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PERSISTENCE IN PRAYER

THERE IS NO LIFE AS EXCITING

AS THIS LIFE WE HAVE IN CHRIST.

TO THINK THAT THE GOD WHO MADE THE UNIVERSE

IS MINDFUL OF US.

I EXPERIENCED IT AGAIN LAST WEEK.

EVEN AS IT WAS HAPPENING,

I KNEW IT WAS HIM.

HE WAS GUIDING AND ILLUMINATING PRAYER

FOR ME AND FOR YOU.

My daughter-in-law, Dianne, wanted to celebrate her husband’s “Jubilee” birthday on Oct 30th. So she rented a cabin in beautiful Brown County, Indiana and invited me and two of J. R.’s dear friends to come. As we were driving to the cabin, she stopped at this cross that a Christian family had erected where people could stop and pray, nailing their requests to the cross. We prayed for J. R. and nailed our requests there.

crossJ.R.
Presenting our Requests: Dianne, Eric, and J. R.

At the cabin, for the next two days, we shared the excitement of the Christian life, how we’d seen God move, what we were learning about His mysterious ways. J. R.’s friend, Eric, a young man of character with a heart passionate for God was such a rich addition to our days. As we sat around a wooden table in the cabin’s farmhouse kitchen, I learned that Eric and his twin sister had been adopted.

“Sounds like a story might be there.”

He smiled. “Definitely. My mother had around ten miscarriages. She was later diagnosed with a disorder called endometriosis. She was able to conceive but unable to carry the child in the womb for very long because of the disorder. Yet, she took to heart the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18 and did not stop knocking on God’s door, asking for children.”

As soon as Eric mentioned that parable I sensed Aslan on the move. This parable has perplexed me! (This summer when we were doing proverbs and parables, I considered diving into it, but when I came to the edge of it, the waters were still too dark and mysterious. Do we really have to beg God? I backed away and told the Lord I didn’t yet understand.) I knew I’d want to bring it up with Eric sometime later.

Eric continued. “After eight years of unsuccessful pregnancies she went to have surgery to remove the endometriosis. As she came out of surgery she could sense the presence of the Lord in the room with her. She felt a tangible, yet invisible hand gently touch her forehead. Then she heard the Lord’s voice, ‘You are my child. You will have no pain in labor. I am going to give you a boy and a girl. They are gifts from me.’

They went to an adoption agency to apply and specifically asked for twins: a boy and a girl. After some time they were called by the agency and had been approved to adopt a baby boy. Mother asked, ‘Don’t you have twins? A boy and a girl?’

The social worker was shocked. Weren’t they grateful? ‘Don’t you want this baby boy?’

My mother and dad said, ‘Oh yes, we do!’

With great excitement, they made preparations. Finally, they thought, they would have a baby. But in time the social worker called with the heart-breaking news that the adoption had fallen through. Mother went out on the porch in grief before God. As she sat there, she thought she heard an animal in distress moaning — but then she realized the moans were coming from deep within herself.”

I nodded. The mystery of suffering. And yet I knew, with Eric sitting right before me, that this was not the end of the story.

Indeed, his mother did not stop knocking. And, eventually, there was another call from the social worker. They had twins: a boy and a girl. The Lord’s word to his mother came to pass a full two years after she heard him speak to her. They brought their new son and daughter home from the hospital in the summer of 1982. The following is a picture of the Olsons with their grown twins.

Graduation from
Eric at his graduation with his sister, mother, and father

God gave this woman of persistent prayer more than she could have imagined: twins that had hearts so tender for God, children who would grow to love Him passionately. Eric and his wife April are the parents of three small children: the first, Jonah, was born with a chromosome disorder called trisomy-18 that caused such severe disabilities that nine medical personal met with Eric and April and urged them to “just pull out the tubes and let Jonah die quickly and peacefully.”

Jonah infant
Jonah as in infant

Eric and April exchanged glances. No! This child was God’s gift to them. Today Jonah is almost four and has made tremendous progress. He is a joy and a delight, and has taught them much. He is now breathing on his own during the day and is close to walking. Do they grow weary? Absolutely! But they also have an inextinguishable joy, And they are persisting in prayer for more healing for Jonah. Eric, for now, is a stay-at-home Dad while April holds a job outside the home.

Family before Shiloh
The Olson family shortly before Shiloh’s birth

Eric is often invited to churches to portray Jesus dramatically, and we were blessed by his portrayals that weekend — one of Jesus’ farewell address in John 14-16, and one of the Sermon on the Mount. Sometimes I struggle with portrayals of Jesus — for of course, no one can catch Him. But Eric’s portrayals somehow caught the awesomeness and gentleness of Christ and moved my heart.

We walked in Brown County, we talked and pondered the things of the Lord.

FullSizeRender(2)
Brown County, Indiana

I never can stop marveling how the chipping away at my control idol has improved my relationship with everyone I love. Though J. R. and I have often had different perspectives on a passage, I am finding now that there is a richness rather than an abrasiveness about that if we can just give one another grace. Indeed, there is such a sweetness in our relationship now, and we do really do learn from one another.

And I have to much to learn.

I brought from the back burner my perplexity concerning the parable of the unjust judge. “That has always mystified me.”

unjustjudge

“Really?” asked Eric. “But why?”

“That God would even be compared to such an appalling man.”

“But He’s being contrasted, not compared! The answer is in the parable, “Will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night?” Jesus ends the parable by asking, “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

I nodded. “Okay. But how do we reconcile being told to persist in prayer with the warning not to be like the Pharisees who think they will be heard because of their many words?”

Immediately Eric went into a dramatization of the Pharisees with their long pious faces, speaking prayers for show. Again, a contrast to how we should be. We should persist in secret.

