WHEN YOU CAN’T HAVE YOUR OLD LIFE BACK…

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

SHRIVELED UP

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.

 

 

WHEN YOUR LIFE CIRCUMSTANCES ARE DRASTICALLY ALTERED...

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.

SUNDAY/MONDAY ICEBREAKER

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.

ELIZABETH’S QUESTION:

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.

JONAH 2:5-7

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?

 

 

 


COMMENTS (352) Post a New Comment ↓
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6. Share your thoughts on the sermon.

This was a rich sermon again! I have LOTS of thoughts, so I narrowed it down to this:

Jonah 2: 8-9- When Jonah was in the Whale and said, “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good.
I will say, Salvation comes from the Lord.”

Knowing God’s Grace and experiencing it after coming to know Him are different. Basically, I don’t have it down! I didn’t know Grace then like I know it now, yet I am still at the precipice and still have more opportunities in my life to grasp it in new ways.

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Because of the video shoot, I’m not able to read carefully — and ask you to stand in the gap for one another.
I love you and so need your prayers for this weekend.

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    Praying much for you, dear Dee.

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    Praying Dear Dee!

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    Praying for you, Dee — that your oneness with the Head will be your source of strength, encouragement and organization. I’m even praying that you will have FUN — enjoy the whole process. Love to you!

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Father, we all come before You and ask again for Your blessing on the video shoot. We pray for health for all involved, for good weather , protection from power outages; for You to quicken the women as they share; Your quickening on Dee, the photographers,Cynthia and Ed; for quickening for J. R.; and for a HEDGE of protection from the enemy! Lord we pray this would be a blessing to You and glorify Your Name! In Your Name we pray, Amen

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    I agree with Elizabeth Lord. Make Dee’s time sweet, and Lord we praise you for the tremendous way you are moving through Dee and through every situation in this so far. Strengthen Dee to continue to look to you.

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    Amen.

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    AMEN!

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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.

The cross reminds us that the people of that time were short sighted. They felt threatened, so they needed to feel in control. When they “took charge” of Jesus then they felt they had the power over Him; He whom they could not understand. We look at the cross and are reminded that He died for our sins; for those people who murdered Him. I don’t truly understand it, it is hard. I accept it though. He wanted all of us to have a relationship with the Father. I usually need to repent daily. I don’t always remember…..something will remind me and I will ask the Lord for forgiveness. I need Him with me always.

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?

As I said above, I don’t understand why He felt it was so important to have all of us. But He did, and He is Lord so that is that. I can’t imagine giving my son as a sacrifice for anyone. I don’t know how God did it without much pain. The cross reminds us of God’s love for us. I don’t ever think of His love just for me. Rather, I usually think of the struggles here on earth and how I am suffering. I think He must be pretty upset with me, or life wouldn’t be so difficult. But it doesn’t work like that. I don’t think of His love for me enough. I think He is usually trying to fix all the things I have messed up! In fact, I can’t remember the last time I did remember how much He loves me.

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    Laura–as always, I love your honesty–love too how you repeat the Truth to your soul, even when it doesn’t seem to make sense to us–you said “I think He must be pretty upset with me, or life wouldn’t be so difficult.” but followed with “But it doesn’t work like that.”–you keep going back to the truth, so good! Lord, I pray You will overwhelm Laura today reminding her of Your love, just for HER! ;)

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    Amen to all elizabeth said, Laura- dancer. So appreciate your honesty – naming the lie, looking at the truth, trusting when it does not make sense. Show your astounding love to your daughter, Lord. Open your eyes for just a glimpse of your love.

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A. What challenging command does God give to wives in verses 22-24?

To submit, to submit in everything

Strong’s Hebrew and Greek dictionary give this definition for submit:
hupotassō
hoop-ot-as’-so
to subordinate; reflexively to obey: – be under obedience (obedient), put under, subdue unto, (be, make) subject (to, unto), be (put) in subjection (to, under), submit self unto.

How is this also a reflection of the bride of Christ and how she is to respond to Jesus?

What an interesting thought, can we imagine how wonderful it would be if all of Christ’s followers repented & fully submitted their lives to Him?
It is easy to see the lack of submission and the toll it takes on the church as a whole, but it makes me feel the weight of my own more fully too.

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B. What challenging command does God give to husbands in 25-32?

To love their wives to leave their father & mother

How is this also a reflection of how Christ loves us?

Christ left his perfect oneness with the Father to manifest His love for us…for me, His love was costly and knows no limit.

By degrees the truth of this is sinking into me, I do tend towards downplaying Christ’s love for me, I am asking Him to change whatever is wrong in my heart and my thinking that this is my tendency, I will continue to strive to allow grace to strengthen me away from the voice inside that says I am unacceptable. I do want to be humble & fearless for Christ.

C. CHALLENGE QUESTION. What do you think Paul means by verse 32?

I think Paul is pointing to the picture of marital intimacy at its very best,as God intended it, a wife following her husband, helping him, building him up, a husband treasuring his wife, putting her interests before his own, providing for her needs, both of them designed for each other, enjoying one another, as a picture of the wonderful perfect intimacy the church as the bride will share with Christ for all eternity.
It is a blessed hope!

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    Chris–I relate to that feeling of downplaying His love–sometimes I think I get a piece of it, and then when I’m covered in fear–I know I really don’t see Him at that moment as the Lover of my soul that He is. There is the tendency to feel unworthy, and also just the overwhelming nature of His love,and the part of me that struggles to receive. Praying with you that we all may have that perfect intimacy as His Bride!

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      Yes, Chris, praying!

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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? After we left our church of 7 years, I began to question if we made the right decision and also we lost some good friendships…one of them just cut us out of his life. For the last couple of years, I have prayed and we have gone back several times; I think I always had a string of hope we would return and relationships would be made right. But as God has healed my heart, I have been able to cut the string and not look backwards at the life I once had with regret and want, but with gratitude for what it was, and gratitude for what’s ahead.

2. What thoughts do you have about the opening and why?
I love Elizabeth’s line about transformation bringing freedom. I have found that, as I have walked through a major depression that I am not the same person I was, but stronger because of it, and free to be who I now am in Christ. There are people in my life who I’m sure wish I was the old Anne and hold on to that, but I pray as they see I’m following God they will let go of that “dream”. As you know I’m also doing Beth Moore’s study on James, and she talked this week in the video about “passion coming from pain” when we trust God with it instead of rebelling in it. I find comfort in knowing I have followed the Lord in this incredibly tough time and He is blessing my life in new ways. Not that it’s now easy, it isn’t, but I have a new strength and joy that comes from the transformation.

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    Anne–this is all so powerful. I LOVE this line “I am not the same person I was, but stronger because of it, and free to be who I now am in Christ.” And this “Not that it’s now easy, it isn’t, but I have a new strength and joy that comes from the transformation.”–I am encouraged by this–your honesty that’s it’s not easy, but there is a strength and confidence in your words because of Him. So glad you’re here.

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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? A negative way…by burying my head in the sand and choosing the non-confrontational way. Since my husband is like me in not wanting confrontation, it worked well! But really it did not.

