Type and press Enter.

New here? See how to Get Started

SURVIVING WHEN YOUR WORST FEAR BECOMES A REALITY (TWO WEEKS)

WHEN YOUR SOUL IS KNIT TO ANOTHER SOUL

A HUSBAND, A CHILD — YOU THINK,

IF ANYTHING WOULD HAPPEN TO HIM OR HER

I COULD NOT SURVIVE

 

THAT’S WHAT JUDAH TOLD JOSEPH WHEN

JOSEPH DEMANDED THEY BRING BENJAMIN.

JUDAH ASKED TO STAY IN HIS PLACE.

“MY FATHER IS KNIT TO BENJAMIN,” HE SAID,

“AND IF ANYTHING HAPPENED TO THIS SON TOO,

MY FATHER WOULD DIE.”

 

THAT’S HOW WE FEEL ABOUT THOSE

TO WHOM WE ARE KNIT

 

YET SOMEHOW, IF IT HAPPENS

WE DO SURVIVE,

THOUGH WE MAY WONDER IF WE WANT TO

AND THEN, HOW WE CAN

 

WE HAVE FELT THE GRIEF OF A MOTHER HERE

A MOTHER WHO LOST HER BELOVED SEVENTEEN YEAR OLD SON

 

DANIEL, THE CHILD OF HER HEART,

WAS ASSAULTED.

A SEVERE BRAIN INJURY.

A MONTH OF ROLLER COASTER HOPES.

AND THEN THEY HAD TO SAY GOOD-BYE.

 

CHRIS HAS BEEN THROUGH THE FURNACE OF SUFFERING

AND THE PICTURE AND VERSES SHE SUBMITTED

GIVES US A GLIMPSE OF HER PAIN

 

YET IT ALSO REMINDS ME OF ANOTHER FURNACE

AND OF A “MAN” WHO WAS IN THE FURNACE WITH

SHADRACH, MESHACH, AND ABENEGO

 

Furnace of Suffering

HOW DO YOU MAKE IT THROUGH THE FURNACE OF PAIN?

 

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.

WHEN MY GREAT FISH SWALLOWED ME

(CHRIS)

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.

ZACH GRADUATING FROM AIR FORCE BOOT CAMP, DANIEL CHEERING HIM ON (1/09)

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?

Saturday

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!

 

Link

(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?

Saturday:

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
praying.

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
News.

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.

Leave a Comment

Comment * If this is your first time here, please comment then fill out your name and email as stated at the bottom. Dee will approve you within 24 hours.

493 comments

  1. 1. What do trials prove according to the above?
    The genuineness of your faith
    2.
    If you back away from God in the midst of suffering, what does it show?

    I think mostly it shows that we are human. Confronted with the understanding that God is in control and He has allowed something very awful to happen, I think backing up a bit is what most people will do if they are honest. But as in the Psalms, continuing to look towards God rather than turning away from Him, is something we can do.
    1
    Peter 4:12 says;
    “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.”
    I think this verse is included in scripture because surprise is just what we do feel
    James 1:2&3 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
    for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
    This passage is hard. One thing that helped me was to hear it emphasized that we KNOW that the testing will have the result of steadfastness, not that we FEEL it.
    It also occurs to me that counting takes time, one glance at a jar of change is not counting it. Perhaps the counting it all joy comes a while down the road, and we should not feel we are failing somehow if it our trials don’t immediately bring joy.

    1. 1. What have your trials revealed about your faith?

      My trials have shown that the ways in which I was trusting in myself, showed me I have no righteousness of my own. They have shown me that God is bigger than I knew before, His love, His purposes are beyond my puny understanding.

      It seems weird, sort of contradictory of what would be anticipated, as Rebecca brought out about opposites earlier, that such an intense loss would leave me with more trust in God than I had before, but I know it is true. I feel better able to be still and know that He is God.

    2. Thanks for sharing your perspective on “counting” joy. I love that “counting takes time”. This is something to ponder. “we should not feel we are failing somehow if it our trials don’t immediately bring joy.”

    3. wow–“I think this verse is included in scripture because surprise is just what we do feel” Oh that is just SO true! And our perspective, that expectancy that life should be easy/perfect/neat…it causes me such pain when shaken. Reminds me of the Keller sermon when he said the way you view a certain room depends on if you are expecting a hotel suite or a prison cell–you are either disappointed, or pleasantly surprised–anyway, I’m botching the story, hopefully y’all remember how he said it way better 😉

      I love this too–“Perhaps the counting it all joy comes a while down the road…” it takes that pressure off of now. Sorry but I want to share one more quote from A Praying Life that so reminded me of you–“I am not called to put on rose-colored glasses and see everything in life as pretty and good and uplifting. Rather, I am called to trust that God sees what I see. In fact, he sees beyond what I see. He sees the whole story and is completely trustworthy to be at work on a grand scale, in the minutia, and even in my own life.”

  2. I finally had a chance to watch the video, it made me cry!
    I especially love the time lapse shot of the water, bring to mind for me that time goes by and cannot be retreived.
    I was reminded about the swimming platform you described sometime last year, how they would anchor it solidly, but a storm would come and toss it about like a plaything, I wondered if I had missed something in why you included it. I want you to know that I have often though about that image since.

    And I loved that you said it was the fruit of our prayers, you are such a rich blessing to us Dee!

      1. You guys need to fill me in on the story behind the swimming platform and raft. I wasn’t here on the blog when you told about that.

        1. Diane the week we discussed the swimming platform in the video was entitled Songs in the Night

        2. Thanks, Chris. I’ll check that out.

        3. I found the Songs in the Night blog. I love the picture painted by Dee. “Those four foot waves can break the heavy chain to the anchor as if it were a string, carry the six hundred pound raft to shore, and toss it up on the rocks as though it were a child’s inner tube. Sometimes we stand inside the safety of our cabins and watch, in awe of the storm, in awe of the power of God.” The picture of the huge waves on Green Bay below the story of the raft was great too. Thanks for sharing that story. I appreciate the video even more now.

  3. 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?

    I am becoming a quieter person; more reflective. Less mouth, more listening to others. I am humbled by Him. I have figured out I can’t solve every problem in my life. I need more than just me. That “more” is my Lord. Thank you Jesus for being there for me and picking up the pieces when I can’t.

      1. Laura Dancer-Yes, we see transformation happening-so so wonderful.

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

    I cannot imagine going through what Chris has gone through. When I see how I get threatened at even minor stuff, I cannot imagine what I might do if that happened.

    I appreciate Dee’s perspective on how to respond to suffering and trials and that Chris is doing it right.
    • “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.”

    I am not sure why Christians have the idea that we should pretend everything is all right when it is not. We have this idea that we should be happy all the time if we are trusting God. I have, over the years, found great comfort in the Psalms for their unpolished honesty with God. They say things like, “Where are you God?”, and “ Why have you forsaken me?” God knows our thoughts anyway. He can handle our pain and despair. He asks us to come to Him. “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

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

    Chris, you are such a sweetie. I am so drawn to your fierce commitment to turn to Christ in the midst of her pain. You keep taking the risk of opening her life to God and searching for healing.

    For example, Chris and her husband have been involved in group counselling for people who have lost a loved one (I can’t remember the exact type of group). Anyway, she did not want to go. She did not want to bare her soul in front of strangers. I totally understand. But she did go and she did participate. Why? I think it is because she wants to be healed and is willing to risk the vulnerability. She is walking in the path that leads out of the furnace.

  5. 1. What do trials prove according to the above?
    It proves the “genuineness of your faith”. It also results in joy and in glory to God eventually. That gives me hope. Many times my perseverance doesn’t seem to be accomplishing anything, either in me or in those who I hope will be changed, so it helps to take the long view, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction” as Eugene Peterson says.
    2. If you back away from God in the midst of suffering, what does it show?

    It shows that we really do not understand our faith deep down. We still trust our idols to rescue us – our sense of control, our need for security, etc. We are leaning on our own understanding, instead of trusting God.