Then Eric said — I like to think of this parable side by side with the story of the Canaanite woman from Matthew. And he acted that out for me. It was so good that after I left I asked J. R. to film it for me and send it to me for this blog. They generously agreed!

The Canaanite Woman – Eric Olsen

One light that came on for me as a result of Eric paralleling the parable of the unjust judge with this persistent Gentile woman was that it isn’t that God is asking us to “beg,” but rather, to persist but also listen, so that we might understand His heart. That’s what the Caananite (or Phoenician, as expressed in Mark) did. It’s a dialogue. Recently our own Wanda said “I pray all through the day — but do I sit with my hands open?”

This week we will study these two passages, and next week we will put them into practice.

 

Sunday November 8th Icebreaker

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

2. What initial insight does Eric’s portrayal give you?

Monday – Friday Bible Study

3. Read Luke 18:1-8

A. Why, according to verse 1, is Jesus telling this parable? What does this verse teach you about your prayer life?

B. What do you learn about the judge in verse 2, and why does this put the widow in a hard place?

C.  Why does he finally give in, according to verse 5?

D.  What do you learn about God from verses 7-8?

E.  What question is asked in verse 8 and what is the implied answer?

4. In what areas is your adversary attacking you?

5.  How could you apply this parable to your prayer life?

6.  Read Mark 7:24-30

A. Jesus was hoping for rest and went into the region of the Gentiles. What happened there?

B. Put yourself in the mother’s place. How would you feel?

C. In verse 27 Jesus is giving her a parable. She understands. How does she respond in verse 28?

Tim Keller, in his commentary on Mark, writes:

In other words, she says, “Yes, Lord, but the puppies eat from the table too, and I’m here for mine.” Jesus has told her a parable and she gets it…”Okay, I understand. I am not from Israel, I do not worship the God the Israelites worship. Therefore, I don’t have a place at the table. I accept that.” …She is wrestling with Jesus in the most respectful way and she will not take no for an answer. …She’s not saying, “Lord, give me what I deserve on the basis of my goodness. She’s saying, “Lord, give me what I don’t deserve on the basis of your goodness — and I need it now.”  …She is the first person in the gospel of Mark to hear and understand a parable of Jesus.

If you are like me, you’ve heard sermons on prayer, even read books on prayer — and yet your prayer life isn’t as hot as you’d like it to be.  Next week we are going to apply what we’ve learned. Get a notebook or a spiral index card notebook. If you want to record your prayers in another way, do, but be ready by this coming Sunday.

The following video is optional, but I think you will love it and be blessed by it. It is a video of Eric and April explaining what they have made as the theme of their marriage: Jesus Makes The Difference.

 Saturday:

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

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156 comments

  1. 1. What stands out tin you from the ability ve and why? So mich (tho I haven’t watched the video yet because my family is still sleeping and I didn’t not want the make noise).

    The real thing that struck was twofold. Dee still didn’t understand a portion of scripture. Dee persisted is studying and praying about it till God answered her prayers with new perspective. This encourages me. The evil one tries to tell me what I should be and That I should be better at understanding Him and His word but He is leading me on a path, a jorney . Perhaps persistance in studying the “hard parts” is like persistance in prayer – changing our hearts and letting us hear His. (Versus avoiding these situations because of fear.)

  2. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    Many things stood out to me.
    a. The Lord orchestrating this jubilee celebration for J.R. at just the right time when you, Dee are seeking wisdom to understand the parable of persistence in prayer
    b. The special time in prayer at the cross
    c. The example of Eric’s mom’s persistence in prayer-I resonate with her experience of the condition called endometriosis as I had it also. I call Ruth Ann God’s gift to us as I had 2 miscarriages before and after her birth. Though we did not have to adopt and my wait was not as long as Eric’s parents, the sense of loss was great during the 2 miscarriages. I can relate to the distressed moans of grief.
    d. I see Eric’s Mom’s persistence in prayer translated in Eric’s and April’s faith and persistence in prayer also as they raise their first child with Trisomy 18 and the other 2. The challenges of this condition is huge.

    2. What initial insight does Eric’s portrayal give you?
    One light that came on for me as a result of Eric paralleling the parable of the unjust judge with this persistent Gentile woman was that it isn’t that God is asking us to “beg,” but rather, to persist but also listen, so that we might understand His heart. That’s what the Caananite (or Phoenician, as expressed in Mark) did. It’s a dialogue. Recently our own Wanda said “I pray all through the day — but do I sit with my hands open?”
    Eric’s portrayal made me realize how often I give up praying because I have a wrong perspective on time and motive in my heart. Time in the sense that I want my prayers answered by such and such time. Motive in a sense that often I have not really listened and seek to understand God’s heart in terms of the matter of my prayers. Not that I have to spend somber times of introspection. But if I am really serious about seeking God in any matter, I will be persistent not by the merit of works or that He owes it to me but because I know He is a God of grace and mercy and love and delights to do His good and perfect will in me. Persistent prayer then becomes a DELIGHT and not DUTY.

  3. 1. What stood out from the above and why? Several things! I also have struggled to understand the parable of the unjust judge and it does help to realize that it is a contrast and not a comparison! Never heard anyone put it that way before….that God is not looking for use to beg but persist. Also that you (Dee) are able to find added depth and meaning to relationships now by not having to have total agreement on what Scriptures mean, etc… I struggle in that same area and have for years…in fact I am probably 100 x worse than you! I want 100% agreement on everything or I feel upset with the relationship. Only recently the Lord showed me yet again that “Now we see as in a mirror, dimly…” On this side of heaven, none of us comes to the table with 20/20 vision…we all come with a set of clouded lenses which we filter life and meaning through and just exactly as you said, we have to have grace all around! That was precisely what the Lord just spoke to me a few months ago with a situation of different opinions. How crazy I have been in the past to think that I have 20/20 vision!

