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THE TSUNAMI HAS COME. BE STILL MY SOUL.

You may not have had a chance to say “good-bye.”

Death, depression, or divorce came uninvited to your door.

The waters are roaring.

The mountains are trembling.

You may wonder how you can possibly go on.

It’s time, as Martin Luther used to say to his despairing friend,

Philip Melanchthon, “Come Philip, let’s sing the Forty-Sixth.”

God is our refuge and strength

a very present help in trouble

Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,

though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea

though its waters roar and foam,

though the mountains tremble at its swelling

Psalm 46:1-4

The forty-sixth psalm is meant to inspire hope in the midst of a storm. Just as Jesus was present and in control when the disciples were in the midst of the storm on the Sea of Galilee, so He is a “present help” in your tsunami. This short psalm, of just eleven verses, can help you face your storm. It has inspired some of the greatest hymns of Christendom: A Mighty Fortress and Be Still My Soul.

Like the psalm we recently studied, Psalm 42, this too is filled with water pictures. It opens with a tumultuous storm, the verses that inspired A Mighty Fortress. But it then takes you to a scene of the new Jerusalem, a very real heaven, where there “is a river whose streams made glad the city of God.” It concludes with the famous verse 10: “Be still and know that I am God.”

How often in Scripture God uses pictures of water to describe our emotions. If you are not in a tsunami now, if you live long enough, you will be. You will feel like the waters are roaring and foaming, and the mountains trembling. That is how you feel when you lose a spouse, a child, a marriage, your health…

But this imagery, William Brown explains in his book, Seeing the Psalms, is not meant to  convey fear “but confidence, even joy.”  It is true that the nations may be in tumult, that natural disaster will come, that death of a loved one may knock, unbidden and unwelcome, on our door — yet God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. This storm is temporary, for Psalm 46 goes on with another much more peaceful picture:

Katsushita Hokusai, 19TH CENTURY JAPANESE ARTIST

There is a river whose streams make

glad the city of God,

the holy habitation of the Most High,

God is in the midst of her; she shall not

be moved.

God will help her when morning

dawns.

(Psalm 46:5)

This week we will:

I. Study Psalm 46 and finish contemplating the great hymn Be Still My Soul.

II. Look at some key verses on heaven and discuss one book on the New York Times best seller list called Heaven is for Real. (I’ll tell you right now I’m skeptical of the book but look forward to some earnest discussion from strong and perceptive women.)

III. Listen to the Midday program and report. Link

IV. Listen to a wonderful message and report our thoughts. Listen either to this amazing sermon on Job from Keller — one of my favorites from the series: Link

Or to this free sermon from The Gospel Coalition by Nancy Guthrie entitled “Is your church a safe place for sad people?” Link

Come sisters, let’s “sing” the Forty-Sixth. ” That’s what Luther would tell his melancholy friend when Philip was convinced the storm would win. We need these truths so in grief and in these tumultuous times. God is with us, “a very present help.”

PART I.

BIBLE STUDY AND BE STILL MY SOUL

ICE-BREAKER:

What stood out to you from the opening? How do you identify with the emotions expressed in Psalm 46:1-5?

1. Read Psalm 46:1-3 slowly. These are the verses that inspired A Mighty Fortress.

A. What is the very first statement in verse 1? What emotion is it intended to inspire?

B. Name one way God has been “a very present help” to you recently in the midst of a big or small trouble.

C. Describe what is happening in nature in verses 2-3. Comment on Hokusai’s painting of the tsunami which I chose to represent these verses.

In a sermon delivered at Redeemer, John Piper noted this parallel in Psalm 46:

The word used to decribe the waters “foam” is actually used again, but translated “rage” in verse 6. In other words, nature and nations are both raging.

The word used to describe the mountains “tremble” is actually used again, but translated “totter” in verse 6. Both nature and nations are tottering.

Therefore, whether your tsunami is a literal one from nature, or from terrorists from nations, or from personal circumstances, God is greater.

(If you aren’t opposed to marking your Bible, you might circle these four words and draw two lines to show they are the same Hebrew word.)

D. Do you have a comment on Piper’s exegesis and how it relates to any terrors you have?

2. Read Psalm 46:4-5

A. To what has the menacing sea changed into in verse 4?”

B. Name one way that your ocean of grief has turned into a life giving stream. (Or you may not be there yet.)

C. Comment on the painting by Hokusai I chose to describe this mood.

True believers make up the city of God, a city that will one day descend from heaven, a “holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride, adorned for her husband.” (Revelation 21:2)  Heaven will come down, believers will fill it, and God will be in the midst of her.

D. Contemplate this Monet of Venice and its river at sunrise.  It made me think of phrases from Psalm 46:4-5. Comments?

Venice at Sunrise Claude Monet

There is a river whose streams make

glad the city of God…

God will help her when morning

dawns.

3. What do you learn about God from Psalm 46:6-9?

4. How does the psalm close?

5. Psalm 46:10 needs to become a practice of our lives. What are some very practical ways we can “be still and know?”

6. Contemplate these lyrics  and take a few that help calm your soul and comment on them.

Verse 3:

Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears.
Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay
From His own fulness all He takes away.

Verse 4.

Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

PART II. CONTEMPLATING HEAVEN

When Steve died, one of the books I read was Don Piper’s 90 Minutes in Heaven. I also heard Piper speak. It comforted me, but still, I had reservations about basing my theology of heaven on someone’s experience instead of on Scripture, though it seemed in many ways to line up with Scripture.

Heaven is for Real Todd Burpo

I’ve gotten letters from people I love and respect who have found great comfort in this new bestseller, Heaven is for Real.

I feel a bit like Scrooge, but I hope heaven isn’t like this. Everyone is wearing robes with sashes, Jesus is sitting on a throne, and we all have wings. It sounds to me like a child’s  idea of heaven rather than the real thing. Here’s an excerpt from the book, describing a conversation between Todd and his son, Colton:

“What do people look like in heaven?”

“Everybody’s got wings.”

Wings, huh!

“Did you have wings?”

“Yeah, but mine weren’t very big.” He looked a little glum when he said this.

“Okay…did you walk places or did you fly?”

“We flew. Well, all except for Jesus. He was the only one in heaven who didn’t have wings. Jesus went up and down like an elevator.”

Heaven is real — but this doesn’t seem real. I don’t know if the little boy had a dream and it has gotten out of control or if something much worse is going on or if I’ll be apologizing to Todd Burpee in heaven.  But I do know that I don’t want to base my theology of heaven on someone’s near death experience. I want to base it on Scripture. Isn’t it interesting that these books are on the top of the New York Times Bestseller list? People are so hungry to know about the afterlife — but not too discerning on where to get their information. I was relieved at The Gospel Coalition to hear Nancy Guthrie say the same thing. (Her message is one you may listen to this week.)

7. What do you think? Have you read any of these books on near death experiences? What are your thoughts and why?

I know that the images of heaven in revelation are challenging — for this vision of John is full of symbolic pictures. For example, I am hoping “streets of gold” simply means the very best — but if it is literal, He will help me love it, I know.

What is most comforting to me is the understanding that the two books I am going to recommend explain, that according to Scripture, heaven is not some ethereal place, but just as real as earth. God never made anything that wasn’t good. So He will reform the fallen earth and join heaven and earth together.We will have new resurrected bodies like Jesus did (and no wings!) we will laugh, love, and eat the best of food. We will hug and recognize one another. There will be no more pain, no more tears, and no more death. Jesus has gone to prepare this place. It took him six days to make this world — just imagine what heaven will be like! And I love that He said, “If it were not true, I would have told you.” (John 14:1-2)

The two best books I’ve seen, based on Scripture, are both called Heaven.

The first, by Randy Alcorn, takes a few more liberties as Alcorn uses his imagination, but still, it resonates with the truth of Scripture. The second, on the right, is by Joni. Both blessed me immeasurably.

I listened to Max Lucado speak on heaven, with similar ideas as in these two books, but then he said, “But if I’m not right, I’m still going there!”

