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Furnace of Suffering



Chris has said “I do not do grief well.” I so disagree. Do you think grieving well means being a stoic? Denying the pain? No. No. No.

In fact, Chris, though still in the midst of the fire (It has been less than two years) is doing it right — so right I want to take two weeks with this. It is too rich to hurry.

I told her:

  • You are being honest with God. That’s what He asks. He hates pretense.
  • You are not backing away from Him. That’s key — for to back away is to let go of your only lifeline.
  • You are remembering Who He is and His promises.



Chris and Daniel at Disney -- 12/2009



When my great fish swallowed me, I wanted my old world back, my world in which my spiritual understanding was enough, My safe world, in our safe community where I am insulated from really awful things, and I was satisfied with earthy things. I desperately glanced about for more immediate relief.

It is painful to tear away the faulty foundations of trust, the weak and insufficient ones, and anchor deeper into the Rock.

The incredible pain that demands to be attended to finds its only answer in the Cross. I don’t know the whys of suffering, but I can see the love of Jesus, the price He paid to make it right, the promise of eternity.

God is bigger to me now than He was then, my pride and confidence in myself is smashed. Being in the furnace has caused me to look more intently into the costly grace that is mine. I did feel abandoned there in the fire, I know though that I was not, He is filled with care and knows just how much I need & can stand.

I trust Him more than before, my eyes are much more fixed on eternity now, my treasures are sure & certain there.


Week One (July 1-7)

Sunday/Monday (Ice-breakers)

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

2. What do you see Chris doing right in the midst of her fiery furnace?

Monday-Friday (This is the week of the 4th of July — and I know many of you will be vacationing — so sermon will wait until next week.) But I want you to contemplate these verses that Chris submitted and answer the questions I pose following them.)

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire —may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,  for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:6-9)

1. What do trials prove according to the above?

2. If you back away from God in the midst of suffering, what does it show?

3. What have your trials revealed about your faith?

4. Has God shown you anything else in the above passage? If so, what?

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-3)

4. Why should we consider it joy when we face trials?

5. Why should we persevere through suffering?

6. How do you see perseverance in Chris? In yourself?

I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering! (Isaiah 48:10)

7. Suffering does not refine everyone — only those who persevere, who, because of genuine faith, do not back away from God. How have you been refined in the furnace of suffering?


8. What is your take-a-way and why?


Week 2 (July 7-13)

Before we look at how Jonah’s prayer parallels the response Chris has to suffering, I want to give you a glimpse of the videotaping Ben Eisner did a few weeks ago at my Wisconsin home. Though he forgot to press the button he said would make me look young, it is AMAZING. I am overflowing with gratitude that God moved this young talent to help us — never could we have afforded him.

I hope the link will work for you. This is the fruit of your prayers!

Dee Brestin Selects-1

I am also asking you to buy a new Keller sermon on Jonah — one I did not ask you to buy previously. But it has been so helpful to me as a new way to pray — and it parallels what I see in Chris — and how she is surviving. Link

Sunday/Monday Ice-breaker

1. If you were able to see the above video — what do you think?

2. Share one way you “spied” God over the 4th of July week.

Monday-Wednesday Bible Study  Read Jonah 2:1-10

I want to make it clear how Chris and Jonah’s situation are different. Chris suffered, not because of personal sin, but because of sin in the world. Jonah suffered because of personal sin.

But they both responded in a godly way.

3. In the following verses, you will find a new and helpful way to pray.

A. Crying out: Find it in verses 1-2

B. Looking toward “the temple” (Christ) and remembering Who He is: Find it in verses 4-7)

C. Committing yourself to Him in sacrifice and thanksiving (Find it in verse 9)

4. Now you follow these three steps with something you are facing.

Thursday-Friday: Listen to the sermon

This is a Christ statue, reflecting the parallel Jesus made with Jonah -- but I don't know where it is -- if anyone does -- let me know!



(If you cannot afford this, Elizabeth’s notes are below. I think you would be very blessed by both listening to Keller and reading Elizabeth’s notes. I asked Elizabeth to do it when she was very busy, her computer had crashed, and it was her birthday. But oblige she did!)

5. What stood out to you from the sermon and why?


6. What’s your take-a-way and why?

Elizabeth’s notes:

Jonah 2:1-10; Your Own Grace

In the belly of the deep, Jonah prays a prayer of faith and grasps the grace of God. The
subject of the prayer is the grace of God.
The phenomenon of the prayer itself is that Jonah is in utter despair, cowering fear,
rebellion and is transformed to a posture of triumph and faith. Jonah is a man literally at
the bottom, deep in his problem.
Example, the movie The Abyss-the terror and alienation of knowing you are dying far
from the place you need to be in order to live.

Jonah represents the spiritual condition of being at the bottom-buried deep. Buried far
away from where we need to be. Jonah was in that position and we see him begin to
rise, defy gravity. “You have brought my life UP out of the pit…my prayer rose to You”
Jonah is rising. How? What enabled him was faith.

How do we have that kind of faith? Faith is not a talent. Faith is being controlled by
the promises of God rather than your own impressions.

Jonah’s faith comes in three stages—he calls, then remembers (gazes, looks, ponders), he
commits (sacrifices).

1. Call
Jonah yells to God. The first step of faith is to say—‘God, are You there?…show
me’. The first step is to seek Him.

Some may say they don’t believe enough to seek Him—but to seek God means
all you have to do is doubt your doubts enough to seek Him. Some say they had
faith but have lost it. Jonah, like Job, calls to God in his distress. Job never stops

The way back to faith is the same as the first step of faith—call to Him.

2. Remember
Jonah begins to think. He looks to Him, He gazes, ponders God. Verses 4 and 7,
tell us he is looking to the Temple. He is thinking about the Gospel. The Temple
is the concrete picture of how God is going to reconcile us to Himself—it is the
picture of the Gospel. The Temple shows us both the Bad News, and the Good

The Bad News: The Law. In the center of the Temple is the Holy of Holies—with
the Ark of the Covenant, the 10 Commandments, the Law of God.

The Law of God is an outline of God’s character that calls us to build our lives on
the model of His greatness. The Law of God is in the Ark of the Covenant in the
Holy of Holies—this is where God lives. He is saying He will only relate to us
over the Law, only if we live in accordance with the Law.

Example—a conductor before his symphony. He begins to conduct, and one
instrumentalist plays his own thing. What does this do to the relationship between
the musician and conductor? The conductor says, ‘unless you obey the score, we
cannot have a working relationship’. If the artist refuses, the conductor would
have to say, ‘I’m sorry—the nature of music requires you to obey the score for
there to be beauty.’

We must meet over the score to have fellowship. The Bible says the same thing—
God says, to have a relationship with me, you must fulfill the Law, I’m holy, you
must be holy. The musician must repent not for being a musician, but for trying to
be the conductor.

Without obedience there is no beauty. This is the bad news—because we cannot
possibly be perfectly obedient.

The Temple also shows us the Good News. Over the Ark is a golden slab–the
Place of Propitiation, the Mercy Seat. Propitiation is to turn aside the wrath
of someone through a payment. The Temple tells us that God will accept the
fulfillment of the Law through the payment of a substitute. When Jonah looked
to the Temple, he was actually looking, without knowing, to Jesus Christ. Jesus
is the propitiation, the mercy seat, the Good News. For us, to look to the Temple,
means to look to Jesus. Anyone that comes to the Father, trusting what Jesus did,
can talk to God. Jesus covers the sins.

