Jesus Loves Me This I Know, For My Mama Told Me So

Jesus loves me, this I know, for my Mama told me so…

This is how little Philip is singing this familiar song, and his take on it is the answer to so many prayers.

Lizzy, a treasured participant on this blog, and her husband Jon traveled to China last month to adopt little Philip.

They had prayed for a child with a heart tender toward God.

They had prayed he would bond with them, for many children raised in orphanages have experienced so much pain, they put up a wall.

They don’t bond to their new mommys or daddys.

They don’t laugh or cry — and they certainly wouldn’t sing Philip’s song.

But Philip is overjoyed to have a mommy and a daddy.

 

I will tell you Jon and Lizzy’s story this week, filled with “God Sightings,”

to encourage you that, indeed,

“God exists and rewards those who diligently seek Him.”

I also want you to see how their story illustrates

ways we can live out the gospel every day,

how we can trust that it is so much better to go God’s way

instead of caving into our idols.

What I have seen, and see in this story, is that:

The way of our idols is easier at first, but SO MUCH HARDER in the long run.

The way of God is harder at first, but fills our life with peace, joy, and

the WONDER of God’s love — personal and real!

 

 

Those who live a gospel-centered life,

experience more of the amazing love of Jesus,

 not because He loves them more for obeying,

but because His presence is not quenched by our disobedience.

Michael Card has another version of Jesus Loves Me,

and he too says it isn’t just because the Bible tells him so.

Listen and inhale the truths into your very soul!

Sunday:

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

2. Think of a time when you died to your idols (and it was hard!) and went God’s way and experienced peace, joy, and wonder! (You aren’t bragging — you are glorifying the God who exists and rewards those who seek Him.)

Monday-Friday: Philip’s Story and Bible Study

THE BACKGROUND STORY

The pain of infertility is often told in the Bible, and Lizzy experienced that pain. How should we respond to pain when God seems to be shutting a door on a legitimate dream? (I tell this part of the story in Idol Lies — where we call Lizzy, “Hope.” But here, we will use her real name.)

Lizzy expected to follow in the steps of her three older sisters, who were all blessed with pregnancies and beautiful children. But it didn’t happen. She battered on that door, going to infertility doctors, trying so hard to get that door to open. She remembers the day when God began to change her heart. She was sitting on the cold examining table listening to her doctor tell her there was no pregnancy and that the likelihood of a pregnancy was decreasing. Yet her doctor was a fighter. With steel in her eyes, she looked at Lizzy, shook her fist in the air, and said, “I can still make a baby for you!”

Lizzy froze. Is this what I look like to you God? Angry? Shaking my fist at You? She drove home sobbing. Releasing the dream. The last thing she wanted to do was to fight the One she loved with all her heart.

In Idol Lies, I compare Lizzy to Leah — for Leah had a dream too — her dream was that her husband would love her. But he didn’t. She battered on that door, but in her fourth pregnancy, God began to change her heart.

3. Read Genesis 29:31-35.

A. What did Leah name her first three sons and what does this tell you about what was most important to her in life?

B. What did she name her fourth son, what did it mean, and how does this reflect a turn from a heart idol to the Lord?

C. Idols demand a price — what did Leah give up during the years of worshipping her heart idol?

      D. Find a few ways God gave Leah a legacy after her turn in Hebrews 7:14 and Revelation 5:5.

 

Lizzy had feared adoption — but one winter night after Christmas, she was reading My Utmost for His Highest, and came across this:

Lizzy realized at that point that her fears of adoption revolved around her control idol, and that she needed to release that and trust God to be in control. She and Jon went on to adopt two children. Was the road easy? No. And yet it also was full of wonder. (But that’s another story!) Let me get to where we are today.

APRIL, 2016: SOMETHING RICHER

“Jon and I were laying in bed and day dreaming. Our kids were now old enough to take care of themselves and we were starting to feel more “free time” around the bend. Jon started talking about the possibility of buying a condo in the mountains. He was encouraging me to go back to playing tennis or a new hobby… Then it hit me that I really wanted to do something richer. I asked, “Jon, are we ever going to get to be missionaries in Africa?” (This was my old high school-born dream.)

“No,” Jon said softly.

“Can we adopted again?”

“Yes.”

I (Dee) smile at this. Lizzy and Jon have stayed with me at my cabin and I love watching this couple, so devoted to one another, but even more, devoted to God. I’ve also watched both of them parent, and they are good. I am convinced God intended them to be parents — but He had ways that were not their ways.

Jon with Philip

And so now, He was leading again. I also want to say that it isn’t wrong to get a condo in the mountains or to play tennis — but what is important is to seek God. He can use any of His good gifts (including condos and tennis) for His glory. What matters is seeking His plan for you. I love Lizzy’s thoughts. I wanted to do something richer. For Jon and Lizzy, they were at that crossroads again, and God was giving them the desire for another child. This time, they were open to a child with special needs.

4. Read Ephesians 5:15-16 and be still before the Lord. See if He impresses anything on your heart.

They began going through files with a physician, to see just what the special needs demanded, and asking God if they could handle them — if this child was there child. For they knew it is God who sets the lonely in families, and they wanted His choice.

 

A year went by and Lizzy was getting discouraged. All along she had asked God if she could see their child’s face by the next Easter. And here it was Easter and she cried her way through church, because she had not seen his face. Yet that afternoon, as she was viewing the China waiting child advocacy page of kids that had been waiting a long time she saw a little boy who tugged at her heart. She even e-mailed his picture to Jon, But she assumed he couldn’t be their child because he was with a different agency.

Not only was Philip with another agency, his medical needs were ENORMOUS. He had a life-threatening type of anemia where his body didn’t produce enough hemoglobin. He would need transfusions every few weeks for life. He wasn’t getting this kind of treatment in China and most orphans with this condition die between 3-5 years. He was 4. If by some miracle the agency would transfer him to Lizzy and Jon’s agency, the medical expenses to rescue him would be exorbitant. Jon was understandably wary.

A google search led Lizzy to a St Jude’s clinic that treated these children for free. Where was it? 30 minutes from their home.

