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STRESS AND SOUL CARE

Man makes his plans, Solomon tells us, but the Lord directs his steps. I was planning to finish differently before Lent (two weeks away), but the Lord has been telling me you need a pause, a “selah,” a psalm to help you care for your soul. So this where we will be for the next two weeks. So many of you are going through stress, and life seems out of control. That’s frightening. Elizabeth remembers a time of illness, when she felt “crippled with fear because she didn’t have control.” The truth is, we never have control. There is no guarantee that Julie’s son Kyle will overcome the emotional distress of the war he was in. There is no promise that this little boy Angela has unselfishly brought into their home will not cause great disruption. We cannot know if Susan’s husband will come to the Lord. Laura-Marie fears she may get laid off. Tammi is in a hospital right now — and we pray for her recovery — but we do not know what will happen. How often, in my own life, I have cried the prayer from 2 Chronicles:

We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.

Each of you has a story of a time, either right now, or in the past, of tumultuous circumstances. At any time, life can spin out of control — and for many of you, it feels that way right now.

We’re going to hear from David Powlison again this week — so many of you loved his gentle humble spirit. (I do too — I am most drawn to people of humility.) In his soothing way, he talks about the storms of life. How like hurricanes they can spread havoc all around us. We may not be able to stop the havoc, but we can be in the eye of the storm with our Savior.

We cannot control the storm.

But we have a rock and a fortress.

This picture hung in the emergency room

when Chris waited to see if her son would live or die

and it gave her strength

Jean Guichard

Our own dear Joyce, who has faced so many storms, sent this picture, reminding her that she is under the cover of His wings.


What Powlison also says, which is easier to receive because of his gentleness, is that storms can help us change, can help us see our own sin. Even when storms are not a direct result of sin in our lives, they can still reveal our idols, our sins, and help us change. When my husband died, it revealed so much that was selfish and sinful and misplaced in my heart. Angela, who has brought a little boy into their home, wrote: “God is doing a painful uprooting in my life through this little boy.” When Anne had a difficult time with a patient this week, at first she was in tumult, but she slowed down, and allowed God to search her. She wrote: “I looked to the Lord and asked Him what was in this for me to grow on. That is when He showed me how starved for love this young woman is and how I was once very much like her.” This is how the godly respond to suffering, and may we do the same.

Two huge things to remember in the storm:

Jesus is your refuge.


Jesus is your refining fire.

He may show you things about yourself so that He can conform you to His image. In question 2 of the ice-breaker, I’m going to ask you to look back, remember a storm, and then remember how God was with you, and how He refined you. It can be a hurricane from the past, or simply a ten minute downpour from last week.  As I’ve been praying for Angela and her family, as they have brought this child into their home, it has caused me to reflect on the storm that came to our home when we adopted Annie.

Anne Brestin Lano

Annie was five, and was like a little stone because of hurt from her past. Steve and I threw ourselves into loving her well. But that triggered a storm in our 11-year-old daughter Sally. She felt, as she put it to us, “rudely displaced.” She spun into a depression, losing weight she really didn’t have to lose, not sleeping, in despair. We got her help, we gave her love, but the storm continued for two more years. In this storm I saw my own failures as a mother — I’d been too lenient with Sally — I’d been too selfish…storms show where we are weak. They reveal our sin. This storm also revealed sin in Sally’s life — but it took time for her to see it.

When she was thirteen, she went to a Christian concert and the singer said, “If you have yuk in your soul and you cannot get rid of it, God can help you.” Sally practically ran forward. And, as she says, “God took the yuk out of my soul so I could love my sister.” When she was on Focus on the Family with me, Sally said: “The night before I was to leave for college, I was snuggling with Annie on top of our bunkbed. She looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said, ‘Sally — you are my very best friend.’ I’m so thankful God took that yuk from my heart.” Storms can always reveal sin — can always help conform us to the image of Christ. Romans 8:28-29 show us God has a purpose in the suffering of his saints, and that purpose is to conform us to the image of Christ. The fire may be painful, but the Potter is at work, making us beautiful. In light of eternity, is this not what matters most?

 

 

That is the ultimate rescue, whether He delivers us from the actual pain of our circumstances or not.When I met Cyndi, who has also adopted, she told me my adoptions had inspired her, and yet “It was really really hard!” 🙂  However, God is molding her into a beautiful woman. Last week Cyndi posted a song that was filled with word pictures to speak to your soul when it is in the midst of the storm — and you may want to see this, if you did not before:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lx3ias0H1os&feature=youtu.be

I think these will be a tremendous two weeks — whether you are in the storm, helping others in the storm, or simply strengthening your soul for the inevitable storms around the corner.

Sunday/Monday

1. What is one thing that stood out to you from the above, and why?

We’re going to begin Psalm 31, a psalm for soul care in the midst of stress. It is a psalm that Jonah, Jeremiah, and Jesus all quoted in the midst of stress. In fact, the final words of Jesus from the cross are in this psalm. It opens with David reminding his soul of times when he was in the storm and the Lord was his fortress, his refuge.

2. Remember one such time — either a big storm from the past, or a smaller storm from last week.

Monday-Wednesday Bible Study of Psalm 31

This is a psalm of lament which was to be sung in the assembly. God wants us to tell Him our need. He also wants to reveal, through suffering, the sin in our lives. He wants us to know He understands our pain, for He has suffered, and that He will, in His time, rescue us — if not on this earth, in that broad place in heaven.

3. Read Psalm 31:1-5

A. There are several word pictures in this passage. Find one, describe it, and imagine how it can help you right now.

B.  Verse 5a are the final words of Jesus on the cross. In every psalm of lament, if you look deeply, you will see The Man of Sorrows. How does this help you in your pain, whatever it is?

C. In verse 5b, David says, “You have redeemed me, O Lord” — and yet David lived before the cross. (Compare with Job — who also lived before the cross, when he says, “I know my Redeemer lives, and I will see Him upon the earth.” How do you explain this?

4. Read Psalm 31:6-10

A.  David says he hates those who trusts in idols, but God will also use this suffering to reveal where David has trusted in idols of the heart. How has suffering revealed to you where you have trusted something or someone other than the One True Rock?

B. What truths does David speak to his soul in verse 7? Do you believe this? Comment.

C. What is the word picture in verse 8?

This is a theme in the psalms — can be seen in Psalm 18:19 and 119:32. We may feel hemmed in by sickness, persecution, or poverty — and yet God will have the last Word, for all of eternity is before us. Eye has not seen the wonders that have been prepared for us. These are transitory troubles.

D.  How can the above give you hope, even if God does not change your earthly circumstances?

Thursday-Friday: David Powlison

David Powlison is a counselor, who definitely uses the approach of gospel transformation in his counseling. Listen to this 7 minute testimony from him.

Link:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWJMBFKoRho

5. What storm did Powlison face? How did it make him think about where is trust was and how did he respond?

6. How might the picture of mopping floors at McDonald’s help you to face where your trust is?

7. Other comments on the above?

The following is a message from David Powlison preached at John Piper’s church. It’s free and if you download it then it will be easier to stop and start. Piper has a long intro! Listen to just the first half, or about 38 minutes, until he gets to the part where “Sarah” begins to see Jesus in Psalm 31. As a background, Powlison is speaking to pastors, encouraging them that in most cases, they are competent to counsel. I think this is relevant to us as sisters counseling one another on this blog. We’ll complete the psalm and Powlison’s message next week.

http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/conference-messages/god-psychology-and-christian-care-of-the-soul-part-1

8. Write your notes on the first half of his message here:

Saturday

9. What’s your take-a-way and why?

Next week we will have a discussion on Courageous, as well as finishing this study. As we are beginning to understand how the gospel can help us overcome not only the penalty of sin, but also the power, I think this could be an interesting discussion. So if you have to time to watch it do — if not, you can still benefit from the discussion. This is from the producers of Saving the Giants and Fireproof. Christianity Today rated it number 10 in the top ten redemptive movies of the year.


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296 comments

  1. 5. What storm did Powlison face? How did it make him think about where his trust was and how did he respond? – His storm was the possibility of not being able to continue in his ministry because he could not stay on track in his thought process and finish the thought that he started. It made him wonder if his gifts that were given to him by God were now becoming his idols but by meditating on 2 Corinthians 12 made him refocus and know that Gods grace is sufficient.

    6. How might the picture of mopping floors at McDonald’s help you to face where your trust is? –  I would hope that I would be happy if that is where God wanted me at the time. I know I had to trust God right after my divorce when I  stopped selling real estate to find a job with a more stable income. There was no paycheck coming in for a month and a half but God provided what I needed when I needed it and was always there for me. This feeling brought peace to me at a time when I could have been very depressed.

    7. Other comments on the above? – I like that he pointed out that the gifts given to us by God can turn into idols if we don’t watch where they are in our hearts. How we use them, or abuse them will make the difference.

