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UNDONE BY LES MISERABLES (Join us in this important discussion!)

 

I’VE BEEN TRYING TO PROCESS WHY THIS  VERSION OF

LES MISERABLES

IMPACTED ME SO PROFOUNDLY


WAS IT BECAUSE GOD HAS USED THIS STORY BEFORE

TO SOFTEN MY HEART OF STONE?

WHEN I DID NOT WANT TO FORGIVE THE ONE WHO STOLE FROM ME

THE SCENE OF THE BISHOP AND THE CANDLESTICKS FLASHED IN MY MEMORY…

 

Sweet Jesus, what have I become?

 

THE BISHOP TOLD THE POLICE THAT HE HAD GIVEN JEAN VALJEAN THE SILVER HE ACTUALLY STOLE — BUT THAT HE WAS SO GLAD HE WAS BACK, FOR HE FORGOT THE CANDLESTICKS! ONE OF THE OPENING SONGS HUGH JACKMAN SINGS HAS THESE LYRICS:

What have I done?

Sweet Jesus, what have I done?
…Have I fallen so far
And is the hour so late
That nothing remains but the cry of my hate…


…He treated me like any other
He gave me his trust
He called me brother
My life he claims for God above
Can such things be?
For I had come to hate this world
This world which had always hated me
Take an eye for an eye!
Turn your heart into stone!
This is all I have lived for!
This is all I have known!
One word from him and I’d be back
Beneath the lash, upon the rack
Instead he offers me my freedom,
I feel my shame inside me like a knife
He told me that I have a soul,
How does he know?
What spirit came to move my life?
Is there another way to go?

 

WAS IT BECAUSE I SAW SO VIVIDLY PORTRAYED

HOW A SINGLE ACT OF MERCY

TO ONE HARDENED BY INJUSTICE,

MELTS HIM,

AND RIPPLES OUT

CHANGING LIVES,

LIKE THE MERCY MY GOD HAS SHOWN TO ME?

WAS IT BECAUSE OF MY THAI DAUGHTER

OR  THE WOMEN IN PRISON I’VE MET

WHO WERE AS ABUSED AND DESPERATE AS FANTINE?

“I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I’m living.”

 

WAS IT THE MUSIC AND THE FACT IT WAS SUNG LIVE? (Please watch!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-uw5TehnZA

IS HUGH JACKMAN, WHO PLAYED JEAN VALJEAN A BELIEVER?

I DON’T KNOW. HE SAYS HIS FATHER WAS CONVERTED BY BILLY GRAHAM,

SO HE MAY BE. BUT HIS PERFORMANCE,

I BELIEVE, CAUGHT THE ESSENCE OF TRUE CONVERSION.

 

WAS IT BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN PRAYING FOR GOD TO HELP ME CARE

ABOUT THE THINGS THAT BREAK HIS HEART?

 

ALL OF THE ABOVE,

QUICKENED BY THE SPIRIT OF THE LIVING GOD.

 

I WAS UNDONE.

 

I realize not all of you have been able to see this version, and may not have seen any version of it. But the concepts are scriptural, and we can talk about those whether or not you have the time or money to watch. Here is a free two hour musical stage version, though you may want to read a plot synopsis on the internet first if you don’t know the story so that you will understand the music.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qVbV71MBqU

I had thought we would study Tamar as well this week — but there is just too much here —  Tamar was also a victim of injustice, so, Lord willing, we will look at her next week. (I say Lord willing because I’ve been trying to get to her all Advent and God keeps saying, “No — this way!”) Les Mis is packed — don’t feel like you have to do it all — or to read all the comments. Do what you can and you will be thinking about the things that matter most.

SUNDAY/ICE-BREAKERS

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

2. If you have seen Les Mis, name at least one specific storyline or lyric and why it impacted your heart.

3. What Christian or non-Christian themes did you see?

4. If you have not seen Les Mis, take one of these themes from the story and comment:

A. Can you think of a time when mercy shown to you released mercy to another? If so, share.

B. A repeated lyric is “you were never mine to keep…” Can you think of a time when you had to release one you loved, but were able to do so because of trust that you were releasing them to God?

C.  Can you think of a time when you misjudged someone because you didn’t know the whole story? If so, share.

D. The bishop lied to the police to spare Jean ValJean. What do you think of this and why?

 

MONDAY: How Do You Decide What To Watch or Read — and what not to?

Today I’d like us to ponder the above and discuss it together. This is important for our own hearts and for the hearts of our children, to whom we are called to protect and train in the ways of discernment. We don’t want to raise children who define Christianity in terms of the five things you don’t do and sit in their houses with judgmental hearts — we want them engaged in a broken world, operating with discerning and merciful hearts, embodying our Lord.

I  realize there are believers who feel we should not see a movie like this for there are impure elements. I have struggled with this myself, and you may disagree with my conclusion, but this is a blog where those who disagree are welcomed warmly and heard. I want us to have an honest dialogue here about how we decide what books and movies to put into our minds and hearts. We may disagree, but I so respect the women on this blog, I know the tone will be loving — and dialogue may make us all come closer in our thinking to the mind of Christ.

How do I decide? I do think we need to be concerned about offensive elements like language, sexual scenes, and violence — but the question I ask is not how many times do they occur (Unplugged simply counts the swear words, act of violence, and glimpses of nudity) but rather: Is the story powerfully redemptive and are the offensive elements essential to the story? They certainly are in Les Mis. There were offensive elements in Roots, The Hiding Place, The Painted Veil, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Amazing Grace — but each of these productions were powerfully redemptive. Are they appropriate for young children? I don’t think so. There is a time to protect innocence, and a time to see the world as it is. Also, until there is a certain level of maturity, the redemptive elements may be lost on them. For example, yesterday I was “hanging out” at my son’s when my fourteen year old grandson Simeon came home and said, “I’ve just been to the WORST movie. They SANG all the way through it.” (The family looked at me and burst out laughing.) But I am going to talk to Simeon to see if I can help him see any of the redemptive storyline. There is a a time to see these mature movies and a time to wait.

But when you think the time has come, watch it with him and process it, asking, “What were the Christian elements?” “The non-Christian elements?” If there are offensive elements, talk about how they contributed (or not) to the storyline so that he or she can begin to develop discernment in his choices. For example, in the stage version of Les Mis, for which I just gave you a link, there is a scene where one of the soldiers is crass, talking about how he’s sure a prostitute is eager to have “a poke,” and actually fingers his genitals. It is very offensive — and yet, when I read Half the Sky, that is exactly how many men view the girls who have been captured and are in the sex trade, somehow thinking they didn’t mind being raped thirty times a day. We need to see the depravity of man and be outraged so that we are propelled to do something. After World War II, so many Christians said, “We didn’t know what was happening.” Well — there is a holocaust happening now, and we need to know it. Anne Hathaway, who plays Fantine, studied the girls in the sex trade so she could capture their pain, their emotion — and she did. This was happening in Victor Hugo’s day and it is happening today — and we need to CARE. May Les Miserables awaken Christians to the need to show mercy to those who have been shown no mercy. How often I have heard unmerciful comments made concerning those in prison — and I want to take them to meet those women!

I also find movies based on real life stories such a refreshing change to the fictional cookie cutter Christian movies. So many of them whitewash life or make Christianity seem like it is all about us — that God exists to help us, that He revolves around us instead of we around Him. This life isn’t just about making our own lives better but about caring about the things that break God’s heart! If children can begin to care while they are still in your home, you may be shaping an adult that will be in instrument of compassion in a cold and hurting world.

Do I agree with everything in Les Mis? Absolutely not — I am always offended by those who equate patriotism with Christianity. And there were definitely elements that could have been skipped — but oh, there was so much gold to be mined. Our natural tendency is not to care — and any movie or book that can help us care, that can melt our hearts of stone, I would consider worth seeing or reading. The perspective that tells Christians not to watch anything other than movies by Christian production companies, or to read no books by secular authors is offensive, I believe to God, who uses whoever He chooses for His message. God used Cyrus, who He said “did not know Him,” to free the Jews. Why, God even used a donkey to speak the truth. Confining ourselves to evangelical authors  smacks of legalism to me, the legalism we see in Inspector Javert, in Les Mis. Legalism kills.

Those are my thoughts — but I would love yours.

5. Comment on the above.

6. How do you decide what to read and what to watch? Do you have any goals for this New Year?


TUESDAY-WEDNESDAY: BIBLE STUDY AND REFLECTING ON LES MIS

7. Is there a lyric from Les Mis that particularly impacts you? If so, share it. (Many of the songs are available on You-tube.) Why did it impact you?

8. In the Dec 2 issue of World Magazine, Janie B. Cheaney wrote an article saying (if I understood her correctly) that we are only called to forgive the repentant.

A. Do you agree or not? Explain.

B. How would the story in Les Mis refute that?

C. Did the father in the story of the prodigal sons forgive his younger son before or after he repented?

D. How it it even possible to forgive one who is not repentant?

9. Gary Haugen says that idolatry and injustice are the two things God hates most. In the message you will hear by Haugen this week, he takes us to Psalm 10. Read Psalm 10.

A. How are those who commit injustice described in verses 8-11?

B. What kind of injustices in the world come to mind by the above description?

C. What does the psalmist tell us about God according to Psalm 10:14-18?

Haugen asks, “What is God’s plan for rescuing the oppressed?” His answer: We are. There is no Plan B. I’m eager for you to hear him tell his story, for I think it will encourage you with what can be done.

10. There are so many good articles about Les Mis — here are three, and you may want to recommend others. All are excellent, but the first gives you ideas for how to have discussions with others who have seen it. Why not have friends who have seen it over for soup or dessert and discuss it?

Article 1: Link
Article 2: Link
Article 3: Link

Thursday-Friday

Listen to Gary Haugen, the founder of  International Justice Mission, designed to rescue the oppressed — especially children and women in enslaved in the sex trade overseas. The talk itself is 55 minutes followed by a Q and A (LINK). All fascinating.

11. Then reflect on these questions:

A. What stood out to you from the message and why?

B. How did Haugen say the two biggest sins are, according to Scripture?

C. How did he define injustice and how is David and Bathsheba and Uriah an illustration of it?

D. Haugen refers to the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 and the little boy’s lunch. What was his point?

E. What might you do with your “lunch?”

Saturday

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

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342 comments

  1. In the Dec 2 issue of World Magazine, Janie B. Cheaney wrote an article saying (if I understood her correctly) that we are only called to forgive the repentant.

    A. Do you agree or not? Explain.

    I have been thinking about this all day. If the sinner were sinning against me directly and wanted forgiveness then i should forgive if I feel so compelled. It is difficult to forgive; it sometimes takes me years to do so. Especially if you were deeply hurt. If the sinner sinned against someone else then it really isn’t up to me to be the forgiver as an outsider. In the case if the prodigal son, the older brother watched the father forgive the younger brother but couldn’t understand it. I think forgiveness is enough. However you can’t treat the person any differently or that would not be true forgiveness.

