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FOCUS AHEAD! FORGET WHAT’S BEHIND! (Two Week Study)

I’ve been reading Silver Linings Playbook as my daughter Annie recommended it, saying it was “so much better than the movie.” I liked the movie, but like the book better. The protagonist, Pat, has a bipolar disorder and, as is so often sadly true, refuses his meds. Though Pat is not well, I see myself in him when I get out of touch with reality, pursuing my idol with passion. Pat’s passion, which all the somewhat healthier people in his life know is unrealistic, is getting his ex-wife Nikki back. (He doesn’t realize or cannot accept that she divorced him long ago and has remarried.)

silverliningsBecause Nikki likes fit men, Pat works out most of the day, running thirty miles with a trash bag on (so he’ll sweat more), working endlessly in his weight room, and drinking four gallons of water every day. He is also reading, because Nikki likes men who read, memorizing lines from the books to impress her when “apart” time is over. He thinks “apart” time has been a few months, but it has been over five years, most of which were spent in a mental institution. He doesn’t like people who tell him to forget about Nikki because they don’t believe in “silver lining” endings. He is focused, with a searing focus, on his idol. There are times when his focus shows beauty too, even though he is confused. He is steadfast about being faithful to Nikki, about being “kind instead of right,” about being so good that God will bring Nikki back. He is focused, forgetting what is behind, forging forward to his misguided goal.

 His family, in an attempt to distract him from this unrealistic goal, introduces him to Tiffany, who also has a  mental disorder and also refuses meds. (I’ll step on my soapbox for just a moment to address Christians who discourage their brothers and sisters who have illnesses, physical or mental, from taking meds. Jesus said “the sick need a physician,” and there are advances in medicine that truly counteract or mitigate the effects of the fall, whether it is a physical or a mental illness. I thank God for antibiotics, insulin, and anti-depressants! Okay — I’m stepping off my soapbox.)

Tiffany chases Pat during his long, long runs, as confused as he is.

 *
2SilverLinings-3
Tiffany and Pat

 

I saw myself in Pat. I lose touch with reality when I pursue an idol with a passion, thinking  somehow there will be a silver lining ending this time. Instead, my idol cuts me to pieces, and, as Jonah says, causes me to forfeit the grace that could be mine.

But there is a goal worth pursuing, the only one that is in touch with reality. The world thinks it is crazy, for it is an unseen reality. So the world “runs after earthly things, making their god their belly, being enemies of the cross of Christ,” and their end, Philippians tells us, is destruction.

But our citizenship is in heaven, so may we make this our searing focus: the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.Those who do stand out. Paul was able to say, “Imitate me.” There are those who have gone before who have made the Lord their searing focus.

E501234DConsider Eric Liddell, He became famous through Chariots of Fire, but went on N.T. Wrightto be a missionary in China, who even when captured in a prisoner of war camp, helped the children through it by organizing sports for them, and helped his fellow inmates by teaching them Scripture and the great hymns like Be Still My Soul. He was focused, with a searing focus, toward the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus. The world didn’t understand him, yet, in the end, admired him. N. T. Wright has a wonderful series of inexpensive commentaries on the whole New Testament that I recommend highly. In “Philippians for Everyman,” he illustrates the verse,”forgetting that which is behind,” and compares it to a famous incident in Liddell’s life when he fell during the race, and everyone thought he would be out. But he picked himself up, and with a searing focus, caught and passed the other runners. Watch the re-enactment of this in this You-tube clip from Chariots of Fire. We’ll discuss it this week.

Here is the clip:

This is a two week study because there is a lot of homework and the 2nd week includes the 4th of July weekend, when many of you will be traveling. So during Week 1 we’ll do the study, and during Week 2 you’ll listen to the corresponding Keller sermon — or pace yourself however it works best for you.

Week 1: Bible Study on Philippians 3:12-21

Sunday/Monday Icebreakers

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

2. Think about an idol you have chased. How has it caused your mind to be darkened, to lose touch with reality? How did you expect a “silver lining” end? What did you get instead?

Monday-Friday Bible Study (Philippians 3:12-21)

Read the whole passage: Philippians 3:12-21

The Window - Peter Pan - barriepeterpan - blogspot - Peter Crawford

THE NURSERY DOOR OPENS…

In the Keller sermon this week he says every great story, such as Peter Pan, shows something from the outside coming to change our lives. The nursery door opens…

Sara Groves puts it like this, “I don’t claim to have found the truth, but I know it has found me.”

The NIV translates verse 12 “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

3. What are some ways that you see that God wooed you, that the truth found you, rather than you first finding God, you initiating your rescue? What are some ways that you see that Christ initially took hold of you, rather than you taking hold of Him? (Think back and share — it will encourage us all.)

4. Read Philippians 3:13-16

    A. We are rescued from the penalty of sin the moment we respond to Christ’s wooing. But being rescued from the power of sin is a process. How does Paul articulate this in the opening of Philippians 3:13?

    B.  What helps you to persevere in the process? Share whatever you like, but also, what you see in this passage that could help you persevere.

    C. Paul says, “Forgetting what lies bhind and straining forward to what lies ahead…” What must he forget, do you think? What must you forget?

    D. Watch again the You-tube clip of Eric Liddell and comment on what you see.

N. T. Wright says: What would most of us have done has we fallen, like Eric? “I suspect we would have accepted from the moment we fell that we were out of the race, with no hope left.”  Do you realize, that there despite the sins, poor judgments, or tragedies in your past, that God can still enable you to “win the race of the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus?”

     E. Contemplate what this means for you right now and share.

     F. What is the upward call? (Colossians 3:1-4 is a parallel passage that may help.) It is not just “getting to heaven,” for we are already citizens of heaven. See if you can discern what this means.

5. Read Philippians 3:17-21

     A. What does Paul tell us to do in verse 17? What comments do you have on this?

     B. What do you learn about those who have their minds set on earthly things according to verses 18-19? How is this a warning to you?

      In verse 20, we are told our citizenship is in heaven, rather than will be in heaven. N. T. Wright says “We naturally suppose Paul means “and so we’re waiting until we can go and live in heaven where we belong.” If someone in Philippis said, “We are citizens of Rome,” they certainly wouldn’t mean “so we’re looking forward to going to live there.” …The church is at present a colony of heaven, with the responsibility (as we say in the Lord’s prayer) for bringing the life and rule of heaven to bear on earth.

      C. With Wright’s comment in mind, how are you fulfilling the prayer in the Lord’s prayer, “thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven?”

      D. What things will happen when our Savior returns to the heaven and earth that will one day be made one?

Saturday

6. What is your take-a-way from this week and why?

Week 2: Keller sermon

Sunday/Monday Icebreakers

7. How have you spied God in your life in that last week? (In The God Hunt, Karen and David Mains suggest considering:

     1) An answer to prayer

     2) Unusual timing or circumstances

     3) Unexpected grace

     4) God’s help to do His work in the world

8.  What are your plans for the 4th of July weekend? Is there any way you could apply what you learned last week to this holiday weekend?

Monday-Friday  Sermon (LINK)

9.  Listen to the Keller sermon and share your notes

Saturday

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

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496 comments

  1. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why? I just started reading Silver Linings Playbook. Having never seen the movie or even heard of it before a couple of weeks ago, I was afraid of spoiling it with too many details from above so I quit reading after a couple of sentences.

    2. Think about an idol you have chased. How has it caused your mind to be darkened, to lose touch with reality? How did you expect a “silver lining” end? What did you get instead?

    Approval and acceptance through friendship. I became so focused on the positive feeling and feedback from my friend that I became more worried about disappointing her than anyone, for fear of losing that friendship.
    I lost touch with reality when I started thinking that we could and would maintain that level of closeness and that I was helping her as much as she was helping me.
    What I got was rejection. I was told that I was abusing her friendship and that she no longer could or would have conversations about my depression or anxiety and if started to feel either of those in her presence to “turn around and walk the other way” because she didn’t want to hear about it anymore.

    1. Dawn-I hate that a friend treated you this way…you are loved and prayed 4 here

      1. Amen to what Elizabeth said, Dawn.

      1. Thank you all. Yes, I work with her so I see her everyday. It’s still taking a while to find a new “normal” between us. And while I don’t like all that was said or the way it was said, I do realize that she has the right to set her boundaries.
        Your prayers are much needed still. I don’t know from one day to the next whether it is going to be a good day or a bad day and it is causing me a lot of anxiety. I know that if a person has the power to affect whether you’re in a good mood or a bad mood, that person has too much power. I’m noticing a lot less concern about whether she seems annoyed with me or not and more turning to the Lord for wisdom and comfort. I know it sound sophomoric. I wish this idol could be replaced quickly!!

        1. Love this Dawn:

          “I’m noticing a lot less concern about whether she seems annoyed with me or not and more turning to the Lord for wisdom and comfort.”

          Been in a similar friend situation where I was way too dependent. Had to let go and found our relationship got much better. It took a very long time however. Hang in there!

        2. Thanks, Laura-dancer 🙂

        3. Dawn I am so sorry. I remember you telling about this friend before. Sounds like she has “too much power”. I’m praying for you and a new “normal” between you both.

        4. I agree with Dee (below)…”You are right to know that the way she spoke was not loving, yet you also respect her boundaries.”
          Your friend’s manner was unfortunate and certainly not loving.

          “I’m noticing a lot less concern about whether she seems annoyed with me or not and more turning to the Lord for wisdom and comfort.”
          …you are heading on the right track, Dawn.

          I will continue to pray for you, Dawn, and specifically for the anxiety.

          How is your son’s girlfriend’s pregnancy going?…when do they anticipate the babies being born?

