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

Fear can be a gift from God to help us get our head out of the sand and take action when action is needed. In the wonderful free Keller sermon you will hear this week, he tells of being a young father and foolishly letting his four year old climb to the top of a slide while he walked the long distance to the bottom of the slide to catch him.His son reached the top of the slide and then pitched backward! Keller says, “I don’t know how I did it, but my legs were fast and my mind was clear and I caught him. Fear was a gift.”

2. When has fear propelled you in a good way? Anxiety is different — a cloud that hangs over you, haunting you. Are you experiencing this now? If so, tell us briefly.


MEMORIZING: Though I should have suggested this the first week, I’d encourage you to choose a verse that is particularly apt for prayer from each psalm to memorize. That way you can pray the psalms at any time — in the night, when driving…let’s start this week — and those who want to go back as well, I’d suggest:

Psalm 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Great verse to pray for yourself and loved ones.)

Psalm 2:1 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? (Great verse to pray for leaders and persecuted Christians)

Psalm 3:3 But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. (A praise that will increase your confidence and should be easy to remember after hearing Brooklyn Tabernacle’s choir sing it below.)

Read Psalm 3 aloud to yourself.

.headsandWe must acknowledge that evil is real and comes to every believer. Believers who say otherwise are either under twenty-two or have their heads in the sand. Jesus said we’d have trouble, and we do. To be in denial that it can come, is foolish. And to suppress grief when it does come is destructive and dishonest. Jesus wept, and so should we — but not as those who have no hope.


3. STEP ONE: SPEAK THE LAMENT (Psalm 3:1 and 2

Samuel 17:1-4)

A. There are real dangers in this life from which the child of God is not immune. David’s beloved son Absalom was betraying him — armies were after David. Describe the true danger that David was facing and why it must have been so hard.

B. What true fear did Christ have and how do you see fear expressed and help given in Luke 22:39-46?

C. Why is it important not to be in denial about dangers and also to express our fear about them to God?


A. What were many saying to David is the midst of his vulnerability? What did they say to Jesus in the midst of his vulnerability in Matthew 27:43?

      B. How has the enemy taunted you in the midst of your vulnerability?


A. What does David know to be true — find three things in this verse.

When our own Chris’s beloved son Daniel died, she had to speak the truth to her soul, and she did. Here is part of what she said:

The incredible pain that demands to be attended to finds its only answer in the Cross. I don’t know the whys of suffering, but I can see the love of Jesus, the price He paid to make it right, the promise of eternity.

God is bigger to me now than He was then, my pride and confidence in myself is smashed. Being in the furnace has caused me to look more intently into the costly grace that is mine. I did feel abandoned there in the fire, I know though that I was not, He is filled with care and knows just how much I need & can stand.

I trust Him more than before, my eyes are much more fixed on eternity now, my treasures are sure & certain there.

(If you are never to the blog and not familiar with Chris — this is her story and she herself on a powerful video. You may need to copy and paste.)


Chris”s late son Daniel, cheering his graduating brother on…

Chris said “the only answer is in the cross.” David wrote before the cross, but verse 3 is a quote from Genesis, when God gave Abraham a foreshadowing of the cross. Keller will help you look at that in his sermon. I also find comfort in the end of the Psalm, that God will bring justice to our enemies. We do not have to do it.

B. Whatever real loss you are facing, how is the cross the answer?

When my husband got cancer, I felt the real threat was that he could die — and I cried out to God that he would live. So did Steve. One day after church Steve said: “I’ve had a change in perspective. The greatest threat is not death but backing away from God in the midst of suffering. That is what the enemy wants, so now, I want you to pray I will win that fight.” Though Steve did die, he glorified God to the end.

After Steve died, the enemy then came to me, hissing, “You deserve this. You are an idiot. Let me remind you of your failures.” He would have done me in except for the truth of the cross. The enemy wants to give us anxiety, anxiety about God’s love and redemption.

Though I have failed, I also know Christ took that at the cross. He is therefore now a shield around me (nothing bad is permanent), my glory, (my identity, rather than what I have lost) and the lifter of my head (I am loved and seen as beautiful because of Jesus.)

