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FOR 2011: MORE OF A HEART OF FLESH

heart-of-flesh1Whatever your New Year’s Resolution might be, it will succeed or fail based on your heart. Have you tried before to have regular quiet times, or lose weight, or watch less television and failed? This year could be different.

Studies show that it takes 30 days of walking in a new path for it to be forged. Let’s take from next week through Valentine’s Day. Would you join me, and consider asking a friend to join you as your accountability partner, walking in a new path, asking God for more of a heart of flesh? We’ll officially begin next week, but this week, let me get you thinking, and hopefully, stir your interest.

Salvation is both an event and a process, like a marriage begins with an event (and yes, you are really married after the wedding) but, oh, what a process in learning how to truly love. For the most part, most of you have experienced the event, and are now in process. Though we cannot change our hearts, we can cooperate with the Spirit of God and see the ice melt as His Holy Spirit breathes warmth, fire, and grace into our lives.

1. Icebreaker! 🙂  How did you see God move in your heart and life this Christmas?

2. Meditate on Ezekiel 36:26

A. What promise does God give here?

B. Who accomplishes this?

C. Share one way God has changed you, chipping away the stone from your heart, in the last few years.

Ask God to show you where He would like to do a transforming work in your life in 2011. Seek Him on this — being still before Him. You may need to come before Him several times, be alert, and patient. This is the beginning of transformation, seeking what He wants to change in you.  Let’s start with “one stone” instead of a whole quarry. You may have several stones come to mind, and you can list them here, but then let him show you where to begin. By being very specific, you are more likely to succeed. Here would be some specific examples:

A.Spending time with Him  (Then ask Him to show you how to do it for the next seven weeks)

B. Eating in a healthier way (Then ask HIm to show you how to do it for the next seven weeks)

C. Putting more edifying thoughts into your mind (Then ask him to show you how to do it for the next seven weeks)

D. Caring more for “the least of these” (Then ask Him to show you how to do it for the next seven weeks)

2. What are some possible stones that come to mind?

What stone is He leading you to tackle first? How could you be specific? Again — ask Him.

3. Who might you invite to join you in this journey? You are more apt to have success with an accountability partner. Again, ask Him,  tell us before you ask her, and let us pray.

We’ll officially begin next Sunday!





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104 comments

  1. 1. God moved in my heart and life during Christmas by showing me, nearly constantly, that He is Emmanuel. That is all I need; all the rest is simply window dressing. Even when things don’t go the way I had planned or hoped, God is with us. God is Emmanuel. He is Emmanuel not only on Christmas but every day of our journey.

    Ezekiel 36:25 says: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

    2a. God promises to replace my stony heart with a soft one of flesh.

    2b. Only God can accomplish this in my life.

    2c. God has shown me how I must have total dependence on Him and what Christ did for me on the cross, not on my own works or striving. Being in this Bible study for the past year has really helped me with this issue!

    2. I need to spend much more time with God, so this is what I choose from the list to work on over the next seven weeks. I can’t expect to be prepared for the next phases of my life if I don’t commune more with Him.

    Even though it sounds very small, I think even a goal of five minutes a day would be a good start — a planned five minutes, instead of fitting it in wherever haphazard method I have now.

    3. I am going to ask my dear friend and prayer partner Jeanne to hold me accountable.

    1. Tracy,
      You give such good answers; and I like your reminder that He is Emmanuel, not just at Christmas, but every day of the year.

      1. Thanks, Susan, for the encouragement!

  2. 1. God is moving in my life this Christmas by showing me in Romans that He is enough for me and my salvation. That I don’t have to “work” for it and by showing me how much He already REALLY does love me (not just a religious cliche, that I might as well go ahead and love Him back..that He’s worthy of any sacrifice or “loss” I might have to surrender.It’s soo ironic that you have posted this blog because the Lord has been also dealing with me and showing me that I don’t have a pure heart before Him and that I need a new heart. Can’t do anything w/o that new heart.

    2. a.God promises to give me a new heart in place of the old stony one.
    b.He is the one by His Spirit to accomplish this act.

    2C. He’s working on me again by showing me that He really is FOR me and not against me. He’s also showing me that I need to be more compassionate towards my family. A question I feel that He placed in my heart is, “Yes, you can “preach” at them, but do they really know that you love them?”

    2. A stone I need to tackle is my love life with Him and with my family. That’s a biggie for me and will take some Spirit-led, healthy confrontations in some cases, which I’m not used to doing which has caused harbored bitterness and unforgiveness in my heart. Also, my self-esteem is severely damaged and has caused me to be intimidated easily by others and compromise standards.

    3. I plan to ask my Pastor’s wife, First Lady Louis, to keep me accountable.

    1. Welcome JES, so glad you have joined us!

      1. Thank you Susan and Dee!

    2. Welcome JES

      1. Thank you Joyce!

    3. Jes, WELCOME!!! 🙂

      1. Thank you Rebecca!

    4. Welcome to the blog, JES! We are really glad to have you here. 🙂

      1. I SEE!! lol! Thanks Tracy!

    5. Dear Dee,
      I wrote my testimony in 1999-2000 and it’s theme is “A Heart of Flesh,” would you like to read it? Incidently, I attended your conference with Kathy Tricoli at Prestonwood Baptist Church and loved it! (I think around 2001) My friend Cindy then did your Bible study at her house which I also attended and I could relate to it very well. God Bless you always, love, Lisa

      1. Hi Dee,
        My name is Lisa Hudachek and I had written a year ago (time flies!) regarding my testimony relating to the scripture – heart of flesh. My web page is finally done and I would love for you to read my story if you have the time! God Bless and thanks again for your ministry. (www.christscompassion.com is my site)Love, Lisa Hudachek

    1. Dee, thanks for the guidance. I’ve always found that specificity helps so much when working on goals!

      Five reasons why I want to commune with God:

      1. He is Lord of my life and the most important One with whom I have a relationship.

      2. Spending time with Him will make me more attuned to His leading.

      3. I can pray about things on my mind instead of worrying or fretting about them.

      4. I can bring praise before Him for the ways He is working both in the lives of myself and others.

      5. I will know Him better, since He is my heavenly husband I need to do this.

      Dealing with Distractions:

      Answer with why this time with God is important, using my five reasons.

