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Steve and Dee at 18, their 2nd date, a Valentine's Party (Steve cooperated graciously with my sorority's crazy costume assignments!)

I met Jack between my junior and senior year of high school, when I spent the summer at Northwestern University. N. U. had a “Cherub Program” designed to acquaint potential N. U. students with the excellencies of Northwestern’s speech, debate, and film departments. I became acquainted with the excellencies of Jack Tate.

At seventeen, protected by my parents and Midwestern conservative values,  I was completely charmed by Jack. Darkly handsome, Jack was from North Carolina and seemed to know much more about winning girls than did the farm boys from West Bend, Wisconsin. He winked, he wooed, and he warmed my heart with flattering phrases. When he asked me to study with him one night, I wasn’t sure if he just needed a study partner or saw me as something more. But afterwards, as we walked out of the library and into a night fragrant with lilacs, he took my hand to walk me back to Willard Hall. On the way, he led me off the path and into an ivy-covered corner where two sorority house walls met. He kissed me passionately, like I’d never been kissed. My head was spinning. My desires had been awakened. This “cherub” had gotten her wings.

I could only think about Jack. Life was suddenly electric and my focus was Jack, Jack, Jack. As Thomas Chalmers put it, centuries ago, in his classic essay:

Under the impulse of desire, man feels himself urged onward in some path or pursuit of activity for its gratification. The faculties of his mind are put into busy exercise. In the steady direction of one great and engrossing interest his attention is recalled from the many reveries into which it might otherwise have wandered; and the powers of his body are forced away from an indolence in which it else might have languished; and that time is crowded with occupation…

Chalmers could have been describing a new career, a new project, or a new ministry. For me it was a new, and truly, my first boyfriend. I was controlled by my desire, my mind was in busy exercise, and I was not languishing, but alive, my thoughts crowded with occupation of Jack!

Jack and I returned to Northwestern as freshmen. We resumed seeing one another, but I began to see flaws in the object of my affection. He flirted with other girls, he lost his temper, and he had violent mood swings – tender one moment, furious the next. There were times he frightened me, and the deepest part of me thought I would be wise to stop seeing him. And yet – I couldn’t bring myself to do that. It wasn’t so much that I was so afraid of his reaction, though I was, but I feared the emptiness in my life, the vacuum that would be created by his absence.

I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t just say no.

Truly, I believe it was God’s mercy that brought Steve Brestin to my attention for I had neither wisdom nor spiritual insight. He seemed older than the other boys at Northwestern (he actually wasn’t, just much more mature). Ironically, we met in a class called “Human Behavior.” It was a large freshman lecture class combining psychology, sociology, and anthropology. Northwestern was challenging, and students took copious notes. But Steve simply listened. (I learned later that he memorized as the professor spoke.) He was different in other ways: other-centered, kind, mature. I didn’t know if he would notice me for I suddenly felt so young, like the teen-ager I was. But I kept choosing to sit in the seat directly in front of him.

On Monday, February 5th, Steve learned forward, and in a deep masculine voice I came to treasure, said, “I’ve run out of paper – would you happen to have any paper?”

I knew he didn’t take notes, so this was a hopeful sign! I tried to remain nonchalant as I handed him some paper. After class I grabbed my books and hurried out so as not to seem like I was pursuing him.

Deering Library at N. U.
Deering Library at N. U.

He ran after me and caught up with me in front of Deering Library, stepping in front me and introducing himself. “Hi, I’m Steve – I’ve wanted to meet you for weeks.”

To my great embarrassment, I was visibly trembling. He seemed concerned, and asked, “Are you cold?”

I nodded, blaming the wind from Lake Michigan. Immediately Steve took off his raincoat and put it around my shoulders. Then he asked me if I would go out with him that coming Wednesday night. (It was February 7th — an anniversary we celebrated for the next forty years.) I had all kinds of homework and normally would not have gone out on a weeknight, but I quickly agreed.

All I needed was that one date. Steve engaged me in conversation like no one had ever done before. He asked me question after question and really listened. He treated people, including me, with such gentle kindness. I kept thinking, “This is a man with character.” When I came home, I remember flopping backwards on my bed and exclaiming to roommate Heather: “This is the man I am going to marry.”

“What about Jack?” I shook my head. My heart had been captured by a new affection.

I broke it off with Jack. I could say no. Why?

It was the expulsive power of a new affection.

I don’t know what kind of a man Jack eventually became, but I do know that when we were dating, he looked great, but was becoming destructive to me. Yet I kept swimming toward him, like a fish swims toward a lure. Even when I began to see the danger, it was hard for me to swim away. What enabled me to finally turn was Steve.


1. Did you ever have your heart broken and then recovered by finding someone new? Or have you ever lost a job, ministry, or friend — but then recovered through a “new affection?”

Our heart must flame for a more beautiful object
Our heart must flame for a more beautiful object


Thomas Chalmers tells us that the only way to break the hold of a beautiful object on the soul is to show it more beautiful object. When a destructive “Jack” has a hold on us, what is our “Steve” that can rescue us?”

Though earthly love may seem a paltry comparison to our love for the Lord, I think it is the closest analogy we have, and one God uses to help us understand what gazing on Him and His gospel can do for us.

Many of us have not grasped the beauty and the power of the gospel. In part, that may be due to the way we have been taught, even in Bible-based churches. Each time reform has come to Christianity, it has been to bring  the gospel back to the center. During the Reformation men like Luther called the church back to the gospel. There is nothing we can do to earn God’s love. We are already so deeply loved that He died for us. The Lord doesn’t want us to try to earn His favor, but simply to peer into His gospel and respond. How did I fall in love with Steve? By watching him and by responding (I sat in front of him, I went out on a Wednesday night, I told Heather about him…) and my affection for him withered by affection for Jack.

In the 21st Century, God’s Spirit has been moving again, awakening believers to this central truth. The Gospel Coalition has been formed by two present day reformers, D. A. Carson and Tim Keller, helping preachers to recapture the Gospel in their preaching. Christianity is not morality, not trying to follow Jesus’ example, not trying to earn His favor, but beholding Him and peering into His gospel.When we do that, there is an organic change in us, for He melts our hearts and wilts our desires for our idols. Those good things, instead of being ultimate things, return to their rightful place — like Anne’s story at the end of the last post about food. (Read it if you haven’t!) She didn’t find victory by continually repeating a rule, but her affection for the Lord is withering her idol. It isn’t about “doing” but about “loving, grasping the gospel, beholding.” Every other religion says “obey and you will be accepted.” Christianity says, “you are accepted, so you want to obey.” You may find this hard to believe, but I’ve found a preacher I like almost as much as Keller! His name is Colin Smith and he is a pastor from Scotland who has spoken at The Gospel Coalition and has helped me to see why this indeed, is a mighty movement of God. I will tell you how to listen to one of his messages, which so compliments this week’s study and will fill your sails, at the end of this post. But first, we are going to listen to another sermon by Keller.





This amazing blogging group has been so hungry and good about listening to sermons. This message by Keller shows the Gospel is richer and deeper than we might have understood. Then answer the following questions based upon it. You’ll need to sit down and have your Bible at hand as well. Here is the link and the sermon is free.


So often we think of “The Gospel” as the ABC’s of Christianity — as the way to get in. I know for years I associated it with “the plan of salvation,” as put forth in a tract that was instrumental to me, “The Four Spiritual Laws.”


The Gospel is “the way to get in,” but it is so much more!



It is, indeed. “sonship.” Understanding God’s great love for us can transform our daily life — it is personal, experiential. Keller tells a story from Thomas Godwin of a father walking with a little boy, and then stops, lifts his son up, kisses him, and then they continue walking.

father-and-son-walkingIt is one thing to have it in our head that we are loved, quite another to understand it in our heart. Keller said that God the Father did this for Jesus at his baptism.

Read Mark 1:9-11

1. How did this confirm both to Jesus and to the world His Sonship, and, correspondingly, the personal pleasure God the Father had in Him?

Read Romans 8:15-16

2. How does the Spirit confirm to us that we are, indeed, His “sons” in whom He has great delight?

3. Keller says that when you share the Gospel with people, they think you are inviting them into morality. (In another sermon he said, “They think you want them to become Republicans!” :>)  His New York congregation is repelled by that idea!  ) The Gospel is not morality, but something far different. Could you explain the difference between morality and the Gospel?

4. Keller said that rich doctrines  are hard to put in a nutshell. What examples did he give other than the doctrine of The Gospel?


Caravaggio's Doubting Thomas
Caravaggio's Doubting Thomas

5. What is the difference between good news and good advice?

6. Why do the historical events matter in Christianity? Why do they not matter in other religions?

7. Meditate on Caravaggio’s “Doubting Thomas.” When you think of this historical incident, why is this “good news” and not “good advice?” Comments on this artwork?

Keller says:

In every other religion you are saved by the teaching of the founder, in Christianity you are saved by the founder.

Now in the message Keller returns to the key concept of sonship. (As a side note, did you know that it is a great honor for women to be called “sons” in Scripture. It was revolutionary in biblical times for women to be considered equal with men.)

8. Why is it other religions cannot give you assurance about your status now?

9. What question does Martin Lloyd Jones ask – and what answers reveal a lack of understanding or understanding of the Gospel?

10. How does the teaching that we are saved by grace but have to keep it up by good works miss the Gospel?

11. What does it mean to you that His righteousness is put on you? (Remember how Susan told Tammy that even in her failure she got an A+?) How does this replace fear motivation with love motivation?

12. How does 1 John 4:18-19 relate to this?



13. The word Kingdom is a symbol for a new administration, a new set of values.

How does the Gospel bring a new structure to your life? How is the Gospel upside-down from the world’s values?

14. Why does the Gospel unite people of all classes, races, and accomplishments? Have you experienced this? Has your attitude changed toward people with whom you used to not associate?

15. How does Keller define the Gospel in a nutshell according to the Kingdom?

16. How does 1 Peter 1:12 show that the Gospel is complex?

17. What is your take-a-way from this message?




i had told you we would look at Thomas Chalmer’s essay more closely, but you’ve done such a good job with that, and I’m excited to where God has led me in discovering Colin smith. I don’t know how to give you the link to this amazing message, but I can tell you how to find it. Go to the I-tunes store and type in Colin Smith Transformational The Gospel Coalition. Listen to the 2009 message that comes up called Transformational Exposition. This Presbyterian Pastor from Scotland beautifully is training pastors how to preach the Gospel — it will give you an idea of what Gospel preaching is — and what it is not! I found it helpful not just for me as a speaker, but for understanding more of what angels gaze at and long to understand in the complex beauty of the Gospel.

