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LIFE TOGETHER FOREVER (PSALM 16)

Psalm 16 is richer than a seven course meal.

We will begin with the focus on “Life Together,” the GREAT GIFT we have in Christian fellowship.

This is a unique gift, and this psalm and Bonhoeffer will help us approach it wisely.

Dietrich-Bonhoeffer-Life-Together-Quote

Then we will close our meal with a brief but glorious Easter sermon that focuses on the close of this psalm, and the triumphant truth of the resurrection of Christ and what that means for us. Remember what C. S. Lewis shouted across the train station to a parting friend?

REMEMBER! CHRISTIANS NEVER SAY GOOD-BYE!

Indeed, as Christ was raised, so will we be, and we will be together forever. So let us learn how to love one another well now.

emptytomb
You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption (Ps. 16:9-10)

But let us begin with life together on earth.

Our Lord delights in us, and as we delight in one another,

keeping the Lord always before us,

the flame spreads.

We have something no other fellowship can have. We have the living Spirit of God who comes to us like a flame, igniting our fellowship. We experience that here on this blog — one is quickened by the Spirit and that flame spreads to another, until we are all warmed by the fire.

yulelog-fire_lgI want to tell you this week the story of something that happened this year, when God met the need of one of our own, and that flame warmed another, in hopes you all will be warmed by the fire. We belong to a God who is real, who delights in us, and delights in surprising us. I want to tell you two stories involving some of our own that I hope will spread the flame in your own heart giving you confidence that:

  • He exists
  • He cares about our fellowship
  • He delights in surprising us with encounters!

GodOfSurprises Both of the stories I’m going to tell you involve our own Jill. Her transformation began when Julie, who lives in the city in Nebraska where I lived for twenty-five years, sent her Idol lies. I want you to meet Julie first, through this video, which was done for Idol Lies. My daughter Anne is the first woman, and Julie is a bit later in the yellow sweater:

http://vimeo.com/71976374

Jill and JulieJulie was impacted by Idol Lies, and thought about her friend Jill (our Jill!) who lives across the country. They have maintained a friendship for many years. Julie had prayed for Jill, being concerned with the bitterness and depression she saw growing in Jill’s life. This weekend, I am back speaking in my hometown — and went over to meet Jill at Julie’s house. I asked Jill to share a testimony at the retreat which she did wonderfully!  She did a FANTASTIC job, so anointed by God. I loved meeting her, having her in my small group, and thanking God again for the depth of women on this blog. It was also so fun to have her meet our own Joyce. (I wish you all could meet Joyce — this woman who is so filled with Christ.) Kim, who used to be on the blog, was there too — having decorated for the retreat amazingly. Sweet fellowship.

How God loves to bless us through our friendships. I have Jill’s written testimony on how Idol Lies impacted her, which you will read this week. But that is not the end of this amazing story! When Jill came on the blog, so did so many others, so I asked a handful of women who have been with us a long time to welcome and mentor the newcomers so they didn’t fall through the cracks. (I don’t always do this — but sometimes I’m on the ball.) Elizabeth was randomly put with Jill. When Elizabeth asked Jill how she happened to come on the blog, Jill told her that Hope’s story in Idol Lies has changed her life. Elizabeth was stunned, for unbeknownst to Jill, Elizabeth is Hope, having used a pseudonym in Idol Lies. This so encouraged Elizabeth, for she knew God was behind bringing them together. (Indeed, He delights, this psalm tells us, in His saints who are in the land.) Then Jill and Elizabeth discovered they lived not too far from one another and shared the same birthday. So they met in person, rejoicing in our amazing gift of Christian fellowship — unlike any other bond. If we keep the Lord always before this, as is the theme of this psalm, we can rejoice when God gives us a new friend, adding to the old. We can also rejoice when He gives our friend a new friend, for He is our solid rock. A huge part of keeping life together healthy is keeping the Lord in the midst of our fellowship so that we help one another cling to Him, and not to one another. This is God’s plan, for as the old hymn says, “I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name.”

Psalms_16-8

In Life Together, Bonhoeffer writes:

doing_lifeI have community with others and I shall continue to have it only through Jesus Christ.

He who looks on his brother should know that he will be eternally united with him through Jesus Christ.

We enter into that common life not as demanders but as grateful recipients.

The more meagerly our brotherly love, the less we are living by God’s mercy and love….The more genuine and the deeper our community becomes, the more will everything between us recede, the more clearly will Jesus Christ and His Word become the only thing that is vital between us.

 

SUNDAY ICEBREAKERS:

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

2. As you are journeying in this Christian life, what is one important thing (though certainly not the only thing) you have learned about life together?

SONGS FOR THE WEEK

Our own Staci, who lives across the ocean from most of us, suggested this wonderful song for this week — it is perfect. Staci herself is welcoming a dear friend, Stephanie, for a visit, telling me she is getting fresh flowers for the guest room. Friendship is such a gift and we must treasure our friends, yet also hold them loosely — for they cannot be our rock. How can we possibly do that? By believing the Lord is the friend closer than a brother, and that He goes before us, is all around us — here is Staci’s song:

Here are some others to take you through the week:

Blest Be The Tie That Binds by Sara Groves

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynpUnI5yJTM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OEqavkJGCE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URObwqHjjLU
(This is a relatively unknown Charles Wesley Hymn inspired by Psalm 16)

Monday-Wednesday Bible Study, Including Jill’s Story

3. Read Psalm 16:1-7

   A. Often the summary of the psalm is in the opening of the psalm. How would you summarize verses 1 and 2?

   B. Hear the voice of Christ first in this psalm, as Bonhoeffer as helped us do. In whom does He delight according to verse 3?

   C. Now this must be our prayer as well — do you delight in the saints of the land? Do you cherish Christian fellowship? Thank God for it and then pray

        for ways He shows you that you could better delight in the saints of the land.

   D. What do we learn happens when we run after idols according to verse 4? Often a gift is so good, we turn it into a god and then it cuts us to pieces.

        Give an example from your life.

   E. In contrast, when you make God your God, what happens according to verses 5 and 6?

Derek Kidner points out that the priests were not given a portion of land — that was so they would make the Lord their only inheritance. It is so easy to cling to His gifts — children, friends, houses, and lands. When we turn gifts into gods, our sorrows increase. But when we release them, when we make the Lord our inheritance, the boundary lines fall in pleasant places. I asked Jill to tell the back story behind why “Hope’s” story meant so much to her.  Here is Jill’s story — see how her sorrows increased as she ran after her idols, and how the God who delighted in her used Christian fellowship and those sorrows as catalysts to bring Jill back to Him, to make Him her refuge, to set Him always before her. Here is her practice video followed by her written testimony:

http://vimeo.com/91161185

I was in a bad place. My husband and I had walked through a very difficult chapter in our marriage and then God called him to join the Army as a bandsman. Of the following 23 months only 10 would be spent geographically together due to trainings and deployment. Through all this my idols demanded a severe price: my joy. I just did not have any. I was angry, especially at my kids. It grieves me to admit but eventually my 2 boys would smile at me and I would feel nothing. I yelled…a lot. I read book after book on how to be a better mom, but none of it changed my heart or made a difference. I felt helpless to change me and I was right. 1 Peter 1:7 – “These [trials] have come so that your faith … may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” In September of 2013 I started to (finally) read Idol Lies, recommended by a friend in Nebraska. The stories were helpful, the concepts solid but none of it truly permeated, until Hope’s story. I was intrigued by Hope from the get go and impressed by her willingness to give up a dream but it was the quote on p 134 articulating her fears over adoption that stopped my life cold in its tracks. I will never forget the day, as I read Hope’s fear that an adopted child would not love her God lifted my veil of ignorance. I felt the same crossroads that Oswald Chambers spoke of as Hope did. I saw that I had no joy in my children because I desired to control them, their life, their salvation, their love and every disobedience, every naughty inclination (normal for growing boys!) was literally the weight of their entire life (my investment) on my heart. My idol screamed at me “They don’t love you or they wouldn’t (fill in blank)!” “They will never become men of God if this is how they act!” “Your kids are terrible” “This isn’t what was supposed to happen!” “YOUR LIFE IS TERRIBLE!” Etc, etc. In that moment, I saw black and white – I thought my life was broken, my kids broken, but really it was me who was broken. I sat on my couch with Hope’s story in front of me, God lifted my blindness, and I wept, repented and turned towards Him. From that day forward I have been fundamentally different, from the inside out. I have that first love feeling for Christ that I never had prior to seeing my idols (even though I had accepted Christ at the ripe age of 6) and that love spills onto my boys. After a life in church, I had yet to understand true relationship with Christ. That day, I finally allowed Christ into my very core, giving up the idols that had resided there. My understanding of Christianity and Christ is completely different now. Now when my boys disobey or think of (very) creative naughty activities I do not have the entire weight of their lives on my heart, I merely have a behavior to manage and an opportunity to train/teach. I hardly yell anymore. When they smile at me, I will time to slow down to relish every moment of it and smile back with sincerity! Their lives are a gifted experience, not a threat. My love from Christ is secure. My worth in Christ is secure. I do not hear my idols screaming anymore. I know I will still struggle, we all do, but my joy runneth over. The rest of Hope’s story just drove home what the Lord was showing me. I, too, struggled with my relationship with my father. I, too, severely stonewalled those who disappointed and hurt me. I, too, struggled with grace, especially towards my children. I, too, struggled with having the perfect Christian family. Even her response to her husband being gone a lot (p 139) was something the Lord wanted to show me. It was as if God showed Hope all I needed just so she could show me. And I am (truly) forever grateful! Praise be to God and thank you, “Hope.”  