I went out to eat with Kathy Troccoli after Steve died and was lamenting: “How can he be happy when his family is so sad?”

She quipped, as only Kathy could, “If I’m not happy in heaven, I’ll slit my wrists.”

And as Sara Groves sings, “I don’t know about bright lights at the end of tunnels…but I know to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, and from what I know of Him, that should be very good.”

8. What do you think heaven will be like? What Scripture on heaven ministers the most to you?

Part III. UPDATE: Here is the link to the “God of All Comfort, Part 6” on Moody Radio: Link

Part IV. Listen either to Keller’s message on Job (Link) or Nancy’s message from The Gospel Coalition and comment here. Link

9. What’s your take-a-way for the week?

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237 comments

  1. Thank you, Kim. She was 95 years old, and very, very special to me. She fell and broke her hip and they pinned it and she was in horrific pain for 8 days and then just closed her eye’s and went to be with Jesus and her loved one’s. If you go on facebook, look under Joyce L. Bond, Keim, Peterson, or I’m one of Dee’s friends. The family posted a video of my aunt talking about when she was 4 years old and her younger brother was 2 years old and they lived poorly on a Montana homestead and my grandma was going to have another baby, so she sent grandpa to get a midwife to help, on hoseback. My aunt and little brother slept through it all, but grandma delivered twin boys, alone (one was my dad) (what a shock that must of been, to have two come!) and she cut the cords and washed them and wrapped them up and even timed them…who came first and even named them, (Earle and Merle…my dad was Merle) and was back in bed with them when grandpa and the lady got there! What a surprise they had! All three of my aunt’s brother’s died in their 60’s, one every year for three years, and My aunt Ila Fae, lived to be 95! She lost her husband when she was in her 50’s and never remarried. So she had a grand welcoming with her husband and parents and brother’s and everyone else she lost in her lifetime, when she went home to be with Jesus! So we will be going to her funeral in North Platte, NE in a few days. Also, you will see picture’s of my daughter, Kyla’s, boyfriend in high school, that just died at age 36 of a long, lingering illness. Bryce was a sweet boy, but he was 3 years older than Kyla and he moved to TX after he graduated. But she just talked to him a year ago. So many sad things happening. Mary kay is still hanging on yet.

      1. Thank you so much.

    1. Thank you Joyce for taking time to share this story of from your aunt about your family. I pray that God will comfort you, and allow you to comfort and bless all those hurting people around you, just as you comfort, bless, and build up all of us here.

  2. Listen to the Midday program and report
    I love the Three h’s and agree, that basically, when things go wrong, or we have a crisis, a big question is “Do I believe that God loves me and that he wants the best for me?

    God’s Heart
    God’s History
    Heaven

    I love your teaching on journaling, how we can ask the questions in our journal and then speak to our souls. That has been the missing element (not always) when I have journaled. I have poured out my soul to God, being honest with him, but then often, I have left it there and not added the dimension of speaking the truth to my soul. I think this will give me a desire to journal again.
    Thank you Dee, I wonder why I haven’t seen this or been taught this before.

    I love Theresa of Avila’s quote about heaven being like one night in a bad hotel!

    Great program–

  3. 2. Read Psalm 46:4-5

    A. To what has the menacing sea changed into in verse 4?”

    A river with streams that nourish the people living there.

    B. Name one way that your ocean of grief has turned into a life giving stream. (Or you may not be there yet.)

    I am not in that place yet. I can say God is doing a work in my life in regard to grieving over my son with Autism, but that isn’t as an ocean of grief as it would be if he were to die. I am sure that Ocean is very very rough.

    C. Comment on the painting by Hokusai I chose to describe this mood.

    I see a peaceful community enjoying one another and enjoying where they are, still waters, and provision abounds.

    D. Contemplate this Monet of Venice and its river at sunrise. It made me think of phrases from Psalm 46:4-5. Comments?

    Immediately I thought of God’s Holy fire-His presence. I think of the burning bush also-how His Holiness is inside and all around encompassing the scene in this picture.

  4. 3. What do you learn about God from Psalm 46:6-9?

    I love Verse 6. Oh how easy it is to fret over the goings on in this world right now..YET he lifts his voice and the Earth melts. Lord, help me to bend to you in embracing you are sovereign-this world is YOURS and you have control over it and one day you will bring the heavens to Earth and we will dwell in it and there will be peace, justice and more important YOU will be loved and revered and worshiped in full in spirit and in truth. Help me to see this and be confident in this glorious truth as more and more our nations are in an uproar and Kingdoms are indeed falling including ours.

    I am also learning that while God is sovereign, and we have a glorious future ahead in the midst of things falling apart whether it be death, our country whatever-HE IS WITH US!! God didn’t come and die for us because he had everything but us and then just disappear and not be involved in our lives, and not love us, grieve with us and empower us. Oh no, He is with us and wants to walk with us through every single minute and second of life. Through the pain while we are here and then oh in glory!

    You know, sometimes I can just wake up in pain, or in fear, or in worry..it just comes due to my human condition. I hate it, and I wish I wouldn’t do it because it is painful, but I do and He wants me to come straight to Him and open myself up like a river. My desire is that some day my first response will be to do this instead of gripping or holding on to it before I let go. I see myself letting go first thing more and more, but totally not there yet. Journaling has definitely helped.

    4. How does the psalm close?

    The Lord almighty is with us-HE IS OUR FORTRESS..

  5. Thank you Dee for absolving me of keeping up while I was away, I been truly reeling with having been away, our son who is in the Air Force home for this week after the trip, a graduation party this Friday for Brian, plus starting my new job. I only spent about 3 days with my predecessor before she moved out of state! I am feeling more than a little overwhelmed.

    I need to be here doing this grief work, to keep from having a breakdown. My heart seems to be beating too fast most of the time.

    We took some time on the 25th to share memories of Daniel, I think I may have had unrealistic expectations for the trip, it was good to be together, but it is distressing to see that none of our children are walking closely with the Lord, two of the have started smoking and the same two drink too much.

    I am in charge on my own of my first wedding and private party on Saturday, I feel so anxious about making mistakes, there is so much I don’t know yet. I would appreciate your prayers.

    I did read the study and comments from last week, it was helpful to think about the water images while looking out at the ocean. I have not read the comments for this weeks study, I felt like I needed to go ahead and get started myself.

    1. Chris so glad to have you here and we totally understand about being busy! Will pray for you. Lord thank you that you are with Chris as she goes through this journey of grief and of the events and business of life. Thank you that you are acquainted with grief and know it too well so that you could walk with us through ours. Lord we ask that you would bring to mind to Chris today and this weekend as she does her first wedding that you are her refuge and strength and that you are there-her very present help in trouble. Thank you Lord that you are our very present help. We love you.

    2. Lord I pray for Your blessing over this wedding coming up. May everyone present see Your hand of blessing that Your name may be glorified. Please be with Chris, bring to her every detail that needs her attention. Help her to focus and supply needed resources. Bless the work of her hands I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

  6. What stood out to you from the opening?

    What stood out to me was that God is in control of what appears to be chaos to our eyes, and the swiftness of the change from Mountains being thrown into the sea and the earth giving way to the peace of the stream in the city of God.

    I am going to try posting this image; this picture was in the small emergency room waiting room my husband and I were taken to when we arrived at the hospital. We had driven 48 miles after the officer had come to the door to the hospital where Daniel had been lifeflighted, when we arrived we waited , when someone finally came they said they were not sure the patient was our son. Daniel looked much older than he was, he had just graduated high school but was only 17. Those who were present was he was taken by the emergency workers thought he was 19.When we arrived looking for our 17 year old son, they were confused, it was excruciating for us, I asked if he had braces and gave a couple of other physical clues before they came back and told us of his dire condition.

    http://www.familychristian.com/shop/product_image.asp?ProdID=6796

    I am thankful to those who donated that picture, and to the hospital for allowing them to place it there. I did draw strength from the reminder. The words were from Psalm 46, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

    How do you identify with the emotions expressed in Psalm 46:1-5?