18. Listen to Colin Smith and report!


I haven’t had the joy of meeting Elizabeth face to face but would love to sometime, for I sense a kindred spirit. I remember when I mixed up Elizabeth with Susan, another contemplative woman, and was praying for Elizabeth in ways  that didn’t make sense —  but she was so gracious.

Elizabeth gives “Clues of her Conversion,” saying she took it from my idea on my blog, and I confess I took it from Lauren Winner’s “Girl Meets God.” It’s a soul stretching way to look at Christ wooing you from early on — and I’d love to have more of you share your “clues.” Elizabeth’s are fascinating — God was at work in her, as He was in each of us, as a little child, wooing, her, and we’re so glad He did!


First Clues of Conversion

I was raised Catholic, and in 2nd grade I told the priest at confession that I didn’t need to go through him, I was sure I could talk to God on my own.

At age 5 I witnessed Him answer my personal specific request. I was told by my mom  not to bother God with such thing, but I knew better-and He answered!

I wept over the Stations of the Cross booklet at night in my bed.

After college I married my high school sweetheart. We have weathered many storms, but His grace has overwhelmed us. My husband is a true tender warrior for Christ and an amazing father.

We have 2 children we adopted at birth and are humbled and honored at the way He chose to knit our family.

My passion is to love my family well.

A specific way this study is changing me-and this is huge-is with my relationship with my daughter. I see how I have made an idol of my child-desiring her to be exactly what I think she should-devastated by her resistance to me. This study is helping me release her back to Him. I see my own desperate need for mercy and grace and because of what He has done for me, I can give her that same mercy and grace.

From Dee:

This is one of my favorite blog entries from Elizabeth:

I have my ideas of what my life should be like-expectations of myself as wife/mother/sister/friend/daughter, children who are well behaved and obedient and saved(!), enough money, good friends, etc…(the list never ends). By clinging to that picture of my life, by wanting to “save” it, on my own strength, I have made it an idol. My actions declare that I know better than God and want my way. I become frustrated at anything that threatens to disrupt the picture in my mind. I require myself to live in a state of striving, complaining, disappointment, depression, exhaustion.

But if I lay it down, at the altar, before the Lord…every decision, every time my children disobey me, every time my husband is late getting home or has yet another business trip, when I hear of a friend’s child with brain damage, when I hear bad reports from the doctor….if I lay it down and give it back to Him, as an offering…then I find Life. My heart rests, peace fills me.

… The past several weeks I have subtly seen a difference in the way I respond. All of the above mentioned issues happened recently, but each time, often out-loud, I said “it is Yours, Lord”. Even the small things, when my husband called to say he was having to leave town again, my usual response would at least be a sigh and a list of all it would “cost” me (we have no family anywhere near, so it’s always hard when he’s gone)…but I said “I give it to Him, He will take care of us”. And I felt instant peace. THAT is not me AT ALL! Bigger things-my children’s salvation..laying it down, always giving it back, as an offering of faith to Him.

Unweaned children cry in mother’s arms until they get something from mother – her milk. Only then are they quiet. But a weaned child is satisfied just with mother herself, with her very presence

This is Dee again: I also was so blessed by some of Elizabeth’s stories of growth with her daughter from our last post — so if you missed them, go back and read them. It is such a joy to me to see “my children walking in the truth.” Elizabeth gives me that joy, as do so many of you.

Let’s bless Elizabeth!

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  1. Dee, thank you for your gracious and kind words. I am still so humbled to be among this group of godly women. This has been the most challenging, life-transforming study I have ever been a part of.

    1. Did you ever have your heart broken and then recovered by finding someone new?

    I had a few answers (as usual!) for this one. I had printed the lesson to read on the drive to church and my husband asked me to read it aloud. We both looked at each other in shock when I read Dee’s story. My husband was my Jack…but became my Steve. Without giving all the details, for years I barely survived marriage to a Jack…until God in His mercy and grace stepped in to do a complete overhaul. I can honestly say I feel like I found a new man, by the transformation that took place in my husband.

    And sorry, but I want to give my second answer because it shows His grace again so clearly. After 10 years of marriage, we found out both my husband and I were infertile. For me, it was devastating news. I come from a large family, knew nothing of adoption, didn’t have a heart for it at all, so my “dream” had died. I still remember the morning I woke up almost frustrated that God had come in and changed my heart! I knew His Plan “A” for us was adoption…and what He gave us is so far beyond my wildest dreams. It not only fulfilled my longing for children, but took away any desire to have them biologically. I can honestly be thrilled at a friend’s pregnancy and at the same time thrilled I never have to take another test!

    On Chalmers–I did finally get all the way through it and want to encourage others, as the self-professed Cliff Notes Queen, it helped me to take it slow, and underline…and reading aloud helped a lot! 😉

    Sorry–promise to be more succinct going forward!

  2. Elizabeth you and your family are beautiful. You continually are an encouragement to me here and your wisdom helps me grow in my walk. I am thankful for you! So glad you are in this group!! Love the beauty of adoption.

    Icebreaker-Elizabeth you wrote that so well! My husband is also a Jack that became a Steve. I met him at 16 and liked him alot I was infatuated. Things grew too passionate too fast. He later date raped me. It was partly me too because I did not know how to say no. But this made me left feeling trapped. I lost my purity so what was the point in saving it anymore. Led me into a downward spiral. I felt I had to marry him and at 19 we married. We had a rough first 4 years because I unknowingly married an unbeliever. He thought he was saved but was not. He went to church and tried to live right but did not have a conviction of sin. I loved the Keller sermon because it explains alot. He just did not understand the gospel as a whole. He was not yet God’s and was not yet bankrupt to see the need. After 4 years he became a believer but it was still a real rough time letting a baby believer lead us. Now 16 years later I can say too that he is a wonderful father and husband who leads us well and I know I can trust in all things even spiritually. It is a blessing but took a lot of pain to get there and I am overwhelmed at God’s grace. We have healed and grown from the past hurts. It is a miracle. Only by God’s grace.

    1-I love this passage so much because it brings the Trinity back together!! Out loud people heard the declaration and Jesus got to hear it too. Like that example of the father walking with his son.

    2-Should this be Romans 8:15-16? If so this says…The Spirit bears witness with our Spirit that we are children of God. Very cool!

    3- This explains so much!! I have been pretty confused about the gospel because of God’s grace I have readily just understood the true gospel though I could not put it into words like Keller did. That is a grace gift now I am seeing from God. I live in the Bible belt and it is so frustrating for me because when you talk about this everyone seems to think they are a Christian. They sometimes say things like my brother is a pastor or I am a good person and go to church and think that is all it takes. They have some veils that cannot be removed unless God will move them. It is frustrating because you try to talk to them more about it but since we are so inundated with “churches” here people think they believe and don’t listen. Anyway, I would describe to them God’s unfailing unconditional love for them by sending Christ to take our place. How we have Christ’s righteousness not on our merit but because of what He did period. THere is nothing you can or can’t do to change God’s love for you. Christ did it all period. I get blank stares at times…sigh. I know God is the one who has to change hearts but pray for a revival in the south. It is frustrating in the Bible belt. 🙂

    4-Love his 3 points
    Liked his other examples of the trinity 3 in one and Jesus fully human and fully God. Need all parts to see correctly. Great message.

    Ok grilling now…be back to answer rest in a little bit.

  3. Okay got 15 more min. 🙂

    5-Diff between good new and good advice- Good news is just that news. You do not have to do anything you receive it or not. Good advice is something you have to try to live out and when you fail you feel bad about yourself. No security.

    6-Historical events matter because if they did not happen then we have nothing. Everything we believe hinges on Jesus, his life, death, and resurrection. He took our place and if He did not then we have nothing. Paul says it somewhere but cannot find the passage…

    7-Like the painting because he is physically touching the wound. It is good news cuz it happened! not speculative advice! I love his expression touching it!

    8-Love that note about women…We are secure now because we have the status of daughters of the King. We have that here and now we do not have to wait for it. Other religions people cannot be sure until they die. It is something to earn from an impersonal god. Not a father or someone who deeply cares for them.

    9-I guess I missed this question by Martin Llyod Jones.. ??

    10-It misses the gospel because again it is nothing to be earned by merit. The gospel is what Christ has done. Period.

    11-whether we fail or walk well we are wearing HIM. It cannot be separated from us nothing can separate us from His love. There is no fear in love so if we truly get how we are loved we will not have unhealthy fear.

    12-Oh like I said above…no fear in love. We have no need to fear punishment because He loves us perfectly and we are secure.

    Times up!! Be back soon! 🙂 Praying for you all.

  4. Thank you Angela!

    Oh, I say it every time we hear a new one, but really–THIS may be my favorite Keller sermon! Listening a 2nd time right now,so good.

    2. How does the Spirit confirm to us that we are, indeed, His “sons” in whom He has great delight?
    By God’s power, all who believe in Jesus as Savior are saved.

    Morality is works based, fear motivated salvation—it says ‘I’m accepted because I obey’ The Gospel is grace-based—I’m accepted because of Him. He lived the life I should have lived, He died the death I should have died.
    4. Keller said that rich doctrines are hard to put in a nutshell. What examples did he give other than the doctrine of The Gospel?
    *Jesus is fully human, fully God
    *The Trinity-not like pieces of a pie, but like 3 sides of a glass pyramid—3 distinct sides, but when you look in, you see the whole thing through the one side.

    5. What is the difference between good news and good advice?

    The Gospel is the good news of what already happened, not good advice of how to live. *we are saved by Jesus (who He is, what He did), not by His teaching.

    6. Why do the historical events matter in Christianity? Why do they not matter in other religions?

    Because we are saved by grace, by what Jesus did. Others say it doesn’t matter if Jesus did/didn’t do these things, and this is a doctrine of salvation by works, by good advice.

  5. Dee, I love the picture of you and Steve. You are beautiful and his face is full of grace (and love for you).

    I can say the exact same thing to Elizabeth! Wow. That is amazing since I think what you are saying is that your present husband was once like Jack.

  6. Icebreaker:

    God fills my heart daily with new affections, as my heart has been broken many times in the years since I was forced to leave college for health reasons. This blog has become one of my new affections because it challenges me spiritually as well as intellectually and that is something I had missed so badly. It’s not that my “old affections” were wrong or misguided; I just cannot have them at the moment. But I am continually blessed.

