LENT 2014 BEGINS! ALLOWING THE PSALMS TO TRANSFORM OUR HEARTS!

HOW WE HAVE EXPERIENCED GOD ON THIS BLOG

DURING PAST SEASONS OF LENT!

lent-spiritual-preparation

FOR SOME OF YOU LENT IS A NEW DISCIPLINE,

AND YOU MAY HAVE TO CAST OFF PAST ASSOCIATIONS,

FOR IT CAN BE SUCH A TRANSFORMING TIME, BRINGING OUR HEARTS FROM WINTER’S COLD SLEEP

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The park near Dee’s home as Lent begins

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The park near Dee’s home at Easter (I hope!)

TO SPRING’S WARMTH AND LIFE

LIKE THE LIFE THAT BURST FROM THE GRAVE ON EASTER MORNING

THIS IS CAN HAPPEN FOR YOU, AS YOU SUBMIT TO THE STONECUTTER

WHO LONGS TO REPLACE YOUR HEART OF STONE WITH A HEART OF FLESH.

heart-of-stoneHARTOFFIREOH BREATHE ON US BREATH OF GOD!

 

WHAT’S LENT ALL ABOUT?

Just as Jesus went into the wilderness for forty days before He began His ministry, Christians throughout the ages have found value in allowing God to lead them into a season of seeking Him and a season of repentance in order to experience more of the life of Christ blooming in them. We have “heart idols” that block the power of the One True God, and Lent can be a time when we allow the Lord to melt us and mold us and make us like Him. Do you need to give something up?

If you are not pressing into God, not finding time to be with Him, to worship Him, to read good books — ask yourself what He would have you cut out so you have time. Something is stealing what is most important. The purpose of any kind of a fast, whether it is of food, facebook, or fretting is to make you hungry for God, to give you time for God, to seek His face. Consider this testimony from Rachael, who is a silent participant on this blog:

Part I – Rachael’s Testimony – for Cozad-Large web movie

Remember idols cannot be removed, only replaced. Our own Rebecca tells how she gave up eating pie and watching the news at night and replaced it with spiritually edifying books. It wasn’t a quick fix, but God came to her slowly. It was so wise that she didn’t just try to say no, but replaced her heart idol with the living God.

ash-wednesdayThis Wednesday, “Ash Wednesday,” Christians throughout the world will have the sign of a cross in ashes or dust put on their forehead. It is to help them remember that from dust they came, and to dust they will return. As Solomon tells us, “Death is the destiny of every man, and the living should take this to heart.” We live in a world that denies death, denies God, and denies the afterlife. We are surrounded, just as Bonhoeffer was in Nazi Germany, with lies. We must replace the lies with the truth, and we will, as Bonhoeffer did, use the psalms to do so.

 

Ask the Lord to give you a heart to really seek Him this Lent. It would be wonderful if you could establish a regular time to meet with Him before Ash Wednesday.

We are going to be in the psalms, and we will be drawing on the help of one who is certainly a role model for us: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the man who joined the fight against Hitler and was martyred for his actions. He relied heavily on the psalms for prayer, has written about this, and will be one of our faithful guides this Lent. He was so filled with the Lord’s truth that it gave him the courage to live and die as he did, for his heart flamed with passion for the victims of the holocaust. His heart broke for the things that broke the heart of God. Watch this two minute video:


bonhoefferThis blog began the journey in January of studying and praying the first book of psalms. We have done the first 10 of the 41, and now during Lent we will continue, beginning with the 11th Psalm, and going through some of the most beautiful psalms in the whole psalter, such as Psalms 15, 16, 18, and 19. If you are just joining us, it is a great time to begin, and we welcome you.You will be learning to pray them, as Bonhoeffer did, and God will use His Word, which Bonhoeffer says are the very prayers of Christ, to transform you and make you more like Him.

FOR THOSE JUST JOINING US:

To actively participate with us, click on the banner at the top of the home page where it says to get started. You simply need to scroll to the bottom and make a comment, and then enter your name (a first name plus a middle name or a memorable name like Annie the nurse or Kendra the extrovert…) If you can figure out the gravatar (instructions on getting started) it helps us to see your face. Close-ups are good as the pictures are so small. After your first comment you won’t need be approved, unless you forget to log in at the beginning of the day.

FOR EVERYONE:

Each day we will seek His face through three daily disciplines that Bonhoeffer practiced. He believes you should begin these in the morning, for he says, in “Life Together” (a small book some of you may choose to purchase) that “The early morning belongs to the church of the risen Christ…” I love that! Every early morning is a celebration of Easter — and I can picture each of you, from the Netherlands to North Carolina, from Canada to Kentucky, seeking His face. We do this together, for logs together produce a blazing fire, but a log alone dies.

Bonhoeffer also says: “For Christians the beginning of the day should not be burdened and haunted by the various kinds of concerns they face during the working day. The Lord stands above the new day, for God has made it.”

sunrise

“He chases from us sin and night, and brings us joy and life and light.” So sang the church of the Reformation. (Bonhoeffer)

What are these three disciplines that we will practice Monday through Friday? (Sunday is an icebreaker, Saturday, a take-a-way)

1. A hymn (or praise song) to prepare our hearts — sing it or listen to it. I’ll give you suggestions to go with our study each week.

