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HOW IS A HEART OF STONE TURNED INTO A HEART OF FLESH?

 

A HEART OF FLESH IS

AS GENTLE AS A SPRING RAIN

AS FRAGRANT AND TENDER AS A ROSE


AS PURE

AS COMPASSIONATE

AS OTHER-CENTERED

AS CHRIST HIMSELF

 

CALVIN CARTER

HOW DOES IT HAPPEN?

IS IT OF US?

OR IS IT OF GOD?


I am privileged to be able to go into prisons, to see firsthand hearts of stone transformed into hearts of flesh. So many women I meet in the faith dorms are women transformed. Many have committed horrendous crimes and came in with hearts as hard as flint, with souls as dark as caverns. If we met them when they came in, we would hold out little hope for transformation. It certainly wouldn’t do any good to preach to them about how they should behave, to tell them to “work on their character.”

WE HAVE NO POWER IN OURSELVES TO CHANGE

THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS NOT MECHANICAL

IT IS ORGANIC

IT IS ALL OF GOD

 

THE SPIRIT COMES

THE WIND BLOWS WHERE IT WILL

THE LIGHT SHINES IN THE DARKNESS


IN THE PRISONS

HE MAY SHINE HIS LIGHT THROUGH

A VOLUNTEER

A TRANSFORMED INMATE

A BIBLE DONATED

A DREAM

BUT HE COMES

PLANTS A SEED

SHINES HIS PURE LIGHT

AND BEHOLD

THERE IS THAT FIRST BUD

THEN THE OPENING OF THE FLOWER

 


 

Just recently in a Texas prison I met Clare, the infamous orthodontist who ran over her husband. Clare was a woman as lovely as I’ve met anywhere. I thought, If you were in my town, I would pursue you as a friend. I love talking to you — you sharpen me, you have the fragrance of Christ. Clare is a miracle of God. Though she had been taught of God as a child, she married a man who was an unbeliever. Then, when he was unfaithful to her, her heart grew bitter and hard. One day when she saw him escorting his mistress from a hotel, rage took over and she ran over him with her Mercedes, killing him.

She didn’t have to tell me she wasn’t the same woman. I could see it with my own eyes.

When Karla Faye Tucker, who became known as an axe murderer, shared her testimony, she said that God reached into her heart and tore up by the roots the violence in her. Before that, she said she “honestly didn’t care that she had brutally murdered two people.” A heart like flint transformed into a heart as tender as a rose.

Karla Faye Tucker after Christ

 

Karla said, “How can I explain it? It’s supernatural.” That’s exactly right. We cannot transform ourselves. Someone else must take out the rocks, the weeds.

God tore the violence up by the roots.

 

 

When you see, firsthand, these dramatic conversions, you know, as Karla said, “It’s supernatural.”

Jesus’ parables often referred to farming: to seeds growing secretly, to wheat and tares, to vines and fruit. The life of Christ in us is organic, and the seed comes from God.

This all brings me to the last two weeks, where we have seen God in the move. I want us to step into where He is leading us.

I know many of you do not have time to read all the comments — but I want to highlight a few things that happened so you don’t miss this koininia.There was so much I cannot cover, but I want to cover HIGHLIGHTS that warmed my heart, and I believe will yours as too. They fit perfectly, as only a Master Designer could do, into our study of 1 John.

ICEBREAKER

WHAT STOOD OUT TO YOU FROM THE ABOVE AND WHY?

IN A SENTENCE, HOW HAVE YOU FELT THE LOVE OF GOD IN THE LAST TWO WEEKS?


BIBLE STUDY

So often you have found that our online study dovetails with another you are doing face to face. I remember how refreshing it was to have Anne bring us truths about idolatry from her BSF Isaiah study. Meg is hearing about idolatry in her Beth Moore Daniel study. In the last post, Rebecca brought up the parable of the sower and I referred her to a Keller sermon (he has two on this parable). I decided to listen to it myself and found a key in it that relates to what we are doing.

We know Jesus does the sowing, and that the four soils represent four different hearts, but “who does the cultivating?” Rebecca asked. She apologized for this being a tangent, but instead, as so often happens, it it exactly where God is leading us.

Look with me at the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. Read Matthew 13:1-23.

HE WHO HAS EARS LET HIM HEAR

1. There are four kinds of soil.

A.  The first soil is hard, and the seed never takes root. Find everything you can learn about this soil in Matthew 13:18-20. Whom do you think this soil represents?

B. The second soil is shallow, filled with rocks. How does it at first seem to respond, but then why does it fail to let the seed take root? Whom do you think this soil represents?

C. The third soil is the most interesting — for the seed does take root, yet it is not fruitful. Why?

D. Describe the fourth soil.

 

Keller said the soils represented:

1) A hard heart (Exposed but not changed at all)

2) A shallow heart (Receive it eagerly because they think they will get blessings — but not interested in God Himself)

3) A divided heart (Torn between God and idols)

4) A fertile heart (What we pray we will be!)

 

2. Read carefully the description of the third soil, representing the divided heart. Write down everything you observe. Go slowly. Do you believe this soil represents a believer or not? Why?

3. How do you think this promise from  Ezekiel 11:19 relates to the divided heart?


I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.

