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LORD OF EVERY STORM: TWO WEEK STUDY

WHATEVER THE STORM

HE IS LORD OF THE STORM

IF HE SENDS IT TO HIS CHILD, HIS PURPOSE IS ALWAYS GRACE

IF HE ALLOWS IT FOR HIS MYSTERIOUS PURPOSES,

HE HAS AN ULTIMATE PLAN FOR GOOD

Over the next two weeks let us consider three kinds of storms:

  • Daily storms we experience when we cling to idols
  • Monster storms we experience when we cling to idols
  • Storms we do not understand

EVERY TIME WE CLING TO IDOLS, CLOUDS BLOCK HIS PRESENCE

 

1. DAILY STORMS WHEN WE CLING TO IDOLS

Last week “Laura-dancer” honestly answered the question: “When do you flee from God?” with:

“Wow — probably daily.”

Rebecca vulnerably shared the jealousy she felt when a new young worship leader was so talented — but quickly, she realized her idol temptation, repented, and was able to enter into worship with this leader.

As we are seeing more clearly into the murky waters of our souls, we are seeing how we are daily tempted by idols, and when we succumb, “forfeit the grace that could be ours.”

For the last two weeks I’ve been helping my grand-daughter Emily prepare her high school senior thesis speech. She is graduating as valedictorian of her Christian classical senior class. She has become passionate about how America has changed its perspective toward immigrants from an open “Golden Door” that proclaimed “Give me your tired, your poor…” to a very closed and cold attitude toward immigrants. Emily’s content was so strong, but not her delivery. Why? She  is naturally reserved, uncomfortable with the spotlight.  (As a toddler, she turned to us before she went to her new potty chair and said, “I’m going to potty — but I don’t want you to cheer and clap.)

But I knew there was something else holding her back. The idol of approval — the fear of man. I told her how Keller used to look at his congregation before he preached and say (silently) “You are not my life — Christ is my life.” Emily nodded, and yet, I still saw her retreat, and fail to connect with me when she spoke, quenching the Spirit. She was forfeiting the power that could be hers. She was also daily, in great angst about her speech. She wanted to do well, but worried she would not.

My quiet grand-daughter Emily

The day before she spoke we practiced again — and I said, “Emily — I know you care about what you are saying. I know you want them to care about this. THINK ABOUT EVERY WORD YOU ARE SAYING WHILE YOU ARE SAYING IT. Not only will that help you feel what God feels, it will help you forget about yourself. DO IT AGAIN — AND THINK THINK THINK ABOUT THE WORDS.”

Suddenly she locked eyes with me and passion rose in her. She began with the words on The Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor…” but it was different. A burst of light breaking through the dark clouds. What happened? Instead of thinking about herself and what others were thinking of her, by thinking about the words, she was setting her affections on God, on what He cared about, and she was transformed. I saw it before my very eyes. And that can happen to each of us moment by moment throughout the day. As we allow ourselves to be passionate about what He is passionate about, our fears and gloomy doubts are expelled.

I wanted to weep.  I was flying to Virginia when she gave the actual speech, but her dad texted me: SHE WAS SO PASSIONATE. IT WAS TREMENDOUS!

And then she e-mailed me afterwards: “Grandma — I want to go into missions this year before college. I know it.” I wept again. Passion rising… the power of God breaking the fears that hold us back…

Many of you shared how letting go of an idol brought the sun out. Chris S. shared a story of her drawer being short on St. Patrick’s Day — fearing suspicion — but then reminded herself her identity was in Christ. She wrote: “My identity is hidden with Christ in God, no matter what misunderstanding or failure might befall me, no power of hell or scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand. What relief there is in that!” Getting our identity from Christ — not from man — and not even from ourselves is huge. Both Renee and Susan had an epiphany of understanding about this last week and articulated it beautifully.

Daily, whenever we are aware of an idol temptation, we must turn and surrender to Him, and we will experience grace. It may be a quick fix, as with Emily and Chris, or it may take time, but it will come.

He is Lord of every storm.

2. MONSTER STORMS WHEN WE CLING TO IDOLS

THE SHIP THREATENED TO BREAK UP

Monster storms threaten to wreck our whole lives. They are especially grievous when we know, as Jonah did, that they are a direct result of our clinging to a worthless idol: that they have, indeed, been sent by God to bring his erring child to his senses.

Four years ago on Mother’s Day I got the surprising news that my nephew, who has always been a favorite of mine, was going to prison in Texas for four years for doing something  “stupid and wrong” (his words). This week marked the end of those four long years and he was released and reunited with his wife and three young children. He knew that it was a storm sent by God and responded immediately in deep repentance. Though we felt his sentence severe, he did not. Though we were deeply grieved by the treatment in Texas prisons, concerned he might be a victim of violence or succumb, as many do, to the 130 degree summer temperatures. But he took it without complaint. When I visited him in prison, I thought, What a godly and humble young man.

This week he was released to his wife and three young children. He wondered if he would ever see them again, if he would survive, if he would ever see his home again, and is tearful and so grateful. Though there are many challenges ahead, he is a transformed man, and is experiencing the power of God, no longer forfeiting the grace that God longs to daily give him.

And as so often happens, a storm sent by God to His child will impact all who love that child. But our amazing God can use that for good. My nephew’s storm hit his whole family and others as well. But  those who have run to God have been changed for the good. I know that before my nephew went to prison, my prison ministry was lacking in passion — and now I am seeing inmates more and more as God does and I have PASSION.

He is Lord of every storm.


3. STORMS WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND (Next Week)


MY NEWS — AND HAPPY HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Before we plunge into our study, I will share my personal news, which also explains why I must do a two week study right now. (The first week has more homework than the second, so if you want to slow down more this first week, go ahead.)

Last week my daughter Sally called me with some concerns the doctors had concerning her pregnancy. They said the baby was very small — at the 11th percentile. The baby was also breech, so they planned to try to turn her. But then Sally’s water broke.

Had we lived a century ago it would have been a fatal scenario. I wept to think of that and thanked God so for modern medicine and the C-section that rescued them. How thankful we are for His mercies. Sadie was a gift after years of infertility. Claire’s life was rescued by modern medicine. Mercy. Mercy. Mercy. I am here with them now and filled with gratitude. Thank you for your prayers and love.

I also have a renewed appreciation for mothers — this brings back so many memories — dealing with sensitive children’s feelings, with the constant clamoring for needs to be met — with the mess and the multitude of tasks — all to be done calmly and with gratitude! I used to get bent out of shape on Mother’s Day because I expected GREAT ACCOLADES and didn’t always get them. The children were too little, and for the first several years Steve didn’t relate because “I wasn’t his mother!” (But he soon realized it was a day he needed to fuss over me!) But whether you are recognized or not, I THINK WHAT YOU ARE DOING IS AMAZING, and God sees and is pleased with even a cup of water given to a little child.

We are also so blessed if we have physical or spiritual children. This is a special day. Happy Mother’s Day to every mother reading this blog. And for those of you who are not mothers, but long to be, I pray God will give you the desires of your heart or change the desires of your heart. I know this is a hard day for you.

Claire and Sally: Thanks be to God.

 

Sadie and Claire: Loving baby sister
GRANDMA, SADIE, CLAIRE: Delight turning to concern over being displaced...a little storm brewing

WEEK ONE:

SUNDAY/MONDAY ICEBREAKERS

1. What thoughts do you have about the opening and why?

2. Share one reason you are thankful for your mother.

Monday-Wednesday: Bible Study

DAILY STORMS WHEN WE CLING TO IDOLS

Both Emily and Chris had to overcome the approval idol, the “fear of man.” How did each do it and how does either speak to you?

3. Read 1 Peter 3:14-15 in this Good News, or in your own translation:

Who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good?

But even if you should suffer for doing what is right, how happy you are! Do not be afraid of anyone, and do not worry.

A. What reassurance is there in the first part of this verse?

B. But if we do suffer, what reassurance should still help us overcome the fear of man?

C. Is this fear of man, this need for approval, an idol in your life that daily tempts you? Explain, and then speak the truth to your soul.

4. A second idol that tempts us to forfeit grace is control or power. I myself often want to “fix” people, instead of trusting God. I often think of the example of Christ — who faced so much more. Read 1 Peter 2:21-23 and explain how Christ was able to do this.

5. How could this help you overcome your control/power idol? Be specific.

6. A third idol that daily tempts us is comfort/security. Rebecca’s testimony in regard to food was that she had to stop running to food and start running to God. She read books that helped her grow in intimacy with God. She also had to endure pain, but then experienced peace and freedom. How does Hebrews 12:1-2 speak to this?

Monster Storms When We Cling To Idols

7. Read Jonah 2:1-4 again. Who sent the storm and why, do you think?

8. This week I’ve been reading to Sadie and she has a book about Jonah. I find so many children’s books distort the real story, wanting to make all the Bible characters simplistic heroes. Sadie’s book said, “Jonah loved God but he was afraid of the Ninevites so he ran way.” This makes Jonah sound nobler than he really was. According to Jonah 4:1-2, what was his real reason for fleeing?

