A Babel-builders Legacy

“Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we many make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the earth.’” Genesis 11:4

In her recent book, Whispers of Hope, Beth Moore translated the Tower of Babel story into a modern day parable. She likened the Babel builders to the many people who have attempted to climb Mount Everest.

“The spend fortunes, suffer all manner of maladies, risk relationships, and endanger life and limb. They experience a level of cold no average person can imagine to trudge past frozen bodies. But do you know what mystifies me most? If they make it to the top, they can’t even enjoy the thrill of victory. Their heads pound. They’re disoriented. Their lungs nearly collapse. They suffer snow blindness. They stand on top of the famed Mount Everest for five minutes and begin a hasty descent while they can still breathe. Why do they do it? For the sheer accomplishment of climbing to the highest peak on earth and the accompanying notoriety. Ironically, by the time they achieve the goal, most of them can’t even remember their names.”

I wrote furiously up the margin of the page, around the top, over the title and finally pulled out my tattered journal to keep going. Comparing myself to a thrill-seeking, glory-hound is not exactly complimentary, but the similarities are there nonetheless.

My years with an eating disorder could also explain the Tower of Babel in modern terms. For nearly 15 years, a transcript of my thoughts would have read, “I will build a body of perfection. I will create myself in the  image of ideal beauty. Then people will know me, admire me, remember me, envy me.”

And with focused abandon I risked relationships, physical injury and even my life to that end. The difference between Beth’s Everest example and my own is that I could never reach the pinnacle, there was no definition of success. I could never become my own creator. No one ever asked me to help them become anorexic. In fact, no one ever looked at my emaciated body with admiration and asked me to help them create the  “ideal body”.

Praise God, just like at the Tower of Babel, He came down into my little, broken life and scattered the pieces. He revealed to me the danger of my course, healed me, and like the good Creator that He is, gave me again the “perfect body” He intended for me.

Today, I am in the process of building a legacy, of leaving a mark on the world. Almost daily, God sends me people who ask how I overcame anorexia, who helped me to heal and will I pray for them.

Today, my actions center around loving God with all my heart and learning to love others as He loves me. His glory, His name is the mark I want to leave on the world.

This post was first published on Nov. 28, 2013 at FINDINGbalance.com
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Book Review, Whispers of Hope

Maybe it’s my ego, but I considered myself a prayer veteran. I mean, I’ve studied Kay Arthur’s, Lord Teach Me to Pray in 28 Days. I’ve read many of Stormie O’Martian’s books, I even own Beth Moore’s, Praying God’s Word, flash cards. I’ve been a Christian since I was seven and I’ve led Bible studies on prayer. I have over a dozen journals filled with notes from my morning conversations with God.

So, when I was asked to review Beth Moore’s new book, Whispers of Hope, I admit I wondered how it could possibly be different. Prayer isn’t exactly an evolving science and God didn’t suddenly change the rules. What is there left to learn?

I opened, Whispers of Hope, the moment it arrived on my doorstep, and read the introduction and Day One. Immediately, I knew that this book was less about teaching me to pray, and more about cultivating a habit of deep prayer. If a habit is formed in 21 days, Beth triples her bets with this book, offering the reader a full 70 days of gentle reminders, guidance and incentive to talk to God.

The first thing I appreciated about, Whispers of Hope, is the brief introduction. No ten page didactic on, “How to use this book”. Just a simple, one page spread explaining the journal headings and reminding the reader of the command and reward of consistent prayer.

Beth uses an acronym of the word PRAISE to designate six essential elements of prayer. How humbling to discover that in my frequent “popcorn” prayers, I often forget important aspects of communicating with the High King!

Each of the seventy days begins in with a Scripture reading and a one page devotional by Beth. Following, are two pages with three categories each for jotting down prayer notes.

Two aspects of my own prayer life, Acknowledgement and Intercession, were particularly strengthened by this book.

Acknowledgement: This is an aspect of prayer I often forget, assuming I cover my bases with praise and thanksgiving. Of course, I know God is in charge, but most days I still find myself questioning each interruption, flustered by changes in plans, or cross because a certain item on my to-do list takes longer than expected.

In this category, Beth reminds us to recognize God’s sovereign authority over the minuscule moments of our lives. This is the ground floor of humility; at the same time, it’s the epitome of freedom.