In truth, we must realize each of us has a divided heart, and that it will not be completely undivided until that day we see Jesus face to face.

Yet, on the other hand, if we continue to practice sin, to take the cross lightly, are we His?

I John has a tendency to either make us nervous or give us confidence for he makes black and white statements.

4. Find some of John’s black and white statements in this book — I’ve gotten you started:

A. 1 John 2:4

B.  1 John 2:9

C. 1 John 2:15

D. Now you find some that strike you and list them here:

John’s letter can strike fear in the heart, for we all fail in every way. What does he mean when he says that one born of God will stay in the light, will love his brother….when we know we fail every day? John Stott explained that this refers to the metaphor of the seed. God’s seed is in the one who is born again, and that seed cannot sin. How do we know if we have that seed?

Last week one of you expressed fear that you had never truly repented because you keep committing the same sin over and over again, trusting He will forgive you.I dare not answer that, for Jesus said to leave it to God to separate the wheat from the tares. As ambassadors for Christ we are to comfort the distressed and distress the comfortable — but it can be hard for us to discern true believers. But I do know that as we walk in the light, His light grows in us. As we walk in love, His love grows in us. John’s letter is actually meant to give us confidence. When you see yourself loving, choosing the light, abiding in Him, you know that can only be of God. His seed is in you, growing. An increasing awareness of His holiness and your depravity is  another sign you know Him. Apathy is a sign you do not.

If 1 John troubles you, I highly recommend this sermon by Crawford Loretts, which I just “happened” to hear on my way to the airport last week. Here is the link. It’s 2.99 to download. (Link)

My take-a-way from the message centered on the word “practice” as found in 1 John 3:4. If we keep on practicing the same sin, if we keep treating his death lightly, we do have reason to doubt our salvation. Yet 1 John is actually meant to inspire confidence in the believer, to show him that the reason he is disturbed about being in the darkness, the reason he has the power to love his brother, and the reason he longs to have fellowship with God is because indeed, God’s seed is in him. It may be small, but as he abides in the vine, as he responds to the light, it will grow.

My favorite quote of all concerning 1 John is from John Stott:

Our love and our light not only reveal if we are in Christ, but actually contribute to the love and the light we are already in.

 

DO YOU SEE?

THE MORE YOU RESPOND TO THE LIGHT, THE MORE THE LIGHT GROWS IN YOU.

THE MORE YOU LOVE, THE MORE HIS LOVE GROWS IN YOU.

It happened for Elizabeth recently when she laid down her desire for her mother’s approval at the feet of Jesus. When she was out with her mother, her mother said, “Look, a white horse.” There stood a white horse in the field, a kiss from the King for Elizabeth, reminding her that Jesus loved her and was coming back for her on a white horse. His approval was enough, even if she never feels the blessing from her mother.



It happened for Susan, when she laid down her idol of control, giving up her desire for a new carpet to prepare for the gift of a piano. God gave her a spirit of gentleness and contentedness with what she had. I love to think of Susan playing praises to the one who loves her so. Perhaps she can learn Cowper’s “There is a Fountain” that so touched Diane and Elizabeth.


And what I thought was one of the high points of the week occurred when Shelley from Canada came on and spoke, in love, of her concern about Ann Voskamp’s phrase “I flew to Paris and made love to God.” I felt confident, and was pleased, that you would listen to her, respond in love, and learn. And you did. You were obeying “the new commandment” that John talks about in 1 John 2:7-14. Whether you agreed or disagreed with Shelley, you responded in love. We’re going to return to this new commandment next week — and discuss this time with Shelley again. But what I saw was the love of Christ that allowed a beautiful discussion.

PART II. AN ESSAY (EXTRA CREDIT — BUT I PROMISE, A GREAT BLESSING)

This little book was life changing for me, so I want to offer it to you. If it is too hard to read on your computer, I heartily recommend getting it for yourself. It’s on 1 John 2, and entitled: THE MARK OF A CHRISTIAN. So as not to overwhelm you, I’m suggesting this instead of a sermon this week. (But if you want a sermon, one free Keller that would dovetail is from 1 Peter, who also discusses the mystery if the imperishable seed and the new birth: Link)

YOU CAN READ THIS SHORT BOOK ONLINE BY GOING TO THIS LINK: Link

5.What does Schaeffer say the mark of a Christian is — and why?

6. When we disagree with another believer, what does Schaeffer say will be remembered ten, twenty years from now?

7. What stood out to you from The Mark of a Christian and why?

 

 

PART III. GETTING TO KNOW OUR BLOGGERS

Meg is one of our newest and youngest bloggers. We’ve come to love her honesty and vulnerability.  Here she is with her mother in beautiful New England.


Meg writes:

Hi my name is Meg (Meaghan) and I am single and I will be 29 at the beginning of November. I had a very hard upbringing. My dad left our family ( I have one brother he is younger and he is married and lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and their son Peyton)  I was 2 and my brother was 6 months old.. I didnt see much of my dad in my upbringing years. I was physically abused by my stepadad, Sexually abused by my cousin and verbally abused by my stepmom.  I was involved in a homosexual relationship for about 10 years which i just ended 2 years ago.  I still struggle with that a little bit but God is good and he is helping me have a passion for him instead.
I came to know Jesus in January of 2003. through my best friend Jen. I know that her and her family had been praying for me for a long time.  My passion in life is to Love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength I serve at my church here in Vermont. I work in the nursery and help out in our Church library. One of my other passions is children! I love them and connect so well with them.
My favorite Verse is Phillipians 4:13
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!
Blessings to you all!

