learning. Your comments here are valuable to people reading all over the world. But your perspectives and faith stories shared in the daily moments of your life at work or school, on the playground and at the dinner table have the power to bring Light into other people's lives for something eternally good as well. Keep talking about the good gifts God is giving!

Today’s scripture and discussion question are:

"The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes."
PSALM 19:7-8

What connections exists between God's Word and having joy?
How have you experienced that in your life?

If you are part of a past or current Finding Glory Group, please give us your feedback about what is going well, what could be better, and how God is working. Your comments help us develop and improve future resources. Write us at larry@walkrightin.org or lisa@walkrightin.org.

For more information about Finding Glory Groups, visit http://www.findingglory.com/findingglorygrou.html.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Pursuit of Peace

No one can expect inner peace unless their heart and mind are seeking Jesus. While a well-balanced life, exercise, a fun hobby and a good friend can help, we must recognize that deep and abiding peace — the kind that surpasses understanding — comes from only one place. Where? In the presence of our Heavenly Father. Let us be still and know that He is God.

Psalm 46

New Living Translation (NLT)

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.

So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.

Let the oceans roar and foam.

Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!
Interlude

A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High.
God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed.
From the very break of day, God will protect it.
The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble!
God’s voice thunders, and the earth melts!
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.
Interlude

Come, see the glorious works of the Lord:
See how he brings destruction upon the world.
He causes wars to end throughout the earth.
He breaks the bow and snaps the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.

“Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
the God of Israel is our fortress.

Friday, August 19, 2011

It's "Marriage Prayer Friday!"

We can admire faith-filled people like Abraham and Ruth who embraced the adventures God placed before them. But let's do more than just be inspired. Let's pray for that kind of surrender, obedience, anticipation and blessing in our marriages!

A prayer for your own marriage—

HOLY GOD, thank you that you go out ahead of us, stay beside us, and hem us in from behind (Ps 139:5). My marriage is facing some new seasons and adventures today. On some level, we are aware of where you are leading us. In other ways, it's quite a mystery. That is both exciting and scary. When I keep my hope anchored in Your perfect wisdom and faithfulness, I remain excited because I am reminded that you always do immeasurably more than I could ask or imagine (Eph 3:20). But strengthen me to do my part in this marriage to stay anchored in You, Lord. Together, help me and my husband/wife to wisely make the most of every decision and opportunity because these days are evil (Eph 5:16). Keep us from being tossed back and forth by the culture, personal dreams or circumstances (Eph 4:14) but keep us grounded in relationship with You and each other so that the adventure is authentically joy-filled to us while glorifying to You. Equip us for what lies ahead — the comfortable and the uncomfortable — and teach us to say, together and without reservation, "We will go where You send us!"

AMEN


Something to pray for a friend's marriage—

HOLY GOD, thank you that you always go out ahead of us, stay beside us, and hem us in from behind (Ps 139:5). Some of my married friends are facing new seasons and adventures today. On some level, they are aware of where you are leading them. In other ways, they face a mysterious road. Whether they are excited or scared, please help them to keep their hope anchored in Your perfect wisdom and faithfulness. Remind them that you always do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine (Eph 3:20). Strengthen each of them to do their part in the marriage to stay anchored in You, Lord. Together, help them to wisely make the most of every decision and opportunity because these days are evil (Eph 5:16). Keep them from being tossed back and forth by the culture, personal dreams or circumstances (Eph 4:14) but keep them grounded in relationship with You and each other so that the adventure is authentically joy-filled for them while glorifying to You. Equip them for what lies ahead — the comfortable and the uncomfortable — and teach them to say, together and without reservation, "We will go where You send us!"

AMEN

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

FINDING GLORY Wednesday

What a blessed summer this continues to be as we explore together what it means to live out our faith and thrive in life even when times are challenging!

The scripture and discussion question this week are:

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." PHILIPPIANS 4:4-7

When you have been in a season of adversity (currently or in the past), what were two or three things you could genuinely express gratitude about — to God and/or to others?

For more information about Finding Glory Groups, visit http://www.findingglory.com/findingglorygrou.html.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Between The Rock & A Hard Place

Do you ever have one of those days or weeks when your To Do List is entirely full of urgent and critical things? Often, there seems to be no easy answer to the every-pressing question of priorities. This new week hasn't even begun yet and I'm already far behind while also starting with a serious deficit of sleep. Since I am certainly not the only one wrestling between my Rock and a hard place, I believe it would be helpful for all of us to go to God's Word for some direction and encouragement.

