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THE FOOL SAYS IN HIS HEART THERE IS NO GOD (PSALM 14: Part I.)

IT IS THE PSALM OF THE ATHEIST

WHO SAYS IN HIS HEART

THERE IS NO GOD

Psalm 14 vers 1

BUT WE ALSO SEE, AS THE PSALM PROGRESSES,

THAT WE ARE ALL FOOLS UNTIL HIS LOVE BREAKS THROUGH.

IN KEITH GREEN’S SHORT TIME ON EARTH, HOW I REMEMBER HIM

SELLING HIS RECORDS FOR “WHATEVER PEOPLE COULD PAY”

STIRRING THE LUKEWARM CHURCH WITH HIS PASSION

SINGING FROM HIS TRANSFORMED HEART:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h89-3_kIRDA

WHAT I AM PRAYING FOR EACH OF US THIS LENT,

IS THAT WE WILL NOT LIVE LIKE FOOLS,

BUT SEEK HIM WITH ALL OUR HEARTS,

FOR AS THIS PSALM PROMISES,

HIS LOVE WILL KEEP BREAKING THROUGH.

FOR GOD IS PRESENT WITH HIS FORGIVEN CHILDREN.

There is justified anger in this psalm against those who lead others astray. I see so much poison coming from the media, but also from pulpits — sheer lies about how the Bible was formed, about the cross, and about our Lord. I remember sitting next to a young man on a plane who was reading Christopher Hitchen’s book: God Is Not Great and trembling at Hitchen’s lack of fear of God. When you pray this psalm, remember Bonhoeffer’s exhortation to hear the voice of Christ in the background — His anger, His pain at the rebellion against God, His compassion for those who are oppressed and neglected, which is the fruit of those who are fools. Their thinking is twisted, therefore, so are their hearts. Hitler tore down the cross in the churches to have his twisted cross put up. Hitler reasoned, “Nature is cruel, therefore we can be as well.” And how inhumane he was. Remembering this, hear the voice of Christ in this psalm.

Psalm 14, like Romans 1, shows the root of unbelief. They want to follow their own will so they refuse to believe. Blaise Pascal (one of the keenest intellects who ever lived) believed that the evidence for Christianity was overwhelming, but that men resist Christ because they resist giving up control of their lives. I know that was true of me. Pascal wrote:

Men despise religion. They hate it and are afraid it may be true. The cure for this is first to show that religion is not contrary to reason, but worthy of reverence and respect. Next make it attractive, make good men wish it were true, and then show that it is.

This is also what we have been hearing from a contemporary intellect: Michael Reeves. We have reduced Christianity to a formula instead of showing people how beautiful Jesus is. I am finding when I show how beautiful Christ is, and the beauty of the gospel, walls come down. One woman said to me recently, “I don’t know why I keep crying when you talk, but something is happening in my heart.” His love, as Keith Green sang, is breaking through.

breakingBecause this psalm addresses the essence of the opposition against Christ, against His death and resurrection, against His importance in an individual’s life, we are going to spend two weeks on it, so that you not only understand the psalm, but are prepared to resist the lies of the foolish world all around you, which are swaying even those who know God. Every Lent, particularly as Holy Week approaches, you will see headlines in national magazines with a lie about Christianity — and we need to know how to respond with the truth. This week you’ll hear a common lie, as expounded by the John Lennon song, Imagine, and hear a wonderful refutation by Tim Keller.

Sunday Icebreakers:

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

2. If His love has broken through to you, share one thing you remember about when it did. 

Songs to Prepare Your Heart:
In the wonderful sermon you will hear next week, Dick Lucas says a real hymn must reveal something about God. These two do. The Psalm project caught the heart of Psalm 14 — God’s anger against the fool, but also His compassion for the poor, and His knowledge that one day the captive will be set free and there will be a great reversal of fortune. The second song was by one of the first women hymn-writers, and made contemporary by Indelible Grace. This world is hard, and the lies of the fool can make it hard to trust in times of trouble, but as the second part of the Psalm shows, God is a refuge to the oppressed, and one day there will a great reversal.

Monday-Friday Bible Study and Sermon (Pace yourself so you finish — I’ve given a guideline, but do as you feel led.)

Monday

3. Read Psalm 14 out loud as an overview.

A. What do you learn about the fool in verse 1?

B. Verses 1-3 shows how fools rebel against the law of God. Derek Kidner says the essence of sin is believing we know better than God.

C. Verses 4 shows the fruit of fools. What metaphor is given? The verb is “devour.” How did HItler devour God’s people?

D. What causes the fool concern, according to verse 5? Can you think of an example from Scripture or life?

E. What promise is there to the poor in verse 6?

F. Describe the end of the story, according to verse 7.

4. Bonhoeffer urges us to hear the voice of Christ in these psalms — His anger, His compassion. How do you hear His voice in Psalm 14?

Tuesday-Wednesday: Some Lies of The Atheist and The Response of a Wise Man

Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. In the wildly popular song by John Lennon, Imagine, see how beautiful people, beautiful settings, and beautiful music are used, like an angel of light. Yoko and John look very serious — as if doing away with God, heaven, and hell would solve our problems and we need to know this. This is what so many of the books from atheists say. It can seem plausible when you realize wars are so often a result of the clash of religious beliefs. But there are huge holes in this argument which Keller skillfully uncovers. In order to dismantle the lie, we must first see what it is, what people are hearing, and what can even penetrate our souls if we are naive:

5. How is the lie set up with beauty? What are the lies that are articulated?

Listen to Tim Keller’s response to these lies in this free sermon (download it first) and share your notes: LINK

6. Share your notes to Keller’s sermon:

Thursday-Friday: Lies Against Christian Missionaries and The Response of Research

I was in a secular book club for twenty years. Though we read many well written books, some very good, we also read several books against Christianity. One that particularly angered me was Poisonwood Bible which told the story of a legalistic missionary who was completely insensitive culturally. Indeed, I know there are missionaries like that, but do they represent the norm? I’d like you to read one of the best articles I think Christianity Today has published in my lifetime and share your notes: Click below:

http://eaglemissions.org/about/the-surprising-discovery-about-those-colonialist-proselytizing-missionaries/

 

7. What did you learn from the article?

8. In contrast, what does Psalm 14:3-4 tells us is the fruit of ignoring God?

9. In your own life, when you were cool toward God, what was the fruit? How about when you were passionate?

10. As we will see more next week, though this psalm is about the atheist, it is about all of us, for we can all live like fools. Pray for your own heart, that God will rekindle the flame. Indeed, that is what Lent is all about. Then pray the same for your loved ones.

