“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

Thursday, February 24, 2011

P.E.R.S.E.V.E.R.E.

Monterey Coast, California
photography by Anthony Kaetzel 

On Tuesday, I had the privilege of  teaching our ladies' Bible Study.  On the book of James.  Considering my first four memory verses have come from the book of James, I felt my focus on "perseverance" would be something God wanted me to share.  (All but two verses are taken from the book of James.)

Perseverance is often relegated to the phrases "suck it up" or "get over it" or "move on." 

Origin of the word "Persevere" from Merriam-Webster:  Middle English, from Anglo-French parseverer, from Latin perseverare, from per- through + severus severe.

Persevere = through severe.

Through it.  Not over it.  Around it.  Or pretend it isn't happening.  Through it.
In the book of James, we come across the beatitude-like verse:

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, 
because when he has stood the test,
he will receive the crown of life 
that God has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12

Our pastor is currently teaching on the beatitudes found in Matthew 5:1-12.  He taught us that
Blessed" comes from the Greek word “makarios.”
Makarios is more than happiness; it is joy. It finds its source from within itself.
Makarios is self-contained, self-generating, and independent of all the chances and circumstances of life.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, 
whenever you face trials of many kinds, 
because you know that the testing of your faith 
develops perseverance. 
James 1:2-3

Seriously?  Joy and perseverance?  Blessed and perseverance?  How is it possible to have joy and be blessed when we have to persevere?  Perseverance = through severe.  But how do we do that?


P.E.R.S.E.V.E.R.E.
Pray
Educate
Read the Bible
Share
Envision
Vision
Endure
Remember
Encourage

Pray

…You do not have because you do not ask God. James 4:2

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray… James 5:13

I think the first step to perseverance is to pray.  You may not like "the severe" you are going through… and you can feel free to tell Him that!  If you are in the middle of your "severe" you can ask for a miracle or relief or strength.  We don't have because we don't ask!


Educate

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, 
who gives generously to all without finding fault, 
and it will be given to him. James 1:5

When we are in the midst of the situation, it is easy to get overwhelmed by it.  By gaining knowledge about our "severe" we can take away some of its power over us.  The more I know about the scientific biological side of depression the more I am able to make adjustments in my own behaviors.  Including medications, light therapy, journaling and rest.

When I get overwhelmed with my lack of parenting skills, I take time to educate myself.  Same with being married. What if your spouse suffers with alcoholism?  Or you are in debt?  Or your child has a diagnosis that overwhelms you?  Ask God to give you wisdom.


Read The Bible

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. 
Do what it says. James 1:22

But the man who looks intently into the perfect law 
that gives freedom, and continues to do this, 
not forgetting what he has heard, 
but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:25

I think being a marginal Christian is hell on earth.  If you are familiar with just parts of Bible verses, you may be under the impression that Christianity is like living a fairy tale.  When you read the Bible, you need to read the verses that are in context to your favorite one.  God is consistently taking His children through the "severe."  Through the Red Sea.  Through the fiery furnace.  Through the stormy sea. He takes us through it.  He is with us in the "through" it.  Our blessing comes from knowing He is with us.


Share

Therefore confess your sins to each other and 
pray for each other so that you may be healed. 
The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. 
James 5:16

We need each other.  We need to share our "severe."  Sometimes we need a different perspective.  This is what I love about mentoring.  Asking someone in your life to hold you accountable to the reality of your "severe."  To remind you that God is with you.  That God has a hope and future for you.  Someone who will show you compassion and not just commiserate.


Envision

But he gives us more grace…. James 4:6

Come near to God and he will come near to you… James 4:8

We need to know that God is for us and near us.  That we are not persevering on our own. We often envision a bleak future about our "severe" but we forget to envision that God will give us more grace to get through it.


Vision

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, 
because when he has stood the test,
he will receive the crown of life 
that God has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12

What will it look like on the other side of your "severe"?  Ask God to give you His vision instead of relying upon your own.  If I look back on my life... and think if I hadn't persevered...
I would be divorced.  (Due to my own immaturity.)
I would be childless.  Or worse yet I would be an abusive parent. (I thought being abusive was hereditary.)
I would not have my church family or many of my friendships.  (Due to my own insecurity.)
Thank you, God!  For bringing me through my "severes" with grace!  For giving me a hope and future that is more abundant than I ever could have imagined.


Endure

Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. 
See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop 
and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.
You too, be patient and stand firm, 
because the Lord’s coming is near. James 5:7-8

Sometimes, it is about the waiting.  And waiting can be tough.  And we can have real emotions that overwhelm us, but are unproductive.  When I begin to obsess about a "severe" I am going through, I use rubber band psychology.  Recently, I was in a situation where I felt totally misunderstood.  I wanted to fix it, but I needed to give the other person time.  However, the emotions kept gnawing at me.  I truly did want to get past those self-defeating emotions.  So, I put a slim rubber band on my wrist.  Whenever I had the urge to have negative self-talk, I pulled the rubber band and let it slap my wrist.  After a couple times... I got the hint and was able to not get caught up in the emotion... and get on with the getting through it! 