How African-Americans have a history of suffering in the United States! How many real enemies they have had. Yet how often they have sung the truth to their souls. How I loved hearing this choir from the Brooklyn Tabernacle made up of many of that heritage sing, sing, and sing the truth of Psalm 3. I am eager for you to see and hear them and let the words penetrate your heart before you pray this psalm:






Keller will explain that Psalm 3:3 is a quote from Genesis 15:1 — God told this to Abraham, yet Abraham had trouble believing this was so. So God acted out something very strange which Keller will explain. Sometimes when I read about all the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament, or even, when I was a younger Christian, thought about the crucifixion, it all seemed rather strange. I remember how C. S. Lewis helped me with it in Mere Christianity when he said:

Christianity has that strange ‘ring of truth’. It gives us information about God which no-one would ever have thought of making up, yet still manages to make some kind of sense. It involves a mystery about God which goes beyond our human understanding but not against it, which is surely what we ought to expect if there is a God.

a flaming torch passed between the slain animals
a smoking firepot and flaming torch passed between the slain animals

 7. Listen to the sermon and share your notes: LINK


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

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  1. I’ve been silent, but still doing the study and listening to the sermons. 
    Thank-you, Deanna, for your notes — I copied and printed them, specifically to share with a loved one.
    BUT You are my glory . . . the but indicating something else (even though good) was his glory (identity/security). “You are the lifter of my head . . . ” is God saying, “I’m proud of you” even though we have done NOTHING to earn or merit it! This is what I can share with my dear teenage, believer daughter, who is struggling with fear of her future;  “I don’t feel like I’m good at anything . . . I just want to have someone be proud of me!”
    I just received my Gospel Transformation Bible the other day and read the introduction this morning. That in itself was such a blessing and I am so excited to read from and use this Bible!
    Thank-you, Dee, for being God’s instrument of encouragement and growth to me and so many others! (The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir singing from Psalm 3 was so moving!!! The music and text truly drove the message deep into my heart!)

    1. Glad to have you following along, Sharmon. You’re welcome to comment at any time. Wasn’t the sermon great?! I hope the message encourages your daughter. I can empathize with her. Glad you are being blessed by the Gospel Transformation Bible and this study.

    2. Hi Sharmon, how wonderful that you can share these nuggets from Keller’s sermon with your daughter! I do hope it will encourage her, that she will “hear” God telling her that He is proud of her!

  2. I’ve been listening to Keller’s sermon over and over as I clean today…wanted to listen first before I tried to answer #6 to pray the psalm. So much…still processing. Glory means weight…what do I give glory to-where is my weight-what am I resting on…fear is the opposite of love (not hate)…being in community and loving others is what defeats fear…fear is self-centered. Follow the thread…anxiety is smoke…

    1. Susan, I listened over and over, too… in the car.  SO MUCH there!  (I need to listen more!)

  3. I don’t remember downloading Michael Reeves book on the Reformation but it was there when I was chiding myself for downloading books and then forgetting them.  So in my new leaf and extra time I decided to read that one. It was on time for me. I highly recommend it. It opened my eyes to the fact that the Reformation is definitely not over.  Dee and us right along with her are on the forefront of the battle right here on this blog.

  4. Listened to the sermon.  I am still muddling in my head about fears. I see that some fears we become invincible to because Christ becomes our ultimate thing allowing us to lay down the importance of other things, like control and approval. I think I tried to put all fears into this category. That eventually all fear (and, too, loss and pain) would fade and I would “get better” all the way. In seeing my error in equating “bad things gone” with “God is with me” I am slowly seeing the shield concept come into focus for my life. I am going to listen to the sermon again to gain more perspective and understanding.
    I can see consistent accusations in my life that my faith isn’t good enough, my relationship with Christ not close enough, my obedience not tight enough if something “goes wrong.” This inhibits my boldness to obey, my big petitions and my understanding of fear and trouble. I have still made it all about me – if something goes “amiss” then *I* am at fault. My faith failed…This is not the cross. Everything in this study I have known to be true (trouble will come, evil is real) but now I see the unconscious expectation that as I matured in Christ those things would lessen, I would somehow “lift out of the trouble in this world.” I can see a real danger of a false sense of security in times of no trouble. I am seeing that the mark of faith is not the visible outcome but the invisible outcome – the fruit in the spirit, Christ in us.
    I am humbled.  Song of Songs taught me such depth and breadth of love from Christ and I was amazed but the Psalms are showing me how shallow and thin my own faith is. My heart is bending in submission…humbled and waiting…a little confused but wanting to learn and understand.

