A Holiday Week of God Hunts!

For those of you who have just joined us for our summer study, let me do a brief review. We are going on a “God Hunt” in life and in Scripture. This week, because of the 4th of July week, we are going to focus on hunting God in every day life.

Karen Mains had said, “The passion children bring to “hide-and-seek” is the same passion we need to bring to finding God.

When our two sons, James (J. R.) and John, got older, they morphed the hide-and-seek game into “Scare Hide-and-Seek.” When the seeker got inches from the hider’s hiding place, the hider would leap out from the bushes or the broom closet with “BOO!” Or, if the seeker thought he saw that blanket move suspiciously, he would pull it off and yell “BOO!” or “GOTCHA!” to the hider. Our boys loved it and got very clever with their hiding places, bursting out of the huge outside garbage can (yuk!) or leaping from a tree. The game sometimes caused our third child, Sally, who was considerably younger, to burst into tears. Then I’d say: “No more “Scare Hide and Seek with Sally!”

J. R., John, and Sally Brestin decades ago!

But she would follow me around pleading plaintively, “Please, Mommy — I will be BRAVE like the BROTHERS! I want to play too!” But too often, if I relented, her terror and tears returned, compounded by her sense of failure.

There are times when we have those approach/avoidance feelings with Jesus. We want Him to show up, yet if He really does, we are shocked and scared — like the disciples in the boat when a storm came up and Jesus was asleep in the stern. They pleaded with Him to help, but when He did, they were more afraid of the One who could stop a storm than of the storm itself.

Rembrandt: Christ in the Storm

Or we may want to pray for one we love to be miraculously healed of cancer, blindness, or infertility — but we fear Jesus might choose not to heal him or her and we will be piling disappointment on one already suffering.

That is a bit how my dear friend and neighbor Jeff Johnson felt one fateful day in July when he, as an optometrist, was on one of his frequent medical mission trips to Honduras. On a Tuesday in July, 1998, in Tegucigalpa, a young single mom brought her twelve-year-old daughter to the church that had been transformed into a clinic for the week. She had taken Carla to six other clinics over the past several months. Each time Carla had been diagnosed with congenital glaucoma. This was the same medical condition that caused Ray Charles to go blind. It is permanent and irreversible. Jeff said:

Another doctor and I examined her and we formed the diagnosis. Her corneas were smoky white as a result of the extremely high eye pressure, and her eyes constantly wandered. She was unable to fixate on any object, and unable to see the light from the flashlight.

We spent time talking to the mother and told her that there was no medical treatment available for her daughter. She had now heard the same diagnosis and prognosis for the seventh time.

They hadn’t prayed for her to be miraculously healed, yet Jeff decided they should pray as they were escorting them out, thinking, It wouldn’t hurt. The group surrounded the young girl, and Jeff put his right hand over her eyes, and they began to pray. He said, “I really don’t remember specifically what we prayed, and I honestly did not expect anything to happen. After a few minutes of group prayer, I removed my hand from her eyes and the girl exclaimed:

            ‘I can see!’

            My response was, ‘What did you say?’

            ‘I can see!’

 We looked at each other, stunned in silent disbelief, while before our very eyes we witnessed a miracle. God had restored the visual pathways to her brain, and as the pressure normalized, her milky white corneas became clear. As word of this spread through the packed clinic, a ‘Holy Silence’ swept through the building, for both Hondurans and North Americans alike.

The German scholar Rudolf Otto had a phrase for this “holy silence,” this awe that people from all cultures feel when they come into the presence of One perfectly holy and powerful. He called it the “mysterium tremendum.” Again, there is this “approach/avoidance.” We are in awe, drawn – and yet we realize how sinful we are, and it can make our blood run icy cold. As the old spiritual “Were You There?” says: “Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.”

Jeff said that he had all those feelings the morning of the miracle: bountiful joy, a fearful awe, and a deep conviction of how often he may have short-circuited God’s plan because of a pre-conceived notion on how He works.                                 

Now Jeff is much more sensitive to pray when he senses a patient needs intercession.He has never had that kind of instantaneous miracle happen in the United States, but it happened once more in Honduras.

Because this week is a vacation week, with the 4th of July, I know most of you are busy with family and friends. So this week will be a little different. Each day will be a “God Hunt” of a different kind, supported by one verse. I’ll give you the verse, and an illustration, and then you need come up with your own illustration from a memory or that day!

Then next week we will return to hunting for Jesus and His gospel in the Old Testament, and I absolutely want to have you find Jesus in the Song of Songs, for that is the week my book, He Calls You Beautiful (Hearing the Voice of Jesus in The Song of Songs) will be released — and I so covet your prayers and your help in getting the word out!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

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

Monday, July 3, 2017: A God Hunt That Caused You To Tremble

I shared above Jeff’s story that filled “the whole clinic” with a holy silence. An experience my daughter Sally had with that was when she did her painting of Aslan. She was in the midst of high-tide grief, of suffering so deep and personal I cannot share it here. But she was looking for answers on how a good God could have allowed her to experience the pain she did. God met her. She tells the story here:

2. Comments on the story?

3. Read Isaiah 6:1-8 and share how Isaiah experienced God and the mysterium tremendum.

4. Can you think of a time when God came to you and produced a holy fear?

Tuesday, July 4, 2017: A 4th of July God Hunt

The 4th of July is all about the freedom our country won through sacrifice.This freedom seems to be slipping away today and we must each pray, so please do, especially today! But what I’d like you to do for the God Hunt is to consider one specific way God, rather than the government, has set you free. I, for example, am being set free (it is a lifelong process) from both my control and comfort idols, and it has brought so much joy and peace. Watch this video from women who are experiencing being set free from heart idols:

5. Comments on the above?

6. Read John 8:31-32 and share what Jesus promises.

7. Name one specific way obeying God’s commands has set you free.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017: Spying God Through Unusual Timing or Circumstances

This week I’m with my dear friend Linda Strom, who founded Discipleship Unlimited. We often marvel at how God brought us together. We never even knew about the other, yet there were so many strands that would connect us:

  • Both from Wisconsin
  • Both widowed young, losing cherished husbands to cancer
  • Both had a passion for prison ministry (Linda founded Discipleship Unlimited — I had volunteered in prisons and had recently had a nephew incarcerated in Linda’s home state of Texas)

The time was ripe for us to meet and God knew it. Our friend Jan Silvious put together a “telephone Bible study” of authors. I’d do almost anything for Jan, but honestly this was crazy. It wasn’t skype, so we could only hear and not see. Each time we spoke we had to identify ourselves and there were three Lindas — Linda from Canada, Linda from Georgia, and Linda from Texas. Most of the time we were LOST. My only goal was to keep my word to Jan and finish the telephone study. But, oh, God had a different plan up His sleeve.

There was one woman who began to stand out: Linda from Texas. I finally could separate her from the other Linda’s and felt drawn. One day during our phone Bible study she said, “I’m in Wisconsin this week.” My ears perked up, “Where are you?”

“Port Washington.”

“I’ll be driving by on my way to the Milwaukee airport.”

“Oh — stop and we’ll meet.” Little did I know, she was being drawn to me too.

The rest is history. Linda has recruited thousands to the prison ministry and she certainly recruited me — it was not long at all before she was asking me to write a curriculum for them! But I am so thankful. It has been one of the best God Hunts of my life!

Linda and the staff I’ve come to love overflowing with the love of Jesus

8. What do you learn from Proverbs 16:9?

9. Can you give an example of unusual timing or circumstances in which you spied God? It could be in friendship, or it could be in leading you into ministry, or in giving you help when you needed it most! You may have had one plan, but looking back, you see how God engineered a different plan: His plan!