1. Admit weakness and imperfection then yield to the grace and power of Almighty God.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
2. Flee concern about impressing anyone but your Creator and Lord.
No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 2 Timothy 2:3-4
3. Claim truth over discouragement.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
FATHER IN HEAVEN, help us to live by Your ways and promises. Please ease our anxieties and any pressures we feel. We want to trust You completely to guide us and meet needs. Help us to yield to You for everything — especially wisdom, discernment, hope, comfort, and perseverance. Thank you, Jesus, that You are our Rock and the sure foundation we can always depend on no matter what hard places we find ourselves in. Thank You for being completely dependable and sufficient, loving and powerful. Please put your power in us to do what needs doing — no more, no less — for the glory of Your holy name. AMEN

Friday, August 12, 2011

It's "Marriage Prayer Friday!"

Since I just returned from a week away and am personally appreciating that my husband held down the fort at home while I experienced precious adventure with one of our daughters, I am praying with extra gratitude for our partnership today. Please join us in praying for your own marriage or for the marriage of others you love. We all need friends to come alongside of us in praying for our marriages. Let's commit together, friends, to this covenant relationship!

A prayer for your own marriage—

GOD, MY REFUGE, thank you that you have given me a covenant partner through marriage. Help me not to take for granted the value of partnership. Because of Your power and grace, my marriage holds Divine promise to survive and thrive. Even when times are dark or when we feel weary, help us to persevere. God, I want to lift up my husband/wife when he/she falls. I want us to be growing stronger as individuals and as a team. We can only do this by the power of Your Holy Spirit, Lord. We also need the support of Christ-loving friends. Please bring people around us to encourage us when we are discouraged and show us, as a couple, how to spur each other on in love and good deeds. Make us the like a cord of three strands that is not easily broken. For the fame of Your name, God. AMEN


Something to pray for a friend's marriage—

GOD, MY REFUGE, thank you for my married friends — especially those who recognize the covenant partnership they have through marriage. Help them not to take for granted the value of their partnership. Because of Your power and grace, their marriages hold Divine promise to survive and thrive. Even when times are dark or when they feel weary, help them to persevere, to lift each other up when they fall and to grow stronger as a team. They can only do this by the power of Your Holy Spirit, Lord. They also need the support of Christ-loving friends. Please equip me and other friends to encourage them and spur them on toward love and good deeds. Make my friends like a cord of three strands that is not easily broken. For the fame of Your name, God. AMEN

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

FINDING GLORY Wednesday

What a privilege it is to come together and share what is going on in our lives so that we might be encouraged by one another, learn from one another and pray for one another!

Today’s scripture and discussion question continue on the theme of sharing life and stories that bring glory to God.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort." 2 CORINTHIANS 1:3-7

According to these verses, what do shared distress and comfort produce?

Your life experiences and challenges are unique to you but something about your personal circumstances and how God has met you in them will resonate with others in equally unique ways. Your personal stories of growth in your relationship with Jesus have the power to resonate with someone the way that no one else's will. This is both a responsibility and an opportunity. How do these verses inspire or challenge you to share more boldly what God is doing in your life?

For more information about Finding Glory Groups, visit http://www.findingglory.com/findingglorygrou.html.

Today's reflections are copyrighted excerpts from Finding Glory in the Thorns: Group Discussion Guide.

A Shout-Out for "The Grace Card"

Tonight at The Gideon we got to see a screening of The Grace Card (inspired by and modeled after the folks who produced Fireproof). This wonderful film opened in theaters in April and will be available next week on DVD (August 16).
Erin and I have met the star, Michael Joiner, here at The Gideon and got to hear some of his very funny clean comedy during the keynote at tonight's Awards Banquet. This guy is top notch on and off the stage. His performance in The Grace Card is gripping. It leaves you wondering whether you'd have the grace to love someone who wronged you, especially in the face of horrific consequences of sin. Michael plays a police officer whose heart and life spiral into bitterness and anger towards God after his young son is tragically killed.
Watch the trailer and then order your own DVD. Our support of films like this sends a strong message to Hollywood and is a valuable encouragement to Christian film-makers who are trying to influence the culture for positive values and Biblical messages.
By the way, if you haven't already heard from Facebook, our daughter Erin was the Grand Prize winner tonight in both the Songwriter category and Music Artist Talent Search. Her song Hope for the Broken will be one of the songs she'll record in Nashville in the next few months. As the winner in these categories, she's earned both songwriting and recording contracts. Some time later this year (or early 2012), she will head to Nashville to produce a 4 song EP produced by Grammy nominated and Dove Award winning producer Dave Moody.
There are too many stories to tell now and it's very late but I promise you'll hear more soon. God is being magnified here! It's been a tremendous privilege to see so much talent along with passion to share the Gospel message with excellence in culturally relevant and compelling ways. Pray for these artists, please. They need support, encouragement, resources, clarity of vision and AUDIENCES.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Another Great Movie Recommendation

Erin and I are getting to see some incredible films here at the Gideon Media Arts Conference & Film Festival. I wish I had time and space to tell you about all of them. Tonight we saw The Shunning and sat in on a panel discussion with producer Brian Bird and actress Sandra VanNatta.

