JESUS AND THE IDOLS OF OUR HEARTS

stoneheart1WELCOME TO WOMEN JUST JOINING US FOR OUR STUDY ON JESUS AND THE IDOLS OF OUR HEART! WELCOME! WELCOME! AND A HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL THE MOTHERS BLOGGING WITH US. MAY GOD’S FACE SHINE UPON YOU IN SOME WAY THIS MOTHER’S DAY. We’ve been on this path of overcoming idolatry for several months, but for the sake of newcomers, and because review is good for all of us, I want to first go over some of the central concepts, asking for help from women who have been on this journey, and then take a turn, taking us down a fresh path. The more I study Scripture, the more I see how this theme of idolatry is EVERYWHERE. Yet we have often missed it, because we think of idolatry as “Old Testament” where people worshipped statues of gold or stone. In fact, 80% of Americans say they have never done it! But idolatry is much bigger than that. Idolatry is putting anything in the place of God. Idolatry is about worship, about loving something so much that you feel you have to have it. Often what we love most is ourselves, our control. Or, we may fall in love with something the Creator made. We make His good gifts objects of worship, we make them our foundation, our security, our identity, and our comfort. So if we are honest, we are all idolaters. We take gifts like friends, food, and family and trust in them, expecting them to fill the emptiness in us, to never let us down, to be what only God can be. These idols are stones over our hearts that keep us from our heart of flesh. Jesus, the Stonecutter, is in process of chipping those stones away so we can experience real life. Anne, of of our regular bloggers wrote: We began our study on idolatry with a picture of a heart of stone with a small part chipped away revealing a heart of flesh underneath. That heart was mine and I so wanted the one underneath. We learned that idolatry hardens hearts. I set out eagerly on this journey and while it has been far from easy, I have reaped great blessing. I’m going to ask the bloggers who have been doing this study to help in the review, though newcomers are free to comment. Everyone should do the second part of the lesson. The way the study works is that you can go at the pace that works best for you. Some of our participants do the whole study at once, others a question at a time. We also pray for each other when important needs come up. Because this blog has women from many different denominations, we may have different viewpoints on peripheral issues, and even at times the core issues. But when we disagree, we express our thoughts in love, and we listen respectfully to one another. God is using believers from all kinds of Bible-believing denominations throughout the world, showing us the richness of the body of Christ. We can definitely learn from one another. In the last post, for example, election came up, because it was part of the passage we studied, and some may want to continue to talk about that from various viewpoints. One of the beautiful things about an internet study is that we can use the internet for resources — and often members will suggest a You-tube song or other resource.  I usually suggest a sermon to listen to as well – a good review and free sermon would be this one by Tim Keller called “Removing the Idols of the Heart.” Just click here and listen when you can.  http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/removing-idols-heart Finally, each week I want you to meet one of our regular bloggers, someone who has been with us for several months. This week you will be meeting Rebecca. Rebecca has many wonderful insights because she is so seeking God, but she is also a great encourager. One time she wrote: Every time someone here writes about their marriage, their life with their children, their struggles, I can totally relate..totally..I have to say I have NEVER been in a bible study like this with women this honest about their lives and their struggles and in giving testimony of God’s great working in their hearts. It IS so beautiful. :-) You’ll meet Rebecca in Part III and also have a chance to bless her. So – here we go. Again, WELCOME! PART I. REVIEW In the opening lesson we differentiated between surface sins and deep idols. For example, you might have a problem with a bad temper or anxiety, but the deep idol is CONTROL/POWER. Or, you might have a problem with overspending, overeating, or oversleeping, but the deep idol could be COMFORT/SECURITY. The usual solution is to attack the surface sin – perhaps a better budget, a better diet, or a better alarm clock – but because you have not addressed the deep idol of COMFORT/SECURITY, and allowed God to be your comfort, your security, that idol will cry out when restricted and win. The three most common deep idols are A.    CONTROL/POWER B.    COMFORT/SECURITY C.    APPROVAL/AFFIRMATION 1.     Please give an example of a surface sin in your life and the deep idol from which it springs. Explain how understanding this has helped you. 2.     During the forty days before Easter, we practiced different habits of discipline to say no to an idol and yes to God. Share an example of something you did and how it helped you. PART II. SIN IS BREAKING GOD’S HEART The path we are turning to now is the picture the Lord gives again and again of Himself as a broken-hearted Bridegroom and us as His Bride. He wants us to see that when you choose your idol, you are not just breaking a rule, you are breaking His heart. He longs for intimacy with us — but we push Him away.  This drawing by Martin French is of Hosea, the broken-hearted bridegroom who, indeed, is a Christ-figure. (Hosea means Savior.) God told the prophet Hosea to marry Gomer, an unfaithful woman, to be a living testimony to Israel of how they were breaking His heart. Gomer has left him shortly after the wedding. 3.     Read Hosea 2:5. Why did she leave Hosea? What was her thinking? Later, we read: “She went after her lovers and forgot me, declares the Lord.” (Hosea 2:13) Hosea, as well as the prophet Jeremiah, where we will camp out for a few weeks, uses an intimate sexual metaphor. Does it shock you that God would use a sexual metaphor to help us understand our relationship with Him? When I facilitated a Bible study with a small group of women on live Moody Radio, I brought up how the sexual fidelity that Hosea longed to see in Gomer was a picture of the fidelity He longs for from us. Much to my surprise a young Australian group member cried out: “Oh Dee – don’t mix God and sex!” I was able to respond that I would never dare to use a sexual metaphor to refer to our relationship with God, except that He does it repeatedly. He does it from Genesis to Revelation, but particularly the poets, the prophets, and Paul keep using this vivid sexual picture to illuminate several key truths about our relationship with God. One of my favorite quotes is from Derek Kidner, an esteemed Bible scholar:   It is a bold and creative stroke by which God, instead of banning sexual imagery from  religion, rescues and raises it to portray the ardent love and fidelity which are the essence of His covenant. Derek Kidner[1] But please remember this is a metaphor. For example, when Jesus wept over Jerusalem and said He wished He could gather her under His wings, we must not press the metaphor to ridiculous lengths, but to grasp His heart for His unresponsive people. Basic hermeneutics (the art of interpreting Scripture) will tell you to interpret prose according to prose (you can press every word) and poetry according to poetry (look for the central meaning). 4. What is the purpose of a metaphor in Scripture? 5. In Hosea, God explains why he is asking Hosea to make his life a painful living metaphor. Find it in Hosea 3:1. Camp out here for a while and reflect. What phrases stand out to you? How does this speak to you in your life? MEMORIZE THIS VERSE.  Continue to share your thoughts on it. In this new path you will find that Scripture uses the sexual metaphor both positively and negatively.  When Scripture uses the sexual metaphor – and I feel a foolish even saying this, but know I must because of the e-mails and letters I have received, it certainly doesn’t mean we are engaging in a sexual act with God, like some ancient and modern cults say, but that as we increase in our love, trust, and intimacy with the Almighty, as we willingly put ourselves in His arms, that our lives will have a fruitfulness that can only come when we fully yield to the Spirit of God. Conversely, when we run to our idols, we are “getting into bed with another lover,” breaking His heart, and grieving Him, pushing Him away. Just as infidelity can grievously wound a marriage, so sin grievously wounds our relationship with God. The Holy Spirit is a Person who can be wounded, grieved, and will withdraw. As Philip Yancey writes: The prophets proclaim loud and clear how God feels: he loves us. Of the ancient gods, Israel’s God alone stooped to admit love for the flawed, two-legged creatures who roam this planet. God’s cries of pain and anger are the cries of a wounded lover, distressed over our lack of response.[2] Metaphors can reach into our heart to help us understand the heart of God. 6.     How does this metaphor of marital intimacy help you understand the heart of God? 7.     Read Jeremiah 2:1-2. A.    How does God describe Israel, His Bride, when she was young, and He had just rescued her out of the slavery of Egypt? (verse 2) B.    This is a positive intimate image, a picture of a bride so in love that she will follow her husband anywhere – a “whither thou goest, I will go” bride, who is content as long as she is with him. Were you ever a bride like this to an earthly husband? If so, share how you felt. C.    Can you remember how you were when you first came into a relationship with the Lord? Did you experience euphoria, first love joy, a honeymoon time? This is how God remembers Israel in the beginning of her pilgrimage, when He first rescued her, when the Red Sea closed over her enemies, she took up her tambourine and danced, ready to follow this wonderful God anywhere. Derek Kidner writes: There is a freshness of spring in the Lord’s first words to Israel, recapturing the ardour of young love – that readiness of the beloved to go anywhere, put up with anything, so long as it could be shared with her partner, and on his side the fierce protectiveness that would brook no rival, no assault to her honor.[3] And yes, He did protect her, a knight wielding his sword for the honor and protection of his princess. 8.     How did the Lord defend her according to Jeremiah 2:3? So why did she turn from Him? Why did she run into the arms of other lovers? If we understand this, we may gain insight into our own fickle souls. That’s where we are headed next week! 9.     Did you listen to the message by Tim Keller? What stood out to you? 10.     What is your take-a-way this week? PART III. MEETING OUR BLOGGERS MEET REBECCA! Rebecca has been one of our most faithful bloggers, cheering everyone on, contemplating the Word, and sometimes singing for us. She is from the Kansas City area. dority-family-picture-good-one-sepia dority-family-pic-2011-silly-one ABOUT ME: My name is Rebecca and I have a been blessed with a wonderful husband , four wild and rambunctious boys and a beautiful step daughter who is married to a wonderful doctor soon to be doing his Fellowship. My husband is a godly man and works hard to provide. I am richly blessed to have a husband like him. I came to know Jesus in 1988. My oldest brother Jim was the one God used to bring me to Him. The passion God has given me is in growing closer in intimacy with Jesus and making Him known in every sphere of my life. My ministry is with everyone God brings in my life. God has given me varying platforms over the years such as being a mom, singing at church, facilitating Bible studies, one on one discipleship, mentoring other women, teaching children, and at the workplace. ABOUT THIS STUDY: God’s people struggled with idolatry in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament we see believers warned not to have idols. I didn’t think I had an idol problem until Jesus brought me to Dee’s idol study. His light exposed the truth about the grip a couple of idols had on my heart. I found the answer to the cause of my depression and my issue with over eating. This study gave me the tools to see the signs when I am starting to move toward my idols and also exhorted me to go to Him-His word -so that He could peel back the layers of lies and replace them with truth. As a result I have become more intimate with Jesus and He has given me opportunities to spread His fragrance around. BLESSING REBECCA! 11. IF YOU’D LIKE TO TELL REBECCA SOMETHING THAT SHE SAID THAT IMPACTED YOU, OR SOMETHING THAT SHE IS THAT ENCOURAGES YOU — HERE’S YOUR CHANCE!


