Really Relating

LIFE, LOVE, AND THE RELATIONSHIPS THAT MAKE IT ALL MATTER

A Future and A Hope 01/29/2010

Filed under: Circumstances,Future,God,Hope,Pain,Plans,Promises from God — Vickey Banks @ 5:57 pm

“What if things don’t get better?”

That’s the question a hurting friend asked me last week. It was a valid question, considering her circumstances. In a desperate attempt to encourage her, loved ones keep telling my friend what loved ones often say when we’re hurting:

   “Things will get better.”
   
But…what if they don’t?
   
I understand her question; honestly, it’s one I’ve asked God before. Like my friend, I live with chronic physical pain. Every flipping day. And some days, well, if I’m honest (and I am), I’m just done. Finished. Worn slick from painting on a happy face, I can’t help but wonder if this is as good as it gets. My weary self wants to focus on all the things I can’t do because of wacked out discs and the potentially grim future ahead. 
Ahhh…but then I remember a precious promise from God, 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD.
They are plans for good and not for disaster,
to give you a future and a hope.”
– The Bible, Jeremiah 29:11
  
While that might not change my circumstances, it radically rearranges my reality. Because of Him,  
  
I have a future… I have a hope.
   
The God of the Bible doesn’t do random. He’s the same God who created the plants before He created the animals and people who would need the plants to survive. He’s a God of logic and order. Along with His profound purposefulness, He is loving and not mean-spirited. That means that as long as He leaves me here on planet Earth, He has good reason. He has plans with my name of them; Plans for my good. A future filled with hope.
  
You know what?
  
The same is true for you.

Really Relating
How does it make you feel to know that God has plans with your name on them?
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What God (Sweetly) Shouts In Our Pain 01/26/2010

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” – C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Do you ever feel surrounded by hurting people?

Look around you now. They’re everywhere. From Haiti to your own home, people are hurting. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, people are flat worn out from dealing with pain.

  
Maybe it’s the person sitting in your chair.
  
During the darkest night of my soul, when I was sure that I could NOT handle one more miniscule drop of pain and thought I seriously just might lose my ever lovin’ mind, I did the only thing I knew to do: I ran to God. Kicking. Screaming. Crying uncontrollably. Arms flailing. Heart questioning. Desperate.
  
It was the smartest thing I ever did.
  
I opened up His Word, leaned in close, and listened with every fiber of my being. Here is what God (sweetly) shouted to me:
  
I Understand
   
As I looked closely at Jesus’ life, I drew huge comfort from the fact that He also was so deeply moved when a beloved friend died that He couldn’t keep the tears from flowing. He knew what it felt like to be overwhelmed with sorrow, to feel abandoned by His friends, and to be so undone by His circumstances that He begged God to change them. As I saw Him described as despised and forsaken, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, I knew that Jesus understood pain. God walked around this earth on human legs and felt the same kind of pain that you and I experience.
   
And. He. Cried.
   
I See and Hear YOUR Pain
 
God doesn’t just know pain, He knows our pain. Psalm 139 promises that He searches and knows us so intimately that He knows our very thoughts and what we’re going to say before we even say it. He cares deeply when our hearts are broken.  He begs us to pour out our hearts to Him, offering to be the refuge we need.
 
I Will Never Leave You
 
When His disciples where upset that He was leaving this earth, Jesus assured them that God would follow up by forevermore sending His believers the Holy Spirit to live inside them, ensuring He’d be with us forever. Throughout Scripture He lovingly assures us that He will never leave us to manage life on our own.
 
I Will Take Care of You
 
Among His many promises, this is perhaps the most comforting for me, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) No amount of pain is bigger than the God who holds onto us. That is comfort you can count on.
What has God (sweetly) shouted to you in your pain? 
 