    1. Julie–I love your answer to 6. You have held on to His faithfulness to you in a very painful past time to strengthen your faith today and for the future. This example reminds me of Dee and all she taught me through God of All Comfort. Have you read that? I can’t rec. it highly enough. I honestly think Dee should have it made into a movie (hint!)

      1. No I have not read it yet. I will have to search for it and see if it’s available for download to my dreaded or my kindle on my iPad.

  2. I was reviewing some older posts and ran across this one that I posted about Mary Kay, before we knew she had that terminal dementia. It didn’t start showing up in her, untill a couple months after I had wrote this…..

    Joyce says:

    April 6, 2010 at 12:34 am

    I just watched the video for the first time. Praise God our Redeemer lives!! I sensed God’s presence Easter sunday as our family gathered & had dinner together & we prayed & felt the loss of my mother & my sister-in-law’s mother as they were always there with us but had gone home to be with Jesus this year. The emptiness brought us all together & I feel so much closer to my family because of it. My sister-in-law that lost her mom too, is like a sister I never had. She has never wanted to talk about Jesus before. But now that she has lost her dad, her only sibling…a brother & her mom & step dad; she started asking me questions about heaven & we talked about the new heaven & earth that God promises & about there being no more pain or sorrow or tears anymore. She said she wanted to start going to church again after not going for 40 years! I’m thanking our Lord so much for her first baby steps to committing her life to you, Lord! It was a glorious week!

    Reply

    Dee Brestin says:

    April 6, 2010 at 5:01 am

    That’s beautiful Joyce.
    Lord, I lift up Joyce’s sister-in-law, and thank You for quickening her heart. Please protect her from the enemy’s lies and may her heart be good receptive soil.
    In Jesus Name

    Dee, her heart was in good receptive soil after you prayed this! And I believe God did protect her from the enemy’s lies. She died 1 year and 9 months after we had this wonderful conversation, but I feel she went into the Dementia loving the Lord and knowing his promise of heaven and no more pain or sorrow or tears anymore. I was so pleased to have found this…I think the Lord lead me to it, as I had forgotten about this conversation we had untill now. Oh Thank you, Jesus! I know she is in your arms! I really didn’t have any doubts that she was with Jesus, but this just brought it out for me:)

    Dee, you said this above, which really stuck with me… “Romans 8:28-29 shows us God has a purpose in the suffering of his saints, and that purpose is to conform us to the image of Christ. The fire may be painful, but the Potter is at work, making us beautiful. In light of eternity, is this not what matters most?”
    Yes, indeed, it is all that matters!

    I recieved a sympathy card from a cousin a couple days ago and in the card she had put a little tiny (about 1/2″) silver heart with the card and I have been wondering what it was for, as it’s not made for a necklas or anything and it is flat but it has little bumps and dents on it and I have been feeling it with my fingers and even tho it seems like mountains and valleys, it is smooth and soft. I thought about a word picture…..it’s like my heart. God has put a few dents and bumps and mountains and valleys in my heart over the years, but all in all, it is soft and smooth, because of the fire and God’s work, like the Potter, making my heart beautiful and “in light of eternity, that is what matter’s most.” Thank you Dee and Thank you Jesus!

      1. Thank you, Dee so much. And thank you for praying for Dennis, he is having a very hard time, as you know all about that:(

    1. Oh, praise the Lord, Joyce. This is so beautiful. “it’s like my heart. God has put a few dents and bumps and mountains and valleys in my heart over the years, but all in all, it is soft and smooth, because of the fire and God’s work, like the Potter, making my heart beautiful and “in light of eternity, that is what matter’s most.” I pray my heart will be like that too.

      1. I know your heart is like that already, Diane. It’s been such a pleasure getting to know you, our Canadian sister!

    2. Joyce,
      This is really beautiful. Now that you are through, on the other side, of all the suffering Mary Kay went through, God has led you back to see this, and it’s like you are seeing the tapestry He was weaving all along, how the Potter was at work. In the midst of it, it was so hard, yet I am glad you are seeing this now.
      And yes, you surely do have a beautiful heart!

      1. Yes, you are so right, Susan….it is like I couldn’t see the whole picture as we were all suffering so, but now I can look back and apprecicate the beautiful tapestry God was weaving for us all along! I know Dennis has come such a long way in his faith, through it all, too. Thank you for helping me see that!

    3. This is beautiful, Joyce!

    4. What a sweet find for you! May God continue to show you these things and bring you great comfort!

    5. This is all just beautiful–love the part about the heart–we are so blessed by you Joyce

  3. C. In verse 5b, David says, “You have redeemed me, O Lord” — and yet David lived before the cross. (Compare with Job — who also lived before the cross, when he says, “I know my Redeemer lives, and I will see Him upon the earth.” How do you explain this?

    God is faithful, he is our deliverer, redeemer-He is “Eternal God” from before the foundation of the Earth, now, and into the future-forever, His fierce, passionate, Holy Love doesn’t change. those whom He has chosen He is faithful to and will rescue from the power of sin and the penalty of sin.

    4. Read Psalm 31:6-10

    A. David says he hates those who trusts in idols, but God will also use this suffering to reveal where David has trusted in idols of the heart. How has suffering revealed to you where you have trusted something or someone other than the One True Rock?

    Whenever I have to step out of my comfort zone and step out in faith my natural bend is to think I will fail. Even though I haven’t figured this out yet as to the root, God is helping me by giving me opportunities to trust Him as my rock and step out in faith. I think I tend to want to pull back and curl up under my comfort blanket-I would rather not take risks and deal with the pain of failure than take risks and trust God with however it turns out. There are two areas He is moving in my life where I have said, “Lord, Me?” He answers “I don’t call the equipped, I equip the called, and I have called you. I love you, sweet daughter, trust me.” He is untangling me away from that net so I don’t get bound and guiding me as I swim in His vast Ocean of Grace. He is helping me to grow in confidence of Him being my rock, and as He does this I am seeing my comfort and Approval idols more and more as my nemesis! 🙂

    B. What truths does David speak to his soul in verse 7? Do you believe this? Comment.

    He rejoiced in God’s love for him because God saw his affliction and the anguish of His soul.

    Yes I do believe this with all my heart, soul and mind, yet in my flesh I can choose to bend away.

    Part of God loving me is He knows me inside and out, as I heard once in a song by Audrey Assad-You know me God as a lover knows His wife-every curve, even in the dark-Oh His love. He deeply cares as He looks at my insecurities both founded and unfounded and He identifies with being scared. He identifies with what it feels like to step out in faith and surrender my anxiety to Him in the midst of not knowing. I can rejoice in God’s love for me, for what can man do? We can inflict such pain on one another-our hearts are wicked who can know them-so why make man and what he thinks of me my rock? God is for me. He is pure, Holy, full of unending Grace and Mercy and His love is overflowing-best yet I am His forever. He is the solid rock upon which I can stand, all other ground is indeed sinking sand.

    1. Rebecca, I love this…..”God is for me. He is pure, Holy, full of unending Grace and Mercy and His love is overflowing-best yet I am His forever. He is the solid rock upon which I can stand, all other ground is indeed sinking sand.” Love all your posts:)

    2. Rebecca–so real and honest “I would rather not take risks and deal with the pain of failure than take risks and trust God with however it turns out.” But I am so thankful I see in you the confidence to step out in faith, knowing He will catch you.

  4. 3. Read Psalm 31:1-5

    A. There are several word pictures in this passage. Find one, describe it, and imagine how it can help you right now.

    “2 Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily!” I just find this picture of God turning and cocking his head to better hear my cry for help so comforting. It is easy to picture God as a busy executive with many action items on his agenda, busy giving his angels orders in a humming office. Suddenly over the din, he stops and turns, bending his head to hear my soft cry. He stops everything and rushes to my side. I know it’s corny, but the picture works for me.

    B. Verse 5a are the final words of Jesus on the cross. In every psalm of lament, if you look deeply, you will see The Man of Sorrows. How does this help you in your pain, whatever it is?

    5 “Into your hand I commit my spirit;”
    One of the definitions of “commit” is “To put in trust or charge; entrust.” I need to put Jesus in charge of my life, my pain. He is in charge and I can trust Him. It reminds me of the song, “God will take care of you”. In the context of pain, verse 4 is especially encouraging.

    1.Be not dismayed whate’er betide,
    God will take care of you;
    Beneath His wings of love abide,
    God will take care of you.

    Refrain:
    God will take care of you,
    Through every day, o’er all the way;
    He will take care of you,
    God will take care of you.

    2.Through days of toil when heart doth fail,
    God will take care of you;
    When dangers fierce your path assail,
    God will take care of you.

    3.All you may need He will provide,
    God will take care of you;
    Nothing you ask will be denied,
    God will take care of you.

    4.No matter what may be the test,
    God will take care of you;
    Lean, weary one, upon His breast,
    God will take care of you.

