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stoneheart1WELCOME TO WOMEN JUST JOINING US FOR OUR STUDY ON JESUS AND THE IDOLS OF OUR HEART! WELCOME! WELCOME! AND A HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL THE MOTHERS BLOGGING WITH US. MAY GOD’S FACE SHINE UPON YOU IN SOME WAY THIS MOTHER’S DAY. We’ve been on this path of overcoming idolatry for several months, but for the sake of newcomers, and because review is good for all of us, I want to first go over some of the central concepts, asking for help from women who have been on this journey, and then take a turn, taking us down a fresh path. The more I study Scripture, the more I see how this theme of idolatry is EVERYWHERE. Yet we have often missed it, because we think of idolatry as “Old Testament” where people worshipped statues of gold or stone. In fact, 80% of Americans say they have never done it! But idolatry is much bigger than that. Idolatry is putting anything in the place of God. Idolatry is about worship, about loving something so much that you feel you have to have it. Often what we love most is ourselves, our control. Or, we may fall in love with something the Creator made. We make His good gifts objects of worship, we make them our foundation, our security, our identity, and our comfort. So if we are honest, we are all idolaters. We take gifts like friends, food, and family and trust in them, expecting them to fill the emptiness in us, to never let us down, to be what only God can be. These idols are stones over our hearts that keep us from our heart of flesh. Jesus, the Stonecutter, is in process of chipping those stones away so we can experience real life. Anne, of of our regular bloggers wrote: We began our study on idolatry with a picture of a heart of stone with a small part chipped away revealing a heart of flesh underneath. That heart was mine and I so wanted the one underneath. We learned that idolatry hardens hearts. I set out eagerly on this journey and while it has been far from easy, I have reaped great blessing. I’m going to ask the bloggers who have been doing this study to help in the review, though newcomers are free to comment. Everyone should do the second part of the lesson. The way the study works is that you can go at the pace that works best for you. Some of our participants do the whole study at once, others a question at a time. We also pray for each other when important needs come up. Because this blog has women from many different denominations, we may have different viewpoints on peripheral issues, and even at times the core issues. But when we disagree, we express our thoughts in love, and we listen respectfully to one another. God is using believers from all kinds of Bible-believing denominations throughout the world, showing us the richness of the body of Christ. We can definitely learn from one another. In the last post, for example, election came up, because it was part of the passage we studied, and some may want to continue to talk about that from various viewpoints. One of the beautiful things about an internet study is that we can use the internet for resources — and often members will suggest a You-tube song or other resource.  I usually suggest a sermon to listen to as well – a good review and free sermon would be this one by Tim Keller called “Removing the Idols of the Heart.” Just click here and listen when you can.  http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/removing-idols-heart Finally, each week I want you to meet one of our regular bloggers, someone who has been with us for several months. This week you will be meeting Rebecca. Rebecca has many wonderful insights because she is so seeking God, but she is also a great encourager. One time she wrote: Every time someone here writes about their marriage, their life with their children, their struggles, I can totally relate..totally..I have to say I have NEVER been in a bible study like this with women this honest about their lives and their struggles and in giving testimony of God’s great working in their hearts. It IS so beautiful. 🙂 You’ll meet Rebecca in Part III and also have a chance to bless her. So – here we go. Again, WELCOME! PART I. REVIEW In the opening lesson we differentiated between surface sins and deep idols. For example, you might have a problem with a bad temper or anxiety, but the deep idol is CONTROL/POWER. Or, you might have a problem with overspending, overeating, or oversleeping, but the deep idol could be COMFORT/SECURITY. The usual solution is to attack the surface sin – perhaps a better budget, a better diet, or a better alarm clock – but because you have not addressed the deep idol of COMFORT/SECURITY, and allowed God to be your comfort, your security, that idol will cry out when restricted and win. The three most common deep idols are A.    CONTROL/POWER B.    COMFORT/SECURITY C.    APPROVAL/AFFIRMATION 1.     Please give an example of a surface sin in your life and the deep idol from which it springs. Explain how understanding this has helped you. 2.     During the forty days before Easter, we practiced different habits of discipline to say no to an idol and yes to God. Share an example of something you did and how it helped you. PART II. SIN IS BREAKING GOD’S HEART The path we are turning to now is the picture the Lord gives again and again of Himself as a broken-hearted Bridegroom and us as His Bride. He wants us to see that when you choose your idol, you are not just breaking a rule, you are breaking His heart. He longs for intimacy with us — but we push Him away.  This drawing by Martin French is of Hosea, the broken-hearted bridegroom who, indeed, is a Christ-figure. (Hosea means Savior.) God told the prophet Hosea to marry Gomer, an unfaithful woman, to be a living testimony to Israel of how they were breaking His heart. Gomer has left him shortly after the wedding. 3.     Read Hosea 2:5. Why did she leave Hosea? What was her thinking? Later, we read: “She went after her lovers and forgot me, declares the Lord.” (Hosea 2:13) Hosea, as well as the prophet Jeremiah, where we will camp out for a few weeks, uses an intimate sexual metaphor. Does it shock you that God would use a sexual metaphor to help us understand our relationship with Him? When I facilitated a Bible study with a small group of women on live Moody Radio, I brought up how the sexual fidelity that Hosea longed to see in Gomer was a picture of the fidelity He longs for from us. Much to my surprise a young Australian group member cried out: “Oh Dee – don’t mix God and sex!” I was able to respond that I would never dare to use a sexual metaphor to refer to our relationship with God, except that He does it repeatedly. He does it from Genesis to Revelation, but particularly the poets, the prophets, and Paul keep using this vivid sexual picture to illuminate several key truths about our relationship with God. One of my favorite quotes is from Derek Kidner, an esteemed Bible scholar:   It is a bold and creative stroke by which God, instead of banning sexual imagery from  religion, rescues and raises it to portray the ardent love and fidelity which are the essence of His covenant. Derek Kidner[1] But please remember this is a metaphor. For example, when Jesus wept over Jerusalem and said He wished He could gather her under His wings, we must not press the metaphor to ridiculous lengths, but to grasp His heart for His unresponsive people. Basic hermeneutics (the art of interpreting Scripture) will tell you to interpret prose according to prose (you can press every word) and poetry according to poetry (look for the central meaning). 4. What is the purpose of a metaphor in Scripture? 5. In Hosea, God explains why he is asking Hosea to make his life a painful living metaphor. Find it in Hosea 3:1. Camp out here for a while and reflect. What phrases stand out to you? How does this speak to you in your life? MEMORIZE THIS VERSE.  Continue to share your thoughts on it. In this new path you will find that Scripture uses the sexual metaphor both positively and negatively.  When Scripture uses the sexual metaphor – and I feel a foolish even saying this, but know I must because of the e-mails and letters I have received, it certainly doesn’t mean we are engaging in a sexual act with God, like some ancient and modern cults say, but that as we increase in our love, trust, and intimacy with the Almighty, as we willingly put ourselves in His arms, that our lives will have a fruitfulness that can only come when we fully yield to the Spirit of God. Conversely, when we run to our idols, we are “getting into bed with another lover,” breaking His heart, and grieving Him, pushing Him away. Just as infidelity can grievously wound a marriage, so sin grievously wounds our relationship with God. The Holy Spirit is a Person who can be wounded, grieved, and will withdraw. As Philip Yancey writes: The prophets proclaim loud and clear how God feels: he loves us. Of the ancient gods, Israel’s God alone stooped to admit love for the flawed, two-legged creatures who roam this planet. God’s cries of pain and anger are the cries of a wounded lover, distressed over our lack of response.[2] Metaphors can reach into our heart to help us understand the heart of God. 6.     How does this metaphor of marital intimacy help you understand the heart of God? 7.     Read Jeremiah 2:1-2. A.    How does God describe Israel, His Bride, when she was young, and He had just rescued her out of the slavery of Egypt? (verse 2) B.    This is a positive intimate image, a picture of a bride so in love that she will follow her husband anywhere – a “whither thou goest, I will go” bride, who is content as long as she is with him. Were you ever a bride like this to an earthly husband? If so, share how you felt. C.    Can you remember how you were when you first came into a relationship with the Lord? Did you experience euphoria, first love joy, a honeymoon time? This is how God remembers Israel in the beginning of her pilgrimage, when He first rescued her, when the Red Sea closed over her enemies, she took up her tambourine and danced, ready to follow this wonderful God anywhere. Derek Kidner writes: There is a freshness of spring in the Lord’s first words to Israel, recapturing the ardour of young love – that readiness of the beloved to go anywhere, put up with anything, so long as it could be shared with her partner, and on his side the fierce protectiveness that would brook no rival, no assault to her honor.[3] And yes, He did protect her, a knight wielding his sword for the honor and protection of his princess. 8.     How did the Lord defend her according to Jeremiah 2:3? So why did she turn from Him? Why did she run into the arms of other lovers? If we understand this, we may gain insight into our own fickle souls. That’s where we are headed next week! 9.     Did you listen to the message by Tim Keller? What stood out to you? 10.     What is your take-a-way this week? PART III. MEETING OUR BLOGGERS MEET REBECCA! Rebecca has been one of our most faithful bloggers, cheering everyone on, contemplating the Word, and sometimes singing for us. She is from the Kansas City area. dority-family-picture-good-one-sepia dority-family-pic-2011-silly-one ABOUT ME: My name is Rebecca and I have a been blessed with a wonderful husband , four wild and rambunctious boys and a beautiful step daughter who is married to a wonderful doctor soon to be doing his Fellowship. My husband is a godly man and works hard to provide. I am richly blessed to have a husband like him. I came to know Jesus in 1988. My oldest brother Jim was the one God used to bring me to Him. The passion God has given me is in growing closer in intimacy with Jesus and making Him known in every sphere of my life. My ministry is with everyone God brings in my life. God has given me varying platforms over the years such as being a mom, singing at church, facilitating Bible studies, one on one discipleship, mentoring other women, teaching children, and at the workplace. ABOUT THIS STUDY: God’s people struggled with idolatry in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament we see believers warned not to have idols. I didn’t think I had an idol problem until Jesus brought me to Dee’s idol study. His light exposed the truth about the grip a couple of idols had on my heart. I found the answer to the cause of my depression and my issue with over eating. This study gave me the tools to see the signs when I am starting to move toward my idols and also exhorted me to go to Him-His word -so that He could peel back the layers of lies and replace them with truth. As a result I have become more intimate with Jesus and He has given me opportunities to spread His fragrance around. BLESSING REBECCA! 11. IF YOU’D LIKE TO TELL REBECCA SOMETHING THAT SHE SAID THAT IMPACTED YOU, OR SOMETHING THAT SHE IS THAT ENCOURAGES YOU — HERE’S YOUR CHANCE!

