Friday, December 27, 2013

Romans. .Week 4. .Discussion

I enjoyed reading the responses to this discussion from my email study group. .
and I also took the time for my own self-reflection. .
It’s been a very good assignment for me. .
You know. .
Satan has been very present and busy in my life over the last 6 weeks or so. .
(2 lessons on spiritual warfare from Ephesians this week have reminded and confirmed that fact to me) I have been very on-edge. .doubtful, discouraged at times. .
frustrated at myself. .and at others. .
sometimes just wishing myself back in that complacent stage of my walk with God. .
where I just rolled along in blissful ignorance, doing things my own way. .
not really a threat to Satan’s kingdom. .
That life was EASY. .This walk is harder. .
there is more responsibility. .there is more vulnerability. .
I tend to be wordy. .because it helps me learn and sort things out. .
God has gifted me with an ability to put words together. .and it works for me. .
I also believe, after 13 years of listening to people’s problems. .
that people ALWAYS think. .
they are the only ones that deal with __________. .

Because they tend to stifle in the things that they are most scared to talk about. .
they don’t really know what is normal or incurred by others. .
When you can say. .
yeah, lots of people feel like that, or experience that, or deal with those issues. .
there is such an expression of RELIEF on their faces. .
And so. .I KNOW that my experiences. .
will be helpful to someone, in some way, at some point. .
which is why I am so intent on sharing WAY more than most of you desire to know!
All that to say this. .
This time of reflection this week was ENCOURAGING to me. .
because God just brought to mind the places where He is working in my life. .
and reminded me by way of Romans 8:17 again. .
that I am His heir. .
and the degree of “suffering” will be completely worth the glory of God in the long run. .
He reminded me that I am continually to look to Him to renew my mind with things of above (12:2) instead of focusing on the things of the world (people, their opinions, or ugly attitudes, what they might think, what they might be saying. .and on and on and on!)
So. .in a fashion that you would be inclined to expect at this point of the game. .
Here are my very heartfelt, very real, very intimate, and very long answers to the questions that we were to consider this week!
In August 2013. . I was HUNGRY. .
I had spent nearly 2 years studying the bible in an audible way for 2-4 hours every week in my vehicle. .I was reading my bible a number of times during the week. .I was engaged in an active Sunday School study weekly. .I had just started doing two “topical” studies on my own as I read through the New Testament after an enlightening thought from God one night. .When I was introduced to this concept of studying the bible. .I was SO ready for it to further my pursuit of Christ!    
I wanted very much. .to focus in on the meat of the Word. .not just reading it. .but to STUDY it. .MEDITATE on it. .UNDERSTAND it. .As I look back over the last 3 months. .I see now. .that God. .also gave me this “assignment” of leading others while I studied myself. .to start developing the spiritual gifts that He had given me. .that I hadn’t understood or appreciated before!!  
 Like you all. .I have reaped the benefits of studying in this manner!! Not only have I learned the truths of the Bible better. .I have also learned more about who God created ME to be. .I’ve learned to put my money where my mouth is. .and that God stands true when the heat is on. .both of those experiences have benefited me more than just a HEAD knowledge would have. .I was able to LIVE that. .and survive!! The words in our 3 books of the bible thus far. .have come back to benefit me in conversations. .in relationships. .and in counseling and teaching others that had a need for godly advice!
Things that I have been able to change. .foremost. .was confidence. .In times where I would have said good Christian words with my mouth, while being unsure of the outcome. .I have noticed that I have a deeper sense of TRUST in God. .that, regardless of an outcome. .If I am looking to Him. .it will be OK. .and my HEART knows that now too. .I have been able to overlook more. .to keep my mouth shut more. .to bestow compassion a little easier. .More and more of my conversations revolve around God. .or encompass Him to some degree. .Relationships within my home seem better. .from my perspective anyway. .and there are more things that I rephrase before I spew out what I WOULD have said 3 months ago. .this has been a much slower change. .and it definitely is affected by my level of stress. .
I definitely have been getting more of the “evil eye” conviction feelings when something angry or gossipy, or rude or otherwise ungodly comes out of my mouth that shouldn’t have (doesn’t mean that I apologize or fix the statement. .but I am uncomfortably aware of the fact that it was WRONG. .I am getting more adept at changing the subject in bad gossip sessions etc) There are some people that I simply can’t be around for longer than I have to. .because my mind just starts going in the wrong direction. .or my thoughts get sassy, and I know it will be a only a matter of time before something gets loose that should have been left in. .I am also more uncomfortable when I let my thought life get away from me. .If I feel like I have been wronged. .or I over interpret what people mean. .I can go a whole southward direction of mind talk scenarios that just make me miserable. .I am better able to ask God to put it out of my mind. .and He redirects my thoughts. .sometimes. .I still WILLINGLY go down that path though. .knowing that I could stop it if I wanted to. .but just not willing!! It never leads me to anywhere good. .but human nature is just stubborn, is all I can figure!
Finally. .Jeremy and I had a conversation. .specifically. .about any progress that I might be making. .He couldn’t readily identify the changes that I noticed (the ones I noted above). .and I wouldn’t have expected him to see those particular changes. .since the point of keeping your mouth shut. .doesn’t really include telling them later what you WOULD have said, if it hadn’t been so wretched J He didn’t really note me to be any more patient with the kids. .which I had thought I was attaining. .and I opted not to ask them this week. .because Tristan has been on a VERY short nerve of mine. .so my behavior has been less than godly. .honesty, right?? BUT. .he  thought that my biblical wisdom was progressing well. .which he deemed a good thing. .and he has noticed that we have very regular conversations now about the things that I am learning in our study. .and those have even spurred some additional study on his part. .which has been a cool new aspect of our relationship!
Looking forward to the rest of the responses. .as we enjoy the long weekend. .if something else comes to your mind that you would like to share. .feel free to jump back into the conversation. .And if you have already responded. .don’t feel like you are finished with your reflection. .I have noticed that God doesn’t reveal everything at once always. .and sometimes, He will show me things for days as I keep putting those questions to Him. .
And in the way of reflection. .one more thing to add to your weekend thoughts. .Where are you GOING with the Lord?? Our original bible study was slated for 4 months. .we will be done with that after James. .You’ll have to admit that you have had a lot of accountability factor to keep on reading and working at it through this study. .how will you continue to further your growth in the Lord in 2014?? Start considering that as well. .The tendency seems to be (at least mine always was). .if I wasn’t being spurred on. .I would take a little vacation. .that turned into a looooonnnng vacation. .if you don’t have a plan for your time with God in the way of reading and making that a priority in our very busy lives. .you will soon slip back into spiritual stagnation. .and that is not a good place to be.
It tickles me to see the changes occurring in your lives as a result of your prioritized time with God. .And I feel Paul’s sentiments to some degree from Romans 9:3. .when he wrote that he would be willing to be forever cursed if that would save his people, the Jews. .thought I certainly couldn’t say that in my own strength. .It makes me more willing to open myself up to the psychological attacks of Satan. .when I know that lives are being changed as God uses my persistence to be digging into the Word and proclaiming it’s truth!! Thanks for taking the time to share your hearts with us!!  Have a great weekend. .
We're on a short sabbatical next week. .
to make our January study come out nicely via the calendar. .
I may come up with some extracurricular reading for you. .or a bible reading suggestion. .
Stop by and see!
  Enjoy! Melanie

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