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Every time I go into “the church” in the prison I am humbled.

Every time I ponder: Why is it so much more vibrant than the church outside the prison?

Women in a Faith Dorm in Texas
Women in a Faith Dorm sponsored by Discipleship Unlimited

Two weeks ago I visited Ellsworth, a women’s prison near Milwaukee. About seventy women had completed my Bible study on Idol Lies, and that night I was meeting with just twelve of them. When I walked in their faces lit up, they cheered, and I could hardly wait to hear their stories, for these daughters of God behind bars always revitalize me with their vibrant faith. They prove once again how much God loves “ragamuffins,” how His Kingdom is an upside-down Kingdom populated by ex-prostitutes and ex-thieves and recovering addicts. Heaven will be populated by ragamuffins, for they are the ones who are the most likely to realize their need for grace.

So many of the women in prison have had childhoods filled with horrific abuse and neglect. Many of them have done terrible things even after becoming His children. They struggle with holding onto the gospel, to continually believing that they are cleansed and beautiful in His eyes.

That night I felt led to teach them from The Song of Songs. As Charles Spurgeon says, “We see Jesus in every book of the Bible, but it is in The Song of Songs that we see His heart for us.” I knew they could not hear too often how loved they were. I opened my teaching by reading from the opening of The Song of Songs. The Shulammite maiden, who represents us, says: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.”

I asked “Have you ever had the experience of a verse in the Word jumping out at you – giving you just what you need? Or of His still small voice whispering to you? Or of the Lord absolutely surprising you with circumstances that show you how mindful He is of you? They were all nodding, smiling. They knew. I said, “When that happens, you’ve been kissed by the King.”

Kisses from King


OH!” they chorused.

I went on to explain how at first the Shulammite maiden, when she sees how glorious the king is, feels unworthy, dark, and ashamed. She asks him not to gaze at her. I told them, “That is how people feel when they get close to a holy God – like Peter, who said, “Away from me,” or like Isaiah, when he said, “Woe is me, I am a man of unclean lips.” They nodded. They knew what it was like to feel unworthy. “But,” I said, “I want you to see how the King sees her – how the King sees you! He has cleansed her, made her as white as a lily, and so he reassures her – as He does each of us:


Behold, you are beautiful my love,

            behold, you are beautiful…

                                    Song of Songs 1:19


Julia was sitting next to me, a frail flower that seemed beaten down by the strong winds of her life. When I said, “Behold, you are beautiful,” she began to weep. The tears were coming so fast that a sister jumped up and brought her the roll of toilet paper, a staple during our meetings. I paused and asked her if she wanted to share. She wiped her eyes, nodded, and took a deep breath.

When I read “Idol Lies” I began to understand the root of some of the terrible choices I’ve made. I so wanted my mother to love me, to approve of me, to think I was beautiful. I so longed to hear her say, “You are beautiful.” Just once. Or “I love you.” But because of her own stuff, she just never could. When I was old enough, I turned to men. I wanted them to love me, to approve of me, to think I was beautiful. I did some terrible things to please them in hopes of making that happen. I did what they asked, even when it was illegal. But they didn’t love me. They used me. Shortly before I was incarcerated, I would look in the mirror and scream:

            “I HATE YOU. I HATE YOU. I HATE YOU.”  

  And then, in here, through this ministry, Christ found me and forgave me. Just this morning I was walking on the track, feeling so thankful, and I told Jesus, “Lord, You are so beautiful.” And then, I thought I heard Him whisper: “Julia, you are beautiful.” It was so incredible I wondered if I’d imagined it. So I asked Him to say it again – but I   didn’t hear it again. But tonight, when you opened the Word, you said He was saying to us:

                     Behold, you are beautiful my love,

                        behold, you are beautiful…

                                    Song of Songs 1:19


We all sat there stunned. A holy moment. Finally I said, “Oh Julia – you have just been kissed by the King!” In fact, we’d all been kissed by the King at that moment, for He had moved so clearly in our midst.

When Paul says, “that I may know Him” it is the same word that is used to express intimacy between a husband and a wife.

This week’s Bible study is so important — I truly believe He will meet you in it. And I am so eager to hear about your kisses!

Paul could have prayed to be released from prison, to be healed of his illness — but looking ahead to Judgment Day, he prayed “That I may be found in Him.” Paul? Did Paul fear that he might not be found in Him? I am convinced that the same man who said such confident statements about his future, like “To die is gain,” also had a holy fear of his propensity toward idolatry. I know there are moments in my life when I have failed so badly that I begin to wonder, “Am I a fake? Or do I really know Him?” Just as John tells us in his letter that as we walk in the light our confidence that we know Him will grow, I wonder if that is what Paul is saying here

“That I may know Him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:10-11)

Come. Let us begin to tap into these mysterious life-changing depths.



1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
2. How have you been “kissed by the King” recently?

Monday/Wednesday Bible Study

When the Bible talks about “the flesh,” God is not talking about the body, but about the ways outside of Christ that people make themselves feel valuable. The very things that may have given us confidence (wealth, a college degree, standing in the community, beauty, talent) may actually keep us out of the Kingdom. That is why Paul counts everything, all his credentials that created awe in the world, as “dung.” And hear this — they can be dangerous to our very souls, for we are so tempted to trust in them instead of in Christ.

The women in prison have to understand that they are loved despite their badness. We must grasp that too, but we must also grasp that our “goodness” cannot save us, in fact, trusting in it, in our own “credentials,” can keep us out.
3. Read Philippians 3:1-6
      A. False teachers (dogs) had infiltrated saying that to be saved you needed faith plus circumcision. This feels foreign to us, but it is an example of putting confidence in something other than the shed blood of Christ. We do this all the time, we feel good about ourselves if we look good, do well, or are admired by our peers. Where do you tend to put your confidence, get your sense of well-being, other than Christ?

B. What are some of the things Paul could have put his confidence in according to verses 4-6?

4.  Read Philippians 3:7-9
      A. How does Paul see the things the world valued in him now, according to verses 7-8? Why do you think he uses such a strong term?
Thinking of the coming day of judgment Paul wants “to be found in him.” I want “to be found in Him!” So many who think they are going to heaven are not. The parable of the ten virgins, the story of the sheep and the goats, and the words “I never knew you,” from Matthew 25 put a cleansing fear of God in my heart.
Ain Vares http://www.bibleartexperience.com/Gallery5b.html
Ain Vares
B. What does it mean “to be found in Him?”


5. Oh the passion of Philippians 3:10-11. Again, go slowly, asking the Spirit, “what does this phrase mean?”
     A. That I may know Him (Jonathan Edwards said that “there is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet and tasting it.”)  What does this mean, and how does this relate to this phrase?
Tasting honey
Tasting honey

And I can’t resist: Miabelle tasting my blueberry smoothie this week. She wasn’t so sure she wanted it when she saw me putting wheat germ in it, but she did finally taste it. And this is no mere assent to the facts. This is experience.

The word “know” is also the word for intimacy between a husband and a wife. Again, no simple intellectual knowledge, but experiencing the Lord. This is the mystery Paul talks about in Ephesians. Sex has been so distorted in our world that we may have trouble with the parallel God makes. Therefore, I’ve chosen a picture that shows a different kind of intimacy between a husband and wife — the kind that makes you fight through trouble to understanding because of the deep love you have for one another. You are not going to let go, you are going to push through to being one again because of your commitment, your love, and your longing.
I will share a way that I experienced God this week, for it is relevant to understanding this important passage. I was troubled by Philippians 3:11. My thoughts were, “Is Paul really uncertain of his salvation?”  I kept asking God, praying, talking to my daughter Annie about it, reading commentators. I wanted to push through and understand.
And God came to me, helping me to understand.
Was Paul uncertain of his salvation? Yes and no. Greg Scharf, who now leads John Stott ministries, told me, “There is enough in Scripture to make us feel secure, and enough to keep us on our toes.” Paul did not want to trust in anything other than Christ, which is why he wanted to count all of his impressive credentials as dung. He wants the gospel to save him from himself, and his default mode of works righteousness.

This is a difficult passage and I’ll be interested in your take.Commentaries I respect said to compare Philippians 3:10-11 to Romans 6, where it talks about dying to self and living to Christ. We become like Christ in sufferings and in death when we die to our idols, to the things of the world we have over-valued, to sin — then, we will know the power of the resurrection.