    1. Thank you, Diane…that is VERY encouraging:)

    2. This is so beautiful Diane–thank you

    3. http://youtu.be/18v2qcJvy14
      the oak ridge boys singing this song…

    4. but i like this one better:)
      http://youtu.be/mdxf2hgkFgw

    5. Thanks, Diane! I LOVE the old hymns.

  5. B. 5. What storm did Powlison face? How did it make him think about where is trust was and how did he respond? The storm that he faced was the possibility of not continuing in ministry because he couldn’t finish his thoughts that he had started. It made him wonder if the gifts that god gave him were turning into idols.

  6. 1. What is one thing that stood out to you from the above, and why?

    That our storms can reveal our sin, our idols, and help us change. That Jesus is at the same time our Refuge, and our Refining Fire. I love the Martin French painting of the Potter at work. His arms and hands and fingers are so strong, so sure, yet they do not inflict pain to punish. The “why” to this question is that I feel this is the purpose of the trial I am in now.

    2. Remember one such time – either a big storm from the past, or a smaller storm from last week.

    I am in something now, though I wouldn’t describe it as a storm. A storm from my past is when my nephew died. This is different. It feels like I am in the crucible, being refined. It almost is like a period of grieving. I am grieving many things. It has been a period of sadness, of self examination, of sensing the loss of many things. And yes, idols are being revealed. God is not providing anyone for me to turn to except Him.

    3. Read Psalm 31:1-5

    A. There are several word pictures in this passage. Find one, describe it, and imagine how it can help you right now.

    The word picture of being caught in a net. In my case, it isn’t a trap set by any enemy, but I know I can get entangled in my own sin, or when I think I can run my own life, or somehow control things. The picture I’m getting here is that I can wait patiently, being caught in the net, because God has ransomed me. “Into Thy hand I commit my spirit; Thou hast ransomed me, O Lord, God of truth.” The price has already been paid, my sins forgiven, I am positionally free. I feel I am dealing with idols in my life. If I get released too soon from the net, my trial, I wont really be free of them.

    B. Verse 5a are the final words of Jesus on the Cross. In every psalm of lament, if you look deeply, you will see the Man of Sorrows. How does this help you in your pain, whatever it is?

    Jesus is well-acquainted with grief, with loss, with loneliness. He endured these things for me. He will keep company with me, sit shiva with me, in the midst of it.

    C. In verse 5b, David says, “You have redeemed me, O Lord” – and yet David lived before the cross. (Compare with Job – who also lived before the cross, when he says, “I know my Redeemer lives, and I will see Him upon the earth”) How do you explain this?

    Well, I’m sure there is a theological answer, but…David and Job had one thing in common; they both KNEW their God. They got to know Him intimately through times of intense suffering. I believe God the Holy Spirit revealed things to them because they were seeking hard after God. They spent alot of time in conversation, meditation, and prayer to God. They had a part of the Scriptures, and all the Scriptures point to Christ.

    1. Susan, Your answer to #2 struck me… and I am pondering that difference between storm and crucible; also thinking about differences between the times he sends people and times he doesn’t. HE is ALWAYS there, but sometimes He sends people to comfort us, too. Sometimes He doesn’t, and I’m sure some of our traps grieve Him more than others. Certainly the cause of the traps varies from fallen world to our own sin and idols. He loves us enough to allow us to go through the crucibles. I read an article in CT last night that referred to life on earth as an internship to prepare for the future with Him. I liked that perspective.

    2. Susan, loved your answers. Please know that I am praying for you, too.

    3. I’ve gotten behind on comments but I just saw this one and want to join in prayer for you Susan. When you said God has not provided anyone to turn to except Him–I pray those times with Him will be rich and sweet. And I know I have had things where I felt no one could understand. All of us here see how much beauty and wisdom you have to share and I, and I’m sure all of us, wish we could be there physically to pray with you and encourage you–so I agree with Dee in asking that He send a trustworthy friend who will come alongside and be that.

    4. Amen to this, Susan. “Jesus is well-acquainted with grief, with loss, with loneliness. He endured these things for me. He will keep company with me, sit shiva with me, in the midst of it.” And Amen to Dee and Elizabeth’s prayers for you.

  7. 4. Read Psalm 31:6-10

    A. David says he hates those who trusts in idols, but God will also use this suffering to reveal where David has trusted in idols of the heart. How has suffering revealed to you where you have trusted something or someone other than the One True Rock?

    Hmm… well v 6 is an “interesting” (understatement) read when examining myself for idols. A couple days ago I got all worked up inside (the word suffering seems so BIG, even though I was exhausted from it) triggered by an email interaction at work. This interaction revealed a control idol (big time).

    B. What truths does David speak to his soul in verse 7?
    v. 7 David is determining to rejoice in God’s love and is acknowledging that God understood the distress David was in.

    Do you believe this? Comment.
    Uh, maybe? sometimes? I believe it in the tidal wave sufferings but I don’t think about his love in the whitecaps on the small lake sufferings. So, when I was getting exhausted a couple days ago jumping in and out of his hands, it might have been “useful” (thinking as I’m writing) or less exhausting to rejoice in His love (that seeped in a little the other night) and acknowledge that God knew what I was experiencing. I put “useful” in quotation marks because I don’t want to be that pragmatic. The point is that He loves me and knows me; I can rejoice in that, know Him, and experience His power to ditch the idols.

    C. What is the word picture in verse 8?

    Two word pictures: hands again, and feet in spacious place

    So, maybe I was jumping from hands of enemy to hands of God the other night.

    I was liking the idea of being in God’s hands so spacious place (right now) feels a little lonely. In general, I smile when I hear spacious place —- like a peaceful farm on ND flatlands where you can see a long ways (if you walk around the shelter-belt!). I used to walk around the section when I felt “hemmed in” by internal turmoil. But in God’s hands in a spacious place sounds amazing!

    D. How can the above give you hope, even if God does not change your earthly circumstances?

    Because we are in His hands and He sets our feet in a spacious place, we have a glimpse of what is to come. Plus, He is refining/preparing us now. And preparation makes the ultimate experience even better (e.g., a race would be miserable without training). NOW I’m getting why we can rejoice in our sufferings — not only because we can look forward to eternity with Him, but because the process of suffering (if we submit to Him) will transform us in a way that makes our fellowship with Him (and whatever else He has in store for us) even sweeter. I’m not quite ready to say “bring it on.” But I do believe that I can rejoice more in current difficulties. YES!

    1. Renee, I love this….”Because we are in His hands and He sets our feet in a spacious place, we have a glimpse of what is to come. Plus, He is refining/preparing us now. And preparation makes the ultimate experience even better (e.g., a race would be miserable without training). NOW I’m getting why we can rejoice in our sufferings — not only because we can look forward to eternity with Him, but because the process of suffering (if we submit to Him) will transform us in a way that makes our fellowship with Him (and whatever else He has in store for us) even sweeter.” SO TRUE!!

    2. Beautiful, Renee. Good truths here.

    3. Like your answer to D. Great thoughts!

  8. Starting this now because I won’t be on tomorrow.
    5. What storm did Powlison face? How did it make him think about where is trust was and how did he respond?

    Doing this based on memory from a few weeks ago because I got a msg to try again later, but don’t have a “later!” Powlison faced inability to complete thoughts, some disorientation, memory disruptions — this could have been a sign of some type a dementia (even though it was a medication side effect). This would have forced him to retire from his career. He responded by talking to his soul, recognizing that whatever happened GOd was in control; he would be okay.

    6. How might the picture of mopping floors at McDonald’s help you to face where your trust is?

    I was blessed as a high-achieving, competitive young adult to come to grips with this (and it is related to the reason I’m not working in the area in which I was initially trained). This isn’t far-fetched for me. I’ve often said that I wouldn’t mind being a wal-mart greeter or a mint-hander-outer at MacDonald’s.

    I did have to drop out of school, couldn’t hold a job — and found out afterwards that some who had experienced the length and severity of what I had experienced had gone on permanent disability or become permanently institutionalized. And I was glad when I could get very minimal, temp jobs (and by that time I had a Master’s degree). There were too many applicants for the MacDonald’s job! I tried. So, the MacDonald’s job can be a high standard!

    I have to say I appreciate having an adequate income. In the area I work, we are somewhat socialized to think we are over-educated and can’t do anything else. During the past few years, I’ve realized that God could open many other doors.

    With a family history of heart disease, I didn’t expect to live this long. With a family history of dementia, there is a possibility that mopping the floor at MacDonald’s eventually may not be an option. I’m ok with the MacDonald’s scenario, but my soul could use a little further talking to recognize that my spirit is safe, even if I have advanced dementia and am in a nursing home (I do believe that too — I’m not worried BECAUSE God has shown his faithfulness in the past.)

    I think I’ve challenged some people around me when fear wasn’t an effective motivator for me at work because my trust wasn’t in the job (it has sometimes been effective, though 🙁 )

    1. Love all of your posts Renee, and your humble honesty here really spoke to me. thank you for sharing so vulnerably

  9. 5. What storm did Powlison face? How did it make him think about where is trust was and how did he respond?
    He began having cognitive trouble completing his thoughts. He remembered a question from his old pastor that focused in on are your gifts your god? Would he be content if he no longer had his gift of counseling, writing, teaching.

