Sorrow { Repentance } Salvation

Repentance-Heart

“My sin was “old fashioned”. My guilt was “old fashioned”. God’s love is “old-fashioned” I know. And the way I was saved was the old-fashioned way – through the Blood that makes whiter than snow.” (A Hymn)

I learned this hymn when I was third grade. My teacher was playing it on the accordion and its been stuck with me ever since — perhaps so that I may point this fact to you: there is nothing “new” here.

Sure, the modes of communication may change, the language and medium may also get updated but NOTHING can be added or changed to the bare bones of the Gospel. Humans are sinful. We are guilty. The Price for sin is death.  Christ paid it in full.

The cure for sin has always been through repentance and faith in Christ. It has been and always will be.

Repentance may sound “old fashioned” and even archaic to some people but in the Kingdom of God, there are no short cuts, there is no “updated version”.


Understanding Sin

“Understanding sin is the foundation that upholds the preciousness of the gospel, not vice versa…

So the way I hope to deal with all the sin in Romans 1:18-3:20 is to let it point us back again and again to the preciousness and the glory and the necessity and the freeness and the joy of the gospel of the gift of God’s righteousness. My prayer is that we would escape superficial diagnoses, and that we would cultivate a profound understanding of fallen human nature (which we all struggle with), and that we would come back again and again to the necessity and beauty and freeness of the gospel of justification by faith alone (Romans 1:16-17).”

John Piper (The Wrath of God Against Ungodliness and Unrighteousness)

  • How has your understanding of your own fallenness brought you to “the nececessity and beauty and freeness of the gospel…”

The Dragon and the Prince

The story of the Prince and the Dragon was written by Melinda Reinicke in her book, “Parables for Personal Growth”

  • The Parable
    • The Dragon represents the Enemy and how he tempts believers to put their trust in him instead of the King.
    • The “hidden flights” the prince goes on with the dragon represent hidden sin in our lives.
    • The Prince’s transformation closely resembles what happens to us when we fall into sin.
    • The King is God of course.
  • Further Questions
    • Why was it so terrible that the Prince rode with the Dragon?
    • Take note of how the Dragon tempted the Prince – what/who does it remind you of?
    • How does sin affect us? (note the transformation the Prince undergoes after going on several “hidden flights” with the Enemy)
    • In what way does the mercy of the King reflect the mercy of Christ for those who have fallen?
    • What, according to the story, is one weapon we can wield against the dragon?

Radical Amputation

Aron Ralston was hiking the Blue John Canyon in Utah when a large boulder trapped his right forearm against the canyon wall. Four days later he was running out of water and with no hope of rescue (nobody knew where he was), Aron came to a very important decision: he could either die or cut off his arm to live. With a blunt two-inch knife, he eventually was able to free himself, rappelled down a 65-foot wall before being found by other hikers.

Sin corrupts. Sometimes the parts of our lives that are corrupted by sin have to be cut off in order to save the rest of the body. This is in keeping with Biblical principle. Sometimes you might think that you cannot live WITHOUT that part of your life – maybe its a person, a habit, ANYTHING. Sin corrupts but instead of treating it like a piece of gangrene that ought to be cauterised/CUT off the body, sin is treated like a baby.

Mark 9:43-47 tells us:

43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell,[h]to the unquenchable fire.[i] 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell,

The same is echoed in Matthew 5:29-30

29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Journal Questions

  • Are there areas in your life that need to be cut off?
  • How do you treat sin? Like a virus or a baby?
  • What is it that is causing you to sin?
  • Is there a need for “radical amputation” in your life?

Lord I Need You

Instruction: Take the time to meditate on the lyrics of this song and seek the direction of the Holy Spirit where He wishes you to linger.

Lord I come, I confess – Bowing here, I find my rest

Without You, I fall apart – You’re the one that guides my heart

CHORUS

Lord I need You, Oh I need You – Every hour I need You

My one defense, my righteousness – Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep, Your grace is more – Where grace is found is where You are

And where You are, Lord I am free – Holiness is Christ in me

Bridge

Teach my song to rise to You – When temptation comes my way

And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You – Jesus, You’re my hope and stay


The Goodness of God

rom2-4

“The goodness of God to a man of evil life is not intended to encourage him to continue in his sin, but it is meant to woo and win him away from it.” (Spurgeon)

Romans 2:4 tells us that “God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance.”

Journal Questions

  • Write a list of the ways he has shown his goodness to you – in your life and in recent times.
  • Do you think you “deserve” it?
  • In what way does the goodness of God repel us away from sin?

 

Videos and Soaking Music

What is Christian Accountability – Dr. Mike Emlet

 

Choneni Elohim (Psalm 51)

 

The Way I Am – Xaris

{ Repent } & Return to God

Repentance2

Man is born with his face turned away from God.

When he truly repents, he is turned right round toward God; he leaves his old life.

{ D.L. Moody }


Repentance. 

My earliest memory of coming in contact with the call to repentance was back in the good ‘ol days of Sunday School – when I first heard about John the Baptist. (Warning: Brief regression to 4 year old self…)

Everything about him seemed otherworldly (even though “he” was basically a picture printed on felt on one of those sunday school flannel-graph boards). I had never seen a Bible character look so scruffy and unkempt (Insta-fave!)

From his weird clothes (wasn’t he itchy?) to his weird food (grasshoppers?! ewwww) and his even weirder sermon (seriously? he never changed it? My dad changes his every week!) – “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near!” Then, for an “altar call” he would baptise people with water.

Years later, I would meet another “John the Baptist” – of the “flesh” kind and not “flannel”. Admittedly, he wasn’t scruffy-looking nor did he eat grasshoppers (as far as I knew) but he had that weird, crazed look in his eye as he spewed (oh yes, spewed) week after week during youth church, “REPENT!!!” “Return to God”. “Run to Him and He will set you FREE”.

And one night, I did. And I was “born again” – a “new creation”.

All of a sudden, I was convicted of things that never bothered me before. Ironically, it seems only when we are dressed in clean robes are we able to see our own dirtiness. There was no need for anyone to tell me what I had to do or what I had to give up – the more I studied God’s Word and fell in love with God, the more I hated sin and wanted nothing to do with it.

I wish I could say that I never fell into sin again – but that was not so. For not unlike King David, I too had become idle in the fight against compromise, in staying away from temptation, in feeding my spirit with God’s Word. And so I fell. 

I fell… I hid… and I lived in fear of anyone finding out…

But see, nothing is hidden from God’s sight.

But one day, I came to Church after a night of carnal indulgences and the Lord spoke to me through Psalm 51 and I just knew – if I did not respond to this call, I would never be able to be free on my own.

Repentance is a call and you run to it at break neck speed like you’re catching that final flight. There is a desperation accompanied with true repentance – if God does not save you – no one can. If He does not cleanse you – no one will. The cost of NOT repenting is death.

That day, God confronted me with my sin and offered to put it to death.

“Salvation through repentance”

I will rise, I will rise – As Christ was raised to life
Now in Him, now in Him – I live


 

Psalm 51

createinme

Psalm 51:1-12 (written by David) illustrates the prayer of one truly repentant:

[1] an appeal to the love and mercy of God,

[2] a confession of one’s offence(s) towards God in sinning,

[3] an acknowledgement and submision to God’s desires and commands,

[4] a prayer for true forgiveness and

[5] for restoration…

Journal Task: Make your own Psalm by following the above outline.


Rock of Ages

rockofages

These days, more hymns are being brought back to Church repertoire and for good reason. These songs have deep history and have been sung by countless Christians before us. When they are sung, there is a profound sense of ‘past-present-future’.

While these words are old, the truth they proclaim is no less true than the day they were written. Hymns are packed with Biblical theology. Through repetition and with reflection, these songs were part of active discipleship. Their lyrics are beautiful in simplicity and depth.

Please take the time to reflect on this song.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me

Let me hide myself in Thee

Let the water and the blood

From Thy wounded side which flowed,

Be of (for) sin the double cure

Save from wrath and make me pure

Not the labors of my hands

Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;

Could my zeal no respite know

Could my tears forever flow

These for sin could not atone

Thou must save, and Thou alone

Nothing in my hand I bring

Simply to the Cross I cling

Naked, come to Thee for dress

Helpless, look to Thee for grace

Foul, I to the Fountain fly

Wash me Saviour, or I die

While I draw this fleeting breath

When mine eyes shall close in death

When I rise to worlds unknown

And behold Thee on Thy throne

Rock of Ages, cleft for me

Let me hide myself in Thee


11 Things that Repentance is NOT

by Mark Driscoll

  1. Repentance is not getting caught but coming clean…
  2. Repentance is not denying our sin
  3. Repentance is not diminishing our sin by downplaying or partially confessing it.
  4. Repentance is not managing our sin – trying to keep it under control.
  5. Repentance is not blame shifting our sin – passing the responsibility onto someone else (i.e. not blaming someone else – even the Devil)
  6. Repentance is not excusing our sin.
  7. Repentance is not about someone else’s sin.
  8. Repentance is not about manipulating God and/or people for blessing (i.e. doing something to get something).
  9. Repentance is not worldly sorrow (like Paul to the Corinthians)(Its not about “feeling bad” – but not changing)
  10. Repentance is not merely grieving the consequences of your sin but hating the evil of the sin itself.
  11. Repentance is not merely confessing your sin – it is killing your sin.

