Ten Dares. Ten themes. Ten steps of obedience. Still three things running through my thoughts today…
Time. Make time to pray and seek. Yes, I know it’s important, but I need to be reminded.
Connection. Make sure there is not a kink in the cord and every prong is plugged into the power source.
Mind. After time and connection, the rest of the day revolves around where my mind is camped out.
All three are easy to talk about but harder to practice. Each of us have habits of living that must be addressed and challenged. Change doesn’t happen with one day’s dare. One day gives a taste of the victory and life change that can happen with focused living. Lasting change happens with choices made one day at a time, over a long period of time.
I like this quote that I found by Rick Warren on an internet devotional: “ Becoming like Christ is a long, slow process of growth. Spiritual maturity is neither instant nor automatic; it is gradual, progressive development that will take the rest of your life. God is far more interested in who you are than in what you do. We are human beings, not human doings. You must make a countercultural decision to focus on becoming more like Jesus. Otherwise other forces like peers, parents, co-workers, and the culture will try to mold you into their image.”
These dares are choice prompters to make that counter cultural turn in many different practical areas.
Why counter cultural? Because we are bombarded, whether we realize it or not, to live for instant gratification, feelings based results and quick fixes. A current magazine cover promises I will find 122 quick changes for health, body, home and happiness. I must admit, I am a sucker for this stuff. It also promises that I can lose thirty pounds without even trying and redo any room in the house in just forty-eight hours. I like the promises.
Unfortunately promises for quick fixes leave us hopeless in the end.
The Apostle Paul held out real promises.
“Being confident of this, He who began a good work in you will complete it” Phil 1:6
This is a promise I can count on, sink my heart into, and not be disappointed in.
The other promise I can count on is in Day 9—that God gives good gifts to His children. When my prayers are not answered in a snap, when two weeks turns into two months or two years—has God been unfaithful? No, the truth is, His timing is perfect and he will not give me, or you, the snake instead of the bread. ( Matthew 7:7-11) If we could wrap our lives around that truth principle we would frame each of our unanswered prayers much differently. We must realize that some of what we want would not be God’s best for us, or the timing that we want it in,would not be good for us.
This brings me to one last thing….our minds….. Dare 10 is a pivotal point in our journey together. “Bad thoughts are like flies. They dog us, change the way we view things, and come in like a swarm to discourage us.” Oh, Jesus give us grace to guard our minds!
Can I pray for you, for me, for those who will be touched by the ripple effect of this Faith Dare?
Father, I am asking you in Jesus name to do within us something supernatural. Take your word and make it real to us in ways that apply to us as individual women whom you love. You know our hearts, lives and circumstances. You know our needs, fears and failures. You stand with arms outstretched bidding us to come to you. Give us the courage each day of this Faith Dare to take a step in your direction. If we are having problem with finding time, show us how. If we forget to connect in the morning, remind us. When our mind is drifting into the negative places of fear and doubt—bring us around to focus. And, Jesus may we be so touched in this fasting of self, that your light shines in us in a way that ripples love and hope to all whom are in our personal ponds. Make our waters fresh with grace and our lives filled with love. We love you and want more of you! Amen
Praying for you my dear Faith Sisters!
Assignment For This Week
Read the daily dares in the Faith Dare book
Join a small group discussion at the Womens Bible Cafe™
God provides for us. It might not seem like he does, but He does. Even in bad circumstances, His love holds us. I am reminded of this as I started the Faith Dare on August 1st. Though I wrote this book four years ago as a dare for local women in leadership, doing it this summer with all of you means more than I can express. Timing, as they say, is everything.
In June I was diagnosed with breast cancer. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. Things moved quickly and within 10 days I was having surgery followed by consultations, appointments and treatment plan decisions. This summer has not turned out as I expected. And frankly, this is not something I have welcomed with open arms. But over the past few weeks I have slowly begun to make peace with a diagnosis that I have no control over.
