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TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD! (PSALM 34)

It was one of my first experiences of answered prayer as a result of praying the psalms — too dramatic to ever be forgotten. The Lord saw my distress, parted the heavens, and came down to rescue me. I was a twenty-three year old mother of two baby boys, and Steve was working round the clock in his internship. I was terrified to be alone at night, and yet I was — every other night. We lived in a rental right on the Puget Sound and our bedrooms were on the first floor. I didn’t know whether “they” would come by land or by sea, but I felt quite sure one night de-ranged men would break in and murder us all.

I was foolish and childish, suffering from too many scary television shows. Yet God had mercy on me, this new child of His. He saw my distress and cared.

A godly woman in my Bible study said, “Dee, memorize the 34th psalm and pray it when you cannot sleep.”

So I did. One night I sat on the steps outside the nursery, sleepless again. I began to pray Psalm 34. But then I lamented, “But Lord, what if it is Your will that we die at the hands of crazy men?”

The Lord spoke to me — not audibly — but I knew it was Him. He got my attention my firmly calling me by my name — at least the name I have been called since I was a little girl and my sisters could not pronounce my given name, “Meredith.”

     DEE.

I knew it was God. He knew my name. He was talking to me.

I couldn’t breathe. The voice again — not my own — not audible — but clear.

    You are going to die one day, but not that way.

A peace came over me — and then, a curiosity!

    How am I going to die?

Silence. He had told me all I needed to know. I was free. The angels of the Lord were encamped around me. To this day, I am not afraid at night. Our merciful God knew how much I would be alone in my life, even knowing one day I would be widowed young. But I have not been fearful since that night. God delivered me from my fears because He is good! Answered prayer, if we can remember it, is an assurance to us of the reality of God and that changes us.

I-sought-the-Lord-and-He-answered-me-and-delivered-me-from-all-my-fears-psalm-34-4-grace-and-strength-diet

This psalm was written on an occasion when David was overwhelmed with fear that he would be killed by Abimelech. So he behaved like he was crazy before Abimelech in hopes Abimelech would drive him out — and he did. Another example of God’s mercy toward his flawed children. He is good!

I also have seen, and this psalm confirms it, that “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted.” My dear friend Linda Strom visited me in my home last week for a few precious days, and I marveled again at how God took a child from the worst imaginable circumstances and turned her into a GREAT HEART. He has given her such an exciting life of transforming prisons in America, Africa, and Australia. He has done this because He is good!

When Linda was a little girl, her mother and she watched from the window to see how drunk her dad was when he came home. If it looked bad, to escape being beaten, they would run and hide in the woods in the back until he was asleep. God saw Linda, cared, and had a plan for her life. Her praying grandmother somehow knew and told Linda one day she was going to be a missionary to Africa. He gave Linda this hope of a meaningful life because He is good!

zlinfssnfvhilftrnLinda in Africa again this year. She’s seventy-plus and going strong!

God did deliver Linda, made her His own, and gave her a heart for the broken-hearted. He has taken her into the prisons, where so many women, like her, grew up in abusive and dangerous homes. One such woman was Karla Faye Tucker, who was on drugs from the time she was a little girl. One night, crazed on cocaine, she committed a brutal murder. Yet the Lord had mercy and brought Karla to himself. He did it because He is good!

Linda became Karla’s mentor, though she will tell you that Karla mentored her. Here is Linda worshipping in prison with the women and if you click below, you can hear Linda telling of why Karla so impacted her.

      http://deebrestin.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Linda-Strom-34-Secs.mp3

 

LindaStromKarla tasted the Lord’s goodness. She refused to lie in court even though it could and did mean her execution. Why? Because God was in her, and was so real to her, that that kept “her tongue from evil and her lips from speaking deceit.” She wasn’t afraid of death. If she wasn’t delivered from being executed, Karla was trusting God, for she had asked Him to do whatever would be most effective in spreading the gospel. Even as she waited execution, Karla was writing down instructions for “faith dorms” that would disciple women who came to Christ in prison. Linda has spent the years since Karla’s execution making those dorms a reality. And how — I will tell you — the women in those dorms are being changed by the power of God. God did it because He is good.

When you watch this video, (even if you have watched it before) I want you to hear how the reality of God in Karla’s life kept her from lying and led to a blessing — not the blessing of a longer earthly life, but a legacy that few will match. And He brought Karla into His arms. He did it because He is good.


Sunday Ice-breaker:

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

2. Share a fear from which God has delivered you.

Monday – Wednesday: Bible Study

3. Describe David’s mood in Psalm 34:1-4 and explain why you think he felt that way.

Radiantil_fullxfull-366467771_mb8e4. Think about shame you have felt. How has God delivered you from it?

5. Read Psalm 34:6-10 and stop if a verse or word picture quickens you. Stay there and contemplate it. When you are ready, share.

The next section is one Pater quotes, and the one on which the John Piper sermon is based. It is very important to see the order here — first, God delivers us and comes to live in our hearts. We see His reality. We taste and see that He is good. His life and His goodness and His Spirit within changes us and that transformation is a blessing and leads to greater blessing.

The “religious” (instead of gospel-centered) way to interpret this passage would be to say “If I stop lying, then God will bless me.” 

Instead, seeing the goodness and the reality of God in your life will keep you from sin, as it did Karla. And then, yes, He does heap blessing upon blessing. He blesses us with new life, and each time we respond to His life in us, the light grows stronger. Karla was RADIANT, and my friend Linda is RADIANT, for those who look to him are RADIANT and their faces shall never be covered with shame.

psalm34_5

6. Read Psalm 34:11-14

A. What is the first step leading to a “good life?” (verse 11)

B. What manifestations will be in the life of someone who has truly tasted the goodness of the Lord? (verses 13-14)

7. Read Psalm 34:15-19 and contrast whom the Lord is against and whom the Lord is near. (Be careful not to come up with a “religious” answer.)

8. How do you see Christ in Psalm 34:19-21?

9. How is Psalm 34 summarized in verse 22?

10. On the basis of what you have learned, pray this psalm.

Thursday-Friday: Sermon

To prepare your heart for Piper’s sermon, read 1 Peter 3:9-12.

11. Then listen or read Piper’s sermon and share your notes and thoughts: LINK

Saturday:

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

 

 

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241 comments

  1. Good morning, Dee — I’m not sure what happened, but I received all posts on my email from January 12 through June 8. June 15 I did not receive, and June 22 and 29 I received only the first portion that shows on your site up until “read more” and that did not come until between 9 and 10 A.M. I sent a request to your site contact last week and it came back showing I was already signed up for your newsletter and your circle of E friends. 
     

  2. Wow. Got me emotional but so so good, oh SO timely! Last night my husband read me all of Psalm 34 before bed (I was expecting it for this week). What words of truth. “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4
     
    Linda’s story is just incredible. To see His hand and the ways He reached in and rescued her, healed her deep wounds and now uses her in prisons and in these precious lives in Africa. She is a beautifully example of truly living life to the fullest–making every moment count for Him. So inspiring!
     
    And Karla, always so moved by that clip. She was not fearful of what Satan or man could do to her if she told the truth because the truth sets us free. I love how she uses her hands throughout–watch as she talks about His love covering her like a cocoon, and coming into her heart and pulling out the sin at the root…so powerful. Her eyes too, such gentleness in them–they are soft, spirit-filled.
     
