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WICKED SISTERS BELOVED BY GOD (The Gospel According to Philippians)

It was in a prayer group of mothers that the fight began. One of the women had suggested that we come up with a list of standards on which we could agree for our children. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could all agree we wouldn’t watch R-rated movies in our homes? Then our children would know their friends had the same boundaries.” It seemed like a great idea!

Within ten minutes we became like mother bears defending our cubs.

grizzly-growl

The tension began immediately. Margaret said: “I’m surprised you mentioned R-rated movies. In our home we don’t watch PG-13 movies.”

Quietly but firmly Hannah said, “In our home we don’t watch movies.”

We each bristled a bit. I suggested, “Why don’t we try dating age? I was thinking not before sixteen.”

“Sixteen! They are babies! They have no business dating before they are ready to marry.”

“In our home,” one said evenly, “there will be no dating.”

2grizzly

snarling One by one my friends left in tears, until all that was left was my dear friend Shell and me. Shell and I have promised one another unfailing love. Our daughters, Robin and Sally, became friends in kindergarten. My soul is knit to Shell’s. But I had always thought Shell was too strict, and I thought this would be a good time to tell her so. She felt I too permissive, and told me so.

Shell left in tears. I was undone. What had happened?

 

We had forgotten the gospel.

 

friendshipsThis happened over twenty-five years ago when I was writing The Friendships of Women, ironically. The Lord worked in our hearts so that we did humble ourselves and reconcile, and then God did a mighty work through that prayer group, so Satan did not have the victory. Looking back today, I have more insight than I did then. I see how wise my husband Steve was when I came to him in tears, saying, “Shell doesn’t realize what a precious friend she could be losing in me!”

He comforted me but he also said “I have heard you say that when there is a problem in a horizontal relationship, there is almost always a problem in your vertical relationship with God.”

He was gently pointing out of of the most important aspects of the gospel. We are so depraved, so wicked, that Christ had to die for us, yet sin blinds us. We always think it is the fault of the other person. Usually there is sin on both sides, and even if we think ours is the lesser, God calls us to do whatever we can to be at peace. I had to go, humble myself, and tell her what I had done wrong, and how I had hurt her. And she responded in humility, with the forgiveness of the gospel.

We talked about it later — how the specific issues addressed that day were Romans 13 issues — gray issues — and we shouldn’t have even tried to agree, and simply needed to give one another grace. When Paul says, “Have the same mind,” he wasn’t saying that we had to agree about everything, but that we needed to have the humility of Christ, not clinging to our “rights.” And when Shell and I had quarreled, though there was truth in what we each said, neither of us had spoken in love and we each felt attacked. Why? What causes tempers to flare?

Philippians 2 gives us insight into the root behind our outbursts. It is so helpful. I can’t wait to do the study with you — I need to be reminded of these truths constantly.

(And by the way, I need to credit Rebecca D. with the title for this week, who credits Elizabeth! That was fun — and I had fun with the mother bear pictures!)

Sunday/Monday

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

2. Before you do the study, take a stab at this: What do you think was the root that causes our tempers to flare? (You can review your answer at the end of the study.)

Monday/Wednesday

3. Paul begins his plea in Philippians 2:1 by listing some of the sure realities of being a child of God, of being cleansed and embraced by the Lord, of having His Spirit in us.  His Spirit encourages, comforts, and can give us a unique fellowship, like we are experiencing here. Slow down and contemplate this verse, and then take just one reality and give an illustration from your life on how it has blessed you recently.

One key aspect of the gospel is “sonship.” Our identity now should not be in the success of our mothering, ministry, marriage, or anything but in being a child of God. If our identity is in something else, we are vulnerable to defeat, division, and despair. I believe, in our situation, our identity was in being good mothers, and so we became defensive and angry.

4. The Philippian church was the healthiest of the churches, yet they too had discord. What request does Paul make of them in Philippians 2:2? What does it mean to be of the same mind and to have the same love? (See Phil. 2:5) Can you disagree about an issue and still have the same mind and same love? If so, can you give an illustration?

Read Philippians 2:3 in the KJV, which Keller says is a helpful translation for this verse:

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

5. What do you think “vainglory” means?

6. Where, according to John 17:22, should we find our glory, our identity, our significance?

I realize now that in that mother bear prayer group, we were finding our glory, our identity, in being good mothers. So we erupted when it was attacked. We might have been able to have a constructive conversation about these peripheral issues, but our tempers flared because our glory was in the wrong place. Yet despite all that, God came to us, loved us, humbled us, and brought us back together.

In Keller message he also talks about a “spirit of rivalry,” the one who gets his identity by always disagreeing. He wants to be noticed. Our greatest fear is being unknown, forgotten. But we are known by the One who matters most. If our identity is in Him that spirit of rivalry will fade. I keep thinking of Brennan Mannings words from a few weeks back — do we realize how much God loves us? Or will He one day say to us, “I never knew you?” Let us receive His love now and cultivate that intimacy.

7. What is Paul’s next plea according to Philippians 2:4? (This is a theme in Philippians.) How did Christ do this?

8. Think, if you can, of someone with whom you disagree or tend to disagree. Ask the Lord to help you see her side of things, why she is upset, why he has felt unheard, why she may have been hurt. (Paul is addressing believers, but this could be applied to your view of an unbeliever as well.)

9. What is the solution, according to Philippians 2:5?

10. How might you apply this to your life?

Thursday-Friday

11. Listen to this sermon and share your highlights. (This is $2.50 — but next week’s is free.)  LINK

Saturday:

12. What’s your take-a-way and why?

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263 comments

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

    I LOVED the mother bear pictures along with the story-lol! I can just imagine being there-I think those ladies would have thought I was permissive too-oh my.

    I do like how Dee extends it for us to see what really was going on underneath-they forgot the Gospel-but God only gave satan enough rope to hang himself. What a great example of being wicked but beloved by God.

  2. What stood out from above.
    I was almost giggling as I read this. I was thinking oh no that is a bad idea :)! And how ironic that I can never defend myself but as Mothers we can sure step up, and bear our teeth.
    It is very difficult to set boundaries in this world. When we do and then tell other how our household does things they feel convicted. Even if we havent judged them when we share our beliefs their own inter voice convicts them and then watch out… Hello Momma Bear. Human nature does not handle conviction or constructive criticism very well, we usually need a little time away to process this and Pray and Pray before we can see the other side.
    I believe the root problem would be lack of self confidence or what I call (Christ Conficence) knowing and who we are in Christ, and also focusing on Self, I think I want I need.
    Just my thoughts can’t wait to read all of yours.

    1. Nicki, That is so true-My bear comes out anyway and it isn’t a mamma bear thing but just a wicked stinky bear standing on her hind feet roaring in my mind-“you just wait until your kids are out in the world and they don’t know how to handle it and rebel! Then you will see I am right and quit looking at me like I am a heathen for letting my boys watch Spongebob!” Oh my wicked heart. 😉

      1. Rebecca, LOL!

    2. “Christ Confidence”…I like that…I’m thinking it VERY likely that “Christ Confidence” will stick with me like “God-incidences” has… 🙂

  3. 2. Before you do the study, take a stab at this: What do you think was the root that causes our tempers to flare? (You can review your answer at the end of the study.)

    I like these questions because my answer does change after the end of the study most always. 🙂

    Let’s see-I will take a stab-maybe it is our identity? We know He is our identity-our life yet at the same time it is easy for other things to creep in and fight for the place of identity in our life-being a singer at church, in leadership, Bible teacher, mom, wife, etc..When we don’t get accolades and agreement-the pat on the back that we are right, or godly or impactful or whatever-then frustration mounts and tempers can flare eventually. We are seeking to be approved or known and loved by others over resting in being loved and known by God.

    I battled with this when I stepped down from singing at my church for I will disappear-no one will know who I am. Maybe that wicked place in me is why God has graciously moved me out-so He can hammer away at that place in my heart and fill it with HIM. I like what Nanci beautifully said yesterday with “Jesus Calling”..yet I whisper His name-I have to pound the Gospel deeper in.

    1. Rebecca, I think you hit it on the head with this…

      “We are seeking to be approved or known and loved by others over resting in being loved and known by God.”

      I think we all want, “The best mother of the year” award and when someone says something to the effect that we may be wrong about something we do in connection with mothering…our temper may explode!

      Like Rebecca said, we all want approval, (one of the big idols in our lives) and when we get disapproval instead, watch out!

  4. My quick initial thought “wow, what a slippery slope that is.” I have this mental image of standing at the cross worshiping and focusing on my savior and his great love only to look over at a friend, focusing on her and slip down the slippery slope back into the “mud of life”. How many “suggestions” have I given over the years that were created out of my need to be “right or better”. How very hard it is to extend grace when we feel criticized.
    I had a friend tell me that any unsolicited suggestions/opinions we give to our adult children they hear as criticism. I have really tried to follow that…but it is hard. After all, I have such great wisdom to share 😉
    At first I thought this was the need for approval but as I ponder I think these situations have a lot of insecurity and need to prove our worth. It certainly says I am falling short in loving others as I love myself.

    1. I have really tried to follow that…but it is hard. After all, I have such great wisdom to share 😉 Sarahsal…you are so funny!

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

    “I have more insight than I did then. I see how wise my husband Steve was when I came to him in tears, saying, “Shell doesn’t realize what a precious friend she could be losing in me!”
    He comforted me but he also said “I have heard you say that when there is a problem in a horizontal relationship, there is almost always a problem in your vertical relationship with God.”
    This stood out to me, what a godly man Steve was! I am guessing that probably wasn’t what you wanted to hear in that moment!

    Before you do the study, take a stab at this: What do you think was the root that causes our tempers to flare? (You can review your answer at the end of the study.)

    I am thinking pride. When one has given a lot of thought to a subject that has emotional or moral significance, one can feel pretty certain that what one thinks is correct and true and that other views on the subject are a threat.


    We need one another, iron sharpening iron, change takes place in community. Sometimes our dearly held ideas need to be challenged, but it is uncomfortable to say the least.