[1] Derek Kidner, The Message of Hosea, Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, England, 1981, p. 33. [2] Philip Yancey, The Bible Jesus Read, (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mi. 1999) p. 179. [3] Derek Kidner, The Message of Jeremiah, (Intervarsity Academic, Downer’s Grove, Il, 1987) p. 30.


COMMENTS (293) Post a New Comment ↓
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Chris,
I have prayed for you tonight. I have been walking through the grief walk with a friend who lost her 5 month old son and the one thing I have learned is if I try to SAY anything, its always the wrong thing! if i could i would make you a cup of tea, bake you some bread with honey butter and hold your hand as you cried, I have found that is about all the help I can be to someone in so much pain….
please know you are being prayed for!

    So good. Want you for my sitting shiva friend.

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    These are beautiful thongs to do for someone who is hurting because Shen words fail, compassion does not.

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      Of course I meant to type “things” — the o and I are terribly close on my keypad.

        And “Shen” meant “when”

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Welcome Christi and Chris,
Christi, you have blessed me with your comments already! So glad you joined us too!

Chris, I can feel your pain, as I read your letter. Please don’t hold back, we are hear to listen to you and pray for you. I wish, like Cyndi, that I could just sit and listen and cry with you. I can’t imagine losing a child. My sister-in-law is dying and it’s so very hard, but a child or husband is unthinkable.

Don’t feel bad if you can’t pray, your spirit feels your pain and prays for you. God loves you and understands and will help you. We love you, too and I’m going to go to bed now and pray for you and your family. Bless you.

    Love the reminder that His Spirit prays for us when we can’t.

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      Me too– this gives me great comfort when I get too perfectionistic with my prayers, worrying about the “right” things to say to God. I am so glad He knows my heart!!

6. How does this metaphor of marital intimacy help you understand the heart of God?

I see it in my marriage in good and bad seasons..I think the purpose behind the design of marriage is that it reflects our relationship with God, but I have missed it because teachers don’t really delve into this metaphor much. I have always wondered why they really dig and delve into other metaphors in scripture but not this one.

The metaphor of marital intimacy really helps in seeing what God’s jealousy for my love and passion looks like. I am seeing how it breaks his heart when I abandon myself to my idols, yet helps me to see how much it thrills his heart when I abandon myself to Him.

    Well we are going to dig into this metaphor — and I can’t think of a better group with which to do it!

I never really thought of the idol of comfort/security before. Thank you for this! I am saying “yes” way too often to gratifying my flesh when I should be saying “yes” to God instead. Definitely something I’m mulling over in my heart.

    Welcome Tristi. Yes — it helps so much to see what lurks beneath. I hope you will stay with us because God is on the move here!

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    Welcome, Tristi!

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Good morning!
God led me to this study, at the perfect time!

Could someone please tell me about the habits of discipline?

Whenever I am standing repentant in one idol, another one pops up! I need some new habits to help!

Thank you, sisters :)
Dawn

    Welcome, Dawn. Eager to hear what your sisters say.
    I know a huge one is to do the study and to learn from one another — for God is working here.

    Dawn,

    WELCOME!!! We are so glad you are here!

    This may not be of much help, but the first step for me was being disciplined to set a time to do this study and it really doesn’t take up a whole bunch of time unless you want it to. Yet it still delves deep.

    I picked this study because it is THE BEST to do for people like me who aren’t real great at being disciplined. ;-)

    You can do one question a day, do a few a day, and if you can’t get through it all in the week that is o.k. try again next week. I love the freedom this format provides. It even provides freedom to keep doing it even while you are doing another study at church.

    God is here and there is so much wisdom to digest among His daughters as well, so if you don’t have time to delve very deep on a particular morning you can read other’s insights and glean a lot.

    Hope this helps..The first step of discipline for me has led to many other steps in other areas. God will work it out just take one step at a time! Hope you can stay and walk this journey with us! :-)

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      FUNNY :-) “I picked this study because it is THE BEST to do for people like me who aren’t real great at being disciplined. ;-)” This cracked me up Rebecca; obviously you’ve been doing pretty well with some discipline!

        Renee, LOL! ;-)

    Dawn, Oops, I just re-read your question and I may have read it wrong the first time. I am not sure my first answer was what you were looking for. Sorry! I think I understand what your question is now. Is it that you need ideas of habits of discipline to help you to turn from your idols?

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    Welcome, Dawn!

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I tried to write something last night and earlier this morning but could not, I wept as I read your responses. I was convinced that my mess would not be welcome and that I would be rejected. I have such a hard time asking for/receiving comfort. I have always been the one who comforts others.
Dee you mentioned Jesus weeping with Mary at Lazarus tomb. I have thought a lot about that passage and hoped that he was weeping in sympathy for all of us, for how much pain death brings and has brought through the ages.
Renee I understand this statement of yours so well;
“I was in enough grief that I couldn’t sort everything out. And even though Comfort is an idol that causes problems, I was desperate enough then that the comforts of this world seemed meaningless. I only could go to God, because where else was I gonna go??”
Grief has clarified that nothing here in this life can satisfy me, I hope that I will allow my pain to make me more like Christ, and that I will be useful for the kingdom, but I honestly just wish I could exit earth now.
Dee you alluded to this exchange that Jesus had with Peter after Jesus gave the crowds following him the hard truth that they must eat his flesh & drink his blood and many of them turned away.
John 6:67-69 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,
and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
This passage has had a new meaning for me as I have been so tried by this grief that if there had been somewhere else to go I surely would have gone.
I am trying to daily take up my cross and persevere. I believe and I so want to be victorious, but fear I want to put away my pain too soon, and I fear another tragedy. I was not a fearful person before.
I listened to the Tim Keller sermon and some others on his sight. He said that if you just keep feeling bad about your sin, that is not repentance but self pity. I want to place all my hope and trust in God, but I do so struggle with feeling confident of his love for me
Dee, Joyce, Cyndi, Elizabeth, Rebecca, Christi, & Anne, bless your hearts, thank you for helping to bear my burden, your responses have touched me, thank you.

    Reply

    Chris, I prayed for you last night and you were in my thoughts and prayer’s all day today.
    I liked what you said above:
    “Grief has clarified that nothing here in this life can satisfy me, I hope that I will allow my pain to make me more like Christ, and that I will be useful for the kingdom, but I honestly just wish I could exit earth now.”

    I have felt that way before, too. But I see HOPE, because you care enough to want to become more like Christ. At least your not blaming God and turning away from him, at this point. Maybe you have earlier in your grief, but you want to be useful in his kingdom. That’s good. And it’s much harder for you to live than die. Dying would be easier for you…I hear you saying. I agree…life is so hard and painful…it would be so much easier to just give up. Right?

    Well, you can’t give up, because you have too many people that love you. You have all your family and friends and now you have us sister’s here that love you. Just take one breath, one step, at a time and God will lead you through. You will be with all your family and loved one’s for all eternity. This life is but a breath away from Jesus and our eternal home. Be in prayer for the one’s here on earth that you love, that may not know God. I am confident that your son is in Jesus’s arms and anxiously waiting for all his family; wanting all of you to be with him. What a glorious day that will be! Bless you, Chris…your in my prayers….promise!

      Reply

      Thank You Joyce, so much.

      I remember seeing a woman on the news whose home had been destroyed by a flash flood (her family and pets were safe) Bawling and yelling “This should never happen to anyone!” I thought how unrealistic her thinking was, and that we as a nation are not used to hardship.