    B. How would the story in Les Mis refute that?

    Well , the priest forgives Jean valjean and actually gives him something to think about in being kind and forgiving to others himself. Jean valjean forgives jalvert by saving his life. There is an action that goes along with the forgiveness.

    C. Did the father in the story of the prodigal sons forgive his younger son before or after he repented?

    before

    1. Oops, left off this:

      D. How it it even possible to forgive one who is not repentant?

      Well, if you don’t forgive it is usually you who suffers. It benefits you to forgive. Jesus said, “father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

    2. I want to revise my thought about being the “outside forgiver.” I thought more about this today…..thanks a lot Dee! 🙂

      My brother was very mean to my mother when I was 18 and he was 24.. It went on for a long time. I watched this and began to feel anger toward him for acting the way he did. It was not physical or verbal meanness, but actions that affected our family and was embarrassing to all. I did not speak to him for at least 5 years. I never spoke the words to let him know he was forgiven, nor do i think he ever really knew I was mad at him. I have forgiven him for that (mom never really let it get to her – she was the father in the prodigal son story), and he is responsible for taking care of her now in her time of need (his choice). I guess I was the outsider in that occurrance and forgave. I was also the older brother in the prodigal son story 🙁

      1. Very interesting Laura…do you forgive him in your heart now? I can identify with your story.

        1. Yes I do joyce. I believe he was s stupid young adult. He is definitely kind to my mom now. He takes care of her.

  2. 9. Gary Haugen says that idolatry and injustice are the two things God hates most. In the message you will hear by Haugen this week, he takes us to Psalm 10. Read Psalm 10.

    A. How are those who commit injustice described in verses 8-11?

    They are sneaky. They wait to harm others.

    B. What kind of injustices in the world come to mind by the above description?

    Horrible ones; rape, murder, etc.

    C. What does the psalmist tell us about God according to Psalm 10:14-18?

    God notices and cares. He considers those who are in need. He protects.

  3. 5. Comment on the above.

    I do think there are movies that glorify things that break God’s heart and there are movies that include them so it will break our heart. I think les Mis is one of those movies..When the scene where Fantine gives herself up for her daughter happened-I found myself perplexed hating her situation, and hating sin and it broke my heart. Then the scenes inside where Cosette lived-the blatant neglect of her, the lying and stealing and prostitution going on in the home a little girl lives in. It is really was sad and I am sure had Cosette stayed there she would have been sold by her caregivers into prostitution.

    As far as reading secular things..I remember as a single, and new Christian reading a secular book called A Prayer for Owen Meany and as I was telling a dear friend how wonderful this book was..I am not sure she approved of me reading a secular book..just thought of that so I kind of felt bad for doing that back then.

    I have found there are some wonderful secular books that have awakened me to the plight of those with disabilities, the less fortunate, as well as a book I read recently that awakened me to how hard it is when Asian women marry American men then come over here and try to develop friendships with American women. God used it to awaken me to that and sensitized my heart toward them. Funny but as I was reading the book the next day I met an Asian woman in a shoe store who asked me a question about some shoes on sale-she didn’t understand the sign about the discount and had a hard time understanding what I was telling her about the discount. She was a student at KU living here temporarily and she had a teenage son with her. God made me sensitive to her and wanted me to take the time to talk with her and help her understand even though my boys were a bit crazy at the time in the store-believe me my flesh was crying out for us to just get our shoes and go. :~/

  4. Chris…how are you doing…any update on Cosmos?

  5. 6. How do you decide what to read and what to watch? Do you have any goals for this New Year?

    I usually take recommendations from friends on what to read-or look it up and read the reviews first..Usually, I prefer stories about people’s lives-either fiction or non-fiction, both Christian and non-Christian books. But I prefer that they have a pretty impactful or profound message. I don’t like books or movies that have no point and use profane things to glorify sin. I remember seeing that movie Bella-oh oh my..what a great movie. Here is the trailer if you haven’t seen it. 🙂 http://youtu.be/mJ9AkTrbxgk..It is realistic about what a lot of single women go through who get pregnant and weren’t wanting to, yet it is such a rich story-based on a true story..I love the man who is willing to give up his life for another. Pretty profound movie.

    I want to be able to get into a book club this year. Last year I was in one at my old church in Missouri but couldn’t ever go due to my schedule here at home, but they had some great books including the one I read about the Japanese woman coming to America. They always pick great books to read.

      1. It is called, “How to Be an American Housewife”..Here is the link although I disagree with some of the reviews-I loved it. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7504179-how-to-be-an-american-housewife

  6. 8. In the Dec 2 issue of World Magazine, Janie B. Cheaney wrote an article saying (if I understood her correctly) that we are only called to forgive the repentant.

    A. Do you agree or not? Explain.

    I disagree-what is Grace then?

    B. How would the story in Les Mis refute that?

    The Bishop forgave Jean Valjean and gave him grace upon grace by giving him the candlesticks and calling him brother..Jean Valjean hadn’t repented yet..The Bishop’s kindness and unconditional love led him to repentance, and then we see Jean Valjean doing the same with Javert.

    C. Did the father in the story of the prodigal sons forgive his younger son before or after he repented?

    He forgave him before he repented-even his older son who was obstinate and prideful in his sin-the father invited to the feast.

    D. How it it even possible to forgive one who is not repentant?

    Because of the cross-Jesus died for me while I was still in my sins a stubborn indignant woman and I did nothing to merit His forgiveness-how can I withhold forgiveness from another who is not repentant? It is a free gift that came at a great cost to Jesus. Jesus said on the cross-forgive them father for they know not what they do. I can’t forgive in my own strength-but He has given me the strength to forgive-it comes from Him.

  7. We forgive because God tells us to, not cuz someone repents. But God only forgives the repentent….hmmm. I think also we need to be very careful to know the difference between forgivness and reconsiliation. God does not tell us to put ourselves at the mercy of evil people over and over again.
    on a side note I have been studying Meekness. What I have found is very interesting. Meekness is not weekness, not even close. in fact the week can not be meek. meekness is stength under control. A powerful horse is worthless if not meek. so to be meek is to allow yourself to be under the control of another (God) in order to be useful to HIM. This also applies to marriage. I do not have to be “week” to submit. I have to be “meek” and allow the strength to be harnessed in the way God sees best.
    Evil will never be crushed by week people, but if I am a useable vessel in my fathers hand then HE can use me to put a dent in the evil of this world.
    Yes God is in control but I believe that HE uses us. I remember a story Elizabeth Elliot told of a missionary friend of hers. Elizabeth asked her if she was angry at God for never sending her the husband that she had prayed for for many many years…the missionary looked at her and said “I believe HE did send him, he just did not listen” I fear many times we blame God for things when HE did HIS part, we/others just chose not to listen.

      1. Dee, I think the sermon title you recommended is called “Generosity and Relationships”. I searched and couldn’t find one called Generosity in Relationships. It sounds like something I should listen to.

    1. Father, we thank You for how You have blessed Idol Lies. Thank You for using Dee as Your vessel to bring truth and healing. We come to You Lord, asking for Your mighty hand to work in getting books back in stock. Lord, please put a hedge around the enemy. I sense he is trying to once again attack. But Lord, You are our Rescuer, and we ask that You come and move in this meeting, in the fulfillment of orders…whatever all the things that need to happen…we surrender this to You, we humbly ask Your blessing on it. We praise You and thank You Lord.

      1. Yes Father, In Jesus name we pray.

    2. praying mountains be moved in this! It is such rich material I would not ignore spiritual warfare either. Praying a hedge around it and that God lets it flow into peoples hands like a rushing river in order that it will free their souls from idols seeing Him in all beauty alone!

    3. Father, people need to hear Your message in Idol Lies. We pray against Satan’s schemes to keep Your message from those who need to hear it. Give the publisher and all the people involved wisdom into the details of how to make Dee’s book available, Lord. Also, give Dee peace in the midst of this battle. Help them all to trust Your hand.

    4. Hi Dee…I am having trouble finding a newer book my granddaughter wanted on Amazon too. But B&N had it so ordered from there. I am wondering if this doesn’t have something to do with sales tax? Amazon doesn’t charge it but B&N does. I don’t know for sure…but that popped into my head. There has been talk about this in the news – distributors who are not charging proper sales tax. Amazon still has books in stock of course, and that inventory (books I had on my wish list for months already) was available, but the 2 newer ones I tried to order were listed as “out of stock”… Just a thought. Not sure if valid observation or not. Praying!!

  8. 7. Is there a lyric from Les Mis that particularly impacts you? If so, share it. (Many of the songs are available on You-tube.) Why did it impact you?

    I found this one online—LOVED this as I imagine it as Christ who touches my soul and “teaches me love”. Valjean sings:
    “Yet why did I allow that man
    To touch my soul and teach me love?
    He treated me like any other
    He gave me his trust
    He called me brother
    My life he claims for God above
    Can such things be?”

    8. In the Dec 2 issue of World Magazine, Janie B. Cheaney wrote an article saying (if I understood her correctly) that we are only called to forgive the repentant.
    A. Do you agree or not? Explain.
    I confess at times I have lived as if I agree, but I do not. My forgiveness is not dependent on the offender because it is not based on their repentance. My forgiveness is based on the fact that I am no less a sinner than anyone else and have been forgiven my debt in full. I have no right, literally, to hold another to their offense.

    B. How would the story in Les Mis refute that?
    It’s interesting, because I think the Bishop’s act of forgiveness towards Valjean is what led to repentance—it was the Bishop’s grace—his pouring of unmerited favor upon Valjean, that softened his heart—the Bishop showed him God’s love, and that is what has the power to melt the pain, the bitterness, the walls…and lead to repentance.

    C. Did the father in the story of the prodigal sons forgive his younger son before or after he repented?
    Before—I think in the moment the son left, the father forgave. The father’s heart stayed soft–always ready to receive his son back—evidenced by his running to meet him at the first sight of him returning home.

    D. How is it even possible to forgive one who is not repentant?
    It’s funny, because the more I have listened to Keller on forgiveness, and the more God has worked in my heart on this issue—one that has been a life-long struggle for me, the more I reverse this question and think—How is it possible to not forgive? When I remember my own sin that Christ has paid for, I am so desperate for that grace—how can I try to keep another from knowing that same grace. There are situations where in my mind, it seems impossible. The horrific things that have happened to many, even some here, and I cannot say I would be able to forgive—actually I know I would not be able to, on my own. But I know that un-forgiveness is a self-imprisonment, and He does not want that for us. I know He is greater, and He will give us the strength to forgive, even the un-repentant. Psalm 10: 17 “O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart” . I recognize too that the offense is not just against me, but against God—and it is His to avenge.