Repentance is…

by Paul Washer

“Repentance is simply giving up…to stop fighting against God and to stop attempting to gain your own salvation through your own works… to literally give up and fall upon Christ.”

 

“Training for Godliness”

by Matt Chandler

“No matter how hard I tried… no matter how aggressive or sincere I was… I can’t play that piece. It does not matter how much angst I work up. it doesn’t matter how hard I slam my fingers into those keys. I can’t play the piece. I can’t. It doesn’t matter how angry my wife is that I can’t play the piece. It doesn’t matter how disappointed my children are that I can’t play the piece…. None of that matters. I can’t play the piece. UNLESS, someone sits down with me and starts to train me. Starts to teach me.

Slowly but surely – here’s where you put your hands. Here’s where your feet go, here’s where the chords are. Here’s the progression… Depending on my aptitude – 6 months, 8 months, a year, two years…. I’m going to be able to play… Beethhoven.

This is what Paul commands “train yourself in godliness” This isn’t a try harder deal – this is a TRAIN deal.

That’s why we take any opportunity we have to be trained… its discipleship!

I’m constantly perplexed at the belief that you’re going to stumble into godliness. That you’re accidentally going to get there… We train into godliness it doesn’t just happen.”

 

Journal Question(s)

  • Have you experienced or Are you undergoing TRUE repentance?
  • What opportunities are you taking to train yourself up in godliness?

 Enlarging our Practice of Repentance

repentancejipacker

“Repentance means turning from as much as you [1] know of your sin to give as much as you [2] know of yourself to as much as you [3] know of your God, and as our knowledge grows at these three points so our practice of repentance has to be enlarged.”( J.I. Packer )

Journal Task:

  • Make a three-column table
  • List out the things you know about [1] your sin, [2] your “self” and [3] who God is.
  • How is your practice of repentance? What is holding you back?

Elements of True Repentance

TrueRepentance

From Pastor Daniel Villa’s sermon on “True Repentance” the Cure to Sin.

Help my { Unbelief }

Beware-of-Unbelief

Faith fosters every virtue; unbelief murders every one… Once make a giant unbelieving, and he becomes a dwarf. Faith is the Samsonian lock (his hair) of the Christian; cut it off, and you may put out his eyes—and he can do nothing.

{ C.H. Spurgeon }

When I stumbled on this quote, I had to literally stop all activity as a new level of understanding came to me. Faith, to the Christian, is strength and power. It is an integral part of our Spiritual Armor – the SHIELD of Faith. It is not only meant to help us resist the enemy but to PUSH back, to reclaim, to overcome.

Samson was a Nazarite consecrated for the Lord God. His hair was not to be cut as a physical sign of his being “set apart” for God. There was nothing “magical” or “spiritual” about his hair. It wasn’t some kind of battery where he stored and pulled strength. GOD was the strength. Samson’s hair was supposed to remind him of his dependency on Him.

Delilah is often portrayed as this woman who had betrayed Samson to the Philistines but here the greater betrayal was that of Samson to God. He was a Nazarite but he was a womanizer. He was called to a life of righteousness and purity but instead he was well known for his strength and his weakness towards beautiful women.

When Samson’s hair was cut, it severed his connection with God. He was powerless without Him. Only when he once again called upon the Lord did his strength return. Only when we put our trust in God alone can we avail of His strength through faith.

This is a world of skeptics, atheists and agnostics – a world that vehemently denies Christ and holds those who believe in contempt. They mock us for our “blind” faith and demand proof to back our claims. Unfortunately, regardless of the availability of proof, many continue to live in unbelief. Why?

Because as St. Augustine describes it:Faith is

“Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.”

The good news doesn’t end there – because FAITH is not produced from superhuman resolve. We cannot generate faith on our own. It is futile. Faith is produced from hearing God’s voice – His call – his WORD (Romans 10:17)

This week, I was reminded of that night when I received Christ. It all became even more tremendous when I realised the enormity of what had to be done in order that I would believe.

God opened up my spiritual ears to HEAR the Truth. I needed God. Without Him, life had no purpose and no meaning. The idea that God wanted me, that he wanted to take “my” life – that message so gripped my heart that I HAD TO respond. By faith, though I had never truly experienced God – I decided to give my whole life to Him. And after that, I would never again question whether He was “real”.

On that night, when I first believed – God took away the veil that had shielded my eyes. I “saw” Him. Not in the literal sense. But what once was “unseen” and therefore “unsure” had become the new centre of my entire existence.

I thank the Lord for that night – for choosing me – for speaking to me and more importantly for giving me the faith to step out.


{ Unbelief } and Perverted Faith

lot's wife

“Unbelief is actually perverted faith, for it puts its trust, not in the living God but in dying men. The unbeliever denies the self sufficiency of God and usurps attributes that are not his. This dual sin dishonors God and ultimately destroys the soul of man. ” { A.W. Tozer }

  • Have you been placing your trust in something other than the sufficiency of God?
  • Have you turned elsewhere for the things that God says HE provides? (i.e. security, peace, strength, love, hope, etc.)

The above picture is Lot’s wife who turned into a pillar of salt after turning back to peer into the city that she so loved – even after they were given EXPLICIT instructions not to do so.

I think, Lot’s wife shows us that unbelief is not a matter of “not seeing” – it is a matter of misplaced faith, a misplaced heart.


Struggles with Unbelief

By faith Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob possessed the land of promise; but because of unbelief, neither Aaron, nor Moses, nor Miriam could get there (Heb 11:9; 3:19).

By faith the children of Israel passed through the Red Sea; but by unbelief the generality of them perished in the wilderness (Heb 11:29; Jude 5).

By faith Peter walked on the water; but by unbelief he began to sink (Matt 14:28-30).

  • Which of these do you identify personally with?
  • How / Why?

Unbelief and Anxiety (Re: Matthew 6:25-24)

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  • Re: Matthew 6:25-34
  • Note the (4) times the Lord instruct us NOT to be anxious.
  • How does this apply to your present anxieties in life?

Paul in Philippians 4:6-7 writes, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

  • Write a prayer (presenting your anxieties) to the Lord and for Him to reveal the nature of your truest need.
  • Continue to read v. 12-13 and 19 – pray that the Lord may increase your faith in his sufficiency and his strength.

Even When He’s Silent…

 

silent

“I believe in the sun – even when it isn’t shining. I believe in love even when I don’t feel it. I believe in God – even when He’s silent.”

This quote was reportedly scratched onto a cellar wall in Cologne, Germany where Jews were hiding from the Nazis during the Holocaust.

  • Try and imagine what it must have been like to be going through so much hardship, to be persecuted for being one of God’s children — and still to profess your faith in God.
  • Are you going through a season in your life where the sun seems to “not be shining”, where love and affection are nowhere to be found and worse still — in all these things, God is silent?
  • Listen to the song below – it is like the prayer of one afflicted by the darkness, the lonely hours and the silence of God — and yet this Believer persists in professing his/her faith in God –  in spite of the circumstance. A powerful prayer indeed.

Unbelieving Family

 

jesusandfamily

In John 7:5 we are told a most shocking fact, “For not even his brothers believed in him.” - in Mark 3:21 they even thought he was “out of his mind”.

  • Do you have family members/friends that are persistent in their unbelief – have you been a faithful witness? have you been faithful in prayer?
  • Take heart in this: Acts 1:14 — after Christ’s death and resurrection, his family was there in the upper room worshipping him as God.

 

Exhorting One Another VS the Evil Unbelieving Heart

Heart

Hebrews 3:12-13 warns of the dangers of having an “evil, unbelieving heart” which is a result of “hardening our hearts in rebellion” from the Word of God. Instead we are instructed to “exhort one another everyday”

  • Write a letter/short message of exhortation to a friend/brother or sister in Christ. Ask the Lord to reveal to you what He intends for you to say. Do not wait for tomorrow – do it “as long as it is called “today”.” (Heb. 3:13)

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Beware of { Lust } & Deceitful Desires

The-Anatomy-of-Sin

 

“For my will was perverse and lust had grown in it,

and when I gave into lust, habit was born,

and when I did not resist the habit it became necessity.”

{St Augustine}

To be honest, I have dreaded this topic since my dad told me that he would do a series on the “deadly” sins. One, because I knew it would be awkward and two (and more importantly) because of all the sins, lust is the one I am most intimately acquainted with.

There is a lot of shame that comes with admitting that one struggles with lust. There just seems something grimier, more perverse — and more fundamentally human about our struggle with our sexuality and sensuality.

Culturally (well, at least in the socio-cultural circles I frequent) “good” and “honourable” women are chaste, pure and have nothing to do with sex before marriage. There are some people in church that even think that “sex” is not something that God-fearing women talk about.

“We are Christians, not the Real Housewives of Hong Kong.”

But, here I am — in my late 20s, single, with no children, working a stressful job, living in a post “sexual revolution” society where women are encouraged to be as aggressive and “go-getting” about fulfilling their sexual desires as men.

