You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Mary Heart’ category.

For our last class, we combined Chapters 11 and 12 (Balancing Work & Worship and Having a Mary Heart) along with a lovely meal (thank you everyone for making it a “great” potluck).

teeter-totter11Joanna Weaver uses the teeter-totter as her image for balancing work and work. We talked a little about our own teeter-totters and how one side sometimes gets heavier and out of balance. From scripture, we looked at the Samaritan story (Luke 10:25-37) and reviewed Weaver’s 3 keys to the story that the Samaritan “took notice,” “took action,” and “took responsibility.” Each one of these are important as we live and work in the world (in the kitchen).

From the Jesus’ teaching on prayer in Luke 11:1-13, we are reminded of our developing relationship with the Lord (the living room part) and how we must remember that for each one of “our parts” (asking, seeking, knocking), God will play is part (receiving, revealing, and opening the door).

This really goes back full circle to our first class when we talked about being both Mary and Martha. Both of these women are within us and we must nourish them both! We must serve and we must pray. As James 2:14-17 says, that faith without works is dead.

One specific side to the “living room” worship is the Sabbath. We also talked about the importance of a Sabbath rest (see Isaiah 58:13-14) for it is in the Sabbath that we can be renewed. Sometimes, that may mean “not” doing as we please or “going our own way.” Although we all appreciate the importance of this rest, we all confessed how we have allowed our culture and habits rob us of this blessing.

And one specific way of being on the “kitchen” side of worship is hospitality. How often do we block this blessing by worrying about our homes not being neat enough or nice enough to have company. As we talked about it, we realized that we have all admitted in previous classes that none of us are “neat-freaks” … so why worry? 🙂

Joanna Weaver says,

“The secret of balancing worship and work, devotion & service, love of God and love of people is maintaining our connection to Jesus Christ. Our relationship with his is the fulcrum, the anchor, the steadying point that makes balance possible in the first place. The deepter the relationship goes, the more stable the balance will be.”

Advertisements

How often do we do something for someone else and have our actions misinterpreted? Certainly, when Mary poured out the nard on Jesus’ feet and dried them with her hair, her actions were probably both misterpreted and scandalous. Of all people who was most “appalled,” it was Judas.

Interestingly, Joanna Weaver, does a broad comparison of these two, Judas and Mary. Where Mary had a “heart of gratitude,” Judas had a heart of greed. Where Mary came to Jesus with abandonment, Judas came with a personal agenda. Where Mary heard and understood Jesus, Judas only heard what he wanted to hear. Where Mary held nothing back, Judas gave nothing up. We discussed where we have been on this continuum.

mary_washingAnother point of interest to me was that Jesus was the one to defend Mary’s actions. She said nothing. It was Jesus who commended her and Jesus who declared she would be remembered through the ages and her story would be told. I find this important because we must remember that it is the Lord who stands between us and those who misunderstand us. If we “witness” to another and we are rejected, we must allow the cross to stand between us and them. When we do some action like cleaning up our husband’s tools or our children’s rooms and they rant at us for doing it incorrectly, let Jesus stand between their harsh words, their disapproval, their vindictiveness and our hearts.

I also reminded everyone that the action that Mary did, the breaking of the vessel of nard was a one-time act. Nard was very valuable and often kept for a person’s burial rites. This particular type of vessel of nard could only be used by breaking it… one couldn’t just use a little and save the rest for later. It’s an “all or nothing” proposition. Mary’s gesture was an outward expression of her total surrender to her Lord.

What would sacrificial actions look like in our world? Mary did “what she could do.” What about us? This question nagged us I think and was not one easily answered. I am trusting that the Lord will keep this question in the back of our minds over the weeks and months to come.

Unlike Weaver, I do not find Judas’ actions to be motivated primarily by greed. In my opinion, he was an outsider from the beginning. Judas was educated and probably from a family of some wealth. I don’t believe he was comfortable with the poor. Also, he had a personal agenda: he actually believed Jesus was the Messiah… but for him, that meant Jesus would be the anointed King who would overthrow the oppressive Romans and establish a new “kingdom” in Israel. I believe Judas was motivated by a desire for fame and power. This desire overwhelmed his ability to hear Jesus’s true message. I believe Judas betrayed Jesus in an effort to “move things along.” I’m not sure he envisioned a crucifixion … instead, I believe he thought Jesus would “react” and overthrow them all with one great wave of power.