    Honestly the “we will not fear” brought me back to feeling like I failed to properly handle my storm, I did fear, especially that more disaster was coming and felt like God was not accessible to me

    1. Read Psalm 46:1-3 slowly.
    A. What is the very first statement in verse 1?
    God is our refuge and our strength,

    What emotion is it intended to inspire?
    Trust and I am thinking submission

    B. Name one way God has been “a very present help” to you recently in the midst of a big or small trouble.
    My first thought was this study, and how grateful I am that He led me here, my second was that he is sustaining our marriage, we have been through so much, God has held us together so many times over the years through many storms.
    He has provided for us financially and emotionally, and in loosing Daniel, I have really dug deep into the realization that it hurts so much because the blessing of having him was so great. He was a gift to me from God.

    C. Describe what is happening in nature in verses 2-3.
    Earthquakes and tidal waves, things that seem firm and sure are being shaken.

    Comment on Hokusai’s painting of the tsunami which I chose to represent these verses.
    I found an image that was clearer for me of the painting online, then I enlarged it. I was struck by the smallness of the men in the boats, they were powerless to change their circumstances. It is hard to imagine being in their position and not being afraid.

    1. Chris, thanks so much for the picture. Such a great picture! Jesus being our strong tower-our refuge-our rock we can cling to in the midst of a huge storm.

      Lord every time I hear Chris’ story I can’t imagine what her ocean looks like and what it feels like, but I trust that you know. Lord, help her through any guilt she might have. We ask that you would still her waters in your timing and in your way.

      1. Thank you Rebecca, your prayers for me brought tears, I have sobbed as I have read through this weeks comments. I have had little solitude over that past couple of weeks, and needed some quite time and tears.
        I appreciate all of you so much.

        1. Praying for you Chris. I loved the picture.

    2. Chris, the picture is amazing. I stared at it awhile and I see you in the lighthouse–in the refuge, in Him, with all the waves crashing around you in a way I am afraid to even imagine–your pain, your loss, it is so tremendous. And yet, you are clinging to your God, holding on with fear, but still here, holding. You have challenged and inspired me with your faith–I have thought of you a lot lately in this season of remembering every moment all over again.

      We came back from the beach last week and my 4 yr old son was enamored with the lighthouse we climbed. He has asked that we now call him “Lighthouse”–so as I do, I will remember this and to pray again for you all.

      1. WOW! How cool is that? I love it when God does this on this blog. 🙂

      2. I hope this link works, I googled the artist and image name and then clicked on images to find it.

        http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0a/The_Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa.jpg

    3. Beautiful picture of safety in the midst of the storm, Chris. Thinking of you and praying, too.

  7. Chris, I love the picture. It ministers to me.
    Lord, I lift our sister, Chris, to you. I ask you to renew her strength as she prepares for this event and the party and all the other demands of life. Calm her anxious thoughts and be the lifter of her head. May she run to you and speak truth to her soul. Hide her in the shelter of your wings and refresh her as only you can, dear Lord. Thank you, gracious God, for keeping her marriage and give her a peace that you are at work, whether she see’s the evidence or not, in the lives of her children.

  8. Name one way that your ocean of grief has turned into a life giving stream.
    When our youngest son turned sixteen, with all he owned in a laundry basket, he walked out of our beautiful clean loving home to a drug house to sleep on a dirty mattress with no sheets on a cold basement floor. My husband who had just lost his parents eleven weeks apart, paced weeping until he passed out in grief. Our child would go from one drug house to another for two years.
    I remember in particular one Mother’s day begging God to let me find him just to know he was alive. A few minutes later he walked in, just in time for family dinner. Oh sister’s our God is good!
    Even while typing this I have to ask God to carry me. I don’t revisit this pain very often. The picture Chris shared is exactly how I felt-surrounded by huge waves, barely keeping my head above water.
    Our son returned home after the Lord allowed him to come face to face with a demon in a very real dream. I had been praying for God to shake him over hell. Yes, as crazy as that prayer sounds, that was what I prayed (I am so glad the Holy Spirit prays on our behalf).
    Today our son lives with us and is a hard working welder and in the process of getting debt free. He loves his Bible-I know b/c it is on his pillow many mornings. We enjoy long deep discussions about God. I don’t know for sure but wonder if he would be the believer he is had it not been for his experience. If that is so then I welcome all the pain we suffered. I cherish every opportunity to offer hope to parents facing similar pain.

    1. I am saving this Kim–what an incredible story of His power and grace–thank you!

      1. Kim, so good: “If that is so then I welcome all the pain we suffered.” that is the perspective God wants you, and us, to have! It sounds like He is growing you through this.

        This morning in my Wed. study we went over this and what resonated with me, based on what I have learned here on this blog the past year, is that when suffering and trials happen we aren’t to ‘consider it joy’ in a sense that we enjoy the suffering rather that we consider it joy that God is using this trial to develop something in us and to draw us closer. To teach us not to back up, but rather to move closer in to Him. It is a process and at least with me, as Dee has said before, it has taken many shakings to even get me to a place where I am open like a river to Him and thankful for the trials that led me there.

    2. I like how you are using your pain from this trial, and the hope that you found, to share with and encourage other parents facing similar pain. You must really encourage them as you have walked the same road!

      1. Thank you, Susan, I pray it is so.

    3. Kim, your story so ministers to me. My son left us angry and hurt when he was just barely 18. Long story, but he has been through a lot in the past 2 years and has yet to grow up. I don’t know all the details of his day to day life (and really don’t think I want to know), but they are somewhat similar to your son’s I’m sure. Your story gives me hope. I will pray as you did that God “shakes him over hell.” He will be 21 in a month and I miss him dearly. It pains me to think of him, so I don’t – much. I will say this; this son brought me back to God….running. I can thank him for that.

      1. Laura,
        I have begun praying for him as well as your family. Thankful you came running back to God. That’s the best and safest place to be. This study and women will also be a refuge during this storm. I became a madwoman as Dee described and my son told me later that when he saw that I let go that’s when God got a hold of him. I had been on a search and save mission the first year and when I reconciled him to God and let God take over he saw that and turned his heart towards home. I am not saying that’s what everyone should do. I do recommend every parent ask God how to respond and God showed me that I must stand still, trust God, pray and watch the deliverance of God. God was so faithful to sing songs over me in the night. Larnelle Harris’ “The Strength of the Lord” was a huge blessing. Love and hugs to you.

  9. Kim, What a beautiful story of God’s redemption. I am rejoicing with you-the prodigal came home. I have a similar story, maybe one day I will share it.

    1. Thank you, I would love to hear it, Terri. Love and hugs to you.

  10. I started Alcorn’s book and I’m already enthralled–in the first chapter he said “We cannot anticipate or desire what we cannot imagine. That’s why, I believe, God has given us glimpses of Heaven in the Bible–to fire up our imagination and kindle a desire for Heaven in our hearts.”

    I flipped around and found another quote that got me lured in “If my wedding date is on the calendar, and I’m thinking of the person I’m going to marry, I shouldn’t be an easy target for seduction. Likewise, when I’ve meditated on Heaven, sin is terribly unappealing.”

    I think I’ve been lazy in pursuing reading about Heaven, so this has all motivated me with a fresh desire. I can tell already it seems to bring up more questions in my mind…but it also makes it feel much more real, tangible, and I see an importance in letting myself really get that part. It’s not just something for later, it’s for me to meditate upon now, and let it transform my perspective.

  11. I am sorry. I was very ungracious in #7. All through dinner I have been trying to understand what exactly my problem is. I feel defensive, whether for myself or for Colton I don’t know. Maybe the whole thing just bothers me. Especially the way this sensationalism crazed culture has reacted. My impression was that his parents where honestly trying to share what they saw as important. But maybe they are just attention seeking, Jerry Springer types. Either way I feel like this boy will be hurt by criticism and by the attention. Our media really is a beast.

