EVANGELISM AND THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD (PRELUDE TO JONAH)

It was a Friday night in mid-winter, and Steve was troubled about a patient. “She’s a sweet woman named Mildred and I think she has but a few days before she faces God. I sent her home today for there’s nothing more medicine can do for her. I’ve gone into her room several times in hopes of sharing Christ with her, but her husband is always there and always talking non-stop.”

“What are you going to do?”

“How would you feel about driving to their farm with me to visit tomorrow?”

“What about the talkative husband?”

“I’ll ask him to show me his barn, and while we’re out at the barn, you can share the gospel with her.”

“Hmmmm,” I said, feeling some Jonah like reluctance.

Steve smiled.

Slowly, I nodded.

He hugged me and prayed God would give us favor.

And so, in the morning, we headed out in the country to visit Mildred and Mike.

When we arrived, Mildred was in the living room on the sofa, wrapped in blankets. Her husband was talking… but Steve interrupted him: “Mike — I’d love for you to give me a tour of your barn!”

“Nah,” he said. “It’s a mess.”

“Oh — I’d still really like to see it.” Steve stood up — ready to go.

“Nah. Not going to show it to you. Come back in the spring. I’m staying right here with you and Mildred.”

Foiled.

Mike never stopped talking. I sat down on the floor next to his wife, took her hand, and tried to have a private conversation. But that dear farmer plopped down right next to me, cause he had things he wanted to tell me about the farming life. I looked at Steve and pled with my eyes. Now what?

He shrugged. After an hour we left. Failure — or so it seemed.

But God had a plan that would not be thwarted. Though Mildred did die a few days later, after the funeral the daughter told Steve that her mother had put her trust in Christ after we left. “She told me she knew why you and your wife had come. After you left, she prayed and asked Jesus to forgive her for her sins.”

I share this with you to encourage you — that God is sovereign, and if He is drawing someone, that even the worst evangelist will succeed.

Jonah was certainly the worst. His life had none of the fragrance of Christ. He hated the Ninevites, didn’t want to share the good news with them, and when he finally did, gave the worst possible presentation in history. Not a word about the love or grace of God. Not a word about their need to repent and trust Him. Only: “Yet forty days, and Ninevah shall be overthrown!” Or, as The Message puts it, “Forty days and Ninevah will be smashed.” (Jonah 3:4) Not exactly a winsome gospel presentation.

But the people of Ninevah believed God and were saved.

Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. J. I. Packer has a classic book by that title — and it is a subject we will cover in our study. Whether you call it election or predestination — it’s a thorny issue, but one you can’t avoid if you are going to take a good look at Jonah or Scripture. It is also one that has brought me great peace in evangelism. I know God calls me to share the good news, just as He would call me to share a cure for cancer if I knew it. And I know He calls me to be gentle and humble and honest and to live what I speak. But the results? That’s up to Him. And I must trust Him with my loved ones.

Please don’t think that Jonah’s success gives us a license to be lousy evangelists. God commands us to share with “gentleness and respect.” (See I Peter 3:14-16) And then we leave the results to Him, for in Him is “dominion forever and ever.” (1 Peter 5:11)

One of the characteristics that Steve loved in many of the farmers of Nebraska was their respect for God’s sovereignty. They knew they were completely dependent on Him. They would work hard, plowing their fields, planting their seed, caring for their crops — but they also knew that unless He granted favor with the weather, they would not succeed.” That’s what we are called to do — to sow our seed with love, but then leave the results to Him. That has actually taken enormous pressure off of me. Early in my Christian life, I thought it was up to me, and I would get physically ill out of concern for my parents’ salvation. I truly believe you will be blessed when we look at this doctrine in the context of Jonah.

But we aren’t going there yet. I also want to give you a taste of another truth in Jonah. Jonah’s problem was a heart idol that was blocking  the compassionate Spirit of God. So Jonah is about idolatry — I am seeing, in fact, the whole Bible is about idolatry. Whenever we have a problem, we can discover a heart idol at the root.

Even though I grew up in Wisconsin and then lived 25 years in Nebraska, I don’t know a whole lot about farms. I know more than my New Yorker friend Kathy Troccoli. Whenever she’d visit me in Nebraska she’d have a lot of fun with the farmers. She wanted to meet my friend Keith Johnson, because we wrote about him in Falling in Love with Jesus — painting him as a contemporary Boaz, who married a contemporary Ruth (my friend Jill.)  When Steve had cancer, we all made a visit to Keith and Jill’s farm. Here is Kathy on what she kept calling “a concubine.”

Kathy Troccoli on combine with "Boaz" in Nebraska

In the great free message you will listen to this week from Keller on Jonah and Idolatry, he uses a farming metaphor I didn’t understand. I had to write my sister Bonnie’s husband, because he grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm, and I knew he would understand. Keller quoted Martin Luther who was fond of this metaphor, and said that when you talk to someone about sin, they stare at you “like a cow stares at a new gate.” I asked Jim, “What does that mean?”

Like a cow stares at a new gate

Jim explained: A cow’s life is based on certainty–trods the same paths every day. A new gate will stop it in its hoofs.

I get it. When you talk to someone about sin, especially today (and no doubt, especially in New York) they stare at you, not comprehending. “A sinner? The wrath of God?” Where did you come from, they think, Nebraska?

But when you talk to them about idols of the heart, you get a different reaction. They no longer stare at you like a cow stares at a new gate.  As Keller say, “You get traction.” Keller explains that while many New Yorkers don’t think of themselves as sinners, they often can identify what they feel they have to have for life to be meaningful. Keller may not use the word idol right away, but he does show them why that overwhelming desire cannot be their Solid Rock, and is leading to all kinds of misery… He’ll touch on it in this week’s sermon, and come back in future sermons.

I am in a secular book club in Wisconsin with women who the world might think “have it all.” I could never talk to them about sin — they would think I was saying they were sinful and I was not. They would be offended and angry. It would be a train wreck.

But I have had a few conversations with them about my heart idols (and I did use the word) and they did listen. I told them about why seeing these invisible idols is a more effective way to change than to attack the symptom. They listened — even had searching questions.

So this is another topic we will consider when we consider Jonah. A fresh approach to evangelism.

For those of you who might like to do some additional reading, I have a suggestion:

Sinclair Ferguson is a well-known and gifted Presbyterian pastor –

from Scotland, South Carolina, and now Texas. This is a brief but very

readable and insightful commentary on Jonah. I read half it on the

plane yesterday. Optional — but I recommend it.

Ferguson said he thought a good title for Jonah would be

“Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God.”

 

 

A couple of personal notes:

Last week when I told you why Rebecca had come to the blog, I then asked: “Why are you here?” Your answers warmed me, surprised me, and showed me why this is such an amazing gathering. Your vulnerability, your honesty, and your longings make me so thankful to have you here and to be privileged to mentor women like you. I thank God for you.

I also want to tell you something so you can share in our joy. My manager, David, is expanding his website business and has wanted to take a piece out of his job with me: the handling of retreats. I felt anxiety, for David has been so good, and I don’t worry about things going wrong technically at a retreat. But God is truly showing me (chip by chip on my control idol) that I can trust Him to be in control. I began to pray, and our own Rebecca came to mind. She lives right here in Kansas City, where I am. Her passion for God and the talents He has given her drew me to her for this position. Last week you watched her testimony. David has been training her and now she is on her own — she has done all the work for my engagement in Augusta tonight (if you are reading this on Sunday — please pray for tonight — quickening, and that the tech part will go well). Rebecca’s not traveling with me, but is making sure everything is set up and running before I get there. Please pray for Rebecca and for the ministry. I thank God for her.

Rebecca Dority

 

Rebecca is already proving to me such a wonderful help. She found this great link to sermons I was going to make you buy — but here they are free. You will have to buy some sermons during this study — but not yet. Go to this link.

Gospel Realization:

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It’s a wonderful message — and just a prelude to the journey we are beginning on Jonah!

Finally, I’m scheduled to speak in Augusta tonight but my plane was cancelled in Charlotte and I am still here. Am scheduled to try again to fly out this morning. Had several mix-ups and a short night. I need God’s quickening more than ever. Thanks so much for praying for that — and for my travel. I am so thankful for your friendship.

 

Sunday/Monday: Ice-breakers

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

 

2. Do you have any comments on the following two topics we will be considerng in our Jonah journey? If so, comment.

A. Election and Evangelism

 

B. A fresh approach to evangelism, using idols of the heart

 

Tuesday/Wednesday: Bible Study

Jonah is only four chapters. Read two a day and write down a few things that stand out to you. (Remember, if a verse becomes radioactive, stop, for God is talking to you.) And for those of you who have just studied Jonah, remember you need to read a Scriptural book about one hundred times before you begin to get it. :-) I’m also seeing the fact that several of you have just studied Jonah or are in the midst as God’s sovereignty — for you can bring fresh water to our spring.

 

Thursday/Friday: Listen to the Keller sermon entitled Gospel Realization — here’s the link again:

Gospel Realization:

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Then answer:

1. What was Keller’s experience with talking to New Yorkers about sin — and then — about idolatry? Why, do you think?

 

2. What is the supreme irony in the book of Jonah?

 

3. Keller says that before you can be an effective evangelist, you need to deal with the idol in your own heart.

Share your reflections on this.

 

4. A sign of a heart idol is when you don’t want to go on if it is taken from you. Keller tells a story he’s told before of two women married to difficult husbands. One was able to forgive her husband and the other was not. Why? Do you relate to this in any way?

 

5. Keller said the Lord has to become your “Rachel.” What did he mean? How are you doing with this?

 

6. What else stood out to you from this message and why?

 

Saturday:

7. What’s your take-a-way and why?


 




COMMENTS (343) Post a New Comment ↓
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Part of me laughed at the husband who talked too much. :-) But OH this story of you and Steve is so powerful.

