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SENT TO BEAR WITNESS (2)

There was a man sent from God to bear witness to the Light…

therewasamanAnd we too are sent from God to bear witness to the Light. And never are hearts more open than at Christmas. Let me tell you a story.

I know how easily skeptics and seekers will say “Yes!” to a Christmas Tea, whereas they might run the other way if you invited them to a Good Friday Service. I’m speaking at one in Milwaukee tonight (pray!) and our little Bible study is hosting one Thursday (please pray) and we are only inviting skeptics and seekers. And they are coming — SO MANY we may even have to change venues. WE ARE SO EXCITED IN ANTICIPATING THAT GOD, IMMANUEL, WILL MEET US.

At that tea, and we have told them, women will share how Bible study has impacted their lives and then we will have a sign up for a January “Investigative Study on Jesus” using seven lessons from John’s Gospel by Rebecca Pippert. (PLEASE PRAY)

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The whole idea of being a witness may terrify you, but it may be, as is unfortunately common in America, that you have been a victim of terrible methodology. You’ve been told to be quite unnatural in the way you do it, to have a canned plan, to be an extrovert, to buttonhole people.

                                    NO! NO! NO!

Rebecca Pippert says “Our theology must shape our methodology.”

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Let me tell you a story. A woman whom I will call Rose plays pickleball with Twila and me. The first time we invited her to something (I was speaking on the dock in the summer at a “docks-ology” service”) she had an almost a violent reaction of No thank you, not for me, never, ever ever. Then she shoved the invite back at me.

But the Lord has been showing us to love, love, love her the way He does. She’s come to some suppers where we have asked questions designed to lead to meaningful conversation. We’ve been listening to her. We’ve been asking her more questions, for questions, as you will see in the Rebecca Pippert video, are vital in getting to hearts, loving well, and arousing curiosity.  So, this year we took the plunge again, inviting Rose to the Christmas tea. This time I sent Twila to her with the invite. 🙂 She asked Twila: “Will it be religious?” Twila told her that, “Yes, because Christmas is a religious holiday and there will be women sharing how the Bible study has impacted them.” Rose thought about it overnight and then said, “I’m not into Christmas or Jesus, but my friends are, so I’m coming.” Is that not the dearest reaction? Her heart is melting because of love.

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And you know what? We aren’t pretending to love her, we really do. She has a lot of spunk, a sense of humor, and some wounding that would do a lot of people in. But not Rose.

Pray for Rose! (God knows her real name!)

When God sent John to bear witness, it was a message of repentance — something we must all do every day, turning from our false lovers to Him. And certainly we must have clean hearts before we reach out to others.

God sent John to bear witness to the true light, and He also sends us. We must learn from Jesus how to do it — to pray, to go where they are, to love, to ask questions that will arouse interest, and to watch His Spirit melt their hearts. How else does our theology shape our methodology? We must be “incarnational,” just as God came to be with us in the flesh, so must we spend time with skeptics and seekers, in the flesh, loving them into the Kingdom.

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And thank you so much for your response to memorizing the prologue. Our own Nancy suggested putting it to music might make it easier for you and gave this link.

youtu.be/zKhRBp4CWSk
I also want to give you this link to the blog where Twila explains how she memorizes whole books.    Corrected link for Twila’s hints on memorizing

Review portion in regular font, new portion in bold.

(1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

(2) He was in the beginning with God.

(3) All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

(4) In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

(5)The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

(6) There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

(7) He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light,

that all might believe through him.

(8) He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

Sunday:

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

2. How are you doing with memorizing and how are you feeling about it?Are any tips helping you?

Monday: Review John 1:1-5 and get started on John 1:6-8.

I sometimes get e-mails from our silent bloggers, and there is a silent group doing this Advent study together. They are also e-mailing one another with their insights. I want to share an insight that Jen shared as we review one verse from last week: “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” Keller explains that the reason some translations say “comprehend” and some “overcome” is because the complex Greek word means both. Here is the insight Jen, who is taking seminary classes, had:

The Greek word for comprehend/overcome is katalambano. 
It means:
to take eagerly
seize
possess
apprehend
comprehend
come upon
overtake 
The general idea is “to lay hold of to possess as one’s own.” So the darkness has TRIED to possess the light for its own and has failed because Light has overcome it.
The only other exact use of this katalambano I could find is from Ephesians 3:18. (The word can be used in the positive or negative sense. It’s used negatively in John 1:5 and positively in Eph 3:18).
…that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
So we are to eagerly possess as our own the riches that are ours in Christ Jesus.
It’s a cool word because it’s so aggressive. The darkness was aggressive, but was no match for the Light. And, we are to be aggressive just as the saints were in knowing the riches in Christ–the power of his spirit, his love–and the fullness of God living in our hearts! I’m so pumped!!

3. How does this help you understand and apply John 1:5?

4. Read John 1:6-8

A. What observations do you have on this passage? Comments?

B. Meditate on “there was a man sent from God.” What thoughts do you have on this?

C. From what you know about the life of John, how was it so clear the he knew he was not the light but was sent to bear witness to the light? (See John 1:29-34)

5. Challenge question: Some testimonies are “all about me” and others bear witness to the light. 

When you share your testimony, how do decrease so He can increase?

Tuesday: Watch this short video from Rebecca Pippert and share your notes and thoughts. Then an optional but fun 11 minute video from Rebecca is also there — she has such a story about witnessing that will increase your faith and make you laugh!

youtube.com/watch?v=bu9NRx8UGdQ
Optional but Terrific!
Rebecca Pippert Story

Wednesday-Friday

Tomorrow share how far you’ve gone with your memory work by writing it out — so keep memorizing!

5. Rebecca Pippert stressed asking questions, like Jesus did. The farmers she spoke to learned to ask, during this drought: How are your crops? How are you dealing with this? Have you found a way to deal with this that makes you better instead of worse.    Now — think of someone God has put in your path — and think of some questions you might ask the next change you get. What are they? (Now pray for an opportunity — and be alert to others. If any chance happens this week for you to be loving, natural, and question asking — share it here to encourage us all. But for now, share questions you might ask.

6. Pray here for opportunities to bear witness and for alertness to see those opportunities.

7. Write out your memory work.

8. Do you have any new insights on this passage?

Saturday

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

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131 comments

  1. Sunday:
    1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    2. How are you doing with memorizing and how are you feeling about it?Are any tips helping you?
    We must be “incarnational,” just as God came to be with us in the flesh, so must we spend time with skeptics and seekers, in the flesh, loving them into the Kingdom.
    This struck me profoundly as I think of how I have lived a very “sheltered”  Christian life preoccupied with reaching only mostly Christians and my loved ones. Not that this is bad in itself. I need to pray about being a “John” and how to go about it.
    I am getting along fine with the first 5 verses-using the 5 minute drive to work to recite the passage and then reciting it before I go to bed. Applying it to the recent sad news (as darkness) has helped me-the Lord is bringing hope instead of despair. Typing the passage and dividing them into accordion like sections have helped me, too. Smile.

  2. Just quick initial thoughts before Church–I think I am most struck honestly by the way you and  Twila have continued to pursue Rose–you remind me that there is nothing for me to feel threatened or…can’t find the right words–but it is all about Him, not me. And I really love the way you wrote this:”Rose thought about it overnight and then said, “I’m not into Christmas or Jesus, but my friends are, so I’m coming.” Is that not the dearest reaction? Her heart is melting because of love.”  
    I love that you pointed this out- that she is coming, because of her “friends”–which is love–they have loved her, and she feels that, and He is using them, and you, to woo her. My thoughts aren’t very clear this morning–but it encourages me that while there is the place and need for our bold evangelism, He also uses our obedience in loving others. Praying for her, and her friends attending!
    **one tech note–I think the optional link of R. Pippert may be incorrect? Takes me to a google search of youtube videos by other names.