  9. C. Did the father in the story of the prodigal sons forgive his younger son before or after he repented?
    I think he forgave his son before. I agree with Mary. There is nowhere in Mark 11:25 that says wait until he forgives you first.
    “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
    And that’s hard because it feels as though there is no justice. But it isn’t about myself and my justice, its about allowing that Holy Spirit that lives within me and me being obediant to God’s Word and allowing that Spirit to flow freely in my life!
    Calvary wasn’t just, but through it we have salvation!

    D. How is it even possible to forgive one who is not repentant?
    It isn’t possible in my flesh, and as I said its hard. However, through prayer and trusting the Lord and that He has both our best interests in mind. I must submit and do what scripture teaches. And ask the Lord help me see the situation through His eyes and not mine.

  10. 7. Is there a lyric from Les Mis that particularly impacts you? If so, share it. (Many of the songs are available on You-tube.) Why did it impact you? Ok here is a confession, I am a broadway geek. I love musicals and there is rarely a song I do not like but I dreamed a dream is classic and prob my fav. such a picture of what hopes we have but this world crushes them and apart from Christ this is so true.

    8. In the Dec 2 issue of World Magazine, Janie B. Cheaney wrote an article saying (if I understood her correctly) that we are only called to forgive the repentant.

    A. Do you agree or not? Explain.NO NOT AT ALL! Forgiveness is not about the other person, it is what sets you free to let go and let God deal with them. He is the judge and will handle it. I have seen this first hand. Plus Jesus tells we are to forgive 70×7 times and nothing is required of when or why.

    B. How would the story in Les Mis refute that? Jean Val Jean clearly forgives even when Javiert is not repentant.

    C. Did the father in the story of the prodigal sons forgive his younger son before or after he repented? no

    D. How it it even possible to forgive one who is not repentant? It is only through the love of Christ knowing He forgave us first. Scripture says while we were still sinners Christ died for us. This is the only way we can forgive the unrepentant. In Christ.

  11. 8. In the Dec 2 issue of World Magazine, Janie B. Cheaney wrote an article saying (if I understood her correctly) that we are only called to forgive the repentant.

    A. Do you agree or not? Explain.

    I disagree with the statement. We are called to forgive as the Lord forgave us. Jesus paid for the sins of all; whether one accepts the precious gift of grace does not impact whether Jesus provided forgiveness, only if we accept the forgiveness. Additionally, I’ve heard said that unforgiveness is like the person suffering the offense drinking poison hoping that the other person/offender will get sick…unforgiveness only hurts the heart of the one harboring bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, etc.

    B. How would the story in Les Mis refute that?

    Jean Valjean wasn’t repentant initially after stealing the bishop’s silverware, yet the bishop forgave him and extended even more grace to him by providing him with the candlesticks and freedom from the authorities taking him back to prison.

    Jean Valjean forgave Javert while Javert was unrepentant.

    C. Did the father in the story of the prodigal sons forgive his younger son before or after he repented?

    Before…the father ran and embraced the son as soon as he saw the son approaching; the son didn’t have time to ask for forgiveness prior to the embrace. I listened recently to Tim Keller’s sermon, The Prodigal Sons…excellent; I highly recommend…a favorite. What a wonderful thought to think of Jesus as my big brother…

    D. How it it even possible to forgive one who is not repentant?

    Only with the help of the Lord… It is hard enough to forgive someone who is repentant, but the suffering required in forgiving is evermore-so when the someone isn’t repentant.
    For me personally, it is a continual struggle…I pray to the Lord to release me from the bitterness and resentment; to purge it from my heart and mind; I pray for the Lord to create in me a pure heart..I can tell that my heart is softening in that regard, but then I must also admit that on occasion…kabam! something happens (usually awareness of another unsavory word or action by this particular man) and the bitterness and resentment come just like bile…I am reminded once again of how far I have yet to go in forgiving and my continuing need for God’s help in this matter.

  12. 9. Gary Haugen says that idolatry and injustice are the two things God hates most. In the message you will hear by Haugen this week, he takes us to Psalm 10. Read Psalm 10.

    A. How are those who commit injustice described in verses 8-11?
    They really sound like they are skulking around in the shadows, just waiting to pounce on some poor unsuspecting person. Hide just outside of villages to murder innocent people. They target the weak, the hurting, the most vulnerable.

    B. What kind of injustices in the world come to mind by the above description?
    All kinds, con artists who target more vulnerable people (like seniors) for money, traffickers who steal people and force them into slavery, prostitution etc, people who take advantage of other peoples lack of experience in circumstances that will cause harm (whether emotionally, physically or financially). People who walk past the homeless and downtrodden and tell them to suck it up and get a job. Generally all kinds of evil happens because people want money or power or something similar and they will step on anyone or anything to get what they think they deserve.

    C. What does the psalmist tell us about God according to Psalm 10:14-18?
    That God see’s everything that has happened, he asked God to break a few arms on the evil men. That God encourages the victims, listens to them. I will be honest and say that I am having a real hard time answering this question. I went through a few different versions and perhaps that was my problem that it was hard to get the same thoughts in reading the differences…or perhaps my brain is no longer working tonight. If I got this right though, then the evil ones will be “taken care of” and the God will heal the victims and watch over them.

    Haugen asks, “What is God’s plan for rescuing the oppressed?” His answer: We are. There is no Plan B. I’m eager for you to hear him tell his story, for I think it will encourage you with what can be done.

  13. Hi, This is my first time posting. I didn’t see any other posts on this matter, but there are a lot of them so forgive me if I am repeating what someone else said. I just saw Les Mis today….I found myself very torn between Russell’s character and Hugh’s character. One represents Righteousness and Justice to me and the other Mercy and Grace. Both (all) attributes of Father God. It was profound when I saw them both kneel to pray before the crucifix. They both loved God very much. They both were committed to Him. And they both represented facets of God’s character to me.

    With regard to the question for Tues/Wed it says:
    In the Dec 2 issue of World Magazine, Janie B. Cheaney wrote an article saying (if I understood her correctly) that we are only called to forgive the repentant.

    A. Do you agree or not? Explain.
    I do agree – sometimes. Wm Booth, founder of the Salvation Army said, “The chief danger of the 20th century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and Heaven without Hell.”
    This certainly sounds like a danger for the 21st century also, no??

    B. How would the story in Les Mis refute that? The forgiveness offered by the bishop and the forgiveness offered by Hugh’s character toward Russell’s character on more than 1 occasion.

    C. Did the father in the story of the prodigal sons forgive his younger son before or after he repented?
    I believe the son repented BEFORE he saw the Father…he repented the day he was eating grass and realized the workers or slaves hired by his father ate better than he was eating. That was his “bottom”…, his day of repentance when he was sorry for his choices and was finally able to hear true Wisdom about his depravity and his need for restoration and started for home to work for his father.

    D. How it it even possible to forgive one who is not repentant? I think it is possible to forgive an unrepentant person once, twice, three times, maybe 4, 5 or 6, but in our humanness we cannot forgive without Christ/Holy Spirit grace for the command of 70 x 7. That takes a huge supernatural work of the Holy Spirit.

    I grew up in an alcoholic home. After my father would sober up he would become “repentant”, beg for forgiveness, promise to never do again but then in less than a week, would repeat the cycle of drunkenness, verbal and physical abuse, and on and on it went for years.

    I can understand extending mercy if someone strikes you on one cheek turn to him the other also, if someone takes your cloak, offer your tunic also. I could do that to a stranger without much problem. But here is my problem when living under abusive authority and offering forgiveness when there has not been true repentance… there has to be boundaries. I don’t believe God wants vulnerable adults – usually women & children, but not always – to stay in unsafe situations because it is the merciful thing to do…to forgive. In this case my father was “repentant”… but was he?? Repentance means a total turning away from your sin. It isn’t just saying you are sorry. It is a total shift in behavior, 360-degrees, as the prodigal son finally did. Chem Dep counselors & AA teaching states love must be tough & that just means love with boundaries/limits. Sometimes that is the only thing that will “save” or redeem the one with the dependency issue. Otherwise the enabling keeps them “stuck”. My father went through treatment 7 times before staying sober. And then he died. I wonder often if his life could have been Very Different if my mother not been under the burden of the law of “mercy” through her Catholic faith, told she “made her bed now lie in it” (which meant you chose him you deal with it) and if she could have somehow held my father accountable for his behavior.

    These are the 2 things I grapple with most in my life… the justice/righteousness/judgment of God and His grace and mercy. God is both… He isn’t just one and not the other… He is all of these. Together. We are in the Spirit of Grace now, but when Christ returns there will be judgment. I believe we do Him and the Trinity a disservice when we see God as one dimensional and say “this is the way to Always be.” Jesus was a “beautiful Outlaw” as John Elderidge called him in his book of that title. He says “Jesus was no pansy, no pacifist”. Jesus acted what we could say seems contrary to himself in the Scriptures – but I think He treated each individual encounter as unique. For example in healings, some he would heal on the spot; in the case of his dear friend Lazarus tho he didn’t start out for his home for 3 days! Each encounter unique…connected to the Vine…doing the Will of the Father in each instance. It takes a great deal of Love and Restraint not to act out and hurt someone who has hurt you but instead to extend mercy. And it takes a great deal of Courage and Love to say NO! You will not do that to me again.

    Les Mis is a complex thought-provoking story. I so appreciate the opportunity to process the emotions it provoked also at this safe place.

    1. Welcome Mary Beth! This is a powerful post and thank you for your honesty in sharing here.

    2. Welcome Mary Beth–so glad you’re here!

      1. Thank you Susan, Elizabeth and Dee for your very warm welcome. I appreciate it very much as I continue to work out my salvation (not working for it as I know that has already been done for me by Christ’s sacrifice 🙂 Thank you Dee… I appreciate your word picture to me of David and Saul. I hadn’t thought about their relationship before, but it is an accurate one of how I survived also as a child/teenager…by fleeing. I appreciate your reminder that forgiveness does not mean lack of boundaries. That was not modeled to me by my mother. But that Biblical model will be helpful to me. I am learning a lot by reading the posts… I so appreciate your following the Spirit’s leading to digress a bit and discuss this movie. Visual lessons have such an impact for some of us… sometimes more than words… I was grateful to see your postings about this & couldn’t wait to get to the movie I had heard so much about. Blessings!

        1. So glad your here Mary Beth. I can tell that you have grown in the Lord so much from your painful background. You are a blessing to all of us.

        2. Thank you Joyce and Dee! I so appreciate the affirmation that my thoughts & feelings have value and worth..foreign to me, especially with women, but am willing to open up and let it in for true change to begin. Bless you Dee for this blog and your books! I am reading Friendships of Women now. Just happened to “stumble” upon your blog & your books as I have 2 friends who are newly widowed & I was looking for something to help them. Thank U for your transparency & answering God’s call to share your pain and thus bless.

  14. 9. Gary Haugen says that idolatry and injustice are the two things God hates most. In the message you will hear by Haugen this week, he takes us to Psalm 10. Read Psalm 10.