I also laughed at Kathy calling the Combine a Concubine. ;)

Love the reference to “idols of the heart” … just like the father in the Scriptures prayed, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief”…I pray…”Lord, I find my satisfaction in You, help my idolatry of anything I would put ahead of You or instead of You”…

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    Good prayer…

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1. What stands out to you from the above and why? I like the cow although I am afraid that when I do tell Someone about Jesus they are going to stare at me like that and I don’t like those kind of looks:)

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    I can relate Meg!

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A. Election and Evangelism I am actually scared when the word evangelism comes up while talking to people or whatever I freeze up I get scared sharing the gospel with people . Actually our church is trying to get out and do more evangelism. To tell you the truth I would find it easier to hand out tracts in say California then I would in my own town!

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    I agree with you there, Meg — but I think handing out tracts in California would be scary too (I’ve handed out tracts on a beach where I didn’t know anyone). I’d rather drop ‘em from a plane :)

    Today, when people just show up at your door, they usually want something from you — to sell you something (including their religion). I wish they would call first if they want to be invited in. Will your church be going door to door or in public places? (I don’t mind door to door quick invitations to an event or even kids selling stuff, but would prefer that others leave me alone!!)

    One thing I would NEVER do is leave a tract instead of a tip at a restaurant (if I did leave one, I’d leave a VERY VERY good tip, too!)

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    “To tell you the truth I would find it easier to hand out tracts in say California then I would in my own town!”

    This seems so approriate to the study of Jonah.

    I am glad to know your Mom is alright Meg.

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    Meg, I am glad to hear that your mom is not having heart pain and that she is feeling better.

    I can relate to what has been shared about witnessing. When I was a young Christian I was pretty bold but also ineffective. It was pretty traumatic really and I think part of my problem now.

    When Joey’s youth group had him witnessing at school I was a little upset because I did not think he had the spiritual maturity for it. I have wondered since then if I was wrong in my reaction but my gut says no. I did not feel that he was being encouraged into a true relationship with the Lord. He was just being sent out. He very nearly ended up in a sexual relationship with a girl he was witnessing to. In the 7th grade!

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Ladies please pray I am at the emergency room with my mom and they think she might have ha a heart attack!

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    Praying, Meg, for your Mom and for you.

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    Praying Meg….and will keep praying…so sorry

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    praying Meg! keep us posted!!!!

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    Oh Jesus, please send help and comfort to Meg and her mom. Give wisdom and a good result. Thank you for holding Meg close. Amen.

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    Meg, prayed for you and your mom and the Doctors yesterday! Keep us updated!

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      Ladies,

      Thank you for praying. My mom is doing much better today it wasn’t a heart attack they weren’t sure what was causing the pain they sent her home and she rested for the rest of the day and is feeling 100 percent today yay!!!!!

        I was praying for your mom early this morning, I am so glad to hear she is okay, Meg.

        Wonderful news, Meg!

Praying for you and your mom…these Scripture-based prayers have really helped me in difficult times…PRAYING GOD’S WORD–TOP TEN NEEDS—HOW TO PRAY SCRIPTURE CONCERNING THEM:

SALVATION. Romans 10:9–that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. Romans 10:13–for “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”
“Lord, I confess with my mouth Jesus as Lord, and I believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead. I am calling upon Your name alone to save me.”

DIRECTION. James 1:5–But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
“Lord, I don’t know what to do in this situation (name the situation). I don’t have a clue. But, I am asking You to show me what to do and how and when to do it. Thank You for answering my prayer and allowing me to keep coming back to You for direction.”

FORGIVENESS—GETTING IT FROM GOD. I John 1:9–If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
“Lord, I am admitting my sin to You (Name the sin/sins). I take full responsibility. I blame no one but me. Thank You that You are faithful every time to forgive my sins and to cleanse me from what I have done wrong. Help me to never do this again.”

FORGIVENESS—GIVING IT TO OTHERS. Mark 11:25–“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions.
“Lord, I come to You and I choose by an act of my will, to release (name that person) from my unforgiving grip. I give up my right to hurt (name that person) back. Thank You God that You now have the freedom to forgive me.”

FEAR. John 14:27–“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. Isaiah 43:2–“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. II Timothy 1:7–For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
“Lord, thank you for giving me Your Peace in the midst of my fear storm. I know I can’t find it anywhere else. I refuse to let my heart be troubled and filled with fear by all I see. I believe that when I pass through the waters of trouble, You will be with me. I believe that when I go through the flood of trials, I will not drown. I believe that when I walk through the fire of adversity I will not be burned because of You. I know that being afraid never comes from You.”

WORRY. Philippians 4:6–Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. I Peter 5:7–Casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.
“Lord, I choose not to worry about (Name what you are worried about), because You told me not to. I trust You. I trust Your timing. Instead of worrying, I am going to worship You and ask You to take care of this. I thank You for the answer in advance. Thank You for how You are going to deal with this. I roll all my worries over onto You. I give it to You and I leave it with You.”

TEMPTATION. I Corinthians 10:13–No temptation [trial, testing] has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted [tried, tested] beyond what you are able, but with the temptation [trial, testing] will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.
“Lord, Thank You that no temptation can come my way that is new to You. Thank You that You will not allow more temptation into my life than I can—in Your power—say “No” to. Thank You for always making a way of escape—placing an Exit—over every temptation. Help me to look for those ways of escape.”

HEALING. Jeremiah 17:14–Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; Save me and I will be saved,
For Thou art my praise. Psalm 103:1-3–Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities; Who heals all your diseases.
“Lord, You alone have the power to heal me of (you fill-in-the-blank). I praise You and thank You for all the benefits You offer. You alone can heal disease. I am asking You to heal me (you may insert someone else’s name) completely. I therefore, put my condition (or condition of the one you are praying for) into Your hands. I trust whatever You decide. No matter what, I will look to You.”

DELIVERANCE. John 8:32–and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:36–“If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.
“Lord, I accept the truth of Your Word. I agree with You about the mess I am in. It is my own fault. I am now acting upon the truth of Your Word, believing it will set me free from these chains of bondage. Jesus, I believe You alone can and will deliver me.”

NEEDS. Matthew 6:33–“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Philippians 4:19–And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
“Lord, I seek You and getting totally right with You first. I make You number one in my life. Therefore, I am trusting You to bring everything together to meet my needs. You know my need for (you fill-in-the-blank). I am depending upon what You said concerning meeting my every need because of what Jesus has done. I am enthusiastically looking for Your answer.”

Prayer when sick—Our Heavenly Father: I come to You believing that All things are Possible with You. I know You have the Power to Heal my sickness. I am bringing my sickness to You acknowledging that my body belongs to You. You made it, You know what’s wrong with it, and You know how to fix it. If I have done anything to bring on this sickness I confess it right now and ask you to forgive me. From this point on I am turning my illness over to you and placing it in Your hands. Please direct me to the right doctor and those who can aid You in my healing. You alone are the Great Physician. You are Jehovah Jireh the One who can meet this need. You are Jehovah Rapha, the One who can heal this sickness. You are El Shaddai, Almighty God nothing is too difficult for You. But God, whatever You decide to do about my sickness, I believe You have Your reasons and I will accept it. I may not understand it, but I do accept it. I know You never make a mistake, that You do all things perfectly, and You are always on Time. Lord, please use my sickness to bring Glory and Honor to Your name. May others see You in the way I respond. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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    Thank you Beth !

    thanks, i am using that sick prayer now. :)

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      Hope your okay?!

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I am looking forward to our Jonah study. I find it interesting that people are open to hearing about things that “they often can identify what they feel they have to have for life to be meaningful”(heart idols) but not sin. Much to ponder about how to witness in ways that will be heard.

Praying for quickening tonight, Dee.

Praying for your Mom and you, Meg. Oh, my!

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1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
-I LOVE that Steve was so concerned about his patient’s knowing Jesus that you went out to the farm!
-It’s not only women who talk too much :-)

Praying for your traveling and speaking, Dee!

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2. Do you have any comments on the following two topics we will be considering in our Jonah journey? If so, comment.

I read this posting and listened to the sermon on my cell phone before I got out of bed this morning. Both these topics are BIG!

A. Election and Evangelism

Dee, this was very encouraging to me: “I share this with you to encourage you — that God is sovereign, and if He is drawing someone, that even the worst evangelist will succeed.”

I don’t completely understand the doctrine of election. Although I’ve said I lean toward a Calvinist end of the continuum, I have had trouble with the way election has been presented. Denominational arguments about election don’t seem to do justice to either perspective. In discussions when some Calvinists have talked about election, election has come across to me as similar God sitting in heaven pulling petals off a daisy: “He loves me, he loves me not” etc.

God is sovereign, loving, fair and all that is good and that what He does is good. He alone has the power to draw people to Himself, but he has chosen us to become part of that process. If we see the world through his eyes, we will recognize that all knowledge and power is His, while also see the urgency of evangelism.

When I see huge denominational disagreements between otherwise Bible-believing churches, I wonder how much of the division is due to our Western logic, emphasis on rational thinking, and trying to come to either/or conclusions rather than believing both/and…

B. A fresh approach to evangelism, using idols of the heart

It’s important to meet people where they are. In the late 70s and 80s, friendship evangelism was a new approach. I think many people who aren’t believers will “stare at a new gate” whether the approach is focusing on sin or idols. Many people are seeking for meaning, but getting “meaning” doesn’t seem any better than “fire insurance.” Ultimately, it is necessary to recognize our sin (by whatever word) in contrast to God’s holiness. I am SO thankful that through intimacy with Him, He provides the power, the words, and the opportunities and leads us.