  3. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why? Oh my!!  All the opportunities to pray.  I hadn’t looked at last week’s blog, but A LIGHT SHINING IN A DARK PLACE is what I was thinking about as I came back to town from the airport. During the last couple of days, what was sorta in the back of my head is that 1) I am coming back to a dark place, and although it is time to take steps to gradually move away from this particular dark place, (2) I am here now and was wondering how to be a light in this dark place.   With these thoughts, I will move to what is standing out from question #2!
    2. How are you doing with memorizing and how are you feeling about it?Are any tips helping you?Well, I kinda/sorta knew the first part of these verses before, but they get smooshed in my brain with other verses (and maybe other non verses).
    SO, the last verse about John jumps out at me and is very encouraging: “He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.”  When I am wondering how to be a light in a dark place, I may be asking the wrong question or only part of the right question (thinking about “this little light of mine” and related verses).  The right question is related to bearing witness about the light.Verse 4 is standing out to me now — so will need to look back at last week for a foundation.  When I received messages from here when I was working out of town, I felt as if I were receiving messages from the dark.  And when I was in the midst of darkness and chaos, I was having a hard time thinking straight.  I did begin to get more clarity being away, and this passage REALLY, REALLY hits the spot by pointing me to the SOURCE of life and light in a place where the darkness does sometimes seem overwhelming.

  4. Just scanned ahead to challenge question 5.  LOVE that question.  I don’t (or rarely) share my testimony or what I might label as my testimony because I don’t like talking about me…..   SO, pretty cool question that I will ponder as I am getting that far.

  5. Oh boy… just went to last week’s study.  I did read the intro paragraph on my cell phone.  I got distracted by the mention of Howard Hendricks last Sunday — and listened to his funeral and some of his sermons 🙂     I was curious about “what the big deal” was about him, but was somewhat aware of his legacy — and I understood much more by listening to his family and friends talk at his funeral and one of his sermons.My other thought last week was that “I can’t miss the Advent study”

    1. So glad you are here, Renee ?

      1. Thanks, Laura-d  Hmmm… how did you get that emoticon?  I will test with one I know how to do — to see if I can get one.  😉
        (So, I guess I don’t know how!!)

        1. Renee–Laura does it by using her phone text (I think-right Laura?) But if you have a “touch keyboard” icon on your computer–you can enable emojis. Trying now…?⛄
           
           
           

    2. Hoorah! It’s Renee! ? (I get my emojis from iPad or iPhone on the emoji keyboard…)

      1. aahhh, I guess I will be boring for awhile since I am on my computer!

  6. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
     I am so in awe of your continuing outreach, Dee and Twila. I will commit to pray for Rose and for the subtle evangelism that goes on at the Christmas teas. I am one of those non-extroverts who finds a “canned plan” of evangelism difficult. I have a Catholic friend who has been attending our women’s Bible study group this year. I would appreciate prayer for her. She is very open, but I don’t think the “penny has dropped” yet. I will be interested to hear what Rebecca Pippert has to say. 
     
    I also like Renee’s point that John (and we) are NOT the light but sent to bear witness to the true LIGHT. We can relax; it’s not about us, it is about HIM. The Holy Spirit will melt hearts. 

    1. I will pray the penny will drop!

  7. I just read this from Diane-she just posted it for the end of last week, but as it moved me to tears (I know, I cry easily on Spiritual stuff, but still!)–OH it is SO rich, SO speaks to my own heart right where I am, I wanted to be sure you all saw it, so I’m posting her ending here:
    From Diane: “We know not what to do, but our eyes are on You.” God has placed me in circumstances I would never have chosen. I have many times shrunk back and pleaded with me Lord, to “remove this cup”. Yet He has not. God, through hard testing, is teaching me to trust my Master, to obey Him unquestioningly. I have not arrived at the point of unquestioning, cheerful trust, but, praise God and let me give Him ALL the credit, I have made strides. Advent is a reminder that Jesus trusted his Father unquestioningly – leaving his glory to enter the darkness of this world to obey his Father’s will all the way to death to rescue us. Amazing grace.

    1. Lizzy, hugs. I guess I was hoping to go “below the radar” since I was posting so late on last week’s study!! 🙂 But I felt I could hear God speaking and just needed it to be “on record” as something very important I am just beginning to learn.

      1. oh Diane–I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to pull you out from below the radar! I should have considered that. Your words just spoke richly to me and I thought others would feel that way too. You bless us with your hard-earned, tested through fire, faith. 

    2. Lizzy, Thank you for re-posting Diane’s comments.    Thank you, Diane – What you said resonates with me.  “circumstances I would never have chosen” and “I have not arrived at the point of unquestioning, cheerful trust”   and that “Jesus trusted his Father unquestioningly”.     It is surely his amazing grace that sustains us.   Grateful.

  8. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why? 
     
    Love the the story of Rose! Love how patient you have been; not giving up. I will pray for her and you in your speaking engagements.
     
     
     

  9. 5.  Think of questions you could use.  I immediately ran into fear and resistance within myself.  I realize that there are things like witnessing that I approach like a horse that won’t go over the hurdle.  I’ve been down on my knees confessing fear, pride, unbelief, and stubbornness.  Asking for Jesus to fill me with His love, humility, faith, and yieldedness.  I’d appreciate your prayers that this not end here, but that I go forward into change with and for Christ.

    1. Love this heart!

    2. Oh MaryB.  Love how you get to the heart of the matter.  Your horse terminology immediately made me think of how that (a horse that won’t go over the hurdle) is called a “refusal”.  That really hit me.  When I think of all of my insecurities, fear and excuses when witnessing….well, in reality it’s simply a “refusal”.  I am refusing the One who bought me with His precious blood.  

  10. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why? That our theology must shape our methodology. Loving people vs intimidating and ‘catching’ people. I have been challenged these last couple of weeks to continue to be the hostess in conversation, to show love and to care enough about people to ask good questions. I will be grateful to watch videos. God has also shown me how many no believers I really am in contact with and I am  praying about a way to reach out to them a little more personably……
     
    2. How are you doing with memorizing and how are you feeling about it? Any tips helping you? I am doing ok, not as solid on vs 4-5 but getting there. Music definitely helps. Another trick I use (and use with my AWANA kids) is to write the verse out on a small white board and then read it aloud, then you erase one word and read it aloud again, then continue to erase one word, read aloud, till the whole thing is gone. It’s pretty effective for me because I am so visual that I visualize the word that should be there and grasp it a little quicker.

  11. 2. How are you doing with memorizing and how are you feeling about it?Are any tips helping you?
     
    I am am memorizing proverbs 8 22-31 Since I have the John 1-14 already done. I like to dance to scripture, so it helps me to make movement to the words to know it. It was really funny learning these two scriptures. I choreographed the John bit and my dance partner choreographed the proverbs piece. Even though I danced to her part, I could never seem to remember the words! For some reason my brain was dead on getting that part down. So, here goes:
     
    The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old.  Ages ago I was set up, at  the first, before the beginning of the earth.  
     
    When there were no depths  I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. 
     
     
    3. How does this help you understand and apply John 1:5?
     
    The light is stronger than the dark.
     
    When I choreographed this light and darkness part, the light was high above our heads and the darkness was at our feet; an opposing movement. I also made the darkness movement harsh; we stamped out the darkness with our feet. 
     
    It it also helps that the proverbs bit uses the word “possessed” to help understand the entirety of what is being said and what the author wants us to feel. That’s why we mingled these two verses together in our dance. Here is the first part, together as we danced them:
     
    In the beginning was the word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, he was in the beginning with God.
     
    The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his works, the first of his acts of old. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. 
     
    All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of man. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. 
     