Faith is talking to yourself and faith is thinking. Faith is not automatic. It doesn’t
just turn on when you’re in a dark time. Faith is getting a hold of the truth,
looking at the Gospel, looking at the facts,–and work it in, act on it. Jonah
feels banished from God’s sight, yet, he looks to the Temple. Though he felt
totally abandoned by God—he thinks it out, he works out the faith in spite of his
circumstance and feelings. Jonah is speaking truth to his soul.

Faith is telling the truth to your heart. Doubt is listening to your heart and
everything it says. In a wilderness, our heart may say-‘you brought me here to
die’. But we have a choice—we can talk to our heart or listen to it.

Faith is not just talking to yourself, faith is thinking. Build a truth-centered life.
Faith is looking at all the facts at once.
3. Commit
Jonah says ‘I will sacrifice to You’. Jonah is not out of the deep, but he gives up
everything to God.

Two ways to grow in your faith—to study, and to commit. Faith is an ongoing
process of preaching the Gospel to yourself. Look to the Holy Temple. When life
looks out of control, go to the Father. Don’t act scared, like an orphan, forgetting
He is your Father. Preach the Gospel to yourself and then we can become a

healing community.

Apart from the Gospel you can be ethical or compassionate, but never both. But
if we are constantly preaching the Gospel to ourselves, we will be approachable;
we will be both ethical and compassionate. We will have integrity, patience,
endurance. Preaching the Gospel gets ride of pride and laxity. We will see that our
growth is a gift and we will be a healing community.

Are you singing to your heart, or listening to your heart? Doubt your doubts.
Call when you haven’t been praying. Think out the Gospel. And do not wait for
the dry land. While still in the belly, commit.

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  1. 5. I loved how the temple’s meaning was explained. I tried to write it down but got lost. I will have to listen again. From what I can remember he said that the temple represents bad news and good news for us. The bad news is the law and the fact that we cannot keep it, therefore we can have no fellowship with God. The good news is that Jesus paid the penalty for our sin and because of that we can commune with God. The mercy seat represents Christ’s provision for propitiation for the debt we owe for our sin and a beautiful picture of our fellowship with God. I think I remember Keller saying that over the mercy seat we have fellowship with God and I loved that picture it gave me in my mind.
    Another thing that stood way out to me is the truth that faith is talking to my heart and doubt is listening to it. That is a very profound truth in just a few words. I like that.
    I emailed this sermon to my oldest. I don’t usually do that but I felt a conviction. He is at lose ends right now with classes not having started and if he will listen to it I think it will speak to where he is spiritually. I am praying for it as it goes.

    1. Anne, So wonderful to hear you have emailed this sermon to your son!

    1. Glad to hear this update, Dee! Thank you Lord for your faithfulness and how you came to Dee and those who were there to hear her speak! We ask you would work the seeds Dee has planted in Bonnie’s heart-lift the veil from her eyes and help her to respond to you. Thank you Lord that you have given Annie strength to make it to Dee’s and we ask that you would continue to strengthen her and give Dee, Annie and David a sweet time of being together this week. In Jesus precious and Holy name, amen.

    2. If you are ever somewhere close to me in the southeast I could come and help you out with that stuff! Keep that in mind ok!

      Praying for Anne.

    3. Dee, the Lord there is all you really need isn’t it? So glad you sensed His presence and response to Him.

  2. Jonah 2 reminds me a lot of Psalm 116. I memorized Ps 116 years ago and used to pray it ALL THE TIME; God used that passage to remind me of His faithfulness for years. I just reviewed it again now because I have some remnants of fear from an old trauma that need to be brought to Him.

    By now, it’s no secret that I don’t always follow instructions very well =) I based my prayer (#4) on Ps 116 as well as Jonah 2. I know I ‘copied’ several verses, but those verses are part of me; my prayer is a reminder of who God is and His faithfulness to me in the past. God’s faithfulness overshadows my current fears, and Psalm 116 is a ‘very close to literal’ description of a part of my life and reminds me of His love and faithfulness to me.

    3. In the following verses, you will find a new and helpful way to pray.

    A. Crying out: Find it in verses 1-2

    v. 2 “I called out of my distress to the Lord…I cried for help from the depth of Sheol”

    B. Looking toward “the temple” (Christ) and remembering Who He is: Find it in verses 4-7)
    v. 4 “Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.” vv. 6-7 “But You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God. While I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, And my prayer came to You, Into Your holy temple.”

    C. Committing yourself to Him in sacrifice and thanksgiving (Find it in verse 9)
    v. 9 “But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay.”

    4. Now you follow these three steps with something you are facing.

    Oh Lord, help me! You know the fears I’ve tried to hide and the people who frighten me. My attempts to “manage” fear on my own have distanced me from You; I wanted to believe that by building a wall around my fears, they would go away. In trying hide my fears, I have turned away from your love for me.

    “You HAVE rescued my soul from death, My eyes from tears, My feet from stumbling. I believed when I said, ‘I am greatly afflicted.’ I said in my alarm, ‘All men are liars’” (Psalm 116). You answered and delivered when “the cords of death entangled me,” when I believed I couldn’t trust anyone. In your sovereignty, you allowed the craziness of those years; you developed in me perseverance and HOPE through those trials. You reminded me that YOU will NEVER abandon me.

    I look to you again now, and I know YOU LOVE ME and will not abandon me. I am so afraid, even though I know those I fear most can do nothing to hurt me. I cry to you, I scream to you, “Deliver me from my fears.” Help me see YOU.

    “Return to your rest, O my soul, For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you” (Ps 116:7). “What shall I render to the Lord For all His benefits toward me? I shall lift up the cup of salvation And call upon the name of the Lord. O Lord, surely I am Your servant, I am Your servant, [your daughter]. You have loosed my bonds. To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, And call upon the name of the Lord. I shall pay my vows to the Lord, Oh may it be in the presence of all His people (Ps 116:12-13;16-18).

    (And now I feel like throwing up, but I think I will go to sleep instead!)

      1. Dee,
        Last night, I thought it was my emotions. I have a REALLY strong mind-body connection, a vivid imagination, and an easy gag reflex.

        I do think that crying out/ throwing out my emotions to God in prayer was related. But after a sleepless night (when I was at complete peace mentally and spiritually), I’m pretty sure heat is impacting me, too. AC isn’t working & repair place hasn’t returned my call. Ok, I confess, caffeine in afternoon yesterday too led to lack of sleep.

        Thanks for asking because now I’m thinking =) As I’m posting, I’m realizing one potential “danger sign.” It’s likely that I may be on some anti-depressants for life (and I’ve known that for MANY years); when I hit the very bottom with “depression,” my system shuts down physically — hard to keep food down, light hurts my eyes, unable to concentrate to read. When I reach that point, I’m so numb that I don’t know what hit me. I’m definitely NOT in that situation now, but I have cut down medication twice in the past year — and told physician after the fact the first time, haven’t told him about most recent time. The first time, I was tired of functioning in a “fog;” I did ease into it because I knew the drill. My timing wasn’t great because the fog was from grief, but I was able to function better with a lower dose. My approval idol was at work, too, because I wanted to “prove” that hypertension was due to anti-depressant (because an anti-depressant increased my blood pressure in the first place and because someone I know doesn’t approve of anti-depressants). It does trouble me that someone’s approval about anti-depressants concerns me now, when for 30 years, I was thankful when they worked! With the first med decrease, my blood pressure dropped — too low, and I was taken off blood-pressure meds! But without the anti-hypertensive, I forget to take one of anti-depressants. Rationale: stop taking that one, too. I wouldn’t recommend anyone else do what I’ve done (I don’t think I’d even “experiment” during the school year), so I guess I’ll either confess at my next dr appt or call the clinic. Besides, I think I know a way to tweak my prescription/dose and timing so that I wouldn’t forget and would feel a little better. But that tweak is just beyond what my researcher-self would do without talking to her doctor.