Hearing the sermon on lust filled my heart with ache. Because I know that there are moments everyday (yes, every. day.) when giving in to temptation seems so much easier than running away from it.

Unlike men who crave the sexual act, women crave affection. Deep in my heart there is a longing – the desire to be cherished, to be intimately connected with someone who “sees”, “knows”and “loves” me – who can be my strength. These are legitimate desires.

Over the past couple of years, the Lord has begun to reveal to me that there is nothing TABOO or inherently WRONG with these desires. Dare I say, they are God-given.

But see, these desires were meant to be satiated with God’s consuming fire NOT the damning flames of lust that leave nothing but wanting, destruction and a hollow sense of being

But at the end of the sermon, a new ache filled my heart as I was reminded of the woman caught in adultery. 

woman-caught-in-adultery-2

John 8:1-11

but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

This is one of my all-time favourite Jesus moments. It was a firm reminder of how Christ defends me from my accusers,  how he loves me despite of my guilt, how he has forgiven me, cleansed me and set me free from the bondage of my sin.

But I’d always felt a little lost with that last part “Go. Sin No More.”

For those who understand what it feels like to be addicted to something (or someone), habits are hard to break, how do you just walk away from something that had become a necessity in your life? Lust starts out like a little pocket monster – (like “tamagochis”) – manageable, pleasurable and most of all – hidden. But in the dark, in the secret, that little pocket monster grows into its true form – a most cruel master who binds you to its will by a leash of your own desires.

The words of Paul resonate so loudly in my worst of days, written in the very pages of many journal entries:

“…I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate… So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me… I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out… For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.”

On those worst days, I begin to doubt, I begin to despair. Sometimes I even ask whether I am truly free.

protectme006This Sunday, while listening to the sermon, I was reminded:

Christ himself would make a way for us(me).

He knows our (my) sinful nature, he knows the firm grip of sin. HE is the one with NO SIN – the only one worthy to cast the first stone AND YET, he casts no stones. Instead, he became the stone rejected – he became the Cornerstone of our faith and the Rock on which our salvation stands.

When he told her to “go and sin no more”. I believe it echoes when he told the disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations” with THIS blessed reassurance — that HE would be with THEM – HER – ME – YOU – ALWAYS.

Where are the stones? 
Where is the freedom?

In Christ Alone!

In Christ Alone!

Writing this took out a lot from me. I wanted to back out of it many times or at least to tame what I had to say. My guilt and shame would have me hide – but God’s grace empowers and compels me to speak the truth.

So, brother and sister — I hope that these words bring hope to you. While we may continue to struggle for so long as we live, let us remember that God will provide what he requires. Since he requires holiness, HE WILL make a way for us.


LUST QUOTES

James 1 says, “Lust when it conceives brings forth sin”… If you don’t win the battle on the inside, it will show up on the outside. A pure conscience is more to be sought than a good reputation.  { John MacArthur }

“When you have sought the company of a sensual satisfaction, what loneliness afterward!” { St. Josemaria Escriva }

God tells us that his people tend to satisfy their thirst not by drinking from his streams of living water, but instead drinking from man-made toilets (Jer. 2:13). { Mark Driscoll, Porn-Again Christian }


Journal Prompts

Matthew 5:27-30

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

“Radical Amputation” is the Bible’s recommendation for those who struggle with lust.

  • How far are you willing to go to live in purity?
  • What do you have to amputate from your life?

Mixed Messages

“The first step Christian can take to help women (and men) struggling with lust is to acknowledge that they exist.” Jonalyn Finger

Lust is NOT a male-struggle – it is a human struggle. Women are not exempt. Its time to break the silence, to counter taboos and to bring light into this darkness. The pull of lust in women, in my opinion, is very much rooted in the misguided UNBIBLICAL ways seeing what it means to be a woman made in the image of God and how our sexuality reflects that.

“[ Sexual Addiction / Lust] is an intimacy disorder — a desperate search for love, touch, affirmation, affection and approval.” { Marnie C. Ferree }

Our ideas/feelings/associations with regard to what it means to be a “woman” and how “sex” connects to that are formed much like everything else – through our social-cultural context. In the case of Christians, they are also formed within the Church. Unfortunately, some of these messages are not based on Truth.

The following list comes from “No Stones: Women Redeemed From Sexual Addiction” by Marnie C. Ferree

Cultural Messages (NOT TRUE!)

  1. Sex equals power – the media trains women to use their bodies to manipulate, influence or control. This “training” starts very young! Think about how we applaud young girls for “strutting” their stuff
  2. Packaging and presentation are all-important – throw in the right makeup, clothes and perfume and a woman can supposedly have the world. The world’s obsession with the “right” image have led so many women to self-hate and to a glorification of the body.
  3. If ya’ got it, flaunt it. We ogle celebrities in their sexy dresses and live vicariously through them. Women are encouraged to arouse lust – to be sexually attractive. If you don’t, then its probably coz you don’t have “it”.
  4. Everyone is having sex. Stress is presented as the medicine for all of life’s problems.
  5. Sex equals love. Compatibility in the media is shown based on “chemistry” i.e. sexual compatibility. “Try it before you buy it” is usually their advice — otherwise you may marry “the wrong one”.

“Religious” Messages (NOT TRUE)

  1. Women are inferior to men. Some churches teach that a woman’s worth is based on what she does – which makes her vulnerable to become dependent on men (instead of God).
  2. Sex is wrong. The church encourages women to be “feminine” but not to be “sexually active”. Wives are instructed to please their husbands but they are not given permission to seek pleasure for themselves. Sex is considered a wife’s duty, not her desire.
  3. Christian marriages don’t struggle with sexual issues. And yet why does God encourage couples to grow their desire for each other?

Other “Mixed Messages” (NOT TRUE!)

  1. I must be good to be worthy of love.
  2. If I’m “sexual”, I’m bad.
  3. I must be “sexual” to be loveable.
  4. I’m not really a woman unless someone desires me sexually or romantically.
  • Which of these messages do you think you actually “believe”?
  • As a woman, do you struggle with lust?
  • Not just for sexual gratification – Do you lust for power? babies? romance? to be the object of desire?

Overcoming Sexual Sin

Here are some quotes from the video to ponder on:

“I don’t have any problem with us… doing all kinds of things to surround men and women with protections against sexual sin… I think that’s a very good idea. Its just not the main point. If that’s where you fight the battle continually you’ll never get to the root of the issue. The root of the issue here is this renewed heart, this joy and gladness – the bones that God has broken – healed with the joy of our salvation.”

“The misuse of the beautiful gift of sex is a symptom of a disease. NOT the disease. That’s why this psalm doesn’t mention it… This is the main issue: “restore to me the joy of my salvation” because when that joy fades – I click on pornography. When that joy fades, I start cruising the neighbourhood. When that joy fades, I get an itch for another woman. When that joy fades… on and on and on… Every sin on the outside is symptomatic of the absence of THIS JOY.”

“What does your heart say about Christ late at night, all alone, in front of an internet screen, mouse ready to click. What does your heart say about Christ over pornography?”

“The great tragedy of Christian young people’s lives is not masturbation, not fornication, not a peeping tom or a curious cathy on the internet. The tragedy is that Satan uses the guilt of all those failures to strip you of your once radical dream – and to put in its place, a life that is happy, and safe, and secure – filled with superficial pleasures so that you someday die on your lake-side rocking chair, wrinkled and useless and leaving a big fat inheritance to your middle aged children – to confirm them in their worldliness. That’s why he wants to sell you because you failed so baldy and the only alternative is that – instead of what you once dreamed for Christ and His Kingdom.”

“Our people are laid waste with sexual temptation – why – because our souls have shrivelled up to the size of a TV sitcom. Can you imagine soaking in front of soaps or sitcoms for hours on end and then going to a church where they don’t give a rip about theology and thinking you’re gonna have any fibre in the tree of your faith. You’re just gonna blown flat. That’s what’s gonna happen. So find the right church, read your Bibles and read the right books. Theology with passion for Jesus can conquer biology.”


Re: ANTHEM: Strategies for Fighting Lust (John Piper)

Original Article

A – AVOID as much as is possible and reasonable the sights and situations that arouse unfitting desire.

  • Some exposure to temptation is inevitable – Not all desires for sex, food, and family are bad.
  • We know when they are unfitting and unhelpful and on their way to becoming enslaving. We know our weaknesses and what triggers them.
  • “Avoiding” is a Biblical strategy. “(2 Timothy 2:22).
  • “Make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:14).

N – Say NO to every lustful thought within five seconds.

  • Say it with the authority of Jesus Christ.
  • Longer than five seconds and the thought will lodge itself with such force as to be almost immovable.
  • Say it out loud if you dare. Be tough and warlike.
  • As John Owen said, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.”
  • Strike fast and strike hard. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” ( James 4:7).

T – TURN the mind forcefully toward Christ as a superior satisfaction.

