A spirit of self-discipline

Last night I attended a womens’ Bible study.  My emotions were all over the place.  I wasn’t sure if I  should go since I don’t attend the same church as the ladies in the Bible study, or ANY church currently, for that matter.  Also, it wasn’t like I was actually invited.  They asked Ash to babysit for the women who had young children, and that’s how I got the invitation.  So it felt kind of like a second hand invitation,  you know.  An afterthought.

I was torn.  But I know that if I’m going to build relationship with people in this new town, I need to leave my house.  I need to put myself out there.  I need to be bold and confident.   Plus, I do love a good Bible study as much as the next gal, so I went.    I am so glad that I did.  The study was on fear and worry.  I don’t consider myself a fearful person or a worry wort.  So naturally I didn’t think I would gain much from it.  However I did.  I gained more than I could have imagined.  It was so weird because being the introverted person that I am, especially around people I don’t know, I usually clam up, smile sweetly, answer if spoken to and retreat as fast as possible.   Not last night.  It was like I had diarrhea of the mouth.  I answered every question, at the same time constantly worrying that I was dominating the conversation and not making any sense at all.  I added to other’s comments, and then later worried that I offended them, that I didn’t express myself good enough and they took it the wrong way.   I tell you, I’m one of those people who can’t even talk half the time, and if I do, then afterwards I play the conversation over and over and realize how utterly stupid I must have sounded.  Making first impressions is so hard.  For me.

I’ve learned since the Bible study, that yes, I am a worry wort.  Not in the aspect that I worry the house will catch on fire or the world will end, but I worry what people think of me.  I worry if I’m good enough for them, if I’m likable, if I’ll measure up as friend-worthy.  I find myself worrying about this a lot more now that I’m in a new place, trying to make new connections. In my hometown where I lived all my life, those relationships and connections were well established before I had to worry about it.  I mean, I made it out of junior high and then high school.  I’m nearly 40 years old, so figuring out who I am and worrying if people will like the person that I am, should be long gone and over with.  Well, it’s not.

As we sat in a semi-circle in a lady’s home, our Bibles opened on our laps, sharing our deepest fears and worry and getting all down and personal, I began to feel so refreshed and renewed.  It has been a very long time since I participated in a small group and I left there feeling filled up to the measure with God and fellowship.  It was a good feeling.  I just love how GOD knows exactly what we need and meets that need in ways we don’t expect.

The leader touched on many scriptures, but the one that spoke to me in so many ways was 2 Timothy 1:7.

I heard Beth Moore teach on this scripture before and so I know a  different version.  The version I’ve always recited is from the KJV that reads:  For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (emphasis mine)

But the scripture read aloud at the Bible study was a different version than I know.  The NIV reads:  For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (emphasis mine)


Self-discipline is something I struggle with on a daily basis.  I can get lazy.  I can procrastinate.  There are so many things I want to accomplish and yet I lack the self-discipline.  I beat myself up each night for not doing what I need to because of the self-discipline it requires.    After hearing this version of the verse, it was an epiphany.  GOD gives me self-discipline.  It is from Him.  Which means I can accomplish all that I desire with self-discipline.  If He gives self-discipline, then it makes sense to me that the lazy, procrastinating spirit is from Satan.  Of course it is.  He doesn’t want me to succeed, he wants to steal my joy.  He came in fact, to steal, kill and destroy.  Destroy my dreams, destroy my hope, destroy my family, my health, and ultimately my life.  Satan wants me to live in defeat and to go to bed every night disappointed in myself.

On a second note, that scripture also speaks to my timidity around new people and new situations.  My lack of self confidence, my worry of first impressions and if people will like me.  Timidity does not come from God.  I know who I am in Him and I need to hold my head up and walk proudly knowing that if He is for me, who can be against me, right?

I’m refreshed by this.  Which is exactly what the Word of God will do, refresh.  I am uplifted.  I am hopeful.  I am smiling.  My joy is abundant.

Now when I’m faced with my lazy, procrastinating spirit, or my weaknesses want to override my strengths, or I want to give in and not work toward goals I have set for myself, then I recite 2 Timothy 1:7.

God has given me self-discipline.



Is that You, God?

It happened on a Sunday morning two years ago.  Or was it three?  I really don’t know.  Not because I don’t remember it vividly, but instead because I dismissed it as nonsense, ridiculousness, even poppycock.

I had gone to church that morning.  Whether I started my day with a heavy heart or whether I became burdened during the service, I don’t remember.  But it happened during that time of our church service when our pastor asked for anyone who had a need to stand right where they are to be prayed for.  This is a common practice in our church.  People have needs.  We’re sick.  Sick in body and sick in spirit.  You shouldn’t have to leave the House of the Lord in the same condition in which you entered.  He is, after all, the Great Physician. 

I stood.  I can’t recall my need now.  Perhaps it was a broken heart.  Maybe financial worries.  It could’ve been I was feeling a sore throat coming on.  Whatever it was, the Holy Spirit led me to stand.  Which is not easy.  When the Holy Spirit begins talking to me, my pride begins yelling louder.  “What are you doing?” it screams.  “Do you want all these people to know you’ve got problems?  Don’t you care what they are thinking?  Don’t do it!  Don’t stand.  You can pray for yourself.  You don’t need others to pray for you“.  But deep down, I know God desires obedience.  It will be rewarded.  So this time, my pride gets hushed, and I stand.  I can feel all those pairs of eyes boring into me.  My body temperature rises.  My neck begins to burn.  Then the preacher asks for everyone who is standing to have a prayer partner.  The sound of shuffling feet fills the sanctuary as people rise to meet the ones who are standing.  I feel hands on my back, on my shoulders.  I hear whispered prayers being lifted towards the heavens.  People interceding on my behalf.  The prayers end.  We clap our hands to the Lord, praising Him for what He is going to do.  I  look up at the ones who prayed for me.  We embrace.  Eyes are brimming with tears. 

And that’s when it happened.  A small, older man, who had never spoken more than a cordial greeting to me, with his dark skin and heavy foreign accent looked at me and confidently proclaimed, “The Lord will give you a baby.” 

I smiled politely.  
I’m not even praying for a baby I thought to myself. 

We sat down, and as the preacher gave final announcements, I remember my mind drifting to what had just been spoken to me.  I even felt a little angry.  Why do people automatically assume that I want a baby? 

Church dismissed and we went on with our day.  But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t forget that event.  I chuckled to myself.  Much like Sarah from the Bible did when she was told she would have a baby.   What a crazy old man, assuming things he has no idea about.  I told a few people and they laughed with me.  How weird.  How strange.  How bizarre.

Now fast forward to November 2011.  I’m walking out of the Sunday School room into a narrow hallway and I meet that same man.  I doubt he even knows my name.  His large brown eyes dropped to my bulging belly.  He wagged his wrinkled finger toward it and in his thick accent said, “I told you.”

“I believe you now.” I answered with a smile.  He went on to explain to me that God had been talking to him and wanting him to tell me.  He said it wasn’t just once, but two or three times.  Finally, he obeyed.  Okay, I’ll tell her, he said. 

So.  He isn’t a crazy man afterall.  In fact, he assumed nothing about my needs.  He was obedient to the voice of God no matter how crazy it sounded to me.

Just as so many women were visited by a messenger and told they were going to give birth, I too, was visited by a messenger and told the same thing.  But I didn’t believe him.  Right there, in church, during prayer, as obvious as a lightening strike, God spoke to me through someone else, and yet my ears remained closed.  I even scoffed.  I wonder how many blessings I’ve missed because of my lack of faith?  I hope I have learned my lesson.

God is speaking to you.