When Scripture Makes Your Heart Sing!

This morning in my quiet time I camped out in Colossians 3:16:

“Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

And it hit me how key music is for letting God’s Word dwell in me richly.  According to this verse it’s right up there with teaching!  Have I ever found this to be true in my own life.  Most of the scriptures I’ve memorized, especially the longer portions stick with me because they’ve been put to music.  Not always great music, mind you!  But even little ditties help things stick better in my brain.

And it’s not just my brain.

I’ll never forget when my son was three years old, I decided to walk to the gym with him in the stroller, by the time we were headed home huge storm clouds gathered, leaving the sky ominously dark.  You could hear thunder rumbling all over the place.  As I raced the mile home pushing him in the stroller, praying that the fury of the storm would hold off just a bit longer I suddenly heard him saying something over and over.  Leaning in I discovered he was quoting Psalm 56:3-4a to himself repeatedly.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.”

He was applying scripture, using it to calm his fears!!!  At three years old!

How could this be?

We’d been listening to Steve Green’s CD Hide Them In Your Heart!  The song got in and when the truth was needed it was there.  Years later I learned how crucial this is – if a child feels like he’s all alone when he’s experiencing pain he will often feel the need to self protect and shut down his heart emotionally. Can this ever impact his life and relationships even decades later!  But if he’s aware of the Lord protecting him, he won’t feel the need to self protect.  Truly one of the most important things parents can teach their children is that God is with them and able to protect and comfort them, especially their heart when it hurts.

That’s what Doug and Debbie Kingsriter discovered when their son had to have emergency surgery but no one mentioned that when he awoke after surgery he’d be unable to communicate for awhile.  They were so concerned since they hadn’t prepared him for this.  The doctor warned them most children freaked out but when their son could finally communicate again he was totally peaceful.  The doctors were amazed!  When they asked him about it, he shared how a verse they’d been memorizing as a family came to mind and calmed his heart.  They were utterly blown away!  He was so little they had no idea it had even sunk in!  That’s when they decided to create the GT and the Halo Express CD’s where all the songs were scripture!  If you can find a copy of these they are pure gold!

I cannot recommend highly enough moms listen to songs that feature scriptures with their children.  Even with babies!

Now the thunderstorm incident happened over 20 years ago, but since then even more Scripture song resources have been created – for you as well as your children (and grandchildren!  :0)  I love to memorize using the Fighter Verse app on my phone.  There’s a ton of variety in these songs and do they ever stick!  I listen to them as I’m exercising, learning a new one each week and it’s amazing how I’ll find myself throughout the day not only humming the tune but meditating on the words!  This is so helping God’s Word to dwell in me richly!

Recently my prayer partner shared with me another wonderful resource called Sing the Bible with Slugs and Bugs by Randall Goodgame.  My friend is absolutely loving using this with her children – and she has 13 of them! But note, she’s also really enjoying the music herself too.  If you go to Amazon.com you’ll find their CD’s have received 5 star reviews!*


Here’s a link to one of my favorites from here, featuring the African Children’s Choir:


I honestly believe providing opportunities for our children to hide God’s Word in their hearts is one of the most important things we can ever do for them.  We never know when the enemy may come to attack while we’re not around and what a difference it can make to equip them with the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) so they are ready for such times!  And not just when they are little…

A few years ago when my son was in college he passed through a difficult time of disappointment and pain.  During his hardest moment you know what helped?  A verse he’d memorized through song as a child, Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you or forsake you, says the Lord.”

But here’s the crazy thing – while I bought those children’s CD’s for my son’s benefit, after listening to them over and over for years as he grew up, those verses are forever etched in my memory – and on my heart, where they continue to make a difference in my life!