      Remind myself that God will put the other priorities into place if I make Him my ultimate priority. (As He says in Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”)

      Be more organized and make definite plans for my time. I need to stop being so haphazard with how I plan (or go without planning) anything.

      I do need prayer for when that time should be. It’s hard to figure out because there are a few options… and maybe this isn’t a bad thing because if I have a couple of suitable times, if one doesn’t work, the other one would.

    2. Thanks Dee as well for the encouragement and the challenge! 🙂

      My five reasons for showing love to my family are:

      1. Love is the mark of a true follower of Jesus (John 13:34-35). I am “Christ” to them and if all they know is hatefulness from me, then it will diminish their hope in Him.

      2. Love is more important than any “spiritual advice” I can give; it reaches further and lasts longer (I Cor. 13:8)

      3. Because Christ loves them as much as He loves me.

      4. Jesus is not glorified or pleased with anything I do that is not motivated by His love. (Matt. 9:13)

      5. To reach them for Christ

      Some Ways to Love Them Without being an Enabler

      1. Spend my spare time talking with them and getting to know them instead of being hooked to Facebook.

      2. Pray and ask God nightly to help me forgive them for not being perfect(yes, I’m serious..I’m too judgmental and critical, I know..yeeech! Lord, help me!) and thank Him for placing them in my life.

      3. Allow them to fail without condemning them or allowing anyone else to; let small offenses go nightly; confront with grace and truth, the bigger offenses that have to be addressed so that I don’t become bitter.(This has been a prob w/me in the past, as I am passive-grew up with an angry Dad who did the best he could, but was harsh and intimidating and I’m finding myself cowarding down and not saying anything when hurt, which has resulted in bitterness and built up rage inside me)

      4.Do fun activities with them instead of running off to enjoy activities with other believers all the time (sometimes are good, but not using other believers as an outlet)..ie watch good tv show together, cook together.)

      5. Hug them, laugh with them and encourage them.

      Dealing with Distractions

      1. Walk away
      2. Cry out to God and ask Him to help me to stay in His will
      3. Call accountability partner, talk with her and have her pray with me if big enough hurdle

      Just typing this has caused me to see how foolishly selfish and wrong I have been in my interactions with my family. I so desperately need a new heart and His spirit within me. Thanks ladies for all your cheerleading! It’s good to know that I’m not alone in this time of vulnerability.

      1. I think you do wonderful with your reasons, JES, I’m so impressed!

        1. Thanks Joyce for your encouragement!

        2. Thank you Ms. Dee!

  3. 1. One way God moved in my heart this Christmas was in my relationship with my husband. Our marriage has been strained for a long, long time. On Christmas Eve, after the kids were in bed, we finished wrapping presents, and then I was going to frost and decorate another batch of sugar cookies I had baked earlier that day. So at 1:30 in the morning, my husband and I were at the kitchen table decorating the cookies.
    It would’ve been so like me to “instruct” him on the proper way to do it, or to say “now don’t spread the icing like that…”, but I kept my mouth shut. I began to think thoughts like, this isn’t a romantic candlelit dinner, but he stayed up this late without being asked to help me, and so I complimented him on his efforts.
    Another thing was he had bought our sons each a gift that I wasn’t sure they should have; I thought it was too overboard, too much….I gave my opinion once but then I let it go. (instead of continuing to object, or pout, ) I saw how pleased the boys were with their gifts, too. Even though my husband isn’t a Christian, he is a good observer of people, and just understands and knows their character. He knew what would be a good gift for the boys.
    I know it sounds like little, insignificant things, but even these little steps are big for me.
    I could use alot of prayer, too, because my husband has all this week off work, so we’ll be together alot.

    1. Susan, will pray and as Dee said..YES these are huge steps..I am proud of you and encouraged at seeing how God is working in you to show Himself to your husband..Wow, God has really blessed you with an awesome mission..He put you in your husband’s life to be salt and light to him. You are doing that sister!

  4. 1. This is something I am really struggling with.. My husband has a better grasp and stronger faith in this area than I. He is content where God has him now as provider and I am still struggling..This is deep for me and hard to communicate but I will try..Not sure if it is God working or not this season but it hit especially hard over Christmas.

    God blessed me with a STRONG community of believers in Missouri at Sherwood (SBC) for 20 years..Most people who have had to leave SBC find great fellowship elsewhere..I am struggling…So I assume it is me..The best way to get into a community deeply is to serve..I don’t have time as I am serving my husband and family now.

    I am also struggling with the denominational thing..Not a big deal but God has taught me to see the streams in the river and it is hard for me to pick one.

    Perhaps my sweet sisters here can give me wise counsel. Of course, I do get a bit whiny at certain times of the month..Hate to write about that on here but I get overly dramatic and depressed once a month so I am trying to not let that cloud things. 🙂

    1. I’m praying for you, Rebecca!

      1. Tracy, That means so much to me..Thanks!

        1. You are very welcome! 🙂

  5. Rebecca, I too have ‘church’ problems. I have come to understand that some of it is me and some is them. I left one church for another that i loved only to find myself eventually unhappy there also. Many of my problems followed me :~} I wanted to leave this one too and I found it much easier to do the 2nd time but Joey was a stick in the mud. He stubbed up and refused to go anywhere. The only wise thing for me to do was give in. So I stayed for him and God began to show me some things. I was going to stop going to my small group but God spoke to me through scripture that I should continue to go. Now it is such a special group of people to me. I am never comfortable in social situations but at our Thanksgiving meal I sensed such a feeling of peace in the company of these people. Then the thing happened with Joey and he confessed to his youth leader. That was huge and I am pretty sure that if I had transplanted him when I wanted to we would not have avoided that iceberg.

    My advice would be to wait and see, unless the rest of your family also senses the need to go. If you were in a really great church before it may take a long time to get there again.