Saturday

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

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315 comments

  1. Thanks, Renee!  And I often see Poisonwood at thrift stores.  I’ll get you a copy cheap if I find one.  (not a fair swap however, for the book you’re sending me.  There.  I got on your case.  smile.)

  2. 5. How is the lie set up with beauty?
    The walk towards the white house is almost in a fog…upon entering the home (entering the “dream” of John and Yoko?) Yoko proceeds to open the inner window coverings while John sings…the piano music is slow and has a soothing measure.  The room is bathed in light…warm and inviting (as if to say, the dream is “light”…i.e., clarity, truth, warmth, comfort).  There is a plea to join John and Yoko in the dream, the tranquility, the love.  They can show us the way…blah, blah, blah…
     
    What are the lies that are articulated?
    The lies articulated are that today is it…if there is no heaven, no hell, no Lord, no spiritual authority, no religion, then peace reigns, a “brotherhood of man,” all is right with the world. 
     
    6. Share your notes to Keller’s sermon
    Keller acknowledges that religion has brought and will likely continue to bring strife and unrest.  He states that faith is here to stay.  Keller shows how even those who claim to not have faith do have faith in their atheist beliefs.  Keller states that Jesus…His sacrifice, continuous love, etc….is the only means for peace and love to reign.  To recognize Jesus for the Lord and Savior He is…i.e., the Lord who prayed for those who hurt and brutalized Him, who willing took on the yoke of sin to provide freedom from sin’s bondage (something that humanity was unable to achieve on its own).  The sacrifice, selflessness, and love of Jesus melts the heart and blows the mind…we love Him because He loved us first.
     
    7. What did you learn from the article?
    Wow…alot! 
    The missionary movement had a strong and positive influence on liberal democratization.  Statistical data analysis provides evidence that missionaries (protestant conversionary) were a central impact in establishing stable representative democracies, public health, and economic growth.  Missionaries provided colonial reform “through the back door”…they focused on teaching people to read (i.e., literacy).  In areas where missionaries were allowed to flourish, the area flourished long-term with schools, literacy, economic development, better health, lower infant mortality, whereas the opposite is true of areas where colonial authority restricted missionaries. 
     
    Woodberry is a very humble man…he was looking for truth whether that be in support or opposition of his theory. 

    1. Nanci,  So true:  “There is a plea to join John and Yoko in the dream, the tranquility, the love.  They can show us the way…blah, blah, blah…”   I smiled at the blah, blah, blah because that’s exactly what I say and/or write when I am just going along with WHATEVER.   When I heard that song before, I didn’t think… I just mellowed and went along with blah, blah, blah!   The “blah, blah, blah” accurately represents when I am succumbing to the path of least resistance.   I thought that they were just “words” (fake words?) or placeholders, but now I’m wondering how often that blah blah blah might indicate I am heading the wrong direction.  Hmm…

      1. Hey fellow “blah, blah, blah” gal…:)  For me, “blah, blah, blah” is more rhetoric…empty talk, saying words but those words having little or no meaning or value to me. 
         

    2. Nanci, I am so with you-:)  
      What is the point or purpose in peace, love, tranquility. brotherhood, no hurting, no war, if there is no God? In reality a sacrifice would be required on all parties to achieve peace-and it is impossible with our flesh.  We all struggle with wanting to be in control. As Keller said, getting rid of religion has been tried and oppression results.
       
      His Love is more complicated, more powerful, more ravishing than sitting around smoking pot, holding hands and singing cumbayah. ;~) Love is more than agreeing on everything which is impossible for us to do anyway. God showed us what Love is for HE IS LOVE-and He showed us Love is self sacrifice, putting others interests as more important to consider than ours-OUCH! and in loving our enemies- it is easy to love those who love us-I know because I struggle with that when my comfort idol rears his ugly head! 🙁 And I was His enemy yet He loved me and when we have been loved despite our inadequacies, our sin, our wicked heart-and I think of when Peter denied Jesus..oh oh oh to remember His love! To be ravished by Him is so much more overwhelming and desirable than Lennon’s dream.  Lennon’s dream is empty like the submarine filled with baking soda story. Lennon makes his vision sound so wonderful but in reality intimacy with one another is disappointing without the Cross-without intimacy with God.
       
      Sorry to rabbit trail and sound preachy-just really needed to think through this and see Him-this helped me for I can easily run to my comfort idol and live cooly toward God -really just one step away and need to cling to Him. I am so grateful for Dee’s blog and all of you..for the encouragement and His love.

      1. “Sorry to rabbit trail and sound preachy”…no way, Rebecca…I love your pondering and I am in total agreement with you…”Lennon makes his vision sound so wonderful but in reality intimacy with one another is disappointing without the Cross-without intimacy with God.” 
         
        I recently began reading Tim Keller’s book, “Encounters with Jesus”…I have been so struck with the gentleness of Jesus; I have misinterpreted situations thinking that Jesus is somewhat terse when in reality, He is so very gentle.  Keller’s explanation of the woman at the well in Chapter 2  was very enlightening.  It is funny how you can know a story, but given additional information and explanation the story can appear so different.  The following just melts my heart (Chapter 2, page 39), “It is because Jesus Christ experienced cosmic thirst on the cross that you and I can have our spiritual thirst satisfied.  It is because he died that we can be born again.  And he did it gladly.  Seeing what he did and why he did it will turn our hearts away from the things that enslave use and toward him in worship.  That is the gospel, and it is the same for skeptics, believers, insiders, outcasts, and everyone in between.”…the same for everyone…:)  
         

  3. Having to sign-off the blog for awhile.
    Sorry, sisters,  I am going to have to be off of the blog for several days, and off-line in general too.    I have a 7-year-old computer that has Windows XP as its operating system.   As you may have read,  in April Windows is going to start cutting tech support for XP.  So I am in the process of getting a new computer.   I will have to haul my tower to the Computer store tomorrow, so they can begin to transfer files, etc.   Not sure exactly when I will get back on.  Not being so very tech-savvy, I am depending on my older daughter to help me get it all established.   I just didn’t want to mysteriously disappear without saying anything!   🙂