  • Saying “no” is not enough. You must move from defense to offense.
  • Attack the promises of sin with the promises of Christ.
  • The Bible calls lusts “deceitful desires” (Ephesians 4:22). They lie. They promise more than they can deliver.
  • The Bible calls them “passions of your former ignorance” (1 Peter 1:14). Only fools yield. (Proverbs 7:22).
  • Deceit is defeated by truth. Ignorance is defeated by knowledge. It must be glorious truth and beautiful knowledge.

H – HOLD the promise and the pleasure of Christ firmly in your mind until it pushes the other images out.

  • “Fix your eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 3:1).
  • Here is where many fail. They give in too soon. They say, “I tried to push it out, and it didn’t work.” I ask, “How long did you try?” How hard did you exert your mind? The mind is a muscle. You can flex it with vehemence.
  • Take the kingdom violently (Matthew 11:12). Be brutal. Hold the promise of Christ before your eyes. Don’t let it go! Keep holding it! How long? As long as it takes.
  • Fight! For Christ’s sake, fight till you win!

E – ENJOY a superior satisfaction.

  • Cultivate the capacities for pleasure in Christ.
  • We default to deceit because we have little delight in Christ. Don’t say, “That’s just not me.”
  • What steps have you taken to waken affection for Jesus? Have you fought for joy? You were created to treasure Christ with all your heart – more than you treasure sex or sugar.
  • Plead with God for the satisfaction you don’t have (Psalm 90:14).
  • Then look, look, look at the most magnificent Person in the universe until you see him the way he is.

M – MOVE into a useful activity away from idleness and other vulnerable behaviors.

  • Lust grows fast in the garden of leisure. Find a good work to do, and do it with all your might. (Romans 12:11, 1 Corinthians 15:58).
  • Abound in work. Get up and do something. Christ died to make you “zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14).
  • Displace deceitful lusts with a passion for good deeds.

(This is an excerpted version of the original – edited so that its easier to read – BUT please take the time to click on the original. It is so worth it!)


chainsnomore“This is a mind war. The absolute necessity is to get the image and the impulse out of our mind. How? Get a counter-image into the mind. Fight. Push. Strike. Don’t ease up. It must be an image that is so powerful that the other image cannot survive. There are lust-destroying images and thoughts…. If you will use the muscle of your brain to pursue – violently pursue with the muscle of your mind – images of Christ crucified with the same creative energy that you use to pursue sexual fantasies, you will kill them. But it must start in the first five seconds – and not give up….It is image against image.” { John Piper }

  • Think of more “lust-destroying images and thoughts” that will help combat the pull of lust in you.
  • Describe it in writing and read it when you are tempted!

 

staugustine

  • What habit(s) have you cultivated that have made sexual gratification a necessity?
  • Nobody “falls” into temptation – we consciously make a decision to move closer and closer towards the “Sodom and Gomorrahs” of our lives.
  • Identify areas (places, people, experiences) in your life (past and present) that has brought you closer to temptation instead of away from it.
  • When/Where are you most vulnerable towards the temptation of lust?

 


 

Testimonies

  • Please take note that some of these women are still new Christians – some of the things they say show some unresolved issues with God and they’re still undergoing discipleship.
  • I posted this testimony because I wanted to show that even THESE “porn stars” are in need of Jesus and they can be set free.
  • The Nate Larkin testimony is a re-post but it is still as powerful as the day I first stumbled on it.

Soaking Songs

“Where You Are”Leeland

“All Consuming Fire”Leeland

“Beautiful Things” Gungor

 

Pilgrim’s Conflict with { Sloth }

Beware-of-Sloth

The devil tempts all other men, but slothful men (and women) tempt the devil.

{ A Proverb }

Every week that we’ve been on the “Sin Series” at Church, I keep discovering a new “all time low” in myself. The only thing I can conclude is that I am, indeed, a sinner of the worst calibre for I have yet to encounter a sin that I was not guilty of.

Of the “deadly sins”, I would have thought that I was least likely to be a sloth – because I’m a self-proclaimed workaholic. And when I’m not working on things for work, I’m working on things for church and ministry – I am never “not busy”. But upon closer study of what sloth is, I’ve come to realise that while there are areas in my life where I am quite diligent, I can also be quite slothful in other aspects – including my spiritual life.


 

What is Sloth?

Are you familiar with the sloth – the animal, that is.

kevin-schafer-braunkehl-faultier-mit-jungtier-haengt-an-einem-ast-205314Sloths are – very appropriately named creatures. In fact, I’m who came first — sloth, the sin or sloth the animal.

A quick read up on the sloth would reveal some pertinent facts:

  • Sloths sleep about 20 hours a day.
  • They mostly live in trees where they mostly hang upside down.
  • Once every week, they come down to do their dirty business.
  • Sloths are slow-moving creatures (they believe it is an energy-saving strategy).
  • They are so slow and dirty that their hairy bodies turn green from ALGAE growing on them.

When we think about “sloth” (the sin, that is), we’re usually led to the idea that sloth is simple laziness. But what I have learned this week is that it is much more than laziness.

Sloth & Acedia

Early Christians associated sloth with “acedia”. Monks who devoted themselves to the monastic and solitary life of prayer and word would report a sluggishness of the mind, heart and body that makes it hard to continue praying mostly due to heat, hunger and exhaustion. Since this phenomenon usually happened at “noonday” – they dubbed it the “noon-day demon”. In the Bible, it is briefly referenced in Psalm 91: 6 as “the destruction that wastes at noonday” (ESV).

Acedia according to the Kathleen Norris is the “At its Greek root, the word acedia means the absence of care. The person afflicted by acedia refuses to care or is incapable of doing so. When life becomes too challenging and engagement with others too demanding, acedia offers a kind of spiritual morphine: you know the pain is there, yet can’t rouse yourself to give a damn. 

The word “acedia” was derived from the Greek word, “akedos”. This described those who were so “soul-weary” or “heart-drained” from defeat in battle that they no longer even cared to bury their dead (something that was unthinkable). Ben Pratt describes it as “…dangerous lethargy, stubborn sadness, world weariness, restless boredom, and cynicism. It is morphine to our spirits, squelching joy from life. Even God is no longer viewed as good.”

In this sense sloth is fundamentally, “…more than laziness and idleness. In the original sense meant by the early Christians, it is a surrender to despair. Sloth annihilates the will. In this sense, the condition is akin to clinical depression, which is characterized by a retreat from most activities, social or otherwise.” (Geoff Olson of deadlyspins.com).


 Quotable Quotes on Sloth & Laziness

Most of us know perfectly well what we ought to do; our trouble is that we do not want to do it. { Peter Marshall }

“Sloth like rust, consumes faster than labor wears, while the used key is always bright” { Benjamin Franklin }


Journal Prompts

newton1

“Newton’s first law of motion states that an object in motion tends to remain in motion, and an object at rest tends to remain at rest. This law applies to people. While some are naturally driven to complete projects, others are apathetic, requiring motivation to overcome inertia. Laziness, a lifestyle for some, is a temptation for all.” (excerpt from gotquestions.org)

    • In what aspects of life are you lazy?
    • Are you in a state of (healthy) motion or in a state of apathy and neglect?
    • God is the outside force that moves all things. In what way is God calling you to motion or to rest?

” All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

  • Think back to the people in your life who “intervened” at a critical moment.
  • If they hadn’t done anything, what would have happened to you?
  • In what ways is God challenging you to “intervene”?

Re: The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30)

parables 10 Talentsparables 10 Talents 2parables 10 Talents 3parables 10 Talents 4

(click the thumbnails to make them bigger!)

Here, Jesus tells of man entrusting his property to three servants – according to his ability. Then upon his return, he asked his servants what they had done with what they had been given. Two of the servants had invested their talents well and were able to present their master with more than what they had been given. But one servant had done nothing. The master was angered by his wickedness and his “sloth”.

  • What “talents” has the Lord entrusted to you? (it doesn’t need to be a “talent”)
  • Would he call you “good and faithful” or “worthless” and “wicked” by the way that you have handled them?

Complacency in Pursuit of God

Bored-again ChristianThe sin of sloth does not only pertain to physical laziness but in being complacent in our pursuit of God resulting in lack of spiritual growth.

But read these quotes:

“Do not be lazy. Run each day’s race with all your might, so that at the end you will receive the victory wreath from God. Keep on running even when you have had a fall. The victory wreath is won by him who does not stay down, but always gets up again, grasps the banner of faith and keeps on running in the assurance that Jesus is Victor.” { Basilea Schlink }

“Many, I fear, would like glory, who have no wish for grace.  They would [want to] have the wages, but not the work; the harvest, but not the labor;  the reaping, but not the sowing; the reward, but not the battle. But it may not be.” { J.C. Ryle }

  • Have you been reading God’s Word? Spending time in prayer?
  • Have you been feeding your soul or have you slipped into complacency? 

Time for everything ecclesiastes 3.1-8

Re: Ecclesiastes 3 – “there is a time for everything“.

There is beauty in every moment and season if AND ONLY if, we follow God’s timing. Sloths do not honour God with their time and ultimately their lives. Instead of seeking God’s purpose and his will, they seek theirs. Are you honouring God with the time you have been given? 

Jared Wilson writes that “stillness” is not always sloth nor “recreation” or “leisure”. “The un-slothful soul is one that glorifies God in work and play, effort and leisure.”

