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HEALING A WOUNDED SPIRIT (PROVERBS AND PARABLES # 7)

“IN THIS WORLD,” JESUS SAID,

“YOU WILL HAVE TROUBLE.”

BUT WHEN THE SKY OPENS UP,

AND TROUBLE COMES POURING DOWN,

OUR SPIRITS CAN BECOME WOUNDED.

Wounded-Spirit-2

WHEN WE ADOPTED OUR DAUGHTER ANNIE, OUR ELEVEN YEAR OLD DAUGHTER SALLY WAS EXCITED AT FIRST. SHE HAD LONGED FOR A SISTER.

young Sally and Anne

But then Sally said, “I felt like all the attention shifted from me to her.”

She slipped into a deep depression. Her cheerful spirit disappeared. Her weight dropped. Her nights were sleepless as she wept into her pillow. I couldn’t understand for we were trying so hard to shower love on Sally as well as Anne, and we loved her so.

I said to Steve,

“I don’t understand why she can’t just snap out of it!”

Steve said, “Would you tell a person who has the flu to ‘just snap out of it?'”

He sat by her bed, night after night, stroking her hair, praying for God to heal her.

But I was behaving like the counselor in this skit:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow0lr63y4Mw

Try as we might, we can’t just stop it.

We are like a person in quicksand.

The more we struggle the more we sink.

We need help from outside.

Friends, physicians, and counselors can help if they are wise.

But the real POWER from outside comes from God, from His Gospel, His LIFELINE.

God is near to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

broken-hearted verse17e517b3aada737bb5812135651c2753

The solution for a crushed spirit, as Tim Keller says, in this week’s free message, “is complicated,” for we are physical, emotional, and spiritual beings. Sally needed medical help in order to sleep so that her physical body could recover; she needed the emotional help of the love of her family; and she needed spiritual help to “get rid of the yuk in her heart.” We got her good medical help, we enveloped her with love, and we prayed. And God did what we could not.  One night when we went as a family to a concert, the singer closed with: “If you have yuk in your heart you cannot get rid of, come to Jesus, and ask Him to deliver you, for He is the only One who can help you.” Sally practically ran forward. She says that was a turning point in her life, to see that God could deliver her from what she could not deliver herself. Sally and Annie have been so close ever since. This week we are all together at my home, including their four little girls.

I keep thinking of Psalm 133: “How good and how pleasant it is when brethren dwell together in unity.” Wounded spirits and wounded families and wounded churches need the Power of the Gospel, the Pearl of Great Price, to heal. Nothing is more important than that.

psalm1331

Sunday:

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

Monday – Wednesday Bible Study

Prepare your heart with this:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtOsLg5m8Es

2. Read Proverbs 12 – 14 in one sitting, asking the Lord to quicken you, to give you a passage you need right now. Share what you find.

3. Healing a Wounded Spirit

(The following proverbs Tim Keller addresses in this week’s free sermon.)

A. Proverbs 12:25  

1) What weighs a man down and what lifts him up?

2) Why do we need a word “outside of ourselves?” What good Word does the Gospel give you?

Sally and I watched (again) one of the Bridget Jones Movies — and laughed. In one scene she is reading a self-improvement book that says it doesn’t matter what others think. All that matters is what we think about ourselves. She says, “Wait — that can’t be right!” She reminded me of a beautiful new young woman named Amy in our study  who said that her thoughts toward herself were hateful, for if she wasn’t doing things perfectly, she condemned herself. But the Gospel is showing her how loved, how beautiful she is.

B. Proverbs 13:12

1) What makes the heart sick? Give an example.

2) It is understandable that a dream deferred (marriage, motherhood, success, health) brings sadness, and God  empathizes. But we have something more precious than any of those things. What does Colossians 3:1-2 tell us to do?

3)  My favorite line in the above “Come Ye Disconsolate” is “Earth hath no sorrow heaven cannot heal.”

What deep earthly sorrow is yours that heaven will heal?  

C. Proverbs 14:13

1) What is true of both laughter and and joy? Why, given our fallen world, is this true?

2) How will the Lord reverse earthly sorrow — and how has the gospel made this possible?

D. Proverbs 17:22: How does a wounded spirit affect our physical health?

E. Proverbs 28:1  How does a wounded spirit make us unreasonably fearful?

When I met Amy, she frightened me, for she seemed so severely unhappy and negative. This year she started coming to our church and also to our evangelistic women’s study. The gospel is finally becoming clear to her and I am absolutely amazed at the night and day difference in her. All the passion that was negative has flipped to being positive. She smiles with deep dimples, laughs, and encourages others. Yes, she credits good medical help, counseling, and yet she says, nothing made the difference like what she is getting from this fellowship and her understanding of the gospel. She is a ballerina and danced to a praise song for us recently with passion. It is like a light has turned on in her darkness. This is a picture from our new church plant directory!

Amy
Eric, Einer, and Amy

Indeed, the gospel is the pearl of great price. In Matthew, Jesus uses the phrase “Kingdom of Heaven” for the gospel. R. C. Sproul explains:

If we were to look for one single theme that seems to be the most central and most important theme of the entire gospel of Matthew, it would be the theme of the coming of the kingdom. We see in the first instance that the term gospel refers to the gospel of the kingdom — the good news of the announcement of the breakthrough of the kingdom of God. In Matthew’s case, he uses the phrase “kingdom of heaven” rather than the terminology “kingdom of God.” He does this not because he has a different view of the meaning or content of the kingdom of God; rather, out of sensitivity to his Jewish readers, he makes common use of what is called periphrasis, a certain type of circumlocution to avoid mentioning the sacred name of God. So for Matthew, the doctrine of the kingdom of heaven is the same kingdom that the other writers speak of as the kingdom of God.

4. In the following parable, how does Jesus show us the worth of the gospel? (Matthew 14:4-5)

pearl-of-great-price

Thursday-Friday Sermon: The Wounded Spirit

The Wounded Spirit

5. Share your notes and comments  

Saturday

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

Leave a Comment

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267 comments

  1. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
    The wounded spirit that comes when the sky opens up…
    Sadly it seems like believers have the hardest time allowing for that wounded spirit. People in the church seem to have a harder time allowing others to admit weakness, doubt and grief without making them feel ashamed or like a failure if they can’t immediately ‘count it all joy’.
    It stood out to me that we need each other but that the real hope is in the promise that God is at work.

    The Stop It sketch, I had just been talking about it with a friend, I had watched it after a speaker at the CCEF conference had referenced it.

    Mostly once more, the sharing of your life with us, the honesty, that you share your husbands wise soft heart, your weakness, your sorrow and rejoicing. Thanks for being vulnerable Dee, you do bring Glory to God! 

    1. Chris, I agree with Dee…you have walked this road, and the Lord has given you something to say…you do have so much wisdom.

  2. Good Morning Blog Sisters.
    Thank you, Dee, for another week of study for all us us here.
     
    1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
     
    Psalm 34:18  “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”   This rings true down to my core, for I have experienced his tender care in this way.      I’m reminded of an old song by Michael Kelley Blanchard called Lord of the Lonely.   I heard it many years ago and learned it on my guitar.   (I cannot find it on youtube.)    
     
    There is no sorrow that God cannot heal.
    There is no damage He did not feel.
    Moment by moment He’s there where you hide
    Tenderly holding you close  as you cry
    Jesus the Lord of the lonely inside
    Jesus the Lord of all love crucified.

    1. Nila,   That does sound like such a lovely song.  Feel free to record a You Tube video of it yourself!  Would love to hear it.  

  3. The story of your daughter walking thru her depression stood out. Thank you again for your vulnerability with us Dee.Walking thru the clinical depression of my oldest sister was such a difficult thing for me and it was actually at a time the Lord was so strongly wooing me. I remember my Mary Kay director giving a testimony of how a depression of her friend was broken by the power of God and actually being angry hearing that as the pain we were walking thru with my sister  was so deep and SO LONG. I think at the time my anger might have been well why can’t God just STOP IT for her.  I was not yet saved but it was not long after that i came to the Lord and saw a transition in myself so great that i finally understood. Being with someone in that state is so hard. I had days honestly I did not want to be with her. I loved her so much it was just very difficult to see her that way. The stop it skit was probably what I wanted too. 
    I have been singing the line of the song we sing at church a lot lately. ” earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal”

  4. Love this song. The Lord had this playing over and over again in my heart just when I needed it a couple weeks ago
     https://youtu.be/yjgioXrnEME
     

    1. Beautiful song, Liz.    I’m seeing that David Crowder too, must have been influenced by Thomas Moore’s hymn.   I do love how he’s applied these words:
       
      Oh wanderer come home.
      You’re not too far.
      So lay down your hurt.
      Lay down your heart.
      Come as you are.
       
      (and these) :  
      Rest for the Weary.
      Rest that endures.
      Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t cure.

      1. Wanda it is beautiful and I pray people would know they couldcome as they are. I just started to read Philip Yancy’s book ( my first read of his) “What’s so amazing about Grace” and the story he tells of a prostitute was asked if she would visit a church and her reply was why would I go there? I already feel bad about myself  they would just make her feel worse. Wow as I was just typing this I felt a twinge of conviction in my heart. Lord examine what I do. I pray those who are hurting will find their way to YOU and the people they encounter along the way will extend the grace and love you gave to them to those we encounter who are seeking YOU and in need of the Savior. Help us as a people and as a church know how to minister to those who are suffering from depression. Give them the hope they so desperately need. For there is Hope found in only in YOU. thank you for the hope you have given me in my own life in my periods of darkness. Keep me pressing forward. Help us to forever keep our eyes on You. This world is so ready to overwhelm us but we know Your Word says You have overcome the World.

        1. Liz…..I smiled at the illustration you used of the prostitute being invited to church…..I have someone who has been in my life for many years now.  No, she is not a prostitute, but she IS a hard core, crusty and troubled lifelong horsewoman.  She knows I love Jesus, we see each other several times a week and I now and again throw out the invitation for her to go to church with me…..I keep thinking one day she’s going to surprise herself and say yes!  🙂  But for now…..her answer is usually along the lines of “*#*#*, no!”.  Just last night as we were celebrating my daughter’s birthday as a family, this woman came up in the conversation……she really is a COLORFUL individual!  And trying beyond belief!!!!!  My daughter commented that she thinks I have some kind of dysfunctional relationship with this woman!!  I just laughed and said “probably so!”.  My family KNOWS why I stay in her life……I don’t need to say that it is for the sake of Jesus.  I don’t love her nearly as He does….but I’m stumbling along and trying to follow Him in our relationship!  And the lovely spillover is that my family is watching…..who knows?  
           
          And that brings me around to the incredible David Crowder song you posted…..I had posted that song  on my FB timeline many months ago…..love how it echoes the lines from the haunting song Dee posted:  “Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal.”  

        2. Yancy’s books are life changing.  That book opened my eyes so much.  Amen to your heartfelt prayer above, Liz.

        3. and Jackie:    (replying under Liz’ comment because yours doesn’t have a reply option.  I really don’t understand how the ‘reply’ options are determined.  Anyway…..)
          Your words about the troubled horse woman convict me.   Early Sunday morning, Kevin had an encounter with a neighbor who was troubled and maybe suffering with some mental health issues.  He also has terribly distressing physical health issues.  As we were driving to church, I was commenting that most of the people on our dead end road of 10 houses are either highly dysfunctional or have had life altering devastating circumstances recently.  And honestly, of the 10 homes, we rarely see anyone.  The 2 couples that we do see are the functional ones.  I’ve continued to reach out (not as often as I think I should) to my neighbor who was widowed last winter, but OH the needs that we’ve seen since then, in the rest of the residents of our quiet country road.  I kind of looked at my husband and said,  ‘Where do we begin?’.   (ambulances were called a few weeks ago and we THINK there was a possible heroin overdose in one home)   I so need to be faithful in prayer and ready to walk through open doors.  Or to create some.  But I do feel overwhelmed.   
           
          This is, of course, on top of the devastating situations many close friends are facing right now.  Liz, your words here are so good.