    We leave for the mountains today so I may be sporadic but will try to follow. So thankful for your solid teaching Dee that always turns my wandering eyes and thoughts back to the Truth. So thankful for each of you sisters, filled with seeking hearts and great wisdom. I am so blessed by our blog family! 🙂

    1. Elizabeth-I thought of you and was blown over by God’s timing!!!! :))))))))))))))))))))

    2. oh and one more thing–I do so love when you share your personal stories Dee–your vulnerable, “real” humble heart–grabs me where I am and teaches me so much of Him. I loved that so much in God of All Comfort–when you share so personally with us I see how He comes in and rescues, the power of His love.

  3. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
    He is good! Dee’s story is beautiful-how God boldly came to her, answered her and comforted her in her fears-even though they may have been childish fears-He came to his sweet little girl whom he so adored-boldly and powerfully rescuing her from her fears and giving her the assurance He is real. That really struck me.  How God came to Linda whose early years seemed meaningless yet He took the meaningless and gave her a heart for the broken hearted for He is good, and Karla-OH I love her and the book Linda wrote about her-He brought Karla into his arms because He is good.
     
    I love the picture of Linda with the children-she radiates Him so and the children just love being with her.
     
     

    1. love how you worded this Rebecca–pointing to His goodness and this spoke to me: “He came to his sweet little girl whom he so adored-boldly and powerfully rescuing her from her fears and giving her the assurance He is real”

  4.  
    1. What stood out to you from above and why?
     
    2. Share a fear from which God has delivered you.
     
    “God delivered me from my fears because He is good! Answered prayer, if we can remember it, is an assurance to us of the reality of God and that changes us.”
     
    Three years ago on a cold December day, I flew back to the Philippines because my Mom was gravely ill. I was suffering from a really bad respiratory illness then and have felt worn out from the challenges of school that first semester. My heart was heavy and my body weak. I couldn’t bear to think of my Mom possibly dying. I feared what is to come for her and for my sister who is her primary caregiver. As I sat at the LA airport awaiting my flight, I felt fatigue compounding my fear. I felt helpless and cried to the Lord for help. “I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” My fatigue did not dissipate right away but I knew God heard me and looking from on high. I felt at peace. “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.” Psalm 112:7
     
    I spoke to Him confidently and ask Him “to surprise me with joy”. And what joyous surprise was in store for me indeed! He worked it out to where I was given a business class seat (I paid for economy). He knew beforehand I will be physically depleted and would need refreshment. The quiet and extra space afforded me was definitely heaven-sent! And when I arrived in the Philippines and took my Mom to her doctor, we found out she discontinued one of  her medicines inadvertently and thereby causing her serious condition. After being back on it, she felt MUCH better after just 2 days. And to think I thought she was dying. Answered prayer-an assurance to us of the reality of God!
     
     
     

    1. Beautiful story Ernema! As I read, I felt that “rainbow” appear amidst such a dark backdrop–so encouraging!

    2. Loved that story, Ernema!  How tenderly the Lord cared for you.

    3. Ernema, that was such a wonderful story of how good God really is!

  5. Good Morning from Montana,
    Have any of you read the book Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard?   The main character is Much-Afraid.    That would be me, but the Lord is re-defining me and I am so grateful. (Some times in life I have allowed fear to derail me, to paralyze me, to drown me.)   So many times in scripture He tells us, “Do not fear”   because he knows we are prone to fear.   He know us.
    Loved Linda’s story and Karla’s story.   Beauty for ashes in both of their lives.   
     
     

    1. Yes!   Nila……several weeks back, Dee made reference to Hinds Feet on High Places on the blog and I dug my copy back out.  I had read it in college……enjoyed reading most of it again 🙂  

  6. 2. Share a fear from which God has delivered you.
     
    What came to mind as I read this, is that He has delivered me completely from the fear that I will be alone, and He is continually delivering me from the fear of being forgotten. Several years ago, I went through Scriptures about His promises to never leave us. Here are a few that encourage me:
     
    Deuteronomy 31:6 Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

    Hebrews 13:5 for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

    Joshua 1:5 “I will not leave you or forsake you. ”

    ALL of Isaiah 43–the passage He gave me when I was young-“Fear not, for I am with you…”

    1 Chronicles 28:20 “Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you”

    Isaiah 41:17  When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

    Deuteronomy 31:8  It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

    Genesis 28:15  Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

    1. ‘Wonderful words of life’  Elizabeth….

    2. Thank you, Elizabeth for the verses.

  7. 1. What stood out to you from above and why?
    Dee’s personal story of fearing for her and her little boys’ lives during the evenings alone while Steven was working his internship.  I agree with Rebecca, it is nice that Dee/you shares these stories.  It shows the growth possible in a willing, trusting heart (look at Dee now!) and the loving response of our Father God to our fears. 
    My heart aches for little girl Linda (and her mother)…I am grateful for the work the Lord has done in Linda; what He is doing through her is quite incredible.  I am thankful for Linda’s grandma’s presence…a well placed seed of support.
    Karla’s story is really something.  I’m always caught when she says that the Lord came and pulled out the yuck from her heart and filled it with Himself…how she feared the Lord’s reaction to her not telling the truth more than any earthly consequences in her telling the whole truth…and when she says explains how she felt God’s love cocoon her…what a testimony.  As Elizabeth mentioned, in Karla’s eyes there is “gentleness…they are soft, spirit-filled”. 
     
     Is Renee in Norway?

    1. No, Renee isn’t in Norway yet.  I texted her and told her to about the facebook group requests.   Maybe she was at her cottage without internet over the 4th……

  8. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?    I always love the personal stories Dee shares.  I can relate (foolishly as well) to those kinds of night time fears.   How sweetly, the Lord assured her and at such a young age.  I LOVE that He called her by name, just as He so often says in His word that He will do.   Dee,  I also enjoyed hearing that your given name is Meredith.   (I had always assumed DeAnna or Denise)  All beautiful names 🙂  Yet, ‘Dee’ just seems to fit you….sweet and comfortable.  Linda’s story is beautiful.  I had ‘googled’ her name when you mentioned her last week and had read briefly about her and Karla Faye.  The video of Karla only began and then it stopped with a message that it couldn’t be accessed or something.  I will look for it online or try again.  What life changing power evidenced in Linda and Karla and a legacy that goes on and on, nurtured by the love of Jesus.         
    2. Share a fear from which God has delivered you.    I’ve mentioned that my oldest daugher has cystic fibrosis.  When she was diagnosed at 3 weeks old, we were told that we could hope for her to live through her teens, maybe into her early 20’s.  When she became a teenager, my heart thumped.  We took every new year of CF research and better treatments as adding more years to her life (though knowing only God determined how many) and we nurtured her to embrace her dreams and go for them.  When she was 10, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  My heart was crushed.  How could she bear up under two extremely demanding and life threatening diseases?   Both required vigilant attention and monitoring.  Both were affected by what she ate and how she exercised.  Both cost a fortune to address!  We had spent countless ‘up all night’ nights with her trying to overcome one thing or another.  We spent hours on the phone and in clinic with medical professionals and insurance companies over the years.  Yet, she played varsity soccer all through high school.  She went on mountain hikes with my husband.  She went wilderness camping with him.  I chaperoned school overnight trips and youth group conferences so she could go.   She had most of the same adventures as her friends. And many more than some friends! White water rafting….rock climbing.  But there were many trips to the hospital and I spent many nights (sleepless) on a fold out chair by her bed.   So when she announced in her senior year of college, that she was going to study art in Florence, Italy for a semester, my heart stopped.  How could I ever survive having her across the ocean where I could not get there if an emergency arose?  (I didn’t even have a passport and post 9/11/’01, they took a long time to get). I knew there was a CF Center in Milan, but would she/could she? get there if she got sick?  Yet….always wanting to support her dreams (and never in a million years had I thought she would be able to do this when she was a baby) we spent weeks getting a horrendous amount of medications and doctor’s orders and emergency prescriptions and hopefully, the right paperwork to get her through customs.  Deep in my heart, I KNEW it was the right thing to do.  She had always talked of travel and studying art in Italy.  Her dream was about to happen.  Tears erupted in me when I watched her wave goodbye at the airport.  This was ‘pre-Skype’ days and we didn’t have a phone plan that allowed her reasonable rates to call home.  We would depend on email and I wasn’t sure how her access would be. That very night, The Lord gave me this verse.  Ps. 139:9…..’If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me.”   That was greatly reassuring to me!  I didn’t know what the context of the Psalm was…..but I took this verse to be just for me.  She WAS on the far side of the ocean and even though I didn’t know if she was asking the Lord to guide her….I would ask Him every day, many times to hold her and guide her.  She returned home with the most wonderful memories and experiences and was never sick once!  

