“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Saturday, July 30, 2011

But she has decided to wipe the tears away.
Reapply her mascara. Get in the car. And drive.

Not everyone is affected by insecurity in the same way.  What affects one person... may not affect another.  For me?  I can wear my Minnie Mouse ears to my church's elementary track and field event. ( I figured it would make people smile AND I am getting my money's worth each time I am wearing them!)  But a trip to the mall can totally unveil my insecurity.

I wrote the following post last year when I was reading through So Long, Insecurity for the first time.  I was headed to an event that evening that had in the past been a cause of insecurity for me... and I was thinking there might be someone else who could relate...

Originally posted on February 26, 2010

photography by Anthony Kaetzel

She is going tonight.
It is a fight for her.
She would much rather stay home.

But she knows this is good for her.
And perhaps...
Just maybe...
She'll meet someone.

Someone who will make her feel
Not alone.

But as she packs her suitcase...
Tears flood her eyes.
Because she is not sure.
Because she is insecure.

Why would she think
It would be different this time?
That it is worth the risk?

She fears that she will sit alone.
And others will notice, but not reach out.
They will all be content to stay
In their warm cozy cliques.

And she will tell herself...
"See, I told you so.
I am not trying anymore."

But she has decided to wipe the tears away.
Reapply her mascara.
Get in the car.
And drive.

She prays silently as she drives.
Asking God for something...
Wondering if it is wrong of her for wanting...
A friend.

And I have been praying for her.
Because I have been her.
And I will be there...
Waiting for her.

And I want her to know
There are others praying for her.
And they will be there...
Waiting for her.

She is going to a women's retreat tonight.
It is a fight for her.
But she will be glad
That she did not stay home.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

This Jar is Cracked

photography by Anthony Kaetzel

Yesterday our small group met.  The workbook that has just been published to be used alongside the book "So Long, Insecurity" is meant to be used over 10 weeks.  We only have 8 weeks before our next study begins.  So I decided to use my logic and count pages and chapters and felt that this past week would be the best time to combine two of the weeks.  Bad idea.  With still getting to know one another and the material, we didn't get to cover the additional work.  I guess I am always learning, right?  I will go ahead and cover some of the material we didn't get to and then hit "Week Four" of the workbook and Chapters 5 and 6 of the book this coming Tuesday.

The other snag I have hit has to do with the Leader's guide.  Unfortunately, the Leader's guide page numbers do not match with the Participant's workbook.  Not a big deal but it definitely affects the flow of getting a point across when everyone is stumbling to find out where I am at... especially if it is a good point!
We had 12 ladies gather this past week.  Two were unable to join us.  This is the largest group I have had at one of the summer Bible Studies.  I think it partly has to do with meeting at the church this summer.  It is a central location to us all.  We miss the comfy cozy of my home, but that is made up for by the delicious food that is brought each week.  So much food has been brought that it was decided we will have a sign-up for who brings food when.  Awesome problem to have, right?

Talking about food.  One of the precious ladies shared with us one of her insecurities.  And we could all relate!  She said that she had spent the time making cinnamon rolls the night before and even baked them in the morning so they would be warm for us.  But in her insecurity she told herself that they might not be good enough.  That we might think they weren't tasty.  That we might think adversely of her... and judge her!  Wow!  I have so been there and done that.  Maybe we all don't have an insecurity about our cooking but we have an insecurity about something.  And, of course, we all affirmed her and said that we would looooove to taste her cinnamon rolls!  Seriously!

Okay, so all of that to get to this... on page 16 of the workbook, Beth Moore asks us to Read 2 Corinthians 4:7.  And answer the questions:  "What words does this verse use to describe Christ living within us?  How should this transform the way we view ourselves?"  I had mentioned that I had written a post about this very verse... and how God used it to transform how I view myself.  I've posted this a couple times, but it rings so true in my heart.  This Jar Is Cracked.

This Jar is Cracked
photography by Anthony Kaetzel

We now have this light
shining in our hearts,

but we ourselves are like
fragile clay jars
containing this great treasure

This makes it clear that
our great power is from God,
not from ourselves.
2 Corinthians 4:7 NLT

As I ponder my current memory verse... I marvel at the thought that God's light shines within me. And also through me... considering all the chips and cracks in this particular jar of clay. How easy it is to see God's great power when the gaps and crevices allow the light to shine through...