That’s where faith comes in. The beginning of this faith dare has much to do with how we view our lives. There is a reason we have been pausing to look at our heart, our mind and our thoughts. Understanding who we are and whose we are will go a long way when dealing with the problems and perils of real life. Knowing I am loved and that my life has purpose does not take cancer away. But, knowing I am loved and that my life has purpose gives me a different perspective while walking through the valley of cancer.
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of streams…they go from strength to strength…” Psalm 84 5-7
The Valley of Baca is speaking of the desert. What do you do in the desert? Get hot, bothered, thirsty and exhausted? No whining will change the heat! We can make our problems more terrible than they are or we can actually make our problems a place of refreshment. When our heart is set on the pilgrimage — which is an extended journey with a purpose—we are blessed and strong. The heat of our desert, test or trial becomes a place of oasis for us.
The key is setting our focus on the journey and the fact that everything has a purpose. As I keep my heart set on this sacred journey of following after the God who made me, loves me and has purpose for me—my perspective is very different. With this focus my circumstances don’t rule me, but finding God in the middle of the circumstances does.
Each of us are familiar with hardships, trials and challenges. God could take away anything bitter from our cup of life. But He often does not. Is that love? I think so. Just this week My Father and I had a little talk about this cancer business. “ Lord, couldn’t you just take this cup from me?”
Gently and firmly this is what my heart heard…I could, but when I don’t take the cup from you, it’s because there is something for you in the cup… Something for me in the cup? Could this be what scripture speaks of when we are instructed to count it all joy when going through trials? Could it be that there is something for us in each thing we journey through?
The dares the past few days have held me up. I have set my alarm, told myself the truth. Gone to bed with the truth, woke up with new truth and have experienced strength rising as I am intentionally focusing and rebooting daily.
I have found renewed strength and peace. I have treatments on my calendar and hope in my heart. I might not want this cup, but I am His. Because I am His and He is Love…I can have faith that He’s got me.
What about you?
This week we will start focusing on how we live in this world. Are we transforming by the power of God ? Or are we conforming to the culture that wraps it’s allure around our vulnerable hearts and minds?
Will you join me in learning to Live UP one day at a time?
P.S. ( can you do a P.S in a blog? Not sure of blog etiquette… ) The little boy that I spoke of on Day 4, is a grown up now. Imagine my joy as I saw him leading worship at a Christian Festival on the same day that coincided with his story in the Faith Dare devotion that day. My mind flashed to many memories of raising him. I was reminded that we are living for the bigger picture, raising children for God’s purposes. You can listen to his worship album, Found In You, on itunes or JustinBrier.com
Assignment For This Week
Read the daily dares in the Faith Dare book
Join a small group discussion at the Womens Bible Cafe™
Welcome to the Womens Bible Cafe™ and our Faith Dare study! We are reading and discussing The Faith Dare by Debbie Alsdorf.
Guest Blogger Debbie Alsdorf
This is the beginning of a 30 day faith challenge, The Faith Dare. Today represents an important mental shift that will help us get ready for the spiritual re-boot that will happen as we daily walk out the Biblical Truth we are reading in each day’s dare.
Why do we need to challenge our thoughts and beliefs?
Because if we don’t hold on to faith in God, we will learn to live according to our own understanding, reasonings and emotions.
Life is filled with challenges. From small to large, each day we are presented with many choices. Will we trust God? Will we put our faith in Him? Or will we live like the rest of the world, just getting by, pushing ourselves to be better, stressing ourselves to try harder? Scripture has much to offer us, much to teach us, and much to challenge us with.
For instance…let’s think of the Samaritan woman. She was a woman like us. She had a past that she hoped could be changed into a better future. She put up with disappointing relationships and the circumstances of the day. She was a sinner and she knew it. It’s not that she was proud of it, but she knew her steps and mis-steps. Her view was changed the day she met a Jewish man at the watering hole, a man who promised her that if she drank the water he gave her, she would never thirst again. She hoped it could be true, and maybe you hope it could be true too.