A positive way….to pray pray pray to love my husband like Jesus does before I respond and open my mouth. I don’t always do this, but I find when I’m frustrated with him, most of the time it’s because I’m being self-centered or loving him out of my own flesh.

I have definitely learned the power of prayer and how it softens my heart and brings me to repentance as I pray for him.

Praying for you Aunt Dee and for the shoot! Praying for joy and laughter in the midst of the what can seem like chaos I’m sure sometimes on a video shoot. Can’t wait to see the end result.

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    Love this Anne Meredth…..”A positive way….to pray pray pray to love my husband like Jesus does before I respond and open my mouth. I don’t always do this, but I find when I’m frustrated with him, most of the time it’s because I’m being self-centered or loving him out of my own flesh.

    I have definitely learned the power of prayer and how it softens my heart and brings me to repentance as I pray for him.”

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      Like!

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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?

Five years ago, in January my Mom got sick. For about a month, she just thought it was the flu but as she got weaker and weaker, she finally went to the hospital and they diagnosed it as a fast growing form of leukemia. The doctor sent her to another city for treatments, and I moved with my Dad to a place where we boarded with a Christian lady during Mom’s hospital stay. For six weeks we spent all day and evening with my Mom as she went through chemo. Then we got the diagnosis that they could do no more for her and she was sent home. Mom wanted to stay at home as long as possible so I moved in with her and my Dad (different town than me) and, together with my sister (a Licenced Practical Nurse) who came to relieve me when she could, we looked after Mom until she passed away at home six months later.

I had no hesitation at leaving my job, and my hubbie (temporarily) to stay with my parents. I knew God wanted me to be by her side. God made my time with them a very special time – a spiritual journey. It was a precious time of watching the faith of my mother and father, and growing deeper in my own faith. One of the books that I read during that time was Randy Alcorn’s Heaven (which I highly recommend).

Psalm 116:15
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

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    Diane–the more you share of your story–the more I am drawn to you and encouraged by His work in your life. I hope you’ve had a chance to get the God of All Comfort–it is my very favorite book on grief–actually, it’s just my favorite. I think you would really really love it–but be warned it’s a tear jerker!

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      elizabeth, you make me smile. No, I have not gotten God of All Comfort yet, but I fully intend to; and thanks for the warning! :) I cry easily anyway so I’m sure I will.

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    Diane, I am so sorry! This brings me to tears not only because of the loss but also the sweet comfort you found in all that your family went through here. It is hard to put into words. Thanks for sharing it. How you have provent that verse true!

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    Loved your testamony here, Diane. You really gave your all for your parents and to the Lord, which I admire so much. I love this book also.. Randy Alcorn’s “Heaven”, too.

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      Ditto re: the book!

      I also liked Alcorn’s book on Heaven, although I can’t remember if I read the “whole” version or a shortened one. Also loved his fiction one. It looked so good that I ordered it twice; didn’t remember reading it until I received it the second time.

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    This is beautiful, Diane. How you must have ministered to your parents during that difficult time by being there with them. I’m so glad that God made it a very special time for you and for them; I’m sure it was very bittersweet, as your mom was dying but you were where you needed to be; this really touched my heart.

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    I “see” your whole family resting in God’s comfort. What a picture! It must have been difficult, but you were all drawn together for this “event.” The memories of being together before adult children went on their ways must have been sweet. I’m sure your mother found comfort with her family by her side. I know, as a mother, I would have.

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4. I’ve just been reading Ephesians 5 and had sort of a “duh” reaction when I thought about the big picture, especially after reading the challenge question.

I’ve heard this passage used and abused in so many ways that I barely “hear” the verses at all anymore. When I read the challenge question/verse (“This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church”) in the context of the whole passage, I started thinking about Christ and the church being one. As I read/thought more, I realized that the head and the body ARE one. I thought about people being beheaded (gross!). The analogy only goes so far because the Head of the church (I AM) can survive without the body; but the body doesn’t have life without the head. This passage makes more sense to me when I think of a physical body. When one’s physical body is functioning well, the body and head really are one being. The body does what the head tells it to do, but they are so connected that the body’s “obedience” is automatic. When the body’s obedience isn’t automatic or at least immediate, we have a clue that something is wrong. Submission, then, doesn’t mean giving in to a tyrant who might be bossing me around, but is more like functioning as a complete unit. When I look at Christ as the Head, who He is, what He has done, I wonder “Why don’t I submit?” It just makes sense to submit to and to be one with Him. When I look at submission as a battle with a winner and loser, then I don’t want to be the loser!

This isn’t the same as my head telling my body to exercise and I refuse. Lack of exercise usually is not my body refusing; it’s my head having a war within itself! It’s more like paralysis, nerve damage, etc when communication between the brain and a body part is disrupted or when a body part is damaged and doesn’t work.

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    Thanks, Renee, I need your perspective to make me SEE this passage again. I too have heard this passage so many times that I had stopped hearing it. “When the body’s obedience isn’t automatic or at least immediate, we have a clue that something is wrong. Submission, then, doesn’t mean giving in to a tyrant who might be bossing me around, but is more like functioning as a complete unit.” If I love Christ, then obedience should be immediate. He is my head. My love for the Lord needs to be so complete that I hear His softest whisper and move at his quietest request.

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      Diane, I almost skipped #4 (I actually don’t think I did directly answer the questions) because I started to ‘tune out’ when I saw the passage. If my physical body responded to my head the same way my spiritual body sometimes responds to my Head, I’d be spending the rest of my life in bed. “My love for the Lord needs to be so complete that I hear His softest whisper and move at his quietest request.” AMEN!

      This reminds me of John 15, the Vine and the branches. Having a fully attached spiritual spinal cord is branches abiding in the Vine.

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    Renee–”When I look at Christ as the Head, who He is, what He has done, I wonder “Why don’t I submit?””–SO TRUE!!
    I like too what you said below–your understanding of grace changing you from over-achiever ways…I relate to grace teaching me to drop the performance game (though it took a lot to force me there! ;)

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      Elizabeth,
      Even though I learned the hard way (more than once), I still slip and TRY (unsuccessfully) to do too much! Sometimes I wonder if I really learned or if I just gave up because it was too hard. “Giving up” is ok IF it is because His yoke is easy & burden light…But sometimes I suspect that dropping the over-achiever thing might be as much related to my laziness as it is to His grace. The good news is that because of His grace, I don’t have to analyze my motives to death :)

        I like this Renee;
        “The good news is that because of His grace, I don’t have to analyze my motives to death :)”

        Chris S. I like that too. I am prone to beat myself up, at least my husband tells me that. When I do that I am not believing the Gospel. I so hate my sin nature.

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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?