[1] Derek Kidner, The Message of Hosea, Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, England, 1981, p. 33. [2] Philip Yancey, The Bible Jesus Read, (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mi. 1999) p. 179. [3] Derek Kidner, The Message of Jeremiah, (Intervarsity Academic, Downer’s Grove, Il, 1987) p. 30.

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  1. Rebecca,

    I just found this posting today and would love to hear how you have overcome overeating. I am 100 pounds overweight with increasing medical problems. I know I need to lose weight, but can’t stop the cycle of overeating and don’t know what point I’m missing. I know gluttony is a sin, but need assistance to translate that into what I’m supposed to do for myself.

    1. Welcome, Carol! I will pray for you.

  2. Got on to listen to the two Keller sermons with my hubby and saw the new post for this week! This looks like a really great review. Looking forward to it and Dee thanks for such kind words!

  3. Amazingly, I’m not going to do all ?s at once because I’m
    having Internet issues today, hope to resolve but am clueless abt such- so please bear w/ my thumb typing. I will do my best re: accuracy and spelling!

    1.     Please give an example of a surface sin in your life and the deep idol from which it springs. Explain how understanding this has helped you.

    Wasting time is a surface sin of mine especially since I have no outside established schedule since I take Internet classes and work from home. This has plagued me through much of my life, though. I tend to seek out and subsequently become entangled in what interests me and it’s not always what I need to do at that particular moment. God has given me an incredibly curious nature, which is good as long as I control myself.

    Through this journey on turning out hearts of stone onto hearts of flesh I have discovered my idol is comfort. This made me look beyond the surface and see it on other levels as well. It was present in overeating, shopping to comfort myself and swinging between extremes of very harsh self control and overindulging myself. I saw I need God to help me with this– my own efforts apart from Him fail me every time.

    2.     During the forty days before Easter, we practiced different habits of discipline to say no to an idol and yes to God. Share an example of something you did and how it helped you.

    Realizing that I cannot conquer hear things on my own effort, I invited Christ into my mess. Instead of going it alone, He encouraged me that this is deeper than time or money management. I had to put Hin back on he throne of my heart.

    1. Looks to me as if your thumb typing is every bit as good as my typing with 10 fingers 🙂

      1. Thanks! I think I’m getting the hang of it… Plus my iPod has spellcheck. 🙂

      1. Thanks. 🙂

  4. 3.     Read Hosea 2:5. Why did she leave Hosea? What was her thinking?

    She felt that her lovers had given to her what she needed — bread & water, wool, flax. She forgot Hosea.

    4. What is the purpose of a metaphor in Scripture?

    It helps us to understand a deep spiritual truth in a way we can grasp.

    5. In Hosea, God explains why he is asking Hosea to make his life a painful living metaphor. Find it in Hosea 3:1. Camp out here for a while and reflect. What phrases stand out to you? How does this speak to you in your life? MEMORIZE THIS VERSE.  Continue to share your thoughts on it.

     1 The LORD said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”

    What stands out is how Christ loves us before we love Him — in the horrid depths of sin He loves us! What a lovely truth!

  5. Carol,

    Hi! I sure hope you can join us this week..I think it will REALLY help. Also, if you can go to that link that Dee offered.

    I think it is great that you even realize that overeating is a problem. That is a really good first step on this journey. 🙂

    I could type a very long response giving you step by step how God freed me from running to food for comfort,and to other things, but what helped me was really going through this journey with God in Dee’s idol study. My heart had to be readied to let go and let the Stonecutter go to work which was a process over the past few months. I hope I explained this alright! I can get a little jumbled in my thoughts sometimes. I think I edited this a million times in between the interruptions here at home. 😉

    You take care and I hope you will have time to go to the link Dee provided, and we would LOVE to have you join us here!

    Lord, We lift up Carol to you and thank you that you love her and that you so desire to rescue her. Lord rescue her from this. Help her to let go and run to you for true healing..Help her to keep her eyes wide open as she looks into your word. Help us also to keep our eyes wide open as we do this review this week. Quicken Carol’s heart and quicken ours Lord. Ready our hearts to be open and teachable to what you want to show us as we get into your word this week together.

    1. Rebecca, what a beautiful prayer. I just prayed it for myself as well.

      Thank you!

  6. 6.     How does this metaphor of marital intimacy help you understand the heart of God?

    God is showing a deep love for us. Between people, marital
    Intimacy is the closest connection we can have, so this must be part of why God is using this metaphorical comparison. When two people marry, they vow to be loyal to one another forth rest of their lifetime. We should be this loyal to Christ.

  7. 7.     Read Jeremiah 2:1-2.

    A.    How does God describe Israel, His Bride, when she was young, and He had just rescued her out of the slavery of Egypt? (verse 2)

    She was devoted and followed him into the wilderness.

    B.    This is a positive intimate image, a picture of a bride so in love that she will follow her husband anywhere – a “whither thou goest, I will go” bride, who is content as long as she is with him. Were you ever a bride like this to an earthly husband? If so, share how you felt.

    I have not (yet if God wills it) been married so I can’t comment here.

    C.    Can you remember how you were when you first came into a relationship with the Lord? Did you experience euphoria, first love joy, a honeymoon time?

    I definitely experienced all three. I was not looking for Christ, but He was looking for my soul. He captured it and I had euphoria, first love joy & a honeymoon phase. He’s increasingly sweet to me as I grow in Him, but I do recal something special and unique from that time. I know it’s important to keep our joy over Him, but perhaps we also grow in new phases and not every phase can be identical to the first.

  8. 1. Please give an example of a surface sin in your life and the deep idol from which it springs. Explain how understanding this has helped you.

    Right now my surface sin is worry and the deep idol is control.

    understanding that this surface sin stems from a deep idol has helped a lot because it hasn’t taken long to identify it. Again I am stubborn so even though I was beginning to identify it in the first few days it took the Holy Spirit prompting me giving me gentle nudgings over a period of a few weeks for me to say, O.K. this is a control idol issue. Lord I am not trusting you. I am not running to you, my heart is stone please make it soft. I repented of it, let go and fled to Jesus. I am trusting Jesus with it and it no longer worries me. I have to add that it hurts still but I am not worried about it anymore.

    Before I had this understanding I had no clue there was something God needed to root out-the holds my idols had on me..Something deeper than the near sin.

    1. It’s amazing how we can have that vague feeling of something being wrong yet still not identify it! I am so very thankful
      For this study for Many reasons, bit this one is at the top of my list, being able to name what the deep idol is and ask God to crush it!! Along with the stony heart… Perhaps one and the same.