4. What stood out to you from Jill’s story and why?  

5. Read Psalm 16:5-11

A. The theme of this psalm is repeated in verses 5-6. What is it?

B. What blessing, according to verse 7, comes to those who set the Lord first before them?    

C. What other blessing comes, according to verse 8?

D. What promise is given in verses 9-10? Who do you think this is talking about and why?    

E. What other promises are in verse 11? Have you tasted this?

The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them,and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what wereally desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols,breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

the-scent-of-a-flower-c-s-lewis1

Thursday-Friday

Listen to this message by Hugh Palmer and share your notes: LINK

6. What are your notes from the sermon?

Saturday

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

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260 comments

  1. I am excited to do this week together. The fellowship from this group has been so meaningful to me as I have walked through a deep valley. I have been so blessed by your prayers, and the thoughts, music and Scriptures you have shared with me and with each other. I have learned so much from so many of you. It is SO COOL that in Christ we have a bond that begins in this life and stretches to eternity.

  2. 1. What stood out to you and why?

    We enter into that common life not as demanders but as grateful recipients.

    I have been learning the last couple of weeks. To just be grateful for each moment given but not allow myself to selfishly “need” or expect another (speaking of friendship specifically). To keep Christ as my center and realize He is all-sufficient and then the gifts given are even more sweet! 
     
    Like meeting Dee (so good to meet you and to hear you speak! Both a huge encouragement to me!) and to meet Joyce and hug her (Joyce I was sorry to miss you friday after the teaching. I would have like to gotten to know you a little more! You are so sweet!). 

    1. Thank you Jill, I’m sorry too that our time was so  short too, but I’m thankful I got to meet you and give you a hug!  And Dee, you were awesome as usual!  I’m still on a high from the retreat!  God’s fiery high!

  3. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why? ” A huge part of keeping life together healthy is keeping the Lord in the midst of our fellowship so that we help one another cling to Him, and not to one another.” This is just what I need. An unhealthy friendship that I had recently ended and while I am in a bible study with women that I have known for years (we are doing Idol Lies), I am struggling with the fear of being “too close” and ending up hurt. My desire for self-protection is keeping me from experiencing what God has for me and is a clear sign of my lack of trust in Him.

  4. 3. Read Psalm 16:1-7
       A. Often the summary of the psalm is in the opening of the psalm. How would you summarize verses 1 and 2?
    I need you Lord.
     
       B. Hear the voice of Christ first in this psalm, as Bonhoeffer as helped us do. In whom does He delight according to verse 3?
    The Pharisees would be the noble ones I suppose?
       C. Now this must be our prayer as well — do you delight in the saints of the land? Do you cherish Christian fellowship? Thank God for it and then pray
     
    Well, I think it is better to surround ourselves with those who are striving to be more like Jesus, however I think it is important to be around those who might not know Him as well. I truly appreciate the “saints” in my life over the last few months; what a blessing they have been.
     
    I like covered dish dinners together as a fellowship; sometimes we are invited to house dinners, and it is good to worship on Sunday mornings. I think it’s important to stay away from being “clique-y” as it happens more often than we would like in fellowship. It’s too easy to ban with those who are very like us and forget those who aren’t. We need to self check that often as Christians.
     
    dear Lord, thank you for the people who bless our lives, even when they aren’t trying to.  Thank you for those who are thoughtful and do kind things for us. Please help us include everyone, because you would want us to;  even when they are not like us. In your name, Amen.
     
     
     

    1. Amen Laura!

  5. Oh, far too much stands out to me this time! I love hearing Jill’s testimony–so glad you were able to get that, Dee. I am still amazed at how He works–the weaving of beautiful tapestry in ways we never could have imagined. When Jill came on the blog, I was drawn to her vulnerability, her transparent heart. I know it was the Lord who even prompted me to ask what the “catalyst” of her change was, because I’ve never used that word in my life, and it was unlike me to think to ask!–so when she said Hope’s story, I was humbled, but also encouraged by Him. It had been a particularly trying time for me and it felt like a kiss from Him reminding me of the work He has began in me, and that He promises to continue. There is more, but I am just in awe of His love for us, for how He weaves, He knits hearts–all for His glory, His pleasure, He smiles as He does this for us.

    I love “Blest be the tie that binds”. I remember singing it a few years ago in Church and crying as this line reminded me SO of this blog family we have here, in my heart it is our theme song! : “We share each other’s woes,Our mutual burdens bear; And often for each other flows The sympathizing tear.” It is a gift, He has given.

    I am amazed too as I look at Psalm 16, and see the message of Idol Lies throughout. He tells me here, He alone is my refuge-sorrow comes when I run to other things, trying to fill my cup—He has given me my portion, my cup, and in Him joy is found. These gifts He has granted, are never to be prized over the Giver, and without Him, they shrivel. I love what Dee said “keeping life together healthy is keeping the Lord in the midst of our fellowship so that we help one another cling to Him, and not to one another.” That can be hard to do, but it is true I think of every close relationship, marriage too. I cannot be “all” for others and I cannot expect them to be “all” for me. I have found how my expectations of others suffocate, kill, relationship. When I release others from this expectation, I am free to enjoy them, as they are, without expectations and demands.

    1. When I went to my mom’s funeral the pastor of my childhood church agreed to let us play “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” as people walked out of the church. It was played at the end of every Sunday service when I was growing up and it made me feel so “at home.” It’s different than the Sara Groves song, and I’m not real familiar with hers so I would have to listen to the words to know. I do love the hymn though.

  6. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    The topic itself jumped out at me right away.  I thought, “I need this!”    Next,
     

    Indeed, as Christ was raised, so will we be, and we will be together forever.
     

    I have that longing feeling now.  Often, after I travel for work, I come home exhausted, behind, and not feeling too great (this time, allergies even kicked in; too early here & they’ve already improved 🙂  ).  My frailty and insufficiency are so evident.  And I do “drop the ball” in relationships with other believers.  I AM SO ENCOURAGED by the following:
     

    Our Lord delights in us, and as we delight in one another, keeping the Lord always before us, the flame spreads.
    We have something no other fellowship can have. We have the living Spirit of God who comes to us like a flame, igniting our fellowship.
     

    “Keeping the Lord before us…”  Tears of relief as I’m typing: I don’t have to “do one more thing.”   One of the last times I was listening to Reeves’ sermon yesterday, I started wondering how churches that require a bunch of volunteers to run programs pull them off without “guilting people,” i.e., when people really understand they can’t earn God’s pleasure (I wasn’t feeling guilty, but I was curious; I’m not “guilted” into much because I sorta shut down when that method is used).Once again, the living Spirit of God works through what Dee wrote to provide healing to this weary soul (and body).   Regular face-to-face fellowship with other believers is a gap in my life.  I love the church I attend, but my attendance is sparse — and it’s not right here.  For years, I prayed for close Christian friends in this area — but eventually gave up, in part because my life became narrowed to home and work; then this blog was an answer to prayer.    But I sometimes feel guilty because I don’t DO more locally.

    Thanks, Dee, for keeping the Lord before us, for reminding us (again!) that he delights in us.  OH YES!  He woos me.  He initiates,  and I respond (more tears of relief).  He provides strength to follow him.  So thankful that he is using this blog today to prevent tiredness from leading to despair.  How I need his healing and his leading every day.  I’m just realizing that I had hoped God’s work in my life would be a quick & complete fix (some of it has been pretty quick as His delight in me has soaked in) and that I would never again struggle 🙂    Ugh!   I need some of the yuck so that I see my need for him — I am SO independent, such a control freak that even the worst of my pain is evidence of his grace.   That was an AHA MOMENT (didn’t intend to have another online processing episode, but I did move from discouragement to tired, but happy camper.).   

    Woo hoo!  He delights in me 😉   and it’s not based on whether or not I “drop the ball.”

  7. 2. As you are journeying in this Christian life, what is one important thing (though certainly not the only thing) you have learned about life together?
    One of the “funnest” things I have learned is that connections in Christ transcend language and cultural barriers — (and years with no contact.) 

    One of the reasons that I am looking forward to this week is because I am re-learning about life together.  I read Bonhoeffer’s book many years ago (in college, I think); he seemed to be a trend for a couple years 😉    I am kinda mixed up, even numb about this topic & it’s probably good to start over with a solid foundation.  If I make too many assumptions about what I know, my porcupine quills will go up.  So that no one gets stabbed and so that I will be more teachable, I think I’ll start from scratch! 

  8. Welcome back, Renee. You always make me smile. Yes, He delights in you and in me, even when we drop the ball. BTW, love the image of you and the porcupine quills.

    1. Thanks, Diane !   FYI:  Porcupine quills can be dangerous 😉

    2. Has anyone read The Hole in our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung ??   I haven’t bought a book yet today 😉

      1. Renee…..my small group at church is going to start a series on the book,  The Hole in Our Gospel.  I don’t know that book either…..but interestingly……similar name.   Different author. 

  9. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
     
    I am looking forward to this week learning about “life together” – it all looks so good! And I have a few things to learn about how to keep “life together” healthy…“A huge part of keeping life together healthy is keeping the Lord in the midst of our fellowship so that we help one another cling to Him, and not to one another.”
    I’ve had a lot of unhealthy relationships modeled in front of me, so I humbly admit I have much to learn. I live in an unhealthy marriage relationship every day and it can be draining. The Bonhoeffer quotes about fellowship are very meaty…how I long for genuine and deep community where the things that stand between recede into the background and what is vital is Jesus and His Word.

    1. Susan-I agree with Dee-and I too have and will always love you-your sweet heart and I recall the time I was able to spend with you taking communion and just your heart for Him how you desire to yield-just making your comment about how draining your marriage is-yet you are continuing to pursue Him-but I will pray for a deep genuine community for you-oh how that would be so sweet for you and especially so in your situation where you need to be held up and encouraged..I know he will provide for He wants that for you too. 

