I STILL REMEMBER STEVE’S CRY IN THE DELIVERY ROOM:
“GOD GAVE US A GIRL — AND SHE LOOKS JUST LIKE ME!”
INDEED, WE SENSED GOD’S KINDNESS TO US.
I HAD ASKED GOD (UNLESS HE HAD A BETTER IDEA) FOR A DAUGHTER,
WHO WOULD BE LIKE HER DAD.
GOD KNEW, EVEN THEN, THAT HE WOULD CALL STEVE HOME EARLY,
BUT HE WOULD LEAVE, IN KINDNESS, THE ONE SO LIKE HIM.
WHEN THIS PICTURE WAS TAKEN NONE OF US HAD ANY IDEA OF THE STORM AHEAD.
BUT THEN STEVE WAS DIAGNOSED.
FOURTH STAGE CANCER.
THERE COULD NOT HAVE BEEN A MORE FRIGHTENING DIAGNOSIS.
GOD IS OUR REFUGE AND STRENGTH
A VERY PRESENT HELP IN TROUBLE,
THEREFORE WE WILL NOT FEAR THOUGH THE EARTH GIVES WAY,
THOUGH THE MOUNTAINS BE MOVED
INTO THE HEART OF THE SEA,
THOUGH THE MOUNTAINS TREMBLE AT THE SWELLING.
MARTIN LUTHER’S “A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD” WAS INSPIRED BY THIS GREAT PSALM.
WHEN HIS FRIEND, PHILIP MELANCHTHON, WOULD BE OVERCOME WITH FEAR
THAT THE CHURCH MIGHT BE OVERCOME, OR THAT THEY MIGHT BE MARTYRED,
LUTHER WOULD SAY, “COME PHILIP, LET’S SING THE 46TH.”
WHEN WE WERE OVERCOME WITH FEAR AFTER STEVE’S DIAGNOSIS,
STEVE ASKED SALLY TO SING “THE 46TH.”
I RECORDED WHAT HAPPENED IN MY PRAYER JOURNAL,
AND IN THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT.
Sunday, August 17
Two weeks after Steve’s diagnosis
Sally sang “A Mighty Fortress” in church this morning. Annie and Beth on one side of Steve, pressed into him, me on the other. John in the pew behind with his hand on Steve’s shoulder. Sally sang it as a fighting song — I’d never heard it sung that way — I don’t think I’d ever really understood it before. I’ve heard it sung majestically, but never with righteous anger. Yet, it seemed so right. It is a call to battle against Satan and all the spiritual workers of darkness. Sally kept shaking her fist at Satan, at the “prince of darkness grim,” at the one armed with “cruel hate,” and the one who must “not this battle win.” Each verse grew stronger, and our hearts found courage for the fight ahead. But when Sally got to the phrase, “let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also,” she looked at Steve and faltered. It was too much for her and stopped, paralyzed with grief. Suddenly, and I will never in all my life forget this — Judy (the pianist) began to sing, then the congregation rose — standing in the gap for us, finishing Sally’s song for her. They are with us.
WE ARE NOT ALONE
GOD IS WITH US, A VERY PRESENT HELP IN TIMES OF TROUBLE. He is with us through His Spirit, and He is with us through His Word, and He is with us through His Body. Indeed — do we not have this here on this Bible study blog? I ask at the top of the website — “Is it really possible to experience God in a place like this?” And yes, we are finding it is. His Spirit flows through us, a mighty river whose streams make glad the people of the Lord.
There is a river whose streams make
glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High,
God is in the midst of her; she shall not
These Psalms of the Sons of Korah (42-49) have inspired such great hymns, but this one, Psalm 46, has inspired ones the Church around the world has come to love. We will sing them this week throughout our study. Psalm 46 has also inspired great sermons, and it was so hard to choose, but I finally chose an excellent exposition from an Australian Presbyterian pastor.
TIPS FOR THOSE WHO ARE NEW:
Check out the “Getting Started” page by clicking on the link on the home page.
Please share your answers to the Icebreaker, and then be concise with your answers to the Bible study questions. You may want to do the whole study on a separate document and come back and share your best. Or, you may want to share everything, but you will be less likely to be read. I leave it to you. You don’t need to read everyone’s comments — but as you feel led. Welcome!
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
Monday-Wednesday Bible Study:
Sing or listen to this with “your heart and your mind” as we are exhorted, and pray as you do — in praise, in petition, and in trust. These are anointed words and I am going to ask for your reflections afterwards.
2. What reflections do you have on the above hymn and how does it minister to you right now?
CREATION IN TUMULT
3. Read Psalm 46:1-3 and linger over the images. How is creation in tumult and why should we not be afraid?
Prepare your heart for Psalm 46:4 with this song, again, singing or listening with your mind and heart.
4. What reflections do you have on the above hymn?
5. Read Psalm 46:4-5. In the sermon, David Jackman will tell you that Jerusalem does not have a river that runs through it. So what could this mean?
POLITICAL KINGDOMS IN TUMULT
6. Read Psalm 46:6-9
A. What images are in this passage?
B. Verses 3 and 6 are a chiasm. In the ESV, for example, you could draw a circle around “roar” in verse 3, and around “rage” in verse 6 and draw a line. Then, draw a circle around “tremble” in verse 3, and around “totter” in verse 6 and draw a line. What point do you think God is making with these similarities?
C. David Jackman points out that verse 8 calls us to look at the desolations of the earth through the tumult of both creation and its peoples and “behold the works of the Lord.” This is surprising. Contemplate and share your thoughts.
7. Watch the first four minutes and 17 seconds of Video 6 in The Idol Lies series by going to this page — then share your thoughts. http://deebrestin.com/idol-lies/
8. Read the rest of Psalm 46 and find an image of hope in the midst of the tumult. What is it and why does it speak to you?
9. Think about the Exodus and how it showed God’s power over creation and over political kingdoms.
10. Watch this and then comment:
Listen to David Jackman of Australia on Psalm 46 and share your comments.
11. What is your take-a-way and why?
I have been working offline this week and have been trying so hard not to enter into the discussions here as I’m hoping to comply with your request, Dee, to not post so many entries!! Although you certainly said it so much more gracefully than that! 🙂 I’ll try to stay quiet for a few more days here…..but I did want to say that the discussions here are POWERFUL and I’ve really had to restrain myself from entering in!! So many of the thoughts shared here are provocative and have been so valuable to my processing of this week’s questions and Psalm 46. I’ve appreciated each and every one.
Mary – I just now read the article you shared and it was indeed terrific. I can certainly apply this beautiful verse in a multitude of ways in my life just now……your example was poignant and brought tears to my own eyes as I imagined you crying so loudly you were afraid the neighbors would hear…..oh how I relate!! My neighbors out here in the country are not close at all….which I have been thankful for at times for that VERY reason! Sometimes “letting go …..releasing…..” is noisy business we do with our Lord. You are so right to direct our eyes – those of us with unbelieving kids/family members – to the significance of this verse. Being weak seems par for the course…..letting go and releasing to the Lord is another matter entirely. Though why we ever resist is beyond me….?