So please hear me on this – Scripture songs aren’t just for children!  Especially as I’m getting older I’m finding it’s much harder now to memorize.  But when something is put to music, memorization suddenly becomes do-able!  It really is helping God’s Word dwell richly in me… and then flow out of me so i can talk about it when I sit at home and when I walk along the road, when I lie down and when I get up, impressing them on those around me.  (Deuteronomy 6:7)

So for my application from this morning’s quiet time can you guess what I did?!  :0)


*NOTE: Slugs & Bugs is Kickstarting Sing the Bible Volume 2!  You’d better believe this is one kickstarter project I am so excited about supporting!!! http://kck.st/1H60szM    And no, I get nothing for posting this on here!  But I so love passing on treasure when I find it – and trust me this is one kickstarter you receive treasure when you support! ;0)

Seeing Myself The Way Jesus Does


Years ago a fellow Navigator, David Lyons, wrote a booklet entitled “Now That I’m Born Again” based on what the Lord  reveals in Ephesians regarding our identity in Christ.  Now I love to walk and pray so I placed that content on a bookmark that I print double sided on card stock.  I like to carry a copy of this in my purse so whenever I start doubting my value I can pull it out and pray through this.  What a life changing difference this is making in my life!

Before we lived in Colorado Springs we use to fly out here for leadership meetings.  Now Navigators love to “get time with each other” one on one, so it’s not uncommon to find people at these meetings setting up lunches and breaks to do this.  At one particular meeting there were a number of people I was hoping to get time with so I was really excited when I learned we had a two hour break before dinner one night.  Now it was going to be a special dinner and what I didn’t realize was most of the women wanted time to get ready so as I went around asking if people could get together, one after another told me no.  And I found myself starting to feel down…

Now another couple who lived out here invited us to come wait for the dinner at their house.  On our drive over I pulled out this bookmark and started praying through it.  What an incredible reminder it was – I’m not a loser, because of Jesus I am blessed, chosen, holy, without blemish, adopted…  I felt my spirits begin to lift as my heart spent time giving thanks.  Especially as I prayed “Thank you, Father, that I am wanted”  the pain I was feeling from rejection dissipated (and please note it wasn’t that anyone was rejecting me, they just had other plans, but do you know how you can go there and still feel this way?!)

Now I was sitting in the back seat and since I can’t hear anything in that setting anyways, I spent the whole drive (about twenty minutes) silently praying and giving thanks for who I am in Christ.  By the time we arrived, my heart was soaring and a smile was on my face.  We enjoyed a lovely time and learned a bunch from the things they shared with us.  Truly the Lord had other plans for that time!

Fast forward two hours and we head to dinner.  On the way in I stop to talk with the son of a friend, seeking to encourage him.  By the time I go in to where the dinner is being held nearly everyone else is seated.  But then I spy an open chair right next to one of the women I’ve been hoping to get time with.  I’m so excited!!!  I race over and ask, “Is this seat available?” only to hear, “No, it’s saved it for…”  Then I spy another empty chair next to someone else I’d hoped to get time with… only to discover that was already taken too.  In fact, the only available chair was all the way at the back of the room.

Now normally by this time my insecurities would be kicking in big time. No one saved a seat for me.  So easily I could’ve withdrawn into myself and eaten my meal in silence.  It takes a lot of energy to interact when you are hearing impaired, energy that if I’m feeling rejected, discouraged and down I usually don’t have.  But after praying through all those truths of who I am in Christ, I thought, “Jesus must’ve saved me this seat at the back for a reason!”

I ended up sitting across from a woman I didn’t know very well and as we talked over dinner our hearts connected in a powerful way.  Did that evening ever turn into a HUGE gift from the Lord!

But so easily I could’ve missed out if my soul hadn’t been fortified right when I needed it by remembering who I am in Christ.

It’s one thing to know these truths in my head or even to do a Bible study on them, but I’m finding these truths are making the biggest life changing difference when I am intentional to apply them by praying through them while my value is under attack!


Seeing Myself The Way Jesus Does…

I am in Christ

Thank You for immersing me in Christ. Thank you for grafting me into the true vine.

I am blessed

Thank you for continually speaking well of me and favoring me in every possible way.

I am chosen

Thank you for picking me for yourself, like a groom marrying the bride he desires.

I am holy

Thank You for setting me aside for yourself, just like the best silver is set aside for special occasions

I am without blemish

Thank you that when you look at me, you do not focus on all my failures. Thank you for focusing on the best part of me, the part You have perfected, my innermost being.

I am adopted

Thank you, Father, that I am wanted. Thank you for coming to me, extending Your hand, pulling me to Your side, and making all the necessary arrangements to make me Your very own.

I am God’s child

Thank you for making me Your beloved child, in whom You are well pleased, for allowing me to bear your likeness, for making me your pride and joy.