    2. Susan–you were just on my heart this morning. I was thinking of how the enemy attacks you from so many angles, you have such real and hard ongoing struggles–many do not know the extent of how much you deal with daily. But as I prayed for you, I thought of the armor of God, a passage I hate to admit I almost forget about–I think of it with kids’ books and VBS…but oh how we need it. And so I pray from Eph 6:10-18 for you this morning, for your protection–Lord, cover Susan with the whole armor of God, that she may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. … that she may be able to withstand in the evil in her day,..having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and cover her the gospel of peace. Remind her Lord of her shield of faith, that will extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;  let Your helmet of salvation conquer her doubts, and remind her of the sword of the Spirit, Your promises, Amen

      1. Oh Yes, I join you all in praying for Susan and her marriage…so draining her 🙁     I do think of you often, susan  and say a little prayer for you…but not near enough.  You are always in my heart and I  will be praying for you sweet one.

    3. I join my heart in the prayers of others for you, Susan, my precious friend. You have to fight such a battle daily. I agree in Christ with Elizabeth’s prayer for the armor of God on you. You show such persevering faith in your trials. Keep clinging to Jesus, my friend.

  10. 3. Read Psalm 16:1-7
    This is my new favorite psalm!  Want to memorize at least part of it.

  11. So glad to be back today-
    I am so encouraged by this topic of fellowship: the picture of the fire burning brightly is a great symbol!
    I immediately thought of the song, It Only Takes a Spark to Get a fire going…
    God truly brings people together to encourage and support one another. How much we need that when
    forces internally or externally tend to drag us into a mood of discouragement. Today at my church 2 women
    gave testimonies that warmed my heart. Both are young women and fairly new Christians! One shared about
    her challenge at work and how she had to take comments from her boss that were hurtful, but she had God’s strength
    to be quiet, and later her co-workers supported her. She was tearful, as she related this experience. Then another young woman shared that she had a difficult situation of helping her elderly grandmother by cleaning
    her home and got no thanks, but after fuming about that, she had read her Bible and the passage from Hebrews 13 had given
    her new insight. verse 6, The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
    Fellowship with others is a joy and I am blessed.

  12. A. Often the summary of the psalm is in the opening of the psalm. How would you summarize verses 1 and 2?
    V. 2 reminds me of John 6:68.  Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”   Also reminds me of “Show us Christ” by Sovereign Grace.    So, I would summarize the Psalm as “You are my Lord.  Where else would I go?”  He is my safety, my refuge.
    B. Hear the voice of Christ first in this psalm, as Bonhoeffer as helped us do. In whom does He delight according to verse 3?
    “the saints in the land”
    C. Now this must be our prayer as well — do you delight in the saints of the land?   I delight in some of them, but others scare me.  I’ll come back to finish this question tomorrow — hard to put into words what is swirling in my heart and head.  I think that as I am more convinced of my absolute safety in Christ, I will be less afraid and more easily be able to grant grace to and enjoy those who do or say things that trigger my fears.

  13. 2. As you are journeying in this Christian life, what is one important thing (though certainly not the only thing) you have learned about life together?
    I’ve learned I cannot be a perfect wife, friend, mom—I can’t be anyone’s “everything”, and I cannot expect them to be “all” for me. I have found how my expectations of others suffocate, kill, relationship. When I release others from my expectations, when I really run to Jesus first and allow Him to fill my cup, then I am free to enjoy my relationships, flaws and all, without expectations and demands.
     
    I’ve also learned (sorry, this is 2), the incredible healing power of the Lord in Christian relationships. Just last week I was humbled by His power in a friendship, He swooped in a rescued from misunderstanding and hurt feelings. My marriage—a story we shared last year with our Church—is a true miracle. We will celebrate 20 years this month, and if you saw us now, you would have a very hard time believing our past, except for the power of the Cross. Honestly, whenever I am discouraged in a relationship, or in waiting on the Lord—I make myself look at what He has done for us, and I know He can do the seemingly impossible—beauty from ashes.

    1. Elizabeth-Congratulations on 20 years!! but even more so how beautiful your marriage is now and the miracle God has done over the years turning ashes into beauty-He is so good and the one who makes and molds hearts indeed. I really needed to hear this from you for marriage can be hard. We are one yet our hearts are in His hands-and I need to be reminded of that with my husband for his heart isn’t in my hand to mold but in God’s. Waiting on Him is SO important-He is faithful and moves passionately for His own-I have moments where I act as if I don’t believe Him-like He isn’t here and I get frustrated but He has reminded me again that He is God and a God of surprises indeed.

    2. Elizabeth, congratulations on celebrating 20 years of marriage this month…no small accomplishment! And I know you give all the credit to God for doing amazing things in your marriage. I love how you remind yourself, “I make myself look at what He has done for us…” when you get discouraged!

    3. Oh Elizabeth….Happy Anniversary to you and your sweet husband!    You are such a treasure to all of us here!

        I love what you wrote here…….” I’ve learned I cannot be a perfect wife, friend, mom—I can’t be anyone’s “everything”, and I cannot expect them to be “all” for me. I have found how my expectations of others suffocate, kill, relationship. When I release others from my expectations, when I really run to Jesus first and allow Him to fill my cup, then I am free to enjoy my relationships, flaws and all, without expectations and demands.”

      I can so relate to that!

  14. It is finally a gorgeous Spring-like day in Minnesota and I have been trying to stay away from the computer!   I did skim through the week’s lesson this morning….not reading everything carefully yet…..but I was immediately enthused for what it will bring.  Thought I’d make a very quick ‘first impression’ statement, but now that I’ve come back to the blog this afternoon….and read some comments, my head and heart are FULL…once again.  (in a good way).  I was very touched by the testimony of Elizabeth and Jill and look forward to reading that more closely and to the whole week of talking about Life Together.  As believers, we have sweet fellowship indeed…..but not without questions and struggles on this earth.  I read Renee’s comment about fellowship being sweet even when contact has been lost for years.  Actually, that is just what happened with Renee and I…..not for any particular reason….but though we were very close friends in our college years and the years soon  afterwards……when we both lived in the same city and attended the same church,  I think there was about a 15 year ‘drought’ of seeing each other and not much communication after we both moved to different places.   Enter the ‘blessing’  of social media about 4 years ago….( a mixed blessing….but in this case a very good one!) and we suddenly were in contact again….and have had such sweet face to face fellowship again too.  I wouldn’t be here…..on this blog, if not for Renee’s invitation.  At the same time, I am realizing the struggles I have with many of my Christian friends who live physically close to me.  It’s mostly because of seeing certain issues differently and having my guard and barriers go up when I’m around them.  I am thankful for a close group of friends and fellow believers in my ABF at church and today, we had such a sweet time togeth as we had an unexpected absence of our group leader and instead of a prepared lesson, we had an open time of sharing how God has shown Himself to us in guidance and leading recently.  I think my struggle with church attendance and participation (after decades of being very involved…..10 years as a staff member)…..is sort of the opposite of what Renee described.  I have, for many years had a deep concern over ‘where we are going’ as a church body, what happens in our services and with some of the preaching.  I’ve had many, many discussions with my pastor about my concerns.  Just last night, I was discussing Bonhoeffer’s descriptions of costly grace with my husband and so much of what he says is exactly what we feel is missing in our worship and teaching.  So…..I fairly often find myself doing my own Bible study and worship at home…..and then coming the second hour to be a part of our fellowship group.  The church is so large that I doubt anyone even knows that this is what I have done off and on for years now.  Only my best friend is aware of my patterns.  I feel confident in what the Lord is teaching me and yet…..struggle continually with what to do about it.  We’ve been members of our church for 25 years and served in a zillion capacities…..so it’s not like we haven’t had deep roots there.  I do look forward to focusing more on our Life Together and what that means for my heart this week.  And am praying that the Lord will guide my heart this week.  I love the words to ‘Blest Be The Tie That Binds’……  almost guaranteed to bring tears of sadness when I sing it and think of those I love who are not in that tie.  And tears of comfort when I think of those who are. 

    1. Wanda, I didn’t realize that you and Renee were old friends!  I’m so thankful she invited you to the blog,  when you both “reconnected”  via social media!  How wonderful!!

      1. Thank you Joyce.  I’m glad too!  🙂

  15. What stood out to you from the above and why?   Sorry for the long answer above.  Those are my wandering thoughts.  But my concise answer is this Bonhoeffer quote:   
     
    The more genuine and the deeper our community becomes, the more will everything between us recede, the more clearly will Jesus Christ and His Word become the only thing that is vital between us.
     
    As it occurs to me that…..if this was truly in place, the barriers I feel would recede.    Lord, break my heart and teach me this week.
     

    1. Wanda, 
      You brought out such a beautiful and truthful point-“As it occurs to me that…..if this was truly in place, the barriers I feel would recede.    Lord, break my heart and teach me this week.”  
       

  16. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
     
    “This so encouraged Elizabeth, for she knew God was behind bringing them together.”
     
    I just love stuff like this!   When people make “impossible” connections.  When someone has a need, and the person who can fill that need shows up on their doorstep.   All of these things have God’s footprint on them!!  I am forever talking about how God is the master choreographer.   So many people who think they are moving along in their individual dances, but God pulls them together with His special timing, and the overall effect is absolutely wondrous!!
     
    2. As you are journeying in this Christian life, what is one important thing (though certainly not the only thing) you have learned about life together?
     
    I have learned that we absolutely “need” one another!   We don’t feel right when our relationship with someone is not going well — we are just out-of-sorts.   We can’t make it alone.   It goes well beyond the cliches of “No man is an island” or “It takes a village to raise a child.”   We yearn for a hug or a word of praise or sometimes just a smile.   In that respect, we need to be givers as well as takers!   Especially the church is a fellowship, a community of believers.   I really liked the Bonhoeffer quote that Dee placed in this week’s post:    “It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren.”    I find that to be so true — I am grateful not only for the church brothers and sisters, but also those in Christian groups I belong to outside my church.    Without them, my life would be dismal!   