Jackie — I don’t want you to feel restrained from entering in. To me that feels like I’m quenching His Spirit, for what you share is so good. I am not sure how to keep people from feeling overwhelmed and yet not simultaneously quench His Spirit. I think people LOVE to have discussion and you should not hold back.
Dee – without question, I’m appreciating your tender reply to me. However, I’m still kind of processing the fact that I was so blind to how overwhelmed some of our group was evidently feeling…..I was just blithely commenting away without enough regard for how “buried” some of our sisters here were feeling. I just missed that ENTIRELY. In hindsight, that feels a little selfish to me and I just need some time to see what the Lord wants to speak into my life about that. If my “leaving some space” for the new faces who have very recently joined us gives more freedom for them to share – amen to that! (see Elizabeth’s great post below) When I joined the blog discussion my primary need above all was to study the Word day by day. I also made a commitment to follow your leadership here Dee….NOT blindly, but thoughtfully! And so….I’m taking your words to heart and as from the Lord…….and it is good! You were standing up for the “overwhelmed”! I need to say that in this week I’m already learning some wonderful truths about “feeling squelched”! I’m finding that Jesus may well want me to feel a little squelched for at least a little while!!
Jackie–missing your comments!! You have a gift for bringing real fellowship–Rebecca is that way too, your warmth leaps through the computer screen! Jump back in and share 🙂
Thank you Mary for sharing that with us!
Jackie, “Sometimes “letting go …..releasing…..” is noisy business we do with our Lord.” You are SOOO right! AND…you share all you want on here! I know Dee wants us to share whatever we feel compelled to share. I think she just doesn’t want us to feel that we are obligated to answer all questions in detail and read all answers in detail. (But I might be taking liberties in speaking for her!) That’s the gist I get of it.
You’re welcome, Joyce!
I interpret it as you do, Mary. Your insights are so valuable, Jackie… When you feel compelled to share, we will benefit. A lot!
Mary — you spoke well for me. You put it better than I — thank you!
Verse 4 – I am reminded that Jesus said he was the living water, so I picture this stream as the Holy Spirit, working in believers. Thus the well will never be dry. The question is “will I tap into the source?”
Verses 6-9 – God is in control of the world and all that is taking place. There are no surprises. The key is always where is my focus. If it is on nations, wars, terrorists, etc, then I may experience the tumult. If my focus is on Christ, then even in the midst of tumult, I will have peace.
There is no one, apart from God to solve my problems and there are no answers that bring peace and security apart from God.
From what I can see in this blog, all of you who have experienced tragedy, suffering, loss, etc. are truly focused on maintaining that walk with Christ in the midst of tumult and suffering and therefore God is using you mightily as weaker Christians and non-believers watch you for clues on how to walk the walk of Calvary. My prayers are with you. May you continue to be strong and vulnerable as God uses you to win others to Him, just by the examples you set.
7. Watch the first four minutes and 17 seconds of Video 6 in The Idol Lies series by going to this page — then share your thoughts. http://deebrestin.com/idol-lies/I cried a bit when I watched the video. I mentioned before that Jobs conversation with God is my absolute favorite couple chapters in the bible. I didn’t grow up in a God fearing home my parents were young and wild. So naturally all us kids went through a lot. When I came to know Jesus I was a senior in HS and already living on my own. But HE was so kind, gentle and good in bringing me to HIM. I felt a washing come over me. I found those chapters about 3 months into my new life and I was able to take comfort and know He had a reason for my childhood. I trust God; He’s been too real in my life. Nothing has ever been perfect but HE always been true and Faithful to me.
8. Read the rest of Psalm 46 and find an image of hope in the midst of the tumult. What is it and why does it speak to you? I really like verse 10 in the Amp version iT says “Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!” Don’t fight God, let it be because He is GOD and His purposes on the Earth will be accomplished. But in all of that HE is still GOOD and His purposes are good. Verse 9 speaks of an end and we can take comfort in that also. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our Refuge (our High Tower and Stronghold). Two names of God are present. The first is The Lord of Hosts which is sometimes translated God of Heavens Armies, which makes sense because in verse 9 God is actually fighting and winning a war. The second is The God of Jacob; this name speaks faithfulness to me. Also this sounds like a chiasm. Driving the point home that GOD IS WITH US!
Nicole, I’m so glad He drew you to Himself. If your parents are still living, I pray they also will one day know Him!
Thanks and yes my parentsare both living. My mother received Jesus within 2 years of me. My parents are divorced so the relationship between my dad and I is a bit hard. When I we do speak he always says he’s praying for us. So that’s something. i hope God continues to draw him close. Thank you again
Nicole–your testimony is SO powerful! So glad you are here
Nicole, thank you for sharing a little bit about yourself in your answer to #7. You were so very young; a senior in high school and already out on your own, yet for you to discover those passages in Job and to come away with “He had a reason for my childhood” shows a lot of spiritual maturity for someone who was a very new Christian. I’m thankful He comforted you with that.
Thank you Susan
Nicole, your testimony touches my heart. My son and daughter in law are houseparents for several teens who have come from very difficult situations. And most have been really touched by God’s grace and are desiring to walk with Him. But they will soon be on their own. To see that yours is a story of God’s faithfulness and His preservation, really makes me rejoice! Your response to Him in spite of such trials, and how you have grown into such a mature woman of faith, so encourages me that it can be the same for these kids. Thanks so much for sharing.
Thanks Wanda I tell you JESUS is so amazing. That’s awesome that your kids are pouring into young people in such a direct way. Before we started having kids I worked in group homes and it can be challenging. So God bless them and I’m glad I could be encouraging.
Nicole — it is beautiful how Job helped you in dealing with a traumatic childhood.
Oh how touching the video is for “Be Still and Know that I am God!” It will bring tears! I found it difficult to understand the lyrics to the background song. I would only catch snatches, and I was not familiar with the song before. So I looked up a Youtube video by Hillsong, and it gives the lyrics in print so I could get them. Just in case, some of the rest of you are curious about the lyrics, you might want to watch that video also. The link to put in your brower is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHATCAvlqQA
2. What reflections do you have on the above hymn and how does it minister to you right now?
It caught my attention that twice we are told we have someone on our side. “…were not the right man on our side” and “…thru Him who with us sideth”. Did you ever say, “Hey – whose side are you on?!” Well, Jesus has determined to be on our side. The enemy can point his accusing finger at us, but we have One with us, who, as Psalm 139 says, “You hem me in behind and before and lay your hand upon me.” I can react so often with defensiveness when criticized, feeling like I must justify myself. But in reality, I have One who sides with me and has declared me justified – even when I mess-up.
Wonderful, encouraging insight, Susan!
Love this, Susan! You have such a great way of synthesizing so many thoughts and just nailing it.
Reflections on ‘Like a River Glorious’ I’ve also liked this hymn since I was young. (maybe partly because it has a simple composition so I could actually (almost) play it. In spite of a few years of piano lessons, I never got past a few of the very, very simplest hymns in B flat)
It also draws my mind to one of my favorite verses: Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace, him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You.”