It is so tempting just to answer “yes” and stop :) I’ll add A LITTLE more. I can think of two periods of time, each lasting about 10 years (I learn some lessons very slowly): 1) depression, ranging from moderate to severe. It almost became “normal;” I knew the severe stuff was bad, but it took a long time for me to realize that “normal” was not a moderate level of depression. 2) caregiving/exhaustion/grief, especially when they were all wrapped into one package I still can’t easily articulate how my understanding of grace changed; it’s so much a part of my being — and it’s a whole lot of work to describe. I can say that I no longer am an over-achiever :) although I sometimes over-commit :(

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    Renee, love this…” I can say that I no longer am an over-achiever :) although I sometimes over-commit :(‘

    I understand that very well.

    It’s so nice to have you home and here with us more:) .

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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.

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” Jeremiah 17:9 (NLT)

I think of deceitful and desperately wicked-we don’t know the depths of it, but God does and He is Holy. He has every right to strike us down, but instead He came and died for us-His love blows me away-just like His Holiness does. I think of Sally’s Aslan painting and I look at the whole of Scripture from Creation to when Jesus comes back to restore the heavens and Earth. God has a fierce side both in wrath and in love. His love is just as passionately fierce-His Mercy and Love is what led Him to the cross so that those who come to Him wouldn’t have to face His wrath, ever.

When I sin each day-which I do with some kind of worry, attitude, etc…when I don’t look at the cross I can easily hold onto it and I don’t repent and turn. That scary wall can be built on my end toward Him one brick at a time, and He turns His face. Yet when I do see my sin and focus on the cross His love leads to repentance. It may take a day or two or longer sometimes, and really the depths of my heart are so deep-there are even things in there I don’t see yet that I am holding onto but I remember He is faithful and will bring them up to the surface-it is a constant repentance and faith over and over until I am with Him face to face-yet in the life long process of repentance and faith He is bringing me closer in and growing me.

I think I evaluated myself above. ;-) I am stubborn like the sheep and can hold onto worry in the midst of a storm, thinking if I just take it on, it will go way, but it actually makes it worse! I want to grow in that I repent and turn from worry right then and there in the midst of a storm. It is easy to repent after a storm is resolved. I want to grow in that I repent of worry more often than not in the middle of a storm.

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Ladies,
I have a prayer request. My son, Adam, is taking the MCAT today at 2pm (EST). This is the test one takes and hopes to score well on to be admitted into medical school. It is a five hour exam. He has prepared for months for this, and prayers would be appreciated!

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    Susan, Will pray. How exciting! :-)

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    Praying, Susan. Wow, what a big day! Hope all goes well. Tell me a bit about Adam, please. How old is he? What education does he have so far? Does he live at home?

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      Adam is 21, he will be a senior in college this fall, majoring in chemistry. He goes to school about an hour away from home. He lives on campus during the school year and we see him often. He also plays on the soccer team so we attend his home games. He is thinking of becoming a surgeon, as he wants to work with his hands. He likes to be on the move – doesn’t like sitting still! When he was in high school he volunteered at a nursing home where his grandparents serve also. He was so good with the elderly people; he would kneel down to speak with someone in a wheelchair so he was at their eye level. He had a special lady friend who had never married – she used to tease him and ask “Where’s Eve?” She has since passed away. He is definitely a people-person. He’s working full-time during the week on campus this summer but is home on the weekends.

        Thanks so much for this information, Susan. It helps me picture him as I pray. I have heard you speak of three children, I think. Do you have others?

        Adam sounds like a wonderful person. He would probably make a great doctor.

        Yes, another son who is 18, and a daughter who is 11.

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    oh Susan–so glad you let us know so we could pray! 2pm, got it on a sticky note!;)

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    Just seeing this Susan. Perfect time to pray.
    Lord, please come alongside Adam right now. May he know Your presence, Your peace, Your power and Your mind as he sits for this exam. Give him understanding of the questions he is asked and clarity in his answers. Bring to his mind all that he has learned and help him to clearly articulate his thoughts. Thank You for the dream You have placed in his heart, the way You have equipped him and for all that You will do in and through him. Amen

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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?

I answered the first question here with number one. :)

How often do I go in my mind to this truth? I do when I am willing to go to the cross which means I have to force myself to look past my worry and sit there at the cross for a while-speak the truth of the Gospel into my soul and that is how I attack the lying thoughts that bring on worry.

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3. If you are married, how have you responded: to friction in your marriage in a negative way? In a postive way? What have you learned from each?

The negative way: Especially in the early years of my marriage, I was determined to get my own way. I always had to have the last word. I verbally lashed out; if he yelled, I yelled back. I would call my mom and tell her everything that was wrong with my husband, and of course, she would take my side.

The postive way: Praise God, I stopped several years ago calling my mom! I have better control over my tongue, but sometimes, when severely provoked, slip again. There are times I want so badly now to call my sister and “tattle”, and something I heard Nancy Leigh DeMoss say will come to mind, and that is not to talk negatively to anyone about your husband. So ususally I’ll tell it to God. I have learned that sometimes I just cannot please my husband; so if I’ve owned anything that is my part, but he’s still unhappy with me, it is his problem to deal with. He is usually so stressed out because of his job, he will come home and I feel like the dog (we don’t have one) that he kicks. It is hurtful but I will just try to leave him alone.

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?

Wives are to submit to their husbands as to the Lord. The example to follow is the way the church submits to Christ as its head; so we are to submit to our husbands as our head.
The bride of Christ, the church, submits out of love for her Savior, Jesus. A Christian marriage will reflect this truth to the world as a wife lovingly allows her husband to be the head of the home.

B. What challenging command does God give to husbands in 25-32? How is this also a reflection of how Christ loves us?

A husband is to love his wife just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. Jesus endured death on the Cross so that we could be made holy, presented to Him without stain or wrinkle of any other blemish. So the husband’s love should be likewise; self-sacrificing to help his wife be all she can be spiritually.

I feel a strange disconnect with these verses; it’s not a picture of my marriage. I see it as the ideal marriage but not what I experience.

C. CHALLENGE QUESTION. What do you think Paul means by verse 32?

I think Paul is referring to the verse before this – about a man leaving father and mother and being united to his wife, and the two becoming one flesh. In the same way, we “leave other loves”, so to speak, and believers and Christ are united as one. We should have such a close union with Him, unbroken fellowship and communion with Him.

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    Susan, as I read your comments I remebered something from our marriage. I took a friend to an evangelical luncheoun, (she prayed to accept Christ that day!) I went up to the book table thinking ‘why am I even looking? I only have $3.00′ when I saw a book on sale for $3.00, it felt as if arrows were pointing to it. It was called Heart to Heart About Men, and the thing in it which affected me most was the idea she brought that if my husband is behaving badly and I do not call him on it, the message I am really sending is, This is all I think you are capable of.

    This was a huge lifechanging concept for me. I had prior to this felt like a helpless victim, I put up with so much without saying a word. I thought that was my role as a wife.

    I don’t know if this will be helpful to you Susan, maybe someone else here needs this word, I felt led to share it. I am praying now for you and for your husband that God will intervene in your marriage, and bring glory to Himself through it.