        5. Everything is progressing well. I’m going with her to her ultrasound on Thursday. We’ll hopefully find out the sexes.

        6. Glad that all is well. Enjoy the ultrasound.

  2. Well I am at the beach for the week and now in the car headed to the church here…just grabbed the iPad to see this weeks great post! Will be sporadic this week and I don’t type well on this..but I’ll be reading & praying!

    1. Have a refreshing week, Elizabeth!

    2. Yes, have a wonderful week Elizabeth! 🙂

    3. A week away from home, how refreshing. Enjoy!!

    4. Enjoy the break Elizabeth!

    5. Have a great time, Elizabeth…a much deserved “beach break” for you all…enjoy!

      1. Yes, have a very relaxing, enjoyable time away Elizabeth!

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

    I liked your soapbox, Dee 🙂 . I know someone (a believer) who doesn’t seem to like meds. I used this person’s belief as a rationalization to tinker with my meds. So, during the past year I decreased mine — and then decreased again (partly because I was tired of side effects — and treating side effects with more meds). The second decrease was not smart (I’ve been on this or similar stuff for my whole adult life & I wouldn’t even have considered trying to be my own dr in the past)

    2. Think about an idol you have chased. How has it caused your mind to be darkened, to lose touch with reality? How did you expect a “silver lining” end? What did you get instead?

    Definitely a control idol. During the last few days (on the road when I took time to think), I noticed that I was “stewing” about getting control of a situation (and on paper, I “am supposed to have control” of this particular work situation. i.e., “I’m the boss.”). I was becoming impatient and angry and thinking about saying some things that will not help the situation. I was expecting that “putting someone in her place” would be a silver lining end, even though I KNOW this isn’t true.

    I’m in the middle of this situation now — hard to say what I will get; I don’t like any of the potential outcomes that I can think of. But the worst outcome for me might be to continue to chase my control idol in that the situation would take up all of my brain space (as well as hurt a good work relationship). What is right and wrong seem so obvious to me, and I’d like to take this problem up through the chain of command to the top in order to get clear resolution. It seems that something that should be such a small part of my life is draining me — a sign for me to run into the arms of the One who knows me best and loves me most.

    1. Grrr… and of course, I want to control the control idol, too 🙁

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

    I may be going too far-but the contrast between Pat and Eric really struck me! In Silver linings Pat was an example of running the race for the downward call of an idol-he was held prisoner being destroyed by his earthly circumstances. Eric Liddell was an example of running the race for the upward call in Christ Jesus-He was free from being eaten alive by his earthly circumstances because he hid in Christ, not in this earth.

    2. Think about an idol you have chased. How has it caused your mind to be darkened, to lose touch with reality? How did you expect a “silver lining” end? What did you get instead?

    I haven’t thought about this before but when I was in that wilderness time with my comfort idol I was chasing after security and my husband was the object of my security. My silver lining was: At some point my husband will quit relying on me to rescue him and us- He will rescue us. My silver lining of him leading us spiritually as well as in other areas didn’t turn out and there was no rescue. My reality wasn’t reality-my husband is a ragamuffin who is frail and prone to error like me. He is not God-but I made him my savior and instead of him coming through and rescuing me I fell deep into that hole of over eating and depression.

  5. Just wanted to poke my head in to say hi and thank you for all the prayers. Joe is doing good all things considered. God has given me a huge gift in being given an oOpportunity to care for my son and be there for him. Our relationship is so different now. I am Being attacked by my former spouse and his gf. But God is in control and He will be glorified!

    1. I will keep praying for you, your son, and your relationship with your ex, Becca

    2. Becca it is so good to hear from you! Chris has been keeping us updated. I agree it is so good that you are there for Joe. So glad your relationship is deepening. We will keep praying, especially about attacks.

    3. So glad to hear this news 🙂

    4. Thanks for “checking in” Becca…I will continue prayers for Joe’s healing and rehabilitation.

      “God is in control and He will be glorified!”…yeah, Becca!…put up that “shield” and let the fiery darts be deflected.

    5. Thanks for checking in Becca…I’m praying for you and Joe! Ignore the ex and give God all the glory!

    6. Glad to hear your son is recovering, Becca. It’s a shame your ex is attacking you, but God will have His way!

  6. 1. This stands out to me because of the irony. The only thing worth pursuing is the thing the world scorns.
    “But there is a goal worth pursuing, the only one that is in touch with reality. The world thinks it is crazy, for it is an unseen reality. So the world “runs after earthly things, making their god their belly, being enemies of the cross of Christ,” and their end, Philippians tells us, is destruction.”
    This is so scary. Especially because I realize that if not for the grace of God, I would be on that road to destruction.

  7. 2. Think about an idol you have chased. How has it caused your mind to be darkened, to lose touch with reality? How did you expect a “silver lining” end? What did you get instead?

    The thing I think of here is security. From the beginning of my adult life I had fears of being destitute. Even now I have my moments but I am learning how to get back to reality.

    Some years ago we were able to sell some property for a good price. I was so happy and relieved, thinking our troubles were over. Looking back I can see that the reality was just the opposite. Troubles began, especially between my husband and I. The money went much quicker than I thought, but the worse part was that I began to be fearful about what would happen when the money ran out. Fears would haunt me in my half sleep and wake me up at night. I did not remember how The Lord always had and always would take care of us. Now I see that my mind was darkened.
    Now I take it to prayer, for every little thing and He has never failed to provide.

    1. Don’t you just love this feeling, Anne? He is always there.

      “Now I take it to prayer, for every little thing and He has never failed to provide.”

      1. Absolutely Laura-dancer! Such peace.

    2. Anne, this is a great testimony-good example of the fake silver linings our idols tempt us with. This is also very relatable! I have had a similar experience of fear.

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

    Since I’m not a movie watcher (no time and am disgusted with actors), I have no idea what movies are playing at any given time. When Dee recommends a movie though, I sit up and listen. I rented “Chariots of Fire” a few years back when she talked about it since I had never seen it as a child (when it came out – can you believe that?!). It was awesome, of course….Dee recommended it! So tonight for “family movie night,” we watched “Silver Lining Playbook.” It was a good movie; my 16 year old informed me he had already seen it (!). I guess I didn’t realize it was “R” rated – oops! I had trouble listening to all the language, and the fighting stressed me out, but in the end I was glad I watched it. The last scene was so touching. Wow, what a passion for an idol. I spent the whole movie worried Pat would fall back instead of snapping out of it! He finally pulled through and whew! What a relief!

    2. Think about an idol you have chased. How has it caused your mind to be darkened, to lose touch with reality? How did you expect a “silver lining” end? What did you get instead?

    Well, my worst idol has been my children. I have let myself nearly lose a job, have a breakdown, lose confidence in myself, and get divorced. All because I idolized my kids over God. I thought I was doing the right thing by placing them in the highest position of my life, thinking the reward would be the best kids of anyone, making me the best mother of all. Unfortunately, that is painfully untrue. It was a lie. I have gotten disappoinments, despair, and darkness. I will say there was a silver lining I received that was unexpected through it all. Although I have always been a Christian, for the first time in my life, I actually met God. My children led me to my mighty Savior; the only one who makes me fulfilled.

      1. It’s ok 🙂 I forget to look since my kids are so old now!

      2. Dee,
        I think you’re a great “movie critic”! We’ve watched several of your recommended movies…my daughter and I love Miss Potter, for example…I had never heard of it and would’ve missed that gem if not for you!

    1. Laura your testomony of putting your kids first is one I think all mother’s struggle with. Thank you for sharing that…I can so relate!

  9. 3. Somewhere between the age of 8 and 10 The Lord drew me to Himself. I suffered trauma in that time and I am sure that He used that bad thing to draw me to himself.
    We had a very close knit neighborhood and one of these families took me to church. I met The Lord there as only a child can, especially one in pain. The picture from Peter Pan is appropriate for me for it was my child like thinking that made it so easy for me to follow Him.
    Though I was not protected at that time The Lord came to me in my pain and I followed Him. The road has been long and impossible, yet He has held me and brought me to this day. I trust that in the same way my children will look back one day and see that He was always there.

    1. Anne, your testomony touched me. I know your boys will see that God has always been there, just like he was with you.

    2. Praying for your boys Anne, how are things going for Joey now?

  10. VERY BIG DAY TODAY. New paperless computer system for very large hospital. I think I am ready but there are so many unknowns. I have never seen such a large group of people so shook. Please pray for us.

    1. I will pray for success as well as patience…:) Best wishes, Anne.

    2. Thank you. So far is going well

      1. Praying Anne~

  11. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    I’ve always loved the movie, “Chariots of Fire”. Seeing the clip reminds me of my admiration for Eric Liddell and the incredible way he was able to be in the world but not of the world. He was able to allow God to use his natural ability to run fast to make a bold statement for God. But Eric did also have to put in the hard work of training as well.

    1. Jill, I liked that you brought out that Eric also had to put in the hard work of training as well. That is key I think.

      1. Yes…Eric could have rested on his natural ability rather than fine tuning it with “the hard work of training” which brought him to where the Lord wanted. Good point, Jill and Rebecca.

  12. After reading Jill’s comment I wanted to know more about Liddell and found this: http://www.21st-century-christianity.com/Eric-Liddell.html There is a video on it that has an interview with his daughter at the end. Very insightful!

    She said He got really sick with a brain tumor while in prison camp-even struggled in his faith thinking he was having a nervous breakdown-but he was struggling that his faith should be stronger. With no medicine he died. I read that he asked for this before he died, “be still my soul”..Here are the lyrics:

    1. Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side;
    With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.
    Leave to thy God to order and provide;
    In ev’ry change he faithful will remain.
    Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
    Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

    2. Be still, my soul: Thy God doth undertake
    To guide the future as he has the past.
    Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
    All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
    Be still, my soul: The waves and winds still know
    His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.