    3. What have your trials revealed about your faith?

    Sometimes I trust, sometimes I run to my idols first. But it helps to take the long view again. As Elisabeth Eliott says in her book, Loneliness, we pray for “progress, not perfection”. By the way, I really recommend her book. I am on my second reading – slower and more meditatively this time – and am finding it very comforting.

    I am learning not to give into my self-defensive feelings so quickly or for very long before I spend concerted time refocusing on God and giving my pain to Him. And then, acting in trust that God has my very best interests at heart even if I don’t understand.

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

    I love the imagery of gold being refined in the fire. The picture seems to be of a huge vat over the fire, being heated to melting. The pot is stirred and stirred and the impurities are skimmed off time and again, until there are no impurities left. The stirrer knows that the gold is pure when he sees his reflection in the pot as in a golden mirror. To picture that God is stirring us like that is hopeful, even as we simmer in our boiling pot.

    1. I love this too Diane “I am learning not to give into my self-defensive feelings so quickly or for very long before I spend concerted time refocusing on God and giving my pain to Him. And then, acting in trust that God has my very best interests at heart even if I don’t understand.”

    2. Diane, your imagery on gold being refined by fire is really good. “The pot is stirred and stirred and the impurities are skimmed off time and again, until there are no impurities left..” Sounds like God is using the book you are reading by Elizabeth Elliot to reinforce this and encourage you to not get discouraged as He refines you. I just love the title, “Progress, not perfection.”

    3. The Loneliness book is one of hers I have pondered many times but never read, but you inspired me–I just requested it from the library!

    4. “progress, not perfection” Thanks, Diane! I need that 🙂

    5. I too really liked the refining imagery, “The stirrer knows that the gold is pure when he sees his reflection in the pot as in a golden mirror.”

  6. what stood out for me in the Keller sermon on Your Own Grace, is learning to doubt your doubts.
    All to often when I have doubt on a particular issue, or when the Lord is directing me in a particular way through a trial. I rely on on my own heart and yield to it instead of speaking the Word into it.
    My doubts get the last word, and I lost the victory.
    It’s simplistic and yet insightful to use this approach. Doubt has no place in our walk, it is not wise and causes us to lose ground in the battle we may be facing.

    I really like that approach, doubt your own doubt.

    Had a wonderful 4th of July up in Lake Geneva with friends. It’s funny how when I was feeling low and distant from people. God’s people reached out at the right time.

    Thank you again Dee, for praying the Lord send godly friends my way.

    I am going to have consultation with my Pastor on my depression issues, because I believe some of it is spiritual. But I still know I need to address the biological part of my problem and intend to talk to a woman counselor as well next week.

    1. Laura Marie, I agree with you. I firmly believe our chemistry changes as we get older and depression can develop, so I am glad you are going to address the biological part of this as well.

    2. Laura Maria I love that God sent friends right when you needed them and they blessed you.
      I can’t wait to see how He is going to show Himself strong in your life!

      1. thank you every one.
        our church is actually starting a program next month that will run in sessions dealing with all sorts of issues.

        its called “Thrive Recovery Program” the mission statement is; we believe that recovery is attainable by reclaiming power over the past, empowering to thrive in the present, and growing hope for the future”.
        It includes 3-12 week sessions and encompasses the following ministries in our church; Hope Ministry,Life Catalyst, Divorce Recovery,Marriage & Family, Finances, and Health & Weight Management ( which I didn’t know we have this ministry).

        Anyhow, I received this email today and am very excited because its seems now I am being “showered” with all kinds of help!

        1. This sounds exciting, Laura Marie, and I am praying for you! God is on the move in your life!

  7. This has been on my heart today, so I’m posting my take away early-
    8. What is your take-a-way and why?
    I am drawn to the word JOY in these passages. And remembering too Nehemiah 8:10 “Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Mike Mason says “if joy does not arise out of the midst of tragedy, it will not arise at all.”
    I’ve known people who have suffered more than I can imagine, and they are bitter because of it. I’ve also known people, women here, who have suffered more than I can imagine and there is an indescribable joy. We have a friend in ministry, married with 2 young kids, and he’s dying of a brain tumor. But his family loves Jesus, and there is such joy among them.
    My struggle in finding joy is aligning my emotions with the truth. The old Webster’s defines joy as “The passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good;”. Joy is based on the expectation, the promise, of something greater. Joy is based on hope.

    The joy can only come when I remember Who He is, and that I belong to Him, and that He is right here, closer to me than anything or anyone, right here with me in it all. I like as Chris said, that He tells us not to be surprised by trials. He knows us so well, and knows we need to be told that—and in His Word, so we are reminded over and over. He also tells us there is a purpose, it’s not for nothing.

    I found it encouraging that while the psalms often remind us to shout for joy, they also speak of God as the giver of joy. I don’t have to rely on myself to muster it up. If I turn to Him, He will give me joy.
    Psalm 4:7You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.
    Psalm 16:11You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
    Psalm 19:8 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.
    Psalm 30:11 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
    Psalm 51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
    Psalm 94:19 When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.

    1. Elizabeth-For lack of a better word, this post was stellar-really really good..I liked this:

      “Nehemiah 8:10 “Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Mike Mason says “if joy does not arise out of the midst of tragedy, it will not arise at all.”

      “My struggle in finding joy is aligning my emotions with the truth. The old Webster’s defines joy as “The passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good;”. Joy is based on the expectation, the promise, of something greater. Joy is based on hope.”- YES YES YES!! 🙂 🙂 Thanks for listening to the Holy Spirit and posting early.

      Of course and then your insight into the Psalms..But I would have to re-post all of it!

    2. Love it, elizabeth. All of it.

    3. I love your thoughts, Elizabeth – I can see why you couldn’t wait to post them!

  8. Just got desperate enough to figure out how to connect through my cell phone (it beats spending an hour on the road and sitting in McDonald’s all day!). Will jump in with posts in the middle to try to catch up.

    3. What have your trials revealed about your faith?

    that only God is completely trustworthy. Trials revealed that my faith was partly in doing the right Christian “stuff” (Bible reading, Scripture memory) and in having Christian fellowship. Trials also revealed that I associated God’s faithfulness with taking away pain (rather than refining me through it).

    I also learned through my trials that I really did love Him; I already knew that He loved me — but it took awhile for me to understand the practical implications of His love. But I had to experience losing a lot (health, family, friends) within a short period of time for all the other important and not-so-important things to be burned away until all I could see was Him. If I would have had an ounce of control, I would have taken it

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

    three things:
    1) “In all this you greatly rejoice:” I looked up the previous verses to see exactly what I was rejoicing in. WOW WOW WOW — so helpful to get the “big picture” perspective.
    2) The reason/purpose of suffering that gives motivation for faithfulness: “may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
    3) “for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” This caught my attention because I don’t “get” it (yet!), and I must be rested enough to pursue an intellectual challenge. This is present tense: I “am [currently] receiving the end result…” Hmmmm???

    1. I am glad you found a way to get on and participate Renee!

    2. Always appreciate your perspective, Renee.

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

    While I suggested the passage, our discussions have prompted me to read it in different versions, and perhaps we ought to have included the preceding passage as well

    3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 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. 8 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”

    We can greatly rejoice in the hope of our inheritance in heaven, in God’s mercy, and that He shields us by His power. These are great hopes to hold hard to when things seem to be falling apart.

    I think including that first part sheds a little more light on what we are to be rejoicing about.

    1. Chris, So glad you suggested this passage. My new-fangled Internet connection lasted for one post, and I couldn’t open any other page! Back to smarphone –

  10. 7. It was in suffering with no one to really talk to about the things going on in my life that I learned to take them to God. I learned to cry out to Him and that I could tell Him all about it. It really is the most productive thing I have ever done with my pain and frustration. He always meets me. Sometimes He helps me to see that I am being childish or selfish, but always He is there and comforts me. When I talk to people I burden them and often say things I should not say. And what can they do? Nothing, it is a complete waste.

