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IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT PRACTICING HOMOSEXUALITY

DO YOU REMEMBER THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL

THAT PAUL DESCRIBES IN ROMANS 1?

 

IT BEGINS BY SUPPRESSING THE TRUTH ABOUT GOD

THOUGH HIS GLORY IS CLEARLY SEEN

EVERYWHERE



SO THAT MEN ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE

 

WHY DO WE SUPPRESS THE TRUTH?

WHY DO WE EXCHANGE THE TRUTH FOR A LIE?

SO WE CAN RUN AFTER OUR IDOLS

SO WE CAN WORSHIP THE CREATED THING

INSTEAD OF THE CREATOR,

WHO ALONE IS WORTHY OF WORSHIP

 

THE ILLUSTRATION GIVEN IN ROMANS 1

IS THE PRACTICE OF HOMOSEXUALITY

 

FOR SO LONG I ONLY APPLIED THIS PASSAGE TO THAT SIN

BUT I HAD A LOG IN MY EYE


EVERY TIME I EXCHANGE THE TRUTH OF GOD FOR A LIE

TO CHASE MY IDOLS

I TOO GO INTO A DOWNWARD SPIRAL

I TOO LOSE THE LIGHT

I TOO LOSE THE POWER

I TOO EMBRACE MISERY

 

OPEN MY EYES LORD

SO I MAY RUN IN THE PATH OF FREEDOM

 

Last week  Leslie Vernick and I kayaked  down toward the village as the sun was setting. Concerned it would get too dark, I said, “We’d better turn back.”


We turned to behold crimson everywhere.  A sudden glory. Leslie said, “I feel like we’re headed toward heaven.”

We paddled in silence, breathing in His beauty.


I thought about Romans 1 and Paul’s statement that the glory of God can be clearly seen everywhere so men are without excuse. Then I thought about a book I’d been reading by Wesley Hill and his struggle to live a celibate life though he had strong sexual desires for the same sex. I knew when we got back to the cottage I wanted to discuss the book with Leslie, for I’m naming it in my top five books of the year.

We got into our pajamas and cradled  mugs of hot spiced tea in front of the fire. I pulled out Wesley’s book, telling her the heart of it.

Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill

Wes is a gay man who has chosen to live a celibate life because of his love for God and his faith in His Word. He wrote it because so many Christian testimonies on this subject end up with the individual becoming a happy heterosexual. That is not his story. His is a life full of temptation, loneliness, and yet, power and joy.

He is open and honest all the way through the book with his struggles, his temptations, and yet he keeps choosing to live a celibate life. He sees the lie that so many who are gay have succumbed to, that “suppressing their temptations lead to a lesser life.” He quotes C. S. Lewis who said it is those who believe that lie from the world that actually have the “lesser life.” They miss the light, the power, the intimacy with God. Yet still, Wes told of his struggle with feelings of unworthiness because of his bent and broken sexuality. He wonders how, with these feelings, he can be loved by God. Then he tells of a break-through point.

Leslie leaned forward. “What was it?”

He quoted a priest. Here, let me find it.

I searched for my highlighting at the close of the book.

Here it is – the priest was Thomas Hopko and he encouraged gays “to see their refusal to act out their feelings as part of an extraordinary opportunity for imitating Christ and participating in His saving Passion.”

She nodded.

The book ends in such victory – not that he doesn’t recognize an ongoing struggle with temptation and loneliness, but he does begin to see his struggle as a gift, for it presses him closer to God and he is indeed, experiencing Gospel transformation. He is also experiencing the joy of God’s pleasure – and that this life he has chosen by faith is not less, but more.

(IF YOU’D LIKE TO SEE WESLEY HILL INTERVIEWED ABOUT HIS BOOK, HERE ARE THREE SHORT VERY INTERESTING CLIPS. HE REALIZED HIS PRINCIPLES WERE IMPACTING MANY CHRISTIANS, NOT JUST THOSE WHO STRUGGLE WITH HOMOSEXUALITY)

http://engagingchurchblog.com/2011/03/14/video-wesley-hill-discusses-washed-and-waiting/

I asked Leslie her thoughts on my “book report.” She said:

“He chose the power of the Gospel over the power of the lie. This,” Leslie continued, “This lesson is not just for gays.”