  5. Dee–Praying for your speaking tomorrow! Lord, we pray that You would prepare hearts to hear Your love poured out to them through You Word. We pray hearts would be softened, minds You would quicken–and that You would use Dee as Your vessel to speak truth to their souls. Thank You for this opportunity You have given, thank You for Dee’s faithfulness. Thank You in advance for all You have planned. Amen

  6. 7. Listen to the sermon and share your notes.
    My first thought when I heard the sermon was “Wow, I need to listen again.” It’s as if the Holy Spirit is just peeling back the layers of truth for me. I believe it was Deanna who posted pretty much the same notes I took so I won’t be posting all my notes just one statement which caught my attention. 
    I’ve been pondering on this and have been struggling alot this week with my inner self. There is indeed some kind of battle inside for the stress keeps returning to my back. Here I thought everything was going okay but this week has hit me hard.  I am beginning to see how self-centered I am and I don’t like that. I don’t like looking in the mirror and seeing the real me. But look at her I must if I am to be transformed.   I am also seeing that I have much anxiety within. So many finite things I have sought for identity have disappeared. I needed to hear the truth this week that Almighty God is my glory. I find I am striving to focus my thoughts on God more when I feel anxious. I still have a long way to go but I can look back and see how far I have come.  

  7. Elizabeth, thank you for your lovely prayer for Dee.  It is my prayer as well.    Amen!!

  8. Listened to Tim Keller’s sermon…It was awesome.  He has a wonderful gift of preaching and taught me much.  All of you have expressed in your notes what I also heard.   It spoke to my heart as this whole week has.  An excellent week of learning.  Last Friday night I had a bad battle with insomnia but God has been good to me and placed teaching from a dear friend and all of you here and I have released a lot of the anxiety.  (Altho it is often  I go moment to moment reminding myself that God is in charge not Sarah!!)  Keller’s four points where concise and on target:  I must remind myself–remember the thread, relocate the glory, see the substitute and remember the people.  WOW.  Looking forward to adding an art page to my journal depicting this teaching. 

    1. “adding an art page to my journal depicting this teaching”
      What a cool way of cementing this teaching into life…I would love to see your page if you were willing to share.

  9. 8. What is your take-away? Why?                        
    My take-away this week is a statement Diane shared: God sent His Son to rescue us, not from suffering the consequences of sin and death, but to help us see that He is the only Hope. These words are a comfort to me because they remind me I am have not been left alone in my suffering. Several years ago when I was enduring a difficult time our Lord gave me these words: CLING TO HOPE. LIVE IN REALITY. I must accept that I now live with depression. I hope I never have to face the darkness again but if I do I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is right beside me. The prince of darkness would rather I forget that truth.

    1. This touched my heart, Tammy. I am so glad the something I said was used by God to comfort you. You have been through so much. A few days ago, I saw someone pose a question on Facebook asking, “What is your theme word this year?” I think my theme word this year is Hope. I need Hope. I struggle to see Hope. Apart from God, there is no hope. God is the Only Hope. He promises us Hope. 
      “For I know the plans I have for you … plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

    2. “Jesus is right beside me”

    3. Tammy, you’ll always be protected and loved  and have hope in Him!

  10. My take-away:
    This week has been a rich week but it has been a hard week. There was so much in this lesson that really spoke to me: Psalm 3:3, Keller’s sermon, all your rich sharing. I realized that anxiety is sometimes my wall, my seemingly insurmountable heap of stones – fears for the future, fears of my inability to handle the present. I see all the wrongs, but my total inability to fix them (believe me I’ve tried) leaves me filled with guilt (some of it deserved and some of it not) and so sad and discouraged. Yet, God loves me and promises me good. His grace enables me to get back up with Hope, no matter how many times I fall.

    Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

    I have to “follow the thread”, though it leads through my heap of stones. At the instigation of the reference in Keller’s sermon, I dug out and read George MacDonald’s “Princess and the Goblins”. (I am grateful for my husband’s extensive library and love of  CS Lewis, Tolkien and George MacDonald). It is a children’s story with layers and layers of meaning. What Keller’s reference to the story doesn’t tell is that the Princess decides to continue to follow the grandmother’s thread by removing the stones one by one and [spoiler alert] her persistence ends up rescuing a friend who has been captured by the goblins and leads them both to safety. I need to “Follow the Thread” of God’s promises though it leads “through many dangers, toils and snares”. “‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”

    1. Diane–I love what you have shared of the story! I like “removing the stones one by one”–there is a lot there! Not allowing even one stone between us and Him

    2. “What Keller’s reference to the story doesn’t tell is that the Princess decides to continue to follow the grandmother’s thread by removing the stones one by one and [spoiler alert] her persistence ends up rescuing a friend who has been captured by the goblins and leads them both to safety.”
      Love the ending and inspired to get the book.  Yes, what meaning some of those children’s stories incorporate…I can see here a reminder that not only does our obedience benefit self, but others as well.  I too need to “follow the thread” regardless of the rough road and appearances.

