MAKE YOUR FACE SHINE UPON YOUR SERVANT

HOW WE LONG IN TIMES OF SUFFERING

FOR THE LORD TO MAKE HIS FACE TO SHINE UPON US


BUT THERE IS MORE THAN ONE WAY HE CAN DO THIS.

ONE IS THAT HE STOPS THE STORM,

REMOVES THE SUFFERING

AND INDEED, SOMETIMES HE DOES EXACTLY THAT!

HE STOPPED THE WAVES AND MADE THE SUN TO SHINE

UPON HIS FRIGHTENED DISCIPLES

ON THE SEA OF GALILEE

REMBRANDT'S CHRIST ON THE SEA OF GALILEE

But there is a real danger in thinking that is the only way His face can shine upon us. Last week, in response to the first part of this two part study, Renee wrote:

I am SO looking forward to these next two weeks of this Bible Study. When I read the first paragraph above, I breathed a great big sigh of relief! Within the last few days, I read something from an acquaintance that just didn’t sit right. She had lost something, claimed (commanded) in prayer that it be found because her “whole life” depended on it, and then had “proof” of God’s love/answered prayer when she found it.

This feels so different…Jesus is my refuge, and I’m safe in Him…but I also see how Jesus has been my refining fire, in that He has refined me through difficult circumstances by making me more patient and accepting.

I so appreciated Renee’s testimony, for I think we do harm when we assume that God’s love can only be demonstrated by removing suffering. His purpose for us, as Joni Eareckson Tada has said, “is not to make us healthy, wealthy, or even happy, though it pleases Him to do so — but holy.” We can be so earthly minded, forgetting all eternity is ahead of us, and that He is transforming us into radiant children.

He is our Refuge, but He is also our Refiner. Whether the storm was of our own making or not, we must trust Him in it and not demand He remove it. For who are we to command God Almighty? We can ask, but then we must trust. If He does not remove the storm (and Philip Yancey, in his book on Prayer, says He seldom does), we can still sense His presence, His love, and His face shining upon us. He understands our pain, for He is the Man of Sorrows. He went all the way to the cross for us, so that we might be forgiven — but also, that we might trust Him in the midst of sorrow. This gospel truth can sustain us in suffering and in temptation.

Even if He does not remove your suffering, He “sees your affliction” and will “preserve the faithful.”(Psalm 31:7 and 23) Even if, as with Job (and with Jesus), the religious people condemn you, and you become “a reproach” and those on the street “flee from you” (Psalm 31:11) God reaches down to you from the cross, His face shines upon you, Your times are in His hands (Psalm 31:15) and He has a plan to one day make all things right. Be strong, and let your heart take courage! (Psalm 31:24)

Renee found the source for this. Chris Koelle's Good Samaritan

 

Indeed, let your heart take courage in this gospel truth! This brings me to the movie, “Courageous.” (You may have wondered how I was going to get there! I did too! But it does fit, and we will look at how it does later in the week.)

Sunday/Monday: Icebreakers

1. What comment do you have on the opening?

2. Share a time when God did not remove suffering, and yet you still sensed His face shining upon you.

Monday-Wednesday: Psalm 31:9-34

Last week we looked at the opening of this Psalm, and of God’s promises to be a Refuge in our time of suffering, and to one day set our feet in a broad place.

We will begin this week with verses 9-13, in which, behind the psalmist, you can see Jesus. David Powlison, in the message we listened to last week, told of the suffering of one of his clients, whom he called “Sarah.” God was not removing her suffering, but in Psalm 31, when she saw Jesus behind the Psalmist, Powlison said it a little “nitelight” to her in the midst of her darkness.

3. Read Psalm 31:9-13. In what verses can you see The Man of Sorrows behind the psalmist?

4. What does it mean to you that Jesus understands your loneliness, your being misunderstood, your being forgotten?

What I want you to see is that the gospel is hidden in this psalm. Because the death of Jesus can be faintly seen, it gives the psalmist strength — he knows he is loved, so he can trust, he can go on.  If his suffering is not removed, if his friends blame him, as did Job’s friends, he still can trust His God.

5. What two statements of faith does the psalmist make in Psalm 31:14-15a?

6. What does the psalmist request in verse 16? What do you think this means?

7. What request does he make concerning the wicked in verses 17-18?

8. Find a word picture of God as your refuge that is meaningful to you in verses 19-22.

9. How does the psalmist exhort his brothers in verses 23-24?

Thursday: Counseling and Counseling One Another

Optional: Listen to the rest of David Powlison’s message: Link

If the above overwhelms you — watch this short clip of Nancy Guthrie interviewing Paulsen. (I suggest you listen to it anyhow — it’s great!)

 

10. Why is it important to address sin as well as the body and a person’s past when attempting to help yourself or those to whom you are close overcome sin?

Friday: Reviewing the Movie Courageous

This movie is from the makers of Flywheel, Facing the Giants and Fireproof.  This is Sherwood’s fourth, and each movie has gotten better. Yet each, in my view, has embraced some erroneous theology. The first three seemed to equate faithfulness to God with always producing health and success, whether it was getting wealthy, as in Flywheel, overcoming infertility and winning the game, as in Facing the Giants, or saving the marriage, as in Fireproof. Yet we know that some of God’s most faithful servants have not experienced those kind of results on this earth. I didn’t see this theology nearly as much in Courageous, though I did see it. And there is much that is wonderful in the movie. I sensed, for example, Meg’s enthusiasm, and I know many of you will have deservedly positive comments about the film.

Some will be upset that I am criticizing this film, for there is no doubt it is enormously more edifying that most of the movies out there.  I do believe there is much that is positive in providing models of godly fathers, and I also know that two hours is not enough time to say everything that needs to be said. Having said that, I see a flaw in this story that I see in the evangelical world at large.

It seems we often think of the gospel as the way to get into the Kingdom rather than as the way to overcome sin in our lives. So often the formula seems to be, “Trust Jesus to become a Christian and then work really really hard to live like one.” In this movie, the men made many vows before God to be better fathers. That’s one approach — and not without merit, for promises, especially when they are made seriously before God and witnesses, can be an incentive to persist when times are tough. But we are so weak, that I wonder if a multitude of vows like that can only be kept in a movie script. I know I have made promises to God in the past to try to strengthen myself to do what I know I should do, but I have failed, and then I not only have failed, but I have sinned doubly in not keeping my promise to God. I am so weak in myself.

So, what would be the approach of gospel transformation? Take the father who had turned down his son’s request to run with him and had been spending evenings in front of the television. It is painful to give up what you want to do and do what you think the Lord wants you to do. The approach of guilt over being a bad father is what might be expounded from a pulpit — but what if, instead, you took this approach, with these questions, and these answers through the Gospel.

  • Can I do this in my own strength? No. I am so weak and sinful Christ had to die for me.
  • How do I know, as I experience the pain of saying no to what I want to do, that Christ will be here for me? I can know, for He loved me enough to go to the cross for me.
  • I will have to go through suffering, but can I trust that this light momentary affliction will produce an eternal weight of glory? Yes, as it did for Christ, it will for me.

I realize this would be challenging to present in a movie — and I doubt I could do better, but I have seen it done in the movies made based on the lives of real people who did live dramatically different lives: Eric Liddell, Bonhoeffer, or Corrie ten Boom. In each case, they overcame what they might have wanted to do by looking at the cross. The gospel enabled them to endure pain, and to do what was right, even when the cost was enormously high. They didn’t make a lot of promises to God — they looked to the cross. That is gospel transformation. Without this emphasis, there is a real danger in Christianity just seeming like morality. In fact Keller had said that when you present Christianity to most people, they think you are inviting them into “morality,” and I think this film would lead an unbeliever to equate Christianity with morality.

But please feel free to disagree and share your thoughts in love.

