by Dottie Ryan

I want to share with you a word a friend of mine spoke to me as I sat with her over tea this past week. It has really resonated with me as we talked about fear and how one of the reasons we live in fear could be us racing always ahead of God and ourselves. Looking for something that is not in this present moment. Missing the moment and the adventure of discovering God during the moment of our storms. Always being “out there somewhere.”  It’s a simple yet profound few words: “Thank Him and be content in the place in which He has me.  In doing that, He will give me more.”  I confess that I am probably not easily “satisfied in Him” because I am too busy “looking beyond” what He has and is giving me, thus missing Him in my rush to get “there” —  wherever   “there” is.


by Dottie Ryan

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

In this past week’s lecture, Laurie led us through Three Spiritual Stepping Stones: Faith, Hope and Love as daily, and sometimes moment-by-moment, choices we make to deepen our relationship with our Lord.  In walking these out, we Fight the Good Fight of Faith regardless of our feelings, placing all our hope in the Lord because apart from Him we can do nothing.  Apart from Christ, we don’t have the ability to love — and we don’t have the faith or the hope we need to do what He has called us to do.  So we were encouraged to cry out, in total honesty, asking Him to help us truly believe His love for us and not only His ability to provide these gifts to us, but His willingness and His desire to do so.  He requires much of us as we are “Going up the Mountain” — but He also is the provider of the things He requires of us.

We were given some tools to help us along this walk:
  • KNOW Jesus and His Word
  • BELIEVE Jesus and His Word
  • FOLLOW Jesus and His Word
  • LIVE Jesus and His Word

Through putting these tools to use in our lives, we come to focus on Him and Him alone, and our desire moves from knowing about Him to knowing Him.

Laurie encouraged us to remember the great works God has done in each of our lives.  She asked us to write out three examples from our own life. When I came to this part of the study, my mind went blank.  So I paused to ask the Lord to bring to my remembrance those things I swore “I would never forget.”  I was reminded of all the Ebenezers* I had collected over my walk with the Lord — and that I had even made a brief list of those events in case (like the Israelites) I would come to the place in which I found myself unable to easily recall those major crossroads in my life. Lord have mercy.  You have been so good to me.

So in closing, I thought I would share a few with you. In doing this, I am glorify the Lord because they are His works.  I also hope that, like me, if you are unable to come up with your own, these might be used as a springboard to help you recall (if you are having difficulty in doing so) the great victories and mighty works He has done on your behalf.

  • 2002 – 2003  He called this “Prodigal” away from the WORLD and into relationship with Him
  • 2004   He broke the bondage that “Substance Abuse” had on my life
  • 2007   He revealed His LOVE for me in a way that only God can do (He claimed my heart as His)
  • 2008   He restored my financial savings that had been stolen from my bank account and spoke to my heart that He would always provide for me
  • 2009   He helped me break a 45-year addiction to nicotine (x-ray of my lungs show me as a person who never smoked)
  • 2011    He began restoration of seemingly-lost relationships in my life

He continues to love me, to sanctify me, and to “keep [me] from falling” (Jude 24, NIV).

These are just a few of the great and mighty works He has done on my behalf. In walking through the storms leading to these “marked” events,  KNOW-ing, BELIEVE-ing, FOLLOW-ing and LIVE-ing Jesus and His Word when my world seemed to be falling apart  — and seeing Him in them —  was as meaningful as the final outcome. So as Psalm 29:2 says, I “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name”! May you, if you’ve not already done so, begin a list of your own Reminders.

May we all discover more and more that God is God, and we are not.  No one can stay His hand. No one can be touched unless He allows it.  His is God and He is good all the time.  Hallelujah!

“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us'” (1 Sam. 7:12).

by Angie Thomas

So, I have been thinking a lot about our lesson this past week, “Lord, I am Weak!”.  Can I let you in on a little secret? I hate weakness.  I know hate is a strong word, but it is an accurate description of my feelings toward weakness.  To me weakness means frailty, vulnerability, inability, insufficiency, humiliation….all things which cause my flesh to scream and run in the very opposite direction.

The world and our culture despise weakness as well. After all Darwin’s theory is “Survival of the Fittest.” We have been so indoctrinated by this thinking that we do not even realize it.  Jesus’ words sting in our ears and sound like crazy talk: For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:24). Lose our lives? We are trying are darndest to make something of our lives! The thought of intentionally laying it down and saying, “I am yours, Lord, do what you will” seems illogical and unwise. It is interesting to note that this statement from Jesus is repeated in some form in all four of the Gospels.  Matthew and Luke repeat it twice.

Apparently this wasn’t just some one time, random thought Jesus shared with His disciples. It was paramount.  It was the way He wanted them to think. He was giving them a new paradigm to live by.  It was the way He lived His life.  Philippians 2:5-7a says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself.” Umm, being emptied of all my dreams and desires seems to me like it would result in weakness and a big fat failure. The NIV actually says “he made himself nothing” in verse 7.

I will be completely honest. The thought of being emptied and made nothing actually brings me to tears. Perhaps it is because it is precisely the journey the Lord has had me on the last several years.  From early on in junior high when I saw myself as a no-name rural farm girl from a very humble family, I decided to pursue things the world’s way.  I decided to do whatever I could to make a name for myself.  I spent 8 years during high school and college pursuing my dreams and an identity.  Valedictorian–check. Student Body President–check. Bachelor’s Degree–check. Master’s Degree–check. Successful career–check.  No surprise, I was left with fulfilled “dreams” but an empty heart.  I had pursued my life and tried to take Jesus along for the ride, and it just didn’t work.

Then Jesus asked me to walk away from it all.  He asked me to leave a career I loved in many ways to serve my family and His body.  He asked me to turn down what appeared to be a “dream” job in missions to serve with a fledgling new ministry that’s course was uncharted and at times uncertain.  He asked my husband and me to trust Him with our family planning in the midst of an adoption that had taken three years.  Then He asked us to surrender the dear sweet little girl we thought we were going to be able to adopt, in place of another child He had created.

He has allowed precisely what was needed for this Type A, prideful, stubborn heart to become “weak”. I prayed many years ago that I would follow the Lord at any cost.  I had no idea how high the cost would be. My life as I saw it and “dreamed” it would be is hanging in shambles. But I am beginning to see the glimpses of the beautiful life He promised for those who would lose their life.  As I sat in the room at Bible study last Tuesday night and saw all of you–your heart’s so open and hungry for Him–my heart was filled with overwhelming joy and gladness!  As I see the beloved faces of my children hungering after God and His Word, I see His life.  It is breathtaking and far more beautiful than the dreams I could have ever concocted.

So, my word of encouragement to you, my fellow sisters in Christ is, LET GO.  Don’t be afraid of whatever He is doing to “mess” with your life.  Whether the trial be big or small you can trust Him.  His Father heart of love towards you is strong and sure.  Ask Him for the grace to surrender to whatever is His highest and best for you and your life.  Isaiah 41:9-10 says, “you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and calledfrom its farthest corners, saying to you, ‘You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off’;fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

In handing Him your dreams and your life you are sure to find richness and joy beyond your wildest dreams.  The way down really is the way up.