2. The Word. We will be studying the psalms with questions and messages to help you.

3. Praying the Word. We will use the psalms as a springboard for prayer.

In addition, I’ll suggest optional reading, clips, and a Bonhoeffer movie. Some of you may want to get Eric Metaxis’ bestselling biography entitled Bonhoeffer, and some of you may want to get either The Prayerbook of the Bible or Life Together or another by Bonhoeffer.Bonhoeffer is rich fare, to be savored slowly. For those who do these optional activities, I’ll give you opportunities to share what you are learning. Look at these options prayerfully on Amazon or Christian Book, and order one if you choose to do this.

Sunday Icebreakers

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

2. Has Lent been a time of richness to you or is this kind of perspective of it new to you? Share something about it. If you are new, tell us why you have come.

3. If you have had trouble finding time to be with the Lord or to read rich books, ask God to show you what is in the way and how you might overcome it during Lent. What plan does He give you?

OPTIONAL ASSIGNMENT FOR THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN WITH US SINCE JANUARY

Laura-dancer asked me to give you a summary sentence or phrase for each of the ten psalms we have studied so far. It would be far better if you did it for yourself. Title each psalm in a way that will help you remember its content. (This will help you to pray them when you are without a Bible.) If there is a song you associate with it, such as Psalm 3: Thou o Lord, are a shield about me… that would be an excellent title for the song has already helped you memorize the heart of the psalm. The first line of a psalm may be a summary. Short and pithy is good. Take a day this week to do this assignment and pray for His guidance, for He will speak differently to different individuals.

Songs for This Week

I know you will have your own suggestions, which I welcome so, but here are three that go with Psalm 11’s theme, and which God can use to prepare your heart before you meet with Him.

Sara Groves: Hiding Place

The Psalm Project: Psalm 11

Oh God Our Help In Ages Past

 

Monday-Wednesday Bible Study

Remember: Daily prepare your heart with music before you begin, do some of the Bible study, and then pray the psalm for your own life.

sky-is-fallingThis life is hard, and daily there are circumstances that cause us to fear and to worry. There are those that say all we can do is flee to the mountain, yet Psalm 11 speaks the truth to our souls.

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 4. Read Psalm 11 and find two voices — one telling to trust in the Lord, the other giving reasons to despair and flee. Summarize  each voice and put a verse reference next to it. I’ve done verse 1. Take a day to do this question well.

GOD IS IN CONTROL                                                                     EVERYTHING IS OUT OF CONTROL!

In the Lord I take refuge. (1a)                                                       Flee like a bird to the mountain. (1b)

 

Read this from Bonhoeffer’s Prayerbook of the Bible:

The child learns to speak because the parent speaks to the child. The child learns the language of the parent. So we learn to speak to God because God has spoken and speaks to us. In the language of the Father in heaven God’s children learn to speak with God. Repeating God’s own words, we begin to pray with God.

 

5. Take something you are worrying about and pray the truth to your swirling soul, using the words God has taught you in Psalm 11.

6. Memorize Psalm 11:4 and pray it whenever you start to worry.

As I write this, we are preparing an evangelistic outreach in Door County, the thumb of Wisconsin. One of the women has joined with the Unitarian singers in order to reach out to them. We have asked them to sing at the outreach, for they do sing hymns, and we want them there. My friend is worried about one of their songs which is very New Age, but finally said, “Jesus, take the wheel!” That is like Luther saying to Philip, “Let Philip cease to rule the world!” And like the psalmist saying “The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord is on his heavenly throne.”

P. S. We had the outreach and many signed up for their first Bible study, including 5 of the 6 singers! The presence of the Lord was so real. One woman came to me and said, “I couldn’t stop crying while you were talking — I don’t know what’s happening in me — but I want to know the basics about Jesus.”

7. If you are going to do optional reading, purchase one of the Bonhoeffer titles: The Prayerbook of the Bible, Life Together, or the biography of Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxis. What will you get?

8. Comment on one of the above songs that echo the theme of Psalm 11.

Thursday-Friday Sermon

You have a choice between a Keller sermon on Psalm 11 that will cost 2:50 for an mp-3 or a free sermon from John Fesko on Psalm 11. Both are excellent. Listen and then comment.

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    (John Fesko)

  • Link 2 (Tim Keller)

9. Share your sermon notes and what stood out to you.

Saturday:

10. What stood out to you and why?

COMMENTS (488) Post a New Comment ↓
    Reply

    Cindy,  thank you for sharing your suggestion of the “40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer” as your devotion during Lent.  I started today and right away my heart cry is  “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.” Psalm 25:4–5

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      I started today and right away my heart cry is  “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.” Psalm 25:4–5

      I was drawn to that Scripture too.  
      Bless you Barbara Ann!
       

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7. If you are going to do optional reading, purchase one of the Bonhoeffer titles: The Prayerbook of the Bible, Life Together, or the biography of Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxis. What will you get?