    3. Thanks Diane! You inspired me to take action on reading the story myself too! 

  11. Take-away–My morning devotional verse was Isaiah 63:7 “I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord, the praises of the Lord,according to all that the Lord has granted us,and the great goodness to the house of Israel that he has granted them according to his compassion, according to the abundance of his steadfast love.”Today, I want to recound His steadfast love. I was convicted to remember ALL the ays He has proven to be my shield about me, He HAS lifted my head. I have experienced Him restore brokenness in my marriage, I have felt Him melt my stubborn heart. I have honestly felt Him lead me to enter into a child’s room and world when all my flesh was more than too weak for the task. There is really no basis for my doubt and anxiety. Yes, He has taken me into wilderness–and I do not feel far from it at times, but I have always experienced Him there. I know that He does not waste pain. I have watched so many of you hear be beautified by the fire–reflect Him more. This morning I just feel so humbled by His great love and patience with me. He knows my weakness, my weariness, my concerns. But e is good. He is Perfect Love. He dissolves, no, “casts out” is better–He destroys fear. I just have to keep my eyes on Him and all He has done already. I do not want to forget His loving kindness.

  12. B. What true fear did Christ have and how do you see fear expressed and help given in Luke 22:39-46?
    I like how Jesus was real and raw on how he felt. He asked God to take the burden from him, but only God’s will. Jesus was real with how he felt. He didnt hide from God, or keep it in. (Verse  44 ” And being in anguish, Jesus prayed more earnestly”) Jesus became real with God, and he let go and let God. In the end, God sent an angel to strengthen Jesus. 
    C. Why is it important not to be in denial about dangers and also to express our fear about them to God?
    Sometimes I find I need to just let go and let God, not hold everything in so much which can create, worry, anxiety and fear. To learn to lean on God and not my own feelings or thoughts. To turn to God in His word and prayer with everything.

  13. 4. STEP TWO: RECOGNIZE THE LIE  (Psalm 3:2)
    A. What were many saying to David is the midst of his vulnerability? What did they say to Jesus in the midst of his vulnerability in Matthew 27:43?
    ~Many were saying God will not deliver David, but Psalm 3:2 states ” Many are saying of me, God will not deliver him.  
    ~The enemy has told me many lies through my life, with so much hurt as a child/teen from those that should have protected me, to a divorce from my first husband, to missing out on having parents and my mother passing away unexpectedly without closure. The enemy was always there, even though I have been saved since I was 21.
    ~I have always felt this weight and emptiness at the same time. NOW in this season of my life, Im finding God is with me, and always has been. I know it sounds odd, but Im healing slowly from past hurts and the rejection and abandonment from my parents.  This bible study and the past Song of Songs has been key, painful at times, but key. I see it now.
    ~Another God or “Aha” milestone…I picked up running a few years back. It’s been a blessing to accomplish something that I found hard in the beginning but kept at it. I always seem to stop during Winter months and this year I bought thermal running gear and made myself do it. I feel much better emotionally, mentally and physcially when I exercise. Yesterday was a huge ‘aha’ moment. I ran 5 miles non stop, I just did it…and I was amazed I had endurance and strength to keep going. I just picked running back up 3 weeks ago, from not running since Fall. That to me was God….I kept feeling Him with me saying you can do it and I did it. Im still in awe and more in love with running now. I have always read stories of people doing some sport and it comes at a time in their life they needed a push and healing…I get it now.
    ~When I was home in Oklahoma back in 2010 a woman in church prophesied over me saying I was a runner…to which I had just started running…and then she went onto say that many times I had felt like I was all alone running, ready to give up, but God wanted me to know Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit were right there with me and sometimes they carried me. Yesterday I felt like God was carrying me…it was amazing! Another amazing thing, when I flew back to Italy back in 2010 from my visit home, I was running and somehow the way the sun was shining down on me, I saw three shadows of myself on the ground running along with me…It  happened a lot, not sure the science behind it, but I would just smile and say ‘thank you God, Jesus and Holy Spirit” 🙂
          B. How has the enemy taunted you in the midst of your vulnerability?
    ~ Feeling of loneliness, isolation, fear, depression…. the reason exercise(running being my choice) is key to help counter attack depression.

    1. “I saw three shadows of myself on the ground running along with me”
      That is so cool, especially in light of the prophesy of you running, feeling along, but Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit running with you.  I am envious of your love for running…I have always found it a drag, but enjoy a fast pace walk.  I too have allowed my exercise routine to diminish…I am encouraged by your post to start walking again…as you never run alone, I will never walk alone 🙂

      1. Sorry…”of you running, feeling alone, but Jesus,…”

        1. Nancy, oh there are days i have hated running…but I have learned not everyday will be a perfect or great run…just like life…but I press on knowing God is for me, with me and will always be. It’s been a process, and Im just now making sense of it all. My husband has always pushed me to do ‘exercise’, as he sees how much better off I am mentally and emotionally…God uses that husband of mine to push me, even when I dont like it…lol. Very grateful for that. I love walking too, just something about getting out in nature and the fresh air. It’s peaceful and freeing. 