    1. Wanda….that makes me weep…but for joy!

  9. Wanda, Thank you for the verse you shared in Psalm 139. My daughter will be leaving soon as well to go overseas. I will write this verse to give to her and to remind me of the “long hand of mercy and grace” of our loving Father. My daughter is struggling in her faith as she has had some difficult experiences the last few years. I pray she will realize God will always be there for her and that she is safe with Him.

    1. Ernema……even though my daughter did not bring her Bible or even the small electronic version she had (she too struggles with faith)….I slipped a few notes and scripture verses into her luggage. 🙂  I couldn’t bear to think of being far away without God’s word close at hand.  I never did ask her if she read them, come to think of it.)  Peace to you also as your daughter travels.

  10. Wanda, Again thank you for your willingness to be open.  
    I experienced great fear this morning as I talked with church members about a vision problem I am having, and not yet able to get into the doctor.  It is so good to be reminded that fear is not from the Lord.  I am trusting Him that my vision will clear and will not be a permanent problem.  However, it resolves, He is with me and will guide me.

    1. Sherry….will pray for your vision and that you’ll get an appointment soon.  

    2. Praying for you Sherryl~

  11. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
     
    Karla’s story is amazing to me. It makes me reflect on an issue I have that needs to be fleshed out because, as she said, we are dealing with eternity here.
     
    2. Share a fear from which God has delivered you.
     
    When I was 13 my dad died. Before he passed, my sister and grandmother snuck me up to see him in the ICU (children weren’t allowed in). I saw him lying  there and knew he was really bad off. I was afraid. He spoke to me (like Dee, not audibly) and told me that everything would be okay, He was there and would ALWAYS be there as my Father. He has always protected me since.

    1. How hard that was for you, Laura.  Heart breaking to hear that you lost your dad at such a young age.  You are a good example of one who leans on your heavenly Father.  

  12. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
    Karla’s story. What an amazing testimony to God’s power to free us from fear.
    2. Share a fear from which God has delivered you.
    Another outback story… When my first child was 12 months old, we drove 4,000 km across Australia to visit my parents. We had a 4WD with a long range fuel tank, so on the way back we took a ‘short cut’ that took us through very remote parts. It was the dry season and over 45C (that’s over 110 degrees F), but our vehicle was air conditioned. Or it was until, due to a problem with the manual choke, we ran out of fuel. In the middle of nowhere. The baby was becoming lethargic and refusing to drink, and I knew we had a serious problem. We’re talking really remote here – hadn’t seen another vehicle all day. We had put out a call for help on CB radio, but the skip was patchy and the message garbled. That’s when I lost it, and became hysterical… not a very constructive response.
    God heards our cries, and in the middle of nowhere, along came a prospector. That was miraculous. He took us to his camp where we stayed in an airconditioned donga overnight, then he helped us take fuel back to our vehicle the next day.

    1. Wow, Kerryn!  ‘God hears our cries’.…..  Such a great story of Him reaching down to you in the midst of fear and panic.  (I would likely have had the same hysteria as you did.)

    2. Oh Praise God Kerryn!!

    3. Oh my gosh! I would have been terrified! Especially with the baby at hand! I wouldn’t have been too worried about myself, but the baby – another matter. Thanks be to God for His sending of the prospector! 

  13. I’d love to join you on FB, but cannot find the group by that name.

    1. Kerryn, because it’s a ‘secret’ group, you can’t see it until you have joined.  You have to be invited (i think through email) by Renee.  She’s not been online the last few days,  but she got the message that there are new people wanting to join….so she’ll get the invite to you!   

    2. Kerryn, See post below in response to Natalie.  

      1. Thanks Renee. Friend request sent!

  14. The video worked the second time I tried it.  What really strikes me is the overwhelming love Karla felt right away when she cried out to God.  Love came first.  And after that unconditional love of God had held her firmly, she then experienced feeling the whole burden of her sin and then was set free from the guilt.  Such incredible love and mercy that drew her to Himself.  

  15. 2. Share a fear from which God has delivered you.
    God has delivered me from my fear of failure-fear to step out in faith in any area of ministry and in life in general. An example as of late is in children’s church. The first few times I have taught I felt the condemnation so I went to Him and He came and quickened me and I am learning to pray as I teach..to hear Him and to really listen to the children and let Him lead. Oh and I hate to admit this but I sooooo dislike doing crafts and we do lots of them..I really do! I am not a crafty person-those poor kids. :)) It isn’t about the crafts but about entering into their world like Jesus does-He loves children so. Yet I struggle for I think singing on worship team might have been the better choice-but God ordained for me to teach 5th grade for the summer and this morning one of my sweet 5th grade girls asked the best question..”If Jesus died for our sins, then shouldn’t they all be gone?” THIS is what I love. ;~)) 
     
     
     

    1. Thanks for sharing Rebecca. I love your obedience to the Lord where He has called you. Those 5th graders are blessed to have you! I dont know if you or Laura are in charge of the facebook group, if you are, could you invite me to the group? Thanks so much! Natalie Clair

      1. Natalie (and others who are interested), I will add you to FB group…either email me — reneeo at brookings dot net & put Dee’s Bible Study in subject line OR friend me on Facebook so that I can add you (Renee Oscarson).  I don’t have great internet access right now…so 2nd option is easier until later this week.

      2. Natalie, So glad Renee answered! Renee is in charge of the Facebook prayer group and is doing a wonderful job-it is a sweet group  and is run well!

  16. Sunday Ice-breaker:
    1. What stands out to you from the above and why? Linda’s heart to serve the prisoners and the orphans. I just finished reading Kisses from Katie who is also a great example (like Linda) loving the least of these. A few quotes mentioned in her book that I love-  “God did not ask us to help the needy – He demands it,” This is so simple but so easily forgotten…. she talked about how the Lord calls us to love others like we want to be loved. Do we want to be starving? Do you want to be lonely and afraid? Of course not, so let’s go love those who are.
     2. Share a fear from which God has delivered you. I battle an anxiety disorder, ocd, and I’m sure it seems silly, but if I am facing many stressful situations at once ,my ocd can really start to rule my life. I will double check things over and over. Is the oven, iron, stove on? Are the doors locked?  I’ll check things multiple times and rethink things over and over in my mind. It boils down to a control issue and me being afraid of making a mistake or something bad happening. However the Lord is delivering me from this and I am constantly reminding myself He is in control and holding me in his hands.  When I remember Him promises, I am able to manage my anxiety. Psalm 56:3 – When I am afraid, I will trust in you.

    1. Natalie, I have limited access this wk, but just saw your post and wanted to thank you for being so transparent and honest in your sharing, it doesn’t sound silly at all, I have a friend who also suffers with OCD  and I know it is a painful struggle. I love how The Lord is freeing you from this and will pray psalm 56:3 for you, with you

      1. Thank you and have a great vacation!

      1. Yes its on my list! Small world, I found her blog a few weeks ago and love love love it. I didn’t know they were from Katies community…how cool. I guess Sarah just moved to KC .I told my husband I would love to talk to her in person, but I know she has her hands full!