    8. My take-a-way is how valuable God is to me. All that He brings into my life is good. This is something that is now moving from head knowledge to heart knowledge for me. To be able to trust Him in every situation is more valuable than gold. This is what He is teaching us. Rebecca and her husband have chosen to trust Him with their finances. Laura-dancer is trusting Him with Sarah and Elizabeth with her health. If not for trials, how could we learn this? Rachael is right, trials are our friends. This is amazing to see!

    1. I LOVE this Anne “It was in suffering with no one to really talk to about the things going on in my life
      that I learned to take them to God…It really is the most productive thing I have ever done with my pain”

    2. Anne,
      I, too, like this from you, that telling God about all the things going on in your life, taking them to God, crying out to Him, “is the most productive thing I have ever done with my pain and frustration.”

      1. Dee, I don’t know why but sometimes in the stuggles of life i forget things that I have learned and when they come to me again they seem new. I’m afraid it is because I am getting more and more forgetful.

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

    “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

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

    “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 it’s work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”. (James 1:2-3)
    As hard as it may be, we need to be thankful for our trials because we grow stronger and can “persevere” throught the hard times.

    5. Why should we persevere through suffering?
    If we give up and say we don’t need God, we are only looking at a whole lot of suffering that God will put us through to get our attention again!
    God will not leave us alone…Praise God! He will help us persevere and become mature in the Lord.

    6. How do you see perseverance in Chris? In yourself?
    When I am hurt or suffering from a trial, I feel depleted and weak and feel like I’m crawling up a hill to reach Jesus. I need Jesus more than ever then, because I can do nothing on my own and I need him first and foremost, desperately because he is the only one who will never hurt me or turn on me or forsake me.

    1. I didn’t mean to leave Chris out on the last question…I thought it said Christ! Sorry!

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

    What Chris, Elizabeth, Laura Dancer, Diane and others have weaved throughout this study- When I don’t back away but go to Him, He gives me a quiet, peaceful deep rooted joy. When I am in his presence-when He pounds the Gospel another layer deeper in my heart I experience His Joy as I have this week, also when I experienced His encouragement through a friend. He is my hope. Although I have sinned this week when I repented and turned and cried out He has given me His joy. It is hard to explain, but He gives me Joy when I focus on the now and the future with Him-This week I have had to fight off some lies and replace them with truth. The part I hate about myself though is that daily I can be like the Shulammite Maiden who goes into the cleft-yet I know when I cry out to Him from the cleft He comes.

    I think the longer I walk with Him and the more sifting and refining He does the more I see the horrid condition of my sin nature, yet at the same time the magnificent beauty and passion of the cross which keeps getting more and more glorious. How could I even be critical of anyone when I see the truth of sin compared with His glory. I can honestly and experientially now say, if you see any beauty or transformation in me it is because of His passionate pursuit, redemption, and restoring of me. I think the deeper God pounds the Gospel into me, it gets harder and harder to justify not showing others His grace and mercy.

    To reiterate Elizabeth’s Psalm verses:

    Psalm 4:7You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.
    Psalm 16:11You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
    Psalm 19:8 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.
    Psalm 30:11 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
    Psalm 94:19 When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.

    Even when I sin He doesn’t want me to back up from Him-HE wants me to go to Him and repent and cry out to Him, and HE COMES. 🙂 When I turn to Him He will restore me and give me a willing spirit to persevere-He is faithful:

    Psalm 51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

    1. Rebecca–I kept starting to highlight what to copy and oh–this is all so rich. I love this “How could I even be critical of anyone when I see the truth of sin compared with His glory. I can honestly and experientially now say, if you see any beauty or transformation in me it is because of His passionate pursuit, redemption, and restoring of me. I think the deeper God pounds the Gospel into me, it gets harder and harder to justify not showing others His grace and mercy.”
      Your heart is so beautiful–so thankful for your example in my life

      1. Elizabeth, and you too-I am so thankful for you. 🙂

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

    Loved the music! Loved the scenery! So peaceful….you are beautiful Dee 🙂

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

    God was truly by my side for the last 2 weeks. He got me through meeting lots of new friends, calmed my fears about Sarah (she is still MIA), showed me all His creatures in the wild west (we saw over 11 different species including grizzlies from afar!), and of course allowed me to enjoy the beauty of His earth; amazing! He is amazing, He is righteous, He is all mine! Thank you Jesus!

  14. 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.

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

    Because the trials are testing my faith and producing perseverance in me. I looked up the definition of perseverance: “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition”. I see that it is trials, of all kinds, that produce this perseverance. That tells me that if I had a “perfect” life where everything and everyone was sailing along without any rough waters, I wouldn’t know what perseverance is!

    5. Why should we persevere through suffering?

    Because our goal is to be made mature and complete. I’m imagining this as an obstacle course, with trials, pain, and suffering blocking our way to a goal, and that goal is to know, really know, Jesus, and have intimacy with Him. We may even have to crawl, but we will keep inching forward; we may get knocked backward, or even for a time, be so battered we’re just lying still. But I see Him at the “finish line”. Yet, at the same time, He doesn’t leave us alone to get there on our own. He doesn’t stand there and watch us getting knocked down, He enters into suffering with us.

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

    When Chris first joined this blog, wow – I see so much perseverance in her. She was so broken in her grief and pain. It got so painful for her that, for a time, she left the blog. She was having trouble experiencing that deep intimacy with God. She wondered if she ever would. She shared that she was turning to alcohol to be able to sleep at night. Now I see her back on here and stronger in her faith, being productive at a job, turning again and again to Him, reaching out to help other family members like Brian and Zach.

    I can have a hard time persevering in my family, with no one to share my faith. It can be very lonely. Sometimes I feel like I’m the “weird one” and often treated like I am.
    My Sunday school class leader recently put together a small group of ladies – it’s me and two other women and each one of us is married to an unbeliever. She asked me to lead our first Bible study, which was yesterday morning. We are studying Ephesians. She’s trying to put together small groups, like ours, or another one with women who’ve been divorced, so we can support each other.
    It’s hard to describe the feeling that even when I’m surrounded by family, I can feel so alone. I question whether I’m just too serious-minded. I can’t expect every conversation or interaction to include spiritual things, but even once in awhile would be nice. It frustrates me when at family get-togethers we can talk about the latest TV shows, sports, etc…but never talk about God.

    1. My heart goes out to you about your family Susan.
      I will pray for God to draw them, for us all to see it and bring glory to God for changing their hearts.
      I remember my husband, years ago, allowing our sons to watch movies that made me so upset. He is a believer now, participating in a fruitful ministry, happy to go to church, we have spiritual discussions.
      There were long years when I would have found this hard to imagine.

      Keep hoping!

      It touches me Susan that you remember so much of what I have shared. I hope this group at church will spark a rich time of growth & sharing for you.

      1. Oh Chris, I remember a lot of what you have shared, because it is very worth remembering! You share so richly here from your heart, and it’s been awesome to see where you’ve been and where you are now. I know you’re still crossing that river of grief, but you’ve come so far and have so much experience and wisdom to share.
        Thank you for your prayers, too.

    2. love this Susan–“Yet, at the same time, He doesn’t leave us alone to get there on our own. He doesn’t stand there and watch us getting knocked down, He enters into suffering with us.”
      It’s kind of funny, but I still always picture you as that tree–“like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.” psalm 1:3. So long ago the Lord gave me that verse as I prayed for you, and it just stuck–you have so much wind, hail, storms that assail you–and yet you remain, firmly planted, bearing fruit. You are in a mission field of sorts, and He uses you.

      1. Elizabeth,
        This is very encouraging to me. You know, when Dee asked us to find a picture for the blog, I almost did this one of a tree at a park here called The Signal Tree. The Indians used it to mark their way when they were portaging their canoes. It told them which way to go. It’s huge, and very old. I liken the LORd to that tree – He directs me which way to go!