    1. Hey Chris! Welcome back…how was the mini-get-away?

    2. Welcome back Chris…hope your vacation was restful!!

    3. I agree with your thoughts Chris… missed you!

      1. Thank you friends, I am so glad to be back!
        The get away was good, I truly love the friends we were with, but we all had quite a lot on our plates before we left, I am not sure any of us except my husband were mentally ‘on vacation,. I neglected soul care for myself and felt it keenly. I can’t stay away from the word and expect to stand very well against the enemy.
        I was so tired and glad to come home. There were other challenges waiting for me here.

        Any ways absence makes the heart grow fonder, I feel the need to be here and appreciate the priviledge that it is to be among all of you!

  6. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    OH MY. I could barely get through the first paragraph. I promise my heart began beating faster and as I continued I honestly felt my body tensing up all over. Oh how easily I can fall into the trap—wanting to replace the gospel with a formula.

    And these words: “yet sin blinds us. We always think it is the fault of the other person…God calls us to do whatever we can to be at peace.”

    2. Before you do the study, take a stab at this: What do you think was the root that causes our tempers to flare? (You can review your answer at the end of the study.)

    Well, that’s the “funny” part. As I read it I thought I wouldn’t have joined into a discussion like that because I would already have my own “right” convictions and wouldn’t want to “discuss” them because I’d have no intention of changing my “right” opinions! ICKY, but true.

    James 1:4 comes to mind “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”

    From this I see the root as our passions, our IDOLS.Control, power—approval…see them all in me in relationships.Wanting to be right, wanting to have an answer, a formula, THE answer. God tells us seek Him–ask for wisdom, ask HIM to take our relationships, our concerns–entrust it to Him. I am learning this–but after many many many painful lessons 😉

    1. Elizabeth, I just read last evenings post you wrote, towards the bottom page about your pain returning. I’m so sorry :~/… we were rejoicing because your pain has mostly gone. Isn’t that just like the evil one…just as we take a sigh of relief, he hits us again with another reminder of him. I just wanted you to know I’m praying for you and for your families’ problems too.

      Dee, I’m praying for your laryngitis to go away soon and for you retreat wed. Traveling mercies for you also. Get better soon!

      1. Sweet Joyce, thank you so much. I have prayed more for you as mine has flared–how are you doing? Do you notice changes with the weather? Sharp changes, like the cold wet we’re having seem to “jolt my nerves” quite a bit. The GOOD part is that now I have learned it will subside and not last forever, and I can cling to hope 🙂 Thank you for your compassion on me when you endure SO SO much more–love you JOYce~

        1. Thank you Elizabeth, God is teaching me to live moment to moment and not in the past or the future. I will pray for help (to myself) when I need to get up or walk or helping Kendra…whatever causes me pain in that moment…it helps me to be more intimate with my Abba father, to lean on him at those times.
          I don’t notice a change with the weather much. Yes, you have much hope…just keep communing with God through your pain moment by moment.

        2. Praying now for both of you dear girls Elizabeth and Joyce, for healing, and for a sweet sense of the nearness of God.

      2. Yes, Elizabeth and Dee…I did see some of your posts over the last few days…my thoughts and prayers have been with you both!!!

    2. I’m afraid I am ICKY too, Elizabeth 🙁

  7. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    Thank you, Dee, for sharing these “real life” situations that I can so easily relate to situations in my life. Steve’s statement is very wise…
    “I have heard you say that when there is a problem in a horizontal relationship, there is almost always a problem in your vertical relationship with God.” He was gently pointing out of of the most important aspects of the gospel. We are so depraved, so wicked, that Christ had to die for us, yet sin blinds us. We always think it is the fault of the other person. Usually there is sin on both sides…”
    It brought to mind how easy it is for me to see/assess others’ fault(s) while overlooking my own …Matthew 7:3. I look forward to what Philippians 2 will teach me. This is an area I admit to struggling with on occasion (judgment)…hindsight has often shown, as Steve pointed out, “usually there is sin on both sides”.

    2. Before you do the study, take a stab at this: What do you think was the root that causes our tempers to flare?
    I’m thinking that pride is the root…pride seems to be the root of most sin that is “right fighting” self-focused.

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

    Steve’s comment to you Dee; when your horizontal is wrong, check your vertical! (my paraphrase)

    2. Before you do the study, take a stab at this: What do you think was the root that causes our tempers to flare? (You can review your answer at the end of the study.)

    I believe it was self service, or thinking about yourself, not others.

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

    Loved the mother bear pictures. I have a close friend who has been a friend for 20 years. When we were first getting to know each other, we read Dee’s “Friendships of Women” book and studied it together. It was then that I knew that in Dee we had a kindred spirit, though I never dreamt that I would one day by on a Bible study blog that she is leading. My friend and I have had several mama bear fights over the years and through it have learned a great deal about “unfailing love” (the human kind that is imperfect but is a dim echo of God’s unfailing love) and about the hard work of apologizing and working through issues that we disagree. It is so true that we need to learn to forgive and give each other grace, because we have been given grace from God.

  10. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    Usually there is sin on both sides, and even if we think ours is the lesser…This is so true of me, when I have a problem with someone, then my first thought is generally “they are more wrong” or “they were wrong first and I just responded inappropriately” the problem with the second is that I am whitewashing my attitude with “well if they hadn’t done this or that, then I wouldn’t have responded like…” I have this response more than I care to admit.

    I am totally the mother bear though. Most of you know that my son has life long issues as a result of his birth mother alcohol and drug abuse while she was pregnant. He was diagnosed in Grade 7 and at that time he was in youth at our church and in a christian school, but the school told us we had to leave and the youth group was failing him big time. The sermon series at that time was the Good Samaritan. I equated the responses from the school and the youth leaders to the first two men in the Good Samaritan story. They both had programs, but neither took the time to actually see my son and who he was, they wanted him to fit within their program and neither would reach down and help pick him up. We ended up leaving that church and I had to find another school. The school I found, although secular was a gift from God as this school has made all the difference to him. We found another church and although he didn’t engage in the youth program, he likes the senior pastor and does come with me about a third of the time. However in the transition process, I was such a mother bear in trying to get the youth pastor of our previous church to actually see who my son was that he was afraid of me and stopped responding to me. I guess in hind sight I probably shouldn’t have been as aggressive as I was, but I can whitewash it by saying no one was advocating for my son, so I did. I wonder now if that was my control flaw or just the mother bear seeing her cub in need and falling through the cracks everywhere…maybe both?

    2. Before you do the study, take a stab at this: What do you think was the root that causes our tempers to flare? (You can review your answer at the end of the study.)

    I laughed at elizabeth’s answer that she would have just sat there and remained silent…I would have done the same thing, but I would have added in my brain, “Lord get me out of here, these women are nuts”. The pride and arrogance would have kicked in and I would not have engaged in the discussion at all. I would have had an opinion I just would have kept it to myself and would have seen their sin and not so much the arrogance of my own. I would however at some point reach the boiling point and lash out and tell them they were all nuts and then the relationship would have broken down.

    My answer would include Control. I know in my case, that idol in my heart likes to control the outcome, however God regularly and constantly reminds me that I do not control the outcome on anything. When things do not go my way, things aren’t happening the way I see or the way I want them to or in the time I want, then I get frustrated…and I do notice the I and my in that statement. I am much, much better at letting go of the “I and my” and letting God do His thing, rather than me doing mine, but I am very much still His work in progress.

      1. Oh dear, Dee I think I may have offended you, if so, then I sincerely apologize. I was thinking about what would have been in my head and neglected to consider how that might have come across. I am sorry if my words came out wrong.

  11. 2. Before you do the study, take a stab at this: What do you think was the root that causes our tempers to flare? (You can review your answer at the end of the study.)

    I am going to take a stab and say “insecurity”. If I was truly secure in Christ and my confidence was in Him, I would not be threatened by other opinions and feel I had to fight to defend myself.

  12. I’m chiming in late on this but I re-listened to last week’s sermon this morning and was pondering about my take-away from last week – to really begin to think about what is my definition of life – is it the same as Paul’s: “For to me to live is Christ”? I am realizing that I can learn a great deal from this great man – I love how Keller said Paul was basically the architect of the greatest movement in the history of the world. But I am sobered by Keller saying that this is NOT something that I can say, “Okay, so that’s the secret of how to deal with my suffering; I’ll start tomorrow.” No; this is hard, hard stuff – “advanced Christianity” as he put it. I wonder, how did Paul arrive here?

    And this troubles me, and I’m asking for your input, ladies. Okay, Paul came to his definition of life that “For me to live is Christ” – yet he didn’t “check-out” mentally or disengage from the people around him. I am seeing (and maybe only for me) a kind of hidden danger in this, in that, for example, a difficult relationship where I am repeatedly hurt-I can’t just say “For me to live is Christ” – so “phooey on you – I don’t need you…I will withdraw emotionally/disengage from you; I don’t care anymore.” I guess I’m trying to say that “For me to live is Christ” is not a defense mechanism or a coping strategy or a way to protect myself from being hurt. Does anyone understand or get what I’m thinking here?
    I surely want to get to that point, someday, where my circumstances don’t sink me because for me to live is Christ – but I am also afraid of misusing it. Does this make any sense to anyone?!

      1. It’s funny you mentioned the Sara Groves song – I had that CD on my Amazon wish list forever, and I finally ordered it and received it last week! I think I first heard that song, Conversations, on your blog, and I loved it – it’s just like she’s talking to God-not in a stiff, formal way, just being herself, being real.

      2. Wonderful song, Dee. Never heard it before! And I say Amen to your prayer for Susan for winsomeness and gentleness.

      3. I don’t know, Dee….I just asked my husband, “Do you think I am gentle?” and he said…”No…I think your stubbornness cancels that out.”

        1. Susan I think your husband just needs to get the last word in, that’s what my husband does. It’s not true.

        2. My heart aches for you, Susan. I have been pondering your husband’s response to you, his criticism that you are stubborn, his refusal to admit that you are gentle. Of course, I don’t know everything you say or do, but another way to look at “stubbornness” to call it perseverance, long-suffering. Sometimes stubbornness is a good thing. In your case, you are stubbornly not giving up on your husband and wayward children but praying to God for them and continuing to love them by your actions and words. I know your husband’s words hurt, but he ought to be glad for your stubborn love for him. I will continue praying for you, Susan, that you live in God’s hope and will continue to wait patiently on the Lord.