Taking Beth’s frequent admonition to use Scripture in my prayer, I found Psalm 15 to be an excellent guide for acknowledging God’s rule and goodness in my life.

Intercession: I am ashamed to admit that this is a topic I have brushed over lightly in the past. Sometimes, my intercessory prayers seem redundant, so I default to casual, passing thoughts, “Haven’t I been praying this thing for that person forever? God, you know.”

Beth points out a relieving truth about intercessory prayer that I have never considered before. Using Jesus’s mother, Mary, in John 2:3, Beth says that we don’t need to offer God a solution to the problem. We do not need to ask God to do something specific in an individual’s life or a certain circumstance. Instead, as Mary did, we can simply state the need. My part in intercession is to show a oneness with His heart, a sensitivity to the Spirit and compassion for the person in need. God is capable of solving the problem in His own time and manner. In fact, He already knows the issue.

As it turns out, there is much I can still learn about prayer. No, it isn’t an evolving science, but it is an ongoing conversation. As I child grows up and learns to participate respectfully in adult conversation, so I believe, as we grow in faith and intimacy with God, the tone, attitude and expression of our prayers will change.

Whispers of Hope, is an excellent, unique resource both for learning to pray and for maturing in our relationship with God.

Make sure you leave a comment on this post because tomorrow I will select the winner of a free copy of,
Whispers of Hope. Good luck!

Upcoming Giveaway!

Hello and happy Friday, All!

I wanted to let you know that on Saturday, Nov. 30, I will be publishing a review of Beth Moore’s newest book, “Whispers of Hope”.
Icon Media Group asked me to review the book and has graciously provided me with a copy to give away to my readers. This book will be an excellent Christmas gift. Or if you’re like me, with two anniversaries and two birthdays stacked right on top of Christmas, it will make a great gift for those occasions too. 

Make sure you leave a comment under that post on November 30th. I will do a random drawing from the names of those who have commented and announce the winner on Sunday, December 1. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Secret to World Peace (and yours)

In an election season, ‘peace’ is the buzzword. Every politician vying for your vote is promising you peace through their plan. Peace in your finances, peace in the form of less crime, international peace, partisan peace, peace with minorities and the absence of hate.

They valiantly pledge their lives to the betterment of public life. Then they turn around and viciously sling mud at their opponent. The worst part is, they can’t all be right! So where do we go for real, true peace?

The simple answer is: God. But unfortunately, that’s become a token response, spoken almost as glibly as a first grader in Sunday school class.

“Well, I’m just praying that God will intervene. If we would all just be obedient to God. Well, God’s going to punish America and then He will establish His peace.”

I’m absolutely not denying the fact that God Jehovah is the source of peace. Jesus Christ is called the Prince of Peace. In the Gospels, Jesus says, “My peace I give to you.”

If generations, centuries of Christians have believed that God is the source of peace for the world, then why do we not experience peace on earth? At the very least, why don’t we have peace in our own homes?

Remember the “good old days”? We say that when we look at our kids and realize that they have no concerns.

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful, we think, to go back to having no worries, just trusting that Mom and Dad would take care of things? Those nights when you slept well; your breaths were soft and deep and you only cried if you stubbed your toe. Even then, Mom or Dad always had the power to make it better.”

Matthew 19:14 says, “But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Ah children, peaceful, quiet, innocent babes. (Not always, but you get my analogy.)

So what are they doing right?

In her Bible study, Living Beyond Yourself, Beth Moore made a startling observation – at least to me. She said, “peace is always associated with authority.” Think about it, your child lives peacefully, relative to you, because she is under your authority. This position includes being loved by you, cared for by you, advised by you and disciplined by you.

I have been mulling over that idea for a couple days. Then this morning, my Father showed me this truth definitively in His own words.

Colossians 3:15 says, “And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”

Peace is found under the rulership of Jesus Christ. When I try to be my own authority, peace becomes an illusion.

In Isaiah 9:6, Jesus is called the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. The next verse tell us of His governance. Jesus brings peace to those who are under His authority.

Question: In my most harried moments, the days when my brain feels as if it’s filled with rabid birds, when the anxiety almost seems to physically burn my insides: am I under Christ’s authority? If so, then like a child, I can simply trust my Father – to love me, care for me, advise me and discipline me.

One final thought, that I hope to explore in more detail later:
Ever since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, tension has been an inevitable part of marriage relationships. There God cursed the man to be frustrated in his ambitions and the woman’s desire to be for her husband. Most scholars believe this indicates a power struggle between the two.