 

11. If you watched the movie, what did you like? Didn’t like?

 

12. What do you think is the difference between morality and gospel transformation?

 

Saturday:

12. What’s your take-a-way?

Next week we begin the most beautiful and holy season of the year — and I pray you will be with us! The Lord has led me, and I’m excited for this holy time.

COMMENTS (317) Post a New Comment ↓
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10. I have been thinking a lot about this question, I love what he has to say and it makes me sad that for most counselers out there its illegal to do what he says. you can have your license taken away for saying homosexuality or other sin is wrong behavior…i think this is why lay counseling is going to be so very important. our leaders are overwhelmed.

I have seen that most of the time people dont want to let go of their sin to get better, they just want to feel better. its like a bad headache….most people want to take a pill and have it go away, and thats OK for the short term but if they dont do the work to find out what is causing the headaches in the first place they will just get another, perhaps worse headache…taking that back to couseling, We have to get some of the overwhelming pain under control in order to start to address the underlying reasons for the pain. so meds and talking it out may need to come first BUT the problem will never be solved without the surgery of finding the source of the pain…sin.
if you give someone with an appi pain meds to long they will die from a ruptured appendix….If we coddle people for to long and make them feel better about themselves without addressing the sin we will aventually lead them to distruction.

my very good friend was given antidepresents and never made to deal with her past homosexual abuse by her adoptive mom and active sin of rejecting her husband. Because her husband could not stand conflict he never made her deal with the issue…16 years later she left her family and felt like she had the right to because she was not “happy” as a wife and mom. She will not name her sin as sin and she had destroyed 4 children and an amazing Godly man in the wake of not wanting her to be made to “feel bad about herself” and not wanting to make her feel rejected by calling her on it.
Sin is sin, it kills and destroys and untill we stop being afraid of making people uncomfortable by naming it we are allowing the disease to kill in order to let the victom be “comfortable”
end of soap box:) sorry no spell check..read at your own risk!!

    Reply

    thanks for sharing your thoughts on this issue, cyndi. “I have seen that most of the time people dont want to let go of their sin to get better, they just want to feel better. its like a bad headache….most people want to take a pill and have it go away,”

    I have been doing a lot of thinking on this as well. We had a college aged woman live with us for three years who came from an abusive background. She was abandoned by a father, and verbally and emotionally abused by her mother. As a result, she has tried suicide multiple times, is a cutter, and chronically gets into dysfunctional relationships with men.

    We tried to help her, love her, and teach her from God’s Word. She even stayed in a Christian counselling “home” setting for young women who had been abused or had substance issues, etc. last year for 16 months. Now she is on her own again and seems to be falling into the same dysfunctional habits again. She doesn’t live near us anymore, but we still have occasional contact with her.

    She has used the church as a refuge all her life, but she has not really changed I don’t think. She doesn’t see what she is doing as “sin” but as something that she can’t help because of her mental illness. God knows what she needs and she is in His hands. I grieve for her, though.

      Reply

      Diane we prayed over the holidays for someone in terrible back pain, a daughter of a friend maybe? I keep wondering how she is doing. Can you give me an update, please?

        Thanks for asking about my friend’s daughter who was in terrible back pain over Christmas. Becky has recovered enough to continue her normal routine, but has to be very careful lifting anything or twisting. She is in her early 30s and has a degenerating disk problem like a 70 year old might. She is very tiny in weight, exercises regularly, does not smoke and has eaten conscientiously for years so there is no obvious cause. She has already had two discs fused by surgery, but continues to have recurring debilitating pain that puts her flat on her back. She just got results from an MRI which shows more problems with other discs, but doctors are unsure how to fix it. She needs our continuing prayer. She has a one year old girl (adopted) and is trying to finish her Ph.D, as well.

        Okay, I will keep praying for Becky! Thank you for the update.

        I will be praying for your friends daughter.

      Reply

      Diane, I have family whose lives resemble the young woman you describe. I have felt sadness and frustration with them as they go back to the same wrong choices and destructive lifestyle.

      I have taken comfort on their account (and for myself!)from this verse;
      Jonah 4:11 “And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

      I am glad to know that God pities those who don’t know their right hand from their left, and that he thinks with pity even of the animals.

        Thank you Chris for sharing that…I haven’t ever thought of that verse like that before. I thought of people with dementia and altz’s (spell check where are you?) when I read that, also.

        “and that he thinks with pity even of the animals” Should we be eating his animals?

    Reply

    What a powerful statement that we just want to feel better. You are so right and we can and must be called to be lay-ministers whether it is to women or singles or our neighbors. We can help carry the burden of our pastor(s) who are overwhelmed.

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    Cyndi this is really great. Thank you for posting.

I liked the link, listening to the rest of the audio. I especially liked the questions at the end. Sin is such an important component. When we know we are truly sinners and that we need a Savior it is then that we can fully rest in HIM and HIS grace. We must speak this to ourselves daily or moment by moment. It is so important that Christ stays at the center of all we do. That is the only way that full healing will come.

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    Angela, Loved your comment…it is so true!

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I’ve appreciated your discussion on sin and counseling. Was visiting with daughter Sally, who is a counselor, and she said some Christian counselors are hesitant because the client already feels so shamed. I can understand that, and wonder if idolatry is an easier concept to come into it gently. Just a thought.

    Probably coming into it gently is easier. Shame is so real but if they feel and know HIS love despite any sin we committed the shame would leave. Believing His love by faith. It has to be realized. He must open our hearts to see and receive this scandalous love. Even when I try to point out sin I see in my children’s lives it is harder for them to see if they are not feeling particularly loved by me. Interesting to ponder. Oh the depths of our hearts!

    Good thought, and good information from Sally. I do think that makes sense.

    Reply

    This sounds like someone who has an addiction, that they need to realize they have a problem before they can accept help for the problem, or it may all be for nothing at that time of their life.

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Why is it important to address sin as well as the body and a person’s past when attempting to help yourself or those to whom you are close overcome sin?

Perhaps it is important because we are body soul and spirit and no part should be ignored. Understanding our body chemistry or how our upbringing and life experiences shaped us into who we are is helpful, this understanding does not provide power for real life and heart change, only an awareness of our helplessness apart from Christ and acceptance of salvation allow the Spirit to provide the power we need for real healing and sanctification.

1 Thessalonians 23-24 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful He will surely do it.

Galatians 5:16- 17 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

Romans 7:21-25 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.
For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,
but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

2Corinthinans 10:3-4 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.

    Reply

    This is why I missed you, Chris

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    Chris,
    I want to take the time to also welcome you back to the study here! Your wisdom and insights are very much appreciated, and I know you have not come by them without much suffering. I am also praying for you and your family, and for Brian, how hard this must be for you. I’m glad you felt comfortable to share what is going on with you and your family with us, so we can be here for you and pray.

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4. What does it mean to you that Jesus understands your loneliness, your being misunderstood, your being forgotten?

No one else can really be there for me. They can at best temporarily alleviate my loneliness. They cannot fully understand me. They ultimately will leave me. This reminds me of the chorus of another old song.

No one ever cared for me like Jesus.
There’s no other friend so kind as he;
No one else could take the sin and darkness from me.
Oh, how much he cares for me.

5. What two statements of faith does the psalmist make in Psalm 31:14-15a?

I trust you and My times are in your hand.

6. What does the psalmist request in verse 16? What do you think this means?

“Make your face shine on your servant.” I think this means “Be close to me. I want to see you face to face.” When Moses spent time with God on Mt. Sinai, his face became radiant, shining so brightly that the Israelites were afraid of him and he had to put on a veil. Oh, that my face might glow so much from spending time with Jesus that it glows for other people and they are drawn to Jesus by me.

    Reply

    What a wonderful thought, Diane……… “Oh, that my face might glow so much from spending time with Jesus that it glows for other people and they are drawn to Jesus by me.”

    Reply

    Diane,
    We can “see” that glowing in you here!

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1. What comment do you have on the opening?

