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Heavy DownpourWhen sorrow comes

pouring into your life,

and it will, you may not know the reason why,

but you can be sure the reason is not that God doesn’t love you.

Only Christianity has a God who entered into our suffering,

who went all the way to the cross for us, and

who weeps when we weep.

Beginning in John 11, a chapter filled with such sorrow and joy,

Jesus makes a deliberate turn toward the cross,

knowing that raising Lazarus from the dead will surely lead to His own death.

This is such a familiar passage, but I saw new things this time, truths I need to speak to my soul, and I believe you will be so strengthened too.

ON WEEPING AND LOVEJesusNoVineA key difference between religion and the gospel

is shown in how we approach suffering.

Religion The Gospel
When circumstances in my life go wrong, When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle,
I am angry at God or myself, since but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that
I believe that anyone who is good while God may allow this for my training, he will
deserves a comfortable life. exercise His Fatherly love within my trial.

This understanding is key to a gospel-transformed life and is so beautifully illustrated for us in this chapter. This understanding rescued me and my children when my husband died.

When the enemy crawled up to my window and whispered:

You deserve this Dee, you are such an idiot.


I was able to slam that window down on his slimy fingers with

the gospel truth, which I knew, but needed to tell my soul again:

“When a Christian suffers, it is never because God is punishing him because Jesus paid for his sin IN FULL at the cross

and it is FINISHED!”





(JOHN 11:5)












Sunday Icebreaker

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

2. Think about suffering you are facing or have faced. Do you believe Jesus loves you and never lost control? If you do, why do you believe that? Or you may want to say, “Lord, I believe — but help my unbelief.” That is a prayer He hears.

Monday-Wednesday Bible Study

Prepare your heart with this: 



Read slowly John 11:1-16

3. What suffering has come into the lives of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary? And what rock solid truth are we told in verse 5?

In the ESV, we see a startling “so” 

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

4. What does this So, teach you?

5. Why don’t his disciples want him to go to Judea? And why do you think He has set His face like flint to go anyhow?

6. What does Jesus say in verses 9-10?

While Jesus’ words in verses 9 and 10 seem cryptic, David Jeremiah explains that we must walk by a different light source than natural light. What seems to make no sense by human wisdom, makes sense in God’s wisdom.

7. What in your life right now may not make sense, but which you are willing to lay at Jesus feet?

8. What does Jesus tell his disciples in verses 14-15? Comment.

Read John 11:17-27


9. What question does Jesus ask Martha when she comes to Him in her grief? (verses 25-26) And how does she respond?

10. How does this apply to you in any suffering you are facing?

I personally believe that this is when Martha’s control idol cracked. She could not control her brother’s illness. She had to submit to the Lord and she did it before she saw Him raise Lazarus from the dead. By faith, she believed He loved her and that He was in control — for He was the GREAT I AM.



11. Read John 11:28-37

A. What do you see in Jesus in verses 33-35?

B. What contrasting responses did those watching have?

C. Which response was walking by natural light, and which by the light of God?

12. How might you thank Him for all things now, by faith, before He overcomes?



13. Read John 11:30-44

A. What evidence can you find that Martha is really going to be astounded?

B. How do you think you would have felt if you witnessed this?

C. Share a time when God astounded you (be brief so we can read!)

D. What pain or illness in yourself or someone you love do you know one day will be overcome?

14. What, according to John 11:57, did this miracle lead to?

Listen to Matthew Smith sing ‘O Lord, Comfort Me” and comment on how Christ’s agony can comfort you. http://matthewsmith.us/videos

Thursday-Friday: Free Tim Keller Sermon “The Furious Love of Jesus”

The Furious Love of Jesus

15. Share your thoughts on the above sermon.


16. What is your take-a-way and why? 

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  1. DESPERATE prayer need AND answer to #7
    Wow, wouldn’t you know that as soon I make statements on this blog about thanking God FOR all things something would happen this very week to challenge that?!  I went for a routine, annual eye exam today (I am very nearsighted) and the place I go to does this picture of your retinas.  Well…as the doc looked at mine and compared them with last years she said, “I don’t want you to get upset, but I see something pretty concerning on your retina.”  I said, “does it look like I’m diabetic?”  She said, “no, it looks like your breast cancer has metastasized to the retina of your left eye.”  Well, I did get upset, I started crying right then and there.  She ended up dilating that pupil and calling in another doc to look at it and they both agreed it looked very concerning.  They made me an appointment with a specialist for next Wed.  I was so upset (and not seeing well from the dilation) that I was afraid to drive myself home so I called my parents and they came and my dad drove my car home while my mom took me home.  They stayed with me for several hours.  I felt so scared of this happening and of what they might propose doing to address it.  It wasn’t until after my parents left and I thought of coming onto this blog to ask for prayer that I remember my answer to Sunday’s questions.  It was like the Lord brought it to mind and said, “Are you going to thank Me for this and trust Me with it?”  Wow did that catch my attention!  So I said, “God, thank You for this eye issue, even if it is cancer, for however You will be glorified in through this” and before I could even finish that sentence I sensed that God was saying to me “And I WILL be glorified through this.”  Oh I would love prayers from anyone who sees this that we could all see how God is glorified through this.  And prayers that He will be near to me, comfort me, and strengthen me in the TRUTH so that I will not fall pray to the enemy because one of my very first thoughts, though I KNOW He loves me was, “Is this a punishment for not working?”  I have not worked in 8 months due to the bone metastasis and not being able to lift over 10 pounds and also being very fatigued but at times I have felt really guilty about that and thought maybe I should work in just anything I could possibly find to do and I have pursued some positions but nothing has worked out but I have not pursued “just anything” and sometimes I wonder if I should.  Anyway, so one of my first thoughts was “is this a punishment?” and then I thought of how this very blog applied to that as well, with Dee affirming that God does not punish you if you are His.  Okay, that was very windy, sorry.  And thank you all for your prayers.  I’m sorry to be shifting the focus in this way too often.  

    1. Mary – I just want to get in my car and drive to Ohio.  I am devastated to hear this report and just know that the gates of heaven are going to be stormed with prayers for you.  Why does that sound so anemic – “I’ll be praying”. ?  Oh, but how He met you already in this – that you heard Him speak such peace to your soul….that sweet assurance that He will be glorified in this.  I’m renewing my prayers for your precious parents too Mary. I really can imagine their heavy hearts and fears tonight.  I’m so grateful they were there for you today.  I pray that you will be able to soak in His truths that will sustain you in the deepest, thirstiest nooks and crannies of your being.  We can say with Peter…..”Lord, to whom shall we go?  YOU have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68).  Praying….praying…I love you.

      1. Oh Jackie, thank you so much for your prayers, AND that verse you quoted at the end of your post is one of my VERY FAVORITE VERSES OF ALL TIME!!!!  I have had it written on the inside of the back cover of my Bible for years now!  Your quoting of it is a little gift from God. And thank you for praying for my parents.  Sometimes I feel so bad for them and wish I didn’t have to involve them so much, but I am single so I involve them an awful lot. 🙁

    2. Mary, I am SO sitting shiva with you right now sister…..You are HIS and are a beautiful testimony to all of us, all the time. No, He is NOT punishing you. He loves you. Of course it would be hard to work with all you have been through this year, and He would want you to take care of yourself! And yes, He is always glorified and the enemy is thwarted! I will pray for you to be strong….Joyce gave me this verse to say over and over during my radiation:
      Isaiah 41:13 New International Version (NIV)

      13 For I am the Lord your God    who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear;    I will help you.
      I would put my name in after “God.” It meant SO much to me. 
      Love and hugs (( )) to you!!

      1. Laura, thank you so much!  I will speak that verse to myself over and over.  I wish I could see each one of you this very moment!  Hugs all around.

      2. Laura, that’s an incredible “kiss from the King” that you just shared with Mary….from BOTH you and Joyce.  Beautiful. 

        1. 🙂

    3. Mary ~
      Wish we could huddle around you right now.  We will come together right here, though.  The Lord knows how desperate we can feel.  He knows how fragile we are.  Lord, we are two or three gathered from all these miles apart,  with You in our midst, asking you for mercy and comfort.  Even tonight.
      We are stretcher-bearers bringing our Mary to you, Lord.   No where in scripture did you deny mercy when someone asked.  So we come asking.

    4. Mary ~
      Wish we could huddle around you right now.  We will come together right here, though.  The Lord knows how desperate we can feel.  He knows how fragile we are.   Lord, we are two or three gathered from all these miles apart,  with You in our midst, asking you for mercy and comfort.  Even tonight.
      We are stretcher-bearers bringing our Mary to you, Lord.   No where in scripture did you deny mercy when someone asked.  So we come asking.