The end of the story is that Lizzy and Jon pursued getting Philip and the agencies said, “Yes!” The process was expedited (I know how rarely this happens) and they flew to get Philip just months later. The day Jon and Lizzy met Philip in China at the Civil Affairs office, he began sobbing hard as the orphanage nannies left. (This is really a good sign because children with attachment disorder show no emotion when their caretakers leave.) But Lizzy was distraught, not knowing what to do. But God showed her. She picked him up and begain whispering in his ear, singing, “Jesus Loves Me” over and over and over again. The next day in the hotel Jon turned on some children’s songs. “Jesus Loves Me” began to play and Philip ran to Lizzy saying “Mama!” His tune is perfect, but he jumbles the words, and the last line is “Jesus loves me this I know, for my Mama told me so.”

During Lizzy’s first hematology visit at St. Jude’s, his doctor asked her to tell her how the Lord led them to adopt Philip. Lizzy told her the story and the doctor cried, a believer herself.

 

Every single one of the nurses helping them was a believer and asked to hear the story. His surgeon turned out to be a close friend of their pastor, and an adoptive dad himself. He prayed with them for God’s work in Philip’s life and His blessing on him.

There are so many God sightings in this story — but one of my favorite is when an Asian friend told them the meaning of Philip’s Chinese name. “It means glory — it is the word we use to talk about God’s glory.”

The way of our idols is easier at first, but SO MUCH HARDER in the long run.

The way of God is harder at first, but fills our life with peace, joy, and

the WONDER of God’s love — personal and real!

 

The Way of our Idols — the Story of Abraham and Sarai

We will begin this story this week and then, next week, see how it is used to illustrate the Gospel in Galatians. God had promised Abraham and Sarai a son — but it wasn’t happening. So Sarai brought her maidservant, Hagar, to Abraham’s bed.

She so wanted a child she went to this length to get that child,

rather than trusting the promise of God.

And her idol tore them all to pieces.

Hagar bore them a child, but eventually Sarah pleaded with Abraham

to cast out the slave-woman and her son,

and God told Abraham to obey Sarah.

Oh the pain!

 

George Segal, painted plaster: Abraham’s Farewell to Ishmael

5. Read Genesis 16 slowly.

A. What did Sarai do in verses 1 and 2. What do you think motivated her?  (Sin beneath sin)    

B. What did Abraham do in verses 2 and 3. What do you think motivated him? (Sin beneath sin)

C. How did Hagar persecute Sarai in verse 4? What do you think motivated her? (Sin beneath sin)

D. How did Hagar suffer and how did God minister to her? (7-15) What does this tell you about God’s grace even when you fail?

E. Where are you frequently tempted to do wrong? What is the sin beneath your sin?

6. Read Genesis 21:1-21

A. How did Hagar persecute Sarah?

B. What hard thing did Sarah and God ask of Abraham?

C. How did God minister to Hagar despite her sin?

7. Where in your life are your idols calling to you? How can you speak the truth to your soul, endure the pain of the cross of your idols, and choose “something richer?”

 

Saturday

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

 

 

 

COMMENTS (109) Post a New Comment ↓
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1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

SO I got to the picture of Philip smiling and I wept. Oh God is good.

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My kiss from Him this morning is that Lizzy’s story encourages me to do something richer. To get before Him and ask and sense His leading. Also that in doing something richer it isn’t to gain his approval for I already have that but to get to experience His presence more-the wonder, the joy of Him!

Also, Lizzy’s pressing into God against all approval idol temptations is huge to me. Her and Jon’s love glorifies Him so.

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    Amen to all that Rebecca!

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Excited to hear the story of Lizzy’s adventure! What a precious little one 😉. Loved Michael Card’s Jesus Loves Me too.

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Thank you for sharing your story here with us Lizzy.   Tearful.

Such a painfully beautiful and redemptive story.  Wept as I saw the picture of Philip smiling and then to hear the way the Lord has orchestrated the details.

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So excited to hear these further details of Lizzy’s and Jon’s and Philip’s story! Glory indeed! I’m so glad that the good Lord has provided a medical facility for Philip and the blessing of Christian medical staff! But the best story behind the story is God’s work in the hearts and lives of Lizzy, Jon and now Philip. Such blessings! And what glorious pictures of a laughing, happy little boy!

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    Diane, I would like to get added to the Facebook group.  What do I need to do?

      Reply

      Are you already on Facebook? You could “like” me. I am Diane Trail. I live in New Brunswick, Canada. I hope you can find my profile.

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Oh what a GIFT to come here just now and see this and be able to share it with my blog sisters–thank you Dee. You know you all are closer than family to me–so blessed by your fellowship.

And the Michael Card of Jesus Loves Me–just PERFECT!!

Love you all–and so thankful for your prayers and encouragement, and your example to me

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    I’m so glad to know more of your story, Lizzie!  How encouraging your testimony is to me personally!  I pray God will draw ever so close to you as you mother Philip.  “Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these…you have done it unto Me.”  How beautiful that you are ministering directly to our sweet Lord Jesus Himself through this journey of love.  Love to you, my sister.

     

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      thank you Miriam–your own adoptive journey inspires me too–love to you~

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      In case you see this here, Miriam. I invited you a couple of times by email to join our Facebook page, but have received no response. Did you get the email or shall we try another way? If you are already on Facebook, search for me. I am Diane Trail and I live in Canada. Send me a message or “friend” me. I have updated my picture both here and on Facebook so they are the same pic.

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Oh how I needed to remember that it is God who gave me this journey of raising adoptive kids. Junior high is such a hard age and I fear I am not up to the task most days! Thank you Dee and Lizzy for reminding me that I am doing HIS work and it is HIM who will give me the strength that I need to do it well.

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    Love you Cindi!! You are an amazing mom and you are doing a beautiful job raising your teens. I can tell!

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    Cyndi — yes — I see God so working through you with your beautiful children!

     

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    ALWAYS such a joy to see you here Cyndi–love you!

