You Are My God — Even Amidst Hurricane Florence

When disaster strikes, where can we go?

Only to “Our God.”

He will either stop the storm,

or be with us in the storm.

You will hear stories from two of our bloggers

who experienced Hurricane Florence last week.

What so often happens in a natural disaster, is that even those who  may not have a vital faith, are brought to their knees to cry out to God for His help, comfort, and peace.

Here are firefighters praying outside a home where a mother and infant were killed in Willmington, North Carolina last week.

photo from thecatholicspirit.com

God’s ways our not our ways, but one day, we will understand.

Meanwhile, we who are His children can be so thankful he is

“Our God.”

I sense He is leading us now on an incredible journey and I want to follow Him step by step.

Let me explain.

 

When I got my Subaru, I began to see Subarus everywhere.

(Possibly living in snowy Wisconsin is part of it — but honestly,

I didn’t see them at all before!)

Parking lot in Alaska filled with Subarus

That’s what happens when something becomes personal.

When I meditated this month on the repeated phrase

“You are my God”

in Scripture

I started seeing it everywhere in Scripture.

I realized how unique this is to Christianity.

People don’t say “My Allah,” or “My Baal” because only the Trinitarian

God of Christianity is relational. As Mike Reeves says, “The gods of

other religions cannot be love because they are either warring gods

(like Baal) or monolithic gods (like Allah) so they had no one to love.

We have been invited into a dance of love with the Triune God,

who has been love from the beginning.

And in the same way that I say, “My Steve” or “My Sally,” because my

relationship with them is so personal, God has allowed me to say,

“You are my God.”

And even more amazing, is that He looks at His children and says

“You are my people.”

It began with Abraham, when God began to call a people to Himself.

He told Abraham to look to the stars, for so would his descendants be.

Both “our Lizzy” and “our Sharon”

have stories to tell about “our God” during Hurricane Florence,

and we will hear from them this week.

To prepare your heart for this week, contemplate this song, here sung by Rich Mullins, and then be ready to share your thoughts on what it means to say,

“Oh God, You are my God.”

 

Sunday:

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

Monday-Tuesday: Introducing Psalm 3 and Sharon’s Story

The first time in the psalms that we see the phrase “my God” is in Psalm 3. (Psalm 3:7) In Psalm 3, the psalmist cries out to God for deliverance in the night, and God hears and sustains him. 

This is what happened to “our Sharon” last week in the midst of Hurricane Florence. This is Sharon (bottom right), her mother-in-law in the middle, her husband in the back holding a grandson, and, I think, her children and their spouses!

 

Here is Sharon’s description of what happened:

 

It was 2 A. M. [Friday, Sept 14, 2018] and I needed sleep, but after hearing two trees already fall on the house and the wind, still so very strong, it was eluding me…I was scared.  It was then that God gave me the verse from 1 Peter 5:7 and a chorus we used to sing from the 80’s came to my mind so I started singing it…

I cast all my cares upon You.  I lay all of my burdens down at Your feet.

And anytime that I don’t know what to do.  I will cast all my cares upon You.”

The next thing I knew it was 8 in the morning…God was faithful…He gave me rest!

Meanwhile, back in Wisconsin, I was writing the blog for Sunday, Sept 16th. I’d been meditating on the importance of this repeated refrain in Scripture of “You are my people,” and “You are my God.”

 

I also felt led to post this video of William Cowper’s song “Sometimes a Light Surprises.”

When power was restored and Sharon returned to the blog, she watched the above video, and saw the truth from the song she sang during that terrible night posted in the middle of this: “He cares for you…”  Sharon wrote: 

It was humbling to think of God then saying, “You are my people” (I know all that is going on down there Sharon…I’ve got your back) and I would respond by looking up and saying, “You are my God!! I can’t even begin to express how comforting that was and still is!

2. What stands out to you from Sharon’s story and why?

 

To prepare your heart for Psalm 3, here are the first 5 verses set to music:

 

 

3. Read through Psalm 3 and share your comments and observations. Does any verse become radioactive? If so, share.

 

Wednesday-Thursday: Lizzy’s Story and Keller on Psalm 3

Meanwhile, our own Lizzy, who also lives in the area Hurricane Florence came, wrote to us last Sunday:

My church was cancelled today due to the storm and then the church we’d planned to go to (where I work) also cancelled. But with school canceled Friday and a long weekend at home, I’ve spent many moments on my screened porch, watching the trees sway and listening to that beautiful sound of rustling leaves, and cannot help but think of the refrain “You are my God.” And when I see how protected we have been, and even if we had not been, I hear Him say, “You are my people”. It’s been a great time to exercise our faith before our children, admitting our own tendency to fear, but the choosing to hold onto what no hurricane can ever take away.

4. What thoughts do you have on Lizzy’s comments?

 

We are going to dig deeper into Psalm 3 next week, but, jumping off Lizzy and Sharon’s story, I want you to listen to this sermon on Psalm 3 from Tim Keller and share your notes and thoughts.

      Praying Our Fears - Timothy J. Keller

5. What notes and comments do you have?

Friday: Application

As we begin, together, to practice saying, “You are my God,” throughout the day, I’m hoping to hear some stories from you on the impact. Here’s one from me from last week.

Summer is always a time of great temptation to over-eat for me, for I have guests practically from Memorial Day through Labor Day and they bring goodies, take me out to eat, and want to experience the treasures of Wisconsin: custard, bratwurst, cheese…

And every fall I struggle to get back on track, usually five pounds heavier. And for the last couple weeks I have not gotten back on track, though I signed up for the Weight Watchers app when they had a 3 month special for 30 dollars.

But last week, every time I was tempted to eat something not on my plan, I said, “You are my God.” For in truth, I don’t want to be my own god, it only leads to pain. And last week, I stayed on track all week. And I’m 2 pounds lighter. Little – but big, to me.

