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WHY WE CAN’T “JUST SAY NO”

ado-annie

I do not do what I want to do,

but I do the very thing I hate.

Romans 7:15


I CAIN’T SAY NO”


Ado Annie in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma

Ado Annie was the saucy gal in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma” whose signature song was “I Cain’t Say No.” She flounced her petticoats and flirted shamelessly with every man in pants. She explained to her disapproving friend Laurie that it wasn’t so much a question of knowing what she should do, for she knew she shouldn’t let them kiss and paw her, but it was just that she somehow wanted them to! Ado Annie was not in denial, she had simply surrendered. Like the cry of so many caught in the claws of addiction, she was saying, “This is who I am – I am the girl who cain’t say no!” She was like the Israelites in Jeremiah 2 who cried, “It’s no use!” The attraction is too strong! I can’t do it.

Of course this brings into question all the programs that tell young people to just say no – to just say no to drugs, to alcohol, and to sex outside of marriage. Are these programs without value?

THE LIMITED VALUE OF THE SECULAR APPROACH

This is the approach the secular world uses, for it is all they have – and it is not devoid of value. By making people aware of the painful consequences of their unwise choices, and the positive consequences of wise choices, it may help them to restrain themselves. If they have personally tasted the pain, they may be more open to denying themselves.

just-say-no2In a secular sexual abstinence program, students are told that sex outside of marriage results in disease, broken hearts, and unwanted pregnancies. A secular diet program will tell dieters that poor eating habits will result in a lack of energy, a lack of health, and a lack of enjoyment in life. A secular college ethics class will tell business students that lying and cheating to get money may land them in jail or may hurt their reputation and result in a loss of return clients. These lists of true and painful consequences may help a person restrain his self-destructive behavior.

However, there is an enormous problem when this is the only approach to changing behavior. The “law,” or the rule we recite to ourselves, can actually boomerang and increase our tendency toward lustful behaviors. Kids may go home from sex education classes with new sexual awakenings. I’ve gone home from a Weight Watchers meeting determined to try the recipe for the Weight Watchers brownies and ended up eating half the pan.

THE LAW CAN INSPIRE SINFUL THOUGHTS

Hearing “the law” may actually increase the likelihood that we will sin. First, it may introduce a temptation into our minds.

blue-bikeI received a small blue Schwinn bike for my sixth birthday. Dad taught me to ride – first with training wheels, and then by running along beside me, laughing along with his euphoric daughter. I pedaled proudly all the way down the block and back, a bit wobbly, but staying erect.

Two weeks later my parents were departing for a long-anticipated two-week vacation to Acapulco, Mexico. As they left me and my older sisters in the care of white-haired Mrs. Hahn, my dad turned and cupped my face in his hands. “Be careful on your new bike, Dee Dee.” I nodded solemnly. Then, as an afterthought, he said, “Don’t take your bike up to Summit Hill (the street behind our house).” Immediately I thought: Why, I would absolutely fly going down that hill.

I was distracted in my first grade class the next day, for I kept thinking of how exciting it would be to fly down Summit Hill. As soon as I got home, I told Mrs. Hahn I was going out to ride my bike, and walked my bike to the top of Summit Hill. I had a moment of fear surveying the steep incline, and a brief warning flash of my father’s commandment, but still, I didn’t want to miss the thrill. So I jumped on, barreled down, didn’t make the turn, and plowed into a tree in Rolf’s yard. I vaguely remember adults yelling, sirens wailing, someone lifting me onto something hard, and finally awaking in enormous pain in a hospital bed. My parents were called and though they had just unpacked, they re-packed, left their hotel on the beach, and returned on the next plane back. (There were only propeller planes for the public then – and it was a long trip from Acapulco to West Bend, Wisconsin.) I was afraid Dad would be fiercely angry, but I was such a sorry sight that he simply cradled me and wept.

The law can inspire us to do wrong.

But the “law” itself is not wrong. Dad was right when he told me to be careful on my bike and forbade me from riding down Summit Hill. And the commandments of our heavenly Father are true and righteous altogether. Each one will protect us, guide us, and lead us into a flourishing life.

So what was wrong?

ICE-BREAKER:

1. Secular programs and all the world religions except Christianity offer half the solution — just say no to immoral/hurtful behavior. This is not without value.