              Help us to forever keep our eyes on You. This world is so ready to overwhelm us but we know Your Word says You have overcome the World. 

           

        4. Wanda – like you, I’m replying under “Liz”….not sure where this will end up on the page!!  But yes, I so get your questioning “where do we begin?”.  I have to say that there are many others in my life who I have not plugged into on the same level AT ALL as the one woman who I spoke of.  Enormous needs are everywhere we turn…..I think you are having “eyes to see” Wanda.  It is so beautiful to me that you are so aware of the neediness of your neighbors and it is on your heart.  The woman I spoke of is just VERY MUCH “in front of me” – to the degree that I would have to be blind to not see that GOD has orchestrated our “dysfunctional relationship”!!  We even share the same birthday…..and when I became aware of that I literally laughed myself into hysteria!!  TRULY, God has the BEST sense of humor!  For I’ve rarely known anyone who can annoy me any more than this woman….and yet….and yet…..we really “do life” together quite remarkably!!  I’m guessing that as you pray for your neighbors, some of them will sort of bubble up onto your radar……I’m going to pray along with you in this Wanda.  The adventure begins!  🙂  

  5. So good to be back here, missed you all last week! A bit jumbled this morning, but jumping in before Church.
     
    I think true healing, whether God uses medicine, counseling, or both–must begin with humility. We have to admit we are weak and in need. The Lord has gently been reminding me lately that “weak” is where He wants me, for He can most shine when I only have the strength enough to rest at His feet and trust. 
     
    Sweet Sally’s story reminded me too of how we are all created with a longing to feel important, remembered. And that desire is not wrong, we long for what we know we are made to have–but if we look outside of Christ for it, we will be disappointed, left empty. He gives us our significance. He has called us worthy.When we go back to the Gospel, we can let the truth over take our needs and feelings. 
     
    I think though we also need to be a community that creates an environment conducive to this healing. Last week I re-listened to a few Keller’s I need to regularly hear–one on forgiveness and another “be humble and make peace”. After listening, I felt a deeper compassion for those around me who are either wounded–or, harder sometimes to care for, who seemed to be seeking for glory in “destructive” ways. Because the Lord had reminded me of my own sin in wanting my own glory, I felt compassion instead of judgment towards those people. I had an urge in me to share the Gospel with them, to help them find freedom beyond their attempts at finding glory outside of Christ. But first, I had to be humbled of my own sin, take my wounds to the Cross and be healed by the Gospel cure–then I can see others’ pain with eyes more like His. Then we can be a community that supports admitting weakness, so He can heal.
     
    It is incredible that we have a God who tells us, He is close to the broken-hearted, saves the crushed in spirit. That defeats any false belief that He is a far away God who doesn’t really “feel” or care. 

    1. You were missed!

    2. Lizzy from one Liz to another I love your name change:) I also like this “when we go back to the Gospel we can let truth overtake our needs and feelings”

    3. I missed you last week Lizzy, I wondered where you had gone and prayed for you, you are such a sweet sweet encourager to so many here.
       

  6. I just listened to “The Sower on Hearing” Good stuff! Now I still see myself in the 3rd soil, but I have hope instead of fear.
     

    1. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why? Yuk can just happen and only God can heal, but He uses us as ministers.

    2. I just finished the sermon today (Sunday afternoon).  Gained a lot from it!  He just makes things so clear.
       

  7. What stood out and why?     The skit, while funny for how ludicrous it sounds, made me realize how often I tell myself just that when I am down, and that – while I wouldn’t THINK of being so harsh with any other person – I often am with myself.  I have been doing that recently.   In two weeks I travel to our cabin in the UP of Michigan for ten days with my brothers before Dan returns to China for another five year term.   (He’s lived in China for 24 years now and has a home assignment every fifth year.)   Since my immediate family consists of just these two brothers (both single), our emotional ties are deep.    For the past six weeks or so I have already been dreading the funk that I know I’m going to be in when I say goodbye on August 11.    Not only dreading it – I’ve already been feeling it.    Returning home to my busy season at work, summer winding down, Dan going back to China and winter ahead.   And I’ve been practically YELLING at myself ‘STOP IT’.    Don’t squander the beautiful summer you are in right now or the ten days of fun you’re looking forward to at the cabin by dreading what comes after that.    But telling myself to “Stop It” is about as futile as Bob Newhart yelling it at his patients.    But how often do I do that?!   How much better to be gentle – as Steve was with Sally – and fill my heart with scriptural truths that remind me to take on the cares of the day (but no more) and to rest in the promise that there when those sad days come, He will be with me and give me strength for that day, too.   
     

    1. Beth, you are so right…not only can we lack gentleness with others and have unreasonable expectations, but likely even more so with our self in our self-talk. It is a shame how often we treat our self harshly and with much less compassion than we would ever consider treating another person. It brings to mind the Lord’s reminder to love our neighbor as we love our self…(vice-versa).

    2. Beth, I live in Marquette County! 🙂

      1. Fun!   Our cabin is in Autrain. 

    3. Saying good-bye for 5 years is a very hard ‘assignment’ for you back here too, Beth.   I am very impressed by your brother’s dedication.  Hoping (and will pray) that your time with your brothers is wonderfully rich and that the let down will be experienced with the back drop of peace.  

      1. Thanks.  Yes, he is very dedicated.  Most people serve in China for 2-5 years.   I plan to visit him sometime this term – not sure just when yet.    I’ve been there a couple times before so hoping to meet up in a part of the country I haven’t seen. 

    4. Beth Yes I can use the “Stop it” on myself expecting so much of myself. I loved your last line “to rest in His promises that when those sad days come He will be with me and give me strength for that day too”

    5. Beth, I read your post earlier — and then what  you wrote completely soaked in later when I caught myself telling myself over and over to “snap out of” being tired!  Taking a nap worked better than telling myself to snap out of it 🙂    I don’t think I even would have caught myself if I hadn’t read your post earlier.

  8. 1.  What stood out from above and why?
    Steve’s response…”would you tell a person with the flu to snap out of it?”…this question caught my heart when I first read it.  And then reading of Steve’s continued presence by Sally’s bed and prayers for healing of Sally’s heart, I kept thinking about his compassion and empathy, his wisdom. This story demonstrates the wisdom the Lord provides to those with a genuine heart of love that trust in Him.  I too thank you, Dee, for your sharing and transparency…how much easier it would be to leave stories such as this out and include only those that make you “look good”…I appreciate your authenticity and obedience in what the Lord is asking you.
    The “stop it” skit is funny…always enjoyed Bob Newhart 🙂  Yet, the funniness ends when I think that this is sometimes what is expected of those who are fearful, hurting, in grief, suffering anxiety, depressed, etc.   I ran into a friend recently who experienced this scenario in relation to grieving her son’s unexpected death a few years ago.  It brought to mind a blog post by Kay Warren after the death of their son.  Similarly, Kay and Rick were asked when things would get back to “normal;” in Kay’s post she said that where she and Rick were was their “new normal”…they would never go back to being as they were, it was not possible after what they had suffered, the loss was something they would live with every day for the rest of their lives.  I pray for our society to be one of greater compassion and empathy; people should not feel guilty for being real.

    1. Nanci,
      Such a heartening post.  Thank you.

  9. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?       
    I grew up with the hymn, Come Ye, Disconsolate.   And I’m sure at least a couple dozen times every year, I think of the line,  earth hath no sorrow, that heaven cannot heal.   Though the original melody is slow and somber and can drag along,  I prefer it, because it is easy to sing along.  The lyrics are so rich.   
     
    (The old Bob Newhart show from the ’70’s was a favorite!  We have a few seasons on DVD. My husband is a counselor and has used some of the humor in them at teaching sessions also.)  
     
     Thinking about how, in this later piece, Dr. S. (Newhart) kept telling the client,  “No.  We don’t go there!”  when she tried to bring up the background to her fears and problems.  
    In striking contrast to the ‘stop it’ approach is the invitation our Lord gives us when He says, Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden.   Or as the hymn says,
    Come to the mercy seat.  Fervently kneel. 
    Here, bring your wounded heart.  Here tell your anguish.
     
    The difference this made for Sally at such a tender age, is a good example.  As we grow, we need to come back again and again with our sorrows and wounded hearts.  A life-long process.
     

  10. Chris–just wanted to also say I am thinking of you especially this week, such a terrible, painful “anniversary” approaching. I will be covering you in prayer daily this week~

    1. :(T
      here is a part of me that would like to just crawl into a shell and come back out in September.This week will mark 5 years, I am still quite unable for the most part, to talk much about it. I clam up when someone brings anything about it up. I have thought about going back for more grief counseling.
      Plus our son Joe and his wife Joann who as so dear to us are moving back to Las Vegas this month. That was where she is from and where they met. He has taken a job there. They are escaping the brutal winters we’ve had the past couple of years. I am glad they been here as long as they have, but it is such a loss.
      And our dearest friends are moving to Philadelphia this month. They have walked with us in the darkest time of our lives and been such a refuge for us, we are so comfortable with them. I can’t begin to say what a void their being gone from the area will bring.

      This is a hard month
       

      1. Oh, Chris. Sorry so many hard things are happening to you all at once. Lean on Jesus, my friend! Hugs! and prayers going out to you.

      2. Chris, this is a painful post to read. I am so sorry you are losing your hedge. This may not be any consolation, but there is always Skype or facetime to talk. I’m sure your family and friends would be receptive to that. I also think your idea of going back to grief counseling is good. I will be praying for you sweet sister.

      3. oh Chris. I hate your loss(es). I hate that Ohio isn’t at the end of my cul de sac. I love you and am praying for you, and Bill, and all of you. Please hold them Father. 

  11. What struck me was how thorough you were in caring for Sally; allowing the time for her to be healed physically, emotionally, and spiritually. To me that reflects Christ coming as a man, human flesh… God could have done it differently, more instantaneous, but He chose His Son to walk this earth, and to be broken physically, spiritually and emotionally when He took our sins upon Himself. I don’t believe it was just to save us but it was also to identify with us in our brokenness. It’s no wonder satan has twisted our thinking about being weak, especially among believers, that we ought to be strong and ‘put together’ ..keeping us from walking together with others in unity, allowing God to be our strength and our victory. 
     

    1. That struck me too, Susie – comprehensive care; not a quick fix.    As I read these responses, I am reminded of a time, some years ago, when I was part of a small group (called a ‘flock’) from my church and someone who was relatively new shared more of her past than the group leader felt was appropriate.   She was scolded (in private) and told that there was concern that she might be a “PDP” (pathologically dependent person).    She wasn’t, but that label hurt her terribly. She never came back to the group, never came back to church and to the best of my knowledge, never went back to ANY church.   

      1. thank you for sharing that, Beth.. My heart so aches for that lady. 

      2. Beth that is very sad. I do pray as well that woman finds healing in the Lords arms for what was said there OUCH

  12. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
    The verse about God being near to the brokenhearted. It is a comfort, but I think I have let my identity be “the brokenhearted one” and I want to let go of that persona. And a crushed spirit makes me think of a crushed pop can…cannot be un -crushed. But I know God can restore a crushed spirit.

    I’m going to try again this week to participate. I find it overwhelming when I see 200 comments! I feel I want to read them all, and the group seems to know much about major struggles in each others’ lives. I hesitate to jump in too deep in a public forum, and I don’t feel anonymous. I do know my mom is a silent reader (Hi, Mom!) and that just reminds me to be careful what I say about others. My major issues are very closely tied to the choices of others, as I’m sure many of yours are. I don’t mind having Mom read for she knows it all anyway and she is a mentor and prayer warrior. Anyway, just some thoughts and here we go!

    1. Marilyn – you are not alone in feeling overwhelmed and out of touch sometimes.   I feel exactly the same way, and I suspect that many others do either.   I’m trying to get braver about participating too even though I know I will miss a lot and fail to comment on something that I should have caught.    I just seen a LOT of grace in this place (as well as in the prayer group spin-off).   I think it’s a very safe place to participate as your time and circumstances allow.   At least that is what I am seeing here.   

