Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Weekend With Beth

This weekend I had an awesome opportunity to see Beth Moore live!  If you don't know Beth, you should get to know her!  Get to know her over at Living Proof Ministries here.  I have read a couple of her books and "saw" her at a simulcast conference that our church hosted a couple years back.  She is an amazing speaker, teacher and woman of God.  If you get the chance to pick up one of her books, do so!  If you are familiar with her but have never seen her live, I would encourage you to do so someday!

Friday evening and half of Saturday was spent at the North Charleston Coliseum.  Just me and about 9,000 other women of faith {and a small sprinkling of men} together to worship God and to hear a word from Him through this incredible teacher.  When Beth speaks live, she is accompanied by a praise team led by Travis Cottrell.  If you've never heard him, I would also encourage you to look him up and give his music a listen.  I haven't been able to stop listening this weekend!  When I got home, I immediately downloaded his album When The Stars Burn Down.  A lot of the music on that album was sung over the course of the conference.  Here is a sample of one of the slower hymn-like songs - Just As I Am.  This song brings tears to my eyes.

The music, of course, was made all that much more amazing because of the sheer number of people in attendance at the conference.  Can you even imagine 9,000 people singing praises to their God all together in one place??  It was awesome!

The subject matter for the conference was not known to us prior to attending.  The study for the weekend was to be on Genesis 32 & 33.  The back story on this, of course, can be found in Genesis 27.  If you are unfamiliar, Genesis 27 refers to the story of Jacob and his brother Esau.  Esau, being the older twin, was the son who was to receive their father Isaac's blessing.  However, Jacob takes advantage of his blind father and dupes him into believing he is Esau and effectively steals his brother's blessing.  Jacob, posing as Esau, receives their father's blessing.  Rightfully so, Esau becomes enraged by this.  He vows to kill his brother.  Their mother, Rebekah, warns Jacob of what Esau is planning and warns him to flee until further notice.

Fast forward some 20 years, you have Jacob planning for the meeting of his brother Esau for the first time since he fled upon hearing the news that Esau was planning Jacob's death.  This brings us to Genesis 32.  Messengers are sent on ahead to Esau, who returns with 400 men. Out of fear, Jacob divides his camp into two groups, hoping that one group will remain and he will be in it I am sure!  That night, Jacob sends groups of animals as gifts for his brother in an effort to appease him - over five hundred animals in all.

Jacob literally wrestles with God over what is happening.  In the process, Jacob's hip is wrenched and he limps away after receiving his blessing from God.  Jacob, his wives and children eventually approach Esau, Jacob bowing seven times before Esau.  In the process of doing this, he is effectively returning the blessing which he had wrongfully taken from his brother.  And Esau receives him favorably.

That's about the shortest overview of the story I can give.  Please click on the links to read the story in full for yourself.

So what on earth were we gathered in one place to learn this weekend??

Photo Courtesy of Tiffany @ Mrs. Pate Writes

Beth spoke as only Beth can speak - powerfully and passionately - about how we all come from messes.  There's probably not one of us who can say that their life is not a mess in one way or another.  Our purpose for the weekend according to Beth:

God has come to mess with our messes!

Over the course of the weekend, she walked us through 8 points which she related back to the story of Jacob and Esau.  I will outline the points, which were taken from the images that were projected on big screens during the conference.

1.  We are here to become more honest versions of ourselves.

I think this is pretty clear.  We need to take a personal inventory and take note of whether the "us" we present to the world is the "real us" or if it's something that we've manufactured in order to come across a certain way.  Are we being honest with those around us about who we really are?  Are we being honest with ourselves about who we really are?  As Beth share with us, we need to get honest to be blessed.  God has abundant blessings in store for us, but how can we receive them if aren't being true versions of ourselves?  Be honest.  Be blessed.

2.  We cannot walk in our full birthright as part fraud.

This is a big one.  It really struck me personally as being a part of the blog world.  No, I am not saying or even suggesting that everyone in the blog world is a fraud.  Please do not read that into this. But Beth spoke at length about how social media is a huge culprit in how we are being pushed and manipulated and bombarded with information which seeks to have us present ourselves as something we are not.  Frauds.  Anything that is not the true version of who we really are is a fraud.  Going hand in hand with #1 above, if we are not being true to who were, we cannot receive God's blessing that He has in store for us!  We cannot partake in all that He has planned for us - our full birthright as daughters and sons of His - if we are walking around as even part fraud.

Society creates a lot of bondage in our lives.  Don't you know it?  Think about all the things that have you bound up and held captive from truly living the life that God wants for you.  As Beth said, bondage comes when we do not entrust ourselves to the Lord.  She talked about distress being something that binds us up or ties us up.  She asked, How do we comfort ourselves when we are distressed?  If you look back at the story from Genesis, Esau sought comfort in planning his brother's death!  That says a lot, doesn't it?  Surely there are better ways!  Beth also shared that some of the people we are most vulnerable to are those we are closest to.  Just look at Jacob and Esau.

There is a good ending to our story if we choose it.  We have to accept and believe in the goodness of God.  We have to believe in all the promises of goodness that he has in store for us.

Philippians 1:6 - "...he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

God has good things in store for us!  That is a promise!  As Beth said, It has to turn out well because He promised it!

In Genesis 32:12-19, we see Jacob praying a great prayer to God and then we see him doing everything he can to appease his brother.  Beth said there are two ways to pray:

Pray it then work it. vs Pray it then obey it!