Throughout the Bible, God calls the man to be a leader in the home and for the woman to submit to his authority. We also know that God does not prefer men to women, or women to children or one race over another. So why this submission thing? Aren’t we equals?

Could it be that God knows in our sin-sick world, peace-less-ness will reign? I think He is offering us peace on earth by saying, “Yes, I love you the same, you are equal. But peace comes with authority. For the sake of peace in your homes, I am establishing a leader and a follower.” What do you think?

Law of the Harvest

Think fast, word association: Rain?

Sunshine?

Patience?

Let me take a gander at your first reaction. Rain: dull gray skies, cold wet feet, messy floors, mud, potholes, dreary people, painful seasons of life

Sunshine: beaches, smiles, suntans, newness, brilliance, light and hope

Patience: grit your teeth and bear it, a virtue, waiting and waiting and waiting, a tough place – your kids? your spouse? (-:

Four girl friends and I are wrapping up Beth Moore’s study on James called Mercy Triumphs. We recently came to a verse that I have scanned over in previous readings.

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.” (James 5:7)

What do you make of that? Does it mean we have to wade though the rainy season to hopefully reap the precious produce of the soil? We’ve been talking about the privilege of pain. Beth calls it the “Law of the Harvest.” Ancient farmers (and modern ones as well) anticipated the early and late rains. However stormy those seasons might be, the rains are vital for the growth of the precious produce of the soil.

In James 1, he reminds his readers of what they already know, the testing of their faith will produce endurance. Pounding rains strengthen thirsty, fledgling leaves. There may be hail and lightening. Perhaps flash flooding. Perhaps the farmers have to plow and tend their fields in the midst of mud. Would they ask to be relieved of the rains? In life sometimes, pounding circumstances strengthen young faith. Eventually flooding sorrows seep into the soil of our hearts and press the precious produce of our souls through the surface.

It’s the law of the harvest.

A few other writers have thoughts on this passage too:

http://shannonsauer.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/between-the-rains/

http://www.heatherlilly.com/?p=5952

http://keeplifefresh.blogspot.com/2012/03/be-encouraged-between-rains.html

Perspectives of Pain and Perfection

Is happiness dependent on whatever life throws our way or do we have a say in the matter? We can find peace amongst chaos, contentment despite limitations, and joy even in our lowest moments. It all comes down to Perspective… Craig Groschel in his recent series on Philippians

Everyone is blinded by their own perspective. Perspective is the angle at which you view something. A pauper views a sandwich and shelter as the essence of life. A king views those same principles of sustenance as bland and ordinary, nearly an assault to his majesty. Before I lived in Georgia, I believed that Oklahoma was humid. An athlete views a difficult workout as a challenge and something to be mastered, a couch potato views the same drills as agony and next to death. Do you see where I am going?

Recently I brought you some stories about the persecuted church. After a few days of reading about the physical abuses that Christians in Nigeria and Egypt were enduring, we read about discriminative abuses against Christian businesses in the United States. I am not diminishing the pain of the Christian businesses, but put in perspective, what is endurance?

I am going somewhere with this (:

Craig Groschel has convicted me on many occasions through his online sermons at LifeChurch.tv, but his series on perspectives has been very humbling. I’ve begun to consider the privilege of pain. “Count it all joy, my brothers when you encounter various trials,” says James, “for you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”            (James 1)

Like the example above, my own pain, in perspective seems minimal and sometimes petty. But my Father knows the testing that my faith requires in order to perfect me. Be it struggles in my marriage, the constant humbling need to destroy my personal idols of food and fitness, loneliness, feelings of failure or any other hurdle that God places in my path in the future, He is intentional.

Intentional. Intentional and repetitive. As He is known to do, God has been echoing this one message in my life from various angles. I am also preparing to lead a Beth Moore Bible study in my home. God chose the book of James this time. As I read through the first chapter, I was skewered by the passage I quoted above…

For you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing.

That’s what I want. I want to be perfect, clothed in Christ’s perfect righteousness, perfectly and contentedly reliant on Him for all my salvation and life. That’s going to require a change in my perspective – a new perspective on my own good works, my own sin, my own struggles and my own forgiveness of others. I hope you find the LifeChurch.tv catalogue of sermons effective for your own training in righteousness. Start with the series on Perspectives.