    5. Mary I just read this, I’m covering you with prayers. Don’t apologize, we are here for just this reason. And please don’t think that because you made a bold statement about thanking God for everything that somehow that brought this about. God knew this was coming and he was preparing you for it and for his purpose and glory. Stay strong. Love you!

      1. Amen! to Dawn’s words

      2. Laura, Dee, Dawn, Thank you all so much for your prayers.  I just googled and read about this and if it truly is metastasis of the breast cancer to they eye they typically do radiation to that area.  The article said “prompt treatment is necessary for the preservation of vision.”  I’m crying  right now, scared about all the scans, etc.. b/c I’m so claustrophobic  and yet on the other had I keep feeling comforted and hopeful.  (going back and forth.)  

    6. I am in ohio and I just want to come giveyou a huge hug! Praying for you in this. I have a dear friend who is at cancer treatment centers right now, she was told 6 years ago that she has 6 months…..Lord jesus please wrap your arms around mary like so many of the women on this blog wish we can do right now, comfort her and give her peace that passes all understanding…we pray for healing

    7. OH MARY. I have no words, I LOVE YOU and I AM SO SORRY. And I will continue to pray through tonight, tomorrow..and beyond–just keep lifting you up my dear sister. Lord, we beg You for mercy. Wrap Your arms so tight around Mary, Lord, she is Yours, You love her so, thank You for her, Lord, that You for her trust in You. I ask that You would intervene and heal, Lord. We have no where else to go but to Your feet. We lift up dear Mary to You, be glorified, Lord. Thank You that You hear, You are near, and You weep with us for her pain. Lift her head, Lord. 

    8. Oh Mary, PRAYING PRAYING PRAYING for God’s strength, blessing, comfort and courage for you — for His Glory.   John 11:5 ff is flashing through my mind:”Now Jesus loved Mary. So…” Praying for He will encourage you, guide you with His light, give you His vision.I’m so very sorry. Posting anything right now feels inadequate — will pray because He is more than adequate.

    9. Dear, dear Mary,   I’m stunned by your news and would you believe, I was just about to come to the blog (and would have found this earlier this eve) when I got a call from my best friend from high school who has just been dx with breast cancer.  She got biopsy results yesterday so we talked about what’s next for her.  And then to hear of your urgent need.  You are such a reflection of God’s glory here and to read that you have already been assured that He will be glorified in you.  Yet, we pray for your peace and for God to heal your heart as well as your body.    “I am the Lord,  Mary’s God, who takes hold of Mary’s right hand and says to Mary, ‘Do not fear. I WILL help you'”  Isaiah 41:13   You may have heard me share this before, but long before I was on the blog and had never met Joyce or Laura, I was here in Minnesota having my 4 cancer surgeries and that is the exact same verse that I wrote out on an index card and said to myself over and over before each of my surgeries.  I would always visualize Jesus holding my right hand, while the anesthetist started the IV in my left.  Then 9 years later, I come here and see Laura encourage others with the verse that Joyce had given her and gave to you tonight.   What a sweet sisterhood we have.  We are all holding you up.  And I know we all wish it was face to face.   My love to you too, Mary.   Praying praying.   ‘Lord give Mary that embrace tonight, that we all want to extend to her.  May she rest in your unfailing love.”  

      1. We are connected through Him and His words….isn’t that cool?

    10. Oh, Mary, I am so sorry. No words really. Your witness in turning to the Lord in this is a great glory to Him. Be assured of my love and prayers – for you and for your parents. Lord, have mercy!

    11. Mary, I am praying with our sisters . Father, May you touch Mary and let her know just how much she is loved and may this new concern be used to bring
      your glory into her life, the glory of your love and of your lordship. We love her and are thankful for all she has given to us: her love, her hope and her sharing
      mean so much to us. Surround her parents also with your tenderness.

      1. Cyndi, Diane, Wanda, Shirley, Elizabeth, and Renee, thank you all so much!  My heart is so encouraged by you sisters in Christ.  I think I’m going to try to go to bed soon b/c I’m so tired and I just pray that I can sleep and rest in Him.  

        1. Mary Praying for you. You have so been on my heart.

    12. Mary, praying for you, sweet sister. I pray Zephaniah 3:17 for you-The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love… Here is a song for you if you have time to listen. It is by Mandisa https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3CVlv2dz3w He is with you. “we may weep for a time but joy will come in the morning…”

      1. Just listened to this song this morning, Ernema…really beautiful, brought tears.  Thank you for sharing.

    13. The Lord knows how desperate we can feel and how fragile we are. Wish we could all just huddle around you, Mary,  right now.
      But we do right here. Lord, we are two or three gathered here in your name, asking for mercy and comfort. We are stretcher-bearers bringing our Mary to You.

    14. Oh Mary-e…I don’t know what to say…I am so sorry for this news.  I have been praying for you and will continue. 
      My thoughts are turning to how you are glorifying your Lord and don’t even realize it.  When I read how you turn from fear to the Lord and listen for His whisper, how you give way to whatever the Lord’s purpose might be in your circumstances rather than allowing fear to overtake you, etc. etc…..you are a witness of exactly what we have been studying; you are demonstrating trust, obedience, and humility.  Your presence provides us all with SUCH a gift…praying for you, dear Mary. 

    15. Mary e. – I am not good at words, but please know that you are and will continue to be in my prayers.

    16. Mary,   you might know that if I fail to get on the blog one evening,  I miss something important like your prayer request post.    I am horrified along with you.   I am diabetic, and , like you,  am always fearing the ophthalmologist will see signs of diabetes in my eyes (which hasn’t been the case yet).   Who would even suspect that breast cancer would come back in your eye?!    I am and will be praying hard for you!     I am also from Ohio (northwest), and I am wishing like others that we could get together and give you an enormous group hug!    Love you, and I am trusting that God will be glorified through this new struggle you have encountered.    

      1. Deanna, Jill, and Nancy, thank you so much for your prayers  I have really felt very lifted up today.  Deanna, Dee is speaking in Ashland, Oh in April.  I am still hoping to go.  You can look at the details of the event by clicking on the “speaking” link at the top of the website and then click on upcoming events.  If you think you maybe could attend then perhaps we could figure out a way to meet there!  I would love to meet others there as well, if anyone can go.  I live about an hour and a half drive away from there (south of Columbus) but that’s not too bad.  

        1. Mary,   Strangely when I click on “Speaking”  it does not show any speaking events.   So I wasn’t able to see any details about the April event in Ashland to which you were referring.   

    17. Mary, I am praying for you as you face the retina issue.  I concur, God will be glorified through this and He will use your testimony to draw many to Him.
      Lord, Be with Mary and her family, and her doctors as she faces this new situation.  Give her comfort and peace.  Wrap your arms around her securely so that she constantly senses your presence with her.  Enable her doctors to “see clearly” the problem and give them the skill to deal with it.  Help her focus on doing your will as she progresses through this situation and relies on you for guidance and direction.  Amen.

      1. Thank you for this prayer, Sherryl, and Amen!

  2. Next week will mark 4 years since my 17 year old niece was killed in an accident near my house. I can’t imagine that I’ll ever say thank you for taking her from us, but knowing that she is in heaven with him, I guess I can say thank you that she is there and that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no place she’d rather be.

    1. Dawn, it is so hard for us to lose loved ones. I am thinking of you as you contemplate the tragic events 4 years ago. So glad she knew our King.

    2. Dawn – these anniversaries of loved one’s deaths are no small thing.  and 17 is very different than 90…..always tragic for those left behind.  you have a supernatural comfort in knowing where she has been dwelling for these years even as your family walks in sorrow.  to know you will be with her for eternity is SUCH a gift!  As Andre Crouch used to sing so well – “Soon and very soon we are going to see the King!”.  thanks for sharing your heartache with us though, Dawn.  I’m thinking of Psalm 50:14…”Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving.”  this is one of those places where thanksgiving IS a sacrifice.  

    3. So heart breaking to lose one so young.  Yet, encouraging to contemplate as you have done, that there is no where she would rather be.  Bless you, Dawn….and your loved ones as you grieve her loss on this earth. 

    4. Dawn–this says so much about where He has brought you and your deep growing trust in Him. I know the pain is still so deep, but the peace you speak of is such a testimony of your continuing to press in to Him with your heart break

    1. Thanks for that update about Phyllis.  We are praying.

    2. Dee, she was in my prayers last night and will continue to be today.

  3. I just googled the driving distance from me to OHIO–I could be there in 9 hours and 1 minute Mary! OH I would in a heartbeat if you let me, but know that as Jackie said “the gates of heaven are going to be stormed with prayers for you” and as Laura so beautiful said, you are such a beautiful testimony to all of us!

