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HOW TO SOAR ABOVE THE PLAGUE OF NARCISSIM

In speaking of Timothy, Paul said he was eager to send him to the Philippians because:

I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.

For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.

(Philippians 2:20)

Wow. Paul looks at the believers with him and said, that with the exception of Timothy:

“All seek their own interests.”

Even in the church, self-absorption is the norm.

We think about our own needs and our own reputation.

Caravaggio: Narcissus (1594-1596)
Caravaggio: Narcissus (1594-1596)

The Greek myth of Narcissus depicts a young man who falls in love with his own reflection. Caravaggio has captured “the circle of melancholy” in one so self-obsessed.  Narcissus clearly demonstrates the unhappy end of those who love themselves and their things too much. But Christ longs to set us free.

 

05j_Bald Eagle soaring
PHOTOGRAPH BY MIKE DUNN

IT IS RARE TO FIND A BELIEVER WHO DOESN’T SEEK HIS OWN INTERESTS

WHEN YOU MEET SOMEONE LIKE THIS, YOU ARE DRAWN, SENSING THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST

I am choosing John Stott, who died last year, as an example of self-forgetfulness. Even in his nineties, he was flying across the world to bring the gospel to others. He was so focused on the Kingdom, so in love with the Lord, that he was, indeed, self-forgetful.

John Stott
John Stott

The whole world was impacted by John Stott, whom Christianity Today called “the premier leader” of evangelicalism. When Stott spoke just a few years ago at Redeemer, Tim Keller introduced him as the man who gave us a choice between fundamentalism and liberalism.

On a side note, but an important one, for I want to herald Stott not only has one who had a passion for the lost and the broken, but as an amazing Bible scholar and one you might want to turn to. Keller  spoke at Stott’s memorial at Wheaton College, and commented on his ability to exegete a passage. I have turned to Stott when there is a passage that has troubled me and on which commentators have so many interpretations that it makes my head spin. I absolutely remember the day when my friend Sylvia showed me Stott’s exposition of 1 Timothy 2:8-15. Though you may not agree, I have never read an exposition on that thorny passage that had the same clarity as Stott’s. He wrote that there were three eternal principles in this passage and three cultural examples. The eternal principles are forever. The cultural examples were relevant then,  but not binding now.

  1. Eternal Principle: Men ought always to pray. Cultural example: Lifting up holy hands
  2. Eternal Principle: Women should dress modestly. Cultural example: Not with braided hair or pearls
  3. Eternal Principle: Women should learn quietly and be submissive to authority. Cultural example: Not permitted to teach over men.

This has freed me. Though I have not sought to teach men, when the male authorities of a church or organization have invited me to do so, I have felt freed. Right now I am so thankful to be teaching the adult Sunday school at my church in Wisonsin, under the authority of the male leadership. Stott’s exposition released me to do so.

Stott was a “world Christian,” who cared not only about the spiritual needs of a lost world, but about the hungry, the lonely, and the oppressed. What a legacy he left. And what joy was in this man. He was so self-forgetful he stood out, like a diamond in the universe.

John Stott’s death was mourned throughout the world. If you have time this week, I believe you’d be blessed to watch Tim Keller’s wonderful tribute to him at this Memorial Service at Wheaton College.

I found myself moved to tears, but perhaps that is because John Stott has had such an impact on my own life. His writings impacted me, but it was a personal incident that I will never forget.

It was over twenty-five years ago and I was desperate about my dad’s salvation. Dad and Mother were taking Steve and me to England, so I boldly wrote Dr. Stott. Though I can hardly believe I did this — I asked: “Is there any possibility we could meet you? Somehow I think that if Dad met you, only for a moment, he would know Jesus was real.” That’s how real the spirit of Christ was in Dr. Stott.

Dr. Stott wrote me the kindest letter back, saying that if he were not in China that he would meet with us. He encouraged me to remember God’s great compassion and sovereignty, and to trust His ability to reach my dad through His own good plan. (I believe my dad came to Christ on his deathbed.) Stott took the time to write me because he was looking out for the interests of others.

How did he do this?

Philippians gives us the key.

Note: This Thursday and Friday I’m suggesting, instead of a sermon, if you have an e-book device, to get a very short book by Keller for .99. You may want to get it before Thursday. It takes less than an hour to read, but you may want to contemplate it in smaller pieces.