    I also thought about this as I was eating lunch. In years past I used to eat lots of unhealthy food but God led me to healthy foods like the fruit salad I was enjoying this afternoon. It not only tastes better but I feel better when eating well too.

  7. Dee–I meant to say what a BEAUTIFUL picture that is of you! It was so funny because when I first pulled this up, before reading the caption, I really thought it was a movie clip or a photo from somewhere…what a beautiful couple!

      1. ha ha Yes I LOVED that photo too and had the same thought it was a movie clip. 🙂

  8. 7.
    It is good news because it is the facts about what has already taken place and not a theory of good things to go and do.
    I want to keep pondering the artwork and come back to this one.

    Because they are based on performance, on good works, and since you’re life isn’t over yet, they are not sure they’ll get the reward until it’s over…no present assurance.

    He asks, “Are you a Christian?” And when someone answers “I’m trying”—this reveals not getting it.

    When we say “I’ve got tp get things right with God”, our motivation should be LOVE—that we miss Him, we want to be with Him. If our motivation is FEAR, of losing reward, then we’ve missed it.

    As Keller said, I am more utterly sinful and more utterly loved that I ever imagined. I am saved because it’s all about Him, not me. I AM a child of God, not because of anything in me, but ONLY because of what Christ did. I do not have to try to keep my salvation, or have fear of losing it. I am not motivated to obey in order to get/keep salvation, I am motivated to obey because I already am accepted and want to show my love and live in fellowship with Him.

    Love and fear cannot co-exist. The one who lives out of fear-motivated action, cannot be living out of love-motivated action. And we respond in love to Him only because He first loved and saved us.

    The Gospel is a reversal of the world’s values. It is received AND achieved through a reversal of values. Received: The world’s values says to get in, you have to have something of value. The Gospel says you get in, only by saying you have nothing. Declare bankruptcy and you get spiritually rich. Achieved: Jesus was poor, lowly, humble, killed…

    You realize no matter how wealthy, talented…you are, you see that you have nothings without Christ—and this changes your attitude towards those who have less, the homeless, the needy…

    Honestly, I think I need to let this sink in more in relation to how I associate with others, even my own family. I want to let this truly transform my self-righteous attitude to a place of continual realization of my own need for grace…and therefore my responsibility to give that grace.

    Keller says the Gospel in a nutshell:
    I. Historical-He lived the life I should have lived, died the death I should have died
    II. Sonnship-I am more utterly sinful and more utterly loved than I ever imagined
    III. The way UP is DOWN. I must give up my power over my life to receive His power.

    16. The angels never get tired of looking at the Gospel–it’s fullness of meaning–and neither should we.

    17. It’s amazing how the basics that I have “known” for so long–we are saved by grace through faith…but when Keller says it the way he does, there is a completely new enlightening for me to the truths.

    My takeaway–the Gospel is good NEWS, a done deal, based on what already happened. I am so sinful Christ had to die for me, but so loved that He did die for me. I am saved only by what Christ has done, nothing in me,so I have no place to look down or criticize others.
    Jesus got what I deserve, so I get what He deserves–and God sees me as if I have done all Christ has. I’m writing this as my take away to let it sink in and transform me to a place of humility–that I might stop trying to defend, stop seeking to protect my self, stop trying so hard. I am saved by grace–it’s not about me, all about Him.

  9. 1. It was God’s declaration of love for His Son in front of people, which showed who Jesus was. It’s just like the father who picked his son up and lavished affection on him as they were walking. In it we see the relationship of Father and Son.

  10. 2. How does the Spirit confirm to us that we are, indeed, His “sons” in whom He has great delight?

    Salvation is for everyone. It is the free, transformative gift from God.

    3. Morality = set of rules.
    Gospel is that Jesus did it all and I couldn’t ever do it for myself.

    4. The person of God in the Trinity– very hard to put in nutshell. I loved the glass pyramid metaphor.

    5. Good news = over and done and accomplished.
    Good advice= work it out yrself as in other religion.

  11. 6. Why do the historical events matter in Christianity? Why do they not matter in other religions?

    What Jesus did is a matter of fact, set in history. What He did saves us. Other religious leaders cannot save their adherents in historical deeds. Just Jesus! 

    7. Meditate on Caravaggio’s “Doubting Thomas.” When you think of this historical incident, why is this “good news” and not “good advice?” Comments on this artwork?

    In it we see what happened in history, real proof and not just advice or fancy stories.

    I love the artwork because I can identify with Thomas in having gone thru times of doubt; instead of being harsh with him, Christ displayed the proof.

    8. Why is it other religions cannot give you assurance about your status now?

    You have to work for it. 

    9. What question does Martin Lloyd Jones ask – and what answers reveal a lack of understanding or understanding of the Gospel?

    If you ask someone if they are Christian and they answer that they’re trying, they’ve missed what Christ did.

    10. How does the teaching that we are saved by grace but have to keep it up by good works miss the Gospel?

    It denies our state of grace now, having been given Christ’s righteousness. It denies the fact that we are spiritual paupers with nothing of value to give to get into God’s kingdom. 
    11. What does it mean to you that His righteousness is put on you? (Remember how Susan told Tammy that even in her failure she got an A+?) How does this replace fear motivation with love?

    It means that it’s all Christ, none of my efforts. It means that I am so in love with God for what He did. It means I want more and more of Him that I cannot be away from Him or my life would be one of constant mourning. I must have Him, be near Him due to love, not force.

    12. How does 1 John 4:18-19 relate to this?
    Love can’t include fear. Perfect love has no fear. Fear means punishment.

    13. The word Kingdom is a symbol for a new administration, a new set of values.

    How does the Gospel bring a new structure to your life? How is the Gospel upside-down from the world’s values?

    The powerful of the world are powerless bc you can’t buy or bribe or accomplish your way to heaven. But those who come with their bankruptcy in hand find Christ. It’s the only way.

    14. Why does the Gospel unite people of all classes, races, and accomplishments? Have you experienced this? Has your attitude changed toward people with whom you used to not associate?

    Thanks to God, yes. We are all equal on God. All are sinners but all offered grace.

    15. How does Keller define the Gospel in a nutshell according to the Kingdom?

    Historical— good news not good advice
    Sonship— identity now, not future rewards
    Kingdom — The way up is down, powerlessness is power.

    16. How does 1 Peter 1:12 show that the Gospel is complex?

    Angels never tire of it!

    17. What is your take-a-way from this message?

    The utter grace of God. How this is a true RELATIONSHIP.

  12. I LOVE Rebecca’s video!!! Such moving things, how Christ suffered and us accepting Hos gift. I was moved by the pics of hands reaching to Him and Him reaching them, but my favorite part was Around four minutes in where the dark haired lady is laying her head at His feet. She sort of looked like me so I can paint that image in my mind’s eye as a call to action!

  13. Elizabeth– I am so happy you’re here. Your answers bless me in their wisdom and heart. I really appreciate how you posted Isaiah 43:1-4 a few weeks back. The message is one I needed (and still need) so much and I saved it in my email so I can see whenever I need — usually daily.

    You have a beautiful family!

    1. Thank you Tracy. I’m sorry you were forced to leave school due to health issues, but so thankful you are here with us! Your insight and humility has blessed me countless times.

  14. 1. How did this confirm both to Jesus and to the world His Sonship, and, correspondingly, the personal pleasure God the Father had in Him? Jesus saw the heavens torn open and the Spirit descending to Him like a dove. This is remarkable to me because this is what Israel prayed for in Isaiah 63:15-64:12. It is what I pray for. They asked for God to tear open the heavens and come down-to make His name known to His enemies. Jesus did that and so much more! Then God spoke and claimed that Jesus is His son and that He is pleased in Him. All the world should have taken notice, yet there were only those by the river.

  15. 2. How does the Spirit confirm to us that we are, indeed, His “sons” in whom He has great delight? He speaks directly to our hearts from within us. I so love that nearness.

    3. Could you explain the difference between morality and the Gospel? Morality is a law that must be kept, something that must be done but the gospel is about what has already been done for us by Christ. All we have to do is believe. It does require admission of guilt and repentance.

    4. What examples did he give other than the doctrine of The Gospel? He gave the example of the trinity being not like slices of pie but 3 sides of a glass triangle. When you look at it from any side you see God through the lens of that aspect of Him, whether Father, Son or Spirit. The other example was how Jesus was fully man and fully God.

  16. Just finished the Colin Smith sermon and these are my notes.

    Law isn’t Transformational bc we can’t reach it w/o Christ. The entire Bible is abt Christ. Avoid thinking/preaching in terms of how-to. Transformation comes from CHRIST. the law cannot change hearts, gospel should b center of ministry 2 b worked out on ALL areas of life. So preach Christ.


  17. Thanks to all who are praying for my family. This blog is a blessing to me. I went to church yesterday and read the words to the old hymn “It is well with my soul.” it was a comfort and between the blog and the hymn I have renewed hope for this hopeless situation. Thanks be to God!

    1. Oh Laura, I’m glad you’re still here and being encouraged. God has continued to bring you to mind I continue to pray.

      1. Oh Laura, It is encouraging to see how God is coming to you. He loves you so.

  18. WOWWWWW!! What a blessing it is to be here this morning, reading these beautiful interactions!

    Elizabeth, O.K. I will think of another word other than ‘wow’..”Beautiful”. You ARE beautiful both inside and your family is lovely! It is great to see you finally, and to see your family. I have been so encouraged by you, your insight, your thirst for Jesus, and your relationship with your family. You are a huge blessing to me sister!

  19. I really LOVED that picture of Steve and Dee, and REALLY loved how Dee used that season in her life with Jack and when she first met Steve to communicate what the expulsive power of a new affection looks like.

    1. Did you ever have your heart broken and then recovered by finding someone new? Or have you ever lost a job, ministry, or friend — but then recovered through a “new affection?”

    Yes, when God had me ministering to women as a single. It was a sweet season. GOD was always putting women in my path to minister to and encourage, some to Harvest, some who already knew him and needed mentoring, but my point is that He had given me a pretty active ministry. Then after I was married, pretty quickly, God changed my course. God gave me children and he totally changed my road-my new affection was my husband, his daughter and our children..At first it was hard to get over losing the ministry of the past, as I would see women in church who were new believers but didn’t have another woman to come along side them..I about died trying to restrain myself from offering to meet with them, but as time went on, my affection for my family grew and the ministry of the past faded..I realized God had a plan for these women, and right now it didn’t include me, and God’s assignment for me was with my family now. I had to let go and I did but it was because God replaced that affection with a new one.