    2. Natalie, I love that you love Katie and those quotes are gems. Her life so inspires me.  Reading your answer to #2 is so relatable-definitely not silly at all. 🙂

      1. Thanks Rebecca 😉

    3. Crazy…I’m reading “Kisses from Katie” now…I started the book a few days ago and am coming to the end quickly.  What incredible obedience to the Lord’s directing she displays. 

      1. Amen!

  17. 3. Describe David’s mood in Psalm 34:1-4 and explain why you think he felt that way.
    David’s mood is one of worship and reverence to the Lord. 
    Interesting…my Peoples Bible Commentary says that “In a moment of weakness of faith, David…lost his confidence in the Lord’s protection against Saul and … sought refuge with Achhish, king of the Philistine city of Gath.  …When David realized that he had foolishly put himself in danger by going to the Philistines for help, he faked insanity to escape from them.  Through this experience David learned the truth…’Blessed is the man who takes refuge in [the Lord],’ not in his own schemes.”
     
    David is worshiping the One and only true refuge…the Lord.  David forgot where his true refuge was momentarily and orchestrated his own scheme, which was flawed, when he became fearful of Saul.  The Lord had not forgotten David; the Lord protected him and freed him from death at the hand of Abimelech (the commentary tells me that “In this heading Achish is called Abimelech, which may be an alternate name or title”).
     
    4. Think about shame you have felt.  How has God delivered you from it?
    There was a time in my life when I was riddled with shame and guilt for some bad decisions and stupid actions of my late teens/early 20’s; it plagued me.  I remember coming to a point where I was so despondent, I poured my heart out to the Lord, sharing my sorrow in having strayed so far from where He would have had me be, for all the mistakes and misjudgements…sin.  My heart was truly repentant heart.  I asked (pleaded with) Him to relieve me of the cloak of shame that I wore.  Oh…the sweet mercy of our Lord.  I can’t quite explain it, but my heart lightened and the shame and guilt left me…the cloak I put on was one of His mercy and forgiveness.  I do indeed have regrets and wish that I would have made better decisions, but I don’t ruminate on them.  When I think of them, I think of the Lord’s mercy and redemption, His forgiveness and love.  The Lord is more than all…His love is healing and restorative. 

    1.  
      3. Describe David’s mood in Psalm 34:1-4 and explain why you think he felt that way.
       
      (Piggy backing here with Nanci’s thoughtful comments) I can just imagine what David may have felt when he realized he has placed himself in a dangerous predicament. And although he came up with a very flawed way of escaping, God was merciful and gracious to free him from the clutches of Abimelech. What relief that must have brought to David’s fearful heart! Surely Psalm 34:1-4 is a heartfelt praise to his Deliverer! Many times God has delivered me from consequences of my own doing and I cannot help but be amazed by the mercy of God. I thank Him for not leaving me to my own wretched manipulations or schemings.
       

    2. Nanci, I need to read your #4 every day–beautiful

  18. 3. Describe David’s mood in Psalm 34:1-4 and explain why you think he felt that way.
    The title script tells us that this psalm was in response to God’s deliverance from King Abimilech  even though the background story in I Sam. 21 records the King as King Achish.   (one note surmises that perhaps “Abimilech was a traditional dynastic name for  Philistine kings”.)
    Whatever the details, David is writing out of an experience which must have caused him great fear.  When he went to King Achish while fleeing from King Saul, Achish’s men ‘found him out’ and recalled that he had been lauded as a great and successful warrior and was very popular with the people. David feared for his life because of the likely jealousy of the King.  So he feigned insanity and then Achish, being appalled by him, dismissed him unharmed.   
     
    I guess that whole scenario would bring about some great feelings of relief!  Verses 1-4 are filled with gratitude and praise.   David includes an invitation to the afflicted to hear his praise and rejoice, glorify and exalt God’s name with him.  He infers that he was in great peril, fearful and declares that the Lord delivered him when he sought His help.

  19. 4. Think about shame you have felt. How has God delivered you from it?    This is a hard question for me.  I have felt ashamed at times surely, when I recognize my sinful heart, and especially specific times when I have hurt someone through harsh words or actions.  I don’t think I have ever carried shame with me though.  Though I felt guilt over those sins, when I asked God’s forgiveness and sought to make it right with the person I hurt, I no longer felt the shame.  I think this is good.  But I also think that being the ‘good girl’ and not breaking the rules growing up or even as an adult, my heart needs to search harder to see where I am dreadfully full of sin and wrong.  It is there, no question…but sometimes, it is harder for me to find and deal with.  I think the most ‘shame’ I feel is when I think that other believers are imposing their views on me in legalistic ways.  I know in my heart that I don’t agree, and that I don’t need to let their judgmental words sink in, but some ‘old tapes’ in my head keep making me feel I must be the one who is wrong.  Now that I think of it, this has been a cause for shame to linger.  Especially when it is family who judges me….(or I perceive it to be that way).  God delivers me when I quote verses like ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus‘  and I reaffirm in my heart that I only need to be sure that my heart is clean in God’s sight and that I am forgiven.  My life doesn’t have to look have to look the ‘same’ as others.

  20. Good morning!  Hopping on the blog this a.m. though I am infrequent in posting.
    Dee’s story caused me to recall a very similar fearful time that I had totally forgotten, but one that the Lord definitely rescued me from.  When I was in my early 30’s, living in St. Louis away from all family, with two small boys, each time my husband traveled, I had a time of truly paralyzing fear as I laid in bed at night and believed people (crazies!) were running across our front yard.  It was so real, that I would get up in the middle of the night and look out the window because I was certain that I had heard them.  This went on for a pretty long time.  Though I don’t recall the specific Words from the Lord that rescued me, I know that was the period of time when I was doing Precepts faithfully, and I eventually was able to appropriate Scripture to this experience and the Words of comfort finally took the “phobia” away.  But what a struggle it was, and as I look back, now, it almost seems ridiculous to me.  I know God was preparing me for times of fear along the way of life.  As I place my trust in His Words and promises, He comes through — surprise!  We often worry up front about something, and I am truly learning to take the step of faith first.  It is so worth it to not allow the enemy to cause us to have the stress of anxiety and fear.
    Love Hinds Feet on High Places — need to find another copy of it and reread it — it gave me much comfort years ago.
    Love Karla’s testimony, and how she had freed herself from idols — worldly things — before she faced her death, and I am learning again from her to not fear the transition of death to new life in God’s presence.
    Very helpful words, “entering into their world like Jesus did” — so applicable to life.  When my grown kids come to visit with our young grandchildren, I can, again, almost panic about the preparation, but am learning to be peaceful, trusting God for the week, and enter into their world through lots of listening, and just being there.
    One more thing:  God truly amazed me last week.  I was walking along Lakeview Rd (in Ellison Bay, near Dee), there was no rain, and I was shocked to suddenly look up and gasped as God had “flung” a full, double rainbow in the sky — complete surprise!  Rainbows in my past have been a significant comfort from the Lord that He was with me.  He apparently knew I needed the reminder to again take refuge in Him.   : )
     

    1. Love that God flung a double rainbow in your path, Jean!  Immediately takes me back to Keller’s sermon illustration about the war bow and the depth of meaning a rainbow brings to the theology of redemption.  