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

    Definition of CONSIDER

    : to think about carefully: as a : to think of especially with regard to taking some action b : to take into account
    2
    : to regard or treat in an attentive or kindly way
    3
    : to gaze on steadily or reflectively
    4
    : to come to judge or classify

    Definition of JOY
    1
    a : the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires

    Looking at theses definitions was helpful to me. When my emotions were shocked into numbness by the denial of what was happening, I didn’t FEEL Joy. I felt bewildered, abandoned in a nightmare that was true.

    But rather than condemning ourselves for lack of joy when the most awful things happen, if we see this as a process that takes time to think about carefully, gaze on reflectively, to come to judge or classify as a prospect of possessing what we desire, what we really need more than our earthly happiness, that changes the meaning into something that does not sound like I am failing when I am honest about my emotions in the worst of times.

    1. Thanks for the definitions, Chris, and for “considering” how this applies to seeking joy. That’s very helpful. I love your last paragraph here. So true! If we see it as a process that requires honesty and long term pursuing God, then we will not feel condemned when we don’t have instant joy.

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

    Trials produce perseverance, which in turn brings us to spiritual maturity.

    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)
    Chris has persevered (struggled through) trusting persistently that God has the answers and hope when she does not feel it or see any hope.

    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?

    I thank God for the solid Biblical training I had as a child. I trusted in Jesus as a young child and I was taught the Biblical truths all my life in evangelical churches that, while not perfect, did a good job training me. Then God led me to a great Bible School where I learned to embrace what I had been taught personally – my faith, not my parents’ faith. So I had a solid foundation when the storms of marriage, children and trials of life hit. I knew I could not give up and I knew God would not give me up. When I was filled with doubts and unhappy and confused, I kept turning to Him. I eventually learned that I could not trust my feelings. I kept pushing on and digging deeper, believing God had the answers and that I needed to pursue faith and that feelings would eventually follow. I refuse to take the easy way out and just go through the motions of Christianity, I want the REAL THING. I stake my life on God being EXACTLY who He said He was and that His promises are true, nothing else matters.

    1. Diane, your testamony lifts me up! Thank you for sharing!

  17. 5. Why should we persevere through suffering?

    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)

    Definition of PERSEVERANCE
    : continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition : the action or condition or an instance of persevering : STEADFASTNESS

    Definition of STEADFAST
    1
    a : firmly fixed in place : IMMOVABLE b : not subject to change
    2
    : firm in belief, determination, or adherence : LOYAL
    The ESV uses the word steadfastness instead of perseverance, they both are used to translate this word in the text;

    hupomonē
    hoop-om-on-ay’
    From G5278; cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy: – enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting).

    We KNOW that the testing of our faith produces perseverance, not FEEL. Being mature and complete takes time, contemplation and trust, I do want it to let it finish its work in me, I pray that I will not thwart what God would have me to gain from it, for His glory.

  18. I liked this: “I trust Him more than before, my eyes are much more fixed on eternity now, …” and this: “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.”

    Dee and dear sisters, may I ask for a prayer to you. Sorry, I dont like to interrupt the study, but the Lord touched my heart I ask for prayer here too. Near or far, we are connected in the Lord and because of studies of the Dee, as I keep weekly Bible studies in my city through her ​​books. So inevitably my affection for you ;). I come with a special request. After a difficult period and more alone with the Father, I had an experience with the Lord’s call, and took the important decision to leave the Law as a career personal and private. I am a lawyer and I work for 6 years. I help my husband / pastor in the church, but my heart asked for more involvement. The Lord has spoken to my heart long ago and now I made the important decision of the call. It is very hard to give up dreams. But I feel the call very strong in me I will keep the inscription as a lawyer, but for the ministry. I have projects for social work with women, but I need more specific guidance. I want to take courses in the area of theology, but I’m consulting the Father the way forward. Just know that He does not want that I work with a focus on personal interest. Could you help me in prayers? I commented a little bit with Joice about this time I’m going through. Thanks for the prayers, joice. thank you all, love, Polly

    1. Dear Polly, I’ve been praying since we talked on fb. I will continue to hold you up in prayer, as our sister’s here will also. We love you and want what God want’s for you. Blessings sweet sister:)

    2. We will certainly pray for you, Polly. I love how you are looking to Him for guidance and help.

    3. Polly, read this yesterday-am praying..

      Lord thanks for who Polly is-how you have made her, you amaze me. Her smile is wonderful and you have given her such light and beauty inside and out! Thank you that you have given her a sharp mind and that you have called her to use it further in ministry for social work with women-thank you for her heart for children, for the oppressed and for women-Lord it is beautiful how you will come as a salve to many souls through Polly. Thank you for how you love the downtrodden, the forgotten and the poor and oppressed, and thank you for how you are moving in Polly’s heart as you are lining her heart up with yours. Make it clear to Polly the direction you want her to go if she needs to take some courses in theology or not and help her to continue to be faithful in her perseverance as she answers your call.

      1. Lord, Amen and Amen. God Bless you all dear sisters

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

    What I am learning here is the huge encouragement it is to see other Christian women persevering through tremendous storms and fires. Chris, Susan, Joyce and so many others here have very difficult, ongoing circumstances in their lives. Their “hanging in there,” clinging to Christ, their looking to go deeper, their hope in what is yet unseen is so inspiring. It is evidence of true faith.

    “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

    1. Diane, I agree with your takeaway-it is unusual to see so many women in one place with such tender, play dough hearts clinging to Jesus and desiring to go higher-just even faithfully and sincerely praying for one another. I do recall being in some face to face studies back in the early 90’s with women like the women here on the blog-but it was rare even then, and now it is really hard to find, but I have seen them here and I know there are many more women pursuing God elsewhere. I think God is on the move though.

  20. 5. Why should we persevere through suffering?
    James 1:3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

    6. How do you see perseverance in Chris?
    I have seen so much perseverance in Chris, times when she has backed away from God and this study, but she always comes back with a deeper love for the Lord. It gives me hope when I see time and again God’s faithfulness to those who diligently seek him.
    In yourself? I’m still here 🙂

    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?
    I wish that I could be all bubbly and say I trust God more, I turn to Him more, I feel this intimate connection to him like never before, but I’m not there. I have not been depressed or anxious since I was 18 and I really thought that I had overcome all of the past “trauma” (for lack of a better word). For a while I thought that God was chastising me for something because all of this has hit me in my weakest and most vulnerable areas and all of this past stuff is overwhelming me at times, but through it all I hear God say “It’s time.” I believe that he is telling me that I have issues that need dealt with and he is there directing, leading and helping me through it all. It’s tough!! I’m a mess!!!

    1. Dawn, I’m so sorry you are going through this. I would pray right here with you, but I’m not the best at prayers, so I will leave it to Dee or some of the other sister’s, in the morning, but I’m going to bed, praying for you untill I fall asleep. I feel your pain and I want so badly to help you, but know this is all I can do and give it over to God. You are a such sweet sister and I admire you so much. Please listen to your gut and your mind, as you may be right about God saying it’s time…love you.

    2. Yes, Dawn I love having you here and wish I could respond more often. I love reading your posts because you are honest about where you are at and so desire to draw closer to God.

    3. Dawn–this got me “I wish that I could be all bubbly and say I trust God more”–we love your non-bubbly self! I think the gift we all share here is the real, raw, honesty–admitting that the Christian life often doesn’t leave us (or at least not me) all bubbly. But yes, you are still here–and THAT is what says you are trusting Him. Love your fellowship here with us and all that you bring. Praying for you.

    4. Dawn,
      I have to say that your answer to 7. reminds me so much of Chris and her journey she has shared with us through her grief. Both you and Chris are so honest, even when you feel like you don’t have the “right” feelings, like admitting you don’t feel this intimate connection with God, you say “I’m not there”. I remember Chris despairing if she would ever feel that, and she left the blog for awhile. But, here’s the hope – she came back. The refining fire did not destroy her, and it is not meant to. I really, really believe God is doing a great work in your life right now. I think you see it too, by your last sentence. He loves you, even if you say “I’m a mess!”

