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When I was a girl and some of my friends came to school with ashes on their foreheads, I was mystified. Even after Christ became the heart of who I am, became my very life, I didn’t observe the season of Lent – that mysterious time between Ash Wednesday and Resurrection Sunday. I wondered if it was empty rituals…

I’m sure it is for some. But I also know that there are Christians throughout Christendom who cherish this time for the way it brings growth and intimacy with Christ. Such are some of you, for I was richly blessed by you last year during Lent. It makes me face this Lent with anticipation.

If you are joining us for the first time, go to my homepage at www.deebrestin.com and click on the How To Get Started. Your first comment will need to be approved, and after that your comments will appear automatically. Go at your own pace, or follow the days as I’ve divided them during the week. For example, after you read this opening, you’ll see icebreaker questions for Sunday and Monday…and then it continues through the week. Read what others write as you feel led, and comment if you like. They will welcome you warmly because this is a wonderful group.


Let me tell you why I believe you will be blessed if you commit to this seven week journey, closing with a celebratory Easter week!


We’ve said repeatedly that idols cannot be removed, only replaced. Even though our heart idols cause us and others pain, we are hesitant to let them go. We love them, we cling to them, fearful of letting go. So we cling to our idols in the same way that a few stubborn leaves cling tenaciously to the branches through the winter winds and snows.

What will finally expel those leaves? As the weather warms, the sap will rise, pushing them off. In the same way, as we contemplate the greatness of our God, His holy life will rise in us, expelling those tenacious idols.


When men and women get a glimpse of the holiness of God — from Moses to Martha — it changes them. This week, for example, we’ll consider what began to change Moses from a man who had taken his life into his own hands and made a royal mess of it to a man who led God’s people out of bondage.


He met the God who is A CONSUMING FIRE.

I believe you may see this story in a fresh way that will impact your life, and begin this mysterious and transforming journey — this first week of the holy season of Lent.

In the message we are going to listen to this week, Tim Keller says that “Every inordinate emotion — of anxiety, fear, anger, pride — is all because we are forgetting who God is.”

Our study this Lenten season will be therefore intensely practical, with the power to lessen the grip of idols and grief and usher you into times of sweet intimacy with Jesus.

I’ve watched with wonder has I have seen this truth of seeing God for who He really is transform us. Just last week we saw it in Rebecca’s life.

She met with the leadership at her church to articulate her dream. In the past she would have anxious before and after — but that was gone. She left the meeting with that steady stream of joy from the Lord, instead of being tossed and turned with anxiety.

Ed Welch has written a book that expresses exactly what Rebecca used to experience:

When People are BIG and God is small.

Welch specializes in helping people overcome their fears, and his approach is the approach we are taking during Lent toward fear, grief, sin, and every problem — seeing how big, how good, and how trustworthy our God is.


Watch this three minute clip from Ed Welch:


Sunday/Monday   Icebreaker

1. Have you ever observed the season of Lent? If so, share how it has been helpful — or not — to you.

2. What comments do you have on the above?


Tuesday: Preparing for Lent. Lent officially begins tomorrow, Ash Wednesday.

3. Christians around the world will get ashes on their foreheads, with the same words, though in many different languages. What are they and what truth do they speak to our souls? (You may need to research to find out!) Whether or not your church observes this outward sign, you can take it in your heart.

4. Traditionally Christians have “given something up” for Lent — often a fast from food. The purpose is not just “putting off” but “putting on.” If you fast a meal, your are to feed on the Bread of Life. You might opt to spend an extra half hour a day with the Lord. You might opt to exchange light reading or Facebook time for something more edifying. Try a book by Henry Nouwen, C. S. Lewis, Philip Yancy, or A. W. Tozer.

You may want to spend less time on something you know you spend too much time on, and put something more valuable in its place. Pray about what you might do — it doesn’t have to be the same for all seven weeks. (Lent is 40 days plus Sundays, or about seven weeks.) You may want to take a week at a time. What will you do?

Ash Wednesday: We begin Lent! (Wednesday through Friday)

We know outward idolatry is wrong, but it is important, whenever you read God’s commands to His children about outward idolatry, to think of inward idolatry as well. We don’t make graven images anymore, but we do worship things other than God: our children, our comfort, our control… and God wants to be first.

1. In this light read Deuteronomy 4:23-24.

A. What did God command His people not to do and why?

B. How might this relate to you and your “idols of the heart?”

(Anything or anyone that at anytime might be more important to you than God.)

2.  Read the following background verses for Moses and see if you can find evidence for God’s hand on him or for evidence that Moses had messed up his life.

A. Exodus 1:8-17

B. Exodus 2:1-10

C. Exodus 2:11-15

3. For those of you who have journeyed with us through our study of idolatry, what heart idol do you think might have motivated Moses to take things into his own hands and commit a murder?


Eugene Pluchart (1848 -- French) God Appears to Moses in Burning Bush. Painting from Saint Isaac's Cathedral, Saint Petersburg

Moses Encounters The Great I AM

4.  Read Exodus 3:1-15

A. Why was this bush unusual and what did God tell Moses? (verses 1-6)

B. CHALLENGE QUESTION: Since our God is a consuming fire, and since Moses had, indeed, an idol of the heart, why was neither the bush nor Moses consumed? (There’s a clue in verse 2! If you can’t figure it out, then Keller’s sermon will tell you.)