    3. Be still, my soul: The hour is hast’ning on
    When we shall be forever with the Lord,
    When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
    Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
    Be still, my soul: When change and tears are past,
    All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

    1. Thank you for sharing this Rebecca.

      He is an inspiration.
      “We Are All Missionaries.
      Wherever We Go,
      We Either Bring People Nearer to Christ,
      Or We Repel Them From Christ.”

    2. Thank you Rebecca for posting this hymn. It is one of my favorites.

    3. Thank you Rebecca for finding this and sharing…as I weep from hearing this song again…”Be still my soul.” It touches my soul~

    4. This hymn (Be Still My Soul) is incredible. Such powerful words. Thanks, Rebecca.

  13. Here is the video with Liddell’s daughter’s interview: http://youtu.be/iLF333kb9gk

  14. 1 What stood out to you from the above and why?
    I began to think about what the call to make the Lord my searing focus would look like. How do I walk that out in day to day living.
    
I had a rotten weekend at work, I went to the early service, I had to go to work afterward, I felt really emotional coming in the door, the whole service focused on the Gospel which I dearly needed to hear, I was trying to preach it to myself, it helped to hear it from someone else.


    2 Think about an idol you have chased. How has it caused your mind to be darkened, to lose touch with reality?

    When I seek am afraid of failing or feeling overwhelmed I retreat to what I think will be comfortable, isolation. I have often listened to the enemy pretty intently when he has had me alone.

    How did you expect a “silver lining” end? What did you get instead?
    I expect to be at peace, but find instead torment, feelings of inadequacy and boredom, selfish and caved in on myself, there is no peace to be found in that.
    Sometimes I can’t wait for this life to end, but I suspect there is idolatry even in that thought.

  15. I wonder-i trembled the other day. This is really silly but I went with my husband to go over the last leg of his paper route with him. He was driving-I can’t look down or I will get car sick and that is getting worse the older I get. I had to look down to write notes on the paper. I started getting nauseous, and wasn’t very patient with my husband when I asked him to stop each time we drove past a house so I could write down markers. I had a thought of Steve Brestin who ran the race well-How he treated Ann when she called and he was nauseous and very sick from chemo. His focus was on her-his sickness was serious, like Liddell’s. My issue was like a spec of sugar compared to Steve’s mountain. Yet my focus was on myself and I didn’t want to do this paper route. I was grouchy and impatient with my husband. My heart was exposed.

    I prayed-Oh Lord if the ground falls beneath me will I glorify you? My faith is so small! If everything was stripped from me what beauty would you see? I was shaken that something this small could turn me into a major grump-I thought of Liddell being in the prison camp and being willing to stay in those conditions with the others there-letting a pregnant woman get released in his place.

    I want to hide in Him more daily-to live is Christ to die is gain. I think He wants me to live in the future now. One change I am noticing is that I feel restless more and more like I don’t fit in here even more than before-I am sensing that alien feeling.

    1. I am feeling the same sorts of things Rebecca, I want to be the sort of person who lays down my life for my friends, but ‘self’ looms so much larger than I want it to.
      Oh for grace to trust Him more:
      Luke 12:32″Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

      1. Chris, me too-I so identify. Yet I hold onto the hope that He will loom larger than us as we grow and He is in you!

        YES, Oh for Grace!

        This thought just hit me and I wanted to pass it by you.

        This whole ‘less of me more of him’ is a cliche I have used often in the past but I am not sure I really understood it back then as I sat in comfort, and wonder if I even do now! That to live is Christ isn’t comfortable living. Real fruit comes as a result of hiding in Him-Eric Liddell wouldn’t have given up everything to be a missionary in China had he not seen everything as rubbish compared to the surpassing value of Jesus Christ. He wouldn’t have endured his time in prison selflessly giving up his release to someone else. If I am honest with myself-at this point I would fail if I were in Eric’s shoes-yet I know God can mold me into His image-like Steve, like Eric.

        I am thinking really I can’t ‘live as Christ’ unless I am daily taking hold of that which he has taken hold of me. I didn’t find Him-He found me so I don’t paste on fruit either-He is my rich soil who nourishes me as I hide in Him-He is the vine I cling to. When I don’t cling to Him-oh my..i wither-yet He is faithful to prune me.

        Also I was thinking when we hide in Him here on earth we long for Him now and in the future and are living as if we are citizens of heaven NOW-because in reality we are. I think Steve and Eric lived that way.

        -I apologize for so many words. 🙂

        1. Don’t apologize, preach it to me sister!

          I was also thinking about abiding, drawing life from the vine, the finished work of Christ. Rather than digging my own broken cisterns which hold nothing.

        2. Chris, Thankful for you-Oh yes-and you put it in such a beautiful way.

          OKAY, so now thinking through Nanci’s post-it was about persistence through the temptations we all face to value things above him-pride in our work, accomplishments-again it goes back to idolatry-running to our idols of approval. Running to our idols of comfort in suffering. Or do we persevere and run to Him?

        3. Rebecca…..
          “I am thinking really I can’t ‘live as Christ’ unless I am daily taking hold of that which he has taken hold of me. I didn’t find Him-He found me so I don’t paste on fruit either-He is my rich soil who nourishes me as I hide in Him-He is the vine I cling to. When I don’t cling to Him-oh my..I wither-yet He is faithful to prune me.”

          …..WOW, Wow, wow! That is all I can say! Wow

    2. Rebecca, you are so, so good at taking the gospel and making it applicable to real, daily life, as in your example of being with your husband on his paper route: “My focus was on myself and I didn’t want to do this paper route. I was grouchy and impatient with my husband. My heart was exposed”. And then how you prayed and re-directed your thinking.

  16. 3. What are some ways that you see that God wooed you, that the truth found you, rather than you first finding God, you initiating your rescue? What are some ways that you see that Christ initially took hold of you, rather than you taking hold of Him? (Think back and share — it will encourage us all.)

    Thinking way back, it seems that God usually gave me someone, a person in my life who helped me (sometimes not knowingly) by attracting me to something they were doing. Or, there was a hardship/stressor that occurred and I had no one to turn to; only Him. I was broken and needed help. I will say there was one period in my life that was very dark, for a very long time. Looking back it seems that the devil may have had a strong hold on my life. I don’t recall any real wooing going on to speak of until I met my present husband. It was a time that is painful to even think of; a shameful time.

    4. Read Philippians 3:13-16

        A. We are rescued from the penalty of sin the moment we respond to Christ’s wooing. But being rescued from the power of sin is a process. How does Paul articulate this in the opening of Philippians 3:13?

    He says he has not yet met the goal, so we assume he is still working on it.

        B.  What helps you to persevere in the process? Share whatever you like, but also, what you see in this passage that could help you persevere.

    Well, Paul says to look to the future, not the past. Things will get better. As I said above, it is hard to think of the past when I didn’t have God in my life. Now that I do, I have knowledge I can use to help make better decisions and choices for the future. It is a process. I think it is important to acknowledge the past though. I wish I could find all the people I hurt and used and apologize for being so stupid and young (not mature as Paul states).

    C. Paul says, “Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead…” What must he forget, do you think? What must you forget?

    He must forget the horrific bullying of Christians he was part of; the deaths, prisoners, and taunting of them. That must have been difficult to live with – knowing you hurt people when they were just trying to live and learn about Christ. Similar to Paul, I need to ask forgiveness for that dark period in my life and forge ahead to light; to Jesus.

    1. Laura-Dancer-Oh wow, i am so encouraged by you-I see how He has softened you this past year-and how tender your heart has become for Him. I loved this: “I wish I could find all the people I hurt and used and apologize.” Be encouraged! He has forgiven you for your past and is moving in you enabling you to ‘forge ahead to light-to Jesus’-we see it! Praise Him!

    2. Laura, I have really enjoyed reading all your posts so far this week – such good sharing and I agree with Dee and Rebecca in that we all see the tremendous growth in you…besides that you are just “real” and say things like they are-no fluff!

      I wanted to ask you…are you going to see your mom (or maybe you’re already there)?

      1. I go to mom at the end of next week. I am spending a couple of weeks just getting things accomplished around the house. I am trying to savor being home before I get out of my element!

        I was just thinking how I have such mixed emotions. I love my mom, but this is a hard time in her life that I don’t know if I will help or not. I have good intentions that’s for sure, but can I meet this challenge? I will admit that I never envisioned this as my mom’s fate and my contribution to the end of her life. I have so many questions; will I help her get stronger? Will it be enough to let her move home? Will she need 24-7 care at home or will it be enough to have “visiting angels” come in to help her? Should i sue the place that ruined her body last fall to get money to help her for the rest of her life (not something i would EVER think of, but now under the circumstances…)? Is my brother even open to having mom come home or will she have to stay in this place forever? I have not let myself think of that part. I would hate for her to have to stay there until she passes. It’s so not “worthy” of my mom, but I have limited funds to make it better.

        As you can see, I am confused. I guess I need to pray. Thanks for asking, and certainly prayers are always welcomed 🙂

        1. Praying for wisdom for you in all of this Laura.

        2. Laura, I’ll pray for you, for God’s wisdom and leading. It sounds like you are headed into the “unknown”…it will take a little while for you to assess the situation and what your mom’s needs are. If I remember correctly, wasn’t it a fall at home that started this? And also, do I remember correctly that she had cancer?(Just want to make sure I’ve got it all straight:) Hopefully your brother and his wife can give some good input, too. It will have to be a careful judgment as to whether or not it is safe or even possible for your mom to live by herself again. If she can return home, she may well need a caregiver there 24 hours a day.
          I think just your presence there will be a tremendous comfort to her!

