girltalk Blog

Nov 10

Personal Reflection Part Four

2005 at 10:25 am   |   by Kristin Chesemore Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Spiritual Growth

I spend most of my days joyfully chasing three small boys. However, there are some days when I’m the one who wants to run away and hide in the bathroom. For those of us mothers with young children, the desire to “escape” and find comfort, relief, and pleasure in something other than God is a pronounced temptation. But all of us can succumb to this ungodly way of dealing with trials, both big and small. In this portion of his Personal Reflection, Dr. Powlison will offer us a guide to how, “Faith works out into a right longing to escape trouble and to help others in their troubles.” (Click here to read the previous posts in this series.)

Personal Reflection, cont.
by Dr. David Powlison

Escapism

1. Ponder the following passages from Psalm 31.

“In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge…Into your hand I commit my spirit…You have seen my affliction; you have known the troubles of my soul…Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress. My eye is wasted away from grief…Make your face to shine upon your servant; save me in your lovingkindness. How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you have wrought for those who take refuge in you, before the sons of men! You hide them in the secret place of your presence from the conspiracies of man; you keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues…Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the LORD.”

Read it over 3-4 times. Take it slowly. Emphasize different sentences, phrases, words. Notice the troubles he faces, and how open he is about his experience. Jesus quoted this psalm as he was dying. Notice also how persistently he calls on the character and promises of God. What most strikes you about this passage as you think about it in comparison to the “false refuges” where you tend to turn when the heat is on?

2. Now work through our six questions.

Situtation:
What difficult circumstances trigger your avoidance and escapism?

________________________________________________________________________

Reaction: How do you tend to express pleasure-, safety-, and comfort-seeking (thoughts and fantasies, ‘addictions, ‘vices’, emotions, behavioral choices to avoid or procrastinate)?

________________________________________________________________________

Motive:
What “false refuges” do you flee to? What things, activities, and feelings do you turn into your god, your strong tower of safety, your comforter from trouble?

________________________________________________________________________

Message: What specific things does God reveal about Himself (right in this passage), that bid to do battle with your escapism? ______________________________. Fan out into the surrounding sentences, backwards and forwards into the psalm.

Turn:
Bring the real you, in your real world, to this real Savior and Father. Have a real conversation about what matters. Talk to God about all these things. Look how honest David (and Jesus) are in this psalm. They honestly experience the difficult circumstances, and come to God about these experiences, interacting with specific things about God.

Respond: What are you now called to do (and to not do)? What specific action will express how faith-working-through-love replaces false-refuge-working-through escapism? What are innocent pleasures? What can and should you do right now? Or when you get back home later today? Or tomorrow when you face your typical difficulties?

________________________________________________________________________

3. Worship is the opposite of being an escaper and false refugee.
What “consolations to delight your soul” do the hymns, (“Jesus what a friend for sinners” & “How firm a foundation” ) offer, give, proclaim, embrace, hope in, delight in?

Nov 9

Personal Reflection Part Three

2005 at 9:49 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Spiritual Growth

The girls and I planned who would post this week by determining which topic was most applicable to each of us, so that we could provide a personal introduction. I had a difficult time choosing, because I struggle—equally I think—with all three of these sins. (By the way, if you are checking out the blog for the first time this week, you will need to read Monday and Tuesday’s entries to understand what I’m talking about.) Needless to say, I am benefiting greatly from Dr.Powlison’s invaluable biblical counsel. In fact, so much so, I have taken a brief detour from my normal study during my morning devotions and I’m studying this material instead.

Speaking of detours, we will not be doing our normal Q & A post today. We think that the wisdom Dr. Powlison is providing will serve to answer many of the questions we receive far better than we could. We hope you agree and we pray that you are benefiting from this rich counsel as much as we are!

Personal Reflection, cont.
by David Powlison

Anger

1. Ponder the following passage from Ephesians.

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Ephesians 4:29-5:2).

Read it over 3-4 times. Take it slowly. Emphasize different sentences, phrases, words. Where do you tend to misfire in this area? Notice how God boxes us in: you can’t “keep to yourself” (bitterness), or “go to the other person” (wrath and anger), or “go to other people” (clamor and slander)! We are driven to deal with our attitudes before God, and then deal constructively and mercifully with others. Notice how persistently Paul puts specifics about the Lord into the picture. He knows we need strong and sweet-tasting medicine in order to deal with anger. What most strikes you about this passage?