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

    This is amazing-Ben is amazing and Dee YOU are amazing! I can’t wait to see the finished product!! I showed my husband and he thought it was wonderful.

    When Dee said this, it stuck with me since the first time I watched it: “Our souls are not clear ponds, they are dark, churning waters.”

    When Dee said that and then it went into scenery-it made me think further about what she said, so a pause after she says that is good.

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

    We went to Hallmark to visit my brother-to see how things work. My brother is an amazing artist-He has been there since out of college. We asked if he could sit down and do his lettering for the boys..He took an artist’s pen thingy-forgot the name, dipped it in ink and started writing. It was amazing-he made it look so easy. I saw His beauty in my brother’s talent. I love to look at art and creation because when I do I am filled with amazement at God, THE master artist.

    1. Love this story of visiting your brother–and wow, what a talented family you all are;) Love that your boys got to see the beauty of his art–I’m sure that experience will speak to them for years about how we are all so uniquely created and gifted.

    1. Oh Dee, I have been praying for you and will continue. I hate hearing this! Yet at the same time I just know God is forging something beautiful from it on every level. Thanks for keeping us updated on how things are going.

      Lord, we cry out to you for Dee-that you would remove the enemies obstacles, or turn them around for your glory. That you would pour out your mercy on Dee and J.R. That you would be Dee’s comfort during this time and that you would continue to be a balm to her anxious heart. Thank you for this video and this book-thank you for forging what has seemed an endless string of obstacles into such beauty, but we ask that you would give Dee some relief-thank you that you reign and you have given Satan enough rope to hang himself so far. We love you Lord Jesus.

      1. oh Lord, I agree with Rebecca in this prayer. We have been seeking You Lord, we so desire that You be glorified in all of this. We trust You are at work and will use even these obstacles for Your greater purpose. Oh but I ask for healing, for peace, for a strengthening of the relationship for Dee and JR. Thank You Lord.

        1. Praying for you, Dee and agree with Rebecca’s and Elizabeth’s prayers here.

        2. I agree, Lord!Praying also. Your ministry, dear, impacted my ministry (and so many others that you will only know in heaven). May God bless your ministry! For it has a reach beyond your eyes, dear. The great I AM, He is breaking down and building bridges to something greater, beyond our ability. He answers prayers so perfectly. He knows your heart.Love you!

  22. I just read this, and found comfort in it in praying for the video–especially verses 1-3 and 11-12.
    Psalm 5
    1 Give ear to my words, O Lord,
    consider my sighing.
    2 Listen to my cry for help,
    my King and my God,
    for to you I pray.
    3 In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice;
    in the morning I lay my requests before you
    and wait in expectation.

    4 You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil;
    with you the wicked cannot dwell.
    5 The arrogant cannot stand in your presence;
    you hate all who do wrong.
    6 You destroy those who tell lies;
    bloodthirsty and deceitful men
    the Lord abhors.

    7 But I, by your great mercy,
    will come into your house;
    in reverence will I bow down
    toward your holy temple.
    8 Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness
    because of my enemies—
    make straight your way before me.

    9 Not a word from their mouth can be trusted;
    their heart is filled with destruction.
    Their throat is an open grave;
    with their tongue they speak deceit.
    10 Declare them guilty, O God!
    Let their intrigues be their downfall.
    Banish them for their many sins,
    for they have rebelled against you.

    11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
    let them ever sing for joy.
    Spread your protection over them,
    that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
    12 For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous;
    you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

    1. Elizabeth, so so good-if you would like, maybe we can pray this Psalm for Dee.

      Lord, Thank you for your warm wings over Dee. Her idols are like clouds-break them and meet her as she turns and takes refuge in you. Spread your protection over her and surround her with your favor.

      1. Praying also

  23. Oh Elizabeth, I think you and I are on the same reading schedule! Yesterday I was so blessed by Psalm 4, then again today with 5. I came on to pray 5:11 for us and see that you already have! God surely is on the move among us!

    Lord I am speechless with the wonder of You among us! I agree with these prayers for Dee. How the enemy attacks Your beloved. But You are victorious! I think of Dawn also as I pray: Let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them shout for joy forever. MAY YOU SHELTER THEM, and may those who love Your name boast about You. For You, LORD, bless the righteous one; YOU SURROUND HER WITH FAVOR LIKE A SHIELD.

    Answer us when we call, God who vindicates us. YOU FREED US FROM AFFLICTION, be gracious to us and hear our prayers.

    I think 4:5 may speak to what I was sharing about talking to the Lord about our pain. It says: Be angry and do not sin; on your bed, reflect in you heart and be still. I’m not sure but I had trouble understanding it and yet have the sense that God is speaking to me in it.

    1. Anne–I was thinking the same thing a few weeks ago when we were on consecutive psalms! I use the One Year Bible, and I’ve got a link to the online version on my home page, so I’m more likely to get to it now 😉
      Fun to imagine us reading the same thing…that encourages me.

    2. Anne, No way! How cool is this? 🙂

      1. I know! Right?

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

    It really is the word “breathtaking”. I can’t get enough of the video—I have watched it over and over—it is so soothing. The combination of Dee and the water—they are this perfect mix that portrays a calming, understanding atmosphere.

    I loved this “Most people are not aware of their hidden heart idols because they are invisible”. And also “our souls are not clear ponds, they are dark, churning waters”. Churning waters that He can calm, as we see in the images.

    I love how the sun sets over the water…and how at day break the bird takes flight. I see hope, joy in that. I love the kayaks—-perseverance.

  25. 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?

    I have tried not to back away from God…only draw nearer to him, when trials come my way. I choose God first and trust him completely. I may run to idols for comfort in my pain, but in the end, there is only God…that can comfort me and give me hope. Hope for heavenly things like grace, salvation, God’s approval, freedom from sin and death, and to be with Jesus and my loved one’s in heaven.

  26. I thought this was good from Joni’s devotions on grief:

    Two Lenses

    Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.

    Lamentations 3:32-33

    The Lord took no pleasure in my broken neck. Like any father who has compassion on his children, it pained His heart to see me hurt. Yet at the same time, it pleased the Lord to permit my accident. My spinal cord injury was something He sovereignly designed in and for His good pleasure.

    God’s ways are so much higher than ours, He has the capacity to look at the world through two lenses – through a narrow lens and a wide angle one. When God looks at a painful event through a narrow lens, He sees the tragedy for what it is. He is deeply grieved. In Ezekiel 18:32 he says, “I take no pleasure in the death of anyone.” God feels the sting in His chest when a child dies of cancer or a husband is killed in an accident. However, when God looks at that same event through His wide angle lens, He sees the tragedy in relation to everything leading up to it, as well as flowing out from it. He sees a mosaic stretching into eternity – it is this mosaic with all its parts, both good and evil, which brings Him delight.

    In the span of a single verse, the Bible asserts “the Lord brings grief,” yet “He does not willingly bring… grief.” God tried this out on Himself. He willed the death of His own Son, but He took no delight in it. God saw how Jesus’ death would demonstrate His incomprehensible mercy, as well as bring His people to glory. God often wills what He despises because – and only because – He has a wide angle view on the world.

    Lord, too often I have only a narrow-lens view of my world – give me your perspective and may I rejoice in the beautiful mosaic I will one day understand.

    Blessings,

    Joni and Friends

    1. Thanks for sharing this, Joyce. This is good stuff.

    2. love this Joyce–thank you for sharing. I had been following her devotional but missed this one, somedays I just don’t want to identify with the pain, if that makes sense..but that is not where I should go woth it. Thank you for pointing me to Him instead. I love the reminder from Lamentations “so great is his unfailing love”

  27. 2. Share one way you “spied” God over the 4th of July week.
    OK, this is REALLY nutty–nothing profound at all!, but I’ll share anyway. I’ve never been a “bird person” …until the last few months. Somethings changed in me and I love to sit on our porch and watch the birds while I pray. We went to the mountains last weekend, and we were walking a track around this beautiful park…and I was sharing how God is making me like birds lately, and that I think He’s opened my eyes because He really wants me to get the passage in Matthew 6:26 “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Well, as we were walking, there was a lot of white splattered bird poop (sorry!) on the track…and then one caught my eye, it was a PERFECT heart. I made my husband walk back and see it—I know that’s out there, but here was my thought—He did that. Only He can make that happen, He wanted to get my attention and remind me He in is EVERYTHING. Nothing is out of His hands, or out of His care. And He is oh so personal, He was right there making sure I got it.