    1. Rebecca-always such meaty wisdom in your posts! I loved this “I realized God had a plan for these women”–I think that applies to so much and is such a good reminder. You were faithful to let go and let Him use you in your family, and trust Him to provide for those single women.

      1. Elizabeth, Your heart for your family has made a HUGE impact on my life.

      2. Oh, can I tell you when God used something you said to convict and encourage me to change, but He brought it back to mind after He cut an idol out of the way first.

        You told of a time you felt horrible because you missed a day making your husband’s lunch for him. You were referring to something else..Putting too much pressure on yourself and your husband wasn’t upset by it at all, but YOU WERE..Oh my that made an impact.

        My poor husband works two jobs and doesn’t have time to make his lunches, and I have A LOT on my plate as well, but when I was entrapped by my idol I was a lot more selfish and thought, well he can get his own lunch I have to get the boys ready for school. So God used your post to reveal a layer of a lie in my heart that opened up a whole new forever layers in my heart of lies. I was so selfish and inward at that point. I didn’t even realize it.

  20. I have to give a report recently of how God is moving, how Elizabeth stated in the clues of her conversion. Dee’s account also helped me to look back and see. (sorry this is so long, but again I don’t have time to edit this morning.) 🙂

    I shared with my husband last night on our way home from Bible Study that since hearing Keller’s message on the Doctrine of Election, memories of when I was a little girl flooded in my mind. God gave me such a tender heart. I recalled a time when I went to my friend’s church as a little girl, (we didn’t go to church in our family so I visited different friends churches on and off as a child growing up.) The offering plate went through and I had nothing to give, but I thought “Jesus will like this note better than money anyway.” I wrote on a piece of paper, “Jesus, I love you.”, folded it up and put it in the plate. I thought the offering plate was going directly to Jesus. 😉

    There are more memories but when I go back and see God’s hand on me, how he wooed me I can’t explain it but it brings tears to my eyes and brings me to my knees inside. Again, I don’t know why..I just know He loves me, chose me, gave me a longing to want to know Him, then that longing propelled me to turn my life over to him in 1988, but after that there was something that accompanied that longing and it was a strong, passionate desire for Him.

    Jesus was it..Nothing and no one else mattered. What pains me is how over time, my passion waned..after some years later wanting to be married and start a family became the ultimate for me..It was slow..Eventually my idol told me i needed it to be complete and to have meaning..eventually I gave in.

    BUT God has taken that season of the affair and has turned it into something beautiful. So beautiful I am not sure without that season I would have come here on this blog to listen to Him as He has awakened my heart, revealed much, and is rooting out these idols’ holds that kept me wandering in the desert like a camel in heat looking for anything for relief.

    Ladies, we are in his hands, He loves us, pursues us..He will go after us..He will do it in his time, in His way. Open your heart to the Stonecutter! Let Him have you..Let Him do with you what He will..Fall into His arms and trust.

    Everything changed once I fled from the arms of my idol and ran to His..EVEN THE HESITATION TO RUN TO HIS ARMS CHANGED WHEN THE NEXT IDOL FLAREUP HAPPENED!!

    He has pinpointed an approval idol’s control on me now, I am not condemning myself and I don’t see God as condemning me-but that He is hurt-THAT IS A HUGE CHANGE FOR ME..I am going to Him trusting Him to root it out, and HE IS!!!! It is REAL painful, and I have noticed it gets REALLY BAD while he is cutting away..So, I am limp in His arms right now as He is cutting away and yet He is ministering and encouraging my soul via His word in the process.

    1. Rebecca, this post of yours is getting printed!! That story of your note to Jesus is the sweetest thing! Reminds me of how I used to write notes to Jesus on this little chalkboard and hide it under my bed 😉

      I loved what you said “What pains me is how over time, my passion waned.”. I so relate to that. The college years I used to wake early to be with Him in my sorority house when everyone else slept…I would sit in the hallway and have amazing long quiet times…then right after college I got married and that became my ultimate…then kids…I feel I am just now seeing a light to get out and get back to my First Love. You challenge and inspire me: “Open your heart to the Stonecutter! Let Him have you..Let Him do with you what He will..Fall into His arms and trust.”

      so thankful for your example!

      1. Oh Elizabeth and Rebecca…Just eavesdropping on your conversation is such a blessing to me. I think it reminds me of the Scripture that says to speak nothing that won’t build up others who hear…When we talk others are always around and you both have sharpened me by just observation here. Thank you.

        1. Dee, Yes you may! It is funny how God brought that to mind last night. My husband loved it too.

      2. Elizabeth, How precious, a chalkboard? awwww..that is so sweet.

        Yes, I can also relate to waking up in the morning and thinking of Him first thing. I couldn’t wait to meet with Him in that special place.

        I just had a picture flash in my mind and I KNOW you can relate to this! You know when your husband sets up a romantic dinner for you and dims the lights, has everything ready because he wants to spend time with you and draw you into him. That was what it was like meeting with Jesus except instead He used the morning as his romantic atmosphere to draw me in to Him. The morning, it’s majestic sights and sounds and my bible..wow..It was perfectly romantic! 🙂

        1. THAT’s IT! EXACTLY!! Oh, you brought tears to my eyes with that picture. I admit I long for those days, when it was so simple and easy, it did take sacrifice, but now it seems so much harder to find that pure, sweet quiet.
          But you have really got me thinking on how much I have made mother/wife-hood my ultimate.
          My family, friends, etc…are gifts, but I need to remember they are not ultimate. Because I have Christ, there is nothing else I absolutely have to have. And if I can get this in my heart and head, it would limit how much energy, anxiety, even time I would spend trying to secure them. It’s easy as a Christian to think being the best wife/mother/daughter/friend…is the ultimate, because it glorifies Him, right? But, ahh…the carrot or the horse?!

        2. Elizabeth, Amen!! I couldn’t have said it better. God is still working this out in me too!

          You know, I think this dovetails into what Anne said in the last post about when these things taking their rightful place we can really enjoy them as the ‘gifts’ they were meant to be. I think this is the same with family. Wow, we can enjoy them EVEN MORE than when they were the ultimate.

    2. Rebecca
      This resonates with me:

      “BUT God has taken that season of the affair and turned into something beautiful. So beautiful I am not sure without that season I would have come here to listen to Him as He has awakened my heart, revealed much, and is rooting out these idols’ holds that kept me wandering in the desert like a camel in heat looking for anything for relief.”

      You are not only my ‘Barnabas’ you are also my ‘Aaron’. God puts the words I wish I could express in your mouth.

    3. Ladies, we are in his hands, He loves us, pursues us..He will go after us..He will do it in his time, in His way. Open your heart to the Stonecutter! Let Him have you..Let Him do with you what He will..Fall into His arms and trust.

      I loved that Rebecca..thank you

  21. More thoughts on the Keller sermon keep coming to mind…the story of the carrot from Spurgeon! That was convicting. The challenge–are the things I give to my King for Him, His glory…or my own? Am I giving Him my best carrot, or giving a horse in hopes of what I’ll get back? I struggle with this because I love to serve…but I want the kudos when I do…I confess this and my desire to give, to serve, for nothing more than His glory–motivated out of love for Him.

  22. Oh Rebecca, what a gift you have given us in this video–I can hardly make out my notes for the tears. This time I watched, I wrote words down as they came to mind, as I watched:
    broken, real, exposed, humble, poor, ONE EVENT-The Cross, serving, least of these, loving arms, compassion, grace, for all, free, freedom, embrace, the lost are found, His tears for me, HOPE, healing, all things new,…whole.

    When I looked back at the words I had scribbled as I watched, I was surprised to see the progression–from broken, to whole…

    It’s beautiful Rebecca–thank you for all the time you put into it, I cannot imagine how you do it, but what a blessing for all who find it!

  23. Finishing up Keller. Such good responses!!

    13-The gospel so changed things!! I really was seeking all things me until I met Jesus then slowly I started following His administration and giving away all things me. Learning first is last and last is first. Something that is impossible to understand with out Him.

    14-The gospel is for all people and brings us a unity under Christ it is a look at the inward of hearts which all look the same. It is not about peoples outward appearance. Slowly God has broken down my stereo types of people little by little. I can now freely look at people in Christ. God humbles me when I want to judge because of appearance and it is always comical!! I have met some of the most godly people who I never would have associated with otherwise.

    15-He said nutshell a few times…Was it a balance of the three areas? Historical, Sonship, and Kingdom view. That is the nutshell right?

    16-Angels who see Jesus who are in Heaven long too look into it. So that must be complex I cannot even begin to imagine what they get to see now.

    17-My take away is that this is so encouraging. I wanted to rightly explain the gospel and you hear so much of it maybe a side here a side there but in completeness I wanted to hear this. I read a book What is the Gospel which was right on as well. Mark Dever wrote it with 9 marks. I just need this to be confirmed again and again in my heart as to what the gospel is so I can speak it to myself daily.

    1. Angela–I so agree with this: “I just need this to be confirmed again and again in my heart as to what the gospel is so I can speak it to myself daily.”
      It’s amazing how for so long the gospel has been “Jesus died for my sins”…but Keller brings such dimension to it–it is so much more…and I want to speak it to myself daily with all it’s “fullness of meaning”!

  24. Rebecca I love this video! Shows the gospel because it shows our need to become bankrupt to come to Him. Loved all the pics along the way and pondered Scripture that God brought to mind. Great presentation with that song.

    I wonder at times if that is why disability was allowed to come to our home. My sweet asperger girl made this video one day after a deep discussion about the Trinity. This is her understanding of God and she knows she is loved and needs Him because life is harder for her. It is for all of us because of it. Yet it is a blessing to be loved so much to be trusted with such a gift. Watch it if you like.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dq_eSz3rEU4 I know she will have a special walk with Him all her life. She is our little evangelist and asks so many people we meet if they know Jesus. 🙂 Love that. She does not understand social cues so if someone does not want to hear or is irritated she cannot tell so she is not hindered in sharing away.

    1. OH Angela, I LOVED IT! Great video..How precious she is. It is so sweet to hear her praising the Lord with her understanding of Him and I am impressed with her understanding at such a young age! Thanks for sharing!