    1. Anne,
      I first heard of this book on Haven Today with Charles Morris on Christian Radio. I have much respect for this program and its host as I listen to it frequently and I read the book Charles Morris authored with his wife about the death of their son who was addicted to meth. On the program, he interviewed Colton’s father and discussed the book. I haven’t read the book, but I get the impression too that the parents tried to share their son’s experience in that it might help others. One thing they talked about on the program was being at a funeral and Colton became distressed because he said “OH dad, he just had to know Jesus, didn’t he?” – speaking of the deceased person, Colton was worried about the man’s salvation after his own experience of heaven, he wants everyone to go there.

  12. Anne, i saw your comment as more passionate and gracious than ungracious.

  13. 2. Read Psalm 46:4-5

    A. To what has the menacing sea changed into in verse 4?

    A river whose streams make glad the city of God.

    B. Name one way that your ocean of grief has turned into a life giving stream.

    To see my dad put his faith in Jesus last summer showed me how God took the grief of our family’s tragedy and brought life to my dad, spiritually. It was truly amazing! I saw much resistance put up by the enemy and alot of spiritual warfare but God prevailed.

    C. Comment on the painting by Hokusai I chose to describe this mood.

    The sea which threatened before now adds beauty to the scene; it is a calm and serene picture of the people going about their day without trouble or fear.

    D. Contemplate this Monet of Venice and its river at sunrise. It made me think of phrases from Psalm 46:4-5. Comments?

    I like the stillness of the water and how it reflects the city. It’s peaceful.

  14. I’ve read “Heaven is for real” and was convinced of things he couldn’t of known about, like his sister in heaven and his “Pops” as a younger man and etc. And I also liked his father backing up everything with scripture. I think people loved it because of the hope it gives them.

    But, I have to be alittle careful in my criticism, as Colton’s mom is my niece’s best friend and the dad is their pastor, there in Imperial, NE

    The only thing I feel is…enough is enough! They were in Kearney here not long ago AGIAN for a book signing and songs by Colton with christian singers. I am afraid if they keep it up, it looks like they are just money hungrey now. I think they are just common small town people, that wanted to tell their son’s stories, but they need to just drop it now.

    1. Joyce, I agree with you. I am afraid all of this will twist and spoil a beautiful memory of a gift from the Lord. I do think it came from the Lord for I do not think Satan would give him such a conviction for salvation in Jesus only, whether it was a dream or actual experiendce. I think it is crucial to remember that all of this came to and is related by a four year old child. But I think Randy Alcorn’s book is meat and am inspired to read it again.

  15. 5. Psalm 46:10 needs to become a practice of our lives. What are some very practical ways we can “be still and know?”

    To stop fighting-stop striving inside and turn to Him and be still and listen. I think part of how to do that is listening to the thoughts that are unsettling me-asking myself ‘why so downcast’ or ‘why so anxious’ or ‘why so afraid’, ‘why so guilty’ and then correct these thoughts with the truth. Perhaps memorizing Psalm 46:10 would be a great help in beginning that process of being still.

    A practical way is get out my journal and write and get into Scripture in a quiet place when I can. I do find that in the morning right after I wake up is the best time. If I am unable to get into a quiet place, then I need to dialogue with God and listen to Him when I am driving or cleaning. I need to trust Him in those busy times as well. He comes to me there too.

  16. 6. Contemplate these lyrics and take a few that help calm your soul and comment on them.

    Verse 3:

    Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart
    And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
    Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
    Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears.
    Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay
    From His own fulness all He takes away.

    Verse 3 stuck out to me. I had a hard time picking out a few because the meaning of it all flows together. When suffering hits, the benefit of it is I will better know His Love, His heart than I would have without it. In times of suffering He fills me up-He fills the holes that suffering put in my heart. I do think it is a process though, through time.

    I think as He fills us in this healing time Hope comes as we move into seeing that not only can Jesus restore us with His fulness while we are here on Earth, in the future literally everything will be restored even those who have passed before us, we will see again and it will be even better.

  17. Elizabeth,
    I want to address your comment that you hope you didn’t offend anyone. I was not offended and I didn’t write you off as judgmental. I hope that we can all say things without fearing that others are going to have negative feelings about us because of what we write. I often say I am a verbal processor–I often need to hear myself say something as I process how I feel about it.
    When we write, what is missing is the aspects of communication that make it personal–the body language and the tone of voice. When I read all your posts, (I wish I had more time to comment on all of them, because I learn from all of you and I love hearing and seeing different perspectives) I need to put the best construction on everything I read, knowing that we are all in a different place in our spiritual journey and we are all different. But the common factor is that the spirit of God is within all of us. If we only posted things that we know are safe or that everyone would agree with, I think we would all lose something. As my son said in his blog, we need to offer each other grace.
    Truly, even when we disagree, it helps us to see things from another perspective and isn’t that part of the value of body life?
    I love that we are a diverse group of women–let’s use that for God’s glory and for our growth.

    1. Thank you Terri for these kind and grace-filled words. I love our fellowship here and I too am a verbal processor! But I do want to learn to be slower to speak…quicker to listen…and learn to filter, so that y’all are not bombarded with every thought I have 😉
      Thank you again, blessings to you.

    2. Terri,

      I loved that you said this: “Truly, even when we disagree, it helps us to see things from another perspective and isn’t that part of the value of body life?
      I love that we are a diverse group of women–let’s use that for God’s glory and for our growth.”

      I really have seen God move when we ask tough questions and when we lovingly discuss things that even might be controversial in nature. I love that freedom we have here.

      I liked the gracious way Dee handled this issue with the book, as so many others here have, yet also how she spoke the truth. Sometimes I struggle in that area of compassion with stuff like this, but I am learning from you all.

  18. 8. What do you think heaven will be like? What Scripture on heaven ministers the most to you?

    Rev. 22: 3-5 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. -I am thinking this will be when we come back with Him to reign on Earth when He restores it and connects heaven with Earth, so perhaps this must be what it is like in heaven too.

    OH MY! Thousands upon ten thousands of angels singing Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord almighty-all praising Him in joyful assembly. How beautiful of a scene our loved ones who are with the Lord are getting to see and be involved in.

    We will be fully satisfied as He encompasses us-He will be our all in all.

    We will see His face-We will see Him in all his glory and beauty. Right now we only see dimly-but we get to be with HIM and see Him forever.

    No sickness, pain, sorrow, mourning, death..Jesus said it will be paradise.

    I do think when we are in heaven we will look at our time on Earth as one night in a very bad hotel.

    I am starting to see how I have lacked in studying what God says about heaven. I see the importance in studying this now. This is going to be where we spend eternity..Our time here is but a breath and I do think that focusing on the hope of our future can really strengthen us to persevere in the midst of our stay here in this bad hotel.

    1. That’s a beautiful vs from Revelation Rebecca–what a great picture. Thank you for sharing it.

  19. I really enjoyed Nancy Guthrie’s lesson on helping hurting people. I related both as one who has been the one hurting, but also as one wanting to know how to help those who are hurting—it really was a great talk.Angela had great notes above, so these may be redundant, but I had to cut and paste from what I typed up already.

    Hurting people are often a big ball of hurt—especially sensitive.
    Six ways to help the hurting:
    1-overcome the awkwardness, and engage. Grief is a lonely place—be courageous, and don’t avoid hurting people.
    * this stuck with me–The best thing to say is to humble ourselves and say ‘I don’t know what to say”. It’s easy fdor me to want to relate with my own story…I so want to learn to just be quiet, to say I’m sorry, I’m sad with them…

    2. Make room for tears and sadness—allow time and space to be sad. I liked this: Faith doesn’t make loss hurt less, but it gives us a hope to hold on to. Don’t be afraid to talk with the grieving person about the one they lost. Don’t worry you’ll make them sadder—they are sad, and when we remember with them, it blesses them.