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      I don’t know what to say, Chris, nor not quite sure how to explain. Example, about a week ago, we were having dinner with my one son and I gave my son a compliment, and for no reason my husband said something cutting to me. Later in private, I told him that it hurt me and he apologized. But in a few days it happens again. I will speak up and tell him that the way he talks to me is not right, but he is unable to change. The change in me is, for the most part, I don’t lash back with something just as bad at him. I used to do that, and occasionally I slip again. We may have a day or two of getting along really well, and I get my hopes up, but then it just goes right back to the way it always is.

        Susan, you have such a difficult life. Praying for you. Wish I could give you a hug.

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      Susan, it is so encouraging that he responded with apology! You were wise to go to him later when the heat was out of the moment. The incident reminds me of what Keller said in this week’s sermon about enabling sin when we do not speak as well as when we take revenge. Not retaliating is huge and I think that if you pray each time his heart will be convicted by the Holy Spirit. That is the desirable result. The result that may eventually bring change. I think he will eventually become sick of himself and realize that change is not in him but only of the Lord.

        Now I see. Iam a day late! So sorry!

        For Adam I mean. Ding ding

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    Susan, I have been praying for your marriage for quite awhile now and was hoping things where better. You are a very strong, godly lady to stand by him throught all you have endured. God will bless you. I’m still praying and won’t quit! Love you, girl

    Susan, how did your son’s test go? I was too late to pray before it.!

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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?

I began this answer trying to use one of my less painful world shaking experiences, but even my husband’s infidelity pales in comparison to what has happened because of Daniel. There are some seeds that won’t germinate unless they are eaten by an elephant and pass through its digestive system, and others that need to pass through a forest fire.

My level of spiritual understanding was enough before I had to acknowledge my utter helplessness, my illusion of control was ripped painfully away, my pride in my superior type of praying was gone when I could barely pray at all.

The terrific pain and the desire to understand why it came to me have driven me to look deeper into the love of Christ, something I have sought in the past to minimize. I am still walking this out, seeking to make it my own.
I keep thinking about one of Keller’s sermons we heard when he brought out the thought that if God really loves me and heaven is where my treasures are stored up, then no matter how much I lose or suffer here in this life, no one can do more than pick my pocket of 25 cents.

I sense that more dying to self is wrapped up in the lessons this hard journey has for me, I am not sure what that will look like, but I am inside my elephant still I think.

My mom wanted this song at her funeral:
This world is not my home, I’m just passing through.
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore…

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    Thank you Chris. So often you give words to my feelings.

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    Thanks, Chris. Your elephant example is vivid, especially since we just studied Jonah being inside a big creature, too. I think Jonah’s big fish would have been easier than your elephant.

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    Chris, loved that song. Praying for you.

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    Chris, Just listened to this song. so good. Your word picture of the Elephant is so good and helpful for me. You have been through some mighty storms but instead of turning away from God you are still pursuing Him even while in the midst of the Elephant’s belly in your current, unimaginable storm. I know you are busy, but your insight here and your testimony of clinging to Him in the midst-is so ministering to us all.

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Thanks for your grace in my being unresponsive. When the filming is over, I will go back and read. I’m so aware of spiritual warfare and my own sin nature as the filming draws near. (I hung up on my son’s fiance last week — so your leader has feet of clay.) How I need prayer for my own heart and for a hedge…

Prayer requests:
>
> Please pray for a hedge around us
> For quickening for me as I speak, for Ed and Cynthia (couple coming to give testimonies and help)
> For the seven women coming (including two international women from Moody) who will be asked to contribute their thoughts
> For no huge storms or power outages
> For quickening for Ben Eisner who will be filming
> For traveling mercies for everyone coming and leaving
> For health
>
> Then for the edit which will be a big job — my son J.R. will begin it immediately. Please pray for quickening on him, for protection for our relationship as this is our first time to minister together
>
For me to stay out of the darkness! For God to be glorified.
I love and need you.
> Dee
>

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    Praying through your prayer points. I love you. We all need each other and we all have feet of clay! In our weakness, He is strong. I know He wants to bring something marvelous out of this shoot.

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    Dee..Oh how I too have feet of clay-major feet of clay! We love you here on the blog and will be praying for all these points.

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    You came to mind in the night and I prayed so remember God has you covered as He quickens us to pray night and day.

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    Dee, I don’t know if I can continue this study since finding out that you are a real person, that you make mistakes and need God’s grace, too :)
    Thanks for not minimizing your faults.
    I will be praying for you!!

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      You CRACK. ME. UP. :-) Thanks for the laugh!

      And, yes, Dee—-continuing to pray.

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      Dawn you scared me there for a moment, then had to laugh!!

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      Good one, Dawn.

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    I will be praying for you, Dee! I agree with Dawn – yes, you are really “real” after all! (I’m trying to interject a little humor here)!

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    …I’ve wanted to hang up on my sister-in-law, but she won’t even answer the phone :) Thankful the Lord gives us second chances again and again and again…

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      I used to know what numbers to use before you dial so that your number doesn’t show up on caller id :) (Can’t remember now, though)

        Haha Renee…too funny.

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    Continuing to pray, Dee. I am so touched at your openness to us about your feet of clay. Sometimes when I react very poorly to someone, Satan uses my sin to taunt and it puts a pall over a very special event. That is what he wants. Don’t let him to that. Remember there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) and set your eyes on Him and not your sin. You are forgiven and loved by God and by us.

    Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)
    “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”

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      Diane,
      You said it so well here, about “sometimes when I react very poorly to someone, Satan uses my sin to taunt and it puts a pall over a very special event. That is what he wants.” I have had that exact thing happen to me! Just yesterday….. it was my husband’s birthday. We are going out to eat with his family tonite to celebrate. I thought they were coming our way, and I said we could all come back to our house for cake after the restaurant. Last night, he told me we were going their way, b/c his mom got an ice cream cake so we will go to their house after dinner. So I got mad and reacted poorly – that I wasn’t the one to make his cake – after all, I’m his wife, and why didn’t she talk it over with me, and I said something mean, “Ok, I’ll let your mommy do your cake”. Very poor reaction; my husband doesn’t even like cake that much! I suspect the power/control idol was underneath my being miffed. I apologized to him this morning. I must have feet of cement.

        Thanks for sharing this, Susan. I find this sort of thing happens to me a lot. Satan wants to take away our joy.

        Susan He is teaching to open my eyes to the way I react as well. You are not alone girlfriend.

        Susan so different from me. If that was to happen I’d think “Good now I’m off the hook and if something is less than perfect, it’s not my fault!”

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    Was just remembering Dee what you said earlier, about repenting our regrets and then they can bear fruit…I see that here, as we are all enjoying the fruit of your humble, honest example before us–it inspires me to be brave enough to do the same!

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    Dee, you are called to give a profound message; one that is God-breathed. I’m confident all will be well for you because you rest in Him. Thinking of and praying for you :)

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      Well said Laura, all of our hope is in Him!

      I am praying too.
      Even in…. perhaps especially through, any weakness on your part Dee, He will show Himself strong and bring great glory to His name!
      You are His messenger bringing a much needed treasure in a jar of clay.
      We all love you so!