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5. Read Genesis 16 slowly.
A. What did Sarai do in verses 1 and 2. What do you think motivated her?  (Sin beneath sin)
She couldn’t have children so she desired to try to make a family herself. She told Abram to go sleep with her slave Hagar so she could conceive.  What motivated her was her control idol. She didn’t trust God to provide so she stepped in. OUCH.
B. What did Abraham do in verses 2 and 3. What do you think motivated him? (Sin beneath sin)
He gave into Sarai and married Hagar. Maybe his comfort idol and approval idol motivated him? The sin beneath the sin was perhaps she was impatient and unhappy and may have been like a dripping faucet so he may have wanted it to stop and by giving her a son she would. Also, for a man that wouldn’t have been such a hard task to comply with-again his comfort idol. Maybe he also wanted her approval or respect so he was willing to do whatever it took.
C. How did Hagar persecute Sarai in verse 4? What do you think motivated her? (Sin beneath sin)
She began to despise Sarai. What motivated her was her control or approval idol perhaps. The sin beneath the sin was jealousy for she was also Abram’s wife now. She went from being a slave to being Abram’s wife. She probably didn’t want to be treated like a slave anymore.
D. How did Hagar suffer and how did God minister to her? (7-15) What does this tell you about God’s grace even when you fail?
Sarai mistreated her and she ran away and God found her there and asked her where she came from and where she is going. Stop. That is beautiful! God knew why she was there.. but He “found” her to engage with her-intimacy-relationship-to comfort her.  To me it implies He sought her-went after her to comfort her. Then He had an angel tell her to go back to Sarai for He would make her descendants many.

 
E. Where are you frequently tempted to do wrong? What is the sin beneath your sin?
Trying to fix things I can’t. Control and Comfort idols. My sin beneath the sin is desiring resolve so that I don’t feel so uncomfortable and beneath that sin layer is an inordinate desire.  I want instant comfort via fixing the issue more than experiencing His comfort in His presence.

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    Well done, Rebecca! I so appreciate your thoughtful answers and faithfulness in the Word!

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    oh Rebecca–this cut to the core on an issue for me ” desiring resolve so that I don’t feel so uncomfortable”–helps me see how this is something I do with others as well–I am not always patient at just listening to the heart, I want to jump to the solution, or “MY” solution–and you’ve helped me see why I so struggle with that..I think I do feel uncomfortable watching my husband or kids struggle, and I want to just say “stop doing that, do this!” and fix it…sort of the old Bob Newhart of “just snap out of it!”–but it’s my own desire for comfort at the root…sorry for the spiel of a reply but you really helped me with something going on right now in my world! SO love your heart, so full of wisdom. Wow.

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    “I want instant comfort via fixing the issue more than experiencing His comfort in His presence.”

    This comment was eye opening to me as well. It made me realize how I still allow doubt in the face of discomfort. Doubt that He and the comfort of His presence will be there when I need it.  As much as I believe God is a strong and faithful father I can be so faithless at times.

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    I resemble your remark about wanting comfort from things other than my God.  That is what is at the root of my eating problems.  Yesterday I had a wonderful God sighting. In a situation where I’ve always craved food, I suddenly knew I didn’t need it or want it.  It was great while it lasted!

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3. Read Genesis 29:31-35.
A. What did Leah name her first three sons and what does this tell you about what was most important to her in life? 
 

She mostly cared that her husband loved her. It was an approval idol. She named them Reuben, Simeon, and Levi. Each was a name  that described what she thought was the reason for her husband’s lack of love for her. Reuben; she thought God saw her affliction (that her husband didn’t love her), Simeon; He saw she was hated, and Levi; she would be attached to Jacob because she had bore him 3 sons.

 
B. What did she name her fourth son, what did it mean, and how does this reflect a turn from a heart idol to the Lord? 
 

Her fourth was Judah, meaning “I will praise the Lord!”

 

She turned from her idol of approval to a love for Christ.

 
C. Idols demand a price — what did Leah give up during the years of worshipping her heart idol?

 

Well, she gave up her body in that she was having many children, but I think that was fairly common back then. She gave up her dignity, in that she knew he would never love her like she knew he loved Rachel. She was trying to “bribe” him with each child. Pretty low and manipulative.  Once she turned to God she was finished having children.

 
      D. Find a few ways God gave Leah a legacy after her turn in Hebrews 7:14 and Revelation 5:5.
 

Christ was descended (am I saying that right?) from the tribe of Judah and is the One to open the scroll (love this so I wanted to include the scripture):

 

“And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.””

‭‭Revelation‬ ‭5:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/rev.5.5.esv

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

 

Well, first and foremost are the beautiful pictures of Lizzy and her son, Philip! It is so clear and obvious that God, before they even knew of each other, had already fitted them together. I love it that the first person to tell Philip that Jesus loves him, was Lizzy, his new mama!

Secondly, that the way of our idols is easier at first, but then the way is harder, and that is true because in the end, our idols only leave us empty and filled with pain. God’s way seems so much harder, but in the end, it is easier because then we are filled with Him.

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2. Think of a time when you died to your idols (and it was hard!) and went God’s way and experienced peace, joy, and wonder! (You aren’t bragging – you are glorifying the God who exists and rewards those who seek Him.)

 

Speaking of Dee’s book, Idol Lies, (I read ahead this week and know Lizzy’s story is in there) my story is also in there, and to quickly summarize here, my idol was getting my approval and affirmation, my craving to be loved and affirmed, through fantasizing and daydreaming. I found myself depressed and emotionally unstable, and one desperate night I cried out to God, “Why can’t I be happy like I was before?” and He answered, “And what were you so happy about?” At that time I didn’t know about idols, but I did know that the source of my happiness wasn’t from Him, and He showed me that I was a spiritual adulteress. But I must say that in convicting me of my sin, He was not harsh or condemning or shaming; I did not feel that from Him. It was painful, yes, but I confessed it to Him and was back on the right path. It wasn’t easy, and everything didn’t turn around immediately; it was a journey. I find comfort in the fact that He loved me enough to stop me from going down the wrong path.

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    Beautiful Susan — that story impacted so many!

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    Susan, what God asked you, “And what were you so happy about?” has burned in my heart for years and has helped me in hard times when my heart can get off track.

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2. Think of a time when you died to your idols (and it was hard!) and went God’s way and experienced peace, joy, and wonder! (You aren’t bragging — you are glorifying the God who exists and rewards those who seek Him.)