    3. *Go deeper than deliverance (healing) in prayer. Ask Him to accomplish His purpose.
    I have never heard someone talk about this before and it really ministered to me because it is something I’ve often wondered about—how are we to pray in these situations? Sometimes I don’t feel peace praying for healing, but feel guilty for that. Nancy said we don’t like to pray this way because we feel obligated to pray what the hurting person has asked us to pray for, and sometimes praying deeper than healing seems uncompassionate, and we don’t look at what Scripture has taught us of the ways God uses suffering. What are we assuming when we try to get as many people as possible to pray for someone? Is it that the more we pray, the more we can pressure God? Prayer is asking God for things He has promised to give—His presence, His power, His purpose in our lives.

    4. Gently challenge spiritualism and sentimentality with spiritual truth
    People long to have a super natural experience as proof God has spoken to them. We don’t really believe what Scripture has revealed to us about the Heaven and the New Earth is significant. Address false assumptions about faith protecting from all harm, or that God owes us an understanding or an answer to the why for our suffering.

    5. Anticipate the family pressure points
    Hurting people need to be encouraged to move out of their own suffering and focus on others—don’t let the grief become your identity, Christ alone is our identity. That was big for me too. I can remember when a fairly close friend didn’t invite me to a baby shower (during my infertility) because she thought it would be too hard for me. I was devastated. But, from that moment on, I knew I had to make extra effort on my end to say ‘hey—I’m OK”, and since that time I’ve hosted 4 baby showers at my house.

    6. Facilitate turning misery into ministry
    Hurting people need to turn their misery into ministry and reach out and help other hurting people—this process of beginning to help and serve others out of your pain, is what brings our own healing.
    One of my hopes is to do this more. We have helped others with adoption struggles, I really have a heart for marriage and hope to someday use what God has brought us through to help others. I do see how moving out of my self to serve is part of the true healing process.

    This was helpful to me too–Nancy’s husband David answered the question—“How can a wife best be there for her husband?”
    A man can feel like he can’t fix the problem or “do it right”, and Nancy helped him by simply reaffirming her confidence in and admiration for him.

    1. Elizabeth, I love your crib notes. 🙂 I am going to listen to it, but it helps to give me a great taste of it. I usually can’t wait to get to Mid Day and the sermons Dee posts, but I make myself wait until I have done the study before it.

      1. You all have overflowed my cup today–what a gift to have you all. I feel as though the family I longed for growing up has been given to me 10 thousand times over with all of you–reminds me to pray that He will protect it (wise Rebecca had said that before). I have learned here the rich food of real fellowship in Christ–thank you all.

  20. Icebreaker 2C. Comment on the painting by Hokusai I chose to describe this mood.

    The waves are scary in this picture. The ends of them seem to reach out to grab the people in the skiffs. The skiffs seem to be moving gently toward the waves, but there is a certain calmness about them…. Almost like they will quietly enter the rough water and come out unscathed. It seems they will be surrounded by the water, but the people inside are peaceful (mostly). The only person who seems to be reacting is the man in the front of the skiff in the foreground of the painting. The others are sort of hugging the water (maybe in terror? not sure!)

  21. Learning to make God my Strength and Fortress in every situation of my life. I have been experiancing great aniexty
    all week and stressing over becoming a new car owner.
    I know this sounds small , but I have been battling anxiety for most my life. I was in a accident ( which was not bad, no claims filed) 2 yrs ago and I’ m nervous about owning another car.
    Verse 10 assures our souls to “Be still and know that I am God!” pray for me that the Lord will give me peace and calm. I know His word tells us not to be “anxious” . And to be of sound mind!

    1. Laura, it doesn’t sound small at all. Our minds can produce such paralyzing fear.
      Lord, I pray you will calm Laura’s anxiety, specifically about this new car purchase. Make her spirit calm, resting in You…knowing You are in the car with her!

  22. You ladies are such a blessing to me, I really cannot express how much you have ministered to me and how good it has been to have this outlet for my thoughts and emotions. It has been a compass pointing me towrd God and deeper faith.

    I am off for my first one on one client meeting this morning.

  23. 9. What’s your take-a-way for the week?
    Sorry–I have 3 take-aways but I’ll try to be briefer this time!
    1-Chris’ picture of the lighthouse has stuck with me—and reminds me of verse 5 of Ps. 46: “God is within her, she will not fall;”. We are the like the lighthouse—God is within us, the Holy Spirit strengthens and fortifies us, and though the waves crash around us, we will not fall—He is within us, our Light.

    2-Randy Alcorn’s book has really moved me! Thanks to Dee’s nudge, I am finally reading it and I will say I have a completely different view of Heaven. He makes it so real, so imaginable—tangible. I always thought of Heaven as so lofty and different, it almost made it feel uncomfortable, though I knew it couldn’t be…but Alcorn says it will have familiar parts to it—and we will recognize each other, we will have fellowship—it will be a New Earth, a restored and resurrected Earth. I am still going slowly through it, but it is much different than I thought it would be. He uses Scripture and the pre-Fall Eden to paint such a vivid picture—sorry I am not very clear, but it is good! I have only done one study on Eschatology years ago and didn’t follow much, so this is a much easier read for even me.

    3-OK, my last one is that I am praying for wisdom. I so appreciate everyone’s grace towards me. But I have always struggled in this area of coating my truth with grace. Growing up, truth was shoved under the rug, and my whole life I have craved truth-telling. I have been hurt by truthful words, but to me, it doesn’t compare to the pain of wondering what truth was left unsaid and covered over. Anyway, I really, really want to learn how to balance my truth with the wisdom to be quiet. And look at me spieling now!
    Thank you all dear friends—you are a treasure to me and I admire each of you.

  24. Elizabeth, I think you and I may have somewhat similar situations growing up. I think that is why I have such an idol with approval. You never know where you stand because speaking is not plain. It is very traumatic to a child because they can’t possibly understand what is being conveyed non verbally. For me I often misread or totally miss cues. Also, I can seriously dish it out. What I want to do is get to the bottom of why I say and do some of the things I do. That is why it was important for me to be honest with myself about my motives for doing them. My prayer is that the Lord would bring these things to my attention because I think the only way I can be healed is to deal with them one at a time. I love you and so appreciate your honesty.

    Sisters, I want all of you to call me out when you see me doing this. One down and I feel just a little freer now.

    1. Oh Anne–you gave me tears–what a jewel you are. I feel I could sit at your feet and learn so much. Thank you, I love you too 😉

      1. Elizabeth, you are kind to say that but I do not feel wise at all. In fact I am pretty much struggling right now but I am coming to the realization that God will help me to see more clearly if I am patient. I am catching up on some of the comments tonight and I found this http://youtu.be/L_xUkXRDXUA I loved it. Thanks for bringing it to remembrance and Dee, thanks for suggesting Sara’s version. I love her voice. Elizabeth, you said several things that caught my attention and I should have taken notes because I am so sleepy right now. But I loved that you said you pray for laughter! I am doing that right now. Reminds me of Patch Adams-just what the doctor ordered.

  25. I loved the message by Nancy– It resonated so much with me and it ministered to me in two ways–
    1. I am a person who was “one ball of hurt” — and during that time, going to church brought me more pain than almost anything else that I did.– largely because I was ignored and the church I was in was not a safe place to be sad.
    2. I don’t want to waste that experience and I want to make sure that I am aware of these practical pointers, so when I meet hurting people I will be able to respond in ways that make them feel cared for. And in God’s time if he allows, i would love to share the things from this message at the church we are going to now. (By the way, I haven’t shared about that recently, but my husband and are feeling quite at home at the little church we are going to.)
    Elizabeth, I also took notes, and I won’t post any except this little bit from point number 3 because my notes are almost identical to yours. (just a little more detailed– but maybe you edited yours some).
    Prayer is asking God for things he has already promised to give. I listed the things that she mentioned and one of my own:
    Put his glory on display
    to help us to focus on what is lasting and important
    To experience God’s faithfulness
    So we are equipped to confort others
    To Develop perseverance
    To share in his sufferings to know Christ
    Builds character and produces hope
    To deepen intimacy with God
    To refine us like silver
    To cause us to long for heaven

    I am familiar with Nancy Guthrie, so I am going to look her up and see what else she might have online. She was so good!!
    Thanks Dee for introducing me to her.