  4. As Mom has mentioned, there is a parallel passage in Mark 7:24-30.

    I have often referred to this woman as “my hero.” She refuses to be refused, and she denies to be denied. I believe the key is her desperation. She does not have a plan “B.” If Jesus doesn’t come through for her, she is sunk, so she will not let go of him until she gets her miracle.

    I’m reminded of Abraham and Isaac. In Hebrews 11:19 (NIV 1984) it says, “Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.” God did not actually require Abraham to physically sacrifice his only son, but he did want Abraham to come to the point that he was convinced that nothing was impossible for God.

    One technical note – if you are watching the Canaanite woman video on your I-Phone – turn it horizontally so that the video fills the screen. It is also best to click the Vimeo link, so that you can watch the video in highest resolution. I’m not sure if you need a Vimeo account to do that. If you watch it on Vimeo – hit “play” and then “pause” – and wait a minute or so – and then hit “play” again…this will give the video time to load.

    1. “I have often referred to this woman as “my hero.” She refuses to be refused, and she denies to be denied. I believe the key is her desperation. She does not have a plan “B.” If Jesus doesn’t come through for her, she is sunk, so she will not let go of him until she gets her miracle.” -Love this whole observation, J.R. ! I need never have a “plan B.”

      1. Thanks Mary – God Bless!

    2. No plan “B”. Woo-hoo! Thanks, J.R. Jesus is my plan A-Z.

  5. I posted early this morning, and saw it but it has now disappeared… Perhaps I had a typo in my login…=/

    1. Now my comment is back! … Mysterious! 😉

  6. What stands out?

    Everything! the weekend celebration with JR and close friends, the cross with prayers, Eric’s story, his mom’s persistent prayer, Eric’s dramatization of the Canaanite woman’s persistence.

    Prayer – one of God’s special gifts, but often a mystery. In recent years, there has been loss that has catapulted me to desperation and seemingly unanswered prayers that break my heart. But ultimately I cannot give up. I have no Plan B. “Where else can we turn, Lord? You have the words of eternal life.”

    I feel like the Canaanite woman. Yet, recently I feel like a new light is dawning in my soul, a peace in being a His feet, resting. Like a weaned child with his mother, I rest. Even if all His answers are “No”, I will trust Him.

    “You can have this whole world but give me Jesus.”

    1. Love what you said, Diane. “Even if His answers are ‘No’ I will trust Him and rest as a weaned child at His feet.” I long to do the same.

    2. Yet, recently I feel like a new light is dawning in my soul, a peace in being a His feet, resting. Like a weaned child with his mother, I rest. “Even if all His answers are “No”, I will trust Him.” – and arriving here his a process but it does bring a measure of PEACE. I also love the verse you quoted above, have it written in my Bible as my favorite.

  7. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why? Oh my. So much to think on here. And much of it hits home. First, I must say, I smiled at the thought of J.R,.’s ‘Jubilee’ birthday, since we just returned from church and our pastor had an excellent message from Leviticus 25; speaking of the year of Jubilee. Drawing also from Isaiah 58 which we just studied here as well. We are so refreshed each week by the messages he brings us, which so reflect God’s heart of compassion and justice.

    Second: the adoption of twins. Oh. my heart is filled with praying for the adoption of twins; as my own son and daughter in law are praying fervently, that they may be able to adopt the twin 9 year old boys who have been in their care for almost 2 years now. I can’t say more. We just pray and pray. And we have seen the Lord move. I also worry about the heartbreak for us all if it were not to be. And then I think of the boys’ custodial guardian. Our sons’ prayer is that she be comforted. She has stated many times that she can’t care for them and wants them adopted by someone who knows God. Yet, it is in her court to do the paperwork. So we wait. And we pray. My own husband was adopted at age 9 and his grandmother never got over the loss; as his adoptive parents severed the relationship between them. Only as an adult was he able to renew that relationship. That was a unique adoption situation, which in today’s social services; may not have happened as it did.

    And third: I have not been able to process all that you discovered and have seen regarding the parables and the discussions with J.R. and Eric. I am in between Sunday events right now and will come back to read again and watch the video. But I know there is a LOT there! I hope my week is less busy and I can participate here more this week.

    (I don’t seem to have the gray lines on the corner which allow me to stretch out the comment box. Thus, I can only see the last few lines that I type and can’t scroll through it. I hope this all shows up and doesn’t need editing, because I can’t go back and correct anything before I hit submit.)

  8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I15coFa1ug0

    I was inspired by Wanda’s comment to post the above link to an audio clip of Michael Card’s “Jubilee.” It’s a perfect summary of the meaning of “Jubilee.”

    1. Thanks for the song, JR. Michael Card is so profound. I am so glad Jesus is our Jubilee and sets ME free.

      1. Amen…Diane – Great Song

    2. Thanks, J.R.

      Since I started participating on this blog, I’ve re-visited my old Michael Card CD’s many times. They keep meaning more to me. I love how this reinforces what I heard this morning in church!

  9. The dramatization makes this story so real and the fact that she humbled herself and was not dissuaded is so important.
    This reality of persistence and humility makes me think deeply of my prayers.

    I am also impressed with the issue of different perspectives and I am thankful for this blog so that I can be aware of the additional thoughts, because I need the depth of understanding. Yes, I, too “see through a mirror dimly ,” Mary. And I need to grow in grace as well as humility.

  10. In what areas is your adversary attacking you? Without a doubt, my eating habits. Apply this parable to your prayer life… With the exception of my eating habits, I do persevere. But in that one area I keep thinking it hinges on me, to be more obedient, to try harder, to pray more fervently. I am stuck there. Anyone have a word for me??