Although being prepared to shared the Good News is important (which many evangelism programs do well), knowing Him deeply and being available are equally important. When Jesus instructed (some) people to go and tell others, they were to tell what they already had seen and known from their experience with Him. One thing I like about using the idols approach with evangelism is that believers and unbelievers are all “in the same boat” in that the process never ends. However, believers have the power of the Holy Spirit — and that makes all the difference in the world. Examining one’s own may help someone be a more effective, honest evangelist using whichever approach He leads. (I’m someone nervous with any one approach to evangelism, especially if the emphasis on the method is greater than the emphasis on the Holy Spirit’s leading)

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    Oops.. should have written: Examining one’s own IDOLS may…

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    Renee — I so appreciate your prayers for my speaking and travel and these thoughtful responses.

    Your thoughts on election — I do agree we are stymied by Western logic — and also that division occurs when the whole of Scripture is not considered. Clearly election and free will are both present — we need to discern how that works, or accept the mystery of God. We’ll be listening to what I think are some great Keller messages on this.

    On evangelism — yes, sin or idols can make them balk. The way Keller does it is by talking about idols using other terms — what gives you meaning in life…what must you have to go on… Should be a thought-provoking discussion, and you will add — may we pray for love when we enter!

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Dee, I loved everything above that you wrote; about Mildred, about farming in NE and laughed at the picture of Kathy on the combine! I grew up in NE so I understand all about how farmer’s have to have faith in the Lord that their crops will flourish.
Love the cow picture again too!
Speaking of this…the way cows stare at a gate, because it is diffent, when my mother and father-in-law where alive, she liked to move all the furniture around, as she cleaned. He worked for the electric Co and had to get up in the night alot for emergencies. One evening, after supper, he got called out on a stormy night and was gone untill the middle of the night. She had decided to clean the bedroom and move the bed to a different place,in the bedroom. Well, when he came home, he tried not to wake her so he didn’t turn on a light to see and it was very dark. She said he come in the bedroom and he didn’t expect the bed to be right there and he hit it and landed on the other side of it, on the floor! She turned the light on, and seen him sitting there, wondering what had happen! So men can be like cow’s..creature’s of habit!

I think Rebecca will be great at this job, too Dee. It may have been an answer to her prayer’s. ?
I am praying you got there safely, Dee and all goes well tonight.

Praying for your dear mom, Meg.

Welcome Beth…enjoyed your comments.

Looking forward to this week’s study and Tim Keller’s sermons!

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    Great story about your in-laws Joyce :)

    As you mentioned the farmers again, I’m thinking about their faith that the crops will grow & flourish. Most farmers have some of this faith, whether or not they are followers of Jesus — or they wouldn’t be farming. I’m pondering the difference between farmers who have general faith that crops will grow and those who have faith in the living Lord Jesus, a Sovereign God, One who holds the world together.

    In churches in rural areas, it’s so common to hear people pray for the crops, pray for safety for the farmers, pray for the harvest. Barring drought, hail, or flood, crops will grow, although the extent to which they flourish will vary based on soil conditions. Similarly, God WILL draw people to himself, but the process might be a little different if our fertilizer doesn’t stink too much :)

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      Thank was great, Renee!

        agreed

        ” if our fertilizer doesn’t stink too much :)”

        lol

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    I just told my husband about the cow’s and he had some things to add, as he has cows, at his farm. When a cow has a path to water and you block that path with a gate, a cow will stand there and “Moo” and they will not walk around the gate. The cow smells the water, not see’s the water. Eventually the cow will turn around and go back, untill it finds a new path to the water. They will not go around! I guess they are not one of the smartest farm animals..kinda like a turkey, that will look up when it rain’s and actually drown and die. It’s true! So much for your farm animal lesson’s!

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      Interesting cattle lesson, Joyce! I didn’t know about the turkeys either :)

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      Maybe it wasn’t the dog that got my father’s wild turkeylets…

        :-)

        you guys are a riot! :) Seems cows and turkeys are almost as dumb as we sheep!

        Like :)

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      Haha Joyce and Anne!

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    GREAT STORY JOYCE

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praying for you to get where you need to go safe, sound and soon. that you will be able to rest on the plane and that you will have energy that only comes from HIM!

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love the picture of the cow and the analogy of the gate…..sin is so out of our cultures mindset that it makes now sence to them anymore, and no one wants to believe in hell so why does it matter anyway. so I LOVE the new way of talking about it.

Needing something to be happy, whatever is that “something” being an idol of the heart. people get needyness, they understand the feeling of HAVING to have something in order to be happy….then they get that thing and they want ANOTHER thing…there is a never ending list of “needs” and the happyness never stays.

we have talked before about idols stealing our joy, when you talk about joy killers people get it. LOVE LOVE LOVE this approach. im afraid that people who have always known God just can’t relate. We often times refuse to find a new way to communicate to people who are not like minded because we dont want to get out of our own safe little box.

I was at the homeschooling convention and I am sad to say that I saw soooooo many people who refuse to act in a way that would ever engage the world. they are so afraid of the world corrupting them and their children that they do not even want to LOOK like a “normal” person. well, as Aslan says, God is not safe.

I need to expect great things from HIM, step out with HIM, love others like HIM, and be willing to DIE for him, am I willing to LIVE for HIM? am I willing to sacrifice for HIM? these are questions i am asking myself and my children! I want this life to be an adventure of serving HIM.

I dont want to hold on to my blessings so tight that my hands are not open to receive whatever it is HE has in store for Me an my kids.

end of soap box:-) love you guys…

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    Good questions Cyndi

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    “I was at the homeschooling convention and I am sad to say that I saw soooooo many people who refuse to act in a way that would ever engage the world. they are so afraid of the world corrupting them and their children that they do not even want to LOOK like a “normal” person. well, as Aslan says, God is not safe.”

    I have seen this too in some I know who chose to homeschool. I suppose a control idol could be behind such a decision.

    I admire most homeschooling families, and have known fabulous young adults from many of those families. I have also seen fearful self-righteous people sheltering themselves and their children from the rest of the world.

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    You are a good role model for homeschoolers, Cyndi — I think next week lesson’s is going to be relevant to this discussion! Pray I will be wise, though.

    Thanks for your prayers.

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I’m curious (as usual). It seems as if many Christians in this country want a “script” (or close to it) when sharing the Gospel. Does anyone know if this is true throughout the world?

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    Renee, I don’t know how it is in other parts of the world, but here I don’t think it is effective at all simply because it does not allow for the individuality of the person. It seems like it would make them feel like an object rather than a person with preconceived ideas about God. What I mean is that the most important component is listening and a script could undermine that.

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      Agree completely!! That’s why I am surprised that listening doesn’t seem to be the primary focus of most approaches to evangelism.

        Anne and Renee — my sister used the 4 spiritual laws with me (Campus Crusade) but with much listening and dialogue. I don’t know if that approach is as effective now, but still bears fruit, I know. It probably helps us when we freeze up — a diagram — something — but how I agree that listening and finding out what is keeping them from Christ — and talking about deepest deires — all a better way today…

        Dee, I agree that memorizing key points of the gospel as part of evangelism programs (first was Child Evang Fellowship) helped me learn the the message of salvation and, therefore, share it. In the big picture, I think a good part of using this “approach” (and the 4 spiritual laws and similar approaches) is that is that by using it, practicing it, the knowledge becomes anchored deep down inside of us, making it easier to share in the future. And I like that the 4 spiritual laws provides a diagram (the pic is still in my brain). From what I’ve heard, the 4 spiritual laws are still effective for some people, with some people.

        I don’t pull out a booklet when I have other discussions, but I may draw on a napkin or scribble on a scrap of paper. I’m really looking forward to this study, but I am a little leery just because I’ve been exposed to so many “miracle methods.” “Leery” isn’t quite the right word because I’m really not leery :) I’ve been here enough to know not to expect superficial solutions! “Curious” and “reserving judgment/not embracing it till I see it” probably best describe me (sounds as if I’m describing my job! and it’s time to get back to work!!)

        :-)

        i find this interesting. i learned the 4 spiritual laws but because in my family i did not learn how to communicate, i def used it as a script. not sure what fruit came of the few times i used it, but yes, it did help ME learn the basics of presenting the gospel…likewise, the romans road, as well as “how to share your faith without an argument”.

        my biggest problem with evangelism, until recent years, was not caring about other people. i thought i did but really…i was wrapped up in my own “stuff” and others got what was convenient or left over.

        also, as i mentioned, i didn’t learn to communicate in my family. in recent years, i have learned how to communicate, thank you God and counseling and 12-step programs! and…what i have seen is that, as you mention, listening is HUGE. but i guess i had to learn how to ask questions about that person…because i couldn’t care about what they cared about if i didn’t know a thing about them!

        in the past, i was wrapped up in judgment and said, “oh, i hate “surface” conversations.” i wouldn’t talk to people because i hated talking about surface stuff…wanted to go deep and talk about meaningful spiritual stuff. but have now learned…people don’t go deep first–you have GOT to care about their surface stuff if you want any chance to go deep. and this is not something that can be pretended–it’s got to come from God’s love.

        i am finding that now that i have learned how to have conversations with people–anyone–by asking them questions about them (and everyone loves to talk about themself!), it is pretty darn easy to have an intimate conversation in 10 minutes. oh, also, i have learned to not just ask them questions, but make sure to share about me too! (scared one gal to death since she felt like i was giving her the inquisition in my process of learning how to converse!) :0

        i feel with the combo of learning the core gospel message, being filled with the Holy Spirit and asking Him to direct the conversation, filled with God’s love and genuine humility and compassion for other people, and having no agenda other that to love and see where the Spirit leads (but always eager to help water seeds that move people closer to considering spiritual things, God, and best of all, Jesus!)…evangelism just HAPPENS with befriending people today.

        i have heard that people nowadays won’t accept an invitation to church really for any reason except that they have been watching this person who has been their friend and has something that they are attracted to (as in, JESUS!). this really affirms what i have been seeing in practical experience.

        oh i forgot to mention that in all my time in 12-step programs, i have seen so many people who have come to Christ through a long journey…from not wanting anything to do with God, to being desperate and at the point of doing the 12 steps, having no other option than to consider a spiritual solution, to considering a higher power, to considering God, to coming to meet and have a relationship with Jesus. i believe this has been so helpful to me with evangelism…i always in the past had thought it had to be a “right where to you are” to “decision for Jesus”–an instant thing. But seeing with so many people it is a process/journey and i need to humble myself and accept that i might not be the one privileged to lead them to Jesus, but surely can be a part of encouraging them in that direction, if the Spirit chooses to allow me to be part of that work in their lives.

        what a privilege, that God lets us be a part of this work He does–i feel so honored every time He lets me join in–what He really doesn’t need me for, but ALLOWS me the joy of participating!

