Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Living Free (Beth Moore): To Know God and BELIEVE Him

To Know God and Believe Him…

“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor will there be one after me. –Isaiah 43:10

Because we want to get our eyes off ourselves, our reputations, our shortcomings, our needs wants, our hurts, our performances, we are going to focus on 5 benefits God describes in His Word that he intends for his children. These five benefits depict the Spirit-filled life. They show us the character of Jesus and of Christ in us.

This allows us to change our focus from “Am I doing it right?” to “How can I believe God, glorify Him, find satisfaction in Him, experience His peace, and enjoy His presence?”

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. –Genesis 1:27

For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.- Colossians 1:27

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. –Galatians 2:20

Time to reflect:

  1. What would your life be like if you totally believed God?
  2. How would your life be different if your greatest desire became to glorify God?
  3. What would it mean for you to find satisfaction in God?
  4. Describe your life if God’s peace wrapped around you and protected you even in the midst of the greatest possible turmoil.
  5. What difference would it make if you could perfectly enjoy God’s presence with nothing to come between you and Him?

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. –Hebrews 11:6

What you believe about God is the most important thing about you. We are in this room tonight because we believe IN God, but like Isaiah 43:10 says, do we BELIEVE HIM?

Do we believe God IS who he says he is? That he can do what he says he can do? That we are in him who he says we are? That he can work through us? Do we really believe He has promised an abundant life for us? That he wants us to have a peace that transcends all understanding? That he is with us and for us and will FIGHT for us? That we can do ALL things through him?

God has chosen us for two reasons: 1) to know him and 2) to believe him.

Know = yada “to ascertain by seeing”

Believe = aman”to believe, trust, have confidence”

God wants us to know him intimately through personal experience. He does not want us to settle for secondhand faith. He wants us to trust him because we know him intimately and because we can see evidences of his work. Matthew 5:8 says Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” **See God refers to unveiling himself to us, glimpses of himself, and eternity.

Many variables in our life affect our willingness to trust God. A painful loss or a dreadful betrayal; a broken heart never mended by the one true Healer; any of those handicap us terribly when we’re challenged to trust God. (Our view of God is sometimes limited interactions in other human relationships, although we know Isaiah 55:8- that his ways are higher than our ways.)

Read Mark 9:14-24.


As simplistic as it seems, the largest obstacle we have in believing God is unbelief. We can believe in Christ for salvation in a matter of seconds, yet spend the rest of our days believing him for little more. (We trust God with our eternity, but sometimes struggle to trust him with the day-to-day stuff.) The Greek word for unbelief is ‘apistos,’ meaning “not worthy of confidence, untrustworthy.” Unbelief is crippling. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” In other words, the steps we take forward with God we take through faith or belief. Therefore, unbelief literally cripples our spiritual walk, casting huge obstacles in the way of victorious journey here on earth.

Sometimes if we feel God hasn’t been faithful to us, it’s because:

  • We misinterpreted a promise from God. (or don’t know His promises)
  • We compare our lives with others.
  • We missed the answer altogether.
  • We gave up before God timed his response.

Help for the Weary…

Now for the good news! If we’re willing to admit our lack of confidence in Him, Christ is more than willing to help us overcome our unbelief.

The most effective key to believing God is right before our eyes: The more we know Him, the more we will believe Him.

My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. –Psalm 119:28

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. –Romans 10:17

The more you digest God’s Word, the more you will find it filled with precious treasures. Ex: Revelation 1:8, Isaiah 44:6

Christ is fully God. He can heal anyone or perform any wonder. Christ isn’t asking us to believe in our ability to exercise unwavering faith. He is asking us to believe he is able& asking for his help with our unbelief. When it comes to bringing us a life of freedom, God is willing. (We are not talking about physical healing.) Although God can and does heal physical sicknesses, sometimes He chooses greater glory through illness. He does not always bring healing on this earth. Rest assured, however, He created you to be FREE to love Him. He always desires to see you grow in that freedom. Remember (from last week) that God always wills for you to be free from strongholds. He may not choose to heal us from every disease or prosper us with tangible blessings, but “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1).