9. In the same way, though I love this little girl and her telling of Jonah, in the beginning of the story I see the author of this children’s version made the same error — but the rest is great. Watch and comment.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxfo-7mW74g

Thursday-Friday: Keller Sermon

Listen to this in the series: They Greatly Feared. If you are purchasing this individually instead of in the set, then go to this link

10. The stormy sea (What do storms reveal about every human heart?)

11.The religious sailors (Why doesn’t their religion help them?)

12. The willing substitute (How do you deal with fear?)

Saturday:

13. What is your take-away for week 1?

WEEK 2. STORMS WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND

I do not understand why Joyce’s husband left her when her child with so many physical needs was born. I do not understand why Chris’s son was assaulted and died. I do not understand why Elizabeth is plagued with physical pain that feels like fire ants all over her body. Each of you, I know, has experienced a storm you do not understand. Jesus makes it very clear that not every storm is a result of personal sin, but that it can be used to reveal the glory of God.

And so part of trusting God is to accept the mystery of suffering, and to know that in the end, He will do all things well. That even perhaps, as Tolkein says, “Everything sad will be untrue.” These mysterious storms we will consider in this 2nd week of this study. But we know: He is Lord of every storm.

 

Perhaps the worst storm our country has endured in the last twenty-five years is 9/11.

In God’s providence, Keller began preaching on Jonah two weeks before 9/11. A story that talked about what happens to us when we are overcome by hatred and fear. During that week Redeemer had a special service — and that is part of the Jonah package. It is also a free sermon.

This is the whole service following 9/11: LINK

Also for those who are interested in another message, this is one that ministered to me deeply in the midst of my worst storm — my husband’s death. It is called “Heman’s Cry of Darkness.” We will look at Psalm 88 this week. Here is the link — it is 2.50 so it is optional:

(A funny story with this sermon. One time our own dear Anne, our nurse from Carolina (I think South) was going through a terrible time and I recommended this sermon to her, but she had it in her mind that I wrote Haman instead of Heman. So she listened to a stern sermon about Haman and the sin of pride. (It was as opposite as you can imagine to the soothing message I wanted her to hear.) But vulnerably, and I will always remember this about her, wrote: “I needed to hear that so badly.” Her humble heart is one of the reasons she is so mature.)

SUNDAY/MONDAY ICEBREAKER

1. Find one or two comments that stood out to you from your sisters’ comments last week and explain why.

2. Each of you has no doubt experienced a storm you did not understand. Yet if you look back, you may also be able to see ways God prepared you for that storm. If so, share something about that.

Monday-Wednesday Bible Study

Last week the sermon showed us how religion fails us in the midst of fear, but the “greater Jonah” never does. I want you to begin to contrast the first and second Jonah. Read again, Jonah 1:1-6 and also Matthew 8:23-26.

Rembrandt: The disciples and Jesus on The Sea of Galilee

3. Find all the similarities in the two stories that you can.

4. Find all the differences — and why “the greater Jonah” is One we can trust in the fiercest storm.

5. Psalm 88 is one of the two psalms of lament that do not close with trust in God. Derek Kidner explains that even God understands that there are going to be times when our pain is too great to end our prayer with a resolve of trust. This ministered deeply to me, that God should so understand and forgive our weakness. Read Psalm 88. Find the lament, the despair — and see the graciousness of God to us when we rail at Him, the giver of every good gift. In miniature I’ve seen that a bit in 23 month old Sadie this week — as she is upset with Sally for having another little girl. She doesn’t understand and she cries — and Sally simply holds her and reassures her of her love. If anything quickens you in Psalm 88, share it here.

Thursday/Friday: Listen to one of Keller’s sermons listed above and share your thoughts.

Rebecca found the link to Heman’s Cry of Darkness as a free sermon!

http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/hemans-cry-darkness

Saturday: What is your take-a-way and why?

 

 


 

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  1. 6. A third idol that daily tempts us is comfort/security. Rebecca’s testimony in regard to food was that she had to stop running to food and start running to God. She read books that helped her grow in intimacy with God. She also had to endure pain, but then experienced peace and freedom. How does Hebrews 12:1-2 speak to this?

    “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

    We’re supposed to get rid of the “extra stuff” that we might go to for comfort or security. Jesus endured horrific experiences and persevered through them because He focused on the joy He would experience with His Father. Focusing on Him, thinking both about what Jesus endured for me and the joy to come, will give me the strength to persevere, too — and seek Him for comfort.

    WHAT DOES THE FIRST PART OF VERSE 1 MEAN? “Great cloud of witnesses” apparently includes the OT saints who were described in ch 11. But what does “surrounded by” mean? After my mom died, someone told me that he believed, based on this verse, that she was watching me and cheering me on.” My initial response was silence. Then he asked what I thought about it; my response “it’s creepy.” I don’t like the thought of people who have died watching me; I don’t think they are omniscient or omnipresent (if they can watch, they could watch other people who are more interesting!), but still …. If they are watching, should I be talking to them?

  2. DAILY STORMS WHEN WE CLING TO IDOLS

    Both Emily and Chris had to overcome the approval idol, the “fear of man.” How did each do it and how does either speak to you? – Emily finally realized that if she just focused on God and what He cares about, she would also be caring about the same things and would give her speech in away that made God proud. Chris thought her self back to who she really is and that is being In Christ and knowing that her relationship with Jesus is all that mattered and Gods glory would be seen. 

    3. Read 1 Peter 3:14-15 in this Good News, or in your own translation:

    Who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good?

    But even if you should suffer for doing what is right, how happy you are! Do not be afraid of anyone, and do not worry.

    A. What reassurance is there in the first part of this verse? – That no one will harm us if we do good.

    B. But if we do suffer, what reassurance should still help us overcome the fear of man? – That if we are in God and He is in us we do not need to worry about anyone or anything. He will always be there for us and take care of us.

    C. Is this fear of man, this need for approval, an idol in your life that daily tempts you? Explain, and then speak the truth to your soul. – Well I think that in a way I do seek man’s approval but can’t say that it is every day. I strive to do good in whatever I attempt so is this really seeking man’s approval or just wanting to do good because that is my nature and how I was brought up? If I seek out God first and ask him to help me strive to do what is set before me to honor Him and only Him this may make me approach the tasks I have to do in a different mind set. 
    Lord I need your help in this and I ask that you guide me along the way with my daily tasks and help me Lord to do my work to honor you and to please you so others will see you in me and not me in me. I thank you Lord for the guidance you give in Jesus name, AMEN!

  3. 3. Read 1 Peter 3:14-15 in this Good News, or in your own translation:

    Who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good?

    But even if you should suffer for doing what is right, how happy you are! Do not be afraid of anyone, and do not worry.

    A. What reassurance is there in the first part of this verse? We won’t be harmed.

    B. But if we do suffer, what reassurance should still help us overcome the fear of man? We will be happy and free
    of fear and worry.

    C. Is this fear of man, this need for approval, an idol in your life that daily tempts you? Explain, and then speak the truth to your soul.
    Yes, I am afraid of many things. Chris mentioned fear of appearance and this is a big one for me. A certain calm comes over me though as I think how much better life will be after He does a work in this area of my life. I hate over-thinking about myself, how I look, if I measure up, if people like me. I have been unaware of this fear but now the light is shining and I am learning to take myself in hand and say, no, He approves of me and that is all that is needed, or I am beautiful to Him. It also helps to want to shine for His glory which I have figured out is a glorious way to live. I have much work to do in this area but I am ready!

  4. 1 Peter 3:13-15 (ESV)
    13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

    3. A. What reassurance is there in the first part of this verse?

    Usually people will not harm you for doing what is good.

    B. But if we do suffer, what reassurance should still help us overcome the fear of man?

    God will bless you for being persecuted.

    C. Is this fear of man, this need for approval, an idol in your life that daily tempts you? Explain, and then speak the truth to your soul.

    I have spent my entire life trying to get other’s approval, so yes, it tempts me daily. So much so that it is second nature, and a lot of times I am not even aware of it.

    The verse that comes to mind when I ponder the truth I need to speak to my soul is
    Matthew 10:28, 32
    And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

    There is an attitudinal difference between being polite and kind because we love for Christ’s sake, and being polite and not speaking the truth in love because we are fearful or need approval because we are so insecure in ourselves. Somewhere very early in my childhood, I learned to seek approval of others by being non-confrontational and compliant. I have spent much of my life thinking that was what “good” Christian girls should do. Mind you, it was not easy because I had a temper when I did not get my way. Furthermore, because my father and then my husband worked in public Christian ministry, I guarded my privacy – seeking to always look good outside even if I was hurting or screaming inside.