    1. 🙂  Elizabeth, maybe one day soon we could split the difference and meet halfway for a lunch!  I was so hoping to see Dee when she comes to a grace brethren church in Ashland, OH in April.  I hope I still can make it.  I would love to meet so many on this blog in person!   I should know more about all this by next week.  I have this hope that they will not be able to find anything when the specialist does her own scans and pictures.  I’d love to hear “We are not sure what was showing up in that retina but it’s totally normal now!!!” 🙂  But even if I don’t hear those words oh I pray God will be glorified through this either way and I know He will. 

      1. Out of curiosity, I looked it up and I am only 3 1/2 hours from Ashland. Maybe I’ll go in April. 🙂

        1. Dawn, that would be great!  

        2. 9-10 hours for me depending whether I go through Chicago or Rockford…:)

      2. I posted this earlier and it disappeared into cyber – space….
        I am only 11 hours away! That is nothing when you live in Texas half your life…..My son will be attending a college in Pennsylvania which is only 3 hours from you!

        1. Okay, that sounds perfectly reasonable, I expect to see all of you there! =)  

  4. What does the SO teach you?     Was working through these off line this afternoon and then came the news of Dee’s dear friend, Phyllis,  and then our own dear sister Mary’s new and intense trial and news of another close friend here just beginning her cancer journey.   I decided to write what had been impressed on my heart earlier.  “Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus…..SO…..”   The ‘SO’ means that He already had a plan.  He did not react hysterically or impulsively or even rush to their side with healing or comfort when he heard the news that Lazarus was very sick.  His thoughts are higher than ours.  His ways are inscrutable and past finding out.  BUT in spite of all the questions and the wondering about why Jesus wasn’t immediately at their side, the one rock solid, indisputable fact is that Jesus LOVED them.   Lazarus died.  But it did not surprise Jesus.  Nothing surprises him.  I read today “There is no panic in heaven….just plans.”   Jesus knew the Father’s plan.  And in the right time, He came to his friends and renewed their joy and hope in an overwhelming way.  He acted the way he did because He KNEW.  

    1. Wanda, yes, thank you for this. It is a continuation of what God has been showing me. “He acted the way he did because He KNEW.”

    2. Wanda! This is SO good! He had a plan, no hysterics, no jumping in without thinking! Love this!

  5. Wanda, thank you for your thoughts on “SO”. There is no panic in heaven…just plans. Jesus loves. He acts the way He does because He KNOWS. And isn’t this enough, O my soul?

  6. 11. Read John 11:28-37
    A. What do you see in Jesus in verses 33-35? Compassion. The text indicates that He is weeping because Mary, and the Jews who had come with her, are weeping.

    B. What contrasting responses did those watching have?
    Some saw that He loved Lazarus and was moved at his and his family’s suffering. They saw His heart. Others were focused on avoiding bad things in life. Looking instead for a Messiah who would give them what they expected – a life free of difficulty – when the Messiah, instead, offered love and compassion in a world with certain frustration. I have been blessed by the sentence, “…He will exercise His fatherly love within my trial.” The phrase “protected by God” is taking on new meaning for me.

    C. Which response was walking by natural light, and which by the light of God?
    Walking by natural light is the response of “Why couldn’t You make this better, Lord?” It shows earthly perspective and human goals. A response in the light of God sees the situation different and see His compassion and love. A response in the light of God is motivated by trust in God.

    12. How might you thank Him for all things now, by faith, before He overcomes?
    In my prayer time yesterday God showed me that while I have been coming to understand Him and suffering more, and trusting Him more, I was only applying this to the time period in which He had been opening my eyes, new trials that would come in. Yet things from my past still don’t make sense to me and I lament them, in an “if only” sort of sense considering them “wrong turns” or “mistakes.” And while some of them were mistakes (disobedience or decision by fear) I can now see clearly that God allowed them for my good. This is my path. This is where He wanted me. And so yesterday I gave thanks for those things in my past, I do not yet see Him overcoming those mysteries or residual hurts and difficulties but I see that the path is congruent, not smooth, but congruent and He is faithful and Good through it all holding my hand and continually “exercising His fatherly love within my trials.”

  7. My heart is still heavy for you, mary, this morning. I was praying through Psalm 27 and found it a great comfort. Also, I wanted to give you a version of Psalm 27 in song, “The Lord is My Light”. This one is a classic but there are many other newer tunes to Psalm 27 as well. God is with you today.

    1. Thanks Diane.  It’s so good to have Scripture set to music.

      1. Mary,
        You continue to be on my heart today.
        I found this old hymn (set to new melody) by Martin Luther this week.   Been learning it on my guitar.   Deep encouragement.
        The third verse has these lines:
        Therefore my trust is in the Lord,
        And not in mine own merit;
        On Him my soul shall rest, His word
        Upholds my fainting spirit;
        His promised mercy is my fort,
        My comfort and my sweet support
        I wait for it in patience…….

        1. OH NILA! One of my very favorite Indelible Grace hymns! I will sing it for Mary too! Love imagining you playing it on guitar, would love to hear you 🙂

  8. 7. What in your life right now may not make sense, but which you are willing to lay at Jesus feet?
    Sarah, my daughter.
    8. What does Jesus tell his disciples in verses 14-15? Comment.
    He says that Lazarus has died, but it is for good, so they might believe in Him. He was going to raise Lazarus which would surprise the disciples and ensure their trust and belief in Him. I know I would be surprised if someone did that with me present. I might be a little scared as well. And I would sure believe in Him too!
    9. What question does Jesus ask Martha when she comes to Him in her grief? (verses 25-26) And how does she respond?
    Jesus asks Martha is she believes that anyone who believes in Him, even though they die, will live, and those who live and believe in Him shall never die. She responds in affirmation that she does believe He is the Christ, coming into the world, and He is the Son of God.
    10. How does this apply to you in any suffering you are facing?
    I am the living who believe in Him. This means I will never “die.” He is in control, and that includes the suffering on earth that we go through. I guess that means I am relieved of the suffering if I know He is in control, and I can think that way, but Sarah still is who she is and is making choices that she is making and living the awful life she is living. So, I’m relieved, but she in reality (in the back of my mind) is not. Am I to just forget what is going on in her life? I am trying to do that; not linger on those thoughts, but that seems sad too, like I am not caring about her changing her ways. It’s confusing because it seems like I am the one who benefits (because I know Jesus) and she doesn’t get the benefit. I don’t really know what I mean here! It’s like I am being selfish in not “worrying/helping” her out. But…..Lazarus benefitted because Martha believed????? Now we are talking! Hmmmmmm……I need to go think about this.

    1. Laura I think you got it in that last paragraph. Not focusing on our loved ones being in places that we are pained to see them in and focusing on the Lord and knowing He is in control does NOT mean we do not care. You absolutely do,! BUT we can know God is in control and not let our spirits sink. It is a powerful testimony of the strength the Lord provides and our belief He has it under control when it appears to be out of control. That is faith! I understand completely your thoughts there. And it was very neat to see you write them out and it seemed as if you were gaining that understanding. 

    2. Laura.   I just read this and I DO understand what you meant when you said ‘It seems like I’m the one who benefits…..and it’s like I’m being selfish if I don’t worry/help her out’  I have these same feelings a lot. Have been feeling them acutely today again.   I really like Liz’ answer and know that is true.  I also just wanted you to know that I feel as you do many times.  No matter how you slice it, it’s hard to want a different life for your child.  And if we want them to live in peace with the Lord and follow him, how could we want anything more or better?  We just keep praying and trusting.  And lifting each other up.  ‘Lord you have the words of eternal life.  To whom else can we go?’    

  9. 11. I’m strbyuck at how different the response was from people in vs. 36 and 37! So much like us! Some of us look at HIS compassion for us within our pain….we see HIS tears. Others get angry because HE does not stop our suffering…most of us land in both camps at different times in our lives.
    I’m struck  by how the exact same behavior elicited such different responses…..It’s all in how we choose to look at it!

  10. 6. What does Jesus say in verses 9-10?

     Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”

    When I first read this, I didn’t think much because it is so familiar. But then when I read it more closely, I was confused. As I prayed that He would open my eyes, the verses seemed so “simple” — to the extent that I wonder if I am getting it? (I did smile at the question about 12 hours in a day. I thought “not here during the winter” and “looking forward to summer”).

    Do the verses mean?: light=safety; dark=danger. He is Light therefore walking with Him in His timing = safety (not necessarily physical safety, though it could be, but safety in His plan/his arms). ?????

    Just listened to It is Well with my Soul, and this line jumped out: “And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight.” I already was thinking about light. It seems that when walking with Jesus, we do have partial sight — “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.” This reminds me of the video Wanda shared on FB about her friend who received a bionic eye (and has been all over the news). “I once was blind but now I see.” Seeing through a glass darkly is much better than being blind. In contrast to being blind, seeing forms is amazing – and safer. We have that partial sight and safety in Jesus.