  14. My take-away:   I feel like this week was just top-notch!   Dee provided so much for us that was helpful:  the art work (especially the light house and the crouching lion);  Chris’s heart-felt testimony and seeing the photograph of her two sons;  and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir was awesome!   Once again, however, my greatest take-away has to be Keller’s sermon.   He always seems to pick up all the loose ends, tie them together, and deliver them with gusto — right in my face — right where I am!!    

    A. What does David know to be true — find three things in this verse.
     ~God is a shield around us
        Exodus 14:14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
                 Psalm 18:2  The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
               ~He bestows glory on us          
                Isaiah 60:19 The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light; but the Lordwill be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. 

    ~He lifts up my head
                 Psalm 27:6 And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

  16. God is bigger to me now than He was then, my pride and confidence in myself is smashed. Being in the furnace has caused me to look more intently into the costly grace that is mine. I did feel abandoned there in the fire, I know though that I was not, He is filled with care and knows just how much I need & can stand.

    Chris Swain, Im sorry, I have no words, I can not even imagine all that you have gone through, but your testimony gives me hope. I see God in you and the strength He alone gives you. Im still in awe of your video…you are a strong and amazing woman. I see God in you and all around you. Many hugs to you.

  17. B. Whatever real loss you are facing, how is the cross the answer?
    I wasnt sure what loss I am facing, but I think its dealing with my mother in laws alcoholism and knowing she will die soon.  It’s been a roller coaster of emotions all week, to her being in the hospital, and having great talks on the phone with her like old times, to a let down. I thought we were making ground, she realizes the alcohol did this, to only hear her start in the lies and denial again…I was crushed, angry and upset last night as she was released from the hospital and hearing she thinks she does not need a hospice nurse and she was just ‘dehydrated’. Truth is, she is on steroids to prolong what life her liver has and she has been given 3 months at the most. I really thought she would just confess it was the alcohol and just finally make peace and truth. I was so mad, and almost had a hope that God would heal her and let her live…and now I see she has not faced reality or truth, the denial keeps on going. So I had to really let go and let God….there is nothing I can do, but pray and leave it at the cross with God, No matter how crushed I feel. It’s God that will have to really get through to my mother in law, and I love her so much. I didnt argue with her, I just told her that I loved her and hoped the steroids would keep her with us a little while longer, so she could remain happy and comfortable at home. But we all fear the worse…I can only run to the cross, God is her only hope and my only hope for peace in this ordeal.

  18. My take aways, I feel weak, but I know that is a good thing, I know to admit it, that I am weak. I love the sermons point about the shield, that it protects me as I go obediently forward into the battle and is of no help to me if I run away.I aspire to let God lift my head, to trust that he wants to and that he will.

    The real fear I find myself thinking about, not even realizing it is fear my kids will not succeed in life. Fear my son in fact does have a learning disability and it will hinder him to be ‘normal’ in society and their views. We are seeing a specialist in two weeks to see why my son struggles in school. I have feared since he was born there some was something a bit off. So its my fear I worry about him constantly. He is a great kid, with a huge heart. Extremely smart in a lot of areas, but struggles in focusing, motor skill issues such as handwriting. He was misdiagnosed with ADD/ADHD for years. I just recently found it could be a sensory issue…so I worry about my son a lot. I have heard God say to me and through others to trust God. He has great plans for my son, and that is what I stand on, even when fear tries to say otherwise.
    These worries produce fear, which leads to anxiety and sleepless nights at times. It’s not a healthy fear, and I need to run to God and leave it at the cross instead of trying to carry it all the time. Trying to fix things that are out of my control. My control issues again, always wanting to fix things and make it all flow in harmony. But its something I cant fix, and as a mom, it breaks my heart. 
    Jeremiah 29:11 ~For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 

    1. Staci, I hear your mother’s heart for your son…it is so hard to want to be able to fix things but to be unable to do that. Your son sounds like a great kid, indeed! I love the truth you are standing on for him from Jeremiah!

    2. Staci, I’m so sorry..I know the heartache  and fear you feel.  My daughter has cerebral palsy and epilepsy and  mentally challenged.   Just keep trusting God…like you heard him say….lean on him everyday.  Praying for your son and your family.

