I CANNOT COME TO THE BANQUET…RESISTING WISDOM’S VOICE (PROVERBS AND PARABLES # 4)

THERE IS A GRIEF AMONG THE PEOPLE OF GOD ABOUT THE SUPREME COURT’S DECISION. WISDOM HAS BEEN SUPPRESSED AGAIN. YET FROM THE HEIGHTS SHE STILL CRIES ALOUD, FOR WISDOM HAS SET HER TABLE SHE HAS SENT OUT THE CALL: COME.. LIKEWISE, A MAN ONCE GAVE A BANQUET HE SENT OUT THE CALL: COME… BUT FOOLISH THEY WERE, FOR THEY ALL BEGAN TO MAKE EXCUSES: I CANNOT COME TO THE BANQUET AND SO HE INVITED THE POOR, THE PROSTITUTE, THE PRISONER, THE BEGGAR, THE BLIND… FOR THE FIRST WILL BE LAST AND THE LAST WILL BE FIRST. BRENNAN MANNING CALLED IT THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL  OFTEN THE POOR HEED THE CALL, KNOWING THEIR DESPERATE NEED. THE RICH AND THE PRIVILEGED ARE MORE LIKELY TO RESIST. YET THE TRUTH IS: WE ARE ALL HELPLESS WE ALL NEED THE DOUBLE CURE:  FROM THE PENALTY […]

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THE PENETRATING POWER OF PICTURES TO CHANGE US (PROVERBS AND PARABLES #3)

     IF DAVID, A MAN AFTER GOD’S HEART,       COULD DECEIVE HIMSELF INTO ADULTERY AND MURDER,      THEN WE MUST NOT MINIMIZE THE DECEITFULNESS OF SIN. THE ENEMY IS CLEVER AND DECEIVES THE BEST. ANY ONE OF US IS CAPABLE OF BEING DECEIVED AND JUSTIFYING ANYTHING. WHAT CAN PENETRATE THE DARKNESS OF OUR HEARTS? NATHAN USED A STORY, A PICTURE, A PARABLE. INSTEAD OF SIMPLY CONFRONTING DAVID WITH HIS SIN, HE TOLD HIM A  STORY ABOUT A POOR MAN WHO LOVED HIS ONE EWE LAMB. NOT ONLY CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS HOW TO CONFRONT OTHERS, BUT WE CAN GLEAN HOW TO USE THE PICTURES OF PROVERBS AND PARABLES TO PENETRATE OUR OWN HEARTS, BRINGING LIGHT TO OUR DARKNESS. THAT IS WHAT HAPPENED TO ME WHEN I HEARD A SERMON ON MARTHA THE MANIPULATER IT WAS EASIER FOR ME TO SEE MARTHA’S […]

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THE CONUNDRUM OF PROVERBS AND PARABLES #2

WE ARE TOLD THAT PROVERBS AND PARABLES ARE “RIDDLES” (PVBS. 1:6) OFTEN THEY CAN PERPLEX AND CHALLENGE THE CONUNDRUM I FACE IS THAT I KNOW  GOD LONGS FOR IS A BRIDE WHO LOVES HIM FOR HIM, AND NOT FOR WHAT HE CAN GIVE HER. THAT’S WHAT WE WILL SEE IN THE PARABLE THIS WEEK. OUR HEARTS ARE SO EVIL WE WANT TO USE GOD TO GET WHAT WE WANT, AND WE DON’T LOVE HIM FOR HIM. AND YET SO OFTEN PROVERBS SEEM TO TEACH THAT OBEYING THE RULES WILL LEAD TO US GETTING WHAT WE WANT FROM GOD. CONSIDER: Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce, then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. (Proverbs 3:9-10)  ISN’T THAT THE HEALTH AND WEALTH GOSPEL THAT […]

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PROVERBS AND PARABLES (Summer Study!) # 1.

The rudder of wisdom found in the proverbs and in the parables can help you navigate the roughest seas. Welcome to our summer study! Each lesson will stand on its own in case you miss a lesson, but we will go through the whole book of Proverbs and many parables. If you are new, you can either be a silent reader or interact with new friends by following the simple directions: Click “Bible Study Blog” at the top of this page, and then “Getting Started” and follow the simple directions. The first studyguide I ever wrote, forty years ago, was Proverbs and Parables.   I’ve learned a few things since then which I long to share, but what I saw as a young woman still thrills my soul. It is the same voice in each, the voice of Christ, in […]

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TWO WEEK STUDY: THE IMPACT OF FRIENDS (FINAL ON MENTORING AND MOTHERING)