Thursday, July 6, 2017: Spying God In Help To Do His Work in the World

I am reformed in my theology, and yet God has given me a great love for my charismatic brothers and sisters. My sister Sally and my son and daughter-in-law J. R. and Dianne are charismatic. Sometimes I get nervous about “words from the Lord,” or their absolute confidence that God will heal. And yet — I know He can do both. When I was a young Christian, before I wrote The Friendships of Women, I had written a Bible study and was speaking at a little church in Nebraska. Afterwards I was meeting people and I saw a woman lingering, watching me. I thought she probably needed prayer. I asked, “Did you want to talk to me?”

She said, “No — but I must.” She walked over to me and put a little tape recorder down. (Remember tape recorders?) She said, “You’ll want to keep this.” I really didn’t know what was going to happen. Then she proceeded to prophesy, telling me God was going to anoint me to reconcile women friends, sisters, mothers and daughters — and that I would be writing about friendship, about Ruth and Naomi, and more. I left that church with the tape, not knowing if she was right or not — and yet it was encouraging — and when it started to come to pass, I was filled with a holy awe. A mysterium tremendum. And it so humbles me that despite my sin, my daily failures, that indeed, He has anointed me. Truly, there are times when I wonder where an idea comes from, or how I remembered that verse — and then I know. I spy God at work in my to do His work in the world.

Many of you are reaching out, obeying His commandments to care for the widows and orphans, to not shut up your heart to the poor, to visit the prisoner, to love your neighbor, to share the good news, to teach Sunday School or lead a Bible study… I’d love to hear stories of how you sensed Him reaching out to help you do His work in the world.

10. .What is one way James 1:5  says God will help you?

11. Can you share an example of spying God in helping you to do His work in the world?

Friday, July 7, 2017: Unexpected Grace

You expect to fail a test, but you actually do well. You expect a speeding ticket, and you get a warning. You deserve a friend’s anger and you get complete grace. Oh my — this happens to me nearly daily. I do so many things wrong, and God gives me grace so often. I get myself in trouble. My most recent example is not getting my son-in-law’s boat up high enough on the lift, and I woke to find it floating along the shore, whitecaps battering it against the rocks. I sent out a call for help to people at my church, The Orchard, and I was overwhelmed with grace. When I tried to pay the man who came running with his strong son, and who battled dangerous whitecaps pushing the big boat off the rocks and back out onto the life, he wrote me the dearest letter on why I had to let him help me and must not pay him, a letter I am saving.

12. Paul had been a murderer of Christians, and after his conversion, some Jews plotted to kill him. What unexpected grace came to him? (Acts 9:23-25)

13. Can you share an example of unexpected grace from God or His body?

Saturday, July 8, 2017: Praise and Take-a-Ways!

14. Is there a story or two from your sisters that stands out?

15. Write your prayer of praise to the God who jumps out and says, “Boo!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

           

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Sunday, July 2, 2017
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
Oh, Dee! As I opened our study for today and found you sharing about your book, I was just astounded of the timing. Last night, I had to wait up for our daughter who went out late to meet some friends she hasn’t seen for a while. This was of course one of my God hunts. J On holidays, she usually runs around with friends rather than with us but this time, she came home with her wonderful dog, Sam and is staying for almost 4 days! Now that is already a special God hunt to this sometime longing mom for her daughter to be home.
 
Anyway, Sam is devoted to Ruth and he was sad because she was not around. So I sat up with him and “felt prompted to read and grabbed the free copy of your book, He calls me beautiful that Multnomah sent me! Thank you so much. I skimmed/read portions through the whole book and my heart was truly warmed by the love of God. Dee, this book is a treasure and I am saying that with tears of gratitude. Although I have been involved in the blog when you led us through the Song, I was kept busy by work and also felt intimidated by the discussion as it was a book on earthly marriage for me before I studied with you and the ladies. Going through the book this time was different for me. I felt more clarity about this book being about Jesus and His passionate love for me. A God hunt at almost midnight!

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    What an encouraging post, Bing. I so appreciate it! Would covet your prayers for the launch on the 11th and any help you could give through reviews on Amazon or Facebook. I do think there will be spiritual warfare is this is the message the enemy dreads — that God loves us to the core.

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      Yes, Dee. I have been giving this much thought and will be writing a review. Am not very good with words but I know the Lord will give me wisdom so the review is objective and heart-felt. He has given me the words before and have experience the ‘mysterium tremendum” because of what came out of my mouth! Only He can do that!

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

 

The miracle with your neighbor is unbelieveable to me. I am one of those who has to “see it to believe it.” It’s the scientist in me, I think. I hope it really happened, and again, find it hard to believe it happened twice.

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    I know, Laura. Yet if you could meet him, this gentle, godly, humble man who lives so for Jesus, you would believe. And he had a whole clinic of witnesses. It is truly wonderful.  And year after year he saw this little girl — now a woman in her thirties. And she can see!

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

The story reminds me a bit of my mission trip to Haiti and the incredible events that surrounded that.  I often think that you see God’s hand in miraculous ways in other (third world- type) countries because you come to the end of yourself and your own resources much more quickly.  But I have certainly seen God work miraculously here as well.

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Mary E — always so good to see you here. I wonder if that is it — could be.  I know Keller has said that Christianity moves away from wealth.

What is happening with your new trial?

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    Well, none of the clinical trials that I was checking into have worked out for the time being, so I just went on to an already approved, conventional chemo drug which was made into pill form in 2001 (it actually gets converted into a chemotherapy drug, 5FU in your cells, more so in cancer cells because they have more of the enzyme that converts it, so it’s slightly more targeted than most chemo.)  On this chemo, the average time to disease progression is only about 4-5 months (in other words, it works, on average for that long, then the disease progresses and you need something else) but I’m praying that Lord might mercifully use it to bring about a good, long remission or perhaps even a permanent one.  None-the-less, it is His will that needs to be done, not mine.  I just pray that, whether soon or very far off from now, I will finish well.  I don’t make a very good sick person. :(  I had a hard last week with such extreme fatigue, much of the time, but these last two days have been significantly better!  So grateful!

    Thanks for asking

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      Praying for you, Mary.  I’m touched by your sweet spirit of submission to God’s perfect will for you, whether in illness or in health.  And I so resonate with your desire to finish well.  It’s my desire, too, as I sometimes find myself alarmingly more unspiritual than ever in my older years – more cynical, less patient, less kind, more given to worry.  You are precious.

        I think it is so easy to head that direction, Miriam.  I’m so glad you are hear and that God is using you right in this setting to minister to others.

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      Mary E, has your doctor mentioned one of the newest oral meds? Zejula is for active disease that has shone a partial or complete response to treatment and is used for maintenance. Lynparza and Rubraca are for active treatment. The side effects for lynparza are on the tough side. But we have several women on Rubraca, and one of them has gotten into remission on it.  Continuing to pray for you. Asking God in particular to give you so much joy in Him that it will be greater than any miserableness.

        Mary B, thank you for this medication information!   He has not mentioned these yet (it seems he has a list of “the usuals” he burns through first, before moving on to newer ones, but if I mention newer, he seems open to them.)  I’ll check them out.  I was ER/PR pos, but the estrogen suppressing meds stopped working, I’ve always been HER2 neg, so drugs that address that would not work either.

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      I think you’ve been an amazing “sick person,” and I agree with your prayers with my whole heart.

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      Praying for you, Mary e. So sorry you are having a tough time and also how it affects you spiritually; but I also can identify just a bit with that last part, especially. Lord, give Mary grace and strength physically and emotionally and spiritually for the dark time that she walks through just now.

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      Mary, it is good to see you here. Your courage and vulnerability always warm my heart.