  21. 1.  It’s nearly impossible to pick just one thing that stands out.  I was familiar with Karla Faye Tucker and Linda Strom and some of their stories……both are beyond beautiful.  I guess the stand out thing would be Karla’s amazing death.  Her calm, quiet assurance of soon being with Jesus…..her amazing care and concern for those left behind…..her heart for those she had harmed long, long before and who wished her nothing but the worst – and she just wanted to reach out to them with Christ’s amazing grace.  For some reason I am picturing in my mind the woman who wet Jesus’ feet with her tears in Simon the Pharisee’s home…..in Luke 7:47 Jesus says…”Therefore I tell yoiu, her sins, which are many, are forgiven – for she loved much.  But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”  So many hated Karla and judged her harshly…….but I think Jesus was saying….”Do you see this woman?…..” (Luke 7:44).  She showered others with Christ’s love (feverishly working on promoting the idea of “Faith Dorms” in prison while on the cusp of her death just breaks my heart) and she died with His Amazing Grace!  

  22. 2.  I can’t share a fear without thanking you all: Dee, Ernema, Elizabeth, Wanda, Sherryl, Laura, Kerryn, Rebecca and Natalie…..for sharing so WELL and giving God the glory!  You have truly blessed my day.  
    My fear was actually a low level anxiety that I had lived with for many, many years without even realizing how devastating the impact it was having on my life and my relationships with others.  Out of respect for a dear one in my life I’m not going to share more detail at this moment:  suffice it to say, back in April, after a particularly painful encounter and the fallout from it, the Lord IMMEDIATELY led me to pray in a “different” way than ever before…..and the peace that I have experienced since that day (in this particular area) is truly mind boggling!   The “trigger” is still VERY real and present…..but the anxiety is virtually GONE!!!!  I had been trying to control, manage, minimize…..all to no avail…….but I’ve seen again with my own heart’s “eyes” that NOTHING can come between us and the peace of Jesus.  NOTHING.  I know I’m being intentionally vague and I apologize for that…….but it has been a very recent and tender work of God in my heart, for which I’m eternally grateful.  Oh – in the two days immediately following (back in April) I had back to back opportunities to clearly share Christ with two people who just “dropped in” at my house…..two women who are each very dear to me (one I had not seen in about 5 years!) and well, the open doors were just stunning.  Did I mention that on the day I cried out to Him in my pain I asked Him to allow me to share the gospel with someone?  I just felt the Spirit leading me to pray that way…..and the answer was immediate and SUCH a “God moment”.  

    1. Thanks for sharing Jackie- The more I have shared about my anxiety the more other women share that they have experienced this too and it makes me thankful I’m not alone. It actually seems to be common.  I can relate to you about the trigger being so real and paralyzing. I’ve heard people say the trigger may not go away, but are desire to respond to it can! Thank you Jesus!

  23. Thanks for the prayers.  Got an eye appointment for today.  Still fighting the fear, but am reminded that he is in control.
    My shame – when I was in college and a part of Campus Crusade I had a friend come to me one night and confront me with the issue of my sarcastic humor.  Chris said, “We don’t know whether you are serious or just having fun.”  Right then and there, God reached me and told me that I must not ever use sarcastic humor again as it was a destroyer of God’s love.  While I would never have used it with those I did not know and love, I realized how detrimental to relationships it was.  I asked God to take it out of my life.  Now, some 40 years later, if I slip into it, I am drawn back to Chris’ question.  Did I really need to speak my love that way?  The answer is always no.  

  24. 3.    Nanci, as others have mentioned, you set this up so very well.  I appreciate that and the anxiety I was living with I could relate to the statement you quoted about “Blessed is the man who takes refuge in the Lord – not in his own schemes”……my “schemes” seemed to be the wise and needful response…..and even some of my Christian friends who are counselors advocated these “schemes”……..or maybe stategies would be the better word!   Just like DAvid found himself in a tight spot and “had a plan”!  Later in retrospect (and repentance?) David’s soul just OVERFLOWED with The Lord…..His answers, His deliverance!  What can compare??  That is how I felt!  

  25.  
    3. Describe David’s mood in Psalm 34:1-4 and explain why you think he felt that way.
     
    He sounds like he is so on fire for the Lord. Bursting at the seams and so excited to share the love of God with others because he is free. I know the feeling, when you have been worried about something and then God gives you this crazy peace about it. You become so so happy because  you don’t have to worry and it makes you want to share the work He is doing in you with others.
     
    Think about shame you have felt. How has God delivered you from it?
     
    Before I became a Christian, I dated this older guy who would pressure me, and unfortunately I finally gave in. For the longest time whenever I shared my testimony or talked with my friends I would never share that I did not stay pure before marriage because I was so embarrassed about it.  It was humiliating telling my now husband this when we started dating. Over time I realized its part of my story and good to share with younger girls who might be in a similar situation. I will admit when I found out about my current issue, one of the thoughts is this must be happening because of the relationship I had with my old boyfriend. When I shared this concern with my husband he reminded me that since I am in Christ, my punishment was absorbed in the body of a crucified Jesus. There is no more condemnation for me. God is still discipling me, shaping me, and he often uses suffering to do so, but he is not punishing me. He views me within the body of Christ and He loves and delights in me.     
     
     
    5. Read Psalm 34:6-10 and stop if a verse or word picture quickens you. Stay there and contemplate it. When you are ready, share.
     “Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” – Did this apply only to those who lived before the crucification of Jesus? Vs. 10 seems to give hope for the second part of vs 7.  I want to make sure I understand correctly otherwise my answer to question 4 might be a little incorrect. 
     

    1. Natalie–beautiful testimony of  God’s powerful rescue In your life…and I LOVE the truth your husband spoke–hold on to that!

    2. Natalie, in Q5 the verse you quoted is from Exodus 34, rather than Psalm 34. It’s good to look at what Exodus is saying together with other passages on the same theme, and come to an understanding of what Scripture is saying overall rather than just in one verse. Ezekiel 18 is quite relevant.

      1. Thanks for pointing this out Kerryn! I search passages for the blog via BibleGateway, don’t know how that happened but looks like I clicked on the right verse, WRONG book.  PSALM 34:6-10 makes so much more sense, whew! I’ll have to add that to my blonde moment jar!

  26. Feeling sort of stunned and seeing how quickly things can change.  The day began so well in every way and then presto…..email from one person…..facebook message from another…..phone call from a third and 3 hours later, I am drained and my arm hurts from so much computer time interacting with the first two.  Exhausted from carrying the pain of others which of course has overlapped into my own.  And that is good and right.  Yesterday, I recounted how God helped me overcome a fear.  Today, the fear (in a very round about way) came roaring back.  As well as another sad burden.  I shouldn’t be stunned.  This is the ‘trouble’ Jesus told us we would have.  ‘Be of good cheer, he says, I have overcome the world’.  Oh that is what I need to see … and I know that this psalm will help me see David’s deliverance once again too…… I need only to be still.  

  27. Hi all! So glad to be back, though my participation will probably be sporadic. Back from vacation 5 days ago and then we had our grandchildren arrive for two weeks on Friday. Then Saturday morning we were hit with Hurricane Arthur that took out our power for 54 hours.  Our power came back on at 1 p.m. today. So glad for power to cook food and water to wash and flush toilets. (Yes, we live in rural Canada where no power means no water.) I am back online and hope to follow along here this week.
     
    What struck me the most was Dee’s story about her fears as a young mom alone in an apartment with two little ones night after night. I am so glad God answered her prayers by studying Psalm 34. He knew she would have to spend a lot of nights alone. Isn’t God a good and practical God?!!

    1. Diane, I know exactly how you feel when the electricity Is gone and you have no water! It is tough. So sorry you had troubles, however it is during those times that we seem to have “family” time whether we want it or not! We usually play games or tell stories and that helps. Hope that was the case for you too with the little ones there 🙂 take care!

