Thursday, July 31, 2008

Longing for Intimacy - A lesson from NOG

This has been a good week in my No Other Gods study. It's interesting that as I've worked through this study, I haven't felt like it's been particularly dynamic or eye-opening. In fact, at times, it's been rather frustrating. However, as I near the end, I realize that God really has been revealing quite a bit through it. In Day 2 (I think) of Week 6, Kelly Minter asked us to read through a list of topics that we felt we could relate to, then read the Psalm listed next to it and note anything we sense God is trying to tell us through it. The topic that stood out to me was "Longing for intimacy with God" and the related Psalm was 42. Actually what stood out about it were the words "longing for intimacy".

I was taught growing up that family was absolutely everything and good friends were a close second (and to never leave the house without makeup on 'cause "you never know who you're gonna meet"). Seriously, family and friends were to be nurtured and cherished. What I've learned this week is that while that statement is true, it's not necessarily the whole truth . (Yes, there's that true vs. truth thing again.)

One thing I've learned moving around as much as we have is that it's difficult starting over and having to make new friends. In my experience, it has taken a minimum of about a year to form a new close friend but that has differed depending on the state in which we've lived. I've also had a personal lesson during the last couple of years that financial difficulty is a strain not only on one's bank account but also on marriage as my husband took on an extra job and I went back to work part-time. All of these circumstances have brought ever-decreasing opportunities for nurturing personal relationships and intimacy, whether in marriage, friendships or with family.

Psalm 42 starts out "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?" After I stopped singing "As the deer", I read it over a couple of more times. What struck me at first was how much the writer of this Psalm desired time with God and I wished I was like that and I wondered how one gets to that point of true longing for God. Then I started to think, what if it's not just about how the writer felt? What if what he said is fact? What if it's a fact that my soul thirsts and pants for God and I never realized it and all these years I've been filling it instead with earthly relationships? That idea had never occured to me before. I sat there relatively stunned.

The thing is, for most of my life, the earthly relationships I've so cherished seemed to satisfy and fill up any emptiness I may have had just fine. But was it the healthiest thing spiritually speaking? I'm not so sure anymore. It's like if my body is thirsting for water and I drink a soda instead - did it quench my thirst? Yes. But was it what my body really needed? No and I'll probably be thirsty again soon. It wasn't the best choice; it was a substitute that left my body lacking what it really needed.

For reasons I don't fully understand, God allowed me those substitutes, perhaps even designated them for me. I didn't come to know Him until I was 15 and up to that time, life was rocky. Those relationships - my family and friends - provided for me what I desperately needed - genuine love, guidance and a certain amount of stability in terribly unstable times. They also taught me a lot about Him and His character. Not that I was aware of it then.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says "There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven". Looking back now I think I'm seeing that it was shortly after I got married that I began a long season of weaning - about 13 years long. God began to wean me from relying unhealthily on the substitutes I'd cherished for so long so He could draw me to Himself and begin to fill my thirsting soul with what it truly needs - Him.

Family and friends are wonderful. God gives them to us to bless us. They are meant to be cherished and nurtured. What they are not meant to do is take God's place in our heart. There is only One who can satisfy the longing of our souls and that is God Himself. It's a bit of relief to me that having a soul that thirsts and pants for God is not just something to hope for or desire but something that, I believe, is a fact. Our souls long for God. How will we fill that longing?

May you forever be blessed.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Are you familiar with the term 'afterglowing'? It was a term I heard a lot in the 80's and early 90's, in church settings usually. After a church service or perhaps a Christian concert or even after a particularly good time of fellowship, folks would linger around "after-glowing". If you're unfamiliar with the term, I looked it up and here's a few definitions I thought explained it fairly well or at least might give a good idea of what I mean.

1) (I particularly like this one) The light emitted after removal of a source of energy. ex. the glow of an incandescent metal as it cools.
2) The comfortable feeling following a pleasant experience.
3) A lingering impression of past glory or success.

The reason I mention this is because it's pushing 2am and I can't sleep because I'm still "afterglowing" after this, I mean yesterday morning's worship time at church. I keep replaying it in my mind.

I had to lead worship yesterday and if you've followed to any degree my quest to overcome anxiety while leading worship, you understand what I went through trying to get ready for church. I recently told a friend that it's gotten to the point that having to lead ranks right up there with root canal on my fear meter. Pretty bad, right? Lord forgive me.

