Esther’s Circle – Love Does (Chapter 11 & 12)

I recently had the privilege of spending an evening with my friends from ACC’s Esther’s Circle where we enjoyed friendship and conversation with one another over fall festive snacks.  Our group is reading “Love Does” by Bob Goff and we shared stories of faith and experiences while discussing his book.  I wanted to share my thoughts with you…

Chapter 11: There’s More Room

•If “life is like a sweepstakes where you must be present to win,” what does present look like to you? How does one become fully engaged with Jesus?  Being present means to me living in the moment, trusting in tomorrow and thankful for the day before.  Present is engaging in life as it happens, accepting moments given to us by God.  Being fully engaged with Jesus, can be explained by recent changes I made to my daily devotional time with God, I began starting my day with my devotions and asking God to be with me as I go about my day, what an extraordinary  transformation this has been for me!  I used to do my devotions at the end of my day right before going to bed, thanking God for my opportunities and blessings but when I made the change to start my day with God what a difference it has made; inviting God to join me as I take on the day has by far been the best think I could have done for myself, it is the very act of sharing everything and having a true companion with me all day long.  God wants to be there through all our times, we need only to invite Him.  I continue my nightly devotions as well and I find I have less frustrations and more thanksgivings at the end of my day!  What a wonderful way to start and end our days, being connected to God! 

•Has “the Christian life” ever felt like the set of National Treasure 2 to you? Or have you ever felt like an outsider? What might Jesus do about this? I can’t really think of a time I felt like being on a set of a movie; but I have experienced feeling like an outsider.  Realistically, most of us have probably experienced feeling different or like an outsider at least once in our lives.  I can recall several times in my life where I felt very much an outsider, alone and forgotten a form of bullying back when I was a kid.  Children can be cruel and the saddest part about it is they have learned cruelty from someone close to them.  I can remember giving into “peer pressures” there was an incident when I was in the fourth grade and I was dared to do something and I did it so my friends would think I was cool, it was a harmless act where no person was physically hurt but it was wrong and then that lead to lying which only created more lies.  What a huge lesson I learned that day; the TRUTH always comes out! I believe that was the last time I recall being grounded and disciplined for bad behavior.   The truth will set you free…HaHaHaHa.  With Jesus, there are no outsiders!  All are welcome and He wants all of us to share in His glory and receive His blessings.  People and churches can made people feel like outsiders and inferior, but know this truth, GOD is always there for you, anytime and any place, always a prayer away.  “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness,” Matthew 6:33 NIV.

 •Is “there more room” in your church? In your life? How can more space be made for those Jesus would have included?  Churches are merely buildings made of wood, brick & mortar, it is not alive, it is the people of the church that brings it to life!  I have recently decided to de-clutter my life, I no longer have cable and I sold my TV.  By deleting some things in my life that only served as entertainment, I know have time to engage in things that bring true happiness to me. like reading books and writing down my thoughts and feelings.  I now have time to attend classes and workshops at church, have time to volunteer at church and spending time with my friends sharing in conversation.  Jesus included everyone, no one was left out or treated as an outsider, He came to save the lost and the least and there’s always room to share God’s love!

Chapter 12: Wow, What a Hit!

•Recall some words of encouragement that really stuck with you.  How did they change you?  A few years ago after several years of searching for my college coach, in order to say “thank you” for the lessons she taught me, I finally found her on the internet.  When I played volleyball and basketball for her I always felt like she was always picking on me and pushed me harder than the others, but through all of it I can now look back with pride that she took the time to push me to perform to the best of my ability.  She saw something inside me and wanted me to be able to see it too.  It took me 20 plus years to locate her, I am glad I had the opportunity to finally say, “thank you!”  Most recently, I have 2 friends that were very inspirational in making this space possible and available to anyone on the internet, namely this blog.  I used to be very protective of my writings and I would pick and choose who I shared my writings with, but through their encouragement and suggestions I have been able to let go of some of my fears which has made this experience wonderful and fulfilling.  My writings have always been an outlet for me to pour my feelings out, thinking there was no one I could truly share them with, without putting myself in a vulnerable position but because someone cared about what I had to say and in many ways validated me as a person with something to say, someone to possibly understand; I am now able to share.  My hope and dreams are that my words will bring comfort and clarity to anyone seeking them.  God has blessed me with the ability to transform words and sentences into His work of reaching perhaps the lost and the least.  I am not doing anything extraordinary but I am using a skill that God gave me to spread His Good News, I am proud to be an active part of the Family of God.

•Do you really believe you are the apple of God’s eye? What evidence is there for this?  Absolutely, I believe I am the apple of God’s eye…Deuteronomy 32:10 NIV, “He found him in a desert land And in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye.” Zechariah 2:8 NIV, “For this is what the Lord Almighty says: “After the Glorious One has sent me against the nations that have plundered you—for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye.”   Psalms 17:8 NIV, “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” God created each person, He knew us before we were formed in our mother’s womb, and He most certainly loves each and every person!

•Bob describes his coach “telling me I was a real ball player—he saw it in me and was just calling it out.” List some opportunities you can make to do this for people in your life.  I believe the best thing we can do for one another is to be “honest” what is truly gained by not being truthful?  Honesty can and is also about “boundaries” this allows people to understand you and to know you.  God was not vague when He gave Moses and the Israelite’s  the “Ten Commandments,” and Jesus was very clear when He stated the only way to Heaven and to God was through Him, John 14:6 NIV “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  I have a relatively new friend that is the most purposeful and sincerest person I believe I have ever met, one of the very first conversations we shared she stated what our friendship could be and what it could not be, she was simply stating her boundaries and merely wanted me to know her,  she explained to me what friendship looks like for her.  And as odd as some might think this sounds, it has by far been one of the most valuable conversations I have ever had.  She cared enough from the very beginning to be honest with me, what an awesome foundation to build a friendship upon.  I know it was no accident that we met and that we met at this juncture of my life.  Can you imagine if all our relationships were grounded with honesty?  My life has not been a series of accidental encounters, God has been preparing me for this very moment and I am so grateful for the opportunity to share not just my life with you but to share the love of God with you.

•What’s the relationship between God’s encouragement and our humility? How does one inform the other?  Basically, all that we are and all that we have are gifts from God.  How can we not be humble concerning everything we have?  God promises to never leave us or abandon us.  Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  And, Hebrews 13:5 NIV, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

•Recall a time someone encouraged you despite (or even because of) your shortcomings—calling out something that may not have been there yet. Did their predictions come to pass?  I remember with great clarity how my friends encouraged me when I thought my life was over or at the very least be miserable forever. when I found out that the person I had dreamed of spending the rest of my life with, no longer wanted the same.  I literally thought my life was over, all I could do was think about what could have been and what might have been.  My friends encouraged me through the process of healing, I did not recognize it as healing and grief but it was most definitely!  God used my grieving to draw me back to Him, calling me home to Him, God has always been a part of my life; sadly I had put other things before Him.  I am only now able after four years to look  on that relationship and be happy for both of us, God had the plan I was just extremely stubborn in learning it.  My friends were 100% correct, I am fine and I am ok.  Because of this I am a stronger person and my faith on God renewed with new priorities, God deserves all the credit, He knows me because He created me and He has a plan and a purpose for me…I am filled to overflowing with the grace and mercy of God,  All that I am and All that I have are absolutely, positively a GIFT from God!!!  Amen!

 In closing, thank you for taking the time to read this entry, know that God loves you, you were created and you have purpose!

~Peace and Blessings~

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