Type and press Enter.

New here? See how to Get Started

MELTING ICY IDOLS

As we allow our hearts to be warmed by the whole of the gospel, our idols will melt, as surely as sun melts an icy bay.

melting2

I am going to tell you a story of how the gospel melted an icy idol in my heart and also an icy idol in the heart of the woman who cleaned for me. We were each tempted in different ways to be our own saviors when faced with a problem. We had different temptations and and different deep idols – but the solution to our heart problem was the same. We needed to behold the beauty of Jesus and the truth of His love in order to melt our idols.

In the actual incident I am about to tell you, the woman who cleaned for me was the “poor man,”  and I was the “rich man.” The Scripture says each of these circumstances lead to temptation. But the gospel has the power to rescue each person from the beast within.

THE TEMPTATIONS OF THE POOR AND THE RICH

When you are poor, it is tempting to steal.  Steve would often remind me of how when we were newlyweds in 1965 and living on $300 a month, we returned some shoes he bought to a store from which we didn’t actually buy them. “We stole,” he said. It’s tempting when you are poor. Agur recognizes this temptation when he prayed:


Give me neither poverty nor riches!
Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.
For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?”
And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.

Proverbs 30:8-9 (TLB)

1. What might a poor man be tempted to do — and what do you think might be his deep idol?

2. What might a rich man be tempted to do — and what do you think might be his deep idol?

Susan, whom is featured this week, wisely commented that underneath the three deep idols we have mentioned (comfort/security; approval/affirmation; and power/control) is ourselves. We want to be on the throne of our lives. This is a simple way to look at it and may help us in moments of temptation. However, it may also help us to identify the other idol, so we can think about how God could be our security, approval….

When I moved to Missouri after my husband died, I was looking for a woman to help me with cleaning. A woman I’d met at church called me, for she had heard about my need and wanted me to consider her daughter, whom I’ll call Violet. “Violet doesn’t know the Lord. But I sense an openness and a hunger in her – and I would be so thankful if she could get to know you. She’s a hard worker and she would do a good job cleaning for you.”

I agreed to meet Violet and talk to her. She drove to my house in a car with such a loud rumble I could hear her driving all the way down the hill to my street. Violet was rail thin, jittery, and talked non-stop. She got right into her speech before I could even hang her well-worn sweatshirt in the closet.

I’d be a good worker, my boyfriend got laid off a year ago and then I got laid off and we really need money cause it’s really hard – I got two other cleaning jobs and if I could work for you too I think we might maybe get by for now – I’d do a really good job for you, I know how to clean, I do, and I hope you’ll let me clean for you. His mother lives with us and she’s disabled so we are really having a hard time so I hope you’ll give me a chance and I’ll show you I’m a good worker and you won’t be sorry you hired me. In fact if you want me to start today I got some cleaning stuff right in the car and that would be good cause we’re really having a hard time and you could see that I’ll do a good job…

I was a little uneasy, but I also didn’t see how I could say no. That verse about “not shutting up my compassions” from 1 John came to me. I agreed to give her a try and she immediately ran to the car, got her supplies, and put all that nervous energy to work scrubbing down my kitchen and bathrooms. When I got out my check-book, she said, “Miss Dee – do you think you could pay me in cash? That would really help us.”

“Violet – usually people want to do that so that they don’t have to report it to the IRS. And that’s not legal. I need to pay you by check.”

“Oh – it’s not that, it’s just that things are kind of a mess at our bank and we need to get that sorted out.”

Again, I was uneasy. I told her I could pay her in cash legally for a few times, but it couldn’t be long-term. She agreed and said she’d figure something out.

But a month later when I tried again to pay her by check, she said:

I didn’t really tell you the truth Miss Dee, and I’m sorry, but a few years ago times were really tough and I passed some bad checks. Nuthin happened – but I’ve been afraid. I don’t want to renew my driver’s license or pay taxes, because then they might find out I’m still around and come after me. Will you help me, Miss Dee? I really need the money but if you pay me by check I could get in a whole lotta trouble.

I didn’t even know where to begin to help her, but I paid her in cash and told her I’d talk to some people and figure out a plan of action. She couldn’t keep hiding and I couldn’t be her accomplice. But I would try to find a way to help her.