    1. See response below

    2. I feel like most other things in our lives we can use self discipline to control but with eating its different. When I was starving myself as a teenager it was about me not being able to control anything else. when I choose to eat junk because it makes me feel good its because im trying to fill up what only God can, when I over eat because I just dont feel like stopping Im grabbing control again, trying to fill myself up with things that will not satisfy. I think the only way we get control of food is to rest in Jesus in a very intimate way so that our flesh does not need to be satisfied with anything else….AND I think its just a very hard/time consuming thing to change old habits!!!

    3. so hard Mary B. I have struggled with this my entire life! I don’t tend to pray about it though; hmmmm maybe I should start! Full disclosure: I love food! However, I know when I eat healthy food I feel better physically. I am constantly worried about my weight and don’t want to be that way. I do tend to lament to God to help me not care as much, but alas, I have yet to become that person. I find that I am controlled by both food and looks (although much of why I want to be thin has to do with my being a liturgical dancer) and “weighted down” ha, ha, by the cares of this world “under the sun.” I try to remind myself that this is not our home. It will be so freeing to let go of both food and weight when I reach my real homeland! I do better these days because we have no “extra” money, so stopping by to get fast food and going out to eat is less frequent. I also am not a fan of cooking, but getting on the south beach diet 2-3 years ago helped me. There are daily menus and my husband joined my in the kitchen to chop veggies. We actually had fun cooking together. Never thought I even cared about doing something like that! You must know you are not alone!
       
      Dearest Jesus, you are all understanding. Thank you for knowing exactly what we need to grow. We plea that You help us make better, healthy choices when it comes to what we put in the body You gave us to care for here on earth. We know that this life pulls on us, making us so shallow and simple sometimes. Would You help us remember that the great place for us, heaven, awaits, with no pull on our being. How wonderful it will be to not be shackled by the earth that we know! You, oh Lord, are able to focus us, and when we pray let us remember the freedom we will feel when we reach Your world. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

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

    Beautiful story of God’s faithfulness. We sang “Ten Thousand Times Ten Thousand” (Henry Alford/C.Miner) this morning and I’ll just post 2 stanzas, but they seemed so fitting:

    What rush of “Alleluias!” fills all the earth and sky!
    What ringing of a thousand harps bespeaks the triumph nigh!
    O day, for which creation and all its tribes were made.
    O joy, for all its former woes a thousandfold repaid!

    O then what raptured greetings on Canaan’s happy shore,
    What knitting severed friendships up where partings are no more!
    Then eyes with joy shall sparkle that brimmed with tears of late.
    Orphans no longer fatherless, nor widows desolate.

    2. What initial insight does Eric’s portrayal give you?

    I loved the passion in his portrayal of the Matthew parable. And while I can be leery of a portrayal of Jesus—I do see such a Christ-likeness in Eric that it is really beautiful, and powerful.

    I have always read the Luke parable as a contrast, with a tone similar to Matthew 7:11—“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” I also see something a bit different—maybe I’ll add that later.

    *I wanted to share this, too—very short but powerful clip from Gospel Coalition, the widow of Luke 18 in a modern version: https://youtu.be/jAiZ7n-QVBY

    1. Thanks for posting this hymn, Lizzie. I had never heard it before, but what triumphant and encouraging words. I also enjoyed the video clip. Makes it seem more real.

    2. Love the verses you shared from that hymn, Lizzy!!!

  12. Mary,

    A well know verse is the 13th verse of Philippians Chap FOUR – I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. I like this verse very much, but even moreso, I like the 13th verse of Philippians Chap TWO – Phil 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to WILL and to do of his good pleasure.

    When I feel that God is asking me to do something that I don’t have the will to do, I am honest with Him and tell him that I don’t have the will or desire to do it. I ask the Lord to change my will / desire to do it. I pray, in Jesus’ Name, that Jesus heightens your desire to eat the bread of the Word, and to lessen your desire for the meat that perisheth.

    God Bless….

  13. My wife is quoting Titus 2:11 & 12… That Jesus, the Grace of God, teaches us to say “No” to unrighteousness… (it’s not saying “no” in our own strength…it’s saying “Yes” to Jesus…be accepting his grace).

    Titus 2:11 & 12 …. For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,

  14. 2. What initial insight does Eric’s portrayal give you? The first thing I have to say, is that when I was watching the portrayal, I kept thinking that I had read this in the gospels not long ago, as I am still following the chronological reading plan. I looked it up. The stories about the Caananite woman in Matthew and the Syro-Phoenician woman in Mark were assigned for a few weeks ago; Oct. 19 but the Mark 18 passage was the reading for October 30! (the day you were together talking about this!) Since I had fallen a bit behind on the reading, I actually read this just a few days ago. And I had written questions in the margin of my Bible. I wasn’t sure when I would get back to it, or seek the answers, But HERE IS THIS LESSON! Completely amazing timing!

    The question I had written in the margin was this: “What did Jesus mean? It sounds like He favors the Jews to exclude the Gentiles.” So, I still wonder about that; yet Eric’s portrayal cued me into Jesus’ heart. And when I see Jesus’ heart, I see that He seems to be probing the woman’s heart. Stating He was sent for the lost sheep of Israel. YET, He was so attuned to her cry. When she poured out her heart crying, ‘but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs’, she completely humbled herself. She saw that she was unworthy. (just as the lost sheep of Israel are unworthy) and yet she came to Him. Because she knew He alone could help her. She passed the test, in that she did not turn away from Jesus when she didn’t understand. She clung to the hope that He would provide. And He did. That is a lesson for me to learn. Every day. I don’t understand setbacks. I don’t understand things that ‘turn out’ completely different than I thought they would (or should), and yet I must CLING. I must not give up in prayer, but know that Jesus is still and will always be, my only hope. And HE WILL provide.