  20. Take-a-way
    What to do with fear. How to recognize it and respond. This is rich for me because that is a problem that the Lord first identified and promised me deliverance from more than 3 years ago. Actually it was longer than that if i go back to a prayer prayer over me years before that. How gentle and loving that He is still patiently working with me!
    This sermon took me back to idolatry as a source of anxiety, yet so much deeper. I feel like I was skimming the surface, following the thread when we first did Stonecutter. It was a step into the dark for me that I had to make and God honored that step and grew me in it. Now in this sermon I find a path with steps that I can take, boulders I can identify and roll out of the way (downloaded that book on my kindle Diane:) I can make Him my source and follow on. I LOVE the prayer at the end. Lord, become real to us! 

  21. This is what stood out to me from Keller’s sermon, Praying Our Fears:
    The Psalms teach us what to do with our emotions – pour them out in the presence of God and process them there.
    Anxiety comes when something that you have put your real security in, something that made you feel in control, that made you feel like you had an identity, is being eaten away. Keller used the example of a professional athlete once his career is over.
    David is admitting that he is filled with anxiety because his moral record, his family’s love, the approval of the people and his political power (and those were good things) were all things he had located his glory in. The word “glory” means “weight, significance”. The reason David felt good and secure in life was because of those things.
    If I am experiencing this kind of debilitating anxiety, it means that I have located my glory in something good. It’s a good thing to have children to take care of, but if you locate your glory in them, what you’ve done is you’ve put your glory-your worth, security-in something finite, and finite things are out there in time and space and are vulnerable to the circumstances and you will always live in fear.
    Your anxiety is smoke, and if you follow it, it will lead you to the fire. The fire is something has become too important to you.
    You are scared to death to the degree that you’ve put your glory into something that can die. But, to the degree that you make your glory the fact that Jesus was cut-off for you…that’s how you know He’s proud of you, loves you, values you…you will know you are significant and you will be impervious to fear.
    The opposite of love is fear. Perfect love casts out fear. Fear is self-centeredness. Love is self-giving. You’ll never really deal with your fear all by yourself – you’ve got to love somebody. Get your mind off of yourself and your needs. The only way to finally destroy fear is in community and love.
    This really spoke to me about my fear/anxiety about the future. For me, it also manifests itself in feeling sadness and somewhat depressed.  The quote about anxiety being the smoke and needing to follow it to the fire – reminded me of the psalmist asking his soul, “Why are you so downcast, o my soul; why so disturbed within me?” What is it that I have located my glory in? Well, 22 years ago, being a new mother…it was so easy to put all my weight into that. From my young children, I had unconditional love, companionship, days that were filled and fulfilling, a sense of purpose and children to love, nurture, and care for. (That’s why I like bedside caregiving best of all in nursing – not dealing with the computers!)
    However, one could just as easily listen to this and come away thinking things like “okay, I need to put all my “weight” into God…I don’t really “need” other people to make me happy…I won’t rely on the love of others…I won’t love too much…” and to become self-protective of my heart. That’s why I really liked the end where Keller said love is self-giving. That’s why “perfect love casts out fear” – Jesus’ perfect love for us/me enabled Him to cast out the fear of the Cross. I must defeat fear in community and love…that’s continuing to love, to reach out to others, to love even if there is a risk of it not being returned, to love children who grow into adults and get busy with their own lives – it’s not to back away to avoid the hurt/pain, it’s being focused on Him first and then on the needs of others…letting Him be my glory, believing He is proud of me because He paid the price for me breaking His covenant – and not expecting my family to be my glory.
    And – it’s not trading one idol for another. In another Keller sermon, he talked about a woman who went to a counselor because she had let the men in her life abuse her, and when she finally realized it, the counselor suggested that she get a career…but the woman knew that she would just be trading one idol for another. So for me, it’s not like well, my children are getting older, now I’ll try to get significance from being a great wife-from my husband, or anything else-my job, a hobby, etc…These are all good things – I want my marriage to be better, I would like to find things to fulfill me in life, but I can’t make them into ultimate things, my identity.
    All this being said, do I have it all down pat? No, I’m still processing…but I’m trying to pray it in, from my head to my heart.

    1. Thanks, Susan.  Your processing is helping me process.  I appreciate what you quoted from the sermon because I didn’t take notes while I was driving 😉       So true, about the response of being “self-protective.”

      On Tuesday, when I was talking with someone about what I was learning in this study, he said, “It’s as if you have said, ‘I will NEVER let this happen to me again.'”    And those worst situations haven’t happened, but at what cost?  

