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GOSPEL TRANSFORMATION (MOVING TOWARD THE CROSS)

            THE SAME POWER THAT BROUGHT JESUS BACK FROM THE DEAD

CAN EMPOWER US TO LOVE

WHEN LOVE IS LACKING.

THE GOSPEL HAS POWER FROM GOD.

Last week I was with my daughter Sally and her two daughters. Sadie, the two-and-a-half year old, has had intense feelings of sibling rivalry toward her new little sister, Claire. She kept asking her parents to take Claire back after she was born. If Claire gets into Sadie’s toys, Sadie gets very angry. When I was there, Sadie had to be disciplined for hitting Claire. I sat in the dining room praying while Sally was in the living room with Sadie, talking to her afterwards. Sadie was weeping and telling Sally she was sorry.

Sally said, “Honey — you can’t help yourself. You feel angry with Claire. The only way that you will stop hitting her is if Jesus changes your heart and gives you love for her. I know — because I always have to ask Jesus to change my heart when I feel angry. Ask Him to help you.”

SadiehelpmeGod!

Suddenly Sadie lifted her arms toward heaven and cried out:
*
Jesus, help me!

My heart melted at her poignant plea. I thought, That’s exactly what I need to do all day long. The gospel shows me how bad I am, because He was crucified for me, yet it also shows me how loved I am, for He was willing to die for me. He is just waiting for me to cry out to Him for help, and I need to keep my eyes on Him all day long.

 

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Sally, Sadie, Dee, and Claire in Alexandria

I wish I had better understood the power of the gospel in parenting when I was a young mother.  (I love seeing  young mothers here avail themselves of its power. Just last week Angela gave a testimony of how her daughter was becoming a “moralist” and she had to talk to her about her heart. Rebecca is diligently praying for the gospel to permeate her sons’ hearts. Cyndi is continually repenting in front of her children. Elizabeth has had so many gospel-centered discussions with her young daughter. And more!) I realize so many of the things I did as a young mom restrained their outward behavior, but didn’t touch their hearts. I had sticker charts everywhere — they got stickers for being nice and for obeying — and so many stickers led to prizes! I think there is a place for rewarding good behavior, but we must always keep their hearts in mind. How are hearts changed?

Only by God. It is a miracle. You may actually do very well as a parent, and a heart may remain hard. Judas had the best teacher, but his heart remained hard. But, what God does call us to do is to walk in humility before our children, so they see us continually repenting. We must also PRAY and lift up Jesus in all of His splendor. Beware of training your child to be a “good Christian.” The last thing we want to do is be or to raise up “older brothers,” self-righteous moralists, who behave outwardly but who don’t really love God or anyone. Instead, keep lifting up Jesus — there are so many stories and ways you can help your children behold Him.  (I plan to do a post after Easter sometime just about gospel-centered parenting.) But for now, I want to concentrate on our hearts.

ROMANS1-16For here we are two weeks from Easter. We are on this journey toward the cross, this journey to replace our idols with “a new affection,” with the love of God in our hearts. Every single one of us has failed, and every single one of us needs to cry out:

Help me, Jesus!

There is power here. As I traveled back to Kansas City I prayed for Sadie, knowing she is too young to fully understand the gospel, yet the seeds are there. And God can work in mysterious ways. I thought about how when Sally was eleven, we had adopted her sister Annie — a five-year-old orphan from Korea. Sally’s sibling rivalry was so intense it astonished me for I had been so overjoyed God had given Sally to us and we had adored her all of her eleven years. Probably too much!  I thought, Doesn’t Sally know how loved she is? But then, helpless, we watched Sally slide into a severe depression: losing joy, losing sleep, losing weight. My husband was wise enough to recognize a clinical depression and we got her medical help — but still, that couldn’t touch her heart. Her anger was real. The Christian child psychiatrist tried to reason with her. He said: “Don’t you think your new little sister needs your parents’ love?”

Sally said, “WELL, SHE’S CERTAINLY GETTING IT!”

I did everything wrong. I was angry at Sally for being angry at Annie! I needed gospel powered grace just as much as she did. One night the girls were rough-housing and I heard Annie cry out in pain. I came running in, my anger bubbling up, and said to Sally, “What did you do now?”

Sally said, “Not only have I been rudely displaced, but now I am being unjustly accused.” (She has always been our “Anne of Green Gables.”)

It was my husband who was full of grace. He sat by Sally’s bed by the hour stroking her hair, praying for her. He listened to her –she told him she felt big, ugly, and had a mouth full of braces. Steve, full of the love of Christ, held her, loved her, wept over her, was Jesus to her.

In Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Tedd Tripp says the main problem for children is their heart idols. Heart idols lie to us and hurt us.  Sally felt like she had lost our love, and that was a lie. My anger didn’t help. But even our reassurances didn’t seem to be breaking the chains of those idols. We could restrain her outward behavior, we could get her medicine that would help her clinical depression, we could reassure her — but we needed the POWER of God to break those idols and change her heart.

One night our family went to a Christian concert. At the end, the worship leader said, “If you have a yuck in your heart that you can’t get rid of, Jesus can help you. Come forward and ask Him”

Sally practically ran up. Her testimony is that God came in His mighty power and took the hate in her heart and replaced it with His love. The gospel has power. He puts this love in our hearts.

Annie at 6 and Sally at 12

 As I was writing this blog, this song by Keith Green, “You Put This Love in My Heart,” kept coming to me — so I place it here, realizing it is music that may not be your style. But Keith Green stood out because of his gospel-transformed heart. He died young along with some of his children. The book about him by his widow, Melody Green, is one I’d recommend for teenagers — maybe tucking into an Easter basket. It impacted my sons.

NOCOMPROMISE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCHgBjLShj4

Sunday/Monday

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

2. Keith Green sang, “You put this love in my heart.” If possible, share a way the gospel has melted you and is changing you — can you see a change in how you are loving others?

The closer we get to the cross, the more we behold Christ, the more power you will sense. 

Monday-Wednesday: IF YOU ARE NOT CHANGING, YOU MAY NOT KNOW HIM AT ALL

I want to prepare you for Keller’s message, for it is powerful, convicting, and life-changing. He looks at John 13, the last supper, but as Keller is so gifted at doing, he sees the forest, whereas so often we miss it for the trees.

When time is running out, and we know it is running out, we say and do the most important things. I know this was true for Steve and me, for Steve and our children. Keller says it was true for Jesus. These men have been with him for three years — they have a lot of knowledge — but has it gone to their heart — are they changed? Or are they like older brothers — like Judas — seeming to love Him, but in it for themselves?

We are mistaken if our confidence is in our Bible knowledge, or even in how many people have been impacted by our lives. We are mistaken if our confidence has been in being in a wonderful small group with a great leader. Judas had all these things. Keller makes the piercing point: “If you don’t have all of the fruit of the spirit — you don’t have any of them.” What does this mean? The fruit of the Spirit is a singular noun, and this fruit is organic, springing from the love of Christ in your heart. If you seem self-controlled, but are not kind, you may simply be unwilling for anyone to see you lose control. If you seem gentle, but are not joyful, you may simply be fearful and give the appearance of gentleness.

Does this mean that if the fruit is not in full bloom you are not saved? No. We are in process. But you should see at least the buds of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The shameful things you have hidden should be fading. People should be noticing that you are becoming gentler, kinder, more other-centered. Otherwise — His love may not be in your heart at all. You may be doing the things you do — going to church, doing good deeds — not out of love, but to feed your idols. One of our bloggers (I wish I could remember who!) talked about “fruit-stapling.” We don’t want to staple fruit on — we want it to spring from the love God put in our heart. If it is stapled, you are simply a moralist — an older brother — but you do not know or love God at all.

Jesus is going to show them what the fruit of the spirit looks like. This is both a literal and a symbolic act. Jesus literally humbled himself and loved these men — but He was also showing His whole intent for their lives was to cleanse them and to turn them into servants who carry out His love to others. When we minister to those who are not lovely, are unafraid of the unlovely and dirty parts of them, when our motive is to bless them with the love of Christ, when we forget about ourselves because we are full of His love, we are evidencing a changed heart.

Close up of statue at Dallas Theological Seminary
Close up of statue at Dallas Theological Seminary

 

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Ford Madox Brown Christ Washing Peters’ Feet

 

 

Read John 13:1-21

The Passover is approaching. Jesus knew. In fact, He would be on the cross (9 to 3) exactly during the hours the Passover lambs were being sacrificed. Time is running out, so He is going to say and do the most important thing.

zurbaran-agnus-dei-lamb-of-god-madrid-1339x800
Zubaran: Lamb of God

3. What did Jesus know, according to verse 1, and what thoughts therefore were on His mind?

In Jesus high priestly prayer in John 17:20, just before the cross, He reveals He is not only thinking of his disciples, but also for “those who  will believe  because of them. He was looking down through time. He had you and me in mind as well. Saturate yourself in this love.

4. Keller says this passage is bracketed by verses 2 and 21. This helps us see “the forest.” What common thread do you see? 

5. Many would have thought Judas was a true disciple. As Keller says, “you can jury-rig your behavior without a heart transformation.” When you look at how you behave in secret, at changes in your life, do you see evidence of heart transformation?

6. The key to “self-forgetfulness” is knowing how loved we are by God. “Beholding,” John Piper says, “is becoming.”

     A. Behold and share what you see of  God’s love for you in John 13:1

     B. Behold God’s love for you in the portrait of the father of the prodigal sons.

     C. Behold God’s love for you in the portrait of the “greater” Job.

7. Keller will quote Psalm 40:6. What does it say?

At first this passage seems confusing, because God did require burnt offerings and sin offerings. That is what the Passover Lambs were all about. Matt Chandler illuminated this for me in his book, Explicit Gospel. He likened it to an abusive husband bringing flowers to his wife after beating her. What she wants, instead, is a changed life.

And that is the point of the whole passage, of the foot-washing, of the things Jesus said when time is running out.

Are we changed?

9. Another mystery that this same gospel writer expounds in his letters is that as we love as Christ loved, His love grows in our hearts. How could you be “washing feet?”

Thursday-Friday:

Listen to The Love of Jesus and share your notes here.

