Brokenness to Beauty

Transforming Your Brokenness into a Beautiful Life


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Surprise!

God is always surprising me.

When I was asked a few weeks ago to present a workshop on prayer at a women’s retreat, I silently gulped and said, “Yes, Lord.” Then I responded (audibly) in the affirmative to the lady asking me if I would do the workshop.

It is humbling to have someone ask me if I’d do a presentation on the subject of prayer. I’m still a learner in that field. I always will be, of course. And to consider speaking publicly, well, that is nothing short of miraculous.

That I can say “yes” to speaking in front of people, and on the subject of prayer, is a wonder to me on two fronts:

1) I can physically do it and

2) I have material already compiled from which to draw to put together such a presentation.

A few years ago I never could have agreed to talk in front of people for an hour. I have MG (myasthenia gravis, a severe muscle weakness) and have been extremely weak for most of my life. The miracle is that I have been stronger for the past eight-plus years than I have been since I was thirteen years old, and I now can do public speaking!

Even though I planned this workshop to be an interactive Bible study time, not an hour-long lecture, I still had to do a lot of talking. My ability to speak this much is the gracious and miraculous work of God. It is the answer to many prayers prayed over the span of more than forty years.

I also had what I needed to present in the prayer workshop. A few years ago I had finally said “yes” to God about writing the book Brokenness to Beauty (and I’m now writing the Bible study guide to go with it; a work in progress), and I had already thought through and written much of the material I used for this workshop on prayer.

Though I wasn’t at a loss for what to say, I did earnestly pray for direction from the Lord to narrow it down. Volumes could be said about prayer (and volumes have been written on prayer), but it certainly wouldn’t fit within that one hour time frame. I needed to speak to what these ladies needed to hear. Only God has that information. He again answered prayer.

Most important to me when I speak or teach is to direct women into the Word of God. If they forget what I say but hear what God says in his Word, I will have been successful.

I initially thought I was going to the women’s retreat (hosted by our former church) in order to take it all in for myself, enjoy the beautiful mountains around the retreat center, and especially to see many dear friends I hadn’t seen since moving from Bakersfield to Colton last fall.

As it turned out, not only did I get to do those things, I ended up with the privilege of serving God by serving the women who came to the prayer workshop. What a great weekend we had!

 

Did I mention God is always surprising me?

I was mighty tired after driving the three hours it took to get to the retreat center, the busy weekend and the three hour drive home, but I give thanks to our great God for giving me the strength to do it. He truly “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV).

Photos of women’s retreat by Alayna Condon and Lindsay Long.

Scripture taken from Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. https://www.biblegateway.com.

 


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Don’t go out undressed

 The following is reposted from

 A CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW OF FICTION

A LOOK AT FICTION AND OTHER BITS OF CULTURE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE BIBLE

a blog written by Rebecca LuElla Miller.

Her post, titled “Combating Satan,” was so convicting and right on I wanted to share it with you. I keyed in on what she said about most people stopping too soon when they talk about the Armor of God, as listed in Ephesians 6. I’ve noticed the same thing. We certainly want our bodies to be fully clothed when we leave the house. How much more do we need to be fully outfitted spiritually, wherever we are.

Combating Satan

 

Scripture, of course, is the only reliable source of information on the subject of combating Satan. In Ephesians the Apostle Paul names the armor we need for the battle we’re engaged in “against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12b).

 

I’ve most often heard the armor identified as the list in verses 14-17: truth, righteousness, the “preparation of the gospel of peace,” faith, salvation, and the word of God. Each of those elements Paul aligns with physical armor of his day.

Too often that’s where we stop since the metaphor stops, but Paul went on to name another vital element we need in our battle against the schemes of the devil—prayer.

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (Eph 6:18-20)

Pray for all saints. Pray for those who are charged with proclaiming the gospel.

Years ago when I wrote a series of posts about Satan, I couldn’t help but think about C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters. This little book contains supposed letters of instruction from an under-secretary of a department in Satan’s organization to his nephew Wormwood, a junior tempter. At one point he gives his thoughts about rendering prayer ineffective:

 

The best thing, where it is possible, is to keep the patient from the serious intention of praying altogether … If this fails you must fall back on a subtler misdirection of his intention. Whenever they are attending to the Enemy Himself we are defeated, but there are ways of preventing them from doing so. The simplest is to turn their gaze away from Him towards themselves. Keep them watching their own minds and trying to produce feelings there by actions of their own wills. When they meant to ask Him for charity, let them, instead, start trying to manufacture charitable feelings for themselves and not notice that this is what they are doing. (pp. 33-34)

Screwtape goes on to say that should “the Enemy” defeat Wormwood’s first attempt at misdirection, all is not lost. He can still disrupt “his patient’s” prayer by getting him to pray to a “composite object” constructed from images of “the Enemy” during the Incarnation and images associated with the other two Persons, coupled with the patient’s own reverenced objects: “Whatever the nature of the composite object, you must keep him praying to it—to the thing that he has made, not to the Person who has made him” (p. 35).