Lastly, we discussed Barclay’s quote, “Temptation comes through that for which wa are naturally fitted.” Just as Judas’ was naturally fitted to be tempted by power, we are also tempted in our own areas of weakness or secret desires. This is also a topic for personal reflection and prayer.

We ended the class with my own “outward expression” of Christ’s love by the washing of everyone’s feet. It was my honor to do it and I pray each woman there experienced the depth of the Lord’s love for each one of them.

Next week’s lesson will be in my home and we will be combining the last two chapters together.

This week’s lesson is definitely a call to all Martha/Marys! Take heed and listen to your heart!

We started with a fascinating trek through memory lane as we discussed who we were as teens and pre-teens in school. Were we high achievers, party girls, or “absent-though-present? The fascinating part was the discovery of how many of those teen characteristics have followed us into adulthood.

Then we discussed our “teachable” role models. Some of the key concepts out of that discussion were enthusiasm, open-mindedness, humility, receptiveness, curiousity, listener, and risk-taker as descriptors of someone with a teachable heart. When we took our own “teachable” questionnaire, we all came out with good scores, mid-range to high which is an encouragement … we are all on the path to being and growing a teachable heart and spirit.

Joanna Weaver speaks of three elements to a truly teachable heart:

  • Being willing to listen
  • Acting on what we hear
  • Responding to discipline

So, I had to ask, “How DOES God speak to you?” Most of the group’s focus was on that “Wow” factor that seems to pierce within; another example was the repetition of a particular idea, phrase, or picture in various ways or places; or, just a sense of His presence as we’re quietly praying or journaling. It was then that I added a kind of speaking that none of the group had heard of called “dark speech” which is a way for God to speak to us symbolically. I told the story of being at the Elijah House Ministries some years ago for counseling training and how a Coke can burst open when it dropped out of a soda machine and how the instructor showed me the possible “message” from such an unexpected or out of the ordinary event. The group was a little uncomfortable with the term “dark speech” but I reminded them of that well known scripture from I Cor 13 about “seeing through a glass darkly” … it’s the same idea.

We then discussed the second and third elements of a teachable heart, that is obedience and subsequently discipline if obedience is not forthcoming. We talked about Oswald Chambers’ insightful passage (October 10th) that identifies how powerful obedience is. If we truly hear God’s voice, in whatever way we do, then it is critical to respond. And, once we do respond, the next step will be revealed immediately. In other words, we see and hear more of God as a result of one obedience! Chambers added, “God will never reveal more truth about himself until you have obeyed what you know already.” I believe we sometimes spend too much looking for something new, moving from church to church, conference to conference, when, in reality we haven’t responded to the truths He has already given.

Horse and rider in harmonyJill gave us a beautiful word picture of obedience. She is a horsewoman and tells of the incredible power there is in working with a horse, particularly once the horse has grasped the relationship with the rider/master. Instead of having to use a crop or any other kind of harsh discipline, once the horse and rider are in sympathetic communication, the horse can respond to the smallest of leading maneuvers (even just a change in pressure from the rider’s hips) to know what to do. Jill called these moments a true dance! All I could imagine was how beautiful it would be to “dance” with Jesus through this kind of communication and obedience. How wonderful it would be to respond to His slightest suggestion in my heart or spirit. This would be the ultimiate “living room” intimacy for me.

Additional scriptures we read and discussed were Hebrews 12:5-11, Joshua 1:8, John 8:31-32, James 1:25, and Psalm 51:10-12. In particular the Psalm passage is one of pure hope for if God could forgive David in his sins with Bathsheba, then surely, God can still use us and transform us!

We started off talking about our favorite types of stories. Our group had a big variety, from true crime to romance & mysteries to Christian fiction to true life “overcoming” type stories. Many of us read these stories to be encouraged or to escape from our day to day world or to “see how the other half lives.” The Lazarus story has a little of all of these types of stories.

Joanna Weaver suggests that the story has 5 lessons of note:

  • God’s will does not always proceed in a straight line.
  • God’s love sometimes tarries for our good and his glory.
  • God’s ways are not our ways, but his character is still dependable.
  • God’s plan is released when we believe and obey.
  • The “end” is nevr the end; it is only the beginning.

Each person selected one of these concepts and shared a personal story about it. Special thanks to each one who shared a bit of her heart this night.