        3. Diane, this phrase in your post is so good…”for your stubborn love”…some times love has many forms and it can even hurt to walk in “stubborn love”…but that is such a beautiful motivation! Desiring true healing and restoration is a characteristic of stubborn love! So, Susan…this just might be a wonderful compliment after all! Embrace it as you can!

    1. Susan, I do not think that this statement was in any way a defense mechanism for Paul. I believe Paul meant it with all his heart…and he just kept hammering away, sharing the gospel, singing in his chains, letting God do the work through him…he was always engaged in the work of Christ!

      1. No, Rhonda…I didn’t mean that I thought that Paul was using it as a defense mechanism…I am concerned that I could use it in that way-I don’t want to “mishandle” it!

        1. Oh…sorry! Apologies! 🙂 Well, in that case…I guess it goes back to heart sweeping…I think getting in quiet places and examining my heart motives is always a helpful step for me…I think God can show us what is driving our words and statements…

        2. No apologies needed….it was really hard to try to express what I was thinking here:)

    2. Susan, I am praying for you right this minute.

      I think about “for me to live is Christ’ in the way that Paul had laid his own life, his comfort, his pride, his control, for the cause of Christ, in every way advancing the kingdom.

      I feel sure your husband does see the changes in you your devotion to Christ is producing, though he isn’t saying so.

      I am praying for us to have the mind of Christ, the humility that wanted forgiveness for those who were mocking and crucifying Him. To really esteem others as better than ourselves will require a daily work of the Spirit in our hearts.

      I pray Susan for you to feel your great worth in the eyes of God, and that the weight and importance of that will protect your mind and heart and produce such compelling gentleness that your husband will be drawn to Christ.

    3. Susan, while your husband words stung, I hope that you were (or can be) able to use his comment as a springboard for a discussion. When my husband said something similar to me, I told him that it was an area that I was working on and that I saw how I had reacted in the past and certainly didn’t want to continue down that same path. That while there are some areas that I will not compromise, I didn’t want to give the impression that I believed that I always have to be right. Even though my husband is a Christian, he can have a very non-Christian attitude and when I think I am encouraging him, he takes it either as criticism or making light of his situation. I’m sure that I do the same thing.

  13. 1. I actually thought this was humorous – however well meaning there is no way that a group of women are going to agree about a set of standards in parenting! 8 ) but 2. I think the real root is in pride – the more strict mothers are proud of their strictness whereas the more permissive mothers feel that being less strict causes them to look like a “bad” mother.

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

    As much as I realize this will make me sound like a victim -which I am not-
    I am a child of the King. Forgiven, like all of u. Accepted in the beloved
    So here goes.

    I would not have been even invited to the group.
    At the time my dtrs. were small I was in a violent marriage.
    People would not attend my home and neither was I invited out.
    People were afraid of my husband.
    I left and became a single parent and again I was outside the circle.
    Trying to get in the discussion- into the room – into the prayer discussion –
    I was never good enough in some people’s eyes
    Not God’s.

    I remember one time when my 3 year old dtr. was not invited to a birthday party.
    B/c of?? Everyone else in the church class was.
    I was out walking on the same day and I stopped in afterwards.
    The mother and the father (pastor) were there
    There was no shame or discussion just pretense.
    I do not know why I did it
    Mother bear???
    Just to confront but there was no answer -just Jesus-

    Fast forward a few years later and this same woman was divorced.
    Her husband was unfaithful and a drinker.
    She was the dtr. of a pastor
    I remember the judgement she faced.
    I simply said she is not responsible for what her husband does.
    Back in the 80’s and early 90’s everything was the woman’s fault.
    I was told to pray more and submit more or nothing at all
    Very few people had the grace to extend
    It was all used up on judging or pretending to be the best Christian ever.
    Trying to win God’s approval

    When I defended her she was so relieved.
    B/c someone understood
    I was in that place before.
    I know what it is to stand outside the circle.

    It wasn’t all bad
    My dtrs. grew up.
    Women’s Aglow happened and I took them to prayer circles.
    All the statements – they will grow up and marry abusive men-(juding)
    They will not amount to anything(juding)
    What will become of them (pitying)etc.
    People were so willing to label me and my dtr.
    God did not
    He loved them and me
    He never left me or forsake me
    I guess in a way He was my mother bear and my dtr.s mother bear.
    I kind of like that image.
    God was a mother bear defending me and my dtr.

    I used to cry at home but my dtrs are good today
    although I worry about their walk.
    My oldest is a Reverend
    She works with women on the downtown Eastside
    The worst zipcode in North America
    Peole who study aids around the world come to the Eastside to study aids.

    If u ever read my posts please KeeP Josie and her mother in prayer
    They are skin and bones and covered in sores (think 3rd world here)
    One time I was with my dtr. and she pointed them out.
    I wanted to jump out of the car and go and hug them and pray for them.
    it was like God held time still for me to do that.
    Please pray that if that happens again I can go and pray.

    The reason I am sharing this is my dtr. is getting burnt out.
    Trying to defend them all
    It is difficult with the stories they tell.
    My dtr is getting hard.
    Saying these people will live and these will probably die.
    I guess it is like feeding people starving in the 3rd world.
    And u just ran out of food and a starving person is looking at u.

    Please pray for my dtr.

    My middle dtr is a nurse.
    Her and I are distant
    I know she loves God but her heart seems to have grown cold.
    She serves God but similar to the good brother.

    My youngest is my heart.
    She is the first one to say mama
    The first one to ask for a daddy
    She is living with a man.
    Like me she is making poor choices but I believe God is in control.

    My husband says I internalize everything
    Which I do
    I beat myself up constantly.
    What if??

    I pray constantly but I need to let go and let God be in control
    Not me.

    There are many good things in my life
    See even sharing this I have to justify it.
    I am probaly sharing too much at the wrong time.
    I have always been a bit of an odd duck.

    I would not say that I was a good Christian mother.
    I tried
    But to be honest
    Being a child of abuse I was also at times a child abuser.
    My dtrs. and I talk about it.
    I just admitted it to my dtr. on the phone.
    She was so quiet and she said it met so much.

    I remember when my mother sent me and my siblings this simple note
    I am sorry for the pain u are in.
    None of us talked to our mother but if we did it was so damaged it was not good for her or for us.

    Not that I am sorry I beat u or I abused u or let u be abused but
    I am sorry for the pain u are in.
    It did not bring healing
    My siblings and I always longed for the apology that never came.

    But
    God did and in my 40th year I believed my mother loved me
    That she did her best.
    we reconciled but even up to her death we had incidents where she was out of control with my dtrs.
    This time we talked about it.
    I do not know if she ever became a christian.
    Not for lack of prayer or longing for her to become a Christian
    But
    Her choices to the end were not Godly choices.

    Do u remember Dee when I said I feel like a reject.
    I do b/c when u share – I appreciate your honesty so much –
    But it is so foreign to me
    I do not know if I should tell people the truth about my life
    Will it shock people??
    Will u be offended??
    I can pretend but what good is that.
    Then I still feel outside the circle.
    Even though I am not.
    I am accepted in the beloved.
    I guess I just have to trust Jesus and walk it out.
    They are asking for volunteers at our church
    Please pray for me that I sign up for somethings where I can belong.

    Thank u
    Blessings
    Mellany

    2. Before you do the study, take a stab at this: What do you think was the root that causes our tempers to flare? (You can review your answer at the end of the study.)

    I am not sure but it seemed to me u were trying to out do one another.
    Trying to be God or be the best Christian ever or trying to win God’s approval
    Become His favourite.

    I must read your other book Dee
    I will order it.

      1. Hi Dee,

        Yes there has been healing. There has been break through. It is like God is asking me to totally trust Him. No more pretending or blaming myself or hating myself. To let go or self pity and just ask for a hug.

        If God loves me and is for me who can be against me??
        Not even myself and I say that with a chuckle b/c sometimes I am my own worst enemy.

        I am reading your book on friendships. I have underlined and cried alot. I know that I have been rejected alot but I have also rejected others who have tried to help.

        I need to get to the place of meat and potatoes and not just drinking baby’s milk. I need to grow up. That has been my prayer for over the last 2 years or so. I want to be a Godly Christian woman. I do not want to end up like my mother. Even saying I want I want is immature.
        But
        I do want to serve Christ and to have a ministry
        I am not sure what my giftings are.
        I do like to pray and that has been confirmed. To worship and dance. Which is not always easy but when I do time seems to just hold it’s place for me.

        I do like taking things and making them beautiful.
        For example; my mother and I purchased this screen at London Drugs in PG.
        I thought the pattern was beautiful and I kept it.
        Then one day when I purchased doors from windsor plywood I asked them to take the panels and put them in the door.
        It looks beautiful. It is memories kept forever.

        I like to hold memories like that.
        To treasure things and savour them.
        Like my roses, like my solar lights at night, like the evening sky where all the stars sing of God’s beauty and angels stand arrayed in Holy Majesty.

        Things alive like bumble bees, my honeysuckle plant, even my wasps.
        God created them for a reason.

        I love drives where the pavement unfolds the next corner of possiblity.
        My father was a wanderer(sp)
        We would settle in one place but his eye was always on the next.
        Searching for God I would call it

        But one of my favourite memories was when we were travelling.
        It was late (after midnight) and I was sitting with my father in the front seat.
        He asked should we continue.
        I said yes b/c the stars were alive that night and I was sitting with my father in the front seat.
        It was sparkling with possiblity.

        Then my mother’s voice from the back seat
        Fin! ( this is short for Finlay -which is Irish -Gaelic-it means little fair valourous one)
        She always shouted. Always commanded.
        So we stopped -which was practical and needed-

        But
        For one brief moment the stars shone on me and my father, sitting side my side in the front seat.

        I do like to write and to help people.