It seems to me this “keep them from praying” strategy might be all too real. How many churches dropped their prayer meetings? How many Christians dropped their family prayer times, their before-meal thanks, their individual quiet times?

And when we do pray, how much of our time is filled with requests rather than praise and thanksgiving … or confession? How many of our requests are for ourselves rather than intercession for all the saints and for those who preach the word of God? When we intercede for others, how much of our prayer is for what’s happening physically rather than for what’s happening spiritually?

Lest you wonder, I’m feeling quite convicted.

This post is a revised version of one that first appeared here in June 2019.

https://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/author/rebeccaluellamiller/

 


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It takes a village … or a few friends, at least

I have to write the final lesson, Lesson 10, of my Bible study. In the last two days during my allotted hours for focusing on writing the Bible study I have: read the three chapters from my book the lesson is based on, written a prayer letter (and mailed it), written the note that goes on the Mustard Seeds’ March receipt to be sent to donors (a monthly task of mine), made several phone calls, read an email letter from the Christian writer’s conference I’ll be attending in June, and glanced at other emails. Though all these were necessary activities, I was not too focused during my writing time, to say the least.

my-writing-desk

Oh, but I did research some quotes and word definitions for Lesson 10. In total I’ve written about one paragraph of new copy for the lesson. In the last two days.

Obviously, I’m not moving ahead very fast here.

But I had a thought that could help me a lot, based on prior experience.

Last year I worked with a small group of ladies over the summer and into the fall as I wrote my way through developing the first several lessons. I’d write a lesson, give it to them, we’d meet one day a week and go over it, and they would give me their feedback on the lesson. I found their insights and participation of great value. (And it was fun being together.)

Then I moved.

I’m happy to be where I am but I don’t have my little group of friends to bounce my ideas off of. I miss them. I need the feedback of other women as I write a Bible study for other women (and men too).

So I’m going to beat the bushes for a few friends who would be willing to give me feedback to my questions and manuscript as I work to write the last lesson of this Bible study rooted in the book, Brokenness to Beauty. If you’ve read the book (hey, it’s available on Amazon if you don’t have it. It’s a good read, so I’m told) and if you are interested in joining such a group, let me know.

One benefit to you would be to get the inside scoop on what I develop for this final lesson in the ten lesson Bible study. I’ll send you documents to review and give feedback on as we work through the lesson.

I’m one lesson away from completing the Bible study for Brokenness to Beauty. Consider being a participant in propelling me over the finish line toward publication!

Leave a comment in the comment box on this site if you want to be in a beta study group with me for Lesson 10. You can also message me on facebook.

Or leave me a comment just because you want to chat. I’d love to hear from you.

And have I mentioned you can pick up my book in hard cover, soft cover or e-book, online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo Bookstore for e-books,  and WestBow Press Bookstore. I also sell and ship the soft cover version. So many ways to get it!

front-cover-copy


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Brokenness

I began today preparing to write Lesson 10, the last lesson of the Bible study I’m writing for my book, Brokenness to Beauty. Lesson 10 covers the last three chapters of the book. To me this is the most powerful and important section for in it I talk about the great question of all time: why am I here? (And it’s companion question: how can I live with suffering?)
Then this morning I read another blogger’s post that my friend emailed me. I’m glad she shared this post because the writer speaks to a couple of important matters I discuss in my book: understanding (or not) all God is doing through our suffering, and how we are to live with suffering. These issues raise huge question marks in our minds when all we can feel is our own pain. But there are answers. Please read the following blog post and think about Katy’s conclusions. And pray for me as I write Lesson 10: our reason for living, especially when we are suffering.

Journey with Katy

I have found great freedom lately in coming to the awareness that I do not have to understand God to know Him. In fact, knowing Him helps bring understanding, but understanding is not essential to knowing and living in relationship with Him. If I had waited to understand my husband,Stan, before I married him, I would still be unmarried. Of course, understanding helps with knowledge but it is not a necessity to entering into relationship, or, may I add, staying in relationship.