      1. Yes, Beth, I have seen the grace here too, and His love shown through the interactions. What is the prayer group spinoff?

        1. Marilyn, I THINK (someone please correct me if I’m wrong) you just go to Facebook, ‘search’ for Dee Brestin’s Bible Study Friends and there will be a place where you can request to join and someone (Renee?) will approve it and that’s all there is to it.   I have a hard time keeping up there too sometimes, but since I’m on FB every day, it’s been a bit easier.    The conclusion I’ve more or less come to (when I can’t keep up – which is most of the time) is to just keep up with a few that I have noticed, that God has laid on my heart …. be intentional about following those and allowing others to be doing the same with some of the other requests.   It mostly just ends up being which requests I happen to see when I log on …. I add them to my prayer list and try to be very diligent in praying for them.   But I miss a ton … and it’s not because I don’t care.   I just can’t keep up with all.  Again – grace seems to be abundant there as it is here.   It would be great to have you participate. 

    2. Marilyn – you are not alone in feeling overwhelmed and out of touch sometimes.   I feel exactly the same way, and I suspect that many others do too.   I’m trying to get braver about participating too even though I know I will miss a lot and fail to comment on something that I should have caught.    I just seen a LOT of grace in this place (as well as in the prayer group spin-off).   I think it’s a very safe place to participate as your time and circumstances allow.   At least that is what I am seeing here.   

      1. Marilyn,  I don’t think you will find the facebook prayer page by searching as it is a ‘secret group’ which means that only members know it’s there.  So to become a part of it, Renee or Diane  (others???) as the group administrators,   have to send you an invite to join.  They could answer this.  Maybe someone else can too.  I know Renee has been on vacation and may not be following right now.  
        Just wanted you to know that even though you may not see the name of the group (until you join) it is there!  You just need the right people to get you in!  
        RENEE?   DIANE?    Can you see this?  🙂

        1. Thanks Wanda.   I couldn’t remember the sequence of steps to join.   It was quite a while ago. 

        2. Hi, Marilyn and Wanda, I am on vacation as well (visiting grandkids in another province), but Dee messaged me about Marilyn wanting to join the Facebook prayer group. Welcome, Marilyn. Sorry both Renee and I are away at the same time. We keep Dee’s Bible Study Facebook page private so that our prayer requests are private as well. So it is a bit of an ordeal to join. Renee or I have to give permission.
           
          Marilyn, are you on Facebook already? You need to be in order to join. All that being said, if you could email me, I could add you. My email address is datrails at gmail dot com. [all lower case and all one word using the usual email symbols]. I’ll check my email, this blog and Facebook regularly until I see info from you.

    3. Hi Marilyn,
      I only joined here this past week, so I understand the overwhelmed feeling. I have no idea how many people are a part of this, but there are many responses! And everyone seems to know everyone, so I feel a bit lost. But it is good and enriching too, though I’ve quickly realized that I may not be able to keep up. So ultimately I focus on seeking Him through His Word/this study, and offer what I can, and when I can. 
      I’ve basically thrown most of life into one heap(still more manure to be shovelled I’m sure) and said, “Here You go, Lord. I’m done” So it’s a mess here, to say the least. But His peace is with me, and I trust He will bring me through this victoriously..eventually. He really does and will restore. He has healed many areas of my life already, as I allow Him into those broken places.
      Though I don’t know what journey you’re on or why you identify as “the broken-hearted one” I do pray that you keep pressing on and pressing into Him. And I’m thankful you shared that. You’re not alone. 
      Susie

      1. Susie, thank you for your encouraging words. So true about the mess of our lives. Every area has been touched by the effects of sin. I know ultimarely, God wins! And there is joy for the journey. I want to be a vessel that is poured out so that others will see Jesus in me and want Him!

        1. Susie and Marilyn,
           
          Welcome to this safe and encouraging place.   Looking forward to getting to know you here.  

      2. Wanted to encourage Marilyn, Beth and Susie here also.  I smiled reading your thoughts about ‘everyone knows one another’.  I was just as overwhelmed as you are feeling, about 16 months ago, when I first began here.  I did know one friend, personally, but no one else.  And I remember when the first deep need of someone surfaced and my first thought was:  ‘I only want to do the Bible Study and learn and grow.  But I have so many people in my life already to pray for, I don’t think I can pray for any more!’   I was a bit taken aback, that this group would actually become REAL PEOPLE to me!  But, alas!  it has!  And the sisters here, though I only know one face to face, have become such a REAL family that, of course, caring and praying just comes as a result of the sweet fellowship here.   Don’t worry about feeling overwhelmed.  (I actually kept a notebook and wrote down names and what I knew about them, just so I could try to keep people straight, at first.  It helped me a lot and then morphed into a prayer list.)   What is so sweet is that you are welcome and able to participate at the level that works for you!  Glad that you are here!

        1. Welcome Marilyn, Beth and SusieIt may help to know that those of us who have been around awhile feel overwhelmed by the influx of new people too 🙂
          My 2 cents…keep plugging away at the study even if you don’t have time to read everyones comments, sometimes you will have time, and people will become memorable to you as time goes on.

      3. Welcome, Susie & Marilyn.  Info about FB group is correct.  Feel free to email me, too    reneeo at brookings dot net      Or, if you already are FB friends with someone in this group, she can add you.  Then Diane or I “approve” it.

        I don’t always get to all the comments here!  I, too, have been overwhelmed when I see a high number (like 500+ 🙂  ).  But I haven’t been as overwhelmed since I started focusing more on doing the Bible Study even if it means I don’t get to the comments or write something someone else already has posted.  Although I still sometimes respond to comments before I get as far as I’d like in the Bible Study (whether I post responses or not), I am so drawn to the Bible Study that responding to the comments seems more like a CHOICE (not sure if that makes sense??).  I think for awhile I was so drawn to the discussion that I was easily overwhelmed by the number of comments — and it would have seemed hopeless for me to jump in on a Tuesday.  I do prefer to get well into the study on Sunday — and I used to feel so overwhelmed if I didn’t get a headstart on Sunday that I’d skip the whole week!

         
        This is a wonderful place for fellowship — and I’ve had to make a conscious effort to spend time doing the Bible Study.  I’ve seen the power of the Gospel in my own life (and friends have commented, too) and that has been related to taking the time to work through the questions — in order 🙂   Otherwise, I’d be the type to socialize, rely on previous knowledge, and maybe skip to the sermon. You will experience Grace on this site, and it’s okay to do what you are able to do 🙂

        1. Renee it’s so funny that you would say this “Otherwise, I’d be the type to socialize, rely on previous knowledge, and maybe skip to the sermon.” I have found myself doing that from time to time.

    4. Welcome Marilyn, Beth and Susie. So good to have you here. I pray you join in when you can and the overwhelmed feeling subsides. I too had it so strong. I so wanted to keep up but I just could not. The most important part is getting into Gods Word and the wonderful lessons Dee offers here and for me I have just tried to relax about not being able to read all the comments. With that being said what I can read is wonderful! I just feel it is such a nice community. You can jump in and it is like your friends are there with open arms just waiting for your return or you meet new friends you have not conversed with yet. In all honesty you are all conversing and contributing so much all ready i would have never known you were new:)  

  13. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
     
    Of course, I was touched by Dee’s story about Sally and Anne, and Steve’s patient, soft heart in trying to help Sally heal.    
     
    Normally I laugh myself silly-sick at Bob Newhart, but I realize that the truth comes ringing through in this skit that telling someone to just “Stop It!” does not help them to heal.  
     
    Perhaps the greatest impact this week came from Psalm 133:1 — because of what is going on in my church’s life at the present time.     Over the last couple of years, I have leaked out information on this blog about our struggling Disciples of Christ congregation.   It once was a congregation of 1,000, but is now down to less than 100.   Worship attendance on a good day is around 50.   This morning we were down to 35 (not such a good day — heat advisory may have had something to do with it).     We sold our building a couple of years ago to a Charter School, and then we leased back the portion of the building that we really needed (sanctuary, offices, gym, chapel, library, and a couple of classrooms).     Our lease runs out in another year.   Presently we are in intense negotiations with a Lutheran Church about five miles west of us, and we have worked out a covenant between the two congregations so our congregation can go and nest inside their building.    They also have a very small, older congregation, and too much building (and overhead) for their liking.   So it seems it might be a good fit for both churches.   On August 2, our congregation will get to vote on whether to go forward with this plan.    Psalm 133:1 “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”    How important it is going to be for each of the congregations separately and collectively!!    I know in our congregation there are some who got married in our church building, dedicated their babies, their children were baptized, and in some cases the children grew up and were married in that same building.    Personally, I don’t think I am going to have any trouble moving to the new building, but I am going to have to be sure I don’t say “Stop It!” to the ones who will belly-ache and may actually become depressed by the idea.    I want to have Steve’s attitude and patiently hold the hands of those who will struggle (some may even refuse to go).   
     
    I’m sorry I have been so hit-and-miss recently with my participation on this blog.  We are down to just six weeks to go until my daughter’s medieval-themed wedding, and I hope after that I can do a lot better. Last week we went backward in at least four different areas:  we discovered the father-of-the-bride’s cloak and the mother-of-the-groom’s dress were just about to be made out of identical fabric (purchased in two separate towns).  Then my husband’s ordered shirt arrived way too big (so the seamstress is going to alter it).  My shoes turned out to be too flat, and my dress hem drags — so I have to find new shoes. Finally the crowning blow was that the venue (restaurant) for the rehearsal dinner closed its doors to business!!   This coming week has to be better!   I have been downloading Keller’s sermons and listening, but not taking notes or sharing.    So I beg for your patience during this harried, hurried time of my life!  

    1. Deanna you have alot going on there. I pray Gods peace. Congratulations on your daughter getting married.

    2. Deanna, enjoy the days ahead…may all of the problematic issues be resolved and “clear sailing” be your path for the next six weeks (and beyond).  The Lord knows what is needed in your congregation/church situation.  I will pray that peace and unity reign, that the Lord will remain the focus of the congregation, that love will prevail. 

      1. Thank you, Liz and Nanci!   

    3. Wow, Deanna.  SO much happening.    You have always been such a light to me, in your willingness and commitment to serving your struggling congregation.  Your insights into being patient as people grieve these changes, is another example of that.  
      A medieval themed wedding sounds so lovely!   I must admit that was a thought I had 35 years ago, but didn’t follow through with it!  Would sure love to see some photos sometime 🙂   Blessings as you persevere!  

  14. Susie & Marilyn–welcome! There is no pressure to keep up with comments at all–as Beth said, just a place of grace, all of us with various trials and things we’re juggling, but sharing in a fellowship here that He continues to richly bless. Some of us have been here a while, but mostly we’re just sisters in Him, looking for a place to draw nearer to Him, and glean from one another and Dee’s godly teaching! Looking forward to learning from both of you 🙂

    1. Thanks, Lizzy. I have commented before but not really worked through the lessons in comments yet. I’m still pushing through Idol Lies. Good stuff! I can identify with almost every story in that book! And see my tendency to struggle with each area of idolatry mentioned.
       
      So anyway, how do I change my little photo from that generic little guy? 😉

      1. Marilyn–here’s the link to make a gravatar account, then use the same email address you use here, and your picture will show up:  http://en.gravatar.com  (just fyi–that same pic will show up anytime you comment on any other blog too, using that same email address). 
        Also, this page on “getting started” is really helpful for the study: https://deebrestin.com/getting-started/
        Dee’s daughter, Annie, did a GREAT tutorial there that is well worth watching. 

    2. thanks, Lizzy! I’ve been blessed already!

    3. Great points, Lizzy (“no pressure to keep up with comments”) and Beth (“a place of grace…sharing a fellowship that He continues to richly bless”)…thanks for sharing them; we all need the reminder from time to time…:)

  15. We sing this hymn a lot at Church but the words seem so fitting this week ( I just can’t find a video that sings it the way we do!): “Satisfied” 
    All my life long I had panted for a drink from some cool spring That I hoped would quench the burning of the thirst I felt within.
    Alleluia! He has found me, The One my soul so long has craved. Jesus satisfies all my longings; Through his blood I now am saved. 
     