    My approval idol has so many layers that only God can untangle the mess. I realize now that I have to continually keep refocusing my attention on the fact that God fully and unconditional approves of me; because I have turned to him in repentance I am covered with his righteousness – I am covered, cleansed, forgiven; nothing more needs to be done. If all the world disapproves of everything else I do, it does not matter. I can obey him, follow him, trust him and let the chips fall where they may about how others think of me. Such a relief! I can extend grace because grace has been given to me.

    4. A second idol that tempts us to forfeit grace is control or power. I myself often want to “fix” people, instead of trusting God. I often think of the example of Christ — who faced so much more. Read 1 Peter 2:21-23 and explain how Christ was able to do this.

    1 Peter 2:21-23(ESV)
    21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

    Christ was totally secure in who he was. He did not need to defend himself. He knew His Father was in complete control, even of his enemies. He did not have to rage, or threaten, or fight back. He trusted His Father for the final outcome.

    5. How could this help you overcome your control/power idol? Be specific.

    We don’t have to be in charge in order to make sure things turn out all right. God is in control. I can trust and relax. Sometimes relaxing means “doing” nothing. Sometimes relaxing means doing what we feel God leads us to do in a particular situation.

    In my case, it means trusting God that he will take care of my daughter and her family in this crisis. I cannot “fix” her or the situation. I can do what I feel God wants me to do to help care for her and for her boys, and then trust God with the rest and relax. This week I have not gone to my daughter’s house to help. I felt I needed a week off and she needed to take responsibility for herself. Letting go of the control is not easy. Lord, help me to trust.

  5. The internet was off all evening and I was having “Dee Blog Withdrawal”, then it came on about ten minutes ago…I got to read some comments is all…not time for me to comment now 🙁

  6. Thank you for all the prayers for my test. I am so relieved it is over. I struggled a bit; it was not easy. However, I felt Gods calming presence. I don’t think I failed per se, but I do think I missed a question. I can’t believe one question would make me fail the whole test, however each question is worth 10 points and you have to make at least 5 out if 10 on each question to pass. There were only 12 questions. I am praying for a “conditional” score where my professors “grill” me this summer. That will be better than a failing score where I have to retake the test in the fall.

    I have a story about 2 people I keep forgetting to tell about God working in people’s lives. A week or two after Easter, I bumped into a former student who came to church at my church. I said hi and told her I was happy to see her. She is an 11 th grader this year. I asked her if she had come before and she said no. Since then she has been back every week and has joined our Christian club at school. Well, I started thinking back about when I taught her. It was in an astronomy class 2 years ago. I always have a unit on the origin of the universe. We research and then debate. I always at some point tell my students that I believe in God. I make sure to say they don’t have to believe as I do, but I want then to know. I believe God can do anything (obviously) and He could create the universe in any manner He chose, including from an expansion of time and space. This student professed that she was an atheist!!! I am so happy to watch this happen for her in her life. She had never been to church before; her parents aren’t believers ( I think).

    The other story is when I was driving home yesterday I spoke to a friend who had attended our bosses fathers funeral (I didn’t get to go). She also is very “liberal” in her thinking and although she was a catholic growing up she hasn’t attended church or really believed in God for the last 20 years or so. Yesterday made an impact on her and she was pouring her heart to me about how she was feeling spiritually lost. She was thinking about losing her own parents (both still alive barely) and how she felt that she should go back to church. I wish she lived closer to me so I could invite her, but she doesn’t. She said she realized how precious life is and even said she would give hers up so her father could have a happy ending to his life. He has Parkinson’s and owns a huge glass company and her brother in law is running it poorly which is straining the dad. It was very sweet of her to say that. She said she felt like she should take her mom and dad to church each week and spend more time with them because that was important in life. She has been struggling at work with a couple of coworkers who are unforgiving and judgmental and she said they need to learn what is important in life – relationships! So, I am needless to say thrilled that she has come to this pinnacle and would love prayers for her to find her way to an actual church. She always believed you could be one with nature and that was your “church.”

    I can’t believe how I have had the privilege to see both of these conversions with my own eyes! Even the hardened of hearts……yay!!!!!!!

  7. 3. Read 1 Peter 3:14-15 in this Good News, or in your own translation:

    Who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good?
    But even if you should suffer for doing what is right, how happy you are! Do not be afraid of anyone, and do not worry.

    A. What reassurance is there in the first part of this verse?

    That most times people won’t harm you for doing what is good.

    B. But if we do suffer, what reassurance should still help us overcome the fear of man?

    That I am His, not theirs. He is my life, they aren’t. He is MY Lord, they aren’t. He IS Lord, they aren’t.

    C. Is this fear of man, this need for approval, an idol in your life that daily tempts you? Explain, and then speak the truth to your soul.

    I won’t belabor you all with more detail than I have in the past, but Approval and Comfort seem to be my two biggies, but speaking truth to my soul-like Chris did that moment it vied for her affection-that has been crucial in my life! I have had to do that daily with my job in the ministry, and with my family. God amazes me with how He grieves with us during the storms in our life, yet also turns them around for good as He uses them as tools to awaken us and begin the process of cutting away the stone to bring us closer to Him.

    what is really standing out to me lately is what God is showing me about Him and His affections for me in the process of freeing me from the power this approval idol has over me.

  8. 4. A second idol that tempts us to forfeit grace is control or power. I myself often want to “fix” people, instead of trusting God. I often think of the example of Christ — who faced so much more. Read 1 Peter 2:21-23 and explain how Christ was able to do this.

    He entrusted Himself to God-placed his hopes in God who is the righteous Judge. He didn’t try to control the people, fix them or set them straight, or fight back.

    5. How could this help you overcome your control/power idol? Be specific.

    When my boys are not being responsible, I will try to ‘make’ them responsible, ‘fix’ them and will go to great lengths to do so. Yet, God had to reveal that to me. While I would die for my boys, I began to see them really as trees walking in a sense-performance oriented relationship-that is how it was evolving-yuk! I only showed Grace to a certain extent. Jesus entrusted God and He is God-and without sin! so how much more can I entrust my boys to Him to ‘fix’? I do have to set boundaries and consequences, but really with my two oldest,(preteen and teen) they are learning natural consequences right now-and I am learning to entrust them to God.

    6. A third idol that daily tempts us is comfort/security. Rebecca’s testimony in regard to food was that she had to stop running to food and start running to God. She read books that helped her grow in intimacy with God. She also had to endure pain, but then experienced peace and freedom. How does Hebrews 12:1-2 speak to this?

    Hebrews 12: 1-2 tells me to throw off everything that hinders me, and the sin that easily entangles, and to fix my eyes on Jesus-to quit running to the idol and turn to Him. Throw it off-turn from it and replace it with Him.

      1. Thanks Dee, that is so encouraging to hear! So grateful He woke me up from my slumber.

  9. I didn’t say this before, but God wanted that picture Dee put up of the clouds-“EVERY TIME WE CLING TO IDOLS, CLOUDS BLOCK HIS PRESENCE”-to stick with me as a visual reminder-for it has been strong with me this week, keeps coming to mind without me making it come to mind, so it is Him-He keeps bringing it to mind! I love this intimacy with Him-His faithfulness to me a slow, stubborn, extremely short sighted-well and dumb Lamb-yet so delighted in and loved by Him-my Shepherd. 🙂

    1. The cloud picture fits well for me as well, but in the sense that my storm is like a fog bank obscuring even the next step I take. I have to take his hand and walk in trust that he will not let me fall and will guide my steps to where he wants me to go though I do not see the destination. Scripture also talks about God coming down in a cloud to rescue his people. It is so reassuring that God is in my cloud.

      Psalm 104:3
      He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on the wings of the wind;

      Psalm 18:6, 9, 16 and 17
      In my distress I called to the Lord;
      I cried to my God for help.
      From his temple he heard my voice;
      my cry came before him, into his ears.

      He parted the heavens and came down;
      dark clouds were under his feet.

      He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
      he drew me out of deep waters.
      17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
      from my foes, who were too strong for me.

  10. 7. Read Jonah 2:1-4 again. Who sent the storm and why, do you think? God! I think so many people do not want to see God like this. He sent it to save Jonah from his rebellion out of love.

    8. This week I’ve been reading to Sadie and she has a book about Jonah. I find so many children’s books distort the real story, wanting to make all the Bible characters simplistic heroes. Sadie’s book said, “Jonah loved God but he was afraid of the Ninevites so he ran way.” This makes Jonah sound nobler than he really was. According to Jonah 4:1-2, what was his real reason for fleeing? I need to check the Jesus storybook Bible to see how it has it. I have seen many children’s books like this too. He ran because he knew God was compassionate and kind.

  11. 9. The little girl cracked me up! It is interesting all the added things we dont really know. Like the veggie tales version.