And so I was caught off guard when I came across this verse in Jeremiah.

"This is what the Lord Almighty,
the God of Israel, says:
Take these documents,
both the sealed and unsealed
copies of the deed of purchase,
and put them in a
clay jar

so they will last a long time."
Jeremiah 32:14 NIV

The beauty of the Old Testament. The beauty of scripture interpreting scripture.

I had only ever considered Paul's inference towards the fragility of a clay jar. Not the durability of a clay jar.

Anthony took this picture when we were in Israel last year. These jars are similar in nature to the jars that housed the Dead Sea Scrolls when they were found in 1947. Jars of clay that protected ancient manuscripts for almost 2,000 years.

Although fragile in nature. They were used for preservation. Preservation of the word of God. Worthy of holding a treasure.

And that is me. And that is you.

"And what a awesome thought—
God has always put his eternal treasure
in fragile jars of clay,
and though the jars eventually break,
the treasure doesn’t,
but somehow makes the jars themselves eternal."
- Pastor Ray Noah

Monday, July 25, 2011

"I don't just doubt myself,
I also doubt God about myself."

"I realized that maybe I don't just doubt myself.  
Maybe I subconsciously doubt God for using me.  
Let me be frank:  if I were God, I wouldn't have given me a second look.  
I constantly feel unqualified, inadequate, and out of my league... 
I not only lack security, I also lack faith.  
I don't just doubt myself, I also doubt God about myself."  
~ Beth Moore; So Long, Insecurity; page 18

Tomorrow is the second meeting of the So Long, Insecurity Small Group Book Discussion.  It's not too late to join us.  And if you aren't able to join us in person, I encourage you to get the book and join along via my blog.  Just because you can't be with us... doesn't mean you have to wait.  Insecurity can be debilitating.  For you and those you love and those you come in contact with... so NO excuses.  It's time for us to fight the good fight... to stop feeling like we are a victim of our own roller coaster of emotions... and to start training those who are our legacy whether by blood or by spiritual bond.

Originally posted on February 21, 2010
So Long, Insecurity - Week 2

Rays of Hope
photography by Anthony Kaetzel

I've struggled to write this post.  I'm not sure why.  Perhaps it is because there is so much meat-y material... and I really wish I could buy each of you and everyone I know a copy of So Long, Insecurity.  And for those of you who are not reading the book, I have found it difficult to make my answers feel sufficient to give you an idea of what Beth is asking about this week.  And I normally don't write posts until I feel inspired to do so... but I didn't want to wait much longer because I don't want to miss reading your answers to Week 2 before Week 3 is already here.

Your answers to  So Long, Insecurity - Week 1 have touched my heart and opened my eyes.  How we can be so secure in some areas of our lives... and so insecure in other areas has been an epiphany for me.  I am trying to take advantage of what security I do have... and use it in other areas of my life.

You are welcome to leave your answers to So Long, Insecurity - Week 2 in the comments section of this post.  It will be exciting to track our growth alongside each other.  And we can pray for one another.  As always... because we are dealing with insecurity... feel free to leave an anonymous comment. 

So Long, Insecurity - Week 2

1. Based on Chapter Three, what tends to be your own "Prominent False Positive"?
Beth defines a "prominent false positive" as "the one thing that would make you more secure in all things."
I would consider my "prominent false positive" to be my "chronic need for affirmation."  Which includes wanting everyone to like me... and to be pleased with me... and to tell me about it.  And even after that... to remind me, again. 
"No one solitary thing on this entire planet has the power to secure everything else." ~ Beth Moore

2. What is the challenge stated at the very end of Chapter Three?  (I want us to see this restated in our comments hundreds of times so it breaks into our belief systems. It is critical to our journey. SO, I don't care how many times you've seen it written on this post, write it again for yourself. That's your mama talking.)
"That, beloved, is our challenge.  To let the healthy, utterly whole, and completely secure part of us increasingly overtake our earthen vessels until it drives our every emotion, reaction and relationship.  When we allow God's truth to eclipse every false positive and let our eyes spring open to the treasure we have, there in His glorious reflection we'll also see the treasure we are.  And the beauty of the Lord our God will be upon us (Psalm 90:17 NKJV)." ~ Beth Moore
And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands for us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands.
Psalm 90:17 NKJV