  17. So many people who think they are moving along in their individual dances, but God pulls them together with His special timing, and the overall effect is absolutely wondrous!! 
    Such good wisdom, Deanna!

  18. One of my most favorite chapters of the book of Psalms! Thank you, Lord for your Word and this timely week’s assignment. You are reminding me once again of your great faithfulness the measure by which is just beyond awesomeness!
    SUNDAY ICEBREAKERS:
    1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    “I have community with others and I shall continue to have it only through Jesus Christ.
    He who looks on his brother should know that he will be eternally united with him through Jesus Christ.
    We enter into that common life not as demanders but as grateful recipients.
    The more meagerly our brotherly love, the less we are living by God’s mercy and love….The more genuine and the deeper our community becomes, the more will everything between us recede, the more clearly will Jesus Christ and His Word become the only thing that is vital between us. “
    Wow! What profound thought especially that which I underlined above. Jesus and His Word being life (vital) between us believers.
    2. As you are journeying in this Christian life, what is one important thing (though certainly not the only thing) you have learned about life together?
    Keeping Jesus in the center of my relationship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. My husband pastors a small church in MO and we are blessed to have such a loving one. As the pastor’s wife, I desire to keep Jesus center in my relationships with our congregation. Bonhoeffer’s thought are so freeing. I can come as a grateful recipient not as a demander. Let our community of believers grow more genuine and deeper in you, lord. 
     
     
     
     

  19. May I add a “thank you” to all of the women in this blog who has welcomed me in more ways than one. What a beautiful place to be!- in the company of women who love the Lord and the Christian fellowship of which transcends place and time. God has blessed me with friends both near and far. His timing of relationships is ALWAYS perfect. I love the verse in Acts, I believe it is Chapter 27 “He determines the times set for them and the exact places where they should live…” (and the exact blog to be involved with at His designated time 🙂 ).

    1. Well Ernema, it is a sweet treat to have you here with us! I am grateful you are here for He moves through you so. 🙂

    2. We are blessed to have you with us here Ernema..”Bing”?  Is that your nickname?     How is your sister doing?  Praying for her.

  20. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
                                                  But let us begin with life together on earth.
    Our Lord delights in us, and as we delight in one another,
    keeping the Lord always before us,
    the flame spreads.
    The above really resonated with me. I had my friend Stephanie here this past week visting from England. She and I met in Italy on a women’s retreat, that both of us were not suppose to go on. Call it God ordained…ever since then we have been great friends and sisters in Christ. Having Stephanie here just ignited my flame more for Christ. Having fellowship with such a wonderful Christ filled friend…was like a breath of fresh are that I so needed. Christ in her was like delighting in the Lord. We had wonderful conversations about God, prayed and read the word together. I know this may sound like everyone elses church or study, but I dont have that here in the Netherlands. We have very small percentage of Americans here, and not really any Christian women that I can fellowship with like I do with Stephanie. I have a bible study I attend weekly, but there is just something amazing when God puts two friends together and they grow in love for the Lord by fellowshipping with one another.  Stephanie’s birthday just happens to be my wedding anniversary too. She is younger than I, yet we have so much in common spiritually for God.  I miss having her here already..but the flame that seemed to grow while she was here, is spurring me on in hope and love through Christ.
     
     
     
     
     
    2. As you are journeying in this Christian life, what is one important thing (though certainly not the only thing) you have learned about life together?
    ~Sometimes we dont always have others to fellowship with, but what a sweet moment it is, when God sends us others in Christ to fellowship with and grow in love together for the Lord. Having others to share my Christian walk with is a blessing. A blessing I took for granted when I had it, now that I dont…it really makes me see how important we are to each other, to help one another, encourage one another and grow through each other towards Christ. There is NO other fellowship on this earth like it….none. The closest I can compare is possibly military, the moral of a close knit unit of men and women during war…they rely on each other so much…that is how I feel about the wonderful Christian friends God places in my life….sometimes you dont realize what a blessing that is, until you dont have it anymore…lesson learned.

    1. Staci-your answer to #1 encouraged me-fanned the flame! So sweet to hear how God provided for both you and Stephanie His flame to fan in one another’s hearts. I loved that age didn’t matter-and I find that to be SO TRUE. His life in us transcends age it seems. 

    2. Staci, I’m so thankful for you and your friend, Stephanie!     
      God definitely put you two together at that retreat!  God is so amazing!

  21. My friend Stephanie sent me the song “Come To Me” one day, a few years back,just at the right time when I needed it…that is a God sent moment from a sister in Christ.…has become one of my favorite songs ever since.
     
    3. Read Psalm 16:1-7
       A. Often the summary of the psalm is in the opening of the psalm. How would you summarize verses 1 and 2?
    ~I found all my comfort,strength,support, joy and love in Christ.Apart from Him or without Him there is not one thing better…nothing.He is my everything. HE truly is….when I found Christ, I found my All. No one person has been more real to me than Jesus. I could go on and on…I could not live a day without Him, literally. I tell my husband that a lot….once I found Christ, I realized there was someone who loved me, bruised, broken and tainted, JEsus loved me for me, flaws and all. I had never experienced such unconditional love like that in my life.  He is truth and love…no one greater than Jesus can love and forgive all at once. My heart swells with joy and tears at the thought, for I love Him so much.

  22. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    Dee had me at this: “Psalm 16 is richer than a seven course meal.” 🙂  And that God delights in us and in surprising us-that I will continue to have community with others only through Jesus Christ. 
     
    I so loved Jill and Julie’s story and am thrilled to see how God is moving through Idol Lies. And then how Jill and Elizabeth connected through “Hope’s” story..His hands are so all over that!!  Jill’s testimony has already impacted me. (I cheated and read it yesterday.) 🙂
     
     

  23. 2. As you are journeying in this Christian life, what is one important thing (though certainly not the only thing) you have learned about life together?
     
    That being with one another-fellowshipping in Him-living life together in Him is indeed part of having intimacy with Him-it is crucial and I am finding that giving ourselves away for one antoher-sacrificing our time, talents etc.. is a huge part.

    Another beautiful thing I have learned that living life together has to go beyond the surface and even if we are in a ‘fellowship’ that seems shallow we shouldn’t be discouraged-He is faithful and will provide. 
     
    I met a gal named Brenda yesterday in our church’s membership class. They have only been going to our church for a month. We connected in Him pretty much right away. She so exudes Him, His love. It was a sweet surprise. 🙂

    1. Rebecca-this is such wisdom, and hard for me at times, but so true “I am finding that giving ourselves away for one antoher-sacrificing our time, talents etc.. is a huge part.” Reminds me of  Luke 17:33 “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.” –how we are called to give up all for the sake of the Kingdom.

    1. Dee-grateful you won’t be driving in snow! Have a safe trip and I am glad you were able to spend sweet time with David, Anne and the girls.  🙂 

    2. Safe travels, Dee!

    3. Thank you so much Dee, for coming “home” to have a retreat here.  Dee , you are like a magnet to all us women, that want  a piece of you!  There is just not enough of you to go around!  You are so loved here in Kearney!!

       It’s hard for me to imagine, that I’ve known you for  30 years! Our kids were little and you helped me so much when my husband left me with 3 little ones.  I was so blessed to have gotten into your new bible study back then and to be  going to the same church.  God had it all planned!   When you helped me so much as a single parent then…bringing gifts for my kids for christmas and birthdays……got me a job where Steve was a MD……I asked you…..”How can I ever repay you, Dee Dee?”  and I’ve never forgotten what you said……”By helping someone else, when they need it”.   You are such a treasure!

      I have taken your advice and there is such a wonderful feeling in helping other’s that cannot pay you back….and telling them the same thing, when they ask how they can pay me back!

       Praise God for you and Steve in my life!!

      1. Joyce, it’s always great to hear how you and Dee and Steve met and were connected…I’m so glad you got to see Dee again and I can just see you passing on the blessing of helping others!

      2. Sweet words, Joyce.  Thanks for sharing them with those of us who weren’t aware.  Blessed be the tie that binds…..

  24. 3. Read Psalm 16:1-7
       A. Often the summary of the psalm is in the opening of the psalm. How would you summarize verses 1 and 2?
     
    “Preserve me”—on this sleepy morning, my mind literally goes to the process of making preserves…which I’ve never done, but I do remember watching my grandmother. I remember the importance of sterilizing each glass jar, purifying…and I remember the importance of the seal—that it keep out anything that might cause the jam to spoil. Keep me safe, Lord, by Your mercy, put a hedge of protection around my mind—that I would not allow in the lies of the enemy. Keep my eyes away from things that promote envy or insecurity. I put all of my trust in You, I have no righteousness of my own.
     
       B. Hear the voice of Christ first in this psalm, as Bonhoeffer as helped us do. In whom does He delight according to verse 3?
     
    He delights in the saints—in us! When Christ rose, He goes to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, He walks with them—He desires this fellowship.
     
       C. Now this must be our prayer as well — do you delight in the saints of the land? Do you cherish Christian fellowship? Thank God for it and then pray for ways He shows you that you could better delight in the saints of the land.
     
    I thank You Lord that the gathering of believers is different, unique. It is not just a gathering of people, or of even friends. It is not just a safe place to share struggles or “vent’. In our Christian fellowship, we share a common characteristic– we know that the only “good” in us, is the You in us, and that is what creates a bond that is able to endure much. We have the opportunity to work through pain on a deeper level, to experience real forgiveness, trust, encouragement. We never say good bye, and for those sisters I have met here, from across states and oceans, when in every practical sense it would seem I would never meet them, I can know without a doubt that I will. I will one day hug Diane, Ernema, Staci…

    1. Thanks so much for the dream that will one Day come true of being able to share hugs one day. I long for that Day as well. Hugs and tears, Elizabeth.