Jesus didn’t explain His love He demonstrated it. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)”Certainly this is true with the mystery of suffering. Rather than giving us a book of answers to the question of why we suffer, He shows us by suffering Himself for my sake!

this-is-my-bodyLast week while taking communion at church I…

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The Will To Live

I follow Bill’s blog along with more than 2800 other people. Bill has ALS, as you will read in this his latest post. I am reposting on my own blog because it is such a true and powerful statement of life as a follower of Jesus Christ, regardless of our physical state. I hope you will take the few moments it will take to read this post, and be encouraged to live fully for our savior Jesus Christ.

Unshakable Hope

I almost made it through a whole year without being hospitalized or having any additional health problems. Almost. Then, with just a few days left in 2016, I caught a cold. The “commoncold” is not much more than an annoyance for otherwise healthy people, but for someone like me with weakened breathing muscles and only 30% of my lungs functioning, the common cold is much more than an annoyance.

On the morning of the last day of the year, I was having an extremely difficult time breathing even wearing my breathing mask. In addition to that, I couldn’t keep anything down. I was a mess, more than usual. Mary and I both assumed it was pneumonia again so she called 911 and within minutes we were in an ambulance en route to the hospital. ALS has brought us one adventure after another over the last 20 years.

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Good News from 2016

One year ago this month Brokenness to Beauty: Transforming Your Brokenness into a Beautiful Life was published, going live on Amazon and other book outlets. Hundreds of books have been sold and from the positive comments I’ve received, scores of people have been encouraged in their journeys through the difficulties of life. By God’s grace this is just the beginning of many more people finding strength and encouragement to go on through their dark valley of suffering.

front-cover-copy

This was my purpose in writing Brokenness to Beauty, to lift up and strengthen those struggling through all kinds of trials in life. The verse of Scripture I use when signing my book is Hebrews 10:24: “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” I believe I have done this in Brokenness to Beauty.

It is not only in the good days of life that we can demonstrate “love and good deeds.” In our darkest days we can shine brightly for the Lord as we lean into him for strength and grace to go through each day. Our suffering, whatever form it may take, does not keep us from being a witness to the grace and love of God, of letting our light shine before men in such a way that they see our good works and glorify God (Matthew 5:26).

In fact, it may be that in the cauldron of suffering we have our greatest opportunity to demonstrate God’s grace and power to those around us. Else what did God mean when he said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9a)?

Speaking for myself, I know I need to learn to do what Paul declared he did: “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Corinthians 12:9b).

What would it be like to have the power of Christ dwell in us in the way Paul meant? We have the power of Christ dwelling in us as believers, but it is our own “strength,” our reliance on ourselves and our abilities, that hinders the power of God from being perfected in and through us for the benefit of others and the glory of God.

“The king is not saved by a mighty army; a warrior is not delivered by great strength. … Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness” (Psalm 33:16, 18).

“He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man. The Lord favors those who fear Him, those who wait for His lovingkindness” (Psalm 147:10-11).

This is what Brokenness to Beauty is all about, pointing us to the Lord in our weakness, teaching us to wait on and hope in God and God alone. In him we find strength to put one foot in front of the other, day after day.

Are you struggling with something today? Do you know a friend or family member going through deep waters of suffering? I encourage you to order a copy of Brokenness to Beauty: Transforming Your Brokenness into a Beautiful Life. It is friends like you telling your friends about Brokenness to Beauty who have the greatest impact getting this book into the hands of those who need it most.

Brokenness to Beauty may be purchased online at Amazon Books,  Barnes and Noble Bookstore, WestBow Press Bookstore and other online book outlets.

Let’s make good news for 2017.

 

 

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

Scriptures copied from https://www.biblegateway.com.


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Where does God live?

Home. The place where we can rest and relax from all the pressures of the outside world. A safe place. Or it should be these things. We need this kind of home. A place we want to come back to at the end of the day.

When I was a young wife I knew I wanted our home to be a place Randy wanted to come to at the end of the day.  I wanted it to be the place where he knew he was loved and accepted, safe; a place where no protective defenses had to be kept up. The world can sometimes be harsh; home should never be.

Of course, making such a home has been a learning experience for two imperfect and very different people. After more than forty years of marriage, we are still learning. But it has been deeply gratifying to hear Randy say at times how he likes coming home and being at home, being with me. Kudos and more to God, the giver of grace to both of us!