“Yes. He talked about how he appreciated one pastor who said, ‘I am not going to single out the practicing homosexuals in our congregation  who have no desire to change any more than I am going to single out the practicing materialists in our congregation who have no desire to change.’ It is so easy to just see the sins of others and not our own. When I studied Romans 1 for so many years, I applied it only to practicing homosexuals. I missed the log in my own eye.  When I indulge in overeating, I am exchanging the truth of God for a lie, believing my idol of food can better comfort me than the God of All Comfort. Or when I exaggerate, to make myself look better in the eyes of others, bowing down to the god of approval, I too lose power and joy. I too move into darkness.

Leslie nodded, saying:

I have seen in my counseling practice how sexual abusers exchange the truth of God for a lie, telling themselves their victims like the abuse. We have such a propensity to deceive ourselves so we can run after idols.

My thoughts turned to the biography I’d read the summer before of John Newton, [the slave-trader who repented and went on to write the lyrics for the hymn Amazing Grace] and how amazed I was that it took him so long to wake up to the realization that engaging in slavery was sin. I told Leslie about it:

It took decades for Newton to see the lie he had exchanged for the truth. Though he was a proclaiming Christian, would kidnap Africans, praying for favor with God to seize them. He was the captain of a slave ship that stowed the slaves so mercilessly, like they were lumber instead of living people.

This detail from a diagram of a slave ship shows how captured Africans were stowed for shipment to markets in the New World. Unclothed, underfed, and forced to lie on hard planking in unhygienic conditions, many failed to survive the transatlantic voyage.

I remember a letter he wrote to his wife Polly from his slave-trading boat. He said:

“I feel I’ve been shut up with almost as many unclean creatures as Noah was, and in a much smaller ark”.

Leslie paused, and then said,

That’s a perfect example for your book, Dee. Newton exchanged the truth of God for a lie.

“That Africans were not really people.”

“Yes,” she agreed, “lies help us pursue our idols.”

“And then they blind us and strip us of the power of the Spirit.”

 

EXCHANGING THE TRUTH OF GOD FOR A LIE

We do it all the time.

One of my favorite remarks from you last week was just Saturday, when Susan was responding to her sisters on the blog who were empathizing with the pain she felt at seeing how she could make an idol of her children. Keller’s sermon had helped her to see how easy it is for us as mothers to “exchange the truth of God for a lie,” by making our children the most important thing. Susan responded to her empathetic sisters like this:

I thank you for your empathy and your prayers for me, but don’t feel too sorry for me because this is a good thing for me to be seeing the idolatry in my life! What Keller said about the depth of the wound being your own making….yes, people, my children, can say and do things to hurt my feelings and it does hurt, but when the wound cuts so deep that it makes me feel like I just want to go home to heaven or when it makes me feel like a complete failure and an idiot and like I have no worth or significance, then there is a bigger problem there, and now I see it. I have made idols out of my children because I look to them, as Keller put it, to “functionally” save me.

We all tend to worship the created thing instead of the Creator. And it wonderful when we begin to see it, because then there can be healing. It is akin to being sick for a long time and finally figuring out what is wrong and what can be done about it.

Romans 1 is not just a helpful passage for those who have made the same sex the object of worship, it is for every single one of us.

ICEBREAKER:

What stands out to you from the above and why?

PART I. REVIEW

We’re doing some challenging material, so I don’t want to move too fast. Last week we looked at Leah, if you were with us, and how she kept chasing something that she thought would fulfil her, and only became more and more miserable. I would say one of the best comments from last week came from Cyndi, and many of you agreed!

Leah thought that she needed Jacob to love her to be happy, to fill her up. As she continues to experience God’s gifts…son after son, she still is grasping to that ONE “need.”

Demanding what we do not have keeps us from being joyful over what we do have.

1. What were some of the lies that Leah embraced that robbed her of joy?

2. What was the truth that she finally embraced that brought her into freedom?

3. CHALLENGE: WHAT TRUTH OF GOD DID LEAH EXCHANGE FOR A LIE?

PART II. BIBLE STUDY

We’re going to look first at Romans 1, then turn to ourselves to see how we too have the propensity to exchange the truth of God for a lie.