      1. Tracy,

        Amen sister! You said it so well..It IS that vague feeling that something isn’t right and now I can identify it and flee from it and run to Jesus before it goes deeper and the rock begins to form around my heart.

  9. Dee, Great quote by Kidner: “It is a bold and creative stroke by which God, instead of banning sexual imagery from religion, rescues and raises it to portray the ardent love and fidelity which are the essence of His covenant.” Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about God’s redemptiveness (I think this is a word?? Spell check doesn’t like it!). I love the strong adjectives, verbs and nouns in the quotation — very powerful and, therefore, encouraging to me.

    Rebecca, great, FUN, pics! I’m still not completely “back here” on the blog, but when I saw your pics, I couldn’t resist butting back in and posting 🙂

    I’m so thankful I was able to be completely (or more completely than I usually seem to be!) present during “The God of All Comfort” study last year. God was preparing me to receive His comfort (i.e., death of 4 family members in the past year, 3 in the last 6 months). My brains don’t extend very far beyond what is required for work, but I do hope to be back here more regularly SOMETIME 🙂 . I appreciate what all of you are gleaning and teaching me!

    1. Renee, I’m so sorry for your losses and all that you are going through right now. It is wonderful how God provided just what you needed when you needed it. Praying for you and I hope you can get back to ‘full time’ soon.

    2. I’m sorry for your losses too. Praying that God will give you complete healing.

    3. Renee, We do miss you here and are so sorry for the many losses of your family members so close together. How painful that must be. I am thankful how God provided for you and we do hope you can come back soon and we will pray for you.

    4. I am so very sorry for your losses!!! you are in my prayers. and I do hope you come around more often:)

      1. Me too, Renee….I’m so sorry and do miss you.

    5. Thanks everyone 🙂

    6. Wow, Renee, that is a lot! But God is so good to have prepared you. He will never allow us to suffer more than we can bear. You are a living witness to that!

  10. 2. During the forty days before Easter, we practiced different habits of discipline to say no to an idol and yes to God. Share an example of something you did and how it helped you.

    What helped me was getting back into reading books again. For me it was mainly books that were encouraging spiritually, not oppressive spiritually so I was careful what I chose.

    I am forever grateful to Anne who led me to the most freeing parenting book I have ever read. God used it to peel back some layers of lies with parenting that I unknowingly heaped on my shoulders. These lies were some of the reasons I was running to food at night. I thought everything I did or didn’t do right would make or break my boys spiritually for the rest of their lives.

    Then I read Dee’s book which God used to show me a living testimony of a woman and man who were going through the process of dying-both in different ways, and even though I haven’t gone through that yet God used it in my life with the trials I am facing pretty much daily-to die to myself-to my control, my comfort, and to run to Him for these needs as Dee did in her book. He also gave me a picture of how beautiful marriage can be. I know He will use it in the future. That is why I won’t loan it out. 😉

    1. I remember when Luke was little. He was sooooooooo hyper and out of control and I looked around at all my friends kids and felt like such a failure!!!! God is so faithful to fill in our gaps. I would cry myself to sleep 3 times a week for years he was so hard and I had two more babies before he was 6. I made so many mistakes. But God used all my mistakes to create a wonderful young man that is a joy to our family….hang in there! its so hard but so worth it!
      I also used books on tape and radio theater like odysee at night so as he was trying to calm down he was getting Gods truth into his brain:)

      1. Cyndi,

        Cyndi, Thanks so much! I really needed to hear that this morning! I can so relate! I would look at other people’s children and think, look at how compliant their child is and look at how wiggly and spacey my kids are.

        I totally love the way God has designed you to be such an approachable person. Such a wonderful gift for others.

        1. I totally love the way God made you such an encourager:) I would go insane, like stark raving mad if I had 4 boys your age!!! one almost pushed me over the edge:)
          I love your picture, the fun one exp. hang in there and don’t be to hard on yourself!!!!! I think each boy adds 4x the chaos so thats what, 4x4x4x4= a lot of chaos:):)
          your a great mama, Im sure of it. just stay on your knees for those little guys and teach them the word as you go on with your busy life and they will grow into young men who will make you burst with pride:)

  11. 1 .Anger has been a surface sin for a long time. I always just thought it was because i was impatient (all my anger expresses itself when the house is a mess or a child is not listening or a car is going to slow in front of me:)) figuring out WHY I was angry was really important. if it was unforgivness or powerlessness the idol may have been different…… through this journey I have discovered my idol was control… as I let go of that need for control, the anger became much less powerful.

  12. 2) as most of you know the 40 days before Easter where very hard for me. Two of my children were very sick, one of them ending up in the hospital, my son was arrested for a really stupid mistake and we had to be in court 3 times, I was very sick for 4 days, and a friend who was only 33 died unexpectedly min. after she called and asked me to bring her something so my husband was at the hospital during the code….its been a long 3 months. add to this that we just brought a 10 year old from China with special needs into our home 9 months ago, and well you can imagine:) so GOD met me where I was at….He gave me a peace that as I write this I can not believe I had. I wanted to work on my control idol…God did it for me, and he showed Himself so very faithful!!!!! (my goal was to keep my mouth shut and use kinder words when I had it open:)

    the funny thing is, now that things are not so crazy and I am trying to get ready for Lukes gradutation party…that darn idol is sneekin back in…I have lists on my lists and have become a crazy lady trying to get our yard and home ready for 100s of people on June 5th……….

    I needed this reminder, HE took care of me in the bigger stuff, he’s going to make sure the littler stuff is taken care of….and he may be working on that darn pride of mine…weeds in the yard and a mismatched deck( don’t ask:) are not the end of the world(: Im going back to my goal! Kinder words or shut mouth for me this week!

    1. Cyndi, you have so much on your plate! I’ll be praying for you.

      Rebecca, love the pictures and testomony! You need to post your wedding picture for your anniversary…the one on facebook. You are such a beautiful couple! (inside and out!)

      1. not as much as you do!!! I think of you all the time! I pray your tests came out OK and that you have all the extra strength you need to care for you daughter!

        1. Thank you Cyndi, your such a sweetheart! Actually I will have Back surgery again in a few weeks…will let you all know, as I need your prayers so I’m able to take care of Kendra. It’s not near the surgery I had done last Nov…fusing 3 vert’s…it’s just a laminectomy (removing a couple bones to free up nerve’s being pinched above the screws and bolts) I am in alot of pain and can’t walk or stand but a few minutes. Just pray Kendra will be okay during the 3 day hospital stay, here in Kearney, at home. Last time it was in Omaha and Maurice done a super job taking care of her, but when she seen me in pain in the hospital the next day after surg, she had 3 grand mall siezures, one after another right there. The first one, she fell out of her wheelchair right on her face and knees. It was so horrible…so she can’t see me in pain or even worry about mommy. I will be fine, but I’m so worried about her. I have always slept with her because she has had siezures in the night and would of choked to death on her own saliva if I hadn’t of been there. So she will miss me alot. Daddy is so wonderful with her tho. He is the greatest! She had a siezure last year when daddy was in so much pain from a kidney stone, before we got him to the hospital, so we know she gets very upset when we are in pain (we try to never show her..even a bandaid on us!) I just want to feel normal and take care of her as
          God entrusted me to and that’s why I feel I am here in this world. She is a treasure and joy that God has given us. Thank you all for your prayers, it means so much to me.

        2. oh Joyce, you really amaze me. If I could just follow you through your day I know I would be so convicted, challenged, humbled. Your selfless love is such a beautiful reflection of Christ in you. Wow. Please let us know when the dates are set–want to be covering you in prayer, I am so sorry for the pain you have to endure!

        3. WOW I will pray that Kendra will have peace while you are gone and that if your hubby can not be with you that you will have SOMEONE with you at the hospital! you are amazing dear sister! amazing….

  13. Love seeing your face Rebecca! And a sweet testimony too. I have just been so encouraged my you along the way. You are indeed a true encourager!! Plus what a sweet family God has blessed you with!

    1. Please give an example of a surface sin in your life and the deep idol from which it springs. Explain how understanding this has helped you.

    This study has helped me so much! I came to it at a time that I knew something was desperately wrong in my heart. It helped me see and let God uproot the issues. I have been freed from the need of approval from others, and I am mostly free from the need to control. God is helping me see so I can be free to just enjoy the family He gave me flaws and all. I just feel lighter. I am so thankful Dee for this study and how you really listen to God to write just what is needed. I know so many will be blessed and freed from this.

    2. During the forty days before Easter, we practiced different habits of discipline to say no to an idol and yes to God. Share an example of something you did and how it helped you.