  • Christians can have areas of captivity. (Gal 5:1)
  • Christ can set anyone free from captivity. (Luke 4:18)
  • God is fully acquainted with you personally and wants what is best for you. (Ps 139:1-3, Isa 48:17)
  • We have an invisible but very real enemy called Satan. (Eph 6:10-12)
  • Our hearts can want what’s desperately wrong for us. (Jer 17:9)
  • The Bible is the inspired Word of God and true. (2 Tim 3:16, Ps 18:30)

A few final thoughts…

We tend to run to God for temporary relief, but God is looking for people who will walk with Him in steadfast belief. The biggest threat to the enemy is a consistent (not lukewarm) walk with the Lord.

Every word we speak brings life or death. Every thought is either from us, from the enemy, or from God. Every action brings God glory or doesn’t.

Source: Moore, Beth. Living Free. Lifeway Christian Resources; 2002/Christian Growth Study Plan edition (December 31, 2001)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Living Free (Beth Moore) : Demolishing Strongholds

I love me some Beth Moore, and pretty much anything she puts out is pure gold. Her Bible studies are phenomenal, but she is even more magnetic in person! We’ve even watched her on a video series (Loving Well- HIGHLY recommend!) and just love seeing that she is so real and down to earth. There is no question she is an anointed teacher and speaker.

When I am praying over a new study, I always ask for God’s guidance and direction to give me something the ladies in our study specifically need, “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). For this Bible Study that just began last week, the Lord laid this specific 6-week study on my heart called Living Free. Beth (I mean, we are pretty much on a first name basis) has another Bible Study that sounds similar called Breaking Free, and a book that is mentioned in this study called Praying God’s Word. I have both of those, so I’ll keep you posted on those too.

I am teaching straight from the book (and just adding in some of my own stories during the actual lesson), but wanted to share some of these points from week 1. This is basically an outline from the week, although I definitely encourage you to get the book and go through it. She goes into further detail, has you examine your own heart/walk, etc.


The term stronghold appears in the Old Testament almost 50 times, and only about once in the New Testament. The Israelites hid from their enemies in strongholds, meaning a “fortress with difficult access” (Judg 6:2, 1 Sam 23:14).

Psalm 27:1 says “The Lord is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life- of whom shall I be afraid?”

Christ as our stronghold does not mean life will be easy or trouble free, but we do NOT have to live in fear! God’s purposes may lead us to the path of suffering, but wherever He leads, we know HE protects.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5

False Strongholds: Unfortunately, God is not the only stronghold available to the children of Adam. Since sin entered the race, we have allowed strongholds to enter our lives placed on us by the enemy to leave us in bondage. In this study, we will look at strongholds the enemy has on us, but never forget they are lies. Never lose sight of the protecting stronghold of God.

A stronghold is anything that exalts itself in our minds, pretending to be bigger or more powerful than our God. It steals our focus and causes us to feel overpowered. Controlled. Mastered.

Whether our stronghold is an addiction (is not limited to substances), unforgiveness towards someone who has hurt us, or despair over a loss, it consumes so much of our emotional and mental energy that it strangles our abundant life. Our callings remain unfulfilled, and our believing lives become ineffective. Needless to say, these are the enemy’s precise goals.

Burn into your heart the fact that strongholds come from FALSE ideas. Though we must deal with them, we can be encouraged when we remember that they are only lies and deceptions. A stronghold is whatever controls your focus, and just as the Old Testament describes, we can choose for the LORD to be our stronghold.

The Primary Battlefield:

When Satan wages war with us, the primary battlefield is the mind. 2 Cor 10:5 reminds us the goal of our warfare is to take back thought lives and take them captive to Christ. The enemy’s target is the mind because the most effective way to influence behavior is to influence thinking. Our minds are the control centers for our entire beings.

We struggle with a pattern of thoughts, words, or actions. We promise ourselves we’ll never do it again. We even genuinely hate the behavior involved. But it happens again. And that’s because we assume our behavior is the battlefield and our goal is to change the actions.

Disarming Power: Satan lost all rights to presume authority over a believer’s life at the cross (Col 2:13-15). Christ disarmed the forces of evil. NOTHING is more powerful than God!

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” –Galatian 5:1

How do we tear down lies and false arguments? The answer seems too simple. We must choose truth.

If the issue is truth vs. lies, where is the battlefield?

clip_image002 actions/behaviors    clip_image002[1] emotions/feelings      clip_image003 thoughts/beliefs

What’s Wrong with Human Effort:

God acts in ways opposite to what humans would expect. (ex: shepard boy to be king, Joshua/Jericho, Son of God born in a stable).