(It looks like you will have to pay, but the MP-3 is free): Link

8. Notes:

Saturday:

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

 

 

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369 comments

  1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    Honestly what stood out to me most was what a gift that Steve’s heart was so soft towards your daughters. I grieved that my dad was nothing like that with me. Mostly I felt embarrassed and inadequate in his presence.

    I also thought about how we long for control in the lives of our children. How we are often thinking if WE do the right things our children will love God and live good God honoring lives.
    
I realize as I write this as I raised my kids I spent so much more time trying to be in control than I ever did pleading for them in prayer. I can pray now.

    1. Oh Chris, this is me, too, “I spent so much more time trying to be in control than I ever did pleading for them in prayer.”

    2. Your vulnerability is seen and appreciated Chris! You have a beautiful heart and I know God blesses that in amazing ways!

    3. Yes this is me too, trying to control the outcome. I too have realized that prayer works better than words.

    4. Ditto here. I too, was thinking of Steve’s heart toward Sally. I too, try to control instead of pray.

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

    This statement stopped me reading in my tracks: “The last thing we want to do is be or to raise up “older brothers”, self-righteous moralists, who behave outwardly but who don’t really love God or anyone.” I feel sick inside, thinking of the many times in my parenting I focused on the outward behavior.
    One way I feel has helped my children behold Jesus is by me admitting when I am wrong.
    On one of our drives back to college, my son Ryan and I were talking and a certain person came up in our conversation. He was saying positive things, and I opened my mouth and started to say oh but you don’t really know…and I was trying to tell him what this person was really like and the bad things they had done, and he said, “Mom, just stop-I don’t want to hear that.” I stopped talking, we changed the conversation, but after a few minutes I felt convicted and I said “Ryan, I’m sorry. That wasn’t right of me to try to change your opinion of this person by saying bad things about them…I was wrong to do that.” He looked surprised and said “Do you really think you have to apologize for that?”
    I said yes I do because it was wrong of me to try to influence you in that way and speak badly about them. He kind of laughed, and said something like “If more Christians were like you, maybe I’d want to be one.”

    1. Love your humble heart, Susan.

  3. My first take away after reading the initial part of your post was related to the picture of you and your daughter and your granddaughters (btw, so adorable). I was laughing hysterically at the expression on baby claire’s face, especially in light of the post. It all starts so young!!!

    Seriously, though…being a single woman with no children, I was amazed to hear that Sally took the time to talk through a theological issue with Sadie. So impressive. I think we assume that kids cannot take in the whole picture and often that is because it isn’t given to them. The easiest way to approach a behavioral issue is with moralism and for the most part (in the moment) it works. I can’t help but think about Romans 12:2, where it says “be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. Moralism IS a conformist way of thinking. I wonder if it is because many (in the past) assumed that children were unable to grasp an idea like “transformation” that we now are dealing with such fall out as adults (although I know being human plays a big role in itself). What would have happened had our childish “conformities” been based on transformation rather than moralism? I can’t help but wonder, what an amazing concept! We are a product of that which we ingest and unfortunately, I think I was fed A LOT of moralistic idealisms. So beautiful to hear that your daughter is laying some magnificant groundwork of transformation…it will be so interesting to see Sadie live in the light of what she is receiving. What a gift!

    1. Rhonda,
      Claire’s expression cracked me up, too 🙂 That’s what stood out to me first.

      1. Dee, I have not really looked at many children’s books (in that regard) but what an interesting thing to consider. I can remember being conditioned by words like “don’t” or “stop it” (especially in a religious sense) it really sets precedence for life. In 1 Corinthians 15:56 it clearly tells us that the fuel for sin is the law. I think Paul understood this principle so well and successfully helps us see that God offers us something wonderful, something so much better, it is called “free will” and without that freedom there is no sincerity. He wants our sweet, sincere, pure hearts and if we are living a life governed by law it takes away the beauty of freely choosing HIM and all that is TRULY SATISFYING AND GOOD in this life! I know that children have to have rules (obviously) but just like the “law” it is a tutor for better things yet to come, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit the ONE who can truly guide us towards the light in a very dark world. These are big concepts yet even a child can understand (I truly believe that and Sadie has modeled it so well with her sweet little cry!)…how does God take big concepts like this and teach us right where we are? I cannot understand, it is mind boggling indeed but some how He does!

      2. I’m so glad you included the song by Keith Green! I love his music, but have not listened to it in a while. What truth that song speaks! It resonates with me as I memorize Romans 1, and verse 16: For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” It’s God’s power that changes us, not our own selves, our own logic, our own merit, our own perseverance, our own striving. What a reason to praise our Father today! Also, I would recommend “No Compromise” for all ages! I read that book two years ago, and it made me seriously question how I lived my life, and did I really have God’s love in my heart? So challenging and encouraging and motivating, and an amazing testimony of God’s power. I think I need to read that again.

        I too loved the teaching moment you included of Sally and Sadie. I know that I do not want to raise my child to be a moralist, but I am so scared that somehow I will fall into that trap anyhow and not even see it. But I guess I just have to keep doing what Sally prompted Sadie to do–cry out to Jesus for help. All the time! More than reading books and planning and over-thinking. Just cry out to Jesus.

        As I think about God putting love in my heart, and the fruits of the Spirit, and living out God’s love to others, I realize that I have been holding on to resentment towards a certain family member for a couple years now–ever since I got married. I’ve been letting that dictate often how I respond to her, even though I know she has been changing and is not the same person she was. I need to let go of this “right to resentment” for good, and I certainly need Jesus’ help!

        1. “cry out to Jesus for help. All the time! More than reading books and planning and over-thinking. Just cry out to Jesus.”

          I love this Linnea, from a fellow ‘over thinker’!

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

    Sally said, “Honey — you can’t help yourself. You feel angry with Claire. The only way that you will stop hitting her is if Jesus changes your heart and gives you love for her. I know — because I always have to ask Jesus to change my heart when I feel angry. Ask Him to help you.”

    Sally is so wise…how I wish I could have had this understanding as a young mother and planted those type seeds in my children’s hearts. Similar to Dee, I “restrained their outward behavior” but didn’t necessarily “touch their hearts”.

    Transformation of my heart is my focus for 2013 (and however long it takes…). After reading the first part of this week’s study I thought…oh my, this is for ME…the timing of this fits SO well (God-incidence!). I know that it wasn’t written for me specifically and that many will benefit, but to me it “feels” VERY personal. I so desire a pure and genuine heart, one that loves God first and foremost, and is authentic (“yes” means yes, “no” means no type thing…no doing things out of a sense of obligation but with a correct heart motivation).

    I can relate to Cyndi’s post of last week regarding “mid-life”…this is the stage of life I am entering. I am thinking that this has much to do with my awareness of my heart not always being in the “right place”. I am tired of doing things for heart idol reasons (largely approval/affirmation but a fair amount of control/power too)…I am thankful to God for all of the information that has been coming my way to help in His endeavor of transforming my heart. I hold firm to the requests of Romans 12:2 and Psalm 51:10.

    2. Keith Green sang, “You put this love in my heart.” If possible, share a way the gospel has melted you and is changing you — can you see a change in how you are loving others?

    I have seen how the gospel has changed me in how I reacted/am reacting to my (20 year old, unmarried) daughter’s unplanned pregnancy (very soon to culminate in arrival of baby…April 3). I am ashamed to say that at one point in my life I would have lectured her, would have been filled with condemnation and despair. This would have largely stemmed from my thinking of what other people might think of ME having an unmarried daughter pregnant…this would be a blow to MY pretentious facade (i.e., “good, Christian family”…I worked as a parish office manager for nearly nine years and had tendencies toward being rather pharisaic at times). PRAISE GOD!…there HAS been a change in me and in my heart (even though I have far yet to go). My reaction was VERY different…I recognized that her life would take a drastic turn and would likely be different than that of what she and we (my husband and I) envisioned, but most importantly, she and the baby in her womb are loved…loved by God and loved by us…and we will support her no matter what in a manner that is loving yet not overbearing or enabling.

      1. Thank you, Dee…I really love being a part of this bible study/blog.
        Yes, baby is due VERY soon…realistically, any day. She will be keeping the baby; she and the baby’s father are together (they have dated for approximately the last 2 1/2 years) and have plans of bringing the child up together. They are both young and have some maturing to do…she is 20 and he is 18. I know that God has a plan and trust in Him is not optional regardless of questions and concerns I might have at any given moment.
        Thank you for prayers offered for all involved.

        1. Me too…please let me know if you are ever scheduled for a conference in Wisconsin. My husband and I were recently in Sturgeon Bay for a Door County weekend…lovely area all year round.

    1. Nanci–you loving your daughter so unconditionally, such a beautiful example of gospel transformation in your heart–a gift you are passing on to her, and her unborn child. Could even be an Easter baby! So fun 🙂

    2. Nanci, I remember when my daughter was a teenager, she asked me what I would do if she came home and told me she was pregnant. I told her I would be disappointed, but that it wouldn’t change my love for her and that we would just figure it out together. Although I have not had to with her, her brother may yet drop that little bomb on me (hoping not,but wouldn’t be surprised if he did). If that does ever happen, I would hope that my response would be just like yours, full or grace and love.

    3. Nancy,

      I just want to affirm you for not allowing the old conditionings to get in the way of relationship! That kind of love carries the fragrance of Jesus…your daughter will bless you (in that love) for years to come! No doubt!

    4. Many thanks for your kind words, support, and encouragement.

      1. Having been a very young mother myself who had the support of my mom, hurray for you Nanci,
        my mom and my son were so close. She always looked for the good in him, even when he was being terribly rebellious teen. I didn’t properly appreciate my moms support at the time of my pregnancy, but as I look back…oh how much I see and value now that which I took for granted at the time.

        1. Thank you, Chris. I too am blessed with an incredibly loving, supportive mother who certainly wasn’t acknowledged as such in my youth…a regret. As an adult I wrote my parents a letter thanking them for being such wonderful, loving, and responsible parents.

  5. 1. What stood out to me was Steve’s heart toward his daughters-well and that I can identify with Dee when she confronted Sally saying ‘what did you do now?’ I have done that. Dee is so changed! Oh I admit I have failed in how I have handled my boys sin, but HALLELUJAH praise God he is changing me slowly-I had no idea i was trying to staple fruit on my children! Dee is right, it is a process.