6. Do you have a story?

Saturday:

7. What’s your take-a-way and why?

COMMENTS (114) Post a New Comment ↓
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1.      What stands out to you from the above and why?
 
a.       The picture of the firemen praying and the knowing that a mother and her infant died. Such tragedy and mystery.
 
b.      “He will either stop the storm or be with us in the storm.” This is so true as I reflected on the storms that I have experienced in my life. For me, it seems like the “being with us in the storm” has been the majority of my experiences rather than the “stop the storm”. The aftermath of the latter offered quick relief. But with the former, it has lingered and often was a springboard of deeper faith and trust in Him who is my God. I am looking forward to re-reading Lizzy’s and Sharon’s testimonies.
 
c.       I always have loved Rich Mullins songs. And Step by step is one of my favorite praise songs we sing at our church. Seeking is always followed by learning and then comes obedience. Seeking God’s face who says to me “You are my people” and I can most gratefully respond, “Thank you, Lord that You are my God.”
 
Answer to prayer: I will be having my stitches removed tomorrow. Yay! I cannot wait! 10 days without a great use of my right hand was a humbling experience although in eternity past, God has allowed me to be sort of ambidextrous. Leftie technically but can do a few things with my right hand, like writing.

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    Great opening post, Bing! :-)

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What a beuatiful post, Dee. I love the words from Mike Reeves “The gods of other religions cannot be love”, and what he also says in Delighting in the Trinity: “Indeed, in the triune God is the love behind all love, the life behind all life, the music behind all music, the beauty behind all beauty and the joy behind all joy.”

My experience of the storm hardly compares to what Sharon endured but what a beautiful testimony her story is! I love how He brought scripture to her mind–even through song–to remind her of His faithfulness to her, and bring her peace. Beautiful family picture, too Sharon!

Sharon’s response of faith in the face of it all, reminded me of a truth from an excellent book I’ve been reading “Therefore I have hope” (Cameron Cole). The promise from our God to give us our DAILY bread, He calls us to ask only for our daily bread, just enough grace for what we face today–not worrying about tomorrow, but more than sufficient for today. Lately He is teaching me this more and more–He gives me grace for this hour, this moment–I am such an obsessive compulsive planner that this is a big one for me! The downside to having that tendency is that my thoughts default to plan mode and I imagine 3 months from now and begin already fretting over Christmas break and the changes that will bring in our household…but He says no, just today.(Matt. 6:34) And because He is my God, I am His own,  I trust Him and I will listen. Sorry–I think that was a rabbit trail but short on time!

In all our lives there is destruction and tragedies around us, or within us–but this practice Dee has led us on, of focusing on God as MY God, and me, as His own–is so powerful, and reminds me we are never out of His sight, or His thoughts even.

Last thing–one of my Scriptures this morning was from Is. 57:15 “For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

That verse so profoundly proclaims My God is Holy, high and lifted up, above all–and then the words “and also with him…” made my eyes water. He is God, above all else, but also our God and dwells personally with us.

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    Beautiful Lizzy. Such a paradox, that the high lofty one would want to dwell with us.

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1.  What stood out? I love Rich Mullins! This is a great song to get into and sing with everything inside my heart.

And then in the storm, He either stops it or goes through it with us. What a comfort, and a challenge, that is. He doesn’t just make fairy tale endings. He enters into real life with us. And just like Bing said, that is by far the more common occurrence.

And with that in mind, please be praying for me this week for Saturday evening. My unbelieving Doctor/boss had offered tickets to the orchestra because she couldn’t use them. I was the only one to have an interest, so my husband and I were set to use them. But when I looked for the time of the concert, it wasn’t the weekend she thought it was. So I told her and offered the tickets back to her. She responded she’d take me to supper and then we’d do the concert together, she and I. This is the same woman I had you praying for a year ago as I shared several sermon notes from Ecclesiastes with her. We have had just a handful of non work sentences between us in that time span. I really need God to be in my ears and in my tongue!

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    Yay,Mary-that is awesome. Will be thinking of you this Saturday. What an opportunity! Oohhh….I couldn’t wait to hear how the Lord is going to use you in the life of your boss!

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    Mary, it sounds as if the Lord has arranged this! I will be praying!

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    Thank you Bing and Susan! I need the prayers!!

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    Oh Father, I lift up Mary’s time with her doctor and ask that you would give her wisdom, winsomeness, and favor and prepare her doctor’s heart. I ask this in Jesus powerful name.

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    Prayers for you Mary, for the Lord to speak through and for your boss’ heart to be open. Seeds are being planted.

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

 

It’s true that when you meditate on something it keeps popping up. I have been cognizant of verses that speak of the “right” hand of the Lord. Lately, certain scripture has reared up in several places (the same one)…Lamentations 3:22-24. So weird (?).

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Sunday: 
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
Last week really encouraged my heart as I sought to be mindful of the thought “You are my God”.  Your elaborating on the fact He is “my” God resonated in my spirit.  What a great and wonderful privilege I can say He is “my” God.

This morning I read the blog before church and like others so far was so blessed by the Rich Mullins song. His music had been off my radar for a long time but always were favorites of mine. The words to Step by Step are so good. It started my worship time off early today.

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    Your post is a blessing, Bev.

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

 

I woke up early today and prayed, looking outside at the moon. I told the Lord that I much prefer the early light of the sunrise because the sun is warmer, and the colors of the sun warm the sky….it was so quiet outside; I told Him I missed the early songbirds of summer and even the crickets were silent! Then I heard one cricket sing….thank you, God. I thought of the above and how when God showed Abraham all the stars, as Bing said, that one of them was for me. I love what Mike Reeves said about our God….our God is the love behind all love, and I would add that our God is the truth behind all truth, He is the source of everything.  I find I am being more mindful of things throughout the day where I am shown that I am one of His people, and I can say, “You are my God.”

Right now I am praying about a storm that may or may not be coming into our family, into the life of one that I love. I pray for Him to remove it, but I do not know His plans….He will either stop the storm, or be with us in it.

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    I pray with you for this storm and God’s best, Susan.

    And I love that you emphasized He is also truth. You are surrounded at home with falsehood, so I’m glad you are clinging to that!

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    I’m re-reading comments….I sure thought I’d read in Bing’s that she had the same thought as me about the stars and Abraham’s descendants, that one of those stars represented me!

    I also like to hear Rich Mullens sing, he is probably my favorite.