4. Read Romans 1:16-30

A. What does Paul say about “the gospel” in verse 16?

Remember that the gospel has a power to save us not only from the penalty of sin, but the power of sin.

B. Why is God angry according to Romans 1:18-20?

C. In verse 21 we are told that “although they knew God” they did not…  What two things did they refuse to do and what did it lead to? (verses 21-22)

D.  The example given in verses 24 through 28 is the practice of homosexuality. Find the three phrases that begin with “God gave them up,” or “God gave them over” and trace the downward spiral.

E. What else happened to them according to verses 29-32?

Again, this is not just about practicing homosexuality. When you see the final result in verse 32, you know that is true of those who have embraced racism, abortion, materialism, gluttony, and all kinds of sin. When we sin we encourage others to sin, either by our words or our model. Sin spreads like poison ivy.

When I was discussing this passage with Leslie Vernick, she kept talking about verse 25: EXCHANGING THE TRUTH OF GOD FOR A LIE. This is what we must be aware of in ourselves. I asked Leslie to give me a practical example from her own life.  Quickly, she painted this scenario:

I’m in line at the store, in a hurry, and the clerk is slow. I feel myself getting angry, irritated. That’s the signal from my body that my idol is operating, that I am worshipping something besides God, that I am exchanging the truth of God for a lie.

So what do you do?

I ask myself what the idol is. In this case it is myself, my agenda, my schedule.

Then what?

First, confess the idol, the lie. I am not more important than this clerk. I am not loving her as God does. Then I must repent, asking Him to help me turn and love this clerk. I want to worship the Creator instead of the  idol of myself and my own agenda.

5. Can you give a simple example, as Leslie did, of how you might exchange the truth of God for a lie and then, therefore, sin?

PART III. TESTIMONY FROM ELIZABETH

Elizabeth is another blogger who has been with us for some time. In many ways Elizabeth is a mentor’s dream mentee, for she studies hard, has a heart eager to respond, and does indeed show the power the Gospel has to transform. As you read her testimony, and how she is seeing gospel transformation, consider how it happened, how the truth of God moved in to replace the lie. For the same can happen for you!

HOW GOD HELPED ELIZABETH SEE THE STONES

Before this study with Dee, I had overlooked the idol beneath several relationship struggles in my life. Three major family relations in particular, I had spent years living in my own state of self pity and hurt, never realizing the idol I had covered up was approval. My feelings of rejection had escalated to the point that I was no longer actively trying to get approval, yet I longed for it. As we progressed through the study, God began to show me how I had been holding these people at arms length, an invisible wall between us, trying to protect myself from the pain of their seemingly absent approval. I had become bitter, angry, cold.

God used the story of the prodigal sons to melt my heart. I saw that I am the younger son, running away from home, trying to find quick fulfillment from worldly pleasures. I am the older son, judging others harshly, with-holding forgiveness and trying to make myself beautiful by performing well and doing good works. As God has opened my eyes to this and my self-righteousness and anger have begun to melt, and I can feel compassion for the younger sons in my life as well as humility for my pride. I can see we are all lost at some point, but welcomed home by a Father who dearly loves us, and there is no price for any of us left to pay.

God has shown me, that it is ALWAYS my move. This has been monumental for me. For as long as I can remember, I have hid behind a protective shield of self-righteousness, waiting for the offender to seek me out, to apologize. When God used a Keller sermon to speak this truth to me, it was the last thing I wanted to hear! But it has changed my actions nearly every day since. It is always my move, to break the silence when I would rather sulk. It is always my move, to go up to my child’s room and open my arms for an embrace, when there has been disobedience and harsh words.

AN ILLUSTRATION OF GOSPEL TRANSFORMATION

After one of those rough days with deliberate disobedience and melt downs at every turn, my anger fuming…I got my child and took her for ice cream, a RARE treat. When we got there she said: “WHY would you take me here after EVERYTHING I did today, Mamma?” And God gave me the chance to say: “Because my love for you has NOTHING to do with how you act.”

WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE?