Sometimes, God does remove the suffering, stopping the storm, as He did for His disciples on the Sea of Galilee, but, that is not the only way He can make His face to shine upon us.
The gospel truth can sustain us in suffering and temptation.

These truths give me a lot of encouragement, more encouragement, actually, than testimonies I’ve heard about everything becoming better and problems going away when the person turned to Christ. Because then I’m left with, okay, so what about when the problems don’t go away? Am I doing something wrong? Don’t I have enough faith? I think that false promise is why many “try Christianity”, and then walk away when things don’t get magically better.
The picture of His face shining upon me even during hard times is very comforting.

2. Share a time when God did not remove suffering, and yet, you still sensed His face shining upon you.

Certainly, when my nephew died, the suffering that we who loved him endured was not removed. We had to go through it. Yet, for my dad and me, it opened up something beautiful – spiritual conversations, reading and talking about Scripture, praying together, being at a prayer night with my dad, his salvation – things I would never have dreamed possible.

3. Read Psalm 31:9-13. In what verses can you see the Man of Sorrows behind the psalmist?

v.9 makes me think of Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane, of His intense grief and distress.

v.10 “for my life is spent with sorrow” – He is the Man of Sorrows, well-acquainted with grief.

v.11 because Jesus’ enemies were out to kill Him, He became “an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me”. Jesus predicted that his followers would scatter, and leave Him all alone. Peter was afraid to be identified as one of Jesus’ followers; he denied knowing Him.

v.12 “I am like a broken vessel” – Jesus’ body broken for us.

v.13 – many slandered Jesus. When He was on the Cross, surely “terror is on every side”. His enemies “took counsel together against me, they schemed to take away my life”.

4. What does it mean to you that Jesus understands your loneliness, your being misunderstood, your being forgotten?

I especially like verse 12, “I am like a broken vessel”. Jesus doesn’t come in and kick the pieces away. He reaches down, like the hand in that Good Samaritan art above. Because He has suffered the same things I have, like loneliness, feeling forgotten, unwanted, unloved; His hand can be trusted. I like the image of these comforting truths being like a little nightlight. It gives me hope.
I need to be reminded of this over and over again. When I studied the Rembrandt painting above, I saw that everyone on the boat is engaged in doing something except for one figure whose back is toward us. He appears to be just sitting there doing nothing. It made me wonder if he represents one who has resigned himself and given up any hope of rescue, like he’s just waiting for death to come. I can be like that, too, when I forget to see the gospel shining it’s light into my situation.

5. What two statements of faith does the psalmist make in Psalm 31:14-15a?

I trust in You, O Lord, You are my God.
My times are in Your hand.

6. What does the psalmist request in verse 16? What do you think this means?

He asks God to “make Thy face to shine upon Thy servant”.

I think of when I am unsure about where I stand with someone, and they look at me and smile, and I see kindness and warmth in their eyes; I know everything is okay between us. I think the psalmist wants to feel the warmth of God’s smile – His pleasure, His love, upon him. He wants assurance that even in the bad times, he has not lost God’s love.

7. What request does he make concerning the wicked in verses 17-18?

He wants the wicked to be put to shame; for their lying lips and arrogant, proud, and contemptuous words against him to be silenced.

8. Find a word picture of God as your refuge that is meaningful to you in verses 19-22.

I like the imagery in verse 20 of a secret place, a shelter, where God’s presence is, where I can be with Him even in the midst of strife and trials, no matter what is going on around me, the voices speaking against me, there is a place where I can go and be with Him.

Thou dost hide them in the secret place of Thy presence from the conspiracies of man;
Thou dost keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.

9. How does the psalmist exhort his brothers in verses 23-24?

He reminds us to love the Lord, and to be strong, and for our hearts to take courage, and to hope in the Lord.

    Reply

    Your answers are thoughtful, breathing life into all of us.

    I loved this:

    Jesus doesn’t come in and kick the pieces away. He reaches down, like the hand in that Good Samaritan art above. Because He has suffered the same things I have, like loneliness, feeling forgotten, unwanted, unloved; His hand can be trusted. I like the image of these comforting truths being like a little nightlight. It gives me hope.

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    WOW this is so Good!!!
    I especially like verse 12, “I am like a broken vessel”. Jesus doesn’t come in and kick the pieces away. He reaches down, like the hand in that Good Samaritan art above. Because He has suffered the same things I have, like loneliness, feeling forgotten, unwanted, unloved; His hand can be trusted. I like the image of these comforting truths being like a little nightlight. It gives me hope.
    I need to be reminded of this over and over again. When I studied the Rembrandt painting above, I saw that everyone on the boat is engaged in doing something except for one figure whose back is toward us. He appears to be just sitting there doing nothing. It made me wonder if he represents one who has resigned himself and given up any hope of rescue, like he’s just waiting for death to come. I can be like that, too, when I forget to see the gospel shining it’s light into my situation.

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10. Why is it important to address sin as well as the body and a person’s past when attempting to help yourself or those to whom you are close overcome sin?

This a tough question and I’m not sure I understand it. I listened to Powlisons lecture (also tough), and what I got out of it was that the church used to be the counselor to people, but as soon as the secular world entered the psychological realm of helping people, the church bowed out and let the psychologists take over. I think Powlison is trying to say tha the chursh should help people analyze their problems and are very equipped to do so. We have all been there, through the fire, so we have the experience. I think I should go back and listen some more because I’m not sure I am making sense.

As far as sin goes, you can’t ignore it when doing said analysis. We are all sinners, it is inherent in our being. Powlison says “without sin there is no Christ,” so we rely on ourselves to handle what ever condition we are going through and think we can try harder, be better, without considering Christ. We can’t ignore that we have something to do with our problems. It’s taking responsibility and ownership so we can accept the help as ours. I’m not sure I am making sense so I will come back to this later.

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    For not understanding the question you answered well.

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Can anyone tell me where I can go to watch this movie? I can’t find it on Netflix and my library doesn’t have it either. I know it just came out.

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    I got it through Netflix — I imagine it is available in video stores and Redbox. But not a big deal if you don’t.

    You really did great with Powlison. His lecture reminded me of a Jay Adams book called Competent to Counsel — that because we have the Word of God and His Spirit, we really can help one another — but we must be willing to help one another see our idols (our sin!)

      Reply

      Really weird for me this week….my 21 year old son, whom I spoke of earlier, caught me last night wanting to talk about buddism. I guess he is studying it in his college class. I was able to explain how Christianity is different; how no other “religion” has a leader who gave himself for his followers, how idols keep us from the truth, and how Jesus took our sin and we are forgiven. I don’t know how successful I was at helping him understand, but we had a nice conversation and it has him thinking. My 14 year old is attending a Christian private high school and he joined the conversation with more knowledge than I could EVER have! I was very proud to hear him speak with such assurance and confidence. You see, I have never had great conversations with my children as adults! I am pleased that I could answer some questions with knowledge, and Dee, it’s because God led me HERE. Thank you, thank you, thank you everyone for helping me understand the Bible and Jesus!

      The weird part is how I said I wanted to focus on praying for God to lead him back to Jesus, and all of the sudden he is studying about religions in his class! I also warned him to be wary of the professors and textbooks and to check the facts in other places. He is a really smart kiddo; I never knew that because he would never do his school work in high school and he ended up dropping out in eleventh grade and taking the GED. This is a “wow” week for me :)

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I’m off to the prisons through Monday and will be in touch when I can be!

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    I saw your prayer requests in my email this morning, Dee. I will be praying for you and the ladies you will be reaching out to with your message! Safe travels!

    Have prayed-will continue! So glad God led you in regard to the direction He wants us to go on the blog!!

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10. Why is it important to address sin as well as the body and a person’s past when attempting to help yourself or those to whom you are close overcome sin?