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    Dee, if you have feet of clay, mine are stuck in bucket’s of clay:)

    I’m praying down your list of prayer’s and more and much MORE!

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My son, Adam, said his exam was hard but he feels good about it. He was the first one at the testing center, so they let him start early. You take the test on a computer and have 5 hours to complete it, with a short break after each section. A friend of his from high school was there too, taking a different test for graduate school, so they sat next to each other. Thanks for the prayers!

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    Good stuff. Hope he did well.

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5. Can you think of a time when your world was shaken and God used it to transform your faith and deepen your understanding of grace?

My world was shaken when I got a phone call early one July morning in 2009 from my sister, and heard the words, “Thomas is dead”. Thomas was my 21 year old nephew, and he had died from a drug overdose, using heroin and cocaine. I’m afraid my response showed my lack of maturity in my faith. I went to God, but at the same time, I questioned Him. I didn’t understand why He had let this happen. I knew it wasn’t God’s fault that Thomas had been using drugs, but I’d heard so many testimonies, and still do, of people who were terrible alcoholics or drug addicts, and then they were set free by God from their addictions and lived to tell about it. I concluded that God must not have had a plan for Thomas’ life and somehow must not have loved him too much because his life didn’t have a happy ending.

I was questioning God’s actions and kind of angry at Him, too. Yet, I kept praying because there was nowhere else to go, and deep down I knew that. Then I read a book called “Saving a Life” by Charles and Janet Morris. Charles Morris hosts the radio show Haven Today, and they lost their son to a drug overdose. I think it must have been God who brought it to my mind that I’d heard the radio program when Charles Morris talked about his son and mentioned that book he wrote. I went to the Christian bookstore and found it. It gave words to much of what I was feeling about Thomas. It also gave me some hope.

That fall, I didn’t sign up for a Bible study at church like I always did. I didn’t know how to work through my grief. Having heard Dee on the radio, I was on her email list, and received an email asking ladies if they would be interested in doing an online study beginning in January 2010 through the God of All Comfort. I signed up, and have been here ever since. The Bible study and the support I received from the ladies on the blog at that time helped me through my grief. I found when we studied the life of Job it ministered to me and helped me to understand God’s sovereignty. God also “met” me in the various Psalms we studied, as Dee encouraged us to “read as a lover reads”. Many times I would come up empty and begin to despair, but one thing Dee encouraged us to do was to praise God even if we didn’t feel like it. When I did, even though not feeling like it, God met me in His Word.

As I’ve stayed here on this blog, I look to so many of you, who in my eyes, are spiritual giants, tried and tested, yet I see you steadfastly clinging to God. Each one of you has been an example of “how to do life with Jesus” for me. I am a slow-learner and I’ve never really had a mentor to disciple me in the Christian life. I am more like the man who said to Jesus, “Lord, I believe – help my unbelief!”

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    Oh Susan…I agree with Chris-this is a beautiful testimony. God’s hand is clearly in Dee’s ministry-it is so evident that He is moving on this blog. When I came here I too was struggling, and over the past almost three years I have seen Him come to all of us like the Spring rain. It is encouraging to witness so many of us ‘coming out of the cocoon’. :)

    And I am right there with you Susan when you say, “Lord I believe-help my unbelief!”

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    oh Susan, this is absolutely beautiful–I still see you as that tree firmly planted by the water–you are a “giant” in faith to me–a strong example of steadfast faithfulness to Him amidst such continual battering by winds…you are a precious gift Susan, so thankful for you

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    Such a beautiful, compelling testimony, Susan. I am so glad to hear your story. As others have said, you may not realize it but you are an inspiration to all of us here as well. We all have feet of “clay” and struggle with “unbelief”. You encourage us by your perseverance and faith in your own difficult situation, and seeming continual storms.

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    B e a u t i f u l !

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    Oh Susan, I’ve been here every since you have and you have come so far! You were hurting so…..” yet I see you steadfastly clinging to God.” (Your own words:)

    Each one of you has been an example of….“how to do life with Jesus.” And so are you, Susan! I’m still climbing that wall of “How to do Jesus” and I think we all will untill Jesus comes for us!

    Thanks for the sweet reminder of how you came here…so glad you did:)

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Susan this is a wonderful testimony.
I too feel like that man who cried out for more faith, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17)
God has used this study in this most difficult season of life for me too.
I am praying for your husband & your marriage, and praising Him for the good report about the test, I am glad he brought us here.

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I COULDN’T STAY AWAY — AND GLAD I COULDN’T — CAUSE I READ YOUR PRAYERS, YOUR LOVE, YOUR HUMOR

TODAY WE START FILMING — IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY — I’VE GOT PRAYING ENCOURAGING FRIENDS HERE — I’M HEALTHY
–FEELING QUICKENED

OH GOD THANK YOU

OH PRAYING FRIENDS — THANK YOU

COVER ME THROUGH TOMORROW NIGHT PLEASE!

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    Yea!!! Still covering, covering you with prayers–and praising Him for His blessings!

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    Thank you, Lord, for your answers to prayer for Dee. Oh, Lord, lay your hand on every detail of this project, and especially for Dee that she will be used by you and touched by you and blessed. May You be glorified in each detail! We look to you!

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    My daughter and I prayed through those prayer requests you posted last week Dee – we will keep praying!

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    Got ‘cha covered.

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    Oh Yes, Yes, Yes we are !!! We got your back, Dee!!(Or God does!!)

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Oh thank you Lord!!! :-) :-)

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Wow, what a week we have had. Though I continually fail Him, He still rescues me – what a great God I serve, makes me love Him more and more!

My take away for the week:
God has given me opportunities over and over this week to give grace. The plumber who put in a second pump bucket unnecessarily at our expense, the roofer who put nail holes in our roof instead of re-roofing filling them with tar, the H/A guy who didn’t call back, the snippy receptionist, the mail lady who kept bringing our “on hold” mail. So many opportunities to love the unlovely. I failed some tests but then I kind of got on a roll when I figured out God was smiling on me when I got it right and that prompted me to keep getting it right until it became a habit. All in all this giving undeserved grace thing is even fun when you see how your grace-filled reaction catches folks off guard because they were expecting anger. Talk about changing the atmosphere! Oh, and the snippy receptionist likes me now and her voice changes when I call – cool, very cool God – I love what you are teaching me here.

I am signing off until Wednesday unless I am somewhere with service. Love and prayers until then.

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    Love and Prayer’s for you too, Kim…God has your back and so do we!!

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    Praying for you, Kim – this is all great!!

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    Wow, Kim! Your report has me smiling and encourages me to give undeserved grace, too!

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Dear sisters, I know I ask a lot these days. I am sorry. I leave for yellowstone tomorrow and plan to have Bible study each morning with my study friend from California. I am happy about that! I ask for traveling mercies and for my husband to handle the next two weeks in a calm manner when it comes to Sarah. Help him to be creative in his managing her issues. Thank you and prayeing for you all :)

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    Have a sweet relaxing time Laura. I’ll be praying for you!

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    Laura, Praying for your trip to be awesome and for traveling mercies and for your husband to handle things in a calm manner when it comes to Sarah.