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1. The thing that stands out to me Dee is how strong your feelings were about your parents salvation. I know you have shared this with me before. This morning at church I could not shake my deep sadness over the spiritual condition of my sons. I could hardly sing for the tears welling up and my voice cracking. It occurred to me that this is bordering on either idolatry or a lack of faith. I decided that it must be addressed and then when I read this I sensed the connection to this week of study. The example of your experience with Mildred and Mike really illustrates how salvation is God’s work. Prayer and evangelism are ours. Trust is also our work. This morning I decided that I must trust God with this deep desire of my heart. My work will be to also trust and to release them into His hands. I thought I was doing that but I keep finding it in my possession again :/

I am interested in the idea of talking about idolatry as opposed to sin.

Rebecca, this is wonderful news that you will be working with Dee and in such an exciting ministry. You are gifted for this kind of work and more I think. I will pray for you. This is going to be exciting!

Praying for God’s anointing as you speak tonight Dee.

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    Anne, I also noticed what Dee wrote about desiring her parents’ salvation. Dee, the timing of reading this was perfect for me because yesterday I started to get discouraged about people who died and probably didn’t know Christ. I started thinking about this because a friend’s Mom just died; this woman had led a godly life. But my brain went to people who die without knowing Him. Then I started thinking that believers may “grieve as those who have no hope” if their relatives died without Christ. SO, it was GOOD to be brought back to God’s sovereignty.

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    Love this :/ Anne! I feel that way alot too.

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    Anne (and Renee and Joyce) — I simply rejoice to hear this for I was burdened by you being so burdened.

    God finally lifted it from me. My dad came to Christ, I believe, at his deathbed. I have a strong hope of that if not an absolute confidence — and must leave that with God. But I prayed he would wake up from his coma, he did, just long enough for me to share again and tears were in his eyes. I told him how I had always loved how he would greet me with such joy at the airplane gate (this was before 9/11) and I asked him to please be at the gate. That’s all I know. My mother asked my son to help her trust Christ at the age of 93.

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      My parent’s waited untill they were dying to acknowledge God too, Dee. They were blessed to have had time enought to do that…many people do not. That always made me wonder about people who are taken before they confessed to know Jesus. If I was taken before I knew the Lord at 20 yrs old….where would I be at?

      The fact that we don’t need to be burdened down with things we keep giving and taking back from the Lord, give’s me much relief:)

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/Monday: Ice-breakers

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

Christ Himself is able to break through the barriers placed before us — He can overcome all interruptions (talkative husbands included) to draw us unto Himself. Christ does the work. We are not responsible for the outcomes of our evangelism, He is. And, Christ loves far more than we love. Christ can be trusted to bring sinners to Himself despite obstacles placed in the paths of witnesses.

2. Do you have any comments on the following two topics we will be considering in our Jonah journey? If so, comment.

A. Election and Evangelism

God is not willing that any should perish, but that ALL should come to repentence. Christ died for the sins of the WORLD. I believe God delays the return of Christ that all who are the elect do actually have the opportunity to come to Him.

At one point, when I was in literal despair over the “loss of a ministry,” God directed me to Psalm 46:10 – “Be still, and know that I am God! I WILL be honored (exalted) by every nation. I WILL be honored (exalted) throughout the world.”

That taught me that God is in total control. It is good when He allows us to help Him in evangelism, in sharing with others, but God has the preeminence and He loves sinners more than anyone else does. God doesn’t really NEED my efforts to get His Word out.

B. A fresh approach to evangelism, using idols of the heart

For me, maybe this will be dealing with self-importance issues and the need for the approval of others. These issues may prevent me from witnessing effectively or even at all.

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2. Do you have any comments on the following two topics we will be considering in our Jonah journey? If so, comment.

A. Election and Evangelism

God is in control of who is saved and who is not, yet it is our privilege to work with Him to invite others to accept Him. It is a mystery.

B. A fresh approach to evangelism, using idols of the heart

I am interested in pondering this idea. Keller says you can’t really evangelize this way until you deal with your own idols. Very interesting. I’m not sure what this means fully but I don’t think you have to be perfect to evangelize – probably just humble and aware of your own need of a Savior for daily living.

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1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
I have seen that look and I don’t mean from a cow (cows kinda scare me as they chase me in nightmares) I know that awful feeling when you get zero response and have to keep talking to fill in the spaces b/c the person is just not getting it. Hate when that dazed cow look happens!
Love Steve’s heart for Mildred’s salvation. I felt similarly when a man told me a few days ago that he had prayed to Saint Joseph b/c he was a carpenter. My heart was so heavy I could hardly get my mind off of the comment.
Every time you mention Kathy T. I think of your Pepto-Bismol colored guest bedroom, Dee.

2. Do you have any comments on the following two topics we will be considerng in our Jonah journey? If so, comment.

A. Election and Evangelism
Mildred gives me fresh hope when praying for people to get saved and YES we must change our approach and make it relevant to the hearer. I have long thought my best witnessing approach is when I share from my heart my own journey. I would have never considered using idol as a topic to share from – neat. I do know that the idol study has drastically changed me. Steve would be so very proud of this book and you, Dee!

Love how God brought you and Rebecca together in a working relationship.

We sold our home before even putting it on the market to a family God brought to us. The wife is in Sonrise Bible studies and I was her daughters’ teacher last year. God gave us an opening to be His salt and light and I will share more of that later. If you care to join me in prayer that we will get a positive response to an offer on land outside of town and a place to live during the building process. I love how I am changing and focusing on Him and communing with Him hourly. How I miss Him when I get busy and I long to be in His presence. I feel like I could explode with His love, it is abounding so, in and through me.

B. A fresh approach to evangelism, using idols of the heart.
I can’t wait to study this.

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    Kim, I will pray for you about the land offer and a place to live while you build. I’m excited for you!

    I love this part, Kim…”I love how I am changing and focusing on Him and communing with Him hourly. How I miss Him when I get busy and I long to be in His presence. I feel like I could explode with His love, it is abounding so, in and through me.”

    I feel this way at times too, Kim, and love the intimacy I feel with him.

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I forgot to mention that I heard Prisilla Shrier speak on Jonah last spring at an event.

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I like the story of Mildred and her talkative husband. I am so glad she was able to come to Christ before her death! Steve sounds like he was a man of great patientance as well as compassion!
Kathy on the tractor was funny! But, what caught my attention is this different look at Jonah ( different for me).
It never occured to me that Jonah could have possibly of had a heart idol, or the Ninevites were possibly “hungry to hear the Word of the Lord”.

As always this is going to be an awesome lesson!
This is one of the reasons why I am drawn to the Blog!
I don’t think I shared the reason why I am here. Last summer I felt impressed to join after reading “The Friendships of Women”, I learned of this Blog and it has been such an amazing source knowledge and insight into the Word of God through the perspective of a true Woman of God!
This and the fellowship of my Pastor’s wife and as well as other women in the church has helped me tremendously to grow!

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    Laura Marie, Loved hearing how you came to the blog! Sweet to see how God has come to you also through other believers.

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Sunday/Monday: Ice-breakers

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

 I get tongue tied sometimes when I try to explain to people why they should believe in God. It never seems to come out the way I have rehearsed in my mind. It makes me feel good to know that God will make sure it is heard the way it needs to be heard on the other end!

Yay for Rebecca :) (and Dee for that matter).

I love Kathy Triccoli. I had a chance to hear her speak at a local church a few years back and didn’t go. I regret that now:(
Cute pic of her!

2. Do you have any comments on the following two topics we will be considerng in our Jonah journey? If so, comment.

I haven’t really ever studied Jonah. Looking forward to learning (especially something different than my geoscience coursework!)

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Laura Dance,

I so admire how God has gifted you and given you such a sharp mind in the realm of Science! I have two boys so far who are really doing well in Science. I also love your honesty here on the blog along with your great comments and questions.

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2. Do you have any comments on the following two topics we will be considerng in our Jonah journey? If so, comment.

A. Election and Evangelism

Election frees us from the results, and frees us from our short comings when we Evangelize. Also, Election frees me when I am evangelizing.

B. A fresh approach to evangelism, using idols of the heart

This is a process, but when we are free from an idols stronghold in our life, and as we daily apply the Gospel to the lies in our heads, we won’t be afraid to evangelize because we won’t fear disapproval from others-We are 100% approved by Jesus-the Great I AM, so it doesn’t matter-even if we make a mistake, it doesn’t matter. We won’t feel like we have to smother the person and shove the Gospel down their throat, (control), because we know He is in control. We won’t be scared to go out of our comfort zone, and build relationships with unbelievers because He is our comfort.

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    Rebecca,
    It is encouraging to see that freedom from our own idols makes a big difference in evangelism, particularly the idols of approval and comfort!

    I am VERY curious how we talk to others about idols. For me, it’s easiest to share what God has done in my life in the context of a friendship. But I can’t quite visualize talking about someone else’s idols (any more than I can see myself walking up to someone I don’t know and say “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” or “if you were to die tonight…”)

    Through some trauma experienced with believers, God brought me to a place in which my comfort zone is — or at least includes — unbelievers and those who typically are marginalized by society. Building relationships comes easily in those settings but I’m not often bold in talking about spiritual things. It’s easy to talk about “church” but…. Anyway, exploring a fresh approach to evangelism will be good.