Remember

Every good and perfect gift is from above, 
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, 
who does not change like shifting shadows. 
James 1:17

Sometimes, we need a perspective shift.  We need to remember that God is for us.  We need to look at where we've been and thank God for what He has already brought us through. One of the best ways to do this can be with a grateful journal.  At the end of each day, write down five things you are thankful for... and before you realize it, you will thanking God all day long for His many blessings.


Encourage

Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, 
take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 
As you know we consider blessed those who have persevered. 
You have heard of Job’s perseverance and 
have seen what the Lord finally brought about. 
The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. James 5:10-11

And this is what I am all about... encouraging others.  Comforting others with the comfort that I have received from the Lord.  Sharing the truth of His goodness and faithfulness.

Did you know that this same word phrase "we consider blessed" or "pronounce blessed" is only used one other time?  In Luke 1:48.

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord
 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
   of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
   holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
   from generation to generation. 
Luke 1:46-50

When Mary rejoices what God has done for her.  We know that ultimately she is blessed, but she was mindful of it even then.  And what a blessing.  Jesus Christ, our Lord.


Repeat!!!

Perseverance must finish its work so that 
you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything. James 1:4

Okay, so it isn't just P.E.R.S.E.V.E.R.E.  We need to add the "R" on the end because we truly are P.E.R.S.E.V.E.R.E.R.s!  Each time we go through a "severe" we learn something.  That we can trust God and He will see us through.  The next "severe" will continue to mature us... until we are complete, not lacking anything.

I think of my husband pursuing his goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  With each attempt to qualify he learned more about his ability to complete a marathon in the required time.  Throughout the pursuit he continued to educate himself and added a coach and he met his goal!  

 Therefore, since we are surrounded 
by such a great cloud of witnesses, 
let us throw off everything that hinders and 
the sin that so easily entangles, 
and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, 
the author and perfecter of our faith, 
who for the joy set before him endured the cross, 
scorning its shame, and sat down 
at the right hand of the throne of God. 

Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, 
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 
Hebrews 12:1-3 


Persevere.  Through severe.  Blessed and joyful.  May I encourage you to not grow weary and lose heart... knowing that you will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

God bless you!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

As of Late - February 20th, 2011

Lately, I've been to Monterey, California
photography by Anthony Kaetzel

Lately, I have been preparing to teach at Ladies' Bible Study.  (This Tuesday around 10am PST.  Thanks for your prayers!)  I'll be teaching on James, the half-brother of Jesus, who is credited with writing the book of James.  (Last year I taught on Abraham, the year before was Abigail, and the year before that was Miriam.)  Not sure if I'll be wearing the pink feather boa this year... I am thinking that I might wear the beautiful purple Ethiopian Coffee dress that Anthony brought home for me last year.  Not sure why it is called a coffee dress, but maybe it will give me a boost of energy!

Lately, I have finished reading:
Soulprint by Mark Batterson
The Red Sea Rules by Robert J. Morgan
Too Busy Not To Pray by Bill Hybels (Listened to this on audio, again.)
All three of these books are worth a re-read!  Might need to do some book reviews.
Lately, I've been wanting to pick up a copy of The Practice of The Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.

Lately, I received packages from two of my darling sisters-in-blog.  Deborah at Holy Camp and Elaine at Peace for the Journey.  You bless me!!  Thank you so much.

Lately, I have been privy to seeing God move in women's mentoring at our church.  And realizing that there are a lot of amazing women out there who are already mentoring... and they don't even "know" it!

Lately, I was asked to knit two scarves for our Women's Retreat.  One for a give-away and the other for the speaker.  The theme is "Brilliance" so I used multiple novelty white yarns and crystal beads.   I loved having my creativity sparked! or sparkled as the case may be!  I am looking forward to having girl-time at the retreat this weekend!

Lately, I have ordered two boxes of Thin Mints (a box each for Anthony and Christopher), one box of Tagalongs (my favorite) and one box of Samoas (everybody's favorite).

So, what have you been up to... as of late?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Wisdom



If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God,

who gives generously to all without finding fault, 

and it will be given to him. 

James 1:5 NIV


Siesta Scripture Memory Team Verse # 4

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

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

Ladies' Retreat is just around the corner.  
I know you are feeling insecure... but this time come and sit by me.

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
Included.
Visible.
Befriended.
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.
Enough!
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.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Another Experiment. Love and Fruit.