 

8. How can you affirm and pray for Meg?

 

PART IV: REMEMBERING

On a personal note, my husband Steve went to be with the Lord seven years ago. I know seven is the number for completion and I’m not sure what that means, for I don’t think our grief will be over until we are with him again. But I give such great thanks to the Lord for blessing me so abundantly with him. God’s seed surely grew in Steve. Many of you who have read The God of All Comfort have come to know him. Even the day after he died our newspaper’s headline was Beloved Doctor Dies. Here he is the day we adopted our daughter Beth. Steve cared about what God cared about — and the joy of the Lord was so present in him. He did abide in the vine. We heard him singing to the Lord in his den. He was the good soil and his life bore much fruit.

The day we went to get our daughter Beth in the orphanage in Thailand

 

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

10. I’d also like your input. Some of you are keeping up, but many are not. I’m thinking of shortening the weekly lessons, or I could do two week lessons. And I’d like your prayer for wisdom about this.

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333 comments

  1. 9. What is your take-a-way from the week and why? My take away for the week is the scripture on 1 John 2:4 where it says that if we claim to know him but we do not do what he says then we are liars and the truth is not in us. This really resonated with me. I think of my masturbation and if i say i know him yet keep doing it.. I am a liar.. and the truth is not in me. I do praise the Lord that i have been free for 3 weeks!

    Also the teaching on Crawford Laritss

    He says that sin is lawlessness and that Grace is not permission to sin!

    1. Oh, Meg, That is great, God is really giving you victory. To God be the glory–great things He has done and great things He is doing!!

      1. Meg, I’m, proud of you. This is Dennis and Mary Kay.

        1. Thanks Terri and Joyce!

  2. Meg,

    It seems you have had a struggle through the years but are coming out of it now….God is good! It is good that you are on the path and learning so much about the Bible now before it is too late. Thanks be to God for your friend who brought you home! We are blessed to have your insight on this blog and to share in fellowship with you.

    P.s. When is the 5k? How is that going?

    1. Laura-Dancer

      Thank you for your wonderful comment.. The 5k is a week from tommorrow, and its not going so well, as of right now i am not doing it, I have been having a hard time even going 2.5 miles. I am not sure why cause i am been practicing for 6 months.. and a few weeks ago i was able to do it.., The timing for me is another thing. I dont feel that it is a goal for me if i do it in 45 minutes… cause that means its about a 15 minute mile and i know i can do faster than that.. but the hills etc slow me down..

  3. oh wow my heart is really crush and a good way!! I have being very snappy to my girls and husband. I have a 17 year old and she is a wounderful girl with a crazy attitud that some times I can stand and my first respond is say nasty things to her, I do pray for her ,but I think with my attitud I am creating a wall:( so my from this week is I am praying for my stone heart to be a gentle, humble so I am be able to bless my girl with God’s grace.
    Megan,
    I will be praying for you and so happy to hear what God’s is doing in your life!!
    be bless in the name of Jesus Christ!!!

    1. Analuz,

      I really understand your problem! I have a daughter who also drives me crazy. She is 19 and has a low IQ plus learning disabilitites. My husband really hates her right now and I have to mediate between them, and my stress level is very high. It is difficult to keep my patience with her. We live minute by minute and I pray a lot! I try to speak to myself to make myself calm. I say things like, “God help me, this too shall pass, she doesn’t understand what she is doing, etc.” Mostly, I pray. My husband and I fight a lot about the situation. It is hard.

      She has recently met a girl who is at her mental level and wants to be her friend. This is key, because she has no true friends her age. This girl has her own problems too, but is nice and wants to be good. She is good for Sarah and we are in a period of calm for now.

      We are trying to help Sarah finish her diploma at high school, and this is a struggle. Sometimes she won’t get up for school, sometimes she skips classes she doesn’t like, she skips detentions she has earned for being late all the time, and she will never do homework. It is a painful job to get her through this; I hope we make it.

      Meanwhile I will pray for your family. I don’t know if your situation is that bad, but take a deep breath. God loves you and wants the family to survive and thrive. I am listening to Tim Keller today (the free sermon Dee suggested). He says, in the first part of the sermon, Jesus suffered GREATLY, and is “crushed” with sorrow, however He was also joyous because He didn’t have a hope in some THING, He had hope in God. We need a “living hope.” When we are in our greatest suffering we are like gold in a fire; we get brighter and stronger in God. In the end we will be blessed beyond belief.

      Laura

      1. Hi Laura,
        thank you for your prayers!! I will be praying for Sarah and your husband!!
        May the lord embrace you with his love, I know that this situaciones God use them to grow us in werever he thinks we need, and I am so glad to find new sisters in Christ!! that we can pray for each other!!
        Analuz

      1. Hi Dee ,
        yes i am from Mexico City!!
        I love coming to your bible study!!

    2. Welcome Analuz! I will keep you in my prayers.

      1. thank you Joyce!!