3. Based on Chapter Four, what Biblical figure (or statement about him/her) resonated with you most and why?
Some of the Biblical figures that were discussed in the book were:  Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, Leah and Rachel, Saul, the woman at the well, Paul and Moses.  My answer to this question is in the post Blogging is so Passé... Again! 
"...even when fears are founded and threats are real and we are about to be swept away in a tidal wave of well-earned insecurity, there is a divine power, wisdom, and clarity of thought to be found.  
...surely, we can breathe a sigh of relief that we are not alone in our struggles.  Human flesh and blood have no weakness so strong that God's strength is made weak.  He's got what we need.  It's up to us whether or not we're going to let the worst of us get the best of us." ~ Beth Moore

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 weaknesses, 
in insults, in hardships, 
in persecutions, in difficulties. 

For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Friday, July 22, 2011

Numbing The Pain

Another married couple is calling it quits.  My heart is broken.  They are in my prayers...

Originally posted April 27, 2010

It started the day after Anthony left for Ethiopia.  Back pain.  Searing back pain.  The culprit?  My sciatic nerve.  The remedy?  Ibuprofen and ice.  Back pain gone.

Next day.  Back pain.  Apply ibuprofen and ice.  Back pain continues.  Apply ibuprofen and ice, again.  Back pain not gone.

The diagnosis?  I had been treating the symptom instead of the problem. Turns out I had a couple of tight muscles that were pinching the sciatic nerve.  A couple visits to the chiropractor and some daily stretching and the pain is gone.

That's the way it is sometimes.  We feel pain.  Try to numb the pain.  Pain goes away... but the next time the pain numbing doesn't work... and we wonder why.  Especially because it worked the first time we tried it.  And that's okay.  Sometimes we need to treat the symptom... relieve the pain... until we can get to the root of the problem.

But sometimes we get stuck... numbing the pain... numbing the pain... and we wonder why it doesn't get better.  We are in a difficult marriage... so we try harder... and it helps for a while.  We have difficulty forgiving others... so we try harder... and we read a book... and it helps for a while.  We are fighting insecurity... and we try harder... and we read a book... and talk to our friends... and it helps for a while.

But the pain is not going away.  And we think perhaps... we need to give up... on the marriage... or on forgiving others... or becoming secure.  Because nothing seems to be working to fix it.  To ease the pain.

And my question to you today is... are you treating the symptom?  Have you been treating the symptom?  Have you been so diligent trying to fix your marriage or forgive others or become secure that you have missed what is truly causing the pain?

I have often prayed for marriages that are on the brink of divorce.  But I no longer do.  I don't pray for the marriage.  I don't pray for God to heal the marriage.  I don't.  I pray for the individuals in the marriage.  And I don't pray that they would just want to be married, again.  And I don't pray that they would stay together.  I don't.  I pray that each individual in the marriage would be drawn into a closer relationship with the Lord... and if they don't even know the Lord Jesus... well, that they would.  I pray for a deeper, stronger walk with the Lord.  I pray they would come to know the Lord at such a level... that they would have no other option or desire but to love their spouse as God loves their spouse.

I no longer pray that someone would just become more secure... or find a spouse... or feel affirmation... or have their child do better at school.  I just don't.  I don't want you to just find relief from your symptoms.  I want you to get to the root of the problem, so those symptoms will not keep reappearing.  I am praying for the deeper work.

What I will pray... is for God to show His faithfulness to you... and that He brings complete healing... and that He protects you as you go through the process.  Look, that pain is there for a reason.  We can keep trying to numb it... but the whole point of the pain is to point out that something is wrong.

And I thank God that He grants us the ability to try harder... and to read books... and to talk to friends... to ease the immediate pain, but I think He allows that for a time... until the pain shows up, again.  He wants us to deal with the problem... not settle for lessening the symptoms.

So, my question to you today is... are you ready to get to the root of the problem?  Because I want you to know... I am praying for you.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Blogging is so Passé...

I just finished reading Chapters 3 & 4 of So Long, Insecurity.  Chapter 4 discusses insecurities of Biblical characters.  And we find Moses... begging the Lord to send someone else... It reminded me of a post I wrote on December 13th of 2009... and I felt the need to revisit it.  
Winter Water Falls. 
Photography by Anthony Kaetzel

But Moses said, “O Lord, 
please send someone else to do it.”  
Exodus 4:13 NIV

"Blogging is passé."

