Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Journey to the Heights

Now that we have an idea where we are on this path, we have a “jumping off point.”  When the pioneers came across the Oregon Trail they had a meeting spot where the wagon trains met together to prepare for their journey across the mostly uncharted wilderness to reach their western destination.  In like manner, we now have a place where we can meet Jesus and prepare for our journey to the high places of the Spirit.  Each person’s road will be specific to their needs, their maturity in Spirit and their personal “jumping off point” in Jesus.  I won’t presume to tell you where or how to begin, only Jesus can tell you this.  Spending concentrated time in prayer for your jumping off point would be a good idea as we begin our journey.  So record your thoughts and prayers in your journal, and below in the comments, as I start sharing with you the things I have studied in His Word that has led me along the pathway to the higher ground.

Let’s Get Started!

 Lord I, ___________________, ask that you show me a picture of the beginning of my journey to the heights.  What does my Jumping off point look like to you? 

I give this journey into Your keeping.  I know that together we will climb the mountain passes to the higher ground you are calling me to.  Thank You for the desire to follow You into the Heights.  Amen.

As we begin this trip, I am recalling a verse in Psalms 18:33 NIV:  
“He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.”

Jesus enables us to stand firmly on the higher ground by changing our “feet” to something better able to stand on the slopes and among the rocky crags we will encounter on the journey, i.e. “the feet of a deer.” As our Good Shepherd, Jesus jumps up and down the slopes constantly so His feet are accustomed to the heights, but ours are not.  Thus our need for Him to transform them as the Psalmist has stated that He does.

Our feet are our “sure foundation” in Jesus and His word.  II Tim 2:15 says: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  It is by our learning the word of God and hiding it in our hearts that we strengthen our foundation and have our feet changed into the “feet of a deer” and can mount the high places with Him with ease.

I know many of us do not have our “feet of a deer” yet, not to worry, as we begin our travel our “feet” will strengthen and become our sure foundation as we ascend to the heights with Jesus.

The start of our ascent should be to strive for Purity: a desiring for the Heights and for becoming P.E.A.R.L.S. All of the aspects and responsibilities of being P.E.A.R.L.S. will be discussed in great detail in our next section. But I would like for us to reflect on what we think Purity would look like to Jesus as well as what we think purity should look like in us.


·       What does purity look like to you?

·       What do you think purity looks like to Jesus?

·       Are you willing to allow Him to make you a woman of purity?

Now, let Jesus start this transformation in you.  Give it all to Him. I have started writing a prayer here that you should copy and complete in your journal.

Dear Lord:

I am Your daughter, a true Princess of Your Kingdom. Make me into the Lady You have created me to be. I give you my ...

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Are We Truly Forgiving?

A Story about Forgiveness

Matthew 18:21-35, the Message Bible:
At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”
Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.
“The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.
“The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.
“The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’
“The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.
“The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”

Are we truly forgiving? Do we treats others the way God would have us to, or is it just lip service? God has been dealing with me lately about true forgiveness.  So I am going to share with you what He has been showing me.

Now I know some of you, after building your life history, are saying, “What! Me…forgive him?  But, Leigh, you don’t know what I’ve been through.  Why, just yesterday he___________________.  How can I possibly forgive him for all of that!!!” 

And yet this is exactly what we need to do to be healed of the pain we have suffered and released from the bonds of slavery that have chained us in this valley of despair we have resided in for so long.  I long to break free!  Don’t you?  

Also, you need to know the truth of forgiving those who have abused and mistreated you. Forgiveness isn’t for the person, or persons, who have wronged us.  Oh, it is important that they know they are forgivable, by us and by God, but, it is for our spiritual growth that we must learn to forgive.  For we must be willing to drop our baggage at the side of the road before we can begin our journey into the heights.  So have faith in Him, cut your anchor chain and watch where He will lead you as you learn to trust Jesus and follow Him upon the mountains, up to the high places.