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, 
joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, 
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. 
Against such things there is no law. 
Galatians 5:22-23

Sometimes when memorizing scripture I look for verses that contain similar thoughts or words to help me as I meditate on them.  In this instance I compared 1 Corinithians 13:4-8 (The Love Chapter) with Galatians 5:22-23 (The Fruit of the Spirit).

But the fruit of the Spirit is love...
joy - Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
peace - Love is not easily angered.
patience - Love is patient.
kindness - Love is kind.
goodness - Love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
faithfulness - Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
gentleness - Love keeps no record of wrongs.
self-control - Love is not rude, it is not self-seeking.
Against such things there is no law. - Love never fails.


Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails... 
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Re-Verse of James 1:2-4 NIV

 Alcatraz
photography by Anthony Kaetzel

One of the ways I meditate on scripture is to think of it in the reverse. 
For example, Psalm 23:1 NLT:    
The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.  
Would translate into: 
The LORD is not my shepherd, I don't have what I need.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, 
whenever you face trials of many kinds, 
because you know that 
the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  
Perseverance must finish its work 
so that you may be mature and complete, 
not lacking anything.  
James 1:2-4 NIV

James 1:2-4 NIV are my first three memory verses for 2011.  They focus on perseverance.  Why I need to persevere... because I am going to face trials of many kinds and my faith will be tested.  What I gain by persevering... maturity and refinement.  How to persevere... with an attitude of joy and acceptance.  But what does the reverse of this look like? 

My antithesis of James 1:2-4 NIV:
 
Consider it pure hell, my brothers, 
whenever you face trials of many kinds, 
because you know that 
the testing of your faith develops anxiety 
Anxiety must finish its work 
so that you may be insecure and fearful
totally ineffective.

Hmmm...
hell instead of joy
anxiety instead of perseverance
insecurity instead of maturity
fear instead of refinement
totally ineffective instead of holy confidence

Yup.  I think I will go with God's way... instead of the re-verse.  And I'd love to hear your re-verse of your current memory verse.  Sometimes when we shift our perspective, God can reveal truths to us that we may have been hesitant to receive.  Sometimes if we think of our life without the presence of the Holy Spirit within us... we just might come to realize that God's way really is for our benefit.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

As I Reach My Wing To You

Monarch Grove Butterfly Sanctuary, Monterey, California
photography via my iPhone


Siesta Scripture Memory Team Verse #3

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, 
whenever you face trials of many kinds..." 
James 1:2 NIV

Caught one!  

While Anthony was off on a long run, I headed to the hidden sanctuary for Monarch butterflies in Monterey.  Anthony and I were enjoying a long weekend in Monterey... partly celebrating his birthday and partly vacationing away from the cloudy city we call home.  And although I had been warned that it would not be sunny in Monterey... the weather man said different... and we enjoyed a drive along the coast in a convertible as well as walks along the beach.

But on Saturday, I was on my own... and thought I might visit a haven for butterflies instead of a bowl full of fish at the aquarium.  I have to admit that I was a bit surprised at the unassuming grove.  Pretty much like someone's backyard.  No fanfare.  And not many butterflies.  But there was a blossoming cherry tree and about 10 butterflies decided to play tag while I stood and watched.  Not having my photographer with me... I was on my own with my cellphone camera... hoping to catch a butterfly up close.

Since there were so few butterflies, I tried to capture (on my camera, of course) a butterfly.  Even begging the Lord to let me catch... just one.  But it was not to be... and so I just started taking as many photos as I could not knowing if I would catch any... and trying to not be disappointed.

It wasn't until later that I realized that I had caught one in flight.  Beautiful.  Colorful.  Just one.  And it made my heart content that my little journey was not in vain... 

Vain.  We want to know that our struggles are not in vain.  We are faced with trials of many kinds... and we balk at the thought that we should be grateful for them... to consider them with pure joy.  Seriously?  How do we do that?  I don't want to face trials.  And I most definitely do not think trials and joy should be in the same sentence.  I like to be comfortable.  But I do admit that I also want to be joyful.  Why can't I have both?

And just like the caterpillar who is destined to sprout wings cannot develop into a beautiful butterfly without being enveloped in a cocoon... I cannot experience joy... pure joy... until I experience the hardship of the trial.  

"We also rejoice in our sufferings, 
because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 
perseverance, character; and character, hope. 
And hope does not disappoint us, 
because God has poured out his love into our hearts 
by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." 
Romans 5:3-5 NIV 1984

Hope.  Joy.  Those are what I want.  But to get there... to truly experience pure joy, I am going to face trials.  And truth be told... I am going to go through those trials no matter what.  With or without joy and hope.  But for me, I have determined that I will (with the Lord's help!) face my circumstances (including my depression) with the thought that in the end... I will not be disappointed.  So that I will be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:4).  
 
I am struggling in my cocoon, 
but I don't want to come out too soon.
Knowing that hope and joy are mine
and although it takes some time...
God will see me through
as I reach my wing to you.