      As I have attempted to process what has happened, I have had to grapple with the utterly false illusion that I have control.
      I suppose that if my trust in God were more profound and true, this would be a relief, but it leaves me feeling so empty.

      I hope that as Jesus said to Peter, after I have turned Again that I will strenghten my sisters.

        Praise God!

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Chris, I am praying for you as you dig deeper into the struggles you are dealing with. I know you have come to the right place at the right time. There are no coincidences in God.

I have been trying to figure out what my deepest idol is and I’m struggling. I really feel like I have made VERY DEEP idols out of all of the categories mentioned. So, I’m praying for God to reveal to me which is my biggest stronghold. I came across this from Tim Keller as I was looking last night:

“I am not asking whether or not you have rival gods. I assume that we all do; they are hidden in every one of us. The question is: What do we do about them? …How can we discern our idols?

One way requires that we look at our imagination. Archbishop William Temple once said, “Your religion is what you do with your solitude.” In other words, the true god of your heart is what your thoughts effortlessly go to when there is nothing else demanding your attention. What do you enjoy daydreaming about? What occupies your mind when you have nothing else to think about? Do you develop potential scenarios about career advancement? Or material goods such as a dream home? Or a relationship with a particular person? One or two daydreams are no an indication of idolatry. Ask rather, what do you habitually think about to get joy and comfort in the privacy of your heart?”

I love that William Temple quote: “Your religion is what you do with your solitude.” So, I’ve been asking myself and I honestly don’t know. I struggle with comfort (overeating), control (anxiety, mistrust), and approval (facebook, needing pats on the back) and at different times they are all equally powerful. So, that’s where I am. If anyone has any insight as to how they discovered their deepest idol if they were in more than one category, I’d love to hear it but I’m sure God will make me do the work myself in my own way b/c that’s just the way God has to work on me! :-)

I won’t have a lot of time to check in today & tomorrow but I pray you all have a wonderful day!

    Reply

    Jessica, My back Dr. ask me what hurts the worst and debilitate’s (weaken’s) me the most, my back or my knee? (I need more back surgery, but also need a new knee) I had to think about it some and said my back, because it interfer’s with my life more. It got me to thinking at home the same way about all my idol’s I have. I have Comfort, Controll and Approval. Which one hurts and weaken’s me and interfer’s with my life the most, I ask myself. I think it would be my Comfort (overeating and spending) because when I’m in my comfort idol, I am harming my health and pocketbook, making me depressed, making me need more approval and wanting more controll because I’m so depressed! I know all that seems silly probly, but it helped me decide! I’m just trying to eat more healthy and not eat after supper, like Dee is doing and crave Jesus instead of food. It’s hard, because it’s mostly just trying to break years of bad habits! I’m a compulsive eater and spender. I avoid stores/shopping as much as possible too. How did I get this way!!! :(

      Reply

      That’s a great way to look at it, Joyce.

      Thanks!

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Still pondering why I am having a hard time looking at deep idols. Last week, I was frustrated by my struggle with “spiritual disciplines.” After reading today’s “My Utmost for His Highest” (http://utmost.org/the-habit-of-having-no-habits/), I wonder if I’m not wrestling with the same thing with “idol-fighting” — i.e., letting “Christian behaviors” themselves become an idol rather than worshipping my way out of this mess :) (Any idea where the Thomas Chalmers quote is written? I’m on a mission to find it!)

Lately, postings from Oswald Chambers have cut right to the heart of what I’m facing. I haven’t had to work too hard to understand, thank God!

      Reply

      Yup! It works! Thanks —I’m going to read it right now :-)

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      Oh my … I’ve just read the first paragraph, and yes, yes, yes. Now I’m really hungry for it. Kinda hungry for lunch, too, so I might eat & then finish it. And then share it :)

        Even after some soup, Chalmer’s article is going to require a printer and a marker :-) Good stuff in there, and a lot to comprehend!

        A few days ago, I couldn’t get a link to one of Keller’s sermons to work, but found something written instead. It was about sharing the gospel to people with a post-modernist perspective…The part you mentioned about about turning the good into the ultimate fits me, too.

        From Keller:
        “I take a page from Kierkegaard’s The Sickness Unto Death and define sin asbuilding your identity—your self-worth and happiness—on anything other than
        God. That is, I use the Biblical definition of sin as idolatry. That puts the emphasis not as much on ‘doing bad things’ but on ‘making good things into ultimate things.’ Instead of telling them they are sinning because they are sleeping with
        their girlfriends or boyfriends, I tell them that they are sinning because they are looking to their romances to justify and save them, to give them everything that they should be looking for from God. This idolatry leads to anxiety, obsessiveness, envy, and resentment. I have found that when you describe their lives in terms of idolatry, postmodern people do not give much resistance. Then Christ and his salvation can be presented not (at this point) so much as their only hope for forgiveness, but as their only hope for freedom. This is my ‘gospel for the uncircumcised.’ ”

        So, here’s another QUESTION :-) If I am looking to Jesus, do I have to figure out which idols are which — i.e., Can He replace idols “in general?” For example, when I experienced anxiety a couple of days ago during the meeting and could see that the anxiety was because of idolatry — and turned to Jesus, both for forgiveness and to be with Him. I didn’t have the energy to figure out which idol. I probably could figure it out now, but I’d rather rest in and worship Him. “Figuring things out”/analyzing things is sometimes an idol that draws me away from God. And I’ve lost the desire/ability to “figure everything out” — unfortunately, that includes figuring out which idol is the root idol if it’s not blatantly obvious. When I am at this point (brain not functioning right), I usually saturate myself with Christian music.

        I think I may be experiencing some of what I experienced when I “dropped out” before, but this time I’d like to persist through it. My heart is here, but my brain isn’t cooperating. The strange thing is that although I’m not at peak mental functioning right now, I think I probably could take on an intellectual challenge at work — if I had to.

        After living a world of dementia for so many years, I don’t ever want to equate spiritual well-being with intellectual capacity. I’m sorry that I can’t explain myself better, but … I can’t, so I’ll stop. Except — :) yeah, I don’t “shut up”– to add that I’m so content knowing that God is good and that He loves me.

BLESSING REBECCA

SO MANY THINGS REBECCA HAS SAID HAVE STRENGTHENED ME — AND I WANT TO QUOTE SOME

I DO PARTICULARLY REMEMBER THIS GOD HUNT SIGHTING SHE HAD WHEN WE BEGAN LENT:

“…my God hunt sighting is totally different..It may be too winsome or Charismatic for some but I must tell..His word is alive..He is the word and He is alive always even when my nose isn’t literally in the word.

I was driving to take my two youngest boys to an overnight and I sensed the presence of the Lord like I haven’t in a long time. He surprised me..I started praising him in song and being in his presence brought me to my knees inside. The verses of praise I knew in my heart came out in adoration…I felt like Mary who anointed his feet with oil and the angels in Isaiah who said to one another LOUDLY “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts the Earth is full of His glory.” I can’t wait until I am at His feet fully able to worship Him.”

I ALSO REMEMBER ANNE LONGED FOR THIS KIND OF EXPERIENCE AND THEN THIS WEEK, WITH HER DREAM — HAD ONE!

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    YES! I did! I set up a stone of remembrance to return again and again to that place!

    Wow, Anne did indeed! Hallelujah!

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7.A-B as i read this my heart breaks, I was never this bride! I was always trying to be the one my husband would follow. I would have never said that but now I see my adultereres heart, how I gave it to being in control and right and was never that starry eyed bride who worshiped the ground her husband walked on.

He longs for me to look at him in love and adoration, and I try so very hard, I long to give this to him, I do not adore him or honor him in the way I am called to do as a woman of God. I KNOW this in my HEAD and WANT to change it but just can not figure out how to get it into my innermost heart.

I know that I want to be right, to be the best…yuck!!! I HATE admitting that, I have tears streaming down my face just thinking of how true that statement is. I want to be right more then to be sweet and gentle.

OH how I long for Gods truth to penetrate the deepest parts of my prideful heart and tear it out by the roots…..

C. I find it so much easier to Love Jesus then i do to love imperfect people:) I Love that he understands, that he is emotional and goofy and always has an encouraging word for me even when he is correcting me. but then i think if i really love him all that much i would be better at loving the husband he gave me……

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    Cyndi, you bring tears to my eyes too. I hate/love revelations like this. They cut deeply and hurt but they break the chains. I am praying for you. We are on the path to freedom.

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      thanks for being on that path with me!!!

        Cyndi and Anne, Amen sisters!

        Cyndi — I know He is so near you know, close to the broken-hearted. We love you and we are all just beggars telling other beggars where to find bread. We are with you.

After the loving messages from all you sisters, it’s impossible not to participate this week, Rebecca :).
You are very dear! Thanks and love you.
I will spend part of this study for my sisters as homework tomorrow (with your permission, Dee:)) . So, I’ll do my homework here. :) !
Part 1- Review
1) I am anxious about time management. So many things to do. When something goes wrong I’m more anxious and a little lost. Heart rate. I’m anxious. I know we should not be anxious about anything, but not always what we know that’s right, we can feel. I don’t know which would be my deep idol. Perhaps control. As if I could lose control of my plans and not following the will of God. I don’t know how I can fix it. Just pray.
2) Pray for dawn. This helps keep my eyes on the Lord. I love waking up at dawn and pray. I love being with him when all is quiet.