She said that every independent action is a demonstration of our unbelief {ie. when we feel like we have to try to 'help' God along in the answer to our prayers}.  Belief in our own prayers means we give it to God to hold - He doesn't need your help!  It is work just to sit back and rest - it is all we can do to continue to 'go' and recognize that God has got it!!

3. We've got to stick a "with" back in the way we work people.

We have got to commit to working WITH people!!  So much of social media is bent on having us WORK people - not work WITH people.  There's got to be a shift back to working WITH people!  Beth shared with us two questions to ask so you know whether or not you are working people vs working with people:

a) What's in it for me?
b) Is there a single slice of insincerity?

She said, If you can't behave on it, you need to get off!  So much of this is about facing who we really are.  Facing things means facing God.

4. It's time to go face down and face up.

This is probably going to be a hard one for many people.  As I just said, we need to face God.  What Beth means by #4 is that we need to humble ourselves and go face down in prayer before God so that we can face Him with all our struggles.  Turn directly to Him in prayer.  She strongly suggested literally going face down on the ground in prayer.  If you scroll back up to the top, I'd strongly recommend listening to Just As I Am.  As you listen to Travis Cottrell sing the words of the song, close your eyes and just reflect on those words and your life and your issues and struggles and go down before the Lord in prayer and seek Him and ask Him for forgiveness, for help, for peace, or whatever it is that you need - but seek Him!!

5. Children of faith cannot wrestle with people without wrestling with God.

Beth talked about how we have an obligation to treat people in a Godly way.  Everyone.  But we are going to have issues that we are going to wind up wrestling with.  We're going to be wrestling with individuals over things and we will wrestle with God Himself on issues throughout our journey.  As such, we cannot wrestle with people without wrestling with God.  Beth shared again His promises to us.  She shared that God will never take you through anything that will not bring you blessing/good.  Imagine the struggles you have faced.  Sometimes it seems like the painful journey will never end and that God is not there with you.  First, rest assured that He is.  Even when you feel like He couldn't be any further from you, He is truly right there with you.  Many people, in their desperation and searching for peace and hope, feel like they have been abandoned.  They do not believe that there could possibly be a blessing or any goodness come out of the circumstances they find themselves in.  Instead of pushing on towards the blessings, they let go too soon!  I am guilty of this myself.  I can think of more than one occasion in my life where I have done this.  I have not felt His presence.  I ignored His presence by feeling this way.  Instead of hanging on for the blessing, I acted in anger and abandoned Him - something I now know He would never do to me!

Beth said, We need to wrestle through things in trust - God wants u to.  We are promised a blessing.  When did you let go??  He is still there.  You need to grab back on with everything you've got!  Do not let go until the blessing comes - wrestle it out.  Jacob held on to God while God weakened him.  He came low enough for God to raise him up!

6. God can use a crippling defeat to bring about our greatest victory.

Romans 8:18 - I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

1 Corinthians 2:9 - That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him."

These are promises from God.  God tells us throughout Scripture that we will having suffering in our life, but at the same time, we cannot possibly imagine the glory and wonders that He has planned for us on the other side of that suffering.  This is in no way meant to downplay your trials.  I am not trying to do that at all.  Lord knows, I am going through my share of trials right now, and have done for a long time.  I have seen myself work through trials poorly and I see myself working through my present trials in a much different way because I am aware of His presence.  On most days, anyway.  I won't say my trials are insignificant or meaningless because God is with me.  They are trials - they are ever-present.  It is hard to hold on for that blessing some days {many days}.  The process - the journey - is not always pleasant.  He leads me through some pretty unpleasant stuff sometimes.  But I have personally witness His blessings throughout the journey.  I am not even on the other side of my struggles, yet I see how He is working in my family's lives and it brings so much peace and comfort when I see them.  I know that if He is blessing us during the process, that the blessings and joy that await on the other side of this struggle are going to be something to behold!

7. God can bring a shocking peace to our fiercest wars.

Have you ever had an experience where you know that only GOD could have done that?!?!  Yeah, that's what this refers to.

8. We've grasped the blessing when we keep trying to give it away.

When we finally get it.  When we've hung on long enough to receive the blessings and the goodness that God promised.  When we know what we have received in return has come from only Him.  That's when we get it.  When we are finally in a position to receive the blessing and get it and in turn we recognize we've got enough and we try to give it to others.  Thank you God, I have enough - here...take this blessing for yourself.

Travis Cottrell & the praise team
Photo Courtesy of Pat Eardley

Let me tell you, I haven't ever participated in a full Beth Moore Bible study {yet}, but this weekend was intense.  Between her teaching and Travis' music, I was spent emotionally and physically.  I came home and I slept for five hours!  There was so much to take away from the conference.  There was so much self-examination over the course of the conference.  It's hard to examine yourself like this.  It's so draining.  It's so worthwhile though!  The experience was absolutely amazing and I would highly recommend it to anyone if you are ever able.

...thinking...I wonder if some ladies here in the blog world would like to do a Beth Moore book study together...

Finally, I want to share this video promo put out by Compassion International.  At the end of the Friday session, Travis introduced this video and asked that we just take a few minutes to listen to it and listen to God.  In no way being pushy about it, he asked that we consider Compassion and ask God if this is something to consider for our lives right now.  I needed tissues during this video.  Compassion is an amazing organization that reaches out to impoverished communities and helps aid in many areas.  They need help, but so do the many many children who are registered with them all over the world.  Won't you consider it as well?

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion
Help a Child

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