  4. The Mark of a Christian

    5. Whad does Schaeffer say the marks of a Chirstian is-and why?

    According to the words of Jesus in John 13:33-35 and John 17:21, the marks of a Christian are love and the unity it attests to. Jesus commands us to love the brethren and our neighbors-those in the world who do not belong to Him. This command has a condition. IF I obey it, I will wear the badge-Love-Christ gave.

    6. When we disagree with another believer, what does Schaeffer say will be remembered ten, twenty years from now?

    What will be remembered is the lack of love and the bitter things that are said by true Christians in the midst of differences. Scars are left on future generations.

    7. What stood out to you from The Mark of a Christian and why?

    Wow, there is so much that stood out to me. I’m going to list just a few.

    As I read his statement….”that it is possible to be a Christian without showing the mark..” I thought that this could be a description of the third soil and I think it is because I know how self-absorbed I can be. As my late pastor would say, “I love the person I see in the mirror the most.” Agape love, the sacrifical love I believe Schaeffer is referring to, is not something which comes naturally. Unless I “grow up” in my faith and strive to maturity through diligent bible study and prayer, I will never be able to demostrate true agape love.

    “All men bear the image of God and has aspirations for love. They have value, not because they are redeemed, but because they are God’s creation in God’s image.” I need to remind myself of this on a daily basis as I come in contact with others who do not see me as valuable. Sometimes I get the impression I am being treated as a conveinence, seen as a “machine” and not a person with her own desires, dreams, and thoughts.

    And, lastly, “And Christians are not to love their believing brothers to the exclusion of their non-believing fellowmen.”

    I know if I’m not careful with my thinking I can develop a “its us against them” mentality.

    8. How can you affirm and pray for Meg?

    I, too, could not wait to get to this question. Meg, from the first moment I read your inital post, I have admired your bravery and honesty in, not just facing your life struggles, but with your willingness to lay your soul bare before us. You are not afraid to ask the hard questions.

    Holy Father, I ask for Meg’s eyes to be open to the truth that You believe and know she is beautiful. You are her Creator after all and from Your divine perspective there is no ugliness in the events of her life. You have promised Meg that You are working all, past, present, and future things for her good and what she learns from You will be for the benefits of others in the body of Christ. Heal the diseases of her soul as You healed mine. Thank You for gracing my life with her presence. In the name of our Blessed Redeemer. Amen.

  5. We may have already covered this passage in our study this week, but as I read 1 John 3: 9-17 this morning with fresh eyes I became both encouraged and convicted. This is blowing me away-how loving the brethren is reiterated over and over as being the mark of a christian.

    Makes me look back to John when Jesus healed on the sabbath how the Pharisees freaked about Jesus breaking the law, when he really didn’t anyway, but Jesus responds rebuking them for putting the law above healing a man-putting rules and regulations above a person, above loving someone. They were so entrenched by their control and approval idols and were so entrenched in rules, laws and regulations they couldn’t see who Jesus was. I don’t know, that was something that just came to mind-may or may not relate, but anyway-I am encouraged, but asking God to search the depths of my heart and weed out anything that is blocking me from not truly loving.

    1. So good Rebecca. I just looked it up in The Message too–(9-11): “People conceived and brought into life by God don’t make a practice of sin. How could they? God’s seed is deep within them, making them who they are. It’s not in the nature of the God-begotten to practice and parade sin. Here’s how you tell the difference between God’s children and the Devil’s children: The one who won’t practice righteous ways isn’t from God, nor is the one who won’t love brother or sister. A simple test.For this is the original message we heard: We should love each other. ”

      I join you in asking God to search my heart and weed out the thorns that hinder my love for others. Such a good reminder of my need to do this daily.

      1. Elizabeth, what is funny is I asked God this morning, and then ten minutes later, I lose my patience with my oldest! 😉 Evidently, sandpaper is what God knows I need-children can be like sandpaper that is for sure!

        1. So funny Rebecca because I have an hour drive to work and I often use that time for prayer and meditation, I find myself more often then I’d like, verbally lashing out to other drivers right in the middle of a prayer. It’s pretty pathetic 🙁

        2. Dawn, I think it is great that you even saw that and you didn’t like it! 🙂

  6. Meg you are an encouragement of allowing God to fill you where you let idols do that job. I love how God is moving and changing you. Especially how we get to see it here. I enjoy getting to know you and your heart.

    My take away, I just keep pondering the seed. How God grows it secretly. It is an interesting thing. Also that I really should not judge others because I really have no idea what is going on in their hearts. I just need to love and encourage others toward Christ. And for those who show no fruit just to keep praying for them. I may doubt they are saved but only God can know and He loves all He has made. So I pray and watch God work. Then when He allows me to be a part of it I do what He asks. 🙂

    I also love Steve’s example and the example you both gave us for marriage. I will never forget the concepts in Falling in Love with Jesus and how you compared them to marriage. I love your story through marriage that God allowed you to live with him as an example of your marriage with HIM. So tender and God honoring. A good example for me to learn from.