        I know that as I continue this bible study God will show me what I am to do.
        I am asking for your prayers and the prayers of my sisters in Christ so that I do the right thing.

        Thank u for this bible study and your books Dee,
        Your honesty.
        I enjoy and revel in your honesty.
        It brings healing and allows the possiblity of rejoicing and acceptance b/c it brings freedom to conversations that were silent before.

        God bless u and yr family on this Mother’s Day.

        Love in Christ
        mellany

    1. Mellany, your transparency is so beautiful! That in itself is a healing balm for so many…I am so sorry friend! I am sorry that you have been held at arms length…you needed that hug that you so willingly gave! Your heart is seen and your pain is respected! Father, I pray for Mellany today…I thank You for gifting her with words! I hear so much pain in this lyrical offering…I pray that You will bring that deep healing that our sister so earnestly desires! God, she is a survivor…and keeps coming to You…meet her in this place of seeking…reveal Yourself to her as physician, counselor and dearest friend! Bring support that loves as You have loved…and we will be careful to give You all the praise!

      1. Thank you Rhonda for this sweet prayer for Mellany…I pray it for her also and for her daughters and for Josy and her mother. I can’t believe there are people like this in our country and we are not helping them…so sad.

      2. Of course I did not have the courage to check the post until now.

        Thank u for your prayer!
        Your heart is seen and your pain is respected!
        Thank u for that stmt.
        To honor me like that is huge.

        It is like all my life I have kept this big bag of despair, of secrets, of lies, but mostly of pretense
        I cannot carry it anymore.
        God never expected me to
        I am letting go and that is healing.

        I don’t want to rummage in it anymore but God seems to be interested in letting me know that He cares that everytime I devalued myself, did not know He existed or even loved me that He was there for me.

        Of course I am crying now but thank u so much for caring enough to pray.
        That does mean alot
        I agree as I seek Jesus out and look full into His wonderful face the things of earth will look strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
        I love to sing that chorus. I need to worship God and for some reason that brings peace to me.
        It encourages me to be still.
        To trust God and to just be in presence.

        Happy Mother’s Day.

        blessings
        Mellany

    2. Mellany, thank you for trusting us with your story, you are loved here!

      I am praying for you to find a place to plug in at church, but mostly that your sense of belonging will come from your true identity in Christ, no one can take that away for you!

      1. Thank u so much Chris.

        Absolutely my identity comes from being in Christ.
        It startles me sometimes how much our Lord and Saviour loves me.
        I have to remember that I have an Abba, Daddy to run to .

        But

        I do like sharing my life here and trusting u with it.
        God is bringing healing this way.

        I am not sure why but it is happening

        Happy Mother’s Day.
        mellany

    3. Mellany thank you for sharing your story…I beleive there are more stories like this then are told, how your story will reach so many who feel unreachable. God Bless you.

      1. That u so much:)

        I do believe I am not the only one.

        God does have a plan for me and my life.
        He is unfolding it for me as I trust Him and Him alone.

        Blessings
        Mellany

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

    Dee’s story about how her group fell apart. I was never part of a group that tried to legislate those sort of things (thankfully!) However, throughout my parenting years, I would find times when my rules didn’t match those of my daughters’ friends’ mothers. Sometimes I would be the more permissive one and sometimes I was the stricter one. I can really relate to Elizabeth when she said: “I wouldn’t have joined into a discussion like that because I would already have my own “right” convictions and wouldn’t want to ‘discuss’ them because I’d have no intention of changing my “right” opinions!” I think I too was pretty much unbending. I can’t say that I personally suffered a lot from that stance, but now as I think about it, I bet I was leaving a trail of hurt feelings behind me as I went!!” Pretty insensitive, eh?

    However, when I have gotten into “verbal fist-a-cuffs” with others about non-parenting issues, Steve’s advice would have been right on target!

    2. Before you do the study, take a stab at this: What do you think was the root that causes our tempers to flare? (You can review your answer at the end of the study.)

    I think each of you in the group were indirectly, if not directly, saying “My way is right, your way is wrong.” It was sounding a lot like judgment and criticism. That is enough to make almost anyone act defensively. Every mother wants to be known as a “good mother, so pride figures in there also.

  16. What stood out to me? How in theory I would know how to respond in this situation and in application I never do.

    Root cause of temper flares? Pride. I forget that all I know came from God. It is not my doing, but His grace. It reminds my of the church of Corinth and how they had become, “puffed up in favor of one against the other.” 1 Corinthians 4:7-“…What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” The spiritual mothers in my past and present that have guided me fruitfully did so on issues of principles (not commandments) with a gentle approach often pulling up along side me to help, not cast judgement–Often offering personal experience as their example on why they hold the principles they do and why they hope I would consider listening….It may also be because finger wagging makes me rebel! And those closest to me know this. 🙂

  17. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why? The reminder of this all of us needing the gospel…For I fear I am losing a friend over my lax and her strictness in several areas…Feel judged by her. Saddened but need to remember Rom. 8:1 and move forward unless you says she is judging me. A wise woman (Jan Silvious) once told me to assume others like me unless they prove other wise. 🙂

    2. Before you do the study, take a stab at this: What do you think was the root that causes our tempers to flare? (You can review your answer at the end of the study.) Pride. I really think pride. But we will see at the end.

    1. Angela, thanks for sharing Jan Silvious’ wisdom…”assume other like me unless they prove other wise.”
      I heard Jan on a recent Midday Connection podcast; she was life coaching a couple of women…very interesting. I wasn’t familiar with Jan prior to Dee mentioning her in “Idol Lies”. I thoroughly enjoyed the podcast and look forward to future ones; she appears to be a very wise, no-fluff gal. After hearing that podcast, I can easily hear Jan telling Dee about the appearance of a pattern (related to Dee’s administrative assistants) as well as your quote.

      1. Nancy you pegged it she is wise no fluff kind of gal! 🙂 She really does not know me much at all but I know God was speaking through her when she said this to me. I ended up at a dinner table with her sitting by her and for no reason she leaned over and shared this with me. Of course it is a struggle I have continually but never shared this…It blessed me so. She has done a couple of things like this over the years to me personally. You have to be in tune with God to do that!

  18. Hey friends, I’m back….been standing in dressy shoes all weekend and my feet are literally about to fall off! HA! Good weekend…but exhausted!

    Looking forward to catching up…I saw that Jay is doing better….I thank the Lord for that!!! Sorry, I lost a few days…but I have been perusing when I have had a few minutes…

    Well, as I read the first part of the study today what jumps out at me is this…

    ”We talked about it later — how the specific issues addressed that day were Romans 13 issues — gray issues — and we shouldn’t have even tried to agree, and simply needed to give one another grace”.

    This coincides so closely with a verse that God has been unfolding in my life for 6 months or more, in applies in many different facets of life. It is 1 Corinthians 13:11, When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. In studying this passage, I began to examine the phrase “reason as a child”….I did some research on this word and came to some very interesting conclusions. Children often reason in black and white. For example, let’s say a group of kids are playing and there is a child among them that has a mental handicap(possibly unseen)…children have a very difficult time “reasoning” in situations like that. Let’s say they are engaged in a game…children expect others to follow the rules (black and white)….they cannot see beyond the surface of things; especially as it relates to the personal limitations of another.

    In contrast, as adults we can grown to understand that there are exceptions to the rules and with our adult minds we can “reason”. First, I want to clarify that I am not talking about “relativism” in any capacity; however, I am saying that as we grow up we can “reason” beyond a set of rules. We have the Holy Spirit to help us with guidance and discernment…that is part of maturity. I think that if we base every facet of life on “rules”…we are still living in a childish state. Grace allows us to be individuals and allows us to love one another as individuals. I think childishness permeates our environments because it is a simplistic way of relating. It makes a world of difference to be able to reason and it is a skill that indicates a lot of love simply because it takes a lot more time and it is more complex! Relating as adults simply requires more of us and honestly, sometimes I think the effort of the task just becomes too overwhelming for most people! Thus, rule based living is much more accommodating to our humanity. With this in mind…I definitely see how “fights” surface…

    1. Glad you had a nice weekend, Rhonda.

      Great thoughts pondered…
      as we grow up we can “reason” beyond a set of rules. We have the Holy Spirit to help us with guidance and discernment…that is part of maturity. I think that if we base every facet of life on “rules”…we are still living in a childish state. Grace allows us to be individuals and allows us to love one another as individuals. I think childishness permeates our environments because it is a simplistic way of relating. It makes a world of difference to be able to reason and it is a skill that indicates a lot of love simply because it takes a lot more time and it is more complex!”

      I agree… “gray” has to do with understanding and compassion for an others heart, internal struggles, past joys and hurts, family dynamics, etc. Indeed there are areas that are black/ white…(e.g., Jesus is the only way), but oh how much of life exists in the gray…

      1. Nanci, yes…I agree there are areas that are black and white…and those are the uncompromising places in life…it is sweet that God takes the time to teach us how to maneuver the channels of grace and truth…there is such a beautiful balance in the two…after all “He is the lion and the lamb”…

    2. Thanks for the insights, Rhonda. Your post has given me a lot to think about.

    3. Good stuff here Rhonda, it IS easier to reduce things to rules, black and white thinking that breeds pride and a confidence in our own understanding.

  19. 2. Before you do the study, take a stab at this: What do you think was the root that causes our tempers to flare? (You can review your answer at the end of the study.) I think probably a “rule base” systematic conformity and the EXPECTATIONS that go with that. The inability to “reason” in those situations is an explosion waiting to happen!