Again, our idols are not our friends. They keep us from experiencing the power of His resurrection.


C. Important: Compare Philippians 3:10-11 to Romans 6. Does this help you gain understanding? If so, explain.
D. Explain Philippians 3:10-11.
E. Read this phrase from Philippians 3:12 in the NIV. Does it give you further illumination? If so, explain:
 I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
F. How have you experienced the Lord (been kissed!) this week?

 Thursday/Friday: Sermon: To Be Found In Him (LINK)

6. Share your notes from the above.


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

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  1. 5. Oh the passion of Philippians 3:10-11. Again, go slowly, asking the Spirit, “what does this phrase mean?”

    He so surpasses what I could write down so this is my frail attempt at putting these thoughts together:

    This caused me to refelct on Paul’s life overall..the picture of the prison Dee posted that he was willing to be kept in for Jesus-the pain he endured in the body where some were preaching the Gospel to hurt him yet his response was that he was glad the gospel got out; He could care less if anyone hurt his reputation. When Paul sang Hymns while in chains..He could care less of his comfort. Yet we also see Paul saying he wants to do what is right but instead does what he hates. In my opinion His strength to keep His eyes fixed on God in the midst of being persecuted was because of Him experiencing God in His suffering-Letting God chisel away at His idols. He didn’t back away from God and His intimacy grew. Perhaps part of suffering is allowing God to chisel our idols. When we experience circumstances that cause suffering, whether self imposed or not, we tend to bend toward our idols and they surface. So maybe being willing to partake in His suffering is allowing God to chisel those stones being willing to let go of them and cling to Him letting Him have us and mold us.

    This is an ongoing process of dying to ourself daily and going higher with Him, yet what blows me away is it is His power in us to shape us-and I am willing to say now that I can’t take credit for yielding either! For only when He melts me am I able to yeild.

    So the picture of someone who has tasted Him and someone who has an observational knowledge of him are two totally different pictures-the fruit is pasted on one and the fruit on the other truly radiates Jesus.

  2. So I just had this thought-and really need to be honest with myself-I think we can know Him and experience Him as new believers but forget and move into pasting on fruit-How many years was I pasting on fruit? How much chaff have I built up?Until I came here on this blog I didn’t look daily at the Gospel that hangs on the Gossimer thread-I wasn’t looking at it as it turned seeing the many facets and colors, but He is helping me to do that now..I don’t know-I can’t really look back and see if there is any growth-but I do look forward for I want to know Him more deeply..to journey further with Him into these beautiful colors of the Gospel..and so I need to let Him have me and chip away more at my idols. The breakthroughs are so small as He is so much further to go with me, but I praise Him for these!!!!

  3. Read this phrase from Philippians 3:12 in the NIV. Does it give you further illumination? If so, explain:
    I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

    We didn’t grab hold of Christ, He first took hold of us.

    It’s like someone grabs your hand and starts running with you (someone who runs faster than you, of course). You can sit down and not budge, pull your hand out of his grasp, run the other direction and try to pull him along, run with him until you get tired and quit or run as hard and fast as you can where ever he is taking you.

    Jesus is that runner. The longer you run with him the easier it gets because you know that it will be worth it, but the race isn’t over until you cross the finish line.

  4. B. What does it mean “to be found in Him?”
    It means that Jesus earned righteousness for sinners; this righteousness is offered to sinners as a gift of grace through faith and trust in Jesus. “To be found in Him” is to accept this gift of grace thereby acknowledging that all righteousness is of Jesus and only Jesus; the believer can take no credit, it is all grace.

    5. A. That I may know Him (Jonathan Edwards said that “there is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet and tasting it.”) What does this mean, and how does this relate to this phrase?
    It is the difference between “head knowledge” and really “knowing” through personal experience. From information sources, one can think that honey is sweet, but it is only when one tastes and experiences the sweet taste that one really knows. Similarly with Jesus…we can study Jesus and accumulate information, in a sense “orbit” around Him, without our heart fully becoming engaged. It is only in allowing the immensity of the gospel to seep into one’s mind, heart, and soul fully, resulting in love and gratitude for His incomprehensible sacrifice in redeeming sinners, that one moves into an intimate relationship where one truly can say beyond understanding that “all is grace” because of trust and belief in the good, all knowing, all powerful Lord.

    1. loved all of this “5A” Nanci–“we can..“orbit” around Him, without our heart fully becoming engaged. It is only in allowing the immensity of the gospel to seep into one’s mind, heart, and soul fully, resulting in love and gratitude for His incomprehensible sacrifice in redeeming sinners, that one moves into an intimate relationship where one truly can say beyond understanding that “all is grace” “

  5. I got 3/4ths threw the sermon today–and I honestly though ‘Dee, why have you kept this one from us so long?!’ 🙂 It’s that good. Re-states so many of his best points, for me at least. My self-righteousness resume-ouch! Will listen again tonight for notes.

  6. 5a. I looked up assume. There are several meanings but none of them are to hope. One is to put on, to take up, to place one’s self in and to take as granted or true. Paul is very much counting on resurrection from the dead though he can’t imagine how it will be achieved.
    Paul’s goal is to know Christ and receive all that he has in Him which includes resurrection or salvation. He wants all of Jesus, His suffering, His death and the power that raised Him from the dead. In all of these things Paul benefits but also shares. I think that is what he means by fellowship. This passage is so rich. I’m getting lost in my thoughts.

  7. C. Important: Compare Philippians 3:10-11 to Romans 6. Does this help you gain understanding? If so, explain.
    I read Phil 3:11 “that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” as Paul knowing that whatever God has to use in his life for sanctification, that he will receive, or inherit, resurrection. When I read attain I see more “reach” or inherit, “be met with”—I don’t infer that he is talking about achieving on his own merit.

    D. Explain Philippians 3:10-11.
    It is interesting, I am noticing more that the progression Paul speaks of in becoming like Christ. First Paul says that he wants to know Christ—there is a desire, a Spirit-given longing, to know every aspect of Jesus. How? By experiencing what Christ experienced—again, it implies to me the depth of intimacy Paul is referring to. To experience Christ, he must die to self, as Christ did. And then “by any means possible”, which says to me, he is submitting himself to means beyond his understanding or power. Then, he will be raised with Christ.

    E. Read this phrase from Philippians 3:12 in the NIV. Does it give you further illumination? If so, explain:
    Paul recognizes his imperfection, his sin. Yet he lives in a state of dependent obedience, desiring to grow more in Christ-likeness until the final day.

  8. 4B. What does it mean “to be found in Him?” We want to be right with God, but no matter how disciplined we become or how much law-keeping we do, or how much effort we put out, we cannot achieve this for ourselves. When we surrender to Him, believe in Jesus, and accept the grace we are being offered, then our sinfulness is exchanged for Jesus’ righteousness –then we are in a state of being “found in Him.”

    5. Oh the passion of Philippians 3:10-11. Again, go slowly, asking the Spirit, “what does this phrase mean?”
    A. That I may know Him (Jonathan Edwards said that “there is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet and tasting it.”) What does this mean, and how does this relate to this phrase?
    I think it has already been said that it is the difference between thinking and experiencing. I would like to just tweak that by saying it is the difference between the head and the heart. Thinking is done in the head; believing and accepting grace can only be done in the heart. Some sacrifice or suffering usually precedes our surrender. We have to give up our idols! Before we can walk in the newness of life, we must be willing to die to sin.

  9. C. Important: Compare Philippians 3:10-11 to Romans 6. Does this help you gain understanding? If so, explain.

    Paul wants to share in Jesus’ death by his own death to sin, burial in baptism and resurrection to a new way of life. Dead to sin but alive to God and all of our parts His weapons for righteousness.
    I love verse 19 which says that rather than being a slave to sin, be a slave to righteousness which will result in sanctification. I don’t think this means strict adherence to rules but to be ruled by Christ’s righteousness.