    1. Anne, I knew if you had time to give counsel it would be wise. Thanks so much. I really do think it is mostly me and also some of the trends I see happening in church in general that bug me but regardless of what is going on around me God wants me to be salt and light..To keep my eyes on Him and move forward..Not to look back but to press on..Here is a Hymn God just brought to mind:

      “Turn your eyes upon Jesus
      Look full in His wonderful face
      And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
      In the light of His glory and grace”

      1. Yes indeed Rebecca. You will bloom where He has planted you. Who knows how God will use you in this part of His body. This surrender to Him is very like opening a door to…we know not what. Great or small, what we know for sure is that He will be present there.

  6. I seen God move in my heart , not just at christmas, but since my back surgery, Nov. 18th. With Kendra being special needs and I feel responcible for her care as she was mine before we married 20 years ago, it has always been hard for me to let that go, but during my surgery and recuperation time my husband took total care of her except showers (kind of spit bathed), but helped her in the bathroom, dressing her and feeding her and entertaining her, washing her hair, taking her to the beauty shop for hair and nails…everything, he always has been wonderful with her and myself, but I put up a wall like it’s all my respeciblity to do everything for her, because God gave her to me like she is, before him. Well my wall came tumbling down for the first time then and I trying not to build it back up. He says, I appreciated him so much while we were going through that time and now I’m getting back to my old self. So since then and through christmas I’ve been trying to let him help us more. But my wall keep trying to go back up and prove I can do it all. I stuggle with this. And now, it’s been about 6 weeks since my surgey and I know my bones are not healed yet for a couple months, Dr. said, but I feel the same that I did before surgery…like the surgery never helped. I still can’t stand or walk any longer that 5 min. I feel like the Lord is trying to tell me, I can’t do it all…let him help. That I will always need help from here on out. It scares me that I can’t take care of my daughter, by myself. Why does my husband like me to have to depend on him so much, it makes me feel useless and inadequate. I feel like the Lord is keeping me disabled to get me to lean on him. I’m scared,because if I lose my husband I won’t be able to care for Kendra and I alone. My husband is not in good health. I’m trying so hard to lean on my husband and especially the Lord. Lord, please help me to tear down my wall and keep it down. With it up, we argue and I weep. Melt my cold stone heart and please give me a warm, soft heart of flesh that I can share with my husband. Why do I tend to protect my heart with a wall? I suppose because of years of abuse and hurt by men. But, I’m trying so hard, to please my husband and lean on him more. Thanks for listening.

    1. I’m praying for you to let that wall down. It’s not easy but it’s worth it.

    2. Joyce, We will lift you up in prayer sister. I am sure God loves your honesty..He has given you such a precious heart and will help you break down that wall..

      1. I’m praying so, thank you so much, Rebecca

    3. Praying for you Joyce. The Lord will walk with each of us through our deep and scary waters. Thank you for your honesty. Love to you sister.

    4. Joyce,
      I remember hearing Joni Earackson Tada (she’s a quadriplegic since a diving accident at age 17) talk once on the radio about how she needs to be fed, because she can’t use her hands. She said how it gives the other person the opportunity to serve the Lord, and her, at the same time, and how that can bless that person.
      You said in your post how your husband said you appreciated him so much during the time when he was helping….Joyce, perhaps this meets a deep need in him at this time and he is being blessed by taking over more of Kendra’s care and also helping you. By serving you and Kendra, he is feeling loved and appreciated. I think it’s in the heart of a man to “slay dragons” for the ones he loves, to be self-sacrificing; it’s how God created a man.
      I’ll be praying for you to let that wall down; for God to tear down that fortress you’ve built to protect yourself.
      You need to allow your body to heal from your surgery, and it’s okay to be concerned that your husband isn’t pushing himself too much, as you said he’s got his own health problems.
      I’m going to throw this out here – do you have any close women friends from church who may be willing to help out a couple of hours a week with Kendra, or is having a home health aide come in to help with bathing her a possibility?

      1. Thank you Susan, your post really helps me to understand better. I think that I’m helping him by doing it all, but it’s the other way around for him…he wants to feel like he is helping me and being “self-sacrificing”, like you said. Kendra wants mom to do everything for her, but in her little girl mind, but 23 yr. old body, I tried to tell her daddy loves doing things for you too and feels bad when you just want mommy to do everything for you. I think she understood, but it’s me that really needs to work on appreciating him for all that he does for “his girls”. Thank you so much for your advice.

        We have a college girl that takes her places twice a week, but it’s Kendra that begs to go home sooner than she should. The girl try’s to keep her busy shopping or a movie or library or whatever, but it’s usually around two hours. It’s not much time for me to hardly go grocery shopping. My husband and I just take turns being with her…she is never alone. I have to sneak out tho, as she always wants to be with me. I hate to do that, but it’s the only way I can get away. We don’t have any help from a home health aid, because Kendra doesn’t want anyone but me to bath her. It’s a scary problem as we are in our 60’s. My oldest daughter wants to help, but lives in CA and her husband DOES NOT want to help and I have a bachelor son that lives here in town, so that doesn’t help much. It’s my worry I keep giving over and over to the Lord and taking back again to worry some more over! But please don’t get me wrong, Kendra is our blessing from the Lord and we know it.

  7. 1. Christmas 2010 was the first peaceful Christmas I’ve had in five years. All of the devestation and pain is behind me and I chose to make some good memories with my ex this year. God answered a year-long prayer this Christmas. I called my sister and she actually answered the phone. We spoke for a few minutes and then I spoke with her daughter, my oldest niece. We have been estranged for a few years. I told her I was sorry I had lost contact with her. She said “don’t worry about it. I hope to visit you soon.” Had I not taken the risk to call one more time I would have lost a precious opportunity to reconnect with my family.
    God’s name, Immanuel, was in front of me every day this Advent and Christmas. I have been blessed by your posts my dear sisters and I prayed specifically for each one of you Christmas morning.