Sunday/Monday

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

2. It is human nature to put ourselves first, to think primarily of our own needs. It is supernatural to be other-centered, focused on the Kingdom. Are you changing? If so, what is helping you? Have you experienced the surprising joy that comes when you do something for the Kingdom that you thought would be so hard but instead fills you with joy?

3. Give an example of someone in your life who radiates the joy of Christ, is self-forgetful, and looks continually to the needs of others. What do you think is his or her secret?

Monday-Wednesday Bible Study

prison
The Roman prison in Paul’s day was a dark dank pit. No food. No toilet. No heat.
Any food came from friends or family.

 

Philippians was written by Paul from a Roman prison. This last Sunday my pastor in Wisconsin, Doug Quenzer,  showed this picture of a Roman prison that was similar to where Paul stayed for two years when he wrote to the Philippians. It was a pit, dug in the ground. Dark, cold, with the stench of human excrement. This is where Paul stayed and had an inextinguishable job. Why? He assessed what was important and was was not in the eternal scheme of things.

THREE EXAMPLES OF THOSE WHO SOARED ABOVE THE PLAGUE OF NARCISSISM

4. Find these three examples and write down whatever you learn about them in Philippians 2:17-30

    A. Paul

    B. Timothy

    C. Epaphroditus

5. What statement does Paul make in Philippians 2:21? That was true in the church then and true in the church today. Why, do you think? How can we change?

“Why is it so hard to let others go before us — even in traffic or at the store? Why is that we have so much trouble giving up our own rights?” Richey Cable, my pastor in Kansas City, said it is because our “inner assessor” is off.

assessor

He talked about how nervous he was when he and his wife were going to sell their sixty-year-old home and an assessor came, kicking at the foundation, peering at the roof, and circling the home. Ritchey feared he would under-value the home and they would have trouble getting a fair price.

“Our problem,” Ritchey said, “is that we have an assessor in our hearts that is off. We over-value the things of this world and we under-value the things that are eternal.”

My friend Rachael had asked me to pray the last week. Her husband would like to be in ministry, but that would probably mean a move, and Rachael dreaded that — leaving family, leaving the familiar, uprooting her kids.

After church she sent me an e-mail saying God awakened her through Ritchey’s sermon: I’m seeing more clearly that I’ve been in danger of seeking my own interests above God’s glory and the mission He has given us.  I have been overestimating the weight of the things of the world (the comfort of living in KC, close to family, and the “control” of my kids’ worlds, etc.).  And I’ve been underestimating the riches found in Christ and following Him.

(Optional: If you would like to hear the sermon that impacted Rachael, and which I thought was very good, here is the link)

6. Be still before God. What might you be over-valuing? What might you be under-valuing?

7. Read Philippians 2:25-30 again. (Epaphroditus)

A. Why was Epaphroditus distressed?

I cannot help but think of my husband’s distress when he was sick. Not for himself, but for us. He told Annie, “Annie — I am so sorry I have to leave you.”

B. How can you tell from verse 27 how much Epaphroditus meant to Paul?

C How do you think Epaphroditus was able to soar above the plague of narcissism?

Thursday-Friday: Short Keller book

freedom-of-self-forgetfulnessI am hoping that most of you have some kind of e-book device. I’d like you to purchase Keller’s 3 chapter book on Self-Forgetfulness for .99 from Amazon. If you are able to do that, read it (I read it in less than an hour): LINK

8. Write down three main points that stood out to you.

9. If you do not have a kindle device, listen to Keller’s tribute to John Stott above, and write a few things that stood out to you.

Saturday:

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

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282 comments

  1. Thanks to you all for your well wishes and prayers. I love you for it! I am on pain meds naturally, and most of the time I am groggy!

    1. Get lots of rest Deanna~

  2. 4. Find these three examples and write down whatever you learn about them in Philippians 2:17-30

    A. Paul
    Unselfish concern for others; total commitment to Jesus/gospel; personal sacrifice; spiritually mature; faithful; unselfish generosity.

    B. Timothy
    Spiritually mature; faithful; reliable; committed to Jesus/gospel.

    C. Epaphroditus
    Faithful servant; endured hardship and danger for sake of gospel.

    5. What statement does Paul make in Philippians 2:21?
    “For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”

    That was true in the church then and true in the church today. Why, do you think?
    We get caught up in the judgements (or perceived judgments) of “the world”…we are concerned with appearances and what others think of us. Pride…we want to be enough and even more than enough; we make comparisons between our self and others.