I was startled by the statement. Is it really? Because I just thought I was getting the hang of this whole blogging thing. And what will I do if I don't blog? Hmmm.... actually... it might be a relief. But for now... I blog.

I have often asked, "O, Lord, please send someone else to do it." Send someone else to write this or that post. Sometimes I feel inadequate. Okay, lots of times. Or frustrated. Some posts I struggle to write... some come easily. Some reveal my faults... and some posts seem a bit braggadocios.

Blogging has been somewhat dangerous to me. A bit tempting. I found myself in words Alicia Britt Chole wrote in Anonymous...
"...I craved affirmation and longed to be spoken of in superlatives...

Through his Word and his people, he revealed how vulnerable it made me to the power of others praise, my own prideful perfectionism, and a whole host of other unpleasant spiritual ailments...

Man's praise is like cotton candy --sugar-laden and insubstantial... For my spiritual health, I had to make a change...

Once we have known an addiction to man's praise, shifting our diet from finding value in man's acceptance to finding value in God's acceptance does not happen in a matter of days. It is a process we revisit though out our lifetimes. Thank God for hidden years! In those underestimated seasons, when no one shows up to decorate us with praise, life is finally bare enough for us to notice that God's adoring eyes have always been upon us. We had his attention all along. We just could not see it because we were too distracted by the sight of ourselves."
And so, I have found that blogging has been good for my soul. Good for my relationship with the Lord. Good for my desire to know God in a more intimate way. Choosing to be obedient to Him... whether I want to or not... knowing that others may be reading... or not. But coming to a place where I am finding my significance in Him.

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and
then feeding you with manna,
which neither you nor your fathers had known,
to teach you that man does not live on bread alone
but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
Deuteronomy 8:3 NIV

Now, don't get me wrong... I love me some cotton candy...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

If Only...

"Most of us have what I'll call a prominent false positive:  one thing that we think would make us more secure in all things.  You want to know how you can pinpoint your own prominent false positive?  The thing you tend to associate more with security?  Think of a person you believe to be secure and determine what earthly thing he or she has that you don't feel like you possess, at least in matching measure.  That's liable to be your prominent false positive:  the one thing that would make you more secure in all things... Few of us would reason that the weight we're giving to the object or circumstance makes sense intellectually.  It's an emotional thing.  Often we're not even aware of it, but we demonstrate it by the inordinate power we assign to it." ~ Beth Moore, So Long, Insecurity, pages 36-37

Originally posted on February 22, 2010
My thoughts were inspired by So Long, Insecurity, Chapter 3
If Only...

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, 
 if only I may finish the race and 
complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—
the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.  
Acts 20:24

A "prominent false positive" is "the one thing that would make you more secure in all things."

Just wondering if any of these might be your "one thing"...

If only I was married...
If only I had children...
If only I could have had more children...
If only I had married someone else...
If only I hadn't gotten pregnant...
If only I lived closer to my family...
If only I could lose the extra weight...
If only my husband wasn't an alcoholic...
If only I wasn't an alcoholic...
If only I could be a stay-at-home mom...
If only I didn't have to deal with depression...
If only my husband was faithful...
If only I could be faithful...
If only I had a best friend...
If only I had more friends...
If only I wasn't lonely...
If only I could make friends at church...
If only the church leadership would see my potential...
If only I would be promoted...
If only I was given a raise...
If only I looked younger...
If only I was younger...
If only I was in shape...
If only I didn't have chronic pain...
If only I could get over him...
If only I had financial security...
If only I was beautiful...
If only I hadn't been sexually abused...
If only I hadn't been neglected as a child...
If only I had a college degree...
If only I knew what God wanted me to do...
If only I was more spiritual...
If only I could meet my own expectations...
If only my children would come back to the Lord...
If only my husband would come back to the Lord...
If only my family didn't embarrass me...
If only the church would help me...
If only I were more like other people...
If only I was emotionally stable at all times of the month...
If only my sister wouldn't judge me...
If only the Bible were easier to read...
If only I lived in a better neighborhood...
If only my home looked like hers...
If only I looked like her...
If only I didn't feel so guilty...
If only I could forget my past...
If only I could please my mother...
If only I didn't care so much...
If only I didn't love so much...
If only I wasn't so sensitive...