        To delete or not to delete this posting? Deep breath; will leave this. I know I’ve rambled; my rambling has helped me recognize God’s faithfulness and protection during the past two years, as well as during the past 30 years, and to see my idols and stupidity. I know that several of you are dealing with depression and don’t want you to avoid medical help. A doctor I had a long time ago used to say that he wished there were another term for “depression” because “sad feelings” doesn’t begin to scratch the surface. It’s dangerous stuff, and ignoring it can make treatment more difficult. (By the way, I’ve had almost every non-medical kind of treatment in the book, too — so am not saying to avoid counseling.) I do know that there are very competent physicians and mental health professional “out there” (believers and unbelievers) and some not-so-competent ones (including believers and unbelievers). So, I guess I’ll get myself in to see a very competent physician!

    1. I loved this, Renee. That is a great comparison of Jonah 2 with Psalm 116. Thanks for being so honest and open with us.

    2. Thank you ! This really fed my spirit this morning! 🙂

      1. Thanks for your encouragement, Laura Marie. How are you feeling now? I’ve been praying for you.

    3. I noticed your wrote this last night. I really needed something like this to minister to my low spirit, thank you again for allowing the Holy Spirit to use you!

  3. Hope your okay, Renee!
    I’m sorry I have been absent. I’m doing good, just not happy with my posture…it is still bend over some…can’t seem to stand straight and tall anymore:( But I’m thankful I can walk, even if it is limited and I have limbs and hands to pray! Praise God!
    Praying for your requests, Dee…hope Annie is much better now. Does she have little Mia Belle with her? Enjoy them!!

    I had a girl (22 yrs) helping me and she got cancer, so I hired a 19 yr old and she worked a week and didn’t come and lied to me about the reasoning. She tried to committe suiside and said she was in the hospital from a car accident. She was in the hospital all right, but was in a mental hospital! The truth all came out when her mom called me. I was very nice, and concerned about her, but she was this way when she helped my brother with his wife with hospice. She would just not show up and you just don’t do that when someone is dying and needs attention badly. We are not urgent here like that, but she just doesn’t have a good work ethic and needs to grow up some. But I thought I’d give her a chance as it was only temporary, as the first girl is coming back soon. I hope I didn’t do the wrong thing now, by letting that girl go. I did pray about it and I did try to help her, but now am having thoughts of not being a very good christian by letting her go. She is just very depressed she said and we are still friends and she even left on a good note. How do you deal with these situations Dee, when things don’t go like they should with employee’s!! I am not a good boss!! It’s very hard, because I tend want to please everyone. But I have Kendra to think about, because she loves everyone and when someone doesn’t come, she feels bad:(

    1. Oh my… I’m fine. Just re-read what I wrote. Ugh! Spiritual “purging” sorta makes me feel like physically doing the same thing.

      Praying that you will get muscle strength back to walk more, stand straighter, etc. Also praying for your “employee” situation. I’m not very good at hiring/firing — and it is hard to know who will have a good work ethic (I’ve even had that problem with a graduate student)

      1. Thank you

    2. Joyce,
      May I suggest you go online to middayconnection.org and look in their past programs for Jennifer Degler. They have had her on their program each Monday for the past few weeks, going through her book No More Christian Nice Girl. It really is helpful, and she talks about how girls and women are often trained, from childhood, to “be nice”. But being firm, setting boundaries, and letting an employee go who isn’t trustworthy or reliable is not being “unchristian”. When you said “I tend to want to please everyone” – she talks about that a lot in this series!
      You could even get the book at the library. There’s a quiz in it, asking you questions to see if you’re a “nice girl”. She stresses that nice and good are two different things. You can listen to the past programs online, too. I hope this is helpful to you!
      You are, as Dee said, so compassionate, and that is a gift, but not to let others take advantage of you! You’re too special for that!

    3. I am praying for you, Joyce, to find a helper that is reliable and truly a “help”. I am intrigued by Susan’s suggestion from Middayconnection. That person might have helpful ideas.

    4. Oh, bless your heart, dear Joyce! I am praying for your surgery and this hard situation with help. I know you must need reliable help very much. I love Susan’s advice and wish I could be your helper if not for my allergies and asthma, wouldn’t we have a time?! The Kearney Area Agency on Aging has a list of caregivers in our area. Praying.

      1. Thank you all for your help….very good advice! Thanks

  4. 1. If you were able to see the above video – what do you think?

    I loved it! Dee, forget the “young button” you are a beautiful and gracious woman and filled with wisdom and it shows. Your voice is calm and the way you speak makes one want to listen to what you have to say. The scenery – water, sunrise and sunset, kayaks on the water, background music, it all works!

    2. Share one way you “spied” God over the 4th of July week.

    Well, this is kind of hard to explain, but it is what comes to mind. Mind you, I have a hard time remembering what I had for dinner last night as it’s usually busy around here and boys coming and going…I get mixed-up!

    I had my family over for the 4th. We always celebrate my daughter’s birthday, which is the 1st, and my niece’s birthday, which is the 9th. It was so hot out, we were in and out. So, after dinner we were all sitting in the family room. I noticed my older son who is 21, sitting next to my sister, real close to her, and she’s the one who lost her son, Thomas, almost 3 years ago, when he was 21. I know she misses her son terribly, and as I looked at them, I just felt a sense that it was a comfort to her to have my son sit so close to her and talk with her. He has a sensitive spirit like that, too. I know my sister enjoys his company and talking with him, and he’s the same age that she remembers her son being. God comforts us at times through other people.

    1. Susan how beautiful that your son sensed a need to bring such comfort to your sister. It brings tears to my eyes (literally). What a blessing!

    2. Susan–the way you describe that scene on the 4th I can totally picture it. Your son has that compassionate and sensitive spirit like you–so sweet to see such a thoughtful gesture. Looks small, but so weighty really, and other-centered.

    3. Love this, Susan.

    4. Susan, loved your fourth of July story. What a sweet comfort to your sister and yes your son has such a sweet, sensitive heart just like you.

    5. Susan that was so sweet of your son to do that….he must sense her need and pain.

  5. I read a blog by Tullian Tchividjian this morning from his upcoming book “Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free” and it hit a spot deep in me about understanding suffering. Here is the link:


    And here is a quote from it to whet your appetite, if you are interested. He gets his ideas from Martin Luther and others reformers. The last paragraph I quoted is the clincher.

    “It is not exactly breaking news to say that our culture has an aversion to suffering, regardless of how inescapable it may be. This is because we—you and me—have an aversion to suffering. Who wants to suffer? But the conscious avoidance of pain is one thing; the complete intolerance, or outright denial of it, is another.”

    ” … This is where Martin Luther, the great leader of the Protestant Reformation, comes in. One of his most important and lasting contributions to the faith involves the distinction between the “theology of glory” and the “theology of the cross.” …“Theologies of glory” are approaches to Christianity (and to life) that try in various ways to minimize difficult and painful things, or to move past them rather than looking them square in the face and accepting them. Theologies of glory acknowledge the cross, but view it primarily as a means to an end—an unpleasant but necessary step on the way to personal improvement, the transformation of human potential. As Luther puts it, the theologian of glory “does not know God hidden in suffering. Therefore he prefers works to suffering, glory to the cross, strength to weakness, wisdom to folly, and, in general, good to evil.” The theology of glory is the natural default setting for human beings addicted to control and measurement. This perspective puts us squarely in the driver’s seat, after all.”