“40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer” is what I’ve chosen to do during Lent.

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Welcome Barbara Ann! It is good to have you with us. :)

    Reply

    Thank you Rebecca for your welcome, looking forward to spending time with you lovely ladies. I have been blessed by your comments and hopefully soon I will be able to share.

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I am reading the last sin eater with Paul over lent. Reading a good novel together at night seems to really help us connect with one another. last year we read redeaming Love and LOVED it. I am reading Jesus calling in the mornings. I am still in a bible study (becoming a woman of strength) on tuesday mornings so Im working on that, dont want to add to much.
afraid that the Martha is taking control this am. I have a friend with stage 4 cancer had to go to the hospital for pain last night and has asked that I visit her, and a very dear friend who has a mother in end stage alzhimers that I need to go pray with this am. as they are making dec. about hospice later today…..SO COVET your prayers!

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    Just want to let you know that I am praying for you, cyndi. You certainly have a full plate these days – sickness, relational stress. Glad to have you back with us for Lent.

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    Father I pray that You will build a wall of protection around cyndi. Keep her safe from the attacks and accusations of Satan and his cohorts. Protect her from anything that would discourage her service to You.

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    Praying for your friend Cyndi! And for you.

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    Praying, Cyndi

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    Cyndi,  This day has been chock-full for me, and I am just now getting around to reading comments on this blog.    You are in my prayers now, along with your friends who are in great need.   Praying for strength for all of you, and that God will give you just the right words when they turn to you for advice.  

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    Cyndi, you are going through some very painful trials for sure. So good that you can be there for your friend with cancer, but so hard, too, to see your friend suffer with pain. And then to help another friend as she watches her mom decline…praying for you.

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I am praying right now cyndi.

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9. Share your sermon notes and what stood out to you.
I truly enjoyed Keller’s sermon. I liked how he titled the Psalm 11  “Disciplines of Distress”~How to experience God during hard times.
I really liked his analogy of Jonah trials versus Job Trials in our lives. Jonah trials are the times God is showing us sin in our lives; our character flaws. Where Job trials are shaking our foundations, to see where our foundations lie, with God or other things. A huge eye opener for myself. God allows hard times or disasters like a test for ourselves, so we examine our hearts, where our foundations are, are they in God or idols.Who do we run to when our foundations crumble….if they crumble its a good indication our foundation was not souly in God. 
God wants us to see God is worth everything, even when we have nothing left after a disaster or trial. He truly is the one who sustains us through it all. We may have false foundations, one example Keller gave was ‘movements’. I have seen ‘movements’ in my years as a Christian and once the movement was gone or crumbled, people were left wondering what happened and why they were left feeling so empty…they had a false foundation in a ‘movement’ and not God himself. It’s better to seek God than any movement, doctrine or rituals. 
Lastly I loved the last part of his sermon Jesus was shaken, broken and crumbled for my sins. Jesus truly is our foundation, he came to set us all free. God is no respecter of person. When I was listening, I quickly thought of how God can take a bad situation and turn it into good and for the Glory of God. I have seen God do that so many times…I love that about God. “Romans 8:28 ~ And we know God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”

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Im a Tim Keller fan thanks to Dee’s suggestion in Idol Lies so I decided to try John Fesko.  What a great job he did is setting up the senario that Ps 11 was written in.  He wove in Daniel and Revelation of John which was very reveling to me.  Some things I wrote in my journal are:-We cannot forget that Christ is in control, even if the foundations give way.  The city of man’s foundation can and often does but the city of God’s foundation is secure!  -We cannot be carried away by gloom and doom.  Our thoughts, words, and actions must be based on knowing He is in control!  -We have the gift of God’s provenience.  He cares about our needs.  -Nothing separates us from His love.-A confidence in God’s providence is Christ is not flippant callousness, but humbling, grateful, loving response to Him!-We can and must always trust Jesus despite appearances, despite what is happening in the world and our lives.Praise Him, He is Trustworthy!
 

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Im going to do my takeaway as I have a friends 4 kids here for the weekend and its been a very busy day and the rest of the weekend will be the same. I took a lot away, mostly this weeks lesson gave me a bigger hope, peace and comfort knowing we serve a God that is always there for us, even in the hard times. I look at trials and test in a different light now. I might not be so quick to ask God why and more inclined to ask Him what He wants to show me about myself that I may grow. As the scripture says in ” James 1:2-3 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kids, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perservance. Perseverance must finsih its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Also to add this comes to my mind “Romans 8:31 If God is for us, who can be against us?” 
 And lastly “Romans 8:33-35  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died-more than that, who was raised to life-is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
When I first started this Psalm, I thought great ‘doom and gloom’ and Im so happy to see it end on a positive note. I dont view hard times the same anymore. I am very encouraged in the issues I am facing with my oldest daughter and my back issues. No matter what, God is still on the throne and He sees all. HIs ways are not my ways….and in that I have to trust He knows best, even if the outcome isnt always happy, cheerful, or what I expected or wanted. We serve a very just, loving God who has our best interest at heart. Just like a parent does for their childrens lives, so does our God for our lives

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    Oh my you do have a very long weekend! I have suffered from back pain a lot so I will be praying for that!
    praying for an extra measure of energy, as you care for four extra children :-)

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Listened to John Fesko’s sermon tonight and truly was blessed to be reminded of the truth that God, Jesus, the Ancient of Days is seated at the throne; He is in His holy temple. God is never in flight.
Thank you, Lord for ordaining my week. I am tired but grateful to you for working things out at school and with my sister, Grace in the Philippines.
These are days of change where I work at. Retirement, resignations, reassignments, period of waiting if contracts will be renewed. Enough issues to be fodders for worry. But Jesus is in his holy temple-He is in control. No matter what happens here on earth, He has not forgotten us. “Be thou our vision, Thou ruler of all”! Thank you, God!