    “As you focus on my Presence, the demands of time and tasks will diminish. I will bless you and keep you, making My Face shine upon you graciously, giving you peace.”

    That was taken from my daily devotions this morning, for you, Dee and Kim:)

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      Thank you Dawn and Joyce :) love the passage!

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      Joyce, WONDERFUL quote!

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I am not a good repenter, I am not good at seeing that I am really THAT bad. I tend to excuse myself, tell myself that Im doing all I can so people should not expect more from me. I also have a hard time really seeing/feeling how bad my sin is. I look at my kids sin and my husband sin as much worse then mine….they should be grateful that I am so forgiving.
“God stirs our world, messes with our heart—to humble and transform us to a deeper understanding of grace.”
As I meditated on this sentence I saw that Im pretty good at extending grace but I am not good at admiting that I need it.
I try so hard to be everything to everybody that often I make excuses for myself when I do lose my temper or forget an apointment “if they only knew how much I did in a day”
playing the marter is not pretty!

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3. I respond to often by withdrawing and acting “holier then thou”. If I am hurt or angry with Paul I will clean the house, disipline the kids, make a good meal, get all the laundry done, read my Bible…you get the picture. I try to become above criticism so that I have a “right” to critisize…..that sounds worse when you write it down!!!! good grief.
But sad to say ,that is what I do, and it leads to nothin good.
What I have been doing lately that is more healthy but not totaly heathy is to be silent and pray that my neg. feelings go away. some times it works really well! others I should probably address the problem but man its hard to tell when to do what and I really like the peace that comes when im quiet and pray!!
I have also used the “kill them with kindness” approuch. Its easier to FEEL loving to someone when you are acting that way. I have also begun to put myself in Pauls shoes more and instead of pestering him to talk to me and share his feelings I have been able to just sit with him or walk with him is silence. Im not good at that!!! but he really likes it…..expecially if it leads to other things…but this is a G blog so I wont go there;-)

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    Cyndi, you are too funny!!! I’ve tried all those approaches! You probly spend way more time doing all those things, than if you just come out and say how you feel to everyone, but of course your house wouldn’t be as clean or you would not have as many good meals and your laundry caught up!!! You really crack me up!!

    Read your bible and pray your feelings out to God alone, ask him to lead you and let it be “your word’s God, not my own” and address your family as you feel lead! He will give you peace and guide your words.

    We all love you just as you are, “because your you”, Cyndi! No fisode will cover the beautiful, loving, person you really are:) Praying!

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    Cyndi, Just read this..Love it. I can relate except when something happens that upsets me or is out of my control..I can easily use cleaning is an escape. So instead of going to Jesus I clean, now how stupid is that?!? ;-)

    Your PG-13 remark made me laugh! ;-)

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i have only had a very small amound of time so I am only doing the bible study and not reading all the posts this week. so please dont feel like I am ignoring all of you!!! i just cant read them all right now:-(

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Oh Cyndi — wish you were here to give a few one liners on film…

Thank you for praying. The day looks beautiful. Yesterday has a panic that all the cameras would not be able to work together for the edit…but think we have it worked out.

How I appreciate your covering for today…for a hedge, for quickening, for Ben (our videographer — so blessed to have him — you can see how good he is by looking at knittedheart.com

Some little requests
For my hair and make-up
For the green wood I have to somehow make a blazing fire
For a child of one of the women who will be here to find something to do and be content

But if only one thing to remember all day — that God so be lifted up through each person

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    Lord, thank You so much for this beautiful day and for working out this camera problem. There are many needs for this day that we lift up to You, those that we are able to name and those that we cannot. You know them all and I ask that you bring them to our mind so that we may pray. I pray for Dee’s makeup artist. Please bless her work right now.
    May the bruises be covered completely. Please provide just the right combination of temperature and humidity to keep Dee’s hair looking beautiful all day. Bless this child with peace and contenment the entire day. May he or she form a special bond with someone to spend the day with. I pray that the wood will burn and for all the other technical problems that will come up during this day. In each situation help Dee to see that You are there, faithfully working. Help her to rest in You. Deepen her bond with JR during this work and make it into a very special time that he will always remember. For every single person who will ever watch this video, I ask for it to speak directly to their hearts from Your Spirit. I pray that it will penetrate the strongholds of the enemy. Because of this we need special protection and so I ask for a hedge around this entire project, prevent him from entering in any way.
    We lift up our beloved sister to You. Give her victory in the power of Your Spirit in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and by the power of His blood! Amen

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      Amen to Anne’s prayer. And may the fragrance of Your joy and peace surround this project today, Amen.

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      What a beautiful prayer, Anne…and YES AND AMEN TO EVERY WORD….praying for you, Dee!

        Amen to Anne prayer and Diane’s addition to it. Let us all hold them up in prayer through tonight. May their day go by with no problems, but all blessings!! I pray for a closeness for Dee and her son, JR, because of this filming, like no other.
        Thank you Father in Heaven, for Dee and her book and all the people involved in the book and film, that you, Dear Jesus be lifted up by each person. And may the book bless everyone who touches it. Amen

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    I how I wish i could be there!!! praying on the side lines and making ice tea for everyone:-) we are driving out west in Aug. wonder how close we will be, would love to see your beautiful lake:-) praying praying praying.
    Lord please fill Dee with your spirit. as you did long ago, bring your words to her lips. help her to not feel self consious about her face and let the makeup person do wodners! like you did for you prophit, make the fire wet wood blaze for your glory! bring a peace and a joy to all those involved with the shoot……cover it all with your glory!!!

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      I pray this also with you, Cyndi.and you still do bring a chuckle in their day, even though you can’t be there; with your…”let the make-up person do wodners”!! Love you!

        I really should use spell check!!!

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8. What is your take-a-way and why?

Well, after reading what Chris S. wrote..knowing what Elizabeth has had to endure in her life, Dawn M.S., Dee, Joyce, etc.. They have all dipped into the deep waters of suffering and are experiencing more of Him-more yielding and clinging-and their suffering is not because of sin in their life, but mine is lately! So, really I am learning from you all this week, of what a life in pursuit of God in the middle of the mysterious, unimaginable storms that weren’t brought on by anything they have done-what that REALLY looks like.

I am learning that without suffering it is so hard to let go of self sufficiency, pride, and really experience Him in a deeper way and I so want that. I had some stress the last couple of weeks brought on by my control idol and worry was the near sin. I asked Him to continue to cut away at the stone in my heart-but that was after I tried to take it on myself with worry. Everything ended up okay and fine, but it was a huge red flag to me how I responded. SO I went to God and repented and while it was scary, I asked him to remove anything that was in the way of me going closer in to Him.

What I learned from it was how God really does know every hair on my head-how much he does love me by how he knows just what I need and when. This pushing out of the cocoon for me-this transformation is slow and can be painful-for me the pain is seeing my sin, but what I find wonderful are His ways with me.

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    Oh Rebecca, I love your heart and I am praying for you!

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6. Share your thoughts on the sermon.