  • Ask the Lord to open up your creative mind.
  • How can I glorify you while I work, while I rest and find leisure?

 

Pilgrim’s Conflict with Sloth (A Poem)

“My name is Pilgrim. Yesterday, at dusk I met along my way. An enemy. His name was Sloth. He tried to lure me, like a moth, Exhausted, to his idle flames. As always, he used other names: Relief and Respite and Repose And Rest, and Leisure. These he knows are worthy seasons in this age— worthy names to make a sage out of a scoundrel.” (John Piper)

(Transcript of the Poem found in this link)

  • In what ways has Sloth or Acedia presented itself to you? 
  • What is he tempting you to do?

 

Prayer Against Sloth

trappedmind

Once again, Lord Jesus Christ, I face the power of acedia[sloth].

Against the torrent of oblivion, I plead the blood of Jesus.

When the day stretches out before me and I am tempted to despair, encourage my soul through rhythms of prayer and work.

When I imagine my life would be easier if only I were somewhere else, help me not to flee but to trust your grace in this place.

When I lack attentive care for my neighbor, remind me how you laid down your life for me when I was still an enemy.

Deliver me from acedia, that I might greet that of you in every person and know the place where I am standing to be holy ground.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

(An excerpt from “Common Prayer Pocket Edition” by Claiborne, Okoro & Wilson-Hartgrove.)


 

Soaking Songs

Ecclesiastes by Tim Hughes

 

Let it be Jesus by Christy Nockels (NEW SONG!)

Broken Bread by Rend Collective

 

Be { Angry } but do not SIN

Beware-of-Anger

Be angry and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”

Ephesians 4:26-27 (ESV)


 

Last Sunday at Cornerstone Church, we heard a most provoking sermon on anger. These notes are based on what I heard and read from my father’s original sermon. I’ve re-written some of the points to show what I have gleaned from listening to it.

WHAT IS ANGER?

①     Anger grows out of love. Anger is a strong (and overwhelming) feeling of displeasure which stirs you to defend what you love and to attack whatever threatens that which you value and love (Mark 3:1-5; and John 2:13-17)

②     Anger can be righteous and not sinful. God’s holiness and righteousness compels him to continually be angry and displeased at sin, evil, idolatry, injustice, abuses. He will have no part with it. (Exodus 34:7; Numbers 14:18; Romans 1:18)

③     Anger is a command. Ephesians 4:26 tells us to BE ANGRY – to imitate God’s righteous anger – to be angry at the things that displease Him (just as much as we should love those things that he loves).

 

BUT NOTICE THIS

Ephesians 4:26 is a two part statement – [1] BE ANGRY but [2] DO NOT SIN

 

WHEN IS ANGER – SINFUL? 

①     When it is prompted by the wrong cause (e.g. because of hurt pride)

②     When it is expressed too excessively (e.g. “gamer rage”)

③     When it is held on too long (e.g. resulting in bitterness, stony heart)

(References: Genesis 4:4-5; Galatians 5:18-20; Matthew 5:22; Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8; Ephesians 4:26-27)

 

HOW CAN WE HAVE RIGHTEOUS ANGER

①     Own up. If you are angry – don’t hide it. Don’t suppress it, ignore it, run away from it (or him/her or them). Admit the presence of anger.

②     Open up (to God)Brings your anger to God. Do not allow it to keep you away from Him. Allow God to rule over you – change, humble and minister to you

③     Look up.Present your case to God but do not forget that HE ALONE has the power, knowledge and right to judge.

④     Give it up (to Jesus) Do not carry the burden of anger. Jesus has paid for our debts and this enables us to forgive others! Now, he stands as our defender and our advocate.

⑤     Live out (the Gospel) Even if we have been hurt, we must remember the forgiveness we have been given.


 

10 Warnings in Proverbs about Anger

LOOK UP these verses yourself!

Proverbs 12:8 – Angry words can do major damage.

Proverbs 15:18 – “Angry” people causes more anger.

Proverbs 16:32 – Having control over anger is higher in the sight of God than conquering anything else.

Proverbs 19:19 – We cannot shield someone who is hot-tempered from the consequences of his temper – otherwise, he will never learn.

Proverbs 21:19 – Living with an angry woman (or man) is unbearable.

Proverbs 22:24-25 – Anger is contagious! Being friends with angry people will turn YOU into an angry and bitter person as well.

Proverbs 25:28 – Anger is usually a defensive mechanism in many people but in fact, it leaves you vulnerable to attack.

Proverbs 27:4 – Anger is overwhelming – jealousy will cause you to hurt the ones that you love.

Proverbs 29:9 – There is no point in reasoning with angry people.

Proverbs 29:11 – Even if you feel angry, you cannot allow yourself to “lose it”


 

ANGER & OTHER EMOTIONS

Anger devours almost all other good emotions. It deadens the soul. It numbs the heart to joy and gratitude and hope and tenderness and compassion and kindness.{ John Piper }

  • Think on your experiences with anger and how it corrupts your other emotions.
  • Are you holding on to anger – at what cost? your soul? joy? peace?

RESOURCE LINKS: A Father’s Conquest of Anger


Angry_birds_flock_by_jeremiekent13-d5lc45k

WHICH ANGRY BIRD ARE YOU?

How do you express your anger? Here, you are going to describe the usual way that you are angry. You may use the list below to have some ideas.

  1. I find my anger directed towards the same person or kind of people.
  2. When I am angry, I tend to (or want to) throw things around.
  3. When someone angers me, I will get revenge (sooner or later).
  4. I don’t get angry easily but when I do, my anger is often destructive.
  5. I get angry very easily. I lash out in words or actions which brings regret.
  6. When someone hurts/angers me, I like to find “supporters” to join me in anger.
  7. I get angry when people tell me what to do. I’ll let you talk now but I will bring you down.
  8. When I get angry, I push people and things away – I need my space.
  9. When I get angry, I become very quiet.

 Note: if none of these fit you, feel free to add in your own description.


 

ANGER & CHILDREN

Controlled anger against sin and genuine love may dwell in the same heart at the same time and be directed toward the same person. It is legitimate for us to be angry with our children over genuine disobedience. At the same time, we must not express that anger in sinful ways (yelling, screaming, nastiness, irritation, etc.) but in loving ways for the good of our children.       { Wayne Mack }

 

  • Are you a parent, a teacher, a caregiver or are you dealing with people who are physically, mentally or spiritually less mature than you are – then reflect on how you deal with them when they have done wrong.
  • How can we show anger and discipline our children without sinning?

 

OTHER WRITING PROMPTS

Conflicts will always be present in the Church and many believers are unable to communicate well – leading to hurtful words and actions.

  • Read Ephesians 4 – How can we work out conflicts within the Church?
  • Reflect on how you have handled conflicts with your fellow brothers and sisters.

 

Read these quotes and apply them personally:

Anger and bitterness are two noticeable signs of being focused on self and not trusting God’s sovereignty in your life. When you believe that God causes all things to work together for good to those who belong to Him and love Him, you can respond to trials with joy instead of anger or bitterness. { John C. Broger }

If we would be angry and not sin, we must be angry at nothing but sin; and we should be more jealous for the glory of God than for any interest or reputation of our own. { Matthew Henry }

nicethingscantsave

Micah 6:8 tells us that God isn’t impressed by offering him good things that he never asked for. He gives us what HE DOES REQUIRE.

TO DO JUSTICE.

LOVE MERCY.

WALK HUMBLY BEFORE YOUR GOD.

  • Just as Jesus was consumed by his zeal for God’s house and expressed righteous anger at the merchants for turning the Temple of God into a Temple of Greed, what fills you with righteous anger?
  • In what ways are you being called to “do justice” and to “love mercy?”

THE SERENITY PRAYER

serenityprayer

  • The Heavenly Virtue that is opposite the sin of anger is patience. Whether or not you are prone to anger, have you been patient with those around you?
  • What are the things you cannot change the things?
  • What are the things that you feel the Lord is challenging you to change?

 

SOAKING SONGS

(I’ll add more in a little while)

Christ Be All Around Me by All Sons & Daughters

 

{ Gluttony } What’s Eating You?

Beware-of-Gluttony

 

Gluttony is an emotional { e s c a p e }, a sign something is { e a t i n g } us.

{ Peter De Vries }

I never thought that I would readily say that I am guilty of gluttony. But I suppose after studying this deadly sin, I realized that I am a glutton at heart.

This week on Tapestry, we are issued TWO challenges

A Fasting Challenge

John Piper – Purpose of Fasting

John Piper – Hunger for God

  • Choose a day to commit to a fast (i.e. a food fast; a social media fast, etc.)
  • Take this day of fasting as a way to reveal “latent idolatry” in your life (as Pastor John Piper describes) in THIS video:
  • Think on Job and how by taking away his children, his health and wealth – God revealed the idol of his heart
  • Take note of what the Lord reveals to you on this day.

A Feasting Challenge

This week I read a widespread consensus in the blogosphere on gluttony:

“Gluttony is bad but feasting is good.”

The feast that I speak of – is not merely a “food” feast – but a feast of the Spirit.