    How can we change?
    Vigilance to Romans 12:2 (Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world…) and Philippians 4:8 (…fix your thoughts on what is true …).

    6. Be still before God. What might you be over-valuing?
    *perceived “control”…i.e., I can make things right and okay; I have a plan that will make everything better.
    *material items…far too much distraction thinking about purses; when will the purse that I “have to have” be enough?
    *self-sufficiency

    What might you be under-valuing?
    *valuable lessons learned only through personal experience…allowing others to experience those lessons rather than trying to shield them from challenges.
    *being still…the value of “being” rather than “doing”

  3. 8. Write down three main points that stood out to you.
    There is so much richness in this little book that I want to copy almost the whole thing as an answer!

    1. The fact that you are thinking about your ego (self, self esteem) means that there is something wrong. You don’t think about your little toe until there’s something wrong with it, then it’s all consuming.

    2. Paul not only doesn’t value the Corinthian’s opinion of him or the courts opinion of him he doesn’t even value his own opinion of himself. You don’t cure low self esteem by boosting your self esteem (then it’s still about you). Living up to anyone standards (including your own) is impossible unless those standards are very low. A gospel-humble person is not self hating or self loving. They don’t connect every experience and every conversation to themselves and how it makes them feel. They stop thinking about themselves.

    3.In Christianity, you are not on trial, trying to prove yourself worthy by performing to set standards, awaiting a verdict. The verdict is in. Not guilty. The verdict (God’s opinion) can give you the performance. The only person whose opinion counts looks at you and He finds you more valuable than all the jewels in the earth. Not because of what you have done or are doing, but because of what Christ has done.

  4. I have been reading the comments and praying as I am led for all of you, and re read The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness, I couldn’t help but wish I had gained more ground since the last time I read it :/

    During counseling class on Tuesday our pastor said that if there are parts of your story you can’t speak about then you may in some way be a hostage to those things. This has brought up a storm in me. I am aware that my deepest pain can’t seem to enter into my conversations with others, it seems untouchable. I don’t really know what I mean, I just think something needs to change in me here and it feels scary and makes me angry to contemplate.
    Thanks to everyone praying for Terri. She continues to be able to keep food down praise God, but she is very worried about the upcoming surgery, she doesn’t like pain meds or being out of control.

    1. Oh Chris, praying for you now. Yes, it does sound scary–reading your post–to imagine you entering into your deepest pain, sharing it. This truly crazy part of me read it and vicariously wanted to say ‘no, you don’t have to!’–isn’t that crazy?! I just could sense your hurt and–yet I know only the Truth will set you free- I guess that is the tension and the enemy says to hold it in, hold back, protect yourself–but the Lord says “trust Me” Praying for you dear friend.

    2. Chris, I’ll join Elizabeth in praying for you…I don’t know if this helps, but I’m thinking of a book I read a long time ago by Max Lucado called “He Still Moves Stones”. Anyway…in one of the chapters (and it’s a different situation than yours) he says something to the effect of take Jesus with you to that painful place…let Him sit beside you and tell Him about it. Perhaps you will be able to share your deepest pain with Jesus-privately, just you and Jesus. I think that’s a good first step.
      I feel badly for your friend, Terri – cancer is such a horrible disease. I will pray for her, too.

    3. Chris, so sorry that you are in pain about “parts of your story you can’t speak about”. I hate the thought that you may be held hostage. I am praying for you as you seek to take your pain to Jesus or to a close trusted friend, as the Lord leads.

    4. Chris, Your story is still fresh and raw. I think that you should first be honest with God about your story, what you think, how you perceive it, what you still need help with. Let Him guide and direct when and where you share your story. You are still processing it now so don’t push it. When the time is right, you’ll know. Praying for you sister 🙂

    5. Chris,

      Just read this and will pray. It looks like God is speaking to you through the comments already! I hope He is a comfort to you through them-It starts with just you and Him. It is okay that your pain is untouchable now-but you can let Him touch it and enter into it with you then trust Him to lead you as to whom you can talk with about it-if He even deems it necessary-and perhaps He might if it is an opportunity to comfort someone else with similar pain. Love you.

      1. Thank you sisters, I felt even now feel weird about sharing this, it makes me angry, I am not an angry sort of person. I guess I might not know how to process that emotion well.
        Maybe pride is underneath it all?