A. Give an example of how hearing about painful consequences, perhaps in the secular world, has, indeed, helped you to restrain yourself from a particular behavior.

B. Give an example of how hearing a rule or a “law” has actually boomeranged and inspired sinful thoughts that gave birth to sinful actions.

2. Listen to one of these three sermons and report.

Last week I gave an assignment as “Extra Credit” to listen to this sermon by Tim Keller on Jeremiah 2.  Anne pointed out it was free, which I hadn’t realized! Therefore, I’m giving you the link again. Listen, if you didn’t, and share a few of the things you learned. http://sermons.redeemer.com/store/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&product_ID=17304&ParentCat=6

If you are new to us and haven’t heard the basic sermon on idolatry: here’s that link. http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/removing-idols-heart

If you have listened to both, listen to this and report: http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/christ-our-life

ALL THE ABOVE SERMONS ARE FREE!

OUR OWN DEAR REBECCA HAS MADE A VIDEO FOR US SUMMING UP THE HEART OF THIS STUDY — HOW WE CAN’T JUST REMOVE OUR IDOLS, BUT MUST ARISE AND GO TO JESUS — IN HIS ARMS ARE TEN THOUSAND CHARMS. THIS WOULD BE A GREAT WAY FOR YOU TO OPEN YOUR HEART TO HIM IN CONTEMPLATION. HERE IS THE LINK:

http://youtu.be/18-E8y8KjVs

Bible Study

3. Read James 1:13-15 carefully.

A. Who is not to blame when we are tempted, according to verse 13?

B. What is to blame?

The phrase “our own desires” is another way to identify idols of the heart.

DESIRE (epithumia)

The KJV translates this noun, “desire,” as “lust.” The Greek word is epithumia, which sounds like an epi-disease, a terrible plague, and that is a helpful word association, for our “over-desires” can destroy us. It is not wrong to desire food, sex, money, fun, or friendship – but when it becomes an “over-desire,” more important to you than anything else, it destroys your soul like AIDS or Cholera destroys your body. This epi-desire, this idolatrous longing, reaches out from within your soul, and lures you into temptation and away from your one True Lover. It is easily seduced by lies in order to get what it really wants. We take a good gift and make it an ultimate gift, thereby ignoring the warnings to keep it within God-given boundaries.

We have a desire for comfort, control, affirmation — a desire that is bigger at times than our desire for God — so that lures us away from God.

4. To help you see your epi-desires, answer both of these:

A. What do you think you must have for life to be meaningful and fulfilling?

B. What, if you lost it, do you think might make you not want to live?

Then James uses a Greek word from which the fishing word “lure” comes to explain the power of our idols over us.

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

James 1:14

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words explains:

As in…fishing the game is “lured” from its haunt, so man’s lust “allures” him from the safety of self-restraint

fish-swimming-toward-bait5. Give an example of how your idol, your own deceitful desires, has lured you away from the safety of God. Be specific.

BEING ALERT IS HALF THE BATTLE

Fishermen have discovered the best bait is that which really looks like something fish would eat in the water. This lure in the picture to the left actually swims. Would a fish swim toward the lure even if he knew it would destroy him? Would we swim to a lure even if we knew it would destroy us? (We might, as we have learned in Jeremiah 2, for our idols drive us as strongly as a sexual attraction.) But we might not — opening our eyes to the fact that our idols are not good but are lures to our destruction might actually stop us.

6. Share a time during this study when realizing that your idol was a destructive desire helped you turn around and swim the other way.

CHRISTIANITY OFFERS YOU ANOTHER SOLUTION

7. I want you to read a famous essay. It is Thomas Chalmers: The Expulsive Power of a New Affection. We’re going to spend two weeks on it. This week print it off and give it a first reading. Underline as you read. Share one or two thoughts from it here. Here is the link.

http://www.vorthosforum.com/export/Articles/The%20Expulsive%20Power%20of%20a%20New%20Affection.pdf

7. Remember to report on your sermon — what do you remember?

8. What is this week’s take-a-way?


MEETING OUR BLOGGERS!