Jesus is our example of how we are to forgive.  While He was dying on the Cross He uttered this famous prayer; ‘…Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing…’ Luke 23:34 NIV

By this, He was forgiving the Jewish leaders, the Roman government, soldiers, and the people caught up in the crowd watching. By this, He brought salvation to all men, including those who murdered Him. By this, He also forgave us before we were even a thought in our parent's hearts.  We, too, are sinners guilty of putting Him to death.
If you were the only person created by the Master, He still would have chosen to die in your place on Calvary. To endure every pain He felt in His body and in His spirit as a result of your sin and separation from Him – and in His death, His separation from God.  And He still would have chosen to forgive you all your sins.
Forgiveness, like love, is a choice. It is an action and we have a part in that action. We must lay aside our hurt and pain to allow God to bring us through them.  It can be a very slow process and you won’t “feel” like forgiving at first.  But we have to start with a choice – our own personal choice – to forgive our offenders and abusers.

That all important choice needs to be followed quickly – very quickly – by our words; thought, spoken and written. Yes, ALL Three!

I remember when I was homeschooling my children, my son had the hardest time learning many things.  But we had a county appointed teacher who came to our house once a month to check our progress.  I shared with him the struggles we were having.  He told me something I have never forgotten.  “Learning,” he said, “is done differently by each person.  Some can read a process one time and can do it almost instantly.  Others need to involve more sections of their brain to truly grasp many concepts, even those deemed simple concepts by many educators.  So you should use as many of the five senses as possible to assist them in the learning process.”  As we are “learning” forgiveness we will need to see, speak, hear and feel – by writing – this process of learning to forgive.

While making the choice to forgive, mentally add names and faces to this choice to make it more real in your heart.  Speak your list – OUT LOUD – to Jesus.  Write the details of the hurts and pain you experienced, and that you have made a choice to be forgiving to everyone for ALL the things you have suffered.  And don’t forget to add your name to your list.  Yes, your name. Believe it or not, you are harboring guilt and unforgiveness against yourself for allowing others to hurt you.

Your choices may not make an immediate change within you.  You may have to repeat this task often; sometimes daily, other times moment-by-moment. 
Matt. 6:12-15 in the NIV says…Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, you’re heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your heavenly Father will not forgive your sins.

God gives us the choice to forgive. But, if we choose not to forgive, He, in turn, chooses not to forgive us. Our unforgiveness comes with a very heavy penalty. We can't scale the heights with Jesus, or enter into His Holiest of Holies – the very throne room of the fullness of God's presence – unless we learn forgiveness.  We would be stagnant in our spiritual lives; not filled with the springs of living water. Totally missing out on the ‘abundant’ life He has promised us.

Matt. 5:23-24 says: ‘Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar. And there rememberest that thy brother has aught against thee; leave thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.’

The Message Bible says it this way: “This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.

The Lord says if we think that our brother is holding something against us, we are to go to that brother and work things out before we offer our gift to God. Our gifts to God are our purity of heart and thoughts.

Matt 5:8 says; ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’

It is our worship and praise that draws us into the very presence of God.  I feel this place of praise and worship allows us to “see God” here on earth before we get to see Him face to face.  But, if we can’t give Him our gifts, how can He dwell fully in our beings ... in our very hearts? For God inhabits, He lives within, the praises of His people.

Forgiveness is the very basis of our salvation. Without God's forgiveness, we would also be outside of His Kingdom.  Zechariah prophesied of John the Baptist in Luke 1:76, 77. In the NIV it reads:  ‘And you, my child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare the way for Him, to give His people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.’

Zechariah was telling his family and friends that salvation would come through God's forgiveness and that John the Baptist would lead the way to Jesus, who would bring that forgiveness to us all. So if salvation is through forgiveness, and we are to follow Christ's example, how can we not forgive? It is a must!

Now that we have made the choice to forgive and used most of our senses to confirm our choice, it is time to put actions to our choice, and to our words.  Saying "I forgive you, '' isn't enough. We must follow through with the actions and attitudes of heart that agree with our words.  We must act toward that person – or persons – as if forgiveness is in full bloom in our hearts. Our feelings may be calling us “liar” or “hypocrite.”  But our feelings are wrong.  They are Satan’s tools to sabotage our choice to forgive, to keep us distracted and in bondage to our fear, hurts, and pain. Our actions will show that we are serious in our forgiveness, even if our "feelings'' aren't in agreement. If we trust God and walk out our acts of forgiveness, our feelings will follow. Then we will be in complete agreement – body, soul, and spirit - in our forgiveness.