A few days later, I got a call from Violet, who was sobbing hysterically. This was our conversation as I remember it:

I’m so scared, Miss Dee – you just gotta help me.

What’s going on?

I would never steal from you, Miss Dee. You been so good to me.

Did you steal from someone else?

[Sobbing] I took some jewelry from the other women I clean for and sold what I got at a truck stop – just enough to get us by. I didn’t know that stuff was worth so much. One of them says her ring was worth twenty-five thousand dollars.

Oh, Violet.

[More sobbing] That lady had a security camera and it has a movie of me taking her jewelry. She’s pressing charges. Miss Dee, do you think I’ll go to jail? I just can’t go to jail. I’m so scared. I didn’t know it was worth all that money, but she’s got a heart like ice. You gotta help me, Miss Dee. You got a good heart. Help me Miss Dee.

Oh, Violet. I’ll see what I can do. I need to talk to a lawyer.

You gotta help me, Miss Dee.

I’ll try.

I hung up and put my head between my hands. This was real trouble. Then I had the thought, Maybe she stole from me too. All I had of material value from Steve was an emerald ring, necklace, and bracelet. He hadn’t had the money for an engagement ring, but gave me an emerald ring on our fifth Christmas.The emerald pendant was a gift for our tenth anniversary. Then, just a few years before he died, he surprised me with an emerald bracelet.

I bolted to my bedroom and pulled out my jewelry box. They weren’t there. Neither was the diamond ring I’d inherited from my mother or my late mother-in-law’s wedding ring. As is typical for me, I tried to think of another explanation. This just couldn’t be happening. Maybe, I had put them all in a safer place – maybe they were hidden away at the cottage in Wisconsin. I thought, Violet told me she didn’t steal from me. But then I also thought, Violet has also lied to me before. In my heart of hearts, I knew she had taken them, but was clinging to threads of denial.

Forgiveness always demands a price. Letting someone off the hook who doesn’t deserve to be let off the hook is costly. Somebody has to pay when a wrong is done, and it hurts to pay. Angry thoughts multiplied. How could she do this to me? Did she not even think how much Steve’s gifts would mean to me now that he is gone?

Agur was right – the temptation of the rich man is to forget God. We can feel self-sufficient and for me, I could cling to my idol of control. I could forget the Lord, what He did for me, what He tells me about forgiveness, and exact a pound of flesh from Violet by refusing to help her.

When you belong to Jesus, if you are alert, you will also see how He comes in moments of temptation. As I stood in front of my plundered jewelry box, a  picture of His Gospel, one I’d seen vividly portrayed in a movie version of Les Miserables, came to me.

Les MisŽrables by Cameron Mackintosh, opening night November 28

In this play, Jean Valjean was a poor man who had spent nineteen years in prison because he stole bread for his family. When he was released a priest took him in. But Jean Valjean was bitter and angry and stole silver spoons and forks from the priest and fled. Constables caught him and brought him to the priest. The priest responded:

“Ah! Here you are!” he exclaimed, looking at Jean Valjean. “I am glad to see you. Well, but how is this? I gave you the candlesticks too, which are of silver like the rest, and for which you can certainly get two hundred francs. Why did you not carry them away with your forks and spoons?”

The constables are convinced of Jean Valjean’s innocence and let him go. The priest had forgiven, had let him off the hook, and had paid the price. Why?

Because of the gospel. Because he knew how he had been forgiven and therefore could not refuse to forgive. I knew I had to let Violet off the hook. But before I could even talk to her, the police came and arrested her. Then I began to get collect phone calls from her from jail, pleading with me to pay her bail and get her out. I asked her during one of those phone calls if she had stolen from me, and she told me again that she had not. Then her boyfriend began calling me as well, and made me particularly angry, for he said:

Please pay her bail – what she did wasn’t so bad. And I need her cause my mom needs help and there’s nobody to cook and we got these cats and she’s the only one who knows what they need…It’s only a thousand dollars, but I don’t got it.

My heart was not moved by him – and I was not so naive as to think that forgiveness meant I needed to pay Violet’s bail. I called my friend Eunice in Omaha with whom I’d done jail ministry for counsel. She said:

Violet is exactly where God wants her to be. God wants her to feel the pain of her sin. That is in her best interest. I’ve seen so many women in jail come to their senses and turn to God. You can visit her, send her Bible studies – but don’t pay her bail. Whatever time she serves now while waiting for her court date will be applied to her sentence.