  7. I was cleaning and saw this on the notes I took on Keller’s sermon on the sower- I think in answer to the question above on “How is a heart of stone turned to a heart of flesh?” This is what I was thinking the intent is in regard to the soils:

    “The only way you are going to be Holy and happy is to make him Lord of your life. There are things choking Christ out-you don’t see yourself growing and are being choked by other things being more important-i.e. your job, kids, etc..A divided heart. The Psalmist says, Oh Lord ignite my heart to fear they name. Don’t listen with a hard heart, let the power of God come in. Don’t listen with a shallow heart. Get to a place where the love of God soaks down into your heart with loving obedience. Love so amazing so divine demands my heart, my soul, my all. You are the soil and he is the gardener. The soils job is not to get rocks out, to not pull my thorns out-that is the gardeners job, your job is to hear the word. 🙂 I will go back to the word, and hear it, obey it and give myself to it, but you have to pull the thorns out. He will say, ‘yes that is what I am here for.’ “

  8. I know we can all think of millions of analogies about weeds and the parallels to our hearts, but for a long time, we had this huge patch of weeds in the front of our otherwise lush green yard. We tried every kind of spray to no avail! Every week my husband would just mow it down, and from afar it looked deceptively like nice grass. But the closer you got, the more you could see it’s ugliness. And trying to hide it by mowing, only made it worse, because the mower spreads the weed’s seed ALL over–so it just grew! Yes, the only way to get rid of it, was to painstakingly pull the weeds up by hand and be sure to get the root. It looked bare for a while, exposed, raw. But then we laid down grass seed and fresh fertilizer, and eventually began to see sprouts of new grass. BUT, the weeds still keep trying to come back…so it is a daily thing, to pull the weeds.

    I believe it is only God who has the power to pull my weeds up from the root. And when I don’t feel like letting Him mess with that part of my heart, I try to cover it up, do my own mowing, and ultimately make the problem grow. So it is a daily thing—asking Him to come and pull the weeds, being willing to let it hurt, let myself be bare and exposed…but in hope of that new green growth.

  9. Ok so I had to share this and I was not sure who else would appreciate it!! This is about growing Parsley and that is our last name! So advice on growing Parsley that can relate to my little Parsley girls and what we are learning.

    As with most herbs, parsley does best in a sunny area which receives direct light for 6-8 hours a day, although it can tolerate some light shade. (Keep them exposed to the Light! Do not tolerate walking in darkness 1 John 1)

    Although germination is notoriously slow…. To help hasten the process, soak the seeds in warm water for up to twenty-four hours prior to planting. (As we discussed God directs growth rate and it is slower in children perhaps, Interesting to speed up the process they rec. soaking in water this can relate to washing in the water of His word through talking about it and praying it.)

    Do not allow the plants to dry out completely between waterings in the garden. Water deeply at least once a week to insure the roots are receiving enough moisture during the growing season. (Don’t dry up without the washing of the Word, keep it the watering in faith that it will produce a harvest remember His word will not return void but will go forth and produce the harvest. They must be firmly rooted to survive.)

    Ha ha love it! Copied from http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/M1221.html
    This is part of the process of growing that secret seed in making their heart of stone a heart of flesh! All of us Parsleys. 🙂

    1. Angela, eating an early lunch and came across your post! LOVE IT!

  10. Oh, I wish I had a youtube for this, but wanted to share it anyway–it is so fitting I think. It’s a Charles Wesley hymn. Red Mountain Music has a newer version,called This Breaks My Heart of Stone. OK, I was going to just post the first stanza, but changed my mind–it’s TOO good! (So sorry for the length of the post, though):

    Jesus, let Thy pitying eye
    Call back a wandering sheep;
    False to Thee, like Peter, I
    Would fain, like Peter, weep.
    Let me be by grace restored;
    On me be all long-suffering shown;
    Turn, and look upon me, Lord,
    And break my heart of stone.

    Savior, Prince, enthroned above,
    Repentance to impart,
    Give me, through Thy dying love,
    The humble, contrite heart;
    Give what I have long implored,
    A portion of Thy grief unknown;
    Turn, and look upon me, Lord,
    And break my heart of stone.

    See me, Savior, from above,
    Nor suffer me to die;
    Life, and happiness, and love
    Drop from Thy gracious eye;
    Speak the reconciling word,
    And let Thy mercy melt me down;
    Turn, and look upon me, Lord,
    And break my heart of stone.

    Look, as when Thy languid eye
    Was closed that we might live;
    “Father,” at the point to die
    My Savior prayed, “forgive!”
    Surely, with that dying word,
    He turns, and looks, and cries, “’Tis done!”
    O my bleeding, loving Lord,
    Thou break’st my heart of stone!

    1. What a beautiful word, “Turn and look upon me, Lord, and break my heart of stone.”
      Thank you for sharing that.

    2. Eliazabeth
      Thanks for sharing this. I printed the words so I can began to learn it. It is such a beautiful prayer. I am privileged to live in the region of John Wesley’s influence. The souls of Savannah, GA and the coastal islands were very precious to him. I have not yet read much on his brother Charles but it is obvious God gifted him with great insight surely an answer to the prayers of their mother Susanna. I read once that when her children saw her apron covering her head they knew she was having her prayer time with the Lord and they were not to disturb her.

    3. Elizabeth, I went on God Tube and You Tube looking for this earlier today and couldn’t find it. 🙁 I would love to hear it.