    I have seen a softening in my boys hearts and the willingness to admit and not lie to me about their sin like they used to. Just this morning we found out our ‘goody two shoes obedient, rule following son’ was in sin in a certain area. In the past I would have lost it and gotten angry . Instead Patrick and I sat with him-asked him if indeed he was the one who did this-Oh his body started shaking and eyes got big-he had been found out. As we revealed what we found out-his body language gave it away. I just looked at him and said, honey I know..He just looked down and tears started to form. Then my husband told him we all have sinful hearts and we need Jesus. I said, yes our hearts are dark and we need to ask Jesus for help. Only he can change this sin habit. I held his foot and rubbed it and we prayed. He melted and said, mom and dad I love you. I am so sorry. Before he would have denied and lied and blamed someone else for fear of being punished. WE did set a boundary because of it. I later walked in the kitchen and looked at him. I sensed a shame as he looked up at me- because this damaged the perfect picture he portrayed of his moral life in front of us. before this he could do no wrong..i hugged him and said-don’t feel shame I love you-Jesus loves you-don’t let the evil one make you feel guilt.

    1. This is a really beautiful example, Rebecca, of you and your husband walking this out with your son!

    2. What a lovely example, Rebecca…so wise of you and your husband…thank you for sharing.

    3. I loved this Rebecca, especially that you and your husband walked your son through this together, there is such power in unity.

    4. I missed this story before, Rebecca. Thank you for being a good example of leading children from grace. This helps make what we are trying to learn practical.

  6. 2. Keith Green sang, “You put this love in my heart.” If possible, share a way the gospel has melted you and is changing you — can you see a change in how you are loving others?

    Q: I can see a change in how I am loving others, but how do I know if it’s because the gospel is melting me or because I am not as stressed as I was before?

    and a related comment/ question, based on: “The closer we get to the cross, the more we behold Christ, the more power you will sense.”

    I do sense more power when I behold Christ. Sometimes I have generated energy by seeking justice (for whomever), sort of a pseudo-righteous anger, but seeking justice by living in love takes less energy. How do I know whether I am being transformed by the Gospel or by the path of least resistance?

    Maybe when Jesus draws me to Himself, THAT is the path of least resistance?

    I wasn’t familiar with the work of Ford Madox Brown — great expressions on faces. I just read a tiny little bit about the painting. The artist had to paint more clothes on Jesus for the painting to be accepted!

      1. Dee, I’m not sure I even have words to provide detail for 2nd question… but will try (deep breath).

        What I thought of FIRST as “the path of least resistance” is self-sufficiency because I am reluctant to trust some people enough to ask for/accept help. But that that seems related to works, to self-righteousness. And even though it often was my automatic tendency, it does take work. I don’t always notice that it takes work until I’m exhausted — and realize that I DO NEED HELP.

        When I get tired (which isn’t the degree of exhaustion I felt in the past), it feels as if my barriers are down, Jesus is calling me to Himself, and I do respond “Help me, Jesus.” I rest in Him. Since I am tired most of the time, I’m regularly turning to Him. Resting in Him is becoming the path of least resistance. But I wonder if it’s because I don’t have much “fight” left in me rather than because I love Him.

        It seems that even in asking the question I am hanging on to a thread of works rather than simply resting in Him. I do want to run TO Him, not just run AWAY from other stuff. So, I guess I wonder if I am running to Him for the right reasons — or if my reasons don’t matter that much because when I behold Him, He changes me. ?????

  7. What stood out to me was the amzing power of Jesus love to transform us-an impossible task for ourselves.. I ached for Sadie and Sally. Their pain and sense of being unloved was so real, so authentic, as was their longing to be free of it. Only Jesus can love us enough, and Jesus does! Halleluiah!

  8. Thoughts:

    How much we all need to be rescued by Jesus, whether young like Sadie, or not. I am anxious to read the rest of the lesson and see what others have to say as well. I did many things wrong when raising my kids and I like this idea of grace-based parenting and am interested to do more thinking so that I can share Christ’s grace with my grandchildren as well as my grown children.

    1. like this Diane “we all need to be rescued by Jesus,”–so true, over and over, every day…

    2. Mom, you may have messed up (I mostly remember the good things, though!) but I think we all turned out fairly well. We knew we were loved and you brought us up to know Christ as our personal Savior. God is gracious. 🙂

    3. Me too Diane, it soothes me to know that though I was not raised on grace, God has revealed Himself to me anyways, such hope in that.

  9. It grieves me that I didn’t have the gospel and didn’t understand what Sally understands and is teaching Sadie when she misbehaves. I take joy though in knowing my grandchildren will have the advantage of a grandmother who knows the gospel. It is precious to me that Dee sat praying in the next room. That must mean so much to Sally. Love the story of Sally’s change of heart.
    The scripture says a child will lead them and Sadie’s cry is mine, “Jesus help me!”

  10. Dee– I have appreciated your posts for some time and although I read, cry, read some more–I never join in. Not today, I have to say this post resonates with me so clearly. First, the response by your daughter with Sadie was just wonderful. I pray as I grow in Christ I could think that clearly and succinctly with my four girls in the heat of the moment. It takes just as long to berate them as it does to drop to my knees with them.

    The song was spot on. YOU put this love in my heart. How quickly I want to run away with what I have done, how hard I work…in my outward appearance I love to play the part of the humble woman ready to help, but once I misjudge my time organization the ugly side comes out. My prayer is to focus on His love in my heart and sharing that while focusing on the primary ministry He has provided me–my family!

    I question God’s choice in me more than I should, but know that as I transform (and surprisingly there is transformation going on here–just slowly) I will glorify Him more and love my brothers and sisters more.

    Thank you for softening your heart to the Lord’s word and sharing your wisdom and time in this blog.

    Rebecca Haney
    Redeemer Presbyterian Church

      1. Thank you, ladies. What a warm welcome. I am from Overland Park, KS and missed the majority of the retreat in which you spoke at our church a few years ago, Dee. I signed up at that time for emails and notifications from you. I am so glad the Lord has connected us and look forward to this week’s reading. It has been a while in which I found something online so enriching.

    1. Welcome, Rebecca Haney. Thanks so much for sharing so vulnerably. I am so encouraged to have you bravely jump in and share.

    2. Welcome Rebecca Haney from Redeemer Presbyterian Church. I can relate to your comment “I will glorify Him more and love my brothers and sisters more.” I need this too. The transformation continues to happen sometimes when we are not aware of it, other times it’s in the face.

      Welcome, I look forward to your participation.

    3. Rebecca, I am so glad you decided to join us, as you have alot of wisdom we can glean from you.

    4. Welcome, Rebecca – glad you posted and shared your thoughts.

    5. Welcome Rebecca, I am rather new myself but I am finding that there is much to be gleaned from the warm interactions with these wise women! I hope you enjoy!

    6. Hi Rebecca…so glad that you’ll be joining the bible study blog family. Welcome!

    7. Welcome Rebecca! It is encouraging to see God has given you such a soft heart-I can relate to much of what you posted. So thankful He is transforming you-and you brought to mind that that is the point- the pace may be slow, or it may be fast but if we are His we are being transformed. So glad to have you here-I do hope you post more.

  11. This is how I know the study is so led by Him and our teacher, Dee, is truly following Him, grounded in His Truth. I read through this with tears. The words felt like they were written just for me, from Him. SO much impacted me. And the lamb picture-OH.I am SO thankful Lord for the treasure of this place–so humbled You led me here.

    1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    ALL of it. But I will highlight:
    “He is just waiting for me to cry out to Him for help, and I need to keep my eyes on Him all day long.” Sweet Sadie’s “Help me Jesus” I will remember that!
    “Heart idols lie to us and hurt us”.
    “a (child’s) heart may remain hard”; but God calls me to “walk in humility…continually repenting…PRAY”

  12. 2. Keith Green sang, “You put this love in my heart.” If possible, share a way the gospel has melted you and is changing you — can you see a change in how you are loving others?

    The biggest change I see is humbling because I have to first admit how terribly self-righteous I have been. I was a Preschool teacher, Sunday school teacher,and a Children’s ministry assistant, for many years before I ever had kids. When I think of the number of times I blamed disrespectful, “unruly” children on the faults of their parents, it honestly makes my stomach turn. So much of our culture bases performance on a formula. If we want to lose weight, or run a marathon,–it’s hard, but there’s a formula. But I have well-learned that parenting, marriage even, has no formula to follow that guarantees great results.

    It’s not just this area though. I used to judge others based on their appearance. Our Church has many very affluent members and I have noticed that the “old me” would have looked at a certain ring or purse and with a root of pride, judged that they shouldn’t be spending so much of “God’s money” on such things. Never out loud, but my thought-life was pretty bad.

    I prayed for humility. And it has been an incredibly painful lesson. I mess up at work and cost the Church time and money—that’s humbling. But still, I long to have Him change my heart—make is soft, wet clay.

    Oh this-must share from our Church bulletin today: “It is not you who shape God; it is God that shapes you. If then you are the work of God, await the hand of the Artist who does all things in due season. Offer the Potter your heart, soft and tractable, and keep the form in which the Artist has fashioned you. Let your clay be moist, lest you grow hard and lose the imprint of the Potter’s fingers.” ~Irenaues (200 AD)

    1. Elizabeth,
      Thank you for being so honest here, and yes, Dee is right – we could all make such confessions. I, too, often find myself judging others by their appearance-sizing them up/down, making assumptions. What usually pops in my head, then, is when Dee posted something Leslie Vernick said, “What truth am I exchanging for a lie?”

      1. Elizabeth, I echo Susan’s comment…how often do I find myself making snap judgments with totally inadequate information or consideration of information I might have. Thankfully, the Lord is calling my attention to these moments of judgment and criticism and helping me to transform my heart little by little.

    2. Well I can be pretty judgmental myself and now I have this little voice in my head that says “did you really need to think that” or “you really do not know what is going on underneath the outward appearance”. I get convicted on a regular basis and God taught humility is very painful…especially when I have to step up about something dumb I have done. Like Nanci, my heart is transformed little by little.

      And I really liked your quote from your bulletin, thanks for sharing it.

  13. What stood out to me?
    Lifting my arms up to the Father & saying, “Jesus help me!!” I need a work of God in my life, to help me TRULY forgive a couple. I am struggling mostly with forgiving their actions against someone else, not so much myself. But I can’t seem to let it go, righteous indignation & all that. But truly just my unforgiving spirit. “JESUS help me!”