    “A theology of the cross, in contrast, understands the cross to be the ultimate statement of God’s involvement in the world on this side of heaven. A theology of the cross accepts the difficult thing rather than immediately trying to change it or use it. It looks directly into pain, and “calls a thing what it is” instead of calling evil good and good evil. It identifies God as “hidden in [the] suffering.” Luther actually took things one key step further. He said that God was not only hidden in suffering, but He was at work in our anxiety and doubt. When you are at the end of your rope—when you no longer have hope within yourself—that is when you run to God for mercy. It’s admittedly difficult to accept the claim that God is somehow hidden amid all of the wreckage of our lives. But those who are willing to struggle and despair may in actuality be those among us who best understand the realities of the Christian life.”

    ” …The house of religious cards “that glory built” collapses when we inevitably encounter unforeseen pain and suffering. When the economy tanks and you lose your job of thirty years, or when, God forbid, your child gets into a car accident (or is exposed to something damaging). When you simply can’t keep your mouth shut about your in-laws even though you promised you would. When the waters rise and the levee breaks. Suddenly, the mask comes off, and the glory road reaches a dead end. We come to the end of ourselves, in other words, to our ruin, to our knees, to the place where if we are to find any help or comfort, it must come from somewhere outside of us. Much to our surprise, this is the precise place where the good news of the gospel—that God did for you what you couldn’t do for yourself—finally makes sense. It finally sounds good!”

    1. Diane–thank you for sharing this–it’s a great article, I really like him. I loved the part at the end you quoted above, “when the waters rise…” and also earlier he said “But the theology of the cross happens to us and in spite of us. For the suffering person, this is a word of profound hope.”

    2. WOW! Thank you for sharing, Diane. Good reading here.

    3. Oh Diane, this is really really good. I loved the last two paragraphs and this: “Luther actually took things one key step further. He said that God was not only hidden in suffering, but He was at work in our anxiety and doubt. When you are at the end of your rope—when you no longer have hope within yourself—that is when you run to God for mercy. It’s admittedly difficult to accept the claim that God is somehow hidden amid all of the wreckage of our lives. But those who are willing to struggle and despair may in actuality be those among us who best understand the realities of the Christian life.”-wow..

    4. Thank you for this Diane, it articulates some of the thoughts I have been having. When something really horrible happens, we see how worthless our idols are to bring any relief, thats when we can really open our eyes and see why it is wisdom to let it all go in exchange for the treasure of the Gospel.
      I wish it was a one time realization, but I need to remember to feed on the Bread of Life daily, preach the gospel to myself over & over. Sometimes it is hard to do. I am glad that Jesus knows it is hard & that He is compassionate to me.

      1. Yes, Chris, I agree. Even Jesus recognized that his disciples were “slow of heart to believe” (Luke 24:25). We “need to remember to feed on the Bread of Life daily, preach the gospel to myself over & over. Sometimes it is hard to do.” Jesus asks us to only ask for our “daily bread”, isn’t that interesting. One day at a time. A wise Christian elder says “Sometimes we must ask for strength to live for Jesus the next hour, or even the next half hour, or even the next minute.”

    5. Thanks, Diane! This is SO good.

    6. Thank you for taking the time to share this, Diane, it’s really, really good!

    7. Wow! Diane thanks. This is a gift for us. We are a group of women learning to find God in our suffering. This affirms us so.

  6. But they both responded in a godly way.

    3. In the following verses, you will find a new and helpful way to pray.

    A. Crying out: Find it in verses 1-2

    B. Looking toward “the temple” (Christ) and remembering Who He is: Find it in verses 4-7)

    C. Committing yourself to Him in sacrifice and thanksiving (Find it in verse 9)

    4. Now you follow these three steps with something you are facing.

    Lord, I am thankful for the love that You provided for me at Calvary. I am thankful for the example You set through unselfish sacrifice. Forgive me for taking Your Mercy and Grace for granted every time I rely on my own carnal thinking in trying work through my struggles my own way and not Yours.
    Your Word says “Your ways are not our ways, nor Your thoughts our thoughts!”
    I thankful for your forgiveness this morning! Amen

  7. Elizabeth, your notes are fantastic. Thank you.

    1. oh thanks for your graciousness–glad to be of some help. Still praying for you as we pass bolted up fireworks huts (I pass at least 1 a day in my normal route!) Hope you’ve been able to rest and recover some. How are your sinuses and headaches lately?

  8. I have been so tired and sad.
    We really had a wonderful time at Cedar Point, but remembering the last trip, which was just about 10 days before Daniels assault was bittersweet. Zach had been home on leave and I had focused my attention on him that trip. I didn’t know.
    On the way home I found out a friends grandaughter who had had a recent lung transplant had given up her fight for life. I felt so sad, so incredibly sad, I know how it feels to leave the hospital without your child.
    So I am struggling a bit now, feeling very low and discouraged. Zach will leave on July 25, the same day as the assault. He must not realize that is the same day.
    Susan I loved you I spy

    1. Chris, I am so sorry for your feeling so low and painful. And am so sorry for your friends grandaughter. Is there anyway you could just go sit with them (sit shieva) without bringing alot of pain onto yourself? Someone that has gone through pain, like you have, can bring alot of comfort to the one’s going through it now. But I realize this may be too difficult. I’m praying for you! I know it will be so hard to have Zach leave, especially on that awful day. We will be praying for you on the 25th. Run to God for strengh and come to us for help here on the blog too. Meanwhile enjoy every minute you have with Zach.

    2. oh dear friend, I am SO sorry. This all is incredibly sad. I have been thinking of you especially this month, wanting to remember the 25th, and knowing July and August must be esp. painful. Then to have more sadness with your friend, and the date of Zach leaving–so much Chris. All I can do is lift you up, I wish I could do more–but I promise to continue to pray

    3. this just came to mind for you Chris http://youtu.be/C8Esw-HeSXA

      1. Thank you for the reminder Elizabeth.

    4. Oh, Chris. I’m praying. May God “carry you” through this dark time.

    5. Oh Chris, I am so sorry for your sadness and tiredness and thankful you had a good trip. I have been and am praying for you. I wrote you on my calendar for July 25 so that I focus on praying for you then. (Also praying that Zach might be able to change the date he leaves)

    6. Chris, i am so very sorry. Praying for you.

    7. Chris, we hurt so with you. I am amazed at how the Love of God is spread abroad among us. Your sadness makes me cry out to God on your behalf for comfort. I cannot begin to imagine the pain you are in but know God is holding you, crying with you, wiping your tears. I wish I could give you a hug and cry with you.

    8. Chris,
      I’m sorry…I think we all feel your heaviness of heart, we see it in your words. This month and August must be terribly hard, the anniversaries are especially hard. I will be praying for you. I’m glad you shared how you are feeling with us so we can pray.

    9. Thank you girls, your care for me means more than I can express. I wept a lot tonight, I needed to. You are all such a blessing to me, I am grateful for you!

    10. Chris, I read this last night and was in the process of writing you to tell you I am praying, but had to get offline due to an interruption. 🙁 Know my heart is with you-this month has to be so difficult for you-wish I could be there to hug you. You are so loved, Chris.