 I am free from sin’s power

Thank you for liberating me from my old master. Thank you for saving me from my enemy.

I am forgiven

Thank You that You now hold nothing against me. Thank you for not expecting me to make up for the ways I have failed you.

I am favored

Thank You for making me one of Your favorites. Thank You for hovering over me with a special loving attention, like a parent with a firstborn child.

I am wealthy

Thank You that as Your child I have an inheritance that provides all I need. Thank You that I will always have more than I need.

I am secure

Thank You for enveloping me in Your love so that I am sealed, secure and safe. Thank You for shielding and sheltering me by Your Spirit.

I am called

Thank You for giving me an exciting, fulfilling direction. Thank You for showing me why I am here and where I am going.

I am praiseworthy

Thank You for filling me with Your glory. Thank You for bragging about me as Your prized inheritance.

I am capable

Thank You that You love to show Your extraordinary power in me. Thank You that I am therefore qualified & able to do all You want me to do.

I am alive with Christ’s life

Thank You that since You came into my heart, I am born again – born from above and bursting with real life.

I am seated with Christ in heaven

Thank You for placing me with Christ in a position of extraordinary privilege and authority.

I am God’s masterpiece

Thank You for making me Your personal work of art. Thank You that I am the work of a Craftsman, not a mistake.

I am close to God

Thank You for not holding me at arm’s length. Thank You for pulling me to Your side in a prolonged embrace.

I am an insider

Thank You for making me a true citizen in Your kingdom. Thank You for making me a true member of Your household, no longer an outsider.

I am God’s mobile home

Thank You for moving into my heart. Thank You that I am now Your house, Your temple, Your tent.

I am promised great things

Thank You for making such priceless commitments to me. Thank You for letting me experience what others strive to obtain.

I am loved

Thank You for loving me the way I long to be loved. Thank You that I can’t wear out Your love. Thank you for continuing to win my trust by convincing me of the depth of Your love.

I am a new creation

Thank You for completely remodeling my innermost being, my spirit. Thank You that all things in me are truly new.

I am righteous

Thank You for making everything right in my innermost being. Thank You for placing the holy and living Spirit of Your Son in me.

I am the light of the world

Thank You for making the light of Your life shine in me. Thank You for making me Your flashlight, shining into the darkness around me.

I am nourished

Thank You for satisfying my thirst and hunger. Thank You for the Bread of Life that fills me. Thank You for the Living Water welling up in my soul.

I am cherished

Thank You for adoring and treasuring me, like a parent marveling over a newborn baby.

I am Christ’s body

Thank You that although You once lived among Your people in an elaborate tent, and then You walked among us in a Galilean body, now You truly live in me. Thank You that I am actually a member of Your body.

I am united with Christ

Thank You for becoming one with me, as a husband becomes one flesh with his wife.

I am strong

Thank You that with You living in me, I can face anything. Thank You that every battle, test and victory belong to You.

 from David Lyon’s booklet Now That I Am Born Again

Do You Have What It Takes?!

The first time I ever met one on one with someone to spur her on in her relationship with Christ I’d only been a Christian a couple months!   I was so excited about what I was learning I simply had to share it with someone.  When I met a 12 year old at our church who seemed eager to grow we started meeting together.  I had  no idea what I was doing, but getting together to read God’s Word and talk about the Lord multiplied the joy!

Then a year later when an older woman started discipling me, I was so excited about what I was learning I asked a friend in my nutrition class if she’d like to get together so I could share this treasure with her.  She’d just become a Christian and it was such fun growing together!  And I discovered, you really do learn something better when you pass it on to someone else!

You see, you don’t need a seminary degree or years of experience to invest in other women! But Satan so loves to make us believe the lie, “You don’t have what it takes…”

But what does it take to disciple women?

1.  You need a personal relationship with Jesus!  

I’ll never forget the night I became a Christian.  When I looked at my Bible it was like reading it with new eyes!  Truly God removed blinders from my eyes and it finally made sense like it never had before!!!  At the same time God’s Holy Spirit came to live in me.  He is the wonderful counselor who is so faithful to guide and provide us with all we need to do whatever the Lord wants us doing!  And as God’s child I am heir to all His promises!  Which includes His promise for wisdom when I ask (James 1:5), guidance (Isaiah 40:11 tells us He gently leads those who have young!), strength (Phil 4:13) and provision (Phil. 4:19).  Without a personal relationship with Jesus no one can disciple for as Jesus says, “Apart from me you can do nothing!”  (John 15:5).