  20. Sisters, I must share about my 17 year old son. I have often despaired about his hardness toward spiritual things and toward me as I represent God to him. Elizabeth and many others who know me have prayed. Thank you so much and please continue.
    Back about 6 months ago I was very focused on the Rembrant of the prodigal sons. When I saw the mother in the father I sensed The Lord telling me to trust Him. To let him be a prodigal if he must for it is certainly better than making him into an older brother, which is what I was trying to do. Praise God he fought it and that was much of the conflict between us.
    It has been a struggle to let go and trust God. The rules still apply and he must go to church but he has a choice about where.
    He continued to go to the church where he had been hurt so by the youth minister. But for the last couple of weeks he has come to the church I now go to but comes late and leaves early. I have not seen him take communion since this youth incident.
    This is what I am so excited about. He was there today and the sermon was awesome on serving The Lord out of love, not duty or legalism. It was for his heart! And I saw him at the communion table.
    The other thing is that our relationship is growing. We are spending time together in the kitchen and he is learning to cook. Yesterday he got up early so we could cook breakfast together and this morning he got up and cooked eggs for himself and his father before church.
    I am encouraged but also reminding myself that the battle is far from over.
    I would like to share the sermon link but all I can come up with is the church website. The name of it is Loving Obedience and it is up now on the site. http://www.biblechurch.org/chbc/sermons

    1. oh Anne!!! I started to ask about Joey when you posted last week–this just brought tears! And so much wisdom for me to glean from you–the painting…oh–so much, thank you Anne. Praising Him with you!! wow.

      1. Elizabeth, this is your fruit! The fruit of your prayers. Thank you so much!

    2. This is wonderful news Anne…as I read this statement…”He continued to go to the church where he had been hurt so by the youth minister”…I also had another thought concerning the “when I was a child…I reasoned as a child…when I became an adult I put away childish things”…in regard to abusive situations. I don’t know his circumstance (and I’m not inferring in any way that it was abusive); however, on the flip side of this verse…I am seeing that maturity is also linked with being able to speak the truth. And acknowledge the pain of such situations. Children who are abused etc…are not able to say, “no”…or “that hurt”…some times I fear that we have an unspoken code that says “be quiet”, “be compliant”, “don’t rock the boat”…and with that a lot of undo pain continues. It is very healing to be able to say…”that hurt” and it is not okay! I love the fact that Steve said…“I have heard you say that when there is a problem in a horizontal relationship, there is almost always a problem in your vertical relationship with God.” He said, “almost always”…not “always”…and I appreciate that! Last week, I think it was Carol who recommended the book “Your God is too small” by J.B. Phillips…a GREAT READ…especially in regard to “false guilt”…the guilt that is implied from within or without for breaking the unspoken “code” (peace at all cost). God says worship me in Spirit and in truth. Being able to say…”that hurt”…is truth and God is okay with that! I say all of that to encourage you because (maybe with safety), he will be able to voice his pain and in that…I promise, he will begin to heal. I am beginning to heal…being able to be open on this blog has taken me to another level…I am growing into adulthood no longer governed by the child (who couldn’t speak). As J.B. Phillips said, “the child is the father of the adult”…until we grow out of our childish positions (subservient in all ways, without question)…it will always govern our behaviors. The need for approval will always skew our view of right and wrong and the ability to express that in honesty and truth…

      1. Rhonda, thank you. That book sounds very good. I will put it on my reading list for I also struggle with boundaries.
        My son was not abused. He won’t talk about it except to say that he will never trust another youth leader but I got the gist of it. For him confession was always safe, at home and in his Christian school. In 9th grade he went to public school and got in with the wrong crowd. He was so trusting and believed what anyone said, never having experience with manipulative people. He is wise to them now and so I see that it was the right move for him because The Lord was with him all the way.
        Anyway he made a bad choice and confessed it to the youth leader who dropped him like a bad penny. Looking back I can see it so clearly but at the time I had no idea. All I could see was my son suddenly acting like an angry thug at church.
        He told me what he had done because this man made him, which I think was right. I was upset but so proud of him for listening to the Holy Spirit and realizing that there would be no relief without confession. It did not seem to me that it was part of the youth minister’s teaching. Maybe he was angry because he had spent so much energy teaching them not to do such things and he did it anyway. But conviction and repentance is where the rubber meets the road, much more important than always following the rules and never breaking one. It was just messed up and I had a very hard time with forgiveness too. Speaking of mama bears!

        1. Wow, those situations can get very complex. Lots of various dynamics…and discerning what is true and what is manipulative is often hard if not impossible (without God that is). Some times the “peace making” is more about saving face…when in reality the truth is never really approached (no real healing can come about until this happens, or at least that is what I am discovering). This is so hard and I can definitely understand the “mama bear” in you! I am sorry that your son was misunderstood and hurt…but am so glad to hear that he is growing in wisdom. These situations are very painful but they do have the capacity to deepen our understanding and see beyond the surface of issues…I pray that for him! You are obviously a very supportive mother…that speaks well of you friend!

        2. Trust is a difficult thing to re-gain…what an in-compassionate, unfortunate response from your son’s youth minister (someone he quite obviously trusted immensely to share his heart/confession)…praise God that Joey is making his way back to the Lord. My heart aches for those hurt by “the church”.

          Rhonda, thanks for mentioning “Your God is Too Small”…I must have missed the reference in Carol’s previous post. It looks good.

      2. This is so true.

        U learn to be passive to survive or to rebell to be able to breathe
        U know u r in pain but in the same token u know u can trust no one
        U r on your own
        I left home when I was 15 years old and I worked and supported myself through high school.
        After my father died and my mother took off with married man (her best friend’s husband)
        I just could not go
        I had to honor my father.
        He had been the only one who had loved me or where I felt safe and loved.

        When I came to Christ
        I was in a violent marriage.
        Crying out to my dad (who had died) to help me but the Heavenly Father answered instead. God is so good.

        I am still learning to be honest with myself and God and to value myself as much as God does.
        He died for me
        What amazing grace that He should die for me.

        thank u

        blessings
        Mellany

    3. I appreciate so much your updating us on how Joey is doing. So great that he took communion today. Yes, the battle is far from over but these all are signs of hope. You’re doing a great job, I think, or rather you are helping God do a great job.

      I really admire you and so many other moms here who are doing such thoughtful, God-focused parenting. It is so good that you have been able (at least in some measure) “To let him be a prodigal if he must for it is certainly better than making him into an older brother, which is what I was trying to do.” This is grace-based parenting. I didn’t really know this concept when I was raising my kids, but God was gracious anyway. I hope giving my grandchildren grace and modelling it and trying to encourage my children to raise their children this way will be fruitful in this next generation.

      1. I listened to the sermon you suggested, Anne. It was helpful. I keep musing about his point about how our love towards God can be “mercenary”, we try to make God “owe” us blessings; interesting descriptive word.

    4. Anne, I see the sermon and will listen. I’m so thankful for Joey’s change, I will pray for him.

    5. Anne,
      This is such good news about Joey, and about how the two of you are becoming closer. I always find how you relate to your boys so encouraging.

    6. Oh Anne!
      I am so glad you shared this blessing with us! So thankful that you see the Spirt at work! Praying right now for a continued work, a work you can see that will bring glory to God!

    7. Love hearing this Anne! So happy he is actually going to church 🙂 that is good.

  21. 3. Paul begins his plea in Philippians 2:1 by listing some of the sure realities of being a child of God, of being cleansed and embraced by the Lord, of having His Spirit in us.  His Spirit encourages, comforts, and can give us a unique fellowship, like we are experiencing here. Slow down and contemplate this verse, and then take just one reality and give an illustration from your life on how it has blessed you recently.

    I’m not sure about what you want here, but I will try. The sisters here have given me such encouragement on several fronts; my daughter, my mom, idols; in general hanging in there when the going gets tough. The verse speaks of us working together to share the love of God together, as a united congregation. We do that here. We try to understand each others’ lives and work as one body to help each other see Gods love for us. Sometimes we cry together, sometimes we cheer each other on, and sometimes we sit “shiva” when we know we need one another, but words don’t seem to do the trick. We remind each other that God is good and has the plan.

  22. 3. Paul begins his plea in Philippians 2:1 by listing some of the sure realities of being a child of God, of being cleansed and embraced by the Lord, of having His Spirit in us. His Spirit encourages, comforts, and can give us a unique fellowship, like we are experiencing here. Slow down and contemplate this verse, and then take just one reality and give an illustration from your life on how it has blessed you recently.

    Common sharing in the Spirit: I am blessed when God prompts me to encourage or comfort and then double blessed by the response-sharing in that encouragement from Him with that person. I am quiet about my struggles in certain areas because I am not sure about timing or what is really going on heart wise and if hormones are making it worse, but it means the world to me when a sister sees something inside me isn’t right and is genuinely concerned for I know that is from Him. I hope this makes sense.

    A recent illustration from my life: There are times I sense Him pressing hard on me to encourage a sister who is struggling. I gave Dee’s God of All Comfort book to a friend at church who lost her husband suddenly last year on Easter. I wanted to give it to her last year but didn’t sense Him leading me that way so I did a few weeks ago. Yesterday morning she put her hand on my shoulder as she was walking out the door and smiled-she said I am reading it and it is so good, thank you so much. She didn’t have time to talk for she was heading out but I could tell by her face she meant it and it was striking a deep place inside her-that comforted and encouraged me. Then that same day I came home to an email from a dear friend who said she saw me in church and I looked like I was strained and she was concerned. I had a lot on my heart going into church-my two oldest not being ready on time-That along with some other deeper concerns about my oldest boy not liking church, and my husband and his struggles, and a dear friend who is struggling. I love the body of Christ-I love the body regardless of what church we go to-He has put that in me and that longing to see them and fellowship with them at church face to face. In this rough season in our life it is difficult to get to church, let alone graft into the body in fellowship. It all was weighing on my heart yesterday so it was sweet to sense His mindfulness and love through my friend.

    1. Love your illustration, Rebecca. So glad that the Lord encouraged you this way through your church fellowship family. I will pray for your family and your current and ongoing struggles.

      1. Diane,

        I so appreciate you, and how thoughtful you are even in the middle of your storm. Thanks so much for praying for us-it means a lot to me. 🙂

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

    The same feeling many of you have already expressed: “Oh no! This is not going to be good.” Situations like that just make me run. But the good out of it was 1. Dee, you were able to listen to Godly wisdom from Steve. This showed humility in your heart. We all need to have these Godly people in our lives to help pull us back from the edge. 2. That when there is a conflict, there is almost always sin on both sides. So true. God has helped me see to not look at the others sin but to look at my own. Not easy but necessary. 3. The need to do whatever we can to restore peace. Sometimes it doesn’t work but both Dee’s & Shell’s humility brought about reconciliation. 4. The courage you had to talk about it later and come to true peace. That is an issue I need to work on. The ability to talk about an issue, not just forgive but to deal with the hard stuff underneath.