If only I wasn't so insecure...

And Abraham said to God, 
"If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!"  
Genesis 17:18

Once again he spoke to him, "What  
if only forty are found there?" 
He said, "For the sake of forty, 
I will not do it."  Genesis 18:29

The Israelites said to them, 
"If only we had died by the LORD's hand in Egypt! 
There we sat around pots of meat and 
ate all the food we wanted, 
but you have brought us out into this desert 
to starve this entire assembly to death." 
Exodus 16:13

"Tell the people: 
'Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, 
when you will eat meat. 
The LORD heard you when you wailed, 
"If only we had meat to eat! 
We were better off in Egypt!" 
Now the LORD will give you meat, 
and you will eat it. Numbers 11:18

And Joshua said, "Ah, Sovereign LORD, 
why did you ever bring this people 
across the Jordan to deliver us 
into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us?  
If only we had been content to stay 
on the other side of the Jordan!  Joshua 7:7

He said, "They were my brothers, 
the sons of my mother. As the LORD lives,  
if only you had let them live, 
I would not kill you." Judges 8:19

"If only this people were under my command! 
Then I would get rid of him. 
I would say to Abimelech, 
'Call out your whole army!'" Judges 9:29

And Absalom would add, 
"If only I were appointed judge in the land! 
Then everyone who has a complaint or case 
could come to me and 
I would see that he gets justice." 
2 Samuel 15:4

The king was shaken. He went up to the room 
over the gateway and wept. 
As he went, he said: "O my son Absalom! 
My son, my son Absalom!
If only I had died instead of you—
O Absalom, my son, my son!" 2 Samuel 18:33

If only I had never come into being, 
or had been carried straight 
from the womb to the grave! Job 10:19

If only God would speak; 
if only

Their insults have broken my heart,and I am in despair. 
If only one person would show some pity; 
if only one would turn and comfort me. Psalm 69:20 NLT

If only you would slay the wicked, 
O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! 
Psalm 139:13

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord,  
if only you had been here, 
my brother would not have died. John 11:21

Monday, July 18, 2011

I Am So Totally Insecure... Believe It Or Not

I have to admit that I am a little nervous... or is it anxious... or is it nervous anxiety?  Tomorrow is the first meeting of our "So Long, Insecurity" book discussion small group at Portland Christian Center... which I am facilitating.

It doesn't seem that long ago that I was anticipating the arrival of Beth Moore's book on insecurity.  And when it came out, the LPM blog gave an opportunity to go through the book week by week along with thousands of other women and have a "discussion" via our comments.  Doing the study now with the Group Experience workbook has prompted me to look back on my previous answers.

Am I totally secure?  No.  I still struggle.  Just the other day I was in a situation where I felt women were totally judging me.  And I became angry and started judging them back!  Until I saw the cycle I had entered... and asked God to help me see who I was in the situation.  And who they were... precious daughters of God... who had not said a word or even looked at me... but I unfairly assumed through my own insecurity that they were judging me.  Sisters!!! I know I am not the only one who struggles.

But I have to admit that I am secure enough to lead the study.  To offer the group and wonder if anyone will come alongside me... but knowing that there are sisters out there who need this... and we need each other... so I am going to "build a bridge and get over it"!!!

There's still time to join us... and if you are feeling a little insecure about coming to a group where you don't know anyone... then this is the group for you !
If you aren't able to join us, feel free to follow along.  This week we will be discussing Chapter One of the book ~ Mad Enough To Change, pages 1-14; and Session One of the group experience ~ Insecurity:  A Bad Friend, pages 1-10.


Originally posted, Saturday, February 13, 2010
Okay, Sheri... You Are A Big Girl... Act Like It!

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
photography by Anthony Kaetzel

Wednesday Night.  I had just dropped Christopher off for kids' choir rehearsal at church.  I needed to eat dinner, but Anthony had to work late.  Do I dare walk into the church by myself and eat dinner on my own?  It would be too overwhelming to walk into that room and figure out where to sit... or who to sit with.  What if I ended up sitting by myself?  Wouldn't other people notice and think "poor Sheri"... all alone... eating dinner by herself.  As if all eyes would be on me.  It would just be easier to run over to Pizzicato's... grab a slice of pizza and a magazine... and eat dinner without anyone knowing me.