    1. Wanda–love all of this 2nd paragraph: “And when I see Jesus’ heart, I see that He seems to be probing the woman’s heart. …He was so attuned to her cry. … she did not turn away from Jesus when she didn’t understand. She clung to the hope that He would provide. And He did. “

    2. Perhaps, the Canaanite woman was also a widow. Thus, the coupling of her story with the persistent widow parallel in Luke 18 really is appropriate.

    3. So funny Wanda, I am still reading the chronological bible as well, but have to read for breadth, not depth! I completely missed that this was a parable we read recently :/ shows how in tune I am with what I am reading! I figure that as I go along I have questions that I can go back next year and answer at some point. One of the questions was the same one you had (I wrote it in a post somewhere here)….why was He excluding the Gentiles?

      1. I agree about the breadth and not depth.  And like you, I’m jotting down questions as I go.  It’s been a great experience for me!  I printed out the reading list at the beginning of the year on full size paper, so there’s plenty of room to make notes or to look back to where I wrote something that struck me.  I just really like getting the whole picture in one year.  I’ve never done it before!

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

    The picture of Jonah is so adorable! I have a new baby in my home this week and I am reminded of just how precious life is. What a miracle!

    2. What initial insight does Eric’s portrayal give you?

    I am reminded of my dancing in church with Eric’s portrayal of the persistent woman. Acting out scripture is a favorite of mine. I am not very familiar with these scriptures so I went and read the Matthew scripture. I am baffled (slightly) by Jesus’ initial response to the woman. It’s basically that she isn’t a Jew so she has no claim to Him or his practices. I thought Jesus came to save ALL? Gentile and Jew….was it a “timing” thing? Was he still trying to convince His own people before the Gentiles would be saved too? I am often frustrated in trying to understand what Jesus is saying to us in His “riddle-like” way. I have trouble with rhymes and such. Hoping to learn and understand more these next weeks!

  16. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    I was thrilled you got to be together exhorting one another-and what a setting to fellowship in!

    I was moved to hear how God brought Eric along and into Dee’s life in His perfect timing to illumine Luke 18 and to also illuminate our hearts. I love how God moves through His body like this.

    I see His light in Eric and April, and their children-oh so precious.. and I am finding it hard to wait to watch their testimony!

    2. What initial insight does Eric’s portrayal give you?

    After watching Eric’s video yesterday morning..I went to church pondering Matthew 15. The insight he gave me was her response to Jesus. She could have been prideful stopped asking, and said forget you, I was wrong, you are just like everyone else who sees us as Dogs,. Instead she humbled herself-she was wiling to take crumbs from him..for she embraced Him as God and that He was bigger than her and her daughter’s demon possession-Great is her faith! The test exposed her heart condition.

      1. Encouraging how she wanted Him more than even her own human dignity-for she counted it a loss-phil 3:8 just came to mind. Being referred to as a Dog didn’t seem to phase her for it seemed she delighted to be a dog if that meant she could just eat one crumb from Him..I don’t know..can’t put my finger on it but the humility she is showing isn’t one bit shallow-like mine can be! It is deep-and I want Him to help my faith be that deeply rooted.

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

    Dee, thank you for sharing with us this intimate time you had with J.R., Dianne, and their friends. The photos are beautiful; I especially love the one of the wooden Cross where people can stop and pray. This really caught my attention: “I never can stop marveling how the chipping away at my control idol has improved my relationship with everyone I love.” I had an “aha” moment when I read that. I struggle so with approval, and wouldn’t naturally think that approval would make my relationships difficult, but I see it does. I also have a suspicion that I have more of a problem with an idol of control than I’m aware of. You model so humbly and beautifully for us how you have navigated the waters of relationships with your children and their spouses…or should I say you have given Him control of the rudder of that ship!

    2. What initial insight does Eric’s portrayal give you?

    His acting it out helped me to picture the scene. I am still a bit perplexed by it, though…It seems that Jesus was testing this woman somewhat, yet I also get the thought that His initial coolness towards her was helping her somehow to settle the issue of what she really believed in her own mind and heart? She kept having to face the choice of either giving up and leaving, or persistently asking. I see how pride would make a person get up, feel insulted, and leave. Pride puts up walls, humility tears them down.

  18. 3. Read Luke 18:1-8

    A. Why, according to verse 1, is Jesus telling this parable? What does this verse teach you about your prayer life?
    So that we would be encouraged to persist in prayer and not lose heart. That I am not as persistent as He desires me to be and so He is encouraging me to be-He will help me.

    B. What do you learn about the judge in verse 2, and why does this put the widow in a hard place?
    He didn’t fear God or care for man. She already was at a huge disadvantage-a loss- even before going to him.

    C. Why does he finally give in, according to verse 5?
    she beat him down by continually coming to him.

    D. What do you learn about God from verses 7-8?
    He will give justice to his elect who cry to him day and night, and will not delay it. It will come in God’s time. Could be that instant, could be a day or a year-but it will be in his time.

    E. What question is asked in verse 8 and what is the implied answer?
    When Jesus comes to Earth will he find this kind of faith? To me this means not all of us will have this kind of faith. This concerns me for I want that kind of faith yet I know I fall short now, but I am encouraged that He is letting us know and searching our hearts this week so He can build us up in our faith-and I pray we would be those He finds with that kind of faith.

  19. 3. Read Luke 18:1-8
    A. Why, according to verse 1, is Jesus telling this parable? What does this verse teach you about your prayer life?
    So that the disciples should always pray and not give up.
    I give up too easily on my prayers. Interestingly, Jesus did not go on and on about how they should pray or when etc but just to pray and not give up. Just like what Nickey Gumbel said- Keep it honest, simple. Keep it up.
    B. What do you learn about the judge in verse 2, and why does this put the widow in a hard place?
    The judge did not fear God nor care what people thought. The judge sounded like a calloused man and the fact that she was a widow was of no concern to the judge. He sounded like a man of the letter of the law and not of the spirit of the law
    C. Why does he finally give in, according to verse 5?
    So his reputation will not get tainted (this widow will not attack me-interesting reasoning considering he is dealing with a widow who probably did not have the means to attack him); the judge is self protective-he gives justice so he can keep his stature
    D. What do you learn about God from verses 7-8?
    He will hear and bring about justice. Quickly-in perfect timing. As I cry to Him day in and day out, He is working behind the scene so that when justice arrives, it is perfect in timing and answer.