  9. I heard a quotation from Randy Alcorn on the radio on my way home on Monday. It stuck with me long enough for me to look it up (other relevant quotations here too: http://www.epm.org/resources/2010/Mar/2/quote-week-archive/)

    “If we come to see the purpose of the universe as God’s long-term glory rather than our short-term happiness, then we will undergo a critical paradigm shift in tackling the problem of evil and suffering”

    1. oooh–I love that Renee. If there was a surgery I could have to change my default perspective, the lens through which I look–I would sign up. Eternal perspective changes everything.

      1. 🙂 Elizabeth, if you find that surgery, please let me know!

    2. Yes, this is good, but we live in the short term, here on earth, dealing with day to day pain and suffering. I can’t even imagine what Chris is going through. I have my own hell that I am living daily with my daughter hanging around totally awful people who do awful things. It isn’t much comfort to me that there is a universal plan that God has when I am in the dregs of society with Sarah. Yes I believe God has the plan for long term glory, but my human self is struggling right now. I suppose some of us must sacrifice for the good of all?Is that what Randy Alcorn means here? It makes me sad and tired like Chris says. It is difficult to understand on the human level. God will take care of those who did what they did to Daniel; thank you Lord for watching over us when we can’t.

      In the Prodigal Son series (the true older brother), Keller says we must look at others as being on the same level as ourselves. I have tried that so often and what it has done to my family is to drag them down into that mire with the less fortunate one. I suppose I am an older brother. I need to remember that my goal is to know Jesus, not worry about what “level” I am on. But then, should we really hang around druggies? I have friends who drink too much. I told my oldest son that I couldn’t hang around them because I get sucked into that kind of living. Not good for me. This is all at the human level. The bigger picture is God. If I hung around my friends I have a chance to bring them to Him. Is that what Alcorn means?

      I know this is probably more than what Alcorn meant, but I need it at my level. We live in a world with people who do hellish things everyday. Have you watched the latest teen tv shows? I got sarah to watch one of her favorite shows on tv with me and there were 2 young teen girls kissing because they were supposedly gay. It is outrageous what we as parents have to fight off to keep our kids clean. Jesus hung with the prostitutes, but I am not Jesus. I am trying to make Alcorns quote mine. I think it is more complex than what he is saying, it’s not that simple; nice and neat. God will make all things good, but meanwhile we fight the battles here on Earth and yes sometimes that means having to deal with short term happiness/unhappiness. We can’t ignore there is pain and suffering right here and now.

      Then there is Joni Eareckson-tada’s quote about it isn’t Gods job to make us happy but to make us holy. Or something like that.

      1. Great questions, Laura-dancer. I haven’t read the book where the sentence was first used, so I don’t know the context he was using it. I don’t usually set the postings here to come right to my email, but I did this time because I was gone some of the time. So I read postings in different threads at the same time and came here to try to understand them in context.

        The reason Alcorn’s quote helped me is because I read it as sort of a parallel to the “bad hotel” quote. When I saw that come through my email, too, I looked that up to try to figure out where I’d first heard it (I think it might have been here because Tim Keller referred to Teresa Avila as saying “The first moment in the arms of Jesus is gonna make a thousand years of misery on Earth look like one night in a bad hotel.”)

        Life here on earth STINKS a lot of the time — and just to focus on life here and my own happiness/unhappiness puts me on an emotional roller coaster. It’s so easy for me to get tunnel vision and ONLY focus on life here. And when I only focused on life here and now during “bad” times , I was close to giving up in despair (i.e., hospitalized many times to decrease the risk of giving up).

        I naturally focus on “earth stuff,” so I’m not at a big risk of being “too heavenly minded.” Now that I’m thinking about it, I might feel like punching someone if I read the quote out of context! I am SO SORRY that I posted the quotation without some context of why I liked it.

        Last week, someone (Dawn MS, I think?) posted that she was not bubbly. I didn’t have Internet access at the time, but I thought “I’m glad you’re not bubbly because ‘bubbly’ can be annoying.” I can see now that the Alcorn quote minus any context could sound “out of touch.”

        So, here’s a tiny bit of my context. I can get so sucked in to despair when I focus on my pain and pain of those I love that I barely can function. For me, “talking to my soul” with God’s truth has to be a constant. When I don’t remind myself of the eternal, the big picture, I become lost in the short-term. While I may not be hospitalize-able, I’d be miserable. More importantly, reminding myself of God’s truth has convinced me that HE is truth — and not just a mind game to make me feel better. Being convinced of who He is and that I have a purpose in His long term glory helps me cope better with the short term. Alcorn’s quote gave me this visual perspective of God’s glory in the universe throughout eternity which includes myself on earth during this limited point in time. With this image, the horrors of this the present world fall into perspective.

        Laura-dancer, I like what you said and your question: “The bigger picture is God. If I hung around my friends I have a chance to bring them to Him. Is that what Alcorn means?” Oh wow, I was WAY TOO SELFISH to see the quote that way! For me, the quote was “Yeah, this will help ME cope suffering and better understand problems of evil.” My “evangelism desire” seems almost secondary. During the last couple of years as God has shown Himself to me (that sounds so mystical, but it has involved leaning into Him and a whole bunch of soul-talking as we learned in “The God of All Comfort” study), my burden for people who don’t know Him has increased.

        Thanks for what you wrote, and I am sorry for not providing some context. I appreciate your post so much; hope I haven’t provided too much context as I’ve started to talk to my own soul again. We can live with the perspective of God’s long-term glory while we live out our lives on earth. I’m not very good with the “eternal perspective.” But it seems to be “both/and” rather than “either/or.”

        1. Wow! This is awesome! I get it now; thanks so much for spending the time to explain. I’m not sure you will get this, but I so appreciate your explanation. I remember the Keller quote too. It makes my heart jump when I read it!

        2. Got it 😉

  10. Coming back to read comments but I have to tell you. Joey got his licence yesterday and just left to drive to new youth group. I had to bite my tongue to keep from repeating directions over and over as he went out the door. I couldn’t go because I had to take flexeril. Then I thought this might be a good thing. This youth group is small and almost all girls. My friend thought that might be a good idea. I like the fact that this pastor is thirtysomething and obviously knows and loves God deeply.

    1. anne, this makes me smile, praying for safety and that God would bless the time for dear Joey–that this would be a good fit for him.

      1. Thanks so much Elizabeth.

  11. J. Just got back in quite a lather. He reports 2 near accidents ( thanks so much for praying Elizabeth!) but says the youth group was fine. Once he got over the near death experiences he began to walk tall. I think this group of girls may be just right for him for a little while. I love how the Lord bring wisdom out of the mouths of friends.

    1. oh my! so thankful he’s ok anne–and for the good yth grp report! as I prayed I was thinking how thankful I am that you have shared his faith journey with us here–it’s so encouraging as a fellow mom to watch God work in your Joey. And hearing what you just said about the wisdom of that grp coming from your friend–affirmation that he wants us to carry one another’s burdens and then we also get to share in the joys.

    2. Glad Joey got home safely. Having a new driver in the family is major stressful. I’m so glad he liked youth group. I hope this is a great fit for him and helps him grow spiritually. Praying for your peace, his safety and also his spiritual growth. Watching them grow up is wonderful and stressful at the same time,isn’t it?

    3. Anne,
      I’m glad Joey was safe….I do remember well the boys when they got their licenses. What was also equally terrifying was, my husband doesn’t have the nerves to withstand it, so I was the one to take them out driving when they were learning. We had a few hair-raising experiences! I used my imaginary brake pedal often!
      I’m glad he likes the youth group, too.