    Feeding on the filth around me till my strength was almost gone, Longed my soul for something better only still to hunger on.
    Poor I was and sought for riches, something that would satisfy; But the dust I gathered ‘round me only mocked my soul’s sad cry.
    Well of water ever-springing, Bread of life so rich and free, Untold wealth that never faileth my Redeemer is to me.

    1. Thanks for bringing this song to mind.   I just took my dogs for a long walk along the river and was singing this one (and the one Wanda mentioned) as we walked.   I CRAVE some of these old hymns …. they aren’t sung in any church here, that I know of.    How I miss them.   

      1. Great to see a picture of you and one of your dogs, Beth!  
         

  16. What at stands out to you from the above and why? “He sat by her bed, night after night, stroking her hair, praying for God to heal her.” 
    Oh how Steve reflects the Father’s love for us. Oh, God, that you would still my heart to reflect your love in patience and long suffering to those around me.
     
    We visited a series of caverns this week and one of the sights took my breath away and has stayed with me. It was a pool of water merely 18 inches deep but because it was so still it perfectly reflected that which was above it giving it the illusion of depth and beauty that it did not have on its own. This should be my heart. That it is so still and confident in God’s love that it reflects that which is above giving it depth and beauty that it does not have on its own. I will try to share the image here. and this is what I see in Steve when he loves and endures for those he Loves.

    1. Here is a picture of what I saw.
      https://www.flickr.com/photos/ideonexus/6863948080

      1. Jill that is beautiful I can only imagine what it was like standing there. Thanks for sharing!

      2. What an insightful observation, Jill.  Thanks for sharing the photo too!

    2. Jill – I love your photo and LOVE LOVE the analogy of stillness … keeping my heart still so it can better reflect beauty and depth.   That is priceless and one I will remember.   Thank you.

    3. Jill,
      I loved this analogy of the shallow, still pool of water reflecting a beauty and depth that it did not have on its own.   Selah.
      And so He reminds me again tonight to ,   “Be still and know…..”

  17. First off….as I jumped in this morning I have to say that I was so over the moon blessed by the ongoing conversation of such encouragement between Beth, Susie and Marilyn!  Something in my soul was so moved as I read along.  Huge smiles….Aslan is on the move!!
     
    1.  What stands out to you from the above and why?  Sally’s story melted my heart and the Lord gave me a zinger of a kiss through it!  I’m always amazed at the freshness that the Lord brings into my prayer life for those that I’ve been praying for and burdened for for a long time.  At times my prayers lag or feel a bit repetitive….and then, and then….He will move and touch a specific passage, verse or word in the Scriptures….perhaps a song or a conversation with a brother or sister ….and my cries to Him will have a new theme or focus for a season.  The word for the past month has been “deliverance”.  And so here, with Sally’s incredible story, is again that beautiful word:  deliverance!!  A word woven throughout the whole of Scripture….and indeed, a word that shines with the gospel!!  “He has DELIVERED us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whome we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”  Colossians 1:13&14.  Amen and amen.  
     
    Amy’s story is equally beautiful!  It seems that the power of the gospel is delivering her from a life of anger and deep unhappiness to a life of JOY!  🙂  (oops, just realized that is skipping a bit ahead….)  In her story I again see God’s incredible deliverance!  

  18. 2. Proverbs 12-14…share what you find.
    I noticed that in the amplified translation “uncompromising righteousness” comes up frequently in all three proverbs.  Pondering this, uncompromising is defined as strict adherence to, an unwillingness to deviate from, therefore a genuine heart of righteousness, living in such a way that is pleasing to God is key, not only for the benefit of our fellow men and women, but for the self, for the best life possible. 

    Another point I found frequently mentioned is the willingness to accept instruction and correction.  I am much more likely to accept instruction, but when connected to correction it becomes more difficult.  Proverb 13:10 helped me in clarifying who I should seek advice from…from those with skillful and godly wisdom.  Those who are prideful have nothing much to offer of any worth; those who I do not respect are those who I bristle at being given correction from.

    Proverb 14:6 is interesting…those who are disagreeable, prideful, mockers, jeering, etc. cannot see or understand real truth/wisdom; real wisdom is not within their capacity.

    Proverb 13:7 demonstrates upside-down theology.  Those who think they have it all in the worldly sense with no thought to eternity in reality have nothing, while those who may not have much in the worldly sense but have the Lord on their mind and in their heart have it all!

    Proverbs 13:30 and 14:7 remind once again the importance of who one associates with in terms of impact and reflection.

    Proverb 13:22a brings to mind a lyric from Sara Groves song, “Generations,” that resets my thinking each time I hear it…”remind me of this with every decision, generations will reap what I sow, I can pass on a curse or a blessing to those I will never know”…we have incredible responsibility to our future generations.
     
    Welcome Susie! 

  19. 3.A.1.  What weighs a man down and what lifts him up?
    Anxiety weighs a man down; encouragement lifts him up.
     
    3.A.2. Why do we need a word from outside of ourselves?  What good word does the gospel give you?
    We can keep replaying “the tapes” over and over and over again with the same message of self-defeat, fear, anger, etc.  It keeps playing and playing, and we keep feeding into it’s message.  Sometimes a word from the outside is needed to knock us out of that “loop,” to re-set our mind and heart on what is truth, to move us back onto a positive path. 
     
    The good word that the gospel gives me is that in Christ I am righteous and worthy.  On my own I always fall short and am unworthy, but under Jesus’ cloak of righteousness I am covered…glorious, huh?  Makes me want to jump up and down and say YEAH!!!

    1. Nanci jumping up and down with you!

      1. 🙂

  20. How sad…my page reloaded and I lost my entire 3.B. entry…:( 
    Well, here goes again…
    3.B.1. What makes the heart sick? Give an example.
    “hope deferred” makes the heart sick.
    My example is seeds/planting.  Late spring I carefully purchased seeds for a butterfly flower and green beans; I purchased special butterfly flower seeds with fertilizer to help in ensuring a healthy beginning.  I carefully prepared the soil, reading the instruction on the seed packets and following them to the letter.  I watered the seeds and waited with great anticipation for the seedlings.  The green bean seedlings appeared and have grown into healthy, thriving bean plants that are climbing on the pole strings, flowering with the promise of green beans.  I am still waiting for any growth of the butterfly flower…no seedlings, no nothing.  I am greatly disappointed when I think of the butterfly flower…I planted it in three different areas to ensure growth in at least one, but nothing.  When I think of my green beans it makes me happy…I enjoy green beans and know that they are coming.
     
    3.B.2. What does Colossians 3:1-2 tell us to do?
    Keep our mind and heart set on things above rather than earthly, worldly things.
     
    3.B.3. What deep earthly sorrow is yours that heaven will heal? 
    I look forward to being reunited with my Grandma.  I look forward to being in the presence of a woman who I loved dearly and who loved me dearly. She is one of the most precious gifts the Lord provided me and I look forward to our reunion for eternity.

  21. 2. Read Proverbs 12 – 14 in one sitting, asking the Lord to quicken you, to give you a passage you need right now. Share what you find.
     
    Prov. 14: 4    Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest.     It is a cycle, if it is working right, or like a downward spiral if it is not.    One needs an ox to produce a harvest, and then there is feed in the manger; but if there is no feed for the ox, then it will not be able to eat and work.   It would seem one could avoid the worries of keeping the manger full if one didn’t even bother to own an ox.   However, that produces no good.     
     
    My Life Application Study Bible related it to people:   “The only way to keep your life free of people problems is to keep it free of people.   But if your life is empty of people, it is useless; and you live only for yourself, your life loses meaning.”   It goes on to say that we should not avoid other people, but we should serve other people – share the faith, work for justice.  It is not enough to have a “clean life” that ends up being empty.       
     
    3. Healing a Wounded Spirit
    (The following proverbs Tim Keller addresses in this week’s free sermon.)
     
    A. Proverbs 12:25  
     
    1) What weighs a man down and what lifts him up?
     
    An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.    An anxious heart can weigh a woman down also 🙂 – and cause her to lose sleep.  This coming from someone who was only able to get about 3 hours of sleep last night despite being in bed for 7 ½ hours.  
     
    2) Why do we need a word “outside of ourselves?” What good Word does the Gospel give you?
     
    We can deceive ourselves if we depend on our own words.    As the first part of 12:15 says, “The way of a fool seems right to him…”  The Gospel tells us that we are loved foremost…and helped…and protected….and forgiven when we fail.    
     
     
    B. Proverbs 13:12
     
    1) What makes the heart sick? Give an example.
     
    Hope deferred makes the heart sick.     I’m thinking of couples who want a child so much, but they just can’t “get pregnant.”    They keep trying so hard, and become absolutely obsessed with “methods and practices.”   They are no longer “making love,” they are just trying to accomplish the desired result.   It not only makes the heart sick, but it can make their bodies not function optimally.    This is illustrated by how frequently it happens that a couple who gives up and adopts a baby will almost immediately conceive their own.    
     
    2) It is understandable that a dream deferred (marriage, motherhood, success, health) brings sadness, and God  empathizes. But we have something more precious than any of those things. What does Colossians 3:1-2 tell us to do?
     
    We are told to focus on Christ and heavenly things, taking our minds off earthly troubles and plans.    We are supposed to set our hearts on things above and put heavens’ priorities into daily practice.  We should concentrate on the things that are eternal not on the temporary.  
     
    3)  My favorite line in the above “Come Ye Disconsolate” is “Earth hath no sorrow heaven cannot heal.”
     
    I love those lyrics also, but I must confess I prefer a different tune.   
     
    What deep earthly sorrow is yours that heaven will heal?    
     
    I would have liked for both of my daughters to get married (Wendy will be getting married in August, but there is no sign of anyone for Karen, who is older).    I must say that I am impressed with Karen’s independent spirit and her ability to surmount difficulties.   Perhaps the Lord is trying to show me that it isn’t as necessary for her.     At their ages, (48 and 45), natural grandchildren are pretty much out of the question.   I would have loved to have grandchildren. 
     
    C. Proverbs 14:13
     
    1) What is true of both laughter and and joy? Why, given our fallen world, is this true?
     
    We can still have hurt and grief lurking underneath our laughter and joy.   People can still feel lonely though surrounded by a crowd.    Laughter can be gained in inappropriate way, and seem to give temporary relief, but it isn’t the real thing and soon the sadness seeps back in.     
     
    2) How will the Lord reverse earthly sorrow — and how has the gospel made this possible?
     
    By His constant presence with us and by providing  eternal life for us through his sacrifice on the cross and by His resurrection, so that we know that this earthly sorrow is not all there is.
     
    D. Proverbs 17:22: How does a wounded spirit affect our physical health?    
     
    For starters, a wounded spirit can make us neglect doing the right things for our physical health. We don’t eat right, we can’t sleep, we don’t feel like doing any exercise.     Also it has been proven that a cheerful spirit and the “right attitude” can aid a person in recovering from serious illness.    “A crushed spirit dries up the bones.”    At least, it can certainly feel that way!      
     

    1. Deanna – the Lord surely gave you a little block of time to ponder on these Scriptures…..and I am being stimulated by reading your responses.  God has given you a marvelous ability to distill what you read in the Word and pack so much concise wisdom into your replies!  Great examples and applications.  🙂  

    2. Deanna, thank you for your answer on 3;C;1. We can still have hurt and grief lurking underneath our laughter and joy.   People can still feel lonely though surrounded by a crowd.    Laughter can be gained in inappropriate way, and seem to give temporary relief, but it isn’t the real thing and soon the sadness seeps back in. The way you described earthly joy and laughter was right on and exactly what I need to help be better develop my thought.  thanks    

  22.  
    2. Read Proverbs 12 – 14 in one sitting, asking the Lord to quicken you, to give you a passage you need right now. Share what you find.
    About a dozen stand out.  But this was the first one, from 12:16.
     
    Fools show their annoyance at once,  but the prudent overlook an insult.
     