    1. Sheree–I understand well the bondage of un-forgiveness–praying now for you

  14. This weeks lesson looks so wonderful…oh how I need it. I haven’t read the comments yet, so will get back with you later. I wanted to let you know of a misspell, Dee…. you may simply be unwilling for anyone to see you lose control. If you seem gentle, but are not joyful, you may SIMPLE be fearful and give the appearance of…

    I hate to bring up such a simple mistake, but your posts are so powerful, Dee, I want to keep them for future references.

    HAPPY SAINT PATRICK’S DAY everyone!

  15. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why? This is so hard because so much stood out this week!!! You had me at the first line! THE SAME POWER THAT BROUGHT JESUS BACK FROM THE DEAD

    CAN EMPOWER US TO LOVE

    WHEN LOVE IS LACKING.

    THE GOSPEL HAS POWER FROM GOD.

    This was powerful and reminds me God can move any persons heart it is never too late.

    Also the stuff about Sally…My children have struggled in this same way bringing in a new kid and have had to cry out Help me Jesus change my heart! I have seen Him work. It is a continual thing.
    2. Keith Green sang, “You put this love in my heart.” If possible, share a way the gospel has melted you and is changing you — can you see a change in how you are loving others? Love this song! Dee’s book Falling in Love with Jesus first melted my heart to God’s amazing love for me…Ever since God has been working in my heart as I behold Him in wonder. What He did for a vast sinner like me. It just gets greater and greater because I think as I grow I see my sin clearer and clearer so the love and depth of His sacrifice on my behalf is so Marvelous!!! WHo could dream up such a thing?!

      1. Dee,
        I’ve not read it but am intrigued by your book/study Falling in Love With Jesus every time someone mentions it…maybe a future blog study?!

  16. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    The whole study this week is perfect and so fits with where I think I am. The part where Dee said that “God came in His mighty power and took the hate in her heart and replaced it with His love. The gospel has power. He puts this love in our hearts.” I am tired and weary, but I am feeling His presence more today and with His love and grace it will all work out.

    I too have failed miserably as a parent along the same lines as everyone else. I think that what was reinforced to me growing up and unfortunately my kids got the same lectures. I have reached the point where I do realize that Christ can undo all the stuff I did and help my kids move forward along His path. He can restore the years the locusts have eaten. That also helps me to not be so burdened with guilt about the failings of my past, that I can’t be the parent my kids need me to be now. The Lord can heal and does and I think He will.

    I read ahead a bit to get a grasp of the study for the week and John 13:7 leap off the computer at me… Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” He may have been talking to His disciples but it was like He was directly talking to me. It was such an encouragement. My heart still needs work, but I do feel that He is working on it. I am still encouraged that He will be healing and changing what He needs to, even the things I am too blind to see. I kinda think these next few weeks are going to be really interesting. I still wonder what my heart will be after Easter, but now I know that it will be more reliant on Him.

    Oh and a praise thing. Some of you know that my job is on contract. A few weeks ago, my boss and I discussed permanent employment, however with the economy, she wasn’t sure she could get the approval. This week I was praying that if God wanted me there for it to be approved by this past Friday (the day my contract expired). At 4:30 on Friday afternoon they told me that I was approved for a permanent employee position. I don’t know the terms or anything, but to me God made it clear that I was to settle there. I now have something I have not had for a while, a stable job. God is so good to me, even when I get distracted. I am really looking forward to just being at one stable place.

    1. That’s wonderful news to give God praise for, Mary!!

    2. Congratulations, Mary! Thanks for sharing your good news.

      How is Glenn doing these days?

      1. Thanks, today is a very hard day for Glenn. We just had a really long talk over dinner and he is very frustrated and really annoyed with the whole thing and a lot of his friends. He knows they are trying to be helpful, but all they say to him are the typical Christian platitudes. I can relate as when I am struggling with something, the last thing I want to hear is a canned answer. He is having difficulty in even feeling God’s presence and God is being silent, which is discouraging him further. I was praying hard through the whole conversation tonight (he did most of the talking)to not reiterate any clichés and hopefully say something that would be helpful. I am not sure that was successful, he went out for a walk. Every time he gets hopeful about a prospect, it has not worked out leaving him more discouraged. His former girlfriend is trying to maintain contact, making him even more confused. The stuff that is happening now within our family is not helping as that is just ticking him off. So right now he is ticked off and discouraged and can’t see God in any of it. He feels that if he can just find a stable job in his field, he can deal more easily with everything else. Right now it is just one very large mountain of stuff.

        Thank you for asking, and thank you for continuing to pray for him. I do hope that something will happen positively for him this week, it would make such a huge difference for him.

        1. Praise for your job Mary and prayers for Glenn,
          ‘with His love and grace it will all work out.’
          Yes and amen.

        2. Thanks for the update, Mary…Glenn’s ex-girlfriend sounds like she is playing some head games with him. I’ll continue to pray for Glenn’s awareness of his value in the Lord as well as job and companionship opportunities to come his way.

  17. “You put this love in my heart” – How my heart was softened…

    There was a season in my life where I was in a ministry position, standing before Sunday crowds week after week. I did this for years and in the process adopted a Christian lifestyle that was complacent, “ministering” from afar. Engaging with others as a “crowd” was comfortable for me; it wasn’t until I was no longer involved in “ministry” in that public sense that my heart was softened in new ways. Really, I had lost my identity in what I was “doing” (week after week) and had to learn what it meant to be a person of “being”. In this process, I began to see people differently, not just as a “crowd” but as individuals in and among that “crowd”. God used this process to awaken me to what had become religious rote, going to church, doing my thing, going home and living life. Through a process of personal brokenness, God has taught me the joys of giving in new and personal ways…my heart was softened all along this pathway and today I have new eyes…thanking God for His radical, crazy and mysterious ways!

    1. ” Through a process of personal brokenness, God has taught me the joys of giving in new and personal ways…my heart was softened all along this pathway and today I have new eyes…thanking God for His radical, crazy and mysterious ways!”

      LIKE 🙂

  18. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    Sadie. Sweet Sadie. And I love that name, by the way. Precious. “Jesus help me!” I’ve been asking that more and more recently, but I still falter and need to ask even more than I have been.
    Also about grace-based parenting I want to learn as much as possible about that! I truly want to do this with my boys.

  19. My first reaction this week was, “Oh, no!” Why? Well, my husband and I have a 2.5 year old son (Levi) who will be getting a baby brother or sister in September. While we are very excited about having another child on the way, we realize that this might be a hard transition for our little guy. I now know how I can pray: “Lord, please prepare Levi’s heart to embrace his new brother or sister in love.”

    I love the paraphrase of 1 Corithians 13:4-7 that is in the footnotes in my Bible: “Love suffers long, having patience with imperfect people. Love is kind, active in doing good. Love does not envy; since it is nonpossessive and noncompetitive, it actually wants other people to get ahead. Hence it does not parade itself. Love has a self-effacing quality; it is not ostentatious. Love is not puffed up, treating others arrogantly; it does not behave rudely, but displays good manners and courtesy. Love does not seek its own, insisting on its own rights and demanding precedence; rather, it is unselfish. Love is not provoked; it is not irritable or touchy, rough or hostile, but is graceful under pressure. Love thinks no evil; it does not keep an account of wrongs done to it; instead, it erases resentments. Love does not rejoice in iniquity, finding satisfaction in the shortcomings of others and spreading an evil report; rather, it rejoices in the truth, aggressively advertising the good. Love bears all things, defending and holding other people up. Love believes the best about others, credits them with good intentions, and is not suspicious. Love hopes all things, never giving up on people, but affirming their future. Love endures all things, persevering and remaining loyal to the end.”

    I don’t even come close to displaying that kind of love.

    I have always liked Keith Green’s music and have often prayed that God would put His love in my heart. Without the power of the Holy Spirit at work within me, I can be very unloving at times – easily provoked, quick to remember the wrongs done against me, etc. Over the last year or so, my husband and I have seen the Lord bring some change to my heart in both of those areas. This change only started happening when I went to the Lord in prayer and said, “Help me. I can’t do this on my own. I can’t make myself be more loving.” And, so, I continue to pray for God’s power to bring change to my heart in this way and in many other ways!

    1. “I don’t even come close to displaying that kind of love.” Me, either. I, too am asking for God’s power to change me since I cannot do it myself.

    2. Exciting to have a baby on the way! Praying for you all!

    3. Your words resonate with me Christy. I confessed before two other women how convicted I was about my lack of love for others, that I felt God was showing me that all my motives were selfish.
      The words from a Moody Blues song ‘all the love you’ve been giving has all been meant for you’ sat on my heart like lead.
      Those women looked at me like I had three heads.

      I began to plead with God to change this in me. That was about ten years ago, I do see some real concern for others growing in me, but I feel like my heart is hard clay soil, in need of a great deal of compost before anything will grow, compost = death…to self and comfort and empty ways of filling myself I think.

      I thought as I wrote this, perhaps the love I will be giving needs to be meant for Christ, maybe not even the other person and especially not myself.

  20. Welcome, Rebecca, from Redeemer Presbyterian Church!

  21. Sunday/Monday

    1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    How Sally is so skillfully preparing little Sadie’s heart for Christ. She is wisely focusing on Sadie’s heart and not just outward compliance.

    2. Keith Green sang, “You put this love in my heart.” If possible, share a way the gospel has melted you and is changing you — can you see a change in how you are loving others?
    This is a hard one for me. To be honest, through counseling I am learning that when it comes to non family members (and some family members) what I thought was lovingly accepting people as they are and accepting their limitations is actually keeping them at arm’s length and protecting myself from possibly being hurt. I keep myself at a place where no one can hurt me because I don’t get too close. I didn’t realize until recently that I have been doing that. Not a very good share about how I am changing, but it is where I’m at right now.

    1. Dawn,
      I also think it’s really positive that your eyes have been opened to this – like Keller said in one of his sermons, you’re not “asleep” – you know the battle is on…and that is when change can happen!

      1. Susan, you and I are thinking alike today… 🙂 I was thinking similar, that one of the biggest steps forward is awareness.