We then reviewed the scripture, John 11:1-6, that Weaver recommended and identified the key points or words that jumped out to us. It is so important to remember that our world is much broader and wider than just the 3D world we access through our senses. (Colossians 1:16 says, “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” We discussed three scriptures in this light: John 16:33, Hebrews 11:13-16 and James 1:2-4.

In the end, so much of our understanding and acceptance of our lives is dependent on our ability to trust God. Margaret Tennison says, “We only trust people we know. If you’re struggling to trust God, it may be because you don’t really know God.” There are many, many verses throughout the scriptures that talk about trusting God, but clearly, our favorite in the class is Proverbs 3:4-5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”

I wanted the group to have a trust experience and so we tried a couple of well known trust exercises. One is called the minefield. In this one, one person is blindfolded and is verbally directed through a number of “barriers” (in this case, the other class members standing about). The key to remember is that we are just like the “blind” person who is only given one step of instruction at a time and must wait for the next instruction. We must trust that our guide will not allow us to stumble. The second exercise we did was a traditional “trust” fall in which the person falls back into the arms of another. This feeling of falling is important to experience … it’s just a hint of what God wants from us. We must be willing to trust his everlasting, unfailing arms.

I Walk a Crooked Path by John M. Flores. Special thanks for the use of this photograph.

We had a small class this past week and I was a bit surprised as I felt this chapter was one of the strongest ones. Ah well, I trust the Lord is revealing Himself to each and every person, whether they are attending class or not. God has a plan!

Each of us talked about the “hula hoops” we are trying to keep up… the roles we walk and the hats we wear. The list was quite long, over 50 different roles. I showed them a photocopy of woodcut of the hula hoop girl and we talked about the hoops that often drop. Sadly, although it’s often the role of housekeeper, sometimes it’s also our prayer warrior role as well.

As we discussed the Wilbur Rees quote about the “amount” of God we prefer to have… the comfortable amount that doesn’t require too much of us or make us afraid… we also realized in our discussion that we must take courage to go after “all of God.” If God were to ask us, “What do you want?” in the same way that Jesus asked the blind man on the road (Luke 18:41), would we say that we want all of Jesus?

We live with so much less of God than He intends for us to have. A powerful prayer is in Ephesians 3:16-19 that is particularly good when “personalized” … changing the pronouns to me, my and I. Try it.

First Things FirstWhen we talked about the “first things first” principle from Stephen Covey’s book and the image of the rocks in the container first, then the pebbles, then the sand and then the water, we each felt that nip of conviction that we are still trying to change the order of what comes first. We all “know” what is best but we don’t pursue it. That’s where the battle of our will vs. our emotions comes in.

For me, the essence of all of this is grasping the true importance of spending time with God. If we really “understood” (and I’m also referring back to this week’s sermon message on knowledge, understanding & wisdom)… we would take it all much more seriously. If we thought of prayer more like oxygen or a blood bag in a hospital – absolutely essential or we would die – wouldn’t we change our attitude toward it. Wouldn’t our will to do it grow stronger immediately? We reviewed 3 passages, 2 Samuel 12:13-23, Daniel 6:3-10, and Matthew 26:36-39, all life & death situations.

At the end of class, I gifted each person a small moleskin journal (if you don’t know what that is… ask me later or look it up on the web) … and we each journaled briefly a selected scripture. It was a very meaningful time for all of us.

See you Thursday.
Special thanks to Kreg Yingst for the Hula Hoop girl. To see more of his work, see his website.

Our time began with stories. I love stories. They carry messages of the heart in a way that “information” cannot. It’s one of the reasons Jesus used parables.

Grandmother. Special Thanks to Marion C. Honors for the use of this artworkThe question that generated those stories was “who was the first Christian in your life to live in such a way as you could clearly see Christ?” … in other words, an authentic Christian. Some of the stories we heard were about:

  • a grandmother who was joyful, kind, uplifting, and always encouraged her grandchildren to say their prayers;
  • a “foster” mother and father who took in a little girl and raised her because her blood parents couldn’t provide for their daughter;
  • a daughter who came to Christ before the mother and “demonstrated” her faith in such a way that it drew the mother to Christ;
  • an aunt who was known for her gentleness and quiet spirit;
  • a former teacher known for her calm in the midst of a storm, her direct line to the Lord throuh prayer, her “glow;”
  • a woman who demonstrated Christ in practical ways, serving through parenting a large family and fostering over 17 children;
  • a priest who showed me unconditional love.
  • Each story was powerful in its simplicity and confirmed the power of a “Mary heart.”