So, an example from today–just spent 8 hours at the hospital for Philip’s 2nd transfusion, and this will be my new “normal”, every 3 weeks or more, until he’s old enough to drive himself. (I’ll probably still be there, helicopter-moming!) Anyway, before Philip, I would have stressed and whined to no end about the idea of literally sitting in a hospital room, unable to leave, for 8 hours. I am addicted to productivity, it has long been my source of self-value. Now I have lots of days like this where my house is a mess and I didn’t get to exercise and definitely nothing too “productive” happened! But I have felt a real change in me. I’ve had no choice but to “die” to myself in these areas and while I know I will still struggle and I will have the day(s) of complaining to my husband about how little “me” time or work time I have…for today, and often lately, I felt such a rush, a “high” from the Lord. Just watching Philip as he waddled around the room connected to his tubes pouring in the blood–and he’s laughing and playing and saying “hello” to everyone who comes in–just amazing, this little life. I am convicted of my selfishness, I am humbled to be his mom. And this little life, the way he truly smiles through anything–he makes the things that really are small, smaller. He brings perspective. He is teaching me so much. I am so blessed. And sorry for the length of this! ;)

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    Your new normal is going to be hard, but I am in awe of your willing submission to let go of your control idol and so wonderful how God met you in this place. Philip sounds so adorable; and shouldn’t we all have such joyful childlike faith.

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    Are you kidding?? Don’t be sorry..I am in tears. Oh Lizzy..so glad for you and i just love you and your heart. OH and I can totally relate to being addicted to productivity (clean and orderly freak before 4 boys and autism) and then God surprises- harder-yet better!! LOVE your humble, honest, grateful heart.

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    This is beautiful, Lizzy. Yes, it is hard to spend 8 hours in a hospital room and feeling like you’re not getting anything accomplished, as far as being productive is concerned. But really, you are accomplishing something huge. You are being there for Philip and he is learning that his mama will be with him through these transfusions, and through you he will learn that in the same way, God will always be with him. I know it’s hard….I’ve felt the same things when sitting in the ER with one of my parents for hours….I’ve got so much to do, etc…I forget that I am “doing” something important!

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    I love this Lizzy. I think Philip being connected to tubes while blood flows in IS productive. It’s a little like being pregnant — I would get so tired I would just flop on the sofa feeling unproductive, but I would think “I am being productive because I’m helping life blossom.” So are you. And how I love your sharing here.

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    It is a good thing, Lizzy, relationships, right? Freedom from the clutches of the beast (house, exercise, work, etc.). Oh! How I know this awful cycle well. You are wise in your decision to let it go and immerse yourself in each second you are there. The smells, the sounds, the smiles, and the community of the place. God is with you there. My mom used to say, “you can do anything temporarily.” Prayers are with your family.

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    Beautiful, honest, life-giving words.

    Thank you, Lizzy.

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    Thank you, Lizzy, for sharing this joyful adoption of Philip. It is the most awesome God sighting. His smile is contagious and the sacrifice of his medical treatments is a gift of God. Providing the medical facility of St. Jude’s and  Philip’s happy attitude are proof that you are following Jesus’ will for your family.

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3. Read Genesis 29:31-35. A. What did Leah name her first three sons and what does this tell you about what was most important to her in life?

Reuben– “Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.”

Simeon–“Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.”

Levi– “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.”

I think what was most important to her was not just her husband, but to be loved. She just thought her husband should be the provider of that love.

 

B. What did she name her fourth son, what did it mean, and how does this reflect a turn from a heart idol to the Lord?

Her 4th, she named Judah, and said “This time I will praise the Lord.”

She admitted that in the past, she had not praised the Lord. In the past, she had looked to her husband to be her fulfillment. Her husband’s love was her idol. Her desire to be loved wasn’t wrong, it is God given, but she was looking to the wrong place for that fulfilling love. With her 4th, she recognized this, and turned instead, to the Lord.

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3. Read Genesis 29:31-35.

 

A. What did Leah name her first three sons and what does this tell you about what was most important to her in life?

 

Reuben – for He has seen my misery; see, a son.

Simeon – one who hears; because the Lord heard that I am not loved.

Levi – attached; now at last my husband will become attached to me.

What was most important to Leah was to cause her husband, Jacob, to love her by bearing him these three sons.

 

B. What did she name her fourth son, what did it mean, and how does this reflect a turn from a heart idol to the Lord?

 

Judah – praise; this time I will praise the Lord. It sounds as if Leah is releasing her idol of making her husband the source of her happiness, security, love, and comfort, to praising God as He can meet all of those needs. It also seemed that with the first three children, Leah focused on the gift of those children and not the Giver of the gift. The text does say that God opened her womb because He saw that Leah was not loved; with the first three, instead of thanking Him she was using the gift of  children to try to get her needs met, to try and manipulate Jacob’s feelings.

 

C. Idols demand a price – what did Leah give up during the years of worshipping her heart idol?

 

Early in the text, Leah says “the Lord has seen my misery”. She must have been living in emotional turmoil – jealousy, unhappiness, misery, depression, feeling unfulfilled, insignificant, inferior and perhaps bitterness and even rage. Honestly though, I feel for Leah! It would be bad enough to be ignored and unloved by her husband if she was his only wife, but to have to see Jacob being affectionate and loving to Rachel, her own sister….she truly had a huge obstacle to overcome. She had no peace. I’m not sure though that she ever truly got over it, because later on in the story, she “hires” Jacob with mandrakes.

 

D. Find a few ways God gave Leah a legacy after her turn in Hebrews 7:14 and Revelation 5:5.

 

The Lord Jesus Christ descended from the tribe of Judah, Leah’s son. Jesus is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah. King David was also a descendent of the tribe of Judah.

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    Lightbulb for me from Susan — “the Lord has seen my misery” — her idol made her miserable!!!

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4. Read Ephesians 5:15-16 and be still before the Lord. See if He impresses anything on your heart.

 

We are to make wise choices because the time is always drawing near.

If you read on in the scripture it says to “…understand what the will of the Lord is…” and be “…filled with the Holy Spirit…” and to always praise Him with others, “… giving thanks always to God…” And finally, we should submit to each other.