    1. Love your astronomy reference…..yes, the equinox (equal night) is coming, when the days equal the nights in length! FYI, this year it is Friday March 20, at 10:45 pm (universal time), which I believe is 6:45 pm EST. I am using daylight savings time to calculate. At that time, the sun is crossing the celestial equator and we are 150 million km away from it! Wasn’t Jesus really born in the spring? That is interesting to me in regards to the light/dark bit.
      BTW, there is a misconception that earth is closer to the sun during summer and farther during winter. That is wrong! on the summer solstice we are 152 million km away and during the winter solstice we are 147 million km away. It’s all about tilt, not distance……even MIT’ers miss this.

      1. Laura, 🙂    That’s what gives me hope to get through winter — increasing length of daylight.  Love those few days at the end of June (and a little north of here) when it is light at 10:30pm.  Sometimes I wonder if my longing for daylight is part of longing for heaven.

        1. ….and I love winter so I hope there’s not a reverse parallel!  Cozy lamplight and firelight all draw me in.  And while I love the 70 degree days, I dread and fear the burning heat of the 85-95 days.  Wonder what the temperature will be for everyone to love it in heaven?!?!

      2. very interesting…”it’s all about tilt”…I wonder how often that is true in other circumstances…:)

  11. 7. What in your life right now may not make sense, but which you are willing to lay at Jesus feet?
    My whole life — in a more global sense.  From a “here and now” perspective, much of life is uncertain.  The hard part is STAYING at Jesus’ feet.  My heart rate even slows down and my whole body relaxed when I give control to him.I’ve been listening to/praying “Be Thou My Vision”

       Mary e., I’ve put your name in the lyrics as I’ve been listening.  Praying for you.

    1. Renee – “Be Thou My Vision” is one of my very favorite hymns!  And what you are doing for Mary with this is without price.  

    2. Renee,
      Thank you for this:    listening to/praying “Be Thou My Vision”

    3. Thank you for thinking of me in that way and praying for me, Renee.  I feel so incredibly blessed to have you all praying me through this.   I feel SOOO much better today than yesterday and I’m trying to just take a day at a time and not worry in advance.  

    4. Renee, that is such a wonderful and sweet way to pray for Mary, I felt compelled to do likewise.  Listening and changing the ‘my’ to ‘her’.  There are so many deep and meaningful prayers included in the lyrics.  Thank you for this.
      “Thou, her best thought by day or by night…waking or sleeping, Thy presence; her light.”

      1. Wanda, love this version of Be Thou My Vision! Thanks for posting.

    5. Renee, what a wonderful hymn to meditate on and to put Mary’s name in is precious.
      Be Thou MY VISION-  . I love it.
      Walking in the light with Jesus, Yes, we see through a glass darkly, but he is our vision when we focus on him.
      That verse 9 really had me puzzled, but as i remember in John 1- The true light that gives light to everyone is coming into the world.!

  12. I triggered the security system, so I had to remove all bold and all quotation marks in order to get it to go through. That’s the first time it has happened to me ever!

    11. Read John 11:28-37
    A. What do you see in Jesus in verses 33-35?
    Human emotions like being deeply disturbed and troubled, and then he wept.  

    B. What contrasting responses did those watching have?
    The Jews said, See how much he loved him (Lazarus).   But some of them said, He healed the eyes of the man born blind, couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?  So some sympathized with Jesus, and others criticized Him.  

    C. Which response was walking by natural light, and which by the light of God?
    Those walking in only natural light tried to reason on their own that Jesus could have done more and sooner.   Those walking in the light of the Lord could see that Jesus was deeply affected.

    12. How might you thank Him for all things now, by faith, before He overcomes?
    It is possible to thank God, while having faith that He has a plan and He is working on it,   even before He overcomes the situation.     We can be thankful that He is going with us through the situation, even if the plan will not include things going our way.   

    1. Wow, Deanna.  You must have a secret touch to have avoided the security system for this long 😉    I got it earlier today — but used the workaround of cutting out most of the post and then pasting it back in in the edit screen. Went quickly — in the past, I’ve struggled for an hour+ trying to locate/delete what is triggering security.

  13. 8. What does Jesus tell his disciples in verses 14-15?

    Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” (John 11:14-15 ESV)

    Comment.      NOT LIKING OR UNDERSTANDING THESE VERSES.   My first response is to read this as “If you would have believed in this first place, Lazarus wouldn’t have died.”  i.e., “It’s your fault.”

    Even though I’ve heard that line from people or told myself that, Jesus might have been more straightforward —  and saying, “I let this happen so that you would believe.”  Lazarus was sick and died; it wasn’t anyone’s “fault.”

     Sooo… Jesus didn’t cause Lazarus to die, but he didn’t stop Lazarus from dying either — so that people would believe and He would be glorified.

    My perspective still is distorted though — it’s one thing for me to go through bad stuff so that I believe, but I don’t like it if other people go have to go through bad stuff so that I believe.  e.g., my mom lived with dementia for years so that I believe??  How’s that different than “if I believed in the first place, this wouldn’t have happened?”  Yet that sounds surprisingly similar to “who sinned? this man or his parents?”

    I know I’m missing the big picture here.  His glory is about so much more than individual people.  Maybe I’d get this better if I were from a more collectivist culture.  Confusing.  What seems most right is that “we live in a fallen world; bad stuff happens — and God allows it and uses it for His glory BECAUSE He loves us.”  still confusing, though.

    1. Renee your point ministers to me right now. It was no one’s fault.

    2. Have you read Keller’s ‘Walking with God through Pain and Suffering”?   He so nicely thinks through all of these questions and organizes them in ways that make sense.  (as you would expect of him)  At least it all makes sense when I’m reading the book.  When the rubber meets the road, I have trouble processing or verbalizing what made so much sense the day before.  

  14. “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So…”
    I have to go back, reread this verse, and then look at the questions through this lens…I get messed up if I lose sight of this foundation.
    9. What question does Jesus ask Martha when she comes to Him in her grief? (verses 25-26) “Do you believe this?” And how does she respond?  “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
    10. How does this apply to you in any suffering you are facing?  This is hard because right now, I don’t even want to THINK ABOUT suffering. I’m tired & numb seems good.  I feel sorta guilty because I can’t generate an enthused, powerful-sounding belief statement.  I can & will say/write/pray with confidence in Him, “Lord, I do believe.  Come into my unbelief. Transform me into your likeness”
    I DO believe in His goodness, that He loves me, and that He is in control — and I want to rest there and not think anymore (NOW, that is. In 15 minutes, or maybe after a break or food, I likely will be completely engaged in something and wanting to think).

  15. 4. What does this So, teach you?
    What He was doing was for their good. He waited, causing more pain initially, but it was for the greater good of deepening their faith. 
    I think of the times I’ve asked Him to do something, to “fix” something. I know by faith He is capable, yet sometimes He waits. Sometimes He is silent. In the moment, the waiting can feel anything from irritating to excruciating—depending on the situation. But sometimes, by His grace, I can look back, after He has answered, and I see that the waiting was the most important part. Sometimes in the waiting I have to wrestle. But because of the time allowed, my cries eventually turn to lament, and I find myself resting, exhausted sometimes, at the end of myself, but at His feet. And my faith is richer, deeper. 

    1. Elizabeth I can echo your thoughts here;)

  16. Mary E, I saw your post just now. How you clung to the Lord! Does it sound silly to say that I am so proud of you. and also of this group of women? What an amazing part of the body of Christ is gathered here and how great our God is. I will be so honored and blessed to pray with the others. Bless you Mary. 

  17. A. What do you see in Jesus in verses 33-35?    Tenderness.  Compassion.  Sorrow.  Empathy.  Love.
    He entered into Mary’s sorrow and wept with her.
    B. What contrasting responses did those watching have?   Some saw his tender heart and declared ‘See, how he loved him.”    Others questioned his ways and inferred either a neglect or lack of power, since even though he had made a blind man see, he did not come through for Lazarus and Lazarus died.  