This is our last study on impacting the heart in mentoring and mothering — I know there is so much more that could be said, but we will end with a list of resources (with comments from our own Elizabeth) to help you through the summer, particularly as a mother and a mentor of children. Because this is a holiday weekend, and the video is long, I’m giving you two weeks to complete it. Then, in June, we begin our summer study! I want to close with a story about friendship and how that can impact the heart. Studies reveal we become like the five people to whom we are closest — and that is true from childhood on. I watched both our sons go through a time of rebellion in their teens, influenced, in part, by a poor choice […]

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MELTING THEIR HEARTS (MENTORING AND MOTHERING)

A profound truth I have learned from Tim Keller in teaching others, is that we must reach their hearts. Often preachers, teachers, mothers, and mentors will go through a passage with excellence, and then tell how to apply it. But Keller says, “The problem is — they may never apply it. Instead, Keller says “their hearts need to melt for Jesus as you are speaking so the transformation begins.” Just as that is true for adults, it is true for children and for those we mentor. The question is — how can we, through the power of His Spirit, melt hearts? One of the first and vital keys can be seen in a passage we looked at last week. I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you. Job 42:5 Do you […]

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He Loves You Better Than A Mother (Happy Mother’s Day!)

 WHAT A GIFT GOD GAVE US IN OUR MOTHERS. My youngest, Annie, e-mailed me last week: I want my mom! Fever and chills! How I remember those days as a young mom when I was sick, Steve was working, and the boys were running wild. I wanted my mother too! My mother was the best when I was sick. Cool washcloths on my forehead, 7-Up and pretzels; stories, songs, and looks of loving concern. For many of us our mothers are no longer on earth. For others, mothers are not the comforting presence our hearts yearn for. But though a mother may not be present, though a mother may be broken, though a mother may forget, Isaiah says God will never forget you. This week is for all of us, with one of the most comforting promises in Isaiah, and […]

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FRUIT-STAPLING OR ABIDING (Mothering and Mentoring)

Paul Tripp calls it “apple-stapling.” Apple-stapling occurs when you obey the rules so that you will look good, but the fruit is fake. Elyse Fitzpatrick says that, to her great regret, that without realizing it, apple-stapling is how she mothered. Her daughter won “Miss Christian Character” in elementary school — but she didn’t know the Lord. Christianity, unlike the world religions, is organic. We belong to a living God who tells us if we abide in Him, we will bear much fruit. I too can staple. I can go through the motions in my quiet time so I feel good about myself, yet I am not abiding. I can be in church and yet not be worshipping and receiving. I can act loving on the outside yet be seething on the inside. How do we mother and mentor and personally […]

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IMPACTING THE HEART (MOTHERING AND MENTORING)

How do we impact the hearts of those we love? I loved the scene in The Theory of Everything which is based on the true story of Stephen Hawking. Jane Wilde, who believed in God, fell in love with Stephen Hawking, who did not. When she asked him why he didn’t believe, he said cosmologists (scientists studying the origin of the universe) usually didn’t believe in God. She said, “I think that’s a commentary on cosmologists, not on God.” One night the two of them went outside and looked up in awe at a magnificent night sky. Reverently she looked up and said: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of […]

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THAT THE NEXT GENERATION MAY KNOW (Series on Mothering & Mentoring)

We’re beginning a short series for mentors, mothers, aunts, and  grandmothers. We are all called to impact the next generation.   My friend Twila secretly made this Shutterfly book for her daughter,  last Christmas, to tell the story of her grandson, Henry. We are all called to remember ways God has worked in our lives, and in the lives of our forefathers, passing them on, “so that the next generation would know, even the children yet unborn.” (Psalm 78:6) THE STORY OF HENRY Mommy went to the doctor. The doctor said, “The little nest is breaking apart. There is no baby. We need to clean out the nest.” So Mommy went to a different doctor. She asked, “Now are you ready to let us clean out your nest?” Though the first doctor made a mistake (and sent his faulty records […]

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GREAT FAILURES CAN BE GREAT LEADERS IN GOD’S KINGDOM

How often God takes someone who has failed greatly, even repeatedly, and turns him or her around into an amazing leader. The prison ministry of Discipleship Unlimited has many ex-offenders, even those who have been repeat offenders, in leadership positions now where they are AMAZING. What turns a great failure into a great leader? I have been pondering this, and as I pondered and prayed, this is what happened. I received an e-mail from a new believer from our Alpha group. He wanted to know: “How many times will Jesus forgive me for the same sin? Doesn’t my repetition show that my repentance isn’t genuine?” Such a good question, and not an easy one to answer. I talked to my friend Twila in the locker-room of the Y. Twila has memorized the book of Hebrews this year and this verse […]