I’ve listened and taken notes, and keep re-reading them. One part that sticks with me is “Salvation is of the Lord”. Keller explained that this is NOT ONLY for the first time you encounter God, but also, what you need every time you need to step up to a new level of faith, when life changes, when you face a storm, a challenge. I realize I can’t do it on my own, I’m not capable of handling life in any way on my own.
I liked how he tied-in the passage from Colossians, that we bear fruit when we begin to UNDERSTAND the grace of God. Keller said that if Jonah, who was a prophet and a preacher, didn’t have grace straight, do I think that I do?!

I think I am realizing that something happened to me when my nephew died. People have “phobias” of all kinds of things. I think I am afraid of life! I feel deep down like I just don’t “do life” very well. I have an unsettled feeling deep inside. Sometimes I am afraid of “the next bad thing that will happen”. I didn’t used to be this way. It’s not every day now, but I still grieve and mourn my nephew. Not a day passes that he doesn’t come to mind. I was very close to him from the time he was born and I still miss him.
This morning I read Psalm 42, where the psalmist asks his soul why are you so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God…
I am learning I cannot manage this on my own. I cannot manage my marriage on my own, my troubled relationship with my husband. Salvation is from the Lord. I need God to raise me to a new level, first and foremost, with Him.

I also liked the part about grace being a totally undeserved gift from a totally unobligated Giver. I can play both parts – at times not seeing the depth of my need, and at times feeling so unworthy and not understanding the depth of God’s love and committment to me. When I feel so incredibly unworthy and sinful, and that doesn’t catch up to how much He loves me, it is very painful indeed. I so need to pray and ask Him to help me understand how deep and how wide is His love for me.

Loved the ending where Keller gave the example from Lord of the Rings. That if I only open my eyes to see my Jesus standing with me, it will give me courage.

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    This is good speaking truth to your soul, Susan. I understand that you “have an unsettled feeling deep inside. Sometimes I am afraid of “the next bad thing that will happen”, because I have been there too, and it is easy to slip into that mode of thinking. That verse Keller quoted in Romans 8:32 “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” really speaks to me. He gave His Son. He will not begrudge us ANYTHING we need, when His timing is right. It means there really is a wonderful future in which all the terrible things that happened to us will be somehow mysteriously alright and that we need not live in dread, but in joy. Wow! Even as I write this, it is with tears. Lord, teach me how to live like this, in JOY, in TOTAL TRUST!

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      Wow, Diane – you encourage me, too! I’ve really enjoyed “talking” with you this week on the blog!

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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.

I do ask God to show me the sin in my heart & my thoughts, I have learned what it feels like to walk in the light and feel uneasy when I feel like I am letting something else consume me. Yet I see that my ability to recognize/God revealing my sin is a constant gradual thing, I am glad He is so patient, not showing it all to me at once, He is still working on completing the work He has begun in me

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4. submit….I have to tell you a funny story. When i was in college i went into my campus ministers office and through the bible on the chair and said “I hate Paul” because of this passage:-) my dad was ery bad with money, if he had been “in charge” us kids would have had nothing and he would have had a different new car every year. that year he told my mom he was paying for my tuition when he had given me one $500 check. they are married but have differnt checking accounts. i was sure if my mom had followed this vs. our lives would have been horrable.

So now being a very strong woman in personality (I am a lion/coleric personality) married to the most phlagmatic man you will ever meet. THis is SO hard. we have read “men who wont lead and woman who wont follow, love and respect, how we act, dont I marriage by andy stanley…..we know WHAT to do we just cant seem to figure out HOW to do it. so this vs. frustrates me a lot. I am a natural leader, he is a natural steady, follow up kind of person. so what we have come to know is that its not so much what we do but the attutude in which it is done.

I tried to change WHO I was for a long time and it made me crazy. and there is no changing him, believe me if it was possable I woudl have found a way:-) so now I am just trying very hard to act with respect and care for HIS feelings and where HE would want to go in a situation instead with a proud heart and a stiff neck.

one big step we are taking this year is that he is planning our vacation, being totally in charge, I am always the planner for everything so this will take us both out of our comfort zones but I am really looking forward to learning how to follow in this way and to encourage him in his leadership……better get my button on my lip sowed on:-)

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    Cyndi, Well at least you aren’t a Choleric/Fleg…I am primarily Melancholy, but have some Sanguine and my Sanguine drives me nuts! If I talk too much, I think, why did I have to say all that? ;-)

    My husband is Choleric/Sanguine, and He is a visionary as well. He can REALLY talk a lot but I am learning to let him even though I tune out sometimes- I am working on that. :) I remember when we were first married and prayed together. He was so faithful in praying, but I would get impatient with him and it snuffed out our prayer life together-that has improved over the years though. I think I frustrate him with my over-analysis of things and people-He is more relaxed and really doesn’t care what people think-not in a careless way though. He is faster to say to me-God is in control you are being too hard on yourself, or you are making this more difficult than it needs to be.

    I am learning as you are. ;) Didn’t want to rabbit trail, but just love talking with you. :-)

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      at least you hubby has SOME choleric in him! i think its hard when a man has none. Paul is 80phleg and 20 mel….im like 33/33/33 choleric/mel/sang with NO phleg at all:-)
      the only reason we are still married is GOD:-) and HE has done wonderful things in us and through us…

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1) 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?

I am going to it more and more. We read a book together as a church called The Cross Centered Life which said we need to preach the gospel to ourselves every day, this is becoming more concrete in me as a habit.

I keep telling myself that I am a daughter of the King, I am dearly loved, bought at a great cost, I have a hope & a future. Some of the coins are beginning to drop.

I think that my too light a view of His love for me is what has kept me from feeling able to practice that discipline of being still in His presence. I hope to mature in this area by His grace.

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we have a spiritual battle going on in our home. Lily does not feel that any of us love her, she is very angry and can not FEEL loved. I believe this is Saten and covet your prayers for her as she fights this battle between the truth and lies! I know this is “normal” older child adoption stuff but it just hurts so much!

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    Oh, cyndi. How this must hurt. Praying for Lily and for you. I have a friend whose daughter has an adopted child (two years old) who is already dreading this phase. Lord, help Lily who sense Your love for her and the love of cyndi and the rest of the family. Speak love deep, deep into her insecure heart. Give cyndi and Paul great wisdom to lead Lily at this time.

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    Cyndi, Will pray! Lord come to Lily and quicken her heart to see the truth that you love her and that her family loves her. Help her to battle the lies in her head with the truth. Give Cyndi, her husband, and Lily’s siblings your wisdom and patience, and be their comfort today. Help Lily reflect on how her family has loved her-be a salve to Cyndi’s hurting heart. Thank you Lord that you have experienced this kind of rejection and you can so identify with the pain in Cyndi’s heart. In Jesus precious and Holy name..

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      thanks so much for your prayers!!! after a 14 hour battle of wills she repented and accepted forgivness and love!!! thanks so much prayer warriors! you rock!!!

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      Cyndi, I’m praying along with Diane and Rebecca for sweet little Lily.

