Throw Away Your Bucket List! (Windows of Heaven # 3)

We can throw away our bucket list, for this earth is not our last chance at all! We don’t have to sail the isles of Greece, see the penguins of Antarctica,  or parachute from an airplane before we die (in case that is your heart’s desire) – we’ll experience it all, only better, at the “renewal of all things.” Grasping this life that awaits us will loosen our grasp on this world, helping us set our affections on things above, where our real life is hidden with Christ in God. We don’t have to spend these precious days chasing things under the sun, for it will all be there, only better, and we will be so thankful we lived for what truly mattered. This week we are to look at the New Heaven and New Earth through the window of Isaiah […]

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A Living Hope in A Dying World (Heaven Series: #2)

I’m with my daughter Annie this weekend on a mini get-a-way together. Shortly after I went to bed, she came into our bedroom and said: “Mom — we are bombing Syria.” I sat up, in shock. Then she asked, “Is this going to be World War III?” Our world is filled with sin, sorrow, and war. Both the letter of 1 Peter and the book of Revelation were written to believers facing persecution and death, to give them a living hope, so that they might persevere in the face of suffering, and not give up. “The new heaven and the new earth” is not a pie in the sky dream, and the pictures in Revelation are not crazy, they point to something that is really going to happen. Why, we should ask, did Peter use the phrase: “living hope?” We […]

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WINDOWS INTO HEAVEN (New Study)

This Spring I’m excited to look through the windows of Scripture into heaven. Though many books have been written by those who had near death experiences, I don’t know whom to believe and whom not to believe! But I know I can believe Scripture, and there’s more here than I realized. It is so different than I once thought, and SO MUCH MORE EXCITING. I’m keeping the lessons short, for spring is busy, and I’m hoping to keep many of you. We’ll go slowly, with growing excitement. I have found seeing the truth about heaven not only gives me hope, but loosens my grip on this world, and helps me overcome disappointment. For as Teresa of Avila said, Note: Because these lessons are shorter, if you want to share prayer requests here, feel free. I would ask you to write […]

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The Wonder of It All (Easter Week 2018)

    This is a film clip from John Eldredge based on his book: All Things New that will start off our week of wonder at the power of the cross. The same power that rose Jesus from the dead is going to make all things new. Imagine yourself as a little old lady who loves Jesus (some of us don’t have to imagine). Despite the aches and arthritis of old age, an aging body, and a simple room in a care center, you have found contentment because you know Him! One night God takes you in your sleep and in the morning… Easter Sunday: 1.What stands out to you from the above and why? 2. After church today, come and share one thing that was particularly meaningful to you and why. Monday-Tuesday: Message From Mike Reeves   3. Share […]

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Why Holy Week is Hard, Yet So Powerful For Us (Isaiah 53)

When I was a new Christian, I didn’t want to go to Good Friday services, for I felt it was so hard to think about the enormous suffering of Jesus.   Steve and I were in a little church in Oregon and Steve was coming alive to the Lord. He had been coming with me to church and Bible study from the beginning of my conversion three years earlier, and was in agreement with what he heard. It was when he was helping with the homeless in downtown Indianapolis and passing out blankets, food, and tracts (and reading them) that he realized he was going to hell and put his trust in Christ. Yet, still, I didn’t see a passion there. When we moved to Oregon, our pastor (who happened to be our own Sharon’s future father-in-law) took a special interest […]

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Behold Your God

What can transform our anxious hearts? Beholding our God, and Isaiah helps us to do this so well. What can help us release our idols? Beholding our God. That is because we can’t just say no, our hearts must be melted by His love and power, so that we can trust Him and wait upon Him. How many times have we given into temptation because we did not wait upon Him? This week, this last week before Holy Week, let us consider some of the beautiful word pictures in Isaiah, along with comments from Albert Motyer, to help us behold our God and melt our hearts of stone. I am often anxious, and worry is the idol I’m endeavoring to replace with trust in God. I often get very anxious about tech at a retreat, for it seems to often […]

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Comfort Ye, Comfort Ye My People

There is good news in Isaiah! After all the hard news, comes beautiful Isaiah 40, leading the way into much good news. Many of you are facing severe trials — even death. Some of you have the severe pain of division in your family. All of us have had times of feeling defeated by sin or by Satan. The words of comfort Isaiah spoke were not just for Judah, but for us, His children, as well.  This life, so often, is a battle. So often we fail and become discouraged. But one day our “warfare will be accomplished,” and there will be no more sin nor sorrow nor death. Let us soak in the tender words of God this week. As Albert Motyer says: At this darkest of moments, the call goes out to speak the word of comfort, (vs. […]

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The Purpose of Lent is to Experience Christ

We really do not comprehend just how serious sin is. One of the purposes of Lent is to help us see how our idolatry grieves a holy God, so that we might truly repent, remove the false lover and experience His filling. This week, as a preface to the second part of Isaiah, we are going to look at just how severely God judged His people for idolatry, sending them to be captives in Babylon for 70 years. Jerusalem was destroyed, their babies dashed upon the rocks, and they were taken captive by the cruel and hedonistic Babylonians. Psalm 137 is a lament, a song of their pain, and also an imprecatory psalm, so a most interesting psalm to ponder. I do not know the artist who captured Psalm 137 below, but I want you to see and hear the […]