    2. oh Dawn, you always manage to convict me–and I’m thankful for that! I know all to well about the arms-length kind of “acceptance”. Wow. But as the others have said–change can only happen when we are willing to let Him expose our comfortable ways. Thank you for sharing this–I really needed to have my eyes opened, especially regarding some extended family.

  22. I love the picture of you, Dee and Sally and Sadie and Claire. The expression on little Claire’s face is precious….it’s almost as if she’d saying…”Why did you hit me, Sadie?” And I noticed your all in brown and pink and Sadie’s heart on her top matches Claire’s top…not that it matter’s but I thought how together Sally has it as a new mom. Sally has alot of love and patience for being a new mom also…to be able to keep it together like she did, after Sadie hit Claire. When I was a new mom, and that would of happened, I probly would of scolded her and told her she had to learn to share her things. I wish I would of known about teaching my kids so young about God helping them, but I was just learning to ask God for help myself then. It only makes sense that they can learn that so young, as they say we all learn the most before the age of three. I’m glad it’s not too late to help Kendra to learn this.

    I love the thoughts you had that day, Dee … “I thought, That’s exactly what I need to do all day long. The gospel shows me how bad I am, because He was crucified for me, yet it also shows me how loved I am, for He was willing to die for me. He is just waiting for me to cry out to Him for help, and I need to keep my eyes on Him all day long.” Oh, how many times I’ve thought that very thought!

    I also Love the picture of Sally and Annie, a year after you adopted Annie and how Steve would listen to Sally and pray over her…wow.. I can’t even imagine how that would feel as a little girl…so totally awesome! (my parent’s were not christians and I wasn’t even daddy little girl)
    So with parents like Sally had, I’m not surprised that she turned out to be the wonderful christian mother she is to those two beautiful daughters.

    Then the part were Sally almost run forward, at a concert to give her hateful heart up for a loving heart, to God. You can see the love between Sally and Annie in that picture! God did change her heart!

    I love the song by Keith Green..it really spoke to my heart…I’ve never heard him before.

    “If possible, share a way the gospel has melted you and is changing you — can you see a change in how you are loving others”?
    Yes, I can see a change in how I am loving other’s. I’m asking Jesus to help me when my husband or neighbors tend to make me feel angry. It melts my heart to think of how Jesus suffered and died for me when I’m so quick to anger with a judging heart. I beg Jesus to replace my angry heart with a loving and understanding one…Oh that makes me want to drop to my knees for forgivness…for who am I to judge?

      1. Yes,”you wash feet every day” so true of your dear Joyce, you seem tuned into those who are suffering in a remarkable way, I agree with Dee and Elizabeth, a rose and a treasure!

    1. Joyce-do you know what a gift you are? I read your posts, so full of love and grace, so other-centered, and I honestly think of 2 Cor. 2:15 “For we are the aroma of Christ to God”

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

    The story broke my heart because I know that I have allowed anger and criticism to reign in my parenting over the last few weeks. When I feel stressed or pressed for time or overwhelmed by my surroundings, my voice becomes harsh and all the hateful feelings that I feel toward MYSELF come pouring out toward my kids. I have moments of “gospel parenting,” but those moments become further apart the worse I feel about my “performance” as a wife and mother. It’s a sad pattern, and I feel sick to my stomach now as I realize the trend. Lord, please help me stop this pattern today!!!

    2. Keith Green sang, “You put this love in my heart.” If possible, share a way the gospel has melted you and is changing you — can you see a change in how you are loving others?

    As I mentioned in another post, I can see how I am better able to see the perspectives of others–even people who strongly oppose the values I hold. I am able to be open to differences and see the good in others even when they do hurtful things. I have blessed by this change because my life is not weighed down by anger or resentment. NOW, if only I could just apply what comes so easily to people in my larger circle to my immediate family!

    Thanks for sharing the song. I haven’t heard it in a long time!

    1. EricaG,
      You really hit on something in your post-something I can very easily identify with-
      “all the hateful feelings that I feel toward MYSELF come pouring out toward my kids.”
      Yes…often when I feel inadequate, sinful, unloved, hurt, lonely – I project that out onto someone else.

      I’m seeing a common thread being posted by women on here who are mothers – we all have feelings of regret, remorse, over the ways we have parented our children that were/are not gospel-centered. How we desperately need to look to the Cross, and have faith that our Perfect Father God can redeem what we have done imperfectly – only He is Perfect.

      1. Thanks for your thoughts, Susan. Yes, it is nice to know that I am not alone. I need to stop measuring my “success” by a to-do list.

        1. EricaG,
          I thought of you today when I was listening to Midday Connection on Moody Radio. They had Ray Kane on, and some of the stuff he was talking about seems to apply to this what you posted. He talked about when we don’t deal with the pain in our past, it will come out in our present relationships-as intensity, drama, defensiveness.
          You can listen to it online-www.middayconnection.org and go to Past Programs.

    2. EricaG-wow, this was really insightful for me. Your response, too Susan. Again, it’s the exchanging truth for a lie–and the lies I believe about myself, and then spewing them out in frustration. So often for me it is the lie that I must control things, and when I realize I can’t…ick

  24. 2. Keith Green sang, “You put this love in my heart”. If possible, share a way the gospel has melted you and is changing you – can you see a change in how you are loving others?

    Something happened yesterday during my Ladies Sunday school class. My default mode is to sit and wonder why I don’t really feel connected to anyone. I blame it on things like ‘the church is too big…too impersonal…no one makes the effort to talk to me…most of the ladies already have their friends/little groups and I’m not included…’ and then I feel sorry for myself, wish I was in a very small church, or the nasty habit of tearing down others in my mind.
    One of the ladies made a comment during class (we were talking about our church) and she said, “The blessings are here – you just have to reach out and take them.” That stuck in my heart…

    As class was ending and people were leaving, I stopped one woman and asked her if she was the one whose mother had recently passed away; she said yes, and I talked with her a few minutes, and then she thanked me for saying something. I went up to another woman who I haven’t seen there for awhile and asked her where she’s been and how she’s doing.
    I realize I want something more than sitting in class, maybe only talking to a couple of women and then leaving. I know it’s not realistic to think I’ll be best friends with every woman there…but I am going to start praying that God will help me to love these women and to be the one to make the first move to reach out.

    1. Susan, I think that’s a very good plan, because those other women are probly feeling the very same as you.

    2. Susan–I’m really “proud” of you for reaching out! I will make a point to pray for your class on Sunday. Every woman there would be blessed to spend more time with you.

    3. Susan I will pray right now for this hope of being a blessing will blossom into beautiful friendship for you. How is you ministry to the missionaries going?

    4. Thanks for sharing this Susan. You and I have so many of the same struggles. Your example inspires me to do the same. I spend too much time waiting for someone else to make the first move.

  25. Earlier this a.m., I read this on FB (Daily Keller): “Sin infects us all, and so we cannot simply divide the world into the heroes and the villains.”

    In response, someone posted that this sounds very reformed and would be hard for some Christians to swallow. I don’t get it?? Why would this be hard for some Christians to swallow? (seems to have been true of teachings among all Christians with whom I’ve associated — except maybe one person I didn’t know, just heard that he believed in “sinless perfection.”)

    1. I was reading your earlier post above and the questions you are asking…I think I can understand what you’re saying. I sometimes feel exasperated too, wondering how I can ever know if my motives are “right” – always leads me to the verse that says how our hearts are desperately wicked…who can understand them? The answer is not me! Only God can plumb the depths and bring to the surface what we need to see.

      1. Good point, Susan — that only God can plumb the depths, bring to surface what we need to see. This gives me freedom, in that I can rest in Him to reveal sin in His time rather than running in circles trying to determine if my motives are right.

    2. Wouldn’t the idea of not separating the world into heroes and villians be in keeping with Luther’s idea (I think it was Luther…) that we are all “sinner” and “saint” simultanuously. With that in mind, there would be no “hero”/”villian” split or separation possible because we are all part hero/part villian.

      1. Nanci, Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s what Luther taught… So, which Christians WOULD try to separate hero and villian or saint and sinner? (The only thing I can think of is that “sinless perfection” guy I met a long time ago might separate saint and villian). I haven’t heard most Arminians completely divide the two, but I DON’T KNOW!

        The Apostle’s Creed does refer to the “communion of saints,” but I don’t think that negates the sinner part (or we wouldn’t need the “forgiveness of sins.”)

        Just looked something up in Luther’s Small Catechism: meaning of “forgive us our trespasses” part of Lord’s prayer: “… for we are worthy of none of the things for which we pray, neither have we deserved them; but that He would grant them all to us by grace; for we daily sin much, and indeed deserve nothing but punishment. So will we verily, on our part, also heartily forgive and also readily do good to those who sin against us.”

        Anyhow, trying to figure out why some would think it sounds Reformed (and therefore they shouldn’t believe it). I thought most Christians would agree that we can’t divide the world into hero and villian??

        And a tangent: I wish Luther hadn’t been so anti-Semitic. But I guess the awful stuff he wrote/said is an example of saints also being sinners. Ugh! I cringe when I read some of those quotes.

        1. Yes, me too…it is hard to believe that such a wise man could have wrote such awful things. I was told once by a Lutheran pastor that Luther only said those things because he was kind of “out of his mind” with uric poisoning…I don’t know…long and short, it IS a shame…

        2. interesting about the uric poisoning!

    3. This fits well with Whats So Amazing About Grace for those who have been reading it. How angry and hateful Christians can be with those who support opposing political views, homosexuals, or drug addicts dividing people in our minds into those we have decided are ‘like us’ and those who are not.

      I thought of Hebrew 13, the admonishments there to clove and care for others and to be willing to ‘go outside the the camp’ as Jesus did, being willing to bear the disgrace he bore.

  26. I only have a minute but God led me to this last night and thought some others might find it helpful too:
    “Grace for Regretful Parents” by Elyse Fitzpatrick (author of Give Them Grace)
    http://biblicalcounselingcoalition.org/blogs/2011/06/20/grace-for-regretful-parents-too/

    1. Thanks for sharing this…it was really good. I heard Elyse and her daughter on a radio show a few weeks ago, talking about their new book. It gave me encouragement – hope it did the same for you, too!