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HE IS RISEN, JUST AS HE SAID (EASTER, 2015)

WE KNOW IMPORTANT THINGS ARE SAID WHEN TIME IS RUNNING OUT. SO WHY IS THE LAST STORY JOHN TELLS CONCERNING RESURRECTION DAY THE STORY OF THOMAS? COULD IT BE THAT WE HAVE MISUNDERSTOOD THOMAS, CHARACTERIZING HIM AS “DOUBTING THOMAS?” COULD IT BE THAT THE STORY OF THOMAS TEACHES US THE MOST IMPORTANT THING? COULD IT BE, THAT THE STORY OF THOMAS SHOWS US THE SECRET WE DESPERATELY NEED? THOMAS, AFTER BEHOLDING JESUS. “MY LORD AND MY GOD.” This is the high and holy day for Christians, the day that makes Christianity different from world religions. OUR GOD LIVES! Many churches have disemboweled (the word Tim Keller uses in this week’s sermon) Christianity, denying the meaning of the crucifixion and denying the literal resurrection. They say the meaning of Christianity is to “love one another.” But as Keller says, hearing that […]

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HOLY GROUND: HE BECAME NAKED THAT WE MIGHT BE CLOTHED (HOLY WEEK, 2015)

IN COMMENTING ON OUR IDOLS OF THE HEART, JAMES NORIEGA SAID: WE WORSHIPED OUR WAY INTO THIS MESS AND BY GOD’S GRACE WE WILL WORSHIP OUR WAY OUT! EACH DAY OF THIS HOLIEST OF WEEKS WE WILL BE WORSHIPING: FOCUSING ON THE SAVIOR AND THE MYSTERIES THAT HAVE THE POWER TO TRANSFORM OUR HEARTS OF STONE INTO HEARTS OF FLESH. THERE IS ALWAYS THE DANGER, WHEN LOOKING AT FAMILIAR PASSAGES, TO ASSUME WE KNOW WHAT IS THERE WITHOUT REALLY LOOKING. SO ASK HIM TO OPEN THE EYES OF YOUR HEART THAT YOU MIGHT SEE THE DEPTH OF HIS LOVE FOR YOU.   SUNDAY: 1. Share any comments on the above. 2. What plan do you have to make this week as meaningful as possible? Jesus was on the cross on Good Friday from 9 to 3 — what might you […]

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THE MYSTERIUM TREMENDUM (GOSPEL TRANSFORMATION: LENT 2015)

WE ARE DRAWING NEAR TO THE HOLIEST WEEK AND IT GETS HARDER AND HARDER TO WATCH. YET, BEHOLDING JESUS IN HIS FINAL DAYS, TRANSFORMS US LIKE NOTHING ELSE. SO STAY! John Piper summarized it like this: “Beholding is becoming.” So let us behold Him. Some like to call themselves “spiritual,” imagining chicken soup for the soul: warm, comforting, and soothing. But the early church fathers had a different word: The mysterium tremendum. THE EARTH SHAKES. YOU LOSE YOUR FOOTING. YOU REALIZE HOW HOLY HE IS, AND HOW UNHOLY YOU ARE. WHEN ISAIAH BEHELD THE LORD HE SAID: WHEN JESUS PERFORMED A MIRACLE FOR THE FISHERMEN, PETER EXPERIENCED THE MYSTERIUM TREMENDUM: AND WHEN THE ARMY OF SOLDIERS CAME WITH THEIR TORCHES AND WEAPONS, SEEKING JESUS, HE SAID: THEY DREW BACK AND FELL TO THE GROUND “WHAT?” YES. THE MYSTERIUM TREMENDUM. HAVE […]

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SECRETS OF FRUIT-BEARING BELIEVERS (GOSPEL TRANSFORMATION: LENT 2015)

JESUS PROMISED: Whoever abides in me and I in him, it is he who bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5) Yet some just can’t seem to find time to be in the Word, and others, though they are in the Word, are complaining, grumpy, and difficult! Others are in three Bible studies a week, but have no time to be in the world with the lost the lonely the poor the prisoner or the least of these. Their grapes are not sweet, but sour! If this describes us, and if we are honest, it describes us all in part, let us discover the secrets of fruit-bearing in the vineyard. At a recent retreat in Omaha, I had some sharpening conversations with the women at my table that shed light on secrets of bearing […]

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