PART II. SIN IS BREAKING GOD’S HEART
3) She thought she would find the source of satisfaction.

4) Metaphorically speaking, leads us to “put the shoes”! Enables us to enter into the question, feel, understand the meaning of the text.

6) God loves us and does not want anyone taking a place in our minds, hearts, desires, thoughts. Jesus taught that adultery begins in the heart.

7 –
A-intimacy, trust, first love.
B-No matter where we are when we want deeply the love (husbands), our hearts are one with him. Sincere wish to see, feel, love.
C-I cried a lot of gratitude. I remembered that I had never felt a ‘fill’. Before my conversion I thought I loved God but the deep love that the Lord gave me in my experience with him made me believe that I did not love him before. When I felt the love of God, seen and learned about the profound relationship with a Father, not a distant God, but with my Father I felt comfort and security.

8 – she was the first fruits of God. Whoever touches the firstfruits suffer severe consequences. Likewise we can suffer the consequences of withholding or surrender to another what belongs to God. God defends her because she belongs to Him.

I was meditating on what you said, Dee: The more I study Scripture, the more I see how this theme of idolatry is EVERYWHERE.
It’s true! And as a consequence, the whole biblical story makes us think about our relationship with God. God shows us the penalties of disobedience and unfaithfulness, and the blessings of obedience and loyalty through the Bible.
. The Bible teaches us all about a relationship with Him and this topic (relationship) makes us think about everything: fidelity, holiness, intimacy, trust, love to God.

    Love so many things you said — how the whole Bible fits together — and this:

    I remembered that I had never felt a ‘fill’. Before my conversion I thought I loved God but the deep love that the Lord gave me in my experience with him made me believe that I did not love him before.

Meditating on the question of 3 PART II. SIN IS BREAKING GOD’S HEART,

I believe that adultery can be an emotional adultery before the practice of “sexual immorality”. God wants faithfulness of heart, soul, mind and spirit to teach us what kind of relationship He wants with us.
Another day, we work in the group of women here at home on the theme: “fortresses” (study by the ministry in cells). This study works
2 Co 10. 3-5:
(For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:(For the weapons of our warfare {are} not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) {through God: or, to God}Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; {imaginations: or, reasonings}

I found it interesting because the author quotes David Wilkerson who uses the expression: “Monkey mind”. Says we can be victims of an obsession in our mind if we do not control what goes into it. Something that takes possession of our mind becomes a fortress.
I think the fortress (or fortresses) becomes an “emotional adultery” and leads us to practice the “sexual immorality” because something is already in control of our minds (deep idol).

If I may, Dee, I found something interesting copy of the study ‘Fortresses’:

The study says there are many areas in our lives that can entrench.
We’ve seen much about it here in the blog. But I found it interesting quote.
Many things are lawful, but when they take control of us they become destructive. He cites some examples:
Discussion-It is normal to disagree with someone, but constantly be arguing is a sign of fortress.
Collection – Having a hobby is something acceptable, but be gathering all sorts of stuff obsessively is a fortress.
Food-We all love to eat and we all need to eat, but binge eating is different, it’s fortress.
Exaggeration: There are times when it fits into our communication (hyperbole), but when a person is obsessed with hype, a fortress to be broken.
Perfectionism-do a good job is very important, but always expect to perfect oneself and others is extremism and may raise a fortress.
Reading – reading is good for our education, information and fun. Some, however, become obsessed with reading and it can become isolation.
.
Anger- There are times when anger is allowed. But some manipulate others through anger and wrath.

And he cites others as well as possible forms of dependence: Religious activity, consumption, watch TV, work, internet, etc.. He also says that FEAR is a strong basis for addiction. And says there are seven basic fears that could become fortresses in our lives: Fear of Pain, Fear of Disease, fear of poverty or dire need, fear of rejection, fear of aging, fear of LACK OF LOVE, and Fear of Death.

As you said, Dee, we should ‘replace’ with steps that honor God.

Dee, I did and suggested to them (my small group) that they could use a Bible Concordance and look for the all word (or text) about their own fortress. (to be filled by the Word and Spirit as consequence). What do you think? Love, Polly

    Good thoughts on fortress, or perhaps another word might be stronghold — or stone in our heart!
    Good Polly.

Oh my, I come here to our ‘well of spring water’ and I concur with Dee, God is here..He is moving!

Dee, I think this might be a confirmation of how God is going to move in regard to your book even before it comes out. I do hope this encourages you! It does me!

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    I had the same thought about the upcoming book Rebecca! What an amazing response there has been…and how He has used your sweet spirit to welcome so many new voices here…a fragrant aroma to Him!

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Yes Rebecca, I am encouraged too. I so agree that God is here and moving. I am so thankful!

As I worked to catch up on comments this afternoon something that was said struck me. I have it backwards. My stony heart is just a symptom of lack of passion in my relationship with the Lord. The source of disease is coolness in my relationship with Him that is the result of idolatry. Dee, when you said that a hard heart was caused by idolatry, I believed you but now I think I see the cascade of how it happens. The fact that I don’t feel as I should at times is because I have been adulterous in my relationship with the Lord and have caused distance from Him. AND I can do the whole thing in utter blindness! Open our eyes Lord, please.

    Good — and good prayer for us all from Anne:

    I have been adulterous in my relationship with the Lord and have caused distance from Him. AND I can do the whole thing in utter blindness! Open our eyes Lord, please.

Oh I just found a song..It brought me to worship..If you are hurting please listen as it does go well with our study. I think it will encourage you. :)

Here is the link: http://youtu.be/eC73Qa90phg

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    SO GOOD! Thanks, Rebecca. I listened twice (and will continue to listen until more of it has sunk in)

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    OH that is one of my all time favorites!! I love a lot of hers–but that one is SO good–this may sound strange, but a few years ago I had to have an MRI of my brain–they let me bring a CD and I brought this one and it brought me such peace…the truth in the words is so comforting to me. thanks for the reminder of it–very timely :)

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    Rebecca, that was so beautiful! I put it in my favorites!

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Welcome to Tristi and Dawn!

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Thank you for welcoming me, sisters!

Question 2 is specifically what spawned my inquiry.

“During the forty days before Easter, we practiced different habits of discipline to say no to an idol and yes to God. Share an example of something you did and how it helped you.”

Fasting was mentioned, and I, too, have found that to be very powerful. Memorizing scripture and speaking truth out loud is another one I practice.

What other habits of discipline did you practice?

I am struggling with my thoughts! I do my best to take captive my thoughts to make them obedient to Christ. Today, I not only circled that mountain, but was on the express train around it!

Hence, my probing and subsequent comment about needing new habits.

    Dawn, Oh, o.k.! I am learning how important clarifying really is before answering. :-)

    One discipline that really helped was remembering first to ask God to identify some habits I was engaged in that made it too tempting for me to say yes to my idol and then sin. One of them was watching the news every night. What came with my political shows was a big glass of milk and a huge portion of some kind of sweet item. So I forced myself to read spiritually edifying books instead. I had to do it almost every night to wean myself off of this habit. ;-)

    Also, as you mentioned, fasting, memorizing scripture..I think even going outside for a walk in this beautiful spring weather and just communing with God is HUGE. When all the distractions are set aside and you are looking at His creation you can really listen. Sometimes it is fun to go walking with your verse cards and review your verses. God has spoken to me in a big ways that way before. Wow, this has just wet my appetite to start doing this again..I used to do it all the time when I wasn’t so busy.

    But honestly, just ask God to show you and pay attention to bodily signals such as clenching of the teeth, worry, fear, anxiety, tight shoulders, pacing, etc. Those are signals one of your gods is at work. Trust God, He will put that check in your spirit when you start going toward your idol, and once you see it begin you have to turn..Pray, read, sing spiritual songs.

    OH and REMEMBER, if you don’t turn and you do mess up..Don’t feel shame or give up, Jesus wants to rescue you..He will show you His mercy and give you His grace to turn. He didn’t rescue you on that cross and then leave you alone to fend for yourself. He will continue to rescue you.

    Sorry this is so long, but I don’t have time to edit this morning. :-)

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      great answer Rebecka!! not sure what you would have edited out of that one.

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      Thank you so much, Rebecca!

      I appreciate your efforts, both your clarifying and replying, and personablity!

      I just finished my mom’s Bible study, we meet during the school year, and I feel as though I am sitting across the table from you :)

      I am glad to know there are caring sisters in Christ gathering here, to see real discussion, and that our words are not just floating off into cyberspace.

      All praise and glory to God!

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Wow, what an awesome group and study! Still trying to catch up. SO glad to be here.

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I prayed this morning and asked God to show me my deep idols. I had the most frustrating day in a long time and I finally was able to see that my deep idol is control and I was so frustrated b/c I kept running up against situations I couldn’t control. And then, at church our Pastor was talking about idols of our heart and how to discover ours. Talk about an exhausting, humbling day! I’m off to bed. I’ll try to get caught up this weekend.