    6. How might the picture of mopping floors at McDonald’s help you to face where your trust is?
    Would I be content in Christ alone, if all else was stripped away from me? It is so difficult. If I lost my children, my family, even my physical capabilities, I know I would struggle at first, fight it, even be angry for a time. But I also believe He would never give up on me, and that His Truth, His pursuing love would find me. I know Him, and His love cannot let me go. And knowing that love, I cannot imagine ever living without it. So ultimately I would find myself falling at His feet, offering myself to Him and His plan.

    7. Other comments on the above?
    I liked what he said about the balance of faith and obedience. The faith part, he dealt with when he struggled but affirmed his gifts were only gifts from God, but his God was God. The obedience part for him was to call the Dr and see if the meds might be causing the problem.

    This reminded me of something in my own life. For 14 years of our marriage, my husband struggled with life-threatening episodes of rage–completely out of character. This is not the place for details, but it was severe, and frightening for both of us. He was finally diagnosed a few years ago with bipolar and is on medication that, in a secular view, has healed him. After years of counseling, when we both refused recommendations for him to take meds, years of serving in church but lying about the evidence of his rage. It was the moment of faith for him, his humility, that broke the chains, that brought the healing. The balance of obedience was the appointment with a psychiatrist and the medication. From his model, I finally admitted we weren’t perfect and I couldn’t fix this. My idol had cracked, but Christ taught me in that the goal isn’t to appear perfect—but perfectED, in Christ, because of Christ.
    God is showing me lately that the more we expose our weakness, the more He shines in it, the more He comes in and heals. I used to say there are no guarantees in this struggle—but actually there is—the guarantee that He is Who He says He is and He will never leave, never forsake His own, that He has the power to take something so wounded and broken and restore, transform it into something that reflects His beauty. The story I used to hide, used to hate, I have come to start to love—because it is Him messing with, beautifying, our hearts—for Himself

    1. Love your comment on No. 7, Elizabeth. I am praying for both of you:)

    2. Love this! “I used to say there are no guarantees in this struggle—but actually there is—the guarantee that He is Who He says He is and He will never leave, never forsake His own, that He has the power to take something so wounded and broken and restore, transform it into something that reflects His beauty.”

      AMEN!

    3. Thanks for vulnerable sharing, Elizabeth. I agree with Dee on this.

    4. I remember watching the movie the kings speach and seeing how the wife knew she could not be his “healer” but worked her butt off to find someone who could help….I relate to you wanting to fix it and not being able to. I so relate to you in this sister!!

    5. “the goal isn’t to appear perfect—but perfectED, in Christ, because of Christ.” Love this!

    6. Elizabeth,
      I agree with everyone’s replies to this testimony of yours – it is powerful and shows the delicate balance of faith and obedience. I know we touched on this a few weeks ago, about how there is, at times, a true need for, say, medication in the case of depression, and how we often fight it because we think it somehow means we don’t have enough faith, or that ‘real Christians’ shouldn’t need outside help. But you say, “the balance of obedience was the appointment with a psychiatrist and the medication”. I am thankful for the healing you and your husband have experienced.

      1. Thank you all for your graciousness towards me–this is evidence of what a beautiful thing we share here, it really brings tears this morning. I was so hesitant, scared even to share–but I know most of that is the old man in me who learned early in life to cover up weakness. But I am beginning to see how my pride and self protection also hides from others being able to see the work He has done. You all have blessed me, thank you so much for not judging–but showing such love.

  10. There are many wonderful comments. Susan I pray for you as you submit yourself to the Potter. You brought that picture to life. Joyce, I rejoice in the comfort the Lord has brought to you in the midst of your pain. Diane, I am so thankful for your south wind.

    Something else just stood out to me as I was looking at Annie’s beautiful picture. That is that when Sally slipped into depression, Dee felt that she was responsible somehow. I also tend to feel directly responsible for my children’s storms. We could in fact be responsible for we are not perfect, but didn’t God do a great work in Sally’s heart and also in Annie’s. It was a work greater than the best mothering could do.

    Joey texted me a picture of his AB honor roll certificate today while I was at work. He is so happy about it for at report card time he had missed it by one point in Latin 3. Latin teacher must have found a point somewhere 🙂 Not long ago he did not appear to care one bit about doing well. Not only has he changed but the school and teachers have changed. My point is that no matter how we work at doing everything right, it is God who gives the increase. I was a much better mother for my oldest than I have been for Joey for I am much less energetic, but I have prayed desperately. When I look back I see turning points where God undertook for Joey. I am just in awe of Him

    1. oh, how I love these sweet Joey updates! So happy for him–you give him no greater blessing than your faithful prayers.

      1. Me too,Elizabeth! Anne…praying for you and your family….keep the updates coming:)

    2. This is wonderful news, Anne, and this should be an encouragement for Laura-dancer: “…it is God who gives the increase”.

      1. Indeed, Susan. My 21 year old, John, who only cared for school as a youngster, just came to me and my husband and told us he made an 88 on his first algebra test. He was proud of himself, we could tell. I am also glad that bs seems to want success for himself and I can sit on the sideline and cheer him on! Thanks be to God for loving us so much! Thank you Lord for the good times as well as the bad. I love you Jesus.

  11. How has suffering revealed to you where you have trusted something or someone other than the One True Rock? My asthma gets worse when I turn to my comfort idol and overeat instead of turning to God. When it flares up it’s an effective reminder.
    I had an opportunity to read all day today at the hospital while my sister was having surgery. I chose Francis Chow’s book “Crazy Love” and all I can say is wow! (our pastor recommends him.) The first chapter invites you to talk to God as though He is in the room with you as opposed to up in the sky (I often think of Him off somewhere up high). Imagine His beauty, the vibrant colors, emerald rainbow, lightning etc. I experienced God in a fresh way during my prayer time today.

    1. I love that book Crazy Love. And what a great tangible reminder for you in the comfort idol! Grace!

    2. the girls and I are reading francis Chans remembering the forgotten God, we loved crazy love too but we REALLY love this one. its a must read…we were never meant to live this life in our own power but in HIS….love:) you will never look at life the same after that book Kim…be warned:)

      1. I am already changed, Cyndi. He’s on Moody right now during Founder’s week. Hope this is okay, Dee. http://www.moodyconferences.com/foundersweekvideo/

        1. thanks!

    3. your joy in Him is just beautiful kim–just comes through richer with every post

    4. I hope your sister’s okay. Thanks for the tip about the book. I can feel your excitment and joy!

  12. B. What truths does David speak to his soul in verse 7? He says: I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. Do you believe this? Comment.
    I believe that rejoicing in all things is a choice and when David says, “I WILL be glad and rejoice in your love…” He is making a decision. Then he tells us God didn’t leave him alone to be afflicted and anguished, He saw what His child was going through and went through it with him. I believe it caused his love for the Lord to abound.
    I have been giving a lot of thought to how I can love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and asking God to help me do this.

    C. What is the word picture in verse 8?
    You have not given me into the hands of the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place. I looked for comparisons to spacious place and found these: place of abundance, setting me free and makes his steps firm

    D. How can the above give you hope, even if God does not change your earthly circumstances?

    I love the assurance that this earthly life is just a vapor and my God will have the last word. What a picture of that glorious hope we have in Him! It makes my heart sing! Especially when I see that David’s suffering caused his love for Jesus to abound.

    1. Kim–this is such a GREAT point “I believe that rejoicing in all things is a choice”–love how you point out that he says “I WILL”. So true. I’m hanging on to that today!

  13. 4. Read Psalm 31:6-10

    A. David says he hates those who trust in idols, but God will also use this suffering to reveal where David has trusted in idols of the heart. How has suffering revealed to you where you have trusted something or someone other than the One True Rock?

    I think most of my life I have trusted in and relied on people to give me my comfort/security, affirmation/approval, and significance. I remember Keller saying something about how God, to uncover our idols, will block our access to them. I’ve been seeing this in myself, even this week, when I find myself getting upset, angry, even tearful, when I am being blocked from getting what I want from another person.

    B. What truths does David speak to his soul in verse 7? Do you believe this? Comment.

    He speaks the truth to his soul that God is a God of lovingkindness. Even in his suffering, he knows God is good. He says he knows God is aware of his affliction and knows the troubles of his soul. I think I have grown in the last couple of years, from being one who would wonder where are you God, or do You know, or care, about my pain, to believing and trusting more that yes, God sees and He knows.
    Keller reminded in one of his sermons that if we doubt this, just look at the Cross.

    C. What is the word picture in verse 8?

    Well, when I think of pain and suffering, I think of being in a tight space, unable to get out, closed-in. David says that God has not put him in the hand of the enemy, but has set his feet in a large place. In the case of pain and suffering and trials, the enemy has a plan to keep us in his hand, a hand that is cruel, gripping, crushing, hurting, and dark. I think God wants us to see that even in trials, our feet/we are in a large place – He gives us His light and we have room to grow, to expand; room for our souls to be enlarged.