2.  You need to be a disciple before you can join in with Jesus discipling someone else!

A disciple is a follower and a learner – hard to learn from someone if you don’t go where they go and do what they do.  But it’s not just someone who mentally takes in facts but who makes what’s being learned the rule of conduct for her life – someone committed to living out what the Lord is teaching her!  It is a direction, not a designation.  Even though I’m on Navigator staff, if I stop following Jesus and actively learning from Him, I’m no longer a disciple because I’m not heading in Jesus’ direction.  Discipleship is not pouring facts into someone else but rather inviting them to join you on the journey as you follow Jesus, helping them learn how to follow Him too!  Hard to take someone in a set direction if you aren’t heading in that direction yourself!!!

3.  You need God’s living Word!

Being a disciple not just about following Jesus so you can go where He goes and do what He does, but it’s about being transformed to be like Him, becoming who you truly are in Him.  This process of transformation is called sanctification.  In John 17:17  Jesus prays to the Father asking him to “sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”  You see, I can’t change anyone, but God’s Word is “living and active, sharper than any double edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing the soul and spirit joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”  (Hebrews 4:12).  God even tells us in Isaiah 55: 10-11, “as the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth, so is my Word that goes out from my mouth, it will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”  Want to make certain your one on ones are of value?  Always include God’s Word!!!

4.  You need time!

Time to be available, both to meet with the woman you’ll be discipling and to meet with Jesus to talk with Him about her and get His input on what He’s doing in her life and how He wants you to join in!  You also need time to love her well and to share your life with her.  Truly more gets caught than taught!

5.  You need to be intentional, being willing to step out of your comfort zone!

You need intentionality even to get the ball rolling and start meeting with someone.  It’s not easy to take that first step and ask if she’d like to get together knowing she may very well refuse.  Even if she says yes, when you get together it takes intentionality to make that time profitable.  It’s so much easier to spend the whole time chatting!  But for us to get in the Word or to dive into praying or to do anything of spiritual value at all, well, sometimes it can feel like pulling teeth!  Small wonder since a battle is raging and the enemy so wants to rob both of you of making the most of this time…

But here’s the beautiful thing, whether you’ve been a Christian one day or eighty years, because of Jesus these can all be true of you!

As it says in 2 Corinthians 3:5-6, “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God who has made us competent to be ministers of the new covenant not of the letter, but of the Spirit.  For the letter kills but the Spirit gives life.”

Do you have what it takes to disciple women?  By yourself, no.  No one does.  No matter how much training or experience they may have.

But God makes us competent.  And in Him, do we ever!!!

The Wisdom of Questions

If someone came up to you and asked, “What do I need to do to get eternal life?”  how would you respond?

Would you dive in sharing the bridge or another illustration?   Ask them if they’d like to start reading through the book of John with you? Share your personal testimony?

At different times I’ve done each of these.  But here’s the crazy thing… that’s not what Jesus did!

He responded with a question!  (Matthew 19:16)

In fact, if you read through the gospels, nearly every time Jesus is asked a question, he responds with a question!

Not only can this help to clarify what the person is asking, it also engages them in dialogue, drawing them into the conversation.

This is not only helpful when doing evangelism, but especially when discipling someone.  There’s a fascinating  verse in 1 John 2:27, “But you have received the Holy Spirit and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true.  For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true – it is not a lie.  So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.”

Once someone has entered into a relationship with Jesus, she has His Spirit living within her.  And God’s Spirit is so faithful to do what He’s promised to do – to teach us… if we’ll listen.  Over and over I am amazed at how true this verse is.

As I grasp the reality of this I realize my main job in discipling someone is not to teach her, but to come alongside and encourage her to remain in fellowship with Christ, to help her learn how to place herself in a position where she is able to hear what God wants to teach her and to help her learn to persevere in doing this.

A great way to do this is to ask questions – and teach her to ask questions.

The first question I ever ask before meeting with someone is of God, “What do you want me doing with this woman today?  How can I come alongside her and join in with what you’re doing?”

