Welcome to week two of The Broken Way OBS, friends! I don’t know about you, but this is such a timely study for me. Brokenness and difficulty have a way of drowning out the beautiful things Jesus is doing in our lives (even through the pain and challenge) right in from of our faces, doesn’t it? Unless we stake our flag in gratitude, and choose to count out one gift from God, ten gifts, one hundred gifts, one thousand gifts, we grow numb to His majesty, blind to His abundance, deaf to His symphony of beauty, and mute in our praise.
And, unless we choose to live our lives poured out in our community, our churches, our families, broken-hand-in-broken-hand, we curl up around our wounds and harden like a world-beaten shell, angry and isolated.
That picture doesn’t have to be us. We can live cruciform. We can live like Jesus.
Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. — John 12:24
This week we’re in The Broken Way session two, “Living Cruciform”.
Kick-off Event with Ann
We so enjoyed our time with Ann last week. She truly is a remarkable, humble, Jesus-and-Jesus-only woman of God. I want to be like that, don’t you? I want my heart and life to reflect Jesus alone. Not me, but Him. If you weren’t free to watch the kick-off with Ann last Monday night, you can watch the replay video right here on YouTube (https://youtu.be/z6cbXkCuXqU).
Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Guard my life, for I am faithful to You; save Your servant who trusts in You. You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long. — Psalm 86:1-3
This week for the study you will:
- Watch the video for Session 2 – either on DVD or right here on FaithGateway and take notes in The Broken Way Study Guide (pages 31-35).
- If you’re meeting with a small group or in a church setting with others, go through the “Talk About It” section (pages 35-41). These are also the questions we’ll discuss in our Thursday online chats.
- For your personal study, try to set aside some time every day to go through the Between Sessions study questions in The Broken Way Study Guide (pages 42-48). Pray with us that we would really open up to the Holy Spirit’s promptings, hear His voice, and gain insight from our Scripture meditation and journaling.
- Recommended (but optional) reading for this week: In preparation for this week, read chapters 4-6 in The Broken Way – the hardcover book, not study guide.
- Join us on Thursday, February 2nd (optional) at 1 p.m. EST or 9 p.m. EST for a live chat to discuss this week’s Session 2 questions and enjoy and be encouraged by this community of believers. We’ll meet every Thursday right here: http://www.faithgateway.com/broken-way-study/?live
My One Word
Anxiety makes you forget God … and convinces you the weight is yours to bear. Forget the face of God and you forget your very own name… Beloved! ~ Ann
As I mentioned to Ann in the kick-off, my One Word for 2017 is “beloved”. (And, it was so fun that she shared she was actually wearing a necklace that said “Beloved”!) That truth is something I’ve had to soak in for a while now.
After tumbling around and around in a painful, destructive marriage for many years, like being stuck in the whitewash of a gigantic wave and not being able to tell up from down, and not being able to catch a breath, then having some terrible things happen one right after another (adultery, divorce, financial abandonment, a deluge of legal wranglings, and the death of my dear dad), I forgot. I forgot I was beloved. I forgot my name.
Isn’t it strange how storms can knock the snot out of us and we lose our bearings? I needed to be reminded that my Jesus, the One who lived cruciform, the One who modeled abiding love for and steadfast faith in God through the worst suffering any human has ever endured, loved me.
During this season a friend took a look at my bedraggled emotional and spiritual state, and said, “Laurz, you’re going on vacation. On me.”
Sitting by the pool, staring at the ocean, wrestling over so much pain with God, feeling wary of another shoe dropping, more pain, I felt Jesus gentle presence and His still small voice in my ear saying, “Peace, Beloved.”
Later, I shared:
Sometimes (I think most times), my heart forgets that I’m ridiculously, unmeritedly, overflowingly loved by God like an endless avalanche of shalom. As a single mama without support and in a year of such deep bereavement and so many hard things, I realize I’m at risk to brine in a scarcity mentality paranoid with worry that the Lord isn’t good or won’t be good. Doesn’t love. Not me anyway. Others, maybe. There’s been too much loss. Too much grief and pain. Even here… in Maui for goodness sake, a vacation completely impossible if not for a gift from friends. And an answer to a petulant, exhausted prayer. (True story.)
Do you ever have those moments when you realize how you aren’t thinking right? That you need to breathe and just trust in Someone who knows a lot better than you do and whose love is inscrutable?
God is good. He fights for you. He loves you. He is all we need. And WOW, He’s so generous. Peace. Selah.
My friend made herself cruciform for me. She modeled what to do when we see pain we’ve walked through before… love one another, pour ourselves out in generosity and care, be the ICU for someone in crisis. She modeled #betheGIFT (Stay tuned: You’ll learn about it this week.). She pulled me up and held my hand.
Have you been there before? At the bottom of a deep hole and someone climbed down and walked with you out of it?
Since then, I’ve followed her lead, Jesus’ lead. Not in such an extravagant way yet… I can’t wait until I can! But, in small and simple ways, dollar bill kind of ways. Living cruciform. And, it turns out, it’s the way to joy!
The seed breaks to give us the wheat. The soil breaks to give us the crop. The sky breaks to give us rain. The wheat breaks to give us the bread. The bread breaks to give us the feast… Could it be that we, too, must fall to the ground, break, and die to ever bear much fruit? ~ Ann
Prayer for the Week
Jesus, You lived it for us. You put on flesh and bone and met us in the pit of our devastation and despair and made a way out. With Your own blood. Help us to follow Your lead. Help us to live poured out, cruciform, sacrificed… and to find the joy in giving! We love You, Jesus! Amen.
How are you going to go out and be the gift? Come share with us on our blog and on your social media sites using the #betheGIFT hashtag.
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