    1. Deanna-thanks for letting us know. Hope it all goes smoothly and you’ll be back with us soon! 😉

    2. Will miss you and will pray for the computer switch to go without a hitch 🙂

    3. Deanna,
      Thanks for letting us know.  Hope to see you again SOON.  And thanks for the XP reminder.

    4. Deanna, 
      Thanks so much for letting us know-we will miss you but understand and look forward to seeing you when your computer is up and running! 🙂

    5. Bummer, Deanna…I look forward to your quick return…you will be missed.

  4. I will miss you Deanna!  I know we just ‘met’ here, but you have been an encouragement to me.  I truly hope your computer fix happens quickly and that you are blessed in the time of being off line.  May Lent continue to be a time of renewal and peace for you.  Hope to see you back soon.

  5. 8. In contrast, what does Psalm 14:3-4 tells us is the fruit of ignoring God?
    The fruit of ignoring God is corruption, evil, and no good at all.
     
    9. In your own life, when you were cool toward God, what was the fruit? How about when you were passionate?
     
    Back in college, when I was cool toward God, I thought I was having “fun.” I was partying, had a foul mouth, and doing generally evil things.  I was not holy and did not live holy. I was evil. I am sad that I was that way. When I have focused on my Lord, my life has been clean (er) and good. Since I aim to please Him, I am a better person and live a better life. I am not perfect, nor will I ever be that way. However, I can live my life for Him and be more at peace. In fact, I tell my children this; to live clean lives and they will be happier people. I believe God wants it and has planned it this way.

    1. Laura-dancer–great honest answer to #9. ” I thought I was having “fun.”” vs. “I can live my life for Him and be more at peace.”
      Do you have any follow-up scans scheduled we can pray for?
       

  6. Coolness leads to selfishness, being stone hearted towards those we are to love and appreciate, serve and have compassion towards.  When I am passionate towards God He is able to teach my heart about being who He wants/needs me to be in order for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

  7. Mary e.–out of replies to your post above, but just wanted to say I am so sorry you’ve had a rough week. I am praying for you now.

    1. Thank you so much, sweet Elizabeth!  I really appreciate your prayers.

  8. 7. What did you learn from the article?
    That God is just and restores people who are under oppression here and now-and the ripple effects when God moves are huge. He impassioned His missionaries to go to oppressive countries-and they obeyed with passionate hearts and went and saw oppression and fought for the people-and not only that, they went further to work to make sure it was done..I loved the list of missionaries at the end and how they fought for justice.
     
     
    8. In contrast, what does Psalm 14:3-4 tells us is the fruit of ignoring God?
    We can become corrupt-I think perhaps this ‘corruption’ in context with the whole Psalm is cold, aloof, unaroused and self concerned when we see injustice or people hurting and needy.
     
    9. In your own life, when you were cool toward God, what was the fruit? How about when you were passionate?
    I was corrupt, focused on my self-my own needs and while I was moved at injustice there was a ‘wall lie’ in the way that while it makes me sad, I can’t save everyone anyway and I can’t go and help being needed here at home.
     
    When I was passionate: funny but it came from Him from having intimacy with Him-When I see His passion for justice, for people and see that His passion is for me to be like Him-to love and serve others and to care for the poor-the oppressed-He has given me a desire to help in any way I am able and at my church there are many opportunities that come across email.
     
    10. As we will see more next week, though this psalm is about the atheist, it is about all of us, for we can all live like fools. Pray for your own heart, that God will rekindle the flame. Indeed, that is what Lent is all about. Then pray the same for your loved ones.
    God your passion for the oppressed for the hurting melts my heart but not like butter yet-like your passion for restoration for that is who you are-none of this: the fall, sin, oppression, the ugliness in this world, is who you are. Will you break my heart for what breaks yours make it melt but more important help me to step out of my comfort zone and in being busy and step into someone elses world and love them by meeting a need and lifting them up. Help the hearts of my husband and my boys catch fire too. Help us to turn from the distractions daily and turn to you. 

    1. Rebecca, love your definition of corruption. 

       cold, aloof, unaroused and self concerned

  9. What a huge contrast between vs. 3 and 4 of Psalm 14 and the findings recorded in the article.  To look at the lives of the scores of selfless people who left all they knew and all that was comfortable, to set out for what really was vastly unknown…all because of the passion of Christ that compelled them is a living example of the fruits of the spirit.  And not only did they bring the gospel of salvation and peace, they worked against oppression and injustice.   Literacy, education and hope were offered which over time created lasting and positive change for so many.  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.  I don’t think it would be hard to find all of these fruits as being very evident in the collective lives of those who served the Lord as 19th century missionaries.   One of the things that impressed me so much when I read a biography of Gladys Aylward (I guess she was in the early 20th Century) was that when she set off to cross the ocean, she had one contact on the other side and she had not heard from that person for quite some time.   She wasn’t even sure if she would still be living by the time she reached her.  I remember contrasting that to our internet and satellite world of instant and almost continuous contact, even for those in remote areas.  It takes a lot of trust and commitment to pick up and leave to go where you are called today.  What it have felt like to go under those kind of circumstances boggles my mind.  The love of God compels….  So the contrast of those who don’t see God, whose collective lives are corrupt (together they have become corrupt) who has no one among them who does good and who devour (oppress, abuse, destroy) others  (vs. 3 & 4) could not be more stark.

  10. 5. How is the lie set up with beauty? What are the lies that are articulated?
     
    All I can say is I found the video and the music to be disturbing and sad. All through it I was wondering, how did Yoko deal with John’s death (he was shot to death)? What was she left with to sustain her, to comfort her, to give her any hope? It all seemed so “ethereal”, the setting – very simple – clean, white, bright. I kept hearing that if we just did away with the ideas of heaven, hell, and religion, we would all live in peace and we would share with each other and there would be no more hunger and pain. Yet he didn’t take into account that even if you do away with heaven, hell, and religion (and God), we’re still left with our own sinful hearts. The problem with the world isn’t  “out there” – it’s right in my own heart. And this world doesn’t offer a cure for a sin-sick heart. Funny, but what John and Yoko seems to be longing for as expressed in this song is heaven…the world as God intended it to be.
     