    D. How can the above give you hope, even if God does not change your earthly circumstances?

    Psalm 18:19 says, “He brought me forth also into a broad space, He rescued me, because He delighted in me.” Hope is to remember the ultimate thing I have been rescued from – the kingdom of darkness, and I have been brought into God’s family. No matter my earthly circumstances, I am ALREADY in a broad, large space, because that’s where He is. I may feel confined, but I am not (Diane said that feelings are just that – feelings).

    1. Susan–I loved this “I think I have grown in the last couple of years, from being one who would wonder where are you God, or do You know, or care, about my pain, to believing and trusting more that yes, God sees and He knows.” THAT is what I see in you–such a faithful woman–who has had her faith tried and tested, but you remain clinging to those truths–even as I picture you crying out on your kitchen floor–you are crying out to Him and know Him as the Lover of your soul. I love this too “I think God wants us to see that even in trials, our feet/we are in a large place – He gives us His light and we have room to grow, to expand; room for our souls to be enlarged.”

    2. God is using you to speak to me on this, Susan. “God, to uncover our idols, will block our access to them.” I am battling a long-term idol. He is blocking access and I am trying to trust, but getting very weary in the battle that ebbs and then flows again. The problem is the battle seems to be going on and on. I see the idol and I am trying to deal with it, but I cannot seem to get victory. I feel like I am in that “tight space” too. Thank you for your words, “the enemy has a plan to keep us in his hand, a hand that is cruel, gripping, crushing, hurting, and dark. I think God wants us to see that even in trials, our feet/we are in a large place – He gives us His light and we have room to grow, to expand; room for our souls to be enlarged.”

      I need to keep my eyes on the goal of our faith, Jesus Christ. Lord, enlarge my soul. I turn and lean on You yet again.

  14. 3. Read Psalm 31:1-5

    A. There are several word pictures in this passage. Find one, describe it, and imagine how it can help you right now.

    5 Into your hands I commit my spirit;
       deliver me, LORD, my faithful God.

    This verse makes me think of God having outstretched hands and my “spirit” coming out of me into His hands. I can then see Him putting His hands to His chest and bowing His head to “deliver” me. It’s along the same lines as Hosea and Gomer.

    I have really thought about the painting of Hosea and Gomer this last week; especially when I began to feel down or depressed about what ever situation I found myself in at the time. When I recalled, I was comforted. I think this image could do the same for me.

    B.  Verse 5a are the final words of Jesus on the cross. In every psalm of lament, if you look deeply, you will see The Man of Sorrows. How does this help you in your pain, whatever it is?

    That’s funny, because that is the verse I chose (not knowing the above)! I need to remember Him on the cross saying this to His God and remembering how He suffered.

    C. In verse 5b, David says, “You have redeemed me, O Lord” — and yet David lived before the cross. (Compare with Job — who also lived before the cross, when he says, “I know my Redeemer lives, and I will see Him upon the earth.” How do you explain this?

    I’m not sure here. Were these men both given thoughts of the future? I thought only prophets had that gift; to see the future, not just average men. Did they just have such faith that Gid would reveal Himself to them as He did with Moses and others? I don’t know. Cam someone help here?

    1. Jesus was and is and is to come. He was slain before the foundations of the earth. He always has been our Redeemer. It didn’t just happen 2000 years ago (time is our limitation not God’s), it always has been. Jesus lived and we were redeemed before Adam and Eve sinned, before Satan fell, before the earth existed. It doesn’t make sense to our finite minds, but it is truth. David, Job and many other Old Testament saints understood it.

  15. This is a theme in the psalms — can be seen in Psalm 18:19 and 119:32. We may feel hemmed in by sickness, persecution, or poverty — and yet God will have the last Word, for all of eternity is before us. Eye has not seen the wonders that have been prepared for us. These are transitory troubles.

    4.D. How can the above give you hope, even if God does not change your earthly circumstances?

    Oh, Dee that statement above is so true, so rich! I love the reminder of the truth that these are “transitory troubles”. Through my two unchanging troubles, this helps me to keep my eyes on reality and not blow my circumstances or trials up into huge balloons, making them more weightier than they really are. This is my hope-the reality of life and what I and my sisters and brothers in Him can look forward to. Lord may you bear more weight on my soul today.

  16. 5. What storm did Powlison face? How did it make him think about where is trust was and how did he respond?

    He couldn’t finish his thoughts while talking, he had a cognitive disruption and it effected his ministry, so he started talking to his soul asking himself if his gifts were becoming idols. He did a’thought’ experiment to make sure he wasn’t turning ministry into a mistress-idolatry, so he thought if he was in a traffic accident where he could no longer do ministry but all he could do is mop floors at Mcdonalds would he be content with that? When he thought about it causing his ministry to fail he said, it is o.k. i don’t want it to happen, but it is o.k. if it does. He assessed his gifts were only gifts and God is his God. Then he went to scripture and applied that God’s grace is sufficient for his power is perfected in weakness. He didn’t save him because of his gifts but saved him because of His love for him and his grace is always sufficient for our weakness, so it is o.k. if he is struggling with his gifts. Then he remembered he just started on his heart meds and could that be what is causing it. His faith dealt with the soul issue, but obedience was following through by going to the Doctor.

    6 and 7. How might the picture of mopping floors at McDonald’s help you to face where your trust is?

    Oh that is such a good way to assess where our trust is. I ask myself this-what if my gifts failed? What if my children were taken away? What if my ability to sing were taken away? What if my husband was taken away? our economy tanked and we were like Greece? Where would my trust be? I am not saying to not grieve, but I am saying where would my trust be? Would I faint? Powlison’s thought test and how he processed through talking to his soul was great. He didn’t just stop at realizing he wasn’t idolozing his gifts-he went on to speak truth to His soul-tiny steps of obedience.

  17. Still processing 7. Busy morning for me with lots of interruptions. 🙂

    Powlson’s example is so powerful of how he talked to his soul. For me, so often I am afraid to go to the next step because I fear what the truth might be! I am learning though that it is o.k. and I am handing that fear to Him. For I am broken, sinful, and no ‘yuk’ that God brings to the surface should surprise me, nor will it Him. Yet at the same time I remember He went to the cross and was broken for this wicked heart, and He loves me so much He wants to continue to come into my broken places-so I am learning to practice that next step of obedience in letting Him in. His Grace is sufficient-He is as trustworthy now as he was in the Garden that even though the cup didn’t pass from Him, yet He walked in obedience toward the cross enduring shame, suffering for me. How can I not fall in His arms and trust Him with whatever lies underneath, my idols, my layers, etc.. How can I not walk in obedience toward Him?
    (sorry this is so long-no time to edit!) 🙂

    1. Praying for traveling mercies and peace for you and for all the ladies heart’s to be open to recieve at the retreat , Dee

    2. Lord, we lift up Dee to you and ask for safe travels and your blessing on all the details–from the plane to accommodations and all the things she needs for speaking. I pray You would be preparing these women’s hearts to hear about falling in love with You–knowing You as their Bridegroom. Lord, I pray You would break down any walls around their hearts, and that You would speak through Dee–that her words would be Yours and pull these women into a deeper relationship with You.

    3. Praying Dee. Lord, speak Your Words through Dee this weekend. Prepare her and the women to whom she speaks. Topple idols and bring Your truth and joy.

    4. Praying you are greatly quickened!

    5. Dee, Continuing to pray for you and for the church to which you are speaking!

  18. Dear Dee,
    We will be praying for safe travel, and for the Spirit to be raining down His presence at your retreat!

  19. 6. How might the picture of mopping floors at McDonald’s help you to face where your trust is? Well I have been pondering this and I would have to be honest and say i dont know that i would be content.. I would be thinking God why here? I am so much more capable of doing so much more than mopping floors. But i would be thankful that I have a job and able to pay my bills.

    1. I’m with you, Meg! But for the reason that after watching a movie called “Food Inc.”, I could never eat at a McDonalds again! Maybe I could mop floors at a health food store!

      1. Love that DVD too, Susan. I don’t eat much meat after seeing that!

      2. Susan, I still haven’t seen that movie. What I wouldn’t like about mopping floors at McDonald’s is smelling like a french fry (otherwise it would be fine with me)— and I don’t like the smells of some health food stores any better. Maybe I should mop floors on a cruise ship 🙂

        1. LOL!

    2. This made me laugh Meg–love and appreciate your honesty! Maybe if we all got to be at the SAME Mc Donald’s it wouldn’t be so bad… 😉

      1. Yes, I would work with this lot of gals anywhere! 😉

  20. 5. What storm did Powlison face? How did it make him think about where his trust was and how did he respond?