      1. It has to be a browser thing-I can’t edit on Chrome..but I am going to try using my Mac to see if I can edit on Safari. 🙂

      2. I only use internet explorer at home. And I have not tried editing. So I will try editing next time and see if it works. My laptop right now is out of commission for safari and chrome and needs some servicing.

  20. 4. In what areas is your adversary attacking you?
    At work in regard to this new assignment I am on..for at first I turned to my idol, but God opened my eyes and now I am walking in His approval-He is my life. Yet a certain superior at work says something insensitive-usually every day, and I am seeing now it is from my adversary trying to get me to long for their approval over His.

    At home in regard to some unwise decisions being made that are out of my control-I have tried to impart wisdom but to no avail, and so I am trusting God to move in hearts including mine for I am struggling to show Grace right now. I am encouraged to persist in prayer in this.

  21. 3. Read Luke 18:1-8 A. Why, according to verse 1, is Jesus telling this parable? What does this verse teach you about your prayer life?

    We are to always pray, and “not lose heart”. It is implied, that I AM likely to lose heart in our praying. My nature is to be impatient, to not trust, to be blinded by unbelief. I love the reference to 2 Cor 4:16 “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self his being renewed day by day.” We can only be renewed through prayer, being in the Word, being with Him.

    B. What do you learn about the judge in verse 2, and why does this put the widow in a hard place?

    He had no fear or God nor respect for man. He is not trustworthy, cannot be wise, and not merciful. To have one like that hold the “keys” to your freedom would be a hopeless feeling. And yet, the woman does not give up. We have the One who is completely trustworthy, and entirely merciful holding our “keys”—how can we not continue to go?

    And I know too—we need to continually pray, not to get our answer, but for the intimacy that can only come from this utter, sincere dependence. Pray changes us. Sometimes we are answered the way we hoped, always it is what we would ask for if we knew everything (Keller), and always, sincere prayer, changes us—to more Christ-likeness.

    C. Why does he finally give in, according to verse 5?

    Her persistent please were bothering him. I know this isn’t the point of this parable, but I think it’s interesting too, that while the judge gives this as his reason, still God’s plan prevailed—He will work even in the ways of evil men to bring about His purposes, even if they never acknowledge Him.

    D. What do you learn about God from verses 7-8?

    I see this less as a command to cry day and night as a way to have your prayer answered—more the acknowledgement that when we have sincere faith that God is God, we DO cry day and night—and yes, He hears. It’s not a formula, but a picture to me of sincere, dependent faith—to cry, day and night.
    I also see that only true faith can persistently pray when God is silent. When I wait on Him for an answer, I am vulnerable to doubt—does He hear? Does He care?…Did I do something wrong?…but when I continue to come to Him with my neediness, I am showing not only my utter dependency, but my faith—that though He seems quiet, though He seems “slow”, He is just, He is trustworthy, He is faithful—so I will continue to seek Him and ask. What option do I have but to come to the One who holds both power and love in perfect balance.

    1. “It is implied, that I AM likely to lose heart in our praying. My nature is to be impatient, to not trust, to be blinded by unbelief.”
       
      and 
       
      “We can only be renewed through prayer, being in the Word, being with Him.”
       
      good stuff here…

  22. Agree Lizzy–wonderful insight on D! “I am showing not only my utter dependency, but my faith—that though He seems quiet, though He seems “slow”, He is just, He is trustworthy, He is faithful—so I will continue to seek Him and ask. What option do I have but to come to the One who holds both power and love in perfect balance.” YES!

  23. Recreating my comment from yesterday (Dee I will email the details that I can for hints technologically)

    1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    I was encouraged (and convicted) that Dee still struggled with understanding a portion of scripture. But she persisted in her study of it and stayed open to the Lord’s direction. I sometimes get fearful of the things I don’t understand because I worry they would become fodder for doubt (for this is what those against God do, use things not well understood to argue against that which is understood) …. =/ So seeing Dee explain that she struggled with understanding somehow made me realize, it’s just misunderstanding a part of the story, not a fracture in the story. I do not have to be afraid of any part of the Bible, but just perervere and it will change my heart and help me hear His, He will reveal in due time, or it will become obvious when we get to heaven.

  24. I love his dramatization! With Dee, I have often wondered about having to beg. Being persistent makes sense, and the dramatization made me FEEL the love Jesus had for that woman.

  25. Dee, your teachable heart and the change you have made with your son and your relationship is what stands out most. I love that his wife wanted you to be there! what an honor. I spent lot of time with Luke and my future daughter in law Madey this weekend. She wants so bad to please me and often I disagree with choices they make, but I am learning to smile and keep my mouth shut 🙂 usually they circle back to a good choice….eventually,,,some times 😉 I realize that it does not matter if I like the color for the wedding or if I think chair covers are needed, what matters is that they both feel loved. I DO NOT NEED TO BE RIGHT. and often im sure I am not, I just think I am 🙂

    1. Cyndi, the same thing about Dee is what stood out to me, too. Sounds like you’re already learning how to be a terrific mom-in-law!