    1. Elizabeth, This isn’t nutty, but so wonderful and precious-I don’t believe in coincidences anyway. 🙂

    2. Elizabeth, I believe you! I’ve had wierd things like that happen too!

      My son, Trevor had a very good friend, Brad, shoot himself and died, a few years ago, over a girlfriend. Trevor was grieving so bad and would visit his grave and just sit there and spend time in the sunshine, talking to him. One day, he told me as he was driving to Brad’s grave and he seen a big, beautiful hawk sitting on his stone. He got closer and closer and finally it flew away. He said it was beautiful and didn’t seem scard of him. I told Trevor that I thought it was Brad telling him he was okay and that he was free and not to worry about him. I don’t know where that came from, but it just came out of me. It seemed right with us both:)

      1. Wow, Joyce–what a sweet story. So sorry about Trevor losing his friend in such a tragic way. Thankful he had such a wise mom to comfort him through that 😉

    3. Love this Elizabeth!

  28. Sorry to post so sporadically. Drove around for 45 min last night to try to get adequate signal to read this site. So blessed by I Peter. Has been good for me to be deprived of my Internet addiction! Have been kayaking, gardening, and reading Bible in book form. Even used paper and pencil and computer with no Internet. Definitely reflecting on how to structure life so that I’m not a slave to the Internet but still use it appropriately.. Should be home in a few days to post with 10 fingers! Have been so blessed by this study so far.

    1. Miss you, Renee!

  29. Praying for your and JR Dee, that you will be likeminded & God’s purposes for the project will be accomplished. I feel so sure that God is blessing this good work you have begun.

    Praying for you too Polly, that God will make your paths straight.

    Dawn, I love your honest out loud struggling, you are persevering right now in front of us all. Praying for the healing of your wounds, your too Laura Marie

    Truly I thank you all for your encouragements to me this week, they make me imagine that I may be able to comfort others with the comfort I have been comforted with in the future.

    We are off to Cedar Point tomorrow, looking forward to being with my boys for the day.

    1. Chris, Have fun at Cedar Point, my favorite place!!! I’m glad that the heat and humidity are breaking and you’ll enjoy nice summer weather. Thanks for the prayers.

    2. You are very lovely,Chris! God Bless you dear sister!

    3. Chris, I pray you have the most wonderful day with your boys!!!

    1. This is wonderful, Dee-all of it! So glad that the editing is going better than you thought. He is good!

      Funny, but when Elizabeth posted Psalm 5, I felt a quickening that I need to grow and learn new ways to pray scripturally-never thought of that before though! I was encouraged. Now I come to week two and this is the first part! 🙂

    2. Dee, thanks for the update. It is so encouraging to hear how God is faithful. Will continue to pray.

    3. SO thankful to see this Dee! Continuing prayer always!

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

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

    Jonah, in his distress from deep in the realm of the dead cried out to God for help. I am sure it wasn’t considered a quiet, proper prayer-I am sure it was gutteral, loud and desperate. AND GOD HEARD HIM.

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

    God is Holy, and ordained the circumstances to awaken him, yet He saved Him from the deep pit. He is perfectly Holy and perfect love.

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

    I am thinking of verse 8 here as well..Turning from clinging to an idol to clinging to Him and desiring His love instead and I will do this by offering my sacrifice of GRATEFUL praise for this trial because He awakened me and brought me closer to Him through it. This drives me to persevere and follow Him.

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

    I so need this practice!! So, here we go:

    Oh God, a wretched sinner I am, come to me and help me-Help me-forgive me for my pride. come to me in my vulnerability. Help me let go of the cleft! Come to me as I turn from my desire for you to fix my circumstances, and rescue me! God break these dark clouds and help me to see you! Lord you are Holy and I am a worm yet you hear me and you love me beyond even the depths of my darkest pain-your Holy love is both fierce and scary, yet you have pulled me once again out of the mire. How many times do I need this awakening to my sin? I see now how I need these trials-these awakenings-these layers that run so deep in the whirling, dark waters of my soul. Thank you God for letting me sink in them for without them I wouldn’t look to you-that is it Lord, my natural bend away from you and you need to bend me back. I am thankful for these current storms God, yet I don’t want to have to go through more before I turn-help me to turn faster and not dive into sin- I am scared still yet I see you, and I give you the praise and the glory, for these came from your hand to awaken me and bring me closer in. Any beauty in me is clearly from You. All the honor and the glory is yours God..

      1. Dee, He did come yesterday morning in the book of John. 🙂 I was doing our John study. After the resurrection, Peter was struggling so he went to his boat and said he was going fishing..Immediately I saw he was going to what he knew for comfort. So they fished all night-caught nothing, then Jesus appears on the shore-they don’t know it is him until they do what he says and throw their net over and catch tons of fish. John sees that it is Jesus immediately, Peter just jumps in the water and swims to shore! 🙂 And then the most intimate conversation happened-Jesus restores Peter. He asked Peter three times if he loved him and I believe Peter’s eyes were opened to the kind of fileo love he had for God-which was wonderful, but Jesus wanted to take Peter a layer deeper. He wanted Peter to love Him more than anyone or anything-so much so that He would give up His life. “Follow Me” took on a deeper layer for me. I sensed God challenging me the same way-I felt like Peter-I would say yes each time, but God followed up with “then feed my sheep”, “Then tend my sheep”. God will challenge me to go deeper.

        I have said I identify with Peter but I prefer to be John. 😉

    1. LOVE this Rebecca–and I pray this with you–“Thank you God for letting me sink in them for without them I wouldn’t look to you-that is it Lord, my natural bend away from you and you need to bend me back.”

  32. 3. In the following verses, you will find a new and helpful way to pray.
    A. Crying out: Find it in verses 1-2

    While still in the depths of his pain, Jonah cries out to the Lord “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)

    Though Jonah felt he was lost from God, he chooses to look again toward the temple (v4) and trusts God has heard him in His Temple (v. 7)

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

    What stands out to me is the “but I”. Jonah is still suffering and rather than be angry or bitter, rather than cling to something or someone that cannot save, he says he will be different. HE will choose to offer thanks to God, and commit to trusting Him.

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

    Oh Father. You see me. Thank You that You see me. I’m hurting and confused. I’m frustrated with all of it and wondering if I seek more answers, or just give it up.
    But I will remember Who You are. The great I AM. I can see the ways You have carried me in the past. Through storms I thought would surely swallow me. I remember a very painful time long ago when I could only ask You to take my life—You didn’t. Instead You lifted me from that pit. You carried me then, and I will trust You are carrying me now. I know that You may choose to end this trial, and You may not. I know that I do not understand, but I want to do what You have called me to. Because while I so desperately want relief, deeper still, is my desire for You o Lord. My desire to be use by You and pleasing to You.
    .Thank You Lord that You are in all things, You use all things. Thank You that You are good.I will trust You Lord. I am Yours.

  33. 1. Dee, your words in that video gave me quite a bit to think about. You said that idols are not visible to us and that our souls are dark churning waters. Those are profound words that we must apply to our lives. I love the fact that you said no more, after that was only video and music. It really gave me time to think about what you said. It is good, very good.

  34. 2. I have twin fawns in my back yard! I have seen them twice this week with mama.

    God spoke to me quite a bit today. First about money. I have some inheritance that I have not fully tithed on. I was waiting for direction and got some of it this morning. It is exciting because it is a local ministry that I have had some connection with in the past.