    2. …..and you Elizabeth..”Hope”!   Can’t wait to hug you too!!

  25. Thanks so much for the song, “Come to Me”, Staci and Stephanie. It is Jesus’ beautiful plea and reminder to us that He is our everything. I so need this reminder. He is our Life and He will never leave us. 

  26. Dee, Rebecca, Elizabeth, and Diane thank you for your encouragement, prayers, and kind words…they were an unexpected surprise awaiting me this morning!

  27. 2. As you are journeying in this Christian life, what is one important thing (though certainly not the only thing) you have learned about life together?
     
    I’ve learned you can’t force it to happen. The greatest disappointments happen when I go into situations with great expectations of how I want other people to behave or act. But when “life together” does happen, it is a “God-thing”…kind of mysterious, it can’t be arranged or controlled. It’s like getting a little glimpse into what relationships are truly meant to be like, a glimpse into what the perfect relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit must be like.
     
    3. Read Psalm 16:1-7
     
    A. Often the summary of the psalm is in the opening of the psalm. How would you summarize verses 1 and 2?
     
    The Lord is my “home” where I can be at rest and where He provides everything I need.
     
    B. Hear the voice of Christ first in this psalm, as Bonhoeffer has helped us do. In whom does He delight according to verse 3?
     
    He delights in “the saints who are in the land” – those are all His children.
     
    C. Now this must be our prayer as well – do you delight in the saints of the land? Do you cherish Christian fellowship? Thank God for it and then pray for ways He shows you that you could better delight in the saints of the land.
     
    I wish I could honestly say I truly delight in my fellow sisters in Christ, but often I am tainted by my own sin, selfishness, the very deadly and damaging game of comparing myself to others, or making assumptions and judgments based on what I see outwardly before I really get to know the person for who she is on the inside.
    Do I cherish Christian fellowship? The times that I have really tasted the sweetness of it – yes, and it leaves permanent memories of how wonderful those times of fellowship were. Some of you have said that you struggle with church attendance for various reasons – I really like and feel most comfortable in my all-ladies Sunday school class and less comfortable when I’m surrounded in the halls and worship center by mostly strangers that I don’t know. I have also been guilty of doing what Wanda does – just going to my class and then going home but am making more of an effort to stay for corporate worship.
     
    Lord, thank You for creating us for relationship – to be loved and to love. It happens first with You and then with others. I pray you will help me to learn to better be a part of Your family and to delight in my fellow sisters in Christ – Your daughters. We are all one family and are loved equally by You – You don’t have favorites. Help me not to judge so quickly by the outward appearance or to place expectations on how I want a person to be, nor to just gravitate to women who are most like me. Help me not to just devour/eat someone like a piece of bread to fill the hole in me that only You were meant to fill. Lord, I really need You to help teach me how to be a friend!

    1. Susan, you are such a wonderful friend to us all here….you can practice on us!

       Praying for you!

    2. Susan-I replied to this but I think it got lost..Not sure..will wait to see..

    3. Susan, your #2 articulates something that I am learning, too. 
       
      I pray for you often.  What little I know of your hardships remind me of my mom’s hardship so I often lift you two together for strength and wisdom in difficult situations. Also, a sense of knowing His love and acceptance for you regardless of what those around you communicate in the contrary. You are a beautiful heart.

  28. 2. As you are journeying in this Christian life, what is one important thing (though certainly not the only thing) you have learned about life together? It is necessary. But I must not impose my expectations and visions upon it but rather (as many have already said) keep Christ the center.
     
    I am reading the Bonhoeffer biography (fascinating!!) and he says that we must do Christianity together. I get the impression from him that to be Christian you must not be alone because that is to miss part of the essence of Christ. Both in reaching out TO help and FOR help from the body.

    1. This is weighty, Jill, “…to be Christian you must not be alone because that is to miss part of the essence of Christ.” Yes – He was all about relationship – with His Father, with others, and telling us we wouldn’t be alone because the Spirit would come.

  29. P.S. I have been convicted by Tim Keller’s Gospel in Life when he says to have community you cannot just OFFER help you have to ASK FOR help, too, or there is no community. This convicted me of my often (blush) self-righteous attitude in being willing to help others but not be humble in accepting help… I repent. These blessings of late have made me so grateful for God’s provision and His teaching my heart about friendship. Praise Him!

    1. Jill, I feel such a wonderful connection to you because I got to met you and give you a hug!   I would like to connect to your friend, Julie… here in Kearney.  I know she is very busy with 4 little ones…so maybe I could help her somehow!  Please give her my e-mail: jopete49@gmail.com.   Thanks.   You and her where so sweet together and  on fire for God!

      1. Joyce, I will pass it along to her! =) I will, Lord-willing, be back in Kearney again someday – we will need to make time to get to know each other then.

  30. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
     
           “ Remember! Christians never say good-bye!”  Such an encouragement as love ones pass and even an encouragement when I wish I could spend more time with family I love dearly, but they  live far away.
     
     2. As you are journeying in this Christian life, what is one important thing (though certainly not the only thing) you have learned about life together?
     
    When I think about doing life together, I see God has placed so many people around me for different purposes. They are either walking beside me, mentoring me, or they are someone I can pour into. All three are key!

  31.    A. Often the summary of the psalm is in the opening of the psalm. How would you summarize verses 1 and 2?  
    God, my protector, is the source of all goodness.
       B. Hear the voice of Christ first in this psalm, as Bonhoeffer as helped us do. In whom does He delight according to verse 3?
    “You, whom I have redeemed…you are sanctified in me.  You are saints.  You are glorious.  I delight in YOU!”
     
       C. Now this must be our prayer as well — do you delight in the saints of the land? Do you cherish Christian fellowship? Thank God for it and then pray.      Thank you, Lord, for those who are my brothers and sisters, who have the common bond of redemption by your grace, who love and accept me as you have taught us to do.  Thank you that we journey together.  We are not alone.  We care for and stand by one another, in joy and sorrow.  Lord, let me see when I fail to receive others in fellowship.  Make me aware of my stony heart that is unyielding to the friendships of others.  Break down the walls that I build when I conveniently choose those people who are most like me to the exclusion of others.  We are all one in you.

  32. Back to this one after thinking overnight.
    C. Now this must be our prayer as well — do you delight in the saints of the land? Do you cherish Christian fellowship? Thank God for it and then pray for ways He shows you that you could better delight in the saints of the land.
    I do delight in “the saints of the land.”  I cherish Christian fellowship and miss it when I don’t have it.  But I could do it more/better.   I struggled yesterday because I was mixing up the difficulty I have getting going/thinking in the morning with cherishing Christian fellowship.  And then today… worst morning getting up. EVER (seems like it anyway — brain didn’t kick in until noon).  I’m “equal opportunity” in what I don’t want to do in the morning; I don’t think it has anything to do with church Sunday mornings.        Lord God, Thank you that through your Spirit we are bound together to one another in love.  Thank you for providing wonderful teaching and fellowship through this blog, and thank you too for allowing me the privilege to be in online work-related groups of believers.   I have been blessed through friendships that have developed overtime through phone and online interaction.  I even see how local relationships have been enhanced because of online tools.    I have fellowship with other believers, even across time and distance, that I don’t have with others.
            Forgive me for self-centeredness and for my lack of forethought in seeking you and more frequent face-to-face fellowship.  Teach me and remind me how I can be better prepared physically and emotionally to spend time with others.  Recharge my batteries, and guide me so that my life is oriented around loving you, serving you, and loving your people as you do.  Make me like you, Lord.  May you be reflected in my life. 
              Please use my inadequacy to draw me to you; strengthen me for what you call me to do.   It hurts that people don’t want to help when it means being inconvenienced, when they talk about friendship or fellowship as long as it doesn’t cost anything.  Forgive me for thinking about inconvenience or even exhaustion; grant me your grace that I might show others the grace to be inconvenienced or even exhausted for your sake.   You know my weaknesses and have promised to provide strength in my weaknesses.  My biggest weaknesses, sins and failures are what you have used to give me compassion and connect me to others.   You know that I say “yes” without thinking or volunteer because “somebody has to.”  I need you; I need you to lead me, and I need your grace and strength to follow, and your wisdom and courage to say “no.”  I need your people, and you know how quickly I shut down when I see patterns that have hurt me in the past.  I don’t even know if I shut down out of fear or out of habit.  May I be SO secure in you as my refuge and my righteousness that every last brick in my walls disappears (scary).  Teach me and re-teach me about “life together.”  Thank you for your church throughout the world.  May you be honored through the way we love each other.  Thank you that you have shown your faithfulness throughout my life, that you are breaking bondage to past hurts, and that I am free to love you.  Grant me increasing freedom to better love those in whom you delight, especially when I’d rather crawl back into bed and pull the blankets over my head.   In Jesus’ name.