This is a time of solidifying the forgiveness that started in our hearts as a choice.  Forgiveness and the subsequent reconciliation are designed to give us freedom to worship God in wholeness, causing us to grow in our faith toward Him.  And to be released from the baggage we have carried around with us for so long; cuddling, and hugging them because they were so familiar and “felt safe.”

Forgiveness doesn't mean everything that has been done to us is OK and can be done to us all over again. Nor are we to put ourselves back into bondage to the person or persons who have hurt us. We are called to reconciliation, not to a revolving door to the abuses of others.  It is time to lighten our load and allow us to leave our burdens at Jesus' feet.  That is where they belong, anyway. Picking up that hurt and pain day after day is not only choosing to hurt ourselves again and again; it is hindering our walk with God. We can't grow in our faith if we are all filled up with unforgiveness, hurt, and pain; for there is no room left in our hearts for more of the Holy Spirit.

I've been working on letting go of the unforgiveness, hurt, and pain in my life.  I’ve been praying for the people in my past who have been a part of causing it. Asking God to teach them the truth and the way of salvation, and praying for blessings on them and their families. This has released me from the bondage of carrying around all that hate and bitterness I had been storing up inside. Now, I actually feel a lot lighter of spirit, clearer of mind and not so tied up in knots throughout my body.

This isn’t easy and doesn’t happen overnight.  Satan will be standing right around the corner waiting to trip us up in this new choice we have made.  We will need landmarks, tangible mile markers as evidence to hold onto and be able to look back at, to remember the promises of God and the progress we have made.  Keeping a journal is one way to mark our progress.  Jotting down your thoughts and prayers, or a bit of poetry & verse given by God’s inspiration.  Or writing in the margins of your Bible beside verses He gives to encourage and lift you up.

Isa 53:5, 6 says; But, He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and by His stripes we are healed…and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquities of us all.

If He has done this for us, He has done the same for them, too.

At the onset of this chapter, I quoted a passage from Matt 18 where Peter asks our Lord how many times we are to forgive.  In verse 22 he answered, “…I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven.”  Sometimes it will take seventy times seven.  But, if we can learn to forgive 70x7 – 490 times – then why not 491, or 492, or even 1000.  This is the whole point Jesus was making.

Satan will try to goad us into renouncing our new commitment to learning true forgiveness.  Be strong!  Stand by your choice to learn forgiveness.  Pray often calling upon the name of Jesus in the tough times.  Psalm 118:14 says; ‘The Lord is my strength and my song, and is become my salvation.’

Forgiveness is more than a feeling, it is a choice we must make before the feeling can start to form within us.  Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15 “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive men not their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Since forgiveness starts with a choice, now is a good time - and your journal a great place - to record your choice to forgive and to receive the forgiveness of others; God's and your offenders/abusers. 

Father, I choose to forgive: 

Help me forgive myself for: 

Lord, if there be anything I can learn from these feelings of pain and suffering ... teach me now.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Activities for Growth - Life History


In this section, there will be several activities that we are going to complete to help us overcome our sinful nature. I would like you to complete these activities as you proceed through the lessons we are learning and not leave them all to complete after you have finished. By doing them throughout you will learn new tools for overcoming and making make changes in your heart and mind … even your very soul.

I also suggest that you play contemplative Christian music while you work on these activities. I find that music that is calming to your spirit, focuses your mind on the Lord and still allows you to think on the assignment helps me to get the most out of my projects. So find some music that puts you in a thoughtful frame of mind to listen to as you work through these activities.

Life History

Before beginning any life changes you should always take a look at where you have been and set goals to help you along the path to where you are going. So before we start looking for ways to conquer your sinful behavior(s), let’s take a walk down memory lane – your memories and those of your family and friends, too – let’s see if we can find changes in our thoughts and actions that may have been the impetus for our sinful ways.