     

  12. 4. A. It is very explicit who the man sent was. John. He was sent to tell others about Jesus. This was so everyone would believe. I think it’s cool when it says, “so all might believe through him. Not in him. He was the vessel through which others could see Jeaus, the true light. 

  13. 1.  What stood out to you from the above and why?
     
     Dee, I simply love the freshness of how freely you share with us your real life, in-real-time life!!  Recently I’ve been feeling a sense of battle fatigue in following Christ.  Even sometimes wondering “where ARE you?”.  Yesterday He reminded me in a BIG way that He is right here with me…..right where He always is!  🙂  Yesterday afternoon I got to take a long walk with a friend who is a devout Jew…..and it’s too much to relate here….but I was blown away by how Jesus “pulled back the curtain” and showed me how He has been working in her heart…..and using the crushing circumstances and grief of my personal life journey in ways I could hardly fathom.  And it all led to us speaking in a brand new way about Jesus…..not just “our faiths”, but JESUS.  The questions were just flying both ways – and I was able to admit that it was HARD for me to freely tell her that while she is looking for Messiah….I have found Him.  She was astonished to reconsider that perhaps Jesus really DID say He was God, was Messiah…..and perhaps it wasn’t just his disciples “adding to his story” after his death.  PLEASE PRAY FOR “N”…..oh my yes, God knows her name!!  
     
    I’m sorry to go off course a bit here…..but I truly couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the direction you are leading us this week…..and how the Lord was already setting that table afresh in my life Sunday afternoon!  And I LOVE Rebecca Pippert!!  I remember her admonishing us to remember that God goes BEFORE us…we don’t have to timidly mince along….hoping He’s got our back!!!  And so it was for me in real time, real life Sunday afternoon!  His ways are just unfathomable!!!

    1. Jackie,
       
      As I may have mentioned before, I too have a Jewish friend.  I’ve been reluctant to have any kind of conversation with her about Jesus.  That idol of approval is detrimental to the flow of significant and flowing conversation I want to have with her.   And so, it is vital to be reminded here of the fact that He goes BEFORE us.   Please pray for my matriarchal, elderly Jewish friend, E.   

      1. Nila – yes, praying for “E”…..and I was thinking of you and your friend even as we walked and talked yesterday!!  I did remember!  

      2. Nila –  you are so discerning to cut to the chase and name the approval idol and how it can stop the most significant conversations of our lives from even happening!    While building friendship relationships is so critical…..even as we become closer, that insidious old idol of approval kicks into high gear!!  I am never entirely unaware, for instance, that “N” has the power to change my life entirely!  I mean that quite literally, as she owns the farm I live on (and have for 18+ years)….and do business on….and we partner together  in the dog rescuing endeavor……the foundation of her life is the Jewish faith….and it tells her that Jesus was very confused on his identity.  Oh my.  Nonetheless, the salvation of a soul is ALWAYS an impossible thing.  Possible with God….and miraculous!  The famous atheist Penn Jillette, has a pithy quote that stops me cold :  “…..If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward….how much do you have to hate somebody to NOT proselytize?  How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”   You can find the 4 minute video clip on YouTube and it is WELL worth a listen!  Penn Jillete may be an atheist – but his thoughts were no unbiblical in this regard!  I sometimes try to imagine eternity…..and hearing those I SAID I loved ask me “how much did you hate me not to tell me?”.  

        1. Wow Jackie. Stopping me cold too. My approval idol has to die!

  14. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    “Being an extrovert isn’t essential to evangelism, love and obedience are.”  The story about Rose and that Dee and the believers around her really do love her-they aren’t being phony-they are sincerely loving her just as she is. They aren’t afraid to share the Gospel for they are through loving her and through inviting her to investigate who Jesus is by coming to dinners and a Christmas Tea. I can’t help but think of John 1-All things came into being through Him and apart from Him nothing has come into being that has come into being.  That has been helping me see people differently for He made them and He cares deeply about them. He cares deeply for Rose. He loves her spunkiness-her frankness, her honesty and her sense of humor for he made her that way, but He is also pursuing her, a woman who at this point wants nothing to do with Him, to be one with Him. 🙂
     
    2. How are you doing with memorizing and how are you feeling about it?Are any tips helping you?
    I struggled trying to memorize the NIV for I had the NASB memorized and that was why. So I went back to the NASB. Much better now. 🙂  
    How am I feeling about it? I am loving communing with Jesus-being in His presence for there is no better place to be than hiding in Him. I am also changing the lies of the past that come up when I memorize..I am not memorizing now for any other reason than to have more of Him-to be with Him-totally changes everything. Even the evil one’s condemnation can’t touch me for it isn’t about succeeding or failing, it is about being with Him-delighting in Him and sensing His presence more. 

    1. Rebecca….these words…”I am not memorizing now for any other reason than to have more of Him…”.  Oh, how my heart was stirred to read this!  Thank You!!!  Although we do have ALL of Him…well, how He longs for us to know this in our core.  Your words were so beautiful and your love for Him shines.  

      1. Jackie- oops, I hope I didn’t steer anyone wrong but when I said ‘to have more of Him’…i meant sensing His presence more because yes I have all of Him-praise Him!  :))) 

    2. Rebecca,
      Love this:  Even the evil one’s condemnation can’t touch me for it isn’t about succeeding or failing, it is about being with Him-delighting in Him and sensing His presence more. 

  15. 2.  How are you doing with memorizing and how are you feeling about it?  Any tips helping you?  
     
    Spending time each day last week with the first five verses of John was sweeter than I thought possible.  Though I had it word perfect much of last week….when I wrote it out this morning I switched the phrases in the second verse!  Ah well.  Such a good reminder of how critical it is to review, review, review!  🙂  And I have continued on with Twila’s way of dog walking/memory work together!  It’s starting to feel more and more natural – yay!  

  16. I’m excited to say that I DID IT 🙂 I NEVER memorize well, it took over 2 hours 🙂 but I’m so excited to have more of God’s word hidden in my heart.
    One thing I have been pondering a lot this week is that we can not be both light and darkness…FEAR, bitterness, anger, despondency, they are all tools of the dark one and when we give into them we can not be light.
    If we are to be a light in a dark world we must allow faith , hope,  joy and peace reign in our hearts so that our lives are a testimony of HIS life.

  17. “And you know what? We aren’t pretending to love her, we really do. She has a lot of spunk, a sense of humor, and some wounding that would do a lot of people in. But not Rose.”
    I LOVE this!!! so often we are trying so hard to share Jesus with people that we forget to LOVE like Jesus. it makes me so sad to think of all the time I wasted with people trying to “share the gospel” before I had “been the gospel”.
    I almost feel guilty for being as relaxed as I am now 🙂 I used to be so uptight, I worried that I would do something wrong, say the wrong thing, not say the right thing….that something I said or did would keep someone out of heaven, that my kids would not follow HIM because of me, that people would look at me and see some flaw that would make them not want Jesus!!! SO MUCH PRESSURE! It turned my into someone that most people did not like!
    Now, I just focus on loving Jesus, letting HIM love me and spilling that love onto those around me. the freedom I have in Jesus grace is more then I can express in words. It brings me to tears! I just want everyone to know this peace and that is what keeps me going when there are to many needs to meet, to many events to plan, to many children to buy gifts for, parents that need unconditional love, to many weddings!!! ( I have 7 students and a son getting married this summer.) I just take a deep breath and BELIEVE that I am enough, whatever HE fills me up with will be ENOUGH….AND THAT HAS MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE. 🙂

      1. Cyndi, I totally agree with Dee!!

    1. Cyndi,
       
      Such wonderful encouragement from you here.  Thank you.