    1. Tammy, THANKS!! So glad to hear about that!!!! God is so good and so glad you took that step of faith..That took a lot of courage Tammy and God strengthened you to pick up that phone. I do think the enemy will attack you with shame or guilt so be prepared for that..Just continue to enjoy the restoration God has worked out between your sister and you!! Praise God! 🙂

    2. Tammy, how wonderful! I am so happy for the connection with your sister and niece. I agree with Rebecca that it could still get rocky but what progress. I will pray for an indestructible bridge.

      Thanks for praying for us.

      1. Thanks so much for praying for me! Glad to hear of your progress with your sister! That is soo encouraging!

    3. Praise God, Tammy!

    4. I’m so glad you had a peaceful Christmas! And thanks for the Christmas morning prayers. I know God answered them for me as He revealed Himself in new, beautiful ways as Emmanuel God With Us.

      Blessings,
      Tracy

  8. I used to pray for strength all the time, almost like breathing I would send up that prayer. Then one day I realized that strength was not what I needed. It was making me hard, self sufficient behind my wall. Now I am learning to lean. It scares me. It humbles me. It frees me.

    1. Anne, This wisdom you have shared is so timely as wisdom usually is..Something for me to meditate on tonight. Interesting how God is using this blog in my life in so many ways..Today was meant for me to listen..

  9. The most remarkable thing about this Christmas has been Al. We spent Christmas Eve with him. We met his girlfriend, spent the evening with a family special to him since high school. I was amazed at the young man he has become, the girl that seems to love him and the family that obviously loves him. He is amazing and I could not see it. I will stop worrying and let God have this young man. What do I not see in Joey? In my husband? Lord give me eyes to see the work of Your hands.

  10. 2a. God promises a new spirit and a new heart.

    b. God accomplishes this.

    c. Since 12/07 God has been chipping away at my heart of stone and giving me a heart of flesh toward my husband. He has given me eyes to see how I have hurt him at times and enabled me to truly mourn over having hurt him.

    3a. I think that God would call me to spend consistent daily time in prayer. After thinking about this I went to my daily reading and the first verse I read was Zechariah 10:1 Ask the LORD for rain in the season of spring rain. The LORD makes the rain clouds, and He will give them showers of rain and crops in the field for everyone.

    I wonder how I will have an accountability partner in this. Perhaps I could type my prayer each morning and share with the blog. I like this idea because they could also join me in the prayers.

    b. My relationship with my husband still needs much work but I wonder if consistent prayer may be the answer rather than coming up with a plan for what ‘I will do’.

    Lord please show me, what stone of the many You would tackle first.

    1. Anne, you are so dedicated to the Lord and your family; your helping me to have a heart of flesh also to my husband. And I like your idea, as I have no one to be accountable to either. And, I think consistant prayer IS the only answer.

        1. I see what you mean Dee. I will pray for such a friend nearby. My mother had 3 close friends right in our neighborhood when I was growing up. What a blessing! They were closer to us than family. One family for each of us kids.

  11. 2. Meditate on Ezekiel 36:26

    A. What promise does God give here? A new spirit and a new heart.

    B. Who accomplishes this? God does.

    C. Share one way God has changed you, chipping away the stone from your heart, in the last few years.

    * Over the years after we were married I added more stone to the heart God was already chipping away at..It had to do with discontentment which developed into anger. It started with having a son with Autism and me wanting to fix it, then a son with Aspergers, then a husband whose business went under…So I allowed anger to creep in..It was slow and deceptive..The past two years He has really brought to my attention the extent of my anger and brought me to repentance, helped me to turn. It has been a slow process and by His power I am doing a lot better with it..There are several verses He reminds me of that come to mind when the temptation of a flare up comes..It usually starts with a critical spirit..Especially when the boys are testing me. Love is the mark of a Christian and unrighteous anger or a critical spirit can set root and cause our lamps to dim..

  12. I have been asking God about this..There are many that pop to mind right away..Areas I know I need him to chip away at..I think one area he is working on in me is what Anne mentioned above. This one tends to jump out at me so far this week. Learning to lean rather than ask for strength..

  13. 2. Meditate on Ezekiel 36:26

    Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

    I looked up a cross-reference for “heart of stone” in Zechariah 7:12, which says, “and they made their hearts like flint (corundum) so that they could not hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets…”

    I looked up the word “corundum” and found it is a rock forming mineral, the second hardest mineral found in nature (diamond was first). It is commonly used as an abrasive. However, the red corundum is what we call a ruby.

    A. God promises to remove my heart of stone, and give me a new heart, one made of flesh, and to put a new spirit within me.

    B. God does the work.

    It strikes me that the thing we never need God’s help in doing is in making our hearts hard. The verse in Zechariah tells me that when I harden my heart like that rock, I cannot hear God’s Word, nor the promptings of His Spirit.

    C. I believe God is showing me more and more of my own pride and selfishness and self-centeredness. How I always used to think it was the other person who had the problem, who was to blame, who was slighting me, but now I see when I look at other people and circumstances through the lenses of my own self-centeredness, it always appears as if they are the enemy and I am the “victim”, and then I feel sorry for myself and it just becomes more of all about me.

    Letting go of my expectations of others in my life, wanting them to be how I want them to be and act, and accepting them for who they are. I’m always looking to others to meet some deep, unmet need inside of me, and as a result, I’m often let-down and disappointed. I am seeing more and more that God is the only One who can meet my deepest needs.

  14. I’m still praying about one specific “stone” to work on for the next 7 weeks. I have so many! Some that come to mind are having a CONSISTENT time with God every day; I would eventually like to reach the place spiritually where I sense God’s presence all throughout the day, and it would be like a continuous flowing of communing with Him all during the day. Prayer would be just a natural thing, like breathing; talking to Him all throughout the day.
    Another stone is my marriage, and being a better wife. Then there’s my lack of organization, and getting a handle on my housework.

    This is really helping me, though, as Dee said we don’t have to start with a whole quarry! That’s when I feel buried and just want to give up altogether.