5. What similarity do you see between the above and Daniel 3:24-25?

6. We will look at this name of I AM more deeply next week, but for now, what significance do you see in the name that God said He is to be remembered by throughout all generations and forever? (Exodus 3:13-15)


Link to Sermon: Click Here

7. According to the above message, what did you learn about God’s:

A. Brilliant Delays

B. Fiery Reality

C. Sovereignty

D. Nearness

8. How could any of the above help you with whatever you are facing right now?

9. Do you agree or disagree with the above painting that depicts this story by Eugene Pluchart? Explain.


10. What is your take-a-way?

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  1. Excellent sermon. Too much to write because being on the computer seems to be making me sick.

    So much struck me in the sermon, but one think I took away was that when God in the fire didn’t need fuel. The fire didn’t burn up because He is self-sufficient, self-existent. This stood out to me because it showed me how serious my idol of self-sufficiency is. ONLY God is self-sufficient. By wanting to be self-sufficient, I am trying to be like God.

    I’ve been thinking about something related to Diane’s concern for a couple of weeks, since Dawn (I think?) said she had a hard time seeing Jesus in the psalm. I’ve wondered how much I see is because I’ve been told it is there; in other words, would I see anything someone told me to find? I’ve also been taught about Christophanies and probably wouldn’t have thought much more about this… but I already was asking, am I seeing something/someone just because I’ve been taught something. I read Kaiser’s essay and no trouble reading/believing that God appeared in the burning bush. But it wasn’t until the beginning of the last paragraph that Kaiser wrote “It is clear from this abundance of evidence that the angel of the Lord in the Old Testament was a preincarnate form of our Lord Jesus Christ, who would later permanently take on flesh when he came as a babe in Bethlehem.” That seemed to be a disconnect — I was waiting for the “abundance of evidence” (or a little evidence) that it was Jesus and didn’t see the evidence here. Perhaps in other writings? This is such a contrast with the post-resurrection Jesus, when people didn’t recognize Him, let alone take off their shoes.

    I also loved the colors of the painting (I’m looking at paint colors these days — at the beginning of the week, I ran the image through a program by a paint company that matches images with paint colors). But the image of God reminds me more of the ghosts in Dickens’ Christmas Carol. Hmmm… just wondering if any artists portrayed images of christophanies similar to how they would have portrayed Jesus. Or if they all looked like their views of angels …. or visions of God the Father as a pale old white guy with long beard.

    My take-away for the Lenten season: Make space to listen to God speaking. He does speak 🙂 I’m often not paying attention. Most obvious thing to give up to create that space is some of time on the computer (because that’s where I get most distracted). I’ll keep reading & doing Bible Study, but I expect (some of!) my answers to be shorter.

  2. Welcome annmarie! Sorry I haven’t gotten a chance to welcome u before now! Looking forward to getting to know u better when I get back from my cruise!

  3. Had to share…reading yancey, prayer and he says that God had to give Moses a unnatural phenomenon so there would be no doubt for the task of him leading his people. ( my paraphrase)… Then God brought to memory the rainbow He showed us after the court date when we got Dakota. I must remember because traveling this road is hard. God is all over it.

    1. Angela, I am so glad that God is revealing Himself along this road. What a treasure of memories for your family and what treasure to share with Dakota as he grows.

  4. Glad to hear you are feeling better, Kim. Elizabeth and Renee, take care and hope you begin to feel better soon.

  5. 10. My take away is that my God is also the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is the God who can use flawed materials. He has shown me this week that my joy is directly related to my dependence on Him. When I slip into independence or get my eyes off of Him onto an idol, joy evaporates.

    I agree that the painting does not show an accurate representation of God and how He calls people. I did not think Moses looked right either. He looked like he was fainting, as if he was about to die from being in the presence of God. The verses say that he was afraid and hid his face, but this looks like more than that to me.

    The sermon was great! Those 4 things that we learned create a faith bombshell. The thing I loved the most is that His delays are brilliant. Understanding just this in deeply relevant to me.

  6. Can anyone tell me how to get this weeks bible study questions??? thank you!!

  7. Donna this is the sight http://deebrestin.wpengine.com/2012/02/life-is-a-sea-voyage/. In the future you can go to the area between the questions and the comments and there are 2 small arrows the one on the left takes you to the previous week’s lesson and the one on the right to the next week’s. It looks like this:

    This entry was posted on Sunday, February 19th, 2012 at 7:14 am and is filed under Personal and tagged with Burning Bush, Ed Welch, Lent, Overcoming Fear. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
    ← →

    Also at the top of the page in the green bar it says Bible Study Blog that will take you to the page where you can choose this week’s study.

  8. If we are honest with ourselves, we may somehow think we don’t have to make scrafices as believers but Christ sacrificed HIMSELF so why do we think it should be different for us? Satan is such a deceiver!
    It is common for Christians to say to themselves or others; “Lord I want to serve you!” Funny how we say that yet the opportunity to serve Him is right in front of our nose but the “aroma” may not be very appealing so we keep “looking” elsewhere to “minister”.
    My firstborn son, Timmy was born with multiple handicaps.
    He spent his 18 years of life chronically ill, blind, deaf, and wheelchair bound.
    I loved my son. He was such a precious child.
    But to be perfectly honest I did feel frustrated at times caring for him. I felt weary at times. I felt angry that God didn’t heal some of his illnesses.
    I don’t think God expected me to “like” that Timmy was sick and suffered but I do think God put the opportunity to serve HIM right into my arms the day Timmy was born.
    How did I respond?
    How do we respond when we don’t necessarily “like” the ministry God has chosen for us?
    Do we REALLY want to serve HIM?
    If so, it will require sacrifice. Should we expect less then what HE did for us?