      1. your words earlier today Susan, I was able to see at work–have stuck with me all day “What truth am I exchanging for a lie?” You have such wisdom and the gift for choosing the rights words to fit the need. I feel that overwhelming sense of His presence today–so thankful.

    2. Thanks Elizabeth, it helps to hear other’s regrets of the same kind and how we can press on.

  27. 
If possible, share a way the gospel has melted you and is changing you — can you see a change in how you are loving others?

    I have become so much more aware of my self centeredness. I am still so far from the reflection of Christ I would like to be. But seeing my own deep need has opened up an understanding, a grace towards those who are steeped in sin and deception. I know that I have Christ and I still struggle so much, how can I stand in condemnation on those apart from Him? The are desperately poor and needy too, they just don’t now it. They need Living Water too.

    I have seen a change in my heart towards my sister. I went to help her move yesterday. I have been praying more for her and feeling less fear about spending time with her. Her relationships have been and still are so dysfunctional, she and her children manipulate one another with anger and guilt. It is draining but I am entering into her life a bit. Praying for God to do what only He can.
    One of our pastors yesterday in talking about dying to self and then serving others said ‘a dead man has no need to protect his comfort‘ those words went straight to my heart.



    During worship songs I was dwelling on the image I had of Steve’s tender love and understanding heart towards Sally & Annie. I was imagining my heavenly father being that way with me, it was profound feeling, words fail me.

    1. Chris, your heavenly father is comforting you with his tender love and understanding…we have Jesus!

    2. Chris–your heart towards your sister, humbles me. Even in your tender, raw place–you still pour out love, even in an “unsafe” relationship. Oh how you minister to me.

    3. Chris, your post so resonated with me-and reminded me that I have a dark heart too and transformation is slow but WHAT JOY-HE HAS ME! HE HAS YOU! 🙂 Sally’s story so encouraged me because it is our reality in Him-He died so He could rip that hate from her heart toward Annie and empower her to love like Him-He made her heart soft toward Him and malleable and compelled her to run to Him for help-she yielded to Him-then He replaced that hate with His love! He is faithful. I love what Elizabeth said-we are broken but beloved. We are LOVED so loved that He gladly gave up everything and went to the cross with you and me deeply on His heart. He will transform our brokenness! He is our hope-and really that is the only reason I can sing hallelujah.

  28. Self Pity rant, feel free to skip.
    Bill brought home a sweet 3-4 month old puppy on Saturday. I had wanted to wait until fall to get a dog if at all, but he was so certain that this is the dog for us, so she is here and I am frustrated.

    She is full of energy, and needs to be watched constantly. I worry most about our older cat Gary who was so ill recently. Gary has no claws and so can’t command the instant respect other cats do, so I have to monitor their interactions.
    Making sure she isn’t ‘going’ in the house, chewing on the furniture, jumping on the couch, eating the toilet brush….. is exhausting. I can’t read or do this blog unless she is asleep. 🙁
    I feel unhappy, I don’t like to think about heading into the busy season at work with a young rambunctious dog cooped up at home. Or saying no to ministry opportunities because I feel obligated to care for my dog.

    Really she is a love and this most difficult phase is I know short lived, I just feel frustrated!

      1. This made me smile, “William — what were you thinking?”
        He is an impulsive fellow!

    1. Sweet Chris, I saw the picture of your beautiful puppy on Facebook and can hear in my heart your frustration, even though he is “a love”. I too can relate with the highs and lows of life. Hugs, dear one.

    2. Chris,
      I don’t envy your puppy situation – I am so glad I have a low-maintenance cat! But I will pray…

    3. Thanks for the reminder, Chris! Praying for you to have a peaceful puppy !

      I’ve been drooling over dogs/puppies on the local Humane Society FB page. I do look for one that is paper/house trained, but even then, I keep reminding myself “not now!”

      Reminder to self: enjoy dogs at friends’ and relatives’ houses.

    4. oh sweet Chris, I’m so sorry. I admit, being a dog lover and well, puppies–please don’t tell me if it’s a lab…But honestly, as I continued to read, I felt great empathy for you–and I am praying. I just hate the thought of anything allowing you to feel your needs or feelings weren’t fully thought about. Bill loves you so, and I pray this will turn into a joy…somehow!!

    5. Chris, Oh my..I can SO RELATE! I feel for you sister-I will pray-Yes they do get older and this time will pass-continue to cling to Him. You need encouragement through this short lived season of puppy-hood! I will pray. 🙂

      1. Thank you sisters, your support is amazing, what grace you give me!
        Elizabeth she may have some lab in her, her markings are like a Boston terrier, I think she is mostly bull terrier (like the Target dog).
        She is really coming along well, she and Gary are working things out and she does nap! She is asleep on my leg as I type this.
        I was at a low point when I wrote what I did, after the emotions of recent events, working long hours Friday & Saturday and then helping move my sister Sunday my house was a mess and I was exhausted.

        It is all going to be okay!

        Renee I started to tell you that you are right to enjoy your friends dogs, but looking at her sleeping on me, my heart fills up with love for her and I can’t fully get behind that advice!

        1. Chris, I totally understand your love/hate relationship with your puppy. When I wanted to get something done, I always put my puppy on a retractable leash that was anchored with a chair leg or something stable, with plenty of toys around her. That way she would be in whichever room I was in and could sit on my lap if she wanted to and I could catch her when she was about to chew on something or have an accident because she was never more than 10ft or less away. It took less than a day to stop her from chewing on and fighting the leash. I kept her around me this way till she was right around 9 months old.

  29. Elyse Fitzpatrick offered comfort to parents and children in her talk, “Grace in Families” at LIBERATE 2013

    http://vimeo.com/61196417?utm_source=LIBERATE+updates&utm_campaign=30958fee3b-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_POSTS&utm_medium=email

    1. Diane, I enjoyed that! I have to admit tho, that I almost shut her off about in the middle, because I thought she was bad mouthing her husband and kids and neighbors, but then the longer I listened the more she talked about Christ and the gospel, grace, forgivness and rightousness! It was really true to the way we all are untill we have Jesus in our lives.

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

    ” You may actually do very well as a parent, and a heart may remain hard. Judas had the best teacher, but his heart remained hard.” While I am not yet a parent, and have at least 4 to 5 years before I become one, I work with kids a lot. I have been horribly discouraged lately at the community center in Chillicothe where I volunteer on Tuesdays. We try so hard to reach their hearts and I have poured my heart out in prayer for them but it seems to be getting worse. It’s good to be reminded that I don’t have to fix them and, in fact, I can’t. Only Christ can. Just like He saved me.

    2. Keith Green sang, “You put this love in my heart.” If possible, share a way the gospel has melted you and is changing you — can you see a change in how you are loving others?

    I absolutely hated my old manager. I had a long list of reasons that he was one of the worst people in the world. He had never done anything to ME, in fact I am one of his favorites, but he had upset several of my friends who worked there. Then it hit me one day: Jesus washed Judas’s feet. He knew that Judas was going to cause his death, and he still washed his feet. So, here I was hating this man who had never done anything to me and was just being a broken person, and Jesus showed humility and love to the man who would betray Him. Since then it’s not always been easy to love my manager, but I have much more understanding for him. And, now that I don’t work for him, I actually miss him. It’s cool. 🙂 God’s cool.

    1. wow Liz–love the application of Judas…I will use that, SO powerful

    2. God IS cool 🙂

    3. “It’s cool. 🙂 God’s cool” He is isn’t he!

      Liz you are planting or watering seeds in those little ones, I know you are, it is up to God to make that seed grow.

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

    Looking at the picture of your little granddaughter. That is such a beautiful expression of crying out to God. Also the picture of u and your daughter and granddaughters. That is very beautiful as well. The picture was poignant. Kind of pierced my heart.
    Your stories of your husband. What a Godly man.

    When I read the other posts I have to say as a single parent I did not do everything right. As a matter of fact I was an abusive parent at times. I struggled so much in trying to do right, protect my children from being sexually abused (like me and my sisters were) I was consumed with it. I did pray, I did apologize when I hurt them but I would have to say as they were growing up I played favourites. I was not as loving as I could have been. I pray now of course constantly.

    My youngest is living with a man. My oldest is a Reverend working with a Christian organization on the downtown eastside in vancouver. the poorest neighbourhood in North America. She is seeking God for what to do next. She is struggling with her walk.
    My middle daughter is a nurse. She travels alot and goes on mission trips with various churches. She is the one I could never convince that I loved her. She sees my pain so clearly but not her own. We struggle in our walk with one another. Now we just try to take baby steps towards each other. It is a painful exercise but we are perserving.

    My daughters are not as close as I would like. Just recently a little baby step towards healing (my youngest and oldest dtr. had a disagreement) Christina has invited her oldest sister to her graduation from UBC. I so am praying that God is going to meet us at this graduation. I am struggling on what to give my daughter as a graduation gift that would demonstrate God’s love for her. I have come up with some. A memory quilt (I do not sew); jewellery?? What I want to give her is a bible. She has being seeing a psychologist for things that she suffered in her childhood. My middle and youngest daughter suffered so much from bullying. I worked shift work and I was not always there for them as I should have been.

    The last time we were all together close was when mom died. I have a picture of us all holding hands. I look at that picture b/c over the last 7 years we have been through so much individually and as a family.

    I do not really know what to share. All I know how to do is to pray. They all are suppose to grow up and leave home. It is just me realizing that God loves them more than me. That He has a purpose and a plan for them. I cannot carry the guilt for being a bad parent or for marrying the wrong man. I have to trust God and believe that in all things God works for the good. Maybe I won’t have a happy ending but I do know God is working and I praise Him for that.

    2. Keith Green sang, “You put this love in my heart.” If possible, share a way the gospel has melted you and is changing you — can you see a change in how you are loving others?

    I struggle so much with depression (hence the weight gain). So much shame and guilt but God is changing me step by step as I trust Him. He has changed my hatred towards my husband. I do not know if it is love now but I do not hate him anymore or his behavior.
    If I am honest and I will be here. I would not have married him knowing his sexual perversion.
    I do not know why I stayed but God is changing me and him. Actually I do know from listening to Pastor Keller. I stayed b/c I thought God was punishing me for sinning. That I had to accept my punishment. My view of God has changed since that time and I accept His love. I run to God all the time now in prayer.