I didn’t visit her during the two months she was in jail. Though I was traveling and speaking, I think my not visiting her was due to with-holding forgiveness. I forgave her in my head, but there was still ice over my heart. I did send her a Bible and Bible studies and letters telling her I was praying for her. She wrote me back, thanking me for the studies, saying she was doing them constantly. One day she called me and told me she was free. At her court date they had released her without any further penalty. (I’m not sure why, or why she didn’t have to make restitution, but I know the justice system in the U. S. varies vastly from state to state. Having worked in the Texas prisons, I have seen extremely long and unmerciful sentences – and then in other states – hardly any penalty at all.) I asked her to come see me and she quickly agreed.

When she came, I had her sit down, and she told me all about her time in jail. I could see her heart had been melted by the time. She thanked me for the studies, told me that they had really helped her, and that she was going to start going to church with her mother.

I said, “Violet – I need to ask you again. Did you steal jewelry from me?”

Tears welled up in her eyes and she nodded.

Tears sprang to my eyes too. My last thread of denial was breaking.

“And you sold them at a truck stop?”

Again, she nodded. The thread snapped. I’d never see any of that jewelry again. As my tears flowed, hers did too.

I had a choice to make. Forgive her from my heart or not. At that moment, I thought about what Steve would say. I knew exactly what he’d say: “In light of eternity, what’s important here, honey?”

I could hold onto my idol of control, my hurt, my anger – or I could surrender them to God and let forgiveness flow.

I would forgive – not just from the head, but the heart.

I had such a sense of the presence of God descending, of being led – like my actions and the following words were not really from me at all. I put two chairs in front of a large painting I had hanging in the entry way: a large framed print of Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son. (It had been a gift from my dear friend Christy after she heard me telling her why I loved this painting.) I’d read Henri Nouwen’s book of the same title, where he opens with his first memory of seeing this painting:

nouwen-return-of-the-prodigal

One day I went to visit my friend Simone Landrien in the community’s small documentation center. As we spoke, my eyes fell on a large poster pinned on her door. I saw a man in a great red cloak tenderly touching the shoulders of a sisheveled boy kneeling before him. I could not take my eyes away. I felt drawn by the intimacy between the two figures, the warm red of the man’s cloak, the golden yellow of the boy’s tunic, and the mysterious light engulfing them both.

Nouwen then goes on to tell how he felt propelled to see the original at The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia – how he pulled a chair up and sat all day, making the curator uneasy. The Gospel is in that painting. It is The Gospel that changes lives and The Gospel in The Return of the Prodigal transformed Henri Nouwen.

As Violet and I sat in front of the vibrant colors and emotions of that painting, I told her the story of the two sons in the story Jesus told.


This father you see in the red cloak had two sons. The father was good and loving, but neither son really loved him. They loved what he could give them instead. The younger son demanded his inheritance early, and went and squandered it in riotous living. He lost it all and became very poor. He returned to his father deeply repentant. He did not even feel worthy to be called his son. He planned to tell his father that he would work for him as a hired servant. But before he could even apologize, the father saw him coming from a long way off, and he ran, and he fell on his son kissing him and rejoicing.

There is also an older son. Do you see him here in the shadows? He’s not really in the room – he’s up on this step observing, angry, bitter. You see his father threw a party for the younger son and that didn’t seem fair to the older son. Later, when his father went out to him and asked him to come to the party and rejoice that his brother had come home, the older son refused. He said, “I’ve slaved for you all these years – and yet you never had a party for me, never killed a fatted calf – and this son of yours has wasted everything, and you throw a party for him?”

The father was sad. He said, “Son – you have been with me these many years – and all that I have is yours. It is fitting that we should rejoice and be glad – for this your brother was lost and is found, was dead and is alive.”

Violet was listening intently. I said:

close-up-of-prodigal-son


“Violet – the father in this painting represents God. You are like the younger son, the one broken and kneeling here. You stole from people because you didn’t think God would take care of you. But He would have. He loved you so much He did not withhold his own son, but gave Him up to pay for your sin on the cross. He will not withhold what you need from you. He longs for you to trust Him and come home to Him. He is watching and waiting for you to come home, to confess, and to surrender your life to him.”

Violet was crying.


