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AWAKENINGS (Two Week Study May 29th through June 9th )
















It’s all around us — so it is a matter of being alert and giving thanks.

This last week I returned to my cabin. As I ride down through the woods toward the water, the knots in my neck disappear. This place always lifts my soul beyond my self-preoccupation to think about our magnificent God. My son J. R. and his fiance Dianne came, and he helped me get some footage for the curriculum on Idol Lies. I often think of Ann Voskamp’s quote “my camera is a hammer” — how hammering one nail (seeing and thanking) can drive out another (not seeing or thanking.) J. R. ‘s camera was a hammer.

The second night there was a gorgeous sunset, but we didn’t realize until later that it was an extremely rare solar eclipse. We could see that better on the film. Do you see how the moon has eclipsed the sun? How can you see this and not have your heart quickened? He is Lord of all!


Solar Eclipse May 21, 2012 photographed by J. R. Brestin


When I see His glory in nature, I say, with the psalmist:

When I look at your heavens,

the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars,

which you have set in place,

what is man that you are mindful of him?

(Psalm 8:3-4)



J. R. suggested I go down to the beach before the sun disappeared so he could get me walking in front of what we still thought was simply a magnificent sunset. In my rush, my sandal caught on the steps between the deck and the beach, and I somersaulted onto the rocks. I knew I was in trouble. J. R. cried out and came running. Even in the midst of blood and pain, it was a comfort to see how deeply he cared — his tears, his prayers, his scooping me up to get me to the house. His fiance Dianne grabbed a package of frozen blueberries to hold on my goose-egg, and off we drove to the Sturgeon Bay hospital for me to be stitched up. They prayed all the way. Though I was in distress, I also, through these two, sensed God’s care. I deserve nothing, but I sensed His calming presence. We suffer every day in small or big ways — but we must let that suffering draw us to Him, help us sense His presence. (And at least my fall was romantic — tumbling into the sunset…)

I have also sensed His presence in the kindness of strangers…they see my battered face and go the extra mile — even the security agent who patted me down yesterday at the airport was especially gentle and soothing! Every time I hurt it awakens me to how hard it is to be hurt, to be “poor,” to be vulnerable — and how much I need to sense Jesus through others — and I have!


J. R. is my firstborn. I was twenty when he was born: a lost, spoiled, and foolish mother. Despite all that, God’s grace rescued us, and J. R. has grown into a godly man. However, before God awakened to me to my idol of control, I was continually trying to fix my adult children instead of simply praying and trusting God. J. R. and I often disagree, and sometimes the view from my Presbyterian perch seemed so very different from the view from his Pentecostal perch, even though we were looking at the same Lord and the same Gospel. Continually I wanted to show J. R. that my view was the right one and his was the wrong one! I did it openly and side-ways, for my control idol was very creative. This only led to hurt and withdrawal. But in the last five years, as “The Stonecutter,”  has been chipping away at my control idol, I have been awakened to a new appreciation of this son and his perspective. We still often see things differently, but there is a new sweetness in our relationship. This is the power of God which can only be released when idols are replaced by Him.

How thankful I am for this restoration. Intimacy with my family and with my God. I think of what Rebecca said, “Intimacy with God is like a stream — and I don’t like the rocks that get in the way.”


This week I have been convicted by His Word, but it is a good and beautiful piercing, awakening me from my default mode of self-preoccupation.  I was freshly reminded of how often I confine my Christianity to those who are closest to me — to those who affect me! But oh — that is not God’s heart for me. He wants me to bring His love not just to those who are close to me, but to those for whom His heart breaks. He cares for the oppressed, the lost — for those who like the Ninevites “do not know their right hand from their left.” (Jonah 4:11) How deeply that has been re-emphasized to me again this week as I’ve been reading Keller’s: Generous Justice.

The first point that particularly awakened me is that so often we think of giving to the poor, the prisoner, the oppressed, and the lost as charity, which we might think as optional — but the Bible calls it JUSTICE. It is unjust to withhold, it is unjust to disobey God, it is unjust to shut up our compassions — all these are forms of sin. A fresh definition of sin, which Jonah so vividly illustrates, is running from God.


Jonah ran from God when he refused to forgive, refused to have compassion, and refused to obey.

And we do too.

And a fresh definition of grace, is God pursuing us, rescuing us from our self-destructive behavior.

Grace is God pursuing us, rescuing us from our self-destructive behavior


Are we really destroying ourselves when we refuse to forgive? When we refuse to give justice to those whom God has called us to give justice?