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    Susan–praying right now for you and your family–for His peace and strength, protection over you. Praying with you that He will calm this storm but if not, He will use it to draw more hearts to Himself and be glorified.

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    Prayers for you and your family Susan, that the Lord will intervene and take control of this situation.

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2. What stands out to you from Sharon’s story and why?

 

I love that Sharon remembered Gods promises in the midst of her crisis, and He responded with giving her rest!  I went back to review 1Peter 5:7; I kept reading and it’s the verse about the devil prowling around in the night looking for us… But if you go on reading you also see that Peter is reassuring those he’s talking to that all of us are in this together that we are all going through trials and have anxious times. That was comforting to me this morning.

 

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    Laura, it is comforting to know that you are not alone in having to suffer trials….God spoke to you this morning.

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    I love that, Laura!

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    I’ll be singing that all day! Thanks for sharing, Laura.

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    That was amazing.

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    Oh Laura, that was beautiful…so glad you shared that!!

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      Thanks everyone! I think I originally heard it here on Dee’s blog 😉

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2.  Sharon’s story is both an encouragement and a wonder. Not many could sleep under those circumstances. But as a former pastor used to say, ‘what are you doing under the circumstances? Christ makes you more than a conqueror.’ Sharon proves that out. Praise be to the Lord Who can so work in our lives.

 

Thank you, Dee, for the song from Ps 3. To sing along brought tears to my eyes. I sang one very similar to it 40 yrs ago, and it still touches my soul

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2. What stands out to you from Sharon’s story and why?

 

Sharon was in a very real storm and she was scared. God not only brought to her mind a verse but He also gave her a ‘song in the night’. I remember a few years ago we talked about Spurgeon’s teachings about those kinds of songs….God gives them to us.

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    Yes — Songs in the night!

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Sunday

1.  I was heartbroken to hear of the mother and infant killed in Wilmington…quite a picture of the firemen praying and seeing such compassion.  It has amazed me to see our community pull together to help one another but I ask, why does it take a crisis?

I enjoy Rich Mullins music…right now I’d like to sung at the top of lungs…Oh God, you are MY God and I will ever praise You!!!

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Sunday

1.  I was heartbroken to hear of the mother and infant killed in Wilmington…quite a picture of the firemen praying and seeing such compassion.  It has amazed me to see our community pull together to help one another but I ask, why does it take a crisis?

I enjoy Rich Mullins music…right now I’d like to sing at the top of lungs…Oh God, you are MY God and I will ever praise You!!!

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    I can picture you singing at the top of your lungs, Sharon!

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Question 1: I love that old Rich Mullins song. Wish we still sing it at church. Anyway, I never really paid much attention to the verse lyrics until seeing it written out here. Love the line about one of the stars Abraham saw was lit for me.

Questions 2 & 3:  I love Sharon’s Faith and Trust in God’s protection during the night. Often, during storms, I’m the one in my family, walking from window to window watching what is going on outside, as if I could somehow stop a storm from hitting my house. I would turn on the tv and watch the weather radar, or now I just open the weather app on my phone. I even get grumpy at my husband as I watch him peacefully sleep through the whole thing! Oh the precious rest I have lost as I have tried to do God’s work in my life.

It’s scripture like Psalm 3 that assures me that I can trust God with the night. That I can go to sleep knowing that He will bring me through whatever storm may befall me. He brings rest that restores.

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    Nice to see you here, Jean.

    I think the weather people are quite dramatic, wanting viewers, so I’ve gotten skeptical of them!

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Reading Psalm 3–I am struck by vs. 3–“but”–that one word says ‘regardless of how terrible everything may be or become–there is a truth that is greater still’–He is my shield against the storms. He fights the battle for me and takes the attack upon Himself, as a shield of armor takes all the beatings.

Then this “(You are) my glory”. He has made my heart sensitive lately to how much I seek my own glory. It is so subtle, I am a ‘stay in the background’ kind of person, so it’s easy to let myself believe I’m not seeking attention, and yet–I am becoming more aware of times I want appreciation, I want my effort acknowledged, I want glory.

And this ‘the lifter of my head’-only He can lift my head in a storm. I can try ‘venting’ to a friend, or staying too busy, trying to distract my thoughts–but He actually lifts my head out of the pit and re-focuses my eyes, on Him, on eternity.

Oh and vs. 4–“I cried aloud to the Lord, and He answered me”–just a simple thought that came just now, but just that first, I need to cry out, to call on Him. He will answer, but He wants me to first call on Him, go to Him, seek Him.

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    Thanks for your vulnerability, Lizzy. The closer we get to the light, the more we see. And you are close!

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Sunday:
 
1. What stands out to you from the above and why? – I love this song by Rich Mullins and I can see from this song and from what you wrote Dee, that finding God and Jesus can not be done by hurriedly checking the box of being in his Word. You need to meditate and search for him. Just like suddenly seeing the car you purchased was everywhere, having one made you more aware of it, so this is the same for God’s Word. We need to see it and own it in order to really get the worth that it carries.
 

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3.  Verse two many are saying of me – God will not deliver him….

I hear this from the culture, from the devil, and even in my own thoughts. The idea that God will not, and maybe cannot help me in my weight battle.

verse eight BUT from the Lord comes deliverance….

I attended an inservice a few weeks ago about the practice of medicine for those with severe weight issues. I learned a lot, and it struck home. Especially when they talked about food being an addiction. I plan to look into this more, feeling that it may be part of God’s answer for me. I am trusting that God is using every bit of this struggle in my life for His purposes.

Finally, verse five I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me….

Like I said last week, He gets me up every day. Though I often have trouble getting to sleep, whether it is in sleeping or in waking, it is all in His Hands.

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1.   What stands out to you from Sharon’s story and why?
The song based on I Peter 5:7 Cast all your cares upon Him for HE cares for you. My brother’s financial situation is weighing heavily on me. He has had some setbacks for the last 10 years and I am concerned for him and his family. He is a Christian. I will share this verse with him.
 Update tonight 9/24/18 I shared this verse with my brother last night and he told me he met with a Christian brother and they shared the same verse together before my message reached him! Just like our Lord to let us hear His Word more than once!