“That’s what I want to do, Miss Dee.”

“You can do it right here, right now. Just tell him how you feel, and thank Him for dying for you. Ask Him to come into your heart and change you.”

“I need that – cause I really feel like I have sticky fingers.”

“He can help you.  He came to rescue us not only from hell, but from sticky fingers and all kinds of other things.”

At that moment Violet bowed and prayed a simple prayer of confession and surrender. We hugged. More weeping.

return-of-the-prodigal

“I need to tell you something else, Violet. I’m in this picture too. I am like the older son here, in the shadows. He was angry with his brother and wouldn’t forgive him, wouldn’t go to him. Even though he could see his father loved him, he could not share in the joy of his father.

I was angry with you. I forgave you in my head, but my heart was still hard. Even though I sent you Bible studies and wrote you, I was too angry to visit you. I was wrong. God has forgiven me so much and been so good to me. Jesus went all the way to the cross to pay for my sin – so what right did I have to not forgive you? I do forgive you, from my heart, and I’m sorry it took so long. I need you to forgive me for my icy heart.”

“Of course I do. I’m so sorry I hurt you. I wish I could get what Steve got you back – but I don’t know how. That truck driver is far away now.”

“I know. But we each have what really matters – we have Jesus.”

She nodded. It’s been two years and Violet has been faithful in going to church with her mother. The last time I asked her if she was still living with her boyfriend, and she was. She said, “I need to get myself right first.” Like so many believers, we enter in the Kingdom in surrender, and then try to get ourselves right. It’s a journey of faith, and many have trouble progressing because they don’t understand that the gospel is for the journey as well. I pray the gospel will keep melting Violet’s idol of security so that she can break with her boyfriend. And I pray the gospel will keep melting my heart so that I care about the things my Father cares about.

ICE-BREAKER! 🙂

3. I want to use this story in my new book, and I’d be so grateful if you could underline, ponder, and tell me what moved you or what did not — what you understood, what you did not.

BIBLE STUDY

THERE ARE TWO KELLER SERMONS THIS WEEK — BOTH ON THE TWO SONS, BOTH FREE. LISTEN AND COMMENT ON THEM. FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE ESPECIALLY HUNGRY AND HAVE THE TIME TO DO SO, YOU MAY WANT TO LISTEN TO OTHER OF KELLER’S FREE SERMONS ON THE PRODIGAL SONS — THEY CAN BE FOUND AT: http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/sermonlist/3

LOOK FOR ALL THE ONES ON LUKE 15. KELLER SAYS THESE MESSAGES ON THE PRODIGAL SONS ARE THE FOUNDATION OF HIS CHURCH — FOR THEY ILLUMINATE TWO WRONG APPROACHES TO GOD AND THEN THE GOSPEL WAY.

SERMON 1: HE KISSED HIM

http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/and-kissed-him

4. What stands out to you from this sermon?

5. What three aspects of forgiveness did Keller mention?

6. Does this gospel love melt any of your idols? Does that affect any near sins? If so, explain, and if possible, give a specific example.

The Second Sermon is The Prodigal Sons

http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/prodigal-sons

7. What stands out to you from this sermon and why?

8. How you do identify with the younger son? The older son? How can the gospel help you avoid their snares?

THREE WAYS

9. KELLER OFTEN TALKS ABOUT THREE WAYS:

A. THE WAY OF IGNORING AND REBELLING AGAINST GOD (GIVE EXAMPLES OF THAT FROM DEE’S STORY, FROM YOUR OWN LIFE, AND FROM THE PRODIGAL SONS STORY)

B. THE WAY OF TRUSTING IN YOUR OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS AND MORALITY (GIVE EXAMPLES OF THAT FROM DEE’S STORY, FROM YOUR OWN LIFE, AND FROM THE PRODIGAL SONS STORY)

C. THE WAY OF THE GOSPEL (GIVE EXAMPLES OF THAT FROM DEE’S STORY, FROM YOUR OWN LIFE, AND FROM THE PRODIGAL SONS STORY)

Read James 1:9-11

10. What is the poor man, or the lowly brother, to remember about the gospel? How could this help him in times of temptation?