Yes. That is what Jesus says. Perhaps the two most famous chapters are Matthew 25 (sheep and goats) and Isaiah 58, the passage we will look at this week.

I remember the first time I heard a sermon on Isaiah 58. It was from Greg Scharf (a pastor Renee and I were both blessed to have) who became John Stott’s back up preacher and is also the main preaching professor at Trinity. I was pierced by his exposition of Isaiah 58. When God speaks to your heart, there is a quickening, an awaking from the dead. It’s been thirty years, but I still remember Pastor Scharf’s words:

As evangelicals we often define Christianity in terms of private morality —when it is so much more. It is, among so many things, “to pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted…”  He said that it was hard for his wife and him to continually do this unless they had people move right in with them — that was the best way they knew to continually show hospitality to those in need.

That was the beginning of a journey of ongoing hospitality for Steve and me, to adoptions, to a different lifestyle. God in His grace rescued us through His Word from our self-destructive behavior. Yet I need continual rescuing, because I have what Martin Luther termed: “curvature of the soul.” I need to continually gaze on His beauty by being in the Word. Day in. Day out.

Here’s a quote from Generous Justice:

If you are a Christian, and you refrain from committing adultery or using profanity or missing church, but you don’t do the hard work of thinking through how to do justice in every area of life — you are failing o live justly and righteously.

This week you will hear a free sermon from Keller on Isaiah 58. But as Keller says at the close of this sermon, and this is SO IMPORTANT, these passages can make you feel guilty — but guilt is not an effective motivator. We may respond for a few days — but most likely, we just get immunized. We would rather live with the dull ache than to truly and completely love — to forgive, to give, to love as He does.

So what do we do?

We must gaze on His beauty.


When I lost Steve, what helped me the most was to know that Christ loved us so much that He went all the way to the cross. I knew He understood the pain of being separated from the One He loved the most. I knew that, as the Man of Sorrows, He “sat shiva” with me.

Even this week, though this trial of feeling and looking like I’ve been in a prize fight, is a much smaller trial, the cross comforts me. I look in the mirror and see a face that looks like it has been beaten, and I think, “You looked much worse. You were beaten for me. You understand my pain and shame.” I know He understands and cares. That’s the beauty of my Savior. That’s what changes my heart and lifts me beyond my self-preoccupation to being His love in the world.

This is another two week study — you need the time because of Memorial Day Weekend, and I need the time because of my accident! But this is such important material, I think it is God’s plan to slow down. Go at your own pace or follow this time line.

Most of all — keep setting your mind on His beauty — and these five ways may help show you how.

Week 1:

Sunday/Memorial Day/Tuesday

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

2. Do you have a praise for something that happened over the Memorial Day weekend?

3.  you saw His beauty? (See my five ways above)


Wed/Friday Bible Study

Isaiah 58

It is so easy to appear to be walking with the Lord, when in reality we are pointing our fingers at other people, shutting up our compassions to those in need, and “hiding” from our own flesh and blood. This is a passage that can change your life. Study it — then listen to Keller — and its beauty can awaken you!

4. Read Isaiah 58:1-2 and describe how they had an appearance of holiness.

5. But, according to Isaiah 58:3-5, what revealed their true hearts?

6. According to Isaiah 58:6-7, describe a “true fast.” Don’t be afraid to let Him speak to you hear — He loves you and wants to bless you.

7. We hurt ourselves when we disobey God, when we run from God. What blessings do we forfeit according to Isaiah 58:8-14?


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

Week 2: June 3, 2012

Sunday/Monday: Icebreaker

Jonah gives us a fresh definition of “sin” and “grace.” (Look at above pictures)

9. Share a time when you “ran from God,” but He pursued you, rescuing you from your own self-destructive behavior.

Tuesday-Friday  Keller Sermon

This is a free sermon entitled “Justice” available on the Redeemer Ap under MP3’s and then under

Renewing the City (Look for Justice)

or go to this link — it looks like you will have to purchase it, but it will be free

10. Explain the importance of justice

11. How does the Bible define justice?

12. Keller closes with talking about how beauty can change us, but guilt will not. Take copious notes!

13. What stands out to you and why?


14. What is your take-a-way and why?




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  1. Cant wait to get started! I am glad to be back! I have missed you ladies!

    1. Always glad to see you here, Meg.

  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXVUYC_ykwE


    wanted to share this song… the pictures in this video are amazing… How can we not worship his creation!