2. Now work through our six questions.

Situation: What circumstances trigger your anger or complaining? What pushes your buttons?

________________________________________________________________________

Reaction: How do you express anger (thoughts, emotions, actions)?

________________________________________________________________________

Motive: What are your “buttons”?
I want _____________________.
I must have____________________.
At all costs, I don’t want _______________ and must avoid it.

Message: What specific things does God reveal about Himself (right in this passage), that bid to do battle with your angry reactions?

________________________________________________________________________

You might also start to fan out into the surrounding sentences in Ephesians.

Turn: Bring the real you in your real world to this Savior and Father. Have a conversation about what matters. Talk to God about these things. It is a huge step to verbalize out loud that our “buttons” (idols, cravings) are core sins, and to verbalize that we need the very mercies that are held out as our example. Christ is not a “model” that we watch from afar and then seek to emulate. Rather, he actually treats us with mercy, so we experience his mercy. By doing mercy to us, he teaches us up close and personal to show mercy to others.

Respond: What are you now called to do (and to not do)? What specific actions express how faith-working-through-love replaces craving-working-through-anger? What can and must you do right now that is merciful? Or when you get back home later today?

________________________________________________________________________

3. Worship is the opposite of anger & grumbling.
What “consolations to delight your soul” do the hymns, (“Jesus, what a friend for sinners” & “How firm a foundation”) offer, give, proclaim, embrace, hope in, delight in?

Nov 8

Personal Reflection Part Two

2005 at 4:29 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Spiritual Growth

This Personal Reflection on anxiety is excellent application of the little paragraph that we read this morning. I call this a “sit down and stay a while” kind of post. I would encourage each of you to set aside some time to work through this material. Don’t read it and quickly move on. There isn’t one of us who can claim innocence when it comes to the sin of anxiety. Dr. Powlison is both direct and gentle in his words as he leads us through a Scriptural perspective and a plan of action for change. I am so grateful for this material as I daily fight my own battle against anxiety.

So have a seat, (at this point, I would also recommend getting your favorite snack), and ask the Lord to speak to you as you read.

Personal Reflection, cont.
by David Powlison

Anxiety

1. Ponder the following passage from Psalm 94.

“When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, your consolations delight my soul” (Psalm 94:19).

Read it over 3-4 times. Take it slowly. Emphasize different words and phrases. Where do you tend to misfire regarding worry, fear, uncertainty, obsession? What most strikes you now as you think about how this voice of faith talks about his experience of both anxiety and the Lord?

2. Now work through our six questions.

Situation: What circumstances tend to arouse your specific worries and preoccupations?

________________________________________________________________________

Reaction: How does anxiety typically show up in you? (thought patterns, feelings, behaviors, inner obsession)

________________________________________________________________________

Motive: What erases God from your universe, hijacking the controls of your heart? Get as specific as possible. Our lusts and lies are evasive and deceitful, but to identify them is like publishing a picture of your enemy.

I want __________________________________________.
I fear (don’t want) _______________________________.
I believe ________________________________________.
If only ________________________, then everything would be fine.

Message: What specific “consolations” bid to delight you and reclaim you? Start to branch out from Psalm 94:19, working backwards and forwards into the surrounding sentences. What brought this worried man delight? You might also consider Psalm 103, Numbers 6:24-26, or Exodus 34:5-10 to prime your pump.

________________________________________________________________________

Turn: Bring the real you, in your real world, to your real Savior. Weave together situation, reaction, motive, and message. Pick one specific “consolation” to focus on. Have an honest conversation with your Father about what matters—out loud, not just spinning words within the anxious chambers of your mind! Honor Him. Give Him thanks. Need Him. Ask. Plead. Confess. Delight. Notice. Remember.

Respond: What are you now called to do (and to not do)? What specific actions will express how faith-working-through-love replaces idolatry-working-through-worry? What exactly can and should you do right now? Later today? Tomorrow?

________________________________________________________________________

3. Worship is the opposite of anxiety.
What “consolations to delight your soul” do the hymns, (“Jesus, what a friend of sinners” & “How firm a foundation”) offer, give, proclaim, embrace, hope in, delight in?

Nov 7

Personal Reflection Part One

2005 at 3:52 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Spiritual Growth

This first portion of Dr. Powlison’s Personal Reflection is an introduction, and includes some general comments on biblical change in the areas of anxiety, anger, and escapism. As with all of Dr. Powlison’s writings, these words are infused with grace and the hope for change that comes from the gospel.