    2. Cyndi,
      THANKS FOR THIS: “so often we are trying so hard to share Jesus with people that we forget to LOVE like Jesus. it makes me so sad to think of all the time I wasted with people trying to “share the gospel” before I had “been the gospel”.      Such a great relief to not have to try so hard and have the freedom to be, to love.

    3. Cyndi I think I need to copy this post down and read it over and over. I so can go to where you once were. I want to REST in HIM in Everything! His Yoke is EASY! I know if we have a heart that wants to share the enemy so wants to get in there and discourage us and tell us how messed up we are how can we possibly be doing that and then when we do what a blundered mess we just made. I just reached out last week with that same feeling and got such encouragement back. Thank you for your confirmation of that encouragement to me today! pressing ON! 

  18. 3. How does this help you understand and apply John 1:5?
    When I am filled with the fullness of God, and I know that Jesus is the Light and that darkness is no match to Him, I can have hope and not despair when darkness comes. Darkness may sound daunting but as Jesus’ Light permeates it, it slowly fades and will come to naught. It is just like entering to a dark room in my house during the night. I step into it without fear (likened perhaps to the courage I can avail of during witnessing opportunities) knowing fully well that as soon as I turn in the switch (Jesus in me) the light will flood the darkened (world; skeptics and unbelievers) room. I can go about my work (witnessing because I possess riches in Christ like His truth) in the room with ease and confidence and purpose.
    Thank you, Dee for sharing this insight from Jen. Like her, I got pumped up with this truth!

    1. Ernema,
      Thank you for the clear word picture.   

  19. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    The beautiful image of the melting heart took me by surprise and brought me to tears.     The challenge and encouragement to reach out with the sweet truth of the gospel to those in my sphere of influence.   Our church is starting the Alpha series in January and we are being asked to consider who we might invite to come along.   My dad has a caregiver in his memory unit that I would like to invite.   May my natural fear of rejection be overcome by my care and love for this young woman.   Thank you, Dee for shepherding us in this direction.   Timely.
     
     
    2. How are you doing with memorizing and how are you feeling about it? Are any tips helping you?
    Memorizing is slow but sure.   I’m still attempting to put it to music, so I sit with my guitar and see what happens.    I’ve tried setting it to tunes I already know as well as composing my own tune.  Its not set in cement yet, but its probably the best way for me to retain the scripture.    It also really helps for me to either write it  or type it out frequently throughout the week.   As a teacher/tutor, I know that children learn best if they can say it, see it, and write it.   As an “old” child, I need the same.

    1. Nila and Lizzy, that is so true. As  a classroom teacher, I am often tempted to just give my notes to my students. But I am really truly finding that the when they write their notes themselves, it is a win-win situation-say, see, write it. In nursing, spelling is so important and the writing really helps. I remember doing an inductive study with the Navigators in the Philippines. Our leader would actually have us write passages of Scripture line by line to make rhythm: This was fun just typing it! 
      There was a man
               sent from God
                          whose name was John.
                                      He came as a witness
                                           to bear witness about the light
                                                       that all might believe through him.
                                                                          He was not the light
                                                                                                but came to bear witness about the light.

  20. 2. How are you doing with memorizing…?
    I’m like Nila (and I think Bing said this too)–writing it out helps me a lot. Typing? not so much,but that’s probably because I’m a terrible typer! (There are a LOT of great free Scripture-memory apps that have you type though–my kids use them well). Seeing my own writing I think helps me.

    And still, I’m a weak memoriz-er, but I’m really thankful we’re doing it. Now, probably the one other discipline I am even worse at…is evangelizing! But I’m thankful for that nudge too. This morning I found renewed desire to evangelize as I really think about Luke 15 and Jesus’ incredible passion to save the lost. The joy over finding a lost coin…of saving a sheep. I have heard “a lost sheep is a dead sheep”–and that yanks on my heart. I have always worked in Churches and often regret (yet love) my bubble. But I do have neighbors…just seems to be such resistance. Yet what also strikes me this mroning (and sorry–working with sleep deprived thoughts today), what I’m chewing on is that I am not SO different from “them”. So often in my life I have thought of non-Christians as a whole other world that is hard for me to relate to on any real level, whether it’s family or distant friends. Sorry if that’s too blunt–I’m just a deep-level, struggle with surface type, so it’s hard for me to have real relationship when I can’t go “deep” on what’s most important to me. But now, the more I see myself as a sinner desperate every minute for grace–there is less distance between me and “them”. And my heart feels tender, and a desire to pull them with me. And I hear myself say “pull”–and I think, that’s one of my (other) problems. I’m impatient. I want to have a good talk, and lead them to Christ, and go to Church together. But even years of Young Life taught me it starts with relationship, and relationship takes time…I still love Mike Reeves, show them Jesus. So sorry–huge ramble!

    1. Lizzy just catching up on this weeks study and came across this post. Your words regarding your struggle with surface tyPe  and your struggle to have real relationship when you cannot go deep so resonated with me. Even with Christians I sometimes feel like they look at me strange as I am a “deep” person. I sometimes feel I make some people uncomfortable with my passion and emotion. My work is very much out in the world. The Lord so blesses me with so many opportunities to go deeper. My prayer and desire to do so has been increasing and with that He has been orchestrating encounters with other to have them begin the deeper conversations. I had 3 just this week which really excites me for more dependence and desire for his power and leading into MORE.  So hungry for MORE of this! What an adventure to watch Him do this orchestrating and to realize it is AlLL HiM. I stand AMAZED.I really believe the enemy loves when we feel this ” So different feeling” I love what you said about how when you See yourself  as a sinner DESPARATE for his grace every minute there is less of a distance between you and them. Praise God for that! What a heart ready to reach those who are lost! 
       

  21. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    “We aren’t pretending to love her, we really do.” That’s where many fail. They act lovingly toward someone as an opening for sharing the gospel, but in reality they really aren’t interested in the person just witnessing and then moving on. It seems cold and impersonal.
    2. How are you doing with memorizing and how are you feeling about it?Are any tips helping you?
    I’m doing well and enjoying it. I have to admit that from years of teaching Awana, I already had last week’s committed to memory.
    I know quite a few scriptures because they were put to music, but when I try this on my own I forget the tune that I made up so I end up spending too much time making it into a song!
     

  22. 3. How does this help you understand and apply John 1:5?
    It is wonderful to have this more in-depth meaning of the term “overcome”…it exemplifies the Lord’s power and persistence.  The darkness/evil one is relentless, striving to overtake the light of the Lord, but he is nothing against the power, might, and resiliency of the Lord.  The Lord has secured His light, His plan and the evil one will not prevail, the evil one will be the ultimate loser.
     
    4. A. What observations do you have on this passage? Comments?
    –John was sent by God
    –John’s ordained mission was to pave the way for Jesus, to tell about His coming, to encourage believe in Jesus the Messiah.
    –John was a support in the structure; John was setting the stage for Jesus.
     
    John brings to mind the importance of all positions.  Often those in the background, support positions, introverted are viewed with less value than those in visible positions, public positions.  The reality which John shows is that each of us has a unique part to play in the Lord’s plan.  If all the pieces are not in place as they should be, the whole is diminished.  Jigsaw puzzles are a perfect example…whether the puzzle is 24 or 1500 pieces, if one piece is missing, the puzzle is incomplete and lacking.

    I don’t want to take credit where credit isn’t due…I believe that it was Lizzy and/or Diane who came up with memorizing text to the music of a song.

    1. Jill too!  🙂  

  23. So while vacuuming today and studying the scripture for this week I found that I could make it (pretty much) fit to the tune of B I N G O.  Trying over and over to fit into a tune has helped drill it into my mind !That’s my song and I’m sticking to it.

    1. Cool, Dawn! I used to create songs for my A and P class to do memory work. It sure helped with exams! Warm regards to you!