The last few lines remind me of dancing with a partner. The woman submits to the direction of the man in ballroom dance, and it’s a beautiful thing! In this case, we go back a few weeks and remember our study of the Trinity, where Dee likened it to a dance. The Holy Spirit in me, sharing it with others (and they to me), and then the submissison. Lovely.

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4. Read Ephesians 5:15-16 and be still before the Lord. See if He impresses anything on your heart.

 

The first time I didn’t catch the word “very”. “Be very careful how you live”. Last week my daughter and I went hiking at a park where you can get off the trail and hike up the river to a waterfall. You are either walking over rocks and stones of all different sizes and shapes and very uneven, or you are walking in the shallow water over rocks and stones that are very slippery. We went very slowly and very carefully and had to really pay attention. We made it there and back without falling. Had we hurried and been careless I’m sure we would’ve fallen. Each step we take is important, and each day involves a lot of “steps”, a lot of decisions, a lot of opportunities to be wise or unwise, careful or careless. I see this verse as not talking about big, life-changing decisions, though we all have to make those at times, but a series of daily-living choices and decisions that all add up to a life lived carefully or carelessly. It’s at home and at work, interacting with other people or what we do alone.

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    Susan,

    What a lovely and encouraging post.   Thank you.

     I see this verse as not talking about big, life-changing decisions, though we all have to make those at times, but a series of daily-living choices and decisions that all add up to a life lived carefully or carelessly. It’s at home and at work, interacting with other people or what we do alone.

     

    Sort of reminds me of Song of Solomon 2:15 where he talks of the “little foxes”  that can ruin the vineyard.   All those little things in a day and how we respond to them.

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    Oh, yes! Every step is important! Thank you for the reminder.

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I am having trouble posting. It doesn’t want to type, and then kicks me out of your blog altogether.  What am I doing wrong?

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    Mary — if you are still having trouble posting, contact david@controlyours.com — since others aren’t having trouble it may be the server you are using or something with your computer — but still, he can try to help

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The way of our idols is easier at first, but SO MUCH HARDER in the long run.
The way of God is harder at first, but fills our life with peace, joy, and 
the WONDER of God’s love — personal and real!

These comments stood put to me.  The wonder of God’s love personal and real is something we all desire and need. It’s something I have longed for in my own heart. The knowledge that I matter to Him and I want to feel it in tangible ways. 

 
A time when I had to let go of some idols that was extremely hard but went God’s way and experienced peace joy and wonder is an experience that has been a work of time.   Many many years ago my husband and I were part of a small bible study group in our home that resulted in starting a church.  It eventually grew into a successful ministry with a new church building. But over time because of painful experiences and division we  had to let go and leave that church.  We are a small community and deeply hurting my husband wisely asked me to agree with him we’d not talk to any in our town of the things that happened and how we were wronged.  It was particularly hard for me not to defend my husband.  I realize now pride was only one of several idols in my life at that time.  As we sought God’s leading we eventually became part of another church where we attended and raised our younger children.  To capsulize the story today our youngest son after attending Moody Bible Institute and later Dallas Theological Seminary now serves as lead pastor of our church.  There are almost 30 years of layers to this story but all glory goes to God and He has humbled and blessed us richly.

 

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    One of the hardest things to do is to keep quiet. Especially when the whole truth isn’t being shown.  Good for you, and good for your walk with God!

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    Bev,

    What a beautiful story. So love how God turned the ashes into beauty in your life. Sweet example of taking the hard route at first in not obeying your idol and then experiencing joy in Him.  Your response was felt by your children and you brought Him glory. Sweet how your son is your pastor now. I have seen children of pastors go the other way because they see how their dad or parents are treated by their church.

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I started working at Chick-fil-A a year-and-a-half ago in order to help pay for Abby’s wedding and because I felt like I needed to have a job and start a career since I only had two children left at home. I also am watching a one-and-a-half-year-old 3 days a week. I knew I needed to choose and was going to put in my notice for the babysitting job. After a lot of prayer I realized that the reason I wanted to stay at Chick-fil-A was because it fed my pride. I just felt like I needed two have something outside the home to make me feel Worthy. I took 4 hours and spent it with Jesus asking for Direction. By the time I was done it was clear that God wants me to stay at home full-time and take care of my teenage girls and husband and continue watching this little girl who is developing many food allergies and could never be in a daycare. I was her dad’s Nanny and dealt with his food allergies. I never have felt so much peace as I did when I decided it was okay to ” just be a stay-at-home mom” for now.  God open my eyes to how parenting these amazing young women who come from trauma is a full-time job. And it is the job that he gave ME to do. I was reading Nehemiah and reminded that I am doing a good work and I will not come down.

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    Amen, Cydni. So glad the Spirit showed you the truth!

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    Thanks for this post Cyndi. I am parenting my two grandchildren right now and although very difficult, also very rewarding! Love you sister!

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4. Read Ephesians 5:15-16 and be still before the Lord. See if He impresses anything on your heart.

 

There is a sense that time is precious and must not be wasted.

Then, my daughter texted this scripture to me this morning that has that same sense of making the most of my time – wisely.

Love how The Message puts it here for Romans 12:1,2

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

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my special need 16 year old daughter posted this on fb yesterday. God is SO FAITHFUL!!!!
 
going to a public school will not be easy! I have been so worried about everything! Today we went to southview to figure out how I was going to open my locker and I tried but I couldn’t open them at first so we went to the store to get stuff to help me open them. We came back to southview and I was able to open the locker I just have to get a different lock when we figured out how the fix the whole locker situation verse of the day popped up!
it was Romans 8:28
I have not been trusting God and giving all my worries to him! This verse was definitely him saying “lily stop worrying I will provide for you. Just trust me”
I want to give a shout out to my wonderful mom Cyndi Ferrell who fights for me. Just when I wanted to give up she wouldn’t! So thankful for you Mom!

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    Such a heartening post, Cyndi.  Thank you for sharing it here.

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    A yeah, God, moment!  So glad for you!!

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    Wow, Cyndi.

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    What a blessing, Cyndi!

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I haven’t been able to be here much this summer.  So much on my plate with family things – happy and sad-

But I just peeked in and want to tell Lizzy again how happy I am that Philip is fully in her life now!

I didn’t even read every bit of her story word for word, but I will come back and read it more closely.