The more I see my need for grace, and His outpouring of unmerited favor–the more I start to in some tiny way GET the Gospel–the more I can give it to others. Like the woman caught in adultery, I have tried to fill my void with other loves. It seems to work for a time—lots of praise for my good works, my children, my marriage…but it isn’t enough. It is a mask I have tried but found does not work. But He has come for me. He has welcomed me into His embrace, He has removed my mask, and He clothes me with His righteousness, and that is more than enough.

I am completely dependent on the Holy Spirit in me to obey God, and completely responsible to obey. My part is to be honest about my sin and what the Holy Spirit is revealing to me. I must learn to recognize when my eyes are looking at other loves, and to instead fix my affection on my Greater Love. My idols cannot be removed, only replaced by a greater love. I do this practically by finding Scripture that applies to my specific areas of sin—for example, replacing my judging thoughts with “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14. There is no quick fix though. I find myself struggling daily to die to Self, displace myself from the inner throne of my heart. And yet, I am thankful for the conviction of my sin. I would never even desire to turn my eyes towards Him, without Him initiating it in me, through His Spirit. I am utterly dependent on Him. “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14

6. Comment on Elizabeth’s testimony. What stood out to you and why?

 

PART IV. THE SERMON

The sermon I’d really like you to listen to is 2.50, though I think if you contacted them at Redeemer and told them you couldn’t afford it, they would let you have it.  It’s a classic on the Gospel and it is on Romans 1:16 and more. Keller says the more we understand the Gospel, the greater its power will be in our life. So that is 2.50 well spent!

Here it is: Link

7. Keller makes three points. Comment on each.

Rembrandt: Return of the Prodigal

Alternative free sermon. Elizabeth talked about how the story of the prodigal sons impacted her. Here is a free Keller sermon on that. When I was reading Wesley Hill’s book he kept referring to Henry Nouwen, who also struggled with homosexuality and wrote the amazing book The Return of the Prodigal. Nouwen is the one who sat in front of Rembrandt’s Return of the Prodigal for days, saying the painting changed his life.

Here is Keller’s opening message on The Prodigal Sons. It’s free: Link

8. If you listen to the above, what stood out to you?

9. What is your take-a-way for the week and why?

Leave a Comment

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363 comments

  1. Angela

    How are you doing? Havent seen you on in a few days! Praying that everything is ok!

  2. Rebecca,

    How are you feeling? Praying for you to feel better soon!

    1. Meg, thanks so much! It is actually not getting better. I think it is bronchitis now. I don’t want to miss church tomorrow. I am not good at being down and resting, yet I need to. 🙁

      1. Aww 🙁 I am sorry .. I will pray that you will be able to lay down and rest today so you dont have to miss church tommorrow… I can be the same way.. i dont like resting when i have a cold or when i am sick and i also dont like missing church either.. so i know how you feel! Love you!

  3. PART II. BIBLE STUDY

    4. Read Romans 1:16-30

    A. What does Paul say about “the gospel” in verse 16?

    I turned to the New Living Translation, and The Message, to really put this into simple words that I can understand, to help me get this. The NLT: Paul says that the gospel – the Good News about Jesus Christ – it is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes. Believe the Good News and be saved! Thankful of Dee’s reminding us that the Good News not only saves us from sin’s penalty, eternal death, but it can break the power of sin in our lives.

    B. Why is God angry according to Romans 1:18-20?

    God is angry at sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth because of their wickedness. The Message says that people “try to put a shroud over truth”. In reality, they know the truth about God because through Creation, it is plain that something, Someone, is behind all of this. So they are without excuse.

    C. In verse 21 we are told that “although they knew God” they did not… what two things did they refuse to do and what did it lead to?

    They did not worship Him as God, and they did not give Him thanks. This lead to people’s minds becoming dark and confused; they became fools. Instead of worshipping God, they worshipped idols.

    D. The example given in verses 24-28 is the practice of homosexuality. Find the three phrases that begin with “God gave them up” or “God gave them over” and trace the downward spiral.

    The NLT phrases this as “God abandoned them, and The Message uses these descriptions: “So God said, in effect, if that’s what you want, that’s what you get”, and “God quit bothering them and let them run loose”.