Then I seek to start our time asking questions about how she’s doing.  I recently met with a precious young woman who wanted to learn about forgiveness.  When I asked how she was doing she started to weep and share some painful things she was wrestling with.  It quickly became apparent learning about forgiveness was not the main reason the Lord brought us together.  When I asked, “What lies do you think the enemy is trying to get you to believe right now?” what followed was one of the most amazing one on ones I’ve had.  And I mostly listened!  Then together we considered the truth God gives in His Word to combat those lies.  And yes, we ended up in the last ten minutes talking about forgiveness as it tied in with what she was struggling with but do you see?  Without asking questions I so easily could’ve missed out on what the Lord really wanted for our time!

When I’m having a shared quiet time with someone I’m helping her learn to ask, “Where do you want me to focus today in your Word, Lord?”  “What do you want to say to me through this?” and “What difference do you want this to make in my life?”

You don’t have a daily quiet time to “be a good  Christian”  or to earn God’s favor.  You have one because this is an incredible way to learn to listen to the Lord and remain in fellowship with Him, so when He wants to teach you something you’re picking up on it and developing the discipline of responding and doing what He teaches you!  I cannot stress how radically life changing this is!!!

Now while I initially may “teach” them what I do, note the focus is on them showing up to learn from the Lord.  This helps them grow in their dependence on Him and not on me!

I need to be careful because it can be a heady thing having someone ask for your advice or ask you how to do something.  My pride loves to demonstrate what I know.  It’s so easy for that to kick in without me even realizing it and suddenly a one on one becomes a monologue.

But you know, when I take time to ask questions that really helps save me (and the woman I’m meeting with!) from this!

Plus it’s amazing how many times when I respond with a question I discover what she really is asking is rather different from what I first thought!

Good question asking is a skill.  It’s so much easier to “tell.”  But I have been amazed at how much more effective it is when my questions help people discover on their own the answer the Holy Spirit is giving them.

The good news is this is something anyone can grow in!  So I’m asking God for the grace to be more like Him in this.  And as I do, what a difference it’s making in my discipling!

Leading A Bible Study for the First Time? Beware!!!

The first time I led a Bible study did the enemy ever have a heyday!  Honest!  After each meeting the accuser would rip me up one side and down the other, reminding me of every word misspoken, every uncomfortable silence, pointing out what I could’ve done better, making me feel like the biggest loser ever!

Thankfully, one of the girls I was meeting with one on one was in the study and I asked her for feedback – and was she ever faithful!  After I got home she’d call and talk through the study with me.  When I shared how I thought I’d blown it she’d be like, “Oh no, I think it was good you said that.  Didn’t you notice how that helped to draw the girls into the discussion?”

She helped bring perspective.  And even when I really had blown it she encouraged me to learn from it and keep pressing on.

And this was one of the freshmen I was meeting with!!!  Gracious feedback from anyone can be a huge help!

A key time when the enemy loves to attack is right when someone first starts leading a Bible study.  I cannot stress enough how vital it is that there be someone giving feedback, helping to bring perspective and process what transpired.

Otherwise it’s so easy to conclude – “See, I can’t do this!” and stop and never attempt again!  Which is exactly what the enemy wants!!!  It is so much easier to stop someone at the beginning, when it’s all new and she is struggling with insecurities anyway.

This is such a vital time when support is needed as well as feedback!

Learning to lead a Bible study is a key part of helping someone grow spiritually – you always learn something better when you’re helping others learn!  In addition, this is a key way we can help advance God’s kingdom – there is such a need for women who are willing to take initiative and get Bible studies started!

Honest!  It is amazing to me how few women in the church ever think of leading a Bible study.  So many women who’ve done Bible study for years and have so much to offer just don’t step up to the plate.  Sometimes it’s because they believe the lie they don’t have what it takes to do this so they’ve never even tried.  Other times it’s because the enemy gained a victory when they were younger and first tried…

If you are starting to lead a Bible study for the first time or if you are meeting with someone who is starting to do this, please be sure to make provision for feedback.  I cannot stress how vitally important this is!

Never forget, there is a battle raging and the enemy is a devious and deadly accuser.  Warning people in advance, giving them a heads up that he’s most likely to attack here can really help fortify their souls in advance!