    2. What was the root that caused our tempers to flare?

    I’m thinking a combination of fear and pride, which I find for me are two sides of the same coin. When I’m feeling threatened somehow (fear), I will go to stubborn (pride). YUCK! And not productive.

    1. Praying, Dee, for your voice, for God’s moving, and that you will have a great time.

    2. Father, we come before You and ask for Your mercy. Please heal Dee’s laryngitis completely, Lord, by Your power–we pray that You would see fitting to heal her and restore her strength. We also ask that You put a hedge of protection over her Lord-her travels, the technology, all the logistics involved. And most importantly we ask pray that You prepare hearts for transformation, and that Your words would flow from Dee. May she be quickened by Your Spirit Lord. For Your Glory we pray~

    3. Praying for you Dee and for the Holy Spirit to work through you.

    4. Father, this morning I lift Dee up to You. I ask You to be her voice…I ask You to be her strength. I pray that Your Holy Spirit will move with power and that through this particular event many hearts and lives will be radically and forever changed. Give Dee traveling mercies and constant reminders about where her strength is found! We eagerly wait to see what You have in store for this particular event…thank You for hearing our prayers!

    5. Dee,
      I will be praying for you…for healing of your laryngitis…for times of quiet rest when He can speak to you, for your protection and safety, and for all to go smoothly at this conference.

      1. Amen to these good prayers for Dee, may God continue to use her in a mighty way for His glory!

        1. Praying also Dee!

    6. Just seeing this Dee. Hope the laryngitis is healed (I too have a ’bout), and you will make an impact with those who hear you. Lord hear our prayers. Thank you for your grace in difficult situation. Remind us you are near. We pray in Your Holy Name.

  24. I read this this morning from Isaiah 53, it was a helpful reminder to me that not only did He bear our sin on the cross, but our sorrow. When I feel overwhelmed in the hard–it’s helpful for me to remember it will not take me over. He has already taken care of not just my sin, but my sorrow–so that it cannot take me over. I don’t know if that makes sense as I am writing–but it encouraged me and I hope it does some of you in such painful trials.

    “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken,smitten by God, and afflicted.But he was pierced for our transgressions;he was crushed for our iniquities;upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,and with his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4-5

    1. He “carried our sorrows”; such a comforting thought. It is done. I don’t have to carry the sorrow. I need that reminder. Thanks, elizabeth. Thanks for drinking deep from God’s Word and then sharing it in the hope that it might help me. Beautiful!

      Lift up Elizabeth’s head in her time of sorrow, Lord. Thank you for your reminder that you carry our sorrows and we are free.

    2. I thought of this passage as I read your post Elizabeth:
      2 Corinthians 1

      3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

      8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,[a] about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

      I can relate to what you wrote because so quickly I seem to be overwhelmed by sorrow, to the point of despair, all of the color seemingly drained from my life.
      But I do see that it does teach me again and again to rely on God, to set my hope on Him who has delivered me and granted me favor.
      Praying for great hope to well up in you dear Elizabeth & Diane.

      1. I appreciate so much your sympathy, Chris, because you have borne so much sorrow. Thank you for your prayers. Our only hope is in Christ.

    3. Funny, Elizabeth but I’ve been drawn to Isaiah 53 over the past couple of days as well.

    4. Elizabeth…this is very insightful…and comforting! I don’t know that I have every thought about that but He does say that He (and I paraphrase) “sympathizes with us in every way shape and form”. I am so sorry for the pain that you are still enduring…I love that God has been so personal through His word and that you see it so clearly! You have a sweet and obvious connection to Him! Prayers are with you friend!

    5. I just went and read all of Isaiah 53. Thanks Elizabeth for reminding us of this verse! Powerful and poignant for me tonight.

  25. Paul begins his plea in Philippians 2:1 by listing some of the sure realities of being a child of God, of being cleansed and embraced by the Lord, of having His Spirit in us.  His Spirit encourages, comforts, and can give us a unique fellowship, like we are experiencing here. Slow down and contemplate this verse, and then take just one reality and give an illustration from your life on how it has blessed you recently.

    “encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love”

    I felt really heavy this week. I didn’t spend much time in the word or in prayer while I was on vacation. I came home utterly exhausted and feeling so very low. I knew I was caved in on myself. I had a conversation with my friend who has cancer and I felt the hollowness of my words because they were coming from me, and me at a low place. I begged God to be the lifter of my head.

    I know if I want streams of living water to flow to be available to others through me, I need to be drinking long from that Rock myself.

    Many of you probably remember the TK sermon where he talked about the acorn growing into the oak tree from under a heavy slab in a cemetery? How our growth is promised and sure? I am so encouraged to know that He has promised to complete what He is doing in me, he has not left me as a helpless orphan.

    During worship I stayed my mind on the truth in scripture that I am loved, some of you know how hard this has been for me to accept & I know it is hard for some of you too. Well, I want very much to lay down my resistance to believing I am loved. 
We sang the song “Your Great Name” the lyrics “All condemned; feel no shame “ hit the mark for me. I felt the Holy Spirt and wept every bit of my mascara off.

    Here is a link to the song, I love this one:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXH0MjGe10s

    1. Chris you are always in my prayers, especially when you are absent from the blog.

      1. Dawn, thank you so, for this!

  26. 2. Before you do the study, take a stab at this: What do you think was the root that causes our tempers to flare? (You can review your answer at the end of the study.)
    Wanting validation that the decisions that were being made for your families were the “right” ones. That would mean that everyone must agree with you or you are wrong. It could be either a desire for approval or control.
    We all want to think that we are making the best and therefore the right decisions for our children.

  27. Can you disagree about an issue and still have the same mind and same love? If so, can you give an illustration? YES! As long as you have the attitude of Jesus. No pride, just agree to disagree. 3 people from church were having a discussion like this via twitter about something…Differing opinions…Anyway, it was great how they were gracious and listened to each others opinion yet agreed to disagree. I loved that! It was about an article that was written they all read.

    1. I love that too Angela…I think of Isaiah 1:18 – “Come let us reason together…” It is a beautiful thing when that can happen (and such an anomaly, stunning representation of Christian community)…I whole heartedly agree with you!

  28. The Philippian church was the healthiest of the churches, yet they too had discord. What request does Paul make of them in Philippians 2:2?

    “complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”

    What does it mean to be of the same mind and to have the same love? (See Phil. 2:5)

    If we have the mind of Christ, we will approach others in love and humility, without compromising truth at all. As fallen people we need each other to help us see what we may be blind to.

    1. oh Chris, I am at work, only have a second, but OH HOW I HAVE MISSED YOU! (sorry for the all caps on a non-prayer request! but I’m really glad you’re back! 🙂

      1. Thank you Elizabeth, you never fail to be a blessing to me.

  29. 1. What stood out to you, and why?

    Probably the broad spectrum of the “gray area” and how God’s grace embraces each of us within it. It sent me to Romans 14 where Paul discusses exactly this. “Let not him who eats regard with contempt him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats, for God has accepted him.” (vs. 3)

    I have to add here a big congratulations to Dee on her beautiful new grandbabies! The pictures were delightful. It was such a blessing that you could be there to help out!

    2. What do you think was the root that caused out tempers to flare?

    I’m thinking each woman felt she was being judged, and needed to protect herself and her belief, and conversely, felt called upon to help the others “see the light.” 🙂 I’m really interested to see how this will develop through the week. You all have such great insights!

    Dee, I am praying for your trip this week, and the laryngitis to heal. Wish I could be there in NJ to hear you!

  30. 3. Paul begins his plea in Philippians 2:1 by listing some of the sure realities of being a child of God, of being cleansed and embraced by the Lord, of having His Spirit in us. His Spirit encourages, comforts, and can give us a unique fellowship, like we are experiencing here. Slow down and contemplate this verse, and then take just one reality and give an illustration from your life on how it has blessed you recently.

    “Encouragement in Christ” – last week I was walking through some heavy days and one of my friends texted me and said, “I am putting kabobs on the grill tonight, I know it is short notice but would love for you to come over”. I agreed to join her and her daughter for dinner…she is an amazing hostess! It was a blissful evening on her deck…pink skies, fresh cut flowers on the table, delicious (and beautiful food), great conversation, friendly puppy dogs…and as we ended our evening I asked if we could pray…we all joined together and the sweetness was an amazing consolation to my soul. For me, this was the epitome of encouragement in Christ…a spur of the moment blessing from the Father dispersed through a dear friend!

    1. Rhonda–what a beautiful picture of fellowship that is. I’m thankful for this friend in your life. I was also thinking of you earlier today and thanking Him for the bringing you here. You are filled with compassion and truth–such a true blessing.

      1. Thank you sweet friend…you are a wonderful encourager!

  31. Having His Spirit in us: My next-door neighbor, Helen, and I are very close. We do not belong to the same church; in fact, we belong to different denominations, but Christ has always been a common link in our relationship. In February (when it was still icy outside), Helen was recovering from a total-knee replacement, and I brought her mail and newspapers to her each day. She was very appreciative, and now that she is walking around normally again, she has been constantly looking for nice things to do for me. Yesterday evening she invited me to go with her to her church for a handbell concert. They have two large handbell choirs, and I think they must have at least 100 handbells of various sizes and shapes. The music was so very beautiful, and presented in such a spiritual way. If there wasn’t a soloist to sing the lyrics of a song, they would have someone introduce the piece by reading the lyrics, and telling us to think about those words while we listened. I just sat there enthralled, soaring with the Spirit.

    1. Deanna–your story is such a great example of supporting one another. In the denomination I was raised in (not current), there was very little associating with other denominations. I think that showed your friend Christ-like love to join her.