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      I so agree with all of the above, Mary E.  You’ve been much more than an inspiration here…..you’ve been a light shining in the dark world of chronic, serious illness.  I can only hope I would respond as graciously as you have to all that is asked of you.  And Miriam….I also see your servant’s heart resonating so clearly through the trials that you have gone through in recent times.   I have often seen that many times, it has been a common thread here that so many share some real deep pain of various kinds and it is out of that pain that such sweet fellowship can be cultivated.

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1.  What stands out. That we can have approach/avoidance issues with Jesus, wanting Him but being afraid of what happens if He really does show up. I am way too vested in myself. When I am totally into Him, He can do whatever He wants and I am along for the ride. When I am into myself, I am like the people of the Decopolis that wanted Christ to leave because their pigs were more important to them than Jesus and what He could do among them.  My current pig is food. I haven’t been willing to let Jesus really be Lord in that area. Lord, forgive me and help my unbelief.

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    Wow!  This is so poignant and so true of me, too.  Pigs more than Jesus!  Lord, forgive me, too!

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    Such a good analogy for all of us Mary B.

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    Wow, Mary B.  This is convicting because it is so true that sometimes we do not want Him to show up in a certain area of our lives because we are afraid of what He might so or might ask us to do.  I think this gets a bit easier as we grow to know His deep love for us more and more.  I truly believe that if we could know all the fullness of His love toward us, in Christ Jesus we would open wide to Him and let Him in all areas without fear.  But this is a process and He understands that.  We have a High Priest who sympathizes with our weaknesses.

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    Wow, Mary B. What an analogy! I know just a couple of “pigs” I have been longing for “more than Jesus”. Lord, forgive me. Have mercy! Help me to refocus on You!

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    Mary B., what an analogy. Pigs more than Jesus! Mine would be comfort and approval.

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    I have to tell you all that the thought about the pigs is not original with me. It came from David Pierce, head of Steiger Int, a ministry that reaches out to the disenfranchised youth culture. Think Goth and heavy metal. He is quite the man of God, willing to get in people’s faces.

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

Our study is another God reminder to be on the lookout for God’s work in our lives. I found Dee’s story of the neighbour optometrist and the healing quite compelling. Wow! Intellectually, I believe God can do whatever He wants and I hear about others who believe that God works frequently in the miraculous, but I often see other more natural explanations. But often I wonder if I don’t just have enough faith or what. Lord, open my eyes and my heart, whatever it takes to see you.

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    It is such a mystery, Diane, but He obviously still does miracles.

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Can’t sleep, so moving ahead into Mon.

2.  Comments on Sally’s story of painting Aslan. I love, love, love the way God constantly chooses to surprise us!

 

3.  Isaiah and the mysterious tremendum. As Isaiah has the vision of God on His throne, he realizes how small and dirty he is, he and the people of Israel. Yet God speaks to Isaiah’s need and provides cleansing.

 

4.  There was a time early in my Christian walk when I asked God to show me His glory. For just an instant, I was aware of being miniscule and becoming more so while at the same instant God was becoming increasingly great. If it had been more than an instant I believe I would have died. God allowed me that instant in His love, along with redemption through Christ, just for love. What assurance that brings! Not only are we saved, but we are saved to serve the One who is holy beyond our comprehension.

    Reply

    “If it had been more than an instant, I believe I would have died.” I had a similar experience.

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What stands out to me from this weeks blog was after the story of Jeff’s ministry and the healing God performed was the comment Jeff said that he has never had that kind of instantaneous miracle happen in the United States.  It made me think of in the Gospels when Jesus went back to his hometown of Nazareth and unbelief hindered Him doing miracles. Not because it caused him to have less power but because they refused to believe Who He was.

Matthew 13:58 “And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.”

Mark 6:5 And He could do no miracle there except that He laid hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief.”

And as I read through the comments this morning Dee mentioned in response to mary e that Keller has said that Christianity moves away from wealth.  It would seem to me that plays into our spiritual lack as the U S is incredibly wealthy by comparison to most of the world and unbelief permeates our lives and our  culture.  As Americans our true material needs are very few and we don’t recognize our deep spiritual needs which results in making Jesus ineffective in our lives when we turn to our own resources to find answers to to our needs.

In thinking about the approach/avoidance feelings we have with Jesus my son has made this point in his sermons several times over recents weeks and said it again yesterday how often we want some of God as long as we are comfortable with Him but often we don’t really want Him in our “business” messing with our lives in ways we’d rather keep control.  This God hunt is such a good challenge to be opening up myself more to God and his good hand in my life.

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    Bev,

    Loved what your son said, how often we want some of God as long as we are comfortable with Him but often we don’t really want Him in our “business” messing with our lives in ways we’d rather keep control.”  So true. 

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    Your son sounds like a very good preacher!

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    ” As Americans our true material needs are very few and we don’t recognize our deep spiritual needs which results in making Jesus ineffective in our lives when we turn to our own resources to find answers to to our needs.”
    YES, this is so true, Bev.  We almost tend to see praying about a need as a last resort option, at times, rather than first.  Really, even in Jeff’s story, it was an afterthought, but I bet it’s not that for him any more!
     

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My God hunt is also an answer to #1.

After I read about Dee’s neighbor my first response was…really?  Could it be? Even though I know He could do it in an instant-He is all powerful.  So God began encouraging me for I knew He made this story become radioactive for a reason.I kept asking God-could it be in our age? Help me in my lack of faith.

Yesterday morning we just happened to be in 1 Kings 17 in church. :) There is SO MUCH there that was brought out in regard to Elijah and the widow. So when we got to scene 2 where the Widow’s son dies and Elijah fell on her son pleading with God and God raised her son from the dead-which hadn’t been done before. I couldn’t help but melt at how He brought this together with Dee’s story, for His still small voice said, “I have heard your cries for your oldest two.”  My heart melted for I have often felt He didn’t hear or worse He didn’t care (satan’s attack).

Then we sang In Christ Alone and my heart was full in Worship!

 

I don’t know how God will move but I do know He is moving through some things I have seen lately.  I don’t know if they will ever hear Him but I know He hears me, He knows their hearts and He is faithful.  I am asking Him to keep my heart tender in pleading, wrestling when I doubt, and in keeping honest before Him when I see things that make me doubt. I have a long way to go until I am face to face but I am learning to trust Him day by day. Hard to grasp but truly whatever happens is all according to His plans, His purposes not just in my boys’ lives but in the lives of others around them including me! God has used this to reveal a huge control idol in me and is in the process of removing it-helping me to have baby steps of victory over it day by day. OH and through this long 1 year trial  with my oldest He has REALLY chipped away at my approval idol.  Still there but I am so not concerned what others think like I used to be-oh it was awful. :) :)  I have no idea what is going on behind the scenes spiritually, but God knows. I am SO glad I am NOT in control of anyone’s hearts. :)  I am rabbit trailing so I will stop here.

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    Love your rabbit trails cause I love your heart, Rebecca.

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    Rebecca, along with Dee’s story about her neighbour and your words here convict me that I need to be in earnest prayer for my children. Each one has needs that I need to pour out before God. I love your honesty and heart here.

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    Rebecca……..I so identify with you.  It is my oldest two (out of four also)  for whom I wrestle and plead with the Lord, year after year after year.  (and as they are both married, it is really four for whom I plead).   And yet, there are small things and sometimes seeing things in another perspective that give me hope again and again.  I have been at a place of hopelessness in the past, but not right now. And it’s not that things have ‘improved’ spiritually from the vantage point that I personally have….but that my confidence in God has grown.

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    Rebecca, your rabbit trails touch my heart. I love the chipping away at your heart. I,too, feel that He is chipping away at my approval and control idols. The trials with children, whether teens or adult children, do cause me to trust Him day by day,too.