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VARIATIONS ON A THEME

My “heart burns within me” when I see the gospel theme repeat throughout the Old and New Testaments. 66 books written over many centuries, by many men in many cultures. And yet, I keep hearing and seeing the same gospel, the same Savior — variations on one beautiful theme. One Seamless Story. One Gospel Thread Throughout. One Glorious Savior. We will see it this week in Isaiah! Tim Keller tells of being profoundly impacted by Alec Motyer, our expert in Isaiah, when Keller was a young man — before his seminary days. Keller tells of how, in his early twenties, he “had held the vague, unexamined impression that in the Old Testament people were saved through obeying a host of detailed laws but that today we were freely forgiven and accepted by faith.” But then he heard Old Testament scholar […]

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The Gospel According To Isaiah

Lent is a time of washing ourselves so that we might be clean vessels filled for Christ, experiencing more of Him! Whenever I asked theologians I respect about the best commentary on Isaiah, every single one said “Alec Motyer.” He spent 30 years writing his massive volume for IVP, and he has his own translation of Isaiah. A few years ago, after he finished, he went to be with the Lord. There are three sections in Isaiah: The King, The Suffering Servant, and The Anointed Conqueror. This is what Motyer writes:   I love everything about Isaiah — the way he writes, his mastery of words, the rhythmic beauty of his Hebrew and, above all, the magnificent sweep of his messianic vision, taking in the glory of Jesus as God and King, the wonder and fullness of the salvation he accomplished, and […]

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Get Ready, Get Set, for A Fruitful Lent!

  Nowhere in Scripture does it tell us to practice Lent. It isn’t an “I ought,” It’s an “I can.” This year we will journey together to higher ground. In the next three days, each of us will ask God to give us His plan for our individual journey, and then, this Wednesday, which is officially Ash Wednesday, we will begin, together, cheering one another on, picking one another up when we fall, for we will, but we will get up and continue in a long  obedience in the same direction, ending on March 31. 40 days excluding Sundays. Here is the plan: Counselor David Powlison explains that “anytime something bad comes out of your life our mouth, a heart idol is operating.” A heart idol is a way you are trying to meet your needs independently of God. For […]

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My Heart Bursts Its Banks

One last psalm before we begin our Lenten Adventure! And a glorious psalm it is! Not often do we get a peek into how holy men were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the Scriptures, but here we get a glimpse. The psalmist is so taken with what God has impressed on his heart, that “his heart bursts its banks,” breaking forth from his pen. I am so excited for you to meet Lucy, for I LOVE LUCY! Sometimes people ask me, “Are you afraid to go into the prisons?” I tell them, “Oh, I wish you could go with me and meet these women. These are women who have been so strengthened by the ministry of Discipleship Unlimited. http://www.discipleshipunlimited.org/ An army of volunteers is discipling them, and they, like Lucy, soak it up like a man dying of […]

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CUT TO THE HEART (Psalm 16 Part 2)

A few summers ago a young cousin stopped by. She and my daughter Annie had been good friends in childhood. I love this young woman, but rarely see her as she lives in Hawaii, and I’d never met her husband. We sat on the porch with iced teas and I asked her husband about his intriguing name: Ezekiel. “Ezekiel, you are the first man I’ve ever met with that name. Is there a story? How did your parents choose that name?” “My mother saw a book called Ezekiel in a bookstore and just liked the name.” “Well, perhaps God inspired her! Did you know that Ezekiel was a prophet, and a book in the Bible is named after him?” “Yes, I did.  But I don’t know what that book is about.” My cousin said, “Dee knows the Bible! Tell us […]

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In Your Presence is Fullness Of Joy (Psalm 16 – Part I.)

Our hearts are going to break — we can count on it.  But the surprise is that suffering can actually produce joy. I want you to meet Stephanie, a new young friend and neighbor! She is the youthful Mary to my aging Elizabeth and comes to my door brimming with joy, magnifying the Lord. She tells me:  “I used to get antsy after five minutes of prayer, Dee, but now I don’t want to stop, for I am sensing His presence so! I don’t want this sweet season to end!” How did this twenty-something woman stumble upon the secret that eludes many believers for decades, even their whole lives? Through suffering. Here is Stephanie this summer.   Before Stephanie moved to our green thumb that juts into Lake Michigan, She was a missionary in a  dry and dusty part of […]

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Resurrection Power in our Sisterhood

  This week God gave me “fresh” manna and when He did, it truly was a kiss, a reminder that despite my daily self-centeredness, He loves me. He loves us when times are good and when we are good, but, oh, He loves us when times are bad, and when we are bad. That’s the gospel truth. He also shows us how to respond when times are bad. Psalm 126 shows us how not to waste our tears, but to sow our tears. What His Spirit showed me that was new to me, and thrilled my soul, is how the book of Ruth is an illustration of Psalm 126. Both of these “works of art” use the land as  a picture of what God can do in the hearts of God’s people.    The same One who can turn a […]

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