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.” –Isaiah 55:8

The word thoughts is “maschashava” = thought, plan, scheme, plot, design

The word ways is “ derekh” = way, path, route, road, journey, conduct, way of life

If our thoughts, plans, and plots aren’t like God’s, we can bet our ways, paths, and routes won’t be either.

Six times in 1 Corinthians, Paul described human wisdom as The Greek term for foolishness = moron (“mentally defective”)

Scripture presents the radical truth that God loves us completely, apart from our actions. He punishes stubbornness because of love. Healing, answered prayer, etc. has nothing to do with whether or not God loves you. That is already settled. (John 13:1- Jesus showed us the full extent of His love at the CROSS.) It has to do with God’s plans and purposes for your life. We can never please God by how hard we try. We can never work hard enough to break free from the death grip of sin. Does that mean we should become spiritual couch potatoes? Absolutely not. 2 Peter 3:14 tells us So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” The word for effort is “spoudazo” which means “to be eager, make every effort, do one’s best.” We are going to see in this study how we can do our best to follow hard after Jesus Christ- without relying on human effort.

The Weapons of Our Warfare:

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 identifies four vital details about the weapons of our warfare.

1. They are not weapons of the world.

2. They have divine power.

3. They are associated with the knowledge of God.

4. Their purpose in warfare is to take our thoughts captive.

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” –Ephesians 6:13-18

Paul lists the whole armor of God here, but notice there is only piece of armor that is actually a weapon. Everything else is a defensive piece meant to keep us from harm, whereas the sword of the Spirit, clearly identified as the Word of God, is the offensive WEAPON listed in the armor. 2 Cor 10:4 says “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.These weapons (plural) that have the divine power in our warfare to demolish strongholds are 1) The Word of God, and 2) Prayer.

- The Greek word for power = dunamai, meaning “to be able”

- The English word dynamite comes from this same root word.

Virtually nothing we come against has more power than a stronghold. Strongholds can’t be swept away with a spiritual broom- they need something stronger- like dynamite. We can try many ways to demolish strongholds: try harder, punish ourselves for not living up to God’s standards, feel depressed over it, promise God to do better, etc. The ONLY way to demolish a stronghold is by deliberately and strategically placing dynamite in the “building” and detonating it. Our 2 sticks of dynamite are:

clip_image009     clip_image005

What is more powerful than two sticks of dynamite placed in separate locations? Two sticks of dynamite placed together combined with faith in what God says He can do.

Keep Your Focus:

The ultimate goal God has for us is not power, but personal intimacy with Him. Prayer keeps us in constant communication with God, which is the goal of our entire lives. It is never the will of God for our warfare to become our focus. The fastest way to lose our balance in warfare is to rebuke the devil more than we relate to God. The way we overpower our thoughts so they bow down in obedience to Jesus Christ is PRAY GOD’S WORD. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” –Philippians 4:8

We can easily drift from a pure focus on Jesus. Two of the easiest ways to become distracted are to focus on the problems of others or on our own trials, problems, and temptations. Sometimes Satan successfully scheme to keep us in bondage by fueling our focus on others’ strongholds rather than our own. We have a tendency to see the speck in another person’s eye when a log is deeply lodged in our own.

We demolish strongholds when we make our minds captive to Christ. Renew your mind daily (Romans 12:2). Remember that God is far more interested in our relationship with the Deliverer than our being delivered. If God is getting our full cooperation, the length of the process or the intensity of the struggle is really up to Him & all depends on His objective. Beth Moore says after months of researching the biblical topic of strongholds, God generally prioritizes one of two objectives: 1) showing us His power or 2) teaching us that HE is all we need.


Source: Moore, Beth. Living Free. Lifeway Christian Resources; 2002/Christian Growth Study Plan edition (December 31, 2001)

Jase: 14 Months

  • You turned 15 months on August 8th.
  • You are wearing size 6 diaper, 24 mos- 2T clothes, & size 6-6 1/2shoe.


  • We still haven’t had your hair cut. We joke about your mullet, but really I just LOVE that sweet blond hair and I know you’ll look like such a big boy when we get it cut, so we’ll just hold out as long as we can.