    Also, Dee, the specific suggestions you gave to Tracy and JES really show me how to set a goal. How to narrow it down into measurable things, like set a specific time of day (instead of “in the morning”), list 5 reasons I want to spend time with God. And how Tracy set an initial time of 5 minutes. Those are all concrete, specific things that can be written down and followed.
    And the suggestion to have an answer ready when the enemy tries to distract. Maybe even having a verse written down on a card to read aloud when the flaming arrows come.

    I think that’s why I have tried, and failed, so many times, because I don’t have a prayerful, written-out plan that is specific.

  15. 2. What are some possible stones that come to mind? (Oh MY!! There are many!)

    * I think I am struggling with being in denial in some areas..

    * Still praying for my first one to work on, but here are some issues, and God may bring others up later on, that I know are caused by some stones..Not sure what the stones are yet that are causing these:

    *Lack of perseverance in several areas perhaps brought on by a ‘dark cloud’ hovering over my head that I keep putting up.

    *Waves of discontentment as a housewife. I am by nature a person who loves life, excitement, goals, accomplishing things, creatively-writing, singing and learning my guitar….enjoying the gifts God has given me and enjoying sharing them with others..Yet God has me here right now..The doer/adventurist in a mundane lifestyle..There are many times I feel stuck in these four walls..You see, there I go whining and not looking at the blessings God has given me. I hate this stone of discontentment..:)

    3. Who might you invite to join you in this journey? You are more apt to have success with an accountability partner. Again, ask Him, tell us before you ask her, and let us pray.

    * I do have a couple of women in mind I am praying about. One in Particular that my husband and I have re-connected with-her and her husband. We meet on Sunday evenings as often as we can. I have already told her about this blog study and she is interested.

  16. I am still thinking and praying about what the Lord would change in me.

    Here is a measurable thing that I could do. I usually do spend time in morning prayer but I tend to pray for the same things each day and I really have trouble focusing. I could each morning before I leave the house list 5 things to be thankful for. They would have to be different each day and written down. I think this would really lift my eyes. I have an idea for a partner too.

  17. Here is one more wonderful Christmas song before we leave the season. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWBKqAEy4uA

  18. Several “stones” I know need chipping away at…

    A big one is my thought-life; in the past few months I have had increasing difficulty keeping out ungodly thoughts; I also tend to “day-dream” and fantasize….I read Rebecca’s post above about discontentment with being a housewife. I only work one day a week, and I don’t know if I get bored with the same things every day, like cleaning bathrooms, doing laundry, etc…. but I tend to let my mind just wander. I will be real honest here, maybe I shouldn’t, but, because my marriage has been unfulfilling, I have had problems in the past about fantasizing about other men, even a man I “make-up” in my own mind, like, the ideal husband. Or I can dredge up past grievances with others and go over that in my mind. I don’t want to have a depraved mind. I have a much easier time with my outward behavior than with my inner thought life.

    Another is buried anger and resentment, mostly toward my husband.

    There is one person in my close family of whom I am jealous.

    I don’t know if spending consistent time daily with God will help change these things? How many times have I spent a long prayer time with God in the morning, only to find myself, two hours later, acting like a shrew?! How do you come up with a plan for an attitude that needs to be changed?

    1. Susan, You are so much like me and in the same place I am in so many areas. I am sure all of us can relate to much of what you are saying! 🙂

      Wow, I am so there with you on acting like a shrew two hours after spending time with God in His word and in prayer.. Our life in Christ is a process and it is a battle..Sometimes certain sin-attitude issues take a long time, sometimes all of a sudden, I get it..Some are like HUGE elephants in the room and I am too stubborn to see it or let go of it..Even then as God gives me victory over the bondage of a big one like he did with anger, I still struggle with it from time to time, but the difference is is that it doesn’t define me here at home like it used to..Yes, I still struggle not to lose it with my kids, and sometimes I do but it is very rare compared to when it had a hold on my heart. I do know though that if I take my eyes off of Jesus it can rear it’s ugly head and over time take hold of my heart again so I have to have my armor on.

      I keep reminding myself of what Dee said in the past..Not sure I have it totally quoted right, but that we love, but not perfect, we serve but not perfectly..we grow in the Lord but we won’t be perfect until He comes..The battle does increase over time..And God has given us His word, His Holy Spirit and each other’s encouragement to fight it.

  19. Here is what God is showing me this morning brought on by a series of things, actually over the past year and recently due to time spent in His word and then I receive this in my inbox from a friend..I have to add I don’t agree with everything he says, but some of this hit home with me. I have always ‘known’ this and by His grace lived it, but got lost along the way..I will post a clip:

    “Your life is what true ministry is all about. It is not something that you “go and do.” It is who you are as our Father lives His life in and through you. Your daily sacrifice is what true ministry is all about. To give your life as a living sacrifice to God is a tremendous amount of hardship, care, burden, heartache, difficulty, trial and inconvenience.

    Anyone can participate in a religious activity, “Christian service”, for an hour or two here and there and go home and relax; but true ministry is about LIFE, it is sacrificially lived in real life – in our homes, at work, at play, anywhere we are – every day.

    Sacrificial living is about your Father doing His work in you. It is not about recognition, display, grandeur or applause. It is about responsibility, devotedness and faithfulness “in a few things” and with those who have the appearance of being “least of these.” There are many places of pretense of ministry; but your daily life is EXACTLY where Dad is doing His work –in those circumstances and activities that might appear to you to be just the daily duties of routine.”

    Here is another clip:

    “What we are talking about here is the real work of God in our lives – Everyday real. Painfully real. Routinely real. Monotonously real – but nonetheless the REAL work of God!

    For the most part, in this life you will go overlooked, unrecognized, unappreciated and un-thanked. This is par for the carnal course, but do not let this discourage you from your GREAT ministry. One day all the things of this life will be brought into the light. So,

    “… Don’t be weary in well doing: for in due season you will reap, if you faint not” (Galatians 6:9).”