You see, the enemy loves to take a little bit of truth and twist it to suit his purposes!

The truth is no one starts out as an amazing Bible study leader.  There is a lot you can learn and it’s something even after thirty years of leading Bible studies I’m still growing in!!!  If I’d waited until I could do this well to start I’d never have begun!

And in truth the best Bible studies I’ve ever been in have been facilitated, not taught.  You don’t have to be Beth Moore or Kay Arthur to lead a life changing Bible study!

Give me a Bible study leader who gives time for people to share what they are learning from the Word and asks questions to help them further process and provides an environment where people are actively seeking to apply God’s Word to their lives – that’s infinitely better than listening to the best Bible teacher and never doing anything with it!

And yes, you’re going to make mistakes.  But thankfully God doesn’t only use those who get it perfect.  As G.K. Chesterton says, “If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.” Please note, this is not a justification to keep doing something poorly,** remember, a disciple is a learner – so if you have a heart of a learner you are going to want to keep growing in your ability to do this and the more experience you get, the more opportunity you have to grow.

But here’s the kicker… to grow, to improve, you need feedback!  Experience alone doesn’t automatically grow you – but evaluated experience sure can!  Do you see how critical getting feedback is?

But until you get this, as you are starting out, remember what the Lord says in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  And Paul writes in response, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

So here’s the irony – Satan is determined to pull out the stops to get people to never start or quickly stop leading Bible studies by attacking and making you think you can’t do this because you don’t have what it takes, but the truth is your weakness creates opportunity for God’s power to rest on you!

And with the power of God resting on you ~ is that ever an awesome way to lead a Bible study!!!


** For further thoughts on what Chesterton meant by this quote check this out: http://www.chesterton.org/discover-chesterton/frequently-asked-questions/a-thing-worth-doing/  (and I must say I absolutely LOVE the definition given of an amateur!  This so applies to raising spiritual babies too!!!)

Show and Tell

You know how Eric Liddell says, “When I run I feel His pleasure?”  For me, that happens when I’m speaking.  I’m not saying it’s a breeze to get up in front of people – with my hearing loss it’s always stretching whenever the Lord asks me to do this – but once I’m up there,  I could keep going for hours and it’s amazing how time flies… for me.

But when the shoe is on the other foot, no matter how great a speaker is, when I’m sitting there listening, it’s hard to sit for a long time!  Besides how much can you process in one sitting?!  Too much of a good thing can certainly be too much!

I think there’s a reason Eutychus’ story is included in the Bible – and not just to demonstrate God’s power to raise the dead!  (Acts 20:7-12)

In Ephesians 4:29 we’re instructed to speak “…only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  So even though it’s a joy for me to speak, I need to keep in mind what’s best for those “who listen.”

If I do what comes naturally, I can talk non-stop.  But not only can that be tiring for those listening, from an adult learning perspective it’s not the best for them learning either!

When you are meeting one on one with someone, you need to keep considering their perspective – how can they best benefit?  Now this varies from person to person, and ultimately you want to learn what’s best for them, but a good starting point can be considering what is beneficial for you as you listen.

One thing I love about teaching kids – you have to do this or you’ll soon be talking to yourself!  So I find myself seeking to be even more creative and concrete when communicating.

For example, I was recently teaching a group of missionary kids about the armor of God.  When we went over the belt of truth I didn’t just talk about it ~ we literally made belts using links of chains and a carabiner.

Then I borrowed extra large adult jeans and had the kids spar with swords while wearing them – first with the belt on so it held up their pants, then without it.  It was pretty humorous to see them discover how vital those belts can be, and how vulnerable they are without it, as pants dropped to their ankles!

Then we talked about how the most important truth you can ever know is the truth of who God is.  Because when hard times come Satan wants you fixating on the circumstances and trying to figure out why rather than clinging to the truth of who God is.

Many times, this side of heaven, you won’t figure out why – so focusing on that can really throw you off balance and make you even more vulnerable to the enemy.  But when we keep taking time to remember who God is – can that ever fortify our souls even in the darkest of trials.  And that’s not just true for kids!