Well, it started out same as always. Upset stomach from the time the alarm went off, numerous trips to the bathroom (more info than you probably needed, I'm sure. Sorry), minor heart palpitations, etc. But then I got to church. Mind you, since I got up I'd been trying to meditate on various scriptures the Lord has shown me in recent weeks on this topic.

Because of summer internships and vacations, etc. our worship team has been pretty minimal so I knew we wouldn't have a full team. But much to my surprise when I got there I saw we had an extra vocalist that I wasn't expecting and THEN two more unexpected surprises walked through the door - yet another vocalist and one of our drummers. With the exception of our acoustic guitar player, we had a full team! God knows that kind of support goes a long way for me. Then I felt totally blessed in having an extra 30 minutes of practice time and a team that was gracious and willing to hang in there with me for that extra time.

We finished practicing with about 20 minutes or so before the start of service. Any amount of waiting is killer to me. My stomach started acting up again so I whipped out my Bible and started reading my verses and spent some time in prayer.

Then the coolest thing happened. As soon as we started to do our thing I felt the Lord's presence. I had even sensed it during the practice time. The fear was gone, I felt this confidence and a genuine pleasure throughout worship. Please understand I love to sing, I love to worship and I love singing with our worship team. I will sing and worship my God whether I'm on a platform or in a pew or anywhere else for that matter but I'm telling you, I have never experienced to this degree the pure joy in the Lord while leading the worship set like I did this morning. I even messed up a little bit but it was truly not a big deal. It was such a joy and for me, that's a really big deal.

So it's 5 minutes before 2am and I'm still afterglowing and had no one to share it with - except you, of course, out there in the blogosphere.

Well, thanks for staying and reading this. I pray you are blessed with a special sense of His presence today. There's just nothing like it.


Friday, July 25, 2008

A NOG Posting

Been working through my No Other Gods study and the following prayer by A.W. Tozer ended this week's homework. It spoke volumes to and for me.

"Father, I want to know Thee, but my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus' name. Amen."

Wow. Be blessed.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

I Sit

I sit wondering and worrying...

Is my sweet one feeling better?
Is another one feeling bitter?
Have I let this one down?
Have I filled that one up?
Have I met expectations?
Do I press on or give up?

Do I confront or let go?
Express or move slow?
I want to scream and/or shout
My frustrations, let out.

I sit tired and weary - my sleep's been deprived.
I fear no conclusions will quickly arrive.

The thoughts in my head all vie to be heard
Some lies from the enemy, some completely absurd.
It's the still small Voice, I'm trying to hear.
If I come unto Him, then to me He'll draw near.

So here I sit waiting, His Word at my side.
My thoughts must grow quiet and my heart open wide.
I dare not trust in my feelings for they've led me astray.
Trust His Word over feelings that's the only sure way.

Now I still have no answers to what I said up above.
Yet my angst grows still and I've a sense of His love.
And for now that's enough; I'm surprisingly satisfied.
For to be accepted unconditionally, it's for that my heart's cried.

So I sit filled with gratitude and tears in my eyes.
Perhaps now's a good time to give sleep one more try.
I'll go turn out the lights, make sure everyone's fine.
And aim to rest sound in my Jesus for all time.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Everyday Nuggets

I've been wanting to sit down for over a week to post but just haven't had the time to collect my thoughts. It seems so much has been going on and yet not much of anything - at least not anything I deemed news worthy. So often I read stories and blogs from ladies (like some of you who have posted messages here) who share wonderful and wise nuggets from the seemingly everyday things in life and I so admire that ability because it's a rare thing when I'm able to recognize it in my own life.

For instance, in the study I'm doing, No Other Gods, the author, Kelly Minter, talks of how, while on a run, she noticed a lizard in the street who had apparently gotten it's head stuck in a Dr. Pepper soda can and sadly died that way in the hot Tennessee sun. Here's what she pulled from that: "The lizard and the Dr. Pepper can spoke to me of something universal that none of us can escape: a desire for refuge, a need for relief, water for our hearts and souls. The tricky part is where we find this sanctuary and how we choose to satisfy our needs. His (the lizards')was a deathtrap. A deceptive offer. A lie. From everything I understand Scripture to reveal, I believe only one source of satisfaction and refuge exists." And of course she's talking of the Lord.