I’m not sure I can make sense yet of what I’m gleaming from Powlison. This has all wet my appetite to learn more of his Gospel-based teaching. I’ve spent the last 2 days reading and listening to other talks by Powlison from the CCEF site. In the talk here, I was most struck by the last 10 minutes—when he answered a question and discussed “need-based theology”. I feel like for most of my adult Christian life I have been immersed in that teaching—that our sin is a result of unmet needs that we are trying to meet in the wrong way…the answer is “go to Jesus” to meet them. As Powlison said, the answer is correct, but the first part is off. The last counselor my husband and I had a few years ago really followed Powlison’s model. The starting place is not to look at our unmet needs, but who we are–we are sinners. We are the women with the jar of perfume, and we have no hope to find except at His feet. I’m stopping here because this is all still really fluid in my head and I’m still reading, wanting to digest more. It is such a different concept than much of even Christian counseling—but it is Gospel-centered, it is Truth, and I want to fully grasp it.

Sorry this is so long, but I’m posting this from an article Powlison wrote on the CCEF site—I’d rather not misinterpret while I’m still “grasping”, but this is what is so profound to me about his teaching:
“ many Christian counselors absolutize a need or yearning for love…They baptize this “need,” describing it as God-created. Idolatry becomes an improper way to meet a legitimate need, and our failure to love others becomes a product of unmet needs. The Gospel of Christ is redefined as the proper way to meet this need. In this theory then, idolatry is only a secondary development: our idols are wrong ways to meet legitimate needs. Repentance from idolatry is thus also secondary, being instrumental to the satisfaction of needs. Such satisfaction is construed to be the primary content of God’s good news in Christ. Biblically, however, idolatry is the primary motivational factor. We fail to love people because we are idolaters who love neither God nor neighbor. We become objectively insecure because we abide under God’s curse and because other people are just as self-centered as we are. We create and experience estrangement from both God and other people. The love of God teaches us to repent of our “need for love,” seeing it as a lust, receiving merciful real love, and beginning to learn how to love rather than being consumed with getting love.”

    Reply

    “beginning to learn how to love rather than being consumed with getting love.”
    this hit me between the eyes this morning! Paul was in a bad mood and I started to get that feeling in the pit of my stomach…is he reverting back to his old ways? but when i read this I realized just how obsessed I have been with getting his love and not so much with giving him love.
    ever since i last posted I have had fears of Paul going back and He has in some little ways, I realized this morning that I was looking to his healing as my idol!
    back to the drawing board….I feel like as soon as I think I am “getting it” I realize just how far I have to go.

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      We are all with you on that, Cyndi – “I feel like as soon as I think I am “getting it” I realize just how far I have to go.”

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      Cyndi, this is so good. Your revelation that you are obsessed with getting his love is a big step in the right direction. The beauty of it is that as you love him well, unconditionally, for Godly reasons, in the giving you will receive. I suspect he will reciprocate though that is not your goal. Remember the devil wants you to fear – fear losing the ground that you have gained, fear Paul returning to former ways but let this scripture minister to you:

      Isaiah 43:18-19
      “Forget the former things;
      do not dwell on the past.

      See, I am doing a new thing!
      Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
      I am making a way in the desert
      and streams in the wasteland.”

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      Yes, I relate too. I have a long way to go.

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    Wow,
    “We fail to love people because we are idolaters who love neither God nor neighbor.”

    What an economy of words, this is it in a nutshell.

    I too have been checking out more of CCEF’s material. With Brian seeing therapists it is very timely that I became aware of CCEF.

    I sent our Pastor one of the video clips and was excited that he was already influenced by Powlison, he suggested reading ‘Instruments in the Redeemers Hands’ by Paul Tripp. I am thrilled that he is beginning a sermon series on idolatry. Counterfeit Gods is for sale at the church and he is strongly suggesting that everyone read it!

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      I have not read that one but my Pastor has mentioned it too–I always find Paul Tripp’s blogs on Gospel Coalition to be the ones that minister to me most. What an incredible blessing that Brian is seeing a great counselor–and that he has you. We spent 6 years under one Christian counselor, with a great heart–but clearly had the “unmet needs” philosophy–where you check boxes on a list of what the unmet need was….it is so refreshing to hear this perspective that is truly Gospel-centered.

        I wish I could respond that he is seeing a great counselor, neither his Psychologist nor his Psychiatrist do I believe to be Christians.

        I wish we lived in PA near CCEF! I am reading/ listening to the material with greater interest because of our needs, nut we have really been in emergency mode in choosing his mental health providers. The Psychologist came recommended by a friend, and the Psychiatrist appt. was set up before he left the hospital. He is comfortable with both of them, so I am reluctant to make a hasty change.

        Daniel had continued to go to a youth group at a church we had stopped attending as a family. for about 6 years he went to youth group there. After he was gone, Bill started helping out at that youth group. When Bill came on board there were 5-8 students per week. Attendance has grown steadily, last week they had more than 60 students, at least 10 have made decisions for Christ in the past couple of months. Brian has been going too since all this started and engages in the discussions. I know that the sin in his life needs to be addressed; I pray that will be accomplished without it coming from his therapist. Brian has also been coming with us to church on Sunday mornings.

        We attended a different church from the one where my husband is involved in ministry. That is a whole other can of worms!

        How incredible that Daniel was the inspiration for “at least 10 have made decisions for Christ”–just adds to the beauty of his legacy. You and Bill just challenge, inspire, and humble me.

        Chris,
        I hope you saw my post above to you – I didn’t want you to miss that I am glad you’re back!

        Thank you Susan, that was sweet of you!

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    Wow, I feel like I need a psychology degree for this! This stood out to me, “Such satisfaction (the satisfaction of needs) is construed to be the primary content of God’s good news in Christ”. I’m thinking that what he means is that the primary content of the good news should be forgiveness of sins – that is the real reason Jesus came and died, to forgive our sins and to save us; we shouldn’t present the gospel as a way to get our needs met without addressing the issue of sin first.
    Am I on the right track? He is saying that many counselors “redefine the gospel of Christ as the proper way to meet the need for love”.

    However, I do remember Keller saying in one of his sermons, that we all initially come to Christ this way – with a need.

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    Could you tell me what article this is from, Elizabeth? Thanks for sharing your thinking through process. I appreciate your trying to grasp this stuff. I am cautious of even Christian counselors, because their counsel is so far from pointing out sin or idolatry as a root issue and that repentance is pivotal.

        Thanks, Elizabeth. I’m going to try to read (and maybe comprehend) this as well.

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I loved the movie couragous! It did seem to say that as long as you prayed hard and were a “good” person you would be blessed…but I dont think that takes away from the power of the movie.

I know so many men who WANT to be good men and fathers but they just cant figure out how. Men need action steps, not because they want to be moralists but because they just have no idea where to start. they compartmentalise so much that it seems to be hard for them to take their faith and change it into actions.

for paul i know that he has talked about taking the girls out on daddy dates but didnt do it until he saw this movie. The girls look at the purity rings that we got them in a whole different way since they have seen this movie.

I love how the dad delt with his grief by looking at how he could help the rest of his family survive and thrive, he did not say “what about my feelings” “who is going to take care of me” which is what most men do in our coulture….I think it has been used to really convict a lot of men that they have let their wives take care of them.

I love how the main charecter spent hours in his Bible looking for what God had to say, he did not pick up a parenting book or listen to focus on the family…He read Gods word! and I was so impressed how the pastor told him to go find out in the Word and did not just tell him what he should do. He led him to the only source of healing and into a deeper relationship with Jesus by doing that. Such wisdom in that, to say you go find out what you wnat to know in the Bible because by doing that he was opening up the power of God into his life….

women feel and then act, men tend to act and then feel. in a perfect world men would read the Bible and KNOW Jesus, be filled with the Holy Spirit and HE would change them from the inside out, but until we live in that perfect world I am REALY glad that this movie was made…for all those who want to do what God wants them to do but just are not sure how. to do it..

over all I felt the lessons in this movie were wonderful and I wish It was requiered watching for every expectent father and soon to be husband out there…I know my son loved it. there are just not many movies that show a man how to be a man and this one does that in a beautiful way!