    1. Susan–another nugget of gold from you “The problem with the world isn’t  “out there” – it’s right in my own heart.” You always challenge and convict me–so thankful for you!

      1. Agreed!

    2. Spot on Susan and very well articulated. 

  11. Hello lovely ladies 
     
    I am still here just have been super busy this week. About to listen to Kellers message refuting Imagine. The biggest lies that stuck out to me in the song  were
    1. the idea of there being no Heaven 
    2. The idea of their being no Hell
    3. That their can be peace without God with an underlying theme that a Belief in God is somehow what causes men to wage war and not recognizing that the truth really is without Belief and laws and governments there would be even more chaos and unrest

  12. 8. In contrast, what does Psalm 14:3-4 tell us is the fruit of ignoring God? “All have turned away, all have become corrupt…they devour my people…they never call on the Lord.”
    Romans 1:18-25

    18 God’s wrath is being revealed from heaven against all the ungodly behavior and the injustice of human beings who silence the truth with injustice. 19 This is because what is known about God should be plain to them because God made it plain to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—God’s eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, because they are understood through the things God has made. So humans are without excuse. 21 Although they knew God, they didn’t honor God as God or thank him. Instead, their reasoning became pointless, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 While they were claiming to be wise, they made fools of themselves. 23 They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images that look like mortal humans: birds, animals, and reptiles. 24 So God abandoned them to their hearts’ desires, which led to the moral corruption of degrading their own bodies with each other. 25 They traded God’s truth for a lie, and they worshipped and served the creation instead of the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

     
    Tim Keller – “Darkened hearts and minds are the direct results of a refusal of the truth. The bondage they experience emotionally is the result of worshiping false gods that cannot satisfy.”
    Tim Keller – “God’s wrath and punishment is to ‘give us over’ to the things we worship and the things we want. We see both the justice yet terror of God’s wrath. It is just, because ‘down deep’ we know that there is a God and he is only giving us what we want. It is terrible, because it means that the worst thing God can do to a human being is to let them reach their idolatrous goals.”

  13. The comments I read about the foolishness of men, saying  in their hearts, there is no God, has really impacted me this week.
    Yes, as Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things…” And in Proverbs, “fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
    One of the lies of the world was apparent to me as I had a conversation with an instructor in my exercise group. It was simply an observation of the weather, and I commented that God had caused snow on the first day of spring..”Oh, I am sure He had nothing to do with it.” Wow- so I responded briefly but affirmatively. Hearts are hardened and believe lies. I will pray for Lynn, that her heart will be softened so she will contemplate the truth.
    We are all foolish sometimes, and when I was cool to God’s word, I think that it was evident in selfishness, pride and disobedience.
    Fools have all turned aside, and as this occurs the little sins grow and grow to the point of being corrupt or immoral. Their fruit is to devour others, to become bigoted and turn away from God.
    But the Lord is the refuge of the poor and the oppressed. They grow closer to God and receive blessings and comfort.
    I am learning so much about Dietrich Bonhoeffer and how God spoke to him through Psalm 74, after the burning of the synagogues, he read verse
    8,  “They said in their hearts, Let us destroy them altogether. They have burned up all the meeting places of God in the land.” He knew that God’s chosen people were attacked by the evilness of Hitler.
    I recently listened to the debate of creationism and heard the lies of the “science man”, Bill Nye. He avoided the truth of the faith principle, and his assumptions regarding evolution are based on his own “faith “, because his theory is unproven.
    There are so many lies and I need to be alert to them. Songs do convey these lies so subtly. The themes of peace and love are often a mask for a lie. I pray for discernment, and also for protection for youth who are led astray.
    Another truth I am confronting is the need to turn all my worries over to God in prayer, for dread and fear result from foolish tendencies.
    So much is in this psalm when we truly search.

    1. Shirley–great post! You have pulled so much wisdom from the psalm, and good examples, good reminder to stay alert to those subtle lies around us.

  14. 9. In your own life, when you were cool toward God, what was the fruit?   I know that often in times of crises, we are driven toward God…but in the midst of ongoing struggles/the serious health concerns for one of my children, a few years ago, I felt very cold toward God.  I was tired of unanswered prayer, tired of yet one more crisis, tired of the heart break.  Tired of trying to pull myself together once again. I decided to get mad at God at ‘hold him at bay’.  It actually seemed to work for a little while.  I felt some strange sort of contentment holding a grudge against God.  But then, the real fruit began to show.  I felt miserable and just plain icky inside.  Peace of mind was seriously compromised.  All I could do was acknowledge how foolish I was to think I could go it alone and get back into His Word and experience His love overwhelm me again. 

    1. Wanda–such a relate-able picture and truth-filled post! “tired of unanswered prayer, tired of yet one more crisis, tired of the heart break.” I think we all have known that struggle–and the result “I felt miserable and just plain icky inside.” Reminds me how thankful I am that by His grace, He won’t allow us to feel comfortable and at peace without Him.

  15. 6. Share your notes to Keller’s sermon
     
    I won’t do that since so many have already done it with great detail! Just the “gist” of it, to me, was that Christianity is worth investigating, because it has a solution to the slippery slope of religion in general and moralism. The gospel of Christianity prevents you from feeling superior to others because it tells you that you are a sinner, no better than anyone else, and that you need a savior.
     
    On a side note, I did a little reading on the internet yesterday about John Lennon. I found a couple of articles from Christian sources that said Lennon would watch televangelists like Billy Graham and even corresponded with Oral Roberts. In 1977, I believe, he claimed to have had a born-again experience. He had been deeply moved by watching the movie Jesus of Nazareth. The article said that his wife, Yoko Ono, didn’t agree with his new way of thinking and tried to steer him away…they went to Tokyo and when he returned he seemed to drift away. Ray Comfort made a movie about Lennon called Genius.

  16. 7. What did you learn from the article?
     
    Wow – it was very interesting! How neat that Woodberry discovered God’s calling for his life, and boy, did he take it and run with it! His detailed research shows the positive effects on every level of society, such as democracy, literacy, education, health, in areas where there were missionary stations. In particular, missionaries who were independent of the state and who spoke out against colonialism. I read about missionaries I had never heard of and how they took action against injustice.

