This weekend I got to attend two interesting events: Beth Moore's Living Proof Live conference right here in Laramie, and a pre-conference event called "Women Reaching Women". Here's a link to the song "In Christ Alone" - I heard this song first at the Living Proof Live event in Colorado Springs last May, and was thrilled that it was part of the worship again this year.
The pre-conference event was held right at our church and we had about 150 ladies from all over Wyoming, Nebraska and Colorado. The topics ranged from "How to Start a Women's Ministry" to "Heart Friends" to "Involving the Uninvolved". The topic that really struck my heart was one called "Life Changing Bible Study."
That was really the theme of the entire week, at least to me - how a relationship with Jesus Christ, through His Word, really can change your life. I certainly know it has changed my entire worldview, though I would like to see it change more than just my perceptions but also how I live my life: more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (the fruit of the Spirit) and less pride, selfishness, insecurity, and anger. I know I have a long, long way to go, but this weekend really challenged me that one way God wants to me to grow is to get more involved in encouraging other women and girls to strive toward these goals, too.
Life change all comes down to spending time DAILY with God in His Word and in prayer. Luke 9:23: Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." There is no other way, no other short-cut. Other means of changing, like counseling and therapy and motivational seminars, they will all produce results - but only temporary ones.
The session on Life Changing Bible study focused on James 1:22 "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." The speaker, Martha Lawley, paraphrased it this way: the James 1:22 Deception: when we think it is good enough just to know the Word.
She tied this into 2 Tim 3:6-7: "weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth." It doesn't matter how many Bible studies you've been through (and I've been through many... at least two a year now, for the past 14 years), it doesn't matter how much Scripture you have memorized, or how far you get in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Bible version (I actually put together a version of that game once!)... unless you DO it.
Here's a famous quote she used that really hit this home: "Einstein's definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."
Then she pointed to how Jesus taught his disciples: they didn't just go to a study with their Master for an hour, then head home or off fishing again till next week's meeting. They left everything behind and followed him. Learning was intimately connected with doing. Jesus also had to re-teach them the same thing many times.
Of course we can't practically model this method of discipleship, but we can try to share our lives more with each other, be more open and transparent about or own progress or lack of progress, and apply the method of re-teaching. Instead of finishing one Bible study and moving right on to the next one, stay with just one study, or even just one Biblical principle, until you've got it down. Until you see progress in living it out. (Jesus doesn't expect perfection, only progress).
Okay, on to Beth Moore's topic. (Another ridiculously long blog. Good thing I write these things for myself, to reinforce what I've learned... if you've made it this far reading this, I'm impressed).
I had one friend who didn't want to go to Beth Moore's conference because she is boycotting Lifeway, the company that promotes Beth Moore, because Lifeway promotes people instead of God. Another friend wouldn't go because she said she said it was just a pep rally.
Both of them are right: Lifeway does promote people, not God, and the Living Proof Live event was a pep rally! I am glad I have some friends who are more discerning than I am... but, I'm also glad I went. I wondered if it could be any equal to my first live Beth Moore event last May in Colorado Springs, where she taught on Matthew 16:24-28, summed up in 16:25 "If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it." These four verses still make my heart go pitter-patter every time I read them, as a result of the excellent teaching Beth brought to us. This year she picked Psalm 66 to teach on.
I am so thankful that Beth Moore remains completely focused on the Bible. On her website, she states that her ministry, and her passion, is to encourage women to know Christ more through His Word. Her method is a combination of pep rally tactics (including emotional manipulation) but also good, solid Bible teaching, topped off with some serious challenges. I know I needed that encouragement, that teaching, and those challenges. I've read Psalm 66 probably dozens of times, but that's all I've ever done is read it, and its certainly not one of those Psalms that jumps out at you, like say Psalm 23, 27, 34, or 139. However, it will certainly jump out at me from now on! Beth studied it thoroughly and with a heart-felt desire to apply it and teach us how to apply it.
She picked 66:9 as the theme of the Psalm: "He trained us first, passed us like silver through refining fires" (the Message). Then she had eight points on how the Lord trains us/tests us, and the glorious results. I won't go into all eight points she covered, but here are a the three that spoke to me the most:
1) He trains us to praise louder. 66:2 Make His praise glorious!
When we praise the Lord, we show God's worth to others. We show them how splendid He is, how copious, how worthy. Our praise also silences our foes (Psalm 8:2). I wish I could capture just some of the passion and wisdom she shared with this verse. I don't believe any unbelievers who might have been standing in that crowd could have emerged without at least some marveling - if not for God, then for how believers can be so captivated by Him!
2) He trains us to emerge purer. 66:18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.
One of the things I love about Beth is how vocal she is for purity, especially sexual purity in a culture where we are saturated with sex, not just in the media but in talk and insinuations where ever you go.
3) He trains us to pass the Word on. 66:16 Come and hear, all who fear God, and I will tell of what He has done for me. She encouraged us to share our story, to tell other people what God has done for us. To mentor younger women. In fact, she had all the women under 30 come down to the center of the arena, and then encouraged all the rest of us older ladies to pour our hearts out and our lives into this younger generation. Before the TV generations, most women knew at most only a few hundred other women to compare themselves against or to look up to. Now, young women are exposed to thousands of other women through the media, they are forced up against a "model" of womanhood that is completely unbiblical, sex-based, and basing our worth as women on looks or professional success or how many men you've had. They desperately need (we all desperately need) strong women of faith and purity to look up to.
I am pretty sure God was trying to teach me two things this weekend from these two events: I want you more with Me, and I want you reaching out more to other women, and that means your own daughters, too.
As you can tell, I'm all fired up. The pep rally really pepped me. Now, do I apply what I learned? It is certainly providence that our mom's Bible study has dedicated the next week for all of us to take turn watching each other's kids so that we can each spend a half-day alone in uninterrupted prayer (my time will be Wednesday morning). Boy do I have a lot to pray about from this weekend, as well as prayer for my family, my church (we've had some issues crop up in another Bible study), our finances, my parents.
As a little challenge to myself, I'm going to start a new blog label "goals of a follower" where I plan to follow up on myself with 1) more time with God and 2) more time mentoring my daughters, and other women too if the Lord opens the door.