This week we will me Angela! Angela is another blogger I’ve had the privilege to meet. A friend told me about her, that she was a dynamic young woman who had a real heart for the Lord and ministry — and that she wanted to meet me. When I was speaking in Chattanooga, she was able to join the committee at dinner, which was great. There were a lot of people and voices, but still, I could see something special and unique about Angela. Since she has joined us on our blog (and I’m so glad) she has offered wisdom, some great internet resources, and has encouraged us in so many ways. I have discovered that Angela is an author and a speaker. I looked at her blog and found so many great things — including wonderful book recommendations. Please check her out!

angela

From Angela Parsley

I love my family. I have been married to my high school sweetheart for 16 years and we have two

beautiful daughters, 7 and 9 years of age. I am blessed to get to stay home and homeschool them.

I love women’s ministry from girls to older women) and am passionate about people knowing

God’s word and living life the way God intended especially in times of trial. Much of my ministry

to others is encouraging them online or in person. I love speaking to large groups of women but

what I love best is meeting one on one with them over coffee. To serve this desire my husband

and I founded Refresh My Soul Ministries where we work to encourage others through speaking,

writing, and helping online or in person. It can be found at http://www.refreshmysoulblog.blogspot.com

or http://www.refreshmysoul.com.

I’m adding this picture of Angela from her blog!angela1

I have been really blessed by this study on idolatry. When I first started it I was at a place in my

life of great drought. I have a daughter with special needs that is an invisible illness so it is not

apparent to others. I struggled much with needing others approval. My thought life was really out

of control. I wanted people to think I was a good mom. As we went through the study I realized

that all that matters is God’s approval. Am I disciplining and training her in the instruction of the

Lord? Then I am being obedient. I need to let go of the rest and watch God work in His timing not

mine. It does not matter what it looks like to others. God’s approval is all I need.

9. Please take a look at Angela’s blog, some of her past comments in this blog, and encourage her!



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312 comments

  1. I confess I have not done the Chalmers yet either. I was looking at it and tried to read it but had a hard time. Maybe if I get some quiet time alone today I will try again.

    Thank you all for the encouragement. Much love to you all. Look forward to meeting Elizabeth! 🙂

  2. Angela,
    I mentioned earlier this week how much I enjoyed your post on The Thorn–so good. I have continued to enjoy reading through your posts and really liked this from your post on “Walk It Out”: “If we truly desire to walk in the Spirit then we need to let God teach us to walk this thing out in the difficult times. That is where true maturity is formed. That is how we become mature and complete in Him. That is how He shines brightly through us most. ”

    I would add that as He shines brightly through you,Angela, you shed light on the path leading others back to Him. You are a gifted writer, allowing Him to use that gift to bring Himself glory–and I am blessed by it!

    1. Thank you Elizabeth. God is so good.

  3. I know that I am really far behind.

    A. What do you think you must have for life to be meaningful and fulfilling?

    A job that I feel competent to do and appreciated in, that brings in the needed amount of money for our budget &
    a sense that our tragedy has a meaning and purpose that will glorify God.

    B.What, if you lost it, do you think might make you not want to live?

    Another really hard thing of any sort right now I feel might unhinge me.
    I fear that I have been disciplined for a purpose and if I do not learn from it, more will be ahead.

    5. Give an example of how your idol, your own deceitful desires,has lured you away from the safety of God. Be specific.

    When God wakes me up early in the morning and I know that it is Him, and I reason with myself that I will be tired later in the day if I get up early, or I am just too comfortable and lazy to get up and follow him.

    A bigger example was when in 2002, we took guardianship of two of my husbands ½ sibilings and my husbands son who was born of his affair all came to live with us and our 3 children (one son had already left home) within a 5 month timeframe.
    The 3 new additions had come from very dysfunctional homes. In retrospect, I had really unrealistic expectations of us becoming one big happy family, of them loving and most of all appreciating me.

    The road ahead was full of so many trials, and so much frustration and disappointment, too many to recount here.

    I tried to love them in my own strength, without success. I desired to be loved and appreciated by them…for my glory. When I sought comfort and affirmation from friends they told me how wonderful I was, but deep down I knew I was failing miserably.

    While I knew that they were damaged and needed my love, what I felt for them was almost the opposite. I wondered if I had rushed into this commitment without enough prayer, perhaps God had had someone else in mind for this task, someone better than me and I had run ahead and spoiled everything.