  17. I finally have an answer to a question from a couple weeks ago!!!  One of the questions was “out of the mouths of babes” can you think of a time when you heard praise to God from a child?
    I was talking to a friend I’ve known since college  the other day and she has an 8 year-old daughter.  They had some TV show on about a dolphin who had gotten tangled up in fishing wires and also had a hook stuck in it.  The dolphin would not go near anyone until finally this one man got it to come over and the man just gently untangled it as the dolphin just stayed still, right there with him.  He got it totally untangled and the hook removed and the dolphin was totally freed.  My friend (Patty) said that her daughter looked at her and said, “Mom, isn’t that just like God is with us?  We get all tangled up in our sin and if we will just go and be with Him,  He completely untangles us and frees us.”  
    I just LOVED that!   Lent blessing from a child this season!!! 🙂 It brings tears to my eyes.

    1. ““Mom, isn’t that just like God is with us?  We get all tangled up in our sin and if we will just go and be with Him,  He completely untangles us and frees us.”  …I just LOVED that!  ”
      I love it too, Mary E…thanks for sharing your lenten blessing so your blog sisters can be blessed as well.

  18. 8. In contrast, what does Psalm 14:3-4 tell us is the fruit of ignoring God?
     
    The Amplified Bible says “they have all together become filthy”. The fruit of turning away, ignoring God is becoming corrupt, dirty, and ignorant; abusing and using other people.
     
    9. In your own life, when you were cool toward God, what was the fruit? How about when you were passionate?
     
    This metaphor from Charles Stanley has always stuck with me. He says that when you get dirty, you get out the soap and take a bath. God’s Word is like that bar of soap. When I get “cool” towards God, and it can be when things are going mostly okay and days are busy and I’m just kind of living independently, or so I think, I start to get dirty. The world we live in and all the influences of the media and our culture and even being around unbelievers starts to rub off on me and I see it in my thought-life especially. It can really take a turn down a dark road. Warming myself at the fire includes reading His Word, being on here, going to church, reading good Christian books, listening to Christian radio with great teaching. I also remember something Mike Reeves said, that when you find your affection for Him waning, growing cool – don’t try to whip-up your affections towards Him – instead, look at His love and affection for you, and the more you do that, it will stir your affection for Him.
     
    When I am cool, the thing that calls most loudly to me is my comfort idol…wanting to be served, to look out for my own comfort.

    1. Susan–so glad you posted this, such a great reminder from Reeves-“I also remember something Mike Reeves said, that when you find your affection for Him waning, growing cool – don’t try to whip-up your affections towards Him – instead, look at His love and affection for you, and the more you do that, it will stir your affection for Him.”

    2. Susan, I agree with Elizabeth-love your last few posts..I especially was encouraged by the reminder from Reeves too. 

    3. Yes, Susan, I find what Mike Reeves says about not trying to whip up my affections towards Him but to “look AT His love and affection for me” is what helps me the most when I am discouraged or confused.

  19. PLEASE PRAY:
    my son is having dental surgery this morning. He is very anxious and has put it off due to the anxiety. Please pray for quick healing and peace during the procedure.

    1. praying now Laura-dancer

    2. Just seeing this now and praying, Laura. Probably the procedure is over, but the recovery part is only begun. Hope things have gone well.

      1. thank you for the prayers. Apparently he is doing well; I haven’t seen him yet. He is sleeping and I have been out of town. He definitely will need recovery prayers as well, He is a high energy person and needs to chill out.  This surgery is a long time coming as he was “sucker punched” by a man about 5 years ago. We did press charges and hopefully he will pay. It has taken a toll on my son. Finally he wants to take care of himself.

        1. Just seeing this now Laura, but I can pray for his recovery!

        2. I’ll be praying for your son’s recovery too, Laura-d.

  20. 1. What is your take-a-way and why?
    That my heart can be as foolish as a non believer’s heart yet I am encouraged by Dee’s words above; ..as this Psalm promises, His love will KEEP breaking through.
     
    Jesus knows the foolishness of my heart yet He is using it to transform me and part of His love is His discipline-that he allows me to have the idol I thought could satisfy me. I am learning this will be a lifetime of turning from it because of my sin nature naturally bending away from Him! I mean this week was a battle with food and seeking it ‘in abundance’ as my comfort. SO-Layer by layer He pulls-a lifetime of Him transforming me-His love breaking through again and again.
     
    His love broke through when He made me aware of running to food for comfort four years ago-that was huge! I am learning to let Him be my satisfaction..I think as He helps me grow in clinging to Him as my satisfaction I will be more abandoned to Him and my desires will change more and more into His. It is just this chiseling layer peeling thing that hurts but I SO need it-and the joy is that He comes in and comforts me as He peels.

    1. I know a lot of people, especially in history and social sciences, view missionaries like that.  I had an international travel trip turned down because missionaries were involved and because we would be there on a Sunday.  I laughed about criticism for being there on a Sunday (kinda hard to avoid Sunday when you are gone for a week for more).   I went anyway, and it probably was good that only a couple of students were along.  Just didn’t get approval in time to take a class.   (But I did take a picture of a mosque in a tourist city to show “where I had been!”)  

  21. Rebecca–I look forward to your take-aways almost as much as the new lessons. Go“SO-Layer by layer He pulls-a lifetime of Him transforming me-His love breaking through again and again.” Gold.

  22. Had to share this with my fellow Mike Reeves fans in case anyone else would enjoy them. Just stumbled on these short one minute videos of him answering questions on the trinity. I loved #5 especially on The Trinity matters for today.
    http://www.credomag.com/2012/11/19/michael-reeves-on-the-trinity/

  23. 11. What is your take-a-way and why?
     