    I need it right now, because I just read through my facebook feed.  Self explanatory!  There is almost always something for which I could take offense.  And I can get offended by the people who are offended!  Especially, Christians who complain that the only people who are not tolerated in our society are Christians, but continue to declare it in a very intolerant and unsavory way, which doesn’t reflect Christ well.    So I need to heed this proverb.  Don’t get annoyed.  At least, don’t spout off with an annoyed statement.  Prudence = wisdom.  Overlook.  It seems a bit like the covering we talked about last week.

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    2. Read Proverbs 12 – 14 in one sitting, asking the Lord to quicken you, to give you a passage you need right now. Share what you find.
    3. Healing a Wounded Spirit
       A. Proverbs 12:25  
    1) What weighs a man down and what lifts him up?
                Anxiety weighs down; encouragement lifts up. 
    2) Why do we need a word “outside of ourselves?” What good Word does the Gospel give you?
    My grandma used to recite a quote from Robert Burns, “ Oh would some Power the gift give us, to see ourselves as others see us.”    We need the input of godly friends to steer us back on course when we are unknowingly drifting.    I worked with eating disordered patients for a time and one of the hallmarks of that disease is the inability to see oneself as others do.   No matter how thin, how malnourished, when they look in the mirror, they see ‘fat’.     They had to learn to trust the objective feedback given from others who loved and cared for them.
    The New Testament has so many verses that remind us of who we are in Christ, but here is one of my favorites.     “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
    B. Proverbs 13:12
    1) What makes the heart sick? Give an example.
    Hope Deferred makes the heart sick.  
    Earlier this year I had what I thought was a very minor misunderstanding with a friend over some meals being planned for a retreat.  After an Email exchange which was growing heated and going nowhere, we agreed to forgive and let the matter drop.   However, she canceled the retreat which was to be held at her summer lake home.   I reached out to her a number of times – inviting her over,  suggesting that we meet for coffee to clear the air, and inviting her to be my guest at an event I knew she would enjoy.    She declined them all and eventually I pulled back (having previously learned a painful lesson about pushing too hard for reconciliation with someone who isn’t ready) and I kept telling myself “it will blow over”.     I’m still hoping that it will.   But six months have passed now and I haven’t  heard a word and my hope is becoming deferred.   I am growing increasingly fearful that our friendship has ended and my heart is truly sick at the thought of it.   This is a beautiful Christian woman – one of my closest friends.   It just doesn’t make sense to me.  
    2) It is understandable that a dream deferred (marriage, motherhood, success, health) brings sadness, and God  empathizes. But we have something more precious than any of those things. What does Colossians 3:1-2 tell us to do?
    Set our sights on heaven and the joy that will be ours there.
    3)  My favorite line in the above “Come Ye Disconsolate” is “Earth hath no sorrow heaven cannot heal.”
    What deep earthly sorrow is yours that heaven will heal?  
    Broken relationships.    I so look forward to heaven when the hurts inflicted by me on others, and others on me will be healed and no longer matter.  
    C. Proverbs 14:13
    1) What is true of both laughter and and joy? Why, given our fallen world, is this true?
    They can end in heartache.   I’m eager to read what others have to say about this, but I think that it is probably because the joys of this life are still tainted by sin and they are temporal.    I think of the time my parents gave me a $500 gift (which was pretty rare!) and I was looking forward to using it towards an upcoming trip.   The very next day the transmission went out on my car; more than eating up that gift and leaving me with definite ‘heartache’.
    2) How will the Lord reverse earthly sorrow — and how has the gospel made this possible?
    D. Proverbs 17:22: How does a wounded spirit affect our physical health?
    It can and will make us literally sick. 
    E. Proverbs 28:1  How does a wounded spirit make us unreasonably fearful?
    It can make us run away – ‘fight or flight syndrome’ .   We think others are talking about us when they aren’t.   We are sure we’re being judged when, in reality, we’re much harder on ourselves than anyone else is.   But the woundedness of our spirit brings self doubt and turns us inward to a degree that is unhealthy and unproductive.   Instead of turning us TO the source of hope and peace, we turn away and the wounds compound.
    If we were to look for one single theme that seems to be the most central and most important theme of the entire gospel of Matthew, it would be the theme of the coming of the kingdom. We see in the first instance that the term gospel refers to the gospel of the kingdom — the good news of the announcement of the breakthrough of the kingdom of God. In Matthew’s case, he uses the phrase “kingdom of heaven” rather than the terminology “kingdom of God.” He does this not because he has a different view of the meaning or content of the kingdom of God; rather, out of sensitivity to his Jewish readers, he makes common use of what is called periphrasis, a certain type of circumlocution to avoid mentioning the sacred name of God. So for Matthew, the doctrine of the kingdom of heaven is the same kingdom that the other writers speak of as the kingdom of God.
    4. In the following parable, how does Jesus show us the worth of the gospel? (Matthew 14:4-5)   
    I’m thinking this might be a misprint and is supposed to be Matthew 13: 45-46 ?
    The pearl represent Jesus Christ and the gift of salvation He offers us.  And once we have found it, we are satisfied so deeply that we will give up anything this life has to offer in order to possess it.     It is also a hidden treasure which the spiritually blind (those with unbelief) do not find.     The Holy Spirit is the One who opens our eyes to the truth so that we can recognize its value.
     

    1. OK – well I obviously did something wrong in my previous post.   I’m keeping my study notes and comments in a WORD file and copied it from there.  Maybe that’s not something that I was supposed to do?

      1. Beth-no worries! I’ve made every error possible here 😉 If you have the option to “paste as plain text” (some browsers allow it), do that. If not, you need to paste into a text doc and then copy/paste here. I really suggest watching Annie’s video on the getting started page–it’s really helpful. 

        1. Yes – obviously I need to do that!!!    It’s this kind of thing (I accidentally posted something twice yesterday) that scares me away from participating sometimes!   I hate ‘sticking out’ due to being technically challenged!!

      2. Oh Beth – what you had happen in your post has happened here MANY times!  I’m so technologically inept that I laboriously type out the questions I’m going to answer here rather than using Word documents and cutting and pasting…..but I still have an abundance of typos, etc when I look back!  🙂  It all comes out in the wash….and yes, there is grace aplenty here to cover all of our foibles!  🙂  
         
        Your content is so rich.  I still get all riled up thinking about your friend’s refusal to work through your disagreement….and a minor one at that.  And my thoughts here are not showing much grace to your friend are they??  On the other hand, you ARE showing grace to her when you describe her as a “beautiful Christian woman”.  Your example of this serious rift in your relationship is so perfect in regard to heartsickness.   Hoping that God will melt her heart…..waiting for an email, a phone call….and the months pass by so quietly.  And the little candle of hope for the friendship begins to flicker….and you are heartsick.  Your sharing really brought this verse to life!  Thanks.  🙂  

        1. Thank you Jackie.  You are such an encourager.   Yes, it’s been a long six months.   Many  tears. 

      3. Beth I have made that error before as well. We learn as we go:) So love you being here. .

    2. Beth: Such a good answer on number 2.   To see ourselves as Christ does.  Such an amazing thought.   And if we could, I think we would not be proud but completely enraptured by His love.  

    3. Beth,
       
      Welcome 🙂  I stumbled onto this blog early last summer and I hope you will feel as welcome and encouraged as I have been over this past 14 months.   
      Your answer on B-3 so resonates with me:     I so look forward to heaven when the hurts inflicted by me on others, and others on me will be healed and no longer matter. 

    4. Beth I can so relate to your pain with your friend. I went thru something similar. It has  been 5 years!!!!!! Our church at the time was going thru many challenges and it somewhat had to do with that. My words to her and it I guess did not come across correctly was that we needed to pray for our Pastor. She stopped wanting to walk with me, and then finally as I continued to pursue our friendship one day she gave me what seemed like a long list of things she felt came from me over the years and honestly I was blind sighted I could hardly believe it as I NEVER saw any of that. I cannot tell you the DEEP PAIN I felt as she was my prayer partner and dear friend. It did drive me closer to the Lord as I took the pain to Him. It has however made me so almost overly cautios in a bad way to worry about offending someone else close to me. This past week she did reach out to me not so much in friendship but for my business service. I was pretty surprised and have to admit it was strange feeling to go and speak to her and her husband. Nothing was even acknowledged in any way as a friend would discuss it was all simply business but felt it was a starting point. However my services would be that of helping them sell their home and move away. Still praying. I shared with her way back If I ever had a disagreement with one of my biological sisters I could never imagine not having reconciliation I felt that close to her and said how much of a loss I felt with her. I came to the conclusion the feeling must not have been the same for her as she never wanted to pursue it. Sorry for my long drawn out story. The Lord knows the pain and He can heal and I do ask that He show me what I need to learn from this pain. I do not cry about it anymore so I feel I am making it thru the healing. I also asked the Lord to open my eyes to what I may have not seen.

      1. Oh Liz – what a GIFT that you truly do understand the path Beth is walking in sorrow over her broken friendship.  So many close parallels for you both.  I sure hope Beth sees this post of yours for you will give her courage I’m certain!  And I’m lifting you up in this moment dear one…..being called in to use your business gifts and abilities without acknowledging the past spiritual closeness must be excruciating too.  🙁  On the surface it may look strange indeed…..but He is in this with you!  🙂  

        1. Jackie in all honesty when the request came thru a text I said” look forward to seeing you”and she did not respond to that and  when we met I did ask about her children a new grandchild ( so much has happened in the last 5 years) nothing was mentioned about mine.although she does Facebook and I do not and my girls are on there so she basically knows everything or maybe even more than I do:) bottom line I was not broken up by it. To me an indication I am healing. I do feel sad we do not share life together and seeing prayers of our past coming to reality without being able to share that is what i feel the saddest about. God knows and He is there. It is freeIng to not to have it feeling excrutiating as it had in the past.

      2. Liz – thank you for sharing your story.   If there is any truth in the adage ‘misery loves company’ – I guess it is that it helps to know that it might not be ‘about me’.  You know?   We tend to turn inward (at least I do) and I think that is where the deepest pain comes from.   My story has a lot of history behind it (far too much to share here) but it essentially boils down to something very similar to your experience.   I want so badly to live in harmony with others that I push too hard sometimes, and I have learned a painful lesson through it.   My way of dealing with conflict is to sit down, talk about it, forgive, pray together and move forward.   There are others who take a very different approach; they just want to ‘let it blow over’.   I have a friend who even has a quote about that.  “Less said, sooner mended.”   I don’t get that AT ALL !!!!   That is so opposite of me.  Not talking about it just leaves it festering and there is no closure.   But that is just me, and I have had to accept that there are others for whom that is not the case.   So, as in the case of this friend, I found out that the more she withdrew, the harder I pushed and the harder I pushed, the more she withdrew.   A never ending cycle.   So I smiled when I read what you told her about not being able to imagine not reconciling with a sister (biological or ‘in the Lord’) because I’m the same way!   And I’ve made similar statements before.   Having had that backfire in the past on a couple of occasions, I have tried to step back this time and give my friend space.   But it wasn’t supposed to turn out like this!!   The ‘space’ I was giving her was ‘supposed’ to make her come back to me!   I was just PM’ing someone about James Dobson’s book LOVE MUST BE TOUGH (which I read MANY years ago) in which he explains the ‘principle of least interest’ in relationships … that being, the person who cares the least, holds the power.   That is why I always feel so powerless!  I care SOOO much.   Too much, perhaps.    It sounds like you can identify with that too.   It hurts – but I also take some comfort in understanding that dynamic, and if caring too much is my ‘problem’ – well then, I think there are worse things.  (Now I’m the one rambling ….)
         

        1. No rambling Beth. Love your sharing. For myself I believe my wanting to discuss it and resolve it may have looked as if I was trying to be right and she being in the wrong. Not sure. Like I said I have prayed about it long and asked the Lord to show me the things to learn from it and I know He has. The area I still need to grow in is after having the wounded heart not to fear it happening with others all the time. I need to be walking free not bound by that! I also know the responses I may get from people as you said it is not all about me. So much more is going on people’s lives and I may be the punching bag. I know that all so well. Maybe I make myself an easy target. 