      1. Rebecca–this will give you Red Mountain’s version–a clip at least, with their sheet music. It’s a different sound, but I do love the lyrics. Wesley titled it “Jesus, let Thy pitying eye”, but they call their version “This Breaks My Heart of Stone”. Here’s the link to their list of clips, sheet music:
        http://www.redmountainmusic.com/alb/lyrics.html

        And since you’re so musical(!!), here is the RUF Online Hymnbook that Indelible Grace & Red Mountain use:
        http://www.igracemusic.com/hymnbook/hymns.html
        I love looking up the hymns we sing in there. I didn’t really appreciate hymns until I started hearing these old, “new to me” ones re-done.

        1. Elizabeth, you amaze me! I couldn’t find it even when I googled red mountain music! I am listening to it now..BEAUTIFUL! It is very soothing and well done too-you can focus on the words. I can hear Amy Shreve singing it.

          Thanks for the hymnbook site. I love hymns and personally I find most hymns to be richer-and love learning about new ones like the one you posted. I remember when I first came to know the Lord and didn’t know any hymns. I always felt so behind, but soon grew to love “It is well” and “Great is thy faithfulness”. Those two along with a few others move me every time. I will have to add the one you posted to my list. I especially love the last two stanzas when he reflects on the Gospel and the actual breaking of his stone!:-)

  11. Ladies

    I have a praise! I just went out and did the 5k route and i did it in less than 40 minutes and at a 12 min mile pace! sooooooo excited!!! On a bad note, my brakes just went in my car today my car is only 3 years old and i have already put over 1,000 dollars into it.. I am getting very frusterated so if you could pray i would appreciate it! Thanks!

    1. I will pray, Meg

      1. Thanks Joyce! My stepdad fixed my car this morning it was just a rock hitting my brakes! which is what i thought it was either that or a piece of plastic rubbing against it and i was right.. I am very thankful he fixed it.

        1. Praise God!

  12. Keller’s free sermon is awesome! I’m going to listen again – it’s that good 🙂

  13. Praying this morning for each of us by name. The Lord has laid Susan and Meg on my heart particularly. Oh, how He loves us!

    Laura, you do exactly the right thing when you cry out to Him in the moment. That is what I call one of those breath prayers. It comes out as you exhale. Praying for your husband. I pray for you and your daughter also Analuz. It is so good to hear from you.

    I find that my feeling of faith ebbs and flows(unlike His faithfulness, which always flows). This morning it flows particularly in the knowledge that He is LORD in our children’s lives.

    1. Thank you, Anne, for praying. There is something I am struggling with, and it has to do with forgiving someone. I am wrestling with holding onto what I feel this person was partly responsible for, and turning the whole matter over to God. I can tell I am not giving love freely to this person.

      1. Yes Thank you Anne for praying!

      2. Susan–you know I relate to struggling to forgive, so I will pray. One of the Keller sermons, besides the Prodigal ones, that helps me a lot is called “Forgiveness and Reconciliation”–I think it was a free one.

        I’m also continuing prayers for Jeff.

        1. Lord, we praise you for how you have made Susan, how you knew her frame from the beginning, how you drew her to You, and how deeply she is passionate for you, and now Lord you are chipping away at her stones and giving her a heart of flesh-Lord we thank you for how you have brought this to the surface in her heart for it is the beginning of change! Lord be her comfort-help her to continue to open her heart to you and give this to you. Lord may your power be seen in this relationship with forgiveness from Susan and love that can only come from you. Oh Lord, we ask this would bring you glory!

        2. Amen Rebecca!!!

        3. Amen

  14. 3. How do you think this promise from Ezekiel 11:19 relates to the divided heart?

    The “I will….” in this verse tells me salvation and sanctification are the wonderful, mysterious work of God. “I will give them an undivided heart… I will put a new spirit in them… I will remove their heart of stone… I will give them a heart of flesh.”

    I think the next verse continues the flow – “Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be My people, and I will be their God.”
    We cannot obey God, nor follow Him, nor be His people, without His giving us this heart of flesh. In this life we struggle, we go forward, we fall back; we sin, we repent; but the seed planted by God is there, and the Spirit is there to help us.

    4. Find some of John’s black and white statements in this book – I’ve gotten you started:

    A. 1 John 2:4

    “The man who says, I know Him, but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in Him.”

    B. 1 John 2:9

    “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.”

    C. 1 John 2:15

    “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

    D. Now you find some that strike you and list them here:

    1 John 3:6

    “No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him.”

    1 John 3:8

    “He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning.”

    1 John 3:9

    “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s SEED (there’s the seed!)
    remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.”

    John’s letter can strike fear in the heart, for we all fail in every way. What does he mean when he says that one born of God will stay in the light, will love his brother…when we know we fail every day? John Stott explained that this refers to the metaphor of the seed. God’s seed is in the one who is born again, and that seed cannot sin. How do we know if we have that seed?

    I think 1 John 3:9 answers that; we do fail, we do sin, but we are acutely aware of it and it makes us uncomfortable, even miserable. We feel the separation our sin causes in our relationship with God, and we don’t like it. We feel the conviction, we come back to God, we repent.