    Then we discussed which areas of our lives we are hoping will be our truly “growth areas,” and where we can demonstrate our faith in authentic ways. These are areas where we want “more” to show: love, compassion, gentleness, wisdeom, intimacy, forgiveness, faith, joy, order, graciousness, peace and calm. My sense is that these were some of the same areas that we recognized in our “stories of the saints” at the beginning of class.

    Jesus washing the disciples' feetIn John 13:1-17, we learn of the service Jesus performed for his disciples–washing their feet. This was an expected example of Christian love. This was a service that was generally considered “beneath” his station. We talked at length about the areas where we might serve in today’s world. There were plenty of examples like working with the poor, or in a nursing home, or with the mentally ill, or with prisoners, with orphans, with people who are sick (e.g. HIV), or doing someone else’s task for them “secretly” or just “turning the other cheek” when we are offended by another person.

    Joanna Weaver liked to talk about Christ-centered service as being either “on the way” (coming across opportunities in our daily lives) or “out of the way” (going outside our normal path to meet a need). Mark 1:29-34 is a good example of the first type of service and Mark 6:30-34 is a good example of the second. We talked about our own areas of responsibility and how these opportunities might manifest. Will we respond?

    Acts 3:1-10 tells the story of Peter and John who responded to a beggar asking for money by saying, “silver and gold I do not have, but what I have I give you….” and then proceeds to heal the man because what Peter “had” was the Holy Spirit. So often, we do not respond to service opportunities because we don’t believe we have what is needed. We make judgments about our own abilities or compare ourselves to others thinking, “I could never do that.” I believe that we all that it takes within us to have intimate relationships with Christ. Nothing is missing. And as we build upon that intimacy, the rest comes along. We are able to serve with grace. We are able to serve in all stations of life, whether above or below. We can do the very thing we thought we could never do. We are serving in our immediate circle (families, friends, neighbors, church, work) and we are serving in the greater circle of life (community, nation, world).

    Remember, both are needed, living room intimacy and kitchen service. This week, the Lord will bring an opportunity to us. Come to class next time ready to share your service along the way.

    Special thanks to Marion C. Honors, CSJ, for the use of the artwork called Grandmother. For more information about her work, see her website, http://www.marionchonorscsj.com/index.html.)

With lesson #5, we began our discussion with the “God-shaped hole” in our hearts and how we “fill it.” Some of the answers were no surprise: food, mindless activity, “personal downtime,” noise, animals, busyness, reading, talking, etc. In all of these cases, we were managing to crowd out any opportunity for a meaningful interaction with the Lord.

We all understand the basics: intimacy with God follows the formula that Weaver describes as “prayer+the Word+time=intimacy.” For some, one aspect of these was easier to practice than the other, but putting them into a viable combination is still the way. Each of us selected one of the primary areas that is a barrier for walking out this formula and then claimed one of the scriptures to counteract that barrier. For instance, for busyness, the favorite scripture was Psalm 90:12. But we also discovered that different translations are more powerful than others. For this one, a more contemporary version works very well like this: “Teach us how short our lives really are so that we may be wise” from the New Century Version.

Oftentimes, before we are Christians, Satan convinces us that we “don’t need a savior.” And then, after we are Christians, Satan convinces us of a more sinister lie, that we “don’t deserve a savior.” The group talked at length about these lies or scripts from our past and how damaging they can be to our walk. We then reviewed the very powerful metaphorical scriptures that give us strong word pictures to remember our true relationship to the Lord.

John 15:5 I am the vine, and you are the branches. If any remain in me and I remain in them, they produce much fruit. But without me they can do nothing.

Romans 8:15-16 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.

2 Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ.

This week, I challenged the group to really appropriate these images … to really appropriate time to be with the Lord. This book and this study will only be just another “nice study” if we don’t seriously make some changes in our behaviors. We say we want intimacy, but what are we doing to make that happen? This study is just another way he can hold up a mirror to show us the truth of ourselves… in a loving way. Remember the story of “My Heart Christ’s Home.” The Lord is waiting there for us. Let us meet Him there.

In Lesson #4, also called “The Cure,” we investigate our response to last week’s “Diagnosis” (Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things). He says, “only one thing is needed…” and yet, do we embrace that one thing?