    2. Wow —   B I N G O  !!   If I could figure that one out, I could memorize this easily 🙂

  24. 3. How does this help you understand and apply John 1:5?Yesterday and today have merged, and I don’t remember when I read it — but I found it VERY helpful. (Thanks, Jen!).  I like the sound of “katalambano”  (or maybe the looks of since I have no idea how it sounds).  The word itself seems enthusiastic and powerful– attempting to pronounce it is FUN.  I’ve done a couple days worth of work today, and by early afternoon, I thought today was Tuesday and started planning for Wednesday as tomorrow (cramming all my appointments for tomorrow and Wednesday into tomorrow).  I’ve also been going over the verses 1-5 in my mind.  In particular, verse 5 has been a good reminder that Jesus has overcome the darkness.  It’s so easy for me to see the darkness around me and FEEL overwhelmed by being back in and constantly reminded of darkness.  Today, my focus was different — I think that energized me, too, and I may have done too much work.  Even though I had emails, phone calls, and text messages reminding me of the messes, I KNEW that darkness cannot overcome the light.  I am so thankful that I was away from some of the darkness for awhile, and I am so VERY thankful for the timing of this study.   These verses — and reviewing these verses — kept my focus on the light.  I actually was aggressively reminding myself that He has overcome the darkness, and that has made a huge difference for me today (even more difference than coffee 😉  ).
    My head is kinda spinning because I’ve crammed in so much today, and I am aware that I may not be making sense.  But I am happily spinning.

  25. B. Meditate on “there was a man sent from God.” What thoughts do you have on this?  God chose to use a person, people, to bear witness, to point to His Son, the Light.  He sends us, too.
     
    C. From what you know about the life of John, how was it so clear the he knew he was not the light but was sent to bear witness to the light? (See John 1:29-34)
    John stated very clearly that his purpose was to point to Jesus, to reveal Jesus to Israel.  He also was humble, stating that he was not worthy.  His life situation may have contributed to that — I think of his clothing and food: wearing camel’s hair and eating locusts and wild honey.  He either was an odd duck or was very poor and couldn’t afford to buy food.  He would have stood out among “normal” people as unusual; yet he had something about him that pointed people to Jesus.  And that “something” wasn’t high status.  It probably was evident to everyone that he wasn’t the light (and now I am wondering if what the priests and Levites said to him was a form of ridicule; had never thought about that before).  Yet those who were open and seeking saw the reflection of the light and were drawn to Jesus.

  26. I was up at 2:30 in the morning a bit depressed beating myself up for how can I really bear witness to unbelievers when I am such a mess..when I walk in hypocrisy..when I put a rock in the stream of intimacy with Him because my eyes are focused on me. So this thought arrested me, is He enough? Is He? Let’s start there..Then the Song of Songs hit me!! :)) His passionate pursuit of her making her mess beautiful-pursuing her and moving her rocks from the stream with his love..this is so gloriously displayed for her friends, for us to see. Is He enough? 
    Brennan Manning’s quote hit me: “How glorious the splendor of a human heart that trusts that it is loved!”  and then this from Song of Songs 6:5a when Jesus says: Turn away your eyes from me, for they overwhelm me.”OH…and she bore witness to her friends who witnessed her adoration for Him and He for she. 

    1. dear sweet Rebecca, never forget that it is HIS strength and YOUR weakness that will be used most greatly. Im sure that when people see you with your boys, loving them unconditionally, training them, advicating for them, they SEE Jesus love. It is Jesus in your mess that will speak the loudest….not your perfection 🙂 love your tender heart!

      1. Cyndi-LOVE LOVE this, It is Jesus in your mess that will speak the loudest, not your perfection”  This reminder SO SO encouraged me yesterday! I so need Him to move in me to help me berid this stone in my heart. Only He can help me love recklessly. Then I saw a Discipleship Unlimited post that said this about the believing women in prison-which SO helped me rest in Him, His Spirit moving in us gives hunger for the Word, a desire to pray without ceasing, to trust Him in trials, to be grateful, and to love recklessly. This is what we are seeing happen in our faith dorms!”  It is beautiful that if there is any desire in me for Him, to bend away from my idols and onto Him, a desire to memorize, to pray…His nudge inside me when I am being a perfectionist, your encouragement which helped me turn my face toward Him, it is all from Him. IT IS ALL GRACE..I am in awe and glad. :)))

    2. Rebecca…..a million amens to Cyndi’s words!!!  

  27. I find myself wanting to quote so many parts of this lesson! I love how you are using stories to show Jesus. our “catch phrase” this year for ACT is “whats your story” To share our stories and how God has changed our hearts is the best way to share the GOSPEL. His transforming power! some days this is so hard!!!! people are just really hard to love some days!I was talking to a friend yesterday and she was lamenting how she has been studying the Bible with a very intelectual women for 2 years. Her friend says she “just can not buy into all of it, she does not have it all figured out” I encouraged my friend to share with her that Jesus does not need her to understand or even believe it all to start a realationship with HIM….relationships start out small, with a desier to get to know someone better and as you spend time with them you get to understand them more and start to know their heart. So often we start  with trying to get people to “believe in the Bible” Well, that is really a lot to ask of someone who has not met Jesus! even I struggle with it some days. Once a relationship with HIM is started then the HOLY SPIRIT can start doing HIS work in their hearts….

  28. Just re-read what Jen shared above, and especially her cross ref. to Eph. 3 really spoke to me–helping me in praying for one who has not “comprehended”. Oh if anyone of you could be here in my world just a day–I am continually reminded how it is the Spirit who moves hearts. I have 2 of such opposite extremes–one, 1/5th my age and filled with wisdom that blows me away and convicts me, and another, gifted with incredible intelligence far beyond me, yet adamantly refusing the Light. This encouraged me again this morning– “We must be “incarnational,” just as God came to be with us in the flesh, so must we spend time with skeptics and seekers, in the flesh, loving them into the Kingdom.” 
     
    My advent devotional (Come Thou Long Expected Jesus), and even the one we are using this year in our family nightly devotions–these last few days have focused on the incarnation–the power in it, long discussions last night of His fully man, fully God nature–and I am again overwhelmed at His Gift. The “mess” of a womb, the mess of a stable–the mess of human hearts–He enters in, He makes His tabernacle…motivated by Love, nothing can hold Him back. That is where I am called to go–the mess. I find it easier with those who are more “obviously” messy–we do a lot as a family, with the homeless and poor, they are so aware of their neediness, even if only material at first–they want to receive. But there is emotional “mess” all around me, and I must continually be willing to step in to dwell with those who think they have no need, feel the rejection (so small in comparison to His), and keep on entering in, as He.
    Rambling once again–on that note (if anyone is reading still!) I am going to read along quietly for the next few weeks. I love this place but I am really having such sweet time with the Lord in the morning lately, and we have a lot of our own family Advent things I’m keeping up with, so I don’t think I can participate well here right now. But I’ll be reading ?

    1. Lizzy, I’ll miss you but I understand. I will continue praying for you one who is “adamantly refusing the Light”.

      1. Diane–thank you for your prayers. I have been amazed lately at seeing one “gift” in it all (actually through my husband’s encouragement to me). Truly, her challenging questions, her blatant disbelief, her painful rejection of Him–has forced me to dig deep into His Word and be able to relate Gospel truths into clearer terms than I ever would have otherwise. I was given the gift of faith so young, I never questioned,…so it has been so good for me to really have to give an answer for why and what I believe, and in simple but clear ways….bringing the Word into our conversations all throughout the day–because everything can/does in some way point back to Him. And I have to trust His Word will not return void. Last night I was on the floor–done in with it all, but this morning I see anew. He has given me a great trial, but I see how He is using it already to sharpen me, and even my son, equipping him to share clearly, boldly. I’ve got to stop spieling and actually get “quiet” like I said I would! love you sister~
         
        and Jackie–your words brought tears. What a gift we share here in this place. Love you so~

        1. Lizzy, oh, isn’t God SO GOOD to give us such trials and then show us how the very pain MAKES us throw ourselves COMPLETELY on HIM!!! Hugs to you today! Wish I could be there to do this in person!