    I have been seeking:
    What is it to love God. More than feelings, worship or dance what can I do to show God I love Him? How can I serve Him? How can I change? I know I can’t. All I can do is cling unto Him. Believe He loves me and that nothing can separate me from the love of Christ. Not angels, nor demons nor anything can separate me from the love of Christ.

    I know my dtr.s have seen my pain and have been helpless to know what to do. It has been difficult for them as well. My oldest will visit all the time but my others will not.

    I honestly can say growing up until I met Christ I had no idea what love was or is. The things I experienced in my life were not normal or not what God had intended for my life. So when Keith Green sings this song I know and marvel at how God changes a heart. He is the difference in any situation. I still struggle with bitterness, jealously, rage, fear but I go to God and ask Him to change me. To change my heart. I am learning slowly to research scripture. To claim scripture. But in reality I know it is God changing me.

    I do my devotions in the morning but in the night if I have a terrible dream(which I do most nights) I can pray. I know this post seems to be all about me and I do apologize for it but when God changes me then I change how I respond to others.

    I do not have to hate myself for the bad things I have done or the bad choices I have made or the bad things done to me. I can put them down at the cross and pick up God’s love and go on with my day. I do want to love like God loves but I cannot w/o a changed heart or attitude. I cannot do that only God can. I am resting in His arms.

    I am just babbling away here so I am going to end the post.

    Blessings
    Mellany

    1. Mellany love that you are resting in His truth ” I can put them down at the cross and pick up God’s love”

    2. Mellany, you are loved here…prayers for you.

    3. Mellany
      I smiled when you said your daughter was graduating from UBC. My son and a friend were thinking about applying there next year. Their reason, UBC was the closest campus to Whistler, but when I informed them that Whistler was too far away to go skiing daily and still go to classes, they changed their minds. (I am hoping that brought a smile to you).

      I know that you feel great sadness and great pain at the present circumstances with your family. I too will pray for the kind of healing that only God can bring and that he will provide the answer for what you seek.

    4. Praying right now Mellany for deep healing and newness of life and love with your daughters. That God is making your life into a beautiful story of redemption that glorifies Him..

    5. Mellany,

      I so appreciate your vulnerability…I know how painful the dark season can be! My prayer for you today…

      Father, I pray that You will help Mellany to get a foothold, some leverage that will help her see beyond the pit. I know the despondency and the sense of resignation that can come upon us in those times, I pray that Mellany will be wrapped in the blanket of Your comfort today. I pray that You will be present in everything that surrounds her, what she hears, what she sees, in who she talks to, in those unexpected surprises of Your grace! Help her to rest in the fact that You will never leave her or forsake her and that You are available for life beyond this moment of heaviness. Give her faith to believe beyond what she sees! Give her Kingdom eyes!

    6. Mellany, May God will bring healing to your family, and encouragement to you. We are all so needy – I sure am – and can identify with your struggles. And resting in His arms is a wonderful place to be.

  32. I am late getting in here today! I have tried to read all of the comments, and now it is difficult to come up with something truly original to post. 🙂 I thoroughly enjoyed the photos and stories concerning Dee’s family and her daughter’s family. I thought baby Claire looked like she was thinking, “Sadie is sure enjoying basking in my mother’s love–at my expense!” I have two daughters who are in their 40s now, but I can still remember how bad the sibling rivalry was when they were younger. I remember once hearing the two sisters beginning to argue on the upstairs landing. I sprung from my kitchen and ran to the bottom of the stairs, planning to say “Don’t fight on the stairway!” I never got it out of my mouth, as here they came intertwined and tumbling head over heels all they way to the bottom. I was so sure I would have nothing but “butter” left, however when they finally landed they both burst out in laughter. I had worried they would be injured, but when it was all over, I felt like injuring them myself!! 😀 Obviously I wasn’t handling all of this in a prayerful manner!

    It is strange, somethings we tried to teach them were never learned, and other things we didn’t try to teach them, they learned — by osmosis, I guess. We never made an issue over going to Sunday School and Worship. We just went. When each of my daughters went to college, they just automatically sought out a church in their college town to attend.

    I have sometimes joked that maternal worry and guilt is caused by “something they do to you in the delivery room.” I should have been a more prayerful mother when my girls were little. I have feelings like many of the rest of you have expressed, regretting my anger and my criticism. When my daughters got into high school and college, the problems and the stresses became bigger — then I became a very prayerful parent. When they are out of your control, it becomes more natural to entrust them to the Lord! I was melted by Dee telling of Sadie’s “Help me Jesus!” It is something I think we can all identify with very easily every day of our lives!

    1. Deanna,
      haha – “I have tried to read all of the comments, and now it is difficult to come up with something truly original to post. :)”

      I can relate 🙂 But I can’t keep up with posts anymore, so something may have been posted MANY times before I post. Plus, if/when I just post gold nuggets, it doesn’t happen as often 😀

    2. Deanna “When they are out of your control, it becomes more natural to entrust them to the Lord!” this is so true, and so good–and thankfully, it’s the very best thing we can do!

    3. Deanne, Your daughters sound like they learnt alot of good things from you… “just went to church” and “just automatically sought out a church”. You done the best you knew how…like we all done. Love the story about your daughter’s fight on the stairs! So glad they weren’t hurt!

    4. I heard it said and have often repeated ‘ guilt comes out with the baby’!

  33. My first time to join in.
    1. What stood out to you from the above & why? Like so many others, I was amazed at Sally’s composure and calm with Sadie. That age was not a great time for me (I’m doing so much better with teenagers, believe it or not!). I’m sure I would not have handled it anything like Sally. But after I read about Sally’s jealousy of Annie, it reminded me of the scripture verse from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God”. So the comfort that Sally experience so many years ago, she was able to give to her daughter because she had lived through the same thing! This reminds me that the troubles I’ve gone through can be used to comfort others if I am open and humble.
    2. Re: Keith Green song: I’ve had a long and rocky relationship with my parents. Alot of anger & bitterness through the years. But God has been helping me for the past several years to forgive and be able to biblically honor my parents, even when it is very hard. I know I could not have changed and treated them this way without God and his forgiveness of me.

    1. Welcome, Jill from Ohio. So great to have you. I love your perspective.

    2. Welcome Jill–love what you have shared. Forgiveness, especially with parents, is so hard…but so life-giving.

    3. So glad your here Jill…will pray for your relationship with your parents.

    4. Welcome, Jill!

    5. Jill,

      That 2 Corinthians reference is a sacred echo for me at the present…it just keeps echoing around in my auditory world…He does comfort and teaches us to do the same! Your observation about Sally’s ability to comfort is very insightful…thank you!

    6. Hi Jill from Ohio…glad you’re here…welcome!

  34. Welcome Jill! It is good to have another Buckeye on the blog!

    1. You guys are cute! Cyndi is from Ohio too

      1. Susan and I are also Ohioans, welcome Jill!

        1. What’s going on here?! Five from Ohio?!! You guys will have to form the Buckeye Bunch!!!

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

    I love the picture of Annie and Sally. It is so sweet 🙂

  36. 1. OH MY what didnt stand out to me! I LOVE Keith Green, his story was one of the first things I heard when I started going to youth group and became a Christian in Jr. High.
    What I realized a few years ago was that I wanted my kids to “look good” to all my friends. I wanted them to dress very modestly….this was the center of thousands of arguments! I thought that my motives were pure, but when a friend told me that Abby needed to wear longer skirts the reaction inside me made it clear that it was not Abby’s purity that I was most conserned about but how I looked to my friends.
    got to go, i will finish later.

  37. after about 2 years of sending my girls back to their room to change and lots of tears and yelling I finally just gave it to God. I had taught them WHY to be modest, that it was unkind to men to dress any other way….I had done my part not I needed to trust them to make the right choice.
    What I learned is that they are going to make mistakes, not do what makes me look good as a parent, but I still need to love them and accept them even when they do embarrass me….which is pretty often 🙂
    But the other thing I have seen is the kids who hide stuff from their parents so that their parents THINK they are doing it all right and are very proud of that, but are really just really good at being sneaky.
    I would rather my kids be bad in front of me then look good to all the adults but really be breaking all the rules with their peers…..and for that to happen they need to believe that no matter what they do I will still love them.

      1. They were shocked by a red pantsuit? wow..

      2. I cracked up at the red pant suit comment…but I am with Chris on this one,wow. Just wondering were they shocked at the red or because it was a pant suit?

    1. Cyndi, Do you still want to meet for coffee? If so, how about 10:30 AM on Saturday, March 23 at either Mayberry Diner at Mayberry Square in Sylvania or Bob Evans in Holland– or 7:30 PM on Monday March 25 at Bob Evans on Monroe Street? You pick the combination and let me know. I couldn’t figure out any other way to arrange this. My apologies to the rest of you looking on:)

      1. I will be in columbus for aJBQ state meet with my youngest on saterday and I work mondays 3-9 🙁
        email me
        theferrells@bex.net

      2. I want to come!

  38. 3. What did Jesus know, according to verse 1, and what thoughts therefore were on His mind?

    Jesus knew His time was coming to go to the cross. He was thinking of His love for His own.

    4. Keller says this passage is bracketed by verses 2 and 21. This helps us see “the forest.” What common thread do you see?

    This passage is about Jesus sacrificing himself to love them by washing their feet-doing something that is the lowest of lows-putting their interests above His. The bracketed verses show someone who is the opposite of Who Jesus is-he is self serving looking good on the outside yet on the inside willing to betray God for selfish gain.

  39. 5. Many would have thought Judas was a true disciple. As Keller says, “you can jury-rig your behavior without a heart transformation.” When you look at how you behave in secret, at changes in your life, do you see evidence of heart transformation?

    Yes I do. I see how less and less I snap at my boys and when I do it breaks my heart that I hurt them and so I go to them and apologize-but it is because He is helping me to bathe more in the security of His love and He has put this love in my heart. What is amazing to me is the communion with the Holy Spirit as I sin-the conviction. For example, when I sin I can easily go to my default and say, “I am sorry, but I have had such a stressful day and when you keep asking for something I said no to you push me to my limits!”. Then the Holy Spirit gently says, be honest-tell him the truth..and He reveals the truth that I am making an excuse. The truth is I have a dark heart and I sinned against God and him-I was selfish. I didn’t handle it right with him from the beginning because I was too selfish to step aside from what I was doing and deal with him asking me for something that I didn’t want him to have. God is changing me in that-to listen to Him-to yield more to the Holy Spirit.