Bible Study Resources 01/22/2010

Filed under: Bible Study,bible Study Resources,God's Word — Vickey Banks @ 1:57 pm


“Your words were found and I ate them,  
And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart…” 
Jeremiah 15:16
   
Nothing yummier than truly tasting God’s Word! In my last post, How to A.P.P.L.Y. God’s Word, I shared an acrostic I created that’s helped me to slow down and more personally feast on the flavors of Scripture. But because there’s a plethora of great Bible Study resources available today, I thought I’d share some of my other current favs:
  
Can We Talk?: soul-stirring conversations with God, Priscilla Shirer (Lifeway Press) www.goingbeyond.com/sites/default/files/content/CanWeTalk_Leader.pdf 
Powerhouse Bible teacher Priscilla Shirer’s latest Bible Study (or un-Bible Study, as she calls it), this workbook focuses on her 5 Ps to Hearing God Through Scripture. The women I’m going through it with now are loving it! You can peak at the free downloadable Leaders Guide and find her 5 Ps there.
  
A Modern Girl’s Guide to Bible Study: A Refreshingly Unique Way to Look at God’s Word, Jen Hatmaker (NavPress) www.jenhatmaker.com  
“Refreshing” is definitely the adjective for this book and author. Written in an extremely girl-friendly voice, Jen Hatmaker is a hoot! She gives authenticity new meaning and combines solid Biblical chops with some of the most practical tips and examples I’ve ever seen. Not a book to be just read, Jen has put it together in a way that allows you to work through the methods as you go. You’ll be shocked to see how fun studying your Bible can be J! 
  
Personal Bible Study Methods: 12 Ways to Study the Bible on Your Own, Rick Warren (Zondervan) www.rickwarren.com  
With over 75,000 copies of this book in print, Rick could not have made it easier for us to study our Bibles. Seriously. Each chapter highlights one 
Method of Bible Study, gives an example of a study using it, then gives permission to copy a blank form for that study. Very gracious of him and good news for us. Not an extra word used here – practicality at it’s best. 
  
How to Study Your Bible: The Lasting Rewards of the Inductive Method, Kay Arthur (Harvest House Publishers) www.precept.org  
Getting serious with God’s Word is what this lady is all about. Pull out your colored pencils and get ready to learn how to take God’s Word apart piece by piece. Nobody does it better than Kay!
 
You can also find free online resources to help you study @:
 
Let these resources help you take a bite out of God’s Word and apply it to your life. You’re in for far more than a tasty treat. Joy and delight are headed your way!
 
Really Relating
I’d love to hear what resources have most helped you. Please do let us all know!

 

How to A.P.P.L.Y. God’s Word 01/19/2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vickey Banks @ 9:44 am
Thirty years ago this month I led my very first weekly Bible Study. I’d never been so scared in my life! Lying in bed the night before, I silently told God all the reasons why I was the absolute worst candidate in the world to lead a Bible Study. It was a fairly substantial list J. My loudest objections included:
  
·      I had absolutely zero theological background – I didn’t even know what that meant!
·      I’d only learned to study my own Bible the year before.
·      I was so uncomfortable speaking in front of groups that with many tears I’d begged my 7th grade Speech teacher to let me drop her class.
·      I had a gigantic inferiority complex.
  
Need I say more? Surely God could have found a better candidate, right? But, what He did find in me was a girl who had absolutely positively fallen in love with Him and His Word. After years of trying to read and understand the Bible on my own, someone finally taught me how to do so. This so radically changed my life that all the rational reasons in the world couldn’t keep me from helping others learn how to feed themselves from Scripture!
  
Do you have trouble applying God’s Word to your life? If so, here’s a simple acrostic I’ve created that’s helped me. These are 5 Questions you can ask yourself anytime you come into contact with God’s Word and are wondering how He would have you A.P.P.L.Y. it your life:
  
A – ADMISSION to make 
Is there something within this passage that I need to admit? (an attitude, etc)
P – PROMISE to claim 
            Is there a promise that I can personally claim for my life?
P – PRAISE to pray 
            Is there something I need to praise/thank God for? (characteristic of His, etc)
L – LESSON to learn 
            Is there a lesson here that I need to learn?
Y – YIELDING to do
            Is there something I just need to stop and yield to?
 
Not every question will be pertinent for every Scripture, but your intentional focus will allow God and His Word to become far more personal to you. Find a passage and A.P.P.L.Y. it to your own life. I’m confident you’ll find yourself falling deeper in love with God and His Love Letter to you.
 