  10. 5D. Explain Philippians 3:10-11.
    ⌊My goal⌋ is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead. (Philippians 3:10, 11 HCSB)

    Paul’s goal is to know Christ, not use Him for any sort of personal gain, and the power of His resurrection. That power is what strengthens us in our inner being (Eph. 3:16) and the sap in the Vine.
    The fellowship of His suffering is actually two things. His suffering at the cross brings our healing (by His stripes) and we also must suffer to bring our sanctification.
    In being conformed to His death we die to sin are buried in baptism and raised with Him to new life. We are no longer slaves to sin. I love in Romans where it says we become slaves to righteousness.
    I was thinking that the word assume implied that Paul hoped but was not sure that he would be resurrected, but when I looked it up my thinking changed. He lived as if he would be resurrected, the how was a mystery to him. That is why he says somehow but he was so sure it would happen he based his life on it.
    I have been so blessed looking at this passage of scripture.

  11. B. What does it mean “to be found in Him?”

    I suppose it means with characteristics of Christ.

    5. Oh the passion of Philippians 3:10-11. Again, go slowly, asking the Spirit, “what does this phrase mean?”

    I can only use human terms to describe this passage. The feeling one gets when their is hard work accomplished and success is attained. When we strive to meet a goal and the goal is met with long, hard, arduous work. You know that “goal” so well, inside and out, you feel “married” to the thing because you have permeated evey one bit of your body with the thing. I think of my masters degree here. It took about 2 long, hard years to get through the 12 classes, comprehensive final, and field camp. It was kinda painful at times, especially when I was working full time. I would come home from work, eat, and then go to the office to study. I studied all day on Saturday’s as well. By the end I was exhausted and felt like I knew the masters better than anything else in my life. Sad to put so much effort in something that can’t give back.

    With Jesus, to be found “in him” would be knowing Him and His life, His characteristics, His being, so well that it permeates throughout you body. You radiate Him. He is you. You know (italics) the fear of dying as He did in Gesthemene, you know (italics) the agony of the beatings, you know (italics) the fatigue of carrying the cross, you know (italics) the pain of the nails, you know (italics) the humiliation of the soldier who gambled your clothes, you know (italics) the feeling of the last breath, and finally, you know (italics) the joy of seeing God at the Ascension and Resurrection. He is you.

    Dee, ask David if we can have italics in our typing! 🙂

         A. That I may know Him (Jonathan Edwards said that “there is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet and tasting it.”)  What does this mean, and how does this relate to this phrase?

    See above. It is one thing to know something and another to experience it!

    Does anyone know of a good study on Jesus’ parables? I need to get “knowing Him!”

      1. Thanks Dee 🙂

  12. 5 C. Important: Compare Philippians 3:10-11 to Romans 6. Does this help you gain understanding? If so, explain.

    Romans 6 SO explains it well-I basically put the answer to this in the prior question but Paul is talking about sanctification-Jesus setting us free from being bound by sin. When we come to know Him we are clothed in His righteousness and are raised with Him to new life, and we are dying to self-we are no longer slaves to sin. We are new creatures in Christ. I love how Anne lays it out above-so good.

    E. Read this phrase from Philippians 3:12 in the NIV. Does it give you further illumination? If so, explain:

    Because I am in Him-He is my identity for I died with Him was buried with Him and rose with Him to new life- I am wrapped in His righteousness- I can humbly and confidently approach God.

    F. How have you experienced the Lord (been kissed!) this week?

    Yesterday I was listening to a Keller sermon and He kissed me, and last night He kissed me again as He ministered to a friend who need His kiss. 🙂

  13. 4. Read Philippians 3:7-9

    A. How does Paul see the things the world valued in him now, according to verses 7-8? Why do you think he uses such a strong term?

    He sees his pedigree and list of accomplishments as loss and rubbish – other translations render rubbish as dung, refuse, and filth. Why does he use such strong language? Perhaps to make no bones about it-he couldn’t be any clearer about the fact that his ‘brag list’ is now something so detestable to him and is less than nothing compared to the value of knowing Christ.

    B. What does it mean “to be found in Him?”

    Paul says “I consider them rubbish THAT I may gain Christ and be found in Him..” He seems to be saying that if he had not changed his mind about the things he used to rely on to make him righteous before God (his circumcision, pedigree, legalism, etc..) he would NOT have gained Christ and still be lost. Paul gave up his ‘functional saviors’. He let them go. To be “found in Him” is to be found not wanting, not lacking…covered with the righteousness of Christ. Simple-but I keep thinking of a game of hide-and-seek. When Adam and Eve sinned, they hid from God b/c they were afraid of Him. To be saved and forgiven and accepted in Christ is to be eternally found – no more fear, no more hiding. To not have to be afraid of the searching eyes of God because as His eyes rest on His dearly loved Son, there we are, too.

    1. Love your hide-and-seek analogy, Susan.

  14. Was Paul uncertain of his salvation? The most uncertain part of this passage is in verse 11. He states, “and so, somehow, to attain the resurrection from the dead.” I don’t think Paul was uncertain about his salvation. I think he was uncertain of the way he would meet God — would he be executed or would he die a natural death?

    I was attracted to the quote of Greg Scharf: “There is enough in Scripture to make us feel secure, and enough to keep us on our toes.” I thought that was a great statement. I have personally found Scripture to be comforting, and then again, it is like a big “heads up!”
    Some Scripture can leave me downright uncomfortable particularly if it points out something God expects of us that I am reluctant to do!

    C. Important: Compare Philippians 3:10-11 to Romans 6. Does this help you gain understanding? If so, explain. I am not sure I can say it helped with understanding, but it convinced me more thoroughly. I could see several parallels between the passage in Philippians and chapter 6 in Romans.

    D. Explain Philippians 3:10-11. When we are found in Christ (united with Him as much as we can in all ways), then we receive the power of the resurrection, and we can change our lives (with His help and His power). The power of the resurrection allows us to move into “newness of life.”

    E. Read this phrase from Philippians 3:12 in the NIV. Does it give you further illumination? If so, explain:
    I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

    Well, the NIV is my “default” version, so I had to go about this a little in reverse. I found benefit by checking out the New Revised Standard Version, which reads: “Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”

  15. Love this sermon…Loved several points
    Crap-How counting all things loss really means that word. I think about it like this, our resumes may be things we like to build and collect to establish a tower to make us feel better.But crap is not something you want to collect and save, it is smelly and gross, filth (like our righteous works are like filthy rags) anyway, you run from the stintch of crap. I want to do what Christ has for me or wants me to do but I want my resume of being His alone to be enough. In this world I don’t know how far that will take me as far as publishing, speaking. Many encourage you to build a platform but I want no platform or others worshiping me. That is what a platform is right? I don’t want people to chase me, I want to chase Him. So any accomplishments I have thus far I consider them the same. I am not sure what that means though. I guess I just faithfully work wherever He plants me or takes me.

    Tribal man-I liked this analogy. He listed the rules of don’ts in Christianity. The tribal guy was too old to do those “bad” things so he said, well I guess that makes me a Christian. So many think this way. Or think God owes them for their lives looking a certain way.

    Perfect spiritual headshot is in Christ alone. I love this. He lived the life I should have and died the death I should have. He is amazing and all I want is to be found in HIM! I love He molds us continually more and more into His image.
    Our righteousness
    Brest plate-Bullet proof vest…Being found in Him. Loved this analogy as well. When I think of righteousness I think, wow just being in Him makes me righteous but it also keeps us solid on the Rock that He is so when the spiritual arrows come accusing or bullets we are in a bullet proof vest and I can equate it too to remembering the jury is out. I must share there is one lady in particular I know has issues with me leading. I do not know why or what it is. There are continual sideway comments and when I saw her there that Sunday night and she said a sharp sideways comment to me even in front of others then there were ladies of all ages of which I feel so unworthy to lead and this is only facilitating! Dee’s material is great! However, I kept remembering the jury is out! He is well pleased with me so those arrows did not hit my heart like they did before. I love that. Great sermon!!!

  16. Concerning a Kiss from the King: I learned on Tuesday that, due to my auto accident and fractured sternum, I will not be allowed to drive for six weeks! I am the sole driver in this household, so that verdict is drastically changing life as we know it. I have never been a person who likes to be waited on by others, so learning to depend on family and friends during this period is going to be an educational process for me!! However, one Kiss of the King is the amazing way someone always turns up to help me when I am feeling stymied. I have wonderful neighbors to the right and the left of me. Remember me mentioning the bright colored flowers in my yard? Well, my neighbor to the left is watering them for me daily (Bless her)! Then, when a feral cat crawled into my yard and died, my neighbor to the right took care of disposing of the body (Bless him)!