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    Cyndi,
    I have to thank you for introducing us to the music of Zemer Levav. I just got their CD, “As Long As I Breathe”, and it is wonderful music. I feel like I’m listening to the Psalms sung to music, like maybe David would have composed the music. All the lyrics are right out of Scripture. It is really inspiring, beautiful, and encouraging to listen to!

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Meg, It is hard to locate thing here sometimes. I put the quote up on your facebook page, so you can find it again.

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    Thanks CHris, I just got it on my facebook! So encouraging!

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Kendra was dancing and fell on the carpet inside here last night about 11:30 pm…twisted her right ankle and we called her brother, Trevor as she would have been so scard if we called the unit. Trevor lifted her 3-4 times to get her to the ER. she is a heavy girl. Trev has a bad back anyway..pray he is okay. Kendra broke BOTH sides of her ankle…has to have surg in the morning…Dr Wilkinson will put screws and a plate in…long surg….then 2 weeks in nursing home or if we can…. home …..hopefully with nursing help. They have her on morphine every hr. Temperary cast on now. I’m in a hurry to get back…up all night with her…home for a shower. she is in pain….PLEASE PRAY FOR HER. room 3305 GSH in kearney. I have my cell 3080627-9642 Love, Maurice and Joyce

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    oh dear Joyce–so incredibly sorry–praying now, please keep us posted, much love and prayers~

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    Oh, my, Joyce. Praying for Kendra and all of you. How is Kendra feeling? Keep us posted.

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    I’m so sorry, Joyce, to hear this news. Will be praying for Kendra and you!

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    Poor Kendra & Poor Joyce!
    I will pray for complete healing a wonderfull medical staff & that Kendra won’t be frightened.

    Get some rest if you can.

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    Oh Joyce, I am so sorry. Lord I pray that this medical team would be able to get Kendra’s pain under control. Give them wisdom and understanding. Be with the surgical team in the morning. Please be their hands and through them bring healing. Protect Kendra from all harm as she has surgery and recovers. Lord I pray that she would know Your presence with her and be filled with peace. Strengthen Joyce and Maurice by Your Spirit to minister to Kendra. Give them physical endurance. Thank you that Trevor was able to be there for Kendra. Please protect and heal his back. Amen

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    Oh Joyce, so sorry to hear this. I will be up to visit tomorrow. Praying for sweet Kendra.

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    Oh my goodness Joyce, I will be praying for the surgeon and all involved that she has a quick and painless recovery. Prayers for you and the rest of your family for the strength needed to get thru this.

    Praying Joyce!! So sorry.

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    praying for poor kendra and poor mama!!!! and for trevors back! lord please give kendra peace and not let her be scared please heal Trevors back and let him have pain today!

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Ladies

I need help with number 10 please.

11. If you watched the movie, what did you like? Didn’t like? I loved being able to a good clean movie there isn’t much out there I can watch these days because of the type of movies that r coming out. I didn’t like all the shooting and violence. I am not an action girl lady. I felt bad for the son who ran and the daughter who played piano their dad pretty much ignored them and instead watched tv. That was my dad growing up so I can so relate to them. I thought that the couple who lost their daughter handled their grief well as well. I don’t think they’re we’re ” stuck in grief” as they call it.

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10. Why is it important to address sin as well as the body and a person’s past when attempting to help yourself or those to whom you are close overcome sin? – Oh how I can in part relate to Sarah. I had a person say untrue things about me and God in His amazing work put my cousin in the same place who spoke up for me and shot down the lie she was spreading. God is so good and how his hand was in this situation made me laugh and realize that He is in control. I’m hoping that what my cousin may have said, made this person, who claimed at the time to be a Christian, think about the hurt that she was spreading even though all she had was one side of the story. I have learned over the years raising my kids who are now a young adult and a teenager to not accuse if I was not there to see or hear what happened. My oldest word always say to me how can you blame me you weren’t even there. So now I ask each person to tell me what happened before I make my decision.

It is so important to give all your past habits that have taken control of your life to the Lord, to ask Him to help you clean up your life and to show you the way he would have you go. If you have sin in your own life that you don’t even admit you have, or admit they have a place in your heart, then I don’t see how you can help some one else with their sin. Not admitting or confessing and repenting of your sins and truthfully wanting to change only leaves a hold for the enemy to keep attacking. Once you name your sin and give it to God the enemy can no longer hang it over your head and haunt you with it. This will free your heart and mind up to help others who may be struggling and need that encouragement that they need to cry out to God for help.

I may be way off on this way of thinking but this is a practice I use for my life. I love helping people in any way I can, and am continuing to grow in not being judgmental. Lord I ask that you help me and any of the women here continue to grow and be rid of all the bad in our hearts and minds. I know I want your glory to shine thru so others will come to know you by how we act or by what we say. In Jesus name I pray AMEN!

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    Julie, AMEN! Thank you for this prayer. I agree. Since starting this study I constantly check myself to see if I am being judgmental or moralistic. When I start to wonder if I am making progress I remember a time when I was unaware of the problem and thank Him for shining His light on me.

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Quick note — praying for Kendra — oh! Loving interchange between Chris and many of you —

Prison yesterday good — also hard — some very godly inmates, yet long hard sentences

Lots of interruptions during my talk by guards — but women still intent on listening —

I’m a little weary and it’s only day 2!

Thankful for you

    praying for His sustaining power and strength in you today! Praying gospel transformation and encouragement happens! So glad for what you are doing!

11. If you watched the movie, what did you like? Didn’t like? I thought the Snake Kings part was hilarious. I love havier and his family and character. Best part! I loved how the people in the movie were real not all together. I really loved the beginning when the father was determined to get the gang member out of his car because he was protecting his child. Loved how each of their lives freely influenced and changed one another. Loved how they were honest with one another. Love how God opened the fathers heart to see how he was being a lazy father and it drew him into action. How the resolution came about…

Then the resolution, it is a good idea. A good thing to want to hold yourself to however in it it is more law. You will miss grace because you cannot fulfill it perfectly like the 10 commandments. They are only a reminder that we need grace. So depending how they use that resolution. I see it being sold in stores which makes me cynical like another gimic trying to make more money out of morality. I think too many people want rules and maybe living up to this will make them feel self righteous and smug or defeated because they cannot do it. However missing the part of Christ on the cross and His grace is what we need. Also, I think it would be bad for someone to just make an emotional decision to sign something like that when it sounded good but ultimately we just need Jesus. Hope that makes sense. I liked the movie though.

The movie did make it realistic showing not everyone could live up too it like the dad who cheated and went to jail.

12. What do you think is the difference between morality and gospel transformation? The difference is Jesus. Keeping our eyes and hearts fixed on what He has done. Anyone can be moral, our Jewish neighbors, Mormon neighbors, muslim neighbors, even atheist neighbors. What is different for us is Jesus has done what needed to be done. We live out of the overflow of that as the Spirit changes our hearts and moves us into action.

    Oh I do like too how it stressed accountability and accepting responsibility. And I did like that there was a clear presentation of the gospel to the young single dad with the little girl no one knew about.

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1. If you watched the movie, what did you like? Didn’t like?
I didn’t watch the movie. I saw the trailer at the theater and it looked like another typical feel good movie. Honestly I find them hard to sit through.

12. What do you think is the difference between morality and gospel transformation?
This is the hardest point to get across to Christians yet it is the key to Christian living and the failure to see it has done so much damage in our witnessing to the unsaved world. Morality is using your own strength and will power to live a “good” life and overcome sin. Gospel transformation is allowing the Holy Spirit to defeat sin in your life because you cannot do it. It changes you and who you are and it changes how you act and react to life.

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any updates on kendra???