11. What is the rich man to remember about the gospel? How could this help him in times of temptation?

12. With which man do you identify? How could this instruction from James about the gospel help you?

Aslan is on the move melting our idols. The White Witch is upset, for she says, “This is no thaw! This is Spring!”Aslan is near.

aslan-in-sun








13. Be alert for Aslan on the move — and record any sightings here!

14. If you listened to any of the other Keller sermons on the prodigal sons, share your gleanings here.

MEETING OUR BLOGGERS: SUSAN!

Susan is another woman seeking hard after God, and I love what she wrote in our last post:

“OPEN YOUR HEART TO THE STONECUTTER! (that needs to be in Dee’s new book!) LET HIM HAVE YOU…LET HIM DO WITH YOU WHAT HE WILL…fall into His arms and trust.” Susan wrote of her husband Jess, her two sons, Adam and Ryan (20 and 17) and of her daughter Melanie (10).

My greatest ministry and passion has been being blessed and privileged to be a wife and mom. Being home with my children to love, care for, and nurture them is the best thing I could ever do!

I have loved reading God’s Word to them and explaining it to them; trying to exhort them to test everything against the plumb line of Scripture.  I treasure the memories and love I share with each child, from Adam, who in 3rd grade would get up 10 min. early for school, get dressed, and jump in bed with me to ‘snuggle’, saying, “Mom, this is the best part of the day!”; to Ryan, who, at age 13, said, “Mom, you are really nice to talk to, I like talking with you”, as we were shooting baskets in the driveway; to my Melanie, who every day gives me an abundance of hugs and kisses and “I love you more!” Her small hand in mine is better than any riches!

I’m the youngest of 3 sisters; I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, we didn’t go to church.  God brought me to Himself as I went to church with my husband when we dated; I felt so drawn to be in a church family, to be “on the inside”; wasn’t sure how?   Several years after joining a denomination, and then going to a Bible teaching church’s Bible study, I finally heard the Gospel and prayed to Jesus to forgive me of my sins.  I imagined myself at the Cross, knowing my shameful sins were what He was dying for; and thought, “What would Jesus say to me?”  Immediately into my mind came these words, “Now do you see how much I love you?”  I know salvation is all of God, because I didn’t know I needed Him.  I was 34.

I am a registered nurse and work a few days a month as a med-surg staff nurse, and a stay at home mom; I like to bake, read, do Bible studies, walk, hike, bicycle, work in my flower garden, and I like to be outside.  I teach 3-4 year olds Sunday school at my church.  I love this age group!  As an RN, I like caring for my patients and anytime I’m able to talk about Jesus with them.

This study on idolatry is causing me to look at myself and my sin in a whole new way.  Now I look for the root of my sinful habits and patterns; it has shed light on why I do what I do! A specific example is how I relate to my in-laws, husband, and children.  I often react with anger, hurt feelings, jealousy. I see now an idol of affirmation/approval, or power/control.  I’m learning that only God can fill the hole in my heart, not my idols, not other people.  Getting free from these idols will mean a freedom in my relationship to others; being free to love them; and helping me to put God first.  One day, I want to live this verse:  “I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.”  Psalm 119:32

15. Let’s bless Susan!

Leave a Comment

Comment * If this is your first time here, please comment then fill out your name and email as stated at the bottom. Dee will approve you within 24 hours.

356 comments

  1. 7. What stands out to you from this sermon (The Prodigal Sons) and why?

    Oh my, this sermon was an “epiphany” for me in so many ways. First, the fact that this is not the story of ONE son, but TWO sons.
    This line: “You are avoiding Jesus as Savior by avoiding sin”.
    Religious people obey God to get things, Gospel people obey God to get God.

    The whole concept of Jesus giving this example of the nasty elder brother, so He could show Himself to be the good elder brother was so totally new to me, a new way of seeing Jesus. I’ve heard songs…”Jesus our Brother”…. but what did that really mean? I didn’t know what that really meant.
    The idea that Jesus, seeing the suffering of His Father over His lost children, going out to bring them home, to go get them and bring them back (this is what the elder son in the parable should have done), was so new, so fresh to me. It brought me to tears and I had to go to prayer after listening to this message and thank Jesus for being, as I told Him I hope it’s okay to call You this, thank you for being my Big Brother who came for me to bring me back. This meant so much to me. I don’t have any brothers here (I do have a brother who died when he was only a day old; he was born premature, before I was born; his name is David). This was just wonderful news to me. God really spoke to my heart through this particular part of the sermon.