At the conclusion, Dr. Powlison encourages an unusual and yet extremely helpful reading (and singing along with!) several well-known hymns. You can click on the link to view the hymns and then follow Dr. Powlison’s suggestions. These hymns provide a wonderful picture, a model of a heart transformed by God’s truth. If your experience is anything like mine, you’ll never read hymns or psalms the same way again!

Personal Reflection
by Dr. David Powlison

Anxiety, anger, and escapism are common life problems, in both senses of ‘common’: everyday, every person. They are sins endemic to the human condition and to our struggle. And they are doorways through which the grace and mercies of Jesus Christ daily invade lives.

This life, therefore, is not righteousness but growth in righteousness,
not health but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise.
We are not yet what we shall be but we are growing toward it.
The process is not yet finished but it is going on.
This is not the end but it is the road.
All does not yet gleam in glory but all is being purified.
—Martin Luther

In each case, we see three things:

1. It feels like we have good reasons to react with sinful anxiety, hostility, and escapism. The pressures, heat, difficulties, threats, frustrations, wrongs, beguilements of life come at us—and reveal what rules our hearts.

2. God gives better reasons, truer reasons, deeper reasons, imperishable reasons—Himself, reclaiming our hearts—that we learn to respond with faith working through love.

3. The inworking and outworking of faith and love produces the holy anxiety of caring concern (wrapped within deep trust). Faith works through love to produce just anger (wedded to generous mercies). Faith works out into a right longing to escape trouble and to help others in their troubles (alongside hearty enjoyment of innocent pleasures).

We’ve laid out a model, a picture, a map of the terrain of battle. A map is useful for orienting you, but it does not get you there. Our goal is to relate to our God honestly, intelligently, believingly, in ways that change us in real time, real place, real problem.

1. Take one of these three common sins to face and tackle this day. Your Father is the vinedresser, putting his pruning shears into your life:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there is any hurtful way in me; and lead me in the everlasting way” (Ps. 139:23f).

2. Whichever of the common deviancies you’re choosing, first read and ponder these hymns (and, if you’re so moved, sing with heart and voice!). Notice how we’ve parsed the hymns,

—The pressures of life are described in italics, those things (‘good reasons’) that provoke us to anxiety, anger, escapism. These are the circumstances within which our battle plays out.

—The Lord’s promises and self-disclosures come in bold, these invitations (‘better reasons’) to live differently. These are ways the Redeemer enters human life. Notice how these things that God says compete with the voices and pressures that woo and provoke us towards anger/grumbling, fear/anxiety, escapism/addiction.

—Our responses of faith are underlined. This is the heart of change.

Read all the italics. Then read all the bolds. Then read all the underlinings. Then worship.

Nov 7

Help for Change

2005 at 12:04 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Spiritual Growth

It is an exciting week here at the Girl Talk Blog; and I predict, life-changing for some. We have received permission to make available to you what we consider to be “blogging gold.” Every day this week, we will post a portion of a Personal Reflection from one of our favorite authors and biblical counselors: Dr. David Powlison.

If you ever wrestle with anxious thoughts, if you struggle to control outbursts of anger, if you consistently retreat in the face of conflict or trial (can anyone identify yet?) then you are about to receive your own personal counseling session from one of the most wise and gentle counselors of our day. And the good news is: it’s free!

Much more importantly, however, it is thoroughly biblical counsel. Sadly, much of what is considered “Christian Counseling” today—while a sincere attempt to help others—more closely resembles modern psychology than Scripture rightly interpreted.

By contrast, Dr. Powlison will provide for us a Scriptural model for overcoming sin. He will then focus on these three areas of anxiety, anger, and escapism in particular. I would encourage you not to skim over these posts or read them on the fly; but carve out some time to really meditate and study these words. Use them in your quiet time if you’re so inclined.

None of us will overcome anger or anxiety simply by reading these words. No blog can change your life. However, if through the power of the Holy Spirit, we apply these truths from God’s Word, we will experience God’s grace to change.

So, may we encourage you to read carefully and apply diligently this week? God, in His kindness, has provided this wisdom. And He is eager to help us obey.

“Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge, for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips. That your trust may be in the Lord, I have made them known to you today, even to you.” Proverbs 22:17-19.

We’ll post the first installment later today.