    1. Beautiful song, Meg. Very moving.

    2. Wow! Thanks for sharing that. I needed that!

    3. Great way to start my day, Meg. I love the prodigal picture reminding me I am both prodigal and elder brother. Thank you!

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

    The beauty of the sunset/solar eclipse, the “bummer” of your fall while filming for the new book (and the pain of course), The very strange picture of a diver getting ready to be eaten by a whale (? Looks so real….) and how I feel like everytime I read the Bible I find something I didn’t know before; how many things are connected from the OT to the NT and I never realized it before. I think this is really my take away from last week, but it just hit me now 🙂

    1. That picture of the diver close to the whale with an open mouth is scary. What is the story behind that picture?

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






    This is what stood out to me… I just had a situation where I was very anxious and absored in myself and not really asking God to help me and was thinking of all the bad stuff that could happen if i shoudl see this person.. BUt when i listend to some praise music and some of the pictures of these songs have suhc powerful pictures of his beaty i was calmed down.. and was able to focus in Sunday school and in the nurery.

  5. Sunday/Memorial Day/Tuesday

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

    Oh, Dee, I am so sorry to hear about your brush with the rocks in Door County. Not a good thing. They can be beautiful, stepping stones even — or pretend moon rocks that you skip across the ice (I think it is on Tennesen bay) in Peninsula State Park in the dead of winter. It sounds just like swirling whooshes across a vast moonscape when you encounter them in that manner.

    I trust the healing will come quickly — and thank the Lord that J.R. and his fiance were right there for you.

    The Isaiah 58 passage will be a good one to study. And the Keller book on Justice — I’ve been reluctant to pick it up because of fear of “justice” for someone I dearly love. Lord, have mercy upon us all. God cares deeply how we treat prisoners and ex-prisoners. Perhaps the community in general and we believers specifically are in need of repentence over this issue. Seeing this point of view is actually encouraging me to purchase this book. Thank you for putting your perspective on this book in writing, Dee.

    I’m going to wait to answer the other two questions — the Memorial Day weekend is not yet completed and already there is so much beauty to absorb — plants in full bloom early, wonderful meandering rides in the country.

  6. I’m anxious to get on with a new study this week. I went to a conference on Saturday and heard a Christian woman I respect speaking in a workshop on changing our thinking when we are distressed by the events of life. Her perspective was somewhat similar to Dee’s (if we change our beliefs about a circumstance, we change our response) but it lacked the crucial point that Jesus is our only Hope. She was saying that we need to change our beliefs and seemed to say that positive thinking in itself can change us, and Scripture is one good tool but you can also change by repeating a mantra such as “I am a winner”. She works as a counselor in an agency that ministers to non-Christians and Christians alike. Perhaps I heard her incorrectly, but I had to shake my head. I believe positive thinking is empty vain words without the power of Christ. I’m still processing, but Keller’s and Dee’s teaching on idols has given me such new insights into what so often trips up our emotions. Immersing myself in God and His Word is the only thing that really seems to have helped me! I wish Dee didn’t live so far away from my part of Canada! There are so many women who need to hear what she has to say.

    1. That’s why I am so thankful for the internet we can have “Dee time” whenever we want it 🙂

  7. Dee, love that you see the romance in your fall 😉 it wasn’t just any sunset either. Seriously though, the pictures do seem blessed as we prayed. This one is for sure.

  8. Oh Dee! I am so thankful that you are healing from your fall. I missed the eclipse so your picture was a beautiful reminder of God’s glorious creation. Having just completed your Friendships of Women Bible Study, I am thankful to begin this study on this Memorial Day weekend. I have so much to be thankful for. I dear friend went to be with the Lord this week and I can only imagine the slendor of her home in heaven. I’m anxious to listen to Tim’s sermon. Take loving care as you continue to heal.

    1. Peggy, welcome to you. I am sorry for your present loss. Your heavenly perspective is so encouraging. Your words make me pause and think about all that we have to look forward to. Thank you for your blessing.

    2. Yes, Welcome Peggy, so glad you are here!

    3. Welcome Peggy, we are glad you have come.

  9. I wish I could take back my comment about your fall Dee. It was insensitive. I’m sorry. I pray that you will be able to rest well, heal quickly and find the Lord ever so near to you. You are precious to us.

    1. The first sentence of the post riveted me, pinned me to the wall. Self absorption is what I struggle with the most. Your advice about how to deal with it is timely for me. This post is just what I need. Today I was so down in the dumps until I realized what I was doing…again. When I saw it, I felt such blessed relief in speaking truth to my soul, repenting and basking in His love.