    What helped me most with this is how we did it week by week and it was okay for the method to change. I at times am super strict and put relentless rules and rigidness on myself. That is not what it was about. It was about saying yes to God and those rigid rules just put more focus on idols. So going week to week was so freeing. I listened to God and did what I thought I was suppose to do in particular areas I was struggling through.

  14. Well, I am new, and if I am trying to break the habit of beginning and ending before completing. So, please pray that I stick with this.

    The Lord has been preparing me for this study recently by allowing me to go thru a very difficult experience with my adult son I recognize that the root sins…yes, plural,…are all three listed. I am striving to use my mind and identify what is going on before I develop the feelings based on incorrect thinking….which more than likely develop into actions/words I will later regret.

    Hope to gain good insight here.

    1. Welcome, Marilyn!!

      1. Marilyn,

        Welcome!! We are so glad you are here! I appreciate your transparency already!

        1. So glad you found us Marilyn! Your humble honesty is a blessing!

    2. Marilyn, I will join everyone else in praying for you that you are able to finish and not just finish but finish well! That is an issue I’ve struggled with. I start well but fizzle out somewhere around the middle. This is the year to put all that in the past! WE can do it!

    3. Marilyn,
      I hope your still with us, I remember a Marilyn of Women of Moderation, I suspect you are the same Marilyn?

  15. I’m really looking forward to diving into this study. I’ve been dealing with the same idols all of my adult life and my hubby and I both decided that this would be the year we would stop circling the same mountain. We’ve been working together some and individually some and God has really healed us in many areas but my major idol is that I always come back to overeating. I’m wondering if maybe I should begin with the study you all did during Lent instead of this one.So, I’d love to hear from some of you who have been doing this for a while. I have done several of Dee’s studies, some in groups and some on my own. I’ve even done Woman of Moderation but something always makes me hold back from totally surrendering my eating to God. I think I am at the time but always end up running back to Egypt. And I’m not even aware of it until I’m back there. Anyway, I’m very excited b/c our church is reading a Tim Keller book “Prodigal God”, so I just listened to the sermon for this week and it is so WOW! Anyway, I’m rambling now but that was just a quick intro as I’m heading out the door to pick up the kids.

    Blessings, my sisters!

    1. The study we did during Lent was terrific, you’d be really blessed by it. 🙂

    2. Jessica,

      I’m right there with you on the overeating. I know for me it’s all about control and not honoring God. I do okay for awhile, but that’s in my own strength and then when things get stressful I take back the control.

      I too am looking for a starting point. I need to take some time and go back and start reading all the posts.

      Take care!

        1. Oh, yes wow!! I agree with what Dee said!

        2. Welcome Jessica and Carol!
          Jessica, I loved what you said “stop circling the same mountain”!

          I pray this will be a place where you both feel encouraged and prayed for on this journey–so glad you’re here!

      1. Carol, I do think it’s great, like Dee said, that we both started this at the same time. I’m sure God brought us here at the same time to encourage one another!

        Thank you all for such a warm welcome! I can tell this is a great community! I will stick with this study so that I can benefit from this all this wonderful feedback!

        Thank you all!

    3. Hi Jessica!

      Welcome! You have a group of sisters here who will support you and pray for you! So glad you are here and really hope you can stay with us this week. I really think this study will help!

  16. Welcome Marilyn, I will pray for you, dear sister in Christ!

    Angela, I think your doing wonderful!

  17. 10.     What is your take-a-way this week?

    Just to let Christ reign in me in all things. Let Him be the King, Work with Him but stop trying to do things by myself. It will never work, so why keep trying it? The knowledge that He desires me to have victory is such a great thin upon which to concentrate.

    11. Rebecca– I’m so glad you’re part of this group bc your wisdom and compassionate nature are so uplifting! 

  18. Oh wow! First I just had to get on here and say how beautiful you are Rebecca! You match your voice 😉
    And what a precious family!

    I’m behind today and after reading through y’all’s (can you tell I was raised in TX?) responses, I’m humbled–might have to change my answers!

    1. My surface sin(s)–what I like to call “constructive criticism” but my family would just say criticism,and irritation/extreme impatience…anything from a traffic light to my kids being slow as molasses uphill to do what I ask. Small things like a messy kids room, or not doing something “the way I would”…bigger things like “why isn’t my 7 year old deeply repentant for her sin?!”

    Deep idol–CONTROL. I so relate to Cyndi’s words above. Some days I act as though things would be perfect if only I could write the script. VERY scary thought. In a way, I become my own idol–acting inside as if I think I should reign.

    Oh, but this study–what a timely, beautiful GIFT–to me, and those around me 😉
    In the beginning I struggled because while I could admit my idol of control, I still liked being in control SO much, that in all honesty, I knew it would take a lot to let it go.
    That is where this study truly opened my eyes–you cannot just let the idol go, it must be replaced. The vacuum filled–and the only lasting “filling” is Jesus.

    2. It hasn’t been an overnight fix for me, me and my “affair” with control. But in Lent I decided to say NO to Control and YES to God, by being intentional to give thanks–for the little blessings that surround me, the outpouring of Him, and to continually LAY down that voice within that says I have a “right” to be in charge, or that I somehow know how to script my life.
    In truth, I do NOT want my version of my story–I am so humbled by what He has written for me.

    1. I absolutely love your testament!

    2. Love you, you Texas sister!

  19. Sometimes I can not come here to make comments. but I’m reading the articles and print them.
    Every Friday we have a women’s meeting at my house to study the Word. I always carry something that I read here. I loved this week’s article. thank you, Dee. Thank you, Rebecca.
    I hope you have not forgotten me. love, Polly

    1. We would never forget you!

      1. Never Polly! Love you!

    2. Glad you’re here Polly! (Brazil, right? But I can’t remember where in Brazil) And I’m glad your English is 1000 times better than my Portuguese. About 15 years ago, my goal was to learn Portuguese, but I didn’t get any farther than buying tapes and leaving them in the trunk of my car!!

    3. We could never, never forget you, Polly! Glad to hear from you again!

    4. so glad you came on! I was praying for you wondering where you were. So glad you can atleast read these. Blessings to you!!

      1. Polly, we haven’t forgotten you at all! Please stay and do this study with us! 🙂

  20. I just came across this quote from Ann Voskamp and smiled–thought you all might like it too:

    “I haven’t got anything together and I can stop looking for some hidden door that’s going to someday open up to my real, perfect life and I can stop waiting and I can start laughing praise, because this wondrous mess, this is it. Now is the gift and regret isn’t worth a sliver of the living and Christ the Door invites to just take the next step through.”

    1. That is a wonderful quote! For years I waited for that elusive hidden door and what a relief to know I don’t have to search for it. Christ is that door on my behalf. Now I know the meaning of laying down my weary self in His arms.

      I also really appreciated it when you shared Isaiah 43 with us. I saved that message and refer to it when I need to be reminded to “fear not.”

    2. How I needed to read this quote. I’m going to write it on an index card so I can remember it.
      Thanks for posting it.

  21. Rebecca,
    What a beautiful family you are!! I love the pictures and the fun-loving spirit they show! Wow – how lucky you are with those 4 boys! I grew up with only sisters so I know how much I enjoyed having little boys – trains, construction, trucks, digging holes in the dirt – yet they were always so sweet and affectionate, too.
    You have a beautiful smile, too, and I like how you said that your ministry is everyone that God brings into your life. That’s a great way to look at life!

  22. 3)She goes back to her old life because she thinks they have what she needs to be happy again.
    4)God made us story tellers, it’s how he speaks to our hearts. I LOVE the story about Nathan telling David about the lamb, getting him all worked up and then saying “your the man”! stories get our blood going, our emotions involved, they speak to our hearts in a way mere instruction or facts just can’t do.
    Jesus was a master at this!

  23. 1. Please give an example of a surface sin in your life and the deep idol from which it springs. Explain how understanding this has helped you.

    I wrote about this in an earlier post – it is my relationship with my mother-in-law. I’ve always kind of resented her and been jealous of her, feeling that my husband took her side over me, that she could be overbearing, controlling; I’ve had difficulty letting go of past grievances against her. Trying harder, even praying, didn’t seem to bring about much change.
    Through this study, I see that I have an underlying idol of power/control and affirmation/approval. Afterall, I want to be the one my husband and children think is the “best”, the one with the power and control; I want to be affirmed in their eyes.
    This new understanding is helping me to lay this ‘stuff’ down; it’s still a process for me but I am recognizing more quickly when the idols are clamoring for control.

    1. Susan, I love what you said, “I am recognizing more quickly when the idols are clamoring for control.” So good! I see them coming and grabbing me also, Susan. I have ALL the bad idols, especially overeating and overspending, I think I deserve them somehow, in my head. I am sinning when I love those things more than God. So your not alone!