This is a call for a day wherein one indulges on SOUL FOOD –  on the Word, on Praise & Worship, on Prayer. To take literally the verse:

tasteandsee

A feast is different than a gluttony episode or a “binge

  1. A true feast is a celebration of something (or in this case, Someone)
    • Whatever it is that is prepared for the feast is only a part of the celebration. It is not the centre of the feast – only a means. We all hate guests who come to just “eat and run”.
  2. A true feast is often a shared “social” experience.
    • Gluttony is sinful particularly because one desires to have more at the cost of others. It is deeply self-centred
    • A feast is communion – when one feasts, there is a component of sharing – a conscious desire for all who come to the table to enjoy TOGETHER. More than that, we are in communion with God himself – HE IS the food we partake of.
  3. A true feast results in more life and not constipation.
    • Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial. Too much of a “good” thing is still bad. That is true of many things but one cannot go wrong from FEASTING on the things of God. When you are truly feasting on God, you will feel your Spirit renewed. It is tapping into God as our source – it is celebrating and thanksgiving. It is praise and worship to Him.
  4. A true feast glorifies the Lord.
    • God commands us in Psalm 37:4 to “Delight” in Him!
    • In gluttony, we commit the two sins as recorded in Jeremiah 2:13 (i.e. we “forsake” God and create “cisterns for ourselves”) – in feasting, we are giving the truest worship to God as in Nehemiah 8:10 – in enjoying His fullness; proclaiming Him as our all in all, our sufficiency.
    • Recommended: listen to John Piper’s sermon on Christian Hedonism
  5. A true feast is “by invitation only”
    • No one gate-crashes into the Table of the Lord. NO ONE.
    • And if you do not RSVP, the invitation is void.
    • The Parable of the Great Banquet in Matthew 22:1-14 explains this!
    • But more than that — you never just “come” to a feast — all of us are “carried”

One of my dad’s favourite songs is “Carried to the Table” by Leeland and this is the best picture of “feasting”. All of us are like Mephibosheth — unable to come to the Table on our own. But because of the invitation of the King and because of His mercy:

“I was carried to the Table… seated where I don’t belong”

 


Quotes on Gluttony

livingoffcrumbs

Anna Su writes in Revisions (link at Tapestry):

“Gluttons act like orphans. We don’t believe in grace, the idea that God spreads a banqueting table before us and invites us to abundant fellowship with Him. We’d rather deny that grace, either because it’s too good to be true or because it forces us to admit that we don’t deserve it. We crawl on the floor and stuff ourselves with scraps because we don’t trust that He’ll let us sit at the table.”

  • What “grace” is God provided that you have not availed of?
  • What has He said (in His word) that seem “too good to be true?”
  • What scraps have we been satisfying ourselves with?

Joe Carter from the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (Southern Baptist) wrote:

“In my own life I can see myriad ways in which gluttony has become an idol. I have an almost worshipful relationship with food…. But I also starve my soul by other forms of overconsumption. I binge watch Downton Abbey (31 hours) and Battlestar Galactica (57 hours)… I stay up too late gorging on Facebook and Twitter. I play countless hours of video games… I turn to Netflix instead of turning to prayer. I pause to check Facebook instead of pausing to meditate on Scripture. I seek out a piece of fried bread instead of seeking the Bread of Life. I fill my life with comfort food and comfort games, with must-see TV and must-engage social media, in order to avoid filling my time and my life with God and his holy Word.”

  • In what ways have you been “starving your soul” with overconsumption?
  • Is there balance between your time for social media and quiet time with God?

You-are-in-a-virtual-relationship-with-your-gadget

 

Modern Christians, especially those in the Western world, have generally been found wanting in the area of holiness of body. Gluttony and laziness, for example, were regarded by earlier Christians as sin. Today we may look on these as weaknesses of the will but certainly not sin. We even joke about our overeating and other indulgences instead of crying out to God in confession and repentance. 

{ Jerry Bridges }

“Physical appetites are an analogy of our ability to control ourselves… If we are unable to control our eating habits, we are probably also unable to control other habits, such as those of the mind (lust, covetousness, anger) and unable to keep our mouths from gossip or strife.”

{ Michael Houdmann }

” Our appetites dictate the direction of our lives–whether it be the cravings of our stomachs, the passionate desire for possessions or power, or the longings of our spirits for God. But for the Christian, the hunger for anything besides God can be an arch-enemy. 

While our hunger for God–and Him alone–is the only thing that will bring victory.”

{ John Piper }

It’s possible to rely on the gratification of food to compensate for a deficiency of rest, relaxation and happiness in a hassled life.

{ Ryan Andrews }

 


 

Feasting Songs

These songs are meant to help you during your day of “Feasting”

“Good to Me” by Audrey Assad

“Christ Be All Around Me” by All Sons & Daughters

“Where I Belong” by Cory Asbury


 More Journal Prompts

  1. Write a list of things you are thankful for this week.
  2. Re: James 1:14-15; Isaiah 55:1-2; Philippians 3:17-21; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Romans 13:13-14
  3. Many women today are in an ongoing (never-ending) battle with the scales. But this may be just another way that gluttony manifests in us — we turn to “dieting” as a false sense of control and security. Watch the testimony of this woman:

No Rest for the { Greedy }

BewareofGreed

 

“Unless we repent of greed, Jesus will also drive us away empty. Greed shows we don’t truly love, treasure, trust and worship God.”

This week’s sermon at Cornerstone Church was based on Mark 10:17-31, the tragic retelling of a “Rich Young Man” who had come to Jesus bearing great moral and financial wealth but in the end, had been turned away – bearing nothing because Jesus had exposed his TRUE treasure – his great wealth.

The root of greed is a false spring, a false source of security and satisfaction. Something that we feel we NEED in order to be satisfied.

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C.S. Lewis & Desire

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes:

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and help others do the same.”

Journal Questions

  • To you, what is this “desire that this world cannot satisfy”?
  • How are our present “pleasures” copies, echoes or mirages of our true country (i.e. heaven)?
  • C.S. Lewis Song (Below)
    • Read lyrics below – and take note of what speaks to you.
    • Watch the video and ponder at the message that the video is trying to communicate (in particular, towards the end).

C.S. Lewis Song by Brooke Fraser

If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy
I can only conclude that I was not made for here
If the flesh that I fight is at best only light and momentary
Then of course I’ll feel nude when to where I’m destined I’m compared

CHORUS
Speak to me in the light of the dawn
Mercy comes with the morning
I will sigh and with all creation groan
As I wait for hope to come for me

Am I lost or just less found,
On the straight or on the roundabout of the wrong way?
Is this a soul that stirs in me,
Is it breaking free, wanting to come alive?

‘Cause my comfort would prefer for me to be numb
And avoid the impending birth
Of who I was born to become

BRIDGE
For we, we are not long here – Our time is but a breath
So we better breathe it
And I, I was made to live – I was made to love
I was made to know you

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 Lord of the Rings x Greed

I’m a big fan of the Lord of the Rings – book and film trilogies. One of the most memorable scenes from the first movie was when we find Bilbo and Gandalf in conversation regarding the Ring (take note, they have no idea that this ring is actually THE RING of Power. The Ring meant to “rule them all and in the darkness bind them” Ring).

The Ring, like greed, corrupts and enslaves the bearer to its will. It serves no one but its own interest – and its interest is only to be reunited with its one true master – Sauron. In the end, Bilbo does leave the Ring but with much struggle.

I love the way that he hesitantly lets it slide through his palm and his eyes never leave it. I especially loved the weighted thud that the Rings makes as it falls onto the floor and the sigh of relief that Bilbo makes the moment he is finally out of the door.

Its occurred to me that the Lord often asks us to leave things behind – to assess our priorities, to help us see where our treasure truly lies.

How wonderful it would be to have friends like Gandalf – willing to ask the uncomfortable questions. True friends who are watching out for our spiritual well-being. He reminds me of Nathan – who went to David to confront him regarding his sin.

Journal Questions

  • What is it that the Lord is asking you to let go of?
  • What is your “precious?”
  • How willing are you to part with it?
  • Do you have a Gandalf who has pointed out something that may be “mastering” you?

God and Prosperity

pursuitofhappiness

The world is obsessed with the idea of getting more, achieving their dreams and gaining success.

The U.S. Declaration of Independence tells us:

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

But I can’t help but think that it is because we feel that we HAVE TO BE happy that we are SO dissatisfied. Are we truly endowed by our Creator with the “unalienable right” to be happy? Is “happiness” the highest good that we can have in life?

….or does God have ideas?

The “Prosperity” Gospel tells us that it is God’s plan for all of us to be “healthy and wealthy” but nothing could be further from the Truth.

Rather than try (and fail) to spell out why the Prosperity Gospel is NOT the gospel at all, I give you John Piper’s words.

Short Version:

Longer Version

Journal Questions

  • Have you encountered the “prosperity gospel” before?
  • What do you feel about poverty and sickness in life?
  • Are you in bondage to the “pursuit of happiness”?