I find the imagery of verse 3 thought provoking. Everything that comes our way, good or bad, ‘falleth from above’. I know we’ve had discussions about whether God causes or allows trials but any way you slice it, they pass through His hand. He is not surprised and He is there ahead of the trial. “Traced upon our dial by the Sun of love.” Interesting. I think it’s a reference to a sun dial. I remember one year, as a child in VBS, we made sun dials for our craft. The theme was ‘The Light of the World’. And we learned how, when the sun hits the dial at different angles, you can tell what time of day or night it is. These words tell me, that it doesn’t matter where, how or WHEN…..WhatEVER happens is traced by His all loving, all knowing hand. Love that image!
……Jerusalem does not have a river that runs through it. So what could this mean? The first thing that came to my mind was this song from 70’s contemporary Christian artist, Chuck Girard. I have always loved it and I hope it touches anyone who listens. It’s a picture of heaven and the New Jerusalem as recorded in Revelation. Chapter 21 says, ‘…to him who is thirsty, I will give drink without cost from the spring of the water of life…he who overcomes will inherit all of this…..” and Chapter 22 says, ‘then the angel showed me the river of the water of life as clear as crystal flowing from the throne…….” Can feel my eyes misting up as I read these words from John’s revelation and hear the way Chuck Girard felt them and put them to music…..Such an incredible picture of PEACE and a soft peaceful melody to go with it.
Peace in the Valley by Chuck Girard, from the album, “Written on the Wind”
I hear the river calling. I see the fountain flowing. I see the people running free. I see the city standing like a jeweled mountain and the angel standing in the sun.
The light is never ending. The gate is always open. The street appears as brilliant gold. I hear the people singing praises to the Father. I drink new wine and I taste the air.
I see the throne before me. I feel the warmth of sunlight across a field of velvet green. I touch the softness of a cloth of many colors. I see His face and I feel His love.
Peace in the valley. People running free. Peace in the valley. People running free.
Wanda, that was BEAUTIFUL! When you wrote the title “Peace in the Valley” I was thinking of some song that I think Elvis sung! This was MUCH better!!! (not that the other one is horrible, just not my style of music.) And this question (about it not having a river) is a perfect example of why I don’t answer all the questions… sometimes I have NO ANSWER! I love reading what the thoughts of others are on this,, but I drew a total blank on my own and for me, there are MANY questions where I draw a blank!!! I guess we all are created differently, with different levels of insight and understanding and even intelligence (and even thought I have a master’s degree as a nurse practitioner, things just don’t always click with me, I was diagnosed with a learning disability as a child and it is a perception issue that I really think affects my whole life to greater or lesser degrees) so for me, I am relieved to not feel like I have to answer all questions to be a part of this (though I rarely did anyway, but this makes it official!) I wish that I did have the insights and depth that you and others have on here, but I can only share what I have. And you women who have answers like this should keep on sharing what you have!
Wanda–this is so good! Reminds me some of Keith Green,maybe? I’m surprised I’ve never heard of him–thank you for posting it!
Elizabeth……Chuck Girard was one of the members of the group, Love Song which you may have heard of. He also did several solo albums. Many very beautiful songs….though he wasn’t as well known as some others.
Susan–out of replies above, but I am so thankful you pressed into Him and did not listen to the lies of fear and doubt! From what you have told me about this new job, I could not imagine anyone more qualified! Despite the “technical” parts–the following up with patients and asking how they are and their hospital experience…you have such a gift of compassion Susan–and you really listen, you catch details, you care deeply…I am just amazed at how perfectly God has equipped you for this position! What a blessing you must be to the patients. ALL of us here have experienced that kind of genuine care from you Susan!
Hold on to this–the verse God gave me for you, years ago, when I first “met” you here, Psalm 1:1-3 “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in he way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.”
You have faced SO much Susan, and you continue to each day, storms all around you, but because He is your Source, you do not wither.
I’m seeing two streams (pun intended) of thought regarding the river in vs. 4,5. I like them both and find them both comforting. I didn’t consult any commentaries or read any previous comments and went with what I felt in my heart which was a picture of the New Jerusalem and what is written in Revelation 22. Now that I’ve read through comments, I see some others saw that too but several interpret the river as the Holy Spirit: encapsulating God’s grace and the Living Water Jesus speaks of. All so good! Can it be both a prophetic look at heaven AND a picture of the Spirit in our lives now???
Wanda–I too first thought of the New Jerusalem–there was a Mike Reeves sermon we listened to that had discussed the river in Eden…my memory is not as good as Susan’s on past sermons though! But then I was so moved by Spurgeon’s notes–I love how you have incorporated both–good “stream” of thought 😉
Now I did think of the Holy Spirit, but I did not share that as an answer because I wasn’t sure if it was the right answer that Dee was looking for. Is there one right answer to this?
Well, Mary. I think you and Spurgeon (and others) were on the same track then 🙂 I appreciated your honest comments about perception issues…though I see you as having very keen perception and able to share so clearly from your heart. (also always love your humor 🙂 ) I never thought twice but that it was a reference to the New Jerusalem so I don’t think I took much time to ponder…..but after I went back and read what my study Bible and what others here wrote, I was feeling that I was the one who wasn’t ‘getting it’. I will have to listen to the sermon and read that Spurgeon commentary more closely. Maybe they explain more of the original Hebrew used etc. Either way, we know that the New Jerusalem will have a river and it will be beautiful! And that the metaphorical river that is here and now is beautiful too! And it makes us glad! I’m glad you liked the song! It always stirs my heart…..(and makes me feel young, since I listened to it in college)….Elizabeth.…I think the Mike Reeves sermon you mentioned is maybe ‘the Holy Hill’ sermon for Psalm 15. That was in my early days here and made a huge impression on me…..and now that I read my Study Bible notes, they say…”Here the river serves as a metaphor for the continual outpouring of the sustaining and refreshing blessings of God, which make the city of God like the garden of Eden.”
and apparently, that thought went right past me the first time around. 🙂
6. C. David Jackman points out that verse 8 calls us to look at the desolations of the earth through the tumult of both creation and its peoples and “behold the works of the Lord.” This is surprising. Contemplate and share your thoughts.
Vs. 8 does seem weird at first. Contemplating God’s nature and his works infuses hope into this verse. God is in control and is victorious over those who oppose him and his people. So often, I look at desolation or destruction and see… well, I see desolation and it’s frequently painful aftermath. But I don’t have the big picture. Verse 8 and the verses following tell me to “behold the works of the Lord” in the desolation. In the midst of desolation, even though I don’t understand, I am called to be silent and still and let God be God. Verse 8 paints a picture that the battle is over; the victory is won. Fighting like a crazy person makes me crazier; beholding HIM puts my focus where it should be, honors Him, and gives me peace. He has been teaching me to rest in Him rather than constantly campaigning against injustice. The battles aren’t mine to fight; rather, I can behold HIS works in the desolation and trust Him when I don’t understand (which is most of the time!).
Good timing to contemplate this question and this strange verse! I am amazed at how God orchestrates my situations and conversations and sermons in church with Dee’s questions here. I have a thick skull when it comes to personal application and change — and I have been getting similar messages from multiple sources.
8. Read the rest of Psalm 46 and find an image of hope in the midst of the tumult. What is it and why does it speak to you?