The struggle.  I couldn't believe it.  Wow!  Am I really this insecure?  Yes, I am.  But hadn't I just spoken to women on Tuesday about stretching their comfort zone.  Didn't I just wear a pink feather boa as I taught about Abraham?  Weren't these the same women who would be at church eating dinner?  Okay, Sheri... suck it up... you are going to eat dinner by yourself at church.  You can do this!  You are a big girl... act like it!

I walked into the room.  Surveyed the other diners.  Yes, I did know some of them... was there room at their table?  Or were they done eating and just about to get up and leave, as I would be sitting down?  Aha!  Steve and Jeannette are in line with me getting dinner.  I know them.  I'll just follow them to their table... and voila!

I am half laughing and half cringing as I write this... who wants to admit their insecurity?  I feel childish and weak and alone in it all.  And God knows that... and on Thursday what book did I start to read?  So Long, Insecurity!  Perfect timing!

So Long Insecurity Week One!
Here are my answers to the questions Beth posed in her first post.
1. Write a journal-type entry on the inside cover of your book describing this present season of your life and why you’ve chosen to read a book like this. 
Okay... see above!  Plus... I love sharing whatever I learn with the precious sisters around me... and you, too!

2. When was the last time you came face-to-face with our gender’s massive struggle with insecurity? Describe the setting. 
Just this morning!  Anthony's mood dictates mine... if he seems upset about anything... I think it is my fault... what did I do wrong?  I feel I need him to tell me exactly how I contributed to whatever is going on inside him. 
3. What part of the definition or description of insecurity resonated most with you and why? 
Page 17. "A deep uncertainty about whether his or her own feelings and desires are legitimate."  In my family of origin, two common statements were "Just get over it" and "Quit crying or I'll give you something to cry about."  Wasn't really encouraged to face my feelings... so I think that still follows me today.
I have decided to open up this post to your answers to the So Long Insecurity Week One! post.  I encourage you to post your answers to Beth's questions on her blog, but I thought it might be interesting if we had a little small group here, too.  That way we could work alongside one another... encourage one another... and have a little discussion, too.

Feel free to post your comment Anonymously.
Feel free to leave a comment even if you are not reading the book. 
I'll refer back to this post next Thursday when Beth posts our new questions.

All I can say is... I already know this book is going to be added to my "altar" shelf.  I am ready to "press through the discomfort of staring at my weaknesses than live in denial and bondage." Page 16.

For we are God's workmanship, 
created in Christ Jesus to do good works, 
which God prepared in advance for us to do.  
Ephesians 2:10

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What If God Didn't Let Anyone Go To Hell?

The first poppy I ever planted... what a beauty!

I was at the ALPHA course at our church last night.  We are encouraged to bring the "tough" questions of Christianity.  The questions that those who do not yet know or believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior might ask.  And truth be told... the questions that even mature Christians wonder to themselves but are afraid to ask for fear that they might be judged as not having enough Bible knowledge... or faith.

My question?  Why the cross?  Why did Jesus die on a cross?  Why the resurrection?  Wasn't there another way?  And even as I thought more about it... I wondered to myself... Well, what would I have chosen to save sinners from hell?  And you know that I didn't have a good answer... at all.

And then someone else humbly asked the question, "If God is such a loving God who went to such great detail to send His Son to Earth and that Son died (and ultimately raised from the dead) to save people from their sins... If that God is so loving, how could He let anyone go to hell?

I have been wrestling with this question all night.  Why wouldn't God want everyone to be in heaven with Him? 

This morning as I lay awake in bed, I thought, What if God didn't let anyone go to hell?  What would that look like?  Ultimately?  If we knew we weren't at risk of hell, would we long for a relationship with Him?  We would do what we wanted.  We wouldn't need God.  We would not yearn for a relationship with Him.  Would we?

And then I started wondering... Why would God let us sin at all?  But then I guess we wouldn't have a free will or a choice.  And I guess we wouldn't be very interesting would we?  We would all be perfect essentially.  If we didn't have free will and we were perfect.  And I guess in the end... we wouldn't need God at all either... would we?