    Another thing that really stood out to me is the fresh definition of grace, God pursuing us and rescuing us from self destructive behavior. Jonah experienced this and I have too. For me it was the fact that life never ‘worked’ for me when I was running from God and into the arms of my idols. It was grace and deep down I knew it.

    2. I do have a praise for something just today. The Lord helped me to see my husband’s love for me and for our boys. I saw it so clearly today and I am deeply thankful. We have had a rocky marriage and healing has been slow but healing we are. For this I praise God.

      1. Dee, thanks for understanding. I do enjoy humor.
        I did not spend my childhood reading the classics so I have enjoyed them as an adult. Anne of Green Gables is one I have yet to read and fortunately I have not seen the film either. They may be old enough to be free on kindle.

        1. Like about 100 years!

        2. You can get all 3 for your kindle for 99 cents.

    1. Anne, I am glad you are here and so grateful that God is in the business of restoring relationships, I am glad you have the prasie to offer of healing in your marriage.

      1. Me too Chris, on all three counts. I want to say to you that it is so satisfying to hear what God is doing in your life and how He is bringing healing to you. How gentle He is.

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

    So I have to choose??? 🙂 hard to do-most all of it stood out..I can think of three things.

    1. That sunset picture blew me away. The hand of God-I also see it as a beautiful encouragement from God to Dee, J.R. and his fiance’ of His hand, He is Lord of all-His love and care for them, His power. I mean, how often would you get this eclipse on film this way without knowing it? I don’t want to sound flippant but it does remind me of beauty in the midst of a horrible thing that happened. Dee falling, yet the beauty of the love of Christ coming from her son and his fiance as they loved her, prayed for her and cared for her. He isn’t aloof, distant and uncaring. He was right there with them.

    2. The big fish and God’s grace-how He pursues me-This comforts and humbles me.

    3. The whole Justice issue convicts me to the core-I have run from God on this. This uncomfortable yet encouraging conviction I do need-I mean, this is a big part of who God is-his heart-His desire and I want so to have His desires infused in my soul but I can be so so so sheepish and slow!

  11. 3.  you saw His beauty? (See my five ways above)

    First, thanks to all the families of soldiers who have shared their children with us to keep us free. Happy Memorial Day! This three day weekend is so needed for me. Thank you Lord for helping make me strong to be a better mother and wife this weekend. I rarely have time and just like Dee said she felt the peace overcome her as she drove down the road to her cabin, I too feel peace because I have been inclined to actually do NO school work (grading papers) or masters work (preparing a 100 page research paper on field work in my local area) HIS POWER. I have cleaned my house, watched TV with my son, and been generally lazy! How beautiful!

    I see God’s beauty everywhere. We have had gorgeous weather here in New England and the trees are in full “forest” mode. I grew up in northern Florida where the only tree (seems) to be a pine. I love the forest I live in now.

    Beauty in work…..my husband and I are trying to “ready” our house for a graduation celebration in a couple of weeks. Mind you, since I have been in college the past few years my house has really suffered. We are cleaning wood floors and finishing a remodeling job of installing wood laminate throughout the upstairs. It is hard, but rewarding work. The house is coming along and I am excited that we will have many from our families here for Sarah’s graduation.

    Beauty in His taking care of Sarah (and my suffering). Wouldn’t you know she repeated the same running out of gas routine on Saturday night? This time she was coming home from work and really wanted to get home to sleep. My husband, not a patient man, went to put gas in the car and get her home. This is the issue we have with her; she takes forever to learn that you can’t run the car to zero miles and expect to go anywhere.

    The message at church yesterday was a reminder that we can be saved no matter who we are or where we go to church, if we are Presbyterian, Baptist, Catholic, etc. I read in our local paper about a couple and her sister, I think Indian or Pakistani, who attend a Lutheran church here in town! Praise God! They have accepted Jesus as their Savior!

    1. Lovely post Laura, you seem to be counting your blessings today!

    2. Laura, thanks for sharing about the New England forests. I love them too! My sister recently bought a painting because it looked like a place in a forest that we frequented in New Hampshire.

      1. Congratulations on Sarah’s graduation. Praying for a blessed celebration.

    3. Love this post and the reminder of the beauty of New England, which I first beheld at sixteen when my grandma took me on a bus tour of 22 states and Canada. Sweet memories. Great post, congratulations to your Sarah. How did the big test we prayed about, go?