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2. Comments on the story?
That picture always gives me goose bumps. That was really a great “Boo!”
3. Read Isaiah 6:1-8 and share how Isaiah experienced God and the mysterium tremendum.
a. Isaiah saw the Lord high and exalted- seeing the Lord would be enough to make one tremble
b. seraphims! They would look out of this world!
c. smoke –adds mystery
d. Isaiah’s acknowledgment of his sins-the revelations of how holy God is should make us bow our knees
 
e. That God would cleanse him (us) of his(our) sins and commission (him)us for service

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2. Comments on the story?

Brought tears to my eyes…SO cool to have that happen to her. A kiss from the King! He was there with her even though she was searching for Him in her grief, she just needed the nudge to know, and this was it.

3. Read Isaiah 6:1-8 and share how Isaiah experienced God and the mysterium tremendum.

Isaiah had a dream of sorts; he saw the Lord with seraphim surrounding Him. Isaiah describes them as covering His face, His feet, and even flying with Him. They are speaking too. They say “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” Isaiah didn’t feel worthy to be in God’s presence. One of the seraphim then used a hot coal to touch Isaiah’s mouth and gave him a blessing saying that his sins were atoned for. He then hears God asking for volunteers to go out and be representatives and Isaiah offers to be the one to go.

4. Can you think of a time when God came to you and produced a holy fear?

I posted this two weeks ago; like Sally, I needed the nudge to know that He was near because I have prayed and tried to be faithful in another, painful situation and…  crickets. I went back and copied this from the website. It made me know that He is definitely still with me, just for some reason the timing is not right for my other prayer.

For a very long time now (about 12 years), I have listened to Nancy Demoss Wolglemuth podcasts and have actually come back to learning about Jesus through her lovely way of teaching. She really speaks to you (those who have needed her will atest to this). I have wanted to give a donation to her ministry, but have never felt like I had enough money (extra) to do so. Nancy always has an end of the year campaign and I know how important her work is around the world. She never loses faith that the money will be raised, and it always is. This year they had a HUGE deficit that she said was even after they had “cut the fat” out. Again, I wanted to donate, but didn’t. I was listening to Nancy 2 days ago and she was explaining how they (again) made the goal! She had a few ladies on that were inspired by other women, who had prayed to God to show them a way to “find” the money to make a donation. In each case (there were at least 3), God provided a way for the women to donate. One was a young woman who hadn’t worked at a certain company for several years and the company called and said they realized they owed her a paycheck! I thought to myself, wow, I would like to donate, but nothing like that would happen to me. Since I was running that day as I listened, I decided to take a minute a say a prayer, just in case God was listening! I have felt pretty down about my connection with Him of late (of lack thereof). I prayed that He might provide a way for me to make a donation to Revive Our Heart ministry. Yesterday I received an email from my boss that asked me to tutor a student who had surgery the last few weeks of school and still needs to take the final exam! It is only a 2 hour tutoring session and would probably give me about $50 to make the donation! I decided not to tell my husband about the tutoring because I didn’t want him to tell me he needed the money for a bill, or say I was foolish to make the donation (he really isn’t like that, but money is an idol for him). Then, my husband came home and asked me to work answering phones today because they have hired someone who can’t start until Monday. I told him about my donation issue and he said he would donate my pay today to her as well (he was going to have to figure out how to pay me and said his company would like this idea)! I couldn’t believe it! Not one, but two donations!

It is SO clear to me that He is still here with me and  feeling apart from Him is his answer to me to DO NOTHING in my situation from h-e double hockey sticks (my “fantastic” home life described in another post). I guess continue to pray for those around me and wait. Ugh, the waiting is the hardest part. But yay! I got the money and a kiss from the King!

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    LOVE this Kiss from the king, Laura!

    Been reading Hillbilly Elegy and the difference his grandmother made in his life when his mother was so disordered — and thought of you making a difference in your grandchildren’s lives.

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      ahhhh.   I read Hillbilly Elegy at our dear friend, Jackie’s recommendation.  I would love to discuss that book with someone but I do agree with your assessment here, Dee.  Laura does exemplify the grandmother who is steadfast.   I see that in the life of my husband and his half-siblings.  Life was chaos but their grandmother was the rock.   (I sure miss Jackie here…btw)

        I miss Jackie too! I ran across the picture of me with her when we met a year ago. So sweet. I will check out that book 😉.

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    That’s a great example of a “kiss” Laura.  No matter what circumstances may tell you, He is at work and He does love you more than you can possibly realize.  It’s just that His thoughts and ways are nothing like ours and we simply cannot grasp it all at times.  So glad He gave you this tangible reminder that He is hearing you and He loves you!

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    Laura, I don’t think I have read this before so thank you for sharing it again. God does have a way of “kissing” us and often it seems like really out on the left field! Such an example of His mysterious ways.

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    Laura, I love your story about God providing the extra funds so that you could make a donation to Nancy Demoss Wolglemuth’s ministry. I wonder if too often we pray for our difficult situations and instead we should be praying about how we can bless others.

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2. Comments on the story?  Oh I well recall this story from a post a few years ago and I LOVE it.  Truly a KISS from Him and not only for Sally, but for all who hear of it and see the painting!

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4. Can you think of a time when God came to you and produced a holy fear?
Several years ago, I made a trip to the Philippines to visit my ailing mom. A few weeks before I was to leave, a hurricane devastated the country with many deaths and damage to homes and buildings. At that time, my husband and I have earmarked some savings for my trip with a little extra to share with my family. When I heard of the aftermath of the hurricane and the needs that my sister (she was still alive then) shared in their home church, my heart sank thinking about the great need. I tried to push a pencil with our extra “emergency funds” and found a little more to use. I prayed and thanked God that He will multiply what money I have upon arrival there.
A week before I was to leave, we visited my mother-in-law who was also alive then. After dinner, we chatted about what was going on in the Philippines. She nonchalantly handed me a check. Now, my parents-in-law are generous people and it didn’t surprise me to have her give me a check. I thought a couple hundred dollars, perhaps. They have already helped us in the past of which we were always grateful.
 I hastily glanced at the check as I said thank you and stood up to call it a night. I got weak-kneed and my body trembled as I saw that it was written for $1,000.00. I mumbled another faint thank you and left… to cry in the bathroom. I praised God for this unexpected gift and for my mother-in-law whom He has used many times to bless me. M husband and I were truly humbled by such generosity. I sent her a thank you card in the mail. (I would have given her a hug but my mother-in-law was not a demonstrative touchy-feely person)
 
As it turned out, the needs were great in the Philippines and I praise God for His abundant provision through my mother-in-law. I stood in awe of His care for His children in the Philippines and for letting me be a part of it in a small way.

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    What a sweet memory of God’s provision and your mother in law’s generous spirit.   It’s so beautiful to see the body of Christ working together like that.

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1. What stand out to you?   WHAT A WONDER WORKING GOD WE SERVE!!! Having been in ministry for many years now, one of the most blessed perks is hearing the stories of believers from time to time telling of the incredible miracles that God has done!! Sometimes they ARE physical healing – most times we see them as emotional, mental, and spiritual outcomes that only God could bring to pass. While teaching my Ladies SS class yesterday, we were reminded of the rebuke to the Sadducees:  Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. (Matt. 22:29) Most of the class have been churched and studied individually, so we probably are quite familiar with the Scriptures, but is OUR situation that we don’t know or even that we may DOUBT the POWER of God. May God help us not be guilty of this like the Sad-you-sees. : { 

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    Good reminder, Doni!

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1. What stands out to you from the above and why?      Dee’s amazing gift of turning every day stories, even from many years ago, (the scare hide and seek story) into parables to teach greater truth from the scripture.  

 

The very words ‘mysterium tremendum’ make my heart stir.   I feel that most often, this comes as the very same ‘still small voice’ that Elijah heard in the cave.