Really Relating
What’s your favorite Bible Study tip?
What helps you to apply God’s Word to your everyday life?

 

 

The Miracle of Hope 01/13/2010

Filed under: Challenges,Circumstances,Hope,Miracle,Signs of Life,Transformation — Vickey Banks @ 11:28 am

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, 
it became a butterfly.” 
 

 Anonymous

 


Have you ever seen a miracle? Years ago, when my children were small, we witnessed the miraculous rebirth of not one, but five caterpillars. Within a week, we watched a group of scrawny looking worms eat their way into becoming a bunch of fat and fuzzy caterpillars. They then hung themselves head down and wove cocoons about their bodies. Up to then, watching them had been fascinating. At that point, however, they became chrysalides and looked like nothing more than hard pea pods.  

Although we eagerly watched for signs of life, it was actually kind of depressing just staring at pea pods for another week. It looked like the party was over. But then…a miracle happened! The lifeless looking pods transformed before our very eyes into breathtakingly beautiful butterflies.
   
As I look around me now, I can’t help but see people who remind me of those butterflies in the making. Their once eventful lives have been abruptly turned upside down by the challenges of life. Illness, divorce, grief, depression, wayward children, job losses, financial reversals and hormones gone haywire have given the misguided impression that their world is over. But alas, what is going on beneath the surface has the potential to grace our world with a beauty that we are all in desperate need of – the matchless miracle of Hope.
   
I don’t know what challenges you are facing, but my own experiences of being locked inside my cocoon have assured me that things are not always as they seem. Hope has not gone dormant. Because there is a God, new life is more than possible. You are not destined to inch along like a hungry caterpillar, or to hang around like a dried up pod. You were born to fly.
   
Please don’t give up. Hang on to God and His promises. Allow Him to comfort and strengthen you like only He can. Eventually, He will transform you into someone whose story reminds others that they too can soar above their circumstances.
  
There is a butterfly within you. New life and beauty are just around the corner. Go ahead…unfurl those wings! Become all that God longs for you to be.
 
Really Relating
How has God encouraged you during the challenges in your life?
How has He used your difficulties to transform you from the inside out?
 

Beginning Again 01/06/2010

Filed under: Beginning Again,Dream,Goal,God,New Beginnings,New Year,Plans,Really Relating — Vickey Banks @ 10:53 am


“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” 
C.S. Lewis
  
A new year means a new beginning. There’s something so hopeful about new beginnings, isn’t there? We love the idea that we can have a fresh start, no matter what we’ve done or who we’ve been. We can join a gym, tackle a new Bible Reading plan, try our hand at a new hobby, or finally learn to play the piano.
  
Although a new year is a fresh start, it isn’t exactly a blank slate. While we can start over, we aren’t like a new calendar or journal with empty pages of promise just waiting to be filled. We each come to the New Year with a powerful one-two punch that sets us up for a future that surpasses our wildest dreams.
  
PERSPECTIVE THAT COMES FROM OUR PERSONAL HISTORY 
What do you know about yourself – your personality & temperament – that will help you to not just set goals and dream dreams, but to realize them? What normally helps you to succeed & what wears down your good intentions? Do you need accountability and short-term goals? Who can help you get to where you want to go? What knowledge do you need to do what you want to do? Take stock and then take aim with the perspective God has given you.
  
POSSIBILITIES THAT COME FROM THE GOD WHO LIVES IN US 
If you’ve accepted Christ as the Savior that the Bible says He is, that means you bring all of His resources to your every goal and dream! His contacts, strength, tenacity, power, and more. He is the God that regularly makes what’s impossible possible! Allow Him to do in and through you what you could never do on your own.
  
As Andy Andrews wisely says in his inspiring book, The Traveler’s Gift, “A person without a dream never had a dream come true.” So go ahead…Set a new goal. Dream a new dream. It’s a New Year. God has great plans with your name on them. Ask Him how you can cooperate. You really can begin again.
  
“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11, The Bible
   
Really Relating 
What is one specific and measurable goal you’d like to set for 2010? How can what you know about yourself and the God who is IN you help you to realize your dream?