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    That just gave me goosebumps about your brother…awesome!

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    Bing–sweet comfort from Him for your brother, praying now for his situation. What a blessing too for you to know he has godly counsel around him

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    Wow, Bing. Aslan is on the move.

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      Yes, dear friends. Aslan is on the move. I so long for my brother to be freed from this financial situation. I ache for him-he has made some unwise decisions but has really worked hard to make things right. So glad he knows the Lord and is seeking godly counsel. Appreciate your prayers. His name is Ernesto.

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2. What stands out to you from Sharon’s story and why? – I can’t even begin to imagine what Sharon and her family are going through. WOW, but to know that God was holding them all in his embrace is so comforting. That is the feeling I got when she told us what was happening and how God led them through the storm. He definitely quieted the storm in her soul that night.

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3. Read through Psalm 3 and share your comments and observations. Does any verse become radioactive? If so, share. – For me verses 2-3 are the ones that speak to me loud. It doesn’t matter what the world says about me. It doesn’t matter how they may try and bring me down. What matters is MY GOD is with me and will deliver me from their hands. I am His and He is mine. He is my shield and will be my armor that I need

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    Julie–love this “I am His and He is mine. He is my shield and will be my armor that I need”

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3. Read through Psalm 3 and share your comments and observations. Does any verse become radioactive? If so, share.

 

this makes me pause; it is so sad:

“many are saying of my soul, “There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭3:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/psa.3.2.esv

 

and this:

 

“O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me;

 

“…many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭3:1, 6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/psa.3.1,6.esv

 

I have had these same feelings….like I can’t win.

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Tuesday

3.  I have to admit my life is a whirlwind right now and Psalm 3 has shown me where my focus needs to be…on who God is!  Looking at the aftermath of a storm, literally or figuratively, can cause one to feel self pity and overwhelmed … because where do you start, how do you pick up all the pieces?  In the midst of all this, Psalm 3 reminds me, God IS a shield about me, God is my glory (“Oh, my soul, hast thou made God thy glory?  Others boast in their wealth, beauty, position, achievements: dost thou find in God what they find in these? ~Meyer), God is the lifter of my head.  

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    You are in the midst of it, dear Sharon, and we pray for God to continue to be with you and bring order out of the chaos, as only He can do.

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4. What thoughts do you have on Lizzy’s comments? – Reading Lizzy’s words, just made me sense that God was having her slow down by cancelling church do to the storm, so she could really find him in the small things, like the wind and rustling of the trees, and to just know that God was watching out for her and her family through this storm. He is everywhere, we just need to seek him out and find him.

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4.  Lizzy’s story. How true that exercising our faith in front of others is so important. Unfortunately, they often need for us to be going through a storm in order to see that God is making a difference in us.

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To prepare your heart for Psalm 3, here are the first 5 verses set to music:
 Beautiful rendition of a shield about me. The words/Word tugs at my very soul how deeply God is interested in me.
Read through Psalm 3 and share your comments and observations. Does any verse become radioactive? If so, share.
I don’t like confrontations and have always shied away from them particularly if I am not sure how much I have a part in the “problem”. Nevertheless, I knew I had to re-address some guidelines and procedures with my students because of a few behavior issues. I prayed last night I will remember whose I am and who I am calling upon (You are my people and you are my God). Reading Psalm 3 and singing the first 5 verses in the beautiful rendition above gave me confidence that He is a shield about me rendering the Devil’s darts ineffectual (“Who do you think you are?”  “You are messing up as a teacher,” etc) and He is the lifter of my head and I can stand in front of my students, address the issues and not be afraid. I felt His peace today and His guidance how to conduct myself and I did not get the push back I was expecting. He has blessed His people and delivered them (me), indeed!  v. 8

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    So glad you know how to fight that liar, Bing.

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Wednesday 

4.  I love Lizzy’s thoughts.  You can feel in her words the trust in and love for God she has.  I was especially  comforted by the last phrase…”choosing to hold onto what no hurricane can ever take away.”    Thank you Lizzy!

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Have been thinking about the study topic this week, & what keeps coming back to me is this, re “you are the Lord my God”…

When I read through the Bible, in the Old Testament, it just struck me how many times I read the words “I am the Lord your God,” “I am Jehovah,” “I am Jehovah your God,” “I am the Lord” over & over again.  I started to highlight every time I came across those words; there are many.

Also, in regard to “my….”, it brings back the memory of when my granddaughter was very young, just a toddler, and when she was wanting / looking for me, she would call out, “My Wendy Gramma”.   It made me feel extra special, with that little 2-letter word added to my name!

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    My Wendy Grandma. Yes. Added my. So sweet. Love it that you are noting all the times it says “My God.”

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4. What thoughts do you have on Lizzy’s comments?

 

I love the image of Lizzy on her porch, with bad weather, feeling comforted by Gods presence. I can feel the wind and hear the rain.

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This week’s study has been helping me so much to focus on just the simple truth that God is my God and we are His people. I wake up in the morning thinking about it.

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    Wonderful, Dawn.

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4. What thoughts do you have on Lizzy’s comments?
 “…admitting our own tendency to fear, but choosing to hold on to what no hurricane can ever take away.” I think of our prayers for my daughter, Ruth Ann in Seattle. She finally landed a salaried job after many years of doing part time jobs. We have had our ups and downs with her and though there were times she was upset with us, we always reminded her (and also myself!) that we love her no matter what. There were nights I would cry myself to sleep reliving some regrets. If only… It has been a journey but God has always been there for us bringing myself and my husband out of the depth of discouragement and sadness over our only child’s prodigal ways. A sliver of hope here and there. And then last night, she posted a thank you kind of message of to everyone who has been there for her all through the hard times and she included us (“my parents” in her words). So sweet to read that as a mom. Dee, Aslan is on the move! Thank you to all for your faithful prayers. Lizzy, thanks for your words-holding onto what no prodigal situation can ever take us away from the love and mercy of God.

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    What a continued answer to prayer for Ruth Ann!