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    Such an encourager you are, Wanda!

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2. Comments on the story?

Sally is so beautiful and her joy is contagious! This always puts me in awe when I hear how He surprised her, and how God is using her Aslan painting to draw people to Him in wonder of  Him.

Oh and you can purchase one of Sally’s Aslan canvasses, prints or posters just go to Dee’s store. :))

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So I feel the need to pray with you for Lizzy and her family as the time is drawing near to when they get to bring their new child home!  Jesus thank you thank you that you passionately care for orphans and thank you that you have made Lizzy and her husband’s heart desires your desires and that they are walking in obedience in adopting this child. Thank you that you are giving this child such an amazing gift of parental and sibling love as well as your great Love through Lizzy and her family.  We ask that you would help them arrive and return safely, and unless you have a different plan that you would heal their child’s body from this ailment. Thank you that you have provided for this child’s medical needs in the orphanage and ahead as they bring him home.  Help them as they adjust, as their child adjusts and we ask that you would make this child’s heart tender toward you. In your beautiful name we pray, amen.

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    Amen to your prayers, Rebecca for Lizzy and her family. Can’t wait to hear about their trip and God-adventure.

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    So good to alert us here to pray, Rebecca, for we love Lizzy. We also love you — and Rebecca hurt her back again and is hoping not to have another surgery. Prayers please.

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      Father, please allow Rebecca’s body to heal and recover fully from this recent back injury, completely apart from any need for medical intervention.  You can use medicine for sure, but You can and do also bring healing, fully on Your own.  I ask that Your will be done, but if You will, please bring this healing to pass for her.

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      Praying for your back, Rebecca. Amen to mary e’s prayer.

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      agreeing with these prayers for Rebecca and Lizzy.

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    Amen.

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    YES!  Amen.

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6. Read John 8:31-32 and share what Jesus promises.
Knowing the truth and the truth setting me free
7. Name one specific way obeying God’s commands has set you free.
Philippians 4:6-8 has been one of my go to Scripture when it comes to dealing with my tendencies to be in control, have comfort and approval. To not fret and be anxious but to pray, with thanksgiving, to think what is true, noble, right, pure, excellent, admirable and praiseworthy. Example: control over my daughter’s choices so I would not have some discomfort over her situation. Her compliance would mean she approve of me as a mother.
 
I am often overcome by a sense of guilt for feeling so but God has been so patient with me. These verses from Philippians is the truth that daily I have to go to knowing I am being set free from my idols.

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5. Comments on the above?

I never had even thought about idols until I joined this blog, about the same time we were completing the study of idols and the book had yet to come out. I think we were test cases 😇. Once I knew how to look for the idols I realized how much of a sinner I really was. I  began to try to oust the idols and although I am not completely free, I am definitely in a better place.

6. Read John 8:31-32 and share what Jesus promises.

If you live in God’s Word you will be a disciple of Christ and know the truth. The truth will set you free!

7. Name one specific way obeying God’s commands has set you free.

One major idol I had was my children; control of what happened in their lives. When I gave that up I was free!!  I counted on God to take care of business and the release of my worry was SO amazing. I still have times when I struggle, but I just remember how much He loves me and wants the best for our family. Our kids have managed through, even though I haven’t been in control everything. It hasn’t always been the way I wanted it, but they have survived.

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    :-) Yes, you were test cases — who have done wonderfully!

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2. Comments on the story?

 

Well.  I’ve shared this before, but I would be remiss if I did not share it again.   2 years ago, this coming September, my son, Seth, was dx with type 1 diabetes at age 28.  One never expects a dx of what used to be called ‘juvenile’ diabetes at this age.  And he is otherwise so very healthy with such a healthy lifestyle, that being sick came completely out of the blue.  He did not recognize the symptoms and as we live 12 hours apart, I was unaware of his illness.  He felt he could ‘explain’ away every symptom he was having and just kept pressing on…..had just begun a teaching position at the Christian campus for ‘at risk’ kids where they live and serve.  As it happened, he already had an appt. for a physical on a Thursday morning.  But since he was finally sleeping well, that morning (after a couple weeks of a complete lack of decent sleep and feeling so miserable) his wife almost let him sleep in.  But she woke him and got him to the clinic.  Not an hour too soon.  He was immediately placed in an ambulance and rushed to the nearest ER with the worst ketoacidosis the doctors had ever seen.  The ER doc told my daughter in law to brace herself as he had a 5o/50 chance of survival.  (She did not tell us this frightening fact when she called to tell us he was so sick).   When her mom and I arrived in Oklahoma the next evening, he was alert and talking and grateful beyond measure, that he was alive and had another chance at life.  And then, he told us that while he went in and out of consciousness in the ambulance, he remembered the dream he had had the night before during his fitful sleep.  He had seen a note from Aslan and it said, ‘Follow me’.   Somehow, those words brought him comfort as he went through the confusing and frightening ordeal of getting his body regulated.   Though the ketones ate through fat and muscle before it was under control, he did not suffer any organ damage….which was such a provision from the Lord.    I had my ‘God of All Comfort  book by Dee, packed in my bag and the next day, after I heard his story, I read the account of Sally’s painting of Aslan to Seth and his wife.   I gave him the poster of her Aslan painting for Christmas that year.   It brought tears today,  to hear the story from Sally again.   Actually, Seth and his family are right now, driving back to OK after spending 10 days in MN.   Each of my children is in a very different place spiritually.  Not all of them walk with God.  It is stories like this that do make me see again, that His hand is never too short to save…..whether physical or spiritually.   He is Sovereign and He is Good.

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    Beautiful story, Wanda, and at the time this was happening I think I missed this.  I’m glad you shared it here again.  Praying right now that He would draw each of your children to Himself.  If your daughter-in-law had just allowed him to “sleep in” that morning he may never have woken up, since coma is often results from severe ketoacidosis.

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    So good to hear this story of God coming running for you and for Seth.

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6.  John 8:31-32 Jesus promises that knowing the truth will set you free. The first thing that comes to mind was a time that a family member used this verse out of context to justify doing something wrong. Jesus doesn’t set us free to sin and follow our own selfishness. He is Truth, and knowing Him as Truth sets us free from being slaves to sin in our own lives. Like Dee, I am struggling much with living this out, but I am convinced it is true. I asked God once why I had to struggle so much. His answer was that it is the only way to gain spiritual muscle. Astronauts in space lose muscle because they don’t have gravity to work against. He wants me to work against my gravity, my sin nature, to gain that spiritual muscle.

 

7.  One specific way obedience has set me free. I used to be a very angry person. Anger covered my spirit like leprosy. God delivered me from that and healed me. But I had to learn to walk in it. To choose to forgive right away, to see the other’s point of view, to submit to my husband or my boss or my government. I still have sparks of anger, but I am no longer ablaze with it.

 

praying for both Lizzie and for Rebecca, Lord, that you would be their comfort, their tower of strength and refuge. You, who know the beginning from the end, help them in their individual stories and needs to grasp hold of You and allow the circumstances they are going through to show them more of Your glory. And help them to bring You glory as well.

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    Mary B.    Your answer to number 6 is profound.   All aspects….the misuse of this statement from Jesus to justify wrong…..and the example of your struggle and the astronaut’s muscle atrophy due to lack of struggle.  That’s SUCH a good word picture.

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9.  Timing or circumstances where you spied God. The year we went to Bolivia on a missions trip, I cut way back on commitments. I felt that there was a bend in the road coming, some change I couldn’t identify. A month after we got home, my husband got laid off. I’d been a stay at home Mom, and now I needed to take a refresher course and get back into nursing.  What followed was a four plus year adventure of God leading with His timing and us going along for the ride!

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    Mary B — how good to hear of God going before you, guiding you.