      Carol, Jessica, Marie, Marilyn and anyone else out there to scard to write, we are thrilled to have you and you will be blessed by this study and loved by everyone and prayed for all the time. We are all sister’s in Christ and we need one another. I don’t get the time I’d like to, to do the study on line, but I’m here for all of you, as your prayer warrior. And Dee is the very best leader and mentor there is. I’m about Dee’s age, but a babe in christ compared to her. Dee, did you know, you are my hero?!

      1. Joyce, I love your new picture you have – and I commend you for being our prayer warrior – being so dedicated to pray for others really takes a spiritual maturity and committment. You are so dear and sweet!

  24. Thank you Dee for sending me an email and inviting me to this Bible study group. I met you in person in my hometown of Toledo a couple of years ago and was so personally touched by all your stories you shared of your family and how you came to have a personal relationship with Jesus. You signed my Bible and I had forgotten it and left the retreat and lo and behold a lady called and said she had my Bible. She by chance lived only minutes away and actually drove it to my house. I purchased a few of your books and my favorite is Falling in Love With Jesus. When you speak of sexual metaphors and what their meanings are for, “but that as we increase in our love, trust, and intimacy with the Almighty, as we willingly put ourselves in His arms, that our lives will have a fruitfulness that can only come when we fully yield to the Spirit of God.” I can relate to this because through the love stories in the Bible, they showed me how in loving Jesus with my whole heart and allowing him to be my white knight, it allows me to love my husband with so much more pureness and openess.

    If I had to decide what my surface sin is keeping me from a closer relationship with God, I would have to say it is complacency. I have gotten to not get too involved or too committed to anything lately. I find I can back out of events, lunch dates, grndkikds sports and even the annual spiritual retreat with my two best friends this spring and not seem to think it matters. Of the three deep idols you mention I feel comfort/security is what I have hindering me causing my complacency. I am praying I will stick with this study long enough to help myself deal with this.

    Rebecca you have a wonderful family pic and I love the silly one. Every time I want to take a group family pic on a holiday or birthday get together all my kids and grndkids say, “Okay now a silly one.”

      1. Marie..Dee..This comes from God today, when Marie said: “I can relate to this because through the love stories in the Bible, they showed me how in loving Jesus with my whole heart and allowing him to be my white knight, it allows me to love my husband with so much more pureness and openess.”

        Oh Marie, this is so true!! Unbelievable how he affirms something through one of you here on this blog. Because of this surrender God is taking me through I am at the precipice of experiencing this kind of love for my husband. Oh, I hope you stay Marie, we could glean so much from you.

  25. Marie, I love your open, sincere heart. I am praying for you.


    3. Read Hosea 2:5. Why did she leave Hosea? What was her thinking?

    She thought her lovers would better satisfy her needs.

    4. What is the purpose of a metaphor in Scripture?

    To me a metaphor is like a picture or painting pointing to a deep truth God is trying to relay so that we can understand it. The purpose isn’t to stop at the metaphor but to focus on the underlying truth it represents.

  27. 3. She went after her lovers–thinking only they give her what she needs (food, water, wool, linen…)

    It doesn’t shock me that God would use a sexual metaphor, because sexual intimacy is one of the most intimate interaction that two beings can ever share. I think it heightens the intensity–gives a better picture of how deep and close our relationship to Him can be. And because He made us, He knows us, it is in turn us knowing Him….hmm, hard one to answer!

    4. I think the purpose of a metaphor is to awaken a deeper emotion by connecting an unknown experience with one that is well-known, in order to being more understanding of the unknown (did that make sense? hard to write my thought!)

    Skipping ahead to Rebecca–I just have to say that every week God has used you to bless me in ways you can’t imagine–thank you for being so sensitive to His Spirit. Honestly, I can’t remember how many times in the beginning I almost quit the study. I kept feeling inadequate (still am, but feel accepted in that!), and each time I would get ready to say that’s it, there would be a post of encouragement from you Rebecca.
    I love the way you speak Truth, covered in grace. Oh how I can learn from you!

  28. 4-5 “Love her as God has loved the Israelites” How often my heart strays from my Jesus. I find so many things to fill myself up with yet God keeps loving me, keeps pursuing me, keeps longing to have my heart for HIM alone….this metaphor makes me realize just how emotional our dear Lord is. He does not love us because we can do things for Him , He LOVES us like my son loves Sophia right now:) that starry eyed, can’t wait to see you, your so wonderful, kind of love and He loves me like I love my husband, that, “we have been through a lot together, know all our faults, see each other before we brush our teeth and yet still have that tender love for one another” kind of love. He can do both of these at the same time!

    My heart skips a beat when I think of the way God loves me, and drops a little when I think of how I love HIM some days……WOW I think Im going to camp out on that one today!

  29. I just had a thought..You know that verse that says we love because He first loved us. It has a deeper level of meaning for me now.

    I am learning how deep, how intimate and how jealous he is for me and I don’t deserve it..He chose me to lavish His love on, why? I don’t know, I just know He loves me with this kind of love-sealed forever. Nothing I can do right or wrong can elevate it or lessen it or lose it. I am finding more and more that I don’t want to grieve Him. I don’t want to break His heart, but the freeing thing is that when I do, He wants me to come to Him, to repent and fall back into His arms. I don’t have to feel shame or feel like I messed up so bad that He won’t want me back. I am more confident in His love for me now.

  30. I have been so busy lately that I am barely keeping up with posts and sometimes missing stuff:( I love where we are going and all of the wonderful insights. Welcome to new sisters, I am so happy to have you with us.

    I think my time will be freeing up now for the summer so I can focus on the study better. This morning I want to share a dream that I had last night. It ties into what we are talking about. I woke up at 4 this morning after a dream about God’s love for me. I am so sorry that it has now faded. I got up and made coffee so that I could savor it but still it is fading. His love transcends all human love. The best of our love is only a shadow. He loves every cell and fiber of my existence. All of the things about myself that I try to cover, He loves and always will, no matter what. My quest for this summer is to learn how to respond to His love. I think that those are the works of righteousness we talked of in last week’s post.

    1. Wow, Anne – what a dream and what a quest – “my quest for this summer is to learn how to respond to His love.” That will be quite an adventure – an awesome quest to go on – with our awesome God!
      I love how you write, the words you choose; savoring the dream with the coffee. Will pray for your quest, Anne!

    2. Anne, So encouraging! Thanks for sharing your dream 🙂

      1. Anne, Awesome!! Loved reading this!!

  31. Elizabeth, I am in a hurry to get to work and drop the boys off at school, but I have to respond. I am humbled that someone like you would say that! I admire you in so many ways and have learned from you as well! i so admire your discipline and commitment and dedication to your family, and you do remind me of a proverbs woman in so many ways!

  32. 2. During the 40 days before Easter, we practiced different habits of discipline to say no to an idol and yes to God. Share an example of something you did and how it helped you.

    I decided to spend time with Jesus every morning and I used the book The Incomparable Christ by J. Oswald Sanders, as well as following along with Nancy Leigh DeMoss on her radio program Revive Our Hearts as she went through the book. I found the mornings that I took the time to do this were so meaningful to me as I looked at Jesus, and was amazed by the new things I learned about Him. I still haven’t finished the book, but I am decided that I will finish and listen to the past programs online!
    It is so rich; the last chapter I did was about the Soul Anguish of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. I learned about how Gethsemane means “oil press”, and the process of how they would press the oil out of the olives, and how Jesus was pressed, as it were, by the weight of the heavy stone coming down upon Him, of what He would endure for us.
    The idol that I said “no” to was the idol of comfort – sometimes I didn’t want to make the time or get up early; but also power and control; the lie that tells me I can get through the day just fine without first spending time with God. I can live independently of God; somehow I’ve got it all under control.

  33. 5. In Hosea, God explains why he is asking Hosea to make his life a painful living metaphor. Find it in Hosea 3:1. Camp out here for a while and reflect. What phrases stand out to you? How does this speak to you in your life?