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I listened to John Feskos sermon yesterday on Psalms 11.  i enjoyed it. I didn’t take notes but something that stuck out to me was when he talked about Peter walking on water. this theme is something that God has continually brought to my heart and mind over the past several weeis , the storm is around me the winds are blowing  the waves are rising , if I don’t want to sink into the water of what ifs and worry I need to keep my eyes on Jesus? I need to remind myself that He is victorious that like Psalm 11 says God is on his throne and He does see what the evil and wicked are doing. I don’t like to bury my head in the sand, I like to know what is going on around me in the world and I research things. I know about evil men and the horrible things they are doing and planning. I believe that is ok For me to know, but it’s what I do with what I know. I did a study on the book of Daniel last year, Daniel was a man who knew the time and season and culture he lived in and he prayed and He trusted God. I must do the same, I can’t let worry and fret take over. My God reigns. I first heard this song about a month ago and it has become one of my favoriteS and goes along with Peter walking out to Jesus on the water and as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus everything was going to be good. keeps me asking where am I putting my trust
http://youtu.be/zE4ziBfu0JA
 
 
“Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”
 

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand
 
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
 
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now
 
So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
 
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
[x6]
 
I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace

I am Yours and You are mine

    Reply

    It’s funny, God brought to memory last week when I was praying, Peter stepping out of the water towards Jesus. I was weeping before the Lord as I prayed, with a troubled heart, and I kept hearing Jesus say, “do you trust me”…and I had the same memory of Peter and Jesus on the water. Thanks for sharing! Love you sweet friend. Going to listen to what you posted while the youngest child is napping. ;)

    Reply

    although the link is not the song Oceans?? Its a movie? maybe wrong link?

        Thanks Staci, Yes it was supposed to be the Hillsong Oceans, weird it was that link I don’t know what happened. 

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While reading Life Together Bonhoeffers quote stuck out to me 
” When Christ Calls a man, he bids him come and die.” 
this death to self and flesh , to true life in the Spirit of God and Hope in Jesus. 
 
I dont know know why but it reminded me of this poem
 
When God Wants To Drill A Man
 
When God wants to drill a man,And thrill a man,And skill a manWhen God wants to mold a manTo play the noblest part;
When He yearns with all His heartTo create so great and bold a manThat all the world shall be amazed,Watch His methods, watch His ways!
How He ruthlessly perfectsWhom He royally elects!How He hammers him and hurts him,And with mighty blows converts him
Into trial shapes of clay whichOnly God understands;While his tortured heart is cryingAnd he lifts beseeching hands!
How He bends but never breaksWhen his good He undertakes;How He uses whom He chooses,And which every purpose fuses him;By every act induces himTo try His splendor out-God knows what He’s about.
 
– Anonymous
 

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10. What stood out to you and why? So many good things, as usual. If I had to choose one it would be “God is.” (I know, that was last week but….) This theme of man lamenting to God, of man being really threatened by evil and then the answer: “God is.” Early in this journey I recognized that I need to memorize truths about my God and I was excited to find those in Psalms but really one big one keeps coming back: God is. The answer to all the questions: God is. This is huge! (There are, obviously, many wonderful and awe-ful characteristics of God and I am still working on memorizing.)  
 
“When the foundations are being destroyed,
what can the righteous do?
The Lord is in His holy temple;
the Lord is on His heavenly throne.”
 
Just lovely. When my whole world is destroyed, He is. Oh, God, thank you. 

    Reply

    This is really good to remember, Jill…”God is”. Just like His name, I AM. (like a present-tense verb!)

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I just finished listening to John Fesko and have to say, what incredible God timing – as always!  We live in Estonia, about 50 miles from the Russian border.  With all that is happening currently with Ukraine and Russia and the increasing presence of NATO forces,  no visible progress in the situation in Ukraine and much uncertainty about where this is going and will end – what a perfect time to be reminded that the LORD IS in his holy temple and IS on his heavenly throne.  The great news, by the way, is that the churches in Ukraine are packed and the people are fasting and praying for their nation.  We do entrust the outcome to the Lord.

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    Beth, your presence here and the location where you live is such a good reminder to be praying for this situation between Russia and Ukraine. I don’t know much about Estonia except that I watched a movie once called The Singing Revolution about the rich tradition of singing there and how it was used in a time of oppression. Are you a native of Estonia?