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    So good, Mary B.

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I am with my friend Linda Strom of Discipleship Unlimited. Being with her fills my cup. She read the story of the healing this week here and then told me of a time in CapeTown when a dying man asked her to pray he would be healed — he was a believer. She did. Going home she thought, “He’ll be dead before I get home.” But the next year he ran up to her, whole, healthy, and strong and asked if she remembered him. She nearly fainted. Indeed, God healed him. She too thinks it happens more in countries where they cannot rely on medicine, money, or physicians — but cling to God in vibrant faith.

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    Thanks for sharing Linda’s story here too….such amazing testimonies of God’s power.   Blessings to you and Linda.   Your time will be sweet and filling.

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    you know what’s amazing to me is that in BOTH these stories the person who did the praying did NOT do so believing it would happen and yet it happened anyway!  So Jesus must truly be content with our faith even if just the size of a mustard seed!  (Good to know!) :)  It truly is according to His will.

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      So true, Mary!

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    Wow! Hugs to you, Dee and my love to Linda. I have gotten to know her here and what a blessing she truly has been!

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I am leaving on vacation for a couple of weeks and will not likely have much opportunity to comment on the blog but I just have to share one of my God Hunt stories with you.

God Hunt find: This is from many years ago, but it was so clear at the time. My husband and I were newly married and felt led to go to the Urbana mission conference. It was in Illinois and we lived in New Brunswick, Canada and were both students. We couldn’t afford the flights and costs involved with the conference. Our church could give some assistance but not enough. We prayed for the money and God answered by sending a “lost” letter to me telling me I had a universary bursary (of which I was unaware) covering the exact amount of money needed! So much a sign that I have never forgotten. Furthermore, it was at that conference that my husband felt led into Christian ministry. God placed us where he could speak to us, I know. I am sure God needed me to KNOW that He was at work, because the decision to go into pastoral ministry and to continue in it all these years (37 years now) has at times been a difficult one for us. (There have been times I have begged my husband to find some other line of work.) God is good, however, though we sometimes walk an foggy path, not seeing the road ahead. There have been many opportunities and blessings as well as difficulties along the way.

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    beautiful story, Diane.  The Lord has used you both, in the lives of so many.   You won’t know the full impact on others’ lives until eternity and then, as now, you will give all the glory to the Lord.   I have always appreciated your honesty here.   I know several and have pastor’s wives in our family and realize it is a struggle to be in that role.  Sometimes defenses and walls are put up to keep one from the true, exhausting needs of the congregation.  You have such a soft and sweet heart that seeks God’s working through you.  I hope that your vacation is truly refreshing for you and your husband.

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    This is beautiful, Diane, and I’m glad you have this reminder to fall back on when times get really rough in the ministry.  God gave you that as a lasting “kiss.”  :)

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    Diane, enjoy your vacation. I would love to be your neighbor and be prayer partners! Being a pastor’s wife indeed has challenges and sometimes it can get lonely. This summer, I am enjoying getting to know a much older woman who attends the Catholic church. She has ministered to me at many opportune times; God has surely used her in delightful, specific ways- thinking of her always makes me smile.

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    That’s great, Diane!

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God Hunt:      I have two examples from my grand kids visiting this past week.   E. is four years old and A. is two.    I took E. to our local library and he was on a mission to find ‘books about dragons and dinosaurs and crocodiles’ because he has a big interest in animals that are scary.   He found several.  But as he was looking through one of them on the way home, he told me.  “Gramma, this is too scary.  I don’t want to read this book.  We need to bring it back to the library….put it far away from me.”   I told his mom this cute story and she told me how he really wants to read about and look at these animals … like he is motivated by the danger and a bit of fear but then he can quickly draw away…..not feeling able to really handle the scary parts.   (now, these were children’s books with cute paintings and drawings….nothing scary for an older child, but his imagination and infatuation level can be intense).     I thought about the concept of God being good……we are drawn to Him, we know He is powerful…….but He is also, as Lewis says, ‘unsafe’…….His ways are beyond our comprehension.  In that sense, He is unpredictable.   We know intellectually, that He is trustworthy, even when He seems frightening….but we are prone to want to hide Him away and not look at Him or His Word for fear that He will ask of us, or do something that we can’t handle.     (I’ll share my second example another time.)

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    So sweet

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    Aawww…Wanda. So true. I like what you reminded me of Lewis words-He is unsafe. And He is-He asks us to travel roads that we are unfamiliar with. But, oh, the journey is so worth it if we just trust Him. He does promise to never leave us nor forsake us.

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5. Comments on the above?        the woman who said,  ‘we are hopeful now.  we are free now.   we don’t have to go to heaven to experience this.’      I think that any study on rooting out sin in our lives has to contain this hope and freedom or else it becomes just legalism.   And ‘Idol Lies’ does this.   It’s been awhile since I read it and I honestly know that I don’t give idolatry the focus I should……I mean, I don’t look as deeply as I ought to, to be aware of when those idols crop up in my life.   Yet, in general, because of comments here and the book, I am more aware and do see things I did not see before.   I think of Brother Lawrence and how he often emphasized that he must acknowledge his sin but he must not stay there.  He says in many ways, that we have to move on.  We have to know that we sin, but not get stuck there.  (my paraphrase)   Martin Luther said the same.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer quotes him in ‘the Cost of Discipleship’ in his chapter, Costly Grace.   “Sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ more boldly still”  (Luther)  What he means is that we ARE sinners.  We cannot on our own merits, change this fact.  If we try to hide it and deny it, we live in the condemnation that we are sinners.  But by admitting and accepting God’s grace, we are made free.    In Bonhoeffer’s words,  “…..the consolation for one whose attempts to follow Christ had taught him that he can never become sinless, who in his fear of sin despairs of the grace of God.”  (p. 52)  

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I seem to run a day behind with this study….hahaha I need to get with it here! Still blessed as I read and ponder.
7. Name one specific way obeying God’s commands has set you free.
I PETER 3…..be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: 
Thankfully, God has enabled me not to return evil when I have been hurt by other. I try to pray for them and remember that “hurt people hurt people”. Obeying this command has set me free of bitterness and resentment.
Oh how sad I am when I see people filled with bitterness and spite. We should rejoice that God has the answer to keep us from that!!  My flesh can THINK of awful things to do or say, but God reigns me in to just obey.

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9. Can you give an example of unusual timing or circumstances in which you spied God.

Three years ago my hubbie and I had been planning a vacation with our 2 youngest kids back to the East Coast.  Little did I know it, but the night before we flew out, my husband calmly told me that we’d both be interviewing for possible jobs!! A pastor had contacted him a couple months back and wanted to interview both of us, for Associate Pastor and Christian School teacher positions. Dan had been praying over it, because he KNEW I would be excited to return East  : }  The ministry was only a 1/2 hour away from where we would be visiting! God put it all together, and now after serving here for 3 years we have such peace and fulfillment in these positions!!

 

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    Wow, Doni! I bet your husband was bursting at the seams trying to keep that pleasant surprise! Isn’t God so good to us?

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    I remember that, Doni!

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8. What do you learn from Proverbs 16:9?

I can control how I act and the decisions I make for my life, but ultimately, God has the plan.

9. Can you give an example of unusual timing or circumstances in which you spied God? It could be in friendship, or it could be in leading you into ministry, or in giving you help when you needed it most! You may have had one plan, but looking back, you see how God engineered a different plan: His plan!