    4. Anne, you got my heart going up and then down! Praying for Joey’s driving and youth group. When is his appt..in Aug? Remind me so we can pray. The driving and group with alot of girls may be giving him some confidence he needs very badly! Prayers for his safety.

      1. Joyce, that is what my friend was thinking and I do think it will give him some confidence and draw him in under some godly teaching. I am hopeful, and God is faithful. His appt is July 31 and I will remind. We will be at the beach with my sister the week before that.

    5. Oh Anne! So thankful he got there and back safely. Glad to hear the good report about this youth group!

  12. 4. Now you follow these three steps with something you are facing.

    Oh Lord, you know how fainthearted I can be. Please remind me of who I am to you, that my boys are more loved by you than they are by me, please reassure me that my name and theirs are engraved on the palms of your hands, that this life when we are all together for eternity will seem one night in a bad hotel, help me see your abounding love every day as I look at the cross, let it bind my heart to you. Fit me with armor and make me willing to do battle for you.

    May I be willing then to be poured out as an offering in Your service, provide the power to change me into someone who is willing to follow You to hurting people without regard for my own comfort, make me a useful tool for kingdom work, may my concern be for Your glory alone, let me fear You and nothing else.

    Thank you for the cross, thank you for the assurance of your word, thank you for redeeming me from the pit, thank you for Tim Keller, thank for Dee and all my sisters here, surrounding me with love, being your hands and feet to me. Thank you for my sons, for giving me the chance to love them, for the small glimpse my love for them gives me of your love for us, thank you for my husband, for the redeeming work you have done in our marriage. My heart is full of praise for you.

    1. I am praying along with you here, Chris! What a loving, heartwrenching, Praising God prayer. My heart strings are tugging for you:( But I’m Praising all these things for you too!

      You’ve come a long way, girl!

    2. Amazing prayer Chris. Lord I pray with Chris now. Thank you for her leadership in this forum. She brings us strength. Thank you.

      P.S. Loved the “one night in a bad hotel” phrase!

  13. 5. What stood out to you from the sermon and why?

    Another great sermon! What stuck out to me was that faith is not something that just comes on automatically when we are in a storm, faith is not going on the basis of my feelings and mood. Faith is choosing to get a hold of the Gospel-to think through it. To work it in by pondering and chewing on it and speaking that truth to my soul, and then acting on it. It is choosing not to listen to my heart and believe everything it says rather it is telling my heart the truth.

    I liked this: “Faith is being controlled by the promises of God rather than your own impressions.” and this: “Jonah is building up his faith by looking at the Gospel, pondering it.”

    I liked this as a red flag to see when I am choosing to listen to my feelings and mood rather than choosing to think through the Gospel:

    “When you retreat it is when you stop seeing the facts and you retreat. Faith grows through commitment. It is an ongoing process of preaching the gospel to yourself. If you are worried that things are out of control, it means to go to him and say my world is out of control but you are my father and if I am really accepted freely by Grace because of the substitute Jesus Christ then I am not going to act like an orphan. When I worry I am forgetting He is my father and He is in control.”

  14. 3. In the following verses, you will find a new and helpful way to pray.

    A. Crying out: Find it in verses 1-2

    “In my distress I called to the Lord”
    “From the depths of the grave I called for help”

    B. Looking toward “the temple” (Christ) and remembering Who He is: Find it in verses 4-7)

    (v 4) “I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple”

    (v 7) “…and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple”

    I really like how Keller explains in his sermon what this means, looking to the temple; Keller explained that obviously, JOnah couldn’t see the temple from where he was, so it means something more than that. The temple was the place of sacrifice, the place that showed the seriousness of sin, yet the hope of forgiveness. Today, we can look toward Jesus and the Cross.

    C. Committing yourself to Him in sacrifice and thanksgiving (Find it in verse 9)

    “But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good.”

    1. I am praying for you, Annie, the video and the conference. Love to you!

  15. Dee, So thankful God has this, and I will most definitely pray for Annie-poor Annie! Will pray for you for the rest of this week and weekend. God, we cry out for Annie-for relief from this flu and that you would protect everyone there from getting it-help her to not feel so bad as she had no clue she would relapse-we ask for your mercy on her and that everyone there would sense you. Thank you that you are in the details of this. In Jesus precious name, Amen.

      1. Sometimes mom is what we need 🙂

  16. 6. What’s your take-a-way and why?

    Repenting and turning daily from my idols and then instead of allowing my heart and emotions to speak to me, I speak truth to my soul and apply the Gospel to my soul. This is something I have been practicing daily, but it is a choice-it really is! Especially on days when I am tired.

    As I go through this process, to go to God-Cry out to him, remember the truth about Him, work it deep in my soul and then live it out.

  17. 5. What stood out to you from the sermon and why?

    Below are a series of quotes (not exact quotes, but as close as I could type). These points struck me. A lot of them have to do with trusting God’s truths instead of your “impressions” (feelings).

    “Faith is not a talent; it is being controlled by the promises of God instead of your impressions.

    “Doubt your doubts enough to seek Him.

    “Job has done everything wrong but one thing – he did it in the presence of God. He didn’t stop praying. The way back to faith is the same as the first step – you call. Talk to him in your distress. It is not the same as worrying in his direction. Yell!

    “The musician must not try to be the conductor.” [Don’t try to be God.]

    “Faith is not listening to your heart; it is talking to your heart, telling it the truth. That is the difference between faith and unbelief. Doubt is listening to your heart and everything it says.

    “The children of Israel looked at the wilderness and said, God has brought us here to die here. Some of you are in that condition. Your heart is saying ‘You brought me here to die here’. Truth is: God doesn’t do that. You can listen to your heart or you can listen to God.

    “Faith is thinking, not an absence of thinking. Don’t go on the basis of appearance. Faith is hard. Faith is thinking in the highest way. Faith is looking at all the facts at once, intense mental activity, arguing with yourself.

    “Preach the gospel to yourself. Go to him and say my world looks out of control, but you are my Father and I am not going to act like an orphan. Don’t sit around scared because things look out of control.

    “If you are really teaching yourself the gospel, you will become the most approachable of people. You will be both compassionate and ethical.”

    1. Diane, Thanks for good quotes. Love this one: “Job has done everything wrong but one thing – he did it in the presence of God. He didn’t stop praying. The way back to faith is the same as the first step – you call. Talk to him in your distress. It is not the same as worrying in his direction. Yell!”

      Was just going to get the sermon now.

      Dee, Praying for you, your family, video editing and speaking. Will check here for updates!

        1. 🙂 Fun memory on a HOT day. I wasn’t one of those skiing, but I remember the announcement in church (that he was willing to go cross-country skiing in an overcoat with some of call committee), either when he first visited/candidated or shortly after he arrived.

          Hope it is cooler (or at least well air-conditioned) in Wheaton!

  18. 6. What’s your take-a-way and why?

    I keep pondering Keller’s statement about “doubting your doubts.” This has been a major key for me although I have not used his words before. Not “trusting” my feelings has helped me overcome my feelings. Sometimes I get almost overwhelming emotions (mostly sadness) from deep within me. The feelings come unbidden and many times I don’t know the original cause. I have discovered that the emotion is almost always based on some lie from the Enemy that I am believing, such as “God really doesn’t love me (or someone I love) or He would not let this happen”.