    2. ok, honestly,Angela– I couldn’t get through that one without tears (emotional day!)
      Everyone needs to see that–absolutely precious!! Oh, how that must bring Him such delight! “God’s Living Room”–profound! I keep thinking “and a child shall lead them…”

    3. Angela, that was so precious. Thanks for sharing. It goes right along with R and E discussion which I am so enjoying. These are the hearts of the kingdom and I would like to join mine with them. It did not come through above so I will try to share it again. http://youtu.be/dq_eSz3rEU4
      Love to all of you. This discussion is blessing me so.

      1. Thanks Anne for sharing a better link for me. 🙂

        Thanks all. She is so sweet and I love to watch God move in her life.

        1. She is so precious, especially in God’s sight! She is so young to know so much about Jesus. I loved the video, Angela! Thanks for sharing. I will pray for her and your whole family.

      2. That video is so precious! Such a heart for Christ.

    4. Oh my, what a sweet little Jesus girl! When I am down I am going to watch that. I just want to squeeze her! Thank you for sharing.

  25. I, like Anne am enjoying reading the exchanges between women. I was thinking over the weekend that what makes this study sweet and blessed is that we are not only truth seekers but changers. We invite God to show us our idols and then transform us into His image no matter how painful the process.
    Question #1.
    Yes, when my husband went into the military we lived away from family for the first time. God took us to the most wonderful church where I enjoyed some of the best and lasting friendships. I got involved in Women’s ministry and we thrived for that four years.

    1. What a sweet testimony Kim T.! I have thought often lately about how you enjoy your adult children–truly enjoy them now…such an inspiration. I love seeing/hearing more of your life and how He has provided and strengthened you.

      1. Thank you, Elizabeth. God has turned our dark night into morning. I was thinking how proud my husbands dad, a minister, would be of our youngest son, Bradley. He amazes us how he studies and knows the Word of God which allows for some great debate. I wonder if he hadn’t gone into the world of drugs, if he would be the man he is today.

  26. Ice-Breaker

    When God began telling me that I needed to stop teaching my SS class, a group of senior ladies I had developed a special kinship with over a five year period, I wrestled with Him, through prayer, for two years. I finally said okay even though I could not understand why. Well, six months later was when my world crumbled and, to be honest, I was thankful I had obeyed God’s instruction. At the beginning of my sabbatical I returned to singing in the choir. I had developed severe laryngitis a few years earlier after our Christmas cantata and had to rest my throat from singing. I love being able to use the talent God gave me to sing to Him.

    1. The baptism of Jesus by John solidified his status as the Son of God. Jesus was baptized because He was being obedient to the plan of the Father and his obedience pleased God.

    2. The Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are the children of God.

    3. Morality tells you that you have to follow certain rules to be considered worthy.

    The Gospel is contingent with what Jesus has done-died in place of me for my sins. The Gospel is not advice on HOW to live life. It is the strength given TO live life.

    4. Example of Jesus Fully Divine/Human

    5. Good news-what has been done

    Good adivce-what has been taught.

    6. Historical events matter in Christianity because they are proof that Jesus really lived, died, and was resurrected.

    Historical events do not matter in other religions because other religions place emphasis on teachings of the founder and not the life of the founder.

    Elizabeth, it is a joy to put a face with your posts. You have a beautiful family.

    Dee, I listened to both sermons yesterday, took notes, and look forward to contemplating everything this week. I see what you mean about Colin Smith.

  27. Oh wow, Colin Smith IS really good! Just getting started but had to share this:

    He says “do not preach…” I applied that to do not teach,or live under, only the Law, which is “how-to” preaching. I so resonated with this–the 3 pointer acronym style sermons I have heard in my earlier years as a Christian.

    The Law is weakened by the sinful nature–it is beyond our ability, without Christ. This leads me to the cycle of trying harder/performance/fear based theology.

    * Instead, we are to preach the Gospel–which is Christ–THIS is transformational. The Law cannot change the heart, only the Gospel can.

    Loving this 😉

  28. Dee, I went to bed last night after looking at that darling picture of you and your hubby. I dreamed you and I went on a road trip together. Your car broke down and Dr. Brestin wouldn’t come get us so we had to walk. When we got thirsty we broke into a store and played a game of cards, your idea. 😉
    I listened and enjoyed the sermon but will have to write more later.

    1. ooohhh…i’m in the back seat 😉

      1. Yes, Kim T.! I only know I’d love to come along to meet Dee! all of you,too–the more we share, the more I look forward to one day meeting together!

        1. You may come along next time, Elizabeth!
          I was thinking we could all get together in the new Millinnium (sp?) and talk for a couple hundred years.

  29. Wow Loved that sermon on right teaching of the gospel! I loved his accent too.
    I now understand why I was so dissatisfied at other churches and why I was like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole! This is the way of thinking I had but never saw it played out. In the church I am currently in I am blessed to have pastors and teachers who teach this way and encourage us to as well. As a speaker and teacher it reminds me of the importance to be certain I bring everything back to Christ. Never the law alone but Christ. My pastor said we need to be sure we do not assume the gospel and I do that sometimes because my class is 10 ladies who have been in church forever so I am pretty sure they are saved so I assume the gospel in teaching but I really need to be certain to speak it clear everytime like I would to myself daily.

    Love this quote wherever I am in the Bible I beat a path to the cross ~Spurgeon

    Also loved these preparation steps 1Think yourself empty 2read yourself full 3write yourself clear 4pray self hot and 5let self go. I prob need to write that somewhere to see daily.

    There were so many things I loved about this. But lastly I will share he said that “Every preacher ought to sink major deep shaft into one major theologian.” Piper. I see you as this in my life Dee. Thank you for being that for all of us.

  30. I just finished the Colin Smith sermon and I loved it! Lots of great things were explained to me. But what thrilled me most is the hope in what he said. To me it seemed like the hope of revival. I hope I can make my thoughts clear. He said that the Bible is about Christ, from beginning to end, starting in a garden and ending in a city. And how we must turn our attention to this fact. He is the Bread of Life and everything we need. When I studied Isaiah I saw that the whole book is about Jesus. Next year we study Acts and I know I will see Him again. What I mean is that I don’t think these things are woven together by chance. Colin Smith teaches the present and next generation of ministers of the gospel how to faithfully preach the gospel, not just good advice. Just as Dee is teaching us the same thing. Jesus is the bread of life and the gospel is our healing. I guess what thrills me is seeing that this is going out to the world from more than one source. In that I see the Mighty Arm of God.

    All of us here on the blog have unique gifting. I think we look very much as the body of Christ should look. Different yet fitted together to look like Christ as a whole. What I want most is a heart of flesh. A heart that loves effectively. This is what I learn from Elizabeth as she shares her thoughts and news of what is going on in her life. What I mean is I often see love in action in her. While my heart does have to be changed from the inside, it helps to see it lived out. Thanks Elizabeth.

    1. Oh Anne, thank you for you. You have this way of so beautifully tying together all we are learning–whenever I read your posts I see things new and with this depth of perspective I couldn’t have seen–like taking a one dimensional picture and making a tapestry of it–thank you. You were so gracious and kind with your words to me, but I still only long to have a heart of flesh…to love effectively, as you said…that is beautiful.

  31. Read Mark 1:9-11

    1. How did this confirm both to Jesus and to the world His Sonship, and, correspondingly, the personal pleasure God the Father had in Him?

    As Keller says in his lecture, the 3 persons are one, and these verses all convey that thought…..Jesus (the Son) is baptized, the Holy Spirit descends, and the Father speaks to Him all at once. The world would know that this is an important event. When Jesus comes out of the water He must not been able to see well due to the water in His eyes, but also, He was most likely blinded from the sunlight. Never the mind….He knew His Father was with Him by the sound of His voice. A comfort; and the Spirit, like a blanket wrapping around Him like his Fathers’ arms.

    My earthly father died when I was 13. He and I had a special bond (I was the youngest). I remember him taking me to a movie (maybe Sleeping Beauty?) when I was about 9 years old. As we came out of the movie he was holding me tight. I remember the smell of his air force jacket and his arms around me. There is nothing like being loved for no “reason” at all; just because you are you.


    1. Laura, that’s a precious memory you have of you and your dad – a real treasure!

    2. Laura, your story really blesses me this morning. I too was blessed with a loving daddy, he was a best friend to me. We lost him two years ago. Each time I smell Old Spice cologne I think of him.

      1. Kim that is so funny you say that “I smell Old Spice cologne!” My dad wore it too…..isn’t it cool how our senses make us remember? Especially the sense of smell. I love having that to remind me of good times 🙂

  32. WOW – I just went back to the last week’s post to read all the last minute comments – what a wealth of treasure there!

    Anne, I agree with Dee that your post about food and how your desires trap you and become insatiable was really good. You have such a deep way of expressing yourself.

    And Chris S. – I was moved by your post about your struggle to love your new family members who came to live with you, how you tried to love them in your 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”.

    I can so relate to this, Chris… for me I just have to insert my husband in there. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten to the next part myself yet. I know that I should do for him as if I were doing it for Jesus; I know that Jesus has to love him through me.
    But so far I have failed to do these things. Maybe there is a deep idol under the surface that I haven’t uncovered yet, maybe it is selfishness or bitterness. A good friend used to tell me that with sin, we often say “I can’t”, when the real issue is, “I wont”. Right now I’m in a place where I just don’t see any hope for the future of our marriage. I have thoughts like Anne, that once I get my last child raised, I hope God will take me home.

      1. Susan, my heart breaks for you too Susan. I will pray.

    1. Susan– I am praying for you too. I have no advice to give or experiences to relate since I’m unmarried, but please know you are in my prayers. With love in Christ.

  33. I thought too that Steve and Dee’s picture looked like it was from a movie – Dee is just glowing! And Steve’s eyes do reflect gentleness and tenderness.

    I haven’t listened to the sermons yet – school is out now and we’ve been working hours in the yard – trimming and weeding and mulching.

    A clue from my past (conversion clues) – was when I was 14 and volunteering at a nursing home. I didn’t go to church, and the director of volunteers, Annette, gave me a New Testament and she wrote on the inside page, “Jesus loves you, you are special to Him”. I had never heard that before.

  34. Laura–I love that picture of you and your dad, Susan is right, what a treasure! And Susan–it’s amazing to hear how He creatively found a way to tell you how He felt about you!

    Joyce–if you are reading, I’ve been praying daily since Friday–praying you are healing well and free from pain, praying peace for Kendra. Miss you!