  24. Trust me Beth, you’re not “sticking out”! We’ve all been technically challenged here at times, especially me! Consider it as proof you’re really “part of the family” 😉

    1. You’re very kind.   (As is everyone here …)

  25. Jackie!    No ‘replies’ available where you commented, so I’m just throwing this out here many spaces below your comment.   I also laughed!  when I saw that you and your very difficult, yet very involved friend has the same birthday as you do.  I love that!   Thank you for your encouragement.  Even tonight when I drove past, my one neighbor who really has never made eye contact with me when she sort of waves, looked right at me.  🙂   Can’t explain, but I think I may have a starting point.  

    1. Yeah for a starting point, Wanda!

    2. Well Wanda…..”The eyes are a window to the soul”.  Wow, what a starting point indeed!  Precious.  🙂  

    3. And I did stop over at her yard this evening, with a glass of iced tea as she had been working for hours on her lawn.  So we had our first conversation.  I have to say that I have known all along that she could be a ‘trying’ one to befriend, as she had earlier been involved in a volunteer group that my husband led and there were some real issues.  But, still, I feel like I need to step out.  It’s a bit ridiculous to live across the street and never have a conversation.  And this has gone on too long with too many!  We’ll see what happens here.  Thanks for your encouragement, Jackie and Nanci!

      1. Oh Wanda – SO glad I scrolled back and found this entry this morning!!!!!   I’m just so proud of you for taking this simple step that we ALL neglect so easily.  I did think of your comments about your neighbors and send up short little prayers for you all day.  🙂  I was so very encouraged just that your neighbor had offered you eye contact ……but you didn’t let the grass grow under your feet in following up!!  Such gracious hospitality of the heart, offered in Christ’s name, is SO pleasing to your Father.  Hold on tight – He’s on the move in your life!!!  (And you have me thinking about some of my other neighbors that I’ve not invested any effort in…..hmmm).  

      2. Wanda this made me smile. Like bringing a cup of cold water. Praying for this connection. 

        1. Jackie:    I’ve got to say, I’m laughing now BECAUSE….when you said,  ‘you didn’t let the grass grow under your feet’…..that was sort of the whole reason I had this conversation.  In a literal way!  One of my concerns for this neighbor is that she HAS let her grass grow all summer. I knew she was out and about because she goes on long walks several times a day, so she seemed well.   But, I’ve been concerned about her not being able to cut it.  Not having a mower or something.  About a month ago, I wanted to go over and offer to mow for her, but our mower seems to always have problems and has not been working for the past month, so we’ve had to hire someone or borrow a push mower (for a LARGE yard) ourselves.  So, I felt helpless.  This week, she started using a non motorized, brand new push mower but because the grass is up to her knees, she spent hours and hours using a scythe first.  That’s when I brought over the iced tea!  She told me she had gotten complaints from someone about her yard.  But she was quite determined to tackle it and she wants to go green and not used mechanization and I have to admire her fortitude with such a large yard.   I couldn’t resist telling this part of the story when you used that phrase about the grass! 
           
          and Liz:   Thank you!  I did think of the verse about a glass of cold water.   That’s what really got me on my feet to do this.  🙂

          and the prayers are so appreciated!

  26. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
     
    The story of Anne and Sally…the “Stop It” skit, and Steve’s patience with Sally, night after night at her bedside. I can relate more to the “Stop It” attitude, and I believe at its root is an idol of comfort. Needing help from the outside, not being able to help ourselves. Several years ago, my daughter, while we were eating dinner, started to cough violently. As a nurse, I wasn’t alarmed; a choking person can’t cough, and truly she had just swallowed wrong. But another person at the table reacted with great fright, thinking she was really choking. It really scared her, and she began to refuse to eat anything unless it was soft and didn’t need to chew it, like yogurt, applesauce, pudding. I kept thinking she would “stop it” after a few days, but it went on. I would be patient, then I would be angry and tell her to stop it, but she couldn’t. I’d threaten to take her to the hospital if she didn’t eat her normal food; that didn’t help. We had such a wonderful pediatrician then who had given me her personal number, so I called her. We went for an office visit where the doctor patiently talked with her. I would sit with her for literally an hour while she ate half a sandwich, and prayed out loud over every bite she took…we prayed for God to take away her fear, for it was real fear. As a mom, it was very scary and disheartening as I couldn’t control it and had no power to stop it. I encouraged my daughter to spend time alone with Him, talking to Him and asking Him for help. After a few weeks, He “stopped it” by taking away her fear.

    1. “He “stopped it” by taking away her fear.”… love this, Susan. 
      Oh if only we had the wisdom provided in hindsight…I have also been guilty of the “stop it” mentality with my children and wish I would have had greater patience and understanding.  As they say, hindsight is 20/20.

  27. 3.C.1. What is true of both laughter and and joy? Why, given our fallen world, is this true?
    Both laughter and joy are temporary and will not endure indefinitely this side of heaven.  Why?…because there is evil in our world, there are consequences that we must live from our own wrong actions as well as those of others’.  We all have experienced or will suffer pain in some manner which will make continuous laughter and joy an impossibility this side of heaven.
     
    3.C.2. How will the Lord reverse earthly sorrow — and how has the gospel made this possible?
    The Lord overcame/conquered evil and death; He is the victor.  Thou the evil one might run rampant on the earth, he will be vanquished in the end…his worldly rampage is only temporary and will be brought to an end.  Those who trust Jesus as their Redeemer will be covered in His cloak of righteousness; their sin will be absolved by the sacrifice of Jesus.  Jesus is the only way to eternal life; the bliss of heaven is ours only through Jesus.

  28. 3.B.2.  It is understandable that a dream deferred (marraige, motherhood, success, health)brings sadness, and God empathizes.  But we have something more precious than any of those things.  What does Colossians 3:1&2 tell us to do?   
     
    To seek the things that are above…..and to set our minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  This brings to mind the old idea that people can be “so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good”.   Clearly, the Scriptures do not teach such a way of seeking first the Kingdom of God (Matt 6:33).  Even here in Colossians 3, the verses immediately following the command to set our eyes on Christ and eternity proceed then to say “THEREFORE…..” put to death what is earthly in you.  Followed by putting on holiness.  A pretty clear picture emerges from this chapter in terms of what setting our minds on things above will look like in our daily lives.  

  29. This post hits home for we are having some valleys in our family this month. What stood out to me was that we need one another but most importantly we need His power to comfort and to change us. Also Sally’s story stood out and how loving and attentive Steve was, and Dee too even though she struggled wanting Sally to get over it..She showered her with love, got her the help she needed. It is beautiful to see Dee and Steve’s children as adults-how humble, honest and loving toward others they are.
    The counselor video was great-Bob Newhart was one of my favorite shows. I lol’d through it and especially the end with the 10 word sentence. It was funny but I too can relate to counseling my boys that way sometimes and being counseled that way. Just stop it! 🙂  

  30. 3.C.2.  How will the Lord reverse earthly sorrow – and how has the gospel made this possible?  
     
    The first thing that came to my mind was 1 Corinthians chapter 15.  Starting right off with these words…”Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you – unless you believed in vain.  For I delivered to you of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures….” .  
     
    Paul goes on to speak of the lavish grace of God in his life.  How we are all, in Adam, under the sentence of death.  But the GOSPEL has broken the chains.  Christ was raised from the dead and has defeated sin and death.  Verse 19 tells us that “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”  I have been pitied….I’ve been told “I feel sorry for you” …..because of my hope in Christ.  And Paul here affirms that eyes that can only see earthly realities WILL pity us sometimes because of our hope.  
     
    In a very bottom line way, we will only realize the reversal of our earthly sorrows fully after our death.  This wonderful 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians ends with both the HOPE of eternity and the admonition for our labors here on earth.  “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, THEN shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘ death is swallowed up in victory.’  ‘O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?’  For the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”     And I love the final verse that begins with “therefore”.  “Therefore my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”  Our good work in the Lord should literally be FUELED by the life, death and resurrection victory of the Lord Jesus Christ!  

  31. Just another thought on our sorrows…..from our own study many months ago.  Was it Ellen Davis who gave us the incredible graphic illustration of the sower going out to sow in tears that she saw so differently after her time in Africa…..where the very seed is so precious indeed…..She was illustrating Psalm 126: 5&6 for us.  “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!  He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”  Tears and sorrow are going to be our companions all along the way…..and that is more than ok.  

    1. Oh yes!  I remember doing that study while I was sitting in a guest cabin at the facility where my kids work and live.  So it must have been last October.  I am going to look it up again.  That was SO good but I can’t remember the whole context.  Thanks for the reminder!

    2. That illustration has stuck with me too!
       

  32. Jackie great reminder of the study wIth the Ellen Davis illustration.Such richness in life comes from tears and sorrow. So much richness in my own life. In an earthly perspective we have such a different view of what would bring richness to life. I love the words the Apostle Paul states “if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” 1 Corinthians 15:19 we can look forward to the life to come. Oh how I pray those who do not yet have that perspective will get that. Lord open their eyes to see that. 

  33. 2. Read Proverbs 12-14 in one sitting, asking the Lord to quicken you, to give you a passage you need right now. Share what you find.
    14:1 The wisest of women builds her house, but with folly her own hands tears it down.
    14:4 where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the oxen.
    14:23 In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.
    I have been restless to be a part of some kind of missions and have been praying for this, however I continually have conviction that whispers Luke 16:10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much…” And while it’s a bit out of context I can see that I have not yet done well with the job given me at hand. I am still in training, learning discipline, sacrifice, toil here in this place, my place. Keller said a couple of weeks ago that it isn’t true service if there is no sacrifice. When I toil for my family and those around me I try to minimize the sacrifice and this is selfish and not true service. Essentially I see God again prompting me, “Get crackin’! There is much for you to do! (And you are able.)”
     
    and this spoke to me as well: 14:10 “The heart knows it’s own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.” How precious are those that are not strangers to us, friends. Real friends who know our heart (heart being our core, who we really are as in last week’s’ Relationship Repair sermon).

    1. Jill yes I was just able to read this and I agree with Jackie. This struck a chord. Thank you.

  34. Jill – your insight here has helped me as I have been working through something this morning…..”When I toil for my family and those around me I try to minimize the sacrifice and this is selfish and not true service.”  Ouch.  My marraige has been in a delicate place again…and I have been avoiding some of the sacrifice that I do believe God has been calling me to…..thanks SO much for this!  It’s likely that you were speaking of something very different….but the Spirit knows how to speak to us in our own language through one another!  🙂  I’m very grateful.

  35. The following stood out to me a couple days ago and still stands out — to the extent that I have been thinking about it for a few hours (and am a little troubled):  “Wounded spirits and wounded families and wounded churches need the Power of the Gospel, the Pearl of Great Price, to heal.”

    I’ve known many wounded spirits that have been healed by the power of the Gospel, known and known of some wounded families/relationships that have been restored (and also have known Christian families that have been split by divorce), but I have never heard anything about wounded churches being fully restored after major conflicts.  Instead, the restorations have occurred by the “amputation method.”  i.e., church splits or individuals (including pastors) leaving.  In all the (evangelical) situations I’ve heard about in which the church either split or had a revolving door, the Gospel was being taught/preached — at least sometimes. 

    It appears that there either were pride or power issues that escalated.  I am thoroughly confused by this.  Although I may not hear about situations where reconciliation did occur (only hear about blow ups after they’ve reached crisis stage), I don’t understand what happened — I wonder how many problems are due to not understanding the Gospel or letting it soak in (even by those preaching and teaching it).  Thinking about the parable of the sower…  and still confused.  During the last years (decades), I’ve heard the gospel preached/taught so clearly — and I also have seen wounded spirits and families healed, and no substantial/evident church-wide problems.  The Gospel hasn’t lost it’s power — yet at the same time, I’ve known of SO MUCH PAIN within (because of dynamics in) “good” churches in the region which I thought were “good.”  I don’t “get” what is going on.