    I’m a tad dipsy from taking pain medications around the clock, and it seems like I’m constantly misplacing things. However, whether it is important insurance papers or just several pairs of earrings, I have felt that I had “help from on high” relocating them. A second Kiss from the King!

    I had been given the responsibility of finding a guest speaker for my P.E.O. chapter’s meeting in a couple of months. I was clueless as to who I would recruit. Then yesterday, a neighbor invited me to attend a meeting at her church. I had to ride in her back car seat, as I can’t risk being hit by a front air bag (would probably finish me off!) I was delighted with the speaker they had at this meeting, and I was able to get contact information and I am hoping to secure her to speak — another serendipitous Kiss from the King!!

    1. oh Deanna, SO sorry about not being able to drive, and all the pain–but love how He is showing you how many people care for you and want to help. I know how hard it is to allow help–but truly, it is a blessing for “helper” types to get to bless you!

  17. 6. Share your notes from the above.
    Paul lists his credentials, his resume. He’s saying: I had it all, the pedigree, the grades, impeccable credentials. But Paul says: I consider all these things rubbish, because he has found something of surpassing greatness—something that out-shines all he ever cared about. Righteousness through Christ.
    Keller says righteousness is your greatest need; your greatest problem; and is God’s greatest gift.
    We tend to refer to righteousness as being good, but Paul is saying it is our credentials on which we judge ourselves and others. We use our resume—what I have accomplished, etc…to establish my worth.

    He nailed it home for me when he gave the example of he and Kathy. He said: When there are problems in my church, when things aren’t going well, he feels terrible about himself, questions his worth—because the church’s health can become his righteousness. But to Kathy—she can respond more “spiritual” and remind him God is in control. Her struggle is more with kids. I relate to this. It is so easy for me to tell my husband he is making an idol of his job and needs to bring God into his work more, etc…but when something goes wrong with the kids, I flip out and he’s calmer. My kids—the state of my relationships with them especially, can become my righteousness. We feel naked and exposed, and look for a covering.

    My sins are not my greatest problem—it is my righteousness which blinds me spiritually. I know I am a sinner and yet I can still look at my sin and subconsciously even say ‘but I’m really a good mom…I deserve…’. My righteousness keeps me from trusting ONLY in Christ. Can I just get to and rest in—all the stuff I’m so proud of is NOTHING?! My sin is forgiven, I have HIS righteousness.

    I know this doesn’t make sense, but sometimes I think—doesn’t God get so frustrated with me and my dense-ness?! He sees me with Christ’s righteousness. I have His identity, I am found in Him. OH to just get it in me. But it’s not like that, I’ll never arrive or be done learning this truth. That’s the “press on” part, I think. Daily remind myself of the Gospel’s gift—His righteous robe, on me.

    When I am annoyed, upset…red flag that something has threatened what I use as my flimsy righteous covering. It’s like transparent—doesn’t work at all. And doesn’t protect me—that’s why I get hurt using it. But His righteousness is mine forever, never to be lost. Oh to live in the reality of how He sees me, who He calls me.

  18. Greetings ladies…following is an update on Jay:
    Jay was admitted to the hospital today to try and find out what is going on. He was having symptoms that were attributed to his antibiotics but have not gone away even though he is done with that medication. The symptoms could be a sign of returning cancer. Today Jay had an EEG and an MRI; tomorrow he will undergo a spinal tap and bone marrow biopsy.

    This URL is to a video recently done on Jay by Cue the Light… http://vimeo.com/68139650

    1. OH NANCI! tears! so hard to watch but could not take my eyes away–so good to have faces–oh, oh–praying

    2. Nanci, thanks so much for submitting this video. It helps to see faces. Poor little guy! So hard for parents! Praying!!

    3. Oh Nanci! Praying for Jay and his parents. This video gives me a lot of ideas for prayer. Thanks. Is he related to you?

      1. Jay is the grandson of our good friends who are also cousins on my husband’s side.

    4. Nanci, The video will certainly help to focus our prayers. I feel so bad for little Jay and his parents. Seeing the implements and syringes, brought back painful memories of when my daughter (in her 40s) had a bout with cancer.I doubt little Jay can understand his illness.

  19. Wowie zowie!!!! Sermon was awesome!

    1. Like! :p

  20. I just came across this powerful video called “What is Love”. (I asked to have it taken down as I worried that I shouldn’t have posted it.

    1. Saw this! Such committed love! Inspirational!

      1. I thought so too–but now I fear I was insensitive to those like Susan who have experienced this first-hand–so sorry. It is such a beautiful love story though–I watched the follow up he gave on the love coming only from Christ is him, so moving!

        1. Didn’t know there was a followup.

  21. Laura, I have been thinking about your post but I guess I was waiting until we begin to study eternal security. I would really like guidance. I am only saying what I think. It may not be right. I believe we are eternally secure in Christ, as long as we are in Him and not trusting in our own worth for salvation. With that said, i think we should never stop examining ourselves for pure motives because we can so easily get off track. I don’t think we would lose our salvation in that case but would cause great harm to ourselves and others. JD Greear said that if someone never questions their own salvation they should and that those who think about it probably don’t need to worry. I know I didn’t quote that right. Not sure it even makes sense. It did when he said it.
    About Jesus’ words in Matthew 7, I don’t think we can know who those people will be, but there will be some as Jesus said. We just can’t know the heart of another and what transactions have occurred between them and The Lord. I feel like I can often tell by fruit the people who have a relationship with The Lord. Then I think there are some who show no outward fruit but have trusted Christ. We just can’t see into the hearts of others.
    I tend to agree with you that justification and sanctification are separate. I have a personal experience that I think relates to that. The long-timers may want to skip this for i have shared it at least once before.
    As far as I knew, my mother never came to The Lord before she died. At her death The Lord asked me to trust Him with her and so I left it with Him. It was at least a year, maybe several later that The Lord visited me about this and assured me of her salvation. I was so happy but one of my first thoughts was sort of a lament that she had no treasure and The Lord said to me that I could share mine with her. What a blessed thought, that I can store up treasure in heaven and be rich toward others there. It motivated me to appreciate sanctification and started me on the journey toward relationship and away from works righteousness.

  22. E. Read this phrase from Philippians 3:12 in the NIV. Does it give you further illumination? If so, explain:
    I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

    This seems to me like a description of our term “leaning in” to the work God is perfecting in us. The Israelites wandered in the desert 40 years because they fought this process. Paul said he ran the race to obtain the prize, the crown which I think is Christlikeness perfected in him. I wonder if this is the crown we will give back to Him in that day.

    F. How have you experienced the Lord (been kissed!) this week?
    Last year as I studied the life of Joseph The Lord gave me a nugget that has stayed with me and sort of been woven through my life, especially my prayer life. It is simply this: fear God, not circumstances. That was a kiss that keeps coming back to me as it did again this week when Dee mentioned the importance of reverence for God. The only way we can walk this rocky road to sanctification is to trust in all that He is and that His purpose is good toward us.

  23. I haven’t had time to edit my real answers but reading others I wanted to add what my pastor spoke on a few weeks ago. Judas demonstrates just how close we can be to Jesus without being a true believer/Christian. Others saw him as being special to Christ and some were even envious of his relationship. What a great reminder that if we are capable of looking like a friend to Christ on the outside yet when we stand before Him and it really counts we will not be known So rather than waste time and effort looking the part – today I shall focus on being as close to my Savior, leaning on Him and seeking His heart.

    1. When do you think Judas made the turn, or do you think his heart was impure the whole time he was with Jesus?

      Indeed, what is “inside” (of the heart) is far, FAR more important than any appearance…yet that is something to ponder as well; the fruit of the spirit is evidence of what is in one’s heart…the appearance of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are seen as evidence of one’s heart…

  24. 6. Share your notes from the above.

    Wow-I loved how He brought out that we see sin as the biggest problem we have but our biggest problem is righteousness-Righteousness is a fundamental need and therefore the biggest problem. Our resume-our success in life, how good we are, how we help people-we like to build resume’s of ourselves in our life. To create our own righteousness.

