HAVE YOU EVER WANTED YOUR OLD LIFE BACK?
ON HIS HONEYMOON, MIKE MASON PANICKED —
WHAT HAVE I DONE?
HE WANTED HIS OLD LIFE BACK
TWO WEEKS AFTER TIM KELLER STARTED PREACHING
A SERIES ON JONAH, 9/11 HAPPENED
AND EVERYBODY IN NEW YORK
WANTED THEIR OLD LIVES BACK
WHEN THE PLANT THAT WAS GIVING JONAH SHADE
HE WAS ANGRY ENOUGH TO DIE
HE WANTED HIS OLD LIFE BACK
WHEN YOU’VE LOST ONE YOU’VE
LOVED WITH ALL YOUR HEART
YOU WANT YOUR OLD LIFE BACK
ECCLESIASTES WARNS US NOT TO LONG FOR THE FORMER DAYS
AND YET SO OFTEN, WE DO
WHEN WE ARE BEING PRESSURED OUT OF OUR COCOON
HOW CAN WE TRUST HIM THAT SOMETHING GOOD WILL EMERGE?
WE COULD TRUST HIM IF WE KNEW HIS HEART WAS GOOD.
God has blessed us with an amazing group of women on this blog. I am so thankful for each and every one of you. Together we are so much richer than any of us alone — and God has done it, bringing each of you here, weaving our hearts together.
We’re going to be hearing from a few women who’ve been with us regularly for a long time, have a talent for writing, and are willing to guest on the blog. Elizabeth will begin for week one, and I know you’ve grown to love and appreciate her heart — the heart of a woman who is willing to pray, “Mess with my heart if I’m wrong about this, Lord…” (And mess with her heart He did!)
I know you will be enriched by what she has to share. She found the perfect picture (the emerging butterflies above) that says it all in a single frame. Life brings change, often unwanted change — but if we submit instead of resisting, He can bring beauty from it. Elizabeth submitted three parts, asking me to choose, but I’m using them all for an entire blog, and simply adding a few of my own reflections and questions. It was a sweet gift to me because my mind is full of preparing for this video that we film this coming weekend! (HOW I NEED YOUR PRAYERS!)
First Week: (June 17th-23rd)
PART I. FROM ELIZABETH
When our world gets turned upside down, we find our faith was enough for our old world, but not the current circumstances. We want our old world back so we won’t have to grow.
I remember after my first fight as a newlywed thinking—this is too hard, I want my old life back! Mike Mason says marriage “attacks people’s vanity and lonely pride in a way that few other things can.”
As He did with Jonah, God stirs our world, messes with our heart—to humble and transform us to a deeper understanding of grace. Like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, we struggle to let go of familiar ways—yet transformation brings true freedom.
1. Share a time when you wanted “your old life back,” but that was not God’s plan. If you submitted to God, how did you grow?
2. What thoughts do you have about the opening and why?
Monday-Wednesday: Reflections and Study
Elizabeth shared a quote from Mike Mason. Relationships are meant to refine us. If we continually retreat and give up when there is trouble, we go back to our cocoon. But if we respond in humility, if we stop justifying our own behavior, if we speak the truth in love but also admit any part of our own that has been less than holy, a butterfly will emerge.
The natural response to pain is to retreat. In most scenarios, with the exception of abusive relationships, that is not the most mature response. (Last week I had to clarify — but some of you may have missed it — that I know there are exceptional relationships that call for boundaries.) Relationships refine us if we let them — and marriage will do that perhaps better than any!
3. If you are married, how have you responded: to friction in your marriage in a negative way? In a positive way? What have you learned from each?
Mike Mason’s title, “The Mystery of Marriage,” is based on Paul’s statement in Ephesians 5.
4. Read Ephesians 5:22-32
A. What challenging command does God give to wives in verses 22-24? How is this also a reflection of the bride of Christ and how she is to respond to Jesus?
B. What challenging command does God give to husbands in 25-32? How is this also a reflection of how Christ loves us?
C. CHALLENGE QUESTION. What do you think Paul means by verse 32?
PART II. FROM ELIZABETH
We apprehend the grace of God through renewing our minds, engaging our affections, and living as the undeserving recipient from an unobligated Giver. Once we understand the Gospel in this way, we no longer cling to our performance, but cry out with Jonah, “Salvation is of the Lord”.
When we were relocated by my husband’s company, we moved 1000 miles from all family and friends. I missed everything from my old grocery store to my beloved church. At times I longed for my old world back. But His plan was to grow me—to transform my heart and strengthen my faith.
5. Can you think of a time when your world was shaken and God used it to
transform your faith and deepen you understanding of grace?