Philip’s smile (and the fact that he IS smiling and bonding!)  really melts my heart.

Love to you, Lizzy and to all of you here.

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    Wanda–always SO good to see you here! Praying for you now with your full plate of happy and sad. Love to you dear sister~

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How should we respond to pain when God seems to be shutting a door on a legitimate dream? I remember well when I had gone through some extensive training and came back to my church ready and eager to start a mentoring program with the women. We had a new pastor, and he said no. That it wasn’t a good fit with the goals the church was pursuing. It was a crushing disappointment, and even after eight years I wonder about it. But it is in God’s hands to do with what and when He wants.

 

Dee, it seems to be fine again.

 

 

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    So glad, Mary!

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I’ve a God sighting and a prayer need — my dear sister Bonnie who doesn’t know the Lord has been in such need this week as her husband woke up not being able to walk — it is been a horrendous week for her and she is broken — but turning me for help and for prayer! How I pray God will come running and she will see He is real. I will probably edit this post but those who see it, please pray.

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    OH DEE!!oops–had a prayer here and then realized you may need to edit–you have my prayers!!

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    Praying.

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    Praying for Bonnie and for you to know how best to encourage and show her Jesus.

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    Dee, praying for Bonnie and her husband. May she go running to the Lord!

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      Diane, Dee mentioned the private FB page and I believe when I asked about joining in the past someone said you administrate that? I would like to be part of that.

        Bev, I must have missed your request for join. I have been hit and miss here this summer. Renee used to do this part and we are co-administrators, but she has been busy moving this summer. If you want to search for me on Facebook, search Diane Trail. My pic on there is the same one I am using here. Message me there or friend me and I will add you.

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    I will pray for Bonnie and her family.

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    Dee,

    We are two or three gathering in His strong name.   Stretcher-bearers for Bonnie and her husband.

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5E I like Sarah try to fix everything in a way that seems “logical” and in a way that I CAN DO. I feel like God had placed my in impossible, uncontrollable,  unfixable  situations just to prove to me that HE IS GOD and I AM NOT. that HE is in control,  and I am not. Learning to TRUST HIM and not my plan has been a ( and will continue to be)  constant struggle.

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5E. Where are you frequently tempted to do wrong? What is the sin beneath your sin?

Rebecca, your answer to 5 E. resonates with me.   I too want to fix and control my adult children and my husband too much of the time.   I feel that if I can just get some resolve, then I will have a measure of peace.     Sometimes it pushes me to speak when I need to listen.   Recently I have allowed my idols to create an inordinate anxiety that seems inescapable at times  (which is quite unpleasant for those close to me).    Last Sunday afternoon I had to physically remove myself from everyone, lest the choke-hold of wanting to control get the best of me.   So I headed to the mountains alone for a hike.  I was gone for several hours and had no internet/cell access the entire time.    It was my way of releasing my cares and worries to God and getting myself out of the way.   Sometimes desperate circumstances call for desperate measures.   And that mountain air and cool water and quiet before our Lord was a balm to my wrestling soul.

Paul Tripp’s weekly email today speaks to this as he is reflecting on Abraham:

This exerpt:

The author of Hebrews 11 says that Abraham was being tested, which is a word picture for metal being purified. God will send difficult, unexpected and unwanted trials into our lives to produce in us what could have never been produced otherwise. I refer to that as the theology of uncomfortable grace, and we need to preach it to ourselves and to others.

 

Here is the entire link:

http://mailchi.mp/paultrippministries/ww-7-12-2017-are-you-too-happy-with-your-life-603569?e=a7be5f2f98

 

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      Diane,

      I just double-checked and it is the same article in both links.  Yes, it is very good   :)

        Sorry, Nila. I should have checked your link. I just saw that the title was different and made an incorrect assumption. Just didn’t want people being confused if the article was not the right one! Thanks for posting it.

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    thank you nila, he is one of my favorites! what a good reminder of “In my weekness HE is strong.

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    OH MY..Nila your post was totally from Him to me.. This is what I need. I have been undergoing some trying situations as of late. Really from all corners of my life. I KNOW beyond a shadow of doubt the attacks  are from satan yet my responses, are my sin.  My dad’s health-he needs me so, and my boys, my husband and my job, etc. I am not taking care of myself. He is sustaining me in memorizing Ephesians. Even though I am going so slow because the language/grammar in NASB can stump me. I even changed versions to help. But He is coming to me and is my peace. I need to get away from distractions for a few hours and just be with Him.

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      Rebecca, you are carrying such a heavy load right now. Praying for you! I hope you are able to step back from your responsibilities for a brief time soon.

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      oh Rebecca–so wish I could help carry your burdens–but you have my prayers dear sister. And though you are weary, He still shines through you, creating such gold in you.

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Sisters, I am struggling with the  image above that says “God sets the lonely in families,” and it says it’s from Psalms 63 verse 6A. First of all I don’t understand what it means, and secondly I can’t find it in three or four versions of Bibles. What am I missing? I don’t get the statement either. What does it mean?

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    Laura — this is my fault. The above picture used the wrong reference — I should have checked. It is Psalm 68:5-6.

    I think that will make more sense. I believe He has done that with your grandchildren, setting them in a safer place with you. I see Him doing it with prisoners, taking them out of unsafe homes and putting them in the family of God.

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      👍

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5. Read Genesis 16 slowly. 
A. What did Sarai do in verses 1 and 2. What do you think motivated her?  (Sin beneath sin)  
 
Sarai gave Abram her maidservant to have a child. I think the sin was control. She wanted children; a family.
 
B. What did Abraham do in verses 2 and 3. What do you think motivated him? (Sin beneath sin)
Abram listened to Sarai instead of God. He slept with the maidservant. I think his sin might have been approval (of his wife and others).