      1. Thanks for the sympathy and good suggestions for power outages, ladies. We had some good family times during this little crisis. The older boys (7, and 5) found the experience exciting and interesting. There were great teaching moments and we did spend quite a bit of time doing family things together.

    2. Part of our preparation in a cyclone warning was to fill the bathtub, buckets, etc with water, in case we lost our water supply! I think that experience helps us appreciate reliable power, water and gas rather than taking them for granted.

    3. Diane….we also lose water when we lose power.   One year, when we were out for 20 hours, (not much compared to your 54!)  I was just giddy at the fact that we had recently filled a blow up pool with water outside…..We could flush toilets!  That in itself was a relief 🙂  We bought a generator when our daughter lived at home, so she could do her respiratory therapy if we were out a long time.  I can imagine the excitement of the boys with all of those adaptations you were making!

  28. 5. Read Psalm 34:6-10 and stop if a verse or word picture quickens you. Stay there and contemplate it. When you are ready, share.
     
    “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and He delivers them.” vs. 7       When I was little, pictures of giant angels guarding the bedside of children frightened me.   I didn’t think I wanted a giant, strong man standing next to my bed.  The ones of the pretty lady angels were less frightening, but to think that there was an invisible presence with me was still unsettling to me.  But I did like the fact that the angel was there to stop the children from falling into the rushing river when the planks of the bridge were missing or to stop them from falling over the precipice when their ball had fallen over the edge.   Those were all pictures we had a home or in books that were familiar.  (why did young children play on broken bridges over treacherous water and on the edge of the cliffs anyway?  I thought.)  But now I LOVE to know that angels are with me.  And I pray this very prayer many times.  I do know though that it says, that he encamps around those who fear Him and He delivers them.”   This gives me pause.  I pray all the time that God’s angels will be surrounding my kids’ apartments (my daughter’s has been robbed twice….she finally moved) and their vehicles, their bicycles they ride at all hours of the night in the city and other places they are.  And yet I wonder….. if they do not fear Him, am I praying this in vain?  

  29. A. What is the first step leading to a “good life?” (verse 11)    COME  and then,  LISTEN  to the Lord
    B. What manifestations will be in the life of someone who has truly tasted the goodness of the Lord? (verses 13-14)
    avoid speaking evil,  speak truth,  turn from evil and do good,  seek and pursue peace
    Hits me spot on tonight.  “Lord forgive me in your mercy for the wrongs that I have spoken.  Show me the path to peace in the very difficult situation that came up today and consumed much of my afternoon.  I have spoken truth but the truth is not pretty in this story.  I need you to guide me into peace and to show me how to live at peace with someone whose behavior has been very hard to accept.  Amen.”  
     

    1. Amen.

  30. I cannot keep up much, but the comments have so blessed me! Today The Lord has rested on my heart the truth that Dee’s  fearful circumstances never changed, but the object of her trust, her security, changed, and that is what brought her peace. He is calling me not to trust in my surroundings, but in His un-changing character. After a gift of a day of hiking in His beauty, we peeked in an antique store in this little town. I spotted a pile of old piano sheet music, and on top, “Abide With Me”. I bought it for .55  cents. He wanted to remind me, all I need is to rest in Him.

    1. Oh Elizabeth…I love when things occur like your happening upon the piano sheet music for “Abide with Me”…so cool!  God wanted you to have it…to remind you of His constancy.

  31. Sweet reminder,  Elizabeth.  Beautiful, comforting song.  

  32. 3. Describe David’s mood in Psalm 34:1-4 and explain why you think he felt that way.
     
    David seems elated. He does not have fear.  Could this be because he knows God is always with him?
     
    4. Think about shame you have felt. How has God delivered you from it?
     
    hmmmm….I unfortunately have several incidents 🙁 the one that sticks out is my being a rude, mean teenager to my grandmother. It pains me to think of it. I think God saved me from it by my consistent insistence that my children always be respectful of their grandmothers. I made sure that I always treated my mom and my husbands mother with great respect to model the behavior for my children. it wasn’t really a conscientious decision to do so, it just seemed important to me at the time. I realized later that  God must have been in charge in this situation.

  33. Read Psalm 34:6-10 and stop if a verse or word picture quickens you.
    Verse 6 stands out to me because this is the exact verse I remember reciting to my son over 15 years ago as he left to go overseas for 1 year during an army assignment.  With his family settled in another part of the states, on the way to the airport he shared how messy his life was: marriage about to end, children out of control, etc.  For the first time I can remember since a child, he cried uncontrollably.  The Lord gave me this verse to give to him and I encouraged him to cry out to the Lord and call upon the name of Jesus.  I cried uncontrollably as I watched him go up the ramp to board the plane to Korea.  Although he had been taken to church since birth, I didn’t sense that he had a personal relationship with the Lord.  To make a long story short, God saved him, he was baptized and mentored while in Korea.  His journey has been a struggle, but praise the Lord now seems to be firmly planted on the Solid Rock.  As recently as a year ago, God has done a “new thing” in his heart and he is on fire for the Lord.  His wife testifies to the difference in him and although all 4 of his children aren’t yet saved, God is able!  We truly serve a mighty God!!!!!

    1. Awesome story!! 

    2. This is such a beautiful story, mrsheartsong. Praise the Lord for His rescue of your son.

    3. Wonderful story, Mrs. Heartsong.  Although I know there was much pain in the waiting, how good it is to see God’s hand.  Thanks for sharing it!

  34. 3. Describe David’s mood in Psalm 34:1-4 and explain why you think he felt that way.
    Apart from the inscription, you wouldn’t guess the circumstances that inspired this Psalm. In a way they are not important… David is so blown away by what God has done, that he can’t think about anything else.
    4. Think about shame you have felt. How has God delivered you from it?
    The shame I have felt relates to sexual abuse and rape. For many years, I thought it must have been my fault as it was a repeated pattern. The only common thread was me! It seems that my early history gave me very little protection against predators.
    God has delivered me in 2 ways. Firstly, he gave me a wonderful husband who loved and cherished me always. He has also let me know that I am his child, and he loves me and declares me clean and pure no matter where I have been.
     

    1. You have touched my heart, Kerryn.  Thank you for sharing this.  How the Lord has had His hand on you, His beloved, through the painful chapters in your journey.  

    2. Thank you for sharing, Kerryn, about your past abuse and how the Lord delivered you. Your husband sounds like a wonderful man…you must miss him so much.

  35. Oh Kerryn.  I’ve often wondered…..is there a “hardest thing?”…..the sexual abuse of a child is such a horror.  I love that you can see God’s deliverance so clearly in your life…..a wonderful husband who loved and cherished you always is beyond price…..and your tender Abba knew exactly who you needed to be your partner in life.  And now…..with the street chaplaincy ministry that you are blessed to be a part of…..you are able to pour out what He has poured into your life – namely, Jesus Christ!  Thank you for sharing that very tender story.

    1. Thank you for all the support and caring comments. Yes, there have been some tough times, but unfortunately my experience is very common. 

  36. Wanda – this has been affirmed before by others…..but I wanted to pitch in and say that in you I’m beginning to see a pattern of the gift of MERCY……so lovely.    I am praying Matt 11:28&29 for you as I type this…..that you would come (again and again!) to Jesus…..as you are weary……and get that picture in your heart of you and Jesus yoked together as you serve…….remembering that we have an enemy and are in a battle.  Our enemy wants total discouragement in our lives…..total weariness from the battle…..while our Redeemer wants us to rest under His wings and Labor under his yoke……..I remember how Elisabeth Eliot used to begin her radio program……with these scripture references:  “You are loved with an Everlasting Love…..and underneath are the Everlasting Arms.”  Be blessed this day, Wanda.