    The storm was at a ministry meeting, he found he was unable to finish his sentences; he was losing his train of thought. This was a persistent symptom, and he realized if it continued, it threatened his career in teaching, writing, and counseling.
    He wrestled with himself as to was he turning his ministry, his gifts, into idols, and he remembered a question to ask himself: if he suffered a brain injury and all he could do was mop floors at McDonalds, would he be content? He recalled the verse in Corinthians, where Paul says God’s grace is sufficient in our weaknesses. He concluded that his gifts were gifts, but God was his God, and he received joy and peace. After faith settling the issue, his step of obedience was “to do what is constructive”, and that was to check with his doctor about his new medication.

    6. How might the picture of mopping floors at McDonalds help you to face where your trust is?

    It helps me to think about things like, when all my children are grown and out of the home, living their own lives, will I be content with my life? In a way, all of life is releasing the things and people we cherish, because life is always moving forward and changing. We can’t even trust in our own bodies – if we trust in beauty or the health we had in our 20’s, we will despair as it ages and sags and slows down.

    7. Other comments on the above?

    I really like his gentle mannerisms and way of explaining things. One thing was “every counseling model is biography, your self-understanding gets projected into your counseling”. I have at times thought of counseling, and this points out to be very careful about what the counselor has as her core beliefs, b/c it will influence how she counsels you. Also, that he said, “faith had already dealt with the issue”. He did this before he turned to man; he went to God first. I don’t think he is in any way suggesting that we avoid doctors or counselors, but to first have matters settled in our own hearts, with God, first.

  21. “How might the picture of mopping floors at McDonald’s help you to face where your trust is”? If I was to have an accident and this is all I could do, I know that God would put joy in my work, because I look at it from a special need’s person’s view, like our daughter. They find joy in the smallest things that they can accomplish. I wish Kendra wanted to go to a job, but alot of them do love it and can’t wait every morning to go to their job with excitement and joy, no matter if they scrub toilets all day. Kendra gets so excited with the littlest gift for christmas or her birthday. It could be a used pencil and she would get excited and says “Oh, tanks mom!” We need to be thankful like that, for the simplest things God gives us. My mom use to wrap a very large jar of peanut butter for her, because she loves peanut butter so much, and you should of seen her excitement when she opened that!! It was so cute how happy that made her! It wouldn’t matter if it was almost gone, she’d still love it!

    1. Thanks for the precious reminder from a perspective of a special needs person. May we always get excited and say, “Oh, tanks, God” to whatever he gives us.

      1. 🙂

        1. Enjoying seeing Kendra’s pic up here again 🙂

    2. this is beautiful Joyce–a much needed dose of eternal perspective for me–thankful for you, and dear kendra

  22. Sisters please pray. I am in “don’t panic mode”. My sister’s doctor told me yesterday that there was a bleed during surgery and they called in a urologist to give an opinion but believe it is fixed. Today her blood is almost transfusion low and BP is scary low. I have given it to the Lord but feel very shaky preparing to go up to be with her. I don’t want to cry or scare her further. This is similarly what happened to dad and he died b/c the surgeon nicked his bowel during surgery. I am asking Him for a song and running to His strong tower.

    1. Oh Father, I come before you now and ask that You bring healing to Kim’s sister. Lord, please–give the doctors divine wisdom, work through their hands and minds Lord. And please, Lord, I ask that You would be gracious to completely heal Kim’s sister. Please give Kim the strength, the peace she needs to walk these very painful steps, I don’t even know how to pray Lord–I really ache with her and just ask for You to be glorified in this.

    2. Oh, Kim. I pray everything is OK with your sister. Father, be with Kim’s sister and with Kim. You know all about it, Lord. Do you work. Heal we pray. Give strength to Kim as she visits. Thank you that You are our strong tower. Thank you that she is running to you.

      “Be not dismayed whate’er betide, God will take care of you.”

    3. Oh know! Praying peace and His presence. May she be restored quickly!

    4. Oh Kim, I am praying, praying praying. I was concerned when you said your sister was having surgery. Even the smallest surgery is scary. Please keep us updated!

    5. Kim, these words come to mind as I pray for you and your sister. Perfect love casts out fear. Praying for your dear sister.

    6. Oh Kim, praying for your sister and for you.

      1. Lord, please be with Kim and her sister. They need to know you are near. Give them peace, Lord, to breathe and meet the challenge with full reliance on You, making them strong. We love you dear Lord. We pray in Your name, amen.

  23. 5. What storm did Powlison face? How did it make him think about where is trust was and how did he respond? I liked his example. When we lose things that are just naturally part of us we realize quickly that they may be what our hope is actually in. Instead of HIM it is in what He gives. I have seen this over and over in various trials. Glad his was solvable. Glad it was enough to help him realign his heart.

    6. How might the picture of mopping floors at McDonald’s help you to face where your trust is? I like to think of this, where is my worth? Would I be able to be joyful if that was what I was to do for the glory of God? Great thing to ponder. I feel lower than a moper of floors at McDonalds in mothering. I know it is such a high responsibility. however atleast the moper gets paid. I have lost my joy in mothering lately. Trying to keep the house clean, dealing with all the issues the girls have and special needs on top of a very busy new addition and all his family drama has sucked me dry. However, I am getting it back slowly. my perspective is going back toward HIM. It is an honor and joy to be able to do this even when no one seems to appreciate it or notice because HE does. That should be enough.

    1. It is enough, Angela. God see’s our struggle. He knows when no one else knows what we are going through. I’m praying for you.

  24. This is in my files and I needed it today, I tend to have a “fearful imagination” esp. regarding my health, and I thought maybe someone here could use it too. This is from Carolyn Mahaney’s website. Dee has also given us the Elisabeth Elliot quote before. Carolyn says: “What do our mothering fears have in common? They are all in our imagination.Our fertile minds generate countless scenarios whereby one calamity or another befalls our children: What if my son rebels when he hits the teenage years? What if my daughter doesn’t want to be my friend when she grows up? What if my son gets in a car accident?…After thirty-four years of mothering, I’ve discovered that most of the bad things I imagined never actually came true. But there have been other trials—ones I never anticipated.That’s why Elisabeth Elliot’s wise advice has been invaluable to me in fighting fear: “There is no grace for your imagination.” God does not sprinkle grace over every path my fear takes. He does not rush in with support and encouragement for every doomsday scenario I can imagine. No, instead He warns me to stay off those paths: “Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil” (Ps. 37:8) There is no grace for our imagination. That’s why our fearful imaginings produce bad fruit: anxiety, lack of joy, futile attempts to control.”

    1. Thank you for this. I have had peace since you all started praying for me.
      Her BP is coming up and she will probably go home later tonight. The doctor isn’t doing another hemoglobin test and believes she is probably not bleeding internally. We are trusting and praying.

      1. oh Kim–thankful to hear this update and will continue the prayers!

      2. Kim–is this Parker’s mom? I remember you asking for prayer for him a while back–just wanted to make the connection if so

        1. yes, my only sis and very dear to me. Thanks for remembering!

      3. Praise God!

    2. “warns me to stay off those paths: “Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil” (Ps. 37:8) There is no grace for our imagination. That’s why our fearful imaginings produce bad fruit: anxiety, lack of joy, futile attempts to control.”

      Thank you for this, Elizabeth…I needed it.

  25. A.  David says he hates those who trusts in idols, but God will also use this suffering to reveal where David has trusted in idols of the heart. How has suffering revealed to you where you have trusted something or someone other than the One True Rock?

    Well, there never seems to be an answer when you trust something or someone other than Christ. When you trust in Him always, eventually the suffering is ended and the problem is solved. Look at Job as an example. He suffered and continued to do so, but in the end he was rewarded. Sometimes suffering is a long time and is very painful. It is easy to want to give up hope. That’s where those word pictures come in. They calm us and help us be patient. You just know when you don’t trust in Him, things never seem to be smooth. They are disjointed and things don’t “click.”

    1. so true..thank you, Laura

    1. got it!

    2. Praying and looking forward to where we are going!

  26. Diane,
    I’m praying for you in your battle with your long-term idol. Don’t grow weary! He will renew your strength!

  27. Thank you for your prayers sister’s. Christy had a good night. Wish I could take her BP. Home resting comfortably.

    God is so faithful, I must brag on Him…
    After I closed my lap top with my prayer request yesterday I felt like God was encompassing the entire room. He gently seemed to say, “Here I am” and opened His arms to me. I now understand what it means to be hidden in Christ. Col. 3:3. He took me and put me in His heart and hid me. I don’t know how else to explain it. There was safety, calm and peace. My physical body felt ill when I heard the news but my spiritual self was like a serene pond, unshaken. I knew from being in this study how to preach calm to my soul and that was a big help. I even said to Him, “Well I guess I know I could even mop floors as long as I had you with me.” I am so thankful for His sweet intimate connection and know I can face any tomorrow with Him.

    1. Oh Kim, I love your peace I see in you!

    2. Oh Kim, that is huge! I feel like we are in the same boat paddling down His sweet serene river-heading toward the sun. 🙂 Your post encouraged me so!