  12. What stood out from above and why?
    Several things!
    Love the quote on Grace:
    God pursuing us, rescuing us from our self-destructive behavior.
    And from the Keller book. General Justice.
    It’s in line with what my Pastor preached Sunday. He refernce was the fall of King Saul and David mounds the death of Saul ( his enemy) and Jonathon ( Saul’s son who David loved as a brother. My Pastor said we are to have that type of compassion when we see a brother or sister fall. He also challenged if we can’t show compassion, we are in the wrong church! Which shocked me, but now I understand .

    Lol…and love that your son is Pentecostal, so am I 🙂
    And I am learning so much from your lessons, I see Jesus in You! 🙂

    1. …Generous Justice!

      1. David mourns the death of Saul..sorry I can’t seem to edit on my iPhone !

        1. Laura Marie, I think it is the auto correct. I have come up with some crazy stuff thanks to that.

    2. Laura, I consider myself evangelicostal, however since studying with Dee I need to add a third of Presbyterian in my definition! 🙂

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

    It felt piercing to read, but I am sure I needed it—the reminder to continually pull my eyes from self and onto Him.

    I was also encouraged by the transformation in Dee’s relationship with JR. I related to that in a different way, but it was hope-giving to me.

    2. ,3.
    His Word—today, this from John 15:26 and 16:1 “26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning; “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. And then in 16:20b “You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.”

    His Cross-Sunday we sang one of my very favorites, There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood. He knows what I love, and it always feels like a gift from Him when it’s one I love most. OH, the words, the last line lingers with me:

    There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins.
    and sinners plunged beneath that flood loose all their guilty stains
    The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day.
    and there may I though vile as he wash all my sins away
    Dear dying Lamb thy precious blood shall never lose its power
    Till all the ransomed Church of God be saved to sin no more
    E’er since by faith I saw the stream thy flowing wounds supply
    Redeeming love has been my theme and shall be till I die

    His Power- (when I turn from idols): I have been convicted of an attitude of pride—taking its form as insecurity. In reading of the parts of the Body of Christ, I realized my sin in feeling inadequate. Who am I to say that God didn’t choose the right part for me to play in His body? Why do I feel inadequate as a pinky toenail? When I turn from this need to feel significant—I remember I AM significant because HE declared me His own. He has given me my specific part to play in His Body, I am honored, humbled, thankful.

    His Presence-I have felt Him closer than ever before in these last few months. I cannot think of Him without tears forming in my eyes—His love for me, and graciously given by Him—my love for Him—has been my comfort as never before.

    1. Elizabeth, I too often feel sometimes that a song I love heard at the right time is a gift to me.

      I loved you thoughts equating pride with insecurity.

      I have seen in me that as long as I see myself as inadequate, I can have an excuse for doing little to nothing for the Body.

    2. Elizabeth, thanks for the words to that song. I have not heard that one before. Is it an old hymn?

        1. oh Dee–so sorry you had more hard things, I hate that–praying for mercy! I read this a while back about this hymn–you may have heard this before, but I found it so encouraging:

          “When a large religious service was being conducted at the Golden Gate Exposition in San Francisco, many people quickly became aware that the minister delivering the main address was not thoroughly orthodox. Although a gifted speaker, he began to direct most of his eloquence against the power of the blood of Christ.
          Ruth E. Marsden relates that when his fluent oratory ended, a timid, elderly lady stood up in the midst of the crowd and softly began to sing a great hymn by William Cowper as a touching rebuttal to the modernist’s remarks.
          A hush fell over the assembly as they heard those faint but familiar words: “There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.”
          Before she could begin the second stanza, approximately a hundred people rose to join her.
          By the time she reached the third verse, nearly a thousand Christians all over the audience were singing that blessed song of faith. “

        2. Thank you for this Elizabeth!
          May we emulate that timid elderly lady sometime in our lives, to the glory of God!

      1. oh Laura–I’m so glad you liked it! It is old, but I had never heard it until a year ago. Listen to this version–and there’s a free MP3 download about mid page:

        I have never made it through this song without tears.

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

    I related to the self centered opening, I am chronically disappointed in myself, but that reoccurring realization does allow an opening to praise God for his grace and mercy to me, a sinner! I am glad he keeps pulling me, wooing me.

    Your Psalm 8 reference made me think again of Mercy Me’s ‘God with Us’

    How much better is that if you had to suffer this fall, that you were not alone, I am glad you had a tangible evidence of your sons love for you, and that others, strangers, were kind to you!