Joanna Weaver begins this lesson with a story about the rocks and the wagon. This story begins with a man who is more than willing to serve the Lord by taking three rocks up a hill, only to be undermined along the way by taking on the rocks, boulders, and even a bag of pebbles that others have asked him to carry along. His wagon becomes too heavy and he cries out to the Lord in misery, “This job is too heavy for me… I’m just not strong enough.” In the end, it is the Lord who helps the man remove the rocks from his wagon that are not his to carry.

We had a wonderful discussion about this story and how it relates to our lives. How many of us have taken on the rocks of others… in our Martha way, trying to help, trying to serve, but losing sight of the original mission? Some of our God-given rocks were the things which we have no control over: serious illness, children with difficult issues, our basic appearance and talents, our parents, etc. while some of the other rocks we have put into our wagon were sin, our mates, our work, our addictions, our homes, our feelings and resentments, only to name a few.

Some of us also carry the “rock of perfectionism” that often manifests as chaos because, in reality, we can’t be perfect. And yet, we continue to place our “bar” or performance at such a high level that anything less than perfect is just not worth it and so we give up: our homes are chaotic, our work is stress-filled, our family life is tortured, and our self-esteem is shattered.

So, what is this one thing that Jesus admonishes Martha to have? We all know the answer, of course… it’s knowing God and being intimate with Him. And how do we do this? Spending time with Him… but do we have that time if it’s crowded with the “rocks” of manufactured responsibilities or perfectionist-driven tasks? It is certainly more difficult and often, to a pure Martha, “time with the Lord” can feel like one more rock. That is sad to say.

The story of the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-28) adds another dimension. The one thing he lacked, his one stumbling block, was his inability to give up his wealth. He couldn’t let go because it was his security. What are we holding on to? Are we holding onto worry even though we hate it, but it’s familiar. Are we holding on to our busyness “rocks” even though they make our lives heavy and difficult? Or, are we just performing for God with all of our tasks and duties and volunteerism, hoping it will be enough, hoping to work our way into His heart?

Sometimes, we are unable to let go of our “rocks” because of our history. Paul says in Phillipians 3:12-14, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of me… one thing I do… forget what is behind … pressing toward the prize…” Are we holding on to what is behind? For me, there are still issues of not trusting men (doesn’t that make intimacy with Christ more difficult), or my fears of becomoing poor (as we were in my childhood), or fear of disappointment.

Our rocks at the altarI reminded everyone this week that this study will only be as meaningful as we allow it to be. Our first week, we talked about the necessity to “get out of our comfort zone.” If we want to grow closer to the Lord, we will have to change our behaviors. We will have to let go of the “old way” and press toward a new way. With this in mind, we created a strong word picture for ourselves by each taking a rock that symbolized some of our burdensome “rocks” and laid them at the altar. With each rock we spoke a prayer of letting go of some of the specific things that were holding us back.

Next week, we will begin to build on these new pathways and enter into a fresh intimacy with our Lord.

So, tell the truth! How would you feel if you were working really hard to get everything ready for a special guest and the rest of your family (sisters, brothers, husbands & children) were sitting around yakking/listening to the “special guest” and you were doing all the work… so, you decide to say something… not too mean, just a little pointed, figuring your gues would back you up and instead, he says… (fill in your name here)… “you are worried and upset about many things…” etc. I appreciated many of the group’s comments… they were not too different from my own: “feel like I’m being criticized,” feel offended, resentful, surprised, angry, irritated, devastated, and unappreciated to name a few. I even added that my tendency would be “add some more facts….” surely he would back me up then.

The reality is that most Martha’s are also worriers… and maybe half of us are “chronic worriers.” chronic worrierJoanna Weaver lists 10 signs of a worrier (page 33). Each person in the group picked their top 1 or 2 and shared how that was how they manifested worry the most. As we discussed worry further, we reviewed Luke 8:14 and I noted how the three things that choke the word (or perhaps I should say Word as in the person of Jesus) are worries, riches & pleasures. Isn’t that intriguing? You see, riches and pleasures are not sins of themselves, it’s our indulgence in these things … and so it is with worry. It literally crowds out the Lord from being able to make a difference. If we worry enough, there is no room for Jesus.

One of my favorite parts of the chapter was the Concern & Worry diagram. It’s so important to know the difference. We have to be able to look at our lives and how we react in order to change (remember, being in this class is about CHANGE… moving outside the box of how we “normally” react to the circumstances & people in our lives! right?) … So concern invoves a legitimate threat… it is specific and there is a way to specifically address the problem and even solve it eventually. Concern draws us closer to God. Worry, on the other hand, is usually generalized, often unfounded, obsessive and often creates more problems. Worrk looks to the self for the answer. What’s on your list? As we discussed, we must know and identify what is in the Worry column before we can move it around.