    In the shower one day I was finally sobbing my heart out to God. I had read 1 Corinthians 13 that morning and remember confessing my awful attitude and surrendering it all. I prayed that if love were going to happen in me He would have to do it, I had tried so hard with terrible results. I suddenly felt such peace, a warm sensation and the feeling that everything would be okay.

    It was not as if everything changed overnight, but I began to do all I did for them as if I was doing them for Christ. I stopped expecting appreciation and love from them, and things got better, it has never been as I imagined it would be, but what in this life ever is.

    My desire to “do it myself” and bring glory to me, led me to despair. When I gave up doing it in my power, His power became available.

    1. Chris
      I can identify with the not wanting to get up early. I began praying a while back for the desire to get up and meet with God first thing. It has taken me a long time to make the connection but I have found with myself if I spend time watching alot of useless drivel on tv at night than I don’t have an appetite for the things of God the next morning because I’m usually laying a guilt trip on myself for watching too much tv!!! Keep perservering sister.

    2. I agree with Dee, Chris. Good for you. I don’t know your whole story as I am new but I have known people who have gone through much less and quit. Praying for you today. Bless your heart.

  4. 6. Share a time during this study when realizing that your idol was a destructive desire helped you turn around and swim the other way. What I have begun to realize is that my own desires trap me. When I feed them their appetites grow until they become insatiable. Food is like that, or should I say ‘comfort food’ is like that. At first it is satisfying and comforting but as I continue trying to get the same satisfaction I find it there less and less. My body wants more and more and feels worse and worse. Since I have begun to look critically at my eating habits I see that it is my reason for eating that I must determine. While I still eat fish and chips occasionally and desert sometimes too, I am paying attention. It seems that God is giving me food gifts all the time, like peaches and melon, with my eggs. Yesterday I bought some modena balsamic vinegar and the man that rang up my groceries told me all about how wonderful it is on strawberries. He told me how it brings out the sugar in the fruit and said it is how the Italians make deserts. I wasn’t to sure about that but happened to have some strawberries going bad in the fridge. I cut up what I could salvage and sprayed them with a little of the vinegar and I could not believe it! I happened to get a good cantaloupe last week and had some with my eggs at breakfast and it took me right back to breakfast at home. My mother often cut up a melon with breakfast. Food is becoming a gift rather than an idol.

      1. Dee, it is my deepest desire that something I have learned should positively influence the spiritual journey of another. I have never really been able to do this and I think it just may be because of my idols of approval and spiritual pride. All that is to say that if this might bless another through you I would count it as pure joy and another gift from His hand.

  5. I too have struggled reading the sermon….it is written in such “old-fashioned’ language, or I am too stupid to understand it! I suppose that’s why we will spend 2 weeks on it; for people like me 🙂

    I really think I have a weird idol…my children.

    A. What do you think you must have for life to be meaningful and fulfilling?

    Good children. Children who go to school every day, make perfect grades, behave, and then go to college and get married. I really believed in my heart that if I raised them this would be the “normal” progression of events! I played with my kids, they couldn’t watch anything but PBS (maybe that’s what happened to them!), we went to parks, museums, and zoos, they lived in good neighborhoods, we always went to church every Sunday.

    Oh my how things are not that way AT ALL! I don’t understand why though. I have 4 children, all raised the same way. The two oldest decided to drop out of school. My next one has a disability and struggles so much and behavior is an issue at school. I try to get her to drop out so I don’t have to deal with the issues at school (I teach there) but she refuses(!), and the youngest is nearly perfect. I don’t understand what God wants me to learn from this. All I feel is disappointment, to the point of depression, that I did something wrong.

    B. What, if you lost it, do you think might make you not want to live?

    Once again, my children. As I type this, I don’t know where my slightly Asperger daughter is (19 year old), who she is with or what she is doing. She is distancing herself from me and not hanging with the right crowd. She can be led into anything good or bad because of this disability, but just like someone else said in the blog, people can’t tell she isn’t quite all there and they take advantage of her. She was out all night last night and I didn’t know where she was. I told her today that she can’t do that anymore, it isn’t acceptable behavior. She said she wasn’t going to but then here we are again tonight. I know God is in control, but i really struggle sleeping at night trying not to worry, but waking every other hour. I don’t know what to do. My husband doesn’t seem to worry as I do. Back to the question..if I lost her I would be devastated, but I really want this pain to go away. Why does God not hear my prayers? I am trying to be patient, but meanwhile her life is in danger.