    I love the testimony of laying down control & renewed intimacy with & appreciation for your son. I see how often we want God to stay in the box we have imagined that He fits in, when He is reflected by His church in so many different ways. One of the pastors at our church spoke once about how God convicted him that he needed to stop slinging mud at the Bride, that image really stuck with me. Sometimes it comes to mind when I think I know what someone in the church is thinking or what their motivations’ are, or when I think my opinion is superior to theirs, I am better able now (much of the time) to leave it with Him who judges rightly.

    The thoughts on giving & forgiveness are convicting, they brought this to mind;
    Matthew 5: 43-48 The Message
    “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
    “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

    I am glad God supplies the power for this, apart from Him I can do nothing!

    This stood out to me;
    “I look in the mirror and see a face that looks like it has been beaten, and I think, “You looked much worse. You were beaten for me. You understand my pain and shame.” I know He understands and cares. That’s the beauty of my Savior. That’s what changes my heart and lifts me beyond my self-preoccupation to being His love in the world.”

    It must have been hard to get past the approval of man and travel looking so beaten up, it is precious that you honored Emily in that way. The thought that He was beaten for us brought tears, that He understands.

      1. I am sure Jeff would be honored if you did Dee!

    1. Chris–thanks for this MSG version-“You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it.” I’d like to paint that on a wall of my home for my own daily conviction…oh engrave it in my heart!

      1. Sometimes The Message seems to really hit home!

    2. Chris, thanks for sharing that passage from the Message. Needed to hear it today. As well as your comments about your own opinions and judgments at church about others and then giving it over to God, the righteous Judge. I am right there with you.

  15. Today I have been fighting the monster Fear. My weapons are God’s Word, breathing in the beauty of His Creation and worship. Grace is God pursuing us, rescuing us from our self-destructive behavior. Here is a song to help me fight my self-destructive tendencies and quiet my soul. It is called Rest. I have it on an old Steve Green Christmas CD but couldn’t find it on YouTube, but I like this one too.


    1. Beautiful Diane! Praying for you. He will take care of your daughter too.

    2. Thank you Diane. This was a beautiful song and one that I needed to hear right now.

    3. Thank you Diane, I loved the image of the prayer feeling abandoned when God was holding him in the palm of His hand.

    4. Diane–how are you doing with your fear?

    5. I want to thank all you ladies for your prayers for me and my daughter. Thanks also for asking how she is doing. And thanks, Elizabeth, for pointedly asking about how I am doing with my fears. Sorry to take so long to respond but I didn’t know how to tell you what I was really feeling and thinking. My daughter seems to be doing a bit better, but I seem to be struggling with just leaving this issue with the Lord. I can’t seem to get the “what ifs” out of the edges of my brain. What if she gets so down that she tries again to hurt herself and succeeds? What if the boys are put in physical as well as emotional danger by her pain? It’s like my adrenaline is on high alert and won’t shut off.

      Prayer, worship and focusing on God’s beauty around me helps tremendously but I have to turn again and again to the Lord, because my default mode is fear. I do not know how to turn off that default switch and relax and completely trust. I am finding it very hard work to keep putting it in His hands. And,because I must keep functioning, I seemed to have turned off my emotional valve and am finding it hard both to rejoice and to cry. Thankfully, in the large few days, that emotional dam seems to have broken and I have both been able to cry and talk, and to rejoice a bit in the beauty in God’s creation all around me. I appreciate your ongoing prayers. God is good. When I have to lean on God alone, He has always been there for me. It will be a long road, I know, and so many are worse off than us.

      1. oh Diane–I am so thankful to see this this morning so I can pray for you. Fear is something I unfortunately am very familiar with–so I will really pray that you can be loosened from this. I can only imagine how much harder it is when kids are older, like your daughter–and the grand kids, so hard, Diane. My favorite verses when I am crippled by fear are Isaiah 43, and Psalm 27. I will be praying that for you.