    “FOR AS THIS PSALM PROMISES, HIS LOVE WILL KEEP BREAKING THROUGH.  FOR GOD IS PRESENT WITH HIS FORGIVEN CHILDREN.”
    I love this week. I love having the Keith Green song in my head. And OK,  I confess I skipped question 5 because if I play “Imagine” it will be stuck in my head for at least 6 months and drive me crazy ;0  When I look at Psalm 14, I see the anger at sin, but I am blindsided by Jesus’ great compassion for us, this Love that keeps breaking through for us, over and over. He never fails. These past few weeks He has been gracious to open my eyes to one thing He really wants me to “get”. He is teaching me to wait on Him. Waiting for Him to break through—the key is HE does the breaking through—not my well-intended but controlling ways! The prodigals’ father waited. With tenderness, with hope, but he did not run in and try to coerce or fix or control—he waited. Waiting shows trust.  The things I have been praying for, especially for my children, He wants more than I do. He could “fix” it all in an instant, but there is more going on than what I have been focusing on. It is not just them who needs His work, but me. And in me, He is teaching me to really, deeply trust. I am seeing that as I do, He sometimes shows me to take a certain step, but other times He just reminds me to let Him have it. A few days ago, I so desperately wanted to fix where only the Spirit can. How often I have pushed conversations when it would be better to wait on the Lord. When I rush in with all my answers and seemingly good, well thought out and researched arguments—I am squelching the Spirit. It is all about Him. He does the breaking through, and my part is to pray, be ready, and wait with hope. Lord help me remember what You have already done—You have already won the greatest of my trials–Easter—the ultimate breaking through. 

    1. Elizabeth-right back at you-I look forward to your takeaways and posts almost as much as the new lessons too. 🙂 I can relate to this with my boys..most often it is me who needs his work in my heart.  I so love your prayer at the end, “Lord help me remember what You have already done—You have already won the greatest of my trials–Easter—the ultimate breaking through.” 

  24. 10.  Prayer
    I struggled with this Psalm, and first prayed parts of the Psalm when I woke up in the middle of the night the night before last.   I can’t remember what I prayed and I don’t have words today.   Struggling with words today.  I wanted music to pray and listened to several songs:    I didn’t know this one before, but have listened to it a few times now.  My prayer is  Show us Christ:   
     

    1. Beautiful, “prayable” song, Renee!

  25. Takeaways:
    1.  Moral narratives and Grace narratives:  This captivated me because during the fall I dug more deeply into the use of narrative/story to apply it to life coaching. Because I studied the use of narrative in grad school, I also dug out research articles on in. I also assigned research articles related to the use of narrative for a grad class last spring.    SO, I latched right on to those concepts in the sermon.   Too much to go into here, but those concepts help me to see some parts of my story in a less-threatening light and are helping me to rewrite some aspects of my recent/current/future future story.   My brain only can handle so much and I’m behind in grading(!), but I imagine in the future that I will dig more deeply into narrative in the Bible for a cross-cultural application (I started over a year ago)  or else read more from other writers who spell it all out for me 😉  (I have the book Rewritten — bought it when it first came out,  but of course, haven’t read it!).   SO, the sermon revived my interest in the use of narrative theory!  Also, the way I use moral narrative against others, particularly those who see through a lens of moral narrative, revealed some big rocks in my heart. 
     
    2.  Jesus’ compassion for the poor and brokenhearted.   Seeing the social legacy of missionaries, Dee’s choice of words about God rallying for poor and brokenhearted even if they don’t know him, some of my previous experiences, questions that I’ve asked at work (and received push-back) all are coming together in such a way that I’m seeing God’s hand on the narrative of my own life.   PLEASE PRAY with me about that.
     
    And  😀     I did see the Poisonwood Bible for 20 cents a week ago today.  I was too illiterate to know what it was about, except that I recognized it and had it mixed up with another scarier book (Reading research must make me illiterate about real literature!).  I bought 10 books for $1.99 and had a hard time finding 10 I wanted in order to get the cheap price.  There were enough copies of the Poisonwood Bible that I suspect other bookclubs had read it, too  🙂   So, Wanda, if you ever get to the Goodwill in Plymouth (?) near junction 494 & 394, they have tons of books and clearance them out — dirt cheap! I stopped because I read a review about their book section.

  26. 11. What is your take-a-way and why?
     
    Thanks Renee for the song “Show Us Christ” – hauntingly beautiful. It is the prayer of my heart too. It is a new song to me and I need it today.
     
    I have struggled this week. Firstly, with getting into the lesson; not that I can’t relate, but that I see so many being fools and being fooled. I am so discouraged by our culture which is insulted if we suggest that we can’t make it “on our own” and need God, so blind and yet so needy. A young woman (who is a family friend) now seems to be turning her back on God, sucked in by the pleasures of the world and angry that God isn’t meeting her needs. I don’t sense that anything I say to her she helping at all, is even being heard.
     
     
    Secondly, I am working through a book on reading about Lent – Christ’s trial, crucifixion. The profound sadness of what Jesus went through just makes me want to weep and weep. I want God to make Jesus’ sacrifice real to me, yet I find it hard to look at His suffering and then continue functioning.
     
    Thirdly, I have gotten stuck in Bonhoeffer’s book The Cost of Discipleship where he talks about the difference between “cheap grace” and “costly grace”. I see this all around me in the church. So many feel, if they make a “confession of faith” years ago, that they will get into heaven, but it doesn’t matter how they live here and now. Yet, I think of Tullian T’s emphasis on One Way Love and know that grace CANNOT be earned. It costs nothing, yet requires everything (if that makes sense). I know I need to keep reading Bonhoeffer, yet find the concept deeply troubling. How can we get back on track as a church.
     
    I was encouraging, however, to read the article on the unintended positive effect of missionaries on the welfare of countries as they simply worked along in helping one person and then another. Keller’s sermon was great. I listened to it twice. I find it so hard to “argue” with those who embrace the “I Just Want to be Happy” worldview.
     
    I agree with Dee’s number 10.

    Pray for your own heart, that God will rekindle the flame. Indeed, that is what Lent is all about. Then pray the same for your loved ones.

    I do pray this, yet find myself deeply saddened at the condition of the world, my loved ones, and my own heart. It is hard to HOPE sometimes. I know this take away is a downer, but that is where I am at.
     