Whew!  Sometimes we are afraid to even think about these "tough" questions.  Afraid to think that we might look stupid.  Afraid to think that we might not like the answer to the "tough" question.  Afraid to think that if we ask these types of questions that we don't have "enough" faith.  But we need to know that we can talk about these questions... and encourage one another... and dig deeper into the Word of God.  And it is good to have a place to discuss these questions like the ALPHA course.

Do you have a "tough" question?  Would you share it with me?  You can leave your comment via my blog as an anonymous comment.

Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said,  
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life
—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear.  

For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing.  
Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest 
or store food in barns, for God feeds them. 
And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! 

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?  
And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, 
what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

“Look at the lilies and how they grow. 
They don’t work or make their clothing, 
yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed 
as beautifully as they are.  

And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers 
that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, 
he will certainly care for you. 
Why do you have so little faith?

“And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. 
Don’t worry about such things. 
 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers 
all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs.  

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, 
and he will give you everything you need. 

Luke 12:22-31 NLT

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Love & Respect; So Long, Insecurity; and Eggshells

Do you ever have times in your life when your worlds collide?  We were watching the Love & Respect Conference DVD during our Sunday School class.  The speaker and author, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, is discussing how women tend to need more emotional reassurance than men.  Women tend to personalize things while men tend to compartmentalize things.  He mentioned that women tend to walk on eggshells, but you almost never hear a man talk about walking on eggshells.

And it reminded me of a blog post I had written.  I just remember that it had to do with walking on eggshells... and something about walking on eggshells around Anthony.  And then I look up the post and I see that it is tied to my previous So Long, Insecurity discussion group... and I think... how strange is that?  The speaker mentions women walking on eggshells... the post has to do with my relationship with my husband... AND So Long, Insecurity which I am starting a discussion group on THIS coming Tuesday.  So I think that I might re-post it, but maybe I will wait until we are on week 6 of the discussion group... but then I just re-read the post and see that I actually end up talking about Love & Respect and The Crazy Cycle!!!


Well, sometimes when life converges like this... you just gotta go ahead and re-post it... and hope that the person who needs to read it... will read it... and even more so... understand what I am talking about!!!

Anyway... if you are in the Portland area, I am starting a So Long, Insecurity small group book discussion next Tuesday.  If you're interested, contact me.

Previously Posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2010
So Long, Insecurity - Week 6
Eggshells and ESP

photography by Anthony Kaetzel


I would think by this time... 
I would not resort to walking on eggshells... 
but I do.  

Sometimes it just seems safer 
to walk on eggshells 
than to find out what the real problem is.  

Did I say "safer"?  
Perhaps I meant "easier"?  
And that is ONLY for the short term.  

Because in the long term... 
the longer I walk on eggshells... 
the more eggshells I have to clean up.  

And really they are quite a mess.  
Sticky.  Smelly.  
And especially disgusting when wearing sandals.
~written by sister sheri

If you and I are going to develop into real, live secure women, 
it is absolutely imperative that we realign our mentalities toward men.  
We've got to get it through our thick skulls that 
men are neither gods nor devils... 
Maybe... you vacillate between the two, but this is the news flash:  
either extreme -- adoration or abhorrence -- 
always betrays the depth of our own insecurity. ~ Beth Moore, SLI

I am currently reading So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore and I am participating in the So Long, Insecurity Discussion Group on the Living Proof Ministries blog.  I decided to open my blog up to anyone who wanted to post their answers to the discussion group so that we can encourage one another in a somewhat smaller group.

These are my answers to the questions posed for Week Six based on Chapters 10 & 11.
Italics indicate either the question that Beth Moore posed on her blog or that the passage is found in the book So Long, Insecurity.

1. Based on Chapter 10, in all truthfulness, has your historical tendency been to view men (generally speaking) as gods? Or devils? 
Growing up I generally viewed men as "devils"... not trusting them.  I was abused by my father.  He divorced my mom... and I grew up in a household of women.  I always tried to have the upper hand in my dating relationships... if I lost that control... well, it was time to move on... that is... until I met him.  I've always viewed my relationship with Anthony to be a gift from God.  Not that it is all smooth sailing, but God definitely chose Anthony for me... because I did not have enough good sense at that time to do it on my own.