    Bottom line: I have been caught up in the ‘performance’, ‘doer’ trap for MANY years at church. As a new believer I was focused on ‘being’, and an extension of that was unreservedly serving my brothers and sisters as God provided the opportunities. As time went on I got caught up in the ‘doing’ at church, even after I was trained by one of the older Navigators..the original ones who sat under Dawson Trotman..I mean this woman was a gift to me as a young believer..I grew to desire applause/approval from her..Not her fault but I longed to hear her say I was her spiritual prodigy again and again..haha! sorry..i find that humorous now. It is so easy when you sing or teach over time to desire applause, approval..atta boy..it is so easy to fall into the trap of carnality… To be with the most spiritual in church..to be looked upon that way. This is embarrassing to admit, but this is what God is showing me.

    This is why there has been a stirring in my heart in regard to church, in regard to serving in church singing..I would rather be silent and never be able to sing or teach again if my motives are self-serving.”

    In regard to the condition of my heart..God is gently unveiling the stone..Not sure if it is pride or seeking mans approval over Gods yet or not..Do I hide behind that? seeking approval from others..a way to ‘be known’ in my new church.

    I haven’t dug deep enough to uncover exactly the root of this stone..I do think it is a MONSTER of one though..I am thankful God has come slow and merciful to me to reveal this place in my heart. I want it off..Gone..I want to be closer to Jesus and my confidence I want to be in Him, NOT in me..I want to surrender this but I know it will take time.

  20. Sorry this is so long..I went in circles as I usually do when I try to explain things. I totally forgot to share He is showing me to be content in the mundane here at home..This is His ministry for me where He wants me to serve..My husband and children..It is here at home right now.

      1. Dee, I am almost finished with the book I mentioned earlier, and am ready to look for another one to start. I looked through your book recommendations and found one by Tim Keller called “Counterfeit Gods”..And as I read how it ministered to you, I saw that it is possible I could have an idol issue that is the stone God may want to show me in regard to approval.. Hmmm…something to ponder on, but I have been dying to read “Prodigal God” as well.

  21. What I truly like about this blog is the honesty and vulnerability of you ladies. We cry out because our hearts are made of stone. My heart also is made of stone at times, in fact, as Dee said, sometimes we have a whole quarry to deal with – where do you even begin?

    I don’t which one God would have me deal with now, one of my bigger stones is having an “inordinate” sense of wanting to belong, of not feeling like I really belong. I know when I am tired or vulnerable or hurt this is where I come back to. It is a sore spot in my life and it is where the devil and my own thoughts attack me. I feel my walls go up and have the “fight or flight” syndrome. I know these are just feelings and I don’t usually go “here” anymore, but once in a while, I feel these feelings again and it threatens to crush my heart.

    As I sit here, and think about that, what I think about is that there were seeds planted that were not true, and I need to let the gardener pull those weeds and plant new seeds. I may have to remove myself from a situtation – I don’t want to do things quickly – I want to pray about it and make sure that is what God would have me do.

  22. Fellowsojourner, I also treasure the honesty here and the ability to share my heart too. It is also wonderful how we minister to each other. While the teacher said that there is nothing new under the sun, this seems new and healthy to me. I do sense the enemy hard at work to stop the healing taking place here. By that I mean that I find myself always worrying that I have said something I should not say, ‘talked too much’ or that I have hurt or alienated others. That is a stronghold for me because I very often do just that. Now I am rambling so I will stop.

    Whatever has to be done in our hearts, He will do. Our job is to seek Him and obey. I find comfort in this.

    1. Anne, I have this issue too: “I find myself always worrying that I have said something I should not say, ‘talked too much’ or that I have hurt or alienated others.” Me too..I also must add that I am TOO wordy and I veer off the topic a lot so I am trying to spend more time editing, but usually end up running out of time. 🙂

      1. Rebecca and Anne, I don’t think you talk too much. I like your thoughtful ponderings and questions. Many, I think here, have similiar thoughts and feelings. God promises to draw near to us as we draw near to him, this I believe is what you do! 🙂

  23. I’ve thought about posting every day this week, but I am STUCK… buried under a quarry full of stones. Because I am buried, I may need to start small (even the small stuff doesn’t seem small right now). When I feel overwhelmed with responsibilities or deadlines, I sometimes do nothing (i.e., sleep or stare at the computer screen/mindlessly surf Internet). I’d like to develop a habit of turning to the Lord during those times and to develop a more consistent pace in EVERYTHING (the quarry again) rather than fluctuating between “burning the candle at both ends” and “burning out.” I guess I’ll stop here 🙂 (have written more and deleted it several times and am back to staring at the computer screen).

    1. Renee, I always like it when you jump in!! 🙂

    2. Renee, I also have a problem with shutting down when overwhelmed. I love the way you describe it! Maybe love is not the right word. How about I can relate. What you say is true. Every time I bring this to the Lord, He helps me. The important stuff gets done and the unimportant is seen for what it is. God is so good. The load that He has given us is not heavy.

  24. God has brought that friend I mentioned earlier into this study. She is going to do it with me and be my accountability or encouragement partner-however you want to say it.. We will meet face to face when we can and then and also text and e-mail..She travels a lot for her job and I am usually very busy so this works out great for us! God brought her to mind..She is VERY sharp, godly and VERY transparent. I am looking forward to the face to face times we can have as we go over this..I am not sure if she will comment here or not, but she will be doing the study here with us. 🙂

  25. I gave myself the gift of time off from work this week and have spent alot of time thinking about my stones. One stone God has been chipping away is my tendency to keep everything inside. This blog is a safe place and I find myself wanting to be transparent with all of you. I don’t want to be secretive anymore for I have learned the enemy gets fuel for the fire when I keep secrets. I too appreciate the honesty here. Your expressed needs drove me to lift you up in prayer as I worked throughout this year. For the first time in a long time I was not consumed with myself and my painful circumstances.

    The first stone in my quarry that I want to remove is the stone of procrastination. I was convicted today listening to a sermon on the radio as I was returning home after running errands. James tells us bluntly that when you know what to do and you don’t do it you are sinning. I have been deceiving myself when I keep telling myself I’ll start tomorrow with ….. and tomorrow comes and I repeat the same lie for I never really start and stay consistent.

    I like Dee’s statement that it takes thirty days to forge a new path. I’m ready to begin forging my path. I know I have alot of brush to clear.