    Jessica, WOW!! You know what encouraged me as God was revealing my idols was hearing Keller say that that is 1/2 the battle!!! A huge hunk of the battle is just recognizing it. So exciting! You are so close to being freed!

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      Yes that was very encouraging to me too! When I was lamenting over how messed up I was, I reminded myself that the face that I’m aware I have issues is half the battle. At least I’m not totally blinded to them and so that means I’m on the right path. We all are!

      Thanks, Rebecca!

        Jessica, Amen sister!! :)

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My Goddness! So many to Welcome!! It’s so nice to have you all here! I have enjoyed reading everyone’s comments! Prayers to all of you.

7. A. How does God describe Israel, His Bride, when she was young, and He had just rescued her out of the slavery of Egypt? (verse 2)

She LOVED Him and followed Him through the wilderness..Trusted Him through the unknown.

B. This is a positive intimate image, a picture of a bride so in love that she will follow her husband anywhere – a “whither thou goest, I will go” bride, who is content as long as she is with him. Were you ever a bride like this to an earthly husband? If so, share how you felt.

Oh yes..I remember our first night together on our wedding night and during our honeymoon. I was just like this passage with my husband..Anything he said, did or whatever..I was in complete love euphoria. :-)

C. Can you remember how you were when you first came into a relationship with the Lord? Did you experience euphoria, first love joy, a honeymoon time?

Oh yes, I remember as clear as day. It was Spring every day. I was in tune to Him so deeply, and talk about sensing His presence. It was a daily thing, not just once in a while like it is now. Every morning I woke up thinking of Him, all day long, I couldn’t help but tell everyone about Him and I so wanted to serve Him, daily give myself to Him. I lost myself in Him, in the word..journaled to Him, so close to Him.

8. How did the Lord defend her according to Jeremiah 2:3?

All who came against her were held guilty and disaster overtook them.

    Love your “first love” descriptions, Rebecca.

Good Morning dear sisters,

I had disappointing news yesterday in that David C. Cook does not want to publish this study but wants a different study from me. They just published a book by Kelly Minter called No Other Gods and don’t want to compete with her, which I understand.

Yet I feel called to do this study, so I am in a time of uncertainty. God is mysterious but I long to trust Him, and also not make an idol of this guide. I do feel God wants it out — I don’t think I’m mistaken about that — but need to be open too.

Please pray for wisdom and likemindedness for my an my agent — which door we should knock on next.

Thanks so much.

Dee

    Dee, Will be praying..This disappointed me, but what is exciting is that God’s plans are always different than we think-even when we think we see the road map, He always surprises us with new twists and turns. It will be exciting to see what He is going to further do with this and I haven’t thought about being watchful not to make an idol of this guide, but yes I agree, that makes sense.

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    I will pray too.

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    Lord we are so thankful for what You are doing in each one of our lives and for Your presence here among us corporately. We know that You are here with us, bringing Your kingdom here and now. This dream has come to Dee and all of us are harvesting benefit from her work. We are so thankful and would like to see many more of Your children grow in this way. There is such need for discipleship in Your body. When reading of the dream and life work of Chalmers I yearned for such men and women in every church today. What an army we would be!

    So Lord we ask that this work go forward in the manner that You have ordained. We accept that it is not to be with this publisher and we believe that You have a better plan. That is what we ask for, Your way and Your power, in Jesus’ Name. Amen

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    That is disappointing, Dee. I’ve been praying today (checked this on my cell phone before I got out of bed, but I’m not as good a thumb typist as Tracy!) and will continue to pray for guidance for both of you. I know this is just “more words” and I’m sure you’re more familiar with publishers than I am, but when I look for study guides I automatically go to IVP or NavPress. I have no reason to do that other than habits from being exposed to them in young adulthood. Hmmm…. demonstrates the power of marketing to customers and keeping them for life.

    Breakthrough for me today: I used to pray as naturally as breathing, and sometime in the last 6 months to 2 years, my prayers became less frequent and less like breathing. Today, at work, I noticed that praying is becoming part of my thinking/breathing again :) I’m so grateful to God.

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      Yes, Dee, I will join everyone else in praying for clear directions for you from God. He definitely has a Plan and He will point you in the right direction!

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    Dee, I am praying for you and your book. It is so important and needs to be out there. I’m so sorry for that news, but I know God has a plan. I will keep praying.

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Praying NOW for the Perfect Plan of God in your Ordered Steps. His Will, His Way, His Word!! I know what it has already done here so I pray for the Master-filled Multiplication as it liberates the lives of other Women of God around the world. THANK YOU for the Seed you have already planted. We gratefully Expect an Eternal Harvest!

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Dee, I am so sorry:( but I am confident that God has a much better plan!
http://youtu.be/4mmgV6mPvb0
what if our blessings come as raindrops….
This song has touched my heart so deeply.
I have to share with you friends that God is breaking my heart for my pride and self-reliance. I have always known is was wrong but never FELT in my HEART its blackness the way I am feeling it right now. I am sure it is your sweet prayers that have opened my heart to feel this for what it is. A very strong layer is being ripped off by our dear aslan, but his claws are so sharp and it hurts so much to know how much i have hurt my dear husbands heart!
I think that I have used my pride to protect myself, and now that it is being ripped from me I am so tender that I want to put it back on sooooooooo bad.
I really did think i had this one kicked, i knew it was there and thought that i had taken it off, but OH sisters, I am humbled to my knees at what Jesus is doing in my heart this morning.

    Cyndi, GREAT SONG! I love this song. Was listening to it yesterday. :)

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    Thanks Cyndi! Both Laura Story’s heart behind the song (http://youtu.be/Nz9irePc-iI) and the lyrics (and the melody) spoke to me so powerfully. Decided to post the lyrics here rather than cut and paste a few parts:

    We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
    Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
    We pray for healing, for prosperity
    We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

    All the while You hear each spoken need
    Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

    ‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
    What if Your healing comes through tears?
    What if a thousand sleepless nights
    Are what it takes to know You’re near?

    What if trials of this life
    Are Your mercies in disguise?

    We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
    We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
    We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
    As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

    And all the while You hear each desperate plea
    And long that we’d have faith to believe

    ‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
    What if Your healing comes through tears?
    And what if a thousand sleepless nights
    Are what it takes to know You’re near?

    And what if trials of this life
    Are Your mercies in disguise?

    When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win
    We know that pain reminds this heart
    That this is not, this is not our home
    It’s not our home

    ‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
    What if Your healing comes through tears?
    And what if a thousand sleepless nights
    Are what it takes to know You’re near?

    What if my greatest disappointments
    Or the aching of this life
    Is the revealing of a greater thirst
    This world can’t satisfy?

    And what if trials of this life
    The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
    Are Your mercies in disguise?
    From http://www.xtralyrics.com

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      That is the second time in two days that I’ve read those lyrics! I must listen soon.

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      These are hard truths to take in.

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    Love that song, Cyndi…Thanks

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8.God gave His best to Isreal, he protected her from all that would harm her.
she went back just like a dog goes back to it’s vomit, we like what is familiar, even if it is bad. We would so much rather have the comfortable then the new and better, it just how we are:(

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3. Gomer left Hosea to go to her lovers thinking that they would provide for her as Hosea had. She gave no thought for him, only for herself…cutting deep again.

4. I am guessing at the purpose of a metaphor in scripture. I think it might be like me trying to help my dog understand something. I would have to use something she understood like the concept that all cats except our Cleo are not supposed to be in her yard (this is her thinking). That might be a crude parallel but so far is our understanding from God’s. By using a picture of something we know, something common to us He conveys spiritual truth to us. So much of this world seems to be created to give us understanding of Him, like the sun, water/thirst and bread/hunger. I wonder if Adam and Eve were married as we know marriage or if God established marriage after the fall. Anyway, God uses the feelings associated with marriage, good or bad to give us understanding of our relationship with Him. Since we are not in His presence His attributes are not really tangible so He is hard for us to understand.

5. Thoughts on Hosea 3:1: The emotions raised by infidelity in marriage are the strongest emotions known to man. Marriage requires the deepest trust and vulnerability, not only emotionally but physically. Infidelity can bring some of the worst physical disease that there is. Retribution for the emotional pain is legendary. I am sure that every area has its legends. Here it is Laura Foster and Tom Dula. Every time I drive home I pass Laura Foster’s grave in a meadow. She was murdered by her lover Tom Dula because of infidelity.

6. The metaphor of infidelity really gives me understanding of what God is conveying here. I wonder why it is that humans tend to see God as without feelings. Maybe it is because people who are powerful among us seem not to feel or suffer as the rest of us do.

    So good Anne:

    The emotions raised by infidelity in marriage are the strongest emotions known to man. Marriage requires the deepest trust and vulnerability, not only emotionally but physically

    Is there a song about Tom Dula — hang down your head Tom Dula — or is that Tom Dooley?

        I enjoyed that too Dee.

        This thinking about Tom Dula has reminded me of a book called Cold Mountain. There were some things about it that I did not like but it was a good book about this area from the same time period.