    A. How are those who commit injustice described in verses 8-11?

    Like a Lion seeking out and then waiting for its innocent prey- to pounce and drag him off crushing him under the weight of his strength. What stood out most was how he thinks God will never notice- that God will hide His face and never see what he is doing.

    B. What kind of injustices in the world come to mind by the above description?

    I am thinking of how men treat women in the middle east-making them cover from head to toe-beating them..I think of the sex slave trade, how innocent girls are sold off and brought into slavery or kidnapped and brought into slavery as little girls. Child molesters and pedophiles in our country. Women who are raped..so many countries with dictators who oppress their people. I am also thinking of orphans who need families.

    C. What does the psalmist tell us about God according to Psalm 10:14-18?

    GOD DOES SEE! And not just see, he considers their grief and takes it in hand-He hears their cry and encourages them-He is a defender of the fatherless and oppressed. So when God ‘considers’, and ‘takes it in hand’ it isn’t a light matter-he is deeply, deeply grieved and moves to help them. The victims commit themselves to Him and He is a father to the fatherless.

    Haugen asks, “What is God’s plan for rescuing the oppressed?” His answer: We are. There is no Plan B. I’m eager for you to hear him tell his story, for I think it will encourage you with what can be done.

  15. 9)A. How are those who commit injustice described in verses 8-11?
    Lurking in the bushes, like a lion ready to ambush

    B. What kind of injustices in the world come to mind by the above description?
    OH SO MANY. I think of the abuse that goes on in other countries, as well as here. Those abused for their faith in other countries; children abused;abuse in marriages, prisons…it’s overwhelming.We are by nature self-centered, and so many are wronged, forgotten, abused.

    C. What does the psalmist tell us about God according to Psalm 10:14-18?
    He sees, He hears, He helps, He is a father to the fatherless. He is more powerful than all evil. He is just. He is the Rescuer! I love this–PS. 10:14″But You DO see”! He sees, He hears, He rescues.
    Yesterday I read Psalm 9 and I loved these verses:
    Psalm 9:9-10 “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,a stronghold in times of trouble.And those who know your name put their trust in you,for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.”

  16. 11. Then reflect on these questions:
    I loved hearing Gary Haugen. We met him over 10 years ago, he spoke at our church in Texas. I have immense respect for him.
    A. What stood out to you from the message and why?
    WE are the light of the world—He makes His appeal to the world through us. We are the ones called to love, share, help—and then they see God IS good.It made so much “sense” the way he said it. People in dire circumstances, or just my neighbor who is struggling…will say “God doesn’t care”–and that means we are not doing what we are called to do. We are Christ’s Ambassadors. We show them that God DOES care.

    B. How did Haugen say the two biggest sins are, according to Scripture?
    Idolatry—incredible insult to God; and injustice, the abuse of power

    C. How did he define injustice and how is David and Bathsheba and Uriah an illustration of it?
    It is sin. Injustice is the abuse of power to take from others what God has intended for them. It is when power is misused to take what God has given them– life, dignity, liberty or the fruits of their love and labor.

  17. Though I am hopelessly behind, I did finally get to see Les Mis yesterday and hope to participate in this weeks discussion a little. I am still coughing, but finally feel as if the cloud is lifting, the brief visit I have had with the flu made me realize again how much I take health for granted.
    Thank you to all who have prayed for our Cosmo, the specialist confirmed the vets diagnosis of lymphoma. the cost estimate he gave to treat him “aggressively” with chemo therapy was $5000.00. We had a Great Dane who needed gastric torsion surgery years ago, after paying $3,800.00 for that we agreed never to go to those lengths for a pet again. But as Cosmo is sleeping here on my feet I can tell you it is hard when the time comes to follow through on such a resolve. He is on prednisone, it is expected that he will feel pretty good until he takes a sudden downturn and that will likely come within 8 weeks of diagnosis. He has been such a comfort to me over these past couple of hard years and I thank God for sending him to us. A friend who lost her dog to lymphoma told me someone said this to her:
    “he had no idea that he had cancer & that the end was near, he only knew the love that he felt from us, day in & day out. It was us humans that had to deal with the emotional part of it all. We did our best to put on our brave faces & love him everyday like it was our last with him. We cherished every moment & when the time came, let him go with grace & dignity… I guess that is all that we can do for our beloved pets.”

    That thought is helpful.

    1. Oh Chris,
      I’m so sorry about Cosmo…I can just picture him sleeping at your feet. And how he has brought you comfort…a pet can be such a faithful friend. Sending you a hug right now, and prayers, too.

    2. so so sorry Chris. And sorry you’ve been so sick–I’ve missed you, glad you’re back 🙂

    3. Chris, I’m so sorry about Cosmo. I really like what your friend told you, though. It is very true. Praying for peace for your heart. *hug*

  18. I should add that our Becca here on the blog, messaged me as I was getting ready to take Cosmo to the specialist, she graciously offered to go with me so I wouldn’t have to be alone. I had been sick for 6 days and was lightheaded and very concerned about driving the hour and 20 minutes to the vet hospital and back. Becca came and drove us, I felt like God provided her, she had messaged he about something unrelated at just the right time.

    1. Oh, Chris…I am so sorry…give Cosmos a big pet and kiss on the head for me…and yourself a big hug.

      Becca, it made my heart smile to think of what a good friend you are…thanks for being there for Chris.

    2. Dear Chris, My heart aches for you and your family and little Cosmo. I think God made dog’s for us to receive his unconditional love and faithfulness and excitement for us, through them. I know that may sound silly, but dogs treat us better than humans do most the time. They are a reminder of how good and faithful God is. Other’s will always hurt us, but God never will. Praying for you all and sweet little Cosmo.

    3. So glad Becca was there to help and support you!

  19. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    The ripple picture stood out to me, from our message last week, that we don’t “do” sin that sin “does” us, that conversely Grace also ripples out and affects changes in the world for Gods glory

    2. If you have seen Les Mis, name at least one specific storyline or lyric and why it impacted your heart.

    That I live and you are gone
    There’s a grief that can’t be spoken
    There’s a pain goes on and on

    These words are true and have weight for me
    Somehow though the suffering binds us together, I can empathize, and believe someone can empathize with me

  20. Those are my thoughts — but I would love yours.
    Comment on the above.
    I loved the passion you have here Dee that bleeds through. The magnitude of the sex trade can feel paralyzing. A sort of ‘what can I do’ feeling. I pray for direction for each of us to see, to want to keep our eyes open enough to reach out. I want to stop being so self centered that I am blind to what I CAN do.

    I wish that the husband I have know would have been the one that raised our boys. We were so often at odds over media choices. He watched things with them that I hated. I have to allow that God can use even our errors in parenting to make our sons into people who will follow Him and be called according to His purposes.

  21. 7. Is there a lyric from Les Mis that particularly impacts you? If so, share it. Why did it impact you?

    I saw the movie yesterday with my 21 yr. old son. Yes – I told him it was a musical, and at the end he said, “I didn’t expect them to sing through the WHOLE thing!” But – he did agree it was a very good movie. After watching it, I just wanted to sit by myself for awhile and try to process everything I saw and experienced. So many of the scenes and the music were so very powerful and moving. I found myself wishing that the character of Fantine had been more developed – it seemed like she was just introduced, working in the factory and then was out on the street, her life spiralling downward. But I wanted to know more of the Fantine before that happened to her.

    This is one particular scene and music that really moved me. When Valjean first meets Cosette and then takes her away and sings Suddenly.

    Suddenly I see
    Suddenly it starts
    When two anxious hearts
    beat as one.
    Yesterday I was alone
    Today you walk beside me
    Something still unclear
    Something not yet here
    has begun.
    Suddenly the world
    seems a different place
    Somehow full of grace
    and delight.
    How was I to know
    That so much love
    was held inside me?
    Something fresh and young
    Something still unsung
    Fills the night.
    How was I to know
    at last
    that happiness can
    come so fast?
    Trusting me the
    way you do
    I’m so afraid of failing you
    Just a child who cannot know
    that danger follows where I go.
    There are shadows
    everywhere and memories
    I cannot share.
    Nevermore alone
    Nevermore apart
    You have warmed my heart
    like the sun.
    You have brought
    the gift of life
    and love so long denied me.
    Suddenly I see
    what I could not see
    Something suddenly
    has begun.

    My tears start when Valjean presents Cosette with the new doll…when he lifts her up into his protective arms…as they ride in the carriage and she sleeps in his lap, and he strokes her hair…his eyes are filled with wonder. How did this character in this story learn to love a child – Valjean is falling in love and he loves Cosette as his own flesh and blood daughter. The tenderness he displays just wrecked me. It doesn’t matter how old I get; there is always something inside me that cries out to be loved as a child with her father.

    I learned online that this song was composed especially for the movie to convey the intimacy of this father-child relationship; it was not in the Broadway musical, but they believed this could be captured on film.

    1. “It doesn’t matter how old I get; there is always something inside me that cries out to be loved as a child with her father.” Love that Susan.
      It reminded me to how thankful I am He chose the relationship of Father with us–I mean, He could have been “just” Ruler–but He chose to call Himself my Father. The way you love your earthly father, has ministered tome–to see the tenderness our Heaven;y Father truly has, so sweet.

      1. Elizabeth, I just can’t get these scenes out of my mind…little Cosette sent out in the dark to draw water, she is alone and afraid and hides when she sees Valjean; a stranger to her, approaching. But he completely disarms her and wins her trust – he almost becomes child-like himself and that is the fascination of this character…I see the shadowy image of God/the gospel in this…He comes to us, He speaks to each one of us in the language/manner that we need – like fitting the right key into a lock. But she is also teaching him how to love, she is unlocking his heart, too.

        1. Love this! “I see the shadowy image of God/the gospel in this…He comes to us, He speaks to each one of us in the language/manner that we need – like fitting the right key into a lock.”

  22. This is a bit random, but I’ll share anyway 😉
    Since we’ve been talking about the Bishop…I had this memory come back. I was in 8th grade, and in my confirmation ceremony at our church. The Bishop of the diocese (I think that’s right–I was raised Catholic) had come in town to give each of us a blessing in the ceremony, individually. He had never met us, and we didn’t talk before hand, but when I walked up, he put his hands on my head and said “do not worry so much”. It seemed strange at the time, though not as strange as you’d think, it was interesting. What’s incredible to me now, is that it’s part of the strand, the “pearls” of how God has said over and over to me, especially using Isaiah 43 since my teens…”do not worry” “do not fear”. So I want to just come here now and lay down my worries. I used to want to say I wasn’t a “worrier” type–it seems (it is) so inconsistent with faith, that I never wanted to identify. But today, I confess it, I lay it down, I really this year want to give Him my full trust.

    1. What a beautiful memory, Elizabeth, about your confirmation. Sounds like the bishop was an insightful man who listened to God.