    1. Praying with you Renee…you are so precious and love imagining you pulling the blankets over your head!  

    2. This is a wonderful prayer, Renee…so much in here that gets right to the heart…”…when they talk about friendship or fellowship as long as it doesn’t cost anything…my biggest weaknesses, sins and failures are what you have used to give me compassion and connect me to others…how quickly I shut down when I see patterns that have hurt me in the past…”

    3. I am also praying for you, Renee.  May this week be a surprising burst of hope and refreshment for you.  And SPRING!  It’s finally arriving 🙂

  33. D. What do we learn happens when we run after idols according to verse 4? Often a gift is so good, we turn it into a god and then it cuts us to pieces.
    Our sorrows increase.        
    Give an example from your life.   Well, this is what comes to mind.  I love all four of my children dearly.  Their happiness and well being mean SO much to me.  I recently heard the statement, “A mom is only as happy as her least happy child.”  And that really hit me.  I know how deeply I am affected by bad things that happen to my kids.  Mainly, I think of my oldest daughter.  She has had huge hurdles her whole life because of cystic fibrosis and type 1 diabetes.  It is totally amazing all that she overcomes on a regular basis (and works full time, is very independent, takes lots of risks, has many adventures: traveled to Europe, mountain hikes, rock climbing, biking long distances etc. etc.)  So…..when all is going well for her, I go on with my life and can enjoy the good things life brings. It is truly a GOOD gift from God when all is well.  I can bask in the joy of the Lord.   But….when things aren’t going well for her, my stomach is immediately in knots and I feel physically sick until there is some kind of a resolve.  In spite of some very serious health issues she’s had at times, I think I sometimes, let her times of ‘good health’  become MOST important to me.  It’s not just her health either.  I know that I worry about her more than my other kids because of all the ‘extras’ she’s always had to endure.  And it hits me harder when bad stuff happens to her…..(like her apartment being robbed twice, and her heart being broken, and losses she’s had to grieve)  And then, my own reserves are completely depleted when she has had those struggles.  In those times, I have a very hard time understanding or claiming verses that promise joy and peace to the believer.  Because…..how can I be happy ‘for me’ when I hurt so much ‘for her’.  Of course, it’s all FAR more complicated than I can find words to explain, but even 16:11, in this very psalm, has been one of the verses that has come into question for me at those times.  Anyway….I think that her happiness, her well being, her health and stability…..(and to a different degree, that of my other kids too)….are what takes the place of God as a first priority sometimes.  And definitely, when that is the case, my sorrows increase.

    1. Oh Wanda, I can so relate to you and my three kids.  My youngest (27) and her Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy and mentally challenged.  I find myself feeling as you do, if Kendra is having a bad day, I am too.  Why is it so hard for us mother’s?!    She is one of my idols, I know, but I do find (Psalms 16:11) “fullness of joy in my Heavenly Father’s presence.”…so much that I am drinking from my saucer, because my cup is overflowing!!

        http://youtu.be/OWaBZNxRRq0      (like this song!)    When I’m having a hard day…it helps me to just Praise him even more!    For our trials are a blessing too….Thank you Jesus!!

      1. Sorry that didn’t copy the song….I’ll try again…………………http://youtu.be/OWaBZNxRRq0

        1. Thank you Joyce.  It IS good to relate to others.  I am sure we have some similar stories and feelings.  Thanks for the link to the song.  I will listen after work today!

  34. 3.    D. What do we learn happens when we run after idols according to verse 4? Often a gift is so good, we turn it into a god and then it cuts us to pieces. Give an example from your life.
     
    Hmm…can I just say “see chapter 9 of Idol Lies” ? 🙂  It is so easy for me to turn a good gift into a god, and I’ve experienced the sorrow that follows, but the sorrow, I can now see as His mercy—He does not allow us to continue to run after other pleasures, because He knows we are created with a hole only cut for Him. The brokenness that comes when I run after idols, is painful at the time, but it forces me to slow down and see what I am doing, and by His grace—I can turn to Him, repent and be restored. It’s like a “love and logic” type consequence that forces me to see my way isn’t working–I’m not getting the joy I seek. I suppose for some the “good” thing may be a job or money or other material fulfillment, but for me I see that all my experiences of idol-making come in the setting of relationships. Friendships, marriage, my kids—it is so easy for me to place it on the throne instead of the altar.

    1. 🙂      So good:  “but the sorrow, I can now see as His mercy—He does not allow us to continue to run after other pleasures, because He knows we are created with a hole only cut for Him.”

  35. D. What do we learn happens when we run after idols according to verse 4?
    I liked the descriptiveness of the NIV:  “will suffer more and more”
    Often a gift is so good, we turn it into a god and then it cuts us to pieces.  Give an example from your life.
    This will be vague and not the most destructive one I can think of– intentionally.  As I think about this one, it’s still more of a god than I thought — thought I had let it go 🙁          Something that can be good:  professional codes of ethics.    Because of the existence of codes of ethics (and professional hoops I jump through for licensure, certification, etc), I start thinking that “this is how professional behavior is supposed to work:”   i.e., professionals follow ethical codes, and when they don’t, they get their hands slapped. I assume that people who have been trained or licensed in an area are trustworthy.   But what I see is that not only do some people “get away with” the bad stuff, they get kudos — even when others are aware of the ethical violations.    Standing up for the people who are hurt is difficult enough; but this god REALLY cuts me to pieces when I try to “fix” or change the behaviors of others — or bring about justice on my own.  

    Something that is striking me about this psalm is that the psalmist is doing mega-self-talk.  He makes statements about who he is in God or a statement of fact, and then each time, follows them with I say, I say, I will not, I will, I will, I keep, I will not.    I don’t want to slide into legalism, but it seems as if consistency or discipline is part of keeping the Lord front and central in my mind.  He is there and he is faithful even when I am distracted.  But I get distracted by other gods so easily, and “suffer more and more.”   Telling myself who he is and choosing to worship him contributes to a glad heart and a rested body.

    1. A ‘face to face’ sitting together in the same room with any and/or all of you sure would be nice about now!  I think I have confused myself.   I will keep praying for clarity and keep digging in though.  ‘Thou wilt keep in perfect peace, him whose mind is stayed on Thee.”   Isaiah 26:3, if my old King James memory is working tonight.  And I DO love the KJV best on that one!

      1. Wanda, just saw this note that you are confused and praying for clarification. I am praying.
         
        I don’t know if your confusion is related to what you shared about your worries for your daughter that you shared this morning or not, but I just want you to know that I am praying for your relationship with her. Life is so complicated isn’t it. My situation is different than yours, but I can identify with you and your complicated relationship with your daughter. My daughter has just gone through a divorce. She doesn’t have primary custody of the kids (3 boys ages 3,5,8). Long sad story …. Ex with control/anger issues. Finances are an issue. And on and on. What happens to her affects me in a huge way emotionally. I understand your struggle. It is hard to rest and trust in God when those we love are in distress. At times, my control idol seems to promise better solutions than God seems to be offering. I need to consciously deliberately turn back to God — again and again and again.  So you have my sympathies and my prayers.

        1. Oh Diane…..thank you for your kind words and affirmation.  I think I am confused about if I’m making accurate interpretations of idol lies.  I will read Dee’s book soon.  I think I’m just not quite on the same page in my understanding.  And I might be making it more complicated but at the same time, I think that this teaching could help me with some years of struggle too.  I am truly sorry for the hurt that you are feeling. That is such a deep valley to walk through.  I will also pray for you this week.  Yes…our mom’s hearts  break when our kids hurt.  I have said so many times, that I would take my daughter’s illnesses on myself in a heart beat, if we could change places and she could live without the constant stress.  But, knowing we can’t, we need to still trust God’s plan and be the support that we can be only in his strength.  It has never been an easy journey…..but it surely is a rewarding one. 

        2. Praying for both of you Wanda and Diane (and for Krista and the boys).   God made us the mother’s we are with such hugh hearts for our children, and he does hear our cry’s (Psalm 18:6).  Praying for you!

        3. Diane, I just knew you would have a lot of wisdom and empathy to give to Wanda. It IS so hard to separate our emotions from what is happening to our children (any maybe we shouldn’t?)…Jesus wept with Mary…we can take how we feel and how we hurt to Him. It is complicated. Sometimes when I determine not to let what is going on with one of my kids or family members affect me, I wonder if all I’m really doing is playing the ‘avoidance game’ by stuffing it under the rug, so to speak, or trying to harden my heart as in an ‘I don’t care’ attitude and becoming like a fatalist (what will be will be)…none of that works, either.

  36.    E. In contrast, when you make God your God, what happens according to verses 5 and 6?
     
    What stands out to me in verses 5 and 6 is the change in perspective. When God holds His rightful place in my heart, I see things differently. Comparing myself to others loses its power over me and I can see who He has made me and the undeserved gifts in front of, all around, me. The circumstances don’t change, my lens does. I see with the lens of the Gospel. I see that I don’t deserve anything—but in Christ, I have everything I will ever really need. “Indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”

  37.   E. In contrast, when you make God your God, what happens according to verses 5 and 6?
    The language used here sounds like the verse is referring to  property someone inherits after someone else dies — in the future.   ???   But also, v 5 says “you hold my lot.”   The Lord is in control.
    This is turning into kind of an internal battle for me:  I keep hearing him ask/sing “Do you trust me?”  And I wonder if trusting him means also trusting other people.  And yet, “Where else would I go?”   (self-talk time)

  38. 4. What stood out to you from Jill’s story and why? 
    The following sentences stood out to me, as individual sentences and more globally (Plus, I smiled about Jill’s VERY creative boys 😉   )
     

    The stories were helpful, the concepts solid but none of it truly permeated, until Hope’s story.

    This stood out to me because not all the concepts permeated to my heart when we first studied “The Stonecutter.”  I could get the ideas in my head, and that was helpful — but it also sort of reminded me of therapy!  It strikes me that God works in his way and his timing, and he knows what is best for us.  The ideas stayed in my brain until the time I was ready for them to soak into my heart.   

    “This isn’t what was supposed to happen!” 

    Um, I probably posted something similar on here earlier today!!  Even at the time, I was seeing that the problem was my desire to control or fix something that isn’t mine to fix.

    My love from Christ is secure. My worth in Christ is secure.

    This has been soaking in more and more during the past year, and especially since we did the Song of Songs study.  I knew at the brain level that “control” is a BIG challenge for me.  I want people to “follow the rules” (some of them, anyway!).  But before I could “let” people hurt me or others by breaking “the rules,” I had to be absolutely convinced in my heart that God loves me and that I am safe in him.   I am convinced now that he is my refuge and my righteousness.   After a series of severe & strange betrayals years ago, my radar detector went on full alert and some of my fear reactions became so automatic that I knew they didn’t make sense.  I’d lived with this for years (usually not a big deal except when the threat is real).  God is healing me deep down now, and though I am am wrestling with the desire to exert control in the face of ongoing wrong-doing, I am not freaked out.  I know God is in control.  I know that my love from Him and my worth in Him are secure — and that’s why those phrases stood out.