The two key scriptures are Proverbs 3:5-6 (Trust in the lord is the command… and what is the promise/result?) and Phillipians 4:6-7 (Be anxious for nothing is the command… and what is the promise/result?). These scriptures we need to memorize and hold close when the Worry column of things starts dominating.

We also followed the instructions of the book and read Matthew 6:25-30 with our names personalized within the scripture. I would encourage each of you to do the following exercise too… Read the next section, Matthew 6:31-34 and respond IN WRITING, “Lord, I don’t want to worry as the world does, help me to… ” and fill in the blank.

At the end of class, I gave a small talisman to each person as a reminder of God’s faithfulness.

Interesting second class… missing a few students from the first week but picked up a few new ones… hope we can all get together this week! Please do remember to prayer for Hannah … Lisa and Pastor Craig’s daughter… as her situation is of grave concern. Let us continue to hold her in the Light of Christ.

As we started the discussion on Chapter 2, we began with some general stories about sibling rivalry. Sibling Rivalry[/caption]Was there any rivalry in your home as a child? Did you ever feel that your brother or sister was getting better treatment than you? Several shared that it wasn’t so much that they resented their siblings as the other way around. That was certainly a different take on the topic.

We re-read the Mary/Martha story (Luke 10:38-42) and put some emphasis on this week’s topic: “Lord, Don’t You Care?” that Martha exclaims out of her frustration… or anger… or what do you think? She was working so hard and it just didn’t seem “fair.” I had to laugh a little at the group. I guess I am the quintessential Martha. I had lots of stories of asking God “why this?” or “why that?” … I’ve challenged the Lord many times for the circumstances of my life, from childlessness to difficulties in my marriage to growing up with a mentally ill parent. But, few in the group had stories of this type to tell. Eventually, though, with a step here or there, there was sharing about deep disappointment in the face of an illness or the unchecked behaviors in a teenager.

Author, Joanna Weaver, lays out a clear breakdown of the spiral that can begin in the mind and can lead to catastrophic results. We read I Kings 19:1-18 and analyzed Elijah’s response to Jezebel’s threats. Despite his previous miracle when he challenged over 450 of the Baal priests to pray down fire. Not only did fire come down for Elijah only, it was after dousing the altar with water 3 times. And after that, he even called forth rain in the midst of the desert. And yet, when Jezebel threatened, he lost heart and bolted.

Weaver identifies 3 D’s. First there is Distraction. Elijah became afraid of Jezebel and ran. He lost sight of the big picture. Then, he became Discouraged as he contemplated being the only prophet left to fight the good fight. And finally, he Doubted that God could protect him. Have you experienced a similar spiral? I know I have. And I also know that doubt can fester into unbelief.

But how does God help us in our time of need? Like Elijah, he sends his “angels” to give strength and provision. For us, as we talked, we realized that God has sent people to be his angels… people who cared about us and added their strength to our strength. God also speaks … not so much in the wind and storm, but in the still small voice. So often, it takes the quiet voice to calm someone down. Does it work to calm someone who is upset with more screaming and shouting? No, it’s the steady, confident voice. What else did God do for Elijah? He gave Elijah a plan and put him back to work…. that is His work, not the work we have create for ourselves.

Jesus calms the stormWe pursued this concept a little further with Mark 4:35-41 as we discussed the disciples who grew so afraid even with Jesus in the boat. They couldn’t see past their circumstances. And isn’t Jesus in our boat… whatever our circumstances? (Read Psalm 103.)

As part of a closing exercise, each person wrote a letter to the Lord… each letter started with these words: “Lord, I know you love me because…” (and then we listed the ways He has shown His love.) If you missed last week’s class, please try this exercise at home, seal the envelope and bring it to class. I will keep it safe for you … for a season.

We ran out of time before we were able to discuss the parts of the chapter that were most meaningful to us. For me, it was the clear instruction on distraction, discouragement & doubt (I would throw “disappointment” into that mix as well). It also made me realize how powerful circumstances are as distractors… they prevent us from seeing ahead… it’s like coming up against a great wall. If we don’t see or believe that change to our circumstances is just ahead or at least, possible, doubt has even more room to grow.

With our next lesson, we’ll examine the “Diagnosis” of this state in more detail. See you then.