        3. You are correct on both counts Susan! Good memory 🙂 mom did have a fall that began this progression and she does have stage 4 breast cancer. No chemo since last october now. We don’t know what that is looking like now.

  17. 1 What stood out to you from the above and why?
    I am struck by Eric Liddell’s story and plan to explore his life further…thanks for the URLs Rebecca.
    I am not familiar with “Silver Linings Playbook” but may watch the movie in the near future (similar to Laura-d, I’m not a big movie watcher but have enjoyed Dee’s suggestions). I grieve over the power I sometimes give to idols thinking/believing that they will provide “a happy ending”/good results only to experience their deviousness and disastrous outcomes/consequences. I too, as Dawn, long for the day I am free from their pull once and for all.

    2 Think about an idol you have chased. How has it caused your mind to be darkened, to lose touch with reality?
    The idol I have chased is perfection (root: approval/affirmation). It has caused me to lose sight of what is “good enough” and adequate; I have resisted “putting myself out there” in various circumstances for fear of failure. Pride rears it’s ugly head in my bogus efforts. I find that when I look at my world from the vantage of gratitude, this discipline helps to dispel the need/desire for perfection/approval. I am more willing to risk knowing that God equips me and whatever I do will be “good enough” and blessed when obedient to the Lord. I read yesterday in my devotional (“Jesus Calling”) “Gently bring your attention back to Me whenever it wanders away. I look for persistence–rather than perfection–in your walk with Me.” …a kiss from the King…:)

  18. Nanci, I loved your whole post-that Gratitude helps to dispel the need/desire for perfection/approval-that it helps you to walk in faith that God equips you so whatever you do will be ‘good enough’-that is so encouraging to me.

    I ALSO LOVED His kiss to you: “Gently bring your attention back to Me whenever it wanders away. I look for persistence–rather than perfection–in your walk with Me.” -I think that is what Liddell did-he was persistent to bring his attention back to God whenever it could wander away-and I am sure he was tempted with all the temptations of the Olympics-tempting to value that above God-the attention, accomplishments-and then in the camp with all of the suffering. Yet, he persisted in Him.

    1. That’s funny Dee because as I was reading the book I was surprised that you recommended it without a disclaimer.

  19. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why? I saw Chariots of Fire years ago and was inspired by it. I have never read the book Silver Linings Playbook, but I watched the movie just as soon as it came out on DVD. Perhaps I expected too much from Silver Linings because of all of the Oscar nominations for it, but I was disappointed in the movie. The language truly bothered me, and didn’t seem to contribute anything positive to the plot. However, I can well understand the significance of both movies for our Bible study theme, as all of it relates to “running the race” and “pressing on to the goal.”

    2. Think about an idol you have chased. How has it caused your mind to be darkened, to lose touch with reality? How did you expect a “silver lining” end? What did you get instead?
    Back in the 1970s I was serving on a church staff. Part of my responsibilities included writing an article for the weekly church newsletter. I received compliments on my writing, and a few people told me they looked for my article first. That was just enough to make my approval idol go into overdrive, to say nothing of my head swelling. Some weeks I found myself working harder on my newsletter article than I did on other important aspects of my job. I’m sure I was pretty full of myself by the time I eventually resigned and announced to everyone that I was “moving on to a writing career!” 🙂 WELL….when I actually tried doing that, I received a multitude of rejection slips! I can assure you: when one has an approval idol, nothing is as painful as rejection slips!! Unfortunately I let it get the best of me, and I finally gave up.

      1. Thanks, Dee!

    1. Loved your confession of your approval idol…I can identify Deanna. How are you feeling by now?

      1. I am making progress, but it is slow! I have reduced my pain meds to less than half of what they were, but I can’t totally do without them yet. I am about 3 1/2 weeks through an estimated six weeks (until I can drive again!) Thanks for your concern, Joyce!

  20. 2. Think about an idol you have chased. How has it caused your mind to be darkened, to lose touch with reality? How did you expect a “silver lining” end? What did you get instead?

    I have chased my approval idol in my relationship with my parents. I wanted so much to know they approved of me; I went way overboard in attempting to help in their lives. When I was rejected, I felt hurt, then angry and tried even harder. I think I did lose touch with the reality of the situation. I expected that some day they would come to approve of me but instead I wasted time and energy and never did get the approval from them I so desperately wanted. There probably was a control idol in there too.

      1. Yes Dee, you did recommend The Blessing and I did get a chance to read it. It was very helpful. I’ve been on a journey of putting the past behind me for about the past four years. I’d like to say it hasn’t taken that long but God lets me take baby steps in this process. I believe He lets me learn as much as I can accept at a time. Foolproofing Your Life by Jan Silvious as been very helpful as well. I also always like to say that I don’t blame my parents any more. They both come from wounded places themselves and they did better with me than their parents did with them. Hopefully I will continue to do better with my girls.

    1. I’m so sorry Jill…that has to be very painful.

  21. 3. What are some ways that you see that God wooed you, that the truth found you, rather than you first finding God, you initiating your rescue? What are some ways that you see that Christ initially took hold of you, rather than you taking hold of Him? (Think back and share — it will encourage us all.)

    To be very truthful, I am not sure I ever did anything to initiate my own rescue — I think all of it could be traceable to God wooing me. I remember my mother teaching me to say the Lord’s Prayer when I was about four. Then there were a couple of books through which I was wooed: one was a collection of Jesus’ parables in an interactive book that allowed me to move the action and the dialogue with the aid of a stylus. More important was Hurlbutt’s Story of the Bible which I began reading at about the fourth grade. There was a whole succession of people who were instruments of God in my life: a woman named Madeline who chose me to give the Christmas flannelgraph for the Sunday School, a Sunday School teacher named Mrs. Berry who was so accepting even when I gave the wrong answers in class :), a youth fellowship sponsor named Julia with whom I am still in contact with to this day (she is 90 now!). Add to that the wonderful experiences I had at church camp in the summers of my junior and senior high years, complete with morning watches and vesper services. It didn’t stop there — it just kept coming. I graduated from a Christian university, where I matured not only in life but also in faith. While on my first job out of school, I met my husband. It took a special alignment of the constellations for the two of us to meet and marry. I’ve always been convinced that God was guiding us both all along the way. I give God credit for every bit of it!!

    I don’t know if the above paragraph will be of any help to anyone else, but it has been a beneficial exercise for me to gather that information together. It helps to dispel the feeling of abandonment with which I have been struggling since my recent auto accident.

    1. Oh Deanna, you say you have been struggling with feelings of abandonment since your accident – the enemy sure loves to strike when we are down (in times of illness, pain, car accidents). I’m glad reviewing your past and how God called you has helped-it was timely for you! Hang onto the truth – He will never, no never, leave nor forsake you!

    2. Love that! God is so good to us!

  22.     D. Watch again the You-tube clip of Eric Liddell and comment on what you see.

    Well, Eric has the sort of personality that is energetic and persistent. He does not give up. Two things stand out to me. The coach who expects him to get up and finish and the man in the stands who crumples his bet, giving up on the one he betted on. A contrast for sure. I remember that in the movie Eric claims he runs for God. He runs to please his Father. Cool, huh?

    1. Happy happy Birthday dearest Elizabeth!
      How often God has used your kindness to minister to me. You are His hands and feet to us here, such a tender encouraging heart you have.
      I am praying right now for you, and for a special vacation, a time of bonding and making memories with you children & your husband.
      Bless you dear girl!

    2. Happy, Happy Birthday dear Elizabeth!!

      I echo what Dee and Chris said and want to add that your life hidden in Him sharpens and inspires me! His love flows out of you onto us and your family. I recall when you came on the first time-I saw immediately how you loved your family and was encouraged. You persistently run to Him in the midst of affliction-and I agree with Dee, like Liddell you are running the race well-love you!

    3. Elizabeth, I too want to add my Happy Birthday wishes. May you have a blessed day and also a blessed coming year. You have been so faithful and so sensitive to all of your needs. Thank you!!

      1. Ooops that was supposed to read “all of OUR needs.” 🙂

    4. Happy Birthday Elizabeth!! I hope you are enjoying your little get-a-way! You are our encourager and prayer warrier and so loved here! Blessings!

    5. Happy birthday, Elizabeth!…ditto to all the affirming comments…you are a treasure; a blessing to all of us bible study blog sisters.

    6. Happy birthday,sweet encouraging Elizabeth! Hugs to you!

    7. Elizabeth, if you read this I want to know how you are doing-concerned about the bike crash!

    8. I hope that you had a happy birthday, Elizabeth 🙂

    9. Sorry I missed this Elizabeth. Happy belated birthday!

    10. Sorry I missed it! Happy belated birthday dear Elizabeth! I hope you had such a blessed day! I’m very thankful to have “met” you here. You are such an encouragement and blessing in my life!

    11. Happy belated birthday, Elizabeth.

  23. I can relate to making children into idols. It was such an easy transfer of idols when I first became pregnant and moved into a new stage of my life. No longer would I idolize my job or my education but my son. I’ve idolized everything from pregnancy to babies to large families. I think it is so easy to do and sometimes even the church encourages it. John Piper talks a lot about the idol of the family in the church today. He adamantly says that the only reason any of us should ever have kids is to make them into worshippers of Jesus Christ. If we have them as a way to control or as a means of security or as a way to comfort us, they will always disappoint. I’m learning that while children are great blessings, the Bible calls them A gift not THE gift. THE gift is Jesus Christ Himself, His life and death, and the exchanged life as we call it. The other thing I’m learning is that there is a great big difference between loving something and being fulfilled by it. Ultimately I think kids will fulfill me but in reality they are merely something I love and desire. If I can separate the two, I can see that I don’t have to have it because in the end it won’t fulfill me anyways.
    And that’s a good reason why we need not be jealous of someone else who has possession of something I want because whatever they have isn’t going to fulfill them. And we all have equal access to THE gift.