  26. These two stories make me love Jesus so much! I love how he was human, tired, just needed to not be needed for TWO SECONDS! I also think HE knew what the women could handle, that HE was saying and doing most of what HE did for the disciples benifit. they were irriteated at the interuption and I think HE wanted them to see their hearts in action. HE spoke to her the way they were feeling so that they could see how it looked. I guess I never saw this story as about the women at all but as a lesson for the 12. EVERYONE RECEIVED GRACE FROM JESUS…..EVERYONE. even the “dogs”
    The one with the Judge makes me laugh, how often have I given in to a child because they were about to drive me crazy! I feel like its more about KNOWING that Jesus is there when we ask….the widow did not bug an empty room, she bugged a person. when we go to Jesus over and over again we are proving that we believe that HE is there…we show our faith by our persistence. This does not mean that we continue to ask for the same thing after it is pretty clear HIS answer is no. it means we keep going and saying “Ok Lord, if not that then what??? I need you and I’m not going away, Im just going to keep coming until you know I will never stop coming…..I will except anything as long as I know it is from YOU”.

    1. “I will accept anything as long as I know it is from You!” Yes, good. =)

  27. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why? That beautiful baby boy Jonah!! I congratulate his parents on giving him a chance at life. There are countless blessings when we are given “special” children to care for whether it is for a few hours or many years. God knows what He’s doing when He places each and every one of our children in our lives.

    1. dawn–oh, the timing of me reading this just now “God knows what He’s doing when He places each and every one of our children in our lives”, was just the breath I needed–beautiful post.

    2. Yes, Dawn. Sarah has become the friend I never had growing up as a child. Even though she makes me crazy most days, I have begun to understand that she really is a gift to me from God. I fear she is most dependent on me though, and I will not be here always. I have begun to pray for her future mate; a kind, sweet, patient man. Oh Lord, please provide! 

    3. Love this, too,Dawn. He is a gift from God, not an imperfect child.

  28. What Rebecca said above on the woman in Matthew 15 was so key:”the humility she is showing isn’t one bit shallow”

    I just found a sermon by William Guthrie (1600’s Scottish Puritan minister) on this passage–and it reminded me of what Rebecca was pointing to. Had to read every sentence twice, but I think it’s really good! He contrasts false humility with true humility. “False humility puts a man lower than the reach of free grace. When a man takes such a look of his guilt that he thinks himself below the free grace of God; though he will not say that he has sinned the sin against the Holy Ghost, yet he thinks God cannot pardon him. ”

    “True humility complies with God as to the remedy both for the pardon of sin and for help against the power of sin. Let me then exhort you to beware of false humility at this time, and justle not with God. Be not lower than what He would have you. Say not that ye will not come to turn again with reiterated guilt, and faults that ye have done over and over again, and confessed very often before Him; for there is no other way for you to go or to get your case helped. Never cast at crumbs, but remember that in true humility lies your best frame of spirit and most sure outgate. Take with all your sins, and with all that God charges you with as to sin and corruption, and yet cleave closely to Him; and any bit that falls to your share take it, and be still weeping and seeking for more.”

  29. 3. Read Luke 18:1-8 
    A. Why, according to verse 1, is Jesus telling this parable? What does this verse teach you about your prayer life? 
     
    He is telling the parable to remind us to fervently pray; always.
     
    B. What do you learn about the judge in verse 2, and why does this put the widow in a hard place? 
     
    He is a harsh man, one who doesn’t know God and one who doesn’t care about man (the woman) and his needs. He judges as he wants to, not whether it is right or not.
     
    C.  Why does he finally give in, according to verse 5? 
     
    He he is tired of her asking! This reminds me of my young children who, when they wanted something would say, “mom, mom, mom, etc.” and maybe even pull on my clothing, to get my attention. I was usually busy doing something else and it would take me a minute to register that they needed me. Finally I would respond, “what?!” Not very nicely, but moreso irritated.
     
    D.  What do you learn about God from verses 7-8? 
     
    God will be the judge of His people, one way or the other, and swiftly too; no lolly gagging there! He knows what we need. I find the last line interesting though….He asks if He will find faith (those to be judged) on earth when He comes? Maybe not?
     
     
    E.  What question is asked in verse 8 and what is the implied answer?
     
    See D. above.
     
     

  30. Yay! I can read all of my text box and use italics! Sadly, I still cannot edit 🙁

    1. Using safari on my iPhone 5

        1. i will try
           

        2. Can’t save the edit just like in safari. Tried in chrome. Will try another.

  31. 4. In what areas is your adversary attacking you?
     
    I am being attacked with a lack of time; time to get my two jobs accomplished, my family life needs met, and heaven forbid I have time to dance or exercise to stay healthy! I actually am sick right now and am trying to help my daughter in her new capacity as a mom 🙁 tough stuff.
     
    5.  How could you apply this parable to your prayer life?
     
    I can pray to be calm and know, as my mom used to say, “this too shall pass.” To ask God for help, to be ready when He offers it; to know I cannot always do it all, all by myself. To accept the situation as a temporary life blip in the road and just do my best, knowing He loves me and will be there for me through it all. To not beat myself up because I am stretched too thin. To know that when the time is over I will most likely look back and see His hand all over us. Pray. 
     

  32. 3. Read Luke 18:1-8
     
    A. Why, according to verse 1, is Jesus telling this parable? What does this verse teach you about your prayer life?
     
    Jesus told this parable to His disciples to help them see their need to pray always and not become discouraged. Looking back at the previous verses, Jesus was talking about His second coming. This teaches me that I need to keep praying, to keep talking to God and especially when I am discouraged, as I often am.
     
    B. What do you learn about the judge in verse 2, and why does this put the widow in a hard place?
     
    The judge “did not fear God or respect man”. This puts the widow in a hard place because this judge doesn’t operate according to God’s laws or ways; he doesn’t really care about people or their needs; he doesn’t see them as valuable in God’s sight. He doesn’t see himself as a tool in God’s hands to bring about fairness and justice. I imagine him making decisions based on his whims, his moods that particular day.
     