        I think there is wisdom in what each of you have said.
        Dee I am thinking he means someone I trust, I have not had a chance to discuss it with him. I haven’t verbalized much of the story to anybody.
        I feel strange when I am talking to someone and I realize that the worst parts of my story in no way intersect the conversation I am having with them. Though they expect that trauma to inform my responses I can’t seem to allow that, at least not as well as I think I should.

        I was feeling the need for a face to face spiritual friendship, the same day I was praying about it, I received a text inviting me to a women’s bible study, from the same friend who gave me the Freedom of Self Forgetfulness. I am hopeful.

        1. Chris, – invited to a women’s Bible study-the same day you prayed!? YEAH! 🙂 I already like the friend who did. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 God is good.. 🙂

    6. Chris, praying for that “storm” in you…also praying for Terri…so glad she can eat. When is her surgery?

    7. Chris, I know everyone has moved onto this week’s study, but your post and others has been on my mind for the past couple of days. I hope this doesn’t come out wrong as my situation was entirely different but still involved “talking to someone face to face”. About 15 (maybe 20 now) years ago I felt that I was supposed to talk to the pastor of the church I was going to about the abuse I had experienced during my marriage. I had never told anyone, God knew I had spoken to Him (and He knows it all anyway)but I felt that I should talk to another human being. Although I am not sure what I was expecting (perhaps sympathy, compassion) but what I remember of that “conversation” is being made to feel like I was somehow responsible for the actions of another person. I left in tears and traumatized by the experience swearing I would never talk to another human being about it. However I did find myself a few years later, being able to articulate my feelings on how it impacted me. Even though both were negative experiences, oddly I now feel more free to talk about it. I look back now and feel that somehow, even though that first conversation left me feeling bruised and battered, it did allow me later on to be talk to talk more openly about some of it. There are still parts of my marriage that I do not feel comfortable talking with anyone on but I also feel that God has healed those parts. I do feel that God knowing is sufficient and I don’t need to re-live every experience. I also feel (right or wrong) that God can heal our pains, trauma, experiences or feelings without having to verbalize those to another human being.

      I do agree with Dee that there are some things that are best left between you and God and do not need to be shared with anyone else, but at the same time, there are other parts that one may want to leave silent, but there will be a time and a place with someone where you will feel that is the appropriate time and setting to share something that you have not shared before…and I also agree that only God can direct that time and setting.

      I am so glad that immediately after you prayed that there was an invite to “face to face” for you. There will be opportunities for you to share some of your experiences openly with a group, there will be other times where parts you may share with one other person, and then there will be others that only you and God know.

      One thing I do know without question is that God heals in His time, His way and I know that the parts that are too painful for you now, will be healed when He says “it’s time”. I will continue to pray for you as He leads you thru those “it’s time” times. Be encouraged by how far you have come, the progress you have made, the trust in the Lord you have. Chris when I think of you, I think of someone who is strong with a greater faith than I see in myself, you are an encouragement to me that no matter how bad things are, He is greater and He will lead through those times.

      1. Mary–this post says SO much about your heart. I felt anger on your behalf to read how your pastor responded to your story–as well as anger for the abuse you endured. This is one of those times I wish our “family” here was face-to-face, and I could sit with you, hug you. I am so sorry. But as I read on and you say you can see how the Lord still used it to bring healing. I am humbled by your faith. I love this, too:
        “One thing I do know without question is that God heals in His time, His way and I know that the parts that are too painful for you now, will be healed when He says “it’s time””, that is RICH. I am so thankful you are here. I feel a kindred spirit with you and am continually blessed by your depth and wisdom, Mary. You have so many gifts to share. I am praying still for your desire to help with special needs at your church. What a blessing your son has a mom like you.

  5. SOMEwhere I have a copy of that great little Keller booklet on self-forgetfulness. I think it was Chris and/or Susan who first mentioned it a while back and I bought a hard copy (like my book in texture form 😉 from CCEF. Unfortunately, to “stage” the house, the first thing to get boxed was all my books…actually I kept out a secret stash, but anyway–I have searched a few times this week, but will keep at it. Way behind and school is out–so I may not finish up, but I am reading & praying!

    1. I believe it was Chris who had mentioned it…I also had bought it based on her recommendation. Had some trouble locating it but I finally did!

  6. I would like to join the bible study group. Wonderful Study in Phil 2 Thank you.

    1. Hi Dee M. – Glad to have you with us!

    2. Welcome, Dee M. – glad you’ve joined us!

    3. Welcome Dee M! Glad you are joining us. 🙂

    4. Welcome Dee M !

      Dee’s real name is Meredith…so your name kinda threw me for a moment! Welcome!!!