    2. Wow! Powerful story! I so appreciate your honesty and commitment in confessing and laying down your worry. I understand your difficulty in admitting your problem. Since the separation of Krista and Jeff, I have realized just how much of a worrier I am. The voices in my head of the “what ifs” just don’t seem to want to stop. It has become a huge issue for me to continually lay down my worry and refocus on the fact that God loves me and is in control and will take care of me and my family.

      1. Thank you both for the encouragement. The Lord is really opening my eyes lately to some long set patterns in me. As a child, I had a “don’t rock the boat” mantra I lived by–don’t fail, but don’t excel either–my motivation was to NOT draw attention to myself, not cause problems. That grew into what I like to call a “love of balance”–but it is really a fear of chaos. When Dee asked about goals, I skipped it because I hate goals. I had to ask myself why. My answer is that I hate pressure. I was thinking how lately I want quiet around me as much as possible–which is not normal for a mom. Well, this morning, I realized all this has just grown overtime, and is really my control idol–I am trying to create an inner calm that only He can bring.
        I looked back at last weeks sermon and Keller said “until you say “this time I will praise the Lord’, you will never be able to deal with all the imperfection around you.” And oh, that struck a chord. My attempt to deal with all the imperfection in my life–I think for YEARS, has been this growing snowball of “subtle” control–keep activities, even fellowship, to a minimum…all because I thought it would make me “calm”.
        I’m typing this without totally processing first, so I’ll stop–but I think He is really showing me a lot, and I’m thankful–like you said Susan, He knows the way to speak to me so I will hear–like the right key for the lock.

        1. Wow, elizabeth! You (and the Lord here too) are speaking my language. Thank you for typing without totally processing first. I too love calm and, yes, it can be a control issue! That is part of the reason that I am having a hard time with the chaos that is my life right now. I can’t control or fix and my natural self HATES that! I also find it hard to believe that God can be fully in charge of this chaos. But God created the universe out of chaos didn’t he, so what audacity I have to think that God is not in charge of my little sphere of chaos.

        2. oh diane, you are such a GIFT–thank you for understanding me! I am daily praying for you–and now I will know even more how to pray. This morning my husband left for Toronto and I honestly said last night, “I wish I could go with you and go have tea with Diane”! Of course, I know you’re not in Toronto, but it always makes me smile when he has these trips to Canada–it used to seem sooo far away, but now with you there, it’s not so bad 😉

        3. You are such a dear, elizabeth! Wish you could come and have a cup of tea with me! I have dear, dear friends in Toronto. It makes you seem closer to know your husband is there. You brighten my day!

        4. I agree with both of you (Diane and Elizabeth 🙂 – about chaos! I dislike it and grew up with it all around me all the time. And my life before becoming a Christian was Very chaotic..filled with lies…filled with creating drama…just like the drama I grew up with. I didn’t know how to be honest with people if I didn’t want to do something. I still struggle with that. I am getting better but especially when first became a Christian, I went right to the people-pleasing & thought I can’t so No to any requests – this is God’s work 😉 🙂 But I think God has brought order and peace to my life in my many years of walking with Him. I think I used to get a “high” from being able to rescue in a chaotic situation. I think that was my idol…being needed, being a rescuer, being the savior to others 🙁 When I read your posts…hope you don’t mind my sharing and I may be using this verse out of context, but this came to me right away. “God is not a God of disorder but of peace… ” 1 Cor 14:33 (I see now Paul was saying that to the Corinthian church, maybe regarding services?).. The universe was chaotic and God ordered it when he created it. So maybe your desire for peace and calm are gifts from God? I know He gives us peace that passeth understanding too…& that can be in the midst of chaos. And the Holy Spirit’s work is spontaneous, but I don’t know if chaotic?? Oh boy. Just like God… can’t put Him in a box. I just know I am in the late autumn season of life, and entering the winter season. 🙂 I am now finally grateful for more peace during this time (that was not always true – it was lonely!). Now life isn’t about how busy I can be but how much time can I set aside to sit at His feet and “listen” and get to Know my Maker…something I did not take time to do all the other years of my life, being so busy as rescuer & caretaker. Blessings as you listen to His message for you. So awesome to share with other women seeking God’s face.

        5. Elizabeth, I just wanted to thank you so very much for not processing. I saw this a couple of days ago when I was at work. I was super busy with lots of stuff going on and was starting to stress about the number of things I had to do and their deadlines…I needed to step back and chill for a moment and then I read your posts. When you were talking about not rocking the boat, not drawing attention to yourself, I was thinking wow my twin was posting.

          And then I read “until you say “this time I will praise the Lord’, you will never be able to deal with all the imperfection around you.” It stopped me right in my tracks. It was as if the Lord was piercing right through my soul at that moment. You may have typed the words without processing, but at that moment in time, to me, they came from the Lord Himself. I was able at that moment to praise the Lord and it made such a difference to the last couple of days, which have been really stressful, but I have more calmness than I suspect I would have been otherwise.

          I am still pondering and praying about how He will work through those words with me in the next while, but I just wanted to let you know that God used your “not processing” in a really powerful way to me at a moment that I really…really needed to hear it.

          So, thank you, thank you, thank you. It was such a blessing to me when I needed it, I wish I could give you a big hug to thank you so much for this.

        6. Mary, and now you just blessed ME more than you could imagine–like a sweet kiss from my King. The phrase “until I say this time I will praise the Lord” are from the Keller sermon “The Girl Nobody Wanted”, in case you didn’t get to hear/read it–it was wonderful.
          I am praying for you right now, to be overwhelmed by His peace. Thankful you are here–it is so encouraging to me to have sisters who listen, and “get” me 😉

        7. Your graciousness made me smile and thank God for you. I didn’t get a chance to read the sermon, but I will be going back to download it and spend some time listening to what God wants me to pick out of it. I am praying for both (actually all) of us to be open to the messages that He wants us to see at the times we need to see/hear them.

    3. Elizabeth, I loved your story of when you were young. I just read this today from my daily devotional….”Every time you trust me, the more I empower you to do so. Practice trusting me during the quiet days, when nothing much seems to be happening. Then when storms come, your trust balance will be sufficient to see you through. Store up for yourself treasures in heaven, through placing your trust in me. This practice will keep you in my peace.” Psalm 56:3-4; Matthew 6:20-21

      Sarah Young

      1. That was beautiful, Joyce–thank you so much for sharing that! You have a gift of encouragement–knowing just the words to share. Love you Joyce!

    4. Wow, that is amazing! God definitely spoke through the Bishop to know your heart. Beautiful. 🙂

  23. 8. In the Dec. 2 issue of World Magazine, Janie B. Cheaney wrote an article saying (if I understood her correctly) that we are only called to forgive the repentant.

    A. Do you agree or not? Explain.

    Wow. This is deep theological waters as I know many Christians are divided on this. I think we always have to be careful about pulling-out one verse to support our view; ignoring the whole context of the Bible. I think we should leave the forgiving the repentant to God – I mean by this that only He can know and truly see into the heart to determine whether or not a person is truly repentant and has changed their mind about their sin and turned to him. He gets to deal with the “complicated” aspect of forgiveness.
    We are told to forgive. If I decide to wait until I feel a person has repented, then I am taking God’s place. A person may repent and ask my forgiveness, or they may not, or it may be impossible (they may have died). But God knows that if I refuse to forgive, even if the person never repents, then I hurt myself and my relationship with God. By forgiving, I mean that I give up the right to hurt them back, to withold love, to brood over the offense, to take revenge…but as some here have already said, forgiving does not mean I have to blindly trust – it may be necessary to put safe boundaries in place between them and me, or not trust someone with my child, etc…

    B. How would the story of Les Mis refute that?

    Interesting – when Javert thinks he has mistaken Valjean in his new identity as the mayor as the criminal Valjean, he practically asks Valjean to turn him in to be punished, but Valjean will not. Javert never repents of his real crime – which is never being able to forgive Valjean – always seeing him as a criminal, a thief, a number, refusing to believe he has changed; always hunting him down, showing no mercy. Yet, Valjean takes no vengeance, even when given the chance. He lives his life in service and gratitude to God and refuses to become embittered toward Javert. He keeps his eyes on a higher good.

    1. Thank you so much for this post Susan! It is helping me to see & understand more clearly! Thank you!

    2. Susan I love your answer to 8 A. That is exactly how I feel too.

  24. C. Did the father in the story of the prodigal sons forgive his younger son before or after he repented?

    The father forgave the prodigal before the son repented. This is a metaphor of how God has forgiven us before we’ve repented and we are to forgive others whether or not they repent.

    D. How it it even possible to forgive one who is not repentant?
    The difference I see is that the prodigal’s father and our Father love us so much and unconditionally that they are forgiving. I don’t have a problem forgiving those that I love even when they are being unlovable. It’s the people that I don’t love and feel apathetic to, that I am having trouble forgiving. I pray that I will have love for them since it’s God’s love, not mine, but deep down I know that I am still holding on to unforgiveness and I know that I cannot do it on my own.

    1. Dawn, I love this….”The father forgave the prodigal before the son repented. This is a metaphor of how God has forgiven us before we’ve repented and we are to forgive others whether or not they repent.”

  25. I just finished reading to my son in bed, and as I came to this, it reminded me of Susan’s post above and I wanted to share. This is from Sally Lloyd Jones’ new book, “Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing”:
    Resting and Relying
    When you were little, did someone big ever carry you? Did you rest your head on his shoulder, lean your whole weight on him?
    Faith is leaning your whole weight on God. Resting your head on his shoulder.
    Faith means resting—relying not on who we are, or what we do, or how we feel, or what we know.
    Faith is resting in who God is and what he has done.
    And he has done EVERYTHING.
    “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” 1 John 4:16

    1. Thanks for sharing, Elizabeth. I have considered getting that book…I heard Sally interviewed on Midday Connection; the book sounded like it might be a really cool devotional tool. Your sharing confirmed it…love thoughts like that to contemplate.

      1. Nanci-I just read Piper’s blog for today, and it is on the book!: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/christian-hedonism-in-155-words

        ps–just requested Promise Me and Pearl in the Sand from my library…figured I needed a break from parenting books! 🙂

        1. Cool…thanks for the link. The interview on Midday Connection with Sally Lloyd-Jones aired December 5, 2012: http://www.moodyradio.org/radioplayer.aspx?episode=98204 She sounds like a really neat lady. When they asked her what age range the book was geared towards, she left it open and wouldn’t define a range…

          It may sound kind of silly, but I truly appreciate some of the artwork in children’s books…I have some of Jan Brett’s books that I purchased for myself because I loved the art work…this book has both wonderful text and artwork.

          Hope you enjoy the books from the library as much as I did.

    2. Like!

    3. Loved that Elizabeth…it reminded me of when my dad would carry me when I was little and I’d rest my head on mom’s shoulders in the car…thanks for the memory and comparing that to how God loves and carries me.