Beverly Lewis' The Shunning | Hallmark Channel

Workshopping continues during the day. Today, Erin got to do a Music Video Casting Call and will be an extra on a video tomorrow with the opportunity to learn-by-doing as she witnesses the entire shoot process unfolding over the next 2 days.

This afternoon, I sat in a session on Financing Your Dream and heard about a book soon to release called "The Story of the Bible." It tells how the Bible came to be. The Lord knew it was a timely moment for me to hear about the project because I have recently been in conversations with people asking that very question. As I shared my enthusiasm, the session teacher immediately stopped and asked the class to pray momentarily for the individuals I'm sharing with about Christ. This is the kind of shoulder-to-shoulder walking out of our faith that absolutely charges my batteries.

Tomorrow is the big day for those of us waiting to hear results in the Music and Film competitions. The Banquet & Awards Ceremony is tomorrow night. We are on pins and needles...

Celebrating Christ-Honoring Talent & Vision

This week I have the privilege of traveling with our daughter, Erin, to the Gideon Media Arts Conference & Film Festival at the Lifeway Retreat Center in North Carolina. The folks here are dedicated to spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ through all types of media with an emphasis on radio, theater, church drama, music, graphic novels, television and film. Erin and I feel like a couple of naive little sponges in the midst of a flurry of talent, information and opportunities. It's quite overwhelming!

Sunday morning, the worship opened with the song I Am a Friend of God. The lyric has been ringing in my heart ever since: "Who am I that You are mindful of me? That You hear me when I call?" Truly, it's nothing short of amazing that we can consider relationships with Almighty God within our grasp!
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19
God is very near, friends! As the end of this age approaches, we urgently need to engage the culture and the hearts of people who don't know how profoundly loved they are by the Living God. If you haven't thought much or lately about how you are exercising your gifts for the eternal purposes, I hope you will start today. It's like any daily fitness regamine; we need to practice and exercise the muscles of talent planted in us. Even in the training process, God is at work building up the Body of Christ.

While we are at Gideon, Erin and I are getting more and more excited about the need and opportunity to share the talents God has planted in us for the benefit of God's Kingdom, particularly to draw those who are seeking and edify those who already follow Jesus.

I am also struck by the collection of Christ-honoring talent and passion represented here by so many people who clearly love Jesus. In a time and culture when we Christians can be easily discouraged about the direction of media, this is a place that restores my confidence that God's people are very much at work in the industry though we sometimes have to dig through the mire to find them. For example, let me give a shout-out for Elevating Entertainment, a company making wonderful family-friendly, life-inspiring films.

Of course, Walk Right In Ministries is only loosely in the Christian media business (writing and publishing books) so you might wonder what I'm doing here. Erin, an aspiring singer-songwriter, is a finalist in both the Talent and Songwriting categories of the music competition. She performed last night (did an absolutely beautiful job). Winners will be announced at a banquet and awards ceremony tomorrow night. We're very excited and I can say as an unbiased mom that she gave people twice her age a good run for their money. But regardless of any competition result, we both just feel so privileged that we've had this opportunity and are greatly encouraged to meet so many people — especially young people engaging a whole new generation — exercising their gifts for the glory of God.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:5

Friday, August 5, 2011

It's "Marriage Prayer Friday!"

It seems like everyone I know has just been experiencing an unusually busy week or season of life. May I offer warning? Busy-ness is a marriage killer. If you have been too busy to pray for your marriage or someone else's marriage this week, PLEASE slow down for a moment right now and join with us in prayer for marriage. Be still, dear souls. Your Maker and Rescuer awaits.