    “Go again”-God tells Hosea to keep going back, the same way God keeps going back to His people-KNOWING they will reject and deny Him. Going back, even though you know you will be rejected is the ultimate in unconditional love. Really, even our “unconditional” love is truly “conditional” b/c we only keep going back when we have some hope. Once all hope is gone, so are we. But God doesn’t love that way, He knows the end of the story and yet He keeps going back, no matter what. That should be our model.
    He tells Hosea to love her. Not just to marry her for a marriage of convenience but he is to truly love her-knowing the kind of woman she is and that she will break his heart. Love her b/c she is his wife. Not b/c of what she gives him, or how she feels about him but just to love her b/c she is his wife. It doesn’t even mention her feelings for him here at all! Wow! It really is about a choice we must make. To love the Lord-period!
    She’s an adulteress. That’s her identity. God doesn’t even go into this telling Hosea that it will ever get any better. He doesn’t promise Hosea that she will one day love him back. He just tells Hosea to keep trying. We often will pursue what God tells us to but only if we are assured of a victory. That’s not faith. Faith is doing what God tells us to do no matter what! And we do it b/c we love God and want to be closer to Him. Not b/c we want to gain something for ourselves apart from Him. If we find ourselves obeying God b/c we want God’s stuff and not a closer, more intimate relationship with Him, then we are trying to manipulate God.
    We truly see how disloyal we are to God when He compares His love for us with Hosea’s unrequited, torturous, painful, repetitive pursual of Gomer. This man goes after this woman repeatedly and repeatedly, she denies him and makes a fool of him and hurts him. We can’t deny that we are lowly slugs when we repeatedly treat God the same way. Yet, He continues to love us!
    He loves us even though we turn to other gods-other idols. I’ve been reading the previous lessons and am sure my deepest idol is COMFORT. I almost want to gag at the thought that I’m so shallow that I want COMFORT more than I want God but it’s my truth and I own it. When we turn to other gods and love what they offer us more than we love the One True God, then we are idolatrous in our hearts. No one wants to hear that, but especially not us good, Christian girls. How do we break out of this? To quote Dee: “Idols cannot be removed, they can only be replaced by Jesus, the True Lover of our Souls.” And so that is the journey I’m beginning right now. Thanks be to God!

      1. Jessica-you are not allowed to leave the group now 🙂
        You have a wealth of wisdom–thanks for sharing! I really learned a lot from this post.

        1. Jessica, MAN OH MAN!! I wanted to copy and highlight the first half, then I went onto the second and third and I would have just copied and pasted the whole thing to tell you what I liked the best! I concur with Elizabeth, you can’t leave now. 🙂

          What you said reminded me of Dee at her conference in Kansas City..She just came out and said, “My name is Dee and I’m an Idolatrous.” It was sublime. I loved It! I thought it was great that she opened up the first session that way.

    1. Jessica,
      Ditto what Rebecca wrote about copying and pasting 🙂

      I kept rereading what you wrote about God not telling Hosea that it will get better. Sometimes when I’ve observed little (positive) changes in situations I don’t like, I’ve begun to expect that the situation will get better — and then become disillusioned when it doesn’t. But I don’t want to replace the disillusionment with cynicism. I appreciate your quote from Dee, that idols only can be replaced by Jesus. God’s goodness definitely beats disappointment and cynicism.

      This is reminding me of something I heard online today (might have been Tim Keller 🙂 ). The speaker said that we SHOULD be disillusioned. To be dis-illusioned means that I was holding on to an illusion, often the illusion that if I do x, y, and z in the “right” way, I will live happily ever after in ____ (what is currently a difficult) situation.

      1. I have been trapped by that illusion for most of my life. How precious a thing it is to be free of it!

      2. Renee, that sounds like Tim Keller! That’s good!

    2. Jessica, I like how you said, “it’s my truth and I own it.” You are taking ownership; accountibility, before God. That’s so good!

      1. That is a line I “borrowed” so it’s not mine but I’m “owning it” and “making it mine”! tee hee

  34. I am afraid to begin here, afraid of being to needy, taking up too much space.
    I have been blessed by you & your ministry Dee in so many ways over the years. First you strengthened my marriage by encouraging women at a conference not to place unrealistic demands on our husbands to fill up our hearts in ways they never can. Then through the Midday studies, A Woman of Moderation & A Woman of Beauty, and most recently through The God of All Comfort book.

    About 2 years ago our pastor was reading Tim Keller’s Counterfeit Gods. When he shared the deep idols /Surface idols concept, I was immediately & strongly convicted that comfort is my deep idol. I read Counterfeit Gods, and I broken heartedly confess that knowledge has not led to victory for me, I am a mess.

    Our 17 year old son Daniel was assaulted last July 25th, why or by whom we do not know. He sustained a severe brain injury. On August 17th he went home to be with the Lord. We have the comfort that of all of our sons, he was the only one to continue in the faith as a teenager.

    I used to pray big whatever it takes type of prayers, I had prayed earnestly to be a useful tool for the kingdom. My confidence is shredded, I hardly pray at all. I have prayed through the trial to be obedient, but that’s all I can manage. I know this is taking too much power on myself, but I am afraid I prayed this tragedy upon us.

    I recently told a friend, that I am at an end of myself, but feel I am sitting at the end of myself without any direction. I vacillate between real hope & total despair.

    I am premenopausal, and am struggling with really bad short term memory loss (this had begun before our tragedy). I have recently quit a job I held for 3 months, the supervisor I had really was hard on me, I could not please her. I feel incompetent even to take on a babysitting job right now.

    It is so hard to share this stuff, I feel like failure and a burden.

  35. Okay ladies of our Lord, I only have but a few seconds, but I am thrilled I took the time to check into the group. I am sitting here with tears of joy in my eyes after reading all your beautiful posts. I have always felt and was assured our Lord loved me and was forgiving of my failures in loving HIM as he deserves, but just reading your posts gives me such a strong more intimate insight into God’s love for me.

    Ann what an amazing dream to have. I love how you tried to savor it with your cup of coffee. Aren’t dreams so much like our love for Christ, vivid and sureal at one moment, then as we get busy with life it fades faintly, waiting for us to slow down to take the time to see and feel it strongly again. Sometimes we allow our lives to get so busy, HE must come to us in our quietest times….in our sleep. May you all have a great day and take the time to have a cup of coffee with Jesus, and as you sip it feel the warmth of our Lord’s love for you.

    1. Marie, that is a great parallel about dreams and how they fade as we get busy with life. I have to admit that I made the coffee in an effort to keep myself awake but was not very successful. I thought that if I stayed awake I would be able to remember it.

      I too am glad you have joined us. I think you will find so much blessing here. As I do the questions for each post the Lord opens my eyes to new things about Him and about myself. Then each one who shares her answers also brings new understanding. I think each one of us has mentioned at one time or another the temptation to quit because we do not think we are helping others. Don’t ever believe that lie. We are growing and invite you to join us. I say this also to Jessica, Carol and Marilyn. Love to all of you and also to you Pollyanna. I love hearing from you.

      1. Maybe keeping a journal of such dreams would help them not disappear so soon? Just a thought. When I have good dreams, especially those sent from God, I like to remember them that way, so they can be a lasting treasure.

        1. That is a great idea but I never, never have dreams. This was the first one in probably 5 or more years. If I have another I will do it.

  36. My heart grieves at what it must have been like for Hosea. Then how God’s heart must feel at times. Oh Lord, forgive me. Have any of you read Redeeming Love it is a fictional account of this book of Hosea and so good.

    3-She said, She said, ‘I’ll run after other lovers
    and sell myself to them for food and water,
    for clothing of wool and linen,
    and for olive oil and drinks.’NLT
    This is so sad. She is running after them for worldly things. Selling herself so she does not even know her worth or how much she is loved. I think that is the key factor that gets a lot of people. They do not know their security, approval, or future is completely in God’s hands who loves them completely through and through.

    4-metaphors are great examples to help us understand a truth. Something that is relevant to us in our time to get us to realize a truth. Jesus is the perfect example because He is the most amazing story teller ever!!

    5-WOW, powerful verse. It reminds me of Judas betraying Jesus. He knew this was going to happen but washed his feet anyway. He showed no lack of love to the betrayer. Such God’s heart. Hosea was the same. What a hard love to experience. You know I often think that is what will win an unbelieving husband or wife to a believing spouse. My husband was not a believer when we married and when I just started trusting Him to God and stopped trying to change him and really focus on my walk and loving Jesus, despite the pain, that is when my hubbie started to change. Such a painful request to love and not get anything back. Ministry is like that a lot. It is how God calls us to love. We are secure in Him and know we are His so we can extend that overflow to others with no exceptions. So much to think about. One other thing I think of is once God rebuked me because I was not loving my hubbie well and made me go back to him and apologize and love the way God called me to love. I guess this is opposite but still. Also, this is a great metaphor about how marriage is suppose to represent Christ and the church. This is huge to me and I get so frustrated in our marriage when we do not represent Christ well in our marriage. I take it so seriously so Hosea was living that out how it really looked. Israel was not representing God well or living for Him well. God’s love is so amazing. We must grasp it. I pray each of us “that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. 10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.” Eph 1:9-10

    6-Oh I wrote above a little of it. Eph 5. Yet also the feelings and emotions that are deeply connected with marriage are amazing. God feels that deeply for us. So amazing.