  26. D. Do you have a comment on Piper’s exegesis and how it relates to any terrors you have?

    My terrors have caused me to dig deeper into my faith, to look harder at God, maybe mostly to see the flaws in the way that I have previously believed God to be.

    God is to me now, bigger, more incomprehensible, and yet looking harder into the gospel has forced me, almost against my will it seems, to begin to internalize an understanding that He loves me like I have never had before.

    I am still so sad, but hope is starting to feel more solid.

    I can’t imagine trying to explain to a non believer that the horrors of the past year could leave me with a greater awareness of God’s love for me. The wisdom of God truly would sound like foolishness to those who are perishing.

    2. Read Psalm 46:4-5
    A. To what has the menacing sea changed into in verse 4?”
    a river whose streams make glad the city of God

    B. Name one way that your ocean of grief has turned into a life giving stream. (Or you may not be there yet.)

    I am not there yet in terms of having something to say, but I can see that women are hungry to talk to me. This will change as time goes by I think, I still tend to want to withdraw and keep my grief private.
    But I do feel more surrendered to and trusting of Gods will than I did, my roots are; I think, deeper than before.

    1. Chris,
      I like what you said about hope beginning to feel more solid. As you are digging into His Word and going deeper, I believe you are pressing up against the solidness of Christ the Solid Rock. Your faith is gaining more and more substance.
      I am praying for you, too, as you move through this ocean of grief.

  27. PART IV.

    I listened to Nancy’s Message and thought it was excellent – I had not heard of her previously but she was clear, concise, and gave practical examples of how to make our churches safe for sad people. Many of her examples I could apply to my own life and also to those in my life who are grieving. Elizabeth did such a great job of summarizing the six points in her notes above so I wont re-do them here.

    A few things that stood out to me were:

    How she defined a “safe place” – that it’s unrealistic to expect that any environment will be perfect and that even in a safe place we can get our feelings hurt because we are all human and we hurt each other. Hurting people have a “cavernous need” that needs to be filled, and we can help in that but no human person can fill that hole like God can.

    I liked her discussion on overcoming the awkwardness – how a hurting person has a barrier between themselves and others, and we may think, “Oh, she probably doesn’t want to be bothered” or “I don’t want to intrude” or we feel ineffective and helpless and so we avoid the person altogether. But she made the point that grief is a very lonely place. We need to overcome our feelings of inadequacy and reach out.
    I remember last summer when a neighbor’s son was sentenced to prison. I know these neighbors, and we are social acquaintances, but not good friends. I struggled for a few weeks feeling I should reach out in some way but didn’t want to come-off as prying or making unwelcome visits, but finally I got the nerve to call and ask if I might bring over dinner one night to the family and when I went over, it WAS hard – I didn’t know what to say but I tried to just listen and convey that I was here because I wanted them to know that we cared about what happened to their family. I told my husband it would be terrible if we just never said anything as if nothing happened.

    Say the name of the person who died and talk about them. Some in my family keep their feelings inside. It often seems to me that we don’t often talk about my nephew and the happy memories of him; when the subject comes up it’s only sad, and that makes me sad. It still seems to be so very painful. When my family celebrated Father’s Day this year along with my mom’s birthday and we were all together, my dad just broke down and cried from missing his grandson so much.

    Don’t let your grief become your identity. At some point, turn your focus to other hurting people and reach out to them.

    1. This is all so good Susan–and I am challenged by your example of ministering to your neighbor. It is so easy for me to hide behind the mask of “don’t want to intrude”, but you helped me see how this is often my own pride, not wanting to feel awkward, to risk. Thank you for sharing–your thoughts are so good, as usual.

  28. I’d like to share this water image I read a few mornings ago from Charles Spurgeon.

    “I in them.” John 17:23

    If such is the union that exists between our souls and the person of our Lord, how deep and broad is the channel of our communion! This is no narrow pipe through which a threadlike stream may wind its way. It is a channel of amazing depth and breadth, along whose glorious length a ponderous volume of living water may roll its floods.

    Being at the beach this week I’ve had lots of opportunity to ponder all the water images we’ve been studying in Scripture and hymns. How the ocean shows the vastness and power of God, and the roaring of the waves is like deep calling to deep.

    Joyce, I’ve been praying for you, and Dennis and Mary Kay.

    1. Thank you so much, Susan.

  29. 3. What do you learn about God from Psalm 46:6-9?
    I see that God has power beyond what I can imagine, & that He is with me and protecting me even when it seems He is not. He is in control of the awful things that happen on the earth.

    4. How does the psalm close?
    With the reminder that God is with us and he is protecting us.
    I have started to see that the one of the reasons suffering is such a shock is that we read the verses that promise protection as a now in this life sort of promises. God in his infinite wisdom sees so much farther down the road into eternity, He is protecting our souls, he wants us forever and ever safe with him.

    5. Psalm 46:10 needs to become a practice of our lives. What are some very practical ways we can “be still and know?”

    When Nancie talked of church being such a hard place to be I could totally relate. I have trouble crying…really grieving deeply, in front of others, worship service was the only public place where I could not hold it together. It has really been only recently that I have been able to sing. I sobbed through the musical portion of the service for months. When we sang In Christ Alone I longed to allow my striving to cease, but I was so bent on knowing why, I couldn’t lay it all down. I think I felt I would be missing something if I didn’t know why, and that I had to understand it all or I would be at risk for more suffering. The Keller sermons on Job really helped to pry my grip off of the why question. To allow for the mystery of it, to believe that God knows what he is doing and I am too simple to understand. To humble myself and “be still and know”.

    1. Chris, this is profound “To allow for the mystery of it, to believe that God knows what he is doing and I am too simple to understand. To humble myself and “be still and know”.” So thankful for you here.

  30. Good Ladies! Yes, It’s me, up early!! We are leaving soon for my Aunt’s funeral a hundred miles away. It is very nice this early! Have a wonderful day:)

    1. It’s too early, I meant Good Morning!! ;-0

    2. Praying for you all especially today Joyce, I hear His joy in your voice~

      1. Yeah, it took me a minute to realize that you weren’t just calling us good! 🙂
        Praying now for your trip and your time with family and friends at the funeral. I am praying that people will see Jesus in you and that her service would point others to the Savior as think about their eternal future.

  31. 6. Contemplate these lyrics and take a few that help calm your soul and comment on them.
    Verse 4.
    Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
    When we shall be forever with the Lord,
    When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
    Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.

    A dear friend who lost her husband who was a pastor and a wonderful man after a long illness shared with me that in the last moments of his life he could not speak but was trying to. She told him that they loved him, and they know that he loves them, he relaxed then, she told him to go on ahead and that they will be with him in just a moment because that is how long it will seem to him until they are together again. And he peacefully relaxed. I was thankful to her for sharing her story, it ministers to me.

    Earthly things are so much less important to me now, I see more clearly how fragile life is and how quickly time is passing. I hate sin more, I see the cost more clearly than before, though I acknowledge I see but little. I long for the day when grief and fear are gone and Christ has restored and redeemed everything. I am thankful for the promise & the free gift of it all.

  32. Just finished listening to Mid Day.

    I think I am finally understanding what feeling as though “God is not safe” means. To hear “He is not safe” or ‘He doesn’t feel safe’ was new to me, but when I think about it, I have felt that way before. Hearing the last part “He is good” makes it come together and coupling that with “when you don’t understand, trust His heart.”

    I loved the way Dee broke down “Be Still My Soul” with God’s History, God’s Heart and God’s Heaven.

    I honed in on the Heaven part. I haven’t heard it will be like the best place on Earth. I haven’t really even studied verses on Heaven before and this has been a REAL treat for me this week!

    I have to say I just love Sara Groves-her depth of soul and her gift. That song she wrote about her grandmother losing her husband is one of my favorites of hers. Her songs are always filled with honest contemplations and truth telling to her soul.

