It's been a long time...for that one person out there who reads this.
This weekend, I attended a mini-ladies' retreat. It was called Loving Well, and featured my favorite...BETH MOORE. It was fabulous and I highly recommend using this "retreat in a box" at your congregation. If you've done a Beth Moore study before, you know that some of them can be very deep and actually exhausting (in a good way). This is refreshing, exciting, very eye-opening and quite insightful.
I wanted to share a few of the ideas from the thirteen pages of notes I'm taking home with me!
- In this age of cell phones, pagers, beepers, blackberries, email, fax machines, and instant messaging, we have never been more in touch and we have never been so lonely. We communicate well on a verbal level but communicate so rarely on a heart level.
- We will never learn to love well without letting God love us.
- God uses the difficult (mean-spirited, critical, selfish) people in our life to work out the selfishness in us. Those who test us and are our enemies have been chosen for us. That person was put in my life to bring me gain. To bring out the worst in me. To bring it UP and OUT!
- In 1 John, we read that God is love. Love is not just a feeling or an emotion to God. "It is not relegated to circumstance" and it is not changed by hurt or disappointment. I am a woman. Period. That is not changeable. I may have surgery, bleach my hair, get a tan, but I am still a woman. It's just who I am. Love is who God is. LOVE IS PART OF GOD'S "GOD-NESS.
- "Perfect love refers to love that is mature, not pampered by anxiety or insecurity." Our society (women in particular) is fraught with anxiety and insecurity. Those are "the outgrowth of unbelief" and they are "rooted in pride."
- We sometimes feel that God is so challenged to love us. We are testy. We are like foes to him. But God rejoices over you. He sings over you with joy. He wants us to love others that way, beyond what is humanly possible for us. Human love, even at its best, is self-seeking. We still hope to get something out of it. It's not real love until we love someone who doesn't love us. We must love BECAUSE we are loved, not SO WE WILL be loved. We can love anyone through anything because we are loved by God's perfect love. We will never be more Christ-like than when we love people who do not love us.
- Read Phil. 1:9-10. There is no biblical mandate to love blindly. God calls us to a love that knows and is smart. We must "ask God to give us insight into" the brokenness of those who test us so that "we can learn to have compassion on them." That was HUGE for me.
- Our hanging onto past hurts and wrongs is what makes us go through it and relive the hurt over and over again. We must sacrifice our "rights" and grudges and lay them down at the altar. We must choose to forgive.
- Some of us are attracted to testy people. If you're married to a testy person, (1) pray like a maniac. You are one flesh. No one has the capacity to pray for your own flesh the way you do. (2) Pray that God will make you loving and that you will not return testiness for testiness. God can change lives! YOU DO NOT HAVE THE ONE MARRIAGE THAT GOD CANNOT TRANSFORM, BECAUSE HIS SPECIALITY IS RAISING THE DEAD.
- If we only love who we want to love and those who are easy to love, we are just like the rest of the world. Loving our enemies is what sets us apart.
- Read Isaiah 58:6-12. Loving others (even strangers) relieves us of the burden of self-absorption. If we work toward healing and if we break strongholds, but never pour ourselves into others, we will never be completely healed. We must keep dipping into his loving well so that we can pour it out onto others. Empty ourselves so he can fill us up.
- Read Rev. 19:5-7. The original word for that word GLAD is a word that means ecstatic joy. Not just joy but when joy gets physical: to exalt, rejoice with exuberance, show joy by leaping and dancing. THAT's how glad.
Like several times before, these notes are as much for me as anything else. And like I said previously, I took down 13 pages of notes. I am going home, not only with notes, though. I am going home with a commission to help someone who cannot help me and to love people who do not love me back.