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    Joyce and I live in the same city. Kendra is still in her room awaiting surgery and it won’t be until 3:30 or so as they are backed up. She is on Morphine and pretty groggy. Joyce looks very tired. I told her we would keep praying for all.

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      Oh kim i am so glad you can be there for her!!! please give her a big hug from me! and get her a starbucks:) ill send you the $$$ :)

        Heeheehee, you tickle me dear Cyndi. I don’t even think we have a Starbucks here or maybe Target does? Hmmmm I guess I don’t really know and have no idea what I would order if I could! I’m a tea drinker. :)

        Kim brought Kendra a ballon and heart sock (She was 25 on Valentine’s day) Thank you. I’m home for a shower and back up there. Maurice is there with her. She is doing pretty good. Thanks for your prayers

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11. If you watched the movie, what did you like? Didn’t like?
I am not very helpful as most of you know when it comes to remembering movies. I did like the way the father went to the Word of God and had a desire to be a better father. I don’t recall any parts I didn’t like.

12. What do you think is the difference between morality and gospel transformation?
For me personally I was a very moral, good person bent on getting myself to heaven. In that I couldn’t face myself sinfulness b/c that would mean facing the possibility I might not make it to heaven. I had a religious spirit and judged others harshly. As I stayed in the Stonecutter study the truth and beauty of the gospel message unfolded. I stopped minimizing the birth and death of Christ and saw my need for true repentance – seeing sin as He sees it. I now apply the gospel to my life daily by remembering His gracious sacrifice which bids me to His loving arms and enables me to overcome sinful habits. I am now bent on walking in love and rest in His FINISHED work on the cross. I see the arrogance of thinking I had anything to offer Him in trade for entry into His heaven. I am pained as He reveals my sinfulness but trust Him to finish the work He began in me and have no worry about my eternal destiny.

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    Your transformation has been beautiful to watch, Kim!

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      Thank you Susan. It’s all Him and grace.

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12. What do you think is the difference between morality and gospel transformation?

Well I think that Morality is being without Jesus doing” good works” in order to get into heaven and not asking Jesus into your heart and Gospel transformation is with Jesus the Gospel “his word” can transform you.

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11. If you watched the movie, what did you like? Didn’t like?
I have not seen Courageous—I’m sure we will, we do like to support Christian media, but Dee’s comments 100% nailed how I feel about these type of films. I have enjoyed all the ones she mentioned—and I so applaud the effort, and encourage it. But every time I get a little frustrated with them at some point and think the real movie would take place after the film is over—when our faith is tested, when the struggle comes back and we do not experience the nice neat package we may have thought Christianity would bring. I think it’s why my favorite films are ones based on a true story (and why I want the God of All Comfort to be made into a movie!)—because it is in real life struggles that we see the gracious Hand of God, and we see that His ways are not our ways…that He is so beyond all we can ask or imagine, that there is hardship in this life because we were created for another Home. And that the Way is not a simple step by step process or even one that promises happiness here. Infertility does not always end with a biological child, a broken marriage is not always fixed once and then better forever—in my life the trials have come and some have gone, some have lingered…but He remains Faithful and True and Just. I can’t word this well, but the Gospel in a movie can’t end like a fairytale because the ending isn’t here yet—it is promised, and it is beyond any fairytale, but it doesn’t need to look “pretty”—it is attractive because of it’s Power and Truth…hmm…really can’t explain what’s in my head, I’ll stop—sorry!

12. What do you think is the difference between morality and gospel transformation?
I love how Keller distinguishes the two: Moralism says-“I obey; therefore, I’m accepted, while the Gospel says “I’m accepted; therefore, I obey.”
With moralism, our self worth is based on our own performance, trying to attain our own righteousness. The motivation is fear, and pride. We think if we obey ,we’ll receive—and when we don’t get what we think we have earned, we get angry, we blame, or we criticize ourselves.
The Gospel teaches us our self worth is based on Christ alone and what He did for me—I am a sinner saved by Grace. My motivation, then—to pray, to serve, is out of love, gratitude, trust.
It seems so clear and yet I am prone to fall back into moralism every day. I serve my family and then expect a certain response, I act as though I’ve “earned”. I get impatient every morning trying to get out the door, as if my schedule can redeem me. Or I defend myself when I mess up, instead of resting in the grace I so desperately need and have already received. But I am finding that the more I learn these truths, the more I talk about them with others, the more aware I am of the areas where I am prone to try to gain my own righteousness—the more readily I choose humility. It’s still not always, not even usually, my first response—but the Spirit brings conviction and II can say with David, I trust in you, O LORD;..You are my God.” (psalm 31:14)

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    I think you explained your thoughts very well, Elizabeth.

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    I really agree with your thinking, Elizabeth, and think you expressed it well. “the real movie would take place after the film is over—when our faith is tested, when the struggle comes back and we do not experience the nice neat package we may have thought Christianity would bring.”

    I also appreciate your honesty about your natural tendency to all back into moralism. I also unconsciously have tended toward legalistic moralism and have a lot to unlearn as I become aware of it. Good thing God is a God of grace. I need a lot of it.

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    “…the Gospel in a movie can’t end like a fairytale because the ending isn’t here yet—it is promised.” Yes, and what an ending it will be! So glad I will be part of it. I can see it now: Jesus and His bride lived happily ever after.

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    Elizabeth — thanks for expressing this, from the heart, and so well. I hope many read it.

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    Excellent, I love how honestly you see yourself, your successes and your failures. This part “…the more aware I am of the areas where I am prone to try to gain my own righteousness—the more readily I choose humility. It’s still not always, not even usually, my first response—but the Spirit brings conviction and II can say with David, I trust in you, O LORD;..You are my God. (Psalm 31:14).” gives me hope.

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i am kendra dad joyce wanted me to let you all know kendra is ok

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    Joyce, thank Maurice for the update. Praise the Lord.
    Melody starts nursing on that floor Monday so maybe you two can connect if Kendra is still there. I’ll be sure to mention it to her.
    Good to see you and Kendra. I am praying the Lord gives all of you plenty of good sleep tonight.

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    Kendra! We are so glad to hear from you! So glad you are ok. We have been praying that the Lord will be with you. We will keep praying for you. We love you! We love your Joyce and dad too!

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    Oh, and Joyce, do you like coffee? I could bring you a Starbucks via Cyndi!

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Dee or anyone who can answer.. Since we are going into the Lent season and this is where we are headed on this blog.. is it ok to miss a week I am going to be on a cruise I leave this Friday and will be gone 9 days. I am going to try to do as much as i can this week but i dont want to miss anything either.. I wont have internet on the boat.. by missing anything i mean sermons.. I know that i can listne when i get back but i am going to be overwhelmed already with wanting to listen to the sermons from my church that i will be missing for 2 weeks. PLeae pray that i dont get overwhelemd! Thanks Love you Sisters!

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    Have a great cruise. It’s fine to miss a week.

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    Have fun on your cruise Meg, maybe you will have a chance to plant some gospel seeds in the hearts of your family members.

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Elizabeth,

How are you doing? I havent talked to you in awile…. or commented on your things!

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    Hi sweet Meg! I have been praying for you, and am so sorry this has been a struggling time lately for you. I have never been on a cruise but that sounds fun! I pray it will be a renewing time for you–is this with your family? I wouldn’t worry too much about trying to catch up when you get back–we will just be glad to have you join back in ;)

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      Elizabeth, Yes this is with my family and they are not saved.. so please please pray for this time… as you know my parents divorced and my mom has remarried 3 times and this third husband is a great guy and has 2 kids ages 13 and 15 but it can be very hard sometimes cause they arent saved :(

      By the way are you still runnning? This winter has been a struggle for me cause i dont like running on a tredmill but i have been doing arobics, the illiptical and the bike so i have been exercising but not running.. I tried to go outside yesterday and made it about a mile but i was overdressed and my legs were tired :(

      Love you!