    1. Oh thank you for those sweet words, Jackie.  I so appreciate your kind heart.

  37. mrsheartsong – I could feel tears of my own welling up as I read your beautiful story about your son.  How spectacular that you have seen “the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”…….and that your son has been redeemed!!  I don’t know if you followed back a couple of weeks ago (?), but Dee led us in “praying our tears”…….which you certainly did!  Many of us here on this blog are “sowing our tears” on behalf of our adult children…….and we needed your encouraging story!  Thank you for sharing.

  38. 5. Psalm 34:6-10…share.
    “Taste and see that the Lord is good”
    This was the text that quickened me.  When I looked further into the text via my study bible, it explained that taste and see doesn’t mean “check out God’s credentials. Instead it is a warm invitation: ‘try this, I know you’ll like it.'”  Really quite incredible…the Lord is everything, all, yet He warmly invites me (His creation) to experience His goodness to be convinced of His goodness.   He knows that in experiencing Him, I can’t help but experience His loving, kindness, mercy, goodness, … etc.  The Lord always puts Himself out there for me…unworthy me!…He looks for me to choose Him as He has chosen me.  He gives me every opportunity to trust and be convinced that His will is best for me and my obedience to His will is in my best interest (for my sake).

  39. 5. Read Psalm 34:6-10 and stop if a verse or word picture quickens you. Stay there and contemplate it. When you are ready, share.
     
    Dee, you will be proud of me! If I include verse 11, I see a “back and forth” between belief and fear – relief. It reminds me of when you have asked us to analyze the lines one by one (I forget how though). Is it a question and then an answer to the question? We can remember this scripture if we remember “belief – relief.”
     
    This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. (Belief)
    The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. (Fear – relief)
    Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. (Belief)
    Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. (Fear – relief)
    The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. (Belief)
    Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. (Fear – relief)
    (‭Psalm‬ ‭34‬:‭6-11‬ NIV)
     
    I think the word “fear” in many cases here really means “knowledge of” so we understand The Lord, so we can make good choices with His knowledge at hand within us. 
     
    Yay for me! I feel so smart today 🙂
     

    1. Bravo!  Laura……great words to remember the contrast!

      1. 🙂

  40. 4. Shame is one of those words that is almost palpable to me…..to even look at the word, I can begin to feel the feelings…..ugh.  ugly and dark.  and yet…….entwined in one of the definitions that I looked at was the word “unworthiness”……which, of course, we ARE…..in terms of the gift of LIFE that Jesus bought for us with His own precious blood.  When I was 10, my parents became followers of Christ…..in our small, rural Wisconsin town, the “best” church they found was an independent Bible Church – VERY legalistic and judgemental.  Oh my.  As an unregenerated teenager, shame began to be my companion……week after week I would sit under the thunderous messages from the pastor……  and THEN…..such a cliched scenario – my best friends’ parents were gone for the weekend…..and we explored the glories of alcohol together…..WELL…..something in me clicked.  I just KNEW that alcohol could “soften the shame” I lived with constantly.  Sin DOES lie to us, after all.  It would be 20 years before my addiction to alcohol was behind me…….and if I thought that the little Bible church brought me shame…..well, that was just a warmup to the shame that addiction to alcohol would bring into my life!  I would go long periods without drinking – and convince myself that I didn’t have a problem…..but then……one drink and the walls came tumbling down.  I would drive enormous distances to go to “new” liquor stores……hide the wine in my house……ugh, ugly.  My husband and best friends swore they didn’t know.  To this day I think that they just turned a blind eye.  Alcohol consumed my life.  If I wasn’t drinking, I was thinking about drinking.  When I even begin to think of all of the “moments” that I blew through …..the days where I just checked things off my list……just to get to the point in the day (after 5 p.m. you know!) when I could begin to sip…….now that it’s been nearly 20 years since I have had a drink……I am in AWE of the depth of my Father’s grace and power!!  Repenting and turning away from my sin……and the FREEDOM!!!!!!!  That is the word I come back to again and again…….the Lord began to fill to overflowing those empty, shameful places in my heart……if the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed……and when I turned from my sin to the Son of God…….my life was transformed.  Metamorphosis…shedding the dark cocoon and FLYING!!   Remember that old song “Just a CLoser Walk With Thee”??  As much as I loved alcohol……I began to crave a closer and closer walk with Jesus…….and like Ann Voscamp’s hammer driving out the nails, Jesus “hammered out the alcohol”…….because I wanted to love Him more……
    Even as I share this part of my story, I’m seeing clearly that “other things” have once more become my idols…….my daily bowl (large) of ice cream at the end of every day in this very tough season of life…..it’s not a simple pleasure anymore….it’s a MUST HAVE COMFORT. 
    Lord, forgive me.  I need you, oh I need you.  I deceive myself again and again about my sin.  Open the eyes of my heart Lord.  Fill me with Your Word.  Only YOUR power can break the chains…….help me to wait on You……and soar on wings of eagles……may I please you this day, step by step.  

    1. Jackie, thank you so much for sharing your story. Praise God for his amazing grace in your life. It’s great to have you with us. I have been away for a few weeks and sporadic on here because of a busy season in my life, but let me say a belated “Welcome”. I am looking forward to getting to know you better. 

    2. Oh Jackie….thank you so much for opening your heart and soul here.  I know there are others who can relate to shame based, legalistic teaching at churches growing up.   I also am very interested in how the path to alcohol dependency began as an effect of the shame you felt from the church.  How sad but true that is for some.  My husband is a substance abuse counselor and professor (in both Christian and public colleges) and it is almost hard to believe how many Christians come to him for help with these issues.   I know there are people who have written books about needing to be released from the bondage of excessive legalism in their growing up years.  Most of the stories I hear are that the experience takes them far away from God.  It is so refreshing to see how your heart was changed and that you found freedom in the Lord’s mercy and grace.  Powerful testimony of redemption!  

    3.  Thank you  Jackie . You have a powerful story; it really impacted me. So happy you have Jesus and have had Him all these years! Thank you Jesus!

    4. Thank you for sharing more of your story, Jackie. It saddens me how many churches so twist the gospel and in doing so, twist the people. My family has been touched by addictions, too (a brother-in-law and nephew) and you describe so well how sin does lie to us and how it consumed your life. I have a relative now whom I suspect has an alcohol problem but won’t admit it.

    5. Jackie, what a powerful testimony. Your transparent, vulnerable heart shines with Jesus, thank you for sharing your deep pain and struggles, and His rescue. I will pray for continued freedom from the shame and an overwhelming sense of His great love for you. So glad you decided to join the blog “conversation”, you have so blessed me with your faith

  41. 5.  “This poor man (woman) cried, and the Lord heard him (her)”.  The very first phrase of this passage is where I needed to be this morning!  Poor?  As I shared earlier that right now one of the “giants” in our lives is $$s!!  So it’s very literal to me right now.  But it also was a blessing to be reminded that Jesus spoke of the blessing of being “poor” in spirit in Matthew 5, the Sermon on the Mount.  I don’t want to be materially poor – and we live smack dab in the middle of a VERY wealthy area! – , but if that is one of the ways that the Lord is humbling me that I may be poor in spirit and thus, blessed…..well, Amen.  