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Laura, the verse that says in some translations, “God sets the lonely in families” is Psalm 68:6a (not chapter 63). As far as the interpretation, my ESV gives the verse as, “God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, …” The study notes in my ESV Study Bible says, “The faithful are to sing to God because he has shown himself kind, especially to helpless people (fatherless, or orphans, widows; solitary; prisoners).” We see throughout the Bible that God’s heart is FOR the needy. That doesn’t mean He solves all their problems, but it does mean He is kind, caring and will work on their behalf to bring justice for them in their struggles. The verse is meant to apply generally to understanding God’s heart for the needy, not to be interpreted that God will meet a specific need at a specific time, if we just pray and ask (although sometimes He does). That is, for example, God does not always heal us when we pray about a specific concern, because He sees the big picture that we don’t see, but we can know that His heart is FOR us and ultimately He will heal us.

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    Thank you Diane! I thought I was going crazy! So glad to know it is chapter 68, not 63 😉. I am going back now to read more.

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    Diane — thanks for catching that before I did.

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Thank you all for your prayers. We surely need them. I know I should be putting this on the private facebook! Our struggle continues as insurance is balking at helping Bonnie’s husband and he so needs help. She cannot care for him — she has broken and rebroken her rib trying. She is not a believer and is wondering if God hears at all — how I pray she will see He does.

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    Oh Dee, how hard! praying for a way for you to help her and for her to see Jesus in you (im not sure how she couldnt!) I pray that you will be able to figure out a way to find help for her husband, that Bonnie will see how much you love her as you help her through this in a practical way.

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    Dee, so hard about Bonnie and her husband. Yes, please put details on the FB page for those who don’t visit here regularly but would want to be praying. On the FB page, we can be more wordy too, because it is private. :)

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    Dee, how I hated to hear this..:( praying for God to draw Bonnie and for her to hear Him and praying for her husband too. That is so unjust when insurance companies do that after paying into it for so long. Thank you for keeping us posted! Much love to you.

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4. be very careful how you live….not “don’t do this or that” but make every day, Make every minute count for something. Be Jesus with skin on to someone every day. whether its online because you are to sick to go anywhere or your children, husband, parents, friend, neighbor, bank teller, store clerk, co-worker…. smile at people, be kind when it takes work and courage to do so. You do not have to do big things to make a big impact on someone today. I try to think “who will be my starfish today” I can not change the world, but I can change the world for ONE person today….we all can :-) (reminding myself of this as I  drop my 2 special needs kiddos off at a public school for the first time ever.)

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7. my approval idol is working overtime. It was been such a hard year and my ego has taken such a big hit that I fear I CRAVE praise. I know that God is the one who matters, that HE sees all and stores it up in HIS heart but I feel invisible so often. I love the stage, I love writing, I love to be the center of attention, that is my natural bend. Holy Spirit working in me has helped me to not NEED these things but they are still my personality :-) Being the support team to my husband and children is what I know I am called do. I love being there for them, but often I feel invisible which is hard for a “love the stage and attention” kind of girl. I fear this makes me long for praise and place it before seeking God some days. So my goal this year is to seek HIS approval and not the praise of man.

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    From the day I met you I loved your authenticity.

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    Cyndi, I also love your authenticity. All of us can so relate to this!

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Lizzy, just wanted you to know that every time I open this page and see you and Philip I smile deeply inside. Love you all and continue praying!

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    Diane–you are so dear, thank you, gave me a smile back ;)

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C. How did Hagar persecute Sarai in verse 4? What do you think motivated her? (Sin beneath sin) 
She treated her badly, with no respect. Maybe pride was her sin?
D. How did Hagar suffer and how did God minister to her? (7-15) What does this tell you about God’s grace even when you fail? 
Hagar was banished by Sarai but an angel found her in the wilderness. The angel told her to do the right thing by going back and submitting to her mistress. She was also told she would have a son, call him Ishmael, and would have many other offspring from her lineage. God still is for us when we do wrong; He is in our court always.
E. Where are you frequently tempted to do wrong? What is the sin beneath your sin?
Control is my worst idol. It is too easy to “manage” every situation that comes my way 😔. I pray I can lean on God more in the future, and less on myself.

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5. Read Genesis 16 slowly.

A. What did Sarai do in verses 1 and 2. What do you think motivated her?  (Sin beneath sin) 

Oh I just felt a heavy sadness reading this. And this part “Abram listened to the voice of Sarai” (v.2), reminded me of Eve, then reminded me of me. How easy it is to grow impatient in the waiting on the Lord. And for impatience to breed a desire to control, and lead me to try to take things into my own hands, manipulating. By the Lord’s mercy, the consequence is never worth it, for He wants to teach me to wait on Him, to trust, be still–and let Him move mountains.

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B. What did Abraham do in verses 2 and 3. What do you think motivated him? (Sin beneath sin)

He listened to Sarai and took Hagar as his wife. I think he was motivated by a desire to please Sarai, have her approval, and could it also be his own lustful-ness mixed in?

 

C. How did Hagar persecute Sarai in verse 4? What do you think motivated her? (Sin beneath sin)

Hagar had contempt for Sarai. Now that she was Abram’s wife, she felt powerful over Sarai and used her desire for power to spew hatred towards her.

 

D. How did Hagar suffer and how did God minister to her? (7-15) What does this tell you about God’s grace even when you fail?

I love vs. 7–“the angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness”. I love how He will always find us, for we are never out of His sight. When we learned we had been matched with our son, I had been asking God to give me a name for him. One day while reading through John, I came to 1:43, “He found Philip and said to him, ‘follow Me'”. I was moved to tears at the words “He found…” and knew I wanted our son’s name to be Philip. We now have that on a plaque in his room. I will never take it lightly that my son was chosen by God out of an orphanage with 700 children, for our family. Yes, He found him, in a wilderness. I LOVE that our God will not let us be left thirsty, in a dry land..He finds us, He points us back to truth and obedience, and He blesses.

 

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    beautiful!

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    So good to have you back, Lizzy.

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    Lizzy ~   Such redemptive words.    He is our daily redeemer.

     I LOVE that our God will not let us be left thirsty, in a dry land..He finds us, He points us back to truth and obedience, and He blesses.

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    Lizzy, love your D answer here. Your adoption of Philip is giving you deeper eyes to see God’s truths. Hugs!

    “He [God]found him [Philip], in a wilderness. I LOVE that our God will not let us be left thirsty, in a dry land..He finds us, He points us back to truth and obedience, and He blesses.”

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Read Genesis 16 slowly.