  18. C. Which response was walking by natural light, and which by the light of God?  The Jews who questioned Jesus’ actions (lack of healing Lazarus) were walking with natural light because they only looked at what was visible to them.  Only what they could see without looking more deeply.  (As when we can see in the daylight but need another, more penetrating source of light to see things in the darkness.)  What they saw was that either Jesus was not loving or he was not powerful.  Wow.  These are  exactly the same questions that people have continued to ask all through history and still do today.  They are the subject of endless discussions, debates and doctrinal differences.  They are the underlying questions that Lewis wrote about in ‘The Problem of Pain’ and  that Keller addresses in his book, ‘Walking with God through Pain and Suffering.’  People question and accuse God over and over because these questions run so deep in the human experience and yet, it occurs to me, that Jesus just answered both of them.  Yes, God is loving.  He wept with compassion and grief at the tomb of his friend and with his friends.  And, yes, God is powerful.  For reasons Mary and Martha couldn’t see, he didn’t heal Lazarus of his illness.  But he did cause him to rise again.    The others saw Jesus’ great compassion and were moved by his tender love.  (as when we walk by His light and see the loving heart of God even though we do not know if or how our trials will resolve or our suffering will end.)

  19. 13. Read John 11:30-44
    A. What evidence can you find that Martha is really going to be astounded?
    v. 39b Martha mentioned Lazarus has been in the tomb for 4 days and there would be an odor. As a nurse instructor, I know what she meant as I talked to my students about rigor mortis etc in the classroom.
    B. How do you think you would have felt if you witnessed this?
    Dumbstruck; overcome; tearful joy
    D. What pain or illness in yourself or someone you love do you know one day will be overcome?
    my sister’s cancer and my husband’s asthma and my daughter’s depression
    14. What, according to John 11:57, did this miracle lead to?
    To the Pharisees wanting to arrest Jesus 

  20. C. Share a time when God astounded you (be brief so we can read!)
    Tired, sick and not looking forward to a cramped coach seat on the plane for a 16 hour flight to the Philippines to visit my ailing Mom. Lord, I am exhausted, please surprise me. He did! For some reason, my seat assignment was in business class (I paid economy/coach price-no way!) Wide seat, more leg room, great food and a lot of quiet since there were only 8 of us in that section of the plane!!!! Oh, glory! Definitely astounded by God! I was brought to tears of joy and gratitude.

    I have not thoroughly read previous comments…I apologize in advance if my answer mirrors another comment.
    8. What does Jesus tell his disciples in verses 14-15? Comment.
    Jesus clarifies that Lazarus is not sleeping but has died…Jesus further clarifies that this is part of His plan; the situation will aid in the disciples having greater reliance and trust in Jesus.
    Death can be part of “the Lord’s plan”…I feel like my mind is so limited at times.  In pondering this…death was not part of the original plan, but was brought about in the fall, so in the Lord using death as part of His plan to provide greater trust and reliance in Him for His disciples supports the concept that regardless of our human comprehension, the Lord has the capacity to use any thing for our good…any thing, even death.  He has the capacity to take the worst and use it for our benefit.  It boggles my mind to think that the evil happening in our world…oh so much hurt and suffering inflicted on innocents…could be used for good, but isn’t that what this is saying in essence?

    1. Nanci – I love reading your post here this morning – you’ve said it in a nutshell  I do believe! 🙂

  22. 11. Read John 11:28-37 
    A. What do you see in Jesus in verses 33-35? 
    Jesus was deeply moved..deeply troubled inside. He entered into her suffering.
    B. What contrasting responses did those watching have? 
    Some were seeing His furious Love, and some were doubting His love and His power.
    C. Which response was walking by natural light, and which by the light of God?
    The ones who saw and were amazed by his love were walking by the light of God and the ones who doubted his power and love were operating out of their own reasoning.
    12. How might you thank Him for all things now, by faith, before He overcomes? 
    Lord it is hard to be thankful for suffering. For the suffering of our brothers and sisters being captured by Isis and killed-I hate it..I am angry..yet it feels like a knife inside at the same time. For the imprisonments in Iran, North Korea and other places, for Dee’s precious friend who was kidnapped, for Mary and her cancer that has gone to her retina-a woman filled with your love who loves you. The pain they are going through deeply troubles YOU. Yet I know you have overcome and all of this suffering will produce an eternal weight of glory that far outweighs it all. You are creator, sustainer, all powerful yet you also suffer with us in our pain. Thank you for allowing these sufferings because I know suffering isn’t meaningless. Thank you for having Dee post Jennifer’s video for you are helping me to be thankful for my suffering..Lord I know I can only do two things push away from you or press into you. I have pushed away from you in the past and I am bent to do that..yet the times I press into you..oh..Help me to press into you in my boys suffering..help our brothers and sisters who are suffering persecution around the world press into you and in their pain sense your presence and be filled with your Joy. Amen.

  23. 13. Read John 11:30-44
    A. What evidence can you find that Martha is really going to be astounded? She advises Jesus not to open the tomb because Lazarus has been in their so long that there will be an odor.
    B. How do you think you would have felt if you witnessed this? When my husband came back from deployment I remember it took me awhile to really believe it was really him! It was surreal. I think that I would have stared and stared, having to take it in and process, before it really sank in? Or perhaps it would have just been so wonderful to see my brother alive again that I would have jumped and hugged him, believing immediately?
    C. Share a time when God astounded you (be brief so we can read)! God astounds me each time He is gracious and answers prayers positively. One of the biggest is after He had wooed me and began an amazing new work in my heart, overthrowing the old Jill… a friend a short while after than mentioned this new heart He had begun working in me and told me that she had been praying for me since we first became friends (8 YEARS prior) for God to work in my heart and life. It moved me not only to see a friend faithful but to see God answering prayers for our friends. I was astounded.
    D. What pain or illness in yourself or someone you love do you know one day will be overcome? I have a very dear loved one who has been repeatedly wounded so very deeply by an unhealthy relationship. I pray God’s love will overcome her pain and woo her completely, if not this side of heaven then I know that in heaven she will be restored and relax in the perfect love that drives out all fear.

    1. Jill – as we’ve been praying for friendships in your life….that one friend of 8 years sounds like pure gold!  🙂  Praise God that she is in your life.

  24. 14. What, according to John 11:57, did this miracle lead to? Definite plans to kill Jesus and unabashed attempts to arrest Him with the people’s aid (before this the arrests and stonings had always been sort of on the sly and not wanting to make the people angry).

  25. I noticed my notes I have written in my Bible this morning on verse 37 – “But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?'” Beside that I have written, “expectations crushed belief.”

    1. Jill – “expectations crushed belief”.  Wow.  Thanks for that.  Three little words that are a GREAT warning to our lives.

    2. Jill,  My brain needs this deeply embedded.  Expectations do get me in trouble.

    3. ditto here, Jill.  That’s such a good thing to remember.  And then sometimes, I think I get so worried about expecting too much, that I turn my emotions off and don’t rejoice when I should.  

  26. 11. Read John 11:28-37
    A. What do you see in Jesus in verses 33-35?
    I see his humanness, his emotion to the situation.
    B. What contrasting responses did those watching have?
    Some knew how much He cared for Lazarus by his emotions. Others were confused because they thought He could have saved him.
    C. Which response was walking by natural light, and which by the light of God?
    The people who saw how he loved Lazarus were the ones walking by natural light, by earthly standards. Those who responded with thinking He could save the dying man would be walking by the light of God; they believed in Him.
    12. How might you thank Him for all things now, by faith, before He overcomes?
    Jesus, thank you for your promise of being with us always, through thick and thin. Thank you for the Bible where we can read your words to us. Thank you for family and our extended family who are helping us through our situation with Sarah. Thank you for this blog and the sisters who come here and care for each other. Thank you for Dee. Thank you for us having jobs to pay (most) of the bills. Thank you for friends and neighbors who keep in touch and care about us here on earth. Thank you for the roof over our heads, the heat within the house on these cold winter days, and the hot water with which we may clean ourselves and our homes. Thank you for the clothes we wear. Thank you for giving us patience. Thank you for your love. Amen.

  27. 13. Read John 11:30-44
    A. What evidence can you find that Martha is really going to be astounded?
    She is nervous about the odor that may ensue when the tomb is opened. Jesus reminds her that if she truly believes she will see the glory of God.
    B. How do you think you would have felt if you witnessed this?
    I would have been scared!