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Joyce, I am reading a newsletter on dementia and came across an article about music and dementia from Columbia University. Researcher Oliver Sacks wrote the book Musicophilia but the article is written by a music therapist. I will mail the article to you if you like. I know time is short for Mary Kay but music that she loved could bring calming and maybe even some words. If you email your address to me I will send it to you.

Remember the copy of Dee’s Friendships of Women you sent to me? I wanted to give it to someone and never did. A couple of weeks ago I was praying with another mom and she was so burdened with something she could not share concerning her daughter in college. The Lord brought that book to mind and I gave it to her. She is now passing it on to her daughter. I thought I wasted your book but the Lord has His own plans for it.

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    Yes, good idea, Anne. Music is often effective with people who have dementia. Other familiar “things” such as the Lord’s prayer and other well known Scripture verses also have a calming effect. Sometimes people who haven’t been able to talk for a long time even sing along to hymns, recite verses/the Lord’s prayer.

    And another idea I got from Dee, either on this blog or in her book :) Dee mentioned that she crawled into bed with her mom when she was near death. During my mom’s last few days, I was right next to the bed for awhile, but after one night of sleeping on the floor and the next night going over backwards in a recliner (it was pretty funny), I asked if I could crawl into bed right next to her (good thing it was a hospital bed with railings). She was in a lot of pain, on morphine, and one of the staff questioned it — but someone else told her she had observed mom’s calmness when I was next to her (I had done it once before when she was in a “regular” bed and there were so many visitors that the rest of the bed was the most comfortable spot in the room :) ).

    Joyce, it may not work for you to spend 24 hrs next to her, but a little while MAY be helpful. I wouldn’t have thought of it if Dee hadn’t written about it. It did work well for us — and I couldn’t ask for better memories than the last few days I spent with her, including the last day when I was right next to her in bed (and I slept better than night than I had on the floor or upside down in a recliner!).

    Thank you, Dee, for being a role model.

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      Thanks Renee, that was helpful to know what you done with your mom…that must of comforted your mom so much too. I remember Dee saying that in her book, too. I don’t get a chance to do that in the unit, as her bed is a single and no bars, up against a wall on one side. If she raises up an alarm goes off, as she has fallen out of bed before. But now that she has become so stiff, she can’t try to get out now. All I can do is sit by her as Dennis does and tell her how much God loves her and I love her. Her eye’s say it all. She looks desperate at us. It breaks our hearts. She can’t even speak now. With Pick’s disease, they still have memory, unlike Alhzemers. It would be easier if she didn’t know, but they say she will lose her memory too, as she forgets how to eat and breath. Thank you for sharing that, Renee.

      Renee — thanks so much for sharing this. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

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    Thank you, Anne…I would love to have you send that to me. I will e-mail my address to you. My brother, Dennis goes to the alhz. unit and they put Mary Kay on the couch with a recliner an Dennis sits by her and holds her hand and leans his head on her shoulder. She can’t respond, (can’t talk or hardly move now) but he does this every evening as they watch TV and he said sometimes they put in a DVD that plays soft music and pretty pictures for the patients. He said it was depressing for him, but it may be good for the patients. He said the music makes him refect and is sad, but now I wonder if they don’t know about music being good for the patients, since you mentioned this. I’ll be anxious to read about it. Thank you so much!

    I’m so glad you passed that book on to someone that needs it. And who knows, maybe they will pass it on too! Thanks for telling me!

Thanks for all your prayers — my agent has another publisher who seems excited — so pray we know — we have hope — we need wisdom.

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    I will definitely pray for God’s leading in this!

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    praying!

      Prayed this morning..Will keep praying! Thanks for the update! :)

Thank you all for your prayers. Lots to decide — my agent feels they will do an excellent job — so thanks.

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    I will pray also, Dee – for God to make known for sure your calling to this and for this material to go forth!

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    Good news, perhaps a new and fruitful association will grow from this.

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PART II. SIN IS BREAKING GOD’S HEART

3. Read Hosea 2:5. Why did she leave Hosea? What was her thinking?

She mistakenly thinks it is her lovers who provide for her needs; but she’s only thinking of bread/food, and clothing – her physical needs. Perhaps she thinks their food is richer, and their clothing finer, than what her husband can give her.

4. What is the purpose of a metaphor in Scripture?

To picture for us who God is and what He is like.

5. In Hosea, God explains why He is asking Hosea to make his life a painful living metaphor. Find it in Hosea 3:1. Camp out here for awhile and reflect. What phrases stand out to you? How does this speak to you in your life?

I think God is asking Hosea to be a skin-on-bones, i.e., a living example to God’s people to show them the truth about their relationship with God. God asks Hosea to love Gomer even as He loves “the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes”. Hosea is to represent God, and Gomer represents Israel.

Phrases that stand out to me: “Go again” – God’s love is unfailing, it is a PURSUING LOVE – He will love again, and again, and again, no matter how many times we fall and fail.
There is no point at which God says, ‘I’m done with you’.

“Go again, love…” The simplicity of this; often people who have fallen away from God will say that they turned back to Him, recommitted their life to Him, but I believe the reality is they had no power to return to Him; it was God drawing them back to Him – He goes after us again with LOVE; He draws us back, not with scolding and yelling and threat of punishment, but with love.

“love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress…”
Wow. Why does a woman turn to adultery in the first place? Is it because she is unhappy or unsatisfied in her marriage due to a neglectful husband or feels unloved by him? Yet here is a woman who IS LOVED by her husband, yet an adulteress.
That’s me, too. A woman who is so loved by God, by a God who did not spare His own Son for me, by Jesus who loved me unto death – yet I commit spiritual adultery against my Husband who loves me and has loved me to the point of dying for me. Jesus laid aside everything that was His to come after me.

I’m reading “Little Pilgrim’s Progress” with my daughter. From chapter 9:

“It was the picture of a Man whose face was more beautiful than anything little Christian had ever imagined. He was walkling over a mountain path. All around Him, among the rocks, grew briars and thorns, which had torn His garments in many places, and His feet were bleeding, for the rough stones had wounded Him. In His arms He carried a little lamb. It was tired and had laid its head upon His shoulder, AND HE WAS LOOKING DOWN AT IT WITH GENTLE, LOVING EYES. Underneath the picture, in letters of gold, were written the words:

HE SHALL GATHER THE LAMBS WITH HIS ARM,
AND CARRY THEM NEAR HIS HEART.

“Was the lamb lost?” asked little Christian. “Yes,” replied the Interpreter, “lost and ready to die. Did you not see how tired it looks, and how its fleece is torn and soiled? But the Good Shepherd heard its cry, and He never rested until He had found it, and then He brought it home in His arms.”

6. How does this metaphor of marital intimacy help you understand the heart of God?

That one aspect of God’s heart for me is how a husband feels about his wife. God pursued me and won me for Himself; He became my Husband and He desires to love, protect, and provide for me; He loves me with a jealous love; He will not share me with other lovers. He desires that I return His love by loving Him and being faithful to Him alone. He wants me to grow and blossom into the person He made me to be, in the security of His love.

    Love this insight — that you gained by really contemplating, Susan:

    Wow. Why does a woman turn to adultery in the first place? Is it because she is unhappy or unsatisfied in her marriage due to a neglectful husband or feels unloved by him? Yet here is a woman who IS LOVED by her husband, yet an adulteress.
    That’s me, too. A woman who is so loved by God, by a God who did not spare His own Son for me, by Jesus who loved me unto death – yet I commit spiritual adultery against my Husband who loves me and has loved me to the point of dying for me. Jesus laid aside everything that was His to come after me.

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      Susan–that was so helpful for me. To think about WHY I leave my First Love, my Holy Husband…is it for the instant (but futile) satisfaction that my idol brings? I grow impatient waiting on His ways and turn to my own?
      This insight was really good!

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    Susan, thanks so much for sharing from Pilgrim’s Progress. I love the picture of Jesus’ victory, carrying His little lamb, weary and torn. He will not rest until He has carried each one home.

What a percolating praying loving group.

Finish up your contemplations on Jeremiah 2 and the sermon audio — and bless Rebecca. New post tomorrow!

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Dear Chris S.,

I do hope you are still with us, I want to welcome you and assure you along with the others that you are welcome here along with your grief and heartache; we will pray for you and hurt along with you.

I just went back to read the older posts and read about your son, Daniel. It moved me to tears and I am so sorry, there are no words, for your loss. I have also a 17 year old son and I cannot imagine losing him.

It’s okay to ‘be a mess’. You are still grieving. I came to this blog just a few months after the death of my 21 year old nephew in July of 2009. He died of an overdose of heroin and cocaine. There are days when his death is still so raw and painful. My sister, his mom, expresses many of the feelings you wrote about. There are days she wants to ‘exit this earth’, too.
I can’t imagine how badly you must be hurting. I’m glad you came here and I wish we could all physically put our arms around you and hug you, but in spirit, we are doing it.

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    Thank you for your tears and your kindness to me.
    I am sorry for your families loss too.