    I find it hard even to function normally when the emotion feels like it is going to strangle me. I used to give in more to the feeling and focus on it. Now, while I still try to figure out what the cause is so I can speak the truth to whatever lie I am believing, I argue with myself. I work hard to remember the truth that I am unconditionally, perfectly, sweetly loved by Jesus. He is still in control, even if my emotions are not. I refocus the pain of my emotion toward God and trust that he will rescue me (and whatever situation seems hopeless at the moment).

    And I find that not just speaking the truth to the lie, but I must ACT out the truth. For example, instead of crawling into a little ball of pity, I need to walk in the truth and do the next thing I believe God would want me to do; whether that is making supper, going out for a walk, caring for my children, or whatever. Or, as Keller puts it, “Don’t sit around scared because things look out of control.”

  19. wow Elizabeth such good notes! Love esp. the picture of the temple and how the mercy seat covers the law how when looking there he was in fact looking to Christ not knowing it! Cool!

    Pray for us if you think of it. Tomorrow we have a visit if it does not rain with little mans parents and entire family. I have never gone to a visit being in the same place with his biological mother and him at the same time. It could be extremely awkward. But my prayer is that she see it is the more brave or noble thing to do by releasing their rights of him to us OR being spurned on in such a way to fight for her children and do whatever it takes to make a proper home for them. Whatever God’s will is but this kid needs stability. Praying I will be light and gospel to her as we are all together.

    1. Will be praying for you — and the mtg — Angela!

    2. You are in my prayers regularly, Angela. I will pray specifically for the meeting tomorrow with the biological mother and little man. I cannot really imagine how hard this must be for you. You want stability while she represents chaos and out of control. Remember that God goes with you and He will guide. Remember God loves little man even more than you.

    3. oh angela–def will pray! what time is the mtg?

    4. Angela, I have been thinking of you and praying for you. I will pray for you today. This has to be so hard, but I am so thankful that God has placed you all in his life to rescue and care for him!

    5. Ditto, I am praying 🙂

    6. Checking in to see if you’ve had your mtg yet? will keep praying

      1. Hey everyone, meeting was cancelled due to rain. Probably happen in two weeks. Thanks for your prayers!

        1. thanks for update 🙂

  20. Dee at the Dalton Ga conference there was a ministry there that helped free women from trafficking. I bought a purse from them that ladies made who were now free, they were upstairs. By any chance do you remember the name of the ministry? I cannot find it for the life of me!!!

    1. Was it International Justice Mission? (that’s the only one I can every remember!)

    2. Angela, I am thinking it might have been called, “Freedom’s Promise”. I have the event coordinator’s name and email address if you would like..You can message me via facebook, or email me at: rebecca@deebrestin.com and I would be more than happy to get that to you!

      1. Oh Rebecca I think that is right! I will see if I can find it online to confirm.

        1. Yes this was it! Sadly they do not have their products on their site. But now I know how to contact them! Thx so much!

        2. Yeah! Glad you can contact them now!

  21. Just wondering— Did anyone have trouble downloading this sermon? This hasn’t happened to me before: I paid, received a receipt, and it hasn’t shown up in my downloads??

    Oops.. just poked around further. On another page, I get the msg “Waiting to be processed.” Haven’t seen this before. In the past, they have been available immediately. Just an FYI in case this happens to anyone else.

    1. Still “waiting to be processed” ??

      1. Did you get the sermon, Renee? I had no problem earlier in the week.

        1. Diane, Thanks for asking. You reminded me to check again 🙂 No, it’s still not in the download list. I’ll try to contact “customer service” (or whatever it’s called) on Monday.

  22. Saturday:
    6. What’s your take-a-way and why?

    I’ve just started reading Sarah Edwards’ narrative and I am so humbled by her passion for Christ. She confesses a situation where Jonathan was upset with her, and she was convicted of her putting her reputation and his approval above God. She prayed to have “a full and entire rest in Him, independent of all other things”. She said “I had not found my calm, peace, and rest in God so sensibly, fully, and constantly above the reach of disturbance from (her fair reputation and the esteem of her husband) until now”.

    After listening to the sermon this week, my husband memorized Heb. 11—I’m terrible at memorizing, but I’ve enjoyed listen to him practice. And so I’ve felt this week the connection between faith and a deep love for Christ above all else. Faith, defined in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” and in verses15-16 we see their love for Christ surpassing all “If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.”

    Last week, God impressed joy upon my heart, this week, it is faith. By faith, I please Him. By faith I follow Him, and by faith I fall more deeply in love with Him, with a love that surpasses all circumstances, all desires.

      1. It’s called “In Love with Christ” (the title is what lured me!) The actual narrative is really short–only 30 pages, and then the book has some commentaries added I didn’t expect. I found it used for under $1 on amazon 😉

  23. 6. What’s your take-a-way and why?
    I was sharing with my mom some of the lesson and how I have learned to look at the gospel. How I am learning to speak the truth to my soul when hard things arise.
    I loved this line, “Are you singing to your heart, or listening to your heart?” Doubt your doubts. It reminds me of a verse that’s been rolling around in my head lately of the heart being deceitfully wicked.
    I had a few bad days this week and I had to look to the gospel and speak the truth to myself and it truly brought me out and saved the day. I don’t know what I did to get through in the past but it couldn’t have been as wonderful as truth speaking.

    1. Kim, Loved your take a way and that you are sharing this with your mom. I am sure God is working through you to minister to her heart!

      1. Thank you, Rebecca. She is receiving it which is great.

  24. Continued prayers for Sarah. She has come home however has bruises all over her body. When we asked her why she said she was play fighting with a friend. This is difficult. There are many paths to take but none lead to what is best for all. We have to consider everyone. Unfortunately the law is not on the innocent people’s side anymore and she wont press charges anyway. We just need to make sure she knows it is unacceptable and to never let anyone ever do this again to her. At least she has stayed home the last 2 nights.

    Dear Lord please come to Sarah. Please help her feeble mind to realize that we are here to help her, not harm her. Please show her that it is time to stop the madness and the best place for her until she can live on her own is here with us. Protect her Jesus. Give her a contrite heart. Help her come back to you. She is Yours, remind her of this, Lord. I am Yours. In Your Holy name, Amen.

    1. Laura-dancer, this brought tears to my eyes..Lord I don’t know how to pray, my heart stopped hearing this-We cry out to you now for Sarah. Come to her Lord, open her eyes and give her the desire to stay at home. Thank you that she came home and draw her to you. In Jesus name..

    2. Father, I plead with you for Laura-dancer. She is so hurt. Yet she is hurting in your presence, Lord. Bring relief, Lord, that she will be able to bear it. Lord, protect Sarah. Rescue her from those who do her harm, when she can’t rescue herself.

      I hate to ask this question, Laura, but have you checked to see if Sarah was sexually abused?

    3. Laura-dancer, So thankful Sarah is home — Will continue to pray for you and her in this hard situation. (Would she allow you to get pictures of bruises? I pray that this doesn’t happen again, but some documentation might be good to have “just in case”)

    4. I feel heart sick for you and Sarah, Laura. It takes me back to those awful days when Brad was out in rebellion. I love the truth your prayer speaks when you say Sarah and you belong to the Lord. We cry out with you for Sarah. Oh God be merciful and open Sarah’s eyes to the truth. Keep her safe and strengthen her parents and give them wisdom from your Holy Spirit.

    5. So sorry! Praying!

    6. oh Laura, this so breaks me–praying with you

    7. Praying your prayer for Sarah with you, Laura

  25. Laura, I am glad to know that your prayers fo Sarahs return have been answered, praying for wisdom for you and your husband.