    I don’t think as much as I should about the Earth being redeemed. The other day at the dinner table Isaac prayed before the meal-asking God to not let our country go into bankruptcy. I don’t want the Earth to end Lord I love living here. 🙂 I couldn’t believe he said that. It just came out-sometimes when he prays interesting things come out. Guess I shouldn’t leave the news on at night and walk off. 😉 Anyway, then after he asked that my 9 year old, Andrew said, “Jesus, when He comes back, is going to make a new Earth.” Then Jake my 7 year old said, “Yeah! He is going to blow up and destroy the whole Earth!” Then Elijah my oldest said, “NO! He is going to restore the Earth-kind of like remodel it.” That was last week and it got me thinking more about it, and of course this week we are discussing heaven-God’s timing is perfect. I can’t help but wonder if God is preparing me for something that lies ahead. He has been so good to me that way.

    There is more I wrote down that I liked, but finally this stuck out to me and is a GREAT help:

    Dee gave a kind of step by step process I can go through if my soul is anxious or hysterical or depressed:

    1. To remember it is a red flag that I am trusting in the wrong thing.

    2. so I must ask myself, why so downcast? Then tell myself to put my hope in God.

    3. Then tell myself reasons I can hope:

    a. His heart is for me
    b. He’s shown himself faithful
    c. He has been faithful to His children throughout history

    4. Finally, I must set my affections on things above because THAT IS WHERE MY REAL LIFE IS.

    1. That’s a great, practical application of what we have been learning. Thanks for sharing that.

  33. Chris,
    Since listening to Nancy’s message the other day, and focusing on what she said that “Prayer is asking God for things he has already promised to give.”
    It made me go back to something you said in the first lesson, “I didn’t pray for miracles in the hospital, I prayed to be obedient in the trial; I tried to count my blessings. I wonder if I had prayed differently if things would have gone differently.”

    Based on what Nancy said in her message about prayer, your prayers in the hosptital were on target. I think too often we pray our own selfish prayers, not even considering to pray what he has already promised to give us.

    There is so much I don’t understand about prayer and probably on this side of heaven won’t understand. When my world came crashing down, my prayers went from being a list of things I wanted him to do, to crawling up into his arms and loving him– just talking to him about everything and allowing him to love me.

    1. Thank you for this Terri, I am touched by it.
      Your reaction of crawling up into His arms and loving Him, is the one I want to have.

  34. My Aslan poster just arrived and I cried–Sally is amazing!!

  35. Hey all thanks for praying. We got back from the memorial service for my friend who lost her baby at 35 weeks. It was so beautiful. There was a wonderful picture video done. So nice and the baby girl was so beautiful. I am so glad that we can mourn with hope. They are holding up so good but it will be a journey. I just want to be there with them as they walk it. A fun thing is that God used my kids to help their kids by playing with them and occupying them even sat with them during the service and that is a big deal for my autistic one. It was so helpful they said. So happy for that and it is sure a God thing. Plus my autistic one did cry for the first time. She never does so I am so happy she was able to mourn this loss. I think because she could actually see the picture. She said what a beautiful baby, she could have had a good life. As the pastor said, Yet in God’s wisdom she bypassed this painful place. As we hope and trust in Him that gives us hope. Also, the mother said this event has made them want to find a church they were so impressed by the fellowship and love they received from the body of Christ. Praying is draws them to God. So much we don’t understand. But we go back to grieving and mourning with hope.

  36. Home from the funeral and it was a lovely, about her life and how she loved the Lord and wanted to go home to him. Her 7 great gradchilden (like 8-2 yrs) got up in front of the church and sang “Jesus loved me”…so sweet.
    What a difference with the baby’s funeral, Angela and a 95 year old’s funeral. One got to experience life for many years and the other did not, but they are both where they are suppose to be, with Jesus now. Will they both be like a 30 year old in heaven, Dee?

  37. Joyce, that is also the difference of those who just mourn the dead and us who in Christ who mourn with hope. It is so sad for those who have no hope.

    Both are with Jesus now. My kids do ask me what age she would be in Heaven. They wonder this all the time with older people too. 30 would be a good age. 🙂

    I love the grandchildren singing Jesus love me too. How precious that must have been. Did Kendra hold up okay?

    My friend too said someone gave her that book Heaven is for Real. But she said she did not want to read it being skeptical. I told her about the book by Randy Alcorn on Heaven which I have and said she could borrow it when she was ready. It gave me great comfort and I know it will be help for her too. So timely we discussed these books now. Love how God works out perfect timing in all things.

      1. I really like the God of All Comfort…Maybe after a little time. I too think it is great to process with. I did give her the Amy Shrieve CD to just listen to. The reason I thought of the Heaven book first is cuz there was a lot of talk about Heaven and baby Alethia being there. But processing the grief being stuck on this earth is a whole other thing. I think after a bit I will maybe give it to her. Just listening to the Spirits promptings. There are a couple of other books pertaining specifically to stillborn loss that may help as well. Praying.

  38. Getting ready to listen to Nancy Guthrie.

    1. Dee, I wanted to mention this. I think your book, “The God of All Comfort” has been huge for me in preparing me, but also unbeknownst to me God used it to give me a picture of a healthy marriage.

      Also, because of the book I really would like to hear more about Steve. I have grown to admire him and marvel at the glory of God all over him. His fervor and love for the Lord, His courage and His servant hood reminds me a lot of Jim Elliott. What a gift to you and now to us through you.

      Also, I want to encourage you that I do think your book could be helpful to someone in the midst of grieving. Dee, it is so rich with scripture and it is more of a balm all throughout. I think also it would help someone grieving in the steps of their grieving process and perhaps help them to direct their laments straight to God. I also think it would help as they won’t feel alone. You started it off with real, honest stuff that they will be able to relate to. Honestly, I think if you had it be a ‘fix it’ book then yes I would think twice before loaning it out, but it is in no way like that. I do think it is an incredible book to give to someone who is grieving.

      1. I completely agree with Rebecca–I had even thought the Jim Elliot part myself–amazing!

        And I would add Dee, that while I did sob through a lot of your book, it was different–I was crying not just that it was so sad, but for the beauty of your love for Steve, and his for you…and the ways God would show Himself in such real, personal, creative ways. I think the God of All Comfort really was a lot like listening to music during grief–there was something about the way you wrote–the journal entries, it is so personal and not pushy or having answers…it’s more like a dear friend who understands, sitting shiva with you, wrapped into 240 pages!

        1. I too have thought of Jim Elliot how funny is that. I often do not want to type Steve’s name because I sometimes want to type Jim and I get confused so I do not do it. I know I am so crazy. But I am glad you girls said that. I too have thought that. Your example as a couple is a good Ephesians 5 living example and I have been encouraged by it. I know the loss of his life is still hard I am sure. I just pray for you in this.

  39. I had to pause to say I LOVE the part on prayer-going deeper than deliverance..so rich and true.

  40. My reflections or takeaways for this week are a few. I think something each day.

    Overall, I am learning that suffering helps us to better know His love and His heart-what a better place to be. I wonder if experiencing deep pain and/or constant conflict in our spirits and yet at the same time deep joy and peace from Him walking through it with us is really what our life in Him should look like here on Earth..In heaven it is minus the pain part though. I don’t know, all I do know is that I want to dive into Him more and I find when He takes me one layer deeper there seems to be pain involved of some sort.

    I am afraid I am still stuck on the Lamenting part of our study. I really agree with Dee in that Lamenting does bring about a conversation-a really good, deep conversation where God can come in and really pierce our hearts with His love and truth. I found my old journal two days ago and read the entries during Isaac’s diagnosis. I was so closed up it seems. I saw a few times I wasn’t but I was talking more ‘about’ God than ‘to’ God. I wonder how God felt at that time? Satan wanted to condemn me as I read, but this well spring of joy filled my heart when I realized that God, through this blog, Through His word, Dee and my sisters here has really come in and breathed new life into me and has redeemed those closed up places. I am confident now that He is preparing me for what lies ahead-so that I won’t faint but rather embrace the opportunity to press deeper into Him.