I am aware of how I tie my security to Anthony. If he is not happy... had a bad day... I can resort to walking on eggshells. Wondering if I can fix the problem... or am I the problem?
2. Based on Chapter 10 and your own day-to-day observances, what differences do you see between men’s insecurities and women’s?
Chapter 10 reminded me of the book Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.  How husbands and wives get on "The Crazy Cycle"
... she reacts without respect he reacts without love she reacts without respect...
and so on.  How men crave respect (ie fear of failure) and women crave love (ie fear of rejection).  I highly recommend this book.
3. On p.208 in Chapter 11, I suggest that women who struggle with insecurity tend to be particularly taken with 2 divine attributes: omnipotence and omniscience. Did either of these resonate with you? If so, how?
Extrasensory perception - Honestly.  Christopher asks me quite often which super hero power I would choose if I could choose any one I wanted.  ESP.  That way I would know if I am upsetting someone or if I have hurt someone or what exactly they want from me.  Omniscience.. hadn't thought of it that way... and I much rather like that terminology, but I'll save that for God.  I've got enough to deal with in my own head.
The healing of the mind requires far more intimacy 
with Christ than the healing of mere bodies... 
Instead He chooses to transform our willing minds 
one reflection at a time... ~ Beth Moore, SLI

[You] may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 
in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  Colossians 2:2-3

Friday, July 8, 2011

Patronizing Nonsense

The 4x6

Anthony had taken this photo of a stained glass window at the church of the school that Christopher attends.   We needed to print out an 8x10 copy to give to a friend.  I decided to print out a 4x6 for myself.  I was surprised when I compared the two photos.  With a slightly different crop of the photo... you wouldn't see Jesus' hands.  You wouldn't see the nail prints.

We were attending a class at our church on Wednesday night.  Called The ALPHA Course.  And the teacher shared the following quote by C.S. Lewis:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing 
that people often say about Him: 

'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, 
but I don't accept His claim to be God.'

That is the one thing we must not say. 

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said 
would not be a great moral teacher. 

He would either be a lunatic--
on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg--
or else he would be the Devil of Hell. 

You must make your choice. 

Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: 
or else a madman 
or something worse. 

You can shut Him up for a fool, 
you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; 
or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. 

But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great moral teacher. 
He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” 

The 8x10

And it made me wonder... how many people see Jesus without the nail prints?  And if you see Him without the nail prints that you might think of Him only as a great moral teacher.  But He is more than that.  More than just a teacher.   He is our Savior. 

For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. 
He did this, not because we deserved it, 
but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time
—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. 

And now he has made all of this plain to us 
by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. 
He broke the power of death 
and illuminated the way to life 
and immortality through the Good News.  
2 Timothy 1:9-10 NLT

How do you see Jesus? 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Reminded of a Simple Truth...

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, 
and a light unto my path.  
Psalms 119:105 KJV

I was sitting on my in-laws front porch in Boonsboro, Maryland working on my Ruth Bible Study.  I was mentally and physically exhausted. And the words on the pages of the study reminded me to seek God for my supply.
"This can be hard to practice because receiving our supply from God isn't always as tangible... but many times it's a supply of patience, forgiveness, love, wisdom, or comfort that we desperately need from Him so we can pour it out on someone else... This kind of spiritual supply comes from being in Jesus' presence.  Meditating on the pages of Scripture.  Committing to focused prayer.  Waiting quietly on Him so our spirits can learn His voice."
~ Kelly Minter, A Proposal: Session 4, Day 5 of the Ruth Bible Study

The day was beautiful.  Sun. Light humidity.  Peaceful. Before me are fields.  And fields.

When I closed up the study and lifted my eyes, I was compelled to take a little walk...
and then to journal about it.

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011.
A place where I had not walked before.  A grassy Maryland field.  The Lord compelled me to take a walk.  I wanted to grab my sandals out of the house, but it would break the spell.  So I went one step at a time.  Looking down since I had not walked there before.

What would I step on... with my bare feet?  Bees or weeds with prickly things.  If I wanted to gaze out to the horizon I had to STOP lest I stepped on something unaware. So step by step.

Then gnats came.  Distracting me.  As my head was down watching my feet I was not bothered.  But if I lifted my gaze off of my path they would gain all of my attention.

A place where I had not walked before.  Compelled by my Lord to go where I did not want to go (without my sandals) and be reminded of a simple truth...

that He shows my path one step at a time.

The Lord directs our steps, 
so why try to understand everything along the way?
Proverbs 20:24 NLT