    God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things they wanted. The downward spiral was that they did vile and degrading things with their bodies, traded the truth about God for a lie, and worshipped and served the things God created instead of God Himself.

    God abandoned them to their shameful desires. The downward spiral was that women traded natural sex for sex with each other, and men did the same, burning with lust for other men. They refused to acknowledge God.

    God abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them run loose.

    E. What else happened to them according to verses 29-32?

    Their lives became full of all kinds of wickedness – greed, hate, envy, murder, maliciousness, deception, gossip. Then, the people themselves are described as being backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful; inventing new ways to sin and disobeying their parents. They encourage others to sin, too.

    What Dee wrote above is so very powerful, that we encourage others to sin by our words and our model.

    5. Can you give a simple example, as Leslie did, of how you might exchange the truth of God for a lie, and then, therefore, sin?

    I think one major truth about God is that I am to love Him with all my heart, soul, and mind, and to serve Him. Everytime I give in to an act of selfishness, I trade this truth for the lie that I am “number one”, and that life is all about pleasing myself, and the downward spiral is more selfishness and “self-love”. This can happen in all sorts of ways – feeling I am entitled to buy myself something to make me happy; indulging in food, or, there are nights when my husband comes home late and we’ve long-since eaten dinner. I’m tired and resting on the couch, and instead of getting up and warming up his dinner, I let him take care of himself, because, after all, I’m tired. Or, if he’s had a long, hard day at work, and he’s in a bad mood, I only focus on myself, and the fact that he’s being short-tempered with me and it’s making me feel bad; I get angry in return and withdraw. God tells me to love Him, and then love others. I sin when I only focus on myself and my needs.

  4. 6. Comment on Elizabeth’s testimony. What stood out to you and why?

    Elizabeth,
    As I read your testimony, I felt like I was watching a caterpillar, crawling around, then spinning itself a cocoon and going within, and then emerging as a beautiful butterly, shaking out its wings, and taking off in flight!
    The way you described yourself as you began this study; how feelings of rejection had caused you to put up walls, hold others at arms length…and underneath was the idol of approval. I love how you could see yourself as both the elder and younger son, and how God used this to melt your heart.
    You have learned to much – that it is always your move, and that while you depend on the Holy Spirit, it is your responsibility to obey. Your testimony is a beautiful example of what God can do to transform hearts!

    1. Susan–you are so gracious–and this brought me tears, and also gave me HOPE! Thank you for reminding me where He has taken me–earlier this week I think the enemy was screaming “you’re failing–what a fraud!”…but it is not ever ME, it is HIM. And His work lasts, even if I forget at times. I’m rambling now, but thank you–I will hold on to this.

  5. 5. Can you give a simple example, as Leslie did, of how you might exchange the truth of God for a lie and then, therefore, sin?

    I’ve been pondering this question all week and I find that the main place I have been exchanging the truth for a lie is when I sit in my Sunday School class and secretly covet the position of leadership. I have finally stared the idol of control in the face and realized that I have been hindering instead of helping. I have wasted precious time focusing on what I am not doing instead of praying regularly for my Sunday School leader to have a wonderful time in her study of God’s word. Oh, what a tangled web I have woven as I have deceived myself. The other morning, during my prayer time, I faced hard truth about myself-that I try to be responsible for the work of another. I no longer have a teaching position within the local body because I stepped down from teaching pre-schoolers this church year since I didn’t want to be responsible for a class as I am working long hours at my caregiving job. The truth is I am finally able to admit that what has been eating at me inwardly for MONTHS is that when I ended my sabbactical from church responsibilties (this was during the time of my being in the high tide of grief over the loss of my marriage in 2008) my old position as Sunday School leader to senior ladies was given to someone else when the person who took my place during my sabbactical had to step down for health reasons. I was told that I was the one who gave it up and the unwritten policy at my church is if you give it up you don’t get it back. As I have shared before, I physically feel a strong urge that comes upon me when I hear something said and I have the knowledge to refute it. I’m thankful to finally know that urge is NOT a good thing because it’s all three idols calling my name. I am only responsible for studying God’s word for myself and when people tell me that I intimidate them because I know God’s word I shouldn’t take it as a compliment and get puffed up about it. Many times what I want to refute is in actuality the person’s personal opinion and we are all entitled to express our opinions. I should be striving in prayer for them to grow to hunger and thirst for God. God’s truth tells me I should be loving God with all my being instead of believing the lie I am being left out because I no longer hold a position within the local body.