    I read Beth’s description of someone being labelled by a small group leader as a “pathologically dependent person” — I’m also wondering if one problem is that some leaders try to be pseudo-shrinks (or unethical or incompetent “real” ones) rather than living out the Gospel??  Hmm… wondering the degree to which unskilled attempts at psych, medicine, business, etc within churches leave less space for the Gospel.  Part of the peace I experience now is due to better discernment about whom I should believe.  Maybe after this week, I will have a better understanding about why the Gospel doesn’t “work” in some churches??

    1. I don’t have answers to church drama that seems to be all around us, but I do think so highly of one particular resource that I have to mention it.   (Maybe I already have … )   Peacemakers (http://peacemaker.net) is one of the most biblicaly sound yet practical and realistic organizations I’ve come across in all my years.   I have gone through the basic training course and my dream is to work with them in retirement.    They work primarily with churches and Christian organizations that have experienced conflict.   In response to my earlier comments about a small group leader reprimanding a new member for sharing ‘too much, too soon’ – I think that was driven by fear.     Fear of becoming emotionally entangled, enmeshed and drained by a needy person.   Fear of dependency.  Every church has these individuals.  Everyone has known them.   What to do?   How do we care for those who are emotionally needy while maintaining healthy boundaries?    I think groups are the best context in which this should happen …. a group where there is a measure of protection, distribution of care and sharing of insights and resources.   That – plus (as you mentioned) – knowing ones limits and referring to medical/mental health professionals when appropriate.  Sometimes those boundaries are kind of blurry and there is greater objectivity when a group of people are involved than with just one or two.    That was why it saddened me so greatly when this particular incident occurred.  The person WAS reaching out to a group (rather than an individual) and got wounded in the process.  
       

    2. Renee, I so appreciate this. You’ve asked questions that swim around in my head often. To the point where it made me feel crazy.  ive never experienced a church split first hand, but have friends and a brother in law who’s families were (and some still are, with no communication at all) torn in half because of church splits. Such a victory for satan. But I think there’s a lot we could learn from this rather than be taken down.. And that is the power of the Gospel, just like you said, and whether we really tap into it. Do we believe it for ourselves? Or rely on it from others? From others like pastors and elders..  I hear of pastors burning out and leaving church so often, which I have seen first hand. And while yes, there’s a responsibility on their part for what happened, but I do wonder how much of it isn’t the heavy expectation put on them from the congregation. How much of the attacks they face aren’t from within the church itself? If the enemy can take them down he has access to so much More. I believe I have a huge responsibility in praying for and caring for church leaders, and congregation. I’m a really quiet person, not one to be up on stage, but I do still have a responsibiity to pray and care for fellow believers. I feel forgotten and lost many times yes, but it’s my way of showing the Lord I love Him and care for and protecting His people. I realize this doesn’t really answer questions, but I do want to encourage you to not make yourself crazy with those questions. I’ve done that. They’re great questions worth pondering, but in the end, it’s still the very souls, no matter how wounded or cold or divided, that God is really after. Thankfully He remains sovereign and unchanging in the midst of so much heartache in this world. 

      1. Thanks, Susie.  I’ve never been part of a church split either, though I have seen many people leave churches.  People close to me have been part of painful, more “official” church splits — and they do see God’s sovereignty even through the split.  What surprised me, after visiting a few of them “before” and “after” when I’ve been with friends and relatives, is that a couple of the churches, though smaller, seem healthier after the split (though that wasn’t necessarily true of the groups who left to start or join new churches).  The sweet spirit was so evident and the Gospel seemed more clear after the splits. (but I know of other churches where people continued to leave). The fruit and relationships (and climate) after a split may provide more answers than the split itself.  Those relationships, our love for each other, are often what God uses to draw others to himself and to the specific fellowship.  I’m so thankful to be part of a church to which people are attracted because we do love one another.  When the church is safe, we are safe enough to love visitors and see confession and repentance as a way of life.  

        1. Coming to this conversation a bit late, but reading the comments this morning I can’t help but comment. 
          I was intimately involved in a church split back in 2009..I worked as the office manager for a parish just short of nine years that went through a mighty battle and subsequent split that resulted in my resignation and leaving membership.  The pastor at the heart of the issue is an incredible teacher and preacher; I have no doubt that his preaching and teaching nourished and brought many to the Lord.  Yet, despite these incredible spiritual gifts, he definitely had issues with control and pride.  The youth minister did a wonderful job with the youth…she engaged them; she was truly a woman in Christ.; the youth ministry was active and meaningful.  Yet, she allowed fear to direct her actions in such a way that could be seen as secretive, deceitful.  For my part, I was very much caught in the middle as part of the ministry team, yet I also found myself feeding into being in the middle.  There were others involved on the fringes that were involved in leadership in some capacity.  I won’t go into the specifics, but let me say that initially when all came to light it was a massive “blame game.”  Sides were taken and trust was lost.  In hindsight I can see clearly that the evil one had his way with us; we fed into his ploys…  Pride was huge, lies were spun, relationships were lost…repentance would have been so much easier, so much more loving, but no one was willing to confess their part and seek forgiveness.  To this day, there are still hard feelings.  There are some people/past friends that I can no longer be around because they are still so embroiled in the bitterness and resentment of the fight.
          The last thing I will say is that this parish was onto something really great…we were supporting domestic and international adoptions and orphanages, domestic and international missions, Stephen Ministry, Food kitchen, world relief efforts, etc.  In looking back, I can see that the evil one really needed to squelch the work that was going on and progressing.  Pride and fear were his devices…  Fault?…indeed there is enough fault to go around; all involved were guilty in one way or another.  In this church split circumstance we lost our focus on Christ, the victor was the evil one.

  36. I read proverbs 12-14 yesterday and been reading it again today. I really appreciate the thoughts and insights that have been shared, I’ve been encouraged. I’ve just been in tears reading these chapters. I’m grieved over how blurred the difference between wickedness and righteousness has become in the last months. Slowly deceit crept in when I wasn’t rooted firmly in Christ. God asked a hard and painful thing from me and this rebellious and helpless little sheep said no way, and started wandering her own way. I see myself in Proverbs 14:15 as “the simple, believing every word” When I’m not seeking Him first and acknowledging Him in my every day, I start to believe the other voices around me…The lies, deceit, the wickedness.. My world gets shaky and my sleeps restless. So I see myself as foolish, since so much has become about me in the last Months. But by Gods sovereignt, grace and faithfulness, I also see He is not done yet. For one, He somehow led me to this study that has just the words of conviction, discipline, and love I need to hear and receive. And I’m surrounded by a bunch of gracious, loving women, something I’ve never really experienced before. He knows what we need even before we really know how to ask. Thank you, Lord, for leading me here. Thank you women, for letting me in. 

    1. So glad you are here Susie…

    2. “And I’m surrounded by a bunch of gracious, loving women, something I’ve never really experienced before.” That is the wonderful surprise all of us have discovered here!

    3. Susie, I love your tender heart and I am encouraged to hear how the Holy Spirit is moving in you in Proverbs. 

    4. Susie – “God asked a hard and painful thing from me and this rebellious and helpless little sheep said no way, and started wandering her own way.”  I needed to hear this.  OH, how I can deceive myself.  “Slowly deceit crept in….”.  Yes.  How I love that you recognize God’s sovereignty, grace and faithfulness throughout it all….

  37. Thank you Susie, for your transparency.   You are very brave – and a good example to me.   I have areas where I have been stubborn too, due to a wounded spirit and some of the same kind of craziness that Renee writes about.   I withdraw and stop taking risks.   Haven’t been in a Bible Study for years, though I love to listen to pod-casts and drink in wonderful teaching.   It’s the personal part – the risk-taking – that is so scary.  This seems like a wonderful place to stick my toe in again. 

    1. Thank you, Beth. I am so thankful you stuck your toe in. Soo much good stuff has come from you just in taking that small step!! 

    2. Beth, This is a wonderful place to stick your toe in again:)  I first started here because I wanted to be in a Bible Study again but couldn’t spend more time away from home.  One challenge that I’ve experienced living here that I hadn’t experienced much before is that I quickly become weary when a Bible Study group doesn’t study the Bible!  If I wanted to focus on some topics, I’d get cable TV — or work more.  But I do believe that God has used this Bible study blog to prepare me to become more involved again with face-to-face BIBLE  studies.  This is a good place.  I’ve been so blessed, strengthened and healed through these studies.
      I need a nap so may crawl into bed and read rather than write!

  38. 2. Read Proverbs 12 – 14 in one sitting, asking the Lord to quicken you, to give you a passage you need right now. Share what you find.
    Proverbs 14:4 Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, but much revenue comes by the strength of the oxen.    This one struck me because I am currently addressing the issue of how I choose to have no friends (keeping my manger clean) because I have been hurt in the the past and how I need to be a friend to others and give of myself (dirtying the manger by having oxen) so that they will know the love of Christ and be pointed toward Him (revenue from the strength of oxen).
     
     

    1. Dawn – what a wonderful application you have given us – and it ties in so perfectly with much of the above discussion that some of the others were having (Susie, Beth and Renee….).   The paralyzing power of past wounds…..and the power of the gospel that brings in new beginnings.  Sweet.  

    2. Dawn,
      Such helpful insight on Prov. 14:4.   Love continues to take the risk.

  39. 3. Healing a Wounded Spirit 
    (The following proverbs Tim Keller addresses in this week’s free sermon.) 
    A. Proverbs 12:25  
    1) What weighs a man down and what lifts him up? 
     
    Anxiety brings us down and kind words lift us up.
     
    2) Why do we need a word “outside of ourselves?” What good Word does the Gospel give you?
     
    A different perspective? The Gospel gives me hope. 
     
    B. Proverbs 13:12 
    1) What makes the heart sick? Give an example. 
     
    The waiting….if we focus on a certain “hope” we go crazy in our minds. For example, when I couldn’t find my teenage son and I waited and waited for news; I went sick inside myself. I should have focused my attention on Him; I should have had faith that He was conducting the entire drama. BTW, he was found eventually.
     
     
    2) It is understandable that a dream deferred (marriage, motherhood, success, health) brings sadness, and God  empathizes. But we have something more precious than any of those things. What does Colossians 3:1-2 tell us to do?
     
    We are to focus our attention on Him; He is watching over us.

  40. 2. Read Proverbs 12 – 14 in one sitting, asking the Lord to quicken you, to give you a passage you need right now. Share what you find.
     
    What stood out throughout Proverbs 12 was the distinctions between the righteous and the wicked. I struggle with Proverbs 12:3, “A man cannot be established through wickedness, but the righteous cannot be uprooted” because I know of situations where it appears the person IS being established, or succeeding, through dishonesty, deception, manipulation, and the righteous one appears to be on the losing side. I know I need to remember that ultimately, the righteous in Christ are firmly rooted and the wicked will not last because they have no root…blown away like chaff. But it’s hard to see people seemingly getting away with all kinds of things in this life.
    Proverbs 12:6, “The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the speech of the upright rescues them” stood out because I am in a situation where I know certain information that is being circulated that isn’t true about someone, and when I first read this, I took it like the speech of the upright rescues “them”, the “them” being the ones who are being damaged by the words of the wicked. This verse made me think of Esther; Haman was indeed lying in wait for the blood of the Jews, and Esther’s wise words to the king, at the proper time, rescued them. I am praying for wisdom about timing and with whom to speak.
     
    In Proverbs 13:10, “Pride only breeds quarrels…” I know that my pride is at the root of my starting arguments.
    Proverbs 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” I can remember times when I was sure the Lord worked in my life or someone else’s life, or answered a prayer, and the surge of hope and excitement I felt. But I also know the sick feeling I have about situations that just never seem to change or get better, and how it drains away my hope and makes me feel like just giving up.
     
    Proverbs 13:20, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”  It is hard to be surrounded by so many unbelievers in my family. There are some who are foolish in their ways; others have wisdom gained through living but often their wisdom is worldly – they don’t look at life through the lens of the gospel. Have I truly been harmed? In the way that I often feel all alone on an island, isolated, lonely, and discouraged.
     