  26. 9. Gary Haugen says that idolatry and injustice are the two things God hates most. In the message you will hear by Haugen this week, he takes us to Psalm 10. Read Psalm 10.

    A. How are those who commit injustice described in verses 8-11?

    They are deceptive and ruthless, laying in wait for opportunities to take advantage of unsuspecting, innocent, helpless people all for their own gain, paying no mind to the huge expense that will be rendered by those being oppressed. They are believe that God turns a blind eye to this; they believe that God is unaware of their actions.

    B. What kind of injustices in the world come to mind by the above description?

    Human trafficking, human slavery, kidnapping, arranged marriage against the will of the woman, child abuse, domestic violence.

    C. What does the psalmist tell us about God according to Psalm 10:14-18?

    God does see the injustice; He hears the cry of those who are helpless; He will demand due justice from the perpetrators. The psalmist assures that those oppressed can put their trust in God…God will defend them and do away with the evil; He will be their comfort and hope….justice will prevail.

    11. Then reflect on these questions:
    A. What stood out to you from the message and why?

    The vast numbers…in 2006, 27 million people were enslaved worldwide…1 million children per year are forced into prostitution…60-85% of prisoners around the world are jailed with no offense being charged. These numbers are incomprehensible and in all likelihood have increased in the last six years.

    I was impressed by the genuineness of Gary Haugen. I have immense respect for IJM and applaud them for the incredibly difficult work they do. My husband and I have financially supported IJM since first hearing of the organization several years ago at a Christian Music Festival. IJM is part of the impetus of my going back to school for my post bacc paralegal certificate.

    B. How did Haugen say the two biggest sins are, according to Scripture?

    idolatry and injustice

    C. How did he define injustice and how is David and Bathsheba and Uriah an illustration of it?

    He defined injustice as taking away the rights of another through an in-balance of power and control…the oppressor uses his/her power and control to oppress another.
    Gary used the example of David using his power as king to have sexual relationships with Bathsheba and then to have Uriah put in harms way in battle to be killed.

    D. Haugen refers to the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 and the little boy’s lunch. What was his point?

    His point is that God can work with anything as long as we are willing…it doesn’t matter how little or how much we have to offer, what is important is our willingness to offer it to the Lord for Him to use.

    E. What might you do with your “lunch?”

    This is a really good question to ponder…what might I do with MY lunch. I have been thinking all afternoon about how I could offer my paralegal skills pro bono. I looked on the IJM site because I was encouraged in Gary’s talk when he mentioned IJM working with a law firm outside of Washington, DC that provides legal research…I thought, I could do that…I enjoy legal research, am fairly good at it, and would find real satisfaction in providing my skills to benefit those poor souls…but then I think, I work for a state agency, I have no association with an attorney…an overseeing attorney is an absolute necessity for a paralegal doing any legal work. I also think about time…how much time would I really have working full-time and having family responsibilities…?? The idea is intriguing and in fact has intrigued me for years. I will continue to ponder the possibilities, pray for God’s guidance, and pray for my obedience to God’s direction. I will continue to pray for IJM and for the oppressed of the world; my husband and I will continue to financially support IJM and other like organizations…Samaritan’s Purse has a designation of financial support of “Children in Crisis”.

    1. love your prayer Nanci and your heart for the oppressed. What you describe is something I have long wanted to do as well, especially for children–I almost went in to Social Work for that reason.I praying right now for God’s leading for you, what a wonderful prayer.

  27. I had never heard of Gary Haugen, like you, Nancy. I loved your comments and notes from his speach. I throughly enjoyed listening to him talk last evening about it. I’m not able to do something as you might be able to Nancy, but I can help finanially at least and will pray for sure. It was a true awakening for me. I was thinking also that he recorded that 6 years ago and was hoping by now, the numbers would be less instead of more. I hope so.

  28. 7. Is there a lyric from Les Mis that particularly impacts you? If so, share it. (Many of the songs are available on You-tube.) Why did it impact you?

    The song ‘suddenly’ impacted me..It was an overflow of Jesus’ love in Jean Valjean toward Cosette, and he was overwhelmed with gratitude to God, and Cosette was content at home in her adoptive father’s arms.

    I was comparing his life to the life of Javert-if you read Javert’s suicide song you can see the law blinded him to God’s mercy and love..Jean Valjean’s heart was so sacrificial toward others and this is why I love this song. It reminds me of God’s love for me. Jean saw Cosette as a gift from God and delighted in her.

    This song was right after he met Cosette and rescued her from oppression and vowed to be both her father and mother..He was inside the car with her-she sleeping on his lap, content and trusting him and he starts singing:

    Suddenly I see

    Suddenly it starts

    When two anxious hearts

    Beat as one.

    Yesterday I was alone

    Today you walk beside me

    Something still unclear

    Something not yet here

    Has begun.

    Suddenly the world

    Seems a different place

    Somehow full of grace

    And delight.

    How was I to know

    That so much love

    Was held inside me?

    Something fresh and young

    Something still unsung

    Fills the night.

    How was I to know at last

    That happiness can come so fast?

    Trusting me the way you do

    I’m so afraid of failing you

    Just a child who cannot know

    That danger follows where I go

    There are shadows everywhere

    And memories I cannot share

    Nevermore alone

    Nevermore apart

    You have warmed my heart

    Like the sun.

    You have brought the gift of life

    And love so long denied me.

    Suddenly I see

    What I could not see

    Something suddenly

    Has begun.

    1. That is such a beautiful song. 🙂 I am really hoping Mom & I can go see the movie soon!

  29. I have loved reading all of the wisdom expressed this week, have just a moment to share and back to the whirlwind called “life”.

    I was able to see this latest version of Les Mis thanks to the generosity of my dear friend Chris who blessed me with a free ticket.
    In regards to Javert, in the novel more so than the movie, I recall his suicide being brought about by a sense of failure. It just reminds me how often I can believe my behavior and good deeds are making me closer to God. The acts I perform can be part of my worship of Christ but without my heart in the right place and the end purpose clear the acts are nothing. Javert devotes his entire life to following the law, being good, even risking death when he acts as a spy, and it leaves him empty and longing for more, he becomes bitter by the futility of his life. To know that a poor slave -Valjean has more love and compassion and has improved the world more than himself was devastating and led to his choice of death. A feeling of superiority has been a struggle for me and this thinking has caused me much pain and I have lost out on much life has to offer.Especially when I act with mercy and compassion I kneel before my pride idol. I pray I can become more humble as I study with you this upcoming year.

    1. Becca, I love your insights.

    2. Becca, you and I both… “without my heart in the right place … the acts are nothing.” I too am trying diligently to be mindful of my heart motivations…I want no damnable good acts. Blessings to you!

    3. Happy Belated Birthday Becca…and thank you so much for this post and sharing your heart about superiority. It got me to really think…when I have been hurt deeply by someone, rather than going to them and sharing how much I hurt (becoming vulnerable), I believe I’ve taken on an attitude of superiority to keep myself safe & then tried to prove – to myself and others -that I was okay – see my deeds? I wonder what happened to Javiert that his heart became so hard…it seems he chose to prove to himself (and to God) that he was not as bad as someone said he was…just as you stated…”I can believe my behavior and good deeds are making me closer to God.” Profound.

  30. 9. Gary Haugen says that idolatry and injustice are the two things God hates most. In the message you will hear by Haugen this week, he takes us to Psalm 10. Read Psalm 10.

    A. How are those who commit injustice described in verses 8-11? Ready to pounce, preying on the oppressed or unsuspecting.

    B. What kind of injustices in the world come to mind by the above description? children being stolen, human trafficking, orphans, widows, bank frauds or schemes.

    C. What does the psalmist tell us about God according to Psalm 10:14-18? He will handle it. He hates it. He hears, sees, and will defend.

    Haugen asks, “What is God’s plan for rescuing the oppressed?” His answer: We are. There is no Plan B. I’m eager for you to hear him tell his story, for I think it will encourage you with what can be done.

  31. Oh I want to share this! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFcOeEDgGbE
    It’s from a CD we LOVE, we bought it when our kids were babies, it’s Called “Hidden in My Heart” Scripture Lullabies. We have both CD’s and I just heard this one in the car–then I found this incredible youtube of it–I think many of you will be blessed by it.

    1. Did you possibly mean this song, elizabeth? This is called Hidden in My Heart.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PohveGSrIHA

      The one you posted is nice too, though, but called “I Am Here”.

      1. Oh, that’s another one on the same album! I meant to give the title–you’re right, the song I posted is called “I Am Here”, but the album is called “Hidden in my heart Scripture Lullabies” (Vols I & II). We bought them when my son was a baby and he listened to them every night (now he’s moved on to taking all my Indelible Grace albums, so I took this one 😉

        1. Oh, I get it. I was just confused by the album title. The song you posted (“I Am Here”) is so very soothing and comforting. Thanks for posting it.

    2. Such a beautiful song, Elizabeth! Touched my heart! I shared it on my Facebook. Beautiful, thank you for sharing. 🙂

  32. I dont have much time this morning but wanted to give you all a chance to know that today is Becca’s birthday so that you ma bless her!
    Happy Birthday friend, I am so glad you found your way here and look forward to seeing what God has for your future.

    1. Happy birthday Becca! I hope your day is blessed!

    2. Happy birthday Becca!!!

    3. Happy Birthday Becca!

    4. Hope you’re having a wonderful day, Becca…happy birthday!

    5. Happy birthday, Becca. Glad you are here. Hope you had a good day!

    6. Happy Birthday Becca…even though this is a day late…I hope it was an awesome one for you.

      1. Happy Birthday..late…Becca!

  33. This week has been really emotional for me, I started reading 1000 Gifts, the first chapter is proving very hard to get through, then with the emotion of the film a couple of other small things and Cosmos diagnosis, I am feeling swallowed up with sad. I work too hard at keeping a lid on it all, I am praying that God will teach me what it is I need to know about letting it out in a healthy healing way.

    1. Praying for you Chris. I got downloaded 1000 Gifts from Amazon. Now you’re making me afraid to start it 🙂

    2. Praying for you Chris, I don’t like to think of you trying to hold it all together–praying for healthy release–that you would REST in His arms. I decided that’s my “word” for myself this year–so I’m praying that for you too dear friend!

    3. Sorry you’re having a rough week, Chris; so much hitting you at once, and the sadness. I’ll be praying for you.

    4. I wish I had the right words to say, Chris…my heart aches for you with the sickness and sorrows you’ve experienced. The first chapter of One Thousand Gifts is a difficult one, but helps to set the premise of the book…I’ll be praying for you and your dear Cosmos.

    5. Hugs, Chris. Sorry things are so rough. You are in my prayers. May God comfort you.

    6. Chris, I know what you are talking about in the first chapter-oh that must be hard..it sounds like you are listening to Him and I am not sure-although I don’t know about grief and the stages and especially what you are going through but I do know God will never abandon you and it is okay if you are struggling with it..perhaps it is okay where you are at..He is there…He is your help. HUGE hugs..