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    Oh dear Bing…how exciting to hear about Ruth Ann!!! Yay God & what an encouragement to u & your hubby  :)

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    oh Bing. I know the ache of crying yourself to sleep in “if only”‘s. What a sweet gift He gave in her words to you–hold on to those

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    Bing, both your Ruth and Jenny’s daughter have those full-time jobs now….this is wonderful news! I also read above how God was with you when you had to speak to your students about the guidelines….you were not afraid because He was your shield!

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3. Read through Psalm 3 and share your comments and observations. Does any verse become radioactive? If so, share.

 

First, I re-listened to Rich Mullins….that’s where I heard the phrase about Abraham’s stars, that “one of them is lit for me”!

The first two verses of Psalm 3 just give me a mental picture of a man surrounded on all sides, backed up against the edge of a cliff; the word “many” is repeated: many are my foes, many rise up against me, many are saying…. This is not a battle that David can win on his own. Then he remembers his God. David, plus God, equals more than the many, even more than tens of thousands.

Why do I let the minor disappointments and inconveniences of life get me down? God is with me every day. I have never been in David’s dire situation.

 

4. What thoughts do you have on Lizzy’s comments?

 

How trusting the Lord during the hurricane storm gave Lizzy and her husband the opportunity to model, in front of their children, their trust in the Lord. More is caught than taught by the way we live out our faith.

 

5. What notes and comments do you have?

 

Tim Keller really mines a lot of gold from this very short Psalm! I like the connection with Genesis 15. The description of the two different types of shields was very helpful. God being a shield “around” David was the kind of shield that was as big as a door and surrounded you, and you used it when you were moving forward to besiege a city. Keller said that God’s protection is there when we move forward. He also used the metaphor from the story by George MacDonald; when the young girl tried to retrace her steps back, the thread vanished. The way to her fairy godmother led forward into some very dark and scary places. Keller said it is the same way when we follow Jesus. Jesus himself was very afraid before His arrest. I know He can understand my fears.

 

Keller’s discussion on the difference between fear and anxiety was helpful. Anxiety is more pervasive and happens when there is a threat to self or to our security. Something that we have placed our security in is threatened, and we are anxious because we feel we are losing our identity. He mentioned children and I can so identify. I shared last week about how I usually wake up in the morning with anxiety about my future, my future minus my children as an “empty nester”. It is because they have been my security for 27 years. David also lost his glory/identity as the king with a good reputation and the love of his people and even the love and loyalty of his own son. David looked to God to be his glory.

 

Keller said, “Relocate your glory. David says, literally, ‘You are my glory and the lifter of my head’. He wouldn’t say ‘You are my glory’ unless something else has been. David has experienced this deeper level of fear, the anxiety that Rollo May talked about, because the things he built his identity on, his emotional and psychological security on, have been taken away: I am a popular Sovereign (not anymore), I’m a good father (that illusion is over), I have a great moral record (adultery, murder), I have power (not anymore). Here’s a man whose admitting that he’s filled with anxiety but it’s because his moral record, his family’s love, the approval of his people and political power, he had located his glory in these things. The word glory means weight and significance.

The reason David felt good and secure in life was because he was a king with the people’s approval. If you are starting to experience, as Rollo May says, this kind of debilitating deep anxiety, you’ve located your glory in something good. It’s a good thing to have children that you take care of, but if you locate your glory in them, you’ve put your worth and security in something finite, and you will always live in fear.

 

David examined his heart: Why am I this anxious and scared? Because I have located my glory in things that are good things but now they’re gone and that’s the reason I feel like I’m falling. When you get that kind of anxiety yourself, it’s not enough to stuff your feelings or to wail….your anxiety is ‘smoke’ and if you follow it, it will take you to the fire. The fire is something that has become too important to you.

 

WOW. That is a Keller quote to memorize: Your anxiety is smoke; follow it and it will take you to the fire. The fire is something that has become too important to you.

 

To know that you have God’s approval, acceptance and love is to get your self back and deal with that deeper anxiety. We can do that if we “see the Substitute”. How can we know that God is proud of us – with all of our failures? It’s hard to say that. David says it, though. Keller says that if you know that, if that is the heart of your identity, nothing could really bother you or scare you to death. You are scared to death to the degree that you’ve put your glory into something that can die. Verse 4 talks about the “holy hill” where the place of sacrifice is. David knew that sins can be dealt with. Keller then goes back to Genesis 15 in which the word “shield” is the same as in this psalm. God makes a covenant with Abraham in which God says that HE will be cut off if He breaks His promises. Jesus was cut off for us. That’s how we can know that God loves us and this has to be the thing on which our life is based.

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    Susan, thank you!  Love all of this.

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    Susan, thank you for your notes. It is so thorough and as always Keller delivers.

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    Wonderful notes, Susan!

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Hi dear sisters…I haven’t been able to comment this week but love the posts & all the encouragement. As Bing said  “Aslan is on the move”!  Praise God.

I ask for your prayers this next week, as my hubby & I leave to visit his brother in Switzerland today. We will be gone till 10/6. Am praying for a sweet time with them & restoration in our marriage! Thank you so much. Love to u all & blessings abundant.

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    Switzerland! wow Jenny!  Will be praying for you, yes!  Please tell us how everything went when you get back home! xo

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    Praying for your trip Jenny!

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    Safe travels, Jenny! I was in Switzerland way back in the 80’s…..it’s so beautiful! One particular place was Mt. Pilatus, we went up the mountain and then down in a cable car. Seemed like being in heaven, up in the clouds!

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    Have a safe trip sweet sister!

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    Jen, prayers for your trip to Switzerland! Never been there but I heard it is beautiful. Yes for a sweet time and a refreshment in your marriage.

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First of all have to say I loved Susan’s notes!

 

5.  Tim Keller, praying our fears.

when we pray our feelings, we are not stuffing them or spewing over everyone, but in our raw emotion bringing them to God.  In Ps 3, David has real fear. He is being attacked both physically and mentally, in his identity. People were saying God had left Saul, now He was leaving David.

our culture has a lot of anxiety. In the Bible the same word is used for both fear and anxiety. They really are two different things. Fear is based on true danger, which is basically healthy. Anxiety is based on diffuse circumstances, and instead of galvanizing you to action as true danger would do, it leaves you paralyzed. It goes deeper and stays longer, leaving your nerves always on edge. It is a threat to your security and identity. It is more spiritual.