        Chris,
        Thanks for the article. It is EXCELLENT (plus, Welch apparently has a great sense of humor!). I was glad to read that about the focus on Jesus rather than on going around pointing out people’s idols.

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      Renee, :-) I loved a lot of what you shared here..I too struggle with that! I remember reading that book, “Witnessing Without Fear” many years ago! It was a pretty good book though from what I recall. I just don’t remember much in it other than the reason I wanted to read it- I was so fearful of rejection. (approval idol) :-)

      I am meeting with my cousin, whom I dearly, dearly love, at some point for lunch either this week or next. I think she thinks that because I am a Christian I reject her for her homosexual lifestyle, or her high usage of cuss words..I love her-we grew up together, and bottom line-I am no better than she is. I am nothing without Him. As you said, I can’t really just lay that out there like that. SO, I am going to just love her, and pray and tell my story if God opens the door.

      I can’t wait to explore this fresh approach to evangelism too. I think it was Keller who said in one of his sermons that when Paul went into Athens he had to address their idolatry first.

        Rebecca,
        Glad to read that I’m not the only one who reads a book, thinks it is good, but doesn’t remember much of what was in it :)

        Renee, lol! I know-I think it is my age creeping up on me perhaps. :-)

        i think another thing that has really really helped in evangelizing without fear is the amends i had to do in my 12-step process. that was the scariest thing i had ever done in my life, going up to almost everybody in my life and confessing how i had been selfish and wrong and apologizing. it was so humbling, and i was terrified every time.

        having seen God’s faithfulness through that process, i have also seen how people melt when you share your own shortcomings. people don’t want to hear from successes (i sure don’t!)…they want to hear that you are a failure and what you learned from it or how you grew or whatever.

        especially women–we are so competitive and fearful that we are not the best or not as good as others…i have watched as i walk into a room and (in the times i happened to be in good shape or looking pretty), felt a wall of resistance from other women who felt threatened by me. i have also watched that wall melt as i shared my failures and God’s goodness through them. as i shared from a place of weakness, they did not feel the need to compete; they could let down their guard and listen or share or whatever.

        and now i continue to see in evangelism, i don’t need to fear disapproval or failure, because guess what? i am! and God loves me and forgives me and uses me and approves of me anyway because of Jesus! this is so freeing, and people feel that peace in conversation. they don’t get the tenseness or anxiety that sort of permeates the conversation when one person brings it in. i can relax in Jesus, share my weakness, love the other person, and let the Spirit do whatever He wants! the pressure is off, and God gets the glory, when i freely share that i know there is NOTHING good in me–anything good in me is from God alone!!! :)

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ch. 1-2 in Jonah
Jonah ran from God, was judged by God then was PROVIDED for by God. He got himself into a mess and God saved him from it. he did not deserve to be saved, Gods grace saved him…..and he knew it, for now:-)
my favorite part of these passages is 2:8
those who CLING to WORTHLESS idols forfeit the GRACE that could be theirs! wow, our idols (for me pride and the need to be approved of) rob us of the one and only thing that can really satisfy us, Gods grace.
I am finding more and more that when I feel like I NEED someone to praise my hard work what I really need is to go to GOD and sit at HIS feet and let the truth that only in HIM do i have any worth anyway!
this is a side note so if you can stop reading now if you just want to do bible study stuff:) I was having a pity party for myself @ the homeschool convention. I was there with my 4 girls all by myself and looked around and saw all these woman either with lots of friends or with husbands standing by their side supporting them…. (my eyes were on others comparing myself again). well by the time I got home I was so mad at Paul for not even praising me for all the good deals i found and for giving him an entire weekend to himself (all he did was complain that he had to take care of the puppy everytime i called him) I had let satan steal all my joy with his stupid lies.
the victory was that I saw it was my idol, i stepped back, let God fill me up and was able to thank Paul for letting me go. I was able to love him even when I was not feeling loved by him because i knew the reason i was not feeling loved was not because he did not love me but because he was not praising me, he didnt fill up the idol hole and i was mad at him for it.
this may not seem like much but it was a huge victory in my life and I wanted to share it and give God all the glory for it:-)

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    I love this Cyndi!

    “i knew the reason i was not feeling loved was not because he did not love me but because he was not praising me, he didnt fill up the idol hole and i was mad at him for it.”

    I had a similar self discussion last night, we were at a couples bible study, I bolstered the courage to talk about something important to me which I have been stuffing, and just as I began, Bill interupted me by getting up asking if it was okay if he got some coffee. I had to go to the bathroom, cry a bit & collect myself. I know he didnt mean to disregard me, he had no idea how much I had to work myself up to begin to talk. I think his control idol was sticking out, afraid perhaps I was going to say something that would expose him somehow. Anyway, I didn’t feed the hurt and grow it into a wedge, I forgave him and let it go, like you I felt able to love my husband even though I didn’t feel particularly loved by him.

    Your energy and humour are such a blessing Cyndi.

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    Wow Cyndi, this was an awesome testimony-and real life example of the struggle and how you recognized it and turned and let God fill you up-HUGE!! :-)

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    That is “much”, Cyndi…I can see myself doing that. Thanks for sharing!

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    Love how you responded to the Word, Cyndi.

    Have you heard Sara Groves song about Loving You Just as YOu Are (It’s not a small thing, it’s everything…) Her lyrics are so true…

    thanks for sharing this Cyndi. i so relate, and your sharing affirms what i am learning here this week. :)

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   But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. 6 The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”

This really resonates with me today. In a great peril; a stressful time, Jonah seems to have such faith that God will be in control of everything, even the storm. I am in my own great peril; i have no idea how I am going to study enough to pass the tests of the next few weeks. There just isn’t enough time in my day to do this. I believe and have faith that God will provide the knowledge I need to answer the specific questions He gives me on this test to pass. I will do all that I can on earth, and have faith in Him for the rest.

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    Praying for you, Laura to “have faith in him to do the rest”.

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    Laura Dancer, I agree with Joyce- we will be praying you will do your best to prepare and be able to leave the results up to Him. I am sure it can easily be nerve wracking! Let us know the day of the test so we can pray for you on that day!

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    Praying, Laura dancer. Yes, do your best, then trust in God who knows all about what you need.

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Sunday/Monday: Ice-breakers

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
That you knew Steve would do SOMETHING regarding Mildred, evidenced by your question. I hope to grow a heart like that too.
I thought about the talkative husband, nervously filling up the air with words lest the fear and pain come out in the open.
How wonderful that Mildred shared with her daughter and her daughter shared with you and Steve, I wondered if the rest of the family came to Christ.

2. Do you have any comments on the following two topics we will be considering in our Jonah journey? If so, comment.
A. Election and Evangelism
I am glad to explore this topic, election seems to render evangelism almost inconsequential. Yet we are called to it. I will be glad to know more.

B. A fresh approach to evangelism, using idols of the heart
What came to mind as I read the bit about New Yorkers, and the ideas of what they believe they need for life to be meaningful, and that the idea of idolatry eventually gaining traction in helping them see themselves as sinners, I thought of the great difficulty of many in churches who consider themselves Christians who also do not think of themselves as sinners, how much more difficult it is for many of these to accept that they are idolaters. Doing so requires laying down spiritual pride and superiority.

How much compassion Christ displayed towards those whose lives were broken by sin, who knew they were sinners and how much contempt he showed for those who relied on their own righteousness.

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1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

How Dee and Steve went to visit Mildred and her husband. Steve was not content, knowing her days were few, to say, “Oh well…” because he didn’t get an opportunity while she was in the hospital. I wonder how often we sometimes give up too soon on someone. It amazed me how the daughter later shared, “She told me she knew why you and your wife had come.” God can be working even when we cannot see any evidence, or we feel we have somehow failed.
Love the pics, too! And congratulations, Rebecca, as Dee’s new retreat assistant!

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    Susan, Thanks! Dee is a wonderful boss to work for. :-)

    I loved your pondering-it also made me think more about Steve’s heart for the Lord and for Mildred-how he and Dee didn’t give up, and how God must have delighted in that.

THANK YOU for this study on Jonah and idols. i believe approaching evangelism through idols is a very accurate and powerful method. My husband and I have had many conversations on election and evangelism. We don’t know who all God has chosen for election. We need to always be imitators of Christ and care for others as God has called us to. It’s our job to plant seeds and it’s up to God whether or not those seeds will grow, right? When we (my husband and I) discuss reaching out to others, we have found that what really matters is what is in their hearts. Even for our young children, we strive to get at their “heart issues.” I think your and Keller’s use of the word “idol” can be interchangeable with what we call “heart issues.”

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    Welcome, Marsha :)

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    Marsha, welcome. Thank you for your wise comments. I think it is especially wise that you and your husband look at heart issues more than outward behavior with you children.

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    Welcome Marsha!

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    So true about how we don’t know, Marsha, who are chosen — and it could surprise us — in fact — often does. Not many noble…

    Yes — idolatry and heart issues — deepest desires —

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    Welcome Marsha! Glad to have you with us!

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Thinking about Jonah… I’ll be gone during the last part of the week so will start to respond to the chapters in Jonah now.
Ch. 1
Jonah worked very hard to run away from God. I wonder if he fell into a deep sleep because he was physically, emotionally, and spiritually in a deep sleep from running. Or maybe God put him into a deep sleep to get him out of the way for a little while :) or to help prepare him physically for what was to come. Either way, God allowed Jonah to sleep during a violent storm.

The men on the ship already believed in the existence of a powerful God– and suspected Jonah was the cause of the storm because he had already told them he was running from the Lord. Even though he was running, Jonah wasn’t a total lost cause: He did acknowledge that he was the cause of the trouble.

