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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Healing and Encouragement


Last night, we had our pizza and movie night like usual together as a family.  Friday nights are eagerly anticipated in our home because we eat together and then snuggle together on the couch to watch a movie.  It's one time during the week we all plan to "stop the treadmill" and spend time together.  Inevitably, the movie we watch ends up sparking conversations that seem to go in any and all directions.  It's wonderful actually because my husband and I have the privilege of hearing what is going on in our daughter's hearts and minds in a way that is totally unexpected. 

Last night, the conversation was primarily between my husband and oldest daughter, but my youngest daughter and I were listening intently.  They got to talking about the Lord returning to take us home (Rapture), God's Word and how important it is to us, the experiences we had at our last two churches and what the Lord taught us there (child version of course), and much more.  My husband has been listening to sermons daily via his MP3 player and I can hear in his voice that the Lord is encouraging his heart once again.

See, we went through a very rough time several years back with not one, but two churches and two pastors.  Let's just say that when we chose to follow the Lord's leading (leaving "their" churches), they were not happy to say the least.  We were told we were no longer believers, that we would backslide, that we would be divorced within a year (that was nearly five years ago), and that our children would be on drugs and drinking alcohol before we knew it.  We were out of the Lord's favor and His will because we were leaving a certain church, not because of sin or something we had or hadn't done.  Our dedication and love for the Lord and His people was questioned and we were basically blackballed by the people we had spent so much time with and served for several years in His name. 

It was a dark few years for us, but we always felt the Lord's leading and His voice through it all.  My husband and I know that the Lord carried us through those days of panic attacks and feelings of inadequacy and fear.  The Lord brought to my husband a senior saint from one of those churches who came alongside my husband and mentored him and loved him with Christ's love.  These two men still meet once a week for devotional and prayer time to encourage each other and lift each other up in the name of the Lord.  It's inspiring.  I am so thankful for this man, one who truly sees the light and love of  Christ despite what goes on around him, followed the Lord's leading and never once allowed my husband to doubt our decision. He knew the decision had been bathed in prayer for nearly a year and that we had spoken to no one of our thoughts because we wanted to hear only the Lord's voice.  I praise the Lord for this senior saint who loves Him and shows Christ's love to my husband and to us. 

Last night I realized even more strongly while listening to my husband and daughter talk that I have closed my heart off to many things in the last several years.  I am, frankly, terrified to open my heart to the Lord in many ways...scared to be hurt again.  I know it wasn't the Lord who hurt me, it was His people who weren't seeing clearly.  But, nevertheless, I know that I am living in fear of what the Lord will call me to if I open my heart completely to Him and to His Word.  Isn't that crazy?

I share all of this to say that I am committing to the Lord (and to you, my sweet readers), that I am going to read the Bible over the next year from cover to cover.  I need to immerse myself in His Word.  I need to try and open my heart and life to Him in a way that will change me...and my life...because I know in my mind that Jesus loves me too much to leave me the way I am.  He knows I need to change in so many ways!  I want to be more like Him!

I thought about trying to read the Bible in one month, but when I realized it would take a dedication of 2 1/2 hours a day, I know that realistically, that won't happen for me.  I am a busy home schooling mom working two part-time jobs from home and trying to take care of my husband and girls the way they deserve to be taken care of, so I know that this type of schedule would fall by the wayside very quickly.  That would only serve as a discouragement to me.  If there is one thing I have realized in the last few years, it is that I must be realistic in my expectations - with others and especially with myself. 

That said, reading the Bible in one year is very reasonable and I am looking forward to getting started.  I found this site, BibleYear.com that provides a reading schedule for reading the Bible through from cover to cover in one year.  You can choose how you want to read it - from the beginning, chronologically, historically, or whether you want to read the Old Testament or New Testament first.  The site lists several different Bible versions from which to choose as well, so you can choose your preferred version.  The schedule is set up so you can start either on the 1st of a month or the 15th of a month. 

I'm going to begin my reading on October 15th and I've chosen to read the Bible in chronological order.  I am wondering if this will help me further understand my Lord and who He really is.  I will keep you updated!

May you be encouraged today by the Lord's Word.

All my best to you today,

4 comments:

Barb said...

Susan, I read your blog often but have never commented before.

We too, endured a not-so-happy exit from our home church of 16 years. It was so painful and unbelievable that followers of Christ would be that hateful(we were ministry leaders for most of that time too). But praise God, we are rooted in another loving and gracious church with humble leadership, and have found many new ways to serve.

Thank you for being transparent enough to share your feelings...and how awesome that your husband is becoming a stronger man of God!!!!!

Barb

Susan said...

Barb,
Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement and for sharing that you too have experienced the sadness that comes when believers are so hurtful...I am so thankful you are in a good church now! We are too and are very grateful. Yes, I am blessed that my hubby is encouraged! The Lord is Good!

Thomas White said...

Hi Susan!

I'm an adult theology student attending Regent University. Though I've had the privilege to teach Bible studies at home and abroad, I've not had the occasion to preach--until last Sunday.

I was given the opportunity to preach at a small church near my hometown of Traverse City, Michigan. All week leading up to Sunday, I felt impressed of the Lord to bring a message of encouragement and hope.

On Saturday, during some of my last minute research, I found your Blog about Healing and Encouragement. I hope you don't mind that I used part of your testimony in my sermon.

People have deep-rooted needs. Life can be very difficult. Thank God that in the Lord, we can be encouraged and also be the encouragers! Evidently, both are happening in your family. God bless you in your Christian faith.

Thomas White

http://theologystudent.myfaithfeed.com/2010/10/be-encouraged-to-encourage/

Susan said...

Thank you Thomas! I am thankful you found something you could use in your sermon. I only hope it was a blessing to someone else. You are right - people have deep-rooted needs. We are a needy people. I am thankful we can approach the Lord's throne with all that we need and that we can praise Him for everything.

My best to you!