    Listening to Nancy Guthrie has reminded me to know how to pray for others and for myself when trials come.

    I agree with Dee in regard to the conversations we can have over controversial subjects. It is a blessing here on this blog. I too learned from Anne, to have compassion for this boy and his family for I don’t know the motives, and he could have had a dream and when I thought about it, his parents lost a child-how devastating. Perhaps hearing he saw his sibling there really melted their hearts.

  41. Good morning Ladies- I could use some prayer today!

    My take away from this week- that God is Good and this verse:

    Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart
    And all is darkened in the vale of tears;

    I have had a hard time this week with the loss of my very close friend. But this verse has helped me.

  42. I listened to Nancy’s message a couple of days ago. The comments here are excellent for I agree it is helpful in so many ways. I am one of those people who is afraid to speak to someone in pain and it helped me so much to know how I might minister to them. I want so much to help but am afraid. To know that minimal words are good helps me.

    In regard to Heaven is for Real I think it is important not to take it too seriously. It is a telling of a child’s experience, not scripture and I don’t think we can tell him what is right and what is not. It is what he experienced but I do think it was a dream.

    Keller’s message was wonderful, again. What strikes me as I look over my notes is that these 3 things are what I want out of my life. Suffering is the road there apparently. This is stunning to me. I do everything in my power to avoid and stamp out suffering for myself and my loved ones. I want to think more about this. In fact this is my take away for this week. I had begun to think that suffering must be embraced instead of avoided but now I have solid reasons why.

  43. I know I already gave take-aways, but I have learned so much from you all this week. I was talking with a close friend yesterday, and she brought up Heaven is for Real…telling me how much she loved it. And I didn’t interrupt (!), I just listened, and I realized how much it had ministered to her–and perhaps my mistake–maybe it isn’t trying to be the same type of book as Alcorn’s. Maybe I need to see it isn’t proposing to be a theological discourse on Heaven. But as Anne said, it needs to be read in the perspective of a young child. I have a sensitive spirit to things and I really like facts more than dreamy “what-if’s”, so my lesson learned is that it my personality–and doesn’t make the book wrong or useless.

    In regards to our age in Heaven, Alcorn quotes Aquinas and Hank Hannegraf as having said 30/33, as well as some 13th century theologians coming to that consensus. But he also mentions Isaiah 11 and 65 and the children mentioned. He said CS Lewis had proposed we might be ageless.

    I like how Alcorn doesn’t always assume to know, but he clearly gives scripture that backs up his point. Still slowly getting through it though 😉

  44. I am wishing there were a couple of days more in this weeks study. I don’t feel that I have mined all I need to from it.
    This has been a busy and emotional week here, and today I have to say goodbye to my Zach. He goes back to his Air Force base in North Dakota, he is sad & I am sad. I can’t go see him off at the airport, I have my first wedding oversee. I am trying to be glad he was home rather than sad the visit is ending, but it is hard.

    When we were on vacation by the ocean during last week’s study, I thought of the scene in Forest Gump when Forest and Lieutenant Dan were out to sea during the storm, how Lieutenant Dan had been so angry with God about losing his legs and his identity as a soldier, contrasted with the peaceful picture of him swimming in the ocean after he had come to peace with God & how he was later able to thank Forest for saving his life and enjoy the blessings God had given him.

    It speaks to me of the struggle we have when things don’t go as we think we would ordain them if we were God, and we stand in the place of questioning Him and it can make us bitter & beat us to pieces. I hope I am now and can be in the future more trusting of God in the trials. I see my need to be more childlike in the belief that He loves me.

    I thought about Elizabeth said she pictured me in the lighthouse, I never saw thought of it that way, that I am in Him and He is protecting me, even when I feel like I am failing to run to and hide myself in Him.

    I enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts on heaven, here is where I wish I had more time, I tried to read Joni’s book to my Mom when she was dying, but could only read a bit and then we both would sob, so I gave up trying, I have always meant to try again to read it.

    I heard these verses this week and feel they fit well with our study;
    Jeremiah 17:7 & 8 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD.
    He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

    I guess my take away is a prayer for deeper trust, & a sense of God’s love for me. I do not want to cease bearing fruit in my times of drought or tsunami, I want to say that my hope IS the LORD.

  45. My big take away is just how healthy are we walking grief with others? I see my church as a healthy living thing which I am thankful for however, it got me thinking of all things we go through. Like for me as an example I have a special needs child and it is an ongoing struggle or those with invisible illnesses that continually struggle or those grieving divorce or wayward children. Those things are invisible but people are really grieving and we often forget those things. The love shown through this death was enormous but we can do better with others grieving day to day. We need to see them and be intentional. Looking forward to how God uses this.

  46. Angela, Kendra was fine at the funeral, because they cremated her and just had the wood box and flowers and a video of her talking about her life. It was more of a celebration of her life…wonderful. It was her great grandchildren that sang “Jesus love me” and then they played “Awesome God”. They buried her at a military cemetary and her husband was buried under her 30 years ago (not cremated) and they bury the spouse on top of them. (there is like 4-6 feet between them)

    1. That is good!

  47. I haven’t even gotten time to listen to everything I want to on this lesson this week yet, but I will, as I just eat up everything about heaven and suffering and trials and grieving. I can’t seem to get enough about all of it, as it is what I’m going through now with my brother and it will be there always through out my life, as everyone. It’s sad but so true. I’m becoming wiser and more prepared as I go through life losing loved ones and helping other’s with their suffering also. It’s been a wonderful study, thank you so much, Dee.

  48. Was on vacation at my cottage in the Northern Kettle Moraine in Wisconsin this week, so I will just post my take aways for the week. I sat at the edge of the lake in the early morning, looking out upon the still waters, thinking about the study, the water images that we’ve run across. The stillness and peace of the morning provided a perfect time and place to go to God with my innermost. I was thankful for what I’ve learned through this study so far about speaking the truth to my soul.
    Yet earlier in the week, I must admit that my thoughts were: I just want the grieving to be over, I want to be able to go on with life. God responded with the words from be still my soul:
    Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
    Leave to thy God to order and provide;
    In every change He faithful will remain.
    And so I know that my job is to rest in Him, to allow Him to lead me through this time of my life, to lean into Him, to be thankful of His presence in suffering, to allow His timing in healing.
    Listened to Dee’s message on Midday Connection, and it was the part about the History that struck me. I think of Psalm 136, of the song of Moses, of all the other places in the Bible where we are told of God’s faithfulness, and how much the Israelites had to be reminded of that, over and over again. I often run through (in my mind) the times of God’s faithfulness and deliverance in my life, as if I were writing my own story of God’s works so I don’t forget.
    And listened to part of the message on “Is your church a safe place for hurting people?” I think of her message about prayers they desired – prayers, not for healing, but for God’s will in their lives. I understood that, as I didn’t feel that God was prompting me to pray for healing from cancer for my husband, although I knew he was able, my prayer was that God be glorified through the entire situation. We knew there was little that could be done to treat the cancer, no cure, my husband had made the decision not to prolong his life, but to have the best quality of life he could before he succumbed to the cancer. He had always said that he was ready whenever God decided to call him home, even before he was diagnosed.
    And Dee, you said something about your book not being for someone who is newly grieving, yet I found it very helpful just three months after my husband died. Yes, it was painful, yes, it was sad, but I found comfort in having some of the fears and feelings I was having validated by someone who had been through a similar situation. I cried, I sobbed, I lamented, but it was good for my soul.

    And heaven, what will it be like. Do I need to know any more that I will be in the presence of God? That’s good enough for me. I did, however, have a chance to ask my husband, before he died, what he thought heaven would be like. And so now, I picture him as he described, bowing down in worship before the Lord. That was truly a gift to me that he was able to share that with me. Praise God.

      1. Thankfully, my daughter and friends joined me the entire time, and the rest of the family was able to gather for an afternoon. I treasure those times, even though my husband’s abscence is so apparent then. Northern Kettle Moraine area near Plymouth, beautiful area