    7a-eager to please…loved and followed even through a barren wilderness
    7b-yes at times…sin started our marriage though so it has been a struggle but there have been times especially in these later years.
    7c-YES! Same with God. Had many mountaintop experiences and many valleys and all was good then one day a deep valley came and I started to wonder and doubt but now He has shown me His deep everlasting solid love for me. It is more than mere feelings or emotions it is deep in the bone and marrow of my being in my center. It is peaceful regardless of circumstances.

    8-all who harmed her were declared guilty and disaster fell on them.

    9-v.5 worshiped worthless idols/v.7 in plenty they defiled and corrupted their possession. 🙁 They forgot God.

    Hope to hear message later. Will come back if so but I finished King’s Cross by Keller and LOVED it. So encouraging.

    My take away is to REMEMBER. I am approved, secure, and in His capable hands. He loves me like no other can and will always be for my good. I trust Him. Period.

  37. 1. There are some days I tend to sleep more than needed because my deep idol of comfort/security feeds me the illusion that I hold the reins of my life. Truthfully, I don’t like facing reality but having done so for the past three years has brought me to this long walk toward freedom and I’m not getting off the next exit because, as Jessica said, I don’t want to keep circling the same mountain.

    2. I didn’t participate on the blog during Lent but, after reviewing my prayer journal from that time period, I have found that I was dialoguing alot with God about my idols. One idol that stayed in the forefront of the dialogue is television. I began running to tv after school. It was the only ‘one’ at home to greet me. However, my thinking has been changing after reading something Nancy Leigh DeMoss said about entertainment: “What we call entertainment (on tv) God calls sin.” Since reading that I have began to notice when I watch tv how quickly I can spot a particular sin being glorified and I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t want to watch other people’s misery caused by someone else’s sin. There are channels that show wholesome programming but I need to limit that too because I don’t want television to continue being something I have to give my time too. I keep telling myself, “I don’t to die in the wilderness.”

    3. Gomer left Hosea for her lovers. She thought her lovers would be able to give her a more exciting life than the one she had with Hosea.

  38. Okay, I get on my e-mail quickly because I just got home from work and am heading out the door to go to my youngest son’s publishing party at school, and I hear there are some exciting posts going on with Jessica and Anne and I don’t have time to read it! I am dying to get back so I can read them!

  39. This is such an amazing community! I’m so thankful to have found you all. You have been busy. I hope to be able to keep up with all the posts. It’s late and I’ll check back in tomorrow but I just wanted to say “Thank you” all for the warm welcome!


    1. Jessica– So glad you are here!

      1. Me too, Jessica

  40. I just wanted to let you all know I haven’t dropped off the planet this week. I have been reading all the posts. I have them delivered via email so I can read them at work on my lunch break. I just don’t get much time to respond to them all. I hope to print out the questions for next week and respond to some of those.

    I’ve been very encouraged by all the great insights I’ve read so far this week. This is a very encouraging group.

    1. Carol, We totally understand as some of us work, so don’t worry..Whenever you can, come! Personally, I have found this spot to be like a well with refreshing water to drink from. The Lord, His word and the women He brings here to lift up and encourage have been such a gift!

  41. 5. In Hosea, God explains why he is asking Hosea to make his life a painful living metaphor. Find it in Hosea 3:1. Camp out here for a while and reflect. What phrases stand out to you? How does this speak to you in your life? MEMORIZE THIS VERSE. Continue to share your thoughts on it.

    God’s love amazes me. To begin in Hosea 2 and then go to Hosea 3. I see a beautiful painting of God’s love here. He is broken hearted, I see God literally torn up over the Israelites idolatry in chapter 2. His heart is truly broken. I haven’t contemplated this emotional side of God before.

    Yet in chapter 3 instead of giving up and turning away and holding it against her, he pursues her with passion and loves her. What blows me away is that He pursues her with passionate love EVEN in the midst of her adultery. I ask my self why? Because she is His..They are one.

    This same God was humiliated for us, whipped, went up on that cross and gave Himself as the once and for all sacrifice for our sins so that we could have this kind of passionate, love relationship with Him-sealed forever..When we enter into a relationship with Him, not even the powers of darkness can separate us from Him. For that matter we can’t and we won’t want to if we are truly His. EVEN when we mess up, even when we are idolaters..He will pursue us, He won’t let us go..This makes me not want to grieve Him and go after other lovers.

    I think of what Anne said at the beginning of this week..”My quest for this summer is to learn how to respond to His love.” -GREAT, GREAT comment. That stuck with me because I struggle with that and I am sure because I am not perfect yet I will continue to, but I am starting to see that the more I delve into His love and start seeing it in these passages, the more I can’t resist responding..Although not perfect yet, I am letting go and the more confident I am becoming that He will carry me through anything..Temptation, trial, whatever.

    I don’t think the Christian life is about ‘arriving’-or looking at ourselves- actually it is the opposite, It is letting go of self and getting lost in Him-His love, where He wants us to walk close with Him in a passionate, love relationship. He can take even a stubborn girl like me and woo her heart and make it tender and lovely over time.

    Oh God, I am just like this adultress and I don’t want to be anymore, but I am so grateful and confident that when I do you will pursue me. Oh God such love ravished out on a person like me, I can’t contain it..I can’t fathom it, but I can worship You..I can respond..I can love you..Give me a tender heart for you Lord, break my stubborn heart..I hate it but you died for it and you make me hate it..My heart is overwhelmed with love for you..with longing for You..Oh God you make it so easy for a sheep like me because you give me this longing, but I am still stubborn. I love You and I don’t want to grieve you by not responding, by lacking passion. Give me more passion for you..I am yours.

    1. Rebecca– this spoke to my heart SO MUCH. Knowing God won’t let me go, ever, makes my heart melt and all my silly little perfectionistic self-taunts start to fade like the shadows they truly are. Blessings to you for ministering to my heart like this. <3

    1. Agreeing with you. Such a timely subject! Such a tender surrender.

    2. Dee, This made my heart jump..Will be praying today..

    3. praying!!!

  42. I am so grateful that Jessica shared this gift with me last night. What a treasure of Kingdom!! I have loved reading your posts and readying my own heart for the transformation to come.

    1. Please give an example of a surface sin in your life and the deep idol from which it springs. Explain how understanding this has helped you.

    As someone who loves to “evaluate” experiences and events and people, I find for myself it can be pushed to the extreme. If not done in love and with purified motives, what begins as “to help it be better next time” ends us being poisoned with pride. I have to ask myself, “Is my reason for evaluating to help someone else grow or to grow closer to the Heart of God myself?” or “Is it to show my way/my words are better and I want others to duplicate that?” I think the deep idol could be Control but even deeper, as C S Lewis says, all sin is steeped in pride.

    2. During the forty days before Easter, we practiced different habits of discipline to say no to an idol and yes to God. Share an example of something you did and how it helped you.

    Fasting. The enemy seeks to satisfy our flesh and stop us short of the greater gift God has for us. Fasting is liberating. It is about choosing to FEAST on the right things. Supernatural Satisfaction. Pressing on beyond flesh. Truly satisfied only in HIM!
    It is about breaking the cravings and re-creating my desires.

    1. Welcome, Christi!

  43. Hi Christi and Welcome! How blessed are we to have two new sisters on here with us with such teachable spirits!! I liked this insight a lot:

    “The enemy seeks to satisfy our flesh and stop us short of the greater gift God has for us. Fasting is liberating. It is about choosing to FEAST on the right things. Supernatural Satisfaction. Pressing on beyond flesh. Truly satisfied only in HIM!
    It is about breaking the cravings and re-creating my desires.”

    1. You are definitely in my prayers today! Our pastor has taught us that Intercession is about Interrupting! Interrupting the enemy attack, interrupting the goal of hell to Kill, Steal and Destroy.

      There is Resurrection Power inside you now! That same Spirit that Raised Jesus from the dead. What a Powerful Time to be in this Series surrounded by women of God as we walk toward the Upper Room in this Season towards Pentecost! I pray today for Supernatural Release of Strength as Step into the YES of God!
      You are a treasure, a daughter of the KING!! Your TRIUMPH in this time will REDEEM and RESTORE! Greater is HE that is IN YOU!

    2. Chris, I am so glad you have joined us. We would love to pray for you and to hear all that you would share with us. My heart breaks for you. I also have boys and I can’t imagine.

      I know a woman who lost her son abruptly while he was on a mission trip to NYC. She had the same short term memory problem after. I don’t remember how long she said it lasted but she is fine now. She is very sharp in my opinion.

      I don’t know a lot about grief and don’t know if I would be the one to give advice. But it seems to me that it is ok to be a mess. I hope that you will not let the opinions of others make you hurry yourself.