Our hope in the midst of tumult is our Lord…He is our fortress and with us always. The last verse, v. 11 speaks to me this morning. As Susan so aptly noted in a previous comment, the Lord is on all of our sides, He has us hemmed in…He “has our back” so to speak…and regardless of our failures. We have nothing to fear because the Lord is with us, He is the ultimate victor over evil, chaos, disease, and death.
My devotion this morning spoke to how we are intertwined with the Lord; the light of His presence is within us as well as upon us (Jesus Calling). Truly we are “hemmed in” by our Lord; our all powerful, all knowing, infinite Lord is present always in us and all around us, loving, providing, protecting, and guiding.
I so don’t want to quench His Spirit which I fear I may have done in asking people to “hold back.” I know some were feeling overwhelmed and now many are feeling squelched. Please, if you want to share something, do!
I so don’t want to quench His Spirit which I fear I may have done in asking people to “hold back.” I know some were feeling overwhelmed and now many are feeling squelched. Please, if you want to share something, do!
Mary E put it beautifully: I know Dee wants us to share whatever we feel compelled to share. I think she just doesn’t want us to feel that we are obligated to answer all questions in detail and read all answers in detail.
Dee–I will pray no one feels “squelched”! I am only posting less answers–one, to see if I can really hold myself accountable to finish without posting everything! That was why I always posted it all–in a weird way, it made it like class, and that helped me stay accountable to finish! And 2nd, I’ve been here “a while” and figured I should give room to some of the many newer faces we’ve had in the last year & months. But I love reading the discussions and fellowship. Please don’t take the burden that you have done anything–He will work it out
And well said mary e.!
Elizabeth – the first three sentences you wrote are PRECISELY where I find myself! Too funny……and, frankly, I have NOT done as well this week without the “accountability” of answering here on the blog….as well as entering into the give and take of the discussions – where I’ve learned so MUCH! Nonetheless….I’m seeing that as my weakness and something that perhaps the Lord wants to “grow” me in. So I think I need to persevere a bit more in that direction and just see where this leads.
Jackie–I was posting to you above just as you posted this (but the page keeps freezing on me, stuck in “posting” mode–so I start over…so if my posts end up 1000 times, sorry all!) but Jackie–COME BACK! 🙂 I don’t want to try to step in where you feel Him leading you to grow–but…I really meant it when I said you bring a warmth here–there is a “real-life-ness” (no words) to you. I met a woman named Jackie the other day at Church and said “I love that name, I have another friend named Jackie”–now if they ask how often we see each other, I might sound crazy, but–you are a gift!!And I actually have not done as well with the content of my answers either–even though I don’t expect anyone to read them, I try harder when I’ve got to put it “out there”!
I second Elizabeths’s comments! And, Elizabeth, you do what you need to as well!!! It’s all about freedom! =) Both of you post very thoughtful, insightful answers and we all stand to benefit from that!
Yes, about freedom!
Elizabeth & Jackie — Oh my, me too! I struggle with DOING the easier fact-checking questions when I’m not automatically posting them. And I have been growing through the discipline of responding to questions without posting basic responses to everything. This also helps me stay engaged when I’m not able to be “here” all the time. In that way, it takes the pressure off, though I feel more pressure in knowing WHAT to post.
But I also see benefits for newer people this way. I missed some introductory posts and prayer requests when they got buried in hundreds of responses. Also, I was at the point where I couldn’t see individual trees in the forest, and I probably missed important Bible Study responses. Now I am seeing the deeper Bible Study posts. Plus, prayer requests and encouragement are so much more clear on Facebook; because of the way it’s structured, they jump out and the responses to the prayer requests don’t bury the requests themselves. That saves me a ton of time just scrolling.
The “accountability” on the blog has helped me become more disciplined in doing the studies — and I’m praying that I will develop that internal accountability, too, because I need that to be speaking truth to my soul on a moment by moment basis. By being here, I have learned to listen to Him more closely — and I think that responding more on my own (without responses from others) will deepen my relationship with Him.
Praying that we will develop increased sensitivity to know when/where the Spirit is leading us to respond. I think we SHOULD continue to participate in those discussions in which we learn so much (but I haven’t developed a good sense of where yet). I agree that I need to persevere a bit longer this way, too; it could be the best of “both worlds” if I am listening more closely to Him and discussing when/on which topics He is leading.
Haha… Just thinking about online courses. We use rubrics for grading discussions (don’t do that, Dee 🙂 ) — and for students to get complete credit for responding to others, they have to add to the discussion (and for full points, they are “supposed to” contribute something that forwards the discussion). “Good post,” “I agree with you,” and even posting (only) similar experiences don’t count. Though we encourage discussion and a little encouragement, it’s way too easy for people to “spill their guts” in a non-face-to-face setting, elicit many sympathy posts, and then not address the question). Then the dynamics become similar in that half the class gets scared off because they aren’t able to be online constantly. When I first started teaching online, I liked the constant discussion, but now I am more happy with enough posts to answer the questions and maintain the discussion. The current version of the course software seems more like Facebook than a blog so it is easier for students to manage, as well as ignore 🙁 other posts.
I just smiled through this whole conversation about ‘to post or not to post’….And I agree with it ALL! Everyone here is so gracious. I felt the same ‘sense of accomplishment and accountability when I get my answers down in print. BUT…..like Mary….sometimes, I’m just not sure or I’m not ready to answer a really soul searching question..so I’ve had that sense of freedom not to answer too. Since my afternoon nanny ‘job’….(really, I don’t do more than ‘be there’ for older elementary/middle school kids) gives me a quiet hour to work on this study, and I don’t have a smart phone or Ipad…..I’ve grown used to working on questions off line anyway. And I’m feeling good about thinking twice what is the best of my thoughts to share. I think this all works itself out! And I appreciate all the input and Dee’s and Mary’s affirmations of how to approach it.
Jackie — please feel free to post all your answers if it helps you. Growth is what we want!
7. Video 6 in The Idol Lies
Oh this is such a good reminder—and I so love seeing you Dee! When our foundation shakes, and it will, we can know what it does not mean–it is NEVER because God is punishing us. Still, the question, “but why?” lurks. I love the dialogue between Sally and Dee—two who know suffering deep and well—‘Does God plan even the suffering in our lives?’ And Dee points to how God uses all things for good—but that ultimately, there is so much we cannot understand. We must “simply” trust in who God is. If Keller says “6” I would say I’m “3” when it comes to understanding—but I also know we cannot understand. Isaiah 55:8 says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.”
God’s answer to Job, is, basically “I Am”—He is God. The only way to have peace in the suffering we face—is to stay with Him, reminding myself of who He is. And that when I feel alone—my feelings are lying. He has promised. Never leaves me.