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    Oh, my, Beth F. I am praying once again for Ukraine. It is so encouraging to hear that the people in Ukraine are calling on the Lord. So glad God encouraged you through this blog and Fesko’s sermon. God is in control. Call upon the Lord and He will answer from his mighty throne.

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    Oh Beth,when you mentioned earlier about all that is going on where you live, I wondered if you were in that region.  So thankful that you belong to the King.  Praying for you.

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6. Memorize Psalm 11:4 and pray it whenever you start to worry.
 
Oh Lord, sometimes I see the problems and things that are wrong in my own life, and in the lives of those around me. I want so badly to be able to “fix” everything. The truth is, I can’t. You are in Your holy temple, You are on Your heavenly throne. You are King, and Your will be done. You are wise and make the best decisions and You know better than I do. When I start to worry and fret and be anxious, please bring this verse to my mind. You are on Your throne.
 
7. As to the optional reading, I do have the Bonhoeffer biography by Eric Metaxes-I had bought it for my oldest son two years ago and he read it. However, I don’t feel led to read it right now. I plan to read Dee’s book Idol Lies…dealing with my idols is needed and I want to read slowly and carefully. Another book I like to read at this time of year is Max Lucado’s He Chose The Nails.
 
8. Comment on one of the above songs that echo the theme of Psalm 11.
 
I like the Sara Grove’s song. “You are my hiding place” is like saying “In the Lord I take refuge”. Actually, I’ve been listening to her CD “Conversations” and using those songs to prepare my heart each morning this week. I love the one that starts “Hello Lord, it’s me, your child…”
The songs really have given me a springboard to talking to the Lord about many things this week.

    Reply

    Susan, thanks for recommending Sara Groves’ song, “Hello Lord”. The more I listen to Sara, the more I love her. She is so real. I need to get one of her CDs.

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OPTIONAL ASSIGNMENT
 
Renee and Deanna – you two did such a great job summarizing! I am trying very hard to condense!
 
Psalm 1 – The Blessed Man is the fruitful tree. This is Jesus. I want to sit in His branches, in His shade.
 
Psalm 2 – I have installed (“poured-out”) my King on Zion. Because Jesus was poured-out, blessed are all who take refuge in Him.
 
Psalm 3 – Thou, O Lord, are a Shield to me, my glory and the lifter of my head.
 
Psalm 4 – You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.
 
Psalm 5 – The story of a man whose hand went up. In the morning I lay my requests before You and look up.
 
Psalm 6 – My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord, how long?
 
Psalm 7 – God is a righteous Judge and my shield is God Most High. (Also, the beginning of the psalm speaks of the Passion of the Lord Jesus)
 
Psalm 8 – What is man that You are mindful of him? (Also, when I consider the work of Your fingers – the “artistry” of God)
 
Psalm 9 – When God feels near…I will praise You, O Lord and will tell of all Your wonders.
 
Psalm 10 – When God feels far away…yet God does see trouble and grief.

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10. Takeaway
 
Psalm 11:5 “The Lord tests the righteous”. It is stated as fact, in Scripture, we will have trials. We should not expect things to one day get “easy”. But it helps me so to know the Lord is not surprised by the trials, and He does not waste them. I appreciated Keller’s good points: Realize who is ruling the world-God is on the throne; all disasters are really examinations-tests are painful—but without them, you cannot learn. They show us what we know and what we don’t know—what we need to learn. Sometimes the test is a Jonah test—to reveal to me my sin, and sometimes it is a Job test—it tests what my foundation is, what am I really standing on and living for? And always, in all times, seek His face.
 
Spurgeon’s devotion this morning really fit where my thoughts are, so I wanted to share it: “Good men must never expect to escape troubles; if they do, they will be disappointed, for none of their predecessors have been without them. Mark the patience of Job; remember Abraham, for he had his trials, and by his faith under them, he became the “Father of the faithful.” Note well the biographies of all the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and you shall discover none of those whom God made vessels of mercy, who were not made to pass through the fire of affliction. It is ordained of old that the cross of trouble should be engraved on every vessel of mercy, as the royal mark whereby the King’s vessels of honor are distinguished. But although tribulation is thus the path of God’s children, they have the comfort of knowing that their Master has traversed it before them; they have his presence and sympathy to cheer them, his grace to support them, and his example to teach them how to endure; and when they reach “the kingdom,” it will more than make amends for the “much tribulation” through which they passed to enter it.”
 
He IS my Hiding Place. “Early when the day is new, Before the stirring I will come and talk to you, and confess the ways I am broken, to recall the words You’ve spoken, and to try to comprehend…the love You have for me… You never meant for me to walk alone”

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    Elizabeth, Spurgeon’s devotional, oh my. Thank you for sharing this. The “royal mark” … 

    It is ordained of old that the cross of trouble should be engraved on every vessel of mercy, as the royal mark whereby the King’s vessels of honor are distinguished.

    This touches my heart in a way I cannot explain. To know that I wear the royal mark somehow makes the cross of trouble an honor I can wear yet another hour or perhaps another day. I don’t mean to sound melodramatic, but sometimes the weight of my cross weighs heavily and my steps are burdensome.