  • You are giving me big, big hugs and the sweetest little kisses! Sometimes if I am squatted down, you will come up behind me and wrap your arms around me. You’ve always been loving, but have DEFINTELY turned into quite a snuggle bug! You are the most snuggly with me, but you’ll give other people some serious high 5’s. Not gonna lie- when you come run up to me and wrap your arms around my neck and squeeze me, give me a big smooch, & pat me on my arm….definitely in top 3 of my all-time favorite things EVER.


  • You are cutting MORE teeth. You are up to 14 now! Wowza!!
  • Grammy taught you how to “smell,” and when you scrunch your little nose and pucker you lips as you sniff something, it is seriously the sweetest little face I have EVER SEEN. I am going to try really hard to get a picture because it is TOO STINKIN CUTE and I really want to remember this face.
  • You really like to make people laugh. You also like to fake laugh if other people are laughing. You love to talk a lot too!


  • You smile the biggest when Mommy & Daddy are hugging, kissing, & playing together.
  • We visited your pediatrician on the 12th for your 15 month visit. For the first time ever, it was a struggle. Ever since your last set of shots where the nurse scratched you with the needle, you do NOT like going in to the doctor’s office. (I don’t blame you.) We had a really tough time weighing and measuring you, but you weigh 25 lbs (58%) and are 32 1/2 in long (90%). Praise the Lord you are all healthy. We had 2 vaccines while we were there & you were fine afterwards and the next day. (We break them up)


  • You love to drink water- especially through a straw.
  • You drink milk twice a day out of a sippy.
  • We try to remember to brush your teeth 2x a day. You have an electric toothbrush like mom & dad and love to mimic that, along with everything else we do.
  • You really enjoy helping clean up. You like cleaning up a mess with paper towels, unloading the dishwasher, sweeping, and vacuuming with dad. You only like the small vacuum- the big one scares you a little.

IMG_3562IMG_3565 (vacuuming)

  • You always pick up crumbs on the ground and hand them to me.
  • You like to play on our bed and get really silly climbing over all the pillows.
  • You can identify your belly & hair, and my nose & ear.
  • Anytime you hear a dog bark you start yelling out “Mac! Mac!”


  • When we pull up in Grammy & Grandaddy’s driveway, the first part is gravel and you start saying “Mac” because you know where we are. You love to play in the wagon and pet all the dogs. (wagon ride)
  • You do not like being put in your car seat. We are learning the art of distraction.
  • You LOVE to play with any type of ball- baseball, basketball, soccer ball, golf balls.


  • You can say quite a few words now. Here are a few I can think of: Mama, Daddy, Night Night, Ball, Bye Bye, Mac, Grandaddy, Mimi, Papa, Matty, stop, stop it (yikes!), ouch, & today  I’m pretty sure you said “over there”
  • You are such a HAPPY boy!
  • You are still a great eater and eat whatever we eat. You eat steel cut oats or Ezekial toast with yogurt or peanut butter, a boiled egg, and a banana for breakfast. We usually eat leftovers (protein, veggies, and sweet potato, for example) for lunch, and whatever we make for dinner (you eat grilled chicken, tuna, fish- whatever!). You really like beans, watermelon, & smoothies (I sneak in kale & spinach- you love it!) but hands down your FAVORITE food is BREAD! We have to hide the rolls from you if you go out. You also eat lots of Organic O’s as a snack, especially when we go on walks. We had goldfish in the house for a few days, but threw them away because you really wanted to go to town on those too. Guess you’re a carb man?


  • You LOVE to push buttons. Keys, laptop, in the car, light switches, remotes, phones, elevator…anywhere you can find a button.
  • You don’t like to sit still and do not enjoy being read to as much as you used to.
  • You were hitting yourself in the head for a few days. I started to get worried until your daddy pointed out you ONLY do it in you high chair, and we realized you’re putting on your “helmet of salvation.” (I taught you a little rhyme about the armor of God with hand motions. Needless to say, I’ve had to come up with an alternative for that one.)
  • You’ve woken up a few times in the middle of the night screaming. Not sure if it’s bad dreams or teething. Probably a combo of both, but most likely teething. A couple times I went upstairs to comfort you, but that only woke you up even more & you stayed awake way longer. It’s never for more than 5 minutes, and if I just wait it out, you go right back to sleep. Now I just sit outside of your room for a few minutes if you wake up and wait for you to go back to sleep.
  • You always like to have something in your hand. You really like cars too.