Jonah’s first missionary impact (in this chapter) was with the men on the boat: “Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him.” God used Jonah in spite of himself and turned Jonah’s disobedience into good.

The fish: I wonder if this was a “special” fish just for the occasion or what kind it was. God miraculously kept Jonah alive and undigested for 3 days and 3 nights (curious too if the length of time has significance)

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    “Undigested” – you are too funny!

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    Length of time does have significance — and I know you’ll figure it out!

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I had an idol moment in the middle of the night. I woke up, wide awake, at 3 am (thought it was time to get up until I looked at the time)

Last week, Susan reminded me that I can’t control other people’s idols. I certainly would like to try :) but reminding myself that it isn’t possible helped me let go.

Then when I woke up this morning, my first thought was “Who can I pray for now?” God woke me up or allowed me to wake up and put that thought in my brain. One person who came to mind was the person I had a conflict with last week. I remembered that we are to love and pray for our enemies, those who persecute us. I don’t want to raise (or lower) the status of the other person to an enemy or refer to a discussion as a persecution. But I did think “duh! Why didn’t I think of that before?” It’s because God is in control, He is the one who prompts prayer, and He knew when I was ready to cheerfully pray for the person. I’m praying that next time I disagree with someone that He will open my heart to praying for the person right away.

Susan, speaking of praying… Any word on Adam’s birthday celebration?

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    Well, all I know is he made it safely through the weekend! I am thankful!

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      Glad to hear that :)

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      Praise God!

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B. A fresh approach to evangelism, using idols of the heart
Yes I do believe that when my idols are removed I will have a bigger burden for the list and will be able to share the gospel more freely. ( especially my approval idol)

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    Meg, How’s your Mom?

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      Renee she is doing much better thanks for asking !!!

        Oh, good!

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Jonah 2
When I first read Jonah 2, the image of Jonah praying from the belly of the fish with seaweed wrapped around his head struck me funny… so I switched versions.

A couple things jumped out to me:
-that Jonah said he hit bottom, both emotionally and literally, and then called on on the Lord.

-The contrast between verses 8 & 9, as well as the contrast within vs 8:
8 Those who pay regard to vain idols
forsake their hope of steadfast love.
9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you;

First, (v.8) Jonah was “paying regard” to VAIN idols (forsaking hope of STEADFAST love)
In v. 9, he is replacing regard to idols with sacrifice to God.

The importance of replacing the idols stood out; he wasn’t just screaming “stop it” to himself. I wanted to know more information about Jonah; there was no sign in ch 1 that idols were statues. Since God had called Jonah to Ninevah to point out evil, he most likely wasn’t worshiping physical idols, at that point anyway.

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wanted to let you know that I started a blog to encourage moms to live in grace….its called captivated by grace and the address is gracefullparenting.blogspot.com Im going to need some grace this week…I hurt my leg tonight in ballet and can not put any weight on it… *sigh*

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    cyndi, what a great blog! I love how you’ve done the pics/layout, as well as the message :)

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    Nice blog, cyndi. Sorry about your leg. Hope it is nothing serious.

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    Cyndi, praying for your leg to be just like new.

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    Cyndi, I LOVE your blog! Let us know when you put up a new post. I wish you lived closer!

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    oh Cyndi, your blog is just so timely–and as refreshing and life-giving as YOU–my sunflower friend ;)
    praying for your leg and that it heals quickly–i can only imagine how hard a day in your life would be to stay off of it, but praying for quick recovery!

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    It’s fun to get to know you better :)

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1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

A few things made me smile: Steve’s tender heart towards Mildred; his respect for Dee that he knew she could share the Gospel well; and Dee’s submissive heart to go along, giving up her own time and sharing her “Steve time”, which I’d imagine is hard to come by as a Dr’s wife—all for the sake of the Gospel.
God was glorified by their obedience and selflessness—that’s what He wants from us—He’ll take care of the rest.

2. Do you have any comments on the following two topics we will be considerng in our Jonah journey? If so, comment.
A. Election and Evangelism
One thing I like about the doctrine of election—is the reminder that it really isn’t about us. We cannot save ourselves, He chooses and we respond. We cannot save another with a perfectly outlined sermon.
We cannot discern the why/who—that isn’t our job I’m not able to understand all His ways. But I know I need to be ready to give an answer for what I believe. I love what Keller says about salvation being “unfair—in our favor”. We tend to hone in on why some are not saved instead of the incredible grace bestowed on those who are, no one deserving.

B. A fresh approach to evangelism, using idols of the heart
It truly gets to the heart of us—what motivates all that we do/live for. When we get to that root, we see that no matter what we say we believe, the truth of what we love most lies in what we cannot bear to live without. This is the eye-opening moment—there are no “Sunday School” pat answers—our root “want” (idol) is exposed.
And while I’ve never been “good” at using the tracks I’ve memorized—and normally had a bad attitude about that approach, it is helpful for me to have an outline in my mind to cover the basics. It helps me have confidence to remember the key points, allowing me to hopefully be more willing to share freely.
Side note—I feel like whatever “approach”, the key is in the follow-up—making sure (if they do accept Christ), that they get plugged into a Church, a study, etc…. I’ve just found that part can be hard.

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Just started reading and am already convicted of the ways I am like Jonah. I clearly hear Him telling me to do something, and I want, I’ve been trying, to run the other way. Now it feels worse and worse inside and I look back and can actually see where I started down this path again of approval idolatry.

The past few days, I’ve been holding onto hurt feelings—though I know the hurt wasn’t even intentional. But I started down the path and now I feel like a wounded puppy who keeps trying to get up and then stumbles again—letting every rock be a boulder that takes me down. I should know better by now, but with all that’s going on, I was giving myself excuses for my attitude. That’s where I opened the door to the Lies and began listening. Listening to the lies that I’m not good enough, I’m not as good as … I’m tolerated but not chosen. Never the favored one. Once I listened a bit, my actions began to change, based on the lies, and I started my old pattern.

But tonight, I had to apply the beginning of Jonah to me—I was turning away from what He was telling me. I should know better by now. He’s shown me this before—my harboring the pain of rejection, putting up a wall against those I really love but feel hurt by, even when they didn’t even know I was hurt.

How have I come this far and yet still fall back into the trap of those lies. UGH. It’s really humbling and I’d rather not admit it here, surely at my age I shouldn’t still act this way. But I need to break this cycle and be accountable here. Pity party over!

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    i love you elizabeth!!!! praying for your hurting heart! i feel your pain sweet friend!

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    Ditto Cyndi, love her and feel her pain. Elizabeth you are taking 2 steps forward but only one back. I heard such a wonderful word tonight about Jesus and Peter. In Acts when Jesus asked Peter 3 times if he loved Him, He was extending grace for each time that Peter had denied Him. I can’t tell it like she did but it so blessed my heart to think how Jesus not only forgave Peter but called him to great works.

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    Sweet Elizabeth, I love your openess

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    In an odd way it gives me heart that Jonah was so slow to learn — even after his great prayer of repentance, he’s back to his idol at the close of the book and God has to chasten him again. It’s a daily repentance and faith — glad we have one another to encourage us in this journey. So glad we have you, Elizabeth.

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    Elizabeth, I read this late last night and prayed, first I hate that you have had to suffer lately like you have, and that you struggle-yet I see God making you more and more beautiful as the days go by-I see you yielding to Him even if it takes a week or two-you are yielding-I thank God for both your honesty in the midst of a struggle, and your insight. It ministers to all of us.

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    Thank you for your honesty & vunerability Elizabeth, you are so very dear to me and I think to everyone here.

    God has chosen you, and given you such a sweet tender heart.

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    We all love you so, Elizabeth! You’ve come such a long way and inspire us all.

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Thanks for your prayers for this weekend! I had a pity party for myself in Charlotte when I was stuck — there were so many things that went wrong that I wanted to call Steve and cry. But I also knew it was nothing compared to the persecuted church! I did finally get to where I needed to be and God was with me in the speaking. I’ve taken two days to be with dear friends before I return back to Kansas City. Internet is slow — but I will be reading and commenting briefly. You are dear to me — and I love how you’ve begun Jonah.

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    Glad speaking went well. Have a great time with friends.

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    Glad it went well too. You were in my thoughts and prayers.

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 6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:

   “By the decree of the king and his nobles:

   Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

I find it interesting that the king actually listened to Jonah. He was a king after all; why would he listen to this (seemingly) crazy man who was just thrown onto shore by a fish?! Not that the king knew that, but don’t you think someone saw him “vomited” by the fish? I also can’t believe the word “vomit” is in the Bible!

I’m not sure I understand the last part of the story; why Jonah gets mad at God for accepting the the city of Ninevah’s repentance. And, I’m not sure I know what Jonahs idol is. Is it approval? Jonah throws what I consider to be a temper tantrum when he sees that God is forgiving. I know if others are forgiven for their sins, then I will be also.

Finally, what’s with the plant that grows and dies? And, the worm, that’s weird too. I think this is why many people don’t read the Bible……you need a translator for this analogy stuff! Plus, my pea brain just doesn’t always put two and two together :( I’m glad I have all of you to set me straight! You are all so smart :)

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    Doesn’t Jonah remind you of the elder son in the parable of the Prodigal – the one who wont come into the party when his little brother repents and returns? This came to mind when I read what you posted how Jonah throws a temper tantrum when he sees that God is forgiving.

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      GREAT insight Susan–wow–brings another (sadly relate-able) dimension to Jonah!

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      Great insight, Susan. How often like Jonah and the elder son feel people don’t deserve to be rescued?

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      Ooh yes, Susan! The older brother who doesn’t understand HOW the father can possibly be kind to the prodigal after all he has done. It’s just the same isn’t it?

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OH MY..There were three places God stopped me. One was when God raised up the storm, the men on the boat were crying out to their gods and Jonah went down into the cabin below and went into a deep sleep.