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Lord God, we pray you would be lifted up today through each one there during Dee’s video taping session. Quicken their souls and their thoughts-may your Holy Spirit move and your breath put the wind in the sails of this video-open eyes and do your powerful work in the hearts of those who are there doing this video today. In your precious and holy name-you are above all. amen.

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My take away:

Grace is a completely undeserved gift from a completely unobligated Giver.

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6. Share your thoughts on the sermon.

I have listened to this sermon three times at least and keep musing about it. One thing that strikes me is how understanding the love of God affects our emotions (affections) and erodes our fear. We do not have to be afraid any more of people. They cannot hurt us. I am unconditionally, irrevocably, perfectly loved by God no matter how I have blown it in the past or blow it in the future. I do not need to be intimidated by people.

On a very practical level, this means that I can risk reaching out in love (in action) to my brother, who has rejected me, because his possible continued rejection of me does not affect who I am in Christ (completely unconditionally, irrevocably, perfectly loved). This is my goal – to be completely at peace in Christ (emotionally) no matter what relational storm rolls through.

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    This is good :)

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      Praying for your trip, Laura! For traveling Mercies and for a peaceful, joyful time for all of you!

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    diane–i felt like clapping, or cheering–or just hugging you when I just read this…it’s just beautiful

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    Yes Diane, this so warmed my heart to hear! :)

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    This is great how you applied it to your relationship with your brother.

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Praying for your week also, Kim

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I have to tell you that within 20 min. of me posting that prayer request a huge turn was made…I could FEEL the hold of the enemy loosen. Our sweet Jesus came in and touched her heart with repentence…..thank you for your prayers!!!

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    Cyndi, yeah! Praise God. :) :)

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    Praise God, Cyndi!!

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Dee, can you update us on the shoot? I’m so curious :)

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    Me, too. Came on here to check :)

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7. 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.

The cross reminds me how far off, how impossible it is for me to be holy enough to stand in God’s presence on my own. Evaluating myself—convicting question, Dee! Sometimes, humility breaks through and I quickly, and fully repent. Other times, I think I honestly feel just tired—tired of being impatient, again…tired of owning my junk, and I might half-way repent but add an excuse—and that always leaves me still tired, and with a bitter residue in my mouth. It doesn’t renew me like true repentance really does, if that makes sense.

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?

The Cross is overwhelming if I really let myself linger on it. And that’s just it—I think too often, it’s so uncomfortable to realize how really loved I am—because there can be this little bity shadow, whisper still there, of “are You sure, Lord?” And I know the answer, it’s just I am so undeserving, and my default nature is still to want to earn, to re-pay…so hard to receive when I know just how unworthy I really am, and how completely incapable I am of ever earning or repaying.

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    Dear Elizabeth, God loves you so much, and I know you think you don’t deserve it, but your are so very precious in his sight:)

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My take away thoughts–
I think this from Chris, should open a book, its so powerful: “My level of spiritual understanding was enough before I had to acknowledge my utter helplessness, my illusion of control was ripped painfully away, my pride in my superior type of praying was gone when I could barely pray at all.”

I have never experienced anything so AWFUL as Chris, but we have all witnessed the fruit that is coming forth from her pain even when it is hard for her to see, and that gives me hope. It restores my faith that He is always behind all things, and more powerful than the worst of things, always at work.

My current ongoing trial–and in previous ones like it, I have felt exactly what Keller said in the sermon–like I just wanted to go backwards,to the life I could handle, the life I had enough faith for..the life I didn’t have to fall to my knees several times a day begging for relief, answers, help…and that’s just it. This path requires more faith, more trusting, more dependency. So when I’ve asked Him to grow me, He’s answering–with this.

One last thought that is so simple and yet profound to me today–is that of all the titles, the relationships, He could have decided to use for us and Him–He chose Father. Abba Father. the Father is the Head of the family, the One in charge, who provides, who cares for, who listens. My husband isn’t perfect, but as I watch how tenderly he took the splinter out of my 5 year old’s foot, not belittling it, showing such care–I couldn’t help but remind myself that my God chose to give me the relationship of Father to child. I am His, He is mine, and He cares, deeply for all that concerns me.

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    Loved this post and this so much, elizabeth……

    but remind myself that my God chose to give me the relationship of Father to child. I am His, He is mine, and He cares, deeply for all that concerns me.

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Dear Sisters,

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR PRAYING. OUR VIDEOGRAPHER WAS AMAZING — GOD WAS SO PRESENT. THE DAY WAS PERFECT, THE GROUP OF WOMEN WONDERFUL — FRIEND ED DID ALL THE COOKING FOR EVERYONE

I’M EXHAUSTED BUT SO VERY THANKFUL…

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    praise God from Whom all blessings flow! this just makes me smile with tears!!!!

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    Wonderful. Praise the Lord!

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    yiiippppeeeee…….GO GOD……THank you sweet Jesus…..whoooo hooooooo,,,,,YES

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    Oh Lord! Thank You!

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    WONDERFUL DEE! I am so excited! I’m with Elizabeth, Praise God from whom all blessings flow! :-)

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      Amen!

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    God is indeed GOOD!

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my pentecostal coming out;-)

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    Cyndi, you go girl! :)

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      PRAISE GOD FOR ANSWERED PRAYER !!!!!!!So glad your done, Dee!!!

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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.

There’s alot of emphasis on God being a God of love, but the Cross reminds us of the awful seriousness of sin, that there is a price to be paid for it and that is death. Before I was a Christian, when my husband and I were engaged and going through premarital counseling at his church, we were asked the question, “How do you think God sees you?” I remember saying something like, “Well, I know I’ve made mistakes, but I think God sees me as a pretty good person.” From that mistaken viewpoint, there would’ve been no need for the Cross.
I remember the Keller sermon that talked about the “combustion cycle” of repentance and faith. I can easily fall into only repenting for the “big sins”, every once in awhile. The truth is most days, I need to be continually repenting of thoughts, attitudes – anytime my thinking and/or acting is not in line with God’s.

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?

Sometimes I feel that something I did is just too bad for God to forgive. I’ve been reading in Exodus, and in one place God is telling Moses how He is the Lord who will bring the people out of Egypt and they will be His people, He will be their God, and He talks about with His outstretched arm He will redeem them. It made me think about that’s how Jesus redeemed us – with arms outstretched on the Cross. Arms open wide to receive me, even me, when I know my own heart contains nothing good.
I need to go to this truth more often – Keller encourages us to preach the gospel to ourselves.

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8. What is your take-away and why?

I liked the focus on the longing for our old life but the heart of God is to move us forward – the picture of the butterflies coming out of their cocoons – learning to trust the heart of God and to know that salvation is of the Lord – I want to remember that every time I’m faced with change, wanted or unwanted change – that I can go to Him to help me. God wants to move me to a higher level of spiritual functioning.

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    So sweet, Susan

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SUCH FRIENDS I HAVE HERE!

EAGER TO GO BACK AND READ YOUR RESPONSES FROM THE LAST FEW DAYS…

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