    Angela, praying for the heart of his mother, that she will do whats best for her child, and for you, may you be salt & light in this meeting.

    Diane your impressions from the sermon were a balm to me this morning, most were points that also resonated with me, I needed to hear them again.

    My son Josh is crushed, his wife has decided she is done with thier marriage. He told his 5 year old daughter yesterday, then called me sobbing to talk him out of doing something stupid. He has been praying, and learning so much about his own heart, but he feels like praying isn’t doing any good. She has admitted that she only pretends to have faith to please her parents, her dad is a lay minister, she is not she if she believes in God at all. I hate thinking of the price Bryar (my grand daughter) will pay for this.
    I know there will be love beneath these waves for Josh, but it is so hard though to see him suffering.

    A friend of Daniels wrote a long post on his wall that has me undone. I should already be at work, I am so sad today, I am certainly not loving my life in this world today.

    1. Oh, Chris, Hugs to you. My heart goes out to you. My prayers are with you, and with Josh, Bryar. Lord, this all seems more than Chris can bear. Carry her, Lord. We plead to you for mercy. Wrap your loving arms around her and let her KNOW that is exactly what you are doing.

      1. Amen.

    2. Chris I am so sorry for the pain. I know pain with children; how you want to have their pain as your own. It is difficult. Some thoughts: Sitting shiva with Bryar is paramount through this. Maybe now is not a good time to be on fb for your protection; later, just not so close to the day? I am praying for you and your situation.

      Thanks for reminding me how we prayed and God brought Sarah home. It is good!

    3. Oh Chris, So sorry for all you are experiencing now. I’m praying you will experience His strength for the day. Praying for Josh and his family, too.

    4. This is so hard, dear Chris. Pain on pain. I will pray.

    5. oh Chris, this is too much–i have no words, so broken for you all–praying for you, for Josh, his wife and this precious child…praying for a miracle

    6. Oh Chris, so so sorry to hear this!

  26. Take away: What I’ve known in my head continues to sink deeper into my heart.

    1. so thankful Annie is better, thankful for the edits, and praying for this conference–sounds big! love you Dee

      1. oh–i just got my CBD email announcing “coming soon” books–so fun to see Idol Lies listed and for 8/27!!

        1. Elizabeth, So exciting! 🙂

    2. Dee, Excited you and Lisanne are there! Should be wonderful-am praying!

    3. Just went out to see what GEMS conference is. How wonderful Dee! Praying for you and all the girls you will be speaking to. How this generation needs His wisdom and love! I am so glad Annie is better. Being sick with a little one is bad news. Praying for the edit too.

    4. Lord, quicken Dee tomorrow morning and prepare the women`s hearts to hear you. Thank you for the ministry of GEMS and the mentors you have raised up to disciple these precious girls. Thank you for Dee`s ministry and how you will move mightily through her to mentor these leaders. I ask that your presence be sensed by all and that they would walk out with a deeper passion to pursue you. In Jesus name, amen.

      1. Praying Dee!

  27. Wanted to rec. a surprisingly good Christian film we rented last night called Turning Back. It’s a prodigal son story, but VERY well done, we thought. We rented it at Redbox–it’s “not rated”–but I’d say not for younger than 13.

    1. Elizabeth, thanks for the movie idea! It looks really good.

  28. I agree that we just don’t know how to pray Lord. Our hearts are so heavy for Sarah, Josh and Bryar. Lord how we weep with our children! Their pain is our pain. How much more so for You! Please bring healing for Sarah. I pray that she will be open with Laura what has happened to her. Though these things may be hard to hear, comfort Laura and help her to speak words of comfort and healing to Sarah. We know the enemy meant this for evil but he is a defeated foe and we trust that You will use it for good. Above all else may it point her to You.

    Lord, please undergird Chris in her 3 fold pain. May she sense Your loving presence with every breath she takes. Comfort and protect Josh in his pain and confusion. May all of this draw him to cry out to You for we know that You will be found faithful. Help Bryar, little as she is to lean her great big heart into You. I can imagine that she has no idea what is happening to her. Protect her and bring into her life those who will be able to minister to her in addition to Chris and Josh. Speak to her mother in whatever is going on in her heart and help her to see that she is destroying her family with her own hands. May she surrender before You and know that You are sovereign and that You love her.
    Oh Lord, our Deliverer! We cry out to You. Amen

    1. Lord, I don`t know how much more pain Chris can endure. I don’t understand, but I do know you are close to the broken hearted. You are close to Chris and Josh. Bring to remembrance your goodness, your faithfulness to Chris, and help her to be your comfort to Josh. Help her to hide in you, and guard her heart. Thank you for your beauty so evident in her.

    2. Yes Lord, I pray along with Anne here, my heart is heavy for Chris and her son and grandaughter. Praying for the Lord to lift you up too, Chris.

  29. Just wanted to let you all know that I will be on vacation for the next couple of weeks. We are leaving this afternoon and will be going camping in the woods of central Ontario with friends. Yes, we are sort of crazy but are looking forward to great canoeing, hiking and wild flower photography. I will probably be completely out of internet contact for this coming week but hope to have some opportunity to check in the following week.

    I will continue to pray for many of you and will miss you. This blog and all of you on it has been a spring of living water to my soul this year.

    1. We will miss you too, Diane but enjoy and be safe.

    2. Have a great trip Diane!

  30. 6. My take-a-way. One thing that really jumped out to me this week is when Keller pointed out the difference between faith and doubt. My doubt is not always obvious to me. It shows up in fear which then results in anger and irritability. Yesterday I had an episode that I was able to isolate and follow the trail back to the source. Somewhere, and it may have been here, I learned that anger is the result of fear. This is how it went. A past failure of mine was revealed to me. I knew God forgives but would He deliver me from the consequences of my carelessness? The result was fear and it bubbled up in me as anger and irritability as I was driving home from work. So I began to speak truth to that fear. I am not in danger. I am in the hands of my loving, omnipotent Lord. While He may not deliver me from consequences, He will be with me in them and indeed has already delivered me. Yesterday afternoon was a spiritual battle for me. I wanted to escape but instead I came before Him in quiet submission and He won that battle for me.

    Good thing I wrote this before my sister called for I am now steeped in anger and can’t finish my thoughts. No fear involved in this one though.

    I was hoppin mad when I wrote that and rightfully so in my mind. So where could I go with it? The Lord led me back to the Boundaries study. I had put it down because it just wasn’t speaking to me at the time but it sure did today! i picked up where I left off and it was right where I am. Oh, His timing is so perfect! I am much calmer now but not sure I can do what I have purposed in my heart in love for I know it will incite anger from my sister and my niece. Every time I think about what they will say, I come up with something sassy in reply. Oh Lord I need Your heart. I have so far to go.

    So if I read over what I said this morning, I think now would be the time to talk to my soul. Does God love me? Yes. Will my sister love me after I establish my boundary with her? Maybe. Will God still love me? Yes! Will He be pleased if I do not respond in anger? Yes!

    This morning (all of that was yesterday) I sent my niece an email for she is the one planning this trip and my sister is away. I shared my feelings with her, in love I think and she responded. I apologized for my part in the miscommunication, she did not but did seem to accept what I was saying. I was very surprised at the relief that came over me from getting it out in the open and talking about it. It had been on my mind all morning, I could not seem to think of anything else. It’s like I was bound and now I am released.

    As I was doing the study questions I told the Lord that there are some things I don’t understand here but what happened today proved to me that confrontation and boundaries do free us to love.