A prayer for your own marriage—

MERCIFUL GOD, you never promised me an easy life but You do promise me a life abundant with blessings. Lord, you know my marriage is not always easy. We face obstacles and carry burdens that are overwhelming sometimes. Thank You, holy Lord, that You will never leave me alone in challenges and You will use everything in my life and marriage — whether comfortable or painful — for good purposes because I love You. No turmoil occurs in this family without Your permission. Every detail of what unfolds in my marriage is authorized by You for Divine purpose. Where I have any need or opportunity to surrender my part in this family to You, Jesus, I do that right now and ask for Your grace and power to cover us. When hard things come, please stretch, strengthen and equip me and my husband/wife to respond as a team. Where there is sin, please make Your way out clear and compelling to us so that we can be free indeed. Please help us to have your perspective about things like financial pressure, vocational dissatisfaction, illness, and parenting challenges. Help us to catch Your vision for the Kingdom value in every experience we face so we live with our hope, decisions, and actions anchored in Your ways. God, please use my marriage story to point people to You. You can do this, in Jesus’ name! AMEN


Something to pray for a friend's marriage—

MERCIFUL GOD, you never promised an easy life but You do promise a life abundant with blessings. Halleluiah! Lord, my married friends need to be reminded that You know their marriages are not always easy. They face obstacles and carry burdens that are overwhelming sometimes. Lord, please reassure them that You will never leave them alone in challenges and You will use everything in their lives and marriages — whether comfortable or painful — for good purposes because they love You. No turmoil occurs in their families without Your permission. Every detail of what unfolds in these marriages is authorized by You for Divine purpose. Give my friends a spirit of humility to recognize any areas where they have need or opportunity to surrender themselves to You, Jesus. Please cover my friends with Your grace and power. When hard things come, please stretch, strengthen and equip my friends to respond as a team. Where there is sin, please bring a spirit of conviction while making Your way out clear and compelling to them so that they can be free indeed. Please help my friends to have your perspective about things like financial pressure, vocational dissatisfaction, illness, and parenting challenges. Help them to catch Your vision for the Kingdom value in every experience they face so my friends live with their hope, decisions, and actions anchored in Your ways. God, please use my friends' marriages to point people to You. You can do this, in Jesus’ name! AMEN

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

FINDING GLORY Wednesday

As always, today’s scripture and discussion question are taken from the Finding Glory in the Thorns: Group Discussion Guide. As we did last week, we continue to dig deeper into this challenging but rewarding issue of sharing our stories and lives together.

"To keep me from being conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in my weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 CORINTHIANS 12:7-10

How much did Paul share about the specifics of his "thorn?" How do you maintain an appropriate level of privacy (or respect for family) while sharing your struggles with transparency and authenticity? The following verses are helpful in discovering God's ways in this: Ephesians 5:33, Ephesians 6:1-4, Romans 14:13.

Instead of giving testimony about what God is teaching us, we can all have a tendency to fall into the trap of telling our stories like a droning novel. What is the difference between talking about your life's circumstances and sharing your faith story?

For more information about Finding Glory Groups, visit http://www.findingglory.com/findingglorygrou.html.

Today's reflections are copyrighted excerpts from Finding Glory in the Thorns: Group Discussion Guide.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Who has Walked in Your Shoes?

Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about kids having seizures. Larry and I deeply empathize with parents facing the horrifying moments, hours or even years watching their child suffer with uncontrolled seizures. We are very thankful that our daughter Carly’s seizures have been well managed for several years now and we never take it for granted. Even the non-seizure episodes she has are so similar to a seizure that they serve as a regular reminder of how helpless, scared and lonely a person can feel when watching a loved one suffer.

I got to thinking about the first time Carly had a seizure and what it meant to have a neighbor walk through that shocking and overwhelming situation with us. We knew nothing about seizures at that time and it lasted well over an hour so you might imagine we appreciated a quick education and the good deal of comfort we got from having someone there who had been through it before us.

That night in the emergency room, our friend stood in the wings offering reassuring words and prompting us with questions we might ask the doctors. In the 11 years since that night, we have reminisced frequently and fondly about the treasure it was to experience her empathy, prayers, and quiet, respectful guidance.

Over the years, we’ve had friends come alongside us in remarkable ways, especially when we’ve been in the midst of adversity. There have also been times when we have felt quite forgotten, and sometimes even abandoned, by our friends. For as wonderful and important as it is to have someone come alongside of us when we are feeling hurt, confused, scared or tired, people will never fully satisfy us. Only God can do that.

And he said, "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14

I know there are others reading this today who, like me, need to review God’s promises frequently. We need to remember that Jesus has walked in our shoes. Not only does He perfectly understand our situations and our needs but also, by the power of the Holy Spirit, God is present and available to us at all times to empathize with us, guide us, strengthen us and give us His peace. We don’t have to earn that accessibility — it’s simply a gift to be received.

For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:5

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4

You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word. Psalm 119:114

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. Isaiah 49:13

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14

COME, LORD JESUS! Help me to trust in your presence, power and great love for me. Cause these promises from Your Word to sink into my soul and become deeply personal to me. Give me godly friends to encourage me through life with but teach me how to rest my heart and life completely in my relationship with You, Lord God. AMEN

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