    Our sermon was on forgiveness and the Lord spoke to me about talking with my sister. Although she is the one holding grudges, I still need to talk to her. I have been ignoring the issue and acting like things are normal when they are not. I really need prayer for this because every time I try to talk to her I only make it worse. It is very upsetting if I let myself think about it. It makes me think of how my soul is dark churning water. Our families will vacation together the week of July 21st.

    But what I want to share about spying God was this morning after God and I had all of this straight. Remember that I said I would sing more because He loves the sound of my voice? After the sermon we sang Joyful, Joyful and it was the perfect pitch for me. My voice came strong and clear as it never has before. I know it was the Lord. It was like a dance between He and I. I was so blessed!

    1. This made me smile Anne “It was like a dance between He and I.” And I just prayed for you and your sister–it hit close to home for me. But unfortunately, I’ve been the one holding a grudge, at least within myself, towards my sister. I was reminded again this morning to make peace in my heart–and your words here confirm what He has said. I will pray too for the vacation–that sounds like it could be really hard. But I can also imagine Him using it for something beautiful–as he did your voice at church.

      1. You know Elizabeth when I really looked at myself this morning I realized that I am responding in grudge too. And pride. It is so true what Dee said in the video about our souls.

        I think the vacation will be hard. I have to admit that I am not really looking forward to it, except for the fact that we will see Al.

        Thank you for praying. I will also pray for you and your sister.

    2. Anne, what a wonderful testimony! So glad you had that intimate time with the Lord singing to Him. You reminded me of the verse in Zephaniah 3:17- “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.
      He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

  35. 3. Lord, You know the murky, churning depths of my soul even though I do not until sins surfaces and I get a glimpse. I am guilty, of pride, selfishness, foolishness and careless words. They are like a snowball rolling downhill, growing into a monster. Though I apologize, there is no forgiveness until I think this relationship will be destroyed. To confront this will seem very much like being thrown into the sea. It scares me. I feel I will be overcome. Yet I know that in Christ there is forgiveness. There is restoration. There is love and acceptance even if I find none of these in my sister. May it be for me as You wish Lord. I have all that I need in Christ my Lord. The condition of this relationship with my sister hurts me deeply. I will entrust it, as I do my life, to Your hand Lord Jesus. Amen

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

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

    Jonah was in the belly of the fish. He was distraught (I think I would be also!) and cried to the Lord for help. He almost seems surprised that the Lord heard his cry and acted to help him out.

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

    Jonah continues to search for Christ in these verses. He remembers that God is where bs should look for comfort. He remembers that God can help him; can heal him from the pain and suffering. He remembers that God is a life line for us, as he is dragged down he has no where else to turn but to God.

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

    Jonah thanks God and says he will praise Him always, making sure everyone knows who is responsible for his salvation.

    4. Now you follow these three steps:

    Lord, I am worried about Sarah. Only you know her heart and what she is feeling. Help her know that we love her! Help her to understand the connection we have as a family and she is breaking that connection by not keeping in touch with us. Please bring her home with a contrite heart! Please don’t let these friends of hers corrupt her! Please bring her back to us…..please.

    Lord, I know that only You can help us. It is entirely in Your hands. I believe You are working in her life somehow, even though I don’t understand this work. I know You love Sarah; I know You love me. I am at Your mercy.

    I am forever Yours, Lord. No matter what the outcome of these circumstances, I am Yours. Thank you for Your hard work with our weak family. Thank you for not ever giving up on us, but helping us through everything. I always know you are with me. You are our only hope with Sarah. I will be grateful forever no matter the outcome; I know it is Your will, and I will glorify you with dance and praise for as long as I live. Thank You Lord.

      1. 🙂

    1. I agree with Dee, Laura..Wow! 🙂

  37. 1. If you were able to see the above video — what do you think?
    Loved the video! What a great location to film it. You looked great too Dee! So love your heart. I like the music too. How it all went together.

    2. Share one way you “spied” God over the 4th of July week.
    You know, we got these huge rare unexpected hurricane force wind thrusts. It was the most eerie and strange thing. It lasted about an hour and it reminded me of so many things of God and His power. I spoke of it with the children. Then we lost power from it for Thurs til Saturday. God provided a nice comfortable temp for us to remain in our house that first night without power then when the temp went up a dear friend who happened to be out of town found out about it and had power which meant AIR CONDITIONING In these horrible heat conditions. They offered their home. We stayed there until the power returned.

    Yet in it it exposed these deep crevices or craters in our hearts and sin nature. God is working and I see good coming from this.

  38. I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering!

    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?

    I still have lots of rough edges and impurities, but I am recognizing my idols, at least seeing them and having my eyes opened to ones I didn’t think I had. I’m learning to speak more truth to my soul, and to look at the beauty of God, making Him more desirable to me than other things. I would like to be more like one who sees trials as friends, as opportunities to be even closer to God. I need to have many distractions eliminated, sometimes I have a hard time being still before the Lord without my mind getting distracted.

    8. What is your take-away and why?

    I think all last week – all the real life examples of everyone here putting these things into practice in their lives, seeing it lived out. I also want to remember the phrase not to let go of my only lifeline.

  39. 5. What stood out to you from the sermon and why?
    Jonah doesn’t wait to be rescued. He doesn’t wait for dry land. He cries out, yells, to God in the midst of his pain. He doesn’t let his circumstances lead him to doubt. He speaks truth to his heart instead of listening to his feelings. And He praises God while IN it. It’s not an “if-then” relationship. I’m convicted by Jonah’s faith.

  40. Sunday/Monday Ice-breaker

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

    Great video and love what you said, Dee. “Our souls are not clear ponds they are dark churning waters”. Yes, I am seeing myself more clearly all the time and it is painful, in fact, I could almost give up and run away. Dr. Keller said in a sermon I listened to recently that if our grasp of God’s love is slow to catch up with our seeing what we truly are it can be very painful.

    2. Share one way you “spied” God over the 4th of July week.
    I don’t know if it is my age but the heat of the week was particularly difficult to handle. One evening about 7 pm I was praying for a break from the 100* heat and within a minute I looked up and saw the sky completely change. The sun seemed to disappear and a cloud covered the sky. I knew it was Him and my heart was so thankful.
    God has impressed me to hire a cashier next year so that I am not in the trailer 80 hours. I am frugal so this is hard for me but I also suffered from heat exhaustion this year and once you get that condition you will always find heat difficult to bear. Like many things this is a trust issue for me. “…trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus.”

    Our souls are not clear ponds they are dark churning waters

    1. Oh dear, Kim! So sorry you suffered heat exhaustion during your busy time in the trailer! I hope you recover soon. So sorry!

    2. Kim–I was glad to see you pop up. I’ve been praying with every stand I see (we still have a few!)–and honestly have worried about you in this heat. I’m thankful to here you’ll be getting help for next yr–that sounds wise.

    3. Oh Kim, So sorry to hear about the heat exhaustion — and thankful you decided to hire a cashier next year (and even put it in writing here 😉 ). More “heat records” were broken this year than other years — so probably more than age. But it sounds very wise to decrease time in trailers (I was looking in ads at portable air conditioners. Do you have electricity in your trailers?).

      1. Renee, we do have electricity and hubby wants to put in an air conditioner next year only it would go right out the door but we will see.

    4. Kim, I am so sorry about the heat. I can’t imagine how hard that was to endure. I pray that the Lord will provide help for you next year. So glad you are back with us!

    5. Yes, Kim you have been missed! I thought about you all week and especially when we went into the fireworks tent to buy fireworks. God brought you to mind to pray for on and off throughout the week.

      Loved your I Spy story, but hated that you suffered from heat exhaustion-hope you are recovering well. So glad God impressed it upon you to hire a cashier-who knows maybe next year it will be a milder Summer. 🙂

    6. Kim, I’m so glad you’re back! I’ve missed your posts 🙂 hope you are getting back to normal and have recovered from the heat.