    In a nutshell-Paul was saying that Jesus is His righteousness. His credentials are crap compared to Jesus. Righteousness is our problem.

    If we revel in being found in Him there is nothing that can pull the rug out from under your feet anymore.

    Is Jesus your example, hero and model? He can be those things and not your savior-the way it is true is that you are clobbered by criticism, or you are anxious and guilty all the time, or you can be a person who looks down and criticizes everyone all the time.

    Is Jesus just our hero and someone we desire to emulate, or is He our righteousness. Has God given us our Resume or are we clinging to the one we built? So many can go to church thinking they are believers because of what they do, but they have never known Him.

    The beauty of the Gospel is that God finds us in Christ-Jesus gives us the most incredible spiritual head shot-God looks at us and sees us as beautiful in Christ. Ephesians 6- Paul calls this the breastplate-to know we are in Christ. Nothing in my hands I bring simply to the cross I cling. I have nothing but Jesus’ righteousness-it is a bullet proof vest if you know that.

    When you are disappointed or really hurt or devastated-don’t ask him to change your circumstances, you say wait a minute-this is a good thing I am losing but it isn’t my righteousness. Paul says these things no longer have control over you-you can lose something and not have it devastate you-not that we are stoic and don’t weep but as Paul says we are knocked down but never discouraged.

    Until we repent of both sins and best deeds we are not a Christian.

  25. 5. Oh the passion of Philippians 3:10-11. Again, go slowly, asking the Spirit, “what does this phrase mean?”

    A. That I may know Him (Jonathan Edwards said “there is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet and tasting it”.) What does this mean, and how does this relate to this phrase?

    I always think of “Turkish delight” from the Narnia book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I imagine it to be sickeningly sweet, but I’ve never tasted it. I’ve never experienced the taste for myself. Years ago, Joseph Stowell visited our church and spoke on this passage. He said that the word “know” means “to know by experience”. It is the difference between knowing “about” Jesus, and knowing Him by actually having experienced Him – like having Scripture leap off the page at you, speaking to your heart; like sensing His presence or comfort or peace, or receiving His help in a real, palpable way when in the midst of trouble.
    As Paul goes on to say, then, “I want to ‘know by experience’ Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death…” – I think perhaps Paul wants to “identify” with Jesus in that as Paul cried out for that resurrection power to deliver him from his flesh-probably daily-and as he suffered physically in his body, being in prison, mistreated, beaten – knowing that His Savior had gone through the same, he felt like he was being pulled even closer to identifying with, sharing in the same experiences as his God who walked the earth as a flesh and blood man – how can I say it – Jesus was no longer “visible” to Paul-Jesus now dwelled in heaven, but Paul was trying to touch and feel and taste and experience the God-Man Jesus.

  26. Yesterday, I received a “kiss”. I had taken my daughter to her music lesson, and then gone for a little drive-it’s kind of in a rural area-I just felt like driving while I waited for her. I called my mom on my cell – she was having another bad day-unhappy, upset…
    As I hung-up after talking to her, I started talking to God, telling Him how I am tired from bearing the burden of my mom’s unhappiness-I can’t fix her situation. Just then, I drove past a small church, and the sign out front read, “Come to Me, all who are weary and I will give you rest”. Wow. As I reflected on the rest of the passage, I thought how I am not required to carry heavy loads myself; Jesus tells me to bring my burdens to Him. It really helped give me a mental picture of leaning, resting on Him.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Susan…what a wonderful smooch (and reminder)! It is a tough road you are walking…take care, friend…you, your Mom and Dad, and family are in my prayers.

  27. C. Important: Compare Philippians 3:10-11 to Romans 6.
    Jesus’ death and resurrection is the basis of the righteousness the the Father credits to us to make us His children. Jesus’ death and resurrection also provides power to enable the believer to lead a new life in faithful obedience to God rather than rebellion/sin. Only appreciation for what God in His grace has done will provide proper motivation for living “dead to sin” and “alive to God”, resisting sin and temptation, and serving the Lord as an instrument of His righteousness.

    D. Explain Philippians 3:10-11.
    Paul understood that righteousness is only found through Jesus. He desired to experience the Lord’s love ever more deeply. Paul shared fellowship in Christ’s suffering willingly in his enduring scorn, ridicule, and physical persecution without complaint and a pure, joy-filled heart.
    Dealing daily with the hostilities of the world (e.g., destruction, disease, disaster) in a joyful, uncomplainingly manner that stems from a pure heart, we are crucifying our sinful, selfish nature. The power and penalty of sin died with Jesus on the cross along with the sinful nature, but God doesn’t take us out of the world where temptation and sin still exist. The difference is that before we were saved by Jesus, we were slaves to the sinful nature, but now we have been freed from its power to live as slaves to righteousness.

    E. Read this phrase from Philippians 3:12 in the NIV. Does it give you further illumination? If so, explain: I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
    There will be daily battles to continually crucify the sinful nature; we need to always remember that ultimately our battle has been won by Jesus.

      1. Thanks Dee…I wanted to “really understand” and spent some time looking into commentaries online and hard copy at Romans and Philippians 3:10-11.

  28. F. How have you experienced the Lord (been kissed!) this week?

    During this past few months, it seems that I have had more pain than kisses. Sometimes it is really hard work to keep refocusing, remembering what God has done in the past for me, to recall that His life, death and resurrection were because He loved me so, and to cling to His promises of a better Tomorrow. But I am understanding that the suffering is also a kiss from Him. One day this week, I attended a women’s mission meeting. We always chose a verse to respond to the roll call. I chose Isaiah 53:2 and as I read it these words jumped off the page to me. “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.”(ESV)

    Immediately my mind raced. Right now, I am seeing the dark side of life right now. God does not often seem beautiful but severe to me. I have to ask myself, “Will I still follow and love him even if he is not “beautiful” to me? Even if I can’t see His beauty?”

    Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (ESV) Yes, I trust Him but, yes, I am also of “little faith”. Oh, for grace to trust Him more. However, deep in my heart there is a conviction that He is God and He is good. I do not know why he seems to be denying some of the good things of life – I know that what we are experiencing is the result of the consequences of sin but also the results of being in a fallen, broken, “not right or fair” world. Yet, ALL is in His Hand.

    Yet I must not follow because of God’s promises of happiness and prosperity in this world. I must follow because He is God and He is good, even if it means suffering by deprivation, want, pain, etc. Suffering is not unusual in this life. We should not be surprised by it. Suffering even brings us closer to God, as many have attested here on this blog. I have had to cling to Him in a deeper way than ever before in my life. How quickly I have been able to turn to Him in prayer over every matter, believing He hears.

    As Chambers says, “Faith is not a bargain with God—I will trust you if… We have to trust in God whether or not He sends us money, whether or not He gives us health. We must have faith in God, not in His gifts.” – Oswald Chambers, from Faith: A Holy Walk

    There have been many, many kisses from God over this time, although sometimes I don’t feel them. Here is one of them. Last night as I was at choir practice, we sang an old Bill Gaither song, Joy Comes in the Morning. It is familiar to me but I was so struck by the first verse that tears came and I had to stop singing until I regained my composure. God knows our every pain and comforts us in every affliction.

    Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAJe6htbkHE

    1. Diane you are doing a beautiful job of clinging to Christ. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    2. Oh Diane, you are hanging-in there, clinging to Him. I agree with Anne – this is a beautiful testimony.

  29. 6. Share your notes from the above.

    I agree, Elizabeth and Laura-d…wonderful, insightful sermon!

    *The world functions on a resume system; standards that are set open or shut doors…standards differ slightly by person, but all persons have a fundamental need to live up to a set of standards.
    *sin is not the main thing that blinds or keeps one from Christ, it is one’s attitude regarding righteousness.
    *The gospel makes a Christian realize that they are trying to keep control of their life (i.e., “I am in charge”, “God owes me”). We need to repent of self righteousness…repent of trying to be our own savior. The only resume is what God gives me…God owes me NOTHING. I need to repent of sins AND righteousness.
    *There are two choices:
    1. self-salvation (religious or irreligious), or
    2. Christ salvation (Jesus is Savior and Lord)
    …one leads to death and the other to life.
    *God gives me the perfect resume by Jesus’ righteousness; as a Christian I repent of sin and deeds/self-righteousness.
    *God finds me in Christ (Eph. 6…breastplate of righteousness is Jesus’ righteousness)
    *We need to demote anything that devastates us when it goes wrong or when we fail at it, anything which makes us proud, anxious, or guilt-ridden… The ONLY righteousness that I will be standing in the presence of God with is Jesus’ righteousness; I have NO righteousness on my own.