  34. Going to see Les Mis tomorrow with my husband and another couple, none of us are fans of musicals so the reactions will be interesting. (The only musical that I really enjoyed was Sweeney Todd. Just kidding!)

  35. We are singing this at church this week, the Indelible Grace version–this is just the last 2 verses, but the words just struck me:
    “Poor Sinner, Dejected with Fear”
    2. Come just as thou art, with thy woe,
    Fall down at the feet of the Lamb;
    He will not, He cannot say, “Go”,
    But surely will take out thy stain
    A fountain is opened for sin,
    And thousands its virtues have proved
    He’ll take thee, and plunge thee therein,
    And wash thee from filth in His blood.

    3. The soul that on Jesus relies,
    He’ll never, no never deceive;
    He freely and faithfully gives
    More blessings than we can conceive;
    Yea, down to old age He will keep,
    Nor will He forsake us at last;
    He knows and is known by His sheep;
    They’re His, and He will hold them fast

    1. Beautiful lyrics, thank you for sharing.

  36. HAPPY BIRTHDAY BECCA! So glad you are here, pray you have a wonderful day!

  37. Being in the midst of injustices at work, I am finding it very hard to forgive and be loving to those who continually speak poorly of me and treat me bad. My pride says that I work hard and deserve to be recognized for it, and I should point out how others are slacking off and making our whole shift look bad. I want any acts of mercy and compassion to be met with tenderheartedness, but instead it is usually blown off or twisted to look weak in some way. Then I don’t want to be compassionate anymore because it isn’t “working”.
    I resolve every day to change my behavior and attitude, but by the end of the day not much has changed. I know it is not by any good in me that I will be able to do this, but only giving myself continually to the Holy Spirit and letting Him work through me.

    1. Dawn, I will pray for you now with this. Oh you paint such a vivid picture. I have been so spoiled to never have a secular job (though the church can have it’s “issues”!!)–but just imagining what you describe, I though “ick”. Praying for you to be strengthened and encouraged in the midst as only He can–and too, that you would be valued, respected. So sorry Dawn.

      1. Amen

    2. Praying for you, Dawn. Your life sounds like the psalmist when he talks about being surrounded by enemies and pleads to God for justice. It is so hard to continue to trust and be compassionate when it seems nothing is changing for the better. I understand your struggle. Hold on. Trust God. God is still at work even when we cannot see it.

  38. My answers are all scattered this week, but I did love (in the old version–not sure how it’s said in the new), when Fantine says to Valjean “you don’t understand, I’m …and Cosette has no father.” And he says “She has the Lord. He is her father. And you’re his creation. In his eyes, you have never been anyting but an innocent and… beautiful woman.” LOVE that part. Also at the beginning when the old woman says to Valjean “Why don’t you go to an inn?” And he tells her he’s asked everywhere–and then she points to the Bishop’s door and says “You didn’t ask there–knock on that door.” It was a message of not giving up hope.

    1. Elizabeth, I love so much your insights. They truly encourage me and lift me up. 🙂

    2. Gosh I have to see the movie again… I totally missed the connection of this to “Ask, seek, knock”…. as it is in the Scripture. Another beautiful word picture – this time of asking, seeking and knocking and the door will be opened to you. wow! Thank you for this post.

  39. I just want to share here a poem I wrote last night, before I went to bed:

    Hear My Prayer

    Oh Lord, hear my prayer
    Grant me Your peace
    Let me feel Your great love
    Wash away my fears
    Renew me in You
    Let me feel Your arms
    Holding me so near
    Safe and secure
    Satan cannot harm me
    I am Your child
    He tries to mess with my mind
    But my hope is in You
    My thoughts turn to You
    Abba, I love You
    Never have I felt You so close
    So near
    You never leave my side
    Oh Lord, such love I cannot grasp
    Never-ending
    Relentless
    Taking my hand
    Holding me so near
    Abba, grant me Your peace

    1. oh Krista, you are so gifted. I read this with tears-thank you for sharing.

      1. Thank you. 🙂 I used to write poems a lot, but stopped over the last 2-3 months. I finally feel like I can write them again. It truly comforts me.

        1. Krista, I have read your comments and you don’t know how my heart melted! It warmed me to see you running to Him in the middle of such a huge storm in your life! You are a gem, sweet sister.

      1. The song to which Dee referred is Hold Me Jesus by Rich Mullins. Here is the song with an interesting video.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gBGGX3yvMo

        1. Diane, in something I read about Rich it said that he wrote that song in the midst of struggle with temptation. That may account for the odd video.

    2. Beautiful

    3. Beautiful Krista!

  40. Thank you for continued prayers for Jay, Travis & Bridget…
    Recent tests have shown that Jay does not have detectable evidence of either cancer in his bone marrow at this time. The PET scan was also negative for cancer at it’s preliminary reading, but the doctors told Bridget and Travis that these two pieces of information don’t change much for Jay. Additional test results are coming and will impact the treatment plan. They expect a treatment plan the week of January 21.

  41. A lot of what we have been pondering this week is forgiveness. This is a song that is familiar to many but it touches my heart – Matthew West “Forgiveness”.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=h1Lu5udXEZI&feature=endscreen

    1. so good, Diane, thank you–

  42. I am about half an hour into Haugen’s message and I have had to stop listening for the moment because it is so hard to listen to. It breaks my heart. The story of the young beautiful Rwandan girl who survived the genocide beside the fact that I am to be the light of the world, that God puts his reputation on the line to use me to show the world that God is good is incredibly hard. I feel so little and helpless. I also don’t want to see their pain and live in a secure, comforting little bubble and only experience good things. Putting that beside the injustice that my daughter is going through from her husband is tearing my heart. I have lived in India and Africa. I have seen those little girls. I know that there are huge injustices and I can do so little.

    I hope Haugen goes on to tell us what we can do. I am sure he does, but right now I just want to cry.

  43. 11. Then reflect on these questions:

    A. What stood out to you from the message and why?

    How he struggled with desiring Jesus desires-God’s concern for the world and God’s concern for justice.

    The story of the 8 year old Rowandan girl whose village and people were wiped out-murdered, machettied. She had a machette mark on the back of her neck-she almost was killed with them..God gave up his life for this 8 year old rowandan girl so she can be with Him and you want to put a machete to her head? God is not dispassionate about it, he is outraged at this. It is easy as an American to fall asleep here and not be concerned about the injustice going on in the world..There is a difference between how Jesus regards the world and I do.

    The most difficult thing for people to believe about God is that he is good because there is so much pain. How is it so believable that God is good-what is God’s plan to make it believable that he is good? God’s plan for making it believable is us..His people.

    Matthew 5-you are the light of the world, let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven. He is saying your it..He is putting His reputation on the line with us.

    2 Cor. 5:20 God is making his appeal to the world through us.

    B. How did Haugen say the two biggest sins are, according to Scripture?

    Idolatry and Injustice.

    I SO NEEDED the definition of BIBLICAL injustice-since hearing our political version of social injustice for so long-we are way off the Biblical meaning. Injustice in scripture is the abuse of power to take from others the good things that God intended from them- their life, their liberty their dignity, the fruits of their love and labor..When someone who is stronger than them abuses their power to take from those who are weaker-the good things God intended for them it is called sin. He who oppresses the poor insults his maker.

    Idolatry is an incredible insult to God. You are choosing to worship an idol carved of stone instead of the creator of the universe???

    C. How did he define injustice and how is David and Bathsheba and Uriah an illustration of it?

    I answered the definition of injustice above..David abused his power as king to steal Uriah’s life and uses that power to steal Uriah’s wife.

    D. Haugen refers to the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 and the little boy’s lunch. What was his point?

    You just obey God and let God do the miracle.

    E. What might you do with your “lunch?”

    Oh I might need to come back to this one….but off the top of my head I can say God has blessed me with the opportunity to help Dee in her ministry-she gives her life and ministry to help the oppressed and although my part is very small I am grateful God found a way for me to ‘use my lunch’ both for the oppressed in the world by helping Dee, and at the same time ‘using my lunch’ here at home as a mom and wife. I just realized this..man am I slow. 🙂

    He does the miracle-we just obey when He moves us..so it isn’t about us-it is Him..I think He will give us opportunities to use our lunch-we just need to have our eyes opened..anyway, wow..He is good..and faithful.

    1. “it is Him”…”have our eyes opened”…
      yes, indeed…thanks, Rebecca.

    2. “I think He will give us opportunities to use our lunch-we just need to have our eyes opened.” So true Rebecca–I think the opportunities are even in the “every day” moments, if we are open to see

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

    I am going to Les Mis tomorrow with my oldest daughter…I am very excited. The 25th anniversary one was good and I’m glad that I viewed it to get the gist of the story, but after reading the various posts, I am REALLY looking forward to going tomorrow. It will also be some nice mom/daughter time.

    I have never traveled to a third world country…I have never REALLY seen “poverty”…such as tent cities in Nicaragua where extended families share a small tents for shelter…or real “cultural” differences where women/girls are treated substandard. I know that there is evil and brutality in the United States, but at least the United States has a system to provide justice (not perfect, but still better than most) and places to seek help. The brutality that Gary Haugen (and others…e.g., Kimberly L. Smith, “Passport Through Darkness”) talk about in these foreign countries is just incomprehensible to me… My heart just cries for people whose lives are sold as if they are property, who are abused in unthinkable ways, with so little hope for the future, in the depths of despair. The 2006 numbers are overwhelming…27 million slaves, 1 million children each year being forced into prostitution… I do feel drawn to help, but how?…my prayers and financial support are both a given. Is writing our elected representatives worthwhile? Keeping in mind that God takes whatever we are willing to give and multiplies it for His purpose gives me great hope for any of my efforts…

    Yesterday I started looking into other areas where I could potentially share “my lunch”…
    I investigated the community family law center and associated mediation center. I made a call to set up an appointment to chat with the director for more information to help in discerning…no answer (it was Friday afternoon…who knows what staffing they have??). I thought how last summer I used my sewing skills to make dresses for the “dress-around-the-world” effort with great satisfaction…maybe I should get back doing that…?? What I realized is that there are so many “good” things that I could be doing…(light bulb moment!)…’create in me a pure heart”…ultimately I need to make sure that whatever and wherever I share “my lunch” it is with the right heart motivation. I think that I probably will meet with the center director for more information and will likely investigate other opportunities to see where I feel God might be drawing me.

    I am going to get back to sewing dresses…the motivation of my heart is right in this effort…
    it makes no difference whether anyone ever knows how many dresses I make or that it is me that made them; I simply drop them off and smile to think that a little girl will have at least one pretty little dress; the thought warms my heart (I think it warms God’s heart too).