        Lord, we lift up our sister Diane to you. You know the cares of her heart, You know this deep pain her daughter struggles with , and You love Your children. Lord we pray that You would bring healing and hope to this situation. I pray for restoration, for Your work in Diane’s daughter, Your protection over the boys. And Lord, I pray You would give Diane peace–show her the boundaries You have set for her relationally, and let her find rest in that, Lord. I pray protection over her relationship with her daughter, and I ask You to bless Diane Lord–with a deep sense of Your presence.
        In Your Name~

      2. Diane–I’ve been praying for a song for you today–I’m not sure this is it–it’s a little more “energetic” than I was thinking…but hope it will bring you joy amidst this pain–love beneath the waves. It’s Indelible Grace, Love That Will Not Let Me Go–the lyrics are so good, and in the you tube version here:

        1. Oh, Elizabeth. You are so sweet. Your words are so soothing. You know what it is to go through pain, both physical and emotional, and I know you understand my pain even though yours is different. Thank you for your prayers. I cherish them.

          Also, I love this song and think of it often. I am most familiar with the older tune but am coming to love this version as well. Thank you so much.

  16. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    This was so powerful!
    “We may respond for a few days — but most likely, we just get immunized. We would rather live with the dull ache than to truly and completely love — to forgive, to give, to love as He does.

    So what do we do?

    We must gaze on His beauty.” I want to be fully open as He is freely loving and giving and forgiving.

    Loved the whale pic!
    Generous Justice sounds great! It just reminds me of God’s care for Dakotas parents. My heart aches for them now often. God is doing something in my heart. I have been praying. He is moving in her heart. He is letting me intercede. When I was feeling deeply concerned for them and really praying God showed me it was because they were homeless again. Someone stepped in and put them up til payday (A good Samaritan). Been praying for her heart in opening it up to us who are parenting her children. Seeing that it is right for them to have the freedom to call us “mom and dad” too when it was not previously accepted by her. Of course it hurts but it is truth for now. I am now praying that if she cannot get her life together she will do the brave thing of letting us adopt.

    2. Do you have a praise for something that happened over the Memorial Day weekend?
    The family has done really well and been intentional in getting along and dying to selfishness for others. I have seen it in every person this weekend and that has been a huge blessing.

    3. you saw His beauty? (See my five ways above)
    His word, yesterday was a wonderful sermon about the grace of God’s no. Such a great and encouraging word. Along with the studies I am doing as He opens up His word to me through more understanding.
    Cross-I got to see a picture of my great uncle who died in Vietnam, he loved the people and helping them. He looked so happy in his picture. He volunteered to go there. My cousin who is against God told me she saw one of him at my grandmas house where it looked like he was talking to God and she thought I would love that. What a sweet gift for I have wondered if I will see him in Heaven. My dad was only two when he died. He was 21.

  17. 3. I see His beauty in creation most of the time. Right now I am thinking about His presence. This may not fit in that category but I don’t know where else to put it. Here goes. It is going to be too long 😉

    We bought our house from my husband’s parents. His uncle built it and it is not laid out right. There is nothing I can do about it because of where the load bearing walls are (and money) and my husband is absolutely firm on not moving. The den is small and combined with a very small dining room. den is paneled in that beautiful old paneling from the 50’s and too dark. Dining room is Sheetrock walls. I was advised so many times to paint over the paneling to brighten up the room but I just couldn’t do it. When my husband and I separated I was actually glad to leave this house for I had never been able to do anything with it. Last year I picked up a swatch of recommended colors to go with the color of the paneling because I needed to paint the dining room. One of the colors was pink but the sample was just too dark when I got it on the wall. So I hauled off and bought a gallon of the lightest shade of that color. It was beautiful! And as I painted I noticed that the old paint had green undertones. So I kept my swatch. Another of the recommended colors was plum but all I could find in that shade was pair of curtains for the dining room window. It was right. A few months ago I wanted to buy my husband a new recliner and we went shopping. I really wanted a plum colored loveseat(all that wil fit in den) but all they had in the store appeared to be burgundy. It had matching pillows that had plum in them so we also bought that. When we got it in the room it was the right color! And looked beautiful. Some time later I went to a pottery festival with my sister. There I saw some pottery with my color in it. When I spoke with the potter he said he had 2 lamps like that peice out in his van. I really had a hard time with that decision because I was not sure about the colors. My sister said “if you like it, you better get it because it will be gone”. They were perfect, absolutely beautiful! The last peice was the carpet which needed replacing 10 years ago. This was the hardest decision of all and I came very close to going too dark. I chose heather moon because I know heather is purple, not because the minuscule sample looked purple at all. The install happened Friday while I was at work. Alfred was home and he kept sending me pictures and saying “you gotta see this”. It was perfect! Finito!

    From the time I looked at those pink walls until I walked on the carpet, I knew God had done it. He showed me what to do and it was His blessing for me. I didn’t deserve it either because I had not been thankful for what I had. How lovely He is!