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Want to give you a quick prison report. Thursday was a bit frustrating with so many guard interruptions, but yesterday was amazing. I did The Stonecutter talk but tailored for them and God’s Spirit fell. The small group time afterwards was amazing — in my group, and that’s what all the volunteers were saying. It always amazes me to see more maturity in the church in prison than outside, but I guess I shouldn’t. They’ve been fasting all week for this weekend. Women were confessing their idols of the heart and asking how the gospel could save them from the power of them — lights were going on in their heads and you could see it. I friend of mine from Texas came from the first time came and as we walked out she was saying, “Wow = this was life-changing. I have to come back and do this.”

The harvest is so plentiful and we so need workers. It is such a privilege to be part of this.

Thank you so for praying.

    Oh Dee, this moved me. As you said, there is a fire-God has lit a fire- a true revival of Gospel centered teaching and God is on the move through it-and through you and “The Stonecutter”. Thanks so much for this update-Thanks be to God-to Him who sits on the throne be the power and glory and honor forever.

      Oh and Dee, I am fighting the desire to be with you there-I would love to be able to go!

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    Dee,
    I like this – “…and asking how the gospel could save them from the power of them (idols)”. I’m still listening to David Powlison’s message but I hear him articulate this, that the gospel must “hit people where they live” and how they relate to others, etc… otherwise we’re just playing games with people. Oh, that we could all have the maturity of these women you are ministering to!
    I’d love to have a discussion on the why of this phenomenon – why do you see more fruit inside the walls of the prison than on the outside?

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    oh Dee!! This brought tears, chills–praise! Wow–so thankful for your ministry to these women!! So thankful for the POWER of the Gospel!

11. a If you watched the movie, what did you like?

It was really well made. I loved the relational drama between the policemen and their families-pretty real life situations. Love movies where they are praying for one another and how they prayed for Shane after what he did. I also loved the encounter between Nathan and the rookie cop when he shared the Gospel with him. I liked the way Nathan explained it to him-very natural.

I also liked the pastor’s counsel to Adam when he was struggling. When he told him those who trust God through suffering can find an intimacy with God like no other.

I do like the message of how absent fathers effects children-so true.

Overall, It was great for the entertainment value, and some of the relational messages that were weaved in and out of it were really good.

11 b. Didn’t like?

I wrote a book, so I just shortened it: :-)

To put it in a nutshell, overall it reflected where we are at as a body,(but I believe that is going to change via the Gospel coalition and others whose eyes God is opening.)

The focus was on men and ‘doing’-the putting on without putting off-major control idol going on. ;-)

The message of loving God for what you could get from him rather than loving him for him was prevalent. Where was the intimacy? I hate to say it but it seemed as if God was ‘far off’ rather than close. I have a few great examples, but this will get way too long, so I will give just one:

When the pastor counseled Adam when he was suffering-he started out great talking about intimacy with God and that those who suffer and trust God in the process find the greatest intimacy-THAT was great! I was wanting Adams response to that to be a bit different. Then, the pastor asked what do you want-how can I help you-or something like that-Adam’s response wasn’t “I want to know why, I want to cry out to God but I am afraid, etc..” His response was straight to the putting on when he said, “I want to know what God expects from me as a father and I want to know how to help my son.” There is nothing wrong with Adam wanting that-I just think the middle was missed. They may not have had time to include it, but I think they could have included it easily.

I didn’t like the ceremony of the resolution. When he said in order to accomplish this it will take courage-again-self effort. Where is relying on God’s power as we obey-where is the Holy Spirit in this?

I liked what was contained in the resolution, but didn’t like that they missed Grace. :-) After watching this movie, men can walk away feeling encouraged to ‘do’ but what if they fall into the same pattern as they did before. Perhaps there are surrounding circumstances or temptations that would draw them back to where they were-perhaps idolatry-like with Shane.

When Shane ‘failed’ the resolution, there was no Grace. Yes, Adam and everyone forgave him which was wonderful, but at the end they showed pictures of him sitting in prison during the speech as an example of what not to do. There is Grace for Shane.
There weren’t any flash pictures during Adam’s speech at the end of someone going into prison with Shane and meeting with him-discipling him. They showed flash pictures of Nathan discipling the young boy who must have accepted Christ and became a new believer-great thing to show that, but what about showing that with Shane. (Again, I do understand they wouldn’t have time to explain that in the movie, but I do think they could have re-written it to really bring out the Grace of God.)

I don’t know about you, but I am a mess. I am broken yet grateful God comes in and ‘messes with my heart’. I need Jesus every day in raising my boys. I make SO MANY mistakes. I couldn’t sign a resolution like that-on top of that I would be doubly accountable and I know i would mess up.

What if I fulfilled that resolution and my child decides to rebel and get into a gang or do drugs anyway, then what-was the power of scripture contained in the resolution a farce or does God have a bigger plan of redemption and showing His glory than what I know?

I do understand the message of the movie is that kids need their dads to lead them spiritually and I so agree. I didn’t expect them to take another theme along with it-it would have been too long and difficult perhaps. That said, I think the middle was missing and that is what I struggled with after it was over. It was strange-I liked it when I was done watching it. It moved my emotions in several different places, but at the end I really struggled with the whole of the speech. It missed out on ‘how’ fathers can be what God designed them to be-like in Romans and Colossians. It was primarily focused on families and not on God.

I also didn’t like the ‘courageous’ part-it is me centered and not Christ centered. Again, it is obedience without Grace and relying on the Holy Spirit’s power. If you are an alcoholic and you just decide to quit and ‘put on’ without dealing with why you are an alcoholic first and going through the part of letting God have you and have your heart and do the surgery, you will fall off the wagon.

Bottom line, I saw family idolatry in this which I think is an issue in the church today. JUST my opinion though.

Also, it was just a movie and I don’t want to make a big deal of it, but it is a reflection of what has been going on in the body of Christ, and we can walk away from these movies being reinforced or further blinded by the pull of our idols-desiring to make a plan and put on.

Sorry this is SO LONG, but I haven’t time to edit! :-)

I found this on Keith and Kristin Getty’s F.B. post today. I thought it was applicable to this movie-I should have not posted the book above and just posted this. ;-)

Look at what A.W. Tozer said:

“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshippers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become unity conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship. Social religion is perfected when private religion is purified. The body becomes stronger as its members become healthier. The whole church of God gains when the members that compose it begin to seek a better and a higher life.”

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    I’m GLAD you posted what you did above :)

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Rebecca,
Thanks for writing this! During the past week, I started to experience headaches and blurred vision when on the computer. I didn’t have time to post early in the week, and later in the week, I couldn’t post. Your post reflected almost exactly what I was thinking about the video (and won’t last long enough to type).

Like Dawn, I didn’t have a big desire to watch it. But I rented it from Amazon last Sat evening. I don’t always mind ‘feel good’ movies — but I’m usually not too fond of the Christian version of them. I think I would have liked this one better without some of the “Christian” parts.

I liked the movie as a “nice” clean moral movie. And I thought the movie was a decent reflection of contemporary evangelical culture. However, I am very uncomfortable with some aspects of contemporary evangelical culture — which most likely explains why I squirmed during the movie. (Also squirmed because it was LONG) Rebecca did a great job of responding to the resolution issue, the core of the movie and my central concern.

I also was troubled because the movie provided brief or implied references to many of the political issues that divide the church today — and seemed to reinforce some stereotypes. For example, immigration: Javier was asked if he had papers, his wife said she didn’t “want to go back,” and what seemed odd — they were homeschooling. Granted, my observations aren’t comprehensive, but public school often have lots of kids from immigrant families so that the children can learn better English. And if they were worried about being forced to “go back,” homeschooling would have added to the risk (e.g., getting a truancy-related call).