David had both. Usually having both leads people to sink. So in verse three, David says BUT…

four steps out

a.  Follow the thread of truth. Verse three, God is a shield around me. He surrounds us as we move forward, not backward. As a Christian, even bad things are part of His protection now, to save you from something else later. If you run, you run from your protection. The Bible says to obey, no matter how hard or confusing it is. Disobedience is lethal.

b.  Relocate your glory. Second half of verse three, something else had become David’s glory. But once he is stripped of all significance, he returns to God. Finite things can be taken away; God cannot. When you are feeling loss, that is the smoke of the fire of the false glory. When God lifts our head, He is saying He loves us and is satisfied with us.

c.  See the substitute. Verse four talks of the holy hill. We know know that this was Calvary. In Gen 15, God says He is  Abraham’s shield and great reward. David knew this story. Abraham asked, how do I know? And God cut a covenant with him. God said, I will die rather than have this not be true. And He did it for us on the cross, so that we can know that He is our shield and great reward.

d.  Remember the people. Verses 7-8 ask for justice for the people. 1 John 4:15 says the opposite of fear is love. Truly, we can’t deal with fear by ourselves. There is a resurrection on the other side of anything God leads you to or through. Go through the steps and trust that God will heal.

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So thankful for how the Lord led us to Psalm 3 this week, and how Laura’s song has been playing through my head–it saved me yesterday! Can’t go into details but after a day at the Dr. with Philip then picking up my older son, having driven through 3 cities and worked that morning, I got a call that was so awful and un-real that I honestly had that thought “am I awake?” You know how that happens only when it’s just so crazy?! I had my kids in tow but knew I had to address it immediately and raced to my office–called my husband to ask him to pray but he didn’t answer, I didn’t even feel I had time to “really” pray so as I opened the door, I just said “You are my shield”–and He is and was. I told my son it felt like such an enemy attack, but then a near miracle how He shed light and resolve a huge misunderstanding. He IS my shield–He stands between me and every attack, and He takes it on Himself, protecting me. I still so struggle with wanting to protect my reputation, my “righteousness”–it’s hard to swallow, being accused of something I’d never do, and even when it’s resolved you realize someone thought you could…but oh, I must die to wanting to keep myself clean. HE is my shield, and I rest in His righteousness alone.Christ alone.

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    Oh Lizzy, so sorry about the awful call you received, but amazing how “He shed light and resolve a huge misunderstanding.” Yes, He will protect your reputation!

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      thank you sweet Susan! I’m still a little shooken from it all so I appreciate the empathy! :)

        You, oh Lord are a shield to ME, my glory and a lifter of my head!

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    Lizzy, I so empathize. “Am i awake?” “Did that just happen?” He indeed is our shield and the lifter of our head.

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    Oh Lizzy — sounds awful. Enemy attack for sure. Thankful He is your shield!

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Just a quick note to bring hope to you younger moms. My husband and I raised our children in church. We were very sad to see our oldest son reject pretty much everything that we taught him. We homeschooled all of our kids to graduation except him, by 8th grade he and I were butting heads so badly that we ended up sending him to a small private Christian school. He absolutely didn’t want to go there, but we told him it was that or military school.

His teenage years were rough. Don’t get me wrong, he has always been a kind, loving person , but he flat out told me that he would go to church until he moved out, he doesn’t believe what we believe. He smokes and drinks,  got married right out of high school, became a bartender, got divorced and then ended up having twin girls with his (former) girlfriend. Well the girls are soon to be 5 and they live in an area that is kind of a mini Detroit. Since they didn’t want to put the girls in public school, he and their mom decided to put them in a small private Christian school for Pre-K.  This Sunday I was sent a picture of my son and his daughters all dressed for church!!  This has been such an answer to prayer. My son is 33 years old and hasn’t attended church since he was 18.

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    Oh Dawn this is so sweet! I LONG for something like this for myself but alas! I fear it will never happen. I continue to pray for my kids, and you would think 1 out of 4 I might get lucky? We too raised our kids in church. 2 of the 4 attended private school in high school. I homeschooled 3 of them through their youngest years, but at times I had to go back to work. I know the story isn’t completed and you do give me hope. Thank you!

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    Thank you, Dawn for the encouragement. So glad the story of your son.

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    Wow — wonderful!

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    This story gives all of us hope who have prodigals, Dawn.  Thanks for sharing.

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5. What notes and comments do you have?

 

Wow, I have missed Keller! First, I feel like I have something in common with David right off the bat…he says “‘…a Psalm of David running away from his son Absolam who was trying to kill him.” Wow. Even in the Bible a character (a parent) is being betrayed by his child. David is being attacked both physically and emotionally. I know this feeling. David is afraid and begging God for help. He has two levels of fear; one that is raw emotion and the other that isattacking his very being; his pride of holding it all together most of the time….his anxiety of finally not being able to “hang in there.”

 

David does four (? I have 5) things that help himself. First he recognizes that God is shielding him from the situation. He will be there for you as you enter the battle. He protects us if we are going forward, that we’re obeying God in the first place.

Step 2: Suck it up. The pain through the fire may be difficult but what’s the alternative?

Step 3: relocate your glory…maybe you have an idol that you are relying on. Get rid of it. Look to God as your glory.

 

Step 4: see the substitute. David knew the Scriptures of Abraham and God and he realized that God made a promise to Abraham.  He also realized that God would keep his promise with him. The future brought Jesus to the people of His time and to us.

Finally, Keller says we should remember the people. Take our eyes off of ourselves and put it on another with love. Find community with others.

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From Keller-Pray your fears. So simple yet so profound. Easier said than done but can be done by the grace of God and by reminding myself of the truth. ” I will not fear though tens of thousands  assail me on every side…The Lord will bring deliverance.” Keller also said “process your fears before God” which to me meant to pray.