Now I did have an interesting little nugget earlier today and a great example of a principle I learned last week in my study. My son pulled out some of the shells he had collected in Myrtle Beach a few weeks ago and one of the things he mixed into his collection was a bone of some sort. None of us know what it's from but he found it in the ocean and considers it a treasure. Well, the kids were outside and all of sudden he started having a fit, screaming that his sister took the bone and threw it in the grass and now he can't find it. So, of course, I fussed at her for throwing it and made her get out of the pool to go help him find it only to learn a short time later that he had thrown it in the pool and that's why she threw it - to get it out of where she knew it didn't belong. And sweet girl that she is, she was gracious enough to forgive me for fussing at her without having had the whole story. Sigh...

True vs. Truth. There is definitely a difference. What my son said was true but it wasn't the whole truth of the situation. In my life, it may be true that I'm occassionally lonely but the truth is that I'm never alone. God has said He will never leave me nor forsake me. I'm certainly not the first to become ensnared by a lack of discernment and I'll likely not be the last and I'll probably be ensnared by it again though I hope not as easily or quickly should there happen to be a next time. Did you know the serpent never actually lied to Eve in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3? I never realized that before last week. He was certainly deceptive, no question. I loved what Kelly Minter wrote. She said "If Eve had just stuck with Genesis 2:16-17 she would have never needed to go through chapter 3. I pray the same for us. In order to stick with the truth, we have to know it."

Now that's a nugget I think I'll chew on for a while.

Be blessed.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Reflecting Deeper Still Part 3

After Kay finished preaching we broke for lunch. At 1:00, Beth, Kay and Priscilla returned for a question/answer session that included everything from "the critical hair moment" to marital advice and child-rearing. Priscilla's a total cut-up. She's so funny. They all are, really.

Then it was Beth's turn to preach. But before she got started, she felt very impressed to have an altar call in light of Kay's message. This wasn't just any altar call, however; she was really speaking to those who have been struggling with something for so long and who wanted to finally have a definitive moment in their lives to remember that this was the day they once and for all laid it at the foot of the Cross for good and received forgiveness and redemption. The altar filled up with women, many of whom were just weeping. You couldn't help but be moved and affected by it.

During this time, some glass partitions that had been placed in various areas around the arena were brought up on the stage while Travis and the worship team sang. Throughout Friday night and Saturday morning, people had filled these partitions up with prayer requests, praise reports and just things that were on their hearts using a white paint pen. During the altar call, a gentleman came up with paint cans and started to paint over the heartfelt words that had been written. The camaras were zoomed in close enough to read the words as he did this. Again, I was so moved to read prayers from people praying for a touch from the Lord, the salvation of loved ones, travel safety, healing, for loved ones in Iraq, praise for God's hand in various situations. These were people's hearts poured out all over these partitions. This picture was the end result and some of the scriptures being displayed on the tv screens included Isaiah 60:3 and Colossians 1:17. Click on the picture to enlarge it to see it better.

Then Beth got up to preach. Her primary verse was John 1:14 - The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. Her goal was to help 19,000 of us remember it. She did this by teaching us, section by section, various hand motions to go along with the words of the verse and, of course, expounding on each section of the verse.

Ok, confession time: I was so tired by this point in the conference after such a full day (and after staying up late the night before talking with my sister) that I know I left a lot out. Hopefully, my sister will help me fill in the blanks. heh, heh :D Check back again, ok? Here's what I've got in my notes...

1) The Word - Logos - Divine reasoning/expression. She said that we need to pray about our desires and ask God to heal and change our "want to's. Determination alone won't cut it. I've heard Beth speak about this before and from experience I can say that God has always honored that prayer. When I've been honest with Him that in myself I don't want to change so and so but if He wants me to, then I want to want to, He has changed my heart over the matter. Praise His Name.

2) Became Flesh 1 John 4:1-3

3) Made His dwelling among us - skenoo - Means to tabernacle 2 Cor 5:1; Rev 21:22. Christ was the "tent" on earth. In eternity, He will be the temple.

4) We have seen His glory (John 1:18; 1 John 1:1) Shekinah. The name dwelt between the cherubim - the divine manefested.

5) The glory of the One and Only.

6) Who came from the Father (vs 18; John 13:22-23)

7) Full of grace and truth (vs 16; John 2 - wedding at Cana) Fill the jars. Our jars are one of three things: Either empty, filled with water or filled with wine. In the spiritual sense, the "new Wine". "I don't want to be fine, I want to be full."

At the end, the praise team came back and absolutely jammed. I got the video below from Lifeway's All Access blog (there's a link for this on the right) You may be familiar with Kay Arthur but I bet you've never quite seen her like this before! To see even better pictures and additional recaps, I suggest going over to the All Access blog. The Lifeway photographer did a beautiful job. Hope my recaps have blessed you even a little bit. No matter whether you were there or not, God's Word never returns void.