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

    I love the video. Dee you have such a sweet face and gentle voice. The photos of the waters with the quiet music helps drive home your last statement about our souls being “dark, churning waters”. It’s beautiful! I love the kayakers in the sunset. I hope to be canoeing much of next week. I can hardly wait.

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

    We had a long loud thunderstorm one night last week. It lasted over an hour between midnight and 1 a.m. with some very loud and close peals of thunder. Then it would seem to move away, getting softer, but, abruptly return and crash close by again. I stayed in bed and listened to the booms, but my husband loves to watch the sky light up and enjoys the majesty and power of God in the storm. He got up to watch and has raved about it for days.

    And one definite God “spying”, my 5 year old grandson, Stephen, gave his heart to Jesus last week. He had been asking more and more questions about God in the last few months. His mother had the privilege of praying with him at bedtime, as he asked Jesus into his heart. I realize he is too young to understand all the ramifications yet, but then who of all of us really understand what God is all about. It is a first step into the mystery of God’s saving grace. Praise the Lord!

    1. Oh Diane–what a precious “God spy”! Lord, we thank You for sweet Stephen’s heart–may he follow after You all the days of his life!

      1. Thanks, elizabeth. A sweet prayer!

    2. Diane,
      Thanking God with you about Stephen. SO TRUE: “I realize he is too young to understand all the ramifications yet, but then who of all of us really understand what God is all about.” We do “see through a glass darkly.”

      Enjoy your canoeing 🙂 I’m a little sore from kayaking (not sure if it’s from the paddling or dragging the thing in and out of the water).

      Dee, your video clip makes me want to turn around and go right back to lake country (except that cell phone access was so poor for the past few days)!

    3. Diane, how wonderful that Stephen has responded to the Lord! What a dear, sweet heart. And how encouraging for you daughter!

    4. Diane, How awesome that Stephen gave his heart to Jesus! “It is the first step into the mystery of God’s saving Grace..” Loved that!

    5. PTL!

    6. Beautiful sharing about your grandson, Stephen – thankful he has given his heart to Jesus!

  42. Just got back to town and I’m not sure where to begin catching up, so will start at the beginning of week two.

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

    Dee, It’s wonderful! One part I liked was what you said about WHY you wrote the book — i.e., because the concepts of the idols changed your life. That grabbed me right away.

    I’ve been thinking about water (lakes, rivers, and oceans) a lot during the past few weeks. When you said that our souls are not clear ponds, but churning waters, I was reminded how often water can appear to be still yet have very dangerous undertows or unseen currents.

    During the past few days, I’ve been wondering “but what about when my life is NOT miserable?” Recently, my life has seemed less stressful than ever before in my adult life. I was concerned that I’d forget about God when I didn’t feel as if I were hanging on in desperation. The thought of dark, churning waters addresses that concern! Waters that seem still often have under-currents.

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

    Family members were getting together at a lake cabin. My sister noticed that several Bibles were “laying around” and commented that “if Mom can see this, she’d be happy!” My mom’s greatest desire was that her children and grandchildren would know and love Him.

    Also, being without the “noise” of Internet, cell phone signal, and TV helped me focus on Him and His creation (although I did go looking for smartphone reception a couple of evenings!). Also heard some Christian radio that “sunk in.”

    1. Lord, thank You for this opportunity Dee has to again speak Your truth to the souls of women. We pray for healing for Annie and thank You for her sweet heart that desires to be with her Mom.
      Lord, the heavens declare Your glory, and the skies proclaim Your work. I pray dear Bonnie will have no doubt of Your presence, Your voice. I pray that You would remove all distractions the enemy has placed in the way. I pray that You would prepare her heart for Truth. I pray that the words of Dee’s mouth and the meditations of her heart would please You o Lord.
      And we continue to lift up the video that it would glorify Your Name o Lord!

    2. Dee, So glad Bonnie is coming! 🙂 Will be praying today-poor Annie, sounds like it was rough for her!

    3. Father, I lift Dee up to you. Give her Your words, Your wisdom, Your strength. Speak to the women who come to hear Dee today, especially Bonnie. Tear down the walls of blindness from Bonnie’s heart to hear the truth.

      I pray also for the continuing video editing by Dee’s son. Give him Your patience, insight and wisdom.

      And heal Annie, Lord. We place her and Dee and all her family in Your hands. Amen.

    4. Praying for quickening and mercy of opening ears to hear of Bonnie. Praying for the edits that they would be Spirit lead and according to Gods perfect plan. That Annie will arrive safely and free from sickness. That your time would be a joy! That people will be moved who hear the message God has given you to proclaim!

    5. Praying and holding you and yours up, Dee. Lord do your work in Bonnie’s heart. Touch Annie and help Dee. Open ears and hearts. Give wisdom to Dee’s son. Thank you, Jesus!

    6. Dee,
      I have been praying for you, asking for the Lord to remove the veil (filter) from Bonnie and allow her to not just listen, but to hear, really hear, as if God is speaking directly to her through you.

  43. This has been so helpful to me! It came again at the most appropriate God timing! Then thinking of Chris who did not sin and Jonah who did who can both find themselves in situations where they feel deep waters overcoming them. I have been around friends in some hard situations. I for some reason feel deeply their pain like it is my own and feel overwhelmed. I pray and pray but cannot shake the depression of it. This is a wonderful way to pray and release the pain to the one who bore it.

    A. Crying out: Find it in verses 1-2 – it says he cries out and God listens (twice!) Important to notice GOD HEARS!

    B. Looking toward “the temple” (Christ) and remembering Who He is: Find it in verses 4-7)
    v-3 is how these situations make me feel…Yet it takes discipline to go to remembering instead of fretting.
    4-yet I will look to the temple again.
    6-but you God brought my life up from the pit
    7-remembered God and prayed to HIM

    C. Committing yourself to Him in sacrifice and thanksiving (Find it in verse 9)
    I like how he determines to “with shouts of grateful praise,will sacrifice to you.
    What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”
    even before the fish spits him out. Faith!

    4. Now you follow these three steps with something you are facing.
    Lord, it seems impossible to get my emotions in check in the situation with custody of our little guy. It is so up and down all the time and living this way is killing me.

    YET I look to You oh Sovereign God. Though my heart feels like it will explode and worry of the future for him taunts me I REMEMBER Your faithfulness in all things in the past. Through all our trials. You have worked them all for God according to Your perfect plan.

    I will walk faithfully through this and obey your way til the end because You are good and Your ways are good and You have a plan for Dakota that I am thankful for that I cannot even imagine. I praise You!

  44. Thank you for all of the kind words. So good to be back.

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

    A. Crying out: Find it in verses 1-2
    [a]From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 2 He said:

    “In my distress I called to the Lord,
    and he answered me.
    From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
    and you listened to my cry.

    B. Looking toward “the temple” (Christ) and remembering Who He is: Find it in verses 4-7)
    I am having trouble with this one. Do you mean recognizing it is God that sent the storm? If so, this helps me trust in His decision to allow the storm.

    C. Committing yourself to Him in sacrifice and thanksiving (Find it in verse 9)
    Knowing who I am in Christ will help me trust. Maybe too, seeing where I have been and recalling He’s brought me through.

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

    I cry out to you Jesus for the spiritual growth of my children realizing your sovereignty. I choose to trust you for their spiritual growth, knowing you know best. I see in the past you have been good and I have found you faithful so I thank you for sending help even as I pray. I praise you and love you. Amen.

  46. Dee, I know you are busy but would love to hear how things went today and how Annie is.

    The sermon was so very amazing! I say that often after his sermons and I think it is because he is preaching from the Spirit to my heart. It is always so new, so applicable and taking me to the next level. I do think his ministry is a great work of God. And Dee I believe that is also true of your ministry. I am too often side tracked but I know that there is real spiritual food here for me and I am growing. It is so satisfying. Eating real food is a picture of this. We eat, are satisfied and grow. Then we get hungry again, eat and grow some more.