We are personally going through a tough time right now and first thing, I went and got some plastic links and a carabiner from Lowes.  Every day as the Lord is revealing who He is, I write that new attribute on a link with a permanent black sharpie…

“Purposeful, Powerful, Active Refuge, Planner, Savior, Provider, Conqueror, Finisher…”

I know it may sound crazy, but even though I’m not wearing the belt (talk about a fashion statement, eh?!), making the effort to do something concrete like this is really helping me focus more during my quiet times on who God is and keep recalling this throughout the day.  And I find I’m not forgetting these quiet times like I often do if I don’t do anything with them.

Creative, concrete illustrations can be very impactful, very beneficial in helping people learn, understand and remember what you’ve talked about – it’s easier to just “tell” but God doesn’t call us to do what’s easy, but what’s beneficial for those listening.

Remember how they use to have “Show and Tell” in kindergarden?  That’s a great thing to strive for when discipling someone!

It’s War!

One of the most important questions you can ever ask when starting to meet with someone is, “What’s your story?”

And make sure she knows you don’t want the reader’s condensed version!  You want as many facts as she is comfortable sharing.

What has brought pain into her life?  Where has she struggled.  How has the Lord been at work bringing her into a relationship with Him?  And since?  Has she ever dabbled in the occult?  Or been sexually involved with someone?

These questions can reveal key things so helpful to know at the onset.  But be sure to ask gently and respectfully, and make it clear it’s ok for her to only share what she is comfortable telling.

If she has experienced severe wounding or abuse, if she’s had any prior experience with the occult, it can really help to know this not just so you can help her move forward, but so you can help prepare her for ways the enemy might try to intervene and interfere in your relationship.

Remember discipleship is about spurring people on to grow!  The enemy does not want this!  And it seems the greater his hold on someone formerly, the more desperate he will be to thwart your attempts.

I once met with a woman who had supported herself working as stripper and who had repeatedly been deeply wounded relationally as well as sexually assaulted.  The story of how the Lord reached out to her in love drawing her to Himself was absolutely amazing!  When I met her she was so eager to grow!

Yet about a month after we’d started meeting, when she heard a mutual friend share how she’d just learned the Bible says sex before marriage is wrong – she was so upset!  This was the only type of love she’d ever known and as a brand new believer she was not ready to give this up!  Right away she started withdrawing from fellowship and not being available for us to meet.  It broke my heart… how I wish I’d known to give her a heads up in advance.

While the enemy can’t keep someone from entering into a relationship with Jesus, he is so cunning in his subterfuge and efforts to undermine and interefere any way he can with her growing – which very much includes constant subtle efforts to destroy her relationship with whomever is seeking to disciple her.

It is vital you be ready for this and if possible, beat him at his game, by forewarning the woman of ways he may try to attack.

You see, when someone has traumatic or occultic experiences in her past many times there are strongholds that still remain, that need to be addressed.  This is why it’s vital you ask a person to share about her past with you, so you can attempt to prepare her for the battle that’s sure to erupt.

Too many times people read “forgetting what lies behind and pressing on towards what lies ahead…” as if there’s no need to address past wounding and strongholds.  But remember verses need to be read in context!  And in this context Paul is talking about his past achievements, not wounding!

Now people may not be willing to be open about this until they know you better – that may be one of the ways the enemy has already been at work encouraging them to build walls around their heart.  But it sure can help if you at least ask ~ and if you’re willing to share about painful things you’ve been through too!

This is why when I begin meeting with someone I will often start telling her my story first, sharing deeply about my past.  That sets the stage for her to realize here’s someone willing to be real, willing to be honest with me.  Someone who cares enough to reveal even the pain she’s been through.  And I do this after praying, asking the Lord to guide my sharing and help me speak only what’s helpful for building up the person who listens.

Then I ask her to share her story in depth – can this help launch your time in a powerfully bonding way, even if there aren’t deep issues.

But if there are, be sure to encourage her – God is a God of hope!  Nothing is too difficult for Him!  He is able to take the ugliest scars and bring beauty out of them, but there really is a battle going on and the enemy is going to do whatever he can to get her feelings hurt and try to get her to pull away from you.

If you can point this out from the getgo and encourage her, “If this happens, if I do anything or say anything that hurts you, please come to me and let’s talk because I don’t want the enemy messing with us” and warn her to be on the lookout for ways he might try to isolate her from other believers too ~ can that ever help you beat him at his game and thwart his purposes to destroy your relationship!