  7. 9. If you do not have a kindle device, listen to Keller’s tribute to John Stott above, and write a few things that stood out to you.

    First, Dr. Keller reads from Hebrews 13:7: “Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” Keller states we should do this for our leaders and see how they lived their life and we should try to imitate them. Then he went on to bring out five points from John Stott’s life we should think on.

    1. We need to be convicted by his kingdom vision. Even though he was a humble man and did not seek his own glory, he wanted to change the world for Christ. We should give up our small ambitions.

    2. We should be cautioned by his cultural learning curve. As he grew older, he went out into the whole world and listened. His concern for social justice issues increased with age. He engaged the culture rather than just evangelizing souls.

    3. We should be chastened by his leadership controversies. Apparently, even though he did not look for controversy, he did not back down from confrontations with some pretty well known pastors/teachers of his day. We must be prepared to be challenged and stand up for our view.

    4. We need to be instructed by his great innovations. He re-invented expository preaching. He invented the modern center city church (I believe this is talking about urban churches and engaging the entire community). He was willing to use institutions to spread the gospel and he forced evangelicals to deal with social issues.

    5. We should be empowered by the knowledge of his present glory. We should think of where he is now and rejoice for him and look forward to our own homecoming.

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

    I am going to order Self Forgetfulness. Can’t wait to read it-especially after hearing how it impacted Angela and others who read the book.

    Daily, in our situation due to the daily stress it is easy to let my inner assessor get off and over-value the issues. Yet I think of Paul, and of Stott. I think of their lives, and Paul singing hymns in a horrific prison, Stott enduring leadership controversies- his ministry wasn’t easy. They were willing to yield to Him despite what came at them. My life, as stressful as it is, is no where near as challenging as theirs yet their focus remained on Him and as a result they impacted others and changed the world for Christ.

    After I completed an inventory count in Dee’s warehouse for her books the other day, I picked up a book I have been sensing God wants me to read. It is about Karla Faye Tucker’s life. For those of you who don’t know she was in prison and was sentenced to death and came to know Jesus-she truly had a Gospel transformed heart! Dee partners in prison ministry with Linda Strom who was the one who mentored her and wrote the book. I only had time to peruse through it to see what was inside and found it was hard to put down. I am going to read the whole thing, but I wanted to get a glimpse of her life. First off I noticed what a well written book it is. Linda Strom is amazing, secondly I had no idea how mature Karla was in her faith-she was rich with head knowledge but it worked into her heart and got down to her affections for Christ and spilled onto Him and others. I just couldn’t get my mind away from the depth of Karla’s faith as I read. She is a great example of self forgetfulness, especially nearing the end of her life before they put her to death. She was the real deal and ministered to the broken and hurting in prison.

    My takeaway is that God is speaking to me through Keller’s tribute to Stott as well as Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus. He even led me to Tucker’s book when I couldn’t get Keller’s. 🙂 This is His power in them-Gospel transformed lives. I am truly encouraged and humbled by them and hopeful for today that He will keep my mind on Him despite my circumstances so that I too will grow in valuing the things Jesus values above all else.

  9. Kendra and I have been dog sitting for my son (a Great Dane) and his girlfriend’s dog (a dachund…quite a pair!), while they are on his Harley camping in the CO mountains and driving around in the mountains. It scares me so bad.. he’s a good driver…but it’s usually the other guy that doesn’t see the motorcycles. They will be back monday evening. Please pray for their safely. (Trevor and Sam are their names) Thank you!

    1. oh Joyce–I did see this last night and prayed–will continue to pray they get home safely Monday!

  10. Yea! Found the book–actually my husband did. These nuggets from Keller I love:
    “The thing we would remember from meeting a truly gospel-humble person is how much they seemed to be totally interested in us. gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.”

    “The truly gospel-humble person is a self-forgetful person whose ego is just like his or her toes. It just works. It does not draw attention to itself. ”

    “The self-forgetful person would never be hurt particularly badly by criticism…a person who is devastated by criticism is putting too much value on what other people think, on other people’s opinions.”

    “When someone whose ego is not puffed up but filled up gets criticism, it does not devastate them. They listen to it and see it as an opportunity to change…the more we get to understand the gospel, the more we want to change.”

    “It is over. Because the ultimate verdict is in. Paul knows that they cannot justify him. He knows he cannot justify himself… is the Lord who judges him. It is only His opinion that counts.”

