Hey, Ladies. Before I go any further, let me just say there's a reason why I'm using this sort of sad-looking picture of the three generations of Rue women. Just wanted to say that, because today is NOT a downer. Despite the chilling rain ("It's all drippin;. And wet. With water." That's from The Secret of Nimh, a great animated film from the 1980's -- did you see it whenyou were a kid?) . . . where was I going with that? Oh, yeah! Despite the chilling rain this is a good day and I'm having the best latte ever and reading your comments and settling in for another session with you. Let's start with prayer requests. Your sisters have asked for prayer for:
* GRACE ANNE, who is leaving for a youth group retreat tonight and has some nervous concerns. Godspeed, Grace.
* ANNARACHAEL, who has had to break off a friendship and is grieving, Let's pray for her former friend, too.
* SARAH ELIZABETH's friend Shannah's mother who is out of the hospital but still needs our prayers for a full rcovery
Merciful Father, please hear the prayers of your daughters.
How You Responded To Our Last Post:
ALISHA won the "humble pie" contest. She's right -- eating humble pie means swallowig your pride and admitting you're wrong. I'm thinking it's not the best-tasting dessert you could eat but it's probably healthier than most! Alisha, I can't imagine there's a book of mine you haven't read, but let me know if there's one you want, even for a friend, and I'll get it out to you. (email@example.com)
I was as always moved by your honesty and insights.
* ALISHA has an affirmation she says every morning to get her past her sort of "comfortable" or maybe just "required" place of emotional pain. I think we'd all do well to make it part of our wake-up routines:
"Even though I'm stressed out about whatever, or worried about this thng, or feeling this way, I love and accept myself completely, and I know God loves me regardless."
Don't worry about the steps backward, as long as you're taking baby ones forward.
* SASHA is going to pray for Jesus' strength to forgive and love her (annoying) friend, rather than focusing on what she dislikes about her and how she's "in the right." That's exactly what I'm talkin' about, Sasha.
* ANNARACHAEL wonders WHERE she'll realize she's a grain of sand in the great awesome plan of God.
* PAIGE (great to have you back, girl!!!) sees that she needs to step back and seek the face of God when she's challenged, not just when she "has time." WIth a gulp she sees her pride at work and wants to be more intentional about seeking time with God.
* NANCY (Yep, me) realized that she is working so hard that she almost never takes time these days to curl up with a book, watch a movie, go browse through a bookstore, or take a hike -- all things I love to and need to do to be balanced. I had to admit that I go at my work as if I'm the only one God has on it. TIme to end THAT ego trip!
Before we go into today's session, let me warn you that it's going to start out sobering, but there's good news at the end of it. Hang in there with me. With Jesus.
OBEDIENCE SESSION #5
READ: John 7: 14-18 Before you read it, let me give you a little context. Jesus has gone through a long stretch of healing and restoring and miraculously feeding, not to mention walking on water and turning water into wine. But around Chapter 6, verse 22, Jesus starts talking about the hard part of following him -- at least, it's hard for some people. And the people it's hard for either (a) jump off the bandwagon and go home or (b) openly criticize him. What's the hard stuff he's telling them? That they have to believe that he's the Son of God. That he knows what the Father wants from them and for them. That he is "the bread of heaven." That one really throws them. He says if they eat that bread, they'll live forever. Even Jesus' own brothers couldn't wrap their minds around that one. As for the Jewish officials, they challenged him every chance they got, hoping to catch him in something they could arrest him for. Their first line of attack was: "How do you have such learning when you've never been taught?" In other words, "Where are your credentials?" Yeah, this isn't the easy part for anybody. In the middle of the good news, the faces go long. Just like in that picture of Marijean and Maeryn and me.
Here's how Jesus answers that question in our verse for today: "Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God . . . Those who speak on their own seek their own glory, but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothng false in him."
IMAGINE & PONDER: IMAGINE yourself in that crowd. Give the scene texture as you watch people back off from the edges of the crowd and listen to the powerful church officials try to push Jesus into a corner. Where are you in the crowd? Ready to believe no matter what? Or is some of this bread and blood and believing stuff hard for you to swallow? Now PONDER what things Jesus says and expects in the Gospels that are hard for you, not only to obey, but to understand or even believe in the first place.
PRAY: In the middle of your drawing pad, write and /or illustrate the question that plagues you most. Or write and/or illustrate the Gospel verse you find most difficult to fathom or believe or obey. Let the question or the doubt be a prayer in itself. It's an important part of your conversations with God.
NUDGED TO ACTION? What's one step you can take to get more clarity on your question or your doubt? Could you share it here on the blog and invite insights from the ladies? Throw it out for discusison on our Google Group? Study the context, maybe find acommentary on the verses? Talk to a pastor or wise person you trust? Try to just do it and see what happens? If I can be of help to you, please let me know.
SHARE: If you think sharing your question or doubt or difficulty will help, feel free to do it here. No one is going to express any kind of judgment. There will, in fact, probably be ten other people reading yor comment who feel exactly the same way. Feel free also to give each other insights from your own experience. (You already know not to preach at each other so that goes without saying)
What to put in that Treasure Chest of signs and wonders? Anything that reminds you to hang in there with our Lord Christ in spite of, or even because he listens to, your doubts. A cross? A prayer rope you make with ten knots in it? Tell us what it's looking like in there!