Looking back over my life, I realize that God may have stepped in with a situation that I had never considered before. When I was a young mother I took my middle child to a birthday party at a local McDonald’s. There, I met another young mother who shared my name, Laura. Laura had a daughter my son’s age and we spent the entire party chatting it up! It ended up that Laura’s husband and I were in school together at the university; he as a grad student in geology and I as an undergrad student of geology who crossed paths at times. Our family had just begun to attend a local church (I hadn’t attended church for about 10 years at that point) because I felt like our son was missing out on something, and realized it was a church family and experience. She and her husband attended the same church! What a coincidence….Dallas/Fort Worth is a big place and for us to end up in the same area after college, going to the same church is really unusual. Long story short? We have been friends since (27 years) and have gone through all kinds of joy, pain and suffering together. She is like a sister to me and I am realizing I think God sent us to each other for life long support. Thank You Jesus for your love for us.

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    Neat story, Laura. Perhaps I should be on the look-out for somebody named Bing, too? LOL JK 27 years-God is so good to bring you such a friend!

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      Maybe Ernema? Lol!

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    Great God Hunt, Laura!

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8. What do you learn from Proverbs 16:9?
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.
It is all right to make plans keeping in mind that I am finite and only see things from a narrow perspective. I need to stay in step with the Spirit leading. As I put one foot in front of the other, I should be cognizant of the peace that should be ruling my heart as I continue to “walk” the plan I started with. He firms (establish) up my steps.
9. Can you give an example of unusual timing or circumstances in which you spied God? It could be in friendship, or it could be in leading you into ministry, or in giving you help when you needed it most! You may have had one plan, but looking back, you see how God engineered a different plan: His plan!
I hope this is not too long for you all to read.
When I was a freshman in high school, I met a godly American missionary couple working with Young Life. I admired them so much and dreamed of being a missionary and hope my future husband would be like-minded, too.  
 Fast forward to college and I met another American couple, Chuck and Bobbie Miller. They were Southern Baptist missionaries. We attended the same church. I worked with them later as a community nurse at our church’s outreach ministry area.
 Fast forward 2 more years. I was visiting this church and Rev. Miller introduced me to this young American guy who was working with the Navigators. We realized we lived and “worked’ at the same city of Iloilo.
Fast forward a few months. Rev. Miller called and asked me if I could help him with starting a new church in Iloilo. We started having a weekly bible study in his hotel room (that was OK in the Philippines). One day, this young American guy, Richard and his Filipino mentor, Sal came by and joined us.
Both of these guys later formed a bible study group the members of which became the 9 charter members of Riverside Bible Fellowship. Richard, the American guy (fast forward 3 years) became my husband!
 
I saw God’s hand written all over the circumstances of my life to bring  Richard and I where we are today.

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    Wonderful spying of God’s hand in leading you and Richard to where you are today.

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How have you sensed Him reaching out to help you do His work in the world?  The most recent example is having my boss, Maria, over for supper and sharing sermon notes/links with her. That was way out of my comfort zone. But He supplied everything. The sermons, the links, the way to invite, the specific day, the prayer support, the peace and calm to do the evening after a full day of work. Even leaving the results in His hands, not mine.

 

10.  James…if any of you lacks wisdom…  Of course I do! In everything! Just a reminder of how much I need Him, and how great He is.

 

11.  Another sighting as He helps me do His work in the world. I am currently trying to mentor a young woman who has been in trouble with the law. It is frustrating for me because she doesn’t answer my phone messages or calls, and frequently doesn’t show at our arranged meetings. Yet, I have a love for her and desire to help guide and point her to Jesus.  It sure keeps me in prayer for wisdom!

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10. .What is one way James 1:5  says God will help you?
He will give us wisdom when we ask. And He gives it to us generously.
11. Can you share an example of spying God in helping you to do His work in the world?
After receiving a copy of your book, Dee in the mail, I started praying about doing it with at least 2 others. I know that with school starting, our schedule would be crazy busy. But I want to be in the Word and to encourage other women to be in it too.
I instantly knew who one of them will be. I gave her a copy of the book to look over and just talked to her a few minutes ago. She loved it! This is the same older woman I have been drawn to as part of the bible studies I have been leading in the small town my husband is from and where he is a pastor. And she said, yes she will do the study with me. Now for the other person. I prayed James 1:5 and what do you know-a name came to mind and I did not waste any time. I called Paula and she too was open to being a part of our three-some study! She said she needed to be in the Word, too as she’s been struggling lately with taking care of her Mom.
 
I am super excited! We are meeting next week to agree on how we are going to accomplish doing the study as we are 45 minutes apart. I am praying our schedule would work out-we did promise we will take our time and not rush through the study. Thank you, Lord for helping me find these 2 women. And thank you, Dee for the work you have put into this study.

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8. What do you learn from Proverbs 16:9?      We can and should go ahead and make plans, being thoughtful about our decisions……but we should be ready and willing to follow the Lord’s lead, even when it turns our plans upside down.   His ways are always ultimately better, even when we can’t see it at the time.  
9. Can you give an example of unusual timing or circumstances in which you spied God? It could be in friendship, or it could be in leading you into ministry, or in giving you help when you needed it most! You may have had one plan, but looking back, you see how God engineered a different plan: His plan!

I remember when I graduated from college with a degree in Elementary Education.    I was married and my husband was working full time and finishing his degree as well.   So when it came to looking for a job, I didn’t have a very wide radius to look as we needed to stay in the city where he was going to school and working.  There was a huge teacher surplus at this time and very few openings close by and even regionally.   I heard the statistic later, that only 25% of the El. Ed. grads that year found teaching jobs.  And I was not one of them.       I felt pretty sad about it at first, but then, during this time, an older couple from our church approached us and asked if we would consider being live in caretakers of the 4-plex apt building they owned which would provide us a two bedroom basement apt. in the same building at much less cost than we were currently paying, in exchange for a small amount of maintenance chores.   It was truly a God-send.  And we ended up living in the building for the next 5 years or so. I was able to work some part time jobs and though money was very scarce, we could live on less than professional salaries because of the discounted rent payments.   Our three oldest kids were born while we lived there.  The four-plex was in a neighborhood of single dwelling homes and many families.   We got new ‘backyard’ neighbors while we lived there.   D & K and their 2 year old son, M.   Our two year old son,  A.  and M. became fast friends as did D. and myself and our husbands.   D and I were both pregnant at the time and I can still remember exactly the moment, she popped her head over the backyard fence and we started chatting.   We did everything together after that.  We even took out a section of the fence so the boys could run between the yards and we shoveled out a path through in the winter.   God used both my husband and I to plant seeds in their hearts about their walk with God.    I can think of several  very specific conversations we had.  They were good, loving, caring people who had become so exhausted with parenting that they had a habit of taking turns sleeping in on Sat and Sun mornings.  So, they had abandoned church going, though they had both been raised in church attendance.   Years later, when we had moved away, my husband got a phone call from K. who thanked him abundantly for never giving up but always inviting him to men’s prayer breakfasts and other church events (even though he always declined)  and that he had re-dedicated his life to the Lord.  They were steadily attending a church and getting involved, using their gifts there.  A few years later, the Lord brought them to the church that we had attended while we lived there.  (the church where I met Dee the one year that she and Steve lived in Fargo)  They are still with that church and have been in leadership for many years now.    Their oldest son, M. is in full time ministry with college students at the U. of M.  He and my son are still fast friends…..even though they see each other rarely and their lives are very different.  They still share a lot of the same values and I am going to close this, by saying I will stop and pray for this story to come full circle.  For God to use M and A’s friendship to bring A. back into a saving relationship with God.   For it is HIM who orchestrates all of these things, even when we lay out our plans of how life ‘ought to’ look.

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10. .What is one way James 1:5  says God will help you? 

He will provide wisdom if you ask.