    “…we have to re-live the gospel every time we pray… every time we go to church. We have to re-live the gospel on the spot and ask ourselves what we are doing in the courtroom. We should not be there. The court is adjourned.”

    I am going to ponder more on this today–I hate how much I do still hang out in the courtroom–lured back in, wanting to justify myself in others eyes, make excuses for my behavior instead of just confessing it as sin and accepting grace. I see myself standing in the courtroom saying ‘but I’m just so tired/stressed…so much going on…that’s why I’m being really whiny and critical and complaining…”. NO. The trial is OVER! He already took it ALL. I am free, un-accused, unbelievably grateful.

    1. Elizabeth , Thanks so much for posting these excerpts.. Yes, a lot to meditate on-so looking forward to reading it.

  11. Take away is really focusing on the jury is out! Loved that from Keller book. To live is Christ. Period.

  12. Saturday:
    10. What is your take-a-way and why?
    Keller’s book is so insightful. I didn’t mention this in my notes, but in one place he says our ego is empty, painful, busy and fragile. I am empty when I try to build my identity around anything besides God. I feel pain because my ego is not well, desperately trying to call attention to itself—even when I think I don’t like attention! I busy myself trying to look like a good mom/wife/friend/person…trying to build the resume. And I am fragile—filled up with air, nothing solid, and always in danger of being deflated.

    But Paul not only doesn’t care what others think of him, he doesn’t care what he thinks of himself—and that is the key. I have a great opportunity to put this in practice today. The last few days, I’ve been grouchy. My pain flares with the coming storms—(my neurologist says the barometric pressure can aggravate once nerve damage has occurred). I’ve been tired, edgy—and so now I just feel pretty icky about myself and have been beating myself up the past few hours!

    But what Paul teaches here is that my attitude reveals my pride. Even being “down on myself” is pride. I should not care what others think of me—but I also should not be mulling over my own assessment of myself, as if my opinion decides the verdict. As if I define myself! HE has defined me. The only One whose opinion counts says I’m worth it. Even like this, He loves me and declares me His. It seems like an insult to believe I can overrule His declaration of me. I’m thinking back now to Phil. 1:27—“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Maybe I’m too out of context—but I see how I can apply this here, too. To live as one who knows the truth of the Gospel, is to live with the blessing of self-forgetfulness.

  13. I know I post these songs a bit much! But oh, this one has been swirling since re-reading the part on the court room. I must remember IT IS FINISHED. How it must grieve Him when I act as though it is not.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70D_W8hGBQ4
    Red Mountain “It is Finished”

  14. Paul Tripp has a really good 2 part series on Waiting on God–I found it really helpful and thought of many of you. This is the link to part 2: http://www.paultripp.com/articles/posts/gods-will-for-your-wait-part-two
    He says (referring to Abraham):
    “We tend to think that, having been given a promise from God, a person might well begin to wait with vibrant faith. But as the wait drags on it seems that faith would gradually weaken. So why did Abraham’s faith on the whole grow stronger and stronger? Because of what he did as he waited.
    During his wait, Abraham became a student of the character and power of God, and the more he saw God for who he was, the stronger his faith became. He meditated on the glory of God, not on the difficulty of his situation.”

    1. Love the quote, elizabeth. I’ll try to find the time to read the article.

  15. 7. A. Why was Epaphroditus distressed?
    Epaphroditus had fallen gravely ill but had recovered. He knew that there were people back home VERY concerned for his well-being; he wanted to ease their anxiety by his returning to them fit and well.

    B. How can you tell from verse 27 how much Epaphroditus meant to Paul?
    Paul was grateful for Epaphroditus’ recovering; his affection for Epaphroditus was evident in his writing: “But God had mercy on him and not on him only but also me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow.”

    C How do you think Epaphroditus was able to soar above the plague of narcissism?
    Ephaphroditus was committed to the cause of the gospel. He was entirely loyal to it; the gospel was Ephaphroditus’ number one priority–it was the passion of his life, all other was secondary.

    8. Write down three main points that stood out to you.

    1. Live out of (Romans 8:1) “therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ” and (Mark 1:11) “you are my beloved child in whom I am well pleased.”

    2. When I get sucked back into the courtroom…relive the gospel in prayer, worship, or whatever and whenever needed…realize that I should not be in the courtroom; court is adjourned.

    3. Psalm 139: 23-24,
    “Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
    See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.”