    Proverbs 14:1, “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” I learned this verse in a Bible study years ago. As a wife and mom, I have at times been wise, but other times been foolish and behaved badly. I know that my children have been observers to my often rocky marriage, and I feel guilty over the damage done to them as they have not had the example of a mom and dad with a close, intimate, loving relationship. The kicker is that that is what I observed from my parents when I was living at home.

  41. 3.D. Proverbs 17:22: How does a wounded spirit affect our physical health?
    A wounded spirit makes one despondent, discouraged, disheartened, lacking hope and courage.
     
    3.E. Proverbs 28:1  How does a wounded spirit make us unreasonably fearful?
    We become so fearful that we are scared of our own shadow; we see danger where it doesn’t exist.

    1. Nanci I can relate to this as it has happened to me with my spirit being wounded. I was not able to repley to your post about the church split but what you shared had such great reflection and truth. Going back to the book”The Bait of Satan” really gave me such an understanding of what was going on when our church went thru something similar. We are such a smaller number now with wounds of the past still being healed. What you shared nails it. We must stop being baited by the enemy. 

      1. “The Bait of Satan” really does shine the light on the many temptations and ploys the devil weaves into the world hoping individuals will take the bait.  I certainly hope I didn’t come across as having a “devil made me do it” mentality…that was not my intent; he certainly puts feelers out for vulnerabilities and then goes about his work hoping to take advantage of those vulnerabilities, but he doesn’t make me/us do anything, it is my/our freewill to succumb or turn away, to take offense or not.  Indeed my spirit was wounded and continues to be overly sensitive to any type of deception, but I do sense healing; I am thanking the Lord for the change that has and is occurring in my heart.  Many thanks, Liz, for recommending “The Bait of Satan” so many months ago; I really do think that gave me better clarity and encouraged the healing process.

        1. Well said, Nanci.  Your tender, teachable heart continues to bless me day by day.  I have long seen such a “Mary heart” in you, sister.  🙂  We are all the blessed beneficiaries!  

        2. Jackie, you are so sweet…thank you for the encouragement…:)

  42.  
    2. Read Proverbs 12 – 14 in one sitting, asking the Lord to quicken you, to give you a passage you need right now. Share what you find.
    Proverbs 14: 26,27 In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.

    God encouraqed me yesterday morning with these two verses and I didn’t have time to post! He spurred me on that as I live in awe and wonder of the Gospel, of Him(fearing the Lord) what comes out is this unbendable, humble, gracious confidence in Him. If God is my confidence nothing will shake me for I will run to Him. As I find my satisfaction in Him I won’t want anything else to take His place to satisfy me. I like to think of His springs-His life flowing in me satisfying me so much so that I am more aware of the snares of death-of my idol’s whispers, ‘surely he doesn’t love you’. and I desire His Springs so much from experiencing Him being my satisfaction that I turn from the snares. 
     
     
     
     

  43. 4. In the following parable, how does Jesus show us the worth of the gospel?
    (Matthew 13:45-46?)
    The man dealt in precious jewels, he knew values.  When he came upon “the pearl of great price,” he knew it’s immense value…it was so valuable, it was worth the sale of all he had to obtain it.  In relation to the gospel, the truth and mercy that the Lord extends is beyond the value of anything this world has to offer; all things of this world should be placed secondary to the gospel good news because it far, FAR surpasses all else found in and of this world.

  44. 2. Read Proverbs 12 – 14 in one sitting, asking the Lord to quicken you, to give you a passage you need right now. Share what you find.
     
    “Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.”
    ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭12:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬
     
    I have spent a couple of days trying to see if the Lord was speaking to me through any of these verses and haven’t really been drawn to one particular verse. Many of them speak to the words of the two types of people. I even went to different versions of the Bihow to understand better! I finally came up with this one. I find that I am quick to respond to others sometimes instead of “blowing it off.” This past weekend I think I did have a case of doing this and didn’t realize at the time. Here’s what happened…
     
    A family member and I were discussing a situation where someone had given a characterization of 2 people. The characterization was that they thought the people were “honest and good,” and that they went to church with them. This family member said, “Well, look at the Dugars.” I looked at the person and said, “I don’t know much about that.” This person said, “Well, one of them molested people.” I continued to act as if I was ignorant because I was truly focused on something more important than that “bait”  being handed to me to begin a potential argument! Yay!
     
    Now, I know a little bit about the situation, and heard a couple of interviews with the victims, as well as a bit of an interview with the parents. After listening to that I came to my own conclusion about the case looking at all sides. It is unfortunate it happened, I don’t believe it was molestation in that sense of the word (I think some true moleststion victims would disagree as well), and the parents did what they could when they found out. However, I didn’t want to “get into it” with this family member. I wish I had said something like, “Even Christians are sinners,” but I just left the whole thing alone. Whew! maybe I am learning to be wise after all! I am a bit sad though, because this family member doesn’t go to church, and may even be an atheist. I know one thing, they have contempt for us, the church going Christian. That’s what makes me sad. They probably will never know Jesus, and up until now I have been a part of this problem. I have not demonstrated my Christian love very well 🙁

    1. Wow Laura!!! I love this post and I agree-you were wise. 

    2. Laura, I hope this encourages you..but I picked up on something you said..” I know one thing, they have contempt for us, the church going Christian. That’s what makes me sad. They probably will never know Jesus, and up until now I have been a part of this problem. I have not demonstrated my Christian love very well :(“  Trust me when I tell you that I am confident God can take anything you have done-right or wrong and use it, and you HAVE loved well-I have seen it in your posts. But even in the times you haven’t take courage I firmly believe if He is pursuing someone the mistakes we make won’t prevent Him melting their hearts for Him. I know from experience on both sides. As a believer I too have not loved well and I have seen him move in redeeming those hearts anyway. I have also been on the other side as an unbeliever not being loved well by a few beleivers who were more morality centered and wanted nothing to do with me-yet He didn’t allow those bad things to sink in and turn me off of Him. What’s wierd is now I see why it was hard for them to be around me-for I have struggled with that too sometimes! yuk! Glad He isn’t done with us yet. 🙂

      1. Very good points Rebecca! I will keep them in mind. It gives me hope with my children since I messed up so much over the course of their lives :/

        1. Laura, I’m right there with you for I have too! :/ I can so easily be the older brother with my boys-or trying to correct it go the younger brother way. I always say if they follow hard after God it will be such evidence of Him moving despite me. 🙂

        2. Laura – amen to Rebecca’s wise words to you….my oldest son, the “child of my youth”, is nine years older than his brother.  He lived through Soooooo much more of my rebellion against God than his siblings did.  If it all falls on us to “do well” with our children (and I do believe the Lord wants us to nurture them well!  🙂  ), then he should be the most rebellious of them all.  Not so.  He is the only one with a hungry heart for Jesus….following hard after Him!  He just WALKS in kindness and the fruit of the Spirit is beautiful in his life …..God’s ways are mysterious, but He IS faithful.  And He does love our children so much more than we are ever capable of loving them!  The past is the past.  It’s forgiven and we can leave it with the Lord.  I, for one, am excited to think of the godly, nurturing, creative and incredible grandma you are going to be!!  🙂  Sometimes we pray and pray for our children…..and then we think that “the worst” has happened…..when in reality God is opening new vistas and paths to know Him ever more deeply and glorify HIM through it all!!  I see you faithfully doing just that.  🙂  

    3. “Wow Laura!!! I love this post and I agree-you were wise.” agreed, Laura…way to not take the bait!

    1. 🙂

  45. 3. Healing a Wounded Spirit
    A. Proverbs 12:25  
    1) What weighs a man down and what lifts him up?
    Anxiety weighs him down and a good word lifts him up.
     
    2) Why do we need a word “outside of ourselves?” What good Word does the Gospel give you?
    SO GOOD. That He has me-I was bought with a high price-He is the pearl of great price and He has given me Himself-an endless treasure above anything this world offers!
     
    This has nothing to do with me, but here is an example of helping someone with a ‘good word’ who is struggling. My husband recently mentioned he was struggling that he feared he wouldn’t be able to  love people who push the gay agenda on the church. I told him, not everyone who is gay is doing that, but you know what helps me with that and really with anyone? That Jesus pursued me in my mess before I knew Him. He pursued me when I was passionate against anything Holy-like they are..I believed anyone should be able to be married-and why not live together first or really why even get married? I was even for abortion. YET He was pursuing me during that time-what love is this?! He pursued me in my mess and that melts me to love someone else who is blind-to look past that and have compassion for they are not what they could be if they would come to Him. 

    1. Rebecca,
       
      Such life-giving words:     He pursued me in my mess and that melts me to love someone else who is blind-to look past that and have compassion for they are not what they could be if they would come to Him. 
      Thank you.

    2. AMEN REBECCA  ME TOO!!!!!!

    3. “He pursued me in my mess and that melts me to love someone else who is blind-to look past that and have compassion for they are not what they could be if they would come to Him.”
      Rebecca, this is so true, an excellent reminder to love first and foremost.

  46. 3. Healing a wounded spirit. 
    A. Proverbs 12:25 
    1. What weighs a man down and what lifts him up? Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down but a good word makes him glad.
     
    2. Why do we need a word “outside of ourselves?” What good Word does the Gospel give you? My mind gets stuck on repeat, it cannot jolt itself to a new track. A word outside of me is objective and truthful, not soggy with self. A word outside myself is one that has God in His rightful place and me in my rightful place. The Gospel’s Good Word is that it is finished. I can do nothing to be better, do better. He has done it all. And He loves me. He is what matters, not the anxiety ridden worries from day-to-day this does not make them disappear, but rather puts them down a notch on the priority list, takes them out of the center. The gospel says Trust, patience, love, wait on the Lord. He has purpose and He loves so much that He IS involved, here, moving, touching, purposing each day, each step, even those by mistake will have purpose, meaning. He does not waste our suffering, our tears.
     
    The Gospel gives the good word of “He has come to tabernacle with us.” He dwells among us.

    1. Jill,
      Your beautiful declaration of truth gives me courage for this day:     He has purpose and He loves so much that He IS involved, here, moving, touching, purposing each day, each step, even those by mistake will have purpose, meaning. He does not waste our suffering, our tears.
       

  47. There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword. But the tongue of the wise promotes health. Proverbs 12:18.
    Lord may my words be promoting health. 

    1. Liz,
      I’m certain that many of us here can Amen this prayer in our own lives.
      Help us Lord.

    2. On question 3 number 2, I wanted to give an example but hesitated because it is my dear friend’s story but if I don’t say her name I think she will be okay with it. I think giving a good word is loving someone too-which is living the Gospel. When we grow in embracing His love for us-it will flow out of us onto others. When they are hurting just loving them may be all they need for that time. It might not be a good idea to pound them with scripture! 🙂  The example I wanted to give is when a friend who was my room mate came to me crying admitting her struggle with her desire for same sex attraction-and that she didn’t want to act on it-she was concerned there was no hope for her. She just needed me to love her..and to be there for her and to let her know He loves her too. So I think that could be defined as a ‘good word’?  I also think that is true with my boys and how they come to me with things…I have failed miserably in pounding them with scripture or the truth..and then there have been times I haven’t..but I know He will redeem the times I failed to love well. 🙂

      1. Rebecca, that was absolutely loving her well…you gave her what was needed for the time…love, support, and assurance of the Lord’s love for her. 

  48. By pride comes nothing but strife. But with the well advised is wisdom Proverbs 13:10
    Oh Lord continue to work out the pride in me. How much of the strife that I deal with in my marriage is connected to my own pride. Lord help me to keep going to You to learn how to get my own pride out of the way and allow Your wisdom to lead me and not my own flesh. How far I have come how far I have yet to go. Help me not to allow offences against me to let this pride keep rising up. Change me from the inside out. Remind me You are my defense. Let me keep looking at your example from your own life on this earth be my example for my own life. Help me to my life in your hands. 

    1. Liz – beautiful prayer which I have prayed along with you, word for word, this morning.  Thanks Sister!!  🙂