This is an older Keller article I refer to often on suffering. In it he says “Yes, we don’t know the reason God allows evil and suffering to continue, or why it is so random, but now at least we know what the reason isn’t—what it can’t be. It can’t be that he doesn’t love us! It can’t be that he doesn’t care. He is so committed to our ultimate happiness that he was willing to plunge into the greatest depths of suffering himself.” http://www.redeemercitytocity.com/blog/2012/8/6/4-wrong-answers-to-the-question-why-me
I just want to say I love all of you blog sisters. I am one of the overwhelmed ones. I too am praying and asking the Lord how I can continue without feeling overwhelmed. I have had a couple ministry opportunities lately that it was exactly the same feeling. I need to be asking the Lord what is causing this and what can I do to change it. It is not exclusive to this blog. I am sorry if the way I expressed myself in an overwhelmed moment came off wrong or hurt anyone here. I LOVE your sharing and encouragement. I have many good things in my life and I am asking the Lord to show me the BEST. For I cannot do it all.I think acknowledging that is afood starting point. Believing the Lord will show me. And prayingfor all of You as well.
Liz, we’re so glad to have you here. I can’t remember if you (or others) are in the FB group. It really does make the prayer requests (and the blog) easier; I was a late comer to Facebook because I had some bad assumptions. The key to survival on FB is to NOT play games and primarily read posts in groups. ok, and to not join rummage sale groups — ugh! I did it to get rid of stuff — but taking and following posts takes too long & I don’t need to be reading those — even if I got a newer iPod for $10 😉 But it is relatively easy to not spend your life on FB if you limit your number of groups. If you spend FB time in groups, you don’t have to read what people had for dinner or political rants. And you don’t share details of your life in public (unless the group is set as “open”).
I’ll be praying for your discernment (and my own) about what to keep, what to quit, what to modify. Yeah, I’m one of the overwhelmed ones, too, but modifying already has helped me begin to focus on my own time with the Lord. I’m spending about the same amount of time in the Word, but I feel less overwhelmed when I can see/find others’ responses to some questions (sounds minor, but what really helps me is being able to pick out the bolded questions so that I know what question people are addressing). If I miss a day and see that there are 500+ posts, I do feel frantic and somewhat hopeless about the possibility of gleaning any insights. At that point, my choice is between doing the Bible Study and reading posts. Plus, it doesn’t seem too healthy for me to come back to the blog or to FB every half hour or hour to check what’s been posted in order to keep up/respond! (Yup, have done that, too!) I do take time to do most of the Bible Study questions, but I feel overwhelmed when the balance between time studying the Bible and time “discussing” gets too out of whack (and as you can see, I have the gift of getting out of whack:) ). Feeling convicted now about poor time management.
Thank you. I cannot do FB, My job consists of so much computer time as is which is part of my own issue and I am trying to balance that out. I would not want to add any more. Thank you for explaining to me how it works. If my job were to change and I was not on the computer as much as I am now I may consider it in the future. Trusting the Lord will help me work it out. I just have to say I love your honesty and how you process things here. You are such a great part of this family as is everyone else.
Renee, I think you are absolutely right…it is all about use.
Liz, I too have a position where much of my day is on the computer and I do shy away from spending additional time on the computer away from work. That being said…I think it is largely about how it is managed. Similar to Renee, I do not play games on FB. The private FB page is wonderful in that it is private and focused in a manner for sisters to share prayer requests, updates, struggles, etc. Perhaps you could use FB only for the private area and dispense with all the other options.
Liz, I have been in your shoes! I’m not much of a “Facebooker” but I do believe Renee is right, groups are good! I probably log on a couple times a week, although I am realizing that real news is now on social media (compared to the regular TV news), so I have been on more than usual lately.
Regarding the questions, posts, and general comments on the blog, I have decided that I do what I can, and I won’t feel bad if I miss something. I can’t do it all, but I really want to be somewhat involved. I pray that the blog participants will forgive (and I know they do) my lack of commenting sometimes. I teach high school, so I have more time in the summer.
I know at one point Dee suggested we make our answers short and sweet so people would read and not feel bogged down with a lot of reading. I try to do that, but I also know it is difficult to convey a thought in a few words sometimes.
Hopefully, all in all, you will be blessed by what you can do here, even if it is a small amount!
8. Read the rest of Psalm 46 and find an image of hope in the midst of the tumult. What is it and why does it speak to you?
Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has wrought desolations in the earth. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire.
This speaks to me that the longing we have inside for wars to cease, oppression of women in the middle east to cease, abortion to cease, infertility to cease, sex trafficking of children to cease, killing our brothers and sisters in oppressive countries to cease-IT WILL. He HAS crushed satan’s head, He won on the cross and behold He is risen. In the future this pain and injustice will cease.
What is also a longing for me is to Cease striving and know that I am God;..It is painful with all the injustice seeming to reign in the world and in our own lives. It is painful to see so many reject God for idols of dead sticks..rejecting His majesty, His kindness, gentleness, generosity, longsuffering, His Love which is fully satisfying for dead sticks that burn up and then eat us up and destroy us. It is easy to desire to take it in our own hands and not rest in His. He is with us and this will cease. It is crucial to cry out to Him and cling to Him in these times, and encourage one another. He is God, He is with us and ALL nations and kingdoms WILL bow down to Him.
I will be exalted among the [k]nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”- THIS IS COMING!
Cease striving and know that I am God. Yes.
OH! How I needed this sermon this morning! Can’t comment now, but will definitely share later. Thanks, Dee!
Laura Dancer, don’t you wish you had time to memorize the sermon? Better yet how sweet to memorize Psalm 46. 🙂
Oh yes! I sometimes listen 3-4 times, especially when I can get it on my phone (when I run). This sermon is so good! I have really been in the midst of not knowing what to do in several situations that are stressful, and He has shown up! He gave me two “outs,” this last week. SO THANKFUL!
Here is the first…..everyone knows I am a liturgical dancer and have recently started a studio at church with another young woman. The choir director asked me if I/we could participate in the Christmas cantata, so I began trying to “recruit” my adult dance team about 2 months ago. No one was stepping up; I think people were feeling overwhelmed with “life.”
Well, I was getting nervous a couple of weeks ago, so I “panicked” and started asking children to dance! (Side-note: I am NOT a dance teacher, and have no desire to teach young children; it’s HARD!) I don’t know where this idea came from, but here I was with a ga-jillion (10 or so) kids and ME and one other adult dancer. Ugh! Plus, the music isn’t really dance friendly; kind of a medieval marchy thing. A couple more adults have shown up since, so I am feeling slightly better, but last Sundays’ rehearsal wasn’t so “hot.” God really has a sense of humor sometimes! My other issue is that I dance! I don’t march or just walk and wave banners! So, my choreography is dancy; some of the kids aren’t dancers…..you get the picture. I was starting to think I really screwed up, when lo and behold GOD stepped in! My one consistent adult dancer said, “do you want my mom to come and direct the children?” I totally forgot her mother was a local community theatre director and has done that tyoe of work for a long time! Oh God is good! She agreed to come and help! Oh! How God has blessed my dance and studio even when I haven’t been so good at praying….thank you Lord!
The second example is with my second job. I am teaching at a local community college. I have never taught that level and was nervous, but the job “fell” into my lap and I have really thought God put it there. We needed some extra money and God provided. In the last few weeks I have struggled with planning because the content isn’t my strongest subject area. In several cases, ideas just presented themselves to me that I had no idea where they came from, as one minute I wasn’t even remotely thinking of that particular thing, and the next minute I had the thought! It was so weird! Or, someone came to my rescue.