  12. Thank you ladies for your prayers, but…..my husband decided not to do the videotaping afterall. He says he just feels too uncomfortable with this “Christian stuff” and it’s just “not him”. He said that even if I helped him and wrote something and he read it, our daughter would know it was fake, that’s just not who he is. He told me it would kind of be like him asking me to run a fantasy football team, which I know nothing about.
    But, the dads were asked to write letters to their daughters to give them at the dinner, and he is going to do that.

    1. I can understand his opting out of this, Susan. I appreciate his honesty. But I will continue to pray. I see the Lord softening his heart. I will pray that he will continue to be drawn to the Lord.

      1. Yes Susan, I will continue to pray for him too and your marriage. I’m so sorry for you and your sweet little girl.

    2. I agree with Diane–I really don’t blame him for feeling uncomfortable–I think many would regardless of their faith. My dad was never one to share feelings about me at all–I could never imagine him doing it either. But I am hanging on to the hope I feel–just that these thoughts, this conversation has been swirling around in his mind–only the Lord knows what all is going on inside, but I really have hope He is using ALL of this. Love you and continuing to PRAY!

    3. It is neat that God is on the move in his life and I am thankful for that flicker of hope. Let’s keep praying!

      1. Ya!

    4. So thankful he is willing to write the letter. Agreed; I don’t think I’d feel comfortable with the videotaping either — and I’m even used to “Christian stuff!” Will continue to pray and thank God for signs of hope.

    5. Susan, I missed all of this-I have to go back and read!!!

    6. Susan, Oh how easy it would be to get discouraged, I would be if I were you-yet I see you handling it so graciously-what an awesome fragrance you are leaving on your husband-so much so that He was open with you. Keep your eyes on Jesus sister as you are doing! It may not seem like God is moving, but He is-this may seem little, but it isn’t. You encourage me! We will pray..

  13. 6. A third idol that daily tempts us is comfort/security. Rebecca’s testimony in regard to food was that she had to stop running to food and start running to God. She read books that helped her grow in intimacy with God. She also had to endure pain, but then experienced peace and freedom. How does Hebrews 12:1-2 speak to this?

    12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

    Some of us who have the idol of comfort like to have everything handed to us on a silver platter, while we do none of the work. Because of this it is easy for weight to be added to us and sin to cling to us, both literally and symbolically. We need to be reminded that God expects us to work hard (to run the race), to focus on him and set aside the things that we tend to like to bring us comfort and security. Our comfort and security need to come from God alone. But seeking our comfort from God is hard work. We need to continually refocus on Jesus whenever we tend to drift toward the easy way of doing things. If living on earth was hard work for Jesus – meaning discomfort of having no place to lay his head, rejection of neighbours (the Nazarenes) and friends alike, even persecution – it will be hard work for us.

  14. A. What reassurance is there in the first part of this verse?
    I have this great Bible Study book on 1 Peter by Steve and Dee Brestin 😉 It relates this verse with Isaiah 8:12-14: “do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, He is the one you are to fear, He is the one you are to dread, and He will be a sanctuary”
    If I keep my focus on God—doing what He has called me to do and not just what “I” think is right—there is assurance that He will keep me safe. My eyes are to be on pleasing Him, not man.

    B. But if we do suffer, what reassurance should still help us overcome the fear of man?
    Keeping our eyes on Him—and for me lately John 16:33 has brought me comfort “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

    C. Is this fear of man, this need for approval, an idol in your life that daily tempts you? Explain, and then speak the truth to your soul.
    In subtle ways I think it can be a constant idol in my daily life. I feared what a friend thought when she got in my messy car to pray with me today (I used to have a thing about messy cars—but that was before kids); I fear people at work may think I’m slacking because I can’t work as efficiently and being paid hourly. I fear wearing my husband out with being extra needy these days…I fear sounding whiney. But even as I type this, I hesitate to say—He has really worked in me on this area. A side effect of a trial maybe, but I have released so much of this. Last night I was enamored by how much yes, He loves me, but what struck me is how much I love Him—and that is a gift He gives—He will never let me go—never let me be snatched from His hand. I would rather lose anything, and in my sin I don’t let myself imagine what all that could mean, but in my heart—I would never trade this trial for my faith. Sorry, I’m rambling a bit!

  15. 7. Read Jonah 2:1-4 again. Who sent the storm and why, do you think?
    I went in circles with question for a little while. Did God send the storm? Stormy seas most likely were common. I wondered about the difference between God sending the storm and God allowing the storm. Not sure we can always tell the difference. Jonah 1:4 says “But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up.” So, for that reason, my answer is God!

    He sent it to get Jonah’s attention and draw Jonah to Himself. Jonah had the sailors throw him into the sea, into God’s wrath, and God responded.

    I have to let this soak in before I go on. Part of me feels as if I am putting down a “right” answer but either don’t really believe it or haven’t grasped the importance of it. It hit me hard last week, and I think I have a whole lot more to learn about this one question.

  16. 7. Read Jonah 2:1-4 again. Who sent the storm and why, do you think?

    God sent the storm. Once when I suggested to a Christian friend that God may have sent her storm, I got a very strong negative reaction. She wondered how God could possibly send pain. We often feel we (or however) don’t deserve this storm. It is a difficult issue. My inclination is to not trust my own interpretation of whether or not a storm is from God, except perhaps when it applies to myself. I do wonder why we think we know what is best for ourselves, instead of trusting that God knows best. “Our best” for ourselves always tends to be an easy life – sunny days, smooth sailing.

    I think he sent the storm to Jonah to show him that He (God) was in control and that Jonah couldn’t and shouldn’t run.

  17. 4. A second idol that tempts us to forfeit grace is control or power. I myself often want to “fix” people, instead of trusting God. I often think of the example of Christ — who faced so much more. Read 1 Peter 2:21-23 and explain how Christ was able to do this.

    I used to think it was because He was God—like it was somehow easier for Him to commit no sin amidst suffering…but the Truth is beyond my comprehension–that He is fully God and fully man—and the end of the verse tells us the “how”—“He entrusted Himself” to God. My daughter asked yesterday if it was ever hard for Jesus to obey. My husband gave the example of the Garden and His struggle—but also His yielding, His submission to His Father.

    5. How could this help you overcome your control/power idol? Be specific.
    If I really stop and think about it, I have no choice. I cannot “fix” anything—I can get angry, defensive, manipulative…but I am powerless to “make” anything happen except likely destruction. For me, it’s like I need a muscle relaxer for my emotions. It IS hard. It makes no sense WHY it’s hard to trust, but in my selfishness it is hard. What helps is to recall His faithfulness to me in the past, to dwell on and believe in His love for me.
    I know I’ve posted this before—but one of my favorite quotes came to mind: “To be like Christ. To displace self from the inner throne, and to enthrone Him; to make not the slightest compromise with the smallest sin. We aim at nothing less than to walk with God all day long, to abide every hour in Christ and He and His words in us, to love God with all the heart and our neighbor as ourselves…It is possible to cast every care on Him daily, and to be at peace amidst pressure, to see the will of God in everything, to put away ALL bitterness and clamor and evil speaking, daily and hourly. It is possibly by unreserved resort to divine power under divine conditions to become strongest through and through at our weakest point.” ― Handley Moule

    1. This is a great quote, elizabeth. I am glad you put it on. I had not seen it before. Thanks.

      1. Agreed! Thanks for posting the quote, Elizabeth.

  18. Joyce, how is Dennis?

    1. Anne, Dennis is working outside doing something all the time during the day, but the evenings are the worst he says. He stays up late so he’s so tired he can’t stay awake to think, then wakes up early and can’t go back to sleep. So he is sleep deprived and says he is lost without Mary Kay and very lonesome. Little things like, eating asparagus(one of Mary Kay’s favorite veggie’s) will make him cry. Then he said he can’t get it out of his head how bad Mary Kay suffered when she was dying. I said to try and think of her when she was happy and smiling, but he can’t yet. He is grieving. I’m sure Dee and Chris can identify with these things he is going through. Mother’s Day was very hard for him, so he was with us and then went fishing…couldn’t stand to be home alone, then. Also sunday mornings he has a hard time being alone, fixing himself breakfast. It’s hard and I’m praying for him all the time and we are with him alot.

      1. My heart goes out to him and to you too Joyce for I know how you love him. I will continue to pray.

        1. Thank you so much, Anne 🙂

        2. Has anyone heard from Tammy?

      2. I can identify Joyce. It is good for Dennis that you can be there for him, you can let him be real and so very sad, and not try to make him stop hurting. It has to hurt. Your happy memories of her will be a balm to him eventually.