    Love this idea of being citizens of heaven. When someone immigrates to another country, one of two things happens. Either they assimilate into the customs of the new or they don’t and suffer the consequences. As Christians, we are not called to assimilate or conform to the world; rather, we are called to be lights in a dark world. We are called to stand out. How do we do this? By not chasing after things that don’t fulfill. By not trading the Creator for the created. I’m so guilty of this. I really do pray for all of us the prayer Paul prayed to the Ephesians: OPEN THE EYES OF OUR HEARTS LORD, so we can know You, so we can allow You to fulfill us, so we can allow You to feed us and give us drink, the kind that will cause us never to thirst again, the kind that will show us the worthlessness of building a life on anything but You.

    1. Thank you for sharing John Piper’s thoughts, Laura. I, too, have been guilty of making my children my idols. Because my marriage can be rocky at times, my children have met my needs for comfort, security, love and affection. I have come to realize this through our studies here, and so telling when I feel devastated by perceived or real rejection from them.

    2. So good and true Laura. I wanted kids for comfort and security when they were little and as they grew I became controlling to get them to be with me more. All of that was idolizing them, which always disappoints. Now I truly pray for their spiritual life…which is the real gift…thanks for sharing.

    3. Laura, thanks for the quote from John Piper.

  24. 4
    A. Paul says that he has not taken hold of knowing Christ or maturity in Him.

    B. What little I know Him helps me to persevere. It’s His kisses.
    Paul says to forget what is behind and look forward to what is before us which is God’s call to heaven in Christ.

    C. This may sound odd but I think it is his righteousness that he must forget. By that I mean that his sin against Christ and His church were great, yet he did them thinking that he was doing the right thing for God. Paul did the most dramatic 180 of anyone I can think of. Just think of the picture of Stephen’s death. That’s a lot to forget.
    For me, it is hard to forget my sin, my failure when working in my own strength. If I try to put it all in a category I think it would come under idolatry for that is pretty much the reason for all of it.

    1. Anne, how is the paperless system going? I can relate – a few years ago we went paperless for medications…then charting….then this year, we went to all physician orders entered into computer. It does take awhile to iron out the glitches! Since I work PRN, I still have a hard time catching-on to all the changes!

      1. Susan, I am off today so I don’t know. At least it didn’t crash yesterday. We have been using computer charting for a long time. Each area had its own program though. Perop has used 2 since I worked ther. We printed our record & sent it out with the chart. This is system wide, one record and no paper at all, eventually. Some way of signing consents will come later. It is more change at one time than I have ever experienced. So many gadgets! Just thinking of the cost is overwhelming.
        Won’t you be so glad in that day when there is no more illness.

  25. HAPPY BIRTHDAY ELIZABETH! I hope you are enjoying your time at the beach with your family this week – what a wonderful place to celebrate your birthday! You bless us all so much…you are so sensitive to the pain of others and so faithful to pray and you truly have a beautiful heart!

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

    I had never heard of Silver Linings Playbook but what an extreme, yet great, example of idolatry run amok! Pat is really enslaved to his idol-Nikki. I like the point Dee makes that when we pursue our idols with a passion, we lose touch with reality.

  27. Here is the next Idol Lies for tweens-http://www.refreshmysoulblog.blogspot.com/2013/06/philippians-for-tweens-week-two.html

    Hoping to jump in soon. Sorry I missed last week. We are watching another child in a similar situation as Dakota’s this week so it has been non stop!!! Prayers appreciated and I will catch up soon! Love to you all! So glad I now can really say I have a son! 🙂

    1. Paise God Angela!

  28. 3.What are some ways that you see that God wooed you, that the truth found you, rather than you first finding God, you initiating your rescue? What are some ways that you see that Christ initially took hold of you, rather than you taking hold of Him? (Think back and share — it will encourage us all.)

    God wooed me as a little girl, I went forward at a church that had a bus ministry. I was really terrified, but I knew I wanted what they were talking about, though I had very small understanding at the time, I was in second grade I think. 
He gave me an appetite for his word, I read my bible a lot as a little girl. I was in a Sunday School and Pioneer Girls class in 4 – 6th grade taught by a very godly woman, I know of a couple of the other girls in that class who also continue to follow Christ in a real and obvious way. I imagine Mrs. Finamore must have prayed some powerful prayers for us as a group.

    I went wild as a teen, I said I was an atheist, used drugs and was promiscuous. I see now where He rescued me along the way, sometimes dramatically, Christ had a hold on me though I was running as hard as I could away from Him. Even my becoming pregnant at 16 was a mercy. I was stopped in my tracks, I went back to church. I was still not submitted though, I married an unbeliever we had a really rough time of it, but I still see rescue all along the way. I was baptized at about the age of 20, while my husband was living a very different lifestyle from mine, I aimed for obedience. I learned so much about trusting God in the dark times during our marital troubles.

    Bill is now growing in his faith by leaps and bounds, he really is connecting with young men in a powerful way, he is not afraid to speak truth to them and the Spirit is moving. He was on a mission trip to NYC 2 weeks ago and this week he is working with the scuba group at Christian camp that all of our kids went to. He has become a remarkably supportive and tender husband.
    So I see him wooing me in the way he has changed my husband, it is a truly remarkable transformation. Even while the early part of our marriage was very very hard, I believe God meant for us to be together.

    Really as I look back over my life I see the horrible hard things in my life, teen pregnancy, a super rebellious child, infidelity, raising children who were not born to me, financial struggles, seeing my son suffer and die, (it is still so excruciating even to write those words) as the times when the nursery door opens, when I am at the end of me when I know I dont have the strength or the answers that is when the porthole of my soul is flung open to what is real & true, what is trustworthy and unshakeable.


    While I was yet a sinner Christ died for me.

    1. Wow Chris!

    2. What an incredible testimony Chris. I’m so sorry about your loss.

      Steven Curtis Cgspman wrote a song after he lost his daughter called Our God is in Control:

      http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=JoAYb8YmCwQ&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DJoAYb8YmCwQ

      Though this first taste is bitter, there will be sweetness forever.

      1. Wow, that was awesome and I ended up watching all 5 segments of Larry King with the Chapman family. Their faith for God and their love for one another is just so real and raw. I have a real deep heart-love for families that have lost children…no matter the age of the child. I know a man that is 90 and just lost his son of 57 yrs. this week. There has to be nothing harder except losing a spouse.

        One of the reason’s I feel so strongly is because…I have to admit…that I have prayed to God to take Kendra before he takes me. I know that seems strange, but I feel that Kendra could not take losing mom and dad; but I could stand it better than her, because I know where she would be…in the arms of Jesus. I don’t know if Kendra understands that yet. I’m trying to teach her in her little girl mind, but she is so tied to me..its like a doggy following you everywhere…even to the bathroom…for fear of you getting out of her sight. That is how Kendra is of me. It is something a parent loves…to be needed by their child so much….but not when the child is 26 yrs. old. As much as you want them to need you, they need to be able to take care of themself by then…hopefully. But when they can’t and no one but mommy will do, it’s heartwrenching. That’s why I prayed that prayer once and I don’t think I can even say it again to God, because it tears my heart out. I’ve never admitted that I prayed that to anyone before, but it happened not that long ago, as Kendra slept right beside me…always touching me somehow as she sleeps, for fear I will leave her.

        I would have to say that the Idol I have chased…wanting to have the silver lining end…is control, because I want to control how this all ends, instead of letting God have the reins. But I’ve had to let go of that..to God, because as long as I try to control, the harder it is to trust God and let it all go. I have to give it all over to him everyday and everyday. I don’t know if the evil one gets ahold of me and causes doubt each day, but each evening as I lie in bed holding Kendra, I have to trust only in God again..over and over.

        1. Joyce, thank you for sharing honestly. Your love for Kendra is sacrificial, unselfish…you die to self every day. Most moms (me included) need their “time for me” and get irritated if they don’t get it. Your taking care of Kendra is 24/7. Your fears of who will care for her when you cannot are real…I can really picture you lying there at night and praying and taking all of this to the Lord over and over.

        2. Joyce, I can see why you would pray the prayer; you are so unselfish and kind. You just don’t want Kendra to miss you so much that she is in pain. I’m sorry. I kind of get it because of Sarah. Many times I roll over in bed and who is there? Not my husband, but my daughter! She’s 21 for goodness sake! We have a very disfunctional family in respect to sleeping patterns. I try to remind myself that in many parts of the world, entire families sleep together. You are right though, God has your back! He will make sure all is ok. Love you sister!

        3. I have to sleep with her because of her siezures. Thank you laura and Susan.

      2. Thank you Laura, bitter indeed, but what a hope is ours.

    3. Chris, you have been through the fire and have come out shining and brillent for the Lord. I’m sorry it is so hard to tell us about the very hardest time tho.

    4. Chris, this is a beautiful testimony…I don’t have the words for it. Only God….because I know you are still hoping and clinging to Him. I’m sorry for the pain of even writing these words, though..

    5. Chris, I keep finding more and more how similar our life story is. My husband and I were both “bus kids” at a church that I attended only from age 9-12 (different buses we lived 30+ miles away from each other), but my husband never forgot me and out of the blue,started writing to me when he was in the army and I was 17. Sadly neither one of us were Christians at the beginning of our life together.