11. Can you share an example of spying God in helping you to do His work in the world?

Well, I think I probably shared this a few months ago, but I have struggled today trying to think of an occasion where I am “doing Gods work” (what does that really mean?) and He helped me. The one thing I that comes to mind is last summer when my daughter was acting funny (I sensed something was up), and not really knowing what was going on, I had the feeling that she was going to have an abortion. This idea just came to me out of the blue. I didn’t even know she was pregnant. I confronted her and managed to talk her off the ledge. I am fairly sure God put the thought into my head so I could “do His work.” We have beautiful Grace now (can you believe that was the name her daddy chose for her?).

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13.  Unexpected grace. I wasn’t a very good daughter, nor a very good mother when my children were small. Yet, God has called deep into each of their lives so that they love Him and serve Him. And to top it off, they seem to like me and want to spend time with me.  Utterly unearned grace!

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10. .What is one way James 1:5  says God will help you?      He gives wisdom to all  ‘without finding fault’ .  NIV

It’s the ‘without finding fault’  that really stirs my heart this morning.  In looking up other versions, I found:

“gives to all men liberally and upbraideth not”    KJV    (uppraideth –   to find fault with or reproach severely; censure: The military tribunal upbraided the soldier for his cowardice. 2. (of things) to bring reproach on; serve as a reproach to. verb (used without object)

‘gives wisdom generously without reproach’    ESV & NASB     (reproach is defined as  ‘to address with disappointment or disapproval’)

He is generous and liberal in His gift of wisdom and He restrains completely from criticism or fault finding when we ask Him.    This is a beautiful invitation to come to Him regardless of how we feel about the choices we have made, the past we have lived or the way we have failed.  He doesn’t treat us as cowards when we hesitate but gives us en- courage– ment  to continue and press on.

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This morning I took time to read back through all the comments of this week. What encouragement to be found in the many stories and testimonies of God at work in all of your lives.

A couple of times as I looked over the study for the week I pondered what I could share and nothing stood out for me to relate or I felt I just had too long of a story to tell you and time wasn’t sufficient.  But I realize I have been tired this week from all the events happening for me right now. . My summer is full of reunions and house guests along with our church moving into a new building. The first service will be Sunday the 16th and we are integrally involved. But on Saturday the 15th my extended family is having a reunion and I will be having a house full for at least 3 days. The week after that we are having our National church convention in our new church and I will have house guests again. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed if I think too much about it.

Probably more important my mother was diagnosed with a cancerous growth this week that will require surgery and at 92 she needs my sister and I closely involved.  She livse 65 miles away.  Mom is as my daughter in law said strong and humble and a godly woman. Just hate having to see her deal with it. Dee, I think I’ve told you my mom is Margaret Burton from Kearney.

All that said I guess I am not  “hunting for God” right now. I am walking by faith the He is “near”.  I don’t doubt but that He is up close and personal during this time and I think as I will look back on this time it will be apparent as to what He is doing and will have done during this crazy busy summer.  He has been so faithful to bless and encourage me.  I am reading his Word every morning. That does have priority with me and currently reading through the books of Acts has been very good.

But again thanks to all for sharing. The blog blesses me. Especially looking forward to  next week and the book’s release.

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    Bev……you do have so very much happening in such a short while.   That always stresses me.   In fact, I’ve been struggling with how busy my summer is and will be, even though it pales in comparison to yours!    Take care.  I find that even little bits of quiet help me to gird up for the next thing.  I hope that you will find those re-invigorating moments.  I have no doubt that God will see you through this and you will look back on many wonderful memories in the making.  Prayers for your mom’s situation too.

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12. Paul had been a murderer of Christians, and after his conversion, some Jews plotted to kill him. What unexpected grace came to him? (Acts 9:23-25)

Paul was not killed because the disciples saved him from the Jews who were plotting against him.
 

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13. Can you share an example of unexpected grace from God or His body?

Along the lines of my above post about my daughter being pregnant…I never thought her having a baby would make me happy, but my grandchildren are a blessing in my life!

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    That is an I Spy, Laura!

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Writing He Calls You Beautiful was many God Hunts — you were wonderful, and my editor Elisa amazing. Sometimes she would push me to cover a passage I hadn’t covered because of its difficulty and I was amazed at the light God brought. God’s help to do His work in the world.

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God Hunt:      Yesterday, when I worked in my garden,  I was listening to a program on public radio that covered area musicians.  The two hosts were interviewing a local music legend who had just turned 90 and had just  (3 days earlier) been discharged from the hospital where he was in for a pulmonary embolism.    He was the most delightful man who had had much sorrow and struggle in his life……shifted from foster home to foster home as a child but his grandparents…..(just like we were talking about in an earlier post here of Laura’s) though not perfect, were his rock.    He had also had physical and mobility issues as a child and had had surgeries and treatments to be able to walk.   But he fell in love with the piano and he became a rock-jazz musician.  When he sang and held a note as long as I’ve ever heard someone hold ….  I couldn’t believe he just came out of the hospital for a pulmonary issue AND just turned 90!   But what was so wonderful is that he kept giving God the praise for his life.  He mentioned it at least 3 times….. and then quickly ‘apologized’ for the sermon……but said he just had to say it!   It flowed so naturally and it didn’t matter that he was on public radio.  He spoke from the overflow of his heart.  It so blessed me.  I asked my son if he knew this man and he said,  ‘oh yeah…..I’ve heard him at least 50 times’….as he is a regular performer at the restaurant where he used to work.  I love to see God at work in places that we glibly consider ‘secular’.   God is there when His people are there guided by the Holy Spirit.

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13. Can you share an example of unexpected grace from God or His body?
“…many Christians go to the Architect of lives, not so much to discover and accept His plan as to seek His approval of their own. They are really seeking consent, not guidance and direction.” J. Oswald Chambers
I thought I have been waiting on God, seeking His will about 2 significant matters in my life. I have been restless not knowing if I should drop the matters or not. Last night I was reading the first chapter of Chambers “Every Life is a Plan of God” and was struck by the above thought. I felt dismay over my presumptuousness of His leading. I realized I got these 2 matters hatched in my mind before really seeking God and possibly have just been praying and asking for consent. I have to once again come to the throne of grace and found His forgiveness and a refining of my heart’s desires. He gave me peace and acceptance of how He is going to lead me.
 
Indeed my heart can be so deceitful, and I thank God for His ever loving patience with me. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5-6

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    Bing, this is so true, so many times. You are so in tune with God and I love your honesty here. God has been impressing on me to that I too tend to have my plans and simply want God to do things my way, instead of listening and seeking guidance and direction. Am I willing to risk; am I willing to listen and obey when it means hard things to do?

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15. Write your prayer of praise to the God who jumps out and says, “Boo!”
 
Lord, I praise you that in the hide and seek of life, you are always ready to be found when I seek you with all of my heart. And many times when you say “boo!” it is more than I expected or ever imagined. You delight in lavishing me with your love, patiently waiting, making everything beautiful in your perfect time. Oh that I would always seek you more than anything else in this world. Thank you, Lover of my soul.

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I’m back from all my travels & have run out of vacation time for now! I will start next week again on the blog. Have just read over the last week & was so touched by all the stories, struggles & praises! Dee, I LOVED the testimony of your beautiful daughter Sally…so powerful & moving! I can’t wait to read your new book & may the Lord use it mightily for His purposes. Bing, I love your prayer & echo those words……

Thank You Lord that You delight in me & call me beloved,  love to surprise me, & yes, that You are always ready to be found & wait for me with open arms of grace!  :)

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14. Is there a story or two from your sisters that stands out? 

I have enjoyed reading about the sisters and their children this week.

15. Write your prayer of praise to the God who jumps out and says, “Boo!”

Dear Lord, You are good to me; thank You. I love when You surprise me with Your grace! The feeling is indescribable; it is SO SWEET. You are an amazing presence in my life. I am so glad I have You as my guide. I hope this for others also. If they could only understand what they are missing…thank You Jesus. Amen.

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