    1. Dee,

      I like the added color to your posts 🙂

      1. I like the larger print and pictures, too!

  15. 9. What is your take-a-way?

    My take-a-way comes from Dee’s introduction. We have no power in ourselves to change. We can
    only change as the Light (knowledge of God) shines in the darkness. God is the only one who can pull up the root of bitterness from my soil but He cannot do it unless I allow Him to. I came to that realization after being challenged and convicted by Schaeffer’s words, “….we rush in, being very, very pleased, it would seem at times, to find other men’s mistakes. We build up ourselves by tearing other men down.” You see, bitterness, toward those in the local body of believers who abandoned me during my time of suffering three years ago, has been slowly taking over my attitude to the point that I had begun feeling disconnected from local fellowship. God’s Spirit gently reminded me this week of Jesus’ words from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” I have to let God pull up this root of bitterness once and for all because it will cause me to lose more than I can imagine, mainly deeper fellowship with the Shepherd and Overseer of my soul.

    Dee, it is obvious by his countenance that God made sure Steve found Him as he sought his Blessed Redeemer with a whole heart and eager mind. Thank you for sharing his legacy with us. God is using your family to encourage me to PRESS ON!

  16. I think I have another takeaway this morning. (I apologize if this is scattered and long!) 🙂

    This morning, I was reading in Psalm 106, and also in John 12-God really illuminated some things in my heart. I asked what He was trying to show me with the Psalm and this passage in John. Then when He showed me-the pain did sear through my heart- literally felt like a knife-but He has opened me up and made my heart tender and so I repented again. I so want His glory to reign in my heart over mans-yet at the same time I am so thankful for his unfailing and unchanging love for me, and His faithfulness regardless of my sin struggles.

    It came unexpectedly-and related to our study. In the Psalm David gives praise to God for his unfailing love despite the isrealites idolatry-how they suffered for it, yet he rescued them. Then I read in John 12, where there is again idolatry among the pharisees and leaders..then I came to verse 42. Some of the leaders believed, but were afraid to confess it for fear of what the Pharisees would think-they would be thrown out of the synogogue. Then it says, “They loved human praise more than praise from God.” I almost read on, but God lit a fire-He wanted me to stay there. These were people whose hearts were divided and weren’t like playdough yet. If they were being careful with how they hear, they would have heard Jesus say that God honors those who honor Jesus-Because if they honor Jesus, they honor God. Why wouldn’t the praise of God mean more to the leaders than the praise of men? This struck a chord with me.

    I guess it really has hit home with me now- Man? Who is man compared to God? Psalm 8! How silly of me, how ugly and foolish to desire mans approval over God’s.

    Yet, I am praising God for this! I sense He is sealing this up in me-I think He has made a huge breakthrough over time in this area and now I need to respond and keep speaking truth to my soul when temptations hit-so I must let His word penetrate consistently this hard rock in my soil.

    1. LOVE this Rebecca!! Oh so good–thank you for this. I want to remember this!

    2. I love this too Rebecca! And it reminds me of something that jumped out at me from the Keller sermon. If I believe that my hope is glory, honor and praise from God why would I care about what the surfs at work think of me. lol!

      1. Anne, lol! Yes, I know! When you look at the truth of it, knowing ourselves/knowing man-we are finite, very fallible and sheeplike-nothing compared to the holiness and majesty of God, it is really ridiculous that we would value man’s approval over God’s-but we do. Goes to show you just how sheep like we really are! 🙂

  17. About the comments on mine it now shows Dee’s comments highlighted in a gray color. I like this. Just wanted to let you know.

  18. This morning I have gone very long in my quiet time. I am staying with 1 John because I feel there is more there for me that I have not been able to grasp.

    I read the essay last Sunday so it has been a while. I thought it was very good. There is no doubt that the mark of a Christian is love. This is the theme I am stuck on in 1 John. I hope that I will be able to go back and read it again for I think there is much there for me, especially with the questions this lesson has raised in my heart.

    The Keller sermon on 1 Peter was so good. The thing I love about his sermons is that he has the ability to name what it is I really want and then show me practical things I can do to facilitate getting there. The last line of my notes says that it is knowing that I am His living hope that makes Him my living hope. This sermon gives me a roadmap through suffering.

    When I thought about my take away this morning one word came to mind-holiness. It is not who we are for we are not perfect. I think it is more of a path that we walk. We can’t be careless about sin for it will throw us into darkness. Therefore we recognize that we must watch and pray, keeping very short accounts with God. And, once He has revealed sin in my life, I am responsible for it.

    1. love this Anne “holiness. It is not who we are for we are not perfect. I think it is more of a path that we walk. We can’t be careless about sin for it will throw us into darkness.”

    2. Anne–you inspired me to get to my Bible (crazy day!) and I read this in 2 Timothy 1:7-10–it reminded me of what you said:
      “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
      So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

      As you said–we are called to walk the path of holiness–and how we need His grace in our imperfection.

      1. Thanks Elizabeth. Very fitting verse.

  19. I just came across this today, looking again at Friendships of Women (p 32), I had forgotten he died the same age as my dad, so young. But I loved this, some of his final words to Dee–says so much about this heart we have all grown to love, both his and Dee’s!
    “You have love me well, Dee Dee.
    You are so capable—you can do this.
    You will fly so free.”