Jonah was running from God and to me it seemed his comfort idol was in play-perhaps it was painful knowing he couldn’t really run from God, and he was the cause of this so instead of repenting and turning he went down to the cabin and went into a deep sleep-perhaps depression? He was still running from God even though God was getting his attention. He then went up and admitted his sin-was willing to take the consequences-it seemed his emotions were dull compared to the ones on the boat. I think he might have been depressed-His idol was destroying him.

This reminds me of me!! I really can relate with the people in scripture like Peter and Jonah. I can be stubborn and there are times you would think I would ‘get it’ but God needs to reiterate it to me once again. It is too easy to run from God-to fall asleep and not be aware. It can come in the form of so many things for me because daily there is always something in my life that happens it seems.

I also see how Jonah’s heart deceived him-like mine does and instead of curling up around it-running, I need to be on guard. When I miss the Holy Spirit’s red flags and I start to fall asleep like Jonah-by the Grace of God I know He will pursue me.

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The second place God quickened me was how the men who were idol worshipers cried out to God after they threw Jonah overboard-they feared God. Jonah hadn’t yet cried out to God, but I noticed Jonah starting the process of repentance and faith when he admitted he was the reason why it was all happening. I think this is HUGE.

Jonah faced a much harsher “eye opening rescue” than I did when I was ignorant that I was an idolater, and unaware my idol was consuming me. What struck me was regardless God pursued Jonah-even in the midst of his idolatry which broke God’s heart-even though he never cried out to God on the boat and the unbelievers did. God still loved Him-Jonah was God’s, and God desired to rescue him, and Jonah had to be jolted to come to his senses-like I often have to be jolted. Yet at the same time I see God’s amazing LOVE in the belly of the whale. I see His Grace in preserving him. I think Jonah knew God could have killed him yet He didn’t-a true picture of the Gospel!! Amazing love, Amazing Grace how can it be? So undeserved! God could have chosen someone else to go to Ninevah-someone else easier to deal with, but He didn’t!!

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Jonah 1

All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.
But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. (Jonah 1:5 NIV)

This verse quickened me cause sometimes I do feel like Jonah where I do just go to sleep and ignore God

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    Meg, I agree. Sometimes I sleep to avoid everything.

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The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head. (Jonah 2:5 NIV)

This verse quickened me because at times I do feel like I am “drowning” and I can’t escape

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    Love your honesty, Meg. Yes, sometimes I feel like sleeping and ignoring God too. And I also feel like I am drowning too. I think that is what my daughter is going through at the moment.

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My time is short this morning as I have to be at work soon. I wanted to share that we did attend the support group last night. The facilitator is also a pastor who began and ended with prayer, I feel Gods provision that he will be our guide in this. It was monstrously hard. We had to share our story. I see how much I have not been allowing to the surface. I could not make eye contact with anyone, and cried the entire time. I wanted to leave, but I did speak. They said the first night is the hardest. I felt really ill afterward. I know I need this, I just wish I didn’t have to walk this path. I feel very raw and exposed.

There were two other families who began with us last night, there were some signed up who didn’t come. They can begin next week but after that the group will be closed.
I have a planning meeting with a bride this morning who seems prone to being dissatisfied with what we have to offer. I pray that she will not unsettle me emotionally and get me crying, it wouldn’t take much today.

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    Oh Chris,
    I’ve been praying for you about this support group, supposing that it would, indeed, bring to the surface a lot of raw emotions and things you have to face all over again. You and Bill are courageous to go and commit to this. I’ll keep praying.

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    Oh Chris, will pray for God’s mercy and Grace for you today in your meeting with the Bride. Also, am glad you all went to the support group-so thankful the leader is a pastor-yet my heart still breaks, I hate to see you suffer so.

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    Chris, So thankful that you are sensing God’s provision in the support group. It sounds as if God already is using this in your healing. I’m praying the healing will continue and that God will give you strength and grace to get through daily activities during this painful period.

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    Chris, your vulnerable heart gives me such hope–I read your words and think “how does she get up each day…” and of course I know it is Him, you make Him real to us in your pain. I will pray, especially each monday night for your group. I am amazed at your courage, to show up, to speak even. Praying for protection over you and Bill in all of this.
    Any update on Brian?

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      Thank you Elizabeth for remembering Brian, he has been working quite a bit, so we have not seen a lot of him. He works at Home Depot and was employee of the week a few weeks ago.
      The real bright spot is that yesterday at youth group (he has been coming regularly) he asked if there were classes available that go deeper than youth group does.

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    Oh Chris — so hard. We love you. So hard.

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    Praying for you Chris. I can relate to not letting feelings allow to surface. I will pray you will feel the Lord’s tenderness upon you as they come up, that it will never be more than you can handle. Thanks so much for sharing.

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2. Do you have any comments on the following two topics we will be considering in our Jonah journey?

A. Election and Evangelism

These things are so hard for me to understand. I’m looking forward to discussing them. I heard a quote by Chuck Colson played yesterday on the radio, and he said something to this effect (I’m paraphrasing): “A person can make a decision for Christ, but God may not have made a decision.” I find this frightening, because excellent pastors in churches, TV, and radio, invite listeners to pray to receive Christ, and many do, and then think they are saved, but God did not…what…choose them?

B. A fresh approach to evangelism, using idols of the heart.

I can use all the help I can get. I was “defeated” in another conversation over the weekend. My husband, son, daughter, and I had finished dinner, and my son and I got into a conversation about things in our modern culture, and I said that I thought something in particular regarding a certain lifestyle was wrong, and he said I can’t believe you are so dumb to think that – after all, if you’re not out hurting anybody, why is it wrong, just because some 2000 year old book says so? I just said that truth and right and wrong have to come from somewhere, it doesn’t originate with people. So my husband and son got me to concede that a person can have good morals without being a Christian, which I do concede as true – there are very moral, “good” people who don’t profess Christianity, yet that doesn’t address salvation, and are we saved by being moral and good, etc….but that’s all they wanted to hear, so they “won”.

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    Susan,
    Very interesting quote from Chuck Colson; definitely something to think about.

    I’m praying for you re: your conversations with family members. I just was talking with someone about feeling defeated or as if I “lost” in a conversation. I was wondering how I can let God bring out truth through me. The answer to both of our questions is somehow wrapped up in God’s sovereignty, the fact that He is truth, knows the big picture and is in control of it. Unfortunately, truth doesn’t always “win” in specific conversations. Can’t quite articulate yet what I’m learning because it has to soak in deeper!

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    Susan, I just break reading this–I want so badly for you to feel loved and supported. I just hate that you have to get so attacked and defeated! But, I can’t help but find some hope in the fact that these conversations take place in your home at all–and that God has placed you before your family–such a steady,strong faith…like the tree we talked about. Oh, praying for you–and your family

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      I agree with Elizabeth, that you can find hope in having the conversations. I will pray the seeds you are sowing will fall on fertile soil.

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    I wonder about the Chuck Colsen quote — if the radio might have misquoted him — because no one can make “a decision” for Christ unless Christ draws him — and I am quite sure Colsen would agree with that. Not questioning you Susan — just the authenticity of the radio person who said it — but I could be wrong.

    And I’m saddened by your story — probably one of the hardest issues to address is homosexuality (or abortion) soI avoid those with nonChristians unless they initiate it and ask me, which does happen. I am praying this approach will be helpful to you, yet I know that only God can open eyes. I pray they will see Christ in you and be ashamed of the things they have said one day.

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      Dee,
      I was not clear on the Colson quote – my point was that people think they have made a decision, often praying a prayer, but in fact, it was their thinking they had received Christ, but the scary thing is, they did not. Here is the actual quote, I went back and listened (on Chris Fabry Live) and this was Chuck Colson himself on a recording:

      “What the Cross means, it isn’t just I’m going to accept Jesus because He died on that Cross – no, you’re going to go to that Cross yourself and trade places with Jesus. You’re going to give up your old sinful self and take Him on. People say they made a decision for Christ and that’s it, no, that isn’t it, it’s not it. If you just make a decision and nothing happens in your life, you might have made a decision, but God didn’t make one too.”

      In regards to election, I find it frightening that someone thinks that because they responded to an invitation, etc…they got saved, when what if the real truth is that they are NOT one of God’s elect? They prayed and asked to be saved, but God did not save them. Does this make sense?

        That Colson quote is better! Thank you for going back and getting it.

        If someone sincerely responds to an invitation, it is because they are have been chosen by God — otherwise they could not respond. There is nothing good in us that can respond without God wooing us. Does that help at all? We will be listening to some sermons — I just listened to one this weekend on Hell by Keller that was helpful. You would need to listen to it, but he shows so clearly that people choose hell rather than choosing God. Even in hell, they still stick to their choice — they are shaking their fist at God and still choosing their desires over Him. I know, Susan — this is hard — but once you see it, it is also incredibly sweet.

What stood out to me: i burst out in tears to hear that in His sovereignty, God uses the biggest failed evangelists.

this study was recommended to me by a dear friend who has been speaking truth in love to me about heart idols. i am fresh out of a huge failure…entering a work situation, praying to share God’s love and truth and exhortation with 2 individuals, several days a week…invested so much into these relationships, as my heart’s desire is to do everything in life to let Christ shine and draw people to the Lord…and ended up in an emotional affair.

my dear friend let me know the relationship needed to be entirely severed. it has been devastating, knowing i poured so much into the relationships and wondering if it just all went down the tubes because surely they must think i am such a jerk to just cut them off like this, and was it all for nothing, and did i turn them away from God, all because i did not have good conversational boundaries in place and got too close emotionally?

what a relief/blessing/i don’t even know what…to hear that God is sovereign, and uses even the worst failure for His purposes.

and here is where the 2nd question comes in…the word “heart idol” and “what can’t you go on without?” so speaks to my heart. the word “sin” is abstract, and i surely didn’t try to get into a sinful relationship. but heart idol…my heart feels like it has been ripped. this has been very very painful to experience the deep loss of someone i loved so deeply. cutting it off stopped me in my tracks for weeks, working through the grief.

though i know it is the right thing to do and have done so much praying and reading and writing and sharing with my accountability partners, being prayed for, and will be doing counseling with my hubby to work through marital issues and my own issues that led to lack of boundaries, beginning with conversational boundaries…it has still been very deeply painful to let go of the heart idol.

my friend has been encouraging me to let God be my ONLY satisfaction, and i certainly have been crying out to Him to do that and been in His Word more and just being WITH Him.
thank you for this study, for sharing your heart and ministry with other women. it is my prayer to be able to do the same with the women God puts in my life. i am surely grateful for His sovereignty and that He uses failures. thank you for blessing me so deeply today with your sharing.