My prayer: God I am afraid of _________________. Please help me see this situation with your eyes. Help me see  your character of goodness, your sovereign will and you working out all things for me and those I love according to your purposes. Perfect love casts out fear. What is the idol that is replacing you in my heart? comfort, approval, control? Thank you that you are moving in. Thank you for reminding me that I am one of your people and that you are my God. Nothing is impossible for you. You arm is not too short to save. And whether you will take me/us out of the storm or be with us in the storm, you  are our God. And we can rest in that very thought.

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    Thanks for the prayer, Bing. It is beautiful. I will pray it right now.

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    Saving this prayer, Bing, & am sure I will be praying it many times in the future….thanx!

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    When I just now prayed this prayer, Bing, I realized a new (growing) fear.  After yesterday’s news, watching some of the Kavanaugh hearing on TV, I am afraid for our country.  It is changing so very rapidly before our eyes.  Not in a good way.  It made me feel, with a deeply sinking heart, that I am no longer proud to be an American, the way politics have twisted & turned & changed & divided us & continue to do so.  I am emotional just thinking about it again.

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      Wendy, I almost posted nearly the same thing this morning! I too, am so disappointed in the behavior of our lawmakers. It is despicable and sad. I just wonder how it happened though? It’s the same for college campuses now too; you can’t have a variety of view points anymore, because people can’t handle someone not agreeing with them. It’s very immature behavior.

      My parents were good people who disagreed many times but always loved each other. They happened to be well educated and knew how to fight well! They taught me so much in this respect. You can disagree and still remain civil to one another.

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Dear Dee, I have been an anonymous  part of this Bible study blog for a couple of years now and have loved every minute of it.  I lost my husband in 2004 and saw you speak at a church retreat in Georgia in 2006.  I love the way you are so open with your struggles but also with your love for our Savior.  I just want to thank you for this blog and what it has meant to me.  I loved going through the C.S. Lewis book because it has helped me dig deeper in the Word.  I also am so excited to say over and over, Oh God, You are my God!  Isaiah was a wonderful study as well.  I will probably continue being anonymous because I am not good at writing but wanted you to know that I will pray for you and all of your prayer requests, especially the prison ministry. May God continue to give you the overflowing grace to preach his word and to bring the good news to others.  May His love fill you through and through and may His Word be the fragrance that you bring to others.  Thank you for being so faithful!

 

 

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    Alma — what a wonderful encouragement this morning. And what do you mean? You write beautifully!

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6.  My story…the song from Psalm 3 kept coming to me this week as I met with my mentee and found that she was not doing well emotionally. We reviewed some of the things we’ve talked about in the past. I was able to encourage her to counter the devil’s lies with gospel truth. When I first asked her if she thought God might be calling her to make a response to Him right then, her eyes got huge and frightened. We talked more and then she was willing for us to pray silently. I prayed, pleading for her to be set free, and to want that freedom to continue. She told me she prayed giving God some of the things she’d been hanging onto that lent to depression and suicidal thoughts. Her face had changed. It was like the storm clouds had cleared away. He truly is the lifter of our heads!

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    Wow, Mary!

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    Mary, I still believe it was no accident that this doctor made a mistake about the concert date, gave the tickets away, only to take them back and take you as her guest. And you will have something in common tonight….an appreciation of the beautiful orchestral music you will hear! Music has a way of moving our hearts and making them soar upward. I have been praying!
    (Sorry I posted this in the wrong place)

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I would very much appreciate your prayers for tonight. I will be going to dinner and then a concert with my non-believing boss. She is very liberal, very fast with her brain and mouth, and we have very little in common. Yet God has arranged this time. Please pray that I listen well, both to her and to the Lord, and that I be brave and obedient.

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    We’ll be eager to hear, Mary. You may have only listened and loved — but that is a lot!

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    I am praying Mary. We can’t lose even one, can we? I don’t think you need my advice, but the way you describe her makes me want to give you one piece. With these kinds of people sitting “shiva” as Dee says might be the course of action you need to take. It means we just listen and be understanding. And, this may be the beginning of a new relationship; she might be looking for a “friend.” You might have many times to present your case. It doesn’t have to be tonight. You are attending a concert, right? Just enjoy it and try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Our country needs people of all walks to be kind to each other now (yes Dee, I am saying that!). Please let us know how it turns out 😉.

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    Mary, praying for tonight to be well spent. God has ordained this time. Yeah, just sit shiva with your boss as Laura aptly said. I often think of what Rosaria Buterfield said of her conversion. It was through the kindness and ever patient listening of the pastor who invited her over for dinner that paved the way for her to consider Christianity.

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6. Do you have a story?
Somebody once said that life is bi-polar. Ups and downs seems like a given of life. Just when I think I am on top of things, a barrage of urgent and “seemingly” critical  matters would come and I would start feeling overwhelmed and mentally exhausted. The practice of tuning my ears to hearing God say, “you are my people” and really believe it in my heart and responding “you are my God” has done a “revolution” in my life.
Particularly in my relationship with my daughter, Ruth Ann. Because of a very personal heart wrenching event in the life of one of my cousins of which she became aware of, Ruth Ann has reached out to me more than she’s ever had. I believe Aslan is in the move in her life (thank you, Dee for this phrase). All the years of tears (praying my fears) have led to this time. I am confident that He who has started a good work in Ruth Ann’s life will complete it (Philippians 1:6). I am praying God would gift me with its completion in my life time.

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Saturday:
7. What’s your take-a-way and why?
The songs of Step by Step and Sometimes a Light Surprises as well as Psalm 3 particularly v.5 where it says I laid down and slept, I woke again for the Lord sustained me. And the verses in Leviticus “I will walk among you and you will be my people and I will be your God.”
God is in our midst. He is with me and I can call on Him anytime. What else can I ask for?
 
Prayer request:
I advise the Honor Society in our building and we are having our monthly meeting October 5th. I have student officers who are not as involved as I want them to be. We have some important matters to talk about. Please pray for wisdom and guidance as I advise. I would like to see some more initiative and cooperation.