It’s time to drink from God. Time to live our lives differently. This is the season to look up into his eyes while listening closely to his voice. When we do we will find the source that will fill us in such a way that we will never thirst again. Now is the time to begin.
Let’s begin the re-boot with a Scriptural base:
Colossians 3:1-3, 5, 7, 17
Taken from The Message ( highlighted emphasis mine)
“So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ, that’s where the action is. See things from His perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life–even though invisible to spectators, is with Christ in God. He is your life…That means killing off everything connected with that way of death…That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God…You’re done with that old life… Let every detail in your lives, words, actions, whatever, be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.”
Let’s begin our reboot:
Power down from self, and come to Christ each day, for the next 30 days. How? By determining an intentional space of time where you will power down from everything else for about 15 minutes as you read that day’s pages in The Faith Dare Book. Reading is not enough, you will then respond to what you have read by being still enough to listen to God speaking to your heart.
The first section is a preparation for the dare. It speaks of trials and tests actually producing something within us, and this section is an important part of the dare. After the introduction you will then start the 30 day dare. You may want to journal and you will want to end with prayer. That intentional time is step #1, the rest comes in practicing walking out the truth that you just processed. Walking out the truth, is the dare. If mornings are hard for you, try doing the reading and processing before bed, with a plan to practice the DARE the entire next day. Always remember to pray, asking God’s Spirit to do the work of freedom within you as you dare to walk by Faith in the Promises of God.
Open up to new possibilities, experience the difference he makes in a surrendered life. I am praying for us all, each day, during this time. I am daring my self as I am daring you….to run into the arms of Jesus, learning to reframe our lives in the truth of His Love for us.
Assignment For The Week
Read The Introduction, and Chapters One and Two in the Faith Dare book
Beginning on the 1st of the month, start reading the first dare…then on the 2nd the second dare and so forth…..
Each daily dare ends with three journal questions for you to answer. Use the book or a personal journal and complete these daily.
Each daily dare ends with a “Daily Prayer.” If you have a smart phone, I want you to read the prayer aloud and RECORD your own voice saying the prayer. Use the voice memo app on your smart phone if you have this, and then later in the day play back your own voice with the prayer.
Join a small group discussion at the Womens Bible Cafe™
Welcome to our final week of the Gideon Bible study by Priscilla Shirer. Throughout this study we’ve learned how God is able to turn weakness into strength. By now you realize there is more to Gideon than wet fleece! Our final chapter this week unveils the obstacles Gideon faced- his own self interests and idolatry.
We had the opportunity to complete “The Interview” and then reflect on own situations from a Biblical perspective. Did you claim your own idols after the lesson on page 150? It’s easy to read the pages of scripture and judge Gideon, and as we learned this week, much harder to judge ourselves. Yet for a Bible study to be effective and have lasting impact, we need to apply scripture to our individual lives. We need to live it…not just read it!
What impacted you most during the Gideon Bible study? Which lesson or statement from Priscilla Shirer took root inside your heart? It would so so wonderful to gather together at the Table and hear your personal stories. In the meantime, we have s all group experience where you can gather and share your thoughts with each other. If you’re on Twitter or Facebook look for the hashtag #LessonsfromGideon and see what others are posting about this Bible study.
In the final chapter this week, I personally discovered how something inherently good became an idol in my life. I’ve know that I struggle with emotional eating, and food which is good has power over me when I use it to fill an emotional need. I was reminded this week that only God fills those empty spaces in my life, and the solution is to turn to Him in prayer and not food.
Chocolate is my cure-all for any mood…and something I need to limit inside my home. I use chocolate to celebrate something or to comfort a feeling I might be having. How about you? Is your idol a Facebook game, a television show, an addictive habit…what are you a bit obsessed over? For some women, even Bible study can become an idol when it becomes a badge on the wall and replaces a relationship with God. Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.
Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? 2 Cor 13:5 NIV
Pause from your busy day or your heavy burdens and examine your own heart. Make sure you are in alignment with His will, in relationship with Him and detached from potential idols. This needs to be a daily habit as you center your life inside His Presence.
My prayer for you is that by finishing this Bible study, you now recognize your own strengths and weakness from a spiritual perspective. With this knowledge, you are then in a position of authority in spiritual warfare. Walk in victory…beside Jesus.
Thank you for joining us in this Bible study! It has been a pleasure to spend this time with you. Thank you to our 20 volunteers who lead the small groups and pray for you by name. God is good, always!
Write a book review for Priscilla Shirer
Tell someone how much you enjoyed the Gideon study!
What an amazing week of online Bible study at the Womens Bible Cafe™ We’ve just finished reading week five of the Gideon Bible study written by Priscilla Shirer. We saw a major turn of events as our Biblical hero goes from a God-centered life back into a self-centered life. Yes…BACK into his self interests.
Equipped by God to overcome his own insecurity, Gideon the hero becomes Gideon the disrespected in a very short time. His demise was listening to the flesh rather than listening to the Lord. Has this ever happened to you?
It’s easy to be deceived by the enemy of lies. When we stop seeking wisdom from God through prayer, Bible study and fellowship…we open the door to spiritual warfare. Today in my local Bible study our leader suggested memorizing Galatians 5:19-21 NIV so we recognize the works of the flesh inside us.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 NIV )
I wonder if Gideon would have experienced a different outcome if he knew and prayed these things! What about you? Do you recognize that when you are acting in anger, discord, or jealousy…you are acting against the Fruit of the Spirit. Perhaps each of us is a bit like Gideon in someway or at sometime in our lives.
When God uses our weakness for His strength….we need to stay in relationship with Him so that strength is not misused by the flesh. For Gideon, insecurity became courage and then courage became sin. Make sure you don’t cross the line with the gifts the Lord give to you. A wise woman knows when to yield to the Spirit and capture all thoughts through a Christ-centered heart.
I hope you’ll be joining the small groups this week to discuss week five. Did you know that next week is our last week of the Gideon online Bible study? This study has really gone by fast!
Assignment For the Next Week
Read Week Six in the workbook
Listen to Audio Session sixand seven or Video Session six and seven at Lifeway.com (optional due to cost)
Our womens online Bible study continues this week as we discuss our fourth week from Gideon by Priscilla Shirer. We expanded our understanding of God’s patience, unlike human patience.
The term “long-suffering” is used to describe this supernatural patience God has for His children. Using a keyword search in the King James Version I was surprised to see just three scripture verses with the term. I found Psalm 86:15 interesting, as the word long-suffering is translated to loving kindness (Amplified) and unfailing love (NLT).
But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. KJV
But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in mercy and loving-kindness and truth. Amplified
But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. NLT
But you, O God, are both tender and kind,not easily angered, immense in love, and you never, never quit. Message
Rarely do we see these adjectives applied to any human! Read the verses slowly and let them seep into your heart. God is
immense in love
Our lesson this week also explored spiritual gifts and Priscilla presented 4 Steps in Giving Our Gifts to God. Four pages in a Bible study workbook are not orchestrated to help you Discover your gifts, so take some time and explore this further. Your local church might have information on spiritual gifts, you can find the information online or even read a book about it. Don’t ignore your spiritual gifts. Seek wisdom and discernment.
You’ll find a Lifeway Spiritual Assessment Tool online when you click here.
Finally, we explored Gideon’s famous “fleece test.” Hopefully you looked at times in your own life and discovered when and how God confirmed His message to you. It’s important to know the difference between seeking confirmation and sitting in unbelief, as Priscilla described so well this week in Bible study.
This week was filled with some great self-discovery questions, so I hope you took time to pray and complete the workbook answers.
Assignment For the Next Week
Read Week Five in the workbook
Listen to Audio Session five or Video Session five at Lifeway.com (optional due to cost)