    2. Lizzy….you will be much missed by me.  I always read your entries (“if anyone is reading still!”) and so love your tender, passionate wisdom.  Having just come off my own little blog sabbatical though – I know sometimes it is needful to step back.  Love you so much.

      1. Yes, Jackie, me too. I always read Lizzy’s entries and smile at the “if anyone is reading still” part! Just love your heart, Lizzy!

    3. LIzzy-I soooo understand but I don’t want you to leave us-even for a week or two! 🙁 🙁  

  29. Just gotta say I love our silent blogger Jen’s explanation of “katalambano” with its two uses in John 1 and Ephesians 3:18! Wow! Thanks so very much, Jen. 

  30. Dee, I think someone else already said this, but I can’t get to the link explaining Twila’s memory work either. It asks for a password.

      1. Thanks, Dee. I can get the link now.

  31. For those of you who need Twila’s recommendations on ways to memorize, you can click here: https://deebrestin.com/2014/11/the-best-possible-advent-week-1-2014/
    Or here it is: (Dee, let me know if this is the right one or not..I think it is.)

    Twila has a system that I know will help you. This is directly from Twila:
     
    1. Print off the whole piece you will memorize this week in large font. Do the translation of your choice, or do Dee’s choice: ESV. Print off John 1:1-5 and put it in a plastic sleeve or on photo paper so it won’t get smudged — for it will be in the kitchen, the bathroom — and everywhere! (Print it, in preparation, today.)
     
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (4) In him was life, and the life was the light of men. (5)The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
     
    2. I work on a paragraph at a time, for it is easier to memorize in concepts than to just choose a number of verses. Dee has divided this into five concept paragraphs. Learn as much, daily, from this week’s portion as will stick in your head. If the sentence is “normal length,”  it is pretty easy to take the whole sentence.  Verse 1 might work that way for you.  If a sentence is too long, (think Paul!) just learn a phrase or two. When you have repeated the first phrase of the sentence until it rolls off your tongue easily, add the next phrase.
     
    3. Keep adding phrases or sentences until you reach the end of the paragraph. Not everyone memorizes with the same ease, so don’t worry it it takes awhile, or if some paragraphs seem much harder to retain than others. Review, review, review. It will eventually stick in your head. You will be surprised, in time, how much easier it gets for you.
     
    4. I get a paragraph down well enough before I walk — and then I practice it while I walk, checking accuracy when I get home — but you could easily take a card with you.
     
    Since reviewing is key, once you get it down, you can review while you exercise, while you bake cookies, while you wrap presents, and while you drive. You will be held in His arms all through the busyness of the season.

    1. Thanks, Rebecca, for Twila’s memorization tips.

  32. 4. Read John 1:6-8
    A. What observations do you have on this passage? Comments?
     
    I was puzzled why John the Baptist is mentioned here, seeming to interrupt a wonderful narrative about Jesus being Light and Life. I found interesting thoughts from Michael Card’s book on the gospel of John called The Parable of Joy. 
     

    “The story seems to interrupt John’s beautiful sermon like an uninvited guest. What does the maniac preacher/Wildman from the wilderness have to do with the luminous themes John is developing? The explanation comes from an understanding of the life situation of the Gospel John is writing.
     
    “It would be almost impossible to underestimate the popularity of John the Baptist. As late as A.D. 200 some of his followers still worshiped him as the Messiah. In Acts 19:3 we meet “believers” who still only know John’s baptism. … within the community for which this Gospel was written, groups still engaged in worshiping John the Baptist as the Messiah. 
     
    “… Now it is important for John’s readers to hear that John the Baptist is not that Light. In fact, in a litany of denials we hear the Baptist insisting he is not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet like Moses [see John 1:19-22] but only a simple voice in the Wilderness.”

     

  33. 4B. Meditate on “there was a man sent from God.” What thoughts do you have on this?
     
    I find this phrase very intriguing. I am quite sure you cannot say of everyone born that he was “sent from God”. So that means John is very special. He had a very special purpose. In that sense, he was a prophet, foretelling Jesus’ birth. His role was to prepare for the Messiah and he did exactly with that. Jesus said “among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist” (Matt. 11:11).  Jesus, who understood more than John the Baptist himself, saw him as fulfilling the prophecy about Elijah. (Matt. 11:14) 
     

  34. 4B. Meditate on “there was a man sent from God,” what thoughts do you have on this?
    John had a special mission, a special purpose ordained by God.  John’s role was part of God’s plan…if John would not have been obedient to God’s plan/purpose for him, he would have lost out and a different history would have taken place.  It makes me wonder about God’s plan and purpose for me and others, how our obedience or disobedience is such a huge factor in fulfilling or not  fulfilling the plan/purposes the Lord has in mind specifically for me/us…the Lord’s plan will be fulfilled regardless.
     
    4C. From what you know about the life of John, how was it so clear that he knew he was not the light, but was sent to bear witness to the light?
    The Lord made John aware that through his actions (i.e., baptizing), the Holy One/Messiah would be revealed.  John recounts how the dove came down upon Jesus as He was baptized revealing that Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah sent by the Lord.   John set the stage for the revelation of Jesus. 

  35. I’m really struggling to find any time this week to get the study done; it’s frustrating. I also am having trouble even answering the questions?. 
     
    4C. John continually told others that he was not thr Messiah, but one coming after him would be. He was always plain and clear about that. He was never concerned about himself or what people thought; only about getting the message out.
     
    4D. I’m not really sure I know what “sharing my testimony” actually means…am I sharing my testimony when a friend asks me how I got through cancer, or these past few months with 2 jobs, a new grand baby, and a household to manage, and I say to her through prayer to God? If not, then I don’t think I share my testimony. Does it have to be a certain event like the time I admitted that I would be a child of God forever? When I accepted Jesus as my Lord? If so, then that is very rare. I don’t think it’s easy to broach at subject in normal everyday conversation; especially with non believers. It’s awkward.

    1. So right after I write this, I log on to Facebook and there is a post from a former student who mixes up an old saying my mom used to say (“this too shall pass”) as a bible verse! I (of course) had to correct her and give a REAL bible verse to contemplate because I can……she was having a very hard day so I gave her Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” So, I guess I witnessed on facebook to a non-believer?! Ha!

      1. Laura, like!!

        1. She had referred to me telling her this when i was her teacher and thought it came from the bible. Isn’t that WILD, that just after I lamented here about not knowing how to witness, God provided a perfect opportunity to do it!! Love Him and His ways!

      1. Dee, what do you mean by this? “But I need to be careful with Christian lingo.” Did I say something wrong?

        1. Laura – I’m so glad you asked Dee about that, as I was puzzled by that too!  🙂  I would love to see that line clarified.  

  36. Have been so blessed by meditating on this passage and thinking about challenge question… for hours!!

  37. Hmmmm, asking questions? I’m not sure what to say. Here goes nothing….
    How do you handle stress?
    Is it for you to “wait out” the difficult, hard (emotionally) days?
    What do you do when life is not going your way?
    Have you ever heard the phrase “this to shall pass?”
    Are you aware that difficulties will happen in life like a wave passing?
    Did you know that if you hang on through the difficult time that God will reveal Himself to you in ways you could never imagine (but you have to be looking and listening)?
     
    What do you think of these questions? Am I on the right track?