    1. Diane–your honesty is never a “downer”. You did remind me of something from Powlison (a 5 part article from CCEF):
       
      “There is an unspeakable sorrow at the heart of the world. All the Bible writers know that. All the great saints know that. All the great novelists and poets have known it. All honest men and women have known it. Only the self-deluded, who pursue their schemes for earthly joy, who expend their lives in climbing ladders to nowhere, fail to recognize the obvious. In the end, all is loss. And, whether the effects are subtle or grotesque, a madness of evil blinds the human heart (Ecclesiastes 9:3)…There is one more thing that needs to be said, and said again. We are surprised by joy, as C. S. Lewis put it. Life wins, gladness wins, hope wins. Death dies, sin disappears, all tears are wiped away…  The mercies of God in Jesus Christ give certainty that sadness does not get last say. The past grace of our Father’s purposes and the self-sacrificing love of Jesus provide the indestructible foundation on which to build your life. The present help of Christ through his Holy Spirit works with you so you increasingly find the balance point between joy and sorrow. And the future hope of Christ promises that joy will sweep away all sorrows.”
       
       

      1. Elizabeth, thanks for your comforting words. I am so glad that

         The mercies of God in Jesus Christ give certainty that sadness does not get last say

        I am clinging to that. “Joy will sweep away all sorrows”. I am trying to learn that it is OK to express the sorrow when it is there, but not be overwhelmed by it. The Lord spoke to me so comfortingly in Isaiah 53:4 saying that He “carried my sorrows”. Such a beautiful picture of what Christ did at Calvary and does as He intercedes for us.

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

      2. Elizabeth, thank you for posting this link…I am going to read these articles. “There is an unspeakable sorrow at the heart of the world…All honest men and women have known it.” That is what I feel, sense, so much of the time. I am like Diane…prone to that melancholy-type personality. I remember you referencing these articles-last week, maybe…so thank you for the link…I had wanted to ask you for it!

    2. Diane, you articulate things so well. I, too, find it hard to HOPE sometimes.

  27. Elizabeth, thanks for the link to the David Powlinson articles. I went back and reread all of them. Good reminders, especially for those of us prone to the melancholy personality type. I’m amazed at your memory to recall his article so quickly!

  28. While on Facebook I noticed there is a page titled Bonhoeffer (sp?) – Reading Group….FYI.  If you have the time, it appears there is a movie about his life on that page.

    1. Interesting.  Thanks, Marie!  I’ll check it out.

    2. Here’s the link to what Marie mentioned, in YouTube. Looks as if youTube has posted the whole movie:  Bonhoeffer, Agent of Grace.  I haven’t watched it yet.  Free is nice!

      1. Thanks, Marie and Renee for the information of “Bonhoeffer, Agent of Grace” being on youTube…I agree, free is nice…:)

    3. Marie, thanks so much for your suggestions.  And Renee, I would be interested in watching the Youtube video on Bonhoeffer.

      1. Diane,  Oops — sorry.  Forgot the link before.  I watched it — excellent!   http://youtu.be/bj9jMSs5fQg   (Several videos of Metaxas, too, but I could only handle one full length movie.  So I watched a couple short ones that popped up.  Will some of those later.  Now I want to read Socrates in the City, too!)
         

  29. Diane:  I am so struck by these words today….I do pray this, yet find myself deeply saddened at the condition of the world, my loved ones, and my own heart. It is hard to HOPE sometimes. I know this take away is a downer, but that is where I am at.  That is also where I am at so often.   I feel such a great paradox because, to be honest….I do feel closer to the Lord every year and even so, because my two oldest children are so far from Him, I have a very difficult time accepting or in any way, understanding how some of His promises apply to me.  I find  it hard to put into words, but it’s so very hard for me to be joyful about my own salvation when I cannot be confident of that of my children.  In simplistic terms,  ‘how do I look forward to heaven, when I don’t know if my children will all be there?’   I don’t expect answers and don’t mean to sway this discussion…..but I did want to tell you that you are not alone in your sorrowful days.  It has been years since we, as a family could really celebrate the Christian holidays together.  I have a struggle anticipating Christmas and Easter now.  To include everyone, we have to make lots of adjustments and compromises and meet the best we can, on common ground.   Which usually means, that the actual day of the Christian holy day, is a very difficult one for me.  I have to find peace with rejoicing at His birth and resurrection even though I know some of my children do not share that experience.  This is the farthest thing from what I had anticipated when we brought our children up, teaching them our beliefs and passing on our love for the Lord as my parents had taught me and theirs before them…(at least on my mother’s side).  Puzzling and disappointing but it seems to be the road I am on and have been for a long time now.  I really appreciate your reference to Isaiah 53.  I have thought for quite awhile now, that if I was ‘stranded on the proverbial island’ with only one book, I would take the book of the prophet Isaiah.  If I could have only one chapter, it would be Isaiah 53: the succinct and clear truth of the gospel in words that always stir my passion for the suffering servant and risen Lord.

    1. Wanda S., Sorry you are going through such a rough time with your adult children. I can see how that is really tough at Christmas. Praying for you and your children.

       it’s so very hard for me to be joyful about my own salvation when I cannot be confident of that of my children.  In simplistic terms,  ‘how do I look forward to heaven, when I don’t know if my children will all be there?’ 

      I think what Dee talks about in Idol Lies may help you deal with some of your pain regarding your children.

    2. Wanda, I’m sorry you must carry this burden which steals the joy of your own salvation. Didn’t David pray, in one of the psalms, “Restore to me the joy of my salvation?” But I know it is hard. I also have many unsaved family members. I have “question marks” about my two sons…one used to read his Bible and be involved in Bible studies at church and told me he prayed to receive Jesus when he felt he understood what He had done for him; but now, I can’t even talk about God with him. He doesn’t have any interest. The other does go to church sometimes but I know some of the things he does makes me wonder…and my elderly mom with Alzheimers…my husband…It is hard, I know, to have meaningful celebrations like at Christmas and Easter when many around you are not interested in spiritual things. I’ve even been “cut-off” trying to say grace before dinner!
       