  32. 4. The Philippian church was the healthiest of the churches, yet they too had discord. What request does Paul make of them in Philippians 2:2? What does it mean to be of the same mind and to have the same love? (See Phil. 2:5) Can you disagree about an issue and still have the same mind and same love? If so, can you give an illustration?

    Paul wants them to be like-minded, having the same love, and being one in spirit and purpose.

    Yes, I think you can disagree about an issue and still have the same mind and love. The church I attend is a struggling congregation. Our congregation has declined in size over the last couple of decades to the point that we are now rattling around in a huge building that we no longer fit. We have put the building up for sale!! Of course, it has been a difficult decision to make, but I feel everyone (regardless of whether they want to move or want to stay)more than anything wants what is best for the church. Also everyone wants us to hold on to the ministries that we have been doing and not sacrifice any of them as we transition. Although we have spirited discussions over details in this situation, we usually end up voting unanimously on the important things.

    Read Philippians 2:3 in the KJV, which Keller says is a helpful translation for this verse:
    Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

    5. What do you think “vainglory” means? I think it means “useless pride.” It just takes one person thinking they are better than everyone else to really destroy Christian fellowship. If we esteem others as better than ourselves, then we are in the servant-mode that Jesus exemplified (right where we ought to be!)

  33. What on earth did I do to get that “undefined says” posted next to my picture in my last post?

    1. Deanna–to the rest of us, your post has your name and pic as usual–hope that helps!

      1. Yes, it just says Deanna for Ohio next to your photo. You are not ‘undefined’ to us!

  34. 3. Slow down and contemplate this verse, and then take just one reality and give an illustration from your life on how it has blessed you recently.

    Phil. 2:1 “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy”.

    Sympathy – We have had several people come alongside us as we have gone through our family difficulties – sympathy, offers of help, gifts of specific aid, etc. It has been very encouraging. One woman discovered that Krista did not have a microwave and went online, found one in the local area, called the woman and asked if she would donate the microwave free to a single mom with three children. She said “Sure”. That was impressive. Another grandmother has donated bedding and outdoor toys which her grandchildren have outgrown. Sweet!

    1. love the microwave story–inspires me! any job updates for Joel or Krista? (Ignore me if you get tired of the questions–I understand you must be so weary dear Diane.)

      1. Elizabeth, I so much appreciate that you continue to think of us and ask. Joel has been hired to tend the lawn at our church property and cemetery – huge lawn. It is about one day a week from now until September. Every little bit helps and it is some work and will give him a sense of accomplishment. Wish I had better news to report.

  35. 5. What do you think “vainglory” means?

    The ESV translation uses the word “conceit” instead of vainglory. Strong’s Concordance translates it “1) vain glory, groundless, self-esteem, empty pride; 2) a vain opinion, error.

    1. oh bless you Leslie for taking good care of our Dee! Dee–you know you have our continued prayers–covering you like a big, thick down comforter 😉

    2. Dee, So so glad Leslie is there! 🙂

    3. Dee, glad to hear that you made it safely with some voice…enjoy the tea and the R&R…so glad to know that you are being cared for in such a thoughtful way! Our continued prayers are with you!

    4. When I was going to DivorceCare Leslie was on the videos a lot. I always thought of you when I saw her. 🙂 Glad you have each other.

    5. So sorry you are feeling bad 🙁 thank goodness for wonderful friends though!

  36. 6. Where, according to John 17:22, should we find our glory, our identity, our significance?

    Christians can know unity among themselves if they are living in union with God. That sounds a lot like Steve saying, “I have heard you say that when there is a problem in a horizontal relationship, there is almost always a problem in your vertical relationship with God.” So we need to find our glory, identity, and significance in being united with God. I like the way my Life Application Bible commentary states it, “Each branch living in union with the vine is united with all other branches doing the same.”

    7. What is Paul’s next plea according to Philippians 2:4? (This is a theme in Philippians.) To abandon all selfish interests and look to the interests of others. Putting others first is a positive step toward maintaining unity among the believers.

    How did Christ do this? Christ gave of himself COMPLETELY!!

  37. 3. Slow down and contemplate this verse, and then take just one reality and give an illustration from your life on how it has blessed you recently.

    The most recent to touch my heart is when Anne shared about Joey. I think what I felt is a “participation in the Spirit”, that unique fellowship. I felt such joy, that I shared it with my husband. I don’t know why the Lord placed Joey on my heart so deeply when Anne shared about him over a year ago—I just know that sometimes I have felt a stirring like that—for someone I don’t “technically” know, and yet feel a connection to. I felt that for him and have prayed often for him. It was such a joy to see how the Lord is working in his heart! Another example just came to mind—one of our kids through Compassion loves to write to us, he is 15 and in the AIDS area of Africa, he signs his letters “your child…”. As I just emailed him a letter back, I was filled with such an overwhelming love for him. His heart loves Jesus and I am amazed at this “kinship” I feel with him—I believe that is the beauty of the unifying power of the Spirit. I am also very spoiled to get to work at a church filled with people who not only offer me much grace but daily encouragement and sympathy. I cannot count the number of prayers offered for me in my office. And the fellowship here—is like nothing I have ever experienced. I have felt so heard, encouraged, deeply cared for.
    OK, way too many examples-sorry Dee! But it really is incredible when I begin to look through this lens of the blessings we share of being IN Christ.

    1. I thank The Lord for you Elizabeth.

    2. Your sensitivity is seen too Elizabeth…”I just know that sometimes I have felt a stirring like that”, so wonderful that God gave you that burden…and the joy that comes as we hear that the Spirit is doing that work…He invited you to participate and you jumped in! So neat!

  38. 4. The Philippian church was the healthiest of the churches, yet they too had discord. What request does Paul make of them in Philippians 2:2?

    be of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.

    What does it mean to be of the same mind and to have the same love? (See Phil. 2:5) Having the same attitude as Christ

    Can you disagree about an issue and still have the same mind and same love? If so, can you give an illustration? Yes, one thing that comes to my mind is denominational differences…with reasoning and mutual respect (and the foundational belief of salvation through Jesus Christ) we can have the same mind and the same love…

    Read Philippians 2:3 in the KJV, which Keller says is a helpful translation for this verse:
    Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

    5. What do you think “vainglory” means? Glory for the purpose of building up self…?

  39. 4. The Philippian church was the healthiest of the churches, yet they too had discord. What request does Paul make of them in Philippians 2:2?

    He wants them to live in unity. He wants them to love each other, to have the same spirit and mind.

    What does it mean to be of the same mind and to have the same love? (See Phil. 2:5)

    Well, your focus is on Jesus.

    Can you disagree about an issue and still have the same mind and same love? If so, can you give an illustration?

    This is hard for me. I struggle with some social issues of our society and don’t understand how people can ignore what the Bible says regarding those issues. To me it’s very clear in both the NT and the OT what God expects of us, yet some churches and people seem to create their own doctrines to make the Word fit their worldly needs. So, I can’t think of another example where I would have strong convictions and still have the same mind set as others. Will keep thinking on this.

      1. Hmmm….that does help, a lot! For example, a friend of mine wouldn’t allow her kids to see the Harry Potter movies but I felt like it was like me watching “Bewitched!” when I was a kid. It was fantasy and you knew it never could happen. No big deal to me. Everyone knows it’s not real, right? At least that’s what I told my kids. However, watching movies with drugs, sex, and violence was different for me. Especially those violent video games the boys seem to like. Innever bought those for my kids (although they ended up buying them – not allowed in my house). I remember cracking a cd of a recording “artist” right in front of my son because it ventured into my house! We still all love God and my friend and I still went to church and worshipped Christ. I get it now, thanks Dee!

        1. Great example Laura-dancer

      2. Great clarification points Dee…it does help to specify the black and white issues; such as the ones you have mentioned, I suppose there could be a lot of confusion without the specificity…

  40. 4. The Philippian church was the healthiest of the churches, yet they too had discord. What request does Paul make of them in Philippians 2:2? What does it mean to be of the same mind and to have the same love? (See Phil. 2:5) Can you disagree about an issue and still have the same mind and same love? If so, can you give an illustration?

    We are to have the same mindset in our relationships with one another as Jesus has in His relationship with us.
    Yes, I think we can disagree with an issue and have the same mind and love.
    I think there are areas in scripture we may disagree on like the things Presbyterians, Pentecostals and Baptists don’t see eye to eye on-yet the foundation in Him is solid and the same. We can have the same mind and same love for one another. Those differences shouldn’t divide us.

  41. 4. Can you disagree about an issue and still have the same mind and same love? If so, can you give an illustration?

    I do think it’s important to not “major on the minors” in these types of situations. I think it’s important to keep the essentials in mind. For example, while I do not attend the church where I work—we do share the same essential doctrines and I feel very united with them. There are the “non-essentials” where we may differ, things like worship and baptism, other issues too—but they are not worth dissention.

    5. What do you think “vainglory” means?
    It was interesting to look up an original definition of vanity: “Emptiness; want of substance to satisfy desire; fruitless desire or endeavor.” Reminds me of the 80’s song ‘you’re so vain…I bet you think this song is about you…’ I remember my teacher singing that to help us learn the meaning! I think “vainglory” is for me to be consumed with my own performance, my own advancement, rooted in pride.But what stands out is that it doesn’t work, nothing good comes of it–it is fruitless, it’s empty–it’s running in quicksand.

    1. Elizabeth…Your reference to the song is great! HA! Great thoughts about how vanity and “emptiness” coincide, a never ending search for more….

      1. Rhonda–dates me a bit, doesn’t it? I had that stuck in my head for a while this morning 😉

        1. It got stuck in my head after your post! HA!

        2. Elizabeth, I hate to date you more….it was released in 1972!!! I remember it on the radio when I was a wee lass 🙂 great song though.

  42. Can you disagree about an issue and still have the same mind and same love? If so, can you give an illustration?

    I am praying so, I have a difference with a sister in Christ, I am praying that we can talk things out in a way that glorifies God. 
I have an unhealthy avoidance of any sort of conflict, which I am sure comes from an underlying approval idol and a fear of man.

    I am weak in this area, but I am (and I hope she is) relying on the strength and power promised to me in Christ. I want to approach our differences with humility and not pride.