Your Personal Time Line

Starting with your very beginning, the day you were born, write down at least two events or incidents that happened to you – or in your family – for each year of your life that caused you joy/happiness and that have caused you hurt/sorrow/anger. This activity should not be drawn out indefinitely, so work on getting as much info into your family history as you can in two weeks but aim for completion in about a week.
As I said, you don’t have to rely on your own memories. Draw from your parents, siblings and other family members as well as family friends for incidents and events in your family history during your lifetime.

What Should This Activity Look Like

We will want a large piece of poster board to draw out our timelines. On our graph, we will plot each year of our lives from birth to the present. For each year of your life, you will plot out two positives and two negative events/incidents listing when and where they occurred and a paragraph that summarizes any changes – for the better or the worse – that came from each of the events shown on our graphs.

While we are learning about our beginnings, we will want to write our history into our journals along with any changes in mood or behavior afterward that we believe may have started because of it. Your poster board will be the map of your history and your journal will hold its key.  Making this detailed record in our journals will help us later when we are sharing our thoughts on this history with our mentors later.

Sharing Your History

When we share our personal history with our mentors/advisors/counselors, they will help us to see things in it that aren’t clear to us at the moment. They will also have insight into how the events/incidents that we perceive as negative on us can have a positive impact on us now as well.


Now that we have written our life’s history, let’s take a few moments to make a few notes on what we have learned from it.
  1. What events or incidents in your life can you see that may have impacted your choice to deviate from God’s plan for sexual purity? 
  2. Why?
  3. How can you use these negative incidents into positives?

Prayer for Today

Writing your prayers down makes them more real. It gives them a permanence. So record your prayers on this activity in your journal/notebook.

Dear Lord,

Help me to use all things in my life – both positive and negative – to bring You glory. 

Help me …

Following Jesus Into The Heights

Though the cherry trees don’t blossom
    and the strawberries don’t ripen,
Though the apples are worm-eaten
    and the wheat fields stunted,
Though the sheep pens are sheepless
    and the cattle barns empty,
I’m singing joyful praise to God.
    I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.
Counting on God’s Rule to prevail,
    I take heart and gain strength.
I run like a deer.
    I feel like I’m king of the mountain!
Habakkuk 3:17-19, the Message Bible

I had never looked at being single as a “gift” before I started working on this project.  I do feel that it can be a time of learning to trust Jesus in more, different and much deeper ways.  By developing such a close bond with Him that we are willing to do all that He may ask of us, it is an opportunity to truly “fall head over heels” in Love with our Savior and Lord.  This should be our first step on the journey we are about to take.

This time of growth is necessary before we will be ready for any new relationships, including but not limited to the spouse that God may be preparing for you.  Let’s make good use of this time so that we can learn all that we can retain and become the image of Jesus that He has called us to be.

This will also be a time of healing from the pain and damage done to our emotions and our spirits’ from the past relationships we have all had. In this way, we will be prepared for the relationship of a lifetime.  That most important relationship should be with Jesus first and foremost. And if He should bless us with a mate, then with the spouse He has chosen to share the rest of our lives will be the second most important relationship we have.

Where and how do we begin this new journey?  Let’s start by taking inventory* of the hurts and pain we are carrying in our hearts and minds.  We need to know where we are before we can start this, or any, journey.  I feel that you should have a notebook with you as we travel through this time together so that we can make a record of how far we have progressed along this new path.  It will be a valuable asset for assessing what things we need to change in our lives, what we can build on, what needs to be added and what He will need to cut away.

It is also a great way to record your progress along the way.  It will be important to share these milestones with your spiritual mentor or Women’s Pastor.  And believe me, you will want to do this at various times throughout our journey together.

Taking Inventory*

Taking inventory is a very personal matter that you may want to keep a record of in a journal or notebook; this is so that you can reflect on the growth made as we travel through this time of healing.  At the end of each chapter, there will be space to add your thoughts in the comments section.  There will also be questions to cause deeper reflection of the things we discuss along the pathway on our journey to the heights with Jesus.