An example. I taught electricity last week (yuck, and hadn’t taught it it 15 years). My teaching friend had been helping me plan (we can be nerds) and out of the blue she says, do you want me to come be a guest speaker? I was amazed that she would step up like that! Never even thought about having a guest speaker, whoa!
Another example…. This week I was planning for magnetism and electromagnetic induction. All of the sudden, I remembered I had a COSMOS (new “Carl Sagan” series) where one show was about Michael Faraday who was the scientist that discovered electricity and magnetism are related. Literally, that idea came from nowhere!
My point? Sorry so long, too….He is always with me, ALWAYS. He is in charge; in the midst of my struggles; ALWAYS. I just need to listen and wait for Him. He carries me through. Thank you Lord Jesus! We will overcome, by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimonies! Everyone, OVERCOME!!!!
Laura! I love your enthusiasm here and these 3 GREAT examples of ‘Immanuel’….God is With Us. All so good!
Thank you for sharing this, Laura…God really does come through…He knows what is needed and will provide (like your comment for me…:) ). Your comment was especially helpful to me after an extremely busy, stressful work week that infiltrated itself into my home life.
Laura– i love these powerful stories of how God has met you in your needs! And as I read–I couldn’t help but be amazed out how our Creator has so incredibly, uniquely crafted YOU–a liturgical dancer and an “electromagnetic induction” teacher in the same being! That’s amazing! (and I couldn’t dare try either one!) 🙂
Yeah Elizabeth, I am called an “anomaly” in science….something that is out of the “norm.” I know it is strange that I dance (right brain) and have this left brain job teaching science. I can’t explain it, although I do believe my life would be less stressful if I had just stuck with dance. Science is hard for me, but interesting to me as well. My mom was a big time reader and maybe that’s why I have such diverse interests. I do believe you can do anything you put your mind to. I try to convey that to my students.
Wow, just finished listening to the sermon and the whole thing was SOOO good! I jotted down a few things that stood out to/spoke to me the most (these might not be perfect, word for word quotes, but close!):
1. “if we believe that God is actively ruling all of creation, then we will trust Him.”
2. “The first step to dealing with any crisis is to look to God” (rather than our circumstances, he gave the example of Hezekiah, with the army coming against him, bringing it before God, and God delivering in a miraculous way. That is a passage of Scripture which I have LOVED for years now. This is what God is like! Nothing is too difficult for Him! =)
3. With reference to letting fears well up in our hearts (all the “what-if’s that we can come up with) he said “‘What if’ has to become ‘EVEN IF’ Because God is our refuge and strength and we will not fear though…” He said it’s not that we won’t have fears swirling around us at times, we live in a fallen world and we are human, “…but at the depth of our being we know God’s in control.”
The were many other great points made, these were just the ones that stood out to me.
The sermon was so good. Will go back and make notes. Spoke directly to me for some ( all) very challenging situations. I wanted to share this song that also ministered to me this morning and really relates a lot to the Psalm in many ways.
Thanks to all for the words on Facebook and Laura your approach to how you are coming to the blog sounds so workable to me.
May we all dance in the river today.
So beautiful. ……thank you Liz.
Psalm 46 has been speaking to me as it has emphasized the turmoil our world is in. Seeing the great suffering to many people of the earth wearies me as I do not understand and have difficulty accepting the plight of so many. Trying to pick up the point of the chiasm I see the emphasis on God’s intervention in nature and in nations. “Mountains shake, kingdoms were moved”, but between these passages is the reassurance “God is in the midst of her ; she shall not be moved.”
That is the city of God(the Church) and the river (the broad river of everlasting love) Spurgeon’s sermon.
It seems to me that God’s love surrounds us even in the turmoil.
Watching the Video 6 was particularly hard for me. That question Sally asks is one too difficult for me to handle.
Does a good God plan our suffering? Yet after all I am assured that He knows the outcome- as Nicole shared her story.
Yes, I need to speak to my soul, Be still, and know…
Thanks, sisters , for all your input. Nanci, the sermon of Spurgeon is great, though I didn’t read every paragraph.
Some of my thoughts from the excellent sermon–
The first step of any crisis–look to God, consciously focus on Him. Do not start with me.
1. External threats–take the worst possible scenario,and put verse 1 into it–He is greater, He is in charge, He is the Ultimate. The cycle of worries and anxieties that wakes us in the middle of the night–“what if” must become “even if”. We can focus our worst fears because God is our refuge and strength, and therefore we will not fear.
Only in knowing God can I find confidence, courage, joy–to say and to live “I will not fear”. At the depths of my being, is the knowledge that He has it all. External threats, part of this fallen world–I will not fear, because God is my refuge and strength.
2. Internal confidence–His presence meets active deliverance, even though, the earth crumbles.
“The God of Jacob is our fortress”. The God who takes up sinful people like me. I could not matter more to Him than I do today–as I trust Him through my tears, problems, anxieties–He says He will never leave me nor forsake me.
3. Eternal convictions-v.8–come and understand the works of our refuge God. He has brought desolation. He has created all things. He holds all things together. He sustains. He is the only One who can bring about peace.
He summons the nations–Be still and know that I am God. Lay down your arms. Stop pretending I am God. Let God be God.
His sovereign will will be done. Even though it looks like I’m facing all kinds of problems–He will be exalted, He will glorify Himself.
**He gives me the refreshment, strength, the vitality,hope, the faith to go out into this world as an agent of His love and grace.
God is at work, to establish His eternal kingdom. But until that Kingdom comes, it will be a fallen world, with the effects of sin, we will suffer. And we will be reminded of our mortality, our fragility. Tragedies show us our mortality, to bring us to repentance and trust. *But in the midst of it all–He is our refuge and strength. He is with us to give us strength to endure and ultimately to deliver us.
10. comments on the video “Be still”
I think that the character at the beginning was Moses, standing before a huge body of water. God speaks to him “Do you trust me? (I think that is what he heard). It gave me chills when he parted the sea with the chariots of Egypt racing to catch up to the Israelites. When things look impossible, do I listen to God’s still small voice that says “Do you trust me?” Do I trust enough to step out in faith, risking looking foolish if God doesn’t come through?
Diane, So good. “Do you trust me?” That was a balm to me too. 🙂 Then His power in parting the sea blew me away. His control over creation alone is enough. God really made Pharoahs army look pretty insignificant. :)) They were coming in their pride and numbers but in one breath as God parted the sea He made it clear who is bigger and who is in control.
Notes on the Sermon:
So much and I love the notes some of you shared! What stood out to me and what He wanted me to hear is this, and it is somewhat word for word:
“The Psalmist is saying let’s Take the worst possible scenario and put verse 1 into it and let’s say “therefore though”. Even if the worst happens we are going to say, God is our refuge and strength because the world in which we live is his creation, he is greater than it, he is in charge of it, and if he is our refuge and strength then nothing that happens in that world is the ultimate. He is the ultimate in himself. We need to do that with our crisis, secret fears, our worries and our anxieties that wake us up in the middle of the night and when our mind is going round in that circle what if that happens, what if this happens, what if what if. We need to recognize that ‘what if’ has to become ‘even if’. We can focus our worst fears because God is our refuge and strength and therefore surprise we will not fear ‘though’.”