  30. 6. I agree with Laura-dancer. Wowie-zowie! What a great sermon! The part about our righteousness keeping us out more than sin riveted me. The 3 stages of spiritual life he outlined are my son. In fact he said to me “that just doesn’t work for me”. Now that I think about it, it didn’t work for me either for I did the same thing at his age.
    There was something at the end that I need to listen to again about God finding us in Christ.

    Here are the notes that I got
    When sun comes out stars fade
    Glory of Christ makes all things fade
    To be found in Him is the super thing
    Righteousness our most fundamental need, problem and wonderful gift from God
    Righteousness is not being good according to Paul
    His credentials impeccable but they are not his righteousness
    They are his resume and it is a great one
    Resume purpose is to get you in from outside
    It is an argument to get you in-college, job, relationships
    And in the way we look at ourselves
    We will shut the door on ourselves if resume not good
    This is the righteousness Paul is talking about
    We all need righteousness and we all have different self resumes
    We try to cover our nakedness with our résumé
    Righteousness our most fundamental problem much more than sin
    It causes us to blind us spiritually and keeps us away from God
    It is not our attitude toward sin, it is our attitude toward our righteousness
    Not a Christian unless whole way of looking at self is changed
    Not getting religious
    People not drawn to getting religious
    Many have tried this and will say that it does not work for them
    Gospel is: you come to realize religion and irreligion has same purpose: to control own life
    Irreligion take control outwardly
    Religion is attempt to put God in debt to me, To use Him to get what I want
    What makes a Christian is to repent of own righteousness. (Much harder than repenting of sin)
    We know God owes us nothing
    Before college religion but find it not useful or helpful so decide “doesn’t work for me”
    Legalist feels proud and better than others or anxious and guilty all the time
    Righteousness is our greatest gift from God by faith
    God gives me the perfect resume
    God finds me in Christ and I am righteous in Him.
    To know that I am righteous in Christ is my shield of faith
    When we are devastated by loss we remember it is a good thing but is not my righteousness.
    I can lose some thing, hurt and weep but am not devastated
    When we are found in Him nothing can put the rug out from under me.

    1. Could it be that to be found in Christ is to be found by God in Christ?

  31. D. Explain Philippians 3:10-11.
    Paul states he wants know Christ – not just head knowledge but to experience Him. I think he wants to experience the power that can raise someone from the dead. He wants to experience the suffering that comes from obedience to God’s will because suffering as Christ did will refine him, as he wrote in Phil 1. “Becoming like him in his death” – I’m not sure this means that Paul desires to be killed for his faith but that he wants to be willing and able to give all like Christ did on the cross (Phil 2:8). “And so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead” – I don’t take this to mean that Paul doubts that this can be done but he is admitting he doesn’t fully understand the mystery of God. Even after all he has experienced, he still cannot fully grasp the power and love of God

    E. Read this phrase from Philippians 3:12 in the NIV. Does it give you further illumination? If so, explain:
    I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
    I always took this verse to mean that Jesus had taken hold of me to do something. That I had a job to do for Him. But by what I’m learning from this study, I don’t think so anymore. I think Paul is letting go of his resume and his past and pressing on to take hold of knowing Christ. Jesus took hold of Paul and all of us because He loves us and wants us to be with Him. I think He wants us to stop working for our salvation and to take hold of what we already have through Him.

    6. Share your notes from the above.
    As with most of you, I find Dr. Keller to be so insightful and have a way of presenting the word that cuts to my heart. In his intro, he speaks of Paul looking at his pedigree and list of accomplishments and seeing them as rubbish because he had come to see the light of something greater. Jesus is that something greater.

    1. Righteousness is our most fundamental need. We all have our resumes that we use to promote ourselves. I was taken with the idea that we use this resume on ourselves. We measure ourselves against this list of accomplishments and compare them against everyone else to see how we measure up and if we are acceptable. This has been a big issue for me.

    2. Righteousness is our most fundamental problem. It isn’t our sins that can keep us from Christ but how we look at our good deeds. Keller is absolutely right. I can spend a lot of time beating myself up for something I have done wrong and confessing it to God over and over but then I don’t see how my pride or Pharisee behavior is actually worse.

    3. Righteousness is our greatest gift. God has given us the perfect resume. Jesus is my righteousness!
    This whole sermon, and actually this study, has been teaching me the need to reorient my thinking. It seems so obvious but it is not

    1. Jill, your answers to D. and E. are shedding more light for me, especially “Paul is letting go of his resume and his past and pressing on to take hold of knowing Christ….I think He wants us to stop working for our salvation and to take hold of what we already have through Him”.

  32. C. Compare Philippians 3:10-11 to Romans 6. Does this help you gain understanding? If so, explain.

    In Philippians, Paul says, “I want to KNOW (by experience) Christ and the power of His resurrection” – Paul wants to KNOW (experience) intimate fellowship with Jesus through his suffering – that is beautiful right there because Paul is not ‘wasting’ his suffering-wanting a quick way out of it, complaining, being angry about it – instead, he sees it as a way to experience intimacy with Jesus. He says he wants to become like Jesus in His death so that he may “somehow attain to the resurrection from the dead”. As I read this again, it seems (to me) that somehow, Paul wants to experience, in some way, in this life, the experience of being dead and being raised to new life. What I sense in Paul is an insatiable hunger to know Jesus; wanting to become like Him in His death, and like Him in His resurrection.

    In Romans 6, Paul uses many metaphors to compare our ‘old life’ with our ‘new life in Christ’. He says things like “we died to sin”, we were “baptized into His death”, we were “buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead…we too may live a new life.”
    And this, “If we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection.” He goes so far as to say that our old-self was crucified with Jesus-our body of sin was done away with.

    In comparing the two passages, then, I am also seeing a desire in Paul to be dead to sin, to not let it reign in his body, to be free from its power. This all hinges on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. A real, historical fact-Jesus died and rose again. We have to somehow take this into our selves-get it from our head to our heart, live like it is true and real.
    I see that Paul said “somehow” in Philippians….as I read this and just as I think I “get it”, I realize I haven’t even begun to understand:)

    D. Explain Philippians 3:10-11 – I think I gave it my best shot in my answer above…

    E. Read this phrase from Philippians 3:12 in the NIV. Does it give you further illumination? If so, explain:

    I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

    In verses 10-11, I’m sensing Paul’s longing to be “done” with sin in his earthly body (that reminds me of Romans 7 where he cries “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”) He longs and yearns for that final day to be totally free from sin…then he goes on to say “not that I have already been made perfect” but he presses on to take hold-always reaching, always with the goal in sight.

    He says “I press on to take hold of THAT” – okay, is “that” what he said he wanted in verses 10-11? To know Christ and the power of His resurrection?
    “For which Christ Jesus took hold of me” – is this talking about the “why” Jesus came and died for us? Why did Jesus “take hold of me” – yes, to save me from eternal punishment for my sin – but also that I may know Him, and be like Him, and be raised with Him and made perfect?

    This is too much brain work for a Saturday morning:)

  33. Jill’s post is helping me see more….”I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Jesus took hold of me so that I can stop working, stop relying on my ‘qualifications’, and ALSO so that I can (like Paul) stop living in the regret of my sin-whether past, present…He took hold of me so that I can be free. My only “work” is to ever long to know Him better, to get closer to Him, to peer more deeply into what He has already done for me-the gospel. Jesus took hold of me so that I can be in His arms

  34. 7. What is your take-a-way and why?

    My takeaway is the new thing I didn’t see that Dee and Keller exposed-that sin isn’t our biggest problem it is our righteousness. That we should repent of both our sin and our good deeds. That reminded me that I have the older and younger brother in me-Yet He chose to wrap me in His righteousness.

    Here is his kiss and it happened yesterday: I have asked God to show me where it is in my life where I am hiding in anything but Him.