      1. I love “love stories” like this Dawn….what happen then?

        1. For the next 2 years we wrote each other and talked on the phone. He came home on a medical leave and we saw each other for the first time in 7 years. Got married 6 weeks later. We will be celebrating our 29th anniversary in July.

        2. Another similarity Dawn, we celebrated our 29th Anniversary this past April 🙂

        3. lol

    6. God is so good. What an encouraging testimony!

  29. 4. Read Philippians 3:13-16

    A. We are rescued from the penalty of sin the moment we respond to Christ’s wooing. But being rescued from the power of sin is a process. How does Paul articulate this in the opening of Philippians 3:13?
    He says, “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.” In other words, Paul felt he was still a work in progress.

    B. What helps you to persevere in the process? Share whatever you like, but also, what you see in this passage that could help you persevere.
    I need to keep pushing aside all of the things that come along to distract me and carry me off track. I must keep my focus on the goal of Christ and becoming more like Him even though it may be slow, just inch by inch. My aim is for steady, forward movement.

    C. Paul says, “Forgetting what lies bhind and straining forward to what lies ahead…” What must he forget, do you think? What must you forget?

    Paul had to forget that he ever stood there holding the coats of the ones who stoned Stephen. He had to forget that he had pursued Christians with a vengeance, bringing them to imprisonment or even death. He had to forget that he had his righteousness all mixed up, thinking that he was doing the right thing when the opposite was true.

    I must forget all the people I have hurt in the past, and all of the times I thought I was so right when actually I was so wrong. I must forget all the occasions in which I stood frozen in my tracks and didn’t respond to His call in the form of those who were needy, hearing my instructions from Him but not believing they were real or urgent. In other words, I have to let go of my guilt and shame and look forward to my hope in Christ.

    1. So true, Deanna “I have to let go of my guilt and shame and look forward to my hope in Christ.’

  30. You all are so amazing! I was missing you all and came on to read–just overwhelmed by your sweet wishes–thank you. It has been a wonderful birthday–perfect weather at the beach. We’re fishing now, and it is so peaceful. One quick prayer request–I hate to come and ask when I am so absent this week, but…we were riding bikes this morning and a lady crashed into me–pretty bad–changes the itinerary a bit! It’s so small in comparison to what so many go through–I am thankful it wasn’t worse, but welcome prayers for quick healing–I so don’t want to limit what we can do as a family here! But I have been overwhelmed by reminders of His incredible love for me–just no words.He loves me so, and I am incredibly thankful.
    This looks like SUCH a great blog week–the questions and answers so rich–I look forward to catching up! Praying esp. for Anne with work, Deanna, Diane as you are away…been thinking of Rhonda too–and Jill, Nanci, all the “regulars” I do pray for you and so thank Him for the gift of each of you–I am so humbled by how He teaches me through you. Chris, your path is one that I cannot imagine–and yet–floors me with His mighty power. It is truly amazing, awe-inspiring to see what He has created in you.
    Off now–both kids just caught catfish and I’m hearing the word alligator! ;0
    much love~

    1. Oh dear, Elizabeth! I’m thankful no broken bones…no concussion….Father, please heal Elizabeth from her bicycle crash injuries, and thank you for letting her know in so many ways that You love her, and that she belongs to You. Your love is the BEST medicine!
      Happy Birthday again, Elizabeth….hope you can relax and have fun the rest of the week! (Will you be eating the catfish?)

    2. Sorry to hear of the bicycle mishap, Elizabeth…I’m with Susan, “thankful no broken bones…no concussion”…you can count on prayers for quick healing. So good to hear that the balance of the day has been wonderful…enjoy the catfish…:)

    3. I’m jumping in a little late today but HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Elizabeth. I thank God that you weren’t hurt more seriously and that you will experience quick healing so you can enjoy your time away with your family.

    4. Elizabeth, I miss you here! I’ll be praying for healing for you…so sorry that happen on vacation:( Hope you had a great Birthday!!

  31. What helps you to persevere in the process? Share whatever you like, but also, what you see in this passage that could help you persevere.

    In these verses, I see Paul encouraging the Philippians to “be who you already are in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3 says that God has already blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. What are these spiritual blessings? What incredible riches do we already have in Christ? Paul wanted the Philippians to renew their minds on truths such as these:

    -We have become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21)
    -We have been made at peace with God (Romans 5:1)
    -We are safe from God’s wrath (Romans 5:9)
    -We are free from all fear of condemnation (Romans 8:1)
    -We have been made perfect forever (Hebrews 1:14) – not our behavior but our acceptability before a holy God
    -We have been made complete (Col 2:10).

    It is only when we remember who we are in Christ (our new identity), that we start acting it out in our daily behavior. If I think I’m rotten at the core, I will act rotten in my behavior. But when I see myself as the child that God sees me as, set apart for His purposes, I am empowered to “live up to what we have already attained.” Paul is saying, “Live out your identity as a deeply loved, highly valued, and fully accepted child of God.” I believe this is how we persevere, by renewing our minds on these truths until they sink in.

  32. A. We are rescued from the penalty of sin the moment we respond to Christ’s wooing. But being rescued from the power of sin is a process. How does Paul articulate this in the opening of Philippians 3:13?

    In verse 12, Paul says he has not yet been made perfect. Cross reference this with Hebrews 10:14 where it says we have been made perfect forever by one sacrifice. While Hebrews refers to our spiritual identity, totally acceptable before God because we are united with Christ, Paul is talking about his behavior, ie sanctification. He isn’t perfect and this is a relief to me! But he encourages us to press on, to avoid pride and complacency in our walk, because this is the only way we can experience the abundant life on planet earth. We all can attest to the fact that walking in sin sucks the life out of us! I love Paul because he always encourages rather than threatens.

    There are plenty of verses in the New Testament that speak about how we should love and forgive others because God first loved and forgave us (1 John 4:19 is one). The order is God then us. Same thing for this verse: Christ took hold of me so now I can take hold of the prize.

  33. N. T. Wright says: What would most of us have done has we fallen, like Eric? “I suspect we would have accepted from the moment we fell that we were out of the race, with no hope left.”  Do you realize, that there despite the sins, poor judgments, or tragedies in your past, that God can still enable you to “win the race of the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus?”

    I think it depends on your personality really. I’m a fighter and I would probably have gotten up and started running like Liddell. I most likely wouldn’t have won the race though! With God it is different to me. The foot race isn’t really important in the end whereas with God you “…win the race of the prize of the high calling…?” and is the utmost of importance. Nothing happens if I don’t win the foot race. I lose face. With God, I potentially lose my salvation. Or so we think. That’s awful. I have more to lose if I don’t race for Jesus.

  34. 4D. The thing that stands out to me the most is Eric’s previous comment that when he runs he feels God’s pleasure. This actor did a very good job of portraying this as he ran. In his straining to run as fast as he could I see joy on his face. If he had not gotten up he would have walked away in defeat having never known the joy of that particular moment. The joy of using all that God has given him. In this case it resulted in the earthly victory of winning the race. No matter what the earthly outcome had been I think that in heaven such perseverance is always victory.
    E. For me, right now, it means that I am never out of the race. In Christ I am never defeated. From an earthly perspective it may look like defeat but I will always get up and run. As I do I will feel God’s pleasure in me. He will come to me and I will gain His strength.

  35. 2. Think about an idol you have chased. How has it caused your mind to be darkened, to lose touch with reality? How did you expect a “silver lining” end? What did you get instead?

    I have chased after approval/affirmation and comfort/security and even power/control (yes…I have all three:) First, I thought being married would bring fulfillment of these. When I realized the honeymoon was over, I was disappointed. Then, I had children. When they were young, they were my buddies and my days were filled with taking care of them and doing things together. I imagined (the silver lining) they would always love me unconditionally and listen to me and be close to me – they would always fill me up and keep me from feeling empty or lonely. They would give me emotionally what I was not getting from my husband. I remember the day 13 year old Ryan and I were shooting baskets in the driveway and talking, and he said, “Mom – I really like talking to you…” I expected that closeness to last forever.
    However, when both of my boys entered high school, they began pulling away from me – preferring to spend time in their rooms, not wanting to tell me everything anymore. I knew in my head that they needed to do this, to separate from me and identify more with their dad…this was healthy and normal, but it felt like the most awful rejection. I still had my young daughter, though…she still was with me all the time. My daughter will be turning 13 next week and our relationship is changing, too. I am beginning to dread the high school years when she, too, will pull away.
    All of these “dashed expectations” of my children fulfilling me darkens my mind in that it makes me feel unloved, lonely, purposeless, empty, and depressed. But that’s what our idols do to us because they really can’t deliver what we crave. And yes, as some of you have already said, I’ve pulled out the control idol, trying to manipulate circumstances and control their lives – to get them to do what I want them to do which almost always leads to my getting my needs for security or approval met. But the needs are never really met – not for long…idols only give a temporary fix, then you have to get more.

    I see and recognize the idols operating now. Just yesterday, I saw how I was trying to control my daughter and I had to apologize.

  36. 3. What are some ways that you see that God wooed you, that the truth found you, rather than you first finding God, you initiating your rescue? What are some ways that you see that Christ initially took hold of you, rather than you taking hold of Him?

    Without a doubt I know that He was the Initiator, not me. My family didn’t go to church when I was young, and I grew up very self-centered…like all of life was a stage and I was the lead actress:) I do remember starting to attend church with my friend from high school…but what a hypocrite I was. I still see myself in my lacy white dress with the little blue flowers and thinking how perfect I looked sitting in the pew…I imagined how golden my hair looked as the sun streamed in through the stained glass windows – nauseating, I know:) If I had really known anything about God, I would’ve been afraid.
    I was a lover of self, proud, selfish and self-centered, and immoral.