      1. Dee – hope you have a wonderful time at Sadie’s first birthday party!

      2. Dee,
        Thank you, too, as so many others have said here, for being our mentor, for calling us to higher and higher ground; for introducing us to Tim Keller’s preaching that challenges us and takes us really deep; for taking us in a direction that brings us closer and closer to Jesus!

  2. 8. How do you identify with the younger son?

    I saw myself in him; before I was saved I was definitely into self-discovery, living for me and what I wanted to do. I had my “list of sins” to bring to God to repent of. You could’ve looked at the way I was living and obviously seen the immorality, the selfishness…. I was rejecting the Father’s love although at that time I didn’t know I was. At first, I wanted to work like the ‘hired hand’; at first I didn’t understand what the Gospel was all about; I thought it was about entering the church, going through classes to learn how to be a Christian, going to church, doing religious activities.

    The older son?

    At first I did not see myself as him, at least not in relationship to the Lord, but, as I was praying after listening to this, I saw myself as the elder brother in my ‘good people are in – bad people are out’, judgemental/superior attitude; a very real life example came to my mind for the first time. Several years ago, something pretty bad happened between my sister and her daughter. I learned about it and stopped initiating any contact with my sister. I can’t go into detail here, but suffice it to say I think my sister was in the wrong with how she behaved toward her daughter. Weeks went by and I just never called her. I didn’t care to. What I saw today is that if I had been like a good elder brother, I should’ve gone after her, at least to ask what is happening in your life, what is going on to cause this thing to have happened? Can I help? I’m not talking about trying to be the “Saving Elder Brother”, like Jesus, because that’s something only He can do, but at least to not stand aloof and in judgement of her and not to care about her because of what she did.
    Does this make sense, I hope? That we should be like pursuing elder brothers – pursuing reconciliation and to bring the person back as far as what we are able to do – I’m not talking about trying to be the Holy Spirit in their lives, but just to do our part.

    But I see myself as the elder brother in that I have attitudes like he did when the “bad” younger brother seems to get off scot-free when he has behaved so badly.

    How can the Gospel help you avoid their snares?

    This statement by Keller, that Jesus is saying through this parable to both brothers, to both types of people – YOU ARE BOTH WRONG, YOU ARE BOTH LOST, YOU’RE BOTH MAKING THE WORLD A TERRIBLE PLACE IN DIFFERENT WAYS.
    To remember that it is the Father in the parable, representing God the Father, who initiates with both the sons – the sinner and the moral elder son. God initiates His love to me to bring me back when I act like either one of those sons.

  3. Dee,
    Thank you too, as other women have said, for being our mentor and leading us to higher and higher ground. For introducing us to Keller’s preaching that is so challenging and takes us deeper; you are spurring us on to be closer and closer to Jesus!

  4. Sisters, I am really nervous about sharing another answer to #6 that I have seen just this week. So, here goes.

    I did not grow up in the Bible belt or in a Christian family. When I see how my brother-in-law struggles with things related to that heritage I feel blessed (I am referring to the condemnation he feels when alcohol is spoken of by some members of his church). In my family alcohol was consumed and sometimes in excess. As I moved back toward God in my 30’s I did not see it as an all or nothing thing. Drunkeness was definitely sin but aside from that I have never had a strong conviction. I think I mentioned before that I often serve wine with meals (and the faux pas I got into over that). Well after I started working this really early shift I discovered that I slept well if I had a glass of wine in the evening (a tip from my aunt). Still my heart did not condemn me but I began to really like the taste of it and found myself thinking of it earlier in the day. That is when the wheels started to turn but I looked the other way. So earlier this week I was feeling very discouraged about my struggle with idolatry and it occurred to me that this habit, for that is what it had become, might be between me and the Lord. As soon as I saw it that way I knew it was not worth that, no way. Now this is the amazing thing to me, as soon as I made that choice that taste dried up. It was no longer something I wanted. For me this does not seem to be something that I can never have again. I am sure the Lord will show me, but the habit/idol has withered. How can I keep from singing His praise? Another idol melted, not by me but by Him.

    I am not saying that I will never again drink wine with my dinner, unless my heart condemns me, I will. I hope this makes sense.