  28. This is a theme in the psalms — can be seen in Psalm 18:19 and 119:32. We may feel hemmed in by sickness, persecution, or poverty — and yet God will have the last Word, for all of eternity is before us. Eye has not seen the wonders that have been prepared for us. These are transitory troubles.

    D. How can the above give you hope, even if God does not change your earthly circumstances?

    I am in the midst of a very fierce storm right now. I feel like I have been delivered into the hands of the enemy, but the reality is that I have not. God will rescue me. I need to speak God’s truth to my soul. I need to remember that he has rescued me time and again, even if it does not feel like he is rescuing me right now. I’m listening to gospel music, praying and reading Scripture for all I am worth, clinging to Him.

    1. Praying God’s strength and comfort for you during this time, Diane.

    2. Diane–I will keep you in my prayers. I have been meditating on Psalm 27 the past few days(would like to say “memorizing” but I am terrible at memorization!)–I will pray it for you also.
      Psalm 27
      1 The LORD is my light and my salvation;
      whom shall I fear?
      The LORD is the stronghold[a] of my life;
      of whom shall I be afraid?

      2 When evildoers assail me
      to eat up my flesh,
      my adversaries and foes,
      it is they who stumble and fall.

      3 Though an army encamp against me,
      my heart shall not fear;
      though war arise against me,
      yet[b] I will be confident.

      4 One thing have I asked of the LORD,
      that will I seek after:
      that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
      all the days of my life,
      to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
      and to inquire[c] in his temple.

      5 For he will hide me in his shelter
      in the day of trouble;
      he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
      he will lift me high upon a rock.

      6 And now my head shall be lifted up
      above my enemies all around me,
      and I will offer in his tent
      sacrifices with shouts of joy;
      I will sing and make melody to the LORD.

      7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud;
      be gracious to me and answer me!
      8 You have said, “Seek[d] my face.”
      My heart says to you,
      “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”[e]
      9 Hide not your face from me.
      Turn not your servant away in anger,
      O you who have been my help.
      Cast me not off; forsake me not,
      O God of my salvation!
      10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
      but the LORD will take me in.

      11 Teach me your way, O LORD,
      and lead me on a level path
      because of my enemies.
      12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
      for false witnesses have risen against me,
      and they breathe out violence.

      13 I believe[f] that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
      in the land of the living!
      14 Wait for the LORD;
      be strong, and let your heart take courage;
      wait for the LORD!

    3. Dear sweet Diane, praying He will hold you.
      Yesterday you said, “Be not dismayed whate’er betide, God will take care of you.” I pray and encourage you as well. I sang this all day and it ministered to me.

    4. Praying for you, Diane.

      1. Joyce, I have been meaning to respond but I am always short on time lately. Thanks SO MUCH for praying for all of us and for me, I so covet your prayers. I have prayed for you too in this time of grieving. You are such a faithful sister.

    5. Diane, just had a chance to read this-know I will be praying for you!

  29. Sisters – this just in from Tammy Luccioni via Facbook
    Am on my nephew’s iPhone. Will be in Jesup tomorrow to get some things. I have been diagnosed with major depression and have a counselor at county mental health center. At this time I don’t know when or if I’ll be returning to ga to stay. I have the gift of time right now so I have to wait on the Lord’s timing. I am living the country life with no computer, no cell, and no cable. I have books so I’m good. Thanks for all the prayers. Love to all☺☺

    1. Thank you, Kim…I haven’t checked fb…am so happy to hear from her:)

    2. Kim, thank you! I am so relieved to hear from Tammy.

    3. Kim, I read that too and am praying, poor Tammy. My heart goes out to her-this must be so tough.

  30. 5. What storm did Powlison face? How did it make him think about where is trust was and how did he respond?

    His storm was being unable to finish his train of thoughts in expressing himself. He had to struggle with how this might finish his career and was he OK with that. He accepted it, realizing that his gifts are from God and God could take them away if he wanted to.

    6. How might the picture of mopping floors at McDonald’s help you to face where your trust is?

    I think I might benefit from doing floors somewhere. I am think it would be good for my pride and self-approval idols. In theory I know God will provide for me. In reality, that would be really hard.

  31. Cant wait to talk about Couragious next week… not sure if i will do the whole study next week it depends on if i have the time but I am looking forward to discussing Couragious with you sisters. I watched it a few weeks ago with a friend and then i watched it again the other night with the Young Adult group that i go to!

  32. 8. Write your notes on the first half of his message here:

    Finally got to listen to this. Very good! I liked when he said there is a disconnect between what we profess and the way we function. We can be worshiping in words yet meanwhile when we are standing here on the ground we are angry, discontent, disappointed, argumentative possibly with wife, children or others at church.

    There are great things taught in Sunday school, preached at the pulpit-and then what transpires, sometimes even in the foyer afterward between brothers and sisters, can be a contradiction to what is preached and worshiped.

    Why is there a disconnect? Because we separate the two worlds, when in reality it is one world-the reality of Christ we are living in. Powlson said: “As men and women are called to honor Christ. This is what reality is about, our desires are about, motivation is about, what suffering is about it lives in this world not another world.” So we weren’t made for this disconnect.

    Basically he was saying it is in the middle-we miss the middle. What is wrong with us is so wrong it takes Jesus to die for us and completely master us, to change us around utterly. To change our direction, change who we are.

    Often we aren’t told by counselors that sin is the problem, we are told it is from our upbringing and we have bad self esteem etc…

    Instead of blaming our past for our problems today, or for ‘the middle’ why not apply this from John Newton: “these inward trials I design from sin itself to set me free to break thy schemes for earthly joy that thou mayest find thy all in me.” There is ‘the’ personality theory, a view of the meaning of the world, the nature of motivations.

    1. Rebecca, your notes are very good. There is a disconnect somewhere between the life in the Spirit and the life in the world. This morning I was studying 1 Cor. 9 and in the 2nd half of the chapter Paul’s words remind me of this. As we work for the kingdom we battle constantly with the flesh within us. If we do not win the battle there (v.27) we could end up disqualified. I hope that makes sense so that it does not become a rabbit trail.

      1. Anne,

        Yes, I agree. What you said was so good and makes sense. I think that the rub is being able to admit it is us-our sin that is causing this disconnect, and scripture will illuminate this to us-it is a mirror. But then there is the next step, agreeing with God that it is sin and then repenting and breathing in his words and obey and do what he says, and trust He will work it out in us-His power in us. He does the working out in us as we walk in obedience-I think that is also part of putting on-trusting Him to do the work as we obey.

    2. Good notes, Rebecca. What spoke to me the most was John Newton quote. “These inward trials I design from sin itself to set thee free to break thy schemes for earthly joy that thou mayest find thy all in me.” If I understand this correctly it means, God designs our trials to help break us free from our other schemes that we think will bring us joy, because they really cannot give us what we most need. He wants us to find our only true joy in Him.

      That is precisely what has been happening to me this week. God is showing me how to stop seeking my earthly joy from something that is good in itself, but should not be the ultimate. I am in full sympathy of those of you who struggle with overeating. I feel like an foodaholic who is trying to overeating. I can’t stop eating altogether, but need to change the way I think about and use the “food”. This is hard and will take a long time.

  33. 9. What’s your take-a-way and why?

    My takeaway is that I see myself as so broken and in need of Him EVERY DAY. That it is so easy to get caught up in desiring the things of this world more so than Him, yet at the same time I remember that my life is not my own for it has been bought with a price. I find in this there is suffering-the letting go of the world and putting on Him-the middle-Yet He brings joy, a river of peace that flows inside.

    An example is when I talked yesterday with some of the women leaders at my church. Ladies I love and admire deeply-yet still don’t know well. We were talking about doing one of Dee’s studies this Fall. When they all looked at me and said, “O.K. go..tell us about this study”. I normally would have been terrified, but I wasn’t nervous, scared, but God’s humble strength came in and I knew He was with me-I was confident he wanted me there and wanted me to speak on behalf of Him. He was present and HE was all that mattered to me. So I was not only able to put off my approval idol, I was able to put on Him and love those ladies-but He empowered me to do this-this isn’t my old man nature operating. Hard to explain but I am a pauper whose only riches are in Him-from Him and so are these women-they are so loved and so valuable to God and He wants them so close to Him. We are all three in the same boat with Him-they are my dear sisters-and believe me-THEY WERE LOVELY-He has made them lovely. That is how I saw them-not as judges who judge every word I say even if I mess up. I didn’t care about that, or me. I wanted to glorify Him. (I don’t have time to edit as my boys are up and begging me to fix the laptop for them.) I am not bragging rather I am saying this wasn’t really me-it was Him working this out in me. He is still pulling roots from my approval idol as I ‘put on’.

    When I drove home, my normal routine is to be nervous, to go over everything that was said and find my failures and then obsess over them. This time was different-I called my mom to tell her what happened and as I started to carry a worried thought over-after a short while I stopped-normally I would have gone on and on with worry-I caught were I was heading. My eyes were starting to go off of Him, but then they went back onto Him-I asked Him to make sufficient the places that were insufficient-He is my sufficiency-He is my life.

