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  1. Discussion Question 1:

    Have you ever had your attention focused intently on one area of your life, only to have the enemy to attack where you least expected it? What are some things that can make us vulnerable to a “sneak attack”?

    1. I know that as a family we’ve been focused intently on one area, and had the enemy attack us on something that was not really resolved, not fully addressed as I’d thought we had. God made beautiful on it though. He’s a mighty fortress, making beautiful on even the ugliest of attacks. It is not our picture of what beautiful would be, because we’re not the master artist. It’s Him.

      I think as long as we’re getting comfortable and forgetting we’re foreigners and in a battle, we’re going to have sneak attacks. We focus so intently on one or two things that we’re meeting them like God’s given us a project… like we have any say at the potter’s wheel, or like He’s the over seer and we’re the one’s spinning what He directs. Okay, I’ve chased rabbits. back on track.

      Sneak Attacks… Unresolved sin… when something’s brushed under the carpet, but not addressed. Sometimes we neglect to address root of the sin and try to remove it without addressing those roots. We may seem fine and function fine for a while, but at anytime Satan may touch on those roots again while our offense is turned towards something else. 

I’m using all of these ideas and descriptions that fit situations, but if you think of what I just said, about focusing on one or two things while neglecting everything else, it’s kind of overwhelming to think of standing, watching your back at every angle addressing everything at once… and it’s not what the Bible teaches us either. We are in the midst of a battle, but we’re not some lone warrior. I was talking with someone the other day that felt like Satan attacked most when they weren’t in the Word and spending time with God daily, but the truth of it was as we talked further, that as things were going really well and very smooth, the person’s time with God would slip away. It left the person more vulnerable. Satan is a sneaky snake. Sometimes you feel the pressure from attacks when you’re following God in big ways. Other times you may know it’s there but have sweet peace. I think with this person he was feeling the attacks more, because he was handicapping himself by starving himself. The Gospel teaches so much more than a list of what to and not to do. It shows us a love and a relationship, a freedom and a savior. The Gospel is Christ. The more we’re saturating ourselves in the Gospel, in Him, it won’t mean that we won’t have attacks or even sneak attacks, but instead it tells us that we will be able to stand. 

      I’ve touched on the question some and danced all over the place. So, what I’m failing to say is that it could be from getting too comfortable in a world that isn’t ours and is, in fact, a battle field. And then, sometimes, we also leave ourselves wide open when we don’t fully address sins. It’s just out there like a target we’re over looking while we’re focused on something else.

      Am I making any sense? That’s why I’ve waited to jump in to the conversation. I’ve lost all sense communication skills.

    1. The American Dream – spending our time and money on things we don’t need to keep up with people we don’t even like. 🙂

    2. I think that some words Bobi Ann used are key in this. Words like “comfort”, and “security”. We want to have a comfortable life… a comfortable life for our kids, for our hard working husbands, for our parents and grandparents. We want to know we’ll have a place to stay and food on the table and a 401K that will support us when we cannot. It looks different for each of us and is influenced by lots, but I feel like that’s how I’d describe the American Dream – earthly comfort and security, and lets not forget “freedom”. 

      After the discussion the week before last, here on Bobi Ann’s blog, that I’ve still not joined in on, about the role of the local church, I’ve been thinking a lot and reading some about the early church and how they operated. I remember reading something about how they followed the rules and customs of the country in which they were living, but they also lived as foreigners. We don’t always live this one out. I think we can sometimes trade our Kingdom mindset for a patriotic one… We get to comfortable here and expect more than we should out of this nation that is not really our true home. It isn’t His Kingdom. (I’m not saying we shouldn’t support our country and the freedoms we try to protect. I’m only saying that it’s okay within the context of… a Gospel saturated, Kingdom mindset) 

I’ve gotten slightly off target…

      Our circles, our friends, our shows, our news, our stores, tell us what makes life easier, more comfortable, more functioning, just more. It varies some from person to person, but our mindset, our sights, get shifted off of the Kingdom, and suddenly, or slowly, we see our goals be to pay off this so we can buy this… or save up this, so we can replace that, or fix this or add to this, or treat ourselves to this, or give the kids that or take them there… Because to be the best parent that I can be my kid should have this, or be that, or learn this, or play that. After all, I’m doing them an injustice if I do not.

      When, if we were a bit more on the mark, we’d, instead, be saying what can we do without so we can support them, so we can be feet to them, and show love there, teach our kids a servant’s heart, full of love. What’s really important? This has been on my mind lately. It’s really gone hand in hand with some of the other things that God’s been teaching, showing and directing in our lives lately.