    1. Anne,
      This is truly a wonderful thing in your life! I sensed the warning signs when you wrote that you started to think of the wine earlier in the day. I agree that except for drunkenness, this is a matter of conscience; however, because I’ve seen the way alcohol destroyed the life of my brother-in-law (as well as drug addiction), and now another family member has an alcohol addiction, I do believe it can be a deadly snare of the enemy, and it often begins so innocently. Nothing is sadder than seeing my 84 yr. old dad crying over his one daughter’s drinking.

      1. Susan, it is true what you say. Alcohol can be so destructive. There is something that I remember learning in school (possibly middle school social studies) about alcohol. It has stuck with me for almost 50 years. The teacher made the point that in France where the water was not fit to drink people drank wine instead. Because of the alcohol content it was safer than water. This teacher said that alcoholism rates in France were much lower. He thought that it was because young people grew up with it and that it was not a taboo. I don’t know if that is right or not but I do know that life is full of snares.

        In my life I think it was something that was providing the peace and comfort that I should have been getting from the Lord. I gave it to the Lord and He may or may not bring it back as a gift later. Either way He is much more important to me. I love Him so much!

        1. I can tell that you love the Lord so much, Anne… it shows so much in you!

        2. Oh, thank you Susan!

  5. I think my experience above definitely qualifies as an Aslan sighting because of the way Jesus replaced a comfort I gave up with Himself. This afternoon I received a wonderful blessing from the Lord. I went to visit a friend and we talked about Joey and my concerns about him spiritually. There are so many things that I wish I had done differently. She said that just being around me was sure to have a profound effect on him eventually. She said that I carry the sweetness of Jesus with me everywhere I go and that is why she loved to be around me. It made me cry and it does the same right now as I think about it. That is all and everything I want to be. This must surely be a kiss from the Lord. And, it came to me in the place of my idol of approval.

    1. That sounds like an absolute Aslan sighting to me! As well as a kiss. 🙂 I love it when He replaces those awful idols in our hearts.

      Tonight it’s storming as I do some reading and checking up on email. I love listening to the thunder and rain, gives a sense of peace. I think my Aslan sighting is in this wonderful peace, free to me but at such cost to Him. I need to keep remembering the image of the father lifting his robes and running toward his son… God runs to us more than we can ever know. I want Him to open both my eyes and heart to His nearness. His running to me. His gift. His acceptance. My friend Jeanne says that because of Christ, when God looks at us he sees Jesus. How extraordinary. How worth pondering.

      1. Tracy, I also love thunder storms. I love to hear of another who does also. I think it is because they give me a sense of His power and yet my safety in Him. When I was in my early 20’s I went to visit a friend who was part of a traveling tent ministry that was in Nashville at the time. All of the single women had cots in a tent that was like a small circus tent. There were several times when we had thunderstorms at night. The wind blew the sides of the tent up so that we had to pull all of the cots into the middle to keep from getting wet. I experienced such a sense of peace and the Lord’s protection there. Now every time a storm comes I have a sense of His nearness. He is big and strong but He runs to us with open arms as you said.

        1. I love storms too. I have fond memories of the power going off, my Dad loved to watch for lightening, we would gather at the window and enjoy it together. Moments like these were uncommon at our house.
          Once we had some neighborhood kids over during a paticularly bad storm, we played board games and ate gum drops. I remember wishing the power would go off more often.

  6. 9. KELLER OFTEN TALKS ABOUT THREE WAYS:

    A. THE WAY OF IGNORING AND REBELLING AGAINST GOD (GIVE EXAMPLES OF THAT FROM DEE’S STORY, FROM YOUR OWN LIFE, AND FROM THE PRODIGAL SONS STORY)

    Violet was living in younger-brother lostness; she didn’t know the Lord and was living her life apart from him, trying to be her own savior and lord, controlling her circumstances. She passed bad checks, was living with her boyfriend, and turned to stealing to meet her needs.

    Growing up as a young teenager and adult, I, too, lived a life of ignoring and rebelling against God. I lived life my way, conformed myself to the world’s standards, and sinned to get my needs met.
    Even as a Christian, I sometimes feel the pull away from God to do things my own way. This may sound strange, but often if I listen to certain secular music it seems to ignite a rebellious attitude in me.

    The younger son ignored his father’s love in asking for his inheritance, leaving home and living it up; he was into self-discovery.