    1. Wow Laura-GREAT questions!!! You are on the right track!

    2. I made a mistake typing that I didn’t notice…
       
      should say, “is it hard for you to wait out…”

  38. Ok, so here’s the update.  These verses have been sustaining me this week.  I’ve been so engaged with the verses that I even lay awake in the middle of the night and think about them.  And today, I told someone what I was thinking.  I liked the word katalambano because it sounded so powerful and reinforced that the darkness will not overcome.   As I thought about this more, I realized that even though I liked the word and what it means, I was sort of using it as a pep talk.  And that was messed up.  The fact that the darkness cannot overcome/comprehend the light is a fact that is not changed by psyching myself up.  Obviously, I am not the light 🙂   However, the light dwells in me because the Spirit of God lives in me.  This does help me connect some dots.
     
    When I first thought about the Challenge Question, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into; I’m still not entirely sure!  Sometimes I’ve been reluctant to share “my testimony” both because I don’t like talking about myself, but also because I remember back in the day when I thought I didn’t have a testimony because I hadn’t been on drugs or rescued from alcoholism.  When I was in my late teens, I though those were the people who had a testimony 🙂
    As I thought more about the challenge question, I realized that sharing my testimony is first about being rather than doing or talking (not that I want to exclude either doing or talking).  It does mean living in repentance and knowing Whose I am — being firmly convinced of His love for me and knowing that He has overcome the darkness, that the darkness isn’t a threat.

    I’ve developed pretty decent skills at asking open-ended questions — and I believe that questions can become one more technique.  They also can enable me to have a couple hours of conversation and never share anything about myself 😉   I’m not particularly fond of tracts, “canned” speeches, etc.  But, in reality, those canned techniques did help me learn and internalize the message of the gospel.  I remember meeting Becky Pippert when she spoke at a retreat when I was in college; it must have been a couple years after she wrote “Out of the Saltshaker.”   I definitely live out of the saltshaker, but that doesn’t mean that I always share Christ with others.  I get the relationship part, but it also is easy for me to get sucked into the attitudes around me.  And that goes back to the importance of letting the Word of God dwell in me so richly that it flows out to others.  The idea of aggressively loving people — I think that’s where the gap is for me.  I’d rather aggressively hibernate!

    I came back to town just under a week ago — and being here has been hard, maybe not as difficult as before I left, but I became drained pretty quickly.  I felt as if I were functioning in alternate universe.  When I read the definition of katalambano, I realized that I am in an alternate universe!  The darkness cannot comprehend the light; they don’t get it.  I’ve been so confused because I couldn’t understand how people can not be aware of even the most basic ethics.  (Come on, people — some of this stuff should have been part of their education).  And I don’t get what is going on around me; it’s more bizarre than professional settings where I’ve recently been.   I think I’m still a little confused about this testimony thing, but I am realizing that the Light is in me and that the Light isn’t comprehended by those who don’t know the Light.  I also know that because God became man, because Jesus died and conquered death, the darkness isn’t winning, even if it seems like it.

     A couple nights ago, I was looking up at the sky, seeing stars, and thinking about these verses.  It only takes a “blip” of light to break up the darkness.  Light overcomes darkness pretty easily.   In contrast, I don’t see little blips of dark in the sky during the day.  I also thought about “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”  I’m still connecting the dots; I do think I have the knowledge, relationship skills, contacts, and even like hanging out with those who don’t go to church.  But to effectively share my testimony, I need to be so saturated in God’s grace and His word first that my testimony is almost a by-product: sorta like Georg Mueller said about getting his soul happy in the Lord first.  I don’t want to make an excuse for not sharing Christ or learning new ways to reach people, but what seems to be preventing me much of the time is that I feel empty.  I’m not very good about saying or doing when it’s not consistent with my heart.  SOOO… short version of the answer is that when I’m not sharing my testimony it’s either a heart issue or I’m just plain exhausted; sometimes the two go hand in hand.

    1. Renee – great response!  I love that you noted that psyching ourselves up – or not -doesn’t change the power of “katalambano”.  For we are not the Light…..but, oh, to think that He, Jesus Christ the Light,  actually dwells in this weak and shaky frame!!  “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27).  Wow.  But this does bring me back around to wondering whether in giving yourself a pep talk you might actually have been just preaching truth to your soul – a great thing indeed!  Though the power isn’t in the pep talk, there IS power to change our hearts and minds in the truth!!  
       
      Your musings about sharing your testimony were gritty and real.  Like you, I’d rather “aggressively hibernate” than “aggressively love”!!!  I laughed so hard when I read your words…..   🙂  Oh boy.  I’ve found that, over the years, the Lord has been so patient with me….but He has persistently challenged me with my “excuse” of being a confirmed introvert!  He has been showing me, time and again, how dreadfully selfish and unloving I have been.  By withholding my testimony, I’ve been withholding His Love.  This life I am living isn’t even mine, after all!  I am “bought with a price”.  
       
      The last few sentences of your entry reminded me of Rebecca’s earlier entry that began with her waking at 2:30 a.m. and beating herself up because she felt hypocritical about sharing her testimony…..her entry and the responses were beautiful.  🙂  
       
      I’m just coming off two days of extreme fever and sickness….first time in about a decade I can remember being that sick!  My thoughts may be somewhat fevered and confused, but I just had to respond to your wonderful post!  

      1. jackie–so sorry you have been so sick. praying now for full recovery, love you

      2. Jackie-SO sorry you are that sick-oh my!! I hope you feel better soon and hope you are in bed taking care of yourself! Love to you.

    2. Love this, Renee. “I am in an alternate universe!” Yes we are. And the darkness is getting deeper all the time!
      And this is so true, ” I am realizing that the Light is in me and that the Light isn’t comprehended by those who don’t know the Light.  I also know that because God became man, because Jesus died and conquered death, the darkness isn’t winning, even if it seems like it.”
       
       Love your musings!

  39. Thinking of John being sent by God and reminded of the song, So Send I You.  I haven’t heard this for a LONG time, but really like this rendition: https://youtu.be/BDSEbgqd2u8    Definitely speaking to me right now.

  40. 5. Rebecca Pippert stressed asking questions, like Jesus did. The farmers she spoke to learned to ask, during this drought: How are your crops? How are you dealing with this? Have you found a way to deal with this that makes you better instead of worse.    Now — think of someone God has put in your path — and think of some questions you might ask the next change you get. What are they? (Now pray for an opportunity — and be alert to others. If any chance happens this week for you to be loving, natural, and question asking — share it here to encourage us all. But for now, share questions you might ask.
    -Let’s see…my questions might be to a friend who said he hates dissension-is a non confrontational type: Why do you think you don’t like dissension?  How do you cope with dissension? How does that help you? How does that change your perception of that person? How does that help or hinder your relationship with that person? (Of course the questions might be different depending on what he says.)  

    To another friend at work who is having relational issues: How are you doing with______?  Have you made any new decisions lately in regard to contact with him? Has anything new happened since we last talked that is helping you? How are you dealing with the pain now? How is that helping you-does it make you better or worse? (I love that ‘better or worse’ question above!)

  41. 5. Challenge question: Some testimonies are “all about me” and others bear witness to the light. 
    When you share your testimony, how do decrease so He can increase?
    I think of how Karla Faye Tucker shared her testimony. She didn’t go into what she did in the past but went straight to talking about how He wooed her in Prison–and she doesn’t talk about how moral He has made her since then: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ini-tu4Ue3Q&index=7&list=PLib3_ePWB38JNlYsrbCtNQNVWmrI7fqQE
    She tells of how God wrapped her in a cocoon of love and no matter what she did in the past she was loved just as she was. This made her realize for the first time how her murders hurt others-but at the same time God was telling her He loved her..To realize she could be loved unconditionally after doing something that horrible..at that moment he reached inside of her and ripped out the roots of violence inside and He came and lived inside. 