  28. 13. Read John 11:30-44
    A. What evidence can you find that Martha is really going to be astounded?
    Well, right in these few verses, as others have said, Martha warns Jesus about the potential odor when the tomb is opened, assuming that Lazarus’ body had already begun decaying.    However, in previous verses, there is also her declaration about knowing Lazarus would be raised in the Final Resurrection.   I think Martha was still stuck at that point, and that in no way was she expecting Jesus to raise Lazarus immediately before her very eyes.   She was bound to be astounded.   
    B. How do you think you would have felt if you witnessed this?  
    I don’t faint easily, but I think that would have done it!   If I didn’t faint, at the very least, I would have been in a total state of bewilderment.
    C. Share a time when God astounded you (be brief so we can read!)
    When my husband was so critically ill seven years ago.  He spent 39 days in the hospital, and 33 of those days were in some sort of an ICU (either medical or surgical).  When he was transferred to a rehab facility, he was so weak he couldn’t even turn over in bed.   Lots of us were praying for him (I was literally down on my knees at times).  It was a slow miracle, but in 2 1/2 months he was able to walk again and come home.   Even the staff in the rehab facility referred to him as a “miracle.”   I believed or I wouldn’t have bothered to pray so hard, but when it happened I was still astounded. 
    D. What pain or illness in yourself or someone you love do you know one day will be overcome?
    Our great nephew is around 30 years of age.  He recently suffered a seizure, and in the ensuing workup, they discovered a brain tumor.   He had some of it removed surgically, but they couldn’t take all of it without causing a stroke.   They sent the specimen to pathology, and it came back “malignant!”    He and his wife have a 2-year-old son.    He is beginning both chemo and radiation, but their expectation is only that it will hold the cancer at abeyance for a time.   My heart aches for this young little family, but I know God has a plan for them — a time without pain or sorrow, but I don’t know whether that will be this side of heaven or not. 

    14. What, according to John 11:57, did this miracle lead to?
    It lead to the chief priests and Pharisees planning to arrest Jesus and eventually kill him.   

    1. Deanna, my heart aches for this young family too…devastating.  May the Lord surround this family with comfort and a peace that defies understanding.

    2. Deanna,  It’s so sad; this enormous trial your great nephew and his family are going though.  May you all experience Immanuel….this week’s sermon is so good.  

  29. 11. Read John 11:28-37
    A. What do you see in Jesus in verses 33-35?he was moved by their grief and troubled.  He wept.  He wasn’t exempt from human pain and was compassionate toward those experiencing it.
    B. What contrasting responses did those watching have? C. Which response was walking by natural light, and which by the light of God?
    1)  See how he loved Lazarus.  — light of God
    2)  Couldn’t he have prevented him from dying?  — natural.   I’d like more info about the “heart part” to know what really is going on.  Seems like a valid question 😉   
    Interesting:  The second response/question was similar to Martha’s statement ““Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
    12. How might you thank Him for all things now, by faith, before He overcomes?  Lord God, thank you that you love me, and that you love those I love far more than I can comprehend loving them.  Thank you that you know our names, that you have compassion, and that you are in control — that you do work ALL things together for good.  Lord, even though others might mean something for evil, that Satan seeks to kill and destroy, you bring life; thank you.  Thanks for your presence with us and reminders that you are with us.  Thank you for your greatness, your power.  May you be glorified in and through our weaknesses.

    Was gonna skip this question because the first part seemed obvious!   SO powerful, glad I didn’t 

  30. 13. Read John 11:30-44
    A. What evidence can you find that Martha is really going to be astounded?  
    Now I’m embarrassed by my response to the last question.  I do see myself in Martha.  First, Lord, you could have prevented it.  Then, looking at the “evidence” in order to convince myself to accept the situation.  She is in “fix it” mode, trying to prevent a bad situation from getting worse.
    B. How do you think you would have felt if you witnessed this?  I would have been scared of the smell thinking it might be disrespectful to desecrate a grave.  Fearful!
    C. Share a time when God astounded you (be brief so we can read!)    I may have shared this before because I still am occasionally puzzled (was definitely not “natural).  
    A friend and I were on our way to a movie (pre-cell phone days), a matinee during daylight hours.  On the way, we were sitting at a stop light or stop sign when a old station wagon came at us (fast) head on.  The cars must have been only 10 to 15 feet apart because I could see the wildness in the driver’s eyes. Suddenly, that car was on the curb on his side of the road and had flattened a sign.
    We were both in enough shock to not know what to do — and didn’t attempt to report it until after the movie (the sign still was flattened then, so we weren’t imagining things).  We met in a therapy group — and I’m not sure either of us would have been believed if we had reported it as it had happened.

    One thing that helped me not question too much was that a similar event had happened a few years prior when relatives reported that their car had been lifted to another lane on a busy freeway to prevent them from being smashed between two semis.I KNOW God has been protecting me, saving me from myself as well as from others.  This is encouraging for me to remember now and helps me see that in his timing, he both protects and allows. And it’s beyond my comprehension, but HE LOVE ME SO I CAN TRUST HIM.
    D. What pain or illness in yourself or someone you love do you know one day will be overcome?Yesterday, I was reading about Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia — thinking about several people, and eventually about myself, as I am very aware that I have one of the biggest risk factors.  Because I know God is in control and because I have been in a pretty helpless state and seen God’s faithfulness before, I hadn’t been TOO nervous.  But yesterday, I got nervous and began praying, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.”Also, as Mary described her situation and as I’ve prayed for her, I’ve leaned on the Lord for my own “what it’s.”  Single, no parents, what if, who would?  I can get nuts in a couple minutes if I think in that direction.  To top it all off, I completed “advance directives” this week, though they still are on my computer & I need to have witnessed.  My doctor has periodically brought it up, but I always was too confused to do it.  The intro/first part of this study helped me do that WITHOUT confusion.
    In addition, I recently have been on a kick of looking for the latest prevention or treatment diet or exercise protocol, and I have a hard time separating personal from professional.  At least I don’t have to be desperate about it now 🙂

  31. DEANNA, instead of clicking on speaking you can just hoover over it and then you should see “upcoming events” (or something to that effect) then click on that, OR, if you click on speaking you have to scroll all the way to the bottom and then you should see “upcoming events” and click on that.  See if either of those work. =)

    1. Thanks, Mary!    Hovering did the trick!    How much I would like to meet up with all of you, however, I haven’t left my husband and gone out of town for that long in quite awhile.   This will take some thought!    

      1. Deanna, that is really understandable.  How far away would Ashland be for you?  It’s only 1.5 hours for me so I will most likely just drive up that morning and then home after it is over.  It will be staying daylight much longer by then, so that is my plan for now….

        1. Mary,   According to what I just Googled,  it should take me 2 hours each way.    So that is four hours of driving, plus 5 hours of conference, plus maybe additional time for dinner.   I am getting c lose to 12 hours total.    I will have to see what my daughters have to say about this.   Perhaps they can spend some time with their Dad.   I see where registration closes (firmly) on April 10.    

  32. After doing the study (so far), when I read that Dee wrote she believed that this is when Martha’s control idol cracked, I thought of the following passage:

    Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:3-11 ESV)

    I wonder if Jesus delay/Lazarus’ death was related to discipline???? Discipline is for His glory and for our best. I noticed that one version used the word “punishment.” That doesn’t fit as well when considering that Jesus took our punishment.

    I’m glad I didn’t live then. I could’ve been used as a bad example (albeit a redeemed one) for millennia. This blog is PLENTY public for me 😉

    1. Your last sentence made me laugh.  (and cringe a little too, when I thought about myself also).  

  33. C. Share a time when God astounded you (be brief so we can read!)
    Trying to keep this as brief as possible!
    When my son was born, it turned out the birthmother had not been completely honest with her extensive drug use and substances were found in his body. As the adoptive parents, we weren’t allowed to discuss anything with the Dr at the hospital, we were just given the drug testing results and told we could “back out” because of what was found. That was never a thought. We signed all the papers and after 48 hours, we were allowed to take him from the hospital. All of this was out of state so we didn’t have a Dr in town, but before flying back, we took him to a clinic near the hospital. As it turned out, the Dr that day was a Pediatric specialist from the hospital. He ran multiple tests and then said, our son was “perfect”, no signs of any complications from the drugs. We were all, Doctor included, “astounded” and so very thankful. What a gift he is!

  34. Mary, I’ve not been here for a few days, and just was reading, catching up on comments. I read your post above about your eye, and all the prayers and encouragement from all the ladies here…I am so sorry, Mary. I cannot imagine how upsetting it was for you, in the doctor’s office. Your mom and dad coming to bring you home and stay with you…how blessed you are to have them. I know you worry that it is too much for them, but I can tell you as a mom, you want to be there for your child and do anything and everything you can to help! I see you, Mary, continuing to be steadfast in keeping your gaze on Jesus. I can only add my prayers to the many already being offered up on your behalf.
    Lord willing, I also am hoping to go to Ashland to hear Dee speak in April. I’m about an hour away. It would be wonderful to meet many of our fellow sisters there!

    1. SUSAN!  Thanks for your prayers and YEAH!  I would love to meet you in April!  It’s only a few weeks away now.  I need to register and pay (it’s 25 dollars.) because even if it turns out that I can’t go then maybe someone else could have my registration…but I really hope and pray that I can.