Be blessed.

Deeper Still from on Vimeo

Reflecting Deeper Still Part 2

It's been a week since I got home from the Deeper Still conference in Atlanta and the truths presented there are still sinking in. I keep praying that God would not allow everything that so impacted me in that place to fade as time goes by.

As I left off in my last post, Travis Cottrell, left us Friday night with an invitation to arrive back at the arena a bit early Saturday for a special pre-worship treat. He said we wouldn't want to miss it. I'm so glad I didn't.

The worship team began Saturday morning with some great music and led us in Joyful, Joyful, which has been one of my favorites for many years. Midway through the song, out came Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer wearing dark sunglasses and treated us to a rap. Yes, you read right - a rap. It was hilarious and they were pretty good! I can only hope Lifeway releases an an audio or even better a video of the entire conference. It was a riot.

After worship ended Beth, Priscilla and Kay came up to the stage and welcomed everyone after which Beth and Priscilla prayed over Kay and the message she was going to bring. As Kay came forward she made it clear that she had a difficult word for all of us. She stated that she had literally been sick over having to bring it. You could see it in her entire countenance. She choked up off and on and even mid-way needed to stop and asked us all to pray before continuing.

She asked us this question: Do you know, love and sow Truth? She read from Jeremiah 36; 6:27-28 and 9:1-9 then stated that God does not want to bring clamity or judgement to His people but said His character demands Him to bring such things when we don't obey. Ezekiel 14:13-19

She spoke of and with great concern for our nation and said she believes the United States is getting set up for a famine and quoted Ezekiel 14:12-23 as a comparison. She asked us from where are we getting our truth and how are we forming our views, quoting Isaiah 59:14-15. Are we forming our views based on the media that often lies and/or twists the truth or in the Word of God?

Kay said God wants us to be a Jeremiah (Jer 1:1-19; Eph 1) and speak the Word of God but in order to do that we must know the Word of God. She gave a great word picture of our needing to be so filled up with the Word of God that if someone were to bump into us it would spill out. She read from 2 Kings 22 where the Word of God had gotten lost in the house of God and said the same thing has happened in America. Essentially, we are staying within the church walls instead of bringing Christ to the world. The fact is, "we are not saved for ourselves alone but for the world and the kingdom at large." Jesus said to deny yourself and take up your cross and follow Him.

Kay said it grieves her because so many churches tend to spend more time in the New Testament but we meet God in the Old Testament. Churches seem to be more concerned about comfort than holiness and wind up in captivity as a result due to their lack of understanding (Isa 5:13; Hosea 4:1-6).

Kay then compared the culture in which we live to what was happening with the Israelites in Ezekiel 22:1-4 and Jeremiah 6:10-14 People are turning from the Truth in order to stay in their comfort and trust in deceptive words that do absolutely nothing for them.

She then said in light of all of this, there are 7 things we can do.

1) Jer 4:3 - Break up the fallow ground - the hardness of our soul - return to God. Get on your face before God and ask Him to break my heart with what breaks His

2) It is a time to Mourn and Weep: When was the last time you wept over the pain of this nation? Jer 9:17-18; Ezek 9. Destruction came to those who didn't mourn the sins of Israel yet He spared those who did.

3) Pray!!! Jer 36:7; 1 Tim 2 Pray for all those in authority.

4) Love God's Word (Jer 20:7-9) Make time for in-depth study. Know the whole consult of God.

5) Love Others as Jesus Loves Them - Jer 31:3; John 13:34-35. This love is active and unconditional.

6) Introduce People to Jesus Christ. Ask God what to say and do. (Jer 31:31; jer 33:1-9, 15, 17)

7) Rest (2 Tim 4:1-4) If you do all these things, you rest in that. Rest in Faith. He's the One who does the work.

It was indeed a heavy message and left all of us with much to contemplate. I believe it was during her closing prayer that she asked us all to pick up our Bibles and kiss them and hold them close praying that we would truly love God's Word more than anything in life. My recap probably doesn't do her message the justice it deserves. I had the feeling that when Kay left the platform, she probably went to her room and just wept.

Be blessed. I will post on the rest of the conference in a day or so.