    Laura

    1. Lord, I pray for Your protection over Laura’s daughter, physically, emotionally and spiritually. You know her heart and I pray that You would reach her right now. Hedge her in so that she cannot find her paths and find You with open arms waiting for her. Give her wisdom and discernment that she may overcome her disability and make choices that will bring her back to You. Please give Laura an extra measure of faith in Your love for her and for her daughter. Then may she have peace, knowing that You are able to protect her daughter.

      Laura, I can so relate to your feelings. I also tried so hard to give my children everything that would insure their salvation. I was devastated when the older one turned away and would not go to church. It has been 10 years since then and he is now 26. I worry too much about the younger one who is 15 but what I have learned is every time I worry, it is time to pray. I am doing that more and more and when I can’t reach his heart, God does. It’s amazing.

      1. I agree with this prayer in Jesus’ Name.

    2. I totally understand where you are at (and Anne) I have 4 sons and my oldest who is 25 has turned his back on all that we have taught him. We are still a close loving family but he is a bartender, doesn’t go to church and lives with his girlfriend. I spent a great deal of time worrying and blaming myself for my parenting failures. But over time and much study and prayer I have accepted that I am not in control of my childrens’ lives. I did what I knew how and have to trust God with my mistakes (after all my parents’ made almost every mistake there is and here I am!). God knew how young and weak in faith I was when I started my family and yet He gave them to me anyway. I have come to realize that God loves them far more deeply and perfectly than I do and that He is working in their lives for good. The most effective thing that I can do for them is pray, pray, pray! I am not an uncaring mother because I have stopped worrying and handed them over to God. On the contrary, God can do a much better job than I ever could!

      1. Dawn M.S. I like your thinking and giving over to God.

    3. Laura, My heart goes out to you. I too struggle with my children being the ultimate in my life. They are still young so I can’t relate to what you are going through, but I KNOW it must be painful. I would respond as you are I am sure. I am so thankful that God has women here who can relate and encourage, and most importantly pray for you!

      Lord Jesus we ask that you would bring Laura’s daughter to repentance. Lord that she would see the emptiness in her desires for the things of this world, Lord give her a longing for you, help her to see you, help her to see only you can truly satisfy. Lord comfort Laura, Lord help Laura see you won’t condemn her for she is yours, remind her Lord that you delight in her, that you never expected her to be the perfect parent. All of us have holes in our parenting, and even if we didn’t our children would still have holes in their hearts that Lord only you can fill in them. Only you can make our children whole. Lord, rescue Laura’s children-for your glory and remind us all today that you make beauty out of ashes, and remind us of the countless saints Lord that rebelled and how you turned that around for your glory.

      1. Laura, I am praying right along with Rebecca here for you and your daughter.
        I’m kinda glad now that Kendra is disabled enough that she can’t go anywhere alone.
        You have alot to give over to the Lord. Blessings

    4. I have a friend who I was in a prayer group with who was so stressed all the time about her husband and childrens behaviour that she seldom (if ever) enjoyed their company.

      We discussed our prayers for our families, when we prayed if we were most often really praying for the changes in our spouses and children that would make our lives easier,and that would make us look like good wives and mothers to others, rather than desiring the changes in them for Gods glory.

      Laura I pray that God will take the seeds of truth you have sown in their lives and that will take root and bear much fruit.

    5. Oh Laura praying for you and your daughter. Motherhood is such a place where we can allow guilt to be heaped on us. I am praying you will be reminded that there is not condemnation for us in Christ Jesus. You are free so do not let it hang on you. Keep crying out to God for her. He loves her so. I too have a daughter with aspergers she is only 7 right now but I often am tempted to worry about her future and things like you discuss here. God keeps reminding me that He has her future in place, trust Him. So I keep letting that worry go to Him. I am not in your situation but I will tell you that when I was her age I wondered very far and got into lots of trouble but the Lord has brought me back. He continued to woo me and I am confident He will continue to woo your daughter especially in her tender condition. Praying!!