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    Thanks for your honest sharing. Glad you’re here with us.

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    Welcome, Sunshine Tash. Sounds like you have had a rough time. So glad you are here. Praying for you.

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    Sunshine — How welcome you are here — already I am drawn to you, for you are so honest and vulnerable.
    God has given you insight, is rescuing you from a heart idol, and you are obeying. And yes, you can absolutely leave this friend in God’s hands. Even the severing of the relationship, if he or she knows why, can be a witness. So glad you are with us.

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    Sunshine, Welcome! First off, I have to tell you that you have a jewel of a friend God has placed in your life-praise Him!

    I so agree with you-I feel the same way. I am the queen of failure but it is a balm to my heart to see how God loved and pursued Jonah, and of course Peter-and David, despite their failures-how He redeemed, loved and worked through them despite them-and when they repented and got it, then messed up again, and repented-he was ever so long suffering-His love is amazing. :-)

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    Welcome, we are glad you are here. I hope this study will help you to continue the healing and replace the idols with the Lord. We are all on the same journey!

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    Love your name! A dear friend from my christian school was named Sunshine. WELCOME!!!

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    Welcome Sunshine, we are so glad you are here with us. I have a male cousin in MS, named Sunshine…he goes by Shine. I will pray for you.

    So glad you are here SUNSHINE TASH! I am her real life friend and you all will grow to love her heart, and authenticity for seeking God. I can see you can already see this in her but I believe as well she is very brave just coming on here cold. So glad though and love you all the more for welcoming her so warmly. :)

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      Angela, you are such a dear friend to give your friend such good advice:)

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Thoughts on Jonah 1 and 2. God used Jonah’s disobedience to turn the hearts of the heathen sailors to Him. When we look back at our failures, disobedience and sin remember that ALL things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. Even though we sin, we are still called. Where there is sin, there is grace. There is no need to feel guilt. Repentance, yes; guilt, no. You have to trust that He will not let our stupidity go to waste.
I always wondered how hardhearted and petty Jonah was not to want to see people repent and turn to God. When I put it into a more modern context such as going to preach to the Nazis, Al-Qaeda, or at a reproductive rights conference I can see how that would not only be intimidating, but would seem pointless. Those people didn’t repent and ask for someone to help them in their spiritual walk. They didn’t think that they were wrong or needed to change. He was going into enemy territory, speaking to people who hated him and his kind. People who have done unspeakably cruel things to Jonah’s people and enjoyed it. God haters. Jonah would want to see justice and punishment, not forgiveness and love.

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    Dawn, Excellent insight!

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    Dawn, Good! — both the part about guilt/repentance and putting Ninevah into a modern context. That helps me understand Jonah’s reaction.

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    Great insights, Dawn M. S.

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    Thanks Dawn, this makes sense :)

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Of course I see Jesus in it all. The sacrifice of one to save all (when they threw Jonah off the ship). 3 days in the “grave”. Miraculous return bringing forgiveness and new life to all who believe.

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    Dawn,
    Great insight to see the sacrifice of one to save all.

    I’m still confused by the 3 days, partly because I read that Jonah spent 3 days and 3 nights in the fish. When I first read “3 days,” I figured that we are “supposed” to see Jesus. But then I started wondering how I might know the difference between passages that I’ve heard point to Jesus vs. ones that really do.

    The 3 nights part was an important part of my wondering the significance of the time. Jesus was raised on the 3rd day, but the time between His death and resurrection was just under 2 total days (but parts of 3 days) and it included 2 nights. Maybe we could say that Jonah was in the grave longer and still didn’t completely “get it” — unless the translation of 3 days and 3 nights was wrong… or it means something else?? Any ideas?

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      In Matt. 12:40 Jesus says that just as Jonah was in the fish for 3 days and 3 nights, so will He be in the heart of the earth for 3 days and nights….remember during Lent we were talking about that night, that maybe it was a supernatural night, when it became dark when Jesus was dying on the cross from noon to 3 – and that would make 3 nights. I’d have to go back and look which week that was…

        Oh Susan, Thanks; I forgot about that! That would make the math work :) The tie-in with Matthew brings it together. Whew! (Was just thinking about 2 vs 3 nights when I was mowing the lawn!)

        You got it, Susan. Funny to think about Renee thinking about this while mowing the lawn…

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1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

I felt relief in reading the story of the farmer and his wife, that in the end Mildred was saved. How it is out of our hands. That we play a part in the story, but in the end it’s God who rescues.

I had a friend who recently miscarried. She actually had a tubal pregnancy that was threatening her life, and they had to make the decision to end the pregnancy at 7 weeks. They had already heard a heartbeat. She prayed to God to that if it was possible she wouldn’t have to stop a heartbeat. There was also a possibility of having a hysterectomy – something she didn’t want at all …they are trying to have their first child. When they went in for the procedure, there was no heartbeat. She didn’t have to go through with ending a life, God had already ended it. And the procedure didn’t have to be done, the doctors said the embryo would either flush out or be absorbed by the body. So no possibililty of a hysterectomy.

I share that story because it just testifys of how God rescues, how He hears every prayer, every cry, sees every tear. And that He is a good, faithful God. Even when the world wants us not to believe it, He is good, He is faithful.

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    That’s a wonderful answered prayer. Sad, but good.

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    So sad but oh how they were blessed!

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I have a question for a future week: What IS evangelism? I just read this (not closely enough to completely get it),and I started wondering: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/aprilweb-only/new-conversion.html

I’ve been well trained and understand standard evangelical and parachurch definitions, but I don’t think I’ve ever looked closely at how the Bible might define/describe it, although I may have studied the “right” passages for other reasons.

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    I found the article interesting. I’m sure I don’t understand all the implications of it, but I do agree that there are major changes going on in the evangelical church about “evangelism” and just what is salvation.

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Jonah 1

I’m always amazed at how a prophet can hear clearly from God and then not obey. I’m amazed at God’s patience with Jonah. How He told him to go to Ninevah, and he went in the other direction. It’s comforting to know that God is the God of second chances…and more as we see in the story of Jonah. God didn’t give up on Jonah when he didn’t obey the calling. What a grace-filled God we have.

In my study on Jonah that I did previously, it comes to mind that we don’t know anything about Jonah really…his family, his ancestry, all we know is that he is a prophet of the Lord. Ninevah was a really wicked place and very close to where Jonah lived. It’s possible Jonah was personally affected by the wickedness of Ninevah before God called him there. Wouldn’t that be like God, to have us face our persecutors? And Jonah’s first instinct was to run. To control the situation by putting distance between himself and that city. It’s a thought I’ve contemplated and wondered about.

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    It is comforting God is a God of second chances for I certainly have heard clearly from God and yet not obeyed! So thankful for grace.

    I know you and I have thought about this in our family — how God often chooses the “least of these” to give grace to, and the proud are the ones in trouble…

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Sisters if you would pray. Isaac, my son with Autism, is working with an Autism specialist today and or tomorrow in regard to presenting “what it is like to have Autism” to the whole sixth grade! He has a heart to want to do this, and he also likes to mention he knows Jesus-so we will see if they allow him to say that or not. :)

Also, I am singing tonight at the City Union Mission’s graduation event held at our church-singing Amazing Grace acapella. I filled in last minute for someone who wasn’t able to sing due to being sick. Pray God would have those wonderful words minister to hearts. Not sure if He is leading me to have everyone sing with me or not yet-so pray for me to hear Him on that.

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    Praying for you re: singing and for Isaac. Seems that for him, “what it is like to have Autism” is really “what it is like to have Autism with Jesus by your side.” :) Praying that he can share it!

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      Oh Renee, I agree! I do hope he is able to share his testimony. We will see. I am going to see it and will be video taping it! :-)

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    Praying for your singing tonite, Rebecca…may you be sensitive to His leading, and also praying for Isaac. I remember you mentioned his wanting to do this before; isn’t it great God has given him a heart to share this with his classmates!

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      Wonderful news for Isaac and hope all went well tonight! Praying!

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    Thanks sisters for praying! Last night went great! He anointed the song and led me to have everyone sing it with me TO HIM. He wanted to hear all of us sing it to Him, and I think He delighted in it!! When I looked out into the body of believers singing this to Him-you could see the joy on their faces and how they were REALLY praising Him-OH MY!! He is with us! To think this is just a taste of what worshiping Him together face to face will look and sound like. THANKS SO MUCH FOR PRAYING..I knew you were and afterward I thought about you all and how thankful I am for you!

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      So thankful things went so well, Rebecca!

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    Just came on, Rebecca — and see it went well too. So glad!

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What I found interesting about the book of Jonah is that the sailors believed and sacrificed to Jonah’s God based on Jonah’s witness and the cessation of the storm. So not only did Jonah’s witness convert the Ninevites but them as well — all as a very reluctant witness.

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    Me, too :) Jonah was very actively running then (when sailors sacrificed to God). I read Jonah 1 and then stopped for awhile to review it and see what stood out. Not sure I would have caught that if I had barreled right through!

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      Renee and Diane — in one commentary there is a chapter on this called “The world rebukes the church”

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