Friday, July 4, 2008

Reflecting Deeper Still Part 1

Ok, finally. A chance to sit down and collect my thoughts on the Deeper Still Conference with Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer and Kay Arthur. I had hoped I'd be able to get everything down in one post but there's just too much to cover. So let me apologize in advance for the very long post but the conference was so fabulous. I have honestly never experienced anything quite like it in my life. (Oh, and in case you didn't know this, if you click on any picture, it will enlarge).

Anyway, I could not wait for the day to come so when it finally did, I was more than a little excited. My family and I headed out from our vacation in SC about 8:30am that morning and arrived in Atlanta at about 2:30. My sister arrived from TN just minutes before we did. Mind you, I haven't see her in about 2 years and, as she said, we probably haven't had an uninterruped conversation with each other in far longer than that (that's often how it is once you have kids). For us, this wasn't just about the conference it was also about reconnecting as sisters.

On Friday night, the doors to the conference at the Philips Arena were to open at 5pm and we knew there would be literally thousands of women attending, many of whom would likely have begun to get in line hours before that. Little did we know there would turn out to be 19,000 women. By the time we got checked in to the hotel, freshened up and drove over, it was 4:45 when we arrived at the arena. I think about 17,000 women were already there. Didn't matter, though. Nothing could dampen my excitement. I was stoked.

Then we actually got in the doors to find seats and realized we had a challenge on our hands. It looked like at least 18,000 women had already found their seats and even though you weren't supposed to save seats, seats were saved all over the place. Everywhere we turned to ask "Is this seat taken?" came the reply, "Yes". Over and over. We weren't in the nose-bleed seats yet but maybe a section or two below. Karen and I just kind of wandered aimlessly thinking it shouldn't be this hard to find two seats together in an arena this size.

All of a sudden she got this air of authority come over her and she starts making her way through rows, over people, down aisles and down stairs toward the main floor. I thought she was crazy. If we couldn't find seats up here, she was dreamin' if she thought we'd find 'em on anywhere near the stage. Until she led us to the remaining two seats on the end of the first row directly behind the production team! I thought surely they were saved - but they weren't! And not only that, but we were sitting next to the aisle that Beth, Kay, Priscilla and the whole worship team would come out through. I could have shook their hands if I'd had the nerve (I didn't but the lady directly behind me did and she got a hug from Beth - too funny). I did, however, hug my sister and thank Jesus. God knew how thrilled and blessed I felt just to be at this conference and it was like He thought "You know what? Melanie's so excited about this whole thing - why don't We just give her a little tickle to top it off." And let me tell ya, I was tickled over these seats. By the way, the red sticker on the chair in the picture says "Red's Throne". I don't know what exactly Red does but I'm guessing it's pretty important.

Travis Cottrell and his praise team (which happened to include his lovely wife) came out followed by our three ladies. I'm telling you, the worship was phenomenal. The power in their voices especially when they'd hit those high notes and sustain them just made you feel like you were experiencing the tiniest piece of heaven. Oh my word. The entire arena would just explode in praise, cheers and applause. I was back and forth between tears and laughter. Then Mandisa came out and she too was just awesome. I don't really watch American Idol so I wasn't terribly familiar with her but after Friday night I'll never forget her and her annointed singing. I was so blessed.

Priscilla preached that night and she looked beautiful and if you haven't heard by now, she is six months pregnant. She was so hilarious. I took her Discerning the Voice of God study and knew she was a good teacher so I already expected she would have a good message and I wasn't disappointed. She spoke on finding God in the wilderness and read from Exodus 19:9-11. She said that God will oftentimes lead us into wilderness seasons in order to invite us to a personal encounter with Him just as He did with the Israelites. She brought up a map showing the route God led them which happened to be the furthest away from the land of promise. She said that it's often the place that's furthest away externally that turns out to be the greatest internal blessing.

A story she told that really convicted me was when she was outside one day, there was a cloud that looked like it was about to burst forth rain any minute. She had been going through some difficulty and began to pray "Lord, just like this cloud is going to open up any minute, please rain down on me." Well shortly after that it began to pour out so she took off for the house as fast as she could so she wouldn't get soaked through. As she did, the Lord said to her that's so much like My people. We ask Him to rain down but as soon as it becomes a little uncomfortable, we want to take off back to where we came from. Ouch.

Three years ago, I had begun to pray to break out of my mode of mediocrity with Him. I wanted to...well, I guess you could say, go deeper still. I didn't use those words but that's essentially what I was saying. Then God started opening doors for me to sing. When that started getting uncomfortable - and trust me, it's been uncomfortable - I began to say no. If you're unfamiliar with my anxiety issues, just peruse some of my past posts to understand what I mean.