    On that note–missing Cyndi too–hope all is well!

    1. I’ve been thinking about and praying for you too, Joyce! Hope you are healing and recovering in His care!

      1. Me too, Joyce! I hope and pray you are doing well, praying for Kendra and your husband too.

    2. Elizabeth, thank you so much for your prayers. You are a beautiful young woman and your family is also beautiful. I will explain later how we are doing. I’ve been trying to catch up reading the blog here, all day as I could, since I last left it for surgery last friday and every comment to too good to pass up! Blessings for you and your sweet family. I’ve loved getting to know you better!

  35. (Just finished listening to Keller. What a clear presentation of the Gospel as a worldview. At first I was wondering where he was going, but then when he got into the meat of it with historical, sonship, and kingdom-I was saying, yes that is true and I think the problem with a lot of teaching these days is that sonship and kingdom aren’t really emphasized like they should be.)

    Read Mark 1:9-11

    1. How did this confirm both to Jesus and to the world His Sonship, and, correspondingly, the personal pleasure God the Father had in Him?

    God proclaimed that Jesus was His son and that he was loved and accepted. God said he was pleased with Jesus.

    Read Romans 8:15-16

    2. How does the Spirit confirm to us that we are, indeed, His “sons” in whom He has great delight?

    We are no longer slaves to fear instead by the spirit we cry out Abba Father. The holy spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

    3. Keller says that when you share the Gospel with people, they think you are inviting them into morality. (In another sermon he said, “They think you want them to become Republicans!” :>) His New York congregation is repelled by that idea! ) The Gospel is not morality, but something far different. Could you explain the difference between morality and the Gospel?

    Morality is “I’ll do this and then I’ll get that”.. The Gospel is that Jesus did it all for us-we are His righteousness by nothing we have done..It is a status that those who accept it receive now. It is not a reward we receive later for doing all the right moral things.

  36. Oh I loved how Keller meshed it together, rather than separating it out as one, two and three steps. My husband is going to love this message as he has always alluded to this.

    As you all know we are going to a new denominational church now. We love it, but there is this emphasis on getting in which is great, and we love it, and there is also an emphasis on discipleship as well..but I don’t think sonship and Kingdom is emphasized-not because they don’t believe in it, but, well I don’t know why.

    I have also heard of a book a friend of mine read where the author states that luke warm christians aren’t christians at all. If you aren’t on fire 100% of the time you aren’t a believer. I have a problem with that and especially so after walking with the Lord for 23 years. As Keller explained so simply: “I am wicked and flawed more than I ever hoped I would be, yet at the same time I am utterly loved and accepted.” -My record before God is perfect, yet I still struggle with a wicked heart, YET I have to add also that while this is true at the same time as I am living the Gospel God is transforming me into the image of Christ.

    1. I thought Colin Smith’s sermon was good in regard to our own study, too. I really liked the part about having a blank page of paper and an open Bible instead of trying to make God’s Word fit into what you write. Even for those who font have sermons to write, the “what you write” part means, to me, what we believe and how we handle/think about/live out our relationship with Christ. Ask myself this: am I one hundred percent open to Hom and His Word or am I trying to fit Him inside what I have “written” in my life/heart/beliefs?

      1. Typos abound… “font” means don’t and Hom is Him. Sorry!!!

    2. Dee, you said, ” As we increase in our hunger for God, we will love good food, just as is happening for many of us who have struggled with over-eating are now, much to our surprise, not enjoying the junk food as much and are hungering for healthier food.” has been happening to me, exactly like that and I praise God for it. Thank you for adding that.

      Tracy, I knew what you meant, I often do that too!

  37. Have been listening to the third of last week’s sermon this morning, “Christ, Our Life”. Above I mentioned that I know I must have a hidden idol or more, and this sermon is ministering to me. Clues I’m uncovering: “if an ultimate thing in your life is blocked, you get bitter, you have rage. If an ultimate thing is lost, you want to throw yourself off the bridge”.
    Am on the part of understanding your emotions, why certain things cast you down.
    Thanks for your prayers. I just feel so overwhelmed right now. I’m so behind in the housework, the laundry, the garden. The problem is in part that if I perform well, then I am accepted. But if I don’t, then I am criticized. I know I sometimes put these human ways of relating on God, in that I feel He is unhappy with me when I fail, and more pleased when I do what is right.
    My husband’s love seems to be very conditional on what I do right.

    1. Susan, my heart goes out to you. Lord, I pray that You will visit Susan with Your presence. May she know Your love in a very real way. Woo her Lord as the beloved bride that she is to you. I pray for her husband that he may come to the end of himself and see that without You he is bankrupt in every way. Please bind the wounds that his behavior causes in his family. Satan means them for evil but I pray that You will use them for good. Amen

      Susan, have you read Leslie Vernick’s book, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship? This is also a good resource that Amber shared a while ago. http://www.safeplaceministries.com/pdf/The%20Silent%20Killer%20of%20Christian%20Marriages.pdf

    2. Have tried twice to respond to Susan’s comment and it has been lost in cyberspace. Wondering what’s up.

        1. That’s ok. Think I figured it out.

    3. Lord, I pray that You would visit Susan with Your presence showing her just how much You love her. Woo her as the bride she is to her Beloved. Bring her husband to the end of himself that he may see just how bankrupt he is without You. Help him to see the damage he is causing in his family and in his marriage. May his heart swell with love for Susan and repentance for what he does. We know that You take the things that Satan perpetrates for destruction and use them for good. Bind the wounds that exist in this family and use them for ultimate healing we pray. Amen

      Susan, have you read Leslie Vernick’s book, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship?

      1. Lord, I agree with Anne’s sweet prayer for Susan. Thank you for bringing Susan here, I hurt with her, for her, and I hate that she has to suffer like this. Please hold her in your arms–like the woman in Rebecca’s video–hold her Lord, strengthen and protect her.

      2. I just read yesterday on Leslie Vernick’s blog that she is hoping to write a book titled THE EMOTIONALLY DESTRUCTIVE MARRIAGE. Everything she writes is biblically based. Let’s all pray for Leslie as she begins the journey to write this much, much, much needed resource.

        1. wow–with Dee’s endorsement, I decided to look at Leslie’s blog: http://www.leslievernick.blogspot.com/

          and there is a WEALTH of wise counsel there! I found several articles I think many of you would be blessed by too.

      3. Oops! There they all are. On second thought I’m not sure that link would really be very helpful. I should have prayed about that one.

      4. Amen to that prayer, Anne prayed for you, Susan. For you are so dear to us.

    4. Susan, as I was just praying for you I was reminded of your telling Tammy that even in her failure she got an A+….I am praying you will feel overwhelmed with His love for you, with Christ’s acceptance of you whether you never wash another piece of clothing again!
      Much prayer & love~

    5. Susan,
      I hope to encourage you by sharing some of my marital history.

      My husband Bill and I married the day after I turned 19; he was 20 and an unbeliever. I had had my first son Joshua at 17(my husband was not his father), I was so desperate to be loved, I gave little thought to his spiritual condition.

      Bill had real trouble with seeing himself as a sinner. I prayed fervently for him to come to know Christ.

      We were so young, Joshua was an extremely smart, strong willed child, and with Joseph coming along 6 months after our marriage, we seemed often in conflict over parenting issues, at least in the limited time that Bill was at home. He worked during the day & bartended at night, leading a fairly active social life apart from me.

      I recall coming to a place of complete frustration, when I gave up praying for God to change him, I figured if Bills will was involved, my hope was a small one. As I shared I think earlier, I have since realized that I was really praying this not truly out of a desire to see God gloried, or even truly out of concern for my husband. I wanted him to change so that my life as his wife would be easier and better.

      Years later a man from our church, (the boys and I went regularly, Bill came when the boys were on stage, VBS closing program, Christmas plays etc.), invited Bill and Josh to go to Promise Keepers as guests of the church. Josh was an almost incorrigible pre-teen at the time. Bill agreed, thinking he was going for Josh’s sake. He accepted Christ there. He did not tell me right away, but began to be a better husband and father.

      Had he accepted Christ during the time I had been begging for him too, I believe I would have held up his conversion as my triumph.

      Bill also had an affair as I had also previously shared. The main part of the affair was over, I thought we were healing well from it (after a great deal of work and pain), when he went to her again, Brian was conceived that night, Brian and my Daniel who we lost last year, were just days apart in age.

      The first part of the affair was monstrously hard, but finding out about Brian, who was 5 years old when I found paternity paperwork ordering Bill to submit bloodwork, this was one week after we had buried my Mom, was almost too much to bear. I thought we were doing really well at that time, I could not understand why he went to her THEN.
      I knew that God hates divorce, but I was so humiliated, I just wanted to flee. I knew that God wanted me to humble myself, but everything in me was screaming. I began to capture my thoughts and pray about them.

      I can honestly say that I am so glad I didn’t run, as I so badly wanted too. The existence of Brian in our lives has shattered my husband’s pride as nothing else might have been able to do. God has changed our hearts.
      I hope these verses for you Susan and for me and for us all;
      Ephesians 3:13-21 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
      For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
      that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
      Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

      1. Susan, I might not be able to give much help, but I have been thinking about this, this morning.

        I so feel for you as it must be a battle, but I SO ADMIRE YOU-Your faith and your clinging to Jesus astounds me. It would be so easy to give up. That can only come from the Lord!

        I was once married to an unbeliever, albeit for only three years, but I was an unbeliever. He left after I came to know Jesus so I didn’t have an extended time with him after I came to know the Lord, so I can’t really relate to the suffering you are going through, but my heart certainly goes out to you!

        I don’t know if this will help, or if you were asking for advice because it seems to me you are learning to cling to the Lord and find your sustenance in Him, but here is what I read this morning in the Tozer’s book, “The Pursuit of God”. It encouraged me so:

        ” The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One. Many ordinary treasures may be denied him, or if he is allowed to have them, the enjoyment of them will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness. Or if he must see them go, one after one, he will scarcely feel a sense of loss, for having the Source of all things he has in One all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight.”

        My encouragement is I do know that I have felt the way you are feeling-wanting to die to get out, or for it to be over with even though I am married to a believer. It can get rough even between believers, but the KEY for me has been what Tozer wrote above which is what we are learning in our study.