  19. Hey sweet sisters,

    For those of you on facebook, Dee has a new Author page up now. It looks awesome!! I was thinking you all might want to know! Here is the link: http://www.facebook.com/deebrestin

    If you feel led, feel free to share her page on your facebook page with your friends also! 🙂

    1. Page looks great!

      1. Yes, 😉 I loved how they designed the picture on top-so good.

        1. It does look nice!

  20. 6. A third idol that daily tempts us is comfort/security. Rebecca’s testimony in regard to food was that she had to stop running to food and start running to God. She read books that helped her grow in intimacy with God. She also had to endure pain, but then experienced peace and freedom. How does Hebrews 12:1-2 speak to this?

    What I love about the example of Rebecca is how she lives out what Chalmers says “Misplaced Affections Need to be Replaced by the Far Greater Power of the Affection of the Gospel”
    Hebrews 12 tells us to first “throw off ”. First I have to get rid of my faulty thinking pattern, my nagging habit, or my desire to control and manipulate a situation. And it says “everything”—which requires prayer to ask God to show me what I have allowed to entangle me. Then it is my job to “fix my eyes”—I can really only embrace one thing at a time—One thing has to have ultimate focus—“on Jesus”. Remove my eyes from my idol, from my Self in the throne of my heart, and look to Him. See Him with my eyes—in the people around me, in the difficulty I am facing, see Him on the throne. See what He has done for me.

  21. 3A. What reassurance is there in the first part of this verse? It is very unlikely that anyone will harm me for doing good.

    B. But if we do suffer, what reassurance should still help us overcome the fear of man? We are blessed in suffering and we should not fear what men fear.

    C. Is this fear of man, this need for approval, an idol in your life that daily tempts you? Explain, and then speak the truth to your soul. Yes fear of man does daily tempt me. It is insidious and often catches me by surprise. I have learned to recognize this fear in my body’s reaction. It does not feel like adrenalin fear but more like dread and turmoil of soul. When I recognize it i think about the Lord and remember His love. A good verse to remember is Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

  22. 4. Jesus was able to endure His suffering because He submited to the Father. The verses say that He trusted in the one who judges justly.

    5. By submitting to God I relinquish all of my own power and control. If I do this, He will prove Himself faithful and as I learn to trust Him in each instance it becomes easier and more natural.

    6. Hebrews 12:1-2 compare our struggle with that of running a physical race. All who run do so for a reason, for a prize which drives them. Rebecca’s battle with the idol of comfort was every bit as strenuous as running a marathon. These verses describe the prize, Jesus, brought to us by the gospel.

  23. 4.Read 1 Peter 2:21-23 and explain how Christ was able to do this.
    My favorite part, that really speaks to me is this:
    He suffered, yet He committed no sin, He did not speak deceit, He did not retaliate, when suffering He did not threaten but entrusted Himself to the just Judge.

    What a beautiful way to live. I have found great joy in learning over many years not to defend myself but step aside and allow Him to defend me. I don’t know where I learned this, and am not always consistent, but it is something I work at and have seen improvement. It’s a human desire, to have someone stand up for us, protect us, have our back and I have found He delights to do this if I let Him. When I practice this way of living I find a secret joy knowing He will fight for me.
    This verse also speaks to me that God does not need my help. When our youngest son came home he shared that he turned back to God when he saw that I had relinquished my rights as a mom to the Lord, this was a powerful lesson. I am learning to let go and let God now rather than scheming and trying to help God out when I think He needs me.

    5. How could this help you overcome your control/power idol? Be specific. I answered this in no.4.

  24. 7. Read Jonah 2:1-4 again. Who sent the storm and why, do you think? God sent the storm but I don’t think it was for only one reason. So often the things that God does are like woven threads with many reasons and ramifications that work together. Jonah’s thinking was so wrong and when I think about that I can easily see why this storm was a gift to him. God gave him exactly what he was seeking, distance from Him. He helped Jonah to see the reality that he took so lightly. God could have sent someone else to Ninevah but He was just as much about changing Jonah’s heart as He was about salvation for a whole people. Pretty amazing I think. I wish I could continue this question but I have to get ready for work. Blessing to all of you this day

  25. 7. Read Jonah 2:1-4 again. Who sent the storm and why, do you think?

    God sent the storm so Jonah would pay attention. He wanted Jonah to wake up.

    8. This week I’ve been reading to Sadie and she has a book about Jonah. I find so many children’s books distort the real story, wanting to make all the Bible characters simplistic heroes. Sadie’s book said, “Jonah loved God but he was afraid of the Ninevites so he ran way.” This makes Jonah sound nobler than he really was. According to Jonah 4:1-2, what was his real reason for fleeing?

    Jonah flees because he knows God is good and will forgive the Ninevites if they repent. He doesn’t believe they deserve the forgiveness and leaves because he knows it is wrong to feel that way, but he can’t help himself. He is angry that he has always believed and always done good works for the Lord, and yet these horrible people are receiving the same blessing as he. He doesn’t think it’s fair.

  26. 7. Read Jonah 2:1-4 again. Who sent the storm and why, do you think?

    God did. To bring Jonah to his senses. (I like when Anne said that God could have sent someone else to Ninevah, but chose Jonah even though he knew Jonah’s heart-God was just as much about changing Jonah’s heart as he was the people of Ninevah.)

    8. This week I’ve been reading to Sadie and she has a book about Jonah. I find so many children’s books distort the real story, wanting to make all the Bible characters simplistic heroes. Sadie’s book said, “Jonah loved God but he was afraid of the Ninevites so he ran way.” This makes Jonah sound nobler than he really was. According to Jonah 4:1-2, what was his real reason for fleeing?

    Jonah knew God was slow to anger, abounding in love, compassionate and Gracious; One who relents to put forth any calamity, so Jonah fled in order to forestall God’s compassion and grace to the Ninevites. God wanted to give them a chance to repent first, Jonah didn’t -he wanted them to pay for their sins now.

    9. In the same way, though I love this little girl and her telling of Jonah, in the beginning of the story I see the author of this children’s version made the same error — but the rest is great. Watch and comment.

    I have seen this before but it is great to watch more than once! Really, what stuck out to me was how she brought out how God’s love was greater than his anger and she had the ending down really good. God wanted to give Ninevah a second chance just like He gave Jonah. God’s desire for Jonah was for Jonah to desire what God desires-that his love for others would be greater than his anger.

  27. 3. Read 1 Peter 3:14-15 in this Good News, or in your own translation:

    Who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good?

    But even if you should suffer for doing what is right, how happy you are! Do not be afraid of anyone, and do not worry.

    A. What reassurance is there in the first part of this verse?
    That as we delight to do what is good, we are putting ourselves in a place of security where harm cannot come.

    B. But if we do suffer, what reassurance should still help us overcome the fear of man? The joy that comes from doing the right thing.

    C. Is this fear of man, this need for approval, an idol in your life that daily tempts you? Explain, and then speak the truth to your soul. Yes definitely. In the case of what I’m currently going through with my sister-in-law…I have let her treat me unkindly for many years, not wanting to rock the boat and wanting everyone to approve of me, the martyr. God has opened my eyes of that being really unhealthy behavior on my part, as well as enabling to her to continue to direct all her anger towards me, and probably other people I don’t know about.

    The truth is I only need God’s approval, so I seek that as I seek His wisdom in what to do and how to love as He does. I think by standing up to my sister-in-law, in stating that it’s not okay, I am loving her the best I can. Whether she chooses to deal with her anger or not, I’m no longer being an enabler in her life. There is definite freedom in this, even though there is sorrow in my heart that it has to be this way. But as I strive to do good, I know God will reward it, and He will delight in the fact I’m only looking to Him for approval. Not my parents, my brother, or anyone else.

    1. Anne, it sounds like you have had some revelation about dealing with your s.i.l. I like what you said about the kind and lovng thing to do is to speaking up and not enabling her to continue in bad behavior.

  28. 4. A second idol that tempts us to forfeit grace is control or power. I myself often want to “fix” people, instead of trusting God. I often think of the example of Christ — who faced so much more. Read 1 Peter 2:21-23 and explain how Christ was able to do this.
    My translation – NKJV – says “he did not revile in return” when he was reviled. He did not threaten but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously. I looked up “revile” because I only had a vague definition in my head for it. It means to criticize in an abusive or angrily insulting manner. So instead of responding in anger, Christ committed Himself to the Father, giving up control of the situation.

    5. How could this help you overcome your control/power idol? Be specific. I think this speaks volumes to my current situation. We are supposed to go to the beach with my parents and brother and family this summer. However, I don’t feel Steve and I are supposed to go given the situation with my sister-in-law, that we need some boundaries in place. Ultimately I know it’s in God’s hands what happens. Even though I have been very angry, I’m not going to respond in anger to her. I’m going to pray and love her the best I can. Commit it to God.

      1. Thank you. I had a good conversation with my mom, I’m thankful for their support. God is doing a new work, that is for sure!!!

  29. 6. A third idol that daily tempts us is comfort/security. Rebecca’s testimony in regard to food was that she had to stop running to food and start running to God. She read books that helped her grow in intimacy with God. She also had to endure pain, but then experienced peace and freedom. How does Hebrews 12:1-2 speak to this?