    2. “anxiety being the smoke and needing to follow it to the fire”
      This point really caught my attention as well.  Anxiety is a tell-tale sign that I am building (or have built) my identity on something finite rather than Jesus.

    3. Oh Susan, praying for you!

  22. Take-away:
    This week has been AMAZING, a very significant study for me.  I assumed that some of my automatic, quick anxiety reactions were “just life.”

    On Monday, as I worked through the verses on speaking the lament and also considered an upcoming event, ALL the fears underlying PTSD came out.  During the past two decades, I have continued to ease into the fears, to see that sometimes they weren’t true (i.e., that some Christians &/or authority figures are trustworthy).  Except in a couple situations (which have been more common lately), it’s not that big of a deal.   I’ve challenged specific lies that I was told, many times and long ago.   Until now, I had not recognized the deepest lie:  that God isn’t big enough.  I knew in my head that  God is far bigger and far more loving than my fears, but I hadn’t connected with those automatic, not always rational, fears.    It was as if the chains fell off;  my defense isn’t (primarily) to say “XYZ statement isn’t true.”  (Sometimes people do lie).  My shield is God Almighty!   

    At noon on Monday, I was on a large conference call and the speaker said, “If you don’t have clarity about what to do, TARRY there with Him.”   I was tarrying, right there in the exhaustion and after effects of a huge spiritual battle.  The battle was so exhausting that I conked out — in a nap.  I smiled because I definitely could understand the portion of the Psalm about sleeping.

    On Tuesday, I got to the item Praying the Psalm.  My first thought was “I don’t have to do that; I did it yesterday!”   I had done it as I  worked through the verses on Monday (how could I not?).  Well, sometimes I follow instructions.  So I prayed the Psalm, again.  More freedom.   On Tuesday and Wednesday, I started telling people about it because it does have implications for “what next?” for me.

    Yesterday, I listened to Keller’s sermon several times when driving (would like to listen to the rest of the series, too).  So many things struck me, and I can see that as I have grown in Him, He has been preparing me to grasp more.  For example, I would have had difficulty grasping the significance of GLORY without becoming more open to His love through studying Song of Songs.  I’m not sure that I even would have felt safe enough to examine the very deeply rooted fears without being first completely won over by His LOVE.   (I don’t want to play with fire if there isn’t a hydrant nearby!!).   

    AND, Keller’s sermon was affirming.  At the beginning of the week, when I read the Psalm, I said to myself, “I want to pray some imprecatory prayers!” (Note that my vocabulary has grown 😉  ).  I felt guilty.     Yesterday, I realized that a situation with a colleague has gone so far that she can barely function.    I was so relieved to know that it isn’t wrong to want justice.  Given the EXTENT of the injustice I learned about yesterday, I’m angry.  And I’m also at peace — because God is my fortress, my shelter, my shield.  I know that because of the extent of a trauma I experienced it the past, I may continue to have quick panic attacks.  Now I can view them from the right perspective:  that whether the danger is real or not, I am safe in HIM.   I do see some potential risks in next steps of obedience.  I also see  spiritual battles are bigger and more widespread than I’d like to acknowledge.  If it weren’t for Jesus, I couldn’t face them.  It’s as if this week has fleshed out the “why” of Phil 4:13.   “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” isn’t just a mantra I say over and over to convince myself.  It is based on the heart of the Gospel, and my safety in him, my shield.

    SORRY SO LONG.  Hard to explain how the pieces fit together.

    1. Your take-away is pure gold. Thanks so much for sharing how this lesson has led you deeper and helped you work through some of the trauma in your life. Your enthusiasm encourages me to keep moving forward following the thread of God’s love.

    2. Renee I agree that this is pure gold. You did well in explaining how the pieces fit together. It is important to feel safe in His love before venturing out farther.  

  23. Dee,
    Thank you SO MUCH for the careful way you presented the verses and led us through the lament, the lie, and the truth.  The study was crystal clear and so powerful.  The sermon was frosting on the cake!

  24. I didn’t finish this week’s lesson but God is faithful–  I was just sitting listening to a song called “I Just Wanted You To Know”, and allowed the words to wash over me. I could sense His arms of grace surround me.
    Here are the lyrics to “I Just Wanted You To Know”.

    Where there is fear, Lord You will hide meWhen winds of danger around me blowI feel Your arms of grace surround meAnd I just wanted You to know
    There’s strength in knowing You are near meAnd peace that You alone bestowI love You more today than everAnd I just wanted You to know
    You make dry ground where once were oceansWhere once were mountains, You make them lowWhere there were stars, now there is waterYOU SATISFY MY THIRSTY SOUL
    There’s strength in knowing You are nearAnd peace that you alone bestowI love You more today than everAnd I just wanted You to know
    For all the times I’ve seen Your gloryAnd watched you conquer my every foeMy love for You is over-flowingAnd I just wantedOh Lord I neededMy hear is LONGINGFor You to know. . .