THURSDAY-FRIDAY KELLER SERMON:
The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God.When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.
Listen to the Keller sermon. We’re going to be on this for a few weeks, so I hope you will buy it. It was on the series I mentioned in the beginning, but if you didn’t buy that, you can buy it here singly by going to this link.
You can also opt to read Elizabeth’s notes at the close of this post– or best of all, listen to the sermon, make your own notes, and then read Elizabeth’s notes:
6. Share your thoughts on the sermon.
PART III. FROM ELIZABETH
(after she listened to this week’s sermon)
Grace is a completely undeserved gift from a completely unobligated Giver. Usually we’re missing one component to the definition—either we have too low a grasp of our need for God or too light a view of God’s love. Then, something shakes our world and there is a breakthrough into understanding grace. When your identity is based on performance there is either humility or confidence, and both lead to fear. But when you get the Gospel, humility and confidence are intermingled, fear is dissolved. We see we are no better than anyone else—we are humbled, strengthened.
7. The gospel should impact our response to the shaking of our worlds. I want you to read what she has written carefully and then answer these questions.
A. When God shakes our world, when we face some kind of loss — “usually we are missing one component” of the gospel.
1) We have “too low a grasp” of our need for God. How does the cross show us how bad we are? What does this tell you about your need for continual repentance? Evaluate yourself as a repenter.
2) We have “too light” a view of God’s love. How does the cross show you the depth of God’s love for you personally? How often do you go in your mind to this truth?
BONUS: ELIZABETH’S NOTES ON THE SERMON
Notes on Sermon
Those Who Cling to Idols Forfeit the Grace that Could Be Theirs
Jonah was a prophet, had a relationship with God, had faith, was a preacher…he was moving along fine—and then his world changed. God called him into a new situation—Ninevah, capital of Assyria-emerging world power—a clear and present danger to the existence of Jonah’s city. Jonah “freaked out”. He had a certain amount of confidence, a certain amount of humility—but in the face of this task, he was filled with disdain, hatred, bigotry. His faith was enough for the old situation, but not this one.
An event occurs that rocked his world. Jonah runs away, is thrown over board, and swallowed by the fish. He is forced to think. And finally, he has a breakthrough.
I. Key to Spiritual Transformation
Jonah 2:8-9: “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord.”
Jonah is released; changed. What is the key? GRACE. “Salvation is of the Lord”. The irreligious say ‘I don’t need salvation’, the religious say ‘salvation is of me, my works’—both base their identity on performance.
The Gospel began to bear fruit the day you understood the grace of God—grace is what gives us the initial encounter with God and every breakthrough of deeper understanding is grace. The key to transformation and every spiritual breakthrough is to grasp that salvation is of the Lord.
HOW do you grasp that?
II. Methods for Spiritual Transformation
There are 3 methods to spiritual transformation: through our mind; our affections; and our life.
a. Mind—learn more about grace. Grace is a completely undeserved gift from a completely unobligated Giver. Usually we’re missing one component to the definition. We either have too low of a grasp of our need for God; or we think we are SO unworthy and grasp the need—but have too light a view of God’s love and commitment. Both types might agree that Jesus gave His life for them—but they are not TRANSFORMED by it. And then, something happens—something in their life wakes them up and they are humbled. And it is as if you are having surgery without anesthesia. You get the depth of your need, and the depth of His love.
b. Affections-let your heart be drawn in affection by grace. “If you don’t forgive, evil wins. But, if you ‘just let it go’, evil wins again.”
c. Life-live as if you are a recipient of grace, go to Ninevah, say “yes, Lord”.
III. Marks of Spiritual Transformation
Two marks of a breakthrough into understanding grace:
a. Fear is eroded. When your identity is based on performance, as either a irreligious or religious person, there is great fear. There is humility without confidence, or confidence without humility, and both lead to fear. But when you get the Gospel, fear is dissolved. You get that though you are undeserving; God loves you and died for you. This brings both humility and confidence, intermingled. Assurance in Christ makes me less afraid.
b. Bigotry is eroded. We see we are no better than anyone else—we are humbled, and strengthened.
IV. Continual Need for Spiritual Transformation
Pray for the ‘old world’ but prepare for anything the world brings. Keller said he has been praying for things to get better— the economy, world safety…and realized beneath his words, his real prayer was ‘Lord, I want my old world back’. The faith he had was enough for his ‘old world’, but not the current circumstances. We want our old world back so we won’t have to grow. It’s OK to pray for the way things were. But also prepare our hearts to handle anything on its way.
Saturday: (PLEASE REMEMBER DEE AS SHE FILMS IDOL LIES VIDEO TODAY)
8. What is your take-a-way and why?