    We are so blessed Dee, by the love you and Steve share–it is a gift that has made you who you are, and you have shared it with us. Thank you for always being so vulnerable, so real…such a play-dough-y soft, fleshy heart 😉

  20. I just got home from a 4 hour swimmeet, so I’m still trying to get through the rest of the study – have read about 1/3 of the Mark of a Christian. I’m going to skip ahead to Meg –

    8. How can you affirm and pray for Meg?

    Meg, you have surely had a difficult, painful past, as you wrote in your testimony. God is bringing beauty from the ashes of that past. Your honesty and openness here are very refreshing, and so telling of your desire to live in the light! I have seen you grow and mature spiritually just in the last few weeks; how you persevere through the lesson and work through the questions and how you are applying them to your life. I think you should be greatly encouraged at the work God is doing in you!

    Lord,
    Meg is Your workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which You have planned for her to do. May Your hand continue to be upon Meg as she walks with You in the light, and please protect her from fear and anxiety. Help Meg to see how beautiful she is in Your eyes, how fearfully and wonderfully made she is. May she sense Your good pleasure as she runs, using the healthy body You gave her with thanksgiving to You.
    In Jesus’ Name,
    Amen

    Meg, I really mean it – I’m so glad you joined us here and you are a breath of fresh air and I admire your being unmasked before us and sharing honestly with us!

    1. Thank you Susan! This brought tears to my eyes!!! Thank you so much for what you wrote!

  21. 9. I think one of my take-aways from this week are the powerful pictures with this lesson.
    The softness, the tenderness of the petals, the picture of the foot being washed; how Jesus most tenderly and willingly washed those dirty feet – these are the things that picture a heart softened, melted, changed by God. The picture of the weed with its roots -Karla’s smiling face – that picture of violence, of evil, of hardness being pulled out by the roots. I love the picture of Steve with the children – his face reflects that soft, compassionate, tender heart. He looks like there’s no place on earth he’d rather be than there with those children.
    The picture of the seed being scattered – what kind of hearer will I be? God in His mercy scatters the seed so we can be His.

  22. Meg, you have grown so beautiful in the time you have been studying with us. We are blessed by your presence here with us. I am sorry for the pain you have suffered in your life but so glad that you heard the Lord’s call and obeyed. You are a sweet fragrance of Christ. And you have persevered in many hardships, always calling on the Lord for help. The 5k is not the only race you are running, and you are running well~I am honored to call you sister!

    Lord, I thank you so much for leading Meg onto this blog. Thank you that she can do all things in Christ who strengthens her. How we can see this in her life. I pray that she will continue to grow in Christ-likeness. Give her mother eyes to see the transformed work of grace that Meg is and believe in You.

    1. THank you sweet Anne!!

      1. Meg. Susan and Anne really hit on the head for you, you are very special and I love having you here also. Praying for you!

  23. I just love this week’s Tim Keller sermon, “Living for Hope”. I want to relisten many more times to it!

  24. I tried to read “The mark of the Christian” on line. I’m still trying..it’s so long! It’s hard to read on the computor, I need to get the book.

  25. Our Hearts(Bodies)waits in Holy Silence to receive God’s Presence that surrounds us! We wait in that silence of the cross with our bodies! The Cross! No matter how much pain and sorrows is berried in our hearts and bodies we wait for the waves of his Presence to sweep into our being! With our hearts we Feel After Him! We wait for him to shine into our broken and exhausted hearts because there is no power in our selves to over come!We are empty and bankrupt!Dead in the tomb! A dead body can not do anything unless God breaths life into it! ” With out me you can do nothing.” Oh God! Oh Lord Jesus have Mercy on us! We are so helpless! We are dead! We can not do anything unless you breath life into our being! You can break the chains of pain,exhaustion and sorrow in our hearts,bodies and souls! We lie in stillness with our hearts and bodies waiting for you to breath life into our being! Will power does not cut it!! Positive thinking does not cut it! Even remembering Bible verses with out true understanding will not cut it unless one truly understands it from the heart!”My people parish because of lack of knowledge.” If the Resurrection is real? It is now or never? So we wait in silence! Psalm 46:10

  26. Am bless in lord jesus with the message

  27. When you see your sins for what it does to our savior it is impossible to commit them over again you hate sin and know that when we sin it is like putting JESUS back on the cross and crucifing him over again and again, what a horrific thought, not that we are not sinners, but premeditated sin is aweful,when we repent God will change us, and He dose it not us, when it happens everything changes it is the most beautiful thing that will happen.Some where it says BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.

  28. Not buying it for a minute. Especially from someone who say’s they “lost control” to commit a heinous crime. They committed it once, and they probably will again. I firmly believe in capitol punishment. It’s the ultimate deterrent. Anyone put to death is guaranteed to never kill again.  As far as religion goes, I’m a skeptic. I don’t deny that a supreme being may exist, but I’m far from convinced one does.

  29. hi my name is valerie and I am a. Minister of God  I been doing a lot of Research on the Internet and I ran across this I have been reading this all day and I have been enjoying everything that I have read my spirit have connected with this  like never before about the DNA I won’t be the best minister I can for God I love him with everything in me