    6. Laura, I saw this before church but didn’t have time to respond, but I have prayed for you all this morning. I will pray for you at night as well, I know I often feel my fears strongest in the night.
      Praying that you will hold on to HOPE. God loves her, I am praying He will draw her to Himself and protect her.

  6. Finally finished Chalmers! Even though it challenged me, it blessed me richly. It helped me understand myself better, from the issues discussed regarding expelling old affections to knowing why I have been so discontent when I’ve had nothing to do. I see that God created me to need something (Someone) to occupy the heart in its vacuum or else one will be very unhappy indeed. The essay gave me hope as I neared the end and Chalmers discussed how free salvation is. I know that as a Christian, but the way he worded it stirred my heart mightily.

  7. Rebecca, thanks for sharing the Rich Mullins song. It is so appropriate for our study. I just listened to Hold Me Jesus and it occurred to me that he had traveled the same road we are on. I have always loved to listen to his songs. For some reason a few years ago I read several books about his life and listened to John Rivers interview him. I decided that I had a lot in common with him. While he could say some things that would just make you scratch your head, he really loved Jesus and I think that he understood His heart more than most. And he could paint pictures with words that captured my heart.

    Here is the link for Hold Me Jesus http://youtu.be/Vx6pNabBLH8

  8. Anne, I am SO MUCH a Mullins fan. Great songwriter, but after I heard the tribute they did for him via his interview with John Rivers I really liked him even more! One thing he said that stuck with me and I have heard along the way in our study is this, (I googled it to find the direct quote.)

    “…We all want to be useful to God. Well, its no big deal. God can use anybody. God used Nebuchadnezzar. God used Judas Iscariot. Its not a big deal to be used by God and the shocking thing in the book of Mark, and the reason why it is so shocking is because Mark is the briefest of all the gospels but he has these terrific little details and one of the little details is that it says, “and Jesus called to Him those that He wanted.” And you realize that out of the twelve people that He wanted, only one was essential to His goal in coming to earth. The other eleven people were useless to Christ but they were wanted by Christ. And I kind of go, I would much rather have God want me than have God use me.”

    I liked this too:

    JR: 20: The Countdown Magazine remembers Rich Mullins. (78 Eatonwood Green) Rich loved God’s word. He once wrote, “The Bible is not a book for the faint of heart. It is a book full of all the greed and glory and violence and tenderness and sex and betrayal that benefits mankind. It is not the collection of pretty little anecdotes mouthed by pious little church mice. It does not so much nibble at our shoe as it cuts to the heart and splits the marrow from bone to bone. It does not give us answers fitted to our smaller minded questions but truth that goes beyond what we even know to ask.”

    Rich Mullins: I don’t think you read the Bible to know truth. I think you read the Bible to find God, that we encounter Him there. Paul says that the scriptures are God’s breath and I kind of go, wow, so let’s breathe this as deeply as possible. And this is what liturgy offers that all the razzmatazz of our modern worship can’t touch. You don’t go home from church going, “Oh I am just moved to tears.” You go home from church going, “Wow, I just took Communion and you know what? If Augustine were alive today, he would have had it with me and maybe he is and maybe he did.”

  9. Anne, OH..Thanks for sharing that song “Hold me Jesus”. It has been a favorite of mine too. Do you recall what he said about ‘spirituality’? It was pretty profound. I don’t want to get too far off track here on our study so I will give you the link to the interview. As you said, some stuff you might scratch your head with, but some of it is pretty profound: (“RM” represents Rich Mullins)

    http://www.kidbrothers.net/words/interviews/20-the-countdown-magazine-oct1197.html

    1. Rebecca I am glad your remembered what he said about being used by God. I had forgot that he said it but it profoundly changed the way I pray for myself and my spiritual journey. I think it is time to go back through some of the things he said.

      In Hold Me Jesus I find such and honest struggle with idols and the flesh. I find it very descriptive of my struggle also.

      1. Oh and I don’t remember what he said about spirituality but when I do I am sure that I will recognize it because it is probably assimilated into my world view.

        1. Was that when he said that being spiritual was taking cookies to your neighbor or cutting their grass because they could not?