She then said that if we choose not to fight God in our wilderness season, there are three things we can do to prepare to see Him in the midst of it (Ex 19:3-4):

1. We have a call to remember what He's done. We will be thankful and our faith lifted.

2. We are to remember our spiritual identity. God is the only one with the right to label us. (1 Pet 2:9) I really appreciate that especially in light of what I'm learning in my NOG study regarding my apparent need for people's approval and my fear of not having it.

3. We are called to new levels of surrender. If there's something you're holding back from Him, surrender it. It will bring you far greater blessing.

Well that's it for now. The conference ended Friday night with Travis inviting everyone to come a bit early in the morning for a special pre-worship treat. He said we wouldn't want to miss it. And he was so right...

Be blessed.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

It's Official

Well, it's official. I like this study. When I first read on Beth Moore's blog that she was going to "facilitate" this study from her blog posts, I was intrigued. I read the description and thought, this could be good. But who could I do it with? It turned out that my best friend, Renee, who lives in FL was very interested and we could do it over the phone - we talk about everything else on the phone so why not do a Bible study that way?

One of the aspects of this study that I really liked was the idea that a good portion of it would include fellowship - dinner, dessert, music - in someone's home. It's meant to be a relaxed setting where everyone can kick their feet up while delving into God's Word. There are recipes included in the book but Beth has been posting recipes as well. I really wanted to be a part of that aspect too so I invited additional women to join in the study and out of those, three are coming over, with their kids, every other Tuesday evening. We eat, we talk, the kids play and all are blessed. It's been really fun.

As for the study itself, I was feeling a bit frustrated as the two weeks progressed. I wanted so much to be able to identify any idols that are in my life and while two things came to mind immediately, I didn't feel I was quite getting it. I've been struggling for years now with my weight and can't seem to get a handle on the overeating and not sure I really want to if I'm being honest. Or rather I don't exactly relish the idea of how much hard work it is to get it off (it was so easy putting it on). At the same time, however, I really do want to feel and look better physically and I worry more and more about what I'm doing to my health. So, I thought this was probably one idol.

Then there's the anxiety. I've written about that before. During the last year, the Lord has led me to sing more and occassionally lead worship at my church. Unfortunately, the anxiety over doing that has gotten so bad during the last couple of months that I've begun to say no, particularly to leading or singing specials. But that makes me so mad. I hate letting fear dictate my actions, especially when it's clear to me that it's of the Lord's leading. That has led to my having to battle feelings of failure and fearing I'm a disappointment. And I know that's not of God. Surely that was another one. But still...there was that nagging feeling there was something else I hadn't quite gotten to.

Then yesterday morning, I got to day 5 of week 2 that dealt with fear. Beth's studies have taught me to pray before I even crack open a book. My prayer was, among other things, "Lord, let me have eyes to see, ears to hear, a mind to understand and a heart to receive what you have to say to me this morning."

As I went through that day's homework things just started to click into place. I realized that my idol has been other people's approval. It's been that way since I was a young kid. The fear is that if I don't have it, I will end up lonely and alone. Even as I'm typing these words the thought quickly occurs to me that that includes God too but God answered just as quickly saying "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Isn't God good? This is like real-time posting happening here. That's funny.

Anyway Kelly had us look up various scriptures on fear and the two that stand out to me include Isaiah 8:11-13 and Isaiah 51:12 (but I took it all the way to vs 16). Essentially what all these verses say to me is that I am not to give such weight (so to speak) to what other people think of me or to live in "terror every day because of the wrath of the oppressor" who wants to destroy me. People are but grass that withers and God alone is holy. He's the one I'm to fear. He's the one who puts words in my mouth and leads me to do what He wills and will cover me and protect me with the shadow of His hand. I am His.

Yes, I like this study. Oh yeah, the first two things I mentioned - well, I believe they tie right into this. The weight issue, I believe, was born out of all the moving around we've done - it feeds the lonliness, the frustrations, the insecurities, etc. And the anxiety is just what I mentioned above - placing other people's opinion in a place of greater importance than God.

So there you have it. I think I'm going to try to post regularly on Wednesdays with updates of how the No Other Gods study is going. At least every other Wednesday. It'll be my NOG Wednesday posts. That sounds like a plan.

I hope you're having a fruitful week. Keep on keepin' on and may you...

Be blessed.