So glad you are loving the sermon!
On the video (#10)–as Diane pointed out, I too was struck by the “Do you trust me?” at the beginning. What got me was the lack of hesitance in nodding before even the words “yes”. I know He is trustworthy–and yet for as long as I can remember I have always had the hesitant fear–‘but what will it be You ask me to do, Lord?’–I know He is perfect and holy–but here is where I cling to my comfort idol and fear–‘what will You ask me to follow You in?’…which I know isn’t real trust. I have to continually go back to who He is, His character, His proven love for me, and say ‘yes’ before thinking so hard about the “what”. As Dr. Jackman said, allow the “what if” to become “even if”…and say yes, Lord
Eager to hear take-a-ways!
Tonight I speak in a secular setting and covet your prayers.
Praying for your speaking tonight, Dee. I’m curious what you are speaking on. Oh, Lord, as Jackman reminds us, we have a hope to take to the world. Give Dee the words to speak Your Word tonight to crying, dying souls.
It’s a service to thank military, firemen, first responders, police — I’m to offer a scripture, devotion, and prayer. I feel the Lord has given me something but many who come will not be believers — so I pray God will open the eyes of their hearts.
May God bless you to bless others, Dee…I too will be praying…may the Lord move mightily tonight.
That’s great, Dee! I’ll be praying!
Dee I too will be praying and just finished reading the chapter in Idol Lies that talked about A Severe Mercy. I pray you will share to their hearts directly from the heart of the Lord gospel centered. Lord thank you Dee knows your heart and she is asking for these hearts she will be speaking to. We stand in the gap for them and trust Lord you will direct her words straight to their hearts. Thank you for sharing to our hearts here and the gospel centered teaching that is changing our lives.i will continue to pray and will be praying tonight.
Praying for you Dee
Yes, prayers, Dee.
This is such an appropriate psalm for our time: earthly disasters (storms, tsunamis, Ebola, etc.); political crises (ISIS, Ukraine, etc.); personal crises for so many. What a comfort Psalm 46 is and what a good reminder is the sermon that “even if” the worst happens, God is our ULTIMATE, our Refuge, our fortress. He is with us always.
My take-a-way in a nutshell.
Cease striving and know that I am God.
Video 6 in Idol Lies series: What is sticking with me as I’ve thought about a lot since I watched yesterday, is the simple truth that when we go through suffering, it is never because God is punishing us. I love, love how Dee used her arms to show that Jesus took ALL of our punishment on the cross and then the gesture to show that ‘It is FINISHED’. That is just such a visually and audibly dynamic way of making that truth sink in to me. I don’t think I will forget that.
Side note: Of course, I went on to watch the rest of the video as I have not seen these, and though I had heard that Sally had painted Aslan….the story of the Lamb was absolutely stunning to me as well. What a magnificent touch of His hand. It reminded me of the song, ‘The Lion and the Lamb’ by Crystal Lewis. VERY powerful words…..and fits this powerful painting perfectly.
“He’s the Lamb that was slain. He’s the Lion who reigns. My Savior and King. Both the same.”
6. Read Psalm 46:6-9……reflections on A, B and C: I liked the poetic structure known as ‘chiasm’…..(which I still have to look up for more clarity) because I’m seeing the connection between both the natural powers of creation AND the man made institutions of government. They will both crumble under His mighty power and are both subject to His control. I keep thinking of the renewal of the earth and how the whole of creation is groaning and waiting and longing for that restoration. It will take desolation before restoration can come. My mind also keeps going back to the prophecies for the long awaited Messiah and finally, in a world of untold darkness, the LIGHT came and it was all IN THE FULLNESS OF TIME. (Gal. 4:4) So, it is when we think about Jesus’ second coming. All in the fullness of time……and under God’s sovereign hand.
Wanda — your replies are touching me with their warmth and wisdom and enthusiasm.
My take away–
As I watched the video, the parting of the sea, the great demonstration of His power–I was reminded of how often I feel so small to Him. I pray several times throughout my day, thanking Him, and seeking Him–but so often deep down, I feel to small to interrupt Him, too small to really matter, to small to make a difference for Him. But it ties in with a book I just started “Made for More” by Hannah Anderson. I’ve seen many books on the topic, but this one, and the endorsements, caught my attention. She says “The fear that our lives lack significance, that we are merely specks of dust floating in the massive cosmos, can easily spark the search for identity…And yet the deeper magic is that no matter how small we may feel — no matter how small we actually may be — we are not insignificant. We are not lost in the grand cosmos. We do matter.
But it’s not because of anything we’ve done; it’s because of something God did back at the beginning…Unlike the rest of creation, as majestic and glorious as it is, only men and women are made in the image of God.Only we have the breath, the very spirit of God, flowing in our earthly lungs; only we can be truly called His children.And this is why your life is significant.”
It is truth we know, but I need to hear over and over–I matter to Him, I am “unforgettable” to Him. He calls Himself my Refuge, He wants to give me strength. He fills me with the faith to cling to Him and to boldly say “even if…” I will not lose hope because He is my Hiding Place.
Elizabeth, that sounds like a great book! I agree with you that sometimes it seems unfathomable how we could possibly matter so much and yet all of Scripture screams that we do! =) There is this little child’s song from a musical called “Donkey Tales” it’s called The Voice of God and the main chorus goes. “The voice of God speaks in wondrous ways. The Word of God appears on every page, and if you listen you’ll hear the message true…’I love you, my child! I love you!” I sat in my church years a go as two little girls sang that and I literally sobbed! (it was downright embarrassing!) For some reason it was like God opened the door of a dark prison cell and a beam of light came in, allowing me to see His love in that moment. Thankfully, He has brought me into the knowledge of His deep love for me more and more over the years…but even at that, I bet I’ll still be surprised when I get to heaven and really KNOW it.
mary–you passed those tears on to me, as usual! LOVE Love the “Donkey Tales” story! I’m going to search for that!
mary–this is for you:) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrg3xTySa04
So precious! Thank you, Elizabeth. It’s so funny, when the girls at my church were singing it “in a rain storm, in the thunder’s roar, what’s He say’n???” I was literally sitting on the edge of my pew thinking..”What is it, girls???? WHAT IS HE SAYING???!!” (kind of a Barney Fife moment) and then when they got to the chorus I realized that through all of creation and all of Scripture, one main theme is: ” I LOVE YOU!!!” (And I want you to know Me!) I was totally undone due to a KIDS song!!
Children singing have a way of undoing us. I had never heard that Donkey Tales. Thanks for sharing the link Elizabeth.
#10 and #11. Okay, doing things a bit out of order! Listened to the sermon before the “still” (exodus) song/ video. That was a great and powerful video so I’ll kill two birds with one stone and make the chorus from it be my takeaway! 🙂
“When the oceans rise and thunders roar, I will soar with You above the storm. Father You are King over the flood. I will be still and know YOU are God!”
love this takeaway too mary–“When the oceans rise and thunders roar, I will soar with You above the storm. Father You are King over the flood. I will be still and know YOU are God!” Amen!