  42. Been thinking about the light lately…..I teach a unit on light and optics and part of that unit is on light’s interaction with matter.For example, one interaction is reflection and another is refraction. John was a reflection of Jesus, and we can be that too! We can show others his love, generosity, kindness, and patience. Yesterday a para-professional stopped me and said (I am NOT tooting my own horn lately; I rarely have compliments about my teaching), “such and such stopped me in the hall today and out of the blue said, Mrs. Preston is probably the nicest teacher I have ever had.” That really made my day! My effort to try to be kind to ALL my students (sometimes it is very hard) may be paying off! I actually made a plan to begin to treat my students with more love a few years ago and maybe it is coming around now 🙂
     
    The second interaction, refraction, is the bending of light. Light can be bent and focused. If we lead as John did, we can bend and focus others on Jesus. I haven’t really thought much about giving my testimony to others. I am glad you brought this up this week Dee! I will be thinking of this for awhile I’m sure; waiting for encounters.
     
    I haven’t done a great job with my memory work this week. Last year when we began memorizing John 1, my husband was remodeling our bathroom. He had some of the internal boards exposed, so I decided to write John 1:1-14 on a board so I had it near and liked the idea that my house would have a bible verse written on it! I also thought someone might find it in the future and it would be a great testimony 🙂 Needless to say, my poor husband hasn’t had the time and energy to complete the work, and I have been able to look at John 1 all year!!!! I decided to add what I knew of Proverbs 8 this morning:
     
    “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His work, the first of His acts of old. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. When there were no depths, I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth, before He had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world.”

    1. I love your musings about light, Laura. Reflection and retraction — fits in perfectly. Also, I am inspired by your encounters at school. It sounds like you are being a Christ-like “witness” in the midst of darkness. Great musings!

      1. ?

  43. Believe it or not, I prayed for God to put people in my path that I could witness to and He wasted no time in doing so! I had to revisit my dentist today, unexpectedly, and I ended up leaving school to do so. Since I was out, I needed to run by the store to pick up a few things before I went home, briefly, to then go to my second job at 5:00. while I was at the store (at a very odd time to be there) a woman passed me in the aisle and said, “hi, I’m Joe’s mom.” I said hi and vaguely remembered her as the mother of a student I had probably 5 years ago. She said, “did you hear?” I said, “no, what?” She then proceeded to tell me that her husband, who is a colleague of mine, has stage 4 cancer and I am recovering from a brain aneurism just a month ago. She said he has been doing chemo. I listened, gave her my condolences, and she told me he was somewhere in the store. I left her and ran into him a couple of minutes later. I said how sorry I was to hear his news and he said, yeah, they say I will die a slow death. I gave him a hug and said, miracles can happen…..you know I am a Christian and I will pray for you and your family. He said yes he knew and thanked me for praying. I asked him if he went to church and he asked me where I went. I told him and said please come at 10:00 on Sunday morning. I also let him know that we are a caring, friendly congregation. Please help me by praying for Oat and his family with their medical issues.

    1. Laura–smiled to hear of how God is using you! Praying for Oat and his family, and that they will join you at Church and have their hearts melted by Truth

    2. LOL!!! I wondered why you (Lizzy) typed “Oat” for his name and then I just saw that I typed “Oat!!!!” It’s Pat ?

      1. I thought Oat was an interesting name. 🙂 

    3. Laura, I’ll be praying for Pat and his family.

    4. Praying for Pat and family that they will be drawn to Christ. Funny, the name mix up, LOL!

    5. Laura, I like the name mix-up.  Easier to distinguish/remember when praying for various Pats 😉

      1. ?

        1. Laura-love the thumbs up icon!! 

  44. Ladies..I had a memory in regard to two ideas to help with verse memory-The first one is great when you are memorizing one to three verses at a time, but might not work for a whole passage. I am sure you all have heard of diagramming your verses? (Just drawing stick figures and icons to represent words and phrases.) I have found it is a great way to share verses with others too, and to teach children the verses. :)Now I use it to teach children..but it is great when God gives you time with an unbeliever or with whoever He brings to you. As an adult and new believer when my mentor taught me this method it was so helpful. (She sat under Dawson Trotman and what a gift she was to me-and what a ministry He gave her in Kansas City! She passed away in 2000 and I miss her dearly.)
     
    It is hard to describe in writing..but here is a quick example, and I am doing this off the top of my head so forgive me, but you can do it however you want: I will use John 1:1-2: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Draw it as you say it. For ‘in the beginning’ i draw a squiggly line to represent in the beginning. For ‘was the word, i draw a square that looks like a book on top of the squiggly line. For ‘and the word was with God’, I draw a stick figure next to the book on the squiggly line. For ‘and the word was God’ I draw another stick figure over the book. Verse 2: He was with God in the beginning. I draw an arrow going back and forth between the two stick figures to represent they are two persons yet one..the stick figure over the Bible represents the Word being Jesus.
     
    Another idea I had..which is my most favorite thing to do.. I haven’t done in years and would LOVE to do with someone.. It is a memory game. My mentor and I would do it..For example, she would mention a word such as, “The Word”….then I would quote John 1:1, or another verse God brings to mind. Then it was my turn and I would say a word like ‘world’ and she would say a verse that has world in it. Then it would be her turn and she would say another word such as “love”, or “Sin nature”, or other words. We would go back and forth sharpening one another..It was really fun, and was a sweet bonding time too. A great way to do this is to have another sister and you memorize the same passages…then after you have memorized a handful of verses you can play this game, or if you meet someone who memorizes you can play it with them. Anyway, just a thought! 

    1. Oh and I forgot an important part with the memory game..the word you choose should come from the verse your friend quoted. :)) It is a great way to connect verses…OR you can just say a random word-either way. 🙂

    2. Good ideas for memorizing, Rebecca!

    3. ???

  45. My take away:
     
    I’m just wondering if you, Dee, (or anyone else here who has led seeker Bible studies) has used Becky Pippert’s material. Have you found it helpful and effective? Are there other resources for seeker evangelism that any of you might recommend. I am interested in the possibility of leading a seeker study and am wondering where to start.

    1. Thanks, Dee. I’ll have to work on inviting people for the moment but would love to check on your study “Examining the Claims of Christ” later. Perhaps I will get Rebecca’s book “How to Lead a Seeker’s Bible Study” first. I am definitely interested in knowing how Rebecca P’s study on John goes. I checked out a few extra videos on Rebecca Pippert plus her web site. I am happy to hear that she is doing seeker studies in Europe — I hear Europe is so dark now. I also like the idea of 7 lessons – because people only have to commit to 2 months. 

    2. This would be great for a Summer seeker study too-7 weeks is good for that! I am thinking praying about hosting one this Summer in our home.

  46. 7. Write out your memory work.
    In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were created through Him and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life and the life was the light of men. The light shines in darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light. He was not the light but came to bear witness about the light.
    8. Do you have any new insights on this passage?
    That John was called for a special purpose-to bear witness about the light. I, too have a purpose where God has sent me for this generation. I may not reach everyone in the  world but I can be a witness about the light where I am at right now.
    Saturday
    9. What is your take-a-way and why?
    There is no darkness so dark that the light of Christ can not penetrate. This truth gives me courage not to give up on praying for those who are blinded by the enemy. The brother of Rebecca P.’s hairstylist waited 7 years for his sister’s coming to Christ. I need to pray for opportunities to share my faith and be a witness for Jesus. And not be afraid to be at  a loss for words because God will provide. Exodus 4:12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”
     

  47. 9.  Take-away:  Meditating on the Word is life-giving and life-sustaining!  Have been mulling over this passage all week.  But I wouldn’t exactly say I have memorized it because I am getting versions mixed up.  Newer versions swimming in my mind with KJV, so I may go back to KJV for memorizing, or else I’ll live with being mixed up.  This certainly wouldn’t be the only way I am mixed up.