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      your thoughts brought tears Diane, “somehow makes the cross of trouble an honor I can wear yet another hour or perhaps another day”, praying for you too

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joining for Lent

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    Welcome, Jane Jill!     You came on just as several of our participants posted crises in their lives. So sorry that you almost went unnoticed because of these crises!    We look forward to your presence with us during Lent.   I came on last year just like you, and only intended to stay for Lent, but I got hooked and have stayed all year.   I hope you have a wonderful experiences with us as well!

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Good morning, dear ones,
This morning about 6 AM I looked out my window(in Vermont) and saw the pink skyline. I was reminded of the quote I read, “The early morning belongs to the church of the risen Christ”.
Praying the Psalms is such a blessing and the memory verse, Psalm 11:4 is on my heart today. Yes, The Lord is in his holy temple. I am trusting God through trials, waiting oh so long for a home to sell and a plan to be pursued. I know God is at work. How impatient I feel and the trials are
at work to do what God desires in me.
I am blessed by the song  Hiding Place.
You are my hiding place, You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance; Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. I will trust in You.
Let the weak say, I am strong in the strength of the Lord!
The format of song, God’s Word and prayer is a blessing and I am working on developing further this daily discipline as well as hiding God’s
word in my heart. It is harder to do this in my senior years, but oh such a blessing to meditate on the words when they are recalled. Thanks, everyone.

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    Hi Shirley, Oh yes-isn’t it rich when He brings His Word to memory-He comes and is faithful in our frailness-He is with us always-and as Dee’s J.R. reminded us-“intensely” forever.  Whenever I am afraid I will trust in you. I will trust in you. 

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    Thanks for the reminder of the song, Shirley. I’m going to listen to it right now!  I know that one — so it already has soaked in.

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Saturday — My takeaway.
There was so much this week:     John Fesko’s sermon,  a lot of wonderful music,   all of the newcomers on the blog who are like a breath of fresh air!     I think what impacted me most was doing the optional assignment of summarizing the first 10 psalms.    In order to do that, I had to review all of those psalms, and that was good for my soul!!      Hopefully I will always carry Psalm 11:4 with me   “The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne.”

I’m continuing to pray for you, Dee, and your Set Apart Retreat — also your safe return!

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My Takeaway:
 
Every week Dee’s online study is a wonderful shield- His presence is here indeed. The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. This with Keller’s sermon on Psalm 11 really is impacting me this week and He is using it to change me. I am finding that whenever situations have risen this week that I am reminded daily that He is in control-that His eyes see..that He is my hiding place.
 
I also have been encouraged that none of this is out of His hands-that he ordains these trials in order to breath upon my garden and transform me into His image-this is his deep desire for us-me.. and I want that to be my desire too. So instead of backing away He is helping me to press into Him while he shows me the areas I was blind to see before. Honestly had I not had both the Jonah and Job types of trials I may not have woken up and the things that keep me from growing deeper in intimacy with Him would still be holding me back. So I am grateful. 

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    Rebecca,This takes my breath away:

    Honestly had I not had both the Jonah and Job types of trials I may not have woken up and the things that keep me from growing deeper in intimacy with Him would still be holding me back. So I am grateful.

     
    I have a mtg in KC for a few days in April, somewhere around the airport (though I’m driving because it’s easier than switching to a connecting flight a zillion miles in some other direction).   I suspect that you are might be busy when I am free, and vice versa, but it would be fun to meet…and I do have some flexibility with arrival time (Apr 2…a Wednesday).   If I remember right, you’re on the KS side — and I’m clueless about distance.

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My takeaway:
I listened to Tim Keller’s sermon and learned that God tests us because he loves us. I also learned that I can trust God in any circumstance and that God is the all knowing savior that can save me during times of pain and struggle.  

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    Thanks, Isaac.  You’ve encouraged me — I didn’t listen to the sermon (yet anyway)

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My takeaway:
This week pierced me in a tender spot where healing needs to take place. That is a good thing. As I ponder the mystery of God and what he is doing in our lives right now, in the midst of loss and grief, I must affirm with Job that “though he slay me, yet will I trust him.” Psalm 11 pivots on the point that God is in control. Though the enemy intends evil and the threat is real, He knows what He is doing. He is in control. His plan and purpose is sure. He will not let the enemy win. He Sees. He will not leave me floundering forever. He is the God who Sees Me — El Ro-I (see Genesis 16: 13-14 and the story of Hagar).
The Lord is in his holy temple;
the Lord’s throne is in heaven;
his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
Psalm 11:4
 

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I listened to John Fesko’s sermon, gratefully reminded that either my foundation is the Lord, or it’s not.  Staci, I really appreciated your summary of Tim Keller’s sermon, too!  It dovetails wonderfully with the other.  Whether my foundation gets shaken because God is pointing out my character flaws or it’s because He wants me to see that I keep hanging onto him, I am so comforted that He both knows and cares deeply.
 