11. What is your take-a-way and why?
I have been working off line most of the time this week, and I have felt less stress by doing it that way. I had planned to get my take-away posted much earlier than this, however, but I got shoved by a district Christian women’s conference which was held today, and yesterday I had preparations to make toward that. I realize not many people will see this post because it is at the end of the week, but there is not much I can do about that.
My take-aways are two-fold. One was the video for Be Still and Know that I am God. I did post earlier that I was very touched by this video, and that it brought tears. It was caused particularly by the crucifixion scenes. I watched the video again tonight, thinking maybe I would be a little more braced and it wouldn’t get to me so much, but that was not the case!! I looked back through most of the comments, and I didn’t see anyone else specifying that the crucifixion scenes got to them. I’m sure that must have been the case, but I was a little bewildered that no one mentioned it.
My second take-away (sorry, I have to have two!! ) is the sermon. I thought Elizabeth did and excellent job with her outlined summary of the sermon. I listened the second time to parts of the sermon tonight, and found her notes helpful at that time. However, I would like to highlight a few additional comments:
“If we believe that God is actively ruling his whole creation including the details of the circumstances of our lives today, then we will trust Him. If we don’t trust Him, it is probably because we don’t believe in Him.” I take great comfort in knowing that God is still in charge!
“…the Bible is going to address and inform and challenge every part of our humanness: our thinking, our priorities, our social interactions, our behavior patterns, our words, and our emotions.”
And finally: “If as we go out to live and work for God this week, we do long and pray we will be effective as Christians in our community, it is precisely in the place of anxiety that we need to know God’s peace, and in place of fear and panic we need to have God’s confidence, and in place of what can be arid, barren duty as Christians we need to know the joy of living for God and of His love refreshing and enabiling our hearts and minds and wills.”
So I am going to ditto the ending Mary E posted, as I hope it will be my mantra during the coming weeks: “When the oceans rise and thunders roar, I will soar with You above the storm. Father You are King over the flood. I will be still and know YOU are God!”
Deanna–so glad you posted this key part of the sermon “If we believe that God is actively ruling his whole creation including the details of the circumstances of our lives today, then we will trust Him. If we don’t trust Him, it is probably because we don’t believe in Him.” Remembering that truth with the truth of His power, I am reminded too that nothing can thwart Him–and that gives me peace. I’m glad too you mentioned the crucifixion. I watched the video with my 8 year old and when the scenes came on, I felt jolted–and I confess it was so hard to watch. I felt my eyes fill with tears and at the same time I had no words for it. But I’m glad you mentioned it, I want to watch again now alone. I think it just silences me–to see the depth of my sin, the depth of His sacrifice–no words really to express it.
I am seeing this, Deanna! And actually, I posted my takeaway a couple hours after yours. I had a hard time getting to the sermon and didn’t want to write it without that input. So, a late finish for me too! I’m glad you wrote again about the video. I had meant to go back and watch again, as my first time was just before I was leaving for work and I didn’t process it. What really moves me….as well as the crucifixion itself is the breaking of the LAW….the video shoes not just the veil of the temple being rent in two…..but the structure of the temple itself. That visual of Jesus ushering in the new covenant and making atonement for our sin once and for all, is very powerful. And thanks, Mary too, for printing the words to the chorus. A beautiful song….I did not know it either.
My takeaway: First, I just have to thank Dee once again, for how well thought out and purposeful each part of these lessons are. On Sunday, when I read through the psalm, it is generally ‘familiar’ in the sense that I’ve read and heard it many times. But, with each of the questions and exercises, I start to piece together and grasp something greater than I first saw. By the time Saturday comes, I find it really pretty amazing that all of those pieces, that may not have seemed very coherent at the time of the exercise, are all making sense and have changed my heart and my mind in some way. What really thrills me, is that I am starting to remember more and more of these.
I just finished the sermon tonight, so my biggest takeaway are these points: : God is my refuge from outward disaster (I have been feeling very overwhelmed by the enormity of ‘problems’ lately….in the world at large (the horrific pain and injustice that we are confronted with on a daily basis) and in people I love and those around me. (car accident on icy roads that caused massive head injuries and left comatose an 18 year old girl/ basketball player from a neighboring town recently greatly tugs at the heart of this ‘basketball mom’ as well as so many, many other things that have come to my attention even this week). Yet GOD is a REFUGE. And he is my REFUGE from inner despair. I began on Sunday, sad and feeling very low primarily because of about 5 nagging health issues which have almost all intensified lately…..and knew that I had to yet again, go back to seek medical help and advice for them. Nothing life threatening, but very chronic and interfering a lot with daily life and stamina. It came to a point where I was feeling inward despair. But it began to lift as sisters from this blog as well as some of my local friends prayed for me. After a couple of medical appts, I have some direction and feel more hopeful, but the point is, that GOD is my REFUGE not just in the ‘what ifs’ but in the ‘even ifs’ as Pastor Jackman stated. AND God is my REFUGE eternally. My convictions, the stability on which I place my trust does not change. Because He doesn’t change. And my faith and Christianity must be the same when I’m ‘in church Sunday morning’ (or on this blog throughout the week) as when I am anywhere my life takes me during the week. “We either know this and act on it, or we become christianized atheists who have a theology in our heads which doesn’t translate to our lives” (Pastor Jackman). I also loved the reassurance that in the midst of catastrophe, anxiety, despair….God does not have to ‘take back’ control. He has never had his hands off the controls!
My take away. Well this message has come to me this week from two different sources and that is Stop pretending to be God. Be Still Let God Be God. We need to put our “what if” to our “even if” If we are not trusting Him then we do not really believe in Him!!!!! Gods hands are never off the controls. How we can forget that sometimes when we are in the midst of the tumult, but how important and what a difference when we do not.
I have to add the sermon this week was so simple and so powerful. I will add it to a personal file to go back to. I could also not but think how appropriate of a preparation this week has been for you to be speaking in the setting you were tonight. I do pray and believe the Lord used you mightily.
David Jackman doesn’t sound Australian… but then many Australians didn’t start out here. Many different accents here.
Thank you all for your prayers — it did go well — and some wonderful contacts with those who don’t know Him but seem open.
My take-away is verse 10! Yes, be still and know that I am God. I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth!
Even during personal difficulties, and national tragedies and natural disasters, all is in God’s hands. A great week of study and I am thankful.
3. Read Psalm 46:1-3 and describe the scene and yet, the hope.
I love this passage because there is no glossing over or candy coating, pain and real tribulation is acknowledged—we are certain to experience it. And yet, God is not up above in a far away place, looking down and waiting for us to come to Him to experience peace in Heaven, one Day. As true as that Day is, He is with us NOW. He is present IN our affliction. He gives us strength, He provides us protection. This passage makes it clear that no matter how frightening the circumstances or how alone we feel—God is telling us that He is not punishing us, and He is right here in it with us! If I meditate on this, let it sink in, it silences the enemy’s whispers that God is angry with me or just doesn’t care. I see the times He has so faithfully been present before, carried me, and even when the “worst possible” did seem to happen—He stayed. He is unshaken. I want to be in the arms of the One who cannot be swayed by the greatest of tsunamis.