  42. 6A.   “Come….and listen….”  – a teachable heart.
    6B.    This is all encompassing in our daily lives.  Our words and our actions are without excuse.  And JEsus has told us that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt12:34)…..so we know that our thoughts and will are covered as well!  Phew!  Also a reminder to me that my salvation is a gift – all of grace!  And yet I am to “work out” my salvation……and it IS work some days to keep my tongue from evil and my lips from deceit…..to turn away from evil and do good.  And peace?  THAT is hard.  We’re called here to seek it and to pursue it…..none of which sounds easy!  I think of Romans 12:18  “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”   How I love the GRACE that drips from these words…..God KNOWS that sometimes others in our lives simply will not respond to our efforts to live in peace…..and yet……I need to examine my heart…..have I truly gone to the mat to seek and pursue peace?  Or have I let a feeble half hearted effort suffice?  
    Lord Jesus…..help me to live this day with “no excuses”……if I start to think or speak with excuses, please convict me instantly…..as you are SO faithful to do!  I continue to desperately need that play dough heart.  Help me first to come….to listen…..and then to seek and pursue.  How I praise You, Jesus!  Your yoke is easy and your burden is light.  Amen.

  43. Diane – Thank You!!  I was wondering where you were……as I’ve been reading over the past months (before I began actively sharing) I have been SO blessed by so much of what you offer of your heart’s godly wisdom and His Word .   It’s wonderful to “be here”.

  44. Jackie R. and Mrsheartsong ~  Thank you for sharing your stories.      So encouraging.
    Thirty-three years ago our 14 month old firstborn daughter underwent open-heart surgery.   I remember a tender friend coming to the hospital and she said, “taste and see that the Lord is good.”     I thought that that meant that if we believed enough and prayed and pleaded enough, that God would heal our daughter and allow her to stay with us.    That was the only “good” possibility I could see.    So, when God took her to heaven that week, I spiraled down into deep depression for many months………  and in that dark place I discovered that I could “taste and see that the Lord is indeed good.”  He alone is our sure refuge.  

    1. Nila….your trial is so heart breaking.  The scripture that came to my mind when I read this comment was ….’when you are tested by fire you will come forth as pure gold.’  The loss you went through has to be the severest of testing.  I can see some shining gold coming through in your words, though they have been wrought with suffering.  

    2. Oh Nila, you are so faithful. I can’t imagine what you went through. Thank you for sharing.

    3. Nila, I can’t imagine the darkness of that time for you, the pain. I am so glad that He reached down into that darkness and took hold of you.

  45. Ps. 34:7 – The picture I visualize is a fortress, manned by the forces of God, encircling those who believe in God.  They are there to repel any attacks on the believers that Satan and his minions throw at the believers.  If the believers remain in the fortress (in that place where believers have faith in God, trust in God, praise God, and seek Him so they can be obedient to Him) then each believer will be delivered from harm.  So, with this picture why do I walk outside the fortress?  What is so appealing that I move away from God and try to experience life outside His protection?  Father, keep me content to trust you  for my protection, for my answers, for control of my thoughts and actions.  Let me be your guide to others in the fortress and help me to encourage others to step into the fortress.  Amen.

    1. Great illustration, Sherryl!

  46. 6A – Listen!
    6B- They turn from evil and seek peace!
    7 – Not sure here… I guess He would be against those who blatantly deny Him, but yet He still loves them too. Looking forward to reading y’alls answers
    8. The Lord is so kind to delivery me from my troubles. He comes to my rescue. He is the ultimate Father. Because He is for me not one can be against me! My protector forever! So thankful!

  47. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
     
    At the risk of sounding like a copy-cat,  I have to say what stood out to me was Dee’s story of fear for herself and her sons, fearing that they might become crime victims.    I guess it is something that we can all relate to so easily.     Of course, it was so good that she finally conquered her fears with the help of Psalm 34 and got some sleep.     It reminded me a bit of a story I read years ago, told by Patsy Clairmont in her book, God Uses Cracked Pots.    Supposedly she and her husband lived out in a remote area, surrounded by a Boy Scout reservation.  When her husband was away one night, she got super spooked when their dog kept barking at (she didn’t know what). For awhile her fears ran rampant  As I recall she finally overcame her fear with faithl, but not before she had taken the vacuum cleaner wand to bed with her as a possible weapon!  Of course, Patsy Clairmont tells her stories in way that brings her audience to regales of laughter.   I remember how funny it was when she told that her husband awakened her when he returned home, asking “What is the vacuum cleaner wand doing in the bed?”   

    Of course, I am always touched with Karla’s story.  I first learned of it when I made a contribution to Dee’s prison ministry and Discipleship Unlimited sent me the book and some CDs, which I never expected.     When I watched the video above,  I was struck with what a beautifull person she was, and how she just “glowed.”    Certainly Psalm 34:5 fits right in here, “Those who look to God are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”  When I look at Karla,  I don’t see a murderer.  I see someone whose life has been absolutely lit up with the Holy Spirit.  

    2. Share a fear from which God has delivered you.
     
    Actually since I have been on this blog,  I think my fear of not being accepted (part of my approval idol) is being  conquered.   I have found myself having the courage to say things that I would have swallowed in the past.    I hope I am not just getting “older and outspoken!”    I feel it is a a growth in faith that is enabling me to make a stand and share more honestly.    

  48. 4. Think about shame you have felt. How has God delivered you from it?
     
    I camped out on this question because I carry some deep shame, primarily because of what has been done to me (and because of poor internet access).  I got the message “loud and clear” that I wasn’t “good enough” for God to use me, etc.  Although I challenged wrong beliefs from Scripture (and therapy), I’ve still had doubts.  The past year has brought back many memories, as I’ve seen/heard the sneers & lies told about others at work (they appear to be part of power trips to cover up errors or incompetence).  It’s difficult because it appears that people in positions of power are the ones most likely to be believed– and many twist the truth to their own benefits; in contrast, those telling the truth don’t have a whole lot of power and by the “other side of the story” comes to light, they have no hope of being believed.  What is damaging isn’t so much the stupid mistakes or even major errors, but the lies, shaming, and believing of lies that goes on to cover up the errors.  I am seeing so clearly that though I might speak truth, I can’t control lies or what others believe– about myself or other people.  Not only am I not able to control the spread of lies or what others believe, when I try to “fix” situations –even using Biblical steps, I am trusting idols instead of Him. 

    But I’m SO slow… I don’t want to look to God primarily to vindicate me & I sometimes question my motives.  He definitely continues to gently woo me to Himself.  I want to seek Him because He is good (that soaked in when reading this!), and He deserves all honor and glory.  He knows what is best.  I trust that God is delivering me and will deliver me from shame, that deep down core worthlessness & doubt.  Sometimes I expect that the inner stuff will be so painful when it is revealed, but by the time God gently, patiently and lovingly prepares me and works through each layer, I am ready (not too much pain here).  Though I have been wrestling with him and the issue of shame, I know that his timing is best and he has prepared and is preparing me to let go of all the shame — to receive the whole of the identity that HE HAS GIVEN ME — and not be misled by lies and fears.  I also am reminded not to believe gossip, even when (especially when) it comes from people in leadership positions because then I may contribute to shaming other people. 

    1. Renee, you do so much deep soul-searching and I’m so glad you share it with us so that we can see how He is transforming you and you so often put a name to “name-less” fears and doubts. When you wrote “I got the message “loud and clear” that I wasn’t “good enough” for God to use me, etc.” I thought yes, isn’t that the lie that the enemy twists like a knife in our back…as in “who do you think you are that you could do something for God; you’re nothing but a sinner and not good enough…” If he can’t take away our salvation, he does his best to sideline us.
      And this, “I trust that God is delivering me and will deliver me from shame, that deep down core worthlessness & doubt.” Yes, IS delivering and WILL deliver (you sound like the apostle Paul:))