  25. I must admit that the struggle between light and darkness was in my heart this week.  Sometimes God won and sometimes the old tired lies of the enemy won out. 
    But My take away is of God’s faithfulness.  I can trust His promises and His vow to me.  I like Keller’s sermon and I have saved it and I will listen to it again.  King David’s knowledge of the scripture and how to lay down his heart and will to Father God, trusting Him implicitly to deliver him was inspiring.  
    My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ blood and righteousness!  It continually amazes me.  God’s love and His faithfulness to His word.  To claim the promises of God and to believe them is a privilege of being a daughter of the King.

  26. My take-aways…
    Praying psalms…speaking the lament, recognizing the lie, speaking the truth to our soul.  I found Steve’s statement Dee shared of “The greatest threat is not death but backing away from God in the midst of suffering” something very important to remember.
    Keller’s sermons are always so helpful in putting everything together…the bow on Dee’s package (i.e., study for the week) so to speak.
    *the differentiation between fear and anxiety; clarification that fear is healthy, constructive, and specific; it provides needed mental clarity, fight/flight responses, whereas anxiety is putting security in something other than the Lord and is unhealthy and debilitating.
    *”shield around me” is only used when going into horrible danger…the Lord’s protection only works when I’m obedient and follow.  Obedience is hard, it will take me to places I will not necessarily want to go, but I will be in the Lord’s care (shield around me); disobedience is lethal…and, there are only the two options (i.e., obedience or disobedience).
    *Anxiety is smoke that leads to fire…fire is the finite thing that I am building (or have built) my identity on/in.  When I place my security or worth in the finite, this puts me in a vulnerable position.
    *”follow the thread”
    Another excellent week of learning…thank you to Dee for providing the foundation of this week’s study and for my blog study sisters for providing so much in your comments.

    1. Woo hoo!  Thanks, Nanci!

  27. Dee, Update from your speaking today?   Still praying for the fruit that is to come.

  28. Take away………That even when our greatest fear comes true, God is there. We cannot find a false security in running away. Going through pain and suffering is the way to be shielded. The opposite of fear is love. Also unlike David, as much as it sounds cliché, I don’t believe on that deeper level that God is proud of me…………I need to wrap my identity around His word, I need to meditate on scripture that speaks the truth.

    1. So happy to see your post, Tammy Jo. Yes…how great it is to know that no matter how bad life may get, we are never walking life alone. I think of Cory Tenboom (I’m not on my computer and I’m looking at that spelling thinking it looks wrong…sorry…. I’m referencing “The Hiding Place”) and all she suffered and loved ones suffered, yet she knew the Lord was with them…oh what faith…her identity was fully in the Lord. I guess that was a bit of a tangent. Anyway…glad that you are with us fellow Wisconsinite…going into a deep freeze once again. 🙂

      1. Actually Nanci my favorite book is ‘The  Hiding Place’ and my favorite person of faith is Corrie Ten Boom. as far as the deep freeze, I am really curious to see if my kid will be out of school again. 

      2. I love that book! I have a few of Corrie Ten Booms books. The first concentration camp she was at it literally 10 miles from my house here in the Netherlands and we went and saw it last Fall. No words, but there were three crosses made out of tree logs where they lined the prisoners up to be killed. Its a walk through the woods just like the book states. But when you arrive and see the three crosses above the memorial wall, its beautiful and peaceful, As if God is saying they are all home with me. Harlem, is up by Amsterdam, Where Corrie is from. We have been to the town, but yet to go to her house and clock store. It’s on our list when the weather gets a bit warmer.

  29.  I have listened to the sermon, but was doing laundry and did not take notes. Im going to listen again this evening. This week my take away is a lot of ‘aha’ moments with God. Mainly things I have been experiencing, like running, are all coming together to make light of what God is doing in me. Lots of healing taking place…and God always seems to make light of it all when we are close to moving, which is in June. 
    I love that God is our shield, even in bad times, the enemy is defeated. Im still pondering this week a lot. I thought I couldnt possibly love any bible study more than Song of Songs…..I do love this study, its a bit harder and ‘real’. Meaning dealing with a lot of things within myself that God is bringing to light. It’s good, hard at times, but good. I so enjoy everyones post here as well. Its comforting to know as women we all go through life with ups and downs, some more than others. But God is with us all. Praying for you all.