        I had let go of my husband being the “fill all” in my life and also let Jesus heal the pain of some of the things that transpired in our desert time. I have just done this within the past month or so. 😉
        I am seeing my husband differently lately. The transformation Jesus is doing in how I see my husband is amazing. The truth: He is no worse than me..We are both the same in our humanity and by the Grace of God we are both believers, but our humanity sure can play havoc on our marriage, so I must keep my gaze on Jesus to keep my perspective right in how I view my husband-the things I say in my head about him when things happen. God did not design him to be the ultimate in my life.

        I don’t want to come across like all is well, now we go off into candy land and party..OH NO! 🙂 It is a constant drinking and eating of Jesus every day..Letting Him fill me up. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, I know I need His grace for that day to continue to thirst for Him and want to whether or not my marriage becomes more beautiful or not. If it does, it is another gift, another grace from God, if not by His grace I hope I am satisfied in Him alone and I don’t fall apart-but I don’t want to focus on the future.

        Sorry again for the book. Just some things God is teaching me and thought I would pass them on. I will pray for you, your husband and your children. God is good and your faith SO encourages me Susan!

        1. “I had let go of my husband being the “fill all” in my life and also let Jesus heal the pain of some of the things that transpired in our desert time. I have just done this within the past month or so. 😉
          I am seeing my husband differently lately. The transformation Jesus is doing in how I see my husband is amazing. The truth: He is no worse than me..We are both the same in our humanity and by the Grace of God we are both believers, but our humanity sure can play havoc on our marriage, so I must keep my gaze on Jesus to keep my perspective right in how I view my husband-the things I say in my head about him when things happen. God did not design him to be the ultimate in my life.”

          I could have written the same words!
          Excepting the line about it happening in the last couple of months or so.

        2. Okay, now I must read Tozer. Love your heart, Rebecca!

    6. Susan

      Oh my sweet sister, I know exactly what you are experiencing. To live with someone who cannot share with you the wonderful spiritual gifts of God is hard living, yet there is hope for GOD IS WITH YOU!!! Keep doing good to your husband especially when you don’t want to or you think he doesn’t deserve it. I have come to see that it is when we do this we are a picture of Christ to the unbeliever. As you do continually do good to your husband God will change YOUR heart.

      May I share with you how I came to learn this truth? When God’s Spirit began instructing me, after the annulment of my marriage, to do good to my ex-husband I could not believe He actually expected me to carry out the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount. But He wouldn’t give up. I would hear those words over and over and over in my mind. So, I told Him before I commit to do good to Pedro I have to dig into the Greek to see what Jesus really expected me to do.

      Susan I want to pass on this knowledge to you. Take it and chew on it.

      Matthew 5:44

      LOVE your enemies
      BLESS those who curse you
      DO GOOD to those who hate you
      PRAY for those who spitefully use you and PERSECUTE you.

      I’m going to give you the greek word and definition of the words I have captialized.

      1. LOVE/AGAPAO–wish well/do good to; should NOT necessarily be taken to mean doing that which please them ,but choosing to show them favor and goodwill. One should realize the need of people to be changed through Christ’s grace, and do everything possible to bring them to a knowledge of the Lord.

      2. BLESS/EULOGEO–does not mean that we should say good things about those who curse us, but rather that we should invoke God’s blessing upon them by praying that they may be turned from their ways through God’s intervention in their lives.

      3. DO GOOD/KALOS POIEO–to do well to anyone, to benefit.

      4. CURSE/KATARAOMAI–to wish something to happen. To wish anyone evil or ruin, to curse, to give one over to ruin.

      5. PERSECUTE/DIOKO–pursue with repeated acts of enmity.

      6. PRAY/PROSEUCHOMAI–To pray to God on behalf of.

      Susan as I began living out Matt 5:44 God began chipping away at the stone house I had built around my heart. The date, for this entry I just shared with, is 08.14.08. So, as you see, the stonecutter began his work months before I limped into Dee’s oasis of healing.

      My fear for you Susan is that the enemy will begin twisting truth so he can isolate you from God. I’ve already been in that place of isolation and trust me it’s a place you don’t ever want to experience.

      Lastly, I encourage you to see your husband as Christ does. A soul bound by the invisible bonds of sin. Only Christ can deliver your husband. Pray that your husband will want to be delivered.

      I love you and I will be praying for you.

      1. Wow Tammy, this is very illuminating. I have also been recently taught that turning the other cheek does not mean allowing someone to slap you again. It means to keep the relationship open.

      2. I too thought this was really good Tammy.

      3. Tammy– I am so blessed by your wisdom!

      4. “Keep doing good to your husband especially when you don’t want to or you think he doesn’t deserve it. I have come to see that it is when we do this we are a picture of Christ to the unbeliever. As you do continually do good to your husband God will change YOUR heart.”

        Tammy, that was so good and believe it with all my heart. 🙂

  38. Thanks Dee and everyone for helping me remember some of my spiritual history. I suppose the recounting of them is a type of “ebenezer” for me.

    Sunday went much better than I had imagined it could, Brians mom did not embarass him, people were moved by the scholarship, and I didn’t sob openly as I feared I would.

    I was mostly grieved remebering how self focused I had been last year at Daniels commencement. That hurts so much now.

    1. Chris, I am SO GLAD to hear that. I was thinking about you yesterday and this morning. I will continue to pray for you dear sister.

    2. Chris, I am so glad it is behind you and that it went well. I pray the Lord will touch you with blessings that may cheer you.

      1. Thank you!

    3. Chris S., I’m so glad things went well sunday for everyone.

      I remember in Dee’s book, “The God of all comfort”, how she held so much quilt for things she had done or not done, before Steve died. Dee, step in here and tell Chris how you got over the quilt you held so badly. Chris is holding so much quilt also, before Daniel died.

      Praying for you Chris S. and Susan. You both have lost very close one’s to you and have problems in your marriages. God be with you and help you.

      1. Thank you Joyce,
        I am so glad to hear that Kendra was okay while you were in the hospital, what a relief for you.
        I enjoyed you toilet paper comment, your Maurice sounds wonderful.

        You are so kind to return from the hospital eager to encourage everyone in spite of being in pain.

        I read God of all Comfort, I believe it was the first book I read after coming home from the hospital. I would read it again now, but I passed it along already to a friend who lost her husband.
        One part I particularly appreciated was Dee sharing how guilty she felt when Steve fell because she had not chosen to sleep next to him, I believe on the floor. I cried and cried when I read it, I am crying now.

        There was one such time in the hospital when I had gone to the small sleeping room the hospital had provided for us, which I seldom did. My husband had stayed in Daniel’s room, I returned at about 3 am walking in on the PRN nurse assigned to us that night trying to do something alone and in the dark that he needed light and assistance to accomplish, Bill my husband was sound asleep. I cannot bring myself to relate the details yet, it is too much.

        It has been so hard to accept even that this has really happened to us. I remember going to purchase funeral flowers…for my sons funeral, and seeing my husband and son on the front page of the paper that day. The whole thing seemed surreal and appalling and it couldn’t possibly be true. I still haven’t brought all of this pain inside of me, it is like a weight I drag behind me.

        It helps to know that Daniel is healed and whole, suffering nothing, missing out on nothing. An older lady in our community, who also lost a son and I talked a few months ago. I shared how many answers to prayer had come about in the midst of our tragedy, and that I would trade them in a heartbeat to have him back (believe me I know how awful that sounds) her response was “ Oh you would not want to call him back here, not now that he has seen the glory of the father”. This helped me so much. Sometimes I liken his departure to one member of the family heading off to a favorite vacation spot ahead of the rest of the group, we will all be there together soon. His youth pastor came to the hospital the day we unhooked the ventilator. On the way he saw a flock of birds. As they went around a tree, one went alone around the far side of the tree, then rejoining the group. He said God spoke to him that this is how we should think of Daniel, he has made this departure from the group, but we will be reunited on the other side.

        1. Wow Chris, that was so heartbreaking to hear you tell of things that happened.

  39. I think my son has a good sense about his test yesterday. Thanks for praying. Will be 2 weeks before he gets results.

    1. Am praying for your son!

    2. Praying for his test results, Anne

  40. As I read the passages in Mark and in Romans, I couldn’t help but include the following verses, given my grief and feeling that I have been in my own wilderness, it helped me to read and include them.

    Read Mark 1:9-11
    Mark 1:9-11 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
    And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.
    And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

    Mark 1:12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.

    Read Romans 8:15-16

    Romans 8:15-16 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
    The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

    Romans 8:17 and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

    I guess it is not in our natures to expect suffering, but there is comfort to me somehow in believing that it is not an accident or sign that I was/am failing and needed/needing severe dicipline.

    1. “I guess it is not in our natures to expect suffering, but there is comfort to me somehow in believing that it is not an accident or sign that I was/am failing and needed/needing severe dicipline.” Loved that, Chris S.!

  41. I read Proverbs 7 today and it reminded me of all we are learning of the lure to adultery away from our First Love:
    Proverbs 7:4″Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,”
    and call understanding your kinsman;
    5 they will keep you from the adulteress,
    from the wayward wife with her seductive words.

    6 At the window of my house
    I looked out through the lattice.
    7 I saw among the simple,
    I noticed among the young men,
    a youth who lacked judgment.
    8 He was going down the street near her corner,
    walking along in the direction of her house
    9 at twilight, as the day was fading,
    as the dark of night set in.

    10 Then out came a woman to meet him,
    dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent.
    11 (She is loud and defiant,
    her feet never stay at home;
    12 now in the street, now in the squares,
    at every corner she lurks.)
    13 She took hold of him and kissed him
    and with a brazen face she said:

    14 “I have fellowship offerings[a] at home;
    today I fulfilled my vows.
    15 So I came out to meet you;
    I looked for you and have found you!
    16 I have covered my bed
    with colored linens from Egypt.
    17 I have perfumed my bed
    with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.
    18 Come, let’s drink deep of love till morning;
    let’s enjoy ourselves with love!
    19 My husband is not at home;
    he has gone on a long journey.
    20 He took his purse filled with money
    and will not be home till full moon.”

    21 With persuasive words she led him astray;
    she seduced him with her smooth talk.
    22 All at once he followed her
    like an ox going to the slaughter,
    like a deer[b] stepping into a noose[c]
    23 till an arrow pierces his liver,
    like a bird darting into a snare,
    little knowing it will cost him his life.

    24 Now then, my sons, listen to me;
    pay attention to what I say.
    25 Do not let your heart turn to her ways
    or stray into her paths.

    What stuck out to me most was the “persuasive words” that lead astray.