    This sounds totally immature-high schoolish and ridiculous but Here is his Kiss: Last Sunday the new gal with the great voice was on worship team-I think she might be permanently placed on w.t. now. She sang a special too. You could hear her voice on the radio-she is truly gifted. Her voice seems to have some soul in it but I didn’t think that solo was great as far as worship. Then a gal came up to me afterward and said, she is good but I so miss you singing. So I went home and started thinking of songs I have done that could blow that one away-Yikes! Then I talked with my husband as I was thinking of songs and he was encouraging me to sing and I confessed my heart and told him my heart is in the wrong place! I hate this about me-and I thought it was sin but now I think this sin was brought up by something more devious and wretched underneath- I was striving to cover myself in my own righteousness-I forgot Him!

    Yesterday I sat down for five minutes after cleaning to rest and went to Facebook. I just scrolled down and saw a picture of our worship team leader’s wife with the new girl that sings so good. ;~) She said her heart is knit with this new gal and was so glad they were ‘bandmates’. Immediately I crashed inside-I thought “but the leaders wife never knit hearts with me.” “when I tried to get to know and encourage the new singer she wanted nothing to do with me-treated me different than those on staff. I just don’t sense a genuineness about her.” Then I stopped-My eyes opened immediately-“woe nelly..what is this?” I wanted to bathe in this, yet at the same time I didn’t-it was like the sting of death when I saw the jealousy coming back. So then instead I pressed into Him. I saw that I was still placing my righteousness in my self built resume as a singer-it broke my heart- so I repented and turned again and told God this is dung and I don’t want it at all-take this thorn from me for it causes me to stumble! He brought Keller’s sermon to mind and helped me bathe in the beauty of Him taking my nails in order to become my righteousness-He is truly all I need and I have Him..bathing in this reality is really helping me as I go through my grieving time of not serving on the worship team-satan shoots arrows but God has hung him again-yet I know my sheep-ness and bend to forget so..I need Him daily..I need His word sown in my heart and need to press into Him in prayer.

    1. Rebecca, I can’t really find words to express how this spoke to my heart. God is working in your heart and you are working with Him to lose your own righteousness and gain His. Also you exposed this kind of subconscious reasoning that goes undetected. At least it does in me.
      I am so blessed by this honest sharing from you and others here on the blog.

      1. Anne, you are such an encourager! Yes, I am needing to be reminded daily that I have His righteousness in full. Idol Lies really woke me up to pay attention to my thought life-and it can be so deceptive and wicked-I need Him to open my eyes to that even!

        Also, He fills me up and I don’t need any ‘status’ or ‘resume’ to fill me up with approval for He is my righteousness and my approval. When God sees me He says, “Behold you are beautiful.” This reality totally rescues and frees me from the destruction of jealousy when He changes course in ministry and someone better comes along-;-)

    2. Rebecca, my response is the same as Anne’s. What you described is what I go through every single day at work. I have to continually repent and turn to Him. It is so painful.

      1. Dawn, MS-you hit it right -oh yes It is painful and me being a comfort person wants to retreat to my comfort idol and I have failed in that still-so I praise him for the times I don’t retreat and press into Him for I know that is a result of Him melting me-changing me.

    3. Thanks for sharing, Rebecca…I can say that the “green eyed monster” (jealousy, envy, desire for what another has been given/attained) creeps up on me occasionally as well. Your response is inspiring… I am convinced that the devious, sinister evil one knows exactly what steps to take, no matter how minute, to put together a potential puzzle to make us slip. Thankfully Jesus is the piece that makes us whole/righteous…praise God for His mercy and grace.

  35. I have learned so much this week! We talked about beauty at the first and then on to being found in Christ and what that really means. I was directed in thinking about that near the end of the sermon when Dr. Keller said that God the Father ‘finds’ us in Christ. I was away from home last Sunday and just last night listened to our sermon which was on the Holy Spirit out of Jn 16 particularly verse 8. The Holy Spirit convicts the world regarding righteousness. When he said that our righteousness is our biggest problem I laughed out loud. This pastor does not copy messages from other ministers. I feel sure he gets his messages by prayer and study over scripture and so when teachings cross I know the Spirit is talking to me. So I asked The Lord to continue to direct me and I think my direction is the Trinity. They are separate, each unique and each equally God. The image of them dancing at creation, which is still going on in the universe by the way, is on my mind. I am invited into this dance with them. The Spirit works from within to guide, convict and teach. Jesus seems to me like the setting of the stone which is me. I am covered, surrounded by His righteousness imparted to me at the cross. God the Father searches and ‘finds’ me here in Christ. He treasures me and rejoices over me more than over the most precious thing that I can think of.
    Well that is it basically. I don’t want to get carried away and too far out there but I pray God will continue to teach me about this.
    What I said about creation is supported by this scientist http://vimeo.com/65409535
    This is the message from Sunday http://www.biblechurch.org/chbc/sermons

  36. Please pray for my son joe. I just arrived at metro hospital where he was lifeflighted after a motorcycle accident. Please pray

    1. Praying now Becca.

    2. Oh my goodness, Becca…praying for Joe and you all…
      Oh dear Lord, You know what is needed…please provide wisdom to the medical professionals, strength and comfort to Joe. Give Becca and other family members courage and Your peace. Please give all involved an acute awareness of your presence; wrap them in Your loving arms. In Jesus’ holy name I pray…Amen.

    3. Oh Becca, I am so sorry to learn of Joe’s motorcycle accident! Surely we will be praying for him (and for you). I am guilty of having made my post about my take-away (below), and THEN I backed up to read others’ posts after I had submitted my post. I hope my remarks about my auto accident do not seem insensitive at this time. I was only saying that was how I internalized my accident, and by no means do I think everyone who has a traffic accident should come to that same conclusion.

    4. Oh, Becca. Praying.

    5. I’m praying for you and your family.

    6. Definitely praying, I wish I was there to be with you! 🙁 I was just coming to ask for prayer for Joey if you or Chris hadn’t. Please keep us updated! (((hug)))

    7. Praying for your son and your family, Becca.

    8. Dear Lord, thank you for keeping watch over us. We feel your presence dear Jesus. Wrap your loving arms around Joe and help him know you are with him. Keep his parents calm with your hands on their shoulders. Infuse the medical staff with skill to help in this situation. We know you are with us always; in our deepest darkness and in our joyous light. We pray in your holy name. Amen.

    9. Yes Becca, I saw this last night late-have prayed-oh how scary!!

  37. My take-away is due to the combined effect of Dee’s remarks about the vibrant church within the prison and Jill’s post about the 90-year-old woman. Both stories reflect a pure commitment to Christ with total abandonment of self and pride. They hit home for me and inspired me, as I am becoming increasingly aware of my problems with pride. Right now I am dealing with the ramifications of the auto accident I was in. I’m having to swallow my pride and let people help me and I’m learning to live a more simple life — all out of necessity!! In fact, I am wondering if that is what it is all about. Could it be that I just wasn’t getting the message with gentle prodding, so perhaps I got taken down a notch or two?! I think I got sat down for a “time out!”

    1. Deanna…your “time-out” comment made me smile. How long will you be laid up from your accident?

      1. Nanci, I went to the doctor’s office mid-week, and I was told that I cannot drive for six weeks (from the accident). I am not quite to the 2-week point yet, but so far the Lord has provided. Whenever I have needed to go somewhere, a friend or my older daughter has taken me there!

  38. Chris, I’m curious…any word on Terri? She was to have testing on June 10 to determine the effect of the chemo, correct? Did tests show the chemo treatment having a positive effect?…is surgery still scheduled for June 21? She is blessed to have you in her life, Chris. Hopefully she will have a revelation of the Lord’s immense love for her and His gift of grace that will give her peace of mind and heart. I’ll keep Terri in my prayers.

    1. Thanks for asking Nanci, she went for testing, her surgery is scheduled for the 27th, she had been walking about with a feeding tube dangling from her nose. She got that out on Monday and has been feeling stronger, she continues to be able to eat soft things Praise God!. I am planning to cook for her in the next couple of days, Salmon Chowder & Chocolate mousse.
      She is still afraid about the surgery.