As you make this inventory, take the time to look over the relationships of your past and take stock of the hurts you have caused, and the hurts you have suffered.  You will want to have time to seek forgiveness from God and those who have been wronged for the hurts you have caused.

This is also a time to give forgiveness to those who have caused you pain, in person if possible or by letter, if they don’t live close by or if you have any qualms about meeting them in person.

If you were publicly wronged, it should be a public forgiveness; if privately wronged, then a private meeting is the way to go.   If they have passed on you can also write a letter, seal it in an envelope and place it with your important documents. Or you may burn it afterward as a sacrifice to God. This will enable the forgiveness to be released within your being.

Jesus said in Mark 11:25, 26 that if we have aught (lit. nothing, this means if we think there may be something between us and a brother or sister) we should leave our gift – offering or sacrifice – at the altar and be reconciled with them so that God will, in turn, forgive us our sins. But if we are unforgiving God, too, will be unforgiving of our sins.

We all need to walk through this time of reviewing the hurts in our lives, for it is a time of healing.  A time of learning to trust Jesus to mend those painful wounds in our lives and in the lives of those whom we have hurt.


For the first two and a half years after I became single again, I was so wounded from my past relationships that I didn’t think I would ever, and I meant EVER want to be in a relationship with a man again, let alone get married.  “Marriage”, to me, had become a “four-letter-word.”  But after finding out what true relationship is all about – and receiving a lot of counseling, I have decided that if this is God’s plan for me, I would like to try it again …though His way this time.  And in that respect, I would be doing it right. 

In this time of healing and waiting upon the Lord, God wants to draw us closer in our relationship with Him. HE wants to draw us into deeper truths and show us the life, the true calling He has placed on each of our lives.  Here, I am reminded of what Aslan kept saying at the end of C. S. Lewis’ book, “The Last Battle”, “Further in and Higher up.”   He wants each of us to move further into His Kingdom and Higher up into His lap so that we can heal and grow; thus falling deeper and deeper in love with Him each and every day of our lives. To do this, we must find freedom from the bondage of our hurts – and the pain of our unforgiveness – before we can loose ourselves into the total oneness with Jesus that He is calling us to.

If you are new to the path of forgiveness, no worries, God is able to instruct you in the right ways to seek the forgiveness of others and to give forgiveness to those whom you have wronged.  When I was learning to be forgiving and to accept forgiveness, I spent time in concentrated prayer for those I had wronged and those who I felt had wronged me; sometimes fasting, other times I would not refrain from eating and drinking.

I also made time with my spiritual mentor – who was our Women’s Pastor – so that we could work through all the emotions I went through as a result of learning to walk the pathway of forgiveness. This was very complex and draining time for me, so again I encourage you to have a spiritual mentor available to assist you in this new area of learning.  Your mentor should be someone you can trust implicitly with any and every secret, for by the end of your healing there should be no secrets between you and her of any kind.  Also, as they will be privy to these former secrets, they should be of the same gender and more spiritually mature than you.  I would not suggest you take your best girlfriend as your confidant, as it may leave you open to another type of pain in later days. 

Both my mentor and I kept notes (journals) of the things I was learning and my progress along the path. I recorded my feelings and insights, songs of praise and scripture verses that were helpful to me during this journey.  They are reminders of my learning process and fill me with renewed joy as I review them, as I am sure they will be to you. 

There will be times you may want to share the entries you have recorded in this volume with her – or have a separate journal – or section of your journal – to record those things you specifically choose to share.

Later in your walk, as you grow into maturity, you may want to share your journey with someone else who is traveling that pathway you had formerly trod. She will be comforted to know that someone she is acquainted with has walked this path before her and survived.


At this point in each chapter, I will add questions for your reflection. You may want to add these and your answers to them to your journal so that you can look back and see how much you have grown toward maturity in Jesus.

Your Prayers:

In your journal you may want to write your specific prayer requests out as letters to the Lord so that you have a record of what you have asked God for during this journey. If you would like, you may share them in the comments here too, and I – and others who join us in The Way – will add your requests to our prayers, too.