    Today I have felt led astray, and followed that path, a few times to correct, control, enforce my authority, demand respect. And now I run back and humbly fall back on my knees–thankful the my True Love always takes me back into His arms.

    1. Your last sentence blessed me mightily… all day I have struggled with asking God for forgiveness of a sin my heart talked me into having done- (you know those nagging feelings you get when something inside says– uh oh, you had a wrong thought at such-and-such time and may have offended God!!) So then as I was praying for forgiveness I got ANOTHER accusatory though that I didn’t ask for forgiveness correctly! It’s tormented me all day and I keep asking God to forgive me but don’t “feel” forgiven. So when I read your line about the True Love taking us back in His Arms I wanted to weep. It pains me so much to think of being out of harmony with God… I cannot stand it.

      So I’ll pray here and ask you please to join me in my prayer:
      Dear God our Heavenly Father, please forgive me for the two things where I felt I went wrong today– first the original thought and then the prayer I prayed for forgiveness. I do thank you for all the blessings You provide and also thank You for providing forgiveness for sins through what Christ did for me on the cross. I can’t ask to be washed white as snow on my own because I have NO RIGHT to ask that way; it’s ONLY through Christ that I ask this because He bled and died for me. I can’t stand being apart from You and I know You want me to return to Your Arms and NEVER stay away. Please wash me clean, forgive me and bless what I do tonight and forever in the future. Words can’t express how much I love You but my heart is crying out!! In Christ’s Name I pray, Amen.

      Please, sisters, agree with me in prayer! Many thanks and LOVE in CHRIST.

      1. Amen, Tracy!

      2. Amen Tracy. I remember a pastor explaining once that we really can’t help what thoughts go through our heads, sometimes they are planted there by the enemy or by our sinful flesh. It is the entertaining and cultivation of the thought that gives birth to sin.

        1. Thank you both for praying with me here.

    2. Thank you for sharing that, Elizabeth, you and your husband are both so blessed to have each other.

      Tracy, I’m praying your prayer with you sweet, Sister…may you feel forgiven.

    3. Elizabeth, Isn’t it amazing how when you get into the word now, you can’t escape this theme? It is everywhere!

  42. Oh, one more thing! I came across this quote today from Henri Nouwen, it really resonated with me:
    “All our struggles in relationships are connected with what I like to call the relationship between the ‘first love’ and the ‘second love’. The first love is from
    God, who loved us before we were born. The second love is from our parents, brothers, sisters, and friends, and it is only a reflection of that first love. Sometimes we expect from the second love what only the first love can give. Then we experience anguish. My personal struggle has always been that I expected
    a first love from someone who could only give a second love.”

    1. That’s neat. I love Nouwen’s writings!

  43. This morning I realized that I was getting too partial to my gifts and that it was time for a fast. Fasting is always difficult for me, not as much because of the hunger as because of what I go through spiritually. This time I was expecting it and have not been disappointed. I was on edge when devastating news came from a friend. My fear moved from my stomach to my throat. I couldn’t focus on my questions. I have been trying to pray all day but keep losing my focus. Just now I was sitting here churning, with eyes closed I said ‘Lord what do I do?’ Instantly I saw the scene from Pilgrim’s Progress when 2 roaring beasts were on either side of Christian’s path. He said, just keep walking. As you know the beasts are chained and strain as they might they cannot reach Christian as he walks right between them. Peace. Thank You Lord. Help us to just keep walking.

    1. Amen, Anne!

    2. Anne, Awesome word picture you drew from Pilgrim’s progress. I have never read that book. I’m telling you, you have led me to some awesome books so far. Now I am on Tozer’s. I read it when I was a new believer and it made sense, but I struggled through some of it. Now as I am reading it totally makes sense and I get it. It is actually a lot easier of a read than it was. I don’t know why that is though. I think it is because of our study. It really aligns with it.

      1. Rebecca, I read the book years ago but this image came from a grainy VHS that has been with us through both of my boys. We finally came to the point with Joey that he watched it over and over with Mom because she just loved it.

        God has placed every one of these books before me at the perfect time. That is why they are blessing us so. They are from Him. We are learning so much here. It is thrilling really when I think about how much more we have to go. There may also be difficulties but He will be with us.

    3. Anne,
      I had been searching yesterday for reasons why Jesus was sent into the wilderness by the Spirit and I listened to this John Piper message and after reading your post regarding fasting, I thought maybe you could benefit from listening too;


      1. Thanks Chris, I will listen.

  44. I like Elizabeth’s quote and Anne’s scene from Pilgrim’s Progress. Very good!

    Joyce: If you are well enough to read this, I have had you on my heart today and am praying for your recovery. Let us know how you are progressing when you are able. sending up love and prayers on your behalf.

  45. 1. This relates beautifully to the story of the father lifting the son that Dr. Keller told. It was like God giving Jesus a big hug for all the world to see.

    2. If it weren’t for the Spirit’s confirmation, the doctrine of my last church would have driven me to a pit of despair. Each time I would worry whether or not I was saved I would ask God to confirm and He would. I’m still working on the delight part. 🙂

    3. When I was striving to be moral or good I always fell short because I was motivated by fear. As I am grasping The Gospel, I now I can rest in the work Jesus did on the cross-His righteousness was put on me. What Dr. Keller calls a “radical paradigm.” Now I am motivated by love for my savior!

    4. Great visual of the trinity as a glass pyramid. Much better than the pie or the one I learned as a child of an egg.

    5. Good news is what Christ did for us on the cross. In religion you believe in the teachings of the founder, in Christianity you believe in the founder.

    6. I am so thankful that everything in Scripture can be proven. God knew we would need proof. Jesus really did everything He says He did and is who He says He is.

    7. I am still considering the painting.

    8. With religion there is no assurance. You don’t know until you die.

    9. Martin Lloyd Jones?

    10. For me personally, it exalted me as if I had ANYTHING to do with salvation. The truth is Jesus did it all, I had NOTHING to offer to save myself and God does not need my help.

  46. Thank you so much for thinking and praying for me Kim…and everyone. Last friday, I had a Laminectomy (Did I spell that right, Anne?!) It was a nerve pinched very bad right above my lower 3 vert’s I had been fused last Nov. He went in to remove bone to release it and hopefully no more pain (I don’t know yet if the long term results is that yet). Keep praying!

    Anyway, I was in surgery almost 4 hrs instead of 2 hrs. He said I had so much scar tissue and bone spur’s (I have arthritis all over) there, he had a hard time getting all that removed, because I had a laminectomy when I was 34 yrs. old. I am almost 62 now. That is a long time…28 yrs. and very normal to happen.

    Anyway, he hit the spinal fluid accidentlly and had to fix that up, so after surgery, I had to lie flat in the hospital bed for 48 hrs. I could lie on my side, which saved me, as it hurt so bad to lie flat on my back, where the surg. was. I could get horrible headaches or have to redo the surgery if I didn’t, so I thankfully stayed flat as I could! The Lord got me through everything, especially those 2 days and night’s The first day as I was lying there praying (and praying so much for all of you, Sister’s), no one was in the room and I had my eye’s closed. I felt someone’s hand on my left shoulder and thinking it was a nurse or family, I opened my eye’s right away, and NO ONE was there. I promise you all, this happened. I was on some pain pills, but not near enough for me! So, it wasn’t like I was drugged too much or anything. I knew in my heart is was Jesus’s hand that touched me on my shoulder. I knew he was saying to me, that he was with me. I couldn’t hardly believe that happened!!

    It isn’t a big surgery that I had, except the complications didn’t help, but I know I wasn’t alone in the surg. room and my hosp. room. I felt a peace and comfort and I was almost in constant prayer, when I could be. I didn’t have an appetite, so it was almost like a fast, but had to drink alot. (cathator was on and I was worried what would happen if I had to have a bowel movement!)

    Plus! Kendra never had a siezure…at all!! Last Nov’s surgery, she had 3 grand mall siezures in a row, after she seen mommy in pain. Of course I put on alittle when Maurice would wheel her in, to see mommy, as if I was doing so wonderful! But I WAS feeling very, very blessed!!!

    Also, because of nerve damage, I have pain going down both legs and my right leg is numb. Dr. O’ Bossie say’s this will go away in time. It was much harder to get up and walking then because of that, after the 48 hrs flat. So, I had alittle longer stay because of all this. I got out monday night, but couldn’t sit in the computor chair yet. I couldn’t wait to tell you all, everything!
    I am using a walker yet, but much, much better today and each day will get better. Maurice is still taking care of all Kendra’s needs, like dressing her, bathroom, eating, etc. and helping me and cooking/cleaning up. I’m so glad he is retired. He is the best daddy Kendra could ever have!

    One of the biggest shocker’s when I got home and used the bathroom, was that my husband actually put a tolet roll on the tolet roll holder! It was backwards to me,(paper coming over the top, instead of under), but still put on!! We have been married 21 years and he never has done that. I am the “tolet roll holder queen” of the house (along with many other things!!) So, he is a real blessing!! 🙂

    I wasn’t going to stay up late like this again, since the hospital got me changed around, but here I am! I’ve been catching up here most the day…didn’t want to miss a comment! Good Morning ! Love to all!

    1. Joyce, SO GLAD to hear you are o.k. and everything is over with now. I look forward to hearing the report of how much an improvement this surgery was and you can better walk and move and carry on with your life! But for now will pray as you recover. My heart is with you sis! It must be so difficult. Praise God Kendra didn’t have any seizures!!! So glad to hear your husband is taking good care of you too! 🙂

    2. I am also having a small procedure today and definitely not looking forward to it! I would rather go to the dentist 20 times in 1 year than have a doctor poking and prodding me! Please pray for me 🙂

      1. Praying right now for you Laura! That God would guide the doctors hands and give wisdom, that you would feel peace and His presence.

      2. Laura, I am praying now. Love to you

    3. Joyce so glad you are okay! Praying for speedy recovery and God’s comfort to continue to touch you.

    4. Joyce, I can see why God had me praying! PTL for His hand on your shoulder. When I went in for an emergency c-section my husband was on a field mission in the Army. I felt God’s presence so strong I reached out to take His hand. We are never alone.

    5. Joyce, how can you make me laugh and cry at the same time?! Thank You Lord for being with Joyce as we asked! Too funny about the toilet paper! I am so thankful that Kendra did not have any seizures. It is wonderful to have you back with us!

    6. I’m glad that God answered so many prayers, Joyce. It’s terrific to hear from you!