  45. Take-away…hmm, feel free to skip, this got long and a little off-topic 😉

    The Lord has really been working in me the last few days. Depression is something on all sides of (both my husband and my) family. Over the years, I have had lows, some counseling, but for the most part been OK. However this past year has had a lot of hard stuff—hormonal fluctuations, a flare with my thyroid disease, fall-out with my closest friend, extended-family mess, and physical pain. Wednesday I hit a real low point. My husband and a close friend said they saw depression in me. I agreed, and am praying over the next steps. But it also was a wake-up call. That night, I prayed and journalled—I kept coming back to Psalm 62:1 “my soul finds rest in God alone”. I thought about how I have become like a cranky, screeching machine whose only focus is to somehow create inner-calm. I thought—what would it take, to really believe it, to really find rest in Him alone? And I thought—for me, to just finally believe “I am OK”, there is not a terrible disease lurking in me, my relationship with my daughter will be OK and my children’s spiritual paths are not dependent or controlled by me. Could I believe that a little more fellowship would mot cause so much chaos that I couldn’t handle it? Could I trust, as another friend said—He will not lead me into chaos? Could I say ‘yes’ more?

    This is a challenge, but I can only say I have had 2 (and a ½!) now days of hardly any nerve pain, no headaches, and a good talk with my daughter. I had a curve-ball moment yesterday morning–my husband called from the airport and changed the plans from spending the rest of the day together to going straight back to the office… and I said “This time I will praise the Lord”. Make Him my One I turn to with life’s imperfections, instead of trying to orchestrate my life according to what I perceive as my stress-free princess plan.

    Another thing stirring in me this week is forgiveness. My dad was an alcoholic and truly the definition of clinically depressed my entire life. I have a closer relationship with my new neighbor than my Dad. I never tried to make amends, I spent my life with a wall, waiting for him to say he was so sorry, and then I had planned to hug him and say it was ok…but that never came before he died.
    I have spent a lot of time with this, prayer, counseling. But in the last few days a “brighter” light-bulb went off. I felt real compassion for him, like I never have. I wept FOR him, not to have him back, but for his depression, his pain. His generation didn’t accept depression like we do now, and I’ll just say he was in a very difficult circumstance to be able to have anyone help him get help, if that makes sense. My family sees pain as weakness. I fully believe my Dad loved God and is healed in Heaven. When dad died, I felt relief, God’s mercy on me because that relationship was so incredibly painful. But today I see it as God’s mercy on him that he is there now. For the first time, I deeply feel I could hug him and just say I understand. I feel LOVE for him. This is huge.

    1. Thanks for sharing how God is working in you, elizabeth. You have been through so much in your past and now in this last year with your pain and all. I’m so glad that God is healing you with some issues with your Dad – to let you really feel the pain and then give you love for him. Like you say “This is huge”. Hugs!

    2. So very happy for you. Actually I didn’t think this was off topic at all. I thought it fit right into this week. Healing, moving forward and forgiveness, and it made me smile that I have seen God’s movement and influence this week in so many posts…as my son would say….waaaaay cool.

    3. Thank you so much for sharing all of that, Elizabeth! How wonderful how God has been working in your life this week, and that you let Him. I wish I could give you a real hug! (((hug)))

    4. I really appreciate your sharing this post – Wow! Our lives have So many similarities, the depression on both sides of family, thyroid disease, alcoholic father, fall out with my closest friend this year, and I had some other physical things in the mix. I understand about the control too Elizabeth. For me I realized my deep need for control had to do with being raised in a chaotic home…I couldn’t trust that I would be safe from one day to the next with the alcoholism and abuse. (Like Cosette – fear around every corner) I also did not want to draw attention to myself because that would mean trouble – even if the attention was for something I did well. My mom and dad have been gone for 20 yrs now..it took me several yrs after their deaths to finally weep for them in deep forgiveness and to realize they were victims of their childhoods and had parents similar to the way they parented 🙁 I had a chance to talk to the pastor who visited my father in the hospital a couple of hours before he died – dad was all alone. He told me God loved my father more than I could ever imagine! And that He believed my dad had made peace with Jesus his Savior. I was SO relieved to learn of that. I also became very grateful for my mom, the grandmas or Great-grandmas or aunties or uncles or whoever it was that prayed for the cycle of abuse and alcoholism to stop. It has been slowed greatly in my generation and in the next generation. Praise God!…still depression there for us to deal with, but I just share that because prayer Really does work, even tho it may take a generation before fruitful. Bless U for sharing! I too had a week where all kinds of plans were shifted around & I was able to stay calm and praising the Lord and everything worked out – better than it would have had I had my mitts in it! I love “This time I will praise the Lord” that you and others have been sharing in your posts & I too will use it to chase away fears & worries & depression about circumstances. Praising Him for your good news this week…In love and peace as we go forth learning to trust and praise Him.

  46. Saw Les Mis last night! Wow, it was so good. So much in that movie to process. It was national end human trafficking day yesterday so it was on my mind and then seeing the Fontaine part…So sad and I see this is how women get in this all the time. Yet her daughter was also a slave to the innkeepers who treated her so poorly and just basically sold her. Those parts just hit me straight to the heart…So sad that it happens in this day and age but oh how God’s grace changes things and people.

    It is also so interesting to me that Javiert could not receive grace or mercy. In his heart which he referred to as stone once he could not receive it and even killed himself over it choosing the opposite of God. He was one I think would consider himself a “Christian” dealing out justice but really in His heart he was not at all. Choosing his way and the law instead of grace freely given in Christ.

    1. I was explaining to my husband this morning about the movie – Les Mes – as he was not sure he would get a chance to see it. As I explained about Javiert not receiving the forgiveness & mercy offered to him from Valjean 3 times and then committing suicide…it was like a rooster crowed and I realized the parallel to the story in the Bible about Peter denying Christ 3 times. Christ then reappeared after the resurrection to the disciples and asked Peter 3 times – do you love me Peter? More Scriptural truth unfolded in this beautiful story of grace. Peter had a choice – & we know he did choose to receive Christ’s gift of forgiveness & mercy and went on to fulfill the prophecy Christ spoke to him about being the Rock on whom Christ would build His church. Unfortunate Valjean did not, for whatever reasons, make that same choice. 🙁

      1. Oops…I meant Javert…

  47. I’m going to combine answers and thoughts as my take away.

    There is such a balance between legalism and the “anything goes” mentality. If you live your life by rules for rules sake you are trying to earn your salvation and will fail to give compassion and grace to others.

    I usually read things that are edifying, fiction or non fiction which cause me to think about God and lead me to work out my salvation.I read what I call “brain candy” when I need a break, but I find it hard to find anything in the contemporary fiction category that isn’t just a waste of time and fluff. I do like to read horror and mystery, but only for the scare, if it has gore, sex and foul language I dump it. I know that this is controversial and that there are a lot of Christians that don’t think that there is any place for horror stories in a Christian’s life. I only seem to hear this from people who don’t like scary stuff anyway so they don’t give any compelling reasons as to why they say that it is wrong they just do.

    I just saw Les Mis at the theater today. Although I thoroughly enjoyed it, I think it made Javert too likeable. He was much more hard and hateful in the book.
    The person in the film that impacted me the most was the innkeepers’ daughter. She was so pretty, ignored by her parents and in love with someone who loved someone else. I really felt sorry for her, almost like she lived a pointless life.
    I agree that equating patriotism with salvation is wrong and takes away from the only way to eternal life, but the joy of seeing all of those who went before us, those we love and have been missing was very well captured in this film.
    My husband was unfamiliar with the story and was unable to make it to the movies so we went on Netflix and found a series that breaks it up into 1 1/2 hour episodes. It was made in 2000 and is very well done and true to the book. My husband likes it a lot!

    1. Dawn, the innkeeper’s daughter impacted me too! I really had to fight back the tears & felt I could just sob out loud when she died. Maybe when I can rent it & re-watch at home I will be able to understand the emotion behind that. Thank U for sharing about her..I had forgotten about my reaction.

      I grapple with the balance between grace and legalism every single day. As a parent you know you can’t allow children to live without rules, and God as Our Father has provided principles for us to live by and did give us the “Law” as in the commandments. Jesus did say, “I have not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them”. Matt 5:17 Such a confusing concept to me… In some ways I think now we have become so “grace focused” we forget & do not hear from the pulpit there will come a future judgment someday ….whereas in years past, when I was first “saved” it was more hell and brimstone that was being preached and not much about grace! I keep knocking & asking the Lord for wisdom, clarity & understanding about this… I appreciate how you clearly you stated it.

  48. 11. Then reflect on these questions:

    This is in response to the sermon.

    A. What stood out to you from the message and why?

    I am always struck with groups and people who choose to work outside the US when we have pain and suffering here as well. I understand we have nothing compared to the sex trade of thd rest of the world, however injustice is done here in other ways. I feel that our police are becoming like those of other countries too. I have (unfortunately) had “run ins” with the police because of my children. In the past 5 years I have become hardened to the police because they have become ridiculous in their carrying out the law. Examples? Bat-turning into my driveway as if to bust a huge drug party when all they were doing was coming to arrest sarah for fighting at the mall. Really? More recently, 10 officers (yes I said 10!) at my house to arrest John because he refused to narc on a drug dealer (not sure he really knows who this person is). Was this really necessary? Perhaps someone was being murdered across town and an officer was needed there???
    Anyway, I have learned to hate the police and don’t really trust them much now. I can see how these developing countries would have corrupt police forces. This would be very hard to change.

    Sad about what’s happening in the rest of the world. Nothing I can do about that but maybe pray. No money these days (extra) to give, and don’t see myself traveling to other countries to help. Too scary for me, and not sure how I could help.

    One thing I think stood out is how God “left” us here to carry out His love. Wow. Really impacted me.

    I like how Gary addressed not helping Americans. He said he was hoping we could all reach out in our communities as he has across the world. I think this is important, but then how do we know the best way to do that? I feel that injustice is being done to my mom right now with her health care. We still cannot get people to use common sense and help her heal! It is terrible and no elderly person should have to go through what she is going through.

    All in all he is a very good speaker who drew me in to his talk.

    1. Laura – Dancer
      I think that there are needs all over the world and God sees and knows them all. I believe that some people are called to focus on helping oversees but that others are called to help locally. I wonder if the church is more focused on overseas and that is why it filters down to us personally. A number of years ago I felt a conflict in my heart about where to help. I felt as thought I was being called to may more attention to local versus overseas, yet the church was looking mostly overseas, it was a dilemma for me for a time. Now I have been able to figure out that what God wants me to do is to help more locally, He will raise up whom He wants to help overseas. I still do provide some support for overseas, but my focus is local, which is the way I think He wants it.

      I think if we do and/or go where God is directing us, being open to see the situations/people the way He wants us to see, whether that be local or overseas, then we are doing what He has called us to do, which I think is also the most important thing.