    It tells us to “run with endurance”…”looking unto Jesus”. It’s easy to find our comfort and security in other things. For me it’s food, along with shopping. 🙂 I trip up in this and find myself going to those things for my comfort and to feel better about myself…and I know I experience a void when I don’t allow myself to go to them, which is similar to Rebecca’s pain with food. But there is peace in doing the right thing, in allowing the Lord to comfort us. And it’s definitely more fulfilling.

  30. 7. Read Jonah 2:1-4 again. Who sent the storm and why, do you think? The Lord, to cause Jonah to turn and repent.

    8. This week I’ve been reading to Sadie and she has a book about Jonah. I find so many children’s books distort the real story, wanting to make all the Bible characters simplistic heroes. Sadie’s book said, “Jonah loved God but he was afraid of the Ninevites so he ran way.” This makes Jonah sound nobler than he really was. According to Jonah 4:1-2, what was his real reason for fleeing?
    The Lord being slow to anger; Jonah knew God was going to forgive them/

    9. In the same way, though I love this little girl and her telling of Jonah, in the beginning of the story I see the author of this children’s version made the same error — but the rest is great. Watch and comment.

    Her statement in the beginning of Jonah saying/thinking the Ninevites “might even try to kill me….he was frightened.” We know he wasn’t frightened, but angry and rebellious.

  31. Ladies, would you please pray for my sister and family. The fast approaching day that would have been my niece’s commencements is causing a lot of turmoil for us. Her principal called and said that she was very much a part of their class and they will be honoring her that night. Needless to say this is very hard!

  32. I am always so grateful how God affirms and reaffirms things in my life. It seems as though every Christian speaker that I listen to on the radio is addressing idols and having “ultimate” things in your life besides God.

    The storm that I am currently facing is very unexpected and bizarre. As an approval driven person who has chosen to push everyone away rather than risk rejection, I have finally developed a close friendship with a coworker. Yesterday we were called into the manager’s office (a woman who I have known and worked under for 26 years) and had to discuss our “relationship” and that if we are a couple we need to keep it out of the workplace as any other couple gay or straight is expected to and that she hoped that we have told our husbands if this is true.

    The whole thing is so ludicrous that I find myself more amused than angry. I guess I’m still shocked or the medication that I am on is doing its job 🙂

    1. The world is amazingly darkened.
      Praying now for you and your family.

    2. The world is a sad place now where even close friendship are viewed suspiciously. Praying!

    3. Praying Dawn..so sorry 🙁

      1. This seems so strange to me; that the Brownie leader would suggest that….was that back in the seventies? Back then we didn’t know (!) or at least talk about those things. It really makes me mad that we do now. How our children are being brainwashed to think being gay is “normal.” It is definitely Satan trying to take over on earth. Now our own President is professing that being gay is okay; didn’t he “flip-flop” on this issue? Marriage is being threatened for sure.

        Here’s a question about this topic I have for you Dee, and others…..I have always thought that marriage is Biblical, right? Jesus and the church, right? Don’t gays understand that to be married means you enter a covenant with God? How can they enter this covenant when they are committing sin (and probably don’t even believe in God – because they think being gay is ok)? The word marriage, to me, is reserved for God and His believers.

        I am sad and disturbed that our country is headed down a sinful path. My mom, a very intelligent woman, on e told me that when a society accepts homosexuality as a standard the society begins a downward spiral and then is gone. Think Romans here. She said it has been proven in cultures of the past. How sad that we are headed that way.

  33. 7. Read Jonah 2:1-4 again. Who sent the storm and why, do you think?

    God sent the storm for the men on the ship to see and turn to Him, to bring Jonah to the end of himself, for love of the people of Nineva and for us today. He works all things for our good. And, if we are truly His, He comes after us when we stray like the good shepherd. It gives me assurance when God shows me the dark areas of my heart b/c I know I am His and He is mine.

    8. According to Jonah 4:1-2, what was his real reason for fleeing?
    But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. I too grew up with a misconception so I am glad to know the truth.

    9. In the same way, though I love this little girl and her telling of Jonah, in the beginning of the story I see the author of this children’s version made the same error — but the rest is great. Watch and comment
    Don’t you just want to squeeze the stuffin’ out of her. Love her voice inflection and accent. Notice the other children seem less than amused, maybe they are siblings and heard this little show-stopper too many times. One thing she got right is that Jonah was running from God and towards a new life for himself. Love her embellishments that Jonah’s hard labors enabled him to buy farm animals.

  34. Our boxer Finn was hit by a car today, he is gone. I feel like a bad person somehow.

    1. So sorry, Chris S. This is hard.

    2. Oh Chris, I am sorry sweet lady.

    3. Chris I am so sorry. Please don’t blame yourself. An enemy has done this. Praying that your heart will be comforted and that you will remember our hope.

    4. I’m so sorry, Chris…you didn’t do anything wrong and you sure didn’t need any more sorrow 🙁

    5. Oh Chris, I read this yesterday and didn’t have time to respond, but wanted you to know I prayed for you as soon as I read it. I am so sorry, how painful this is.

    6. So sorry Chris. May God bless you abundantly today.

  35. I love how what we study here is in perfect synch with what God is doing in my life. I find God more fascinating with each day.
    Meg, how is your mom?
    Anne, how is Fred?
    Joyce, how is Kendra doing?
    Rebecca, how is your oldest boy?
    Elizabeth, are things any better?
    I find praying for each of you alphabetically helps me fall asleep, I just have to start with Susan next time as I tend to fade away by the time I get to Renee. 🙂

    1. Kim, Fred is doing very well. He is back to normal as far as I can tell. Thanks so much for praying. That was very scary yet I was full of peace.

      I had to point out to him how God had watched over him. He was shocked when he thought about it. If this had not happened on my day off he would have just laid on his bed and very possibly died. My oldest son happened to be there too and Joey was not. Provision and blessing in the storm!

      1. Praise God, Anne

      2. So happy about this, Anne.

      3. 9. In the same way, though I love this little girl and her telling of Jonah, in the beginning of the story I see the author of this children’s version made the same error — but the rest is great. Watch and comment.

        The child was real cute and told the story amazingly well. But I kept looking at the other kids who seemed bored or preoccupied. My guess is that they were going to do recitations as well. And maybe they had heard this precocious child one too many times. I hope this child can handle her gift and the jealousy and rude remarks of her peers who do not like anyone who is different.

        10. The stormy sea (What do storms reveal about every human heart?)

        Keller says, “Storms tend to reveal who we really are. Deep in our hearts we are god knowers and god needers.’
        11.The religious sailors (Why doesn’t their religion help them?)

        General religion is not the way to get rid of fear. Essence of the fear based religion prayer is “God, I will do anything if only you will help me in this way.” But the one thing God wants is for you to love him without ifs. On the other side of the “if’ is your real god. As long as you are going to go down.

        12. The willing substitute (How do you deal with fear?)

        Don’t be too invested in finite things. They will let you down.

        Inhabit existentially the promises of God that he loves us. Do I experience his love? In prayer, worship, Lord’s Table.

        When the storms come we discover that our house is mainly on the sand and a little bit on the rock. Right now, cling to the Psalms, pray day and night, say to your heart “you thought you trusted in God but you didn’t”; exhort yourself, read the Scripture and pray until the love of Jesus gets sort of real to you. As you are doing them you won’t feel like you are getting stronger but you are. You are moving your house a little more on the rock and less on the sand.

    2. Kim, you are very sweet to pray for us, Thank you!
      We are waiting for Kendra’s new special shoes and “pink” braces for her legs. She loves pink, so thought that would help! She is walking herself, very carefully but most the time with one of us helping her.
      I will have my 4th back surgery June 12th, for more fusing on up from my last fuse, but this time only one vertebrae, so I’m taking a bus to Omaha and have surgery and will have Maurice and Kendra come get me in a couple days, to bring me home. Kendra needs to stay home as she had those bad siezures last time..3 the day she seen me in the hospital bed, before he could get her out of there. So it will be hard for Kendra, but I’m planning to have alot of her special friends come see her then.

      Also, we are leaving in the morning to go to Longmont,CO to visit relatives and to my niece’s daughter’s graduation celebration. We won’t be home untill next monday or tuesday.
      I’m not lucky enought to have an IPhone yet, so I will miss you all very much! I’ll be praying for all of you too, of course!

      1. Okay, safe travels, Joyce. I will keep praying for all these things.

    3. Kim, Thanks for asking about my mom.. she is doing very well!

  36. 8. According to Jonah 4:1-2, what was his real reason for fleeing?
    Jonah hated the Ninevites and did not want them to be forgiven. He wanted them judged and punished. I have to be honest and say that there have been some situations in my life when I have felt the same way. Wow! This really brings home to me the fact that nothing can stop God’s purpose from going forth. A whole city was redeemed in spite of Jonah’s heart condition. It also helps me to look deeper at my own heart. I can harbor some of Jonah’s bitterness and cover it without a second though.