    Since Daniel’s death we have had his friends recount to us such touching things. He took one girl, who was the type of girl who peers would shun & mock, to the center of the dance floor, clearing the way & twirling her around. She had been crying prior to this because teens were being cruel to her. She said he told her not to let other people tell her how to feel about herself. Another told us that she was on the brink of suicide, he told her how sad that would make him, and how he would miss her and hate that she would be gone,she said he saved her that night. She asked him not to tell anyone, she sent me a facebook message. Another girls mother wrote telling me that he had restored her daughters self esteem.
    I knew he was good, but I am moved to tears again and again by these stories. I miss him so much. His future seemed so bright a year ago.

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      Chris, Daniel sounds like a very special young man. Even though his life was short, he blessed people with it.

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Jessica,
I printed out the page that has your post about the quote from Archbishop William Temple. “Your religion is what you do with your solitude.” It went on to say that the true god of your heart is what your thoughts effortlessly go to…
I think this gives excellent insight into how we may discern our deep idols. I can already think of one example from my life that occured several years ago, and what was dominating my thoughts. It was an idol, for sure.

Thanks so much for sharing this!

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7. Read Jeremiah 2:1-2.

A. How does God describe Israel, His bride, when she was young, and He had just rescued her out of the slavery of Egypt?

I like the Message: “I remember your youthful loyalty, our love as newlyweds. You stayed with me through the wilderness years, stuck with me through all the hard places.”

Israel was the starry-eyed bride; she looked at her Husband through rose-colored glasses; she had the “it’s us against the world” attitude.

B. This is a positive, intimate image, a picture of a bride so in love that she will follow her husband anywhere – a “whither thou goest I will go” bride, who is content as long as she is with him. Were you ever a bride like this to an earthly husband?

I’m afraid I can relate more to what Cyndi posted in answer to this question. I, too, was not the starry eyed bride who worshipped the ground her husband walked on. I, too, wanted to have the power and control in our marriage. I expected him to worship the ground that I walked on instead. At the very start of our marriage, and I wont go into the details, but the events concerning our wedding there was a power struggle right off the bat between me and my mother-in-law. That set the stage for years of resentment on my part.
The other thing I admit is having more loyalty to my family (parents) than to my husband.

C. Can you remember how you were when you first came into a relationship with the Lord?

I had a very vivid mental picture of running into the arms of Jesus and of His embracing me, I remember weeping and an overwhelming sense of relief. I remember dismay at not really having anyone to share this with; my husband didn’t understand, nor my family; and I was in a denomination that really didn’t clearly explain the gospel, so I don’t think at that time I even understood what salvation was all about or what it meant.

8. How did the Lord defend her according to Jeremiah 2:3?

Anyone who hurt His Bride, Israel, was held guilty by the Lord and God sent evil and disaster upon those who hurt Israel.

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    I like the Message: “I remember your youthful loyalty, our love as newlyweds. You stayed with me through the wilderness years, stuck with me through all the hard places.”

    I was thinking about how short lived this attitude from the nation of Israel was.
    How quickly they turned to making a calf to worship, how they grumbled about the manna.
    I think it is humbling to see God holding him memory of the fleeting time when his brides heart was for him alone.

    I have wondered concerning the manna if they has praised and thanked God for it, and then asked for meat, instead of grumbling and complaining, if that part the story could have been very different.

Wow I miss so much when away!! Praying for all things. Love to you all. Have a great weekend!!

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7)A. “you loved me and followed me”
B.
My favorite photo from my wedding is one taken as we walked back down the aisle, hand in hand, leaving the ceremony. My face says it all—there is such a change in my demeanor in that picture verses the ones taken prior. I remember the feeling—I was free, I was rescued, I was walking with my best friend since I was 16. The road ahead ended up much much darker than I anticipated, but I can honestly, humbly say, He has not only restored but increased that joy and trust.
C.
I believe Jesus first called me to Him when I was 5 and my faith was strong, steady throughout high school, never doubted, but I can’t recall euphoria. But in college I was struck (may have been while reading Henri Nouwen’s Prodigal Son), but I was convicted that I was the older son. My goody-two-shoe-ness that I wore like a crown, was my sin, my departure from Him. That led to a true renewal and deepening love…I felt like I could feel Him everywhere, especially in nature. I’ve definitely lost some of that over the years, I sense that as I remember what I used to feel. I’ve allowed so many “good things”—parenting, duties, etc…distract me from the simple way I used to see Him everywhere.

8. Disaster overtook them

9. She thought they would offer her something better. When I think of why I have left my First Love, I realize how subtly it happens. It starts by just wanting to keep an organized home or not have our schedule out of balance…and then it becomes a controlling obsession—I get irritated if the dog wasn’t let out and I have to do it and waste 5 precious minutes of my highly structured schedule.
Or I intend to read my Bible and work on my study, but remember the “one thing’ I wanted to look up on the computer and before I know it 45 minutes has passed and my Bible is still sitting closed.
Or even more often, an issue arises and I know in my heart to first turn to Him and pray, but I seek the quick relief route instead and call my husband or a friend to hash it out with.

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    Me, too, Elizabeth! How many mornings do I have the intention of spending time with Him, only to think, well, first I’ll clean the bathroom and then when that’s out of the way, then I’ll have time. Needless to say, something else needs done after that and then the kids are home from school, and dinner, and….. and I have left God out of another day.
    I, too, think in my mind that I need to pray about an issue, but instead pick up the phone and call my sister or my closest friend.

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5. Susan, what you said about Hosea being the skin-on-bones word of God took me back to #5. Why did Hosea have to EXPERIENCE this marriage? Why could this not be just a revelation from God that he passed on to the Israelites? Didn’t all of the prophets LIVE God’s heart? They felt His pain. Perhaps that is the fire from which their words came but I think there is more to it than that. It may also be a matter of authority. Because of their experience had the authority to speak God’s truth to others. How often do we hesitate to speak in situations outside of our experience? This may explain why our trials are necessary, as Laura Story speaks of in her song.

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Rebecca–in my first post for this week I mentioned what a tremendous gift you have been to me personally through this blog–so much so that my husband even asks “anything new from Rebecca?” Your comments and posts are a blessing.

I wanted to share one more thing before we move on-
I looked up your name in Hebrew and it means “to tie; to bind; captivating, beautiful”. It made me smile to find that because in this blog I feel like you have this way of tying us all together–you have such a nurturing, encouraging spirit…and your heart is captivating, beautiful, and now your picture confirms that as Dee said when she met you–you are as beautiful on the outside as the inside.

I am so thankful for the gift of you!

    Oh Elizabeth, Thanks so much! WOW…Your encouragement has been such a balm to me this week, and I too am thankful for you! God is good!

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4. God uses metaphor in scripture so we human creatures can comprehend his heavenly language.

5. Memorize Hosea 3:1

Then the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover, and is committing adultery, just like the love of the LORD for the children of Israel who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.” (NKJV)

When I first read this verse the phrase ‘Go again’ spoke to me and reminded me of God’s relentless pursuit for my heart. He has never given up on me knowing him properly. I was also intrigued by the phrase ‘raisin cakes of the pagans’ and discovered raisin cakes were thanksgiving offerings to the gods of the pagans. The Israelites always seem to be giving credit to false gods for the goodness of their lives instead of the One True God. I do the same thing when I believe the illusion I’m in control of my life.

6. I’ve been pondering this question all week and find it’s hard to put into words what I want to say. I know God’s heart yearns for my faithfulness and I see myself currently in a period of getting to know God, not just better, but as the true lover of my soul. Having experienced what is called the ultimate emotional abuse in a marriage, I can better understand how God must have felt all those years ago when I shook my fist in his face and told him I knew what was best for my life and I knew what I was doing. I didn’t realize at the time that I had chosen a false god over the One True God and as I have shared before that ‘god’ almost took my life. God’s mercy is so evident in my life. Just this week I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of FBC Dallas Tx, preach at my church. His sermon was on the subject of forgiveness. The selected text was Matthew 18:21-35-the parable of the king and the wicked servant. When I went to bed that night, the tears began to flow as I saw myself as the wicked servant, one who had received the mercy of the king yet wanted to hold on to how I had been done wrong. I saw clearly how my sins have offended God. It’s very painful to admit what God already knows but it’s freeing at the same time.

7.A. God’s Bride is described as a woman who is willing to follow her husband to a place that is not yet life sustaining. This brought to mind a picture of wagon trains headed west.

7.C. When I first came into relationship with the Lord it was a time of extreme joy. I knew he had changed my heart and others commented that they could see a change had taken place.

8. God promised to send disaster to those who violated his Bride.

9. Yes, I listened to the sermon and one of my first thoughts was Dr. Keller is such a great equipper. His ability to explain the deep truths in understandable termninology and with such a loving heart, is a testimony of his devotion to God.

I appreciated his teaching on true repentance. Self-pity is not true repentance. His definition of SELF is one of the clearest I’ve ever heard. Kill that side of me that wants to take all the glory. But the sentence that caught my undivided attention was “You have to learn to preach to yourself”. No one can live MY Christian life but me. I am responsible for my growth and no one else’s.

10. First of all let me say a belated welcome to all the newcomers. It is great that our group is experiencing growth.

My take-a-way this week is Dr. Keller’s sermon and the love I have seen demonstrated among my sisters this week.