    B. THE WAY OF TRUSTING IN YOUR OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS AND MORALITY

    Dee writes of her struggle to forgive Violet; at first being angry and not wanting to think about how God had forgiven her and so she should forgive Violet; clinging to an idol of control and self-sufficiency.

    I can struggle with feeling like the ‘good’ sister in our family and for those who do wrong, I’ll think okay, where’s the pay-back? Why is my life not going right but she….. Or looking down my nose at the sin of others; usually when talking to God about it He will convict me that I do the very same things.

    The elder brother was so angry because of his self-perceived goodness.

    C. THE WAY OF THE GOSPEL

    Dee was, with God’s help, able to fully forgive Violet, and because of her soft heart toward Violet, and the humility to admit to Violet her own sin, she had the opportunity to lead Violet to Christ. If Dee had stood over Violet like the self-righteous elder brother, I don’t believe the Holy Spirit could’ve worked through Dee to reach Violet.

    Through what I’ve learned through these messages this week, I am growing in the area especially to look at my motives; and to lay my ‘goodness’ down at Jesus’ feet. I want to be more and more melted by what Jesus has done for me.

    The younger son in the arms of his father, receiving his father’s forgiveness; there is not going to be any restitution or repayment – he is restored to full sonship by the mercy and love of his father.
    The elder son is also given an invitation to come-in, with the full assurance that everything the father has belongs to him. Keller points out how amazing that Jesus, knowing it was the religious leaders who would kill Him, invites them in.

  7. I’ll have to finish up the rest of the study on the part in James later, but, I think my Aslan sighting this week was yesterday when God gave me such a moving confirmation of what is means that Jesus is my elder brother who at enormous cost to Himself, came to get me when I was far away. And, when I’m prone to wander, which is too often, He still comes to bring me back.

    Today is my mom’s 84th birthday; please pray for the initiating love of the Father to soften her heart, and that she can know Jesus as her true elder brother!

    1. Susan, I pray that the love of God would overshadow your mother today and that she would have the most blessed birthday of her life. How wonderful that you have her with you still.

      1. Susan, Yes, how wonderful your mother is still with you! Will pray also that God would draw your mother to Him, and His love would penetrate her heart.

  8. My first Aslan story is the Aslan sightings I have read here from you all, and most recently Anne and Susan’s sightings. I loved Susan’s contrast of the older brother and Jesus. I remember hearing that from Keller and thought it was an amazing truth, but didn’t meditate on it so it is awesome to have that brought back to the forefront-definitely from God. When I missed it, he wanted me to see it and he did it through Susan.

    Also, with Anne quitting her ‘habit’. I am really enjoying seeing how God is working in Anne’s life. Her ponderings and her letting go now. I see the stonecutter at work and it is exciting!

    For my Aslan story, I have to say I am growing more and more ‘in hate’ with my idols and near sins, and more ‘in love’ with Jesus. When I focus on the prodigal son story and the Father making himself vulnerable to hurt and soaking in the pain-and of course running toward the younger son. When I focus on Jesus when He died on the cross and even more so absorbed the pain-I don’t want to be the older brother and be callous to how my selfish love hurts God.

    I want to have that heart the older brother should have had-the heart Jesus had for God. I am asking God to continue to cut the stone, to surgically remove the clogged arteries. I was afraid to ask this, but I have asked him to take away whatever entangles me or side tracks me from Him. I want my heart to pump strongly for Him again so I can partake in a deeper level of intimacy with Him.

    1. Rebecca, that is a bold and wonderful prayer. I say amen with you.

    2. Rebecca, thank you. This is my very first visit to this site and your words spoke directly to my heart. I have been wrestling with God about an issue–a near sin–that I can hear Him calling me loud-and-clear to give up. Your words reminded me of His conviction again and turned me away from the thing once again. Thank you! I am on a new journey to love and serve only Him. Only Him! I look forward to journeying with you and the others here.

  9. I really enjoyed your post. It is amazing to me how God can forgive us even when we have done wrong. I had an incident recently when I asked God how such a thing could have happened and the scripture that he brought to my spirit and mind was We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. When we really realize that how can we hold anyone elses sin against them?

  10. This is all just what I needed to hear right now! I know God led me here… I didn’t even know this website existed until I linked to it from another blog but today’s entries met me just exactly where I am. Thank you!!