      1. Yum! Sure beats baby food and pudding 🙂 You are a good friend, Chris!

  39. I talked to Becca, Joe is in surgery, broken femur, broken pelvis, smashed knee, but praise be to God his head seems okay.
    He wanted his mom right away.
    Please contine to pray for all of them. Becca’s husband is out of town, please also pray for Nate, her older son, with whom there has been a painful distance. God works in mysterious ways his wonders to achieve

    1. Chris thanks for the update. Mysterious but wonderful, yes. Perhaps Nate will be drawn near.
      Praying for you too Chris.

  40. 7. What is your take-away and why?

    I found this week’s Philippians passage very challenging, making me stretch and really think hard to understand what it is saying. I love the picture of the king kissing the Shulammite. Her posture in the picture seems like she is taken aback by his love, by his finding her beautiful. I take-away the continuing struggle to make this real in my heart, to “be found in Him”, which is to be beautiful, washed, loved. There was so much this week that it’s hard to choose just one thing. I want to continue to ponder Paul’s words about wanting to know Christ. I am anxious to listen to the sermon-hopefully early in the morning.

  41. C. Important: Compare Philippians 3:10-11 to Romans 6. Does this help you gain understanding? If so, explain.

    The Philippians verses are succinct in that they just say we need to know Christ. Romans goes into much greater detail explaining that now that we have accepted Christ, we can no longer be slaves to sin and we are involved with all of Him; the death and resurrection as well. I find it interesting that he says we might consider sinning more thinking we would earn more grace! Never thought of that! I understand much better now because of Romans.

  42. Just stumbled across this blog. Dee, your musing aloud on why the difference in vibrancy and passion between the church within the prison, and the church in the outside world, made me think. What first came to mind is the image of the woman who had lived a sinful life weeping and wetting His feet with her tears, in view of all, so bent on expressing her gratitude to Him that even the censure of those who knew who she had been and what she had done could not keep her away. Jesus said that she loved much because she had been forgiven much. The contrast might be described in Revelation 3:17 and 18. Because thou sayest , I am rich, and increased with goods , and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich ; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed , and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear ; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see . This is a good description of the modern worldly church, which has a fat, sluggish heart and doesn’t think its in that bad a shape though its condition is dire. Someone who sees himself above ever being in danger or need doesn’t care where the life jackets are placed on a cruise ship. But someone who knows the ship is sinking rapidly and those without life jackets will drown, makes it his business not only to know precisely where they are, but how to q put one on quickly and correctly. These women have been granted repentance leading to life and have had the privilege of being relieved of what C.S. Lewis referred to as that anaesthetic fog. ( C.S. Lewis quote: What will all that chatter and hearsay count (will you even be able to remember it?) when the anaesthetic fog which we call ‘nature’ or ‘the real world’ fades away and the Presence in which you have always stood becomes palpable, immediate, and unavoidable?)

    I must say that I envy them. My own walk with God has become a stumble into a ditch of pride, self will and rampant idolatry and I fear and feel that my own heart is like a blind, unfeeling and stubborn stone right now. I’ve made some life altering choices out of equal parts determined stubborn pursuit of a half defined idol and spiritual deception. As a result I am barely aware of a God I once made a passionate commitment to serve. My area of idolatry seems to have something to do with fatherlessness, being willing to compromise everything for the promise of being loved properly, and deep reactions to the loss of a secure home via divorce and family violence, and a life of abuse, exploitation, chaos and instability. I ask, if not outright beg of you to pray for me that I will find my way clear of that fog of false reality that is clearly blinding my mind and that God will once again grant me clarity of mind and heart through repentance. My pride is the hardest to overcome, for what stops me from deeply repenting is that stubborn pride that keeps insisting there might be a chance that I was INNOCENT and actually right and not guilty. Sure we’ve all been there. Your blog has lots of good stuff on it. Blessings to all of you here.

    1. Praying for you dear Patricia, that you will ‘find your way clear of the fog’
      Your post speaks to me, I hope you continue to journey with us here on the blog, it is such a good place to be daily pointed to Christ.

  43. Hi Dee, I did see it, and thank you. I am quite unhappy being a stone right now and so really do appreciate your prayers 🙂

    Regarding idolatry and all the unhappy miseries that go with it, I just noticed Rebecca’s post on being jealous of a new team member and esp. reacting to her leader’s wife posting on Facebook about how her heart was knit to this new gal. I can understand her feelings in that situation. Jealousy is such a degrading and defiling emotion; it seems to stomp all over us wearing jack boots and then leave us crumpled and humiliated, feeling unable to protest against its abuse of our soul because somehow we were complicit in it. I have someone in my life who routinely tries to upstage me, and who always has to be the center of authoritative attention. If I confide I am having a problem with someone close to me with whom it matters to have a good relationship, she will move in and try to steal that person’s heart, inserting herself into the relationship skillfully in a way that seems to always be about her and exclude me. I don’t doubt that her motives are not all evil because she is, despite the pride and control stuff, very tenderhearted and can be quite kind and generous. But her treachery and lack of respect for me can be very hurtful. I know some of this has to do with spiritual warfare and that the people doing this are either unbelievers or seriously backslidden Christians who have walked away from God and are now living in disobedience. But it still has the capacity to become effective flaming arrows that penetrate my defenses. Why does it bug me? C.S. Lewis said ( not that I think he is as authoritative as scripture, lol,) that the reason we are outraged over someone wanting to be the big noise at the party is usually because we wanted to be the big noise at the party. Like you mentioned elsewhere when you spoke of finding our worth and identity in being good mothers, if someone attacks that idol we feel bound to protect and defend it. Its hard when we are trying to leave our worship of idols behind and we see people getting their idols polished by our leaders in the very place supposed to be for the worship of Christ and repentance of sin; it actually causes stumbling. (If someone sees you who have knowledge, dining in an idol temple…..) I guess when we are buffeted by such unpleasant and hostile winds, it really shows us whether our foundation is sinking sand or solid Rock though. The other day, my upstaging person offered to do something generous utilizing her considerable talent in an area, for this other person whom I am supposed to be building a close relationship with. I reacted much like Rebecca; it suddenly felt as if cruel winds were ripping my heart apart and I felt so anguished and tormented over the thought of how this was going to score her points with this important person in my life and that I could not do the same thing. I realized, as I felt high intensity torment, that although there truly has been competitiveness between us on both sides, perhaps I needed to deal with the insecurity and jealousy raging in my own heart; I could see that it was defining me as a person and that my life was being controlled by my responses to others such as this one, to the point that I was choosing who I was in reference to who and what I perceived these others to be. This has gone on so long and been such a point of attack that at the moment any sense of confidence or worth on my part is in tatters, so that I tend to relate as though everyone else is equal and worthwhile and I am not. Not good. Inwardly, some wisdom was forming, in the form of a question: Should you not be glad that your family member has more than just you to care for her needs and do nice things for her? Should you not bless this one for the use of her talent in so blessing your family member? Can you not be glad for her that she has that skill? My thoughts went on, ruminating that perhaps the whole thing had become so built up over time that I was seeing things through crazy jaundiced eyes. It was quite probably the Spirit who caused the thought to spring to mind that the way to triumph was to be a gracious and spiritually generous person who was not petty enough to begrudge someone their gifts but was rather kindly and mercifully disposed towards others even in their weakness and sin. My fears seem to resemble those of the Pharisees, who felt that they had to stop Jesus. John 11:4848, which sort of gives me pause if you know what I mean, says: If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.” This fear of losing our place and hold on importance and position as being the motive behind turf wars, speaks to it being about us and not God. In another place, Jesus told the Pharisees that they loved the pride of position and power, and having the respect and adulation of the people; glory that really belonged to God. He also told them that when people were converted to their ways, they became twice the son of hell as their teachers. I see a connecting thread here. How does religion that is empty, is really about self worship and demand and about holding on to what we think is ours, make us a son of hell? Well, hell is full of angels who were led by someone who wanted the worship and glory for himself rather than for God. Am I right in saying then, that the pursuit of idols is equal to and one and the same with rejecting God in favor of a self made religion? No wonder it produces such evil behaviour and corruption. Your prayers are gratefully received as I seek to overcome this entanglement of sin in my life. Blessings and thanks for putting up with my overactive mind and keyboard 🙂