    HAPPY NEW YEAR BELOVED FRIENDS!!!

  26. 1. How did you see God move in your heart and life this christmas?
    I got stuck on this question and couldn’t get past it as I have been so depressed through christmas untill now. I was having a pity party all by myself! I’ve been grieving for my sister-in-law and brother, as she is getting worse in the nursing home and now he has to decide “feeding tube or no feeding tube” and “do not recesitate”. He’s beside himself in pain and sorrow. If you have any comments as far as decisions like this, please e-mail me at: maurjoy@charter.net.
    Another depressing thing this christmas for me was that my oldest daughter moved much, much further away from us with her husband a couple months ago and she was the one going to help us with Kendra as we aged, but her husband doesn’t want her to help anyway.
    Also, after my back surgery, my back is no better. I can’t stand or walk any longer than 5 min’s at a time without awful pain, just as it was before surgery. I wanted so badly to just be able to go for a walk, but it will probly be with a walker. This is a hard one for my to swallow, as I am Kendra’s caretaker, and it gets harder and harder for me to help her.

    2.A and B has been answered so well and I have meditated on Ezekiel 25:26 and do understand it.

    C.God has changed me, chipping away the stones from my heart the last few years. One of them is asking my husband and leaning on him for help more. I can’t “do it all” as I have always tried to before. But in order to do this I’m especially leaning on the Lord. I’m standing firm on God’s word and have faith in him, because his strength is my strength and if I stay in his presence I will overcome my burdens.

    So, I have been seeking God for the answer to what he wants to change in me. I have so many stones to change, but the “one stone” that is the most important is “spending time with God”
    I felt God telling my heart to spend more time praying, reading the word, memorizing verses, listening and singing to gospel songs and reading my christian books. That means turning the TV off and less time on the computor with usless things, (not this blog!)
    I already do these things with the Lord through out my day, between helping Kendra and daily chores, but I need to set aside at least an hour of my time daily for him. The enemy does constantly try to draw my attention away all the time to different things. What I really want is to stive to always be in a prayerful mind and communication with God through out all my days. I want to breath him in with every breath I take, like the song Lynn Cooper sings “Every move I make”. Love that song.
    Also, I want to cast my burdens on the Lord daily. Instead of reaching in fear, respond in faith.

    I’m still praying for the 5 reasons why I want to commune with the Lord daily and put them on a index card and read it twice a day. I will be glad to share them with you, when I’m ready. Also, I am thinking about answers I have to defeat the enemy and distractions. So much to pray about!

    HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL MY SISTERS IN CHRIST! Love you all!

    1. Oh Joyce I am praying you will soon see results from your surgery. It can take 6 months to a year to recover from surgery. I don’t know if you should be seeing some improvement by now though. Lord, please bring healing to Joyce but help her also to allow her husband to participate in Kendra’s care. May he and Kendra find those things that they do well together. May they grow closer together in the process. I’m so sorry for the disappointment of her other daughter moving farther away but even so I know that You have a plan for this family. Help Joyce to think of You and pray to You throughout her day. May her mind be stayed on You in everything that she does. Amen

      1. Thank you, Anne, you are such a sweetheart, your prayers mean so much to me.

        1. Thank you, dee, this verse does help. My Dr. says it will take time and I need to walk or swim everyday. It’s ice and snowpacked her in NE, so I will get my treadmill out and join the wellness pool. Thank you all for your prayers.

    2. Joyce,

      My thoughts are also with you today; you have an awful lot on your plate right now. I’m sure your heart aches for your brother and sister-in-law, and now you are missing having your own daughter close by. Add to that your physical pain and responsibilities with Kendra.

      I, too, along with Dee – have you asked your doctor if this is normal – what does he say?

      Praying for you, for the Lord to send you encouragement today.

    3. Susan, thank you so much for e-mailing me with idea’s about getting help with Kendra. I appreciate it so much.

  27. Happy new year, my sisters! May God bless all of us with a really awesome year in which we grow in amazing ways on Him!

    Love in Christ,
    Tracy

  28. Rebecca,

    I read through your above post where you shared clips from an email from a friend. There was alot of good wisdom in there. That the Christian life, the life of God lived out and through us, is done in our daily lives. Wow – it’s how I take care of my home, treat my next door neighbor, play with my daughter, cook a meal for my family, visit my parents and help them, pray for others in my home.

    I’ve heard some great pastors, like Charles Stanley, talk about their mothers and grandmothers. His mother had to go to work to support them full-time when he was very young, as his father died. I don’t think she had time to be “out” doing ministry work, but he learned so much from her, and he remembers her praying for him every night.

    Thanks for sharing that.

  29. A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!

    Our Father God,

    All of us have shared our “stones”, and so many of us feel we have a whole quarry of them. We are even anxious about knowing which one to deal with first. Lord, we are hauling around a big bag of stones, and You never intended us to carry these burdens! You offer to carry our loads, and Jesus said, that His yoke is light.
    The enemy would like us to feel overwhelmed and buried and to feel like giving up. Please give each of us clear direction and help us to take the first small step.
    In Jesus’ Name,
    Amen

  30. Hey ladies..My accountability partner and I have started doing this study together offline.. God has us in a ‘good start’ already!!

    Not sure how that will work doing it both here and privately with my friend..Will pray about that..She and I both strongly believe God has put us together for this season of encouragement to one another!! I am so excited to see how God has moved and how He will continue to in this study! 🙂

    1. Glad to hear about your good start!

  31. 1. How did you see God move in your heart and life this Christmas?

    2. Meditate on Ezekiel 36:26

    A. What promise does God give here?
    God promises to give me a new heart and to put a new spirit within me. He will take my heart of stone and in its place give me a heart of flesh.