Also, it was the divorced guy who went to prison (couldn’t it have been someone else?). I appreciated Rebecca’s terminology of “family idolatry.” Idolatry seemed evident in the movie — “do” your family THIS way, make certain work decisions, etc. and you will live happily ever after. OF COURSE, fathers are important to their families, but God promises to be a father to the fatherless. Because the movie had Christian themes, I would have liked to see some redemption & hope for those of us who aren’t very good at resolutions.

    Renee, you mean you read ALL of what I wrote?!? ;-) You are a trooper! :-)

    I guess what I could have said in a nutshell is basically what Dee said-I love Dee’s summary of the movie:

    “…Eric Liddell, Bonhoeffer, or Corrie ten Boom. In each case, they overcame what they might have wanted to do by looking at the cross. The gospel enabled them to endure pain, and to do what was right, even when the cost was enormously high. They didn’t make a lot of promises to God — they looked to the cross. That is gospel transformation. Without this emphasis, there is a real danger in Christianity just seeming like morality. In fact Keller had said that when you present Christianity to most people, they think you are inviting them into “morality,” and I think this film would lead an unbeliever to equate Christianity with morality.”

    THAT is what I meant by what they were missing the middle- between putting off and putting on. :-)

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Not sure if my “head” will be in good enough condition to post later today. I wanted to say WELCOME BACK, CHRIS. I was on here when you came on before but then I dropped out for months (and will quickly add that because of what you’ve experienced, I’m not surprised that you feel like you’re in a zombie state. But your postings reflect depth, wisdom, feeling, and hunger for Him — and posting with such honesty might be just as/more painful than the zombie state, but the honesty before Him while going through the pain eventually brings some freedom). SO glad you are back. Cling to our redemptive God and KNOW that He holds on to you. This sounds so ‘not Christian’ to write — but sometimes life stinks! My feelings don’t always tell me that my refuge is in Him— after a whole lot of talking to my soul, I sometimes feel it and often forget it. But He doesn’t forget me.

I learned at a young age to control — control amount of pain I allowed myself to experience, (try to) control my image before God and other people by doing the right ‘Christian’ things (God didnwork in my life through many of those things/disciplines). But ultimately, my attempts at structuring my Christian life didn’t work in the face of illness, death,– even dislike from others. My challenge with the movie was that I once was very good at a resolution-type Christianity — now I’m not so sure that my determination had anything to do with Christianity.

Joyce, praying for Kendra and the rest of your family.

Love it when many of you post music because that sticks in my brain — Diane, I love the old hymns. Thank you!

Anne, I’m jealous of your multi-cultural church :) So thankful that Joey is willing to go.

Dee, praying for your prison trip.

More to write, but now I can barely see and don’t feel too great (and I did make an appointment with the eye dr for Tuesday!!) Wishing God’s blessings to all of you.

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    Renee, I remember you from before, and was very glad to see you back again. Thank you for your kind words. I cried a lot yesterday, more than I have for some time. But I needed to, I feel the clouds over me aren’t nearly as black and heavy as they seemed last week. I am glad I have this place to come to and let out what seems so much worse when it stays in my head. I am trying to answere the call to ‘lift up my drooping hands and strenghten my weak knees’ Hebrews 12:12.

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      I am glad you are feeling a slight lift in the clouds, Chris S. I have not contributed much to the conversation but you have great encouragers and mentors here. Remember, as Powlinson said, Jesus is your Savior. You do not save yourself. You do not even have to lift your head by your own will power, Jesus will lift it for you as you lean on Him.

        Diane–you can be so profound in such few words, a gift I wish I had! “You do not even have to
        lift your head by your own will power, Jesus will lift it for you as you lean on Him.”–beautiful!

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My friend Sandy lost her dear hubby last evening to cancer. He is my age. Please remember her and two grown daughters. Sandy and Bob enjoyed such a great marriage like Dee and Steve and it breaks my heart but reminds me to love every minute of life.

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    I am sorry for your friend, I will pray for Sandy too

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    So sorry for Sandy’s loss and your loss. I will pray.

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    oh kim, will pray too

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    kim–any update on your sister?

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      She is healing well, thank you for asking. She carries such a heavy load. You could pray for all three of her children: Tanner, Parker and Payten. Although she is divorced she stayed a long time with an emotionally abusive, prescription addicted husband and the effects on the children were much worse than we could have foreseen. Her oldest, Tanner, has been in jail and we just learned he is headed back to jail again. I don’t know how she keeps it together. All prayers are much appreciated.

        Kim will be praying for your family.

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10. Why is it important to address sin as well as the body and a person’s past when attempting to help yourself or those to whom you are close overcome sin?

Powlinson says in the clip that as long as we view all our problems as our body plus our personal history, then we have to be our own savior. It is all self-effort. He implies in the clip that personal responsibility and recognition of sin and repentance is key to understanding our need for a Savior, Jesus Christ. Because, if we could do it ourselves, we don’t need Jesus and that is precisely what most people think in our culture.

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11. If you watched the movie, what did you like? Didn’t like?

I have not seen the movie and couldn’t find it on Netflix here in Canada, but I found the others evaluations very interesting.

12. What do you think is the difference between morality and gospel transformation?

Again, I appreciate others’ thoughts on this. Basically, morality is doing it myself (self-discipline), while gospel transformation is recognition of my inability to do it myself, repenting and submitting to God to transform me as I obey and follow Him.

Sometimes, though, it is hard to really know if how to suggest to others that there root issue is their own personal sin. I struggle with the idea of my counseling others. One day an acquaintance was blaming her stubbornness on her dad. She said “I am my dad”. I suggested that she was not her dad and that sometimes stubbornness was sin. She admitted that sometimes it was. But since then, I have wondered if I was being too critical and had the right to say that. I should have added an explanation of how God could help her with that, perhaps. She is a Christian, I believe, but has a dysfunctional background and a lot of current issues as well.

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Kim, praying for Sandy and the family:( I’m so very sorry.

I’m home for a quick shower, Maurice is with her. They are doing some PT to just get her to sit up and with help get on the potty chair, right next to the bed, as they will take the catheter out tomarrow and get to go home monday. Kim send your daughter in law over.I want to meet her!
I have all the free coffee I want there…Thanks Cyndi!! Kim brought Kendra a ballon and Kendra some heart socks:) It took me a second to recognize Kim, as I have only met her one time, at her fireworks stand last year! (Hope we can get together more now,Kim) Tracy lives here too, if anyone remember’s her. Be nice if the three of us could get together, sometime.

I wrote this on FB,
Kendra broke her right ankle on both sides,wed. evening here at home, just playing and dancing around….guess she was still celebrating her birthday the day before on Valentine’s day…poor sweety. She fell on it hard and had to wait 2 days in the hospital for surgery, on fri. They put 8 screws in it from both sides and a plate. PT is working with her now at the hospital…wanted to put her in a nursing home for 2 weeks….we said NO WAY. We have 2 great gals to help here at home and we will get by fine. If anyone has a hospital bed and a portible tolet we could borrow for a few months that would sure help. We have wheelchairs. Keep her in your prayers, please. She is like a 5 yr old, and taking a band aid off is usually tramatic, so she is terrified. Wish I could take the pain from her…she broke the other foot two yrs ago. Her feet are slightly deformed and very fragil. Thank You

Gotta run back…praying for all of you, Tammy and Kim’s friend and Dee and Thank You all soooooooo much for your prayer’s for Kendra:)
Love you all.

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    Joyce, I left you my phone no. on the facebook message, Joyce. Glad for the update. Sorry you are going through so much! Praying for you all!

    Joyce,

    Haven’t had the chance to tell you, but am praying!!!

12. What do you think is the difference between morality and gospel transformation?

Morality leaves out the Gospel. It is works oriented sanctification, rather than Christ centered transformation. The focus is on self rather than on Christ. For example, if I struggle loving because I am selfish-then I need to look to the cross and as I do I can turn and walk in obedience no matter what the cost to myself-even through the pain.

What is so incredible is I have noticed now when I get into the Word, more and more I see idolatry and applying the Gospel to sin struggles.

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