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Hello Sisters…I’m with Dee this weekend in Minnesota at the Set Apart Women’s Conference. Dee presented her talk on Idol Lies today and it has been very impacting to the women who are here.  We also have had the privilege of meeting Nanci from Wisconsin!  What a treat to meet face to face!  I’m excited to be “officially” a part of this blog and hope to interact with you.  Blessings to all.

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    Welcome, Christy of Idol Lies, so glad to have you here with us. I just finished studying Idol Lies with our church Women’s Study group. I feel like I already know you a bit.

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    Welcome, Christy!  So good to get a report from Set Apart.  Glad you got to meet Nanci and looking forward to having you here with us.

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    Christy-welcome! I feel the same as Renee said–it just makes me smile to think of you and Dee and Nanci all together (of course I’d smile more being there too–but vicariously thrilled!)

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    Hey hey Christy!! :)))))))))))))))))  I also hope you interact with us here on the blog..So looking forward to having you here-and how wonderful you all were able to get together with Nanci! :)

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I listened to Fesko’s sermon and appreciated the possible background scenario regarding King David’s struggle.  I was thinking how David’s emotions must have been swirling, especially having his own son trying to oust him from the throne.  Wow, his own family member.  David probably had a genuine love for his son as well as a sense of responsibility and care for his position of trying to be a righteous ruler of the people. What comforted David was knowing that “The Lord is in his Holy Temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven and His eyes behold..”….perhaps the foundation that David had to cling to.
 
 

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    Marie,  So good that you brought out that that was the foundation David clung to.

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This morning, I was driving out of town for a funeral and pondering my takeaway(s) for the week.  My first thought was that it’s not wise to fry my brain through too much work and lack of sleep early in the week so that I can’t concentrate on the sermon.   Then I started thinking about my real takeaways.
 
Praying this Psalm was very powerful for me, and I can see God answering prayers, moving his love deeper into my heart and cutting out pebbles.  When I think of how my trust has been betrayed, even during the past months and weeks, the reminder that with God as my foundation the foundation won’t crumble was huge.  What stands out is that I have more confidence than ever before that I AM HIS — especially profound during a kinda hard week.

Something else that I’ve been thinking about is the response of the women in Door County and Dee’s reference to Pascal’s theory of evangelism.  I WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THAT :)      I know we have experienced it on the  blog —and I started to see it in Song of Songs.  But right now, I can’t grasp how to share the Gospel that way — at least not with words.

Earlier this week, I was captivated by the Bonhoeffer quote comparing prayer to language development in children.  At first, I thought that language development is a little more complex than that :)  (I haven’t taught it for several years, but it was challenging).  Then I thought of other parallels between prayer and language development.   I am experiencing the “language learning,” both in listening and speaking to God and am hungry to continue praying the Psalms.  Yet each of these psalms has been so powerful that I feel a sense of loss moving on to the next ones because I the current and past ones to soak in more deeply.   My brain and heart are limited in how much they can handle at once!

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    Renee–this is all so rich, and I feel this deeply with you “the reminder that with God as my foundation the foundation won’t crumble was huge” Amen!

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My take away especially after today:
Writing in late here as I “stumbled” in my faith today after a hard conversation with my prodigal daughter. I went back and forth between anger, frustration and disappointment. Psalm 11 is now being a balm to my sorrowing and aching heart. No matter how the foundations seem to be crumbling, the Lord is God and He is in control. I will lift up my eyes to the holy temple where my help comes from. Help, Lord! I need you today and every tomorrow. Let not my enemies triumph over me-speak your truth to me, Lord and silence the whispers of the enemy. Let my love for my daughter grow in knowledge and depth of insight (Philippians 1:9).
The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. Psalm 11:4

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    Ernema, as you well know, we all stumble on our journey of life.   I loved the sincerity of your prayer, and I join you in supportive prayers for you and your daughter.

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Hi ladies,
I am sad. My mom passed away last night, and I am trying to leave here by morning to be with my 2 siblings.  God is good though, he gave me time to reconcile with the fact that she was near the end by her slipping away slowly. As some of you know, just a few months ago we were sending crossword puzzles across state lines, working them together, but then she couldn’t really understand our conversations on the phone and such. I know she is at peace now with Jesus. Thank You, Lord for loving us. Thank you ladies for prayers over the next few days; to know what to say, how to act, and what to do to make this time special remembering mom together. I have a tendency to be awkward at these types of things and I don’t want to hurt anyone unintentionally.

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    Laura, Laura…I’m so sorry…I wish I could sit with you, give you a hug, cry with you. When I read about the crossword puzzles, I also thought of your visit to her in December and making the cookies together. You were good to your mother, a caring and loving daughter. This must be so hard for you…a mom is irreplaceable. Praying for you and your family. Praying for safe travel for you. Love to you, Laura.

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    Oh Laura! I am SO SORRY-this must be so painful! Lord Jesus-God of all Comfort come to Laura and be her comfort right now-be her sufficiency in this time of remembering her mom with her family and give everyone compassion and love for one another as they grieve together.  In Jesus name, amen.

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    Oh Laura-dancer, I am SO sorry, so grieved for you. I do so wish we could be there with you and support you during all of this. I will cover you with prayer, for your time with family, for you to be comforted by Him. Oh I am so sorry Laura.