 Greed Quotes

“The world says: “You have needs — satisfy them…. Don’t hesitate to satisfy your needs; indeed, expand your needs and demand more.” This is the worldly doctrine of today. And they believe that this is freedom. { Fyodor Dostoyevsky }

  • Think of the most recent commercials, magazines, celebrities that have stirred up your appetite for more.
  • In what ways has the world influenced your idea of “need”? 

 

If your desires be endless, your cares and fears will be so, too.

Riches enlarge, rather than satisfy appetites.

{ Thomas Fuller }

The pursuit of things robs me of investing more in the work of Christ. { Jack Hyles }

Any so-called material thing that you want is merely a symbol: you want it not for itself, but because it will content your spirit for the moment. { Mark Twain }

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. { Jim Elliot }


gift-vs-greed-economy-1024x575

This week was the very first time I had heard of the term “gift economy” and it was intriguing to say the least. But in my opinion, it is a truth – half-realised – a good example of the world’s idea of righteousness.

In contrast to the Seven Deadly Sins is the Seven Heavenly Virtues and the opposite of “Greed” is “Charity” (Caritas).

But this is not just to be confused with the world’s idea of charity but with the Agape love as demonstrated on The Cross — Christ-like generosity, kindness and self-sacrifice.

  • How can giving help you combat your own greed?
  • Is the Lord challenging you to a higher level of “charity” or “giving” today?
  • What is the loving-kindness of Christ inspiring you to do?

 

“Greed” Songs

A fast paced “Sunday School” type song that shows modern day greed.

A good song to soak in – “Satisfied in You”

- A Soaking Song that you can use as a confession and prayer

I Shall Not Want by Audrey Assad

From the love of my own comfort, From the fear of having nothing
From a life of worldly passions – Deliver me O God

From the need to be understood, From the need to be accepted
From the fear of being lonely – Deliver me O God, Deliver me O God

And I shall not want, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

From the fear of serving others, From the fear of death or trial
From the fear of humility – Deliver me O God, Deliver me O God

And I shall not want, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

{ Envy } The Green Eyed Monster

beware-of-envy

To start, take some time to answer these questions (taken from Les Carter’s “Mind Over Emotions“)

  1. Do you work extremely hard to come out looking good? (i.e. to the point of obsession? – you can’t go out without looking “put together”)
  2. Do you examine others with a critical eye?
  3. Do you have hidden feelings of inferiority? (that you are somehow “less” in value than others)
  4. Do you complain about not getting fair treatment?
  5. Do you have an insatiable desire for success?
  6. Do you seek recognition for your achievements?
  7. Do you tend to be status conscious? (i.e. you are hyper-aware of your social status in comparison to others)
  8. Do you find it hard to pay compliments to others?
  9. Do you keep score of your own good deeds and those of others?
  10. Are you willing to pass along negative rumors about a successful person?
  11. Do you put on a false front in order to appear impressive? (i.e. you don’t want to appear weak or less than great)
  12. Do you base your self-image on your performance?

This is a test to show your susceptibility to ENVY.

Envy is closely related to Jealousy but they are very different.


ENVY VS JEALOUSY: DEFINED

envyjealousy

The best way to see the difference between these two very similar terms is to see their origins.

The root word for jealousy comes from the word for “zealous”. It is rooted in whole-hearted devotion, that is, the desire to be irreplaceable and the fear of a possession being taken. One CANNOT be jealous over something or someone without viable claim. God Himself is well known to be the self-proclaimed “jealous God”. He demands to be worshipped as the One True God who jealously guards the throne of our hearts against false idols and “lesser” gods.

The root word for envy is derived from “invidere” – a term used to describe when one looks on another with “the evil eye” – that is, with bitterness and resentment. It is rooted in the “desire” and “longing” to achieve or to possess something that one does not presently have (or lacks of). This feeling usually originates from discontent. It may also begin by comparing one’s self with others – to consider what others have as better than what we have.

A good contrast between jealousy and envy is this: jealousy is not sinful per se – but envy is always malicious in intent.


ENVY QUOTES & OTHER RESOURCES

As a moth gnaws a garment, so doth envy consume a man. { John Chrysostom }

There be three usual causes of ingratitude upon a benefit received – envy, pride, and covetousness; envy, looking more at other’s benefits than our own; pride, looking more at ourselves than at the benefit; covetousness, looking more at what we would have than at what we have. { Joseph Hall }

It is a very human trait in us to feel that another’s advancement is in some way a blow to ourselves. It is equally a human trait to feel that another’s downfall and disgrace in some way adds a bit of luster to our own crowns. Of course, nothing could be more utterly false. { Clovis G. Chappel }

The cure for the sin of envy and jealousy is to find our contentment in God. { Jerry Bridges }

Covetousness is therefore, a sin with a very wide range. If it is the desire for money, it leads to theft. If it is the desire for prestige, it leads to evil ambition. If it is the desire for power, it leads to sadistic tyranny. If it is the desire for a person, it leads to sexual sin. { William Barclay }


ENVY and BEAUTY

Every week I prepare the graphic / imagery for the sermon series and I usually begin by trying to think of characters that may stand as a metaphorical representation.

In the Bible, envy can be illustrated in the Bible’s first case of sibling rivalry: Cain and Abel. Cain’s gaze on his brother had turned malicious when he saw that Abel had won the Lord’s favour through his offering – while Cain’s offering had been deemed unacceptable. Take note that this envious gaze would lead to murder.

In the end, I chose to use the image of Medusa – the woman with a head of snakes. In my opinion, although her story is mere myth, she illustrates the effect of envy.

As a human, she had been a woman of great beauty who was pursued by many. So much so that a god had fallen in love with her and had made her break her vow of chastity. Enraged, the goddess Athena (whom Medusa had served as priestess) cursed Medusa – turning her beauty into a weapon of terror. Her hair was transformed into snakes – whoever would gaze into her eyes would turn into stone. When you think about it, isn’t that what envy does?

Medusa was eventually defeated by Perseus who looked at her using a mirror (not directly) and was able to cut her head off.

Ultimately, envy is defeated when we see things with through the mirror of God’s perspective – HIS Truth that reveals the Enemy’s half truths and whole lies. When we see ourselves as God sees us, when we see others as God sees them – envy’s head is defeated.

envy

Another thing we may derive from this story is the danger of falling for the trap of beauty. I don’t think there is anything sinful about beauty – but the world’s idea of beauty relies heavily on socially accepted “standards” that seem to favour only a certain TYPE of beauty – i.e. “skinny” is better than curvy, that “fair” skin is better than “dark” – etc. .

The world’s beauty is limited and temporary. It does not take into account the uniqueness of God’s handiwork. True beauty is something that has that element of “eternity” – the colours of a radiant sunset will always be beautiful – because it speaks to us on a “spirit” level – the true beauty of a person will always be beautiful regardless of time – because it draws the eye not to the creation but to the Creator himself.

Reflection

  1. Think on “beauty” and what you think is beautiful in a person.
  2. Stare at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself whether there is something in you that you personally think is ugly or unattractive.
  3. Ask the Lord to reveal to you HIS version of beauty and repent if you have allowed the world’s ideas to taint that image.

{ Re: Envy the Green-Eyed Monster }

  1. Re: this week’s Sermon on “Envy” – What struck you from the sermon?
  2. Psalm 37: 1 – In what ways have you been envious of people who are living in sin?
  3. Henry Drummond tells us that “Whenever you attempt a good work you will find other men doing the same kind of work, and probably doing it better. Envy them not.” – Envy is an emotion that is familiar in ministry – Ask the Lord to reveal to you if you are harbouring envy for someone in Church (or elsewhere). Ask for wisdom in how to deal with this.
  4. Honestly, how content are you these days? Is God enough?
  5. Les Carter cites (5) sources of envy: [1] being overly concerned with personal rights, [2] taking other people’s success personally, [3] desiring selfish gain, [4] yearning for status and achievement, and [5] an inability to share — based on this, are you in danger of falling into the sin of “envy”? (link in Tapestry Blog to the original article).
  6. Confession: Envy starts with a misplaced idea of what we need to be happy – otherwise known as an idol – what are the things that you are currently desiring for – things (other than God) that you feel are the key to you being happy?
  7. Re: “Beautiful Beautiful” by Francesca Battistelli

 

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I grew up in a household where everything was rationed. Whenever we were given food to eat, the first question inevitably asked would be, “how much do we each get?” Squabbling would always ensue whenever my mum would give her portion to one of us. Worse still when my mum would ask me to give up some of mine: “Ikaw ang panganay, dapat marunong kang magpakaraya.” (translation: You are the eldest. You should know how to give way to your younger siblings.”

Unfortunately, I never did see how my mother tried to exemplify the virtues of sharing and sacrificial giving. Yes, I would give up my portion. But not with joy – but with much resentment. To me, there were never enough for anyone. I could never be satisfied. 

I envied my brother for being ‘the beloved son”. It seemed to me that my father would always dote on “Daniel Junior” – the one who would carry his name. No matter how well or badly he performed, he would never lose that position. I, on the other hand, seemed to have to “earn” my place. His birth was prophesied – hence he was also named “Isaac”. I lost count how many times growing up wishing, I had been born a son

I envied my sister for being ‘the bunso’. If Daniel was “Daniel Jr.” people joked that Charity was “Little Emma”. She always seemed to have it so much easier: whenever she would do wrong, she would get the minimum punishment, whatever she wanted, mum and dad (and everybody else) gave it to her.  And she never seemed afraid to ask for more. How I longed to do the very same. 