    The first thing I remember was at 14, the volunteer coordinator at the nursing home where I volunteered gave me a birthday card that told me “Jesus loves you – you are special to Him”. She also gave me a NT Bible. I’d never heard that before. After I got out of college and met my husband, who was attending a Catholic church, I began to go to church with him. I began to feel drawn to somehow “get in” to this family of people. After we were married, I decided to convert. This is how God initially drew me in. At a spiritual retreat just before my being confirmed, the leader told us to imagine being in our favorite place – mine was in the woods where I played when I was young – and to see Jesus there, and He was saying, “Come unto Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest”. She said, “It doesn’t matter what you’ve done…Jesus wants you to come to Him.” I knew I had done “bad” things…I started to weep, hiding my tears behind my long hair. I imagined in my mind-but it was so real, running to Him and Him opening up His arms to me-I felt such relief and I cried. I still didn’t understand anything really about the gospel, but that’s when Jesus “stepped out of the painting” for me and became real. It still took several years before I began to read the Bible and then attend a church where I heard the gospel message…that was only the beginning.

    1. Such a cool story Susan! I love the mind picture if you and Jesus in the woods 🙂

    2. Susan, I can identify with you so much. I didn’t grow up in a church, married had 3 three kids, kids turned away as they grew up, parents grew old and needed me more, sold the only real home I had ever known, marriage disapointments.
      God is the only one who love’s and desire’s us, Susan and living for him alone and trying to learn and grow as much as possible is all we can do. Our only hope is in him. Bless you.

      1. I can’t get my avatar or gravatar to work…anyone else having problems?

        1. It’s because I changed e-mail address’s and hadn’t updated Gravatar…so it should work soon.

    3. Susan–your testimony is rich with hope–how He met you exactly where you were–beginning with using the woman who gave the card on your birthday. I love how it was a birthday card that first nudged your heart towards Him–just something really sweet, so personal, so life-centered about that.

  37.      F. What is the upward call? (Colossians 3:1-4 is a parallel passage that may help.) It is not just “getting to heaven,” for we are already citizens of heaven. See if you can discern what this means.

    Never thought I was already a citizen of heaven….hmmmmm. The passage tells us that we should “…set our sites on heaven….” we will become Christ like when he comes for us. Does that mean we will also sit with Christ? At the side of the Father? That we should think of the time that we will have no pain, no tears, no fighting, no drugs, no idols, no bad language, no lies, no anything that is painful? Everything that is good and right and pleasing will be our new “life?” Yes, I can dream of that time if that is what Paul means.

  38. 3. What are some ways that you see that God wooed you, that the truth found you, rather than you first finding God, you initiating your rescue? What are some ways that you see that Christ initially took hold of you, rather than you taking hold of Him? (Think back and share — it will encourage us all.)

    He started wooing me as a child. I used to lay on the grass when we went to Arkansas on my uncle’s farm. It was flat land smack dab in the middle of these beautiful mountains and I would look at the stars, overwhelmed by the beauty-knowing there is a God-an artist who did this for me to enjoy. With sunsets, sunrises, stormy clouds, and pondering over the order and purpose of life- over and over throughout my life he wooed me with creation.

    I rebelled after high school. I always felt insecure about being truly loved because my father left my mom for another woman when I was young-the bottom dropped out when they got divorced.

    This was the climax of God’s wooing me over my life-Here are the moments I remember before He rescued me:

    First moment: When I was 24 years old My grandfather died-whom I loved. I flew out to California for the funeral with my brother who is a Christian and had majorly changed for he used to be cruel. On the plane my brother got his Bible out studying it-right in front of everyone. I couldn’t believe he would do something like that! 🙂 YET, God caused me in that instant to long for Him-I can’t explain it but it all came together in that instant while being embarrassed to be sitting next to a Bible Thumper 😉 my brother’s peace, His love-and God’s word-I thought, there has to be power there-He has to be real. God was wooing me closer!

    Second moment in the room we shared: My grandparents lived on a golf course in the desert and there are plenty of illegal alien gardeners that do work for them. The next morning after we settled in our room, my brother had his quiet time out on the back porch and a gardener came up to him in broken English raised his hands and said, “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!”..My brother said amen to him and the Gardner began to walk away-he stood up to follow him so he could talk to him and when he turned the corner the man was gone. He looked everywhere. My brother came bursting in the room to tell me what happened and he said he thought he might have seen an angel. I thought-could it be? My brother is FAR from being emotionally led. Again God used that to woo me-I mean these changes were 180 degree changes-my brother was a rationalist, very smart and didn’t fall for things so easily.

    Third moment: That night my brother gently answered my questions as I wrestled with heaven and hell-where was grandpa? Again, God’s love and patience was lavishly poured out on me through my brother who in the past would have treated me like an idiot for wrestling with this. I felt loved.

    The next day, again I ‘tried’ my brother’s patience when I asked him how to become a Christian-I made sure he knew I wasn’t ready to give up going to bars yet-again He lovingly shared.

    Fourth moment: On the plane home-He wooed me strongly-it wasn’t like before when I went up front for an altar call in church at 12 years old, or when I put in the offering plate as a young girl a slip of paper saying, “I love you Jesus.” It was different. I sensed His Holiness against my frail frame and knew I couldn’t stand before Him in my sin and I so wanted Him-He melted me and made me ready. I surrendered to Him on the plane flying over Las Vegas. I know my words were probably so sophomoric to Him-but He knew my heart!

    His first Kiss: At the moment He saved me my eyes were opened! I did see light and dark for the first time for I had the Holy Spirit inside and felt His love-I love the way Karla Faye Tucker said it in her testimony where she felt this cocoon of love surrounding her-that is how I felt. I noticed the people around me for the first time whereas before I could care less-He gave me this desire for them to know Him too and the excitement He gave me was unexplainable-hard to contain!

    His second Kiss: I went home and opened my Bible and understood it for the first time-I couldn’t get enough of Him.

    1. love this!

    2. Awesome Rebecca! Thanks so much for sharing with us.

    3. Wow Rebecca – this is an amazing testimony! And what a neat brother you have!

  39. Except for an occasional quick read I have been absent from this group. It is good to get back to sharing & growing with all of you! My husband and I have been on the road: first to Estes Park, CO to lead a weekend stroke camp for Denver stroke center, then back to IL for a couple days. Picked up our two oldest grandchildren (12 & 14) for a vacation to the northeast. I praise God for making this an awesome trip of renewal and special memories built. These children have been deeply affected by a terrible divorce with emotional/verbal abuse. It was my heart’s desire to have them experience the opposite.

    Now, to begin to respond to the study: I loved the movie “silver linings”. I felt it depicted some of the mental health issues we live with in our society and how easy we can succumb to leaving reality and moving to our idols. Also, the issue of shame for taking medication, instead of gratitude that there are good medications available which improves our lives! I have found myself selecting one specific thing that I think will fix everything (like a job) and turning that into a desired reality.
    It has been years since I saw Chariots of Fire…will have to see if I can find it to watch.
    Loving all the time we are spending in Philippians.

    1. So good to have you back Sarahsal!

    2. Welcome back!

  40. What stood out to you from the above and why? How we pursue idols with passion…it is such a thin line. But the movie sounds interesting how he could not see she did not like him and the lengths he went to try to get her to like him. Then I always love hearing about Eric Liddell.

    2. Think about an idol you have chased. How has it caused your mind to be darkened, to lose touch with reality? How did you expect a “silver lining” end? What did you get instead? Making sure people like me…not being true to self but trying to please others instead. Becomes depressing. Expectations can never be met. It drives you down you are a slave to opinion and think of yourself too much. It is bondage. Not caring about others opinions frees you. People are fickle and change you will never get the silver lining of praise from all and if you do it stops all to soon.

  41. D. Watch again the You-tube clip of Eric Liddell and comment on what you see.

    I see Liddell line up for the race, looking confident and fairly at ease. However, the race has not progressed far before one of the other runners nudges Liddell off of the track and he falls. Most of the crowd seem to be pulling for him and are trying to mentally will him back up and into the running. There is only slight hesitation, and then Liddell is off and running at a horrific speed, quickly catching up with the others. As they approach the finish line, Liddell uses the last little bit of energy he has left to spurt across the line, only to collapse into the sidelines afterward. He is totally spent!

    N. T. Wright says: What would most of us have done has we fallen, like Eric? “I suspect we would have accepted from the moment we fell that we were out of the race, with no hope left.” Do you realize, that there despite the sins, poor judgments, or tragedies in your past, that God can still enable you to “win the race of the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus?”

    Yes! God can give us that edge that we need to win –His strength is superhuman and is available to us.

    E. Contemplate what this means for you right now and share.

    I see this on two levels at the present time. One is my own private (perhaps selfish) goal of recovering from the auto accident. I do praise Him that it wasn’t any worse than it was. I also turn to Him asking for healing, as I know He knows more than any of the medical professionals (although I do realize that God sometimes works through the medical professionals). I feel as though my physical recovery and a spiritual advancement are running parallel to one another.

    Another level I see has to do with our congregation selling our church building. A charter school for autistic children wants to buy it, but first we must get a special use permit from the county planning commission. We have gone through one of the three required hearings. So much rides on this decision, and I know it will only be by the grace of God (if it is His will) that it goes through!!

    F. What is the upward call? (Colossians 3:1-4 is a parallel passage that may help.) It is not just “getting to heaven,” for we are already citizens of heaven. See if you can discern what this means.