  39.   A. Often the summary of the psalm is in the opening of the psalm. How would you summarize verses 1 and 2?
     
    O Lord,  you are my everything!
     
       B. Hear the voice of Christ first in this psalm, as Bonhoeffer as helped us do. In whom does He delight according to verse 3?
     
    “the saints who are in the land”   
     
       C. Now this must be our prayer as well — do you delight in the saints of the land? Do you cherish Christian fellowship? Thank God for it and then pray for ways He shows you that you could better delight in the saints of the land.
     
    Yes, I definitely delight in the saints of the land – those who gather for worship in the church I attend, those who are in small groups like our Tues. night Bible Study, and our adult Sunday School class.  Also I enjoy occasional worship with  the Emmaus community and a very small Emmaus share group twice a month.  Last but not least,   I have so very much come to delight in the women on this blog.  I would be a different person without all of those opportunities for spiritual nourishment. 
     
    Dear God,   You have known that I would have such an impossible time of making it on my own, and you have surrounded me with loving, supporting Christian friends who will hold me accountable, who weep with me when I weep and rejoice with me when I rejoice.   Please use me to encourage others, even as I am encouraged.   Thank you for the delightful bonds of Christian fellowship that help us to strengthen one another in your name.  Amen.    
     
       D. What do we learn happens when we run after idols according to verse 4?
     
    Our sorrows increase.      Yes, indeed!  We find no peace, and everything seems to be out of sorts and we can’t for the life of us make it right on our own. 
     
    Often a gift is so good, we turn it into a god and then it cuts us to pieces.  Give an example from your life.
     
     
     
    I”m sure there is an example in my life, but I just can’t seem to bring it to the foreground right now.  I almost didn’t post today because I couldn’t get beyond this question, but then I decided that was silly.    I will have to come back to this later.     
     
     
       E. In contrast, when you make God your God, what happens according to verses 5 and 6?
     
    We find our niche, and we feel confident and secure.  All of the doors we have been beating our fists against open for us, we are able to go forward,  and life seems pleasant again.   This is not to say everything becomes perfect/utopia.   However, the guilt is lifted, we feel refreshed, and life begins to make sense. You might say that when we put God in His rightful place, then we find our rightful place as well!   

    1. Deanna, this is a great word picture for chasing our idols and then turning back to God: “All of the doors we have been beating our fists against open for us, we are able to go forward, and life seems pleasant again.”

  40.    D. What do we learn happens when we run after idols according to verse 4? Often a gift is so good, we turn it into a god and then it cuts us to pieces.
    Give an example from your life.
    We suffer more and more. Probably my children  are the biggest idols I have to deal with. It is constant; trying to let them go and be who God wants them to be without interfering and trying to control situations.
     
     
     
     

    1. 🙂 Oh yes Laura!  So hard. Praying for you and the kids too.

  41. 3. Read Psalm 16:1-7
       A. Often the summary of the psalm is in the opening of the psalm. How would you summarize verses 1 and 2?
    I would summarize vs. 1 in the song “You are my all in all”. I don’t have anything that which do not come from God.
       B. Hear the voice of Christ first in this psalm, as Bonhoeffer as helped us do. In whom does He delight according to verse 3?
    He delights in the saints of the land (and they include me by virtue of what He has done on the cross for me! Halelujah!)
       C. Now this must be our prayer as well — do you delight in the saints of the land? Do you cherish Christian fellowship? Thank God for it and then pray for ways He shows you that you could better delight in the saints of the land.
    Oh, Lord you have blessed me so much through the years with many godly friends, saints in the land indeed. So many of them have gone on to be with you but the sweet aroma of their lives linger on. Dead and yet they still live and speak to me.
    And for those who are still here on earth, I thank you for them as well. Deepen my love and my appreciation for them and let me be quick to speak words of life. May my delight in them be evident-may my love grow more and more in knowledge and in depth of insight. Philippians 1:9
    I pray specifically for the SS class I lead at church. Incline my ears to your promptings to show my delight in this special group of people in creative ways. Open our eyes to see what proverbs (our book study for this quarter) has to say about friendships (very timely with this blog).
    I love Toby Mac’s “speak life” song. Here is the link if anybody has time to listen. You can dance to the groove 🙂 as you contemplate the words.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O13FIcPan8o This is a tribute to all those who has “spoken life” to me including you ladies in this blog. 🙂

    1. Ernema, love this: “So many of them have gone on to be with you but the sweet aroma of their lives linger on.”

    2. I also loved that phrase that Susan highlighted, Ernema.   There’s hardly a day that passes that I don’t think about something I learned from one of those ‘saints who have gone on before me’…… to think of the reunion someday is a deeper joy than I can fathom.
       

  42. I love it…thank you Ernema!  You have definitely been a honor to know  you and you  “speak life” to my heart!

  43. Praying for all of you sweet sisters!

    This is Kendra on a very HAPPY day!!

    1. Lovely picture, Joyce.  Thanks for posting!

  44.    E. In contrast, when you make God your God, what happens according to verses 5 and 6?
     
    You are secure and have a “delightful inheritance.”
     
    4. What stood out to you from Jill’s story and why?  
     
    I used used to be like Jill, until God changed  my heart as well.  It happened over a long period of time though, and Dee’s book had a lot to do with it, at least in the past couple of years. I had to recognize my kids as being idols before I could do anything about it. However, my children were into very evil behaviors such as drugs and alcohol and running around. I was ashamed.  I thought I had taught them better behavior and I, too, thought if they really cared about me how could they treat me like this?  They were raised in church! It has been a very low point in my life realizing what they had become. I still struggle with them day to day and I have to keep reminding myself what’s really important in life is knowing Jesus. So I have changed my prayers for them in hopes that they will get to know Jesus again in their lives. I have tried to realize that they are not mine, they are His, and it was really all about me and how I looked, not about their well-being. My son John, tattoos and all (sigh), is doing very well  in culinary school, and is extremely happy with himself. This is Joy! He had been a miserable teenager, and this is so exciting for him that he is happy. My daughter Sarah is another story, most the ladies on the blog have heard the stories of Sarah. She is still struggling in a big city, trying to go to school and live on her own. She has a very low IQ (right in the middle of too intelligent to want our help but not intelligent enough to be able to actually succeed) and we have done this for her to see if she could live on her own and take care of herself. She’s doing that mostly, but she struggles so much in school; she is on probation now for 30 days for attendance. Cosmetology school is pretty darn expensive these days, about $1400 a month. Plus, they don’t have dorms, and she lives off-campus in her own basement apartment which also costs us about $1000 a month with food and all. Hence the reason for my husband’s strife (see below). I try to remind him that God always takes care of us. 
     
    My husband is in the idol position now. Unfortunately for him he doesn’t do much reading, and he probably wouldn’t understand about idols. It’s sad to watch him put so much value on our finances, and let the relationships between our children and him deteriorate. I do understand that he is responsible and wants us to live with no financial troubles, however he places that above his children. I don’t know how to help him. Both of our middle children are in college right now and it’s putting a great strain on the rest of the family. We don’t want to take out loans and for our kids to have a lot of debt, so we are bearing the burden of very expensive schools. This was his choice however and he is working two jobs to make it work. He is exhausted.
    I need to pray for my husbands peace; he has been diagnosed with high blood pressure in the last year, and money sure can make him stressed!

    1. Thanks  for the update on your family situation — how Sarah is doing, etc. I will begin to pray specifically for your husband’s worries and how they are eating him up. I will pray that you will be able to speak truth and life to him about how God cares for him and you all, and that he can trust God and therefore relax a bit.

      1. Thanks Diane! 

    2. Thank you Laura-Dancer for sharing your heart felt situation with your kids. I have been going through a lot this past week with my oldest Hannah, who is 18 and soon to graduate and leave us. I have cried non-stop for days, even found myself crying at 3Am lying next to my husband. Silently weeping before God, in a bit of a depression over all this. I cant seem to get into bible study this week. Alls I can do is pray, and cry out to God. Your testimony about our kids being our idols really hit home with me. Worrying over Hannah consumes me at times, it paralyzes my joy and my mind at times. I will say I am at least reading the word and praying…but struggling so much right now to even focus on God…thus my grief becoming an idol. Thank you for this encouragement.

      1. Staci I am so sorry you are down. I do understand and have been there myself. My son john brought me back to Jesus twice in his life; when I had nothing left, no more tears, no more ideas, no more anything. I had to turn to Jesus and trust Him because there was nothing that was working to settle my heart. I decided to immerse myself in Him. I listened to Nancy Leigh Demoss podcasts any time I could and reminded myself often that He is in charge by reading scripture. Some of my pain has been on this blog in the past couple of years, and I had the “prayer warriors”  from here and my church praying continuously. I had to get over me and come to Him. He loves us. He loves our children. We  need to trust Him to take care of them. Believe me, when my daughter wouldn’t come home at night and I knew she was with druggies, it was hard. I had to pray and pray and pray but I did that instead of worrying and crying (well, maybe I cried when I prayed….). He was faithful. My kids aren’t exactly what I thought they would be as adults, but they are good people with strong personalities. 
         
        I just found out out last night that the girl Sarah was hanging around a year ago was sent to prison for dealing heroin; $50k bond, 19 years old. If we hadn’t let Sarah go to school and try to live on her own, she might have been part of that 🙁 sometimes when we can’t see the rationale behind the situation, it’s scary, but He might be leading them a different way to protect them from something else. I had to let go of  control of my kids and give it to Him. We are all happier now. I will pray for your situation staci.