      Father, I lift up Wanda to you today, and pray that You will, indeed, restore to her the joy of her salvation. We know that happiness is so tied to our circumstances which will never be perfect here, but You are the giver of joy, and I pray that You will give that quiet undercurrent of joy to Wanda in the midst of her hard and heartbreaking circumstances. I pray also that You will begin to soften and melt the hearts of her children who have gone so far away from You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

  30. My biggest take-away and why:   I am overwhelmed with thoughts going in a million directions.  Every part of this week’s blog has brought up a lot of emotions and thoughts.  And it is good for this to happen.  I am slow to process things, though so I can get overwhelmed rather easily.   My ‘Psalms: thePrayerbook of the Bible’  book arrived and I am really blessed and challenged by what I’ve read so far.  It’s perfect timing, as a friend and I are also doing a study on prayer right now.  Bonhoeffer’s perspective about how and why we pray the words of the Psalms with Jesus is something I am trying to understand and learn how to do.  For a long time, I have had questions about the way we often pray.  I think his book will give me a whole fresh insight.  So…..that along with so many other aspects that Dee so thoughtfully has put together are really causing me to do a lot of thinking and slow processing.  And…as always, life doesn’t stop while we try to think things through….there’s always a new challenge, or an old disappointment calling for our attention.  I’m praying that I will see how His love is breaking through in ways I haven’t seen before. 

  31. Susan:  ”I also remember something Mike Reeves said, that when you find your affection for Him waning, growing cool – don’t try to whip-up your affections towards Him – instead, look at His love and affection for you, and the more you do that, it will stir your affection for Him.”
    This statement was really a help to me.   THANK you. 

  32. 9. In your own life, when you were cool toward God, what was the fruit? How about when you were passionate?
     
    When I was cool toward God the fruit of this time was disastrous decision-making with some regrettable life-long consequences.  During this time I was the center of the world, not so much consciously but certainly that was the case.  I caused hurt and disappointment for those who truly loved me…I was looking for love and acceptance everywhere but where it could truly be found.  I was so blind to the truth and the gospel.  When I am passionate toward the Lord, I feel bathed in the love of Jesus…bathed in His continuous affection and faithfulness…I feel secure in His love for me…my tendency is toward peace and calm in my soul regardless of outward circumstances/situations…a deep, genuine, almost overwhelming sense of gratitude for His gift of grace, His sacrifice for me despite my faults, shortcomings…sinfulness.

  33.  I have been limited in time this week and really appreciate what I am learning from this blog and from the comments.
    My take-aways:
    The CT article reminded me of my growing up years in the Philippines. I have many positive experiences with missionaries there. In fact, my initial encounter with a loving God is through an American missionary couple. Their lives were bright examples of Christ and I remembered longing for what they have. Fast forward to college and an InterVarsity Christian Fellowship missionary discipled me for a short time. She left to go abroad as a missionary and really missed her influence in my life. Then later as a young professional, a Southern Baptist missionary couple took me under their wings and gave me an opportunity to be a missionary myself to my own people. Through the ups and downs of the ministry, this couple has remained steadfast in their love for Filipinos and for God. My husband and I met through our individual involvement with this couple and worked side by side with them to establish a young church in the city where my husband and were located. During times of hardships in the ministry, this couple stayed true to God and their calling. Their influence continues even after the husband has gone to be with the Lord a few years ago.
    WHAT HAVE THEY LEFT THE WORLD/MY HOMETOWN: MANY CHURCH PLANTS AND CONTINUING MEDICAL CLINICS TO SMALL TOWNS MINISTERING TO THE PHYSICAL NEEDS OF THE POOR
    2. The fool in verse 1 says “there is no God.” Though I may not have said these words, I know I have acted and live like a fool as if there is no God. This is how the enemy works- subtly, insidiously and then wham! One wonders how he/she can be so taken to have gone into the pit of foolishness. The enemy does not work in the obvious.
    3. Music has always been a part of my life-I listen to different genres and last year was introduced to Bruno Mars by a student of mine probably because she knew Bruno is part Filipino. I have enjoyed listening to one of his songs primarily because of the beat and funny words. I was alarmed today to find out his darker side from a posting of a really good friend. I checked out the website she shared
    http://www.goodfight.org/video/bruno_mars/a_m_bruno_mars.html
    My heart skipped a bit when I heard the lyrics of quite a few of his songs hearing them for the first time. And to think that he is influencing our young generation. How could themes including satanic words, alcohol, drugs and illicit sex  be so Top billboard songs? The enemy is at work! Lord of words, let your anointed songwriters counter the demonic influence of certain artists. Give songwriters like Sara Groves, Chris Tomlin, Jesus Culture, Psalms Project inspiration. May their testimonies remain untarnished and pure so that your name will be honored and glorified. Visit the music world, Lord and let your name be praised! Give us eyes to see and ears to be attuned to that which is of the enemy. Help us not be partakers of any of it. And just like what one of the songs shared here by somebody: Show us Christ- that we might showcase Him in our lives in return.
     
     
     

  34. 10. Pray for your own heart, that God will rekindle the flame. Indeed, that is what Lent is all about. Then pray the same for your loved ones.
     
    Lord, when I think I can live one day, even one hour, without needing You, I am living like the fool who says in his heart, “There is no God.” Without You, I would have no understanding, no desire to seek You. You say that there is no one who understands and no one who seeks God. If You had not cared, if Your Spirit had not moved, no one could ever respond to You. Thank You for caring, and thank You for sending Jesus. Lord, please convict me and open my eyes to when I am devouring people as men eat bread. Help me to treat and care for others as You would love them. When I am being devoured, be present with me and protect me. Lord, You are my refuge, and blessed are all who take refuge in You. You have restored the fortunes of Your children; You have an inheritance for me in heaven that can never be taken away and is kept for me.  Help me to hope in that.
     
    Lord I pray for those in my own family who are living like fools, who either don’t really believe in You or just don’t care. Please draw them to You, open their eyes to see and their ears to hear and their hearts to receive You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
     
    11. What is your take-away and why?
     
    I’m still processing this week…this was a harder psalm for me and especially to pray through it. I must take it to heart, though, that I can still act and live like a fool. Each day, I have to choose whether to live as His child and He is in charge, or, to live as if He is irrelevant or somewhere ‘out there’. I was pondering last night just what it means to press my roots down deeper into Him. Exactly how do I do that, especially when I am feeling very discouraged? Also, at the beginning of the week, the verse about devouring people jumped out at me, and convicted me of ways that I can treat people in a ‘devouring’ way. Even misrepresenting myself, making myself appear to be something I’m not or better than I really am is devouring another person.  Everyone’s comments have been so rich and helpful this week, too.