I had this misconception about the availability of affection. It seemed to me that love, like everything else in life, was rationed because of limited supply. If someone wanted more, others would have less. This, after all, is the general way that things are done in the world – basic economics (supply and demand, scarcity, etc.) So, I took only what was given and what I was given, I thought I had to earn. And a result, I grew up bitter, performance-driven and hideously proud and jealous.

I had a breakthrough a few years back during a soaking retreat when the Lord confronted me, “Why not ask for more? I am more than enough – for everyone. Why be afraid? I love you and you cannot be replaced.”

For the first time, I realized the implications of God’s unending and unconditional love – and this truth helped to change me from feeling “forgotten and deprived” to being “favoured and delighted on”. 

Now I give because I know I have been blessed immeasurably more than I could ever deserve. And I give freely – because the Lord is my portion and I will never be bankrupt of love. I grow bolder in worship – to go to Him for the love that I desperately need and I dare to ask for more of Him – because He is more than enough.

{ Mothers } Know Best x Beware of { Duplicity }

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Fourteen days after Mother’s Day – the flowers have wilted, the chocolates eaten, the tears have dried and so, its probably time to face some harsher facts about mothers

  1. For all the “good things” are mothers have done for us. They are far from perfect.
  2. Mother brought us into the world – but there’s also a reason why the term “mother” is usually used as a negative when used as an adjective – as in “the mother of all storms”, “mother nature strikes back”, “the mother load” — because people have all suffered from all kinds of mothers: from smothering mothers to absentee mothers, vain mothers, gossiping mothers, surrogate mothers, step-mothers, sister-mothers, dad-mothers, stay-at-home-mothers, career mothers — and, oh yeah. EVE, the Mother of all mankind.
  3. I’ll come right out and say it, if your parents were great to you – good for you. But the rest of us on planet earth – have struggled with some sort of “mummy issue” — why? Because even “mothers love” is not enough.

On Mothers Day, there is much talk about how patient and sacrificial our mothers were/are. How thankful we are for the love that they have given to us – even when we were undeserving. How patiently they cared for us when we were frail and weak.

But the fact of the matter is – a mothers love is but a shadow of something even greater – the tender mercies of God’s love.

It was a couple of years ago when I had first heard about “The Mother Heart of God” — and to be honest, it did not sit well with me at that time. I knew that I needed God to heal me but I thought I knew where my damage was. I was still telling God what was wrong with me instead of letting Him show me. The first thing he showed me – was how deeply I longed for mothers love.

I longed for comfort, emotional security, for acknowledgement, for leniency, mercy.

Without delving too deeply into this I will tell you now that the Lord has helped me through most of the hurt that I had harboured against my mother. But He is still working things out. The “love of a mother” is very important – but it is not irreplaceable. So if you grew up – with a lack or deficiency of “mothers love” – all is not lost.

The Lord reassures us in Isaiah 66:13 “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you…”

The Lord has done this for me – and trust me, he can do this for you.

Ultimately, the love that we seek in our mothers – is a love that is perfected in God.


 

Let me remind you now that a journal is a place of confrontation. As we write, we should always BE HONEST – Resist the urge to sugar coat things as well as the urge to exaggerate. Some people like to “pick” at wounds – wounds that should already be healed. In our stubbornness to let things go and let God do his healing, we have prolonged our agony – perhaps, because we like playing the victim.

Beware-of-Duplicity

Many of these prompts will invite you into the past — so, heed my warning: BEWARE of your own mind’s duplicity.

We lie to ourselves – more often than we care to admit.

Memories are tricky things – tragedy is always easier to remember than the mundane but both are important components that shape life. Memories are also easily skewed. The way we remember things is heavily influenced by factors surrounding the events. Our memories as children may seem vivid but they are not as accurate as we may think.

So, before writing out memories – I strongly suggest that you pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help you remember things as they truly happened. I have experienced times when the Lord would even “unlock” memories that I had already forgotten.

Please proceed with caution in these waters – above all else, remind yourself that all of these things in our past have already been redeemed. As children redeemed by the blood of Christ, the past has no more claim on us. So, do not fear.


 Quotable Quotes about Mothers

What the mother sings to the cradle goes all the way down to the coffin.

The mother’s heart is the child’s classroom.

{ Henry Ward Beecher }

I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. 

They have clung to me all my life.

{ Abraham Lincoln }

Too many women have too much leisure time for their own good. They have time for criticism, gossip, faultfinding, and complaining. They have time for idle games and lay too much attention to things of the flesh. There are other women who have too little time for the enduring things of life.  They are too busy flitting about doing this and that. They have great activity and much doing, but they lack time for building Christian characters. 

Both kinds of women — the too-idle and the too-busy need to take time for meditation and quiet repose in prayer to God. They need time to cultivate their souls that in turn they may cultivate their children’s lives.

{ Billy Graham }

There is more power in a mother’s hand than in a king’s scepter.

{ Billy Sunday }

Education commences at the mother’s knee, and every word spoken

within hearsay of little children tends toward the formation of character.

{ Hosea Ballou }

Ladies, [motherhood] is a full-time job. Do not kid yourself that you can be a dental receptionist and a mother; that you can be a typist and a mom; that you can be a Vice President and a mom. 

One of the two things will win. Now look at your Bible and ask what you have to do.

{ Alistair Begg }

“Becoming a mother makes you the mother of all children. From now on each wounded, abandoned, frightened child is yours. You live in the suffering mothers of every race and creed and weep with them. You long to comfort all who are desolate.”

{ Charlotte Gray }


Mothers Videos / Resources

 

“Indescribable Mum”

The past two weeks leading to Mothers Sunday, I was writing a song called “Indescribable Mum”. It required me to think back to all the things that my mother told me. The Saturday before Mothers Sunday, I said this to my dad (about mum).

Mum really hurt me when I was growing up. For so long I had nursed this hurt and refused to let go. True healing began when the Lord opened my eyes to a most sobering fact: who my mum is now is not who she was before. How could I hold her responsible for her actions and what she put me through – when that person is gone. 

Questions

  1. What are the differences between the mother you knew back then – and the mother that you know now?
  2. Has your relationship evolved? soured? deepened? become complicated? Why?

“Mothers Knows Best” from Tangled (the Animated Movie)

- In here, “Mother” Gothel is actually a baddie who kidnapped Rapunzel (with the long hair) when she was just a babe. While some might argue that Gothel does care for Rapunzel as “her” daughter, I would say that she is a good example of so many bad mothers out there.

She discourages Rapunzel from going out by telling her of the many dangers that await her, she disparages Rapunzel’s confidence by pointing out her weaknesses, she even uses guilt to get her way. Manipulative, lying and selfish.

Gothel took Rapunzel from her mother because her hair has the power to “heal”.

Questions

  1. How many half truths and whole lies have we been told – for “our safety” (but later on we find that it was really for their benefit).
  2. If you’re a mother, have you ever tried to use these kinds of manipulative tactics to get your kids to “behave”?

 

 

“The Blind Side” is a movie semi-based on the true story of an Leigh Anne Tuohy – a woman living the American dream – and Michael Oher – a young boy who grew up in the slums of America. This is a story about how we find mothers in the unlikeliest of times and places.

Questions

  1. Who would you consider the “mother figures” in your life? (you may NOT be related by blood) – People who showed you unconditional compassion, comfort and tough love when you needed it most.
  2. How did you meet this person? What kind of role did they play in your life? What influence did they have on you that you can detect even today?

{ Re: Mother Knows Best, Right? } 

Read – Reflect – Remain – Respond

  1. Re: this week’s Sermon on “Beware of Duplicity”
    • What “promises” did your mother make to you that she never fulfilled? Or did she ever say something to you that you thought was ‘truth’ but ended up being falsehood?
    • What kind of effect did this have on you growing up?
  2. For Mothers Sunday, we were asked to bring a small memento to remind us of something that our mothers taught us – write the story of that item.
    • What does this object remind you of?
    • What did your mother teach you? – this may be a lesson that they actually taught you – or a lesson you learned as a result of your mother (a good or a bad one).
  3. Sociologist Davide Popenoe of Rutgers University has done extensive research on the different functions that moms and dads play in the lives of their kids.  His studies show that mothers are more likely to stress a child’s need for emotional security and personal safety.
    • How did your mother affect your sense of emotional security and personal safety (as a child and now)?
    • Did she make you feel safe and secure – through her words or actions? Or did she make you feel vulnerable and in danger?
    • If you are a mother, how are you caring your children’s emotional security and personal safety?
  4. David Popenoe also found that in the area of discipline, moms offer flexibility and sympathy.
    • How did your mother discipline you? (Was she fair? abusive? uncaring?)
    • Did you experience flexibility and sympathy?
  5. Write a letter to your mother or a letter to your children. (Note: this letter doesn’t need to be sent (its up to you).