    3. Oh Chris, I am so sorry for your pain and your losses. I read your post before I went to work today and have thought about you all day. For the past half hour, I have been staring at the screen trying to decide whether or not to post.

      Know that there is hope in God, even when life stinks. Even in your pain, you are teaching me. You wrote that you are “at an end of myself.” I needed that reminder — that I AM at the end of myself. When I recognize my inability to function with my own strength, I am more open to God’s work in my life. When I don’t feel desperate, I often forget that I AM at the end of myself. When life is “okay” (no sickness, death, ok relationships, and I can hold a job), I tend to migrate over to my own strength. You reminded me that when I feel ok, I need to break through that illusion of being ok; I’m only “okay” because of Jesus — and even though I am okay because of Jesus, I don’t always feel okay.

      I really can’t comprehend the pain you are experiencing, but when I read what you wrote: “…I hardly pray at all,” I thought “that’s okay, He knows your heart.” When you wrote that were were at the end of yourself without any direction, I thought “That’s okay. He knows your direction, His plans for you, and will show you when you are ready. You talked about memory loss … He remembers, He knows, and He loves you. In many ways, we all are incompetent — I guess I should speak for myself! I am incompetent and weak, but in my weakness, He is strong. Right now, I’m blessed to be at a point at which I can “feel” his strength.

      I pray that this doesn’t sound trite or “easy-answer-ish.” I did “drop out of life” for several years, and everything seemed hopeless. I was distraught that my life was falling apart. Someone told me that he couldn’t promise me that what I feared wouldn’t happen, but he could promise that God would be with me through whatever happen. What I feared did happen — and lasted a number of years, BUT GOD was and is faithful. And I have to learn this over and over and over.

      Rest in His love and know that we are praying for you.

      1. Chris my heart hurts for your loss and I know that desperate feeling after losing a loved one. I retreated and didn’t think I would ever feel happiness again. I must say reading Renee’s words was as if God was speaking through her. My prayers are with you.

      2. Renee and Marie,

        If you could, would you mind sharing your stories with me? It would be good to hear that things won’t seem so empty when I have gone farther down the path.
        I try to think of Daniel in heaven as if we are going on a wonderful vacation, he just went on ahead. Sometimes this helps.
        The memories of the trauma of the hospital time, I can hardly bear to recall it.

    4. I am grieving with you and so glad you are here with us! This is a great place to connect and find healing. Thank you for sharing with us and I am lifting you in prayer!! Wish I could give you a real hug right now. But God can for me.

    5. Welcome to the group, Chris. I will be praying for you!

  44. Chris,

    I am without words. I can’t imagine the pain, the grief over losing your son for I have sons. It is my worst nightmare and I can’t imagine being where you are at right now..

    Oh Lord, encourage Chris right now..Take her under your wings and into your warm comforting waters..

    1. I agree with Dee and Rebecca’s prayer Lord, I pray that You, Lord, the God of ALL comfort, will hold her in your arms and bring peace to her heart. I pray she will know with certainty she is not a burden here or too needy (I have felt those things myself at times!), but Lord let her know we all welcome her with open arms to join this fellowship of growing in You.

  45. Hi Dee and ladies,
    I so appreciate the invitation to join the group again. I loved the God Of All Comfort study and wish I had continued.
    I am trying to catch up. Loved reading all the posts and listened to Dr. Keller 4 times! Praying too.
    Kim T.

    1. Welcome Kim!! So glad you are here!! 🙂

      1. Thankyou!

      1. Thank you, so happy to be back!

    2. Welcome, Kim!

      1. Thank you!

  46. Rebecca, you totally do spread His fragrance! That is what makes you so beautiful. Thanks for sharing with us. I also love the pictures.

    1. An example of a surface sin in my life is anxiety. That may not seem like a sin but I think it is if idolatry is the root. I identified approval as an idol for me because the opinion of another could upset me so much. This was a difficult one for me to attack because what do you do against it? What I found helpful was just being able to see the connection between how I felt and the cause. Then I would have to pray and remind myself of what Jesus thinks of me. Today I am different even though I still struggle with this idol. Anger from my husband or a son can make me sick to my stomach. The bad thing is that because anger works with me, I have been positively reinforcing it. But recently I did navigate a confrontation and was satisfied with the results. I gave the other person a chance to grow rather than just getting them in trouble and I don’t think I offended. This was a big step for me and I have been reinforced positively with the outcome.

    2. Comfort is also big with me (I am sporting all 3 biggies). During lent I changed my evening routine in the food area. The time that I would have spent eating I focused on my studies and just spending time meditating on the Lord. I shamelessly wasted time in my comfy chair and was so blessed. I tried to be very intentional about asking the Lord to reveal Himself to me and He did. It was better than any food I’ve ever had and I ate every time I worked on study questions. AND the 2 studies complimented each other. To deny ourselves and seek Him instead invites Him to fill that empty place left by leaving the idol. We were made to be filled by Him.

  47. Dee, I appreciated your welcome back — AND I especially appreciated the freedom, the permission you gave me to be free. During the past few days, this study has been sinking in at a deeper level. But I’m not sure I can articulate how it is sinking in.

    I do know that I was pondering the surface/deep idols for hours last night as I lay in bed… and thinking about why I was so “scared off” by examining those idols when the study started. I think some of the reason I was intimidated is that I wasn’t thinking straight 🙂 i.e., I was in enough grief that I couldn’t sort everything out. And even though Comfort is an idol that causes problems, I was desperate enough then that the comforts of this world seemed meaningless. I only could go to God, because where else was I gonna go?? In retrospect, the guilt I felt (although it didn’t seem to have power very long) may have been the desire for control. If I feel guilty for “killing someone off” (by taking her to the doctor, thereby wearing her out!), I’m completely deluded because I didn’t have the power to give her life.

    I think there’s another reason why these idols are scary for me to examine, and I don’t understand how it works. SO I HAVE A QUESTION FOR ALL OF YOU EXPERTS. I have areas of my life in which problems aren’t manifested outwardly (or even very often in my thoughts/emotions). These areas are so “walled off” (think concrete bunker) that I rarely see/notice them. Periodically, something breaks through a crack in the concrete — and I just replaster it. So, is it possible to deal with the idols and still leave old thought patterns or memories in the concrete bunkers? (They were effective — still are pretty effective!). Maybe a better question is how do I get courage (&/or get rid of pride) to bring issues that were once very powerful into God’s light? I can forget about the stuff 99% of the time, but I think I’m being convicted!

      1. Yes, one of the deaths was the death of my mom (more deaths before & after); I was Mom’s long-term caregiver. Interacting/living with her structured my days, work, house, etc. and my life had become pretty narrow. Even before she died, I was getting sick more frequently, probably from exhaustion. This spring has been no exception to the illness — and I was too sick for a few weeks to realize I was so sick! I also became aware that one chronic condition is much more serious than I realized. I know people would have helped me if I asked, but I couldn’t see that I needed help or didn’t have the energy or even know what to ask for. My grief was still pretty fresh when we had another death in the family (and then another). I wanted to “be there” for other family members… and also became more tired.

        I don’t think my grief was/is abnormal — I did pay attention to what others had experienced in similar situations — but “normal” still hurts 🙂 I haven’t experienced so much “close-up” death in such a short period of time since I was an adolescent, but as an adolescent I didn’t have the responsibilities associated with death (Even when someone has his/her “ducks in a row” re: end of life, etc., death is a lot of work! And the work will last awhile) This past winter seemed like the “perfect storm” with loss/grief, illness, changes at work — and the WEATHER!

        I look back on the past year and see God’s faithfulness, even when I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other — but I can’t comprehend the day-to-day details of life during the past few years. Now I’m just starting to be able to think more clearly, have a little more energy (blah, blah, blah!!) but I don’t have a lot of “fight” in me. That’s the good news. I’m seeking the Lord, very slowly re-learning that He doesn’t expect me to do all this stuff for Him (I’ll probably be relearning this lesson as long as I live!). Sometimes I wonder where the balance is between being actively obedient to Him and resting, trusting, simply allowing Him to love me.

        I know that some of what I write is vague. I deleted a few sentences from the end of my last post. I’m usually open with specific people, but I have “walled off” places/people from the past. If I think of this group, I feel honored — and trust the group with specifics. But when I think of posting on the Internet in general, I feel like I’m hanging out a target that says “hurt me.” (It’s not just here. One of these years I might have to update a webpage at work rather than simply deleting old info. I value “not being found” which doesn’t go well with a job that provides service to the public).

        The statement by Thomas Chalmers is so helpful and hopeful. I know God is gracious and I know “it is well with my soul” (I even sorta FEEL that way at the moment!). But my postings might not make much sense 🙂