    C. Why does he finally give in, according to verse 5?
     
    “Because this widow keeps pestering me, I will give her justice, so she doesn’t wear me out by her persistent coming.” He wanted to be rid of her!
     
    D. What do you learn about God from verses 7-8?
     
    God grants justice to His elect, who cry out to Him day and night. He won’t delay to help them. Verse 8 says, “I tell you that He will SWIFTLY grant them justice.” (Holman translation) What this tells me about God is that He isn’t bored, disinterested, and insensitive to our needs. He doesn’t treat our suffering as if it were a game, enjoying drawing it out.
     
    E. What question is asked in verse 8 and what is the implied answer?
     
    When the Son of Man comes, will He find that faith on earth? I guess it is implied that the answer might be “No”. The footnote says of this verse, “Or faith, or that kind of faith, or any faith, or the faith, or faithfulness; the faith that persists in prayer for God’s vindication.” This is giving me insight into one aspect of faith and what it looks like: to persist in prayer in the face of discouragement.

  33. 2. What initial insight does Eric’s portrayal give you? To press in. I feel like “a dog” too many days and so back off in my prayers… I am not worthy… But she pressed in because of who He is not because of who she was. And that was faith, hope in things unseen. He was her hope and she clung fast to it.

  34. 3. Read Luke 18:1-8
    A. Why, according to verse 1, why is Jesus telling this parable? What does this verse teach you about your prayer life? He is telling the parable so that disciples “ought always to pray and not lose heart” This teaches me that I ought to always pray and not lose heart.
     
    The expanded Bible says Jesus told the parable to show the necessity of always praying and never become discouraged. Prayer is always necessary.
     
    B. What do you learn about the judge in verse 2, and why does this put the widow in a hard place? He did not fear God nor respect man. This indicates that he is operating in a fools manner, trusting in his own heart, and so unpredictable and unlikely to give true justice due to his selfishness. How can the widow seek justice from a man who probably doesn’t practice it, instead practices a “whatever I want” ruling system.
     
    C. Why does he finally give in, according to verse 5? He is annoyed by her continual petition and wants her to stop bothering him.
     
    D. What do you learn about God from verses 7-8? He hears and will do what is right. 
     
    E. What question is asked in verse 8 and what is the implied answer? Will the Son find faith on earth when He comes. The amplified Bible implies the faith the Son will look for is like the faith of the woman – Persistent.
    My mind jumps to “no” as the implied answer, but I do not have a reason other than the human race is in general pretty faithless??

    1. Great news, Dee!   I will look forward to it as I’ve heard so much from the women here who went through that study with you.  Thanks be to God! 

    2. YEAH!!! So thankful, Dee…

    3. Yippee! Dee, I am so happy!!! You must be doing cartwheels! 🙂 
      Plus I see I can edit now in Google Chrome. That’s great too, but not nearly as exciting as having Dee’s book published. Do you know when it will be out, Dee?

    4. Dee,
      Such good news!    Grateful with you.

  35. So glad to hear your good news  about your contract with Waterbrook/Random House, Dee!    
    I am going to deliberately make a “misteak” to see if I can edit it out or not.   I see Jill is able to use bold, italics, etc.   I am in the same boat with Wanda — those features are not offered to me.   

  36. Obviously,  I couldn’t edit.  

  37. Trying to edit using Chrome.    Making a misteak.

  38. Sorry!   No soap!   I guess I should wait a while longer.

    1. I like your creative misteaks, Deanna!  i found that I do have formatting options on Safari but haven’t tried to edit.  
      OK, here I go.  Can I erase THIS misteak???

      1. No.  I can’t edit in Chrome or Safari.  I guess I don’t ever use another browser.  I’ll just hope that it will change.  🙂  

  39. This is a test.

  40. 4. In what areas is your adversary attacking you?
     
    I’ve been pondering this question since Sunday. The quick answer that comes to mind is certain difficult circumstances…clouded with fear, doubt, weariness. But for some reason those answers didn’t seem to fully fit what I feel when I read this question. I read “adversary” and think—my “opponent”. I feel this battle within of my sin nature—I am living in Galatians 5:17 “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” I know we all are, but the battle just feels so strong at times! I pray for words of kindness, gentleness…and before I know it I am being critical, harsh..tearing down instead of building up. All I can do is fall down in true humility—as the Canaanite woman did. Recognizing not only who I am, but who He is, and that to wallow in my “mess ups” is just filled with more pride. I am a sinner, but thank God I AM saved by grace, and through that grace and mercy, I receive forgiveness, restoration. And like the need of daily manna, I must go daily, in repentance and faith, over and over—not too ashamed or too small to ask…simply to desperate not to. And so thankful I get to. 
     

  41. A. Why, according to verse 1, is Jesus telling this parable? What does this verse teach you about your prayer life?   To show that they should always pray and not give up.   It actually encouraged me.  I could very well feel guilty about never praying enough, but what I do feel is that I will pray because Jesus told I should.  I will persist because He said so!  Sometimes that is all I need to keep me going.  Yancey’s book,  Prayer,  helped me in this regard.  I had earlier thought that maybe I should just ‘let some things rest’ for awhile and not keep asking the same things.  I had thought that maybe I was asking for the wrong things so why not just take a break?  But actually, this tells me to keep on going.  
     

  42. B. What do you learn about the judge in verse 2, and why does this put the widow in a hard place?
    He neither feared God; nor cared about men.    He would therefore have NO motivation or compulsion to grant her justice.  Not from God’s commands (since he ignored or despised them) and not from the ‘kindness/compassion  of his own heart’  (since he had none).    
     
    We’ve talked before on the blog about kind people who are compelled to love and care for others even if they don’t subscribe to following Christ.  I do think that those people exist.  But clearly, this judge was not one of them.  She certainly would be, by earthly standards, between a rock and a hard place.