    What do you think “vainglory” means?

    There were more synonyms listed for ‘vainglorious’:
    Synonyms
    assured, biggety (or biggity) [Southern & Midland], bigheaded, complacent, consequential, egotistic (or egotistical), important, overweening, pompous, prideful, proud, self-conceited, self-important, self-opinionated, self-satisfied, smug, stuck-up, swellheaded, vain, conceited

    I suppose in the context of our discussion it would appear as something that draws attention to me & my superior understanding. 

I thought of this passage:

    1 Corinthians 2

    “2 And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”

  43. Where, according to John 17:22, should we find our glory, our identity, our significance?

    It is so remarkable so AMAZING that Christ gives US…share with us HIS glory!

    “To please God… to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness… to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son- it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.”
    ― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory


    We should find our identity, significance and glory in Christ!
    Not only our identity, glory & significance, but that of our fellow believers too. This at the same time gives us weight, but keeps us from shrinking the importance of the person we find ourselves at odds with, they too are delighted in by the Father.

    

“Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.”
    ― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

    1. Chris–your joy filled me “It is so remarkable so AMAZING that Christ gives US…share with us HIS glory!”

    2. I like this…”but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son”…I watch parents with their little ones…video cameras in hand…looking to catch every notable moment from birth to graduation days (and beyond)…I like to think of God watching us, seeing us move in our toddler stages…cheering…saying, “look at my baby go”…all the way through each and every stage of life…always present with a gleeful expression, filled with pride and great hopes! This thought keeps me centered on the fact that He is a good God and He is for us!

    3. Great thought Chris. “Not only our identity, glory & significance, but that of our fellow believers too. This at the same time gives us weight, but keeps us from shrinking the importance of the person we find ourselves at odds with, they too are delighted in by the Father.” Amen!

  44. 5. What do you think “vainglory” means?

    Vanity? Pride?

  45. Dee–update on how you are feeling? Looks like a full day tomorrow–praying!

  46. 6. Where, according to John 17:22, should we find our glory, our identity, our significance?

    From God, through Jesus.

    7. What is Paul’s next plea according to Philippians 2:4? (This is a theme in Philippians.) How did Christ do this?

    Toook to help others, not bs focused on ourselves. Christ gave Himself so we could know God.

  47. 6. Where, according to John 17:22, should we find our glory, our identity, our significance?

    As I read this question—my first thought is that the blessing is we don’t have to “find” our identity, it has been “given” to us. But I so often reject it and try to put on something else. Like taking off the robe He has placed on me, and picking up—I think Susan once said something like raggedy old clothes instead. The way I can tell I still do it, is that when something threatens my image as a wife, friend, employee, mom—if something threaten to make me look incompetent in those areas, I still get frustrated, defensive at times. Like I am furiously trying to keep these tattered clothes on and they were never made to cover me. If I really rest only in His righteousness, then when something threatens my abilities, my roles, I can respond with humility. I can own my failures because I am not insecure. I am confident that at my core, I am beautiful. Wow-this is random, but I just had this thought. When I was little my grandmother gave us these old-fashioned paper dolls. They had all these fancy clothes you could punch out and put on them—but they never stayed very well. But what I remembered is that the dolls themselves already had on these beautiful “under garments’. They were 1800’s ish so they were just these pretty tops and pants—but I remember liking them that way better than trying to fold the tabs and make them wear the fancy clothes. OK, rabbit trail—but I am like that. When I try to cover myself with my own achievements, I cannot do it. But my core identity, what He has given me already—is perfect.

    I love Chris’ reaction—it is so amazing that He bestows on us the glory that is HIS. If I really got that, surely I would never try to cover it up.

    1. Great thoughts Elizabeth…I like the visuals! For me personally…I hate to be the center of attention, I know that may sound strange considering I have been a musician, etc…but for the most part I am an introvert. In a big group of people, I feel most comfortable migrating to a corner and having a one on one discussion with someone. So, the idea of Him putting His robe of righteousness upon me (as my covering) for the purpose of displaying His glory…is beautiful to me (in one regard) and daunting in another because I know He means for us to wear that robe in confidence to display His glory and honestly that goes against my natural bent! Sometimes it is very hard to know that walking in HIS glory is okay…I think we often go so far to the opposite side (fearing it will be perceived wrongly as pride or self exultation, etc…) our fears get so big in that regard that we never shine at all (actually we get increasingly dull)…I’m working through this in my life! God talks a lot about sweet smelling fragrances and lights on a hill and candles on candlesticks…this kind of talk makes me think that He means for us to shine! A great book on this topic is by Janet Davis, “My own Worst Enemy”…and I have also found chapter 5 in the book “Waking the Dead” by John Eldredge to be extremely helpful…

      1. This is so good, Rhonda. “The idea of Him putting His robe of righteousness upon me (as my covering) for the purpose of displaying His glory…is beautiful to me (in one regard) and daunting in another because I know He means for us to wear that robe in confidence to display His glory and honestly that goes against my natural bent! Sometimes it is very hard to know that walking in HIS glory is okay.”

        I can identify with this as a fellow introvert who is a pastor’s wife with the accompanying leadership expectations, etc. Plus I really do like leading Bible study and being involved in music ministry, and that means “leading” in front of people and knowing that they are hanging on my words and life example. As an introvert, that is intimidating, so it is a great comfort that I can be covered by His robe of righteousness and I can pray for others to see Him, not me.

      2. Those books sound interesting, Rhonda. Wish I had time to read them. I already have about a dozen books on the go. LOL! So many books, so little time!

      3. Rhonda–as a fellow introvert–I am right there with you! “He means for us to wear that robe in confidence to display His glory and honestly that goes against my natural bent!” so good to remember that

      4. All of your thoughts are so good. It is strange because He knows us so well that He designs our growth path specifically. For some who are naturally extroverts…their path may be the step back (for growth)…while some who are a naturally introverts…He may want to step forward (for growth). He is very personal to us in our design and in our development (I love that because He is a Father)…so interesting that we all can relate to being introverts, I love that I get to see your inner thoughts on this blog…in real life that barrier may have made it hard! I think some times when we see people functioning in high capacity in life (maintaining jobs, ministry, families, etc…) it is easy to forget that they may be reaching deep for resources that are not readily available (based on life conditionings, etc…)! As an introvert…I have to reach deep into the well of faith to move forward, it is a painful process for me. I appreciate your vulnerability Diane (especially as a pastors wife)…it is nice to know that you feel the same pain.

        1. This feels a bit like a 12 step meeting, ‘Hello my name is Chris and I am an introvert’

          I totally relate to this from you Rhonda:
          “I think we often go so far to the opposite side (fearing it will be perceived wrongly as pride or self exultation, etc…) our fears get so big in that regard that we never shine at all (actually we get increasingly dull)”

          My self focused introversion taken to the extreme becomes apathy. My desire to fade into the background leads to a lack of action, a burying of the gifts I have been given in the ground where they benefit no one.

        2. LOL, CHRIS. Riot! “This feels a bit like a 12 step meeting, ‘Hello my name is Chris and I am an introvert'”

          Seriously, I bet a huge percentage of us are introverts on this blog.

        3. Diane, you are right-most of us here might be-me too..I have had to struggle to ‘come out of the closet’. 🙂 I was a shy girl, grew up shy-am a melancholy by nature first and possibly a fleg or sanguine second-If I took a compatibility test with myself I would fail. 😉 If I ever talk too much, it gets on my nerves-and when I over think or get too serious about something I get frustrated-can’t I just lighten up a bit? 🙂

        4. You are too funny, Rebecca. This is ME TOO! Thanks so the good laugh at myself! Hilarious!

          “If I took a compatibility test with myself I would fail. 😉 If I ever talk too much, it gets on my nerves-and when I over think or get too serious about something I get frustrated-can’t I just lighten up a bit? :)”

        5. Oh the complexities of the melancholy! “If I took a compatibility test with myself I would fail”…I do understand! HA!

        6. Chris, I have been eagerly awaiting the time when I could respond to this post! I laughed hysterically! 🙂 A 12 step meeting…HA!

        7. 🙂 I am definitely an introvert as well.

        8. Chris, this really stood out to me “My self focused introversion taken to the extreme becomes apathy. My desire to fade into the background leads to a lack of action, a burying of the gifts I have been given in the ground where they benefit no one.”

          That is exactly what I’m working on in my counseling sessions. I completely recognize my desire to fade so far into the background that I disappear, but know that this is not God honoring. I have to go against every fiber of my being and step out in faith. So far I’ve failed miserable, but I haven’t given up.

    2. Love your thoughts here, Elizabeth. “we don’t have to “find” our identity, it has been “given” to us.” Quite profound. People often spend huge amounts of time, energy and resources trying to find their identity, yet Jesus is the one who gives us His identity as ours. Amazing!

      Loved your paper doll “rabbit trail”. I remember those fondly, yet they weren’t very durable were they!

    3. Elizabeth, I loved your paper doll images too.

      I was thinking about Christ giving us His glory in light of the older brother in the prodigal story last night. The contrast of the greed, selfishness and lack of concern of the human elder brother compared with Christ, emptying himself, serving, teaching, healing, being patient, then beaten, mocked by sinful people and ultimately dying alone and abandoned, so that he could share his inheritance with US.
      I feel undone by it all this morning.

      1. Chris, your answers have so much godly depth. I appreciate them so much. Your thoughts bring tears.

      2. oh Chris, your thoughts help me so much–you have greater depth than a “daily devotional”! You always take things to the next level–this is rich for me to ponder this morning.

        1. Diane and Elizabeth-I agree with both of you..Chris’ thoughts are of such depth. I didn’t think of the Older brother and the Father’s response in application to this-so good-the Father did empty Himself..wow..

  48. Hi ladies. I have nothing to really offer right now…just know I’m here and reading. I’m so encouraged by all of you. <3

    1. Oh but you do…your simple presence is valuable! You haven’t been forgotten…I know your situational heaviness is weighty right now…our prayers are still with you!

      1. Thank you Rhonda, you are very sweet. 🙂