        1.  
          Laura-d,  This statement of yours fits 2 of my kids very well.   “My kids aren’t exactly what I thought they would be as adults, but they are good people with strong personalities.”
           
          I also have had to take the unexpected and undesired journey of watching my kids (who were raised in church and have a very strong Christian heritage) leave the faith and try a different path.  I have several friends whose kids are also struggling and denying the faith they were raised in.  We do keep reminding ourselves….’the story isn’t finished yet.’.   It gets hard to wait and pray year after year…..but every so often, I get another glimpse of how God is still at work in their lives.  Prayers for you and your kids also.
           
          My kids aren’t exactly what I thought they would be as adults, but they are good people with strong personalities.

      2. Staci.…..You are on my heart.  I’m sorry to hear what a hard week this has been.  I will keep you in prayer these next few days.   I understand being up all night crying because of something with my kids.   When we love much…….we grieve much.  Praying for peace and encouragement.
         

  45. 3. Read Psalm 16:1-7
       A. Often the summary of the psalm is in the opening of the psalm. How would you summarize verses 1 and 2?
    I love how he asks God to ‘keep him safe’-so there is an acknowledgment that he can be deceived into clinging to idols unless he clings to God daily-in you I take refuge. Only God can keep us safe from deception and idolatry-God is his LORD ..apart from God he has no good thing-apart from God good things become gods and ensnare us and rip us apart.  
      
    B. Hear the voice of Christ first in this psalm, as Bonhoeffer as helped us do. In whom does He delight according to verse 3?
    He delights in Holy People..When I read this Psalm this morning again-this popped out..When I first read it I saw Jesus delighting in His holy people and then my next thought was that His delight is to transform us into his image-so He wants me to ‘delight’ in other believers as He does-DO I??? 
      
    C. Now this must be our prayer as well — do you delight in the saints of the land? Do you cherish Christian fellowship? Thank God for it and then pray for ways He shows you that you could better delight in the saints of the land.
    Lord thank you that your word truly pierced through to my heart this morning. You have pierced through my soul and spirit-joints and marrow in Your word. Oh yes I do cherish fellowship and delight in other believers yet I know my heart can be like dark churning waters-so while I do desire this I know there are layers of lies I haven’t seen yet and I need to grow in truly Loving and delighting in other believers as you do. Help me see my areas of sin and idolatry that I can’t see that lurk underneath. I know you will be faithful to show me-so help me see what I am clinging to other than you and help me cling to you for I want to be like you. My life is yours help me to let go..I love you-in your glorious name alone I pray, amen.
     
       

  46. D. What do we learn happens when we run after idols according to verse 4? Often a gift is so good, we turn it into a god and then it cuts us to pieces.
    Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more! I love that verse because in and of itself explains it so well.
           
    Give an example from your life.
    Turning to food for comfort, or other things instead of turning to God for comfort. When something stressful happens I tend to stuff food in my mouth for comfort instead of finding my comfort in God-in His word, in communing with Him and entrusting it to Him. Since Idol Lies..I can immediately spot it which seems small but is a huge gift for at that moment I have a choice-to intentionally turn and cling to Him or ignore God and treat him as if he is not all powerful and somehow this food is more poweful than Him-OH MY… 
      
    E. In contrast, when you make God your God, what happens according to verses 5 and 6?
    Can I just take verse 5?? So much is there!  HE IS MY PORTION AND MY CUP-NOT COOKIES, BREAD AND FOOD..I drink Him up in His word, in creation, in prayer and in other believers and find pure comfort-real lasing comfort that doesn’t harm me but truly satisfies my soul in the deepest places-I can’t really explain it-..He never leaves me feeling empty, betrayed, depressed and regretful-but it is the opposite-He leaves me feeling fully and utterly loved, humbled, confident in Him, and He is indeed my refuge where I find peace-He is my peace.
     
    I have always wondered why when I took communion with Susan that watching her take communion has stuck with me-He did that! But it was her worshipping Him when she drank from the cup that struck me..She was really worshiping Him-HE DELIGHTED IN THIS-I just know it..and so He wants me to delight in Him and in other believers this way. 

    1. Rebecca, your story in Idol Lies and that very first video of you has impacted me so much and was the first thing that very clearly helped me to understand the whole “idol thing” (Wanda – if you’re reading this, that may be of help to you to check-out Rebecca’s video as it is here on Dee’s site) because you so clearly explained the progression of turning to food as your nightly comfort and release from a stressful day…then how it turned on you as you gained weight and became depressed…then how you replaced the food with turning to God but wondered if He would let you sit in your pain. I always like how you remind that it was not a quick fix, but He did come to You in time. What a great verse to use, too, in this struggle, “He is my portion and my cup” – not cookies, bread and food!
      Even though I know your story so well, I can find myself doing the same thing with food…looking forward to and even kind of cherishing a sweet savory treat at the end of the day when my daughter goes to bed and my husband is still working in the den and I’m sitting there alone.
       

      1. Rebecca, I wanted to add encouragement that your video and story helped me as well and a couple friends and I still say to each other “Remember, Rebecca didn’t just quit eating the pie she turned toward Christ by DOING something else.” I hope that makes sense but your story is still encouraging (and keeping me accountable) me and others I know. I still try to pick up spiritually edifying books and Bible when I find myself looking toward idols (time wasters, escape activities). Thank you. And glory to God! =)

        1. Susan and Jill-I wanted to thank you for your encouragement! I have had an interesting week and didn’t have time to respond. I am still amazed at how God could even use that video-but he does and what really encourages me is when I  hear how it impacts others to desire to run to him instead of food or other worthless things-I am thankful He has given me that stone of remembrance-of Him running to me in my pain at that time in my life..it is  a balm to remember whenever it is painful for me to trust him in situations-even now. 🙂

      2. Thanks for highlighting the video for me, Susan.  I will watch tonight.  Also…..I was very touched by your words to me earlier (was unable to comment on that post).  The questions you raised about ‘should we or should we not’ be so affected by others’ pain…..are exactly some of the questions I have.  I really appreciate your insight.

  47. Prayer Request-Ladies if you would pray: I want our church to do Idol lies. :)))   I gave a book to our pastor’s wife. She read it and really liked it and wrote me back as to how it impacted her. I am praying and hoping the women’s ministry in our church will do it-but I  have to be careful-I don’t want to try to control things-even though I can easily push it.  I want to email her and ask if she thinks it would be a good one to do in the women’s ministry for next Fall.. AND I am praying they can have Dee come to their next retreat where all the churches gather but that wouldn’t be until 2015..This is a strong desire of mine..can’t help it.  Praying..

    1. Will pray for that Bible study, Rebecca.

    2. Will gladly pray for the Lord’s leading on this, Rebecca, both for your church to do Idol Lies study and for Dee to come and speak at a retreat.

    3. Will pray too!

    4. Praying, Rebecca! And 2015 will be here soon (not praying for it to come faster, though 😉 )

    5. Sounds like a good desire all around! Will pray for you to not be controlling, but for the spirit to move for the good of the churches involved.

  48. Psalm 16 is a delight.
    My first attempt to comment disappeared, but here is my summary:
    Safety is assured when I turn to God, there is evil all around and I have a trustworthy refuge.
    I need the refuge: I have no good besides you.
    My prayer  : Show me ways I can better delight in the saints. Help me let go of my idol of approval-seeking and just love and enjoy the fellowship; to pray for and with them, and keeping life together healthy.  May we help one another to cling to you, Father. Fellowship is a joy as we let go of the expectations. I feel so guilty and I thank you for the assurance of forgiveness.
    May I also be forgiving of others’ weaknesses.
    Thanks, ladies, for your beautiful sharing.

  49. D. What do we learn happens when we run after idols according to verse 4? Often a gift is so good, we turn it into a god and then it cuts us to pieces. Give an example from your life.
     
    Okay – you can throw me into the group that makes children their idols…I was thinking about this yesterday, in fact. I was thinking about how my very first experience of purely unconditional love was when my children were babies, toddlers, and very young. They just loved me, even when I made mistakes. They just loved me because I was their mom. They didn’t place expectations on me about how I looked or acted on a particular day. They showered me with love and physical affection and how I loved to do the same. I wasn’t prepared for the moody, sulking teenagers who could say things that cut my heart. For hugging a son who only stood there and didn’t hug me back. My kids and I did so much together and had fun together and it hurt when they pulled away. I still have a young daughter (13) and we are still in that stage where we are always together and generally get along very well-in fact, we often feel like all we have is each other because my husband works so much and is seemingly always distracted with work and stressed-out and irritable or retreats on the weekends to the den to stay in there all day, reading or watching sports or TV. That verse from Psalm 14 has really stuck with me and given me a mental picture of idolatry – eating someone like a piece of bread when I’m hungry…hungry for love, for friendship, for companionship, for affection…the “twist” is that Jesus actually invites us to “eat” the living bread that came down from heaven…He says we can feast on Him and it’s okay!
     
    Verse 4 says that if I run after my idols my sorrows will increase. If I try to get my needs met through my children, needs that only God can truly meet, when they can’t or won’t meet my needs, I see the red flags – depression, sadness, fear, even anger. Keller said something like the depth of our wound is our own making. If I stubbornly try to hold onto my children or anything as an idol then it will cut me deeply. Even lately, I’ve been thinking about what am I going to do with my life when my last child is grown and leaves home? I know many women who have very fulfilling careers. I ask, “Is that what I need? A career? Higher education in my field? Will that give my life meaning?” I really do want to know what God wants for me in the last stage of my life, but if I’m looking for meaning and purpose then I’m just trading one idol for another.

    1. Susan, I think we have had similar family situations; I feel as if I am reading my story to a certain extent when I read your posts.  We have in common the children who used to think we hung the moon, the teens who rebelled, and the workaholic, irritable husband. I will pray for us to fill our lives with Him. When I do, it is so rewarding!