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    Im so sorry Laura, I will be praying for you and your family, a thousand hugs to you and may God comfort you all during this hard time.

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    Oh, Laura.  I am SO SORRY.  I first read this about 3:30 this morning on my cell phone and have been praying for you.  Praying that you will experience God’s love and comfort and that his grace and wisdom will flow through you as you remember your mom together.  Love and hugs!

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    Oh dear Laura!  How I wish I could just get hold of you and give you a big hug!   I am so sorry for the loss of your mother.   I have been there and I know it is a hard time.   I will be praying for the Lord to come running to you (we all know He does that!)  Praying that you will see Him present with you throughout this tough time!

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If anyone pops on here early…please pray for my son, Ryan. His plane leaves at 7:00 am for Charlotte, then to New Orleans. I drove him to airport this morning…this is his second time flying but this time he is on his own. He’ll be returning on Friday. Will be at an engineering-type camp.

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    Susan-you got it..am praying now..

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Susan, I am American.  My husband and I are missionaries here in Estonia.  It is so fun (and awesome!) be get to be part of this study.  I met Dee early on, about 29 years ago (??!!!!) when we were in Bible studies together in Nebraska!  I have really missed being in a women’s Bible study in the nearly 5 years since moving overseas!!

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Hello Jane Jill, Christy, & Shirley,
Glad you are with us on our journey together during Lent.

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Dear Ones in Christ,   What a precious group of Ladies to join for Lent. May His blessings abound to all.

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    Hi Peg,   Just saw your post here now.  Glad you’re joining us for Lent!

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I am looking back for JR’s share of I Sing Holy, by m.j. Could you give me this link as I want to share it? Thanks

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    Shirley Hodges, JR shared M.J’s song at the beginning of the comments under this week’s post “Singing the Blues.” Comments page 1. 
    I looked it up for you. Here is the link:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTKayWR1bKY
    Next time when you are looking for something, it will help to know that when there are more than 100 comments on a blog posting (as is frequent at the moment with so many commenting), the comment page automatically switches to another page for each 100 comments or so. To go back to another page, look for the page number just before “leave a comment” and click on a different page. eg. If you scroll down on this blog, you will see that we are on page 4 here.

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OK, the Peter Baker sermon was excellent, but these notes are a bit long–sorry! Trying to condense!
 
David is holding on to God in the dark for a long time before the light breaks through. Much of Christian worship ignores or forgets the dark side—we say welcome to the ‘let’s all feel good together Church’, where there are no struggles, no doubts. God’s truth is not only found in all of creation, the Word speaks to us in all of life, not just parts of it. What is the point of faith if it only speaks to me when I am happy and things are going well? One of the reasons the world out there struggles to relate to the Church in here, is because it looks to us and says ‘what planet are they on?’ The church has become obsessed with happy songs—about orientation in a world of disorientation. The Bible itself does not do this.

The sense of abandonment is not only real but legitimate. Jesus, the Beloved, perfect holy one was cut off from the Father, and experienced abandonment. We do not know the cause of David’s pain, but we know David felt forgotten by God. We will experience these times too-like God is far away, when things don’t make sense. This is an aspect of the mystery of God—a God beyond us, as opposed to a God at our beck and call. But we are consumers, and we grow impatient.
 
Depression can leave us feeling hopeless, helpless, standing in contradiction to our faith. We feel defeated and want to know WHY. It is hard to see our way out of the darkness and believe things can change and be different.
 
The change, the way out is found in verse 3. David turns to God in prayer. “If prayer to God isn’t our ultimate refuge, it can mean only one thing, we don’t believe in Him, we only believe in ourselves…Real faith WILL actively turn to God locking on to God’s strength.” David wrestles with God. We must start relating to life as it is, with its pain, confusion, disappointment, contradiction. David insists with bold faith that all experiences of disorder are subjects to talk to God about—nothing is off limits. To not pray to Him right now about the problem I am struggling with is to withhold part of my life from His sovereignty. God is the final reference for all of life. We cannot divide our lives between the secular and the spiritual. Prayer is the key that unlocks the door to the prison and moves us towards the Light.
 
The Crucifixion experience allowed it to seem God was absent; the Resurrection proved God is present in the darkness. Faith finds God where He promises to be—in the darkness. David trusts in God’s unfailing love, in His salvation. He can then sing to the Lord, have true happiness.
 
The Psalms show us how we can and should sing about the experience of faith. Music is a response of Worship. Faith responds to the grace of God through song. For every area of our lives, the best way to experience something is by actually being there, having our senses engaged. So when God really wanted to communicate what He was like, He sent Himself in Jesus, and revealed Himself so that we might know Him personally. We are called to respond as David does, with our minds, our wills, our emotions, our hearts, and with our voices.

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    Great notes, Elizabeth, but I think you meant to put these notes on Week 2 of Lent “Singing the Blues”. Understandable confusion.

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Great notes, Elizabeth, but I think you meant to post these sermon notes under Lent Week 2 blog “Singing the Blues”. LOL! An understandable confusion!

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