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This Keller sermon is one of my favorites I keep on my ipod, but it had been a while since I’d listened and OH the timeliness just blows me away. I wish I’d re-listened to it 5 months ago, but I am even more ripe to apply it now. This whole theme of fear, and also misplaced glory–just so applicable for me. A few notes:

Fear is the most primal of all emotions. David is in the midst of ultimate angst–but is at peace, because he prays.

2 levels down into the pit of fear–he is attacked on a physical level, but also at his core, his identity, his character.

Healthy type of fear is a specific threat to something worth protecting and helps you go into action to protect what is threatened. Fear is a thunderstorm that passes away and a beautiful day follows.

Anxiety is not specific, it’s diffuse, it’s not attached to anything identifiable. It paralyzes, debilitates you. It does not pass through, it goes to your roots. When you are always upset, always agitated, always nervous—it is unhealthy. It is when our identity is being eaten away.

Four steps out of the pit:

1. Follow your thread.

“You are a shield around me”. This type of shield is not a little shield that you can move around, it is the size of a door that wraps around you. This kind is only used when you are following your general going into horrible danger. It isn’t a shield that keeps you from danger, it is a shield you approach danger with. God does not shield us from the danger but IN the danger. These bad things that He allows are part of His protection from greater pain and loss later. Obeying Him even though I don’t understand–He wil protect me, but if I run away, I have lost His shield.

2. Relocate your glory.

This may be the most timely profound part for me. “You are my glory”. David admits something else has been his glory–his moral record, his family…  If I am experiencing debilitating, deep anxiety—something good has become my glory. Finite things are vulnerable to circumstances and when I put all my weight into these things, I will always live in fear. This anxiety is smoke that comes from a fire–and the fire is where I have misplaced my glory. He is the lifter of my head–He is proud of me, He lifts me up.

3. See the Substitute.

How does David know God is proud of him? How do I know God is proud of me? Oh my heart–this hits so deep. David is thinking of Gen. 15–God helps Abram through his fear, as his shield and glory. David is remembering when God promises Abram His blessing no matter what. To the degree I believe this, I will be impervious to debilitating fear.

4. Remember the people

The opposite of fear is love. Fear is self-centeredness, so we cannot really deal with fear by focusing on myself. The only way to be freed is through loving others in community. There is a resurrection on the other side of anything I am brought into with God and I fear, but I relocate my glory, I remember the Substitute, I focus on others–and God will heal me.

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6. Do you have a story?

 

Yes, I do. Focusing on this theme of the Lord saying (to me) in so many ways, “You are My people”, and my saying to Him, “You are my God”, has helped me to renew my mind. Early one morning this week, I was on my way to a meeting at our home care agency’s main office. The highway was at a standstill, there was an accident. I didn’t even get on, and going the back-way wasn’t getting me anywhere either. I texted one of my co-workers and told her I was just going to head on down to the hospital and not even try to make the meeting as I was going to be very late. I started to tell the Lord about many things that I was feeling anxious and discouraged about. It was 8:30, and I turned on the radio to Charles Stanley. I hadn’t listened to his program for a very long time, and the message I heard was just what I needed to hear. His talk was on renewing our minds. He talked about how, even though he became a believer at age 12 and became a pastor and preached about God’s love to others, it was an idea that was foreign to him. Growing up, he only heard about God being a judge, etc… He began by going to bed every night saying, “Thank you, Father, for loving me”, and beginning each day with the same. That echoed to me the same as “You are My people….You are my God”. I thought of how when I would talk to my mom about God, and tell her, “Mom, do you ever think about how much God loves you?” she would be quiet, and say, “No, I never thought about that before.” Maybe that was part of that generation, but listening to Dr. Stanley helped me to understand my mom’s responses to that question. It encourages me to know that even a godly man like Dr. Stanley who has been a Christian for a long time has the same struggles as me.

 

I also shared last week how often I wake up in the morning with a sense of anxiety and even dread, and the old tapes start playing in my mind about everything that is wrong, or not the way I want it to be, or my failures, or my uncertainty of the future. Now I am ‘pushing the stop button’ and replacing those thoughts with “You are my God”. I find the words to Rich Mullins’ song playing in my head. I was reading Psalm 40 this week, praying it back to Him, and I love the last lines, “Yet I am poor and needy, may You, Lord, think of me. You are my help and my deliverer, O my God, do not delay.” Also, in verse 4 it says, “Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust.”

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    Susan you are such a profound teacher with much wisdom.

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7. What’s your take-away and why?

 

The line from Rich Mullins’ song, that one of Abraham’s stars was lit for ME. By looking for evidence each day that God is saying to me, “You are My people”…..through nature, through other people, through having hope in Him when things are hard, I want to see it popping up everywhere, just like Dee started noticing Subarus everywhere. And when I say to Him, “You are my God”, that is also helping me verbally express the truth that the things I’ve made my idols are not my gods, and it speaking truth to my soul, and affirming what I believe.

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    I love what you shared here, Susan.

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LIzzy encouraged me to share this song with you all. I shared it on our FB page. It is the song “As the Deer” sang in 8 languages! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnIYWKfW74E&index=1&list=PL-_7YEgLO3MM2LUoSehHZsgvCkspUr3uo

Echoes of Heaven!!!

 

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I am back home and just want to say thanks to all of you for praying! We had a nice, relaxed dinner and then enjoyed the first half of the concert together. At that point, I don’t know if she got bored with me or with the concert, but she took her leave. I stayed a while longer, but am just so glad for all of your support. I may never know why this evening happened….

Bing, the song was so perfect for preparing myself. Thank you!

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    Mary, glad you had a relaxed evening. You have planted a seed just by being her friend.

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    Mary — I’d say that was an answer to prayer! One day we’ll know!

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Thank you for all your prayers!

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I got behind!!! Sorry. But I wanted to finish so here is my answer to question 4 about Lizzy’s story. What really stood out was her desire to be an example of faith to our children. That even though fears may avail me, I can’t let them take hold in my heart. Not just for my sake but also for the sake of my children. Which as I think about it, is how I got through a bunch of yucky stuff when I was pregnant and childbearing. There were plenty of scary things but I kept my children in my mind and was able to walk through it.

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