We need a gracious place called home, but a new dimension of home and a place of rest struck me when, a few weeks ago, a friend read to me Isaiah 66:1, 2:

 

Thus says the Lord,

“Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool.

Where then is a house you could build for Me?

And where is a place that I may rest?

“For My hand made all these things,

Thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. (Isaiah 66:1, 2a, NASB)

 

The phrase that got my attention? “And where is a place that I may rest?” (Literally, “where is My resting place?”) God posed this question to his people, the Jewish nation, in the time of Isaiah the prophet.

Of course, God, who made the heavens and the earth and all in them, cannot be contained in a physical space. He made all things. There is no place worthy of his resting place. And how is it the God, who never grows weary or tired, desires a resting place (Isaiah 40:28)? Must be something more to this than meets the eye.

Very early in the biblical record we read that at the end of God’s creative process of making the heavens and earth and everything in them, including mankind, he rested:

 

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. (Genesis 2:1-3, NASB)

 

In the book of Hebrews we read that God has a rest prepared for those who believe and obey him.

 

Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also;[1] but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, “As I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest,” although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; and again in this passage, “They shall not enter My rest.” Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before,

“Today if you hear His voice,

Do not harden your hearts.”

For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:1-11, NASB, emphasis added)

 

The Israelites heard God’s good news, given through Moses. They had his promises given them, but as a people they did not obey God’s words. They missed God’s rest.

When someone hears the gospel of Jesus Christ and responds in belief and obedience, they enter God’s rest. Our “work” of seeking salvation is only “finished” in Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, whose work on Calvary’s cross made possible salvation for all mankind. That salvation is made effectual in those who trust in the name of Jesus Christ for their eternal salvation. This is the rest of God, designated for all those who put their faith in him through Jesus Christ. The work of God, both in creation and salvation, has been completed. God has rested from his work. It is finished. Through faith in him and his word, we too can enter his rest.

Yes, there is certainly more here than meets the eye. All of scripture consistently declares the same truth. The more I read it, the more the pieces, like a puzzle, come together and the whole picture is revealed, little by little.

 

So we can “enter” God’s rest when we trust Jesus Christ for our eternal salvation, but where is the place of God’s rest, as he asked in Isaiah 66:1? Where is the place he can call “home”? He told us heaven is his throne and earth his footstool and these places are not his place of rest. We are still at a loss to figure out where God’s resting place is located. Until we read verse 2b:

 

“But to this one I will look,

To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word. (Isaiah 66:2b, NASB)

 

This is not one isolated verse. Consider these puzzle pieces:

 

For thus says the high and exalted One

Who lives forever, whose name is Holy,

“I dwell on a high and holy place,

And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit

In order to revive the spirit of the lowly

And to revive the heart of the contrite.” (Isaiah 57:15, NASB)

 

The one who can dwell with God is typified by these characteristics and behaviors:

 

O Lord, who may abide in Your tent?

Who may dwell on Your holy hill?

He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,

And speaks truth in his heart.

He does not slander with his tongue,

Nor does evil to his neighbor,

Nor takes up a reproach against his friend;

In whose eyes a reprobate is despised,

But who honors those who fear the Lord;

He swears to his own hurt and does not change;

He does not put out his money at interest,

Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.

He who does these things will never be shaken. (Psalm 15, NASB)

 

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?

And who may stand in His holy place?

He who has clean hands and a pure heart,

Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood

And has not sworn deceitfully.

He shall receive a blessing from the Lord

And righteousness from the God of his salvation. (Psalm 24:3-5, NASB)

 

He does not delight in the strength of the horse;

He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man.

The Lord favors those who fear Him,

Those who wait for His lovingkindness. (Psalm 147:10-11, NASB)

 

When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:1-12, NASB)

 

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. …“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:21, 24-27, NASB)[2]

 

God will make his home, his place of rest, in those who love and fear him, those who obey his word and trust in him. He sent his Holy Spirit to live within each one who trusts and obeys Jesus Christ. This was his desire and design from the creation. He will faithfully follow it to its culmination:

 

I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,

 

And we get the best end of the deal, I think.

 

and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. (Revelation 21:4-7, NASB)

 

Come, Lord Jesus. May you find a home, a resting place in us now and forever.

 

 

 

New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. https://www.biblegateway.com

[1] The Israelites, the Jewish nation

[2] All emphases in verses added.