 

A. What did Sarai do in verses 1 and 2. What do you think motivated her? (Sin beneath sin)

Sarai came up with her own plan to have a child. One day, her eyes must have settled upon Hagar, and she started thinking….

She also said, “The Lord has kept me from having children.” She blames God, or holds Him responsible for not having a child, so she decided to go around God. Perhaps the sin beneath the sin was power/control – Sarai found a way that she could control this situation, solve it, fix it. Perhaps she began to doubt that God was good and was for her. She may have felt powerless to have a child, so she found a way to regain a sense of power over her life.

 

B. What did Abraham do in verses 2 and 3? What do you think motivated him? (Sin beneath sin)

Abraham agreed to the plan of his wife Sarai. He took Hagar as his wife and slept with her in order to try and conceive a child. Perhaps love for his wife Sarai motivated him to agree to this request? I wonder why he didn’t say, “Now wait a minute, Sarai; remember that God promised us a child? We have to wait for Him!” Maybe his idol was also power/control – now here was a plan to get that child he wanted at last and he could do something about it!

 

C. How did Hagar persecute Sarai in verse 4? What do you think motivated her? (Sin beneath sin)

When Hagar learned she was pregnant, she began to despise Sarai. I assume this means she made it plain and clear to Sarai that she hated her. First, I think it would be demeaning to be a slave woman and to have no choice but to marry and sleep with your master’s husband; Abram was rather old and maybe she didn’t find him very appealing? She may have hated Sarai for that. But now she is in this weird dual-role of being Abram’s “wife” but it sounds like she still had to serve Sarai, so she really didn’t have equal status with Sarai. But when she found she was with child, she had something over Sarai and a way to hurt her. One can almost imagine the looks she gave Sarai and the deliberate remarks she made to inflict pain. Her sin beneath the sin may also have been power and control – she felt in some way that she was powerful because she could bear Abram a child. Or, it may have also been approval as childbearing was a big thing back then.

 

D. How did Hagar suffer and how did God minister to her? (7-15) What does this tell you about God’s grace even when you fail?

Sarai complained to Abram about the way Hagar was treating her, and he told her to handle it, so Sarai began to mistreat Hagar and then Hagar ran away. She stops by a spring in the desert, and the angel of the Lord speaks to her. The angel tells her to go back to Sarai and to submit to her, but assures her that she will bear a son and tells her that the Lord is aware of how miserable she has been – He sees her! The angel also tells her that her descendants will be too many to count and he tells her a little bit about what her son will be like (a wild donkey!). But what blows her away is that God saw her. I have thought about this before; Hagar was Egyptian and I would think that she worshipped the false gods of Egypt. She would have been exposed to the beliefs of Abram and Sarai – what were her thoughts about the real God before this? She gives God a name meaning the Living One who sees me. The grace of God was that He gave Hagar the gift of having a real, personal encounter with Himself even though she was an “outsider” – not of His people, and she had been cruel to Sarai.

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1. What stands out to you from the above and why?  Lizzy and Jon’s life-saving, soul-saving decision to bring this little guy into their family!  What a dear friend she has become to me.  It has been pure joy to be a part of this journey via prayer. :)

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I haven’t posted much this week but I have been blessed and greatly enjoyed the blog as I have heard Lizzy’s story and learned the particulars of Phillip’s adoption.  I have been reminded through the study of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar’s underlying sin how my own idols can lead me to choices that create misery for all involved but myself in particular. It has been good to be challenged to consider again the idol lies that entangle us. I believe God has a good plan for our lives and that He is in everything that concerns us and every relationship we have.  Ephesians 1:11 says  “ In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,”. Even in the hard and painful things He has a plan. And that plan is in conformity with the purpose of his will. I find comfort in that. Living life as though it were random would seem very defeating to me. Lizzy’s testimony this week says that life is never random in our walk with God. Nila’s comment to Lizzy spoke to me. 
“Lizzy ~   Such redemptive words.    He is our daily redeemer.
 I LOVE that our God will not let us be left thirsty, in a dry land..He finds us, He points us back to truth and obedience, and He blesses.”

“He is our daily redeemer”  I really like that. 
In spite of the royal mess Abraham, Sarah and Hagar created God spoke to each of them personally and did a redeeming work in their lives according to His plan. We are never without hope. He is a God of hope. One of my favorite verses is Romans 15:13 
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. 
Dee still praying for Bonnie.

 

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    I too like that he is our daily redeemer. How we need Him.

    Thanks for praying for Bon –she is facing such hard things without the Lord.

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E. Where are you frequently tempted to do wrong?  What is the sin beneath your sin?

 

A few years ago when we began studying idolatry, I clearly saw my need for approval/affirmation and comfort/security, but I didn’t think that I had much of a problem with power/control. Everyone tells me that I am so “quiet, reserved, peaceful….” ha! I see more and more that I do want to have power and control! I want to buck my husband’s authority and I want my own way. In family relationships, if there’s tension between “A” and “B” and even “C”, I will try to smooth things over; i.e. manipulate the circumstances, even by putting words into somebody else’s mouth, “Oh, you know he didn’t mean it that way….don’t be angry about that.” I see that again and again that I try to manipulate and orchestrate circumstances to my liking.

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    Susan — love your authenticity — always. I identify!

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Just wanted to thank you all for your kind comments to me and your encouragement. I was suprised when Dee said she was sharing our story and have been so humbled by how beautifully she wrote it, and the support from you all. You truly, truly are family to me and I am so thankful to be a part of this fellowship. It’s amazing the diversity we have here, everyone brings such depth and wisdom, and different perspectives. We really have an amazing gift here that Dee provides. It’s as if she’s opened her home to all of us in the way she opens her heart and teaching here each week and we gather together, from so many many different states and even countries–but we share the common bond of union with Christ–amazing!

Now Laura–I’ve been thinking of you–are you coming to SC for the big eclipse tomorrow?? You’ve got a bed at my house if you want to visit (or anyone, but Laura is our Science master!) We’re actually in the direct path of the eclipse! And I’m embarrassed to say, I didn’t buy glasses and I’ve been totally out of it, but it’s all the rage around here! ;)

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Your story was simply too good not to be told, Lizzy. Thanks for so graciously sharing it!

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