    1. Anne,
      I forgot to say I’m glad you’re back (and that Fred is doing well, too).

  37. 1. What thoughts do you have about the opening and why?

    Thinking about how there are 3 kinds of storms – daily, monster, and those we don’t understand. I like thinking about the idol of approval as the fear of man; it helps to define it for me. Great examples of Emily at first worrying about delivering her speech and she was thinking more about how others would react to her than the words of her speech and how deeply passionate she was about them – wonderful to see how she turned!

    2. Share one reason you are thankful for your mother.

    I am thankful that mom was here on Mother’s Day and she is almost 85; a lot of people lose their moms at a young age. Mom is slowing down, but she is always doing what she can to help others. After each of my kids was born, mom was here to help me with meals, cleaning, and taking care of the baby. I stayed with my parents for a week after my daughter was born as I was ill. This year, she presented me with one of her homemade pies – blueberry – for Mother’s Day. Mom makes the most delicious pies with crust from scratch! I think I also inherited her love of clean windows; she still washes her windows and I also have been working on mine this week – there’s nothing like a sparkling clean window to look through!

  38. 10. The stormy sea (What do storms reveal about every human heart?)

    Storms reveal to us that Deep down inside we are all God knowers and needers- No matter what you tell yourself you know there is a God and you know you need him.

    11.The religious sailors (Why doesn’t their religion help them?)

    Because it goes down with them-it sinks in the boat with them. The sailors called on their gods and they weren’t helping so they went to Jonah to see if his God could help.

  39. 12. The willing substitute (How do you deal with fear?)

    Keller said to not just ‘know’ Jesus loves me, but to inhabit that He loves me-to experience it in worship, at the Lord’s table, in prayer. I loved this.

    Also, when Keller said this, it rang true as to how God rescued me and brought me closer in when I went through my struggle with my comfort idol: If you cling to the Psalms, pray day and night. If you say in your heart you thought you trusted God but you don’t, if you exhort yourself, read the scripture and pray until the love of jesus gets more real to you, and as you do these things you are getting stronger, you are moving your house more on the rock than on the sand. You may not feel you are getting stronger, but it is happening.

    Wow..Well, I guess for me for so many years I ‘knew’ Jesus loved me..When I first came to know Him I inhabited that he loved me-was in complete awe-nothing I have done, but by His Grace. Yet, over time somehow I turned to my idols unknowingly and this love I had for him grew dim. Yet, since coming here on the blog three years ago God has come to me in a remarkable way. I see that really even though I ‘made a decision for Him’ over 20 years ago, still it was He who gave me the desire for Him, who drew me to Him..I didn’t ‘seek’ Him, He ‘sought’ me. I really do believe now that my relationship with Him over time grew stale and became more me centered obedience and in ‘knowing’ He loves me rather than inhabiting that He loves me. It was like that honeymoon of love went stale.

    So, I come here and I find He truly is the lover of my soul and I fall in love with Him all over again-and for the past three years I am growing in inhabiting His love for me-by His Grace ONLY will I be able to continue to grow in this. He has shown me my idolatry-I had no clue, yet funny at the same time through my idolatry He has shown me even more His Grace and His love and I find myself saying, “Amazing Love, how can it be????” My Lord, My God saved a wretch like me?
    Oh Lord what love, what faithfulness to a wretch like me. That I could be called your Bride, your princess and that You would clothe me in your riches and cover me in your Grace and mercy. Yet I can so easily turn and fear-Lord I am so sorry that when I think I am trusting you, and I am not-to think I would think less of you and more of what I am placing my fear in-Oh God rescue me from this today-this pull from my wicked heart to hold things as more ultimate than you-help me to inhabit your love for me today. Lord help me to say with John Newton-Your love in time past, forbids me to think You’ll leave me at last in trouble to sink. By prayer let me wrestle then You will perform, with YOU in the Vessel I smile at the storm.

  40. I am in a hurry and had to write the above in a hurry-but I wanted to add that because of His saving me not only from the penalty but His desire and passion for me is to save me from the power of sin in my life, daily-amazing love-yet His kindness, His love for me makes me love Him more. We think God wants us to perform for Him, no..He wants us to love Him-not just superficially, but with our hearts, souls and minds, that is His desire-to have that back and forth love relationship.

  41. HAD to share this-so good. I googled and found the John Newton Hymn Keller quoted from in our sermon this week:

    “I will trust and be not afraid” – Olney Hymn 37
    By John Newton

    Begone, unbelief,
    My Savior is near,
    And for my relief
    Will surely appear;
    By prayer let me wrestle,
    And He will perform;
    With Christ in the vessel,
    I smile at the storm.

    Though dark be my way,
    Since He is my Guide,
    ‘Tis mine to obey,
    ‘Tis His to provide;
    Though cisterns be broken,
    And creatures all fail,
    The word He hath spoken
    Shall surely prevail.
    His love, in time past,
    Forbids me to think

    He’ll leave me at last
    In trouble to sink:
    Each sweet Ebenezer
    I have in review
    Confirms His good pleasure
    To help me quite through.

    Determined to save,
    He watched o’er my path,
    When Satan’s blind slave,
    I sported with death;
    And can he have taught me
    To trust in his name,
    And thus far have brought me,
    To put me to shame?

    Why should I complain
    Of want or distress,
    Temptation or pain?
    He told me no less.
    The heirs of salvation,
    I know from His Word,
    Through much tribulation
    Must follow their Lord.

    How bitter that cup
    No heart can conceive,
    Which He drank quite up,
    That sinners might live!
    His way was much rougher
    And darker than mine;
    Did Christ, my Lord, suffer,
    And shall I repine?

    Since all that I meet
    Shall work for my good,
    The bitter is sweet,
    The medicine, food;
    Though painful at present,
    ‘Twill cease before long,
    And then, oh, how pleasant
    The conqueror’s song!

    1. Rebecca, I loved this song. Thanks for posting it.

  42. Loved that Rebecca, Thank You!

  43. This really spoke to me…. Joni and Friends Daily Devotional
    May 16, 2012

    It Hurts So Good!

    God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:10-11

    As time marches on in my paralysis, I’m struggling with more pain — knifing pain in my neck and shoulders — than I used to have. Paulette, my physical therapist, helps me with pain management. She twists, turns, and stretches my arms and shoulders, pushing and kneading my muscles. She works on my shoulder area with a small rubber-tipped instrument I call “the torture tool,” pressing it between my muscles. And it hurts. When she first started using the torture tool, I hated it. It felt as though my muscles were being ripped away from their tendons. After many sessions, however, I have learned that it was that very tool which made the biggest difference in my pain. It hurts a lot… but it hurts real good.

    God has a tool, and holding it in His own hand, He digs and presses into our lives. The tool is called “suffering,” and we hate it! It hurts. And yet the apostle Peter tells us, “those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” (1 Peter 4:19). We really can commit ourselves to Him, and have utter trust and confidence in His expertise with that tool in His hands. He knows what He is doing, He knows what we need, and He knows the “harvest of righteousness and peace” it will produce in our lives. It hurts…but it hurts good.

    Are you enduring emotional or physical suffering in these days? Don’t yield and bend to the situation, but rather submit to your Father who loves you, and who will use these circumstances for a future harvest in your life you can’t begin to foresee.

    Thank you, Jesus, that you went before me in my suffering, and understand so well what I’m going through. Be my comfort, my courage, and my strength this day.

    Blessings,

    Joni and Friends
    http://www.joniandfriends.org

    1. Joyce, Love this from Joni! So good..

    2. This message from Joni is so encouraging. Love this verse “those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” (1 Peter 4:19). Lord, help me to commit myself to you, faithful Creator, Savior, and Rescuer. Help give me courage to press on and continue to do good even when I just feel like crashing and giving in to self-pity.

  44. Sorry to be absent yesterday–I have been reading and praying–so sorry Anne Meredith, and dear Chris. I’ve had a few rougher pain days lately but finally succumbed to the prescription pain meds so that has allowed some sleep 😉

    7. Read Jonah 2:1-4 again. Who sent the storm and why, do you think?

    God sent the storm for Jonah’s good—to pull him off the road of destruction and bring him to his senses. I do agree with Diane’s comments—how hard it is to know in these situations. And I default to trials being part of the mystery—I cannot understand. Sorry if this is too gross, but my son was crying last night because his tummy hurt and he was petrified he was going to have diarrhea (sorry!) In his tears he said “why did God have to make diarrhea?!…or was it Adam and Eve’s fault?” All I could say was that I knew God hated for him to hurt and He would listen to us pray and ask Him to heal your tummy (thankfully it was a false alarm!)