11. Rebecca you are one of the most enthusiastic Christians I know. I believe God brought you into my life as a female Barnabas. You always encourage me especially when I think what I’ve said has not be expressed correctly.

Dee, I’m sorry the publisher was not interested in this study. As I was reminded yesterday, God has the plans and he lets us know one day at a time. He’ll let you know what he has in store for you. Thank you for giving all of us a place to grow together.

    Tammy — wonderful sharing. You do understand the pain of emotional abuse, and that gives us understanding into the heart of God.

    Your response of repentance is what we all need.

    And thank you — the good news is that another publisher, perhaps a better one for this, has made an offer and I think this may be how God is leading. We will see — my agent will talk to them more next week.

    Blessings Tammy.

      Dee, GREAT news! I am trying not to get TOO overboard excited, but heck..I WILL!! You hooo!! Thanks Cyndi for rubbing off on me! haha! :-)

    Tammy, You encourage me with your insight, your honesty and just to see how God is bringing beauty out of the pain of your past. Your life truly is demonstrating how God can make beauty out of ashes..

    Thanks so much for your encouragement too!! It means a lot to me, to see how God is working through me. To Him be the glory amen! :)

Dee, I just want to personally thank you for honoring us this way by putting up posts for the upcoming weeks and giving us the opportunity to be encouraged by and blessed by one another. This has really been a blessing and has lifted me up and has helped me desire to continue seeing people as God sees them and has enhanced my desire to encourage and lift up in love and in truth.

When Tammy said I was a Barnabus, I never thought of God using me that way, but you all have made me aware that He might possibly be..I want to continue to be faithful in following the prompting of the Holy Spirit to honestly encourage others as I have been encouraged by Him.

I am so looking forward to the coming weeks, the bible study of course, but also to see the pictures and hear the testimony of all my wonderful sisters here!

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    Rebecca, you are a shining star to us sister’s here. I always look forward to your comments and encouragement. You light up my life!

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Blessings to you Rebecca! You are such an encourager and your posts are full of insight. I often save them to ponder later. Thanks for helping me grow closer to Jesus. :)

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Rebecca, I agree that you have the gift of understanding and encouragement. I was thinking today about how many times you have encouraged me. You are definitely salt and light among us. Thank you for perfecting your walk with the Lord because in it we are blessed.

Lord, thank You so much for bringing Rebecca to this blog. I pray that You will sustain her in every step. May she soar with wings like an eagle. Bless her husband and their boys with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus. May each one realize how you have gifted him and use those gifts for Your glory. May You be blessed by this family. Amen

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Rebecca
I am in awe of your attitude while bringing up 4 boys, what a great spirit you are and Im sure they are so blessed by your ability to see what is good in a person and draw that out!
have you read that book:) a.d.d moment! the bringing up boys book by Dobsin, really good stuff. there is also one about raising a modern day night that i love!
I love your sweet heart and your teachable spirit and your gift of encouragement…more then encouragement, discernment to be able to see what there is in a person that looks like our Jesus! an amazing gift that I wish I had!!!!!

    Cyndi — could you check your e-mail? Wanting to share something in tomorrow’s post, but had a question for you first!

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I married my soul mate when I was only 17 for 9 yrs, We were so much in love, but he was abusive..after he came home from Viet Nam…it changed him forever. I never stopped loving him, but had to leave or be killed by him. He also messed around on me.

I remarried a year later (too soon) and we were married 10 yrs. also and had our three children. He was 5 yrs. younger than me. He was messing around and left me right after Kendra, our 3rd and special needs child (24 yrs. now),was born. We were very happy when we married…I wasn’t ready to remarry, but he begged me, so I did. Our love was more of a lust and soon faded away, especially after our kids were born. He was not a good daddy…so selfish and too young…wasn’t ready to settle down for good. I was a single parent for 3 yrs. then.

I met my husband now, when my kids were 8,5 and Kendra 3 yrs. We knew each other all through school. His wife left him the same month and year for someone else too. They had a boy and girl, 8 and 12. So we married and had 5 kids…blended family…very, very hard. I wanted to run as fast as I could, but I was commited. We have been married for 21 yrs. last thursday the 12th. All the kids are gone except Kendra and it’s Daddy and his girls! (Me, Kendra and our doggy). Maurice (pronounced Morris) is the best husband and daddy in the world! He spoils Kendra and they are best buddies! When he took all of us on, he was the most scard of taking on a disabled child. As it turned out, the older kids were always fighting and Kendra was his baby! She still is…just alot bigger!! She has Cerebral Palsy with siezures and mentally challenged. Maurice and my love was different than the last two, when we married. It was more of a mature, secure love as if we had been married for 30 yrs. Us girls feel loved and secure and spoiled. He is a good man and would do anything for us.

God knew what he was doing. I don’t know why I had to go through so much to finally find the right husband, but God knew who would be the most wonderful husband and daddy for us. Even my older kids wish Maurice was their real father. They love him and he’s been more of a dad than their own father, they say. So all things do work out for the best.

I was not raised in a christian home…God was never mentioned in our home. I gave my heart to him when I was in my early 20’s. It was as if I was madly in love with God and Jesus and I could not get enough of him and the word and songs and christian people. I was on fire for him! I read the Bible constantly and sang songs to him as I worked in the garden and anywhere I was alone. It was a joyful time for me. It was also the worst time for me…as I was being beaten and almost strangled several times. But God was there for me. Over the years, as I remarried and had kids, my excitement for God got put back on the back burner. It was rekindled BIG TIME when my husband left me with three little kids! The kids and I were on fire for God again! Then when life got all messy with a blended family for years, my Bible got dusty again. After the older kids left home, I quit working full time and stayed home and babysat for many years, to be home with Kendra…as she was being abused at school AND daycare!

I’m tired just remembering all this! It has been quit a journey. I am 61 now and maurice 63. I lost both my parents and three special girl friends and lots of relatives and other friends. I have been on fire for God now in a more constant, steady, secure, mature type love that grow every day. I have learnt so much in just the last couple years here on this blog with Dee. I am still just a babe in Christ, tho. It’s almost like I had to go through all the suffering and trials to reach God and draw nearer to him. I wouldn’t trade a thing, as it’s all been a growing, steady road of love for my savior! God is first in my life and I am praying he will take my idols away and he will fill them up with his love. You are all helping me grow in his love, by being there for me too!

    Joyce — I’m so glad you shared your story with us — helps us understand you better. I remember meeting you after your husband had left when Kendra was born. You have had a hard life, but you have clung to God, and His beauty shines through you.

    Joyce, Thanks for sharing your story and your heart! Dee is so right when she said you have clung to God through it all and are beautiful..I think God will give you opportunities to be able to help and minister to others who are going through similar circumstances. I am sure he has already worked through you in that way.

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    Joyce, your story brought me tears. I am humbled by your faith, your strength. It is so evident how your surrender to Him has let your trials be used to refine you…to bring Him glory. Even without seeing you, your presence here has always shone with His love and grace towards others. Thank you for sharing this. I have so much respect for you.

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    Joyce
    Reading your story has brought me to tears and left me speechless. I am honored to call you sister.

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    Joyce,
    Thanks so much for sharing this. Your perseverance is amazing!

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Joyce,

“It’s almost like I had to go through all the suffering and trials to reach God and draw nearer to him. I wouldn’t trade a thing”

I hope I can someday say the same thing. Thank you for sharing your story.

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Thank you everyone. I want to tell you that I was going to Dee’s bible studies at the time and Dee stepped in and helped us so much with prayer, food from the church and gifts for christmas for the kids for a couple years, money and helped get me a job at the clinic where her husband was a Doctor. The Doctor’s at the clinic even gave me health insurance right away (Kendra would of been almost impossible to get insurance on) and paid my back medical bills, as my husband had let our insurance lapse and our house payments (lost our home and car),too. There was alot of medical bills for Kendra’s birth and hospital stay after she was born, as she was siezuring. They covered 80 percent of the bills (My ex-husband had to pay the rest)….Amazing christian Doctor’s! But more amazing was Dee in the way she took over and helped us. I ask her one time…”How can I ever repay you”? She said, “You can, by helping someone else in need someday.” I take every oportunity to do that whenever I see a need. Dee, you are an Angel here on earth! Love you!

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I just realized I did not finish the post.

9. Did you listen to the message by Tim Keller? What stood out to you? I found the sermon so encouraging. After listening I think I am growing more than I thought. The thing that was the most helpful to me was at then end when he taught us about the 2 types of conviction of sin. I have felt the legalistic conviction and have begun to think that it was not from God. Like when I sense being judged by others. Now I see that the difference is in me. God does convict differently than man but with either I must take it to the cross. What I love, love, love is how the right heart of repentance squashes the idol. It loses its power over me. Looking back I can see that I have had that happen to me. I chose Jesus over temptation and I was never again bothered by that temptation. Now I see why.

10. What is your take-a-way this week? My take away is HOPE. I feel that I have some tools. I have gained knowledge about idols and how they work. It is not just head knowledge but some things that I can apply. Jesus is so much more real to me and I LOVE Him. Dee, I sense great wisdom in what Leslie has shared with you. I want to follow Him and I should not ask for more than He has given me at this point. So we dance and I do not lead.

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