    The more I gaze at Jesus the more I see indeed He is the very definition of Love- My darkness is exposed yet at the same time there is beauty because He is ripping these things out of me-like Sally said-the hate or anger in me and replacing it with His Love. Washing the disciples feet is Who He is-it was all about love not just about ‘duty’. It was all about sacrifice-He gave up all His ‘rights’ for us.

      1. Me too, Rebecca (see Jesus in you)

    1. Yes I do. I see how less and less I snap at my boys and when I do it breaks my heart that I hurt them and so I go to them and apologize-but it is because He is helping me to bathe more in the security of His love and He has put this love in my heart.

      LOVE THIS!

  40. Good morning.

    TWO PRAYER REQUESTS:

    MY SON JOEL HAS A JOB INTERVIEW TODAY. He has already had a phone interview and they called him back. But they are interviewing several people. The position is Night Auditor for a major hotel. It is an area he is qualified for. Pray that God’s will be done. He has been job searching for a year – a very discouraging time for him and all of us.

    I AM SCHEDULED TO FLY OUT TOMORROW AND THERE IS A MAJOR SNOW STORM ON ITS WAY. The flight people will not reschedule me yet without penalty – doesn’t make sense, but my flight does not meet their criteria yet. I can only monitor the website and pray that I can make it to the airport and fly out safely at some point. Prayers for my stress and for safety would be appreciated.

    1. Lord, we lift up Diane’s son Joel and his interview today. Thank You for this opportunity You have provided. We pray that if it pleases You, Joel would get this job. We trust Your perfect provision, Lord.
      And Father, for Diane’s flight. Please take all of this into Your hands and work through the details. Stuff like this stresses me too, Lord, and I ask Your peace to cover Diane. Give the airlines wisdom, protect Diane, and grant Your peace. Thank You Lord. In Your Name, Amen.

      1. Thanks, elizabeth. This flight thing is a major distraction because we live on rural roads which may make even getting to the airport impossible, even if the weather has cleared somewhat by that point. This is where faith needs to be practical isn’t it. Do I really trust God to have my best interests at heart. My default control idol is demanding its way. Help, Lord.

        1. Diane, I just want to say a big “Amen” to Elizabeth’s prayer. It is my prayer exactly. Will keep praying — please keep us posted, if possible!

      2. I echo Elizabeth and Deanna’s prayers…
        Blessings to you and yours, Diane.

    2. Praying too Diane, keep us posted

    3. Praying for both, Diane

  41. 3. What did Jesus know, according to verse 1, and what thoughts therefore were on His mind?

    He knew He would die and He was thinking of the impact that would have on others.

  42. 4. Keller says this passage is bracketed by verses 2 and 21. This helps us see “the forest.” What common thread do you see?

    We are part of Him.

    5. Many would have thought Judas was a true disciple. As Keller says, “you can jury-rig your behavior without a heart transformation.” When you look at how you behave in secret, at changes in your life, do you see evidence of heart transformation?

    Some changes, but it is difficult. I haven’t done that good of a job with my Lenten fast from dinner, but I have meditated on Him more than usual. I find myself “talking” to Him all the time. It is nearly a constant stream of thought; in fact I have asked myself “Am I going crazy?” I am spending more time with “Him” than with anyone else! If I go to the gym, I listen to Keller as I run on the treadmill. I read this blog first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I pray on the way to work. I “talk” to myself about my actions when I go to the restroom at work….I could go on and on and on. Maybe I’m just getting old!

    1. Laura Dancer, 🙂 I loved these posts.

  43. I don’t know if this will be helpful to anyone else, but I used the following link and got to hear the sermon for free. http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/love-jesus

    1. Thank You Deanna!

    2. Thank u
      I was able to access the link.

  44. 3. What did Jesus know, according to verse 1, and what thoughts therefore were on His mind?

    He was thinking about his disciples, how much he loved them. I prayed for them because he knew his trial and crucifixion would be very traumatic for them. He wanted to show them how much He loved them, but he also wanted to show them how to love others as He did.

    “Where have your love, your mercy, your compassion shone out more luminously than in your wounds, sweet gentle Lord of mercy? More mercy than this no one has than that he lay down his life for those who are doomed to death.” Bernard of Clairvaux

    4. Keller says this passage is bracketed by verses 2 and 21. This helps us see “the forest.” What common thread do you see?

    He was well aware that Judas was among them, pretending fellowship, while at the same time waiting his chance. Yet Jesus does not confront him or tell the others what Judas is planning. Jesus washes Judas’ feet as well. What a poignant moment that must have been—the two of them looking into each other’s eyes and knowing what would soon take place. Instead, Jesus talks about servanthood being greater than what we usually think of as leadership.

  45. 7. Keller will quote Psalm 40:6. What does it say?

    “In sacrifices and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.” (ESV)

    I find the part of the verse about God having given me an open ear interesting. In the ESV Study Bible it says, “An open ear (Ps. 40:6) is one ready to listen to and obey God’s words.” I find this very encouraging somehow. God has given me an ear to hear His voice – when I seek His help and guidance He helps me, when I sin He tells me so, when I am afraid He calms my fears, when I am discouraged He lifts me up. Most times I do not fully sense or understand what He does, but God is working. He reveals Himself to me – His character, His profound love and his ways – little by little, day by day. And I am so glad for, on my own,I am deaf, blind and lost .

    1. Diane,

      I think some times we read the gospels and think of them as flannel graph stories of childish days gone by! But to think that Jesus (the same Jesus) is here and now among us, in the power of the Holy Spirit, available and offering Himself to us. He is still opening our blind eyes and our deaf ears and giving us new legs to stand upon…some times this thought can overwhelm me! He is STILL active in those very same ways and as I read your post and hear your testimonies ringing out, I am reminded of that fact and encouraged too!! 🙂 I think of a question that I heard once (cannot remember the source right off)…”do you really believe that what you believe is really real?” If we do…wow, what an exciting journey this could be for us all! 🙂

        1. I am a very visual person and I love to sit and let my mind ruminate through scripture. Imagining how the characters might have felt and wondering how God was weaving and shaping them through their colorful lives, I truly love that process! However, bringing the “truth” of it all into my cubby hole at work or out to dinner at a restaurant or hiking out in nature is another thing. We can become so easily detached from the Author of those stories. It is this idea of “that was then, this is now”! And I’m learning that, that just isn’t true! He is the same yesterday, today and forever…this thought really challenges me in the area of “belief”…my believe system often settles for too little! I’m really wanting this to change and praying that God will help me in that specific area! Believing Him for MORE!

  46. Sunday/Monday

    1. What stood out to you from the above and why? – Oh my how precious little Sadie is. I love when she at her young age knew to lift her hands to The Lord and ask him for help. Her mommy may have told her she needed to, but to know to lift her hand toward heaven can only imply that her parents are doing the same thing when needed. This is coming at just the right time for me as I’m so overwhelmed with my household right now. I’ve been trying to talk to Kyle (my oldest) and his wife Allie about not giving up on each other and their marriage. I learned from this post that I need to give them both over to The Lord to soften their hearts. Allie is not so far away from softening, but Kyle has so many issues to deal with since he has been discharged and is now home but he does not see how Jesus can help him. This just saddens me but I know if I continue to pray for him and ask The Lord to soften his heart and see how much Jesus loves him and will be there I know He will hear me. Why do we need to be reminded by children who God loves immensely that we need to open our hearts and lift our hands to The Lord so he can do a number on our idols that we so want to cling to. Thank you Dee to you and your family for being so open and transparent that we are able to see into your lives and learn from all of you. I also love all the family pictures they are all so cute.

      1. Me too Julie, lifting up your household right now.

    1. Julie, I’m so sorry they are having trouble already, with a new baby…I’m praying now and will continue…please keep us posted.

    2. Praying Julie.

  47. 2. Keith Green sang, “You put this love in my heart.” If possible, share a way the gospel has melted you and is changing you — can you see a change in how you are loving others? – This song is so upbeat and lively I love it. Keith Green was a great musician and sadly left this earth to soon but The Lord had another plan for his life. I can relate to this song and to more from above about “unjustly accusing”. When Kyle and Justin were growing up I raised them as a single mom. Kyle and I butted heads so many times that I would start to argue with an 8-year-old. I would of course accuse him because of his attitude and because he was the oldest. I remember one time while I was arguing with Kyle Just who was 3 told me that his bible school teach “Miss Dawn said we have to love unto each other” WOW just hit me between the eyes. And once when I was accusing Kyle of doing something when I was no where around to see who did it he said to me “how can you accuse me when you didn’t even see what happened” another WOW. I now try because of these words from Babes to not accuse anyone if I did not see what happened. I will ask all involved what happened and go from there. I try to give everyone a “fair trial” but of course do not always succeed and realize that I’m handling the situation wrong. I am trying to not take sides and I’m getting a lot of experience at this when I talk to Kyle & Allie so much lately. One who I think would come to church if I asked and one who wants nothing to do with church or Jesus. Lord please help me with this! Help me to know how to approach them both and give them over to you. Help me Lord to say what you want them to hear and not what I think they need to hear. In Jesus name I pray. Amen!

    1. Oh Julie, my heart goes out to you. We all regret things we done when our kids were growing up. God can replace those things with GOOD. Just pray…”Lord, these are your children, not mine…I give them back to you…please do a mighty work in their lives…as only you can. Give me the words when they are open to them and let me be an example for them. Open their hearts to invite you in, Please; Dear Lord, In Jesus name I pray, Amen.”

  48. I’m not going to post on this blog that I am growing in gentleness, kindness, humility, patience, forgiveness or any of the other fruit of the spirit. I am fearful of sounding like a Pharisee!! I think it is difficult to climb out of my own skin and look at myself objectively (particularly as God sees me). I will say that I do find myself looking back at my younger years and cringing because of the times when I failed to put myself in another’s place, when I withheld forgiveness, or particularly when I was full of myself. Wow! — how could I have been so far off-the-mark without even suspecting it?!! Even though I know of Jesus’ forgiveness, perhaps I’m not always convinced of my own. It is for this reason that I feel the need to repent a little bit every day, and allow my “feet to be washed” again!