  • You do NOT like to sit still to have your diaper changed sometimes.
  • Sometimes you tell me to “stop it” when I’m doing something you don’t like. Ohhhh boy.
  • You love going on walks!
  • We celebrated Grandma’s birthday. You are crazy about your grandparents & have them all wrapped around your finger.


  • Speaking of, Grandpa gave you $20 and told you to buy a toy. Mom picked out some golf clubs (which you LOVE!) and dad picked out a “baby laptop” (which is great entertainment for the car. Lots of buttons to push!).
  • You let us know when you’re tired! You will lay your head down on a pillow or walk to the stairs and say “night night.” You still REALLY like your sleep and take a long morning nap (about 2 1/2hours) and about a 45 min evening nap. You go down for the nap by 8 or 8:30 and sleep till about 8:30 am.


  • You love for us to “chase you” and “get you.” You can pretty much RUN now. I can’t believe how great your walking has improved over this past month.
  • You like for things to be put away. Ummm, wonder where you get that? (Hint: me) (Telling Dad to put his shoes away)
  • You would stay outside all day, every day if I would let you.


  • You really like to walk down our hill & play with sidewalk chalk. It’s all fun & games to you draw on the house. Oops.


  • You have really sensitive skin.
  • You prefer being around big kids to babies. You think you grown, boy.


  • You FINALLY started letting us put a hat on you again & actually keep it on.


  • We have a potty out in the bathroom & try to sit you on it some to get you thinking about it. Right now you just like to play with it and put my jewelry in there. Awesome.


  • You can CLIMB & are tall enough to open doors.  ( – climbing in pack n play)
  • Just when I thought you looked like me, I found your daddy’s baby pictures and realized you are totally his mini-me! LOVE it.


Baby Jase-

I don’t even know how to describe my love for you other than “my cup runneth over.” You fill me to the absolute fullest & have me bubbling over with the purest LOVE & JOY.  You add so many extra smiles and laughs to our day, every day, and we are so excited for you to wake up every morning to see what the next day holds. Psalm 127:3 tells us that children are a heritage from the Lord and a reward from him, and you, my sweet boy, are “exceedingly and abundantly all we could ask or imagine” (Eph 3:20). You are precious, precious, precious. I love your sense of humor already- I think you get that from your dad. I love that you’re so happy,  helpful, & friendly. We’re having so much fun seeing more and more of your personality every day. You aren’t very patient and you seem to be a little bit strong-willed, so we are going to have to work through that. Praying every day that you are a “man after God’s own heart” like David; faithful through affliction like Job; have the strength of Samson; the wisdom of Solomon; the heart for the lost and the boldness of Paul; and more than anything, that you strive to be more like Christ and others see him shining brightly through YOU. I have no doubt you will be a warrior for Christ. We also pray Luke 2:52- that you grow in wisdom and favor with God and man.

You are the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to knowing how God must feel about us. It’s hard for me to imagine the Lord loves you any more than your Daddy and I do, but we are so thankful he doe.

Love you more than words.




Saturday, August 23, 2014

Happy 1st Birthday, Vann!!

We had the opportunity to celebrate sweet Vann’s 1st birthday on Saturday, August 16th. That sweet little boy is BEYOND precious!! I mean duh…have you seen his adorable parents?


Dana & her mom (and sister and sister-in-law, for that matter) are who come to mind when I think of the term “homemaker.” Being a homemaker goes way beyond just being a “stay-at-home-mom,” & they definitely epitomize many of the qualities of a true homemaker.  Of course with their mad skills, the party was ADORABLE!


Jase had a blast playing with all of Vann’s toys & he especially loved the wagon. Several of Dana’s other friends have the most precious little guys all around Jase’s age, and it’s so cool to watch all of them grow up.


Poor Jase is so tall, his feet were dragging on the ground. Didn’t make for much of a wild ride, but he still loved it.


I could just eat that sweet ole belly right up! (That sounds way more weird when I type it out than it does in my head. Hopefully y’all get my tone?)


Cake & present time!!


Is he not the cutest little thing?!? I’ll answer that for you…YES. He is. We love him so much and have been praying for him since even before he was in his mama’s tummy. Love seeing God’s faithfulness!

And really, really thankful we get to raise our sweet boys together. Cannot wait to see the MEN they become one day!


We had a blast celebrating with you guys, and Jase must have partied hard because he took a serious business nap when we got home!

Love you, Vann!! Happy 1st Birthday, little man.