    6. Comment on Elizabeth’s testimony.

    Since Elizabeth has removed the mask which hid her pain our Lord has been able to course his truth through her spirit unhindered. As I read her comments, I gain courage to keep pursuing the Lover of my soul. Her love for her relations is evident and she has been graced to be a beautiful communicator of the Gospel.

    9. My take-a-way for this week is not a particular comment but thankfulness for the growth of our group. Seeing the interaction between mom Terri, daughter Stacy, and aunt Dawn gives us a glimpse of God’s intentions-the family as a model for the church. The blessed love they have for one another is evident and it’s amazing how God has enabled all three to be joined together here even though they are, literally, world’s apart.

    To those who are new forgive me for being late in welcoming you. All of your comments this week have refreshed me.

    For Elizabeth
    Are you aware there is a book titled The Spiritual Legacy of Henri Nouwen by Deidre La Noue? I found my copy at our local used book store. This particular book is an analysis of Nouwen’s writings in the context of his life and times and provides a key to his more than forty individual books as well as a cogent summary of his contribution to the spiritual lives of millions of people. (from the inside flap) I haven’t read all the way through but it’s been helpful to learn the story behind the story of Nouwen’s life and writings.

    1. Wow Tammy–this is all so rich! First, thank you for your comments on my testimony. It reminds me to keep the mask off. And I am reminded of how He has worked.Today, when I think about those “3 major family relationships’ I was referring to in my testimony, I can say with ALL honesty, I feel peace–and that, really truly is a miracle. Something I never expected. Amazing how I have known the truth for so long, but never believed He could truly remove heart of stone towards my parents, and the 3rd one. But He has done it!!! Wow. Sorry to go so long here, I just think I am finally willing to believe He has really done it (s-l-o-w learner). I’ve been afraid to believe it–like it’s too big a risk, but I know my heart is different.

      I also related to your coveting leadership–though I do not have the wisdom you do, in my own world, I relate. And that was helpful for me to read–and see my need to confess that as well.

      I’m requesting the Nouwen book from the library–haven’t heard of it–thank you! He is one of my favorites when I take the time to ponder…and Frederick Buechner, have you read him? Reminds me a little of his style.

      Thank you Tammy–you are such a gift to us all!

    2. Good, honest sharing, Tammy – helpful to all of us!

  6. Before the week is over, I just wanted to thank you all for your gracious comments towards me this week, and also for your friendship. I have found that I so look forward to getting on here each day and seeing what’s going on with each of you,praying for you, and learning from you. I know I’m a broken record–but this place is such an unexpected gift for me. The honesty, the vulnerability, transparency we share–I’ve rarely known anything quite like it. I know I can be real here, and be held accountable. Just this morning,this sounds corny, but it is really true–I was brushing my teeth and thinking about getting to the blog before being off for the day, and I thought once again–Lord, why did You give ME this group–and I let myself hear that He just loves me that much (and has work to do in me 😉

    1. Elizabeth, We feel the same about you, sister! You are a model to us of God’s Grace, His Love, and indeed His Mercy. He shows so much of Himself through you and I am learning through your model here.

    2. Well said Rebecca. I totally agree. God has blessed us so richly in each other and even more in the hard work He is doing in us. I am so thankful.

      1. Amen

    3. WE ALL LOVE YOU ELIZABETH!!

  7. I can’t log onto my email. Google keeps saying they need my cell # and I keep refusing to give it to them and now finally I can’t log on. So I am not getting comments. My other account works so I will use it tomorrow. If I don’t respond to comments addressed to me, it’s because I didn’t see it.