    B. Who accomplishes this?
    God alone can accomplish this.

    C. Share one way God has changed you, chipping away the stone from your heart, in the last few years.

    Last year, a week before Christmas, my husband left me. He moved out and filed for divorce on the same day without even giving separation a thought. I prayed and fasted asking the Lord to please intervene. I begged my husband to reconsider. There was no explanation except that he wanted a new life that did not include me or our two “teenage” children. I know that I could have easily let my heart turn to stone and refuse to feel anything because the pain was (and is) so great. But God has given me an even greater love for my husband than I had when we were still married. I am filled with compassion for him and I am believing that God will intervene and that my husband will come to salvation and return to us.
    2. What are some possible stones that come to mind?

    Possible stones would be showing more love to my children by not “demanding my own way” – I see that I can be very manipulative at times. Another stone would be to eat healthier and take better care of myself.

    What stone is He leading you to tackle first? I feel like He is leading me to do both – show greater love to my children and take better care of myself.

    I have a plan in place (with a group from our local house of prayer to start a detox diet tomorrow – we will meet weekly to hold each other accountable, etc.)

    Spending more time in the Word and in God’s presence will be the starting place for loving more and being less selfish and controlling.

    3. Who might you invite to join you in this journey? You are more apt to have success with an accountability partner. Again, ask Him, tell us before you ask her, and let us pray.

    I will pray about who I might have join me on this journey.

    1. So glad you have joined us Paige!! I can relate to what you are going through and it is good to see your desire is to focus on your relationship with Jesus.. 🙂

  32. Well, I am not sure if it’s too late to join in–I’m a newbie! These exercises have been challenging and convicting!
    1. God moved in my heart and life this Christmas by breaking my heart for the needy and orphaned children in the world. I asked my husband and kids to not give me any presents, even stocking stuffers, and my husband joined me–on Christmas day we sat down with the kids and chose “gifts” from Samaritan’s purse to give to the needy (goats, etc…)

    It felt like a gift He gave me to move in my heart this way because without the distractions, for the first time in my 33 years as a Christian, I felt more able to receive HIM this Christmas.

    2. Meditate on Ezekiel 36:26

    A. He promises to give me a NEW heart, of flesh, by first removing my heart of stone.

    B. God alone.

    C. I am increasingly aware of the way I place myself on the throne of my heart, guarding my idols of control and approval, and comfort. I hear the fear in me disguised as criticism at my family…fear of losing control.

    The stone that keeps coming back to mind, I feel even ashamed of. It is the way I relate to my elementary aged daughter. We have always struggled, or rather I have. I do believe she is happy with our relationship and feels loved by me, but I struggle in my heart with feelings of irritation, frustration, and I know I do not show a patience and unconditional love that I long to give.

    1. Welcome Elizabeth!!! Glad to have you doing this study with us!! 🙂

  33. Here are some of my comments from last week’s blog post:

    How did you see God move in your heart and life this Christmas?
    • God has been drawing me to him throughout the Christmas season. He made me aware of his presence through the sights and sounds of Christmas all around me. When I hear a Christmas carol on the radio or in church or when I play a CD, I think about Him in a different way… that he was born to die, to give everything he had for us. When I consider what he faced in his life on earth, I realize how blessed I am to have a husband that is committed to Him, a family that loves and appreciates me, granddaughters that remind me that God’s love is unconditional and sweet and fun…a job I enjoy, good health, a home that I love, pets, clothes to wear, food to eat and freedom in America to worship him and to enjoy life in a way that I take for granted. Over Christmas, God has reminded me to be thankful for my many blessings.

    God promises that HE will take away my stony heart and give me a heart of flesh!

    Share one way God has changed you, chipping away the stone from your heart, in the last few years.
    • God has given me a love for people combined with a unique opportunity to travel and meet and befriend people from other countries. During my travels, I have seen the excitement of people in China and the Middle East when they notice my cross and ask if I am a Christian. They are so excited to meet a Christian from America and are so happy to tell me that they too are believers. Experiences like this make me realize how blessed I am to live in a country of religious freedom and opportunity and to be aware of my faith regardless of my surroundings, i.e., at work when someone makes fun of Christians, to let them know that I am one – and to show them love and give them a new idea of what Christians are (and are not like). Another way God has chipped away at my stony heart is through my oldest granddaughter Becca. She will be 5 this month and has such a sweet, pure faith to the best of her understanding. She will remind me to pray and tell me when a word I use isn’t nice (I don’t swear, but I will say the words “stupid” or “butt”). She tells me that she loves everyone because Jesus loves everyone. Just yesterday, I took her to Monkey Business and watched her sweet little ways of befriending other kids, helping them up if they got knocked down, including them in her play, etc. It was so natural and easy… the way it should be for adults.

    What are some possible stones that come to mind?
    • Disappointment and discouragement at home when I don’t feel that I get the support/help I need or when I am overworked, over-stretched and just plain tired.
    • Laziness – spending mind-numbing time watching tv or sleeping (from being overwhelmed)
    • Not spending focused, regular time with God
    • Not consistent with healthy lifestyle, eating and exercising

    What stone is He leading you to tackle first? How could you be specific? Again — ask Him.
    • I believe he is leading me to work on my stony heart in the area of disappointment and discouragement, but all my stones are inter-related. In making a new commitment to this Bible Study and to regular reading and praying my attitudes and behaviors will change. I need to
    “turn my eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face” and not get stuck in laziness or apathy. I also need to trust HIM to change my stony heart and not lean on my own understanding. I need to give my disappointment and discouragement to HIM and rest in HIM. I need to develop an intimacy with God regardless of what life or family or friends throw my way.

    How can I be specific?
    o Plan a daily time with God to read and pray.
    o Set limits, say no when needed, take the time I need to rest and refresh.
    o Set goals for things I need to accomplish, especially during busy times when I know I will be overwhelmed. Maybe a daily schedule will help, a few small things that add up at the end of the week.
    o Thank God daily for my many blessings in my marriage, home, work and the blessings of good Christian friends (focus on the positive, not the negative).
    o Ask God to show me my stony heart and be encouraged in his promise to change it!
    o Take the time to exercise regularly (3-4 times/week) regardless of my schedule. (take time for me).

    Thank you to Rebecca for inviting me to this study. I also invited the ladies from our couples small group and one (Angela Denise) has committed to joining :).