  35. C. Share a time when God astounded you.
    For years I prayed for a loved one with alcoholism. And he has been set free. My pleas were ignored and I suffered. Then the time came when he made the
    decision and God even protected him  from serious injury when he was involved in an accident.
    D. What pain or illness do you know will one day be overcome.
    The pain resulting from broken relationships: my daughter and granddaughters and grandson have suffered;
    the anxiety caused by dementia in a beloved sister, sister-in-law will be overcome.
    Dear Father, thank you for your presence in my life right now, for the assurance that you will be restoring the fellowship with loved
    ones when we join you in heaven. thank you for all you endured through your suffering for us. May you be glorified in our lives even at our expense.
    In Jesus’ name. Amen

  36. 10. How does this apply to you in any suffering you are facing?
    I’m not sure that I can adequately put this into words, but my mind is reveling in Jesus being “life” regardless of time frame and circumstances, i.e., Jesus is life while alive on this earth, Jesus is life in death, Jesus is life in eternity.  Jesus continually gives “life”…death is merely the door to eternity with the Lord.  This brings to mind Romans 8:38-39.

  37. 12. How might you thank Him for all things now, by faith, before He overcomes?
    I know it probably seems redundant, but I go back to the Lord having all well in hand and my best interests in mind…my human mind capacity cannot grasp all the hows and whys, but my human mind capacity is not that of the Lord’s.  Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross looked humanly like the end, a failed effort, yet we know that in God’s plan this was our freedom from sin and death; there was so much more involved beyond what the human mind could comprehend.  I will trust in the Lord (and pray for the Lord assisting me in complete trust)…trust in His plan, trust in His goodness, trust in His love for me, etc. when human capacity tells me that things/circumstances appear otherwise.

  38. C. Share a time when God astounded you (be brief so we can read!)
    When His Spirit strongly moved in me when we visited the church we have been attending for 3 years now. When I visited the first time I sensed Him saying yes as my spirit said an excited yes in return for I couldn’t believe what I was seeing among believers and hearing in this church. God blessed me beyond what I imagined. Yet my intellect was saying “wait” for we hadn’t visited anywhere else yet! I didn’t want to make a quick decision without spending more time visiting other churches and praying. It turns out our hearts are unified with theirs in so many areas. On a side note, I was thrilled when our pastor showed us a video clip of Keller during our leadership training. Of course that isn’t a ‘must’ but it sure was a kiss from God! 🙂

    1. Dee, praying Omaha goes wonderfully and that God is glorified! (I am absolutely CERTAIN HE will be!)  I definitely want to go to Ashland but I should know more next Wed, after my appt with the eye specialist, in terms of whether I need treatment for that and what that will involve.  My biggest prayer for this issue is now that God will be glorified, whatever that looks like (I have tones of ideas for Him, but clearly He does not need them! ;))  AND…just want to say that I am doing so incredibly well since this news that it is clear to me He is answering prayers being prayed on my behalf.  In my flesh I’d be falling apart and crying every few minutes but instead I’m excitedly waiting in anticipation to see how He will be glorified through this.  What a privilege to even be included in bringing glory to Him.  He has certainly used you many times over to do that Dee, so you know what a privilege it is!

  39. C. Share a time when God astounded you (be brief so we can read!)
    I was deeply grieved in the ending of my first marriage. A co-worker recommended a book on healing after divorce, which I promptly obtained .  As I read the book and did the exercises…I found one exercise to be incredibly freeing, liberating.  In that one particular exercise, the Lord released me…I was allowed the realization of the blessings involved in no longer being in that marital relationship (e.g., no longer walking on egg shells).  I liken it to a sunrise…light overcame darkness…sadness to perseverance and hope.  This was a turning point for me that was orchestrated by God.  (and then the following year, I met my hubby, my best friend, my companion, my love…:)  Without being released from the first marriage, an epic failure with the exception of my daughters, I would not be enjoying my present life in a relationship of love, friendship, and respect.)

  40. C. Share a time when God astounded you (be brief so we can read!)
    I actually looked up the word astound and it said shocked or surprised. I can’t think of one particular time, but the little things I sometimes encounter do make me jump. Here’s an example….
    Last week I wanted to change purses, because my purse had become pretty worn out. I didn’t really have the money to go buy a new purse so I decided to use one of my moms that I brought home after cleaning out a lot of her stuff. The purse was kind of an old style but I didn’t really care. I needed something and it was my moms. It was one of those that had a “mural” all over it. I didn’t pay attention to the actual design or picture of the purse.
    The next day I went to school and a very demonstrative female student came into the classroom lamenting about how she had just dropped something in the hallway and was trying to pick it up and people weren’t helping her, they were just pushing her over. She was very upset and went on and on about how “…if somebody else dropped something she would rush over to help them, of course unless there were others helping them,…” and she went on and on and on for about five minutes. I tried to be sympathetic, and told her about a time when I had a similar incident where I dropped something and the person just looked at me and then walked away. I kind of knew how she felt. Immediately after that conversation, for some reason I thought about the purse. I pulled the purse out of my drawer and looked at the artwork on the side. Wouldn’t you know the picture is of a woman in the middle of the street who has dropped things out of her purse, and two guys are clamoring to pick them up??? SO WEIRD! I guess we call this a “kiss from the King?” It’s like my mom was talking to me or something! I don’t believe there is any significance to the events, just God giving me a lift….mom died a year ago next week. I am missing her some. 

    1. That IS surprising/astounding, Laura!  I love it when we see God’s hand (even if it’s a little ‘weird’) in the day to day things.  This made me smile 😀

  41. D. What pain or illness in yourself or someone you love do you know one day will be overcome?
    I suppose when I die all pain and illness will be overcome, right? I’m not sure I can say that I emphatically know that someone will be healed, where I will see it transpire. I hope I will see my children come back to Jesus in my lifetime, but there are no guarantees (think Job).
    14. What, according to John 11:57, did this miracle lead to?
    This led to them beginning to hunt Jesus down to arrest Him, and eventually crucify Him.

  42. What pain or illness will be overcome?  I have a thyroid disorder that dictates blood tests every 4-6 months to keep the proper dosing of medicine correct so my body can function.  I know this will no longer trouble me when I meet Jesus, but I know this because He blocked the normal progression of the disease, without my knowing I had it, until I was in a city large enough that had a doctor familiar with treating the disease.  When that doctor discovered the extent of the diseased thyroid, he told me “You should be dead and you shouldn’t have been able to conceive and bear two children to term.”  But, I knew that the doctor had just discovered the power of God in my life.  In my testimony I share how God, acting as my savior, not only saved me from my sin, but inhibited the natural progression and consequences of the disease for 22 years.  In that time, I had never been really sick, was fortunate to marry, conceive and bear two children to term.  I fully believe this is a reflection of John 10:10 – I came that they may have life (eternal life) and have it abundantly (life here on earth).”  Parentheses are mine.  Because I was willing to trust Him with my eternal life, I can trust He will do what is best for my physical life on earth.

  43. My take away from this week’s discussion:  Jesus loves me, period!  There are no conditions on that love.  There is nothing I must do but acknowledge His love of me.  Because He loves me, I can trust Him in everything and in all His actions, even those that are uncomfortable and painful.  I am reminded when I am uncomfortable and in pain or suffering, that He has already walked that path ahead of me.  The key component is trusting that through the pain and suffering, He will be glorified.  My prayer when I am in these situations is the same as it is every day – Lord, enable me to show others your love and care.  Enable me to model you so others will want to know you and acknowledge your gift of forgiveness.  Amen.
    Let me end by saying this is not an easy task as it requires bringing emotions under the control of the will, but faith and trust demand that we step out and speak our trust in Him.  The Holy Spirit will then bring the emotions in line with our will to trust and follow Him.  