  8. Hey- I just wanted to say thanks for all the warm welcomes this week. It has definitely been a pleasure to be on this journey with all of you! This week I have been encouraged and stretched by so many of your open and honest comments and insights into scripture. I am waiting in anticipation for what God will reveal to me next week as we continue in this study. I would have commented more, but this week my internet has not been great. Where I am currently living the internet is often shaky at best. 🙂 But know that I appreciate all of you and am praying for us all as we continue on, allowing God to shape and chisel away at our idols. Thanks for being a blessing in my life.
    love and prayers,
    Stacy

  9. Having a hard afternoon. Please pray

    1. Praying for you Meg. You are making wonderful progress. Please don’t entertain discouraging thoughts but remember how He loves you.

      1. thank you Anne

        I feel like i am headed in the downward spiral that we are talking about this week! I didnt eat dinner which is not like me unless i am sick.

        1. Please don’t think me too forward. I too have been struggling today. When this happens to me I start asking myself a series of questions: What am I fearing? What Lie am I believing? Is God really able to take care of me in this situation? Do I really trust him? Hope these questions might give you some insight so that you can fight the downward spiral. Keep calling out to God for mercy. I’ll be praying.

        2. thanks Diane!

        3. Diane, that is great advice!

  10. My email is fixed. My account was hacked but gmail stopped it before any emails were sent out.

  11. PART IV. THE SERMON

    Tonite I listened to Keller’s free sermon on The Prodigal Sons. I was impacted anew by the brilliantness of Jesus as He crafted this parable of the two sons, and how each son really represented the two kinds of people who were listening to the story; sinners and Pharisees. I have to also place myself into the story, and like many others, I see myself in both of the sons.
    I love how Keller compares the elder brother in the story with Jesus, the True Elder Brother. To redeem the lost younger son, it cost the elder son, because everything the father had belonged to him but his reaction to this was anger. But Jesus, seeing the agony of the Father at the lostness of His children, goes to bring them home at enormous expense to Himself. I love this quote: “To the degree you see that (what it cost Jesus to bring you home) it will change your motivation, your whole approach toward God and you wont be into self-discovery or moral conformity; you’ll be a Christian”.

    My take-away for this week is to really take a hard look at the ways that I exchange the truth of God for a lie. Then I have to choose the power of the Gospel over the power of the lie. The Gospel not only saves me, but breaks the hold of sin over me. To begin to see and identify the things in my life that I have come to worship – worshipping created things instead of the God who created them – I am hopeful that what I have learned, and praising God and giving Him thanks, will put Him back on the throne of my life.
    I am still keeping in mind from Keller’s sermon last week that it is through our idols that the forces of darkness control us; I know this will be spiritual warfare because when we begin to oppose the enemy he doesn’t like it; yet greater is He Who is in me than he that is in the world.

    1. I have also been feeling attacks by Satan. He tells me lies like “you don’t have as good answers as others in the study, you can’t get this computer stuff(to discourage me), you aren’t as spiritual sounding as the others.” I think this tells me that pride is one of my idols and ask that God would break this off of my heart. I am sure there are other problems that I have in regard to idols. I look forward to learning to identify them so they can be removed from my heart. I want to desire that God be my only God.

  12. 8. If you listen to the above, what stood out to you? I listened to the alternative message about the prodigal son. What stood out to me was that it wasn’t just the first son who was prodigal. Both were prodigal sons. Both desired things rather than God. It was a new look at them for me. I always thought it was the 1st son who was the prodigal. I have sometimes felt like son #2. Those who were messing up were getting all of the attention. This showed me that my rightness was also a sin, I was thinking I was righteous because of not doing wrong in some areas. Really my self-righteousness was my sin. I need Jesus/saving just as much as the 1st son and there is nothing I can do on my own to earn or improve on what Jesus did on the cross for me.

    9. What is your take-a-way for the week and why? I still like the thought that the next move is always mine. I don’t have to wait for others to do the right thing. I need to listen to God and act accordingly. I need to be more like Jesus.
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    1. This is all so good Dawn Mokros. And you’re right, Satan has told you a lie that your answers aren’t “good enough’–because I have learned much from you. My pastor preached on 1 Cor. and the need for all of us in the body–we are all necessary and used by Him.

      I also wanted to make sure you get to this week’s study. If you go to http://deebrestin.wpengine.com/2011/09/experiencing-the-living-god/
      you’ll see this week’s lesson.