    This was a huge step for me. My God IS coming in like the Spring rains-He is real-I so want this world to be it-My life is not my own-I don’t want to live in that disconnect.

    1. Rebecca, I find hope in taking these steps. In my flesh I want to straighten out right now but have had to embrace the process of it instead. These daily steps will lead me home if I am willing to persevere and not give up hope.

  34. 9. What’s your take-a-way and why? My take away is psalm 31:9 Be merciful to me Lord for i am in distress my eyes grow weak with sorrow my soul and body with grief. It has stuck out to me all week! I put it into practice on Tuesday night as well. so proud of myself 🙂

  35. Really like David Powlison. Such wisdom. Bringing God’s word in. I hope pastors will do this. I liked the case study to show these are normal people in hard circumstances. Help them through pointing them to the cross and Word. Don’t just send her off to someone or medication (not that those things are bad).

    Take away, I feel kind of like Sarah dealing with this birth mom. She says she is a Christian. My husband told her and her husband to read James 1 before today when he will see them. God is molding my heart but I am struggling with all the emotion of it. I love my husband and his example of Christ in this all. I need to find my right perspective. More allegations of abuse came out against her…One kid is in state custody and it came from that. Not sure what it was but she denies it. She shared it with us and the bad things she is actually doing. I don’t know truth but know God will reveal all in due time. Oh how to love her? I need Him to show me. I believe He will. He is molding me and opening my heart. In the meantime I am guarding and protecting her boy in the Lord. Yet I cry daily. My bones actually hurt so badly today. I wonder if it is connected like Psalm 6:1-3 states. It is really cold all of a sudden here so that could be it as well. However, I see my sin in wanting to hate her, wishing her bad, etc. I cannot do this, I must love even though it hurts, I must help in the ways God leads. She needs Him and if she truly is HIS she has lost her way. She says it all happened when her mom died. OH how hard this is. She is a real person with her own real needs. I weep so much. My tears are my food as the psalmist declared too.

  36. I also wonder if I am just a slow mover like Sarah….It seems this past decade has been the hardest of my life. Continually there is something. Health, baby boy, aspergers, etc. Yet these things are not of my doing, not brought on by my own sin. I wonder if it is because i desire so much to die to self the Father in His love lets them come and then they expose great sin in my heart as I travel through. Then I go through this crisis as I work it out with HIM all the while being so selfish as I am now, I am finding it hard to look beyond myself and circumstances I am in a fog…Though I still do what I can. I did even make a meal for someone…So I am not completely self absorbed but it is hard to look outside right now when this situation is all consuming and this boy is so busy and has to be watched at all times but when he is sleeping. He finds great difficulty in being by himself. I know we can train him to be ok with it though and how to play by himself some. Thanks for listening. I really dont how anyone to talk too about it and I need to confess my sin rightly before some. I may try to find a few ladies who will help me this way this week. My husband suggested it and will give me the time to get out.

    1. You’re working hard at speaking truth to your soul, Angela. Knowing details about what has been done to this little boy and the other children, yet the mother is in denial. You are doing so well at trying to love your enemy. Thanks for giving us more details so we can pray.

    2. Angela, your in my heart and praying every day:)

  37. The sermon was very helpful. I like Mr. Powlison. I did not take notes and will next time I listen. This has been a very hard week. I want to be well but I am not, I know that now. I realize I have been sick for forty nine years and will not get well in six months. I am looking to Him for answers and focusing on resting in His care. I am speaking the truth to my soul that as I cast my cares on Him He will care for me. I thought when I began this study I would find the answer to overeating and do some steps and get well. That has not been the case although I have found some victory and much help. It is a relief to share my struggle here. Thank you for being a safe place to lay it all down.

    1. Kim, your vulnerability and honesty blesses me. I am so thankful you are here, thankful for your steadfast faith, praying for you to be strengthened and encouraged–we are all traveling together, we all need one another to help pull us up when we stumble–know that you always have that hand here pulling you up, praying with you, traveling with you in this journey.

      1. Thank you, Elizabeth, it means a lot to me.

        1. I was just thinking of you before I saw this–and was remembering a Keller we heard a while back, maybe the other “How to Change” (the free one)–when he talked about we are growing even we can’t see it…I was just thinking how we all notice growth and fruit in the Spring–but so much of the hard work is done in the winter. This may be your winter, but we around you see so much beauty and growth–it’s inspiring to me! I’m praying for Jesus to put a hedge of protection around your thoughts–Satan would love to discourage you–true evidence of the Spirit doing a mighty work in you!

        2. Yes, it feels like winter but spring is just around the bend. Thank you so much.

    2. Kim, I agree with Elizabeth, you have grown a great deal. You are right that you cannot be instantly changed. It is a path that you are on. As you walk you are learning to choose Him in every step. He wants you to grow and be changed but more than anything He wants to walk it with you. Sometimes I have fleeting thoughts when I wonder why we seem to be among a very few on this difficult road. I feel guilty for thinking such things but I also think the Lord honors honest questions. He is showing me many good things about our growth but what we really get is Him. All the rest of the good comes with Him. You are a beautiful and gifted sister and I love you very much. I will pray for you as you walk~

      1. Oh Anne, I appreciate this more than you could know. This reminds me of an oldie called, “It’s not an easy road”. I am glad I’m on it with all of you. I love you too. Thank you.

  38. My take away is HOPE. There is a way out, there is freedom. I have a hyper sensitivity towards feeling either misunderstood or wrongly judged. I’ve had to look honestly at this lately. Growing up the youngest in a chaotic home, I never had the typical “baby of the family” role, rather I felt assigned to “don’t rock the boat, don’t seek attention”. I never felt known for the “real me”. So now I have such a yearning for it, which is OK, but my hyper-sensitivity towards being mis-understood has alerted me to my approval idol at the core. What He’s been teaching me this week is that—the way OUT is humility. The way out of the struggle—to stop being the fish flipping in the net getting all tangled up further. The way out of the cycle of my hurt feelings, defensiveness…the way out-to that place of freedom He has for all of us, is to be broken in humility. And I think humility is just recognizing who I am and Who He is. Once I remember that, no matter the circumstance, I can lay it down and I am free. Because who I am– is His, and no approval of man can compare. So what if I am misunderstood—He was wrongly accused far worse than I could ever know. And Who He is–is the God of ALL, the all powerful, perfect, Creator God. When I cling to it—it’s like the picture of Christ in my life, becomes bigger, clearer, and all the other stuff around it pales, fades into the distance.

    1. This speaks so much to my situation too. I wasn’t the baby of the family, but was encouraged to be an approval seeker all the same. I was the “good girl.” I was proud of my legalistic practice of the “law”. God has had to show me again and again just how much of a MESS I am and that no approval of others, and no “perfect” obedience of the law will suffice. Everyone and everything, except God, will let me down. But that does not matter because He is all I need.

  39. I got a e-mail from Tammy! I think it was because she had my e-mail about Mary Kay dying. But I told her we were all praying for her everyday to get throught this hard time and to go back to were her heart belongs in Georgia, but so thankful she has family in AL that love and care for her during this difficult time.

    Hey Joyce, just wanted to let you know. Dennis and the family have been in my thoughts and prayers. I was in the hospital for several days in Alabama where my family lives and am in Georgia today just long enough to get some needed items. Please let the blog sisters know I have been diagnosed with Major Depression. I have a counselor at the county mental health dept. and am on meds-Geodon. I am putting my HOPE IN GOD. It’s tough having to wait to see if I am to stay where my family lives or be where my heart wants to be-here in Georgia. I can’t come back to Georgia unless I have a job and a place to live. THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS!!!. Much love comes your way

    Tammy

    Keep her in your prayer’s daily:) Joyce

    1. Lord, I thank You so much for the way You have watched over Tammy during this very scary and dangerous time in her life. Thank You for her family that has supported her. I pray that You will knit them together in Your Spirit that they may minister to Tammy in these days. Help her to focus on You and draw near. Grow her into the likeness of Christ. I ask for Your wisdom to flow through her medical team and counselors working with her. As she heals give her understanding of Your will for her life, particularly as to whether she should go back to GA. Finally, I ask for provision for financial needs. May she find just the right job for the gifts and talents that You have given her.

  40. 9. What’s your take-a-way and why? I love Powlison’s definition of ‘poor in spirit’. I wrote down that they are beggars living on the generosity of Another. This is where the rubber meets the road in my life. I can’t count the number of times in a day that I arrive at this fork in the road. Do I trust Him to be my supply, or can I do it myself? Every time I have given it to Him I have been blessed. On that I have to say that there are many things in my life that are not yet complete, like His work in my oldest son’s heart. In that I must trust and wait. He is faithful.

    Lift up your heads, you gates! Rise up, ancient doors! Then the King of glory will come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle. He is the King of glory!