  44. Notes and comments on “The Furious Love of Jesus” by Dr. Timothy Keller
    This was unlike any other sermon I have heard on the subject of the raising of Lazarus.   I like the way Keller thinks!  
    Keller remarks that sermons on this John 11 text are usually delivered around Easter, but he was preaching on it near Christmas.  He felt it was very appropriate because the text depicts Jesus as Emmanuel, God in the flesh, God with us.   It tells us who Jesus is and what he came to do. 
    Who Jesus Is
    We are told that Jesus loved Lazarus, Mary, and Martha.   No one besides Peter, James, and John are referred to in this intimate way.     Both Mary and Martha run out separately and say the same thing, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.”    Martha runs out first; Mary comes later.   Jesus’ response to Mary is utterly different than his response to Martha.   With Martha, he is confident, strong,  speaks; and he confronts her saying “I am the resurrection…”   With Mary, he is speechless, weak, breaks down and weeps. He is totally sucked into her emotions.  Keller says no fiction writer could have come up with this response by Jesus.   Being God, knowing what would occur, why did he not tell Mary, “Your sorrow will be turned to joy?”  John wrote this because it shows us who Jesus is – God in the flesh!
    Those from liberal churches like to talk about the humanity of Christ.  They have trouble with grasping the Divinity of Christ.   Those from conservative churches proclaim the divinity of Christ, but have trouble with the humanity of Christ – how patient he is with sinners, the hurting, and broken people.  The conservatives like to see Him in control.   No fiction writer could have come up with this, as everyone is somewhere on the liberal/conservative spectrum.   This isn’t ANYWHERE on the spectrum.    If Jesus is just like us , stuck in vulnerability, he did it voluntarily which shows how great He is.   First He is in control, then He is weeping and not coming up with any answers.   His greatness, meekness, and weakness go together.    You may be one who has trouble with the philosophy of the Incarnation.   No other religion in the world believes it is possible.   You may not believe in the God-man, but He is exactly what you need in your moment of greatest trouble.   
    Tears without truth is no help.   With Martha, Jesus gives her the ministry of truth.   He knows there is truth, hope, and eternity.   To Mary he gives a ministry of tears.   If he was only low, he couldn’t do truth, if he was only high he couldn’t do tears.   You need someone of infinite highness and infinite lowness.  Nothing but the incarnate God can heal you.   Some of you have a conservative bent – a bit of a fixer.  You are not like Jesus – no tears.   Some of you are feelers – hate answers, hate to confront.   If you are either a feeler or a fixer – you are not like Jesus.   The way you know Jesus is being formed in you is that you can do both.   Whichever is unnatural within you begins to happen.    
    What Jesus came to do
    The rage of Jesus tells us what he came to do.   Translators are faced with a word quandry.  The words “deeply troubled” in the Greek can also be translated “grief and rage.”   In The Message it says that when Jesus saw them weeping He became deeply angry.   What made Him so angry?   If He was going to raise Lazarus, why was He weeping.    Jesus sees the havoc of death from the inside, because he is man.   He sees not only Mary and Martha, but all grieving people EVER, because He is God.     He is not mad at them for weeping.  He is not mad at himself.   He is mad at death. 
    In verses 45-53, we are told many people went home after this and told the Pharisees, and that from that day on they plotted to take His life.   The only way he could bring Lazarus out of death required that he sign his own death warrant.    Jesus was was bellowing with rage and love.   Anger is a sign of love.   The more love, the more anger when it is threatened.   I can only raise you up if I bury myself.    He came to die for us.  
    How should we deal with suffering and death?   We see that Jesus does not get mad at the weeping people, and he does not get mad at himself.    Stoicism is not the right way to go.  It’s not enough to plan to quote Bible verses.   Faith is trust in His grace.    Jesus is weeping and full of rage.   If someone close to you dies, you get mad at God.    Death is not His design – it comes from sin.   He could snap his fingers and get rid of death.   Our sin has created a world in which the more you love, the more you suffer.   The Most Loving Person whoever came into the world suffered the most.    He forgives us.   Through a process of sacrifice and suffering, he saves us.   If you love God and people, you will suffer, and you will redeem them.   We Christians are called to be angry with ALL suffering.   We should do ministry in both truth and tears.   

    1. Thanks, Deanna.  Some profound thoughts here:  I love that he didn’t peg Jesus on the conservative/liberal spectrum.Your notes are so clear that, at first, I was thinking I could “get away with” not listening.  But I am really, really curious about a couple of things.  I have a hunch you are pretty close to word for word, so I have to check out his tone.  First, it seems to me that getting totally sucked into someone else’s emotions is not the same as doing it voluntarily.  Today, in this culture, it wouldn’t even be considered healthy. I’m curious how he expresses it.The second one is that I am definitely BOTH a fixer and a feeler.  I can’t ignore the fixer part, but I do hate answers and I don’t like to confront.  Sometimes when people give me answers, I think “How dumb do you think I am?! Leave me alone.”  Although, if I trust someone who gives me the option to reject an answer, then I sometimes LIKE answers.  I’m wondering if he has anything to say about “mutts” who don’t fit either his description of a conservative or liberal bent.So, now I’ll go listen 🙂

      1. Renee,   I don’t even come close to claiming that my notes are word for word.    In fact,  I usually transcribe my notes immediately, and last night I didn’t do that — I waited until this morning to transcribe them.    I’m not sure whether Keller used the word “suck”  or not!   🙂    Hopefully the meaning of my notes are respectably close to what Keller said.      Keller said everyone is on the spectrum somewhere between liberal and conservative.  However,   I have a tough time deciding exactly where I would place myself.     I would assess that I belong to a liberal denomination,  but within the denomination I think I am somewhere along the conservative edge.    I don’t recall that Keller mentioned “mutts,”   Renee.   Let me know if you find that!!   

  45. http://www.kare11.com/story/news/health/2015/02/16/blind-forest-lake-man-sees-wife-for-first-time-in-a-decade-after-receiving-bionic-eye/23530771
    Hope this link works.  Renee mentioned in a comment above, how this story reinforces that ‘seeing through a glass darkly’ is better than not seeing at all, in the discussion of darkness and light from Jesus’ words to his disciples about daylight and darkness.  For anyone who’d like to watch it, the story has been all over the national news, but this is a link from the first local story that was broadcast.  As it tells more of the story.  Al and Carmen attend our church, where Allen has been involved in teaching adult classes.  Their son and daughter in law are also very involved at church.  I think the reason it was picked up by so many news sources, is because of Allen’s childlike joy and reaction to seeing again.  His laughter (and tears) are so contagious!  

    1. You’ll have to copy and paste link into browser.  🙂

      1. Probably also picked up because Mayo is good at PR 🙂  and bionic eyes are a new thing!   If it happened at a clinic a few blocks away from my house, I doubt this would have hit the news.  I LOVE his reaction.  Maybe the first time I watched one of the news stories, I was a little disappointed because he only was able to see forms/shapes.  He may have been told what to expect, but his response also reinforced to me that God’s gift of faith is pretty amazing, that “seeing in a glass darkly” is GOOD when we know those shapes represent the reality of God’s promises.

        Clicking on the link worked for me:) Thanks for posting it here.

  46. C. Share a time when God astounded you (be brief so we can read!)    I’ve fallen so far behind this week, but can’t pass up a chance to share a time of God sending His angels of protection.   Our daughter, who has CF and diabetes, was about 20 at the time.  She was driving home after a very active, hot summer day, with our youngest daughter, age 11, in the car with her.  About 10 miles from home, she started to realize her blood sugars were dropping.  She knew she needed some fast acting sugar, stopped at a convenience store and bought some chocolate milk.  Well, she was already beginning to be somewhat oblivious.  She drank it.  But it wasn’t enough and she didn’t wait long enough.  Our younger daughter said she told her, “Don’t talk to me.  I need to concentrate on driving.”  thinking, ‘I know I can get home.’  She drove about 5 miles (through towns) and her sister said that she knew something was wrong.  She was driving ‘funny’.  When she went past our turn, her sister knew it was bad.  She was on a busy highway with a lake on one side and traffic coming at her on the other.  I have no doubt that angels carried the car into the soft grassy field beyond the lake and on the right side of the road.  I have no doubt that God ordained a nurse to be driving right behind her who immediately stopped and attended to her and called 911. And another woman who had some chocolate ready when she ‘came to’ and also frozen vegetables to put on her sweating forehead on that very hot day.  I have no doubt that God gave my 11 year old strength and composure beyond her years, as she calmly called us and said her sister had had a seizure while driving and they were in the ditch (just 1/2 mile from home).  I know God ordained that both my husband and I were home and near our phones when the call came.  I tremble when I think about this day.  It was one of those ‘worst nightmare’ phone call that I had dreaded but hoped would never, ever come.  But I also count all the ways that God had his arms around our girls.  How he treated us so tenderly in what could have been so much worse.  Astounding indeed. 

  47. 7. What in your life right now may not make sense, but which you are willing to lay at Jesus feet?   I set this question aside earlier.  So many thoughts racing.  So many things to lay at His feet.  Today, I’m back to what’s always most important and that which I struggle with the most:  The misinterpretations of the gospel/lack of seeing who Jesus really is by those I love most.  
    8. What does Jesus tell his disciples in verses 14-15? Comment.   One lingering question I have is actually in vs. 16, which isn’t included in the lesson.  What does it mean when Thomas says, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”  ?   I think it means that Thomas wants to be with Jesus to grieve with him over Lazarus’ death. To identify with Jesus’ sorrow?  

  48. 7. What in your life right now may not make sense, but which you are willing to lay at Jesus feet?
    The “nervous breakdown” that I had. Not only did I change completely, but the side effects from the medication that I was on lowered my impulse control, made me suicidal and gave me mood swings.  My co-workers saw all of this and the effects still linger.