    Our minds are to be on heavenly things and not on earthly things. The upward call is to view life from God’s perspective. I remember the first time I encountered the concept of us already being “citizens of heaven.” It was on a retreat in my first semester of college. I was quite shocked and indeed “put off” by the idea. I thought our school had been infiltrated by false teachers! (LOL — I was pretty conservative back then!!) The more we view the world as God does, the more in harmony with Him we will be. Christ will give us the power to live for Him now, and He also gives us hope for the future. Now I look at it as more of a continuum (eternal life), not an existence that is chopped up or stopped at death and then resumed.

  42. 3. What are some ways that you see that God wooed you, that the truth found you, rather than you first finding God, you initiating your rescue? What are some ways that you see that Christ initially took hold of you, rather than you taking hold of Him? (Think back and share — it will encourage us all.)

    I was a kid. He always wooed me from the beginning. I always spoke to Him. I knew I was His however I did not know of Christ’s sacrifice for me. When I was 12 I learned of this and felt so unworthy for this sacrifice. It was hard because I loved God so much to accept He had to die for me. I told Him this, it was too hard. It did not make sense. I am so not worthy. He was so worthy and has always loved me. I went to sleep that night and had a dream. He showed so many people in barrels falling to their death over Niagra falls. It was crazy! My barrel was ready to go over. Then as it fell a large bright hand came out and scooped me up. Then I heard “I will never leave or forsake you.” I woke up knowing and believing what He did for me through Christ. Amazing love!

    1. Wow Angela, that dream gave me goosebumps! Amazing way to learn God’s love.

  43. 3. What are some ways that you see that God wooed you, that the truth found you, rather than you first finding God, you initiating your rescue? What are some ways that you see that Christ initially took hold of you, rather than you taking hold of Him? (Think back and share — it will encourage us all.)

    The Lord blessed me with a foundation of faith (i.e., parents, grandma). In my late teens until my mid-twenties, I fell away from the church, worship, prayer, etc….disinterest and rebellion. It was in my early 30’s when I came in contact with a kind, down-to-earth priest that I was drawn to a more authentic, genuine faith. The sermons spoke to me; worship was no longer a “weekly obligation” of mindless repetition and responses, but a time of joy communing with the Lord that I looked eagerly forward to. My oldest daughter attending confirmation classes (3 years) is another moment of wooing; I went to the confirmation classes and did the weekly assignments…it was incredible how my eyes (heart, mind) were opened and a strong desire for a more intimate/personal relationship with the Lord was awakened. I have been incredibly blessed…the Lord is so very faithful, patient and graceful; He always knows what is needed and when…people, text (as in books, devotions, blog comments, etc.), songs, sermons, “a kick in the butt”, etc. seem to come at the most optimal times…”kisses from the King”.

  44. 4F. I think that it is not just the hope of someday getting to heaven but a direction for living. We are living toward heaven because our lives are hidden with God in Christ. There is nothing here for us except the people we can take with us. So we are always straining to free ourselves from attachment here with that hope of one day being fully there.

    1. I love this post Anne!
      “There is nothing here for us except the people we can take with us.”

    2. Anne, This is wonderful-wanted to copy and paste all of it! “Our lives are hidden with God in Christ”..just pondering your post..So as we are straining we can hide in the shelter of His wings-God is our refuge and God is our strength a very present help in trouble. Both in suffering from situations that arise not as a result of sin, and in situations where we do sin and stumble-either way we take refuge in Him-and He is our strength. I was thinking also that Liddell didn’t fear-he just got back up.

  45. 3. What are some ways that you see that God wooed you?

    He has wooed me with verses of scripture like Jeremiah 29:11 telling me that He had a good plan for my life, a hope and a future. I always have struggled with a lack mentality of God who blesses others richly but not me. This is the fleshly programming that I must fight daily. I was convinced He would never give me a future because of my past but He did, especially when my son was born. His gifts are beyond this world.

    He has wooed me with Matthew 11:28-30, telling me He is gentle and humble at heart, a Savior who desires to give me rest, whose yoke is light. This verse I believe has saved my life on many occasions. There are many people around me who try to paint God as this ever-disappointed father whose list of commands is inexhaustible. But this verse is the only place anywhere in the New Testament where Jesus Himself describes His personality. I fall absolutely in love with a Savior who eats with sinners and washes their feet. I just don’t live up to anyone’s standards; I always disappoint. This was programmed into me since I was a little girl. I fight it now that I am a new creation but only because He is humble and gentle and died not to give me more hoops to jump through but because He wanted to give me LIFE, His life. I just can’t get over the fact that Jesus is gentle and humble. There are many times when I struggle with wanting to share my faith with unbelievers for various reasons but this I want to shout from the roof tops. There is absolutely no way to misinterpret this verse – it is crystal clear to me. He came to give people rest from the religious burdens people try to choke us with. They are death traps. The gospel is life. I’m not sure I’d be a believer if it weren’t for verses like these where we see Jesus as offering something radically different from the world and its obsession with performance based love. Grace woos me. “Come to me,” He whispers. The only criteria: I must admit I am weary and heavy-burdened. Sold!!!

    1. Laura, you are so very articulate in expressing the truths of the gospel…thanks for reminding us of the Matthew verse that tells us “He is gentle and humble at heart, a Savior who desires to give me rest, whose yoke is light”. Yes, so in contrast to rules, legalism, and religious burdens. Love this: religious burdens are death traps…the gospel is life.

    2. “I fall absolutely in love with a Savior who eats with sinners and washes their feet.”
      Me too Laura!

  46. 5B. If I’m being honest with myself, the area of my life where I most struggle is thinking and setting my mind on earthly things. This is where eternal security just makes sense because if I’m called to set my mind on heavenly things, I must be confident that I’m going there when I leave this earth. . I often wonder if my struggle is different than it is for others. I can battle one thought 100 times in an hour. I have to take it captive only to so it again in 30 seconds or even 10 seconds. I’ve been on medication in the past and I’m not against it in any way, but in my situation, I’m not sure it so much remedied the issue as much as it just pushed it to the side. It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t taken medication. Anyways, I’d love input on obsessive thinking versus the daily Christian struggle of taking thoughts captive. What’s normal? What’s not?

  47. 5. Read Philippians 3:17-21

         A. What does Paul tell us to do in verse 17? What comments do you have on this?

    Follow the model of those who have followed the model of Paul and the disciples. I tell my unorganized students to find someone who is organized and then emulate them. Paul wants us to find a mentor who emulates the character of Jesus.

         B. What do you learn about those who have their minds set on earthly things according to verses 18-19? How is this a warning to you?

    They don’t have the need to live as Jesus did. They are hateful people who will die with nothing after living lives of destruction. Paul says they feed their idols. I am thinking of the NFL player arrested yesterday for allegedly killing another man. As he stood listening to the charges against him he looked shameful. This shame is also his glory – look at him on TV, people can’t believe it, he has all the attention for now.

  48. B.What helps you to persevere in the process? Share whatever you like, but also, what you see in this passage that could help you persevere.
    
Things that help me persevere hmmm, seeing the rescues and provision in the past, the promises that God through the Spirit is really at work in me and in others, little glimpses of the truth of that.
    The way God weaves things together coming from different unrelated sources so that I know He is speaking to me.
    The hope of heaven, treasuring that hope, acknowledging what is temporal and what is eternal.

    
The forgetting what lies behind of this passage, I for years continued to lug around with me shame about the past, I came to realize that it allowed me to keep God at a comfortable distance. By believing myself too awful I was really saying that Christ and his sacrifice wasn’t enough, I had too ‘low a view’ of Him.
    I was changed progressively in this area, but I heard a sermon at church on repentance, highlighting Psalm 51 Davids public repentance after Nathan exposed his need. I was struck by Davids confidence in God to change his heart, and this:
    “7Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

    David was confident in the cleansing work of God, His sins were big and now out in the open, this Psalm was to be sung at church! David was not focused on himself but God, he knew that his sin was against God but what arrested me was his trust that God would cleanse him and that he would then be whiter than snow.
    
I had been guilty of carrying too low a view of God, Christ’s finished work, His cleansing of me.
    Grace is marvelous and freeing, it binds my heart to Him like nothing else

    1. Chris, I love your entire post here. I’m glad you reminded me to remember the instances God has worked in the past, “the rescues and provision in the past”. It is good to be purposeful about remembering how God has come to me in the past-powerful proof that He is at work. Thank you.
      Also, I can relate to your years of lugging around shame about the past. This is an interesting thought: “It allowed me to keep God at a comfortable distance”. I see in myself that I’m often more comfortable with ‘comfortable distance’ than intimacy; not only with the Lord, but with people. Perhaps that’s the fear of being completely naked, laid bare – truly known-unmasked before God and people. I remember one of Keller’s sermons talked about this – completely naked before God, yet totally loved. But with people…there’s an uncertainty, a fear of rejection.
      Love David’s trusting confidence that God could make him clean-whiter than snow.
      “Grace is marvelous and freeing, it binds my heart to Him like nothing else” – I see the freedom in you, Chris.

      1. Thank you Susan, this blessed me.

        1. “I was struck by David’s confidence in God…”

          Me too! And just think, this was before the Messiah took away the sin of the world. David was a murderer and under the law he deserved death but still he knew the heart of his God, who doesn’t desire sacrifice but mercy and a repentant heart. Just think how much more confident we can be now that our sins have been take away. (Sigh of relief)

          Hebrews 4:16 – Let us approach God’s throne with confidence… Not arrogance but confidence. I am leaning to come to the throne with confidence as well as a teachable, humble, and dependent heart.