      We easily get a picture of things in our head of what life should look like. I really wanted to be a home owner before having children. Statistics are better for a child raised in a house vs. apartment. Our little one came and it looked like we’d have a job in the area for a long time. For the first time since we’ve been married, it seemed that we would be able to buy and wanted to do so. So, we bought before our daughter turned one(there’s lots I’m leaving out like prayer – we did pray about it). But two years later, I’m looking at how it possibly ties us down. And I’m willing to, we’re willing to, sell our house if God were to direct us to do so. This is not our home. Traveling with work, shining God’s love on the road in a world full of lost, may or may not be a big part of what He’s been pointing us towards (waiting game… know what I mean?), and He’s really been helping us to see His Kingdom more instead of our comfort, safety and picture of what a preschooler’s life should be like.

      And with all of that being said, do you know what I did Saturday afternoon? While my husband and I watched a movie and by daughter drew lots of lovely pictures, I was looking up house plans, thinking about how we could build, like a cousin’s doing, on family property, and so on and so forth… there’s more to it, and if it’s part of God’s direction for us, it could happen one day far away, but in those moments, while only day dreaming, I’m showing what this “American Dream” looks like… with the laundry room here, and the master there… oh, and this room would be great for my studio and this space could be this – a daydream, instead of realizing that I’m living that daydream already. My husband’s home on Saturday and we have a healthy little girl. I have a sprain and the luxury to rest it. There’s food on the table. Yes, it could only be a harmless daydream, but could it also be a reminder that I need to CONTINUALLY realign my sights with the Kingdom? Maybe so. (I am in no way saying that God wants us none to have houses that we own. I’m just trying to show how quickly it seeps in, I guess.)

    1. I promise the rest of my answers are shorter…

      Comfort VERSES A Bigger awareness and call to action that says comfort is not guaranteed, doesn’t spread the Gospel, and isn’t necessarily edifying. We’re not growing when we are too comfortable. Plus, we have THE Comforter.

      Security VERSES True security! Oh, what a false sense of security the American Dream is in countless ways. Instead our security is in our God and our eternal future. He will guide us and protect us… and if we die showing the world the Gospel, then “to die is gain”!

      Freedom VERSES True freedom. Ha! Our ONLY freedom is in Christ! Our freedom as a nation is a false sense… (and again, I’m not bashing our beloved service men… they are beloved)… It’s okay as long as we know it’s not where our real sense of freedom lies. Know what I mean? It is easier to voice things out while writing sometimes, but then there are other times where it’s harder. This is one of those times. IN CHIRST ALONE

      Hard work = I deserve this or that, I’m treating myself, I’ve earned this… VERSES a humble realization that we deserve nothing but the cruelest of fates. We deserve eternal suffering. All the work in the world cannot save us from that. Only the Gospel saves us and fills us.

    1. As all too comfortable people, or even worse, striving after the wind towards that job, or that house, or that furniture (so you can have home Bible studies and dinners, of course), we’re distracted by “being good Christian people” or serving our own plans and are less aware of the big picture and how God is moving. We’re playing church instead of stepping into a real vulnerable place of community, where we’ll spurn each other on to be church planters and disciple makers, missionaries all over… and really shrug off these very things that trap us like the “American Dream”.

      (BTW, please ask me what I’ve meant if I’ve made no sense, or just excuse me… and if I’ve stepped on any toes, you can always pray for me. We can pray for each other!)

  2. Discussion Question 5:

    Think about your own life… Can you see compromises you may have made in pursuit of the comfort and ease of the American Dream? What would it look like for you to journey with Jesus to the “bottom”?

    1. Well, I’ve already sort of answered this question above with my little not so short house plans story, kind of. I can see ways in the past where it was easier, more comfortable, to not step out and do what I was being led to do, and oh how terrible that was. I’ve kept my mouth shut in the keeping with social rules when I should have spoken truth in love (if we’re honest, sometimes that’s been a help too though, because I’m hot tempered,. And, we are to rebuke our brothers and sisters in love like we would a mom or dad or brother or sister, not in sharp anger striking like a cobra).

      But, I think I can definitely see where I’ve gotten caught up with the pursuit. I also see how my goals and perspectives get changed when my pursuit becomes the “American Dream”. I am a talented artist and designer. I wanted to work in a design firm with lots of other creative people and have art that went into galleries and museums. And, I didn’t want to be a stay at home mom! And then God allowed me to to fall to my knees (physically and spiritually) and perspectives changed. While, sure it’d be cool to do some of those things, I don’t have the energy or desire to keep up with that. I have more heavenly pursuits. When I get discouraged about what I’ve not done, God reminds me of where He’s leading me, what truly matters (It’s Him, it’s not the world of course, colleagues or friends, it’s not even my brothers and sisters – the body of Christ… It’s Him alone). As I travel to the “bottom” with Jesus, I’ll look and love vastly different than now. It’s a matter of letting go and shutting out that idea of the “American Dream” (whatever that looks like to me or to you).

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