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Have you ever taken part in a challenge that you think will change your life? That’s what I just started. It’s with a group of other women all over the world. Many are pastors’ wives…or have been. Some minister in other ways cross-culturally. All lead in their churches and communities in a variety of ways and want to encourage and help others grow in their faith.

I will be taking a class on zoom. Yes, it was supposed to be in more of a retreat setting. That’s how it was before COVID. But now it is being offered online for the first time. I’m so excited. I’m unable to get away for overnights without Ron. On top of that, the cost gets pretty high. It is expensive to put on this kind of retreat. Trainers are needed. It costs to have them travel. I don’t begrudge them. It’s just that it has been impossible for me to get to something like this for a few years now.

 

Tuesdays are my class day each week

 

So for the next 6 Tuesdays in September and October, I will be getting up a little early to accommodate the Eastern time settings. For central time, it will be 8-11. There is homework of course, but it doesn’t involve learning a lot of new facts. In fact, I have had to start homework to prepare before class one. Yes, there is some reading. But from what I’m seeing, the hard work is found in thinking back over events of the past and being honest and vulnerable about them to myself. I can discuss them with the group to the degree I am comfortable. Then asking GOD to show me how specific aspects of the Gospel apply to these areas. Of course, many of those past events link to present ones too. So we are simply thinking through actions and attitudes and how the Gospel is relevant to them.

In some ways, spreading it out over a longer time will help give time to put it into practice in our everyday lives more and to process it. You know how often you go to a retreat and come home all psyched to put new truths into practice only to fail the first day and wonder how you thought anything would change? Well, this will be happening while we are living our lives. We won’t be able to forget the everyday ways we fail. They will stare us in the face! Then we can ask good questions of our leader.

 

Integrating our past with our present can help us understand some of our overreactions. It can give us a clearer understanding of where the Gospel is needed in specific ways in our lives.

 

Intertwining memories of the past with our present lives can help us understand why we overreact to certain events in ways we sometimes don’t understand. Understanding how the Gospel of GOD’s free grace applies to these areas and helps us move out in love to people around us who have wronged us or who we don’t naturally love or even want to serve. I’m looking forward to finding help in how to do this…without either moving to feelings of self-righteousness (if I’m successful) or resentment (if they don’t respond to me in the ways I want them to) or manipulation (so they will respond to me in the ways I want.)

This time, we will have help as we are processing the change on a weekly basis. I totally look forward to it. How encouraging would it be to have someone say, after a bad week when you feel you failed in so many ways,

 

Do you understand that these are true?

 

“God forgives in the areas where you sinned.”

“God isn’t let down because you didn’t produce for Him this week. His view of you has nothing to do with production goals.”

“God loves you and is accomplishing the work He has purposed for you even though it may not be what your plan was.”

These are some ways I hope to learn to be that kind of genuine encourager as a result of this next couple of months (September and October).

 

Are you making time to sit with GOD?

I don’t ask that as someone who has arrived. I ask as someone who struggles in this area too!

 

I hope to develop in the relationship aspects of my relationship with GOD. So often, the part that we call our relationship with GOD includes a lot of intellectual information and facts. Developing the relationship side is much more difficult for me. I think it is because of my background that focused much more on what I believed (an important thing) and the importance of knowing about the Bible and theology.

Often I got so busy that I didn’t stop to sit quietly and enjoy “visiting” with Jesus…in prayer and conversation with Him. I did it more in times of need and adversity, but not as regularly as would have been best.

 

I need it. With age and hardship, I need it more.

 

Do you find it to be true as well?

 

The crucible is for silver,
and the furnace is for gold,

and the Lord tests hearts.

Proverbs 17:3 ESV

 

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
    but the Lord weighs the heart.
To do righteousness and justice
    is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

Proverbs 21:2-3 ESV

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