  10. We have had graduating seniors for the past 5 years. Today will be commencement fgor the last of the 5. Brian is my husbands son born of an affair. He has lived with us full time since 6th grade. I have fretted about this day since I knew of his existance as his Mom will be coming to the ceremony, and I will have to be there too.
    Brians Mom has had a drug problem for years,and Brian is anxious lest she embarass him. Now that thid day has come I am less concerned for myself than for Brian and even for my husband.

    We are presenting a scholarship honoring Daniel(our son who was killed last year). We asked the school staff to choose a receipient. Here is a portion ot the content;

    We thought it appropriate to bestow this gift upon a student, chosen by some of the school staff who knew Daniel well, who embodies some of the character traits that Daniel felt were important and that he himself demonstrated with his life. Our ideal candidate would be a student who holds the self worth of others in the highest regard, who is humble, and who seeks to relieve the emotional distress of others whenever they can.
    We would like to say to the class of 2011 as a group that a good character and moral integrity is so much more important than any other thing you can possess. Cultivate this treasure; and you will be rich men and women indeed.
    And too all of the families here today, we hope to remind you all of what a treasure you have in each other, take no one you love for granted, thank God for one another and love each other well.

    This will be an emotionally challenging day for us, I would appreciate you holding us up, thank you all.

    1. Oh Chris, you have my prayers. I cannot imagine even getting out of bed if I had suffered what you have. Your strength (you may not feel it, but we see it) it such a testimony of your relationship with Christ. Praying for you all~

    2. Chris, I agree that you have grown much in the time you have been with us. I see an ability to express your pain and also increased strength from the Lord. In the message I heard this morning this man, in ministering to quadriplegics and those whose lives were profoundly changed by disaster and not knowing what to say, he asked the question: “Has your experience caused you to come before God with a closed fist or an open hand?” I would say Chris that your hands are open. He is faithful. I continue to pray for you.

      1. I continue to pray for you also, Chris

    3. Dear Jesus hold up our sister, Chris and her family. Hold them close to your heart. Minister to them comfort as only you can. Give them a beautiful day together as a family. Work out all the details of this day. Thank you for your great love. We love you and praise you, Jesus. Amen.

  11. Chris really praying for you all may God cloak you with His peace and comfort as you approach this bittersweet time.

  12. To all the mom’s in this group. I am praying. My husband and I raised two sons. My husband was and is a very godly man and wonderful father. Our parents on both sides loved the Lord. You can imagine the shock when our 16 year old walked out of our home carrying a laundry basket full of clothes and said goodbye. My husband had just lost his parents. We thought our the world came to an end. This helped me: Children are not a cake mix and just because you put in all the right ingredients it doesn’t necessarily mean the cake will turn out. Thankfully God has a plan for each of our children and prayer works! I tell you, hang on to God and He will bring beauty out of the ashes. You can expend all your energy on worry or prayer. Our son eventually came home and is a great blessing to us now.

    1. Praise God, Kim!

  13. 7.There was so much in this essay that is helpful to me. I liked where on the last page law and grace are contrasted. He describes all that is here for us on this earth, and there are so many wonderful things, contrasted with the desolation that is a law that we cannot hope to keep. But in Christ we have the hope of the full joy of His presence which by faith we know will eclipse all that we have here. I remember also the idea that faith is a response to love.

    On page 11 he says that those who cannot get free of old affections are like the children of Israel in Egypt, when required to make bricks without straw. They cannot love God while they want only the food which feeds their old affection. My question is can we move on to a new affection if we do not starve the old one? As I look back on my own journey I see that He actually began the process of removing my idols. My job was to recognize that He was at work and allow it. That was when the tide began to turn for me. With that said I came to a point where as I described, I was flat on my face. I had to decide who or what did I want more than Christ? For me there was no other answer but Christ, there was something in me that could not surrender to my flesh, which I think is why the struggle was so intense. That began my healing and so far I have not come back to that severe place.

    Oh, I just realized something. That is, could this be what the manna was all about? Was God replacing their old affection, only they rebelled against what He was doing in their lives and therefore did not get free?

  14. 8. My take away this week is to BE ALERT for I have an enemy who seeks to ensnare me through my flesh.

  15. Angela,
    You have a lovely family. I enjoyed many things on your blog. I too was in a drought upon coming to this study. I believe we are here by divine appointment. I like what you said about realizing you need God’s approval. God bless you!