    I don’t believe all storms are designed from God—like Chris losing her dog—I do not believe that was of Him. I know they pass through His hands, I know our trials grieve Him, and I know He will not waste them—and that is enough for me.

    8. This week I’ve been reading to Sadie and she has a book about Jonah. I find so many children’s books distort the real story, wanting to make all the Bible characters simplistic heroes. Sadie’s book said, “Jonah loved God but he was afraid of the Ninevites so he ran way.” This makes Jonah sound nobler than he really was. According to Jonah 4:1-2, what was his real reason for fleeing?

    Jonah’s heart was selfish and hardened. It is interesting how many authors do want us to relate to Jonah as a willing heart, threatened by his own fear—when the root problem for Jonah was his heart.

    9. In the same way, though I love this little girl and her telling of Jonah, in the beginning of the story I see the author of this children’s version made the same error — but the rest is great. Watch and comment.

    Precious little girl—I’ve never seen this before. The author portrays Jonah as fearful, timid—as if his heart was willing but he was limited by fear—when actually it was the reverse—he was not afraid, but limited by his hardened heart.

  45. 10. The stormy sea (What do storms reveal about every human heart?)
    Stormy sea shows us who we are—it reveals we are all God “knowers” and “needers”—it is an involuntary reflex—it is the evidence of God against skeptics. We are dependent, fragile.

    11. The religious sailors (Why doesn’t their religion help them?)
    people who rely on material things (or any idol) are absolutely defenseless against fear because all they have worshiped sinks with them, it cannot save them.

    That’s all I can finish for now!

  46. This got posted further up in the wrong place, so I am trying again.

    9. In the same way, though I love this little girl and her telling of Jonah, in the beginning of the story I see the author of this children’s version made the same error — but the rest is great. Watch and comment.

    The child was real cute and told the story amazingly well. But I kept looking at the other kids who seemed bored or preoccupied. My guess is that they were going to do recitations as well. And maybe they had heard this precocious child one too many times. I hope this child can handle her gift and the jealousy and rude remarks of her peers who do not like anyone who is different.

    10. The stormy sea (What do storms reveal about every human heart?)

    Keller says, “Storms tend to reveal who we really are. Deep in our hearts we are god knowers and god needers.’

    11.The religious sailors (Why doesn’t their religion help them?)

    General religion is not the way to get rid of fear. Essence of the fear based religion prayer is “God, I will do anything if only you will help me in this way.” But the one thing God wants is for you to love him without ifs. On the other side of the “if’ is your real god. As long as you are going to go down.

    12. The willing substitute (How do you deal with fear?)

    Don’t be too invested in finite things. They will let you down.
    Inhabit existentially the promises of God that he loves us. Do I experience his love? In prayer, worship, Lord’s Table.
    When the storms come we discover that our house is mainly on the sand and a little bit on the rock. Right now, cling to the Psalms, pray day and night, say to your heart “you thought you trusted in God but you didn’t”; exhort yourself, read the Scripture and pray until the love of Jesus gets sort of real to you. As you are doing them you won’t feel like you are getting stronger but you are. You are moving your house a little more on the rock and less on the sand.

  47. Just checking in to THANK YOU for praying for me, I am okay. God richly blessed me last night in that I had extra unusual duties at work for the 40th Anniversary celebration at work, everything I did went well, I received much praise. I feel SO humbled by it because I know it was Him, I have been so out of it emotionally, He has carried me!
    I have another mega busy day today, love you ladies!

    1. Glad to hear your good new, Chris. I’m so sorry you lost your dog, and I know you had a rough time Monday night. Wonderful that He has carried you!

    2. Isn’t God great in the way he encourages us?!

  48. DAILY STORMS WHEN WE CLING TO IDOLS

    Both Emily and Chris had to overcome the approval idol, the “fear of man”. How did each do it and how does either speak to you?

    Emily began to think and focus on the words of her speech, that these were things that God cared about and she was delivering His message. This helped her get her focus off herself.
    Chris, fearing being under suspicion when her drawer was short, reminded herself that her identity was in Christ, so even if she had been looked at with suspicion or disapproval – even rejection, she knew that God’s feelings about her never change.

    Rejection, disapproval, feeling that I am “not liked”, being misunderstood; those are painful emotions. My mistake has often been to somehow transpose those onto God, thinking that He must feel the same way about me, too. But God is not a man and He never changes and His feelings about me don’t “yo-yo” all over the place. The only safe place for my identity to rest is in God.

    3. Read 1 Peter 3:14-15 in this Good News, or in your own translation:

    Who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good?
    But even if you should suffer for doing what is right, how happy you are! Do not
    be afraid of anyone, and do not worry.

    A. What reassurance is there in the first part of this verse?

    I am less likely to suffer harm if my heart is right with God and I’m acting out of love for Him; therefore eager to do what is right.

    B. But if we do suffer, what reassurance should still help us overcome the fear of man?

    God will not abandon His child, even if we suffer and we haven’t done anything wrong. God is our Defender and He tells us not to be afraid of people and not to worry. Reminds me of something Keller said in a sermon, “All things are rushing headlong into His lap”.

    C. Is this fear of man, this need for approval, an idol in your daily life that daily tempts you? Explain, and then speak the truth to your soul.

    Yes, it is. One thing I do is compare myself to other moms. My daughter is in 5th grade and most of the moms are a lot younger than me and they have younger kids. I’m older at almost 48 and so I don’t quite fit in with the moms who get together so their younger preschool kids can play together. I often feel inadequate and that my lack of friends has a negative impact on my children. I struggle because I like to have company over, but my husband, because he works so many hours and is tired on the weekends doesn’t like to have people over. I have a few friends that are my “church friends” and he has co-worker friends, but we don’t have friends in common.
    The other big area is, I posted above about that videotaping that my husband decided not to do, and that’s okay, but some comments made…oh, that somehow the kind of Christianity I am involved in – being an evangelical Christian – is seen as somehow that I’ve “gone off the deep-end…like a cult…fanatical…weird….” I begin to wonder if maybe there is something wrong with me.

    The truth – I know there’s a verse, I think in Psalms, that says, “The one who looks to You will never be ashamed”. Lord, may I never want to forsake my faith in You for the approval of man, even the approval of my own family.

      1. “Jesus said to love the Lord with all your heart and soul and mind. 1st commandment. Not fanatical. That’s true Christianity.” Thanks, Dee, I needed to hear this too.

  49. 4. A second idol that tempts us to forfeit grace is control or power. I myself often want to “fix” people, instead of trusting God. I often think of the example of Christ – who faced so much more. Read 1 Peter 2:21-23 and explain how Christ was able to do this.

    What I get from this passage is that Jesus had an unshakable sense of His identity – He knew who He was. In light of that, when He suffered, in His humanity, He never was deceitful (as opposed to when I am tempted to lie my way out of a situation to have power or control); He never retaliated when insults were hurled at Him (unlike me when I just have to “have the last word” or defend myself); He never made any threats to get even some day (as opposed to me when it may be just in my thoughts I think about getting even).
    Jesus never defended Himself but He didn’t have to. He placed Himself entirely into the Father’s capable hands and trust Him to be the Judge. Jesus gave up His right to have power and control over others – He didn’t nag, didn’t berate, didn’t make “sideways” comments. Not only did He know that He was in the hands of the Father, but that ultimately everyone else will be, too.

  50. 5. How could this help you overcome your control/power idol? Be specific.

    So often I want to “play the Holy Spirit” in the lives of my husband and children. If one of them doesn’t agree with me in regards to God, it doesn’t help if I get angry or retaliate, nor can I trick them into doing something they don’t want to do. Jesus trusted the Father to work in the lives of those who were causing His suffering. Of course, I don’t ever have to face the depth of suffering that He did; He went through more than I can even comprehend. But He left me an example to follow. If I give up my idol of power and control and of even trying to manipulate people and circumstances and give others into His hands, He is able to work in their lives, and I can trust Him because He loves my family even more than I do.

    I thought of another specific example. My daughter loves Jesus, and often I want my “spiritual experience” to be hers; that she will respond in worship or prayer or respond to a passage of Scripture just like me, that she’ll get out of it what I get out of it. But everyone is on their own spiritual journey and walk with God, and no two are going to be alike; there’s no right way or wrong way. I think when our children are Christians we must remember that their relationship with God wont look like ours.

    1. You are so blunt and brave, Susan. It really convicts me. “So often I want to “play the Holy Spirit” in the lives of my husband and children.” Amazing how subtly we try to play God. I appreciate your insight into how each of us is at a different place in our spiritual journey. Your example of your daughter and you is similar to where my daughter and I are at as well. Your words are a great encouragement to me. My daughter is a believer, yet I want her so much to see how much God loves her “existentially”, as Keller puts it. But she is at a different place right now and I feel my words are falling on deaf ears. I have been learning so much here, but I can’t just transfer it to my daughter and make everything “right” (or “fix” her).