    1. When it fits together perfectly, no matter what it is, you know it came from God 🙂

    2. Your comments are not too long. It is wonderful that the Lord helped put together the perfect pieces to make this a special place for you and your family.

    3. This is a wonderful post, I love how He is in everything, helping guiding, loving.

  18. 2. Do you have a praise for something that happened over the Memorial Day weekend? I think my praise would be what I shared yesterday about being anxious and then staying pretty much calm throughout Sunday school and nursery

    3.  you saw His beauty? (See my five ways above) his beauty I would have to say what I experienced today was breath taking.. I was at my friends house and we were eating lunch outside and they were telling me that their were butterflies beating behind their house so I went to go check it out I didn’t see the neat but I was amazed at A) how many their were flying around at once I think they said their we’re about 3 Dozeb all together but also B) seeing a different butterfly that I hadn’t seen before it wasn’t the monarch it was something else and can’t remember te name but I was in awe at Fods creation!

  19. 2. Do you have a praise for something that happened over the Memorial Day weekend?

    It was peaceful. Such a wonderful restful weekend, through and through.

    3. you saw His beauty? (See my five ways above)

    Just this weekend — baby geese being led by their parents to the pond. The nest in the tree next door. The beauty of Lake Michigan and the rivers leading to the Lake. The double rainbow this evening was lovely. A much needed rainfall, not too much, not too little. Flowers in bloom. Greener grass because of the rain. Shrubs that I needed to trim already this year — so much growth and lushness surrounds us. I sometimes cannot imagine how heaven could be better than this, yet I know it is. Eye hath not seen, neither ear heard what The Lord is preparing for us.


    God is always present, ever watchful.


    He is in the storm! I read a wonderful saying online, placed on Facebook by Laura Haverly Stack, near Endwell, NY:

    “When you are going through difficulty and wonder where God is, remember the teacher is always quiet during the test.”


    The rainbow provided a reassurance that the Lord God keeps all His promises to mankind.


    Christ FIRST bore the cross for us. “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me and you will find rest for your soul.” Christ’s way is best, the only way. I must learn more of His cross, of His love for me, of His abiding presence, of His upholding us through all trials and tribulations.

    1. Chris G–love the picture of the baby geese, and this reminder “Eye hath not seen, neither ear heard what The Lord is preparing for us.”

      1. Me too, we used that verse at our mothers funeral.

  20. 4. Read Isaiah 58:1-2 and describe how they had an appearance of holiness.

    The people seemed to pray to God. They were crying out for Him. They act as if they want the Lord near them, helping them with their daily lives.

    5. But, according to Isaiah 58:3-5, what revealed their true hearts?

    Their true hearts are revealed in the next few verses….They are only fasting to get what they want from God. This is shown in the verses that ask God why He doesnt notice their efforts. They argue and fight at the end of a day of fasting.

    6. According to Isaiah 58:6-7, describe a “true fast.” Don’t be afraid to let Him speak to you hear — He loves you and wants to bless you.

    God is suggesting that we fast by our giving. When we give our food/clothes/whatever to another who is less fortunate, we are losing something ourselves (the food/clothes etc.) and that denotes the fast for us. It provides for others, doesn’t just take from us. It’s kind of like the old saying “kill two birds with one stone.”

  21. 2 and 3. Do you have a praise for something that happened over the Memorial Day weekend? you saw His beauty? (See my five ways above)

    God came to me in His slow, gentle way through a desire I was having for deeper face to face fellowship and it didn’t seem to be there. My Idol was tempting me to retreat.

    It started as I saw His beauty in a passage in Philippians 4 Sunday. I saw how Paul urged them to approach their enemies with kindness, gentleness, and respect. With the love of Christ.

    This led me to the Gospel, thinking about how Jesus approached us, how I was His enemy yet He went to the cross for me and for everyone sitting around me in class. He willingly endured REAL loneliness and separation from God. I started thinking of the darkness that enveloped Him while He was separated from God-I am sure He wasn’t experiencing His presence through creation-He was totally void of His presence-He took on my Hell of complete and utter loneliness-separation from God- so I would never have to.

    The truth: I will experience loneliness at times, but truly I am not alone because He took that on for me so I wouldn’t ever have to. He has given me such rich fellowship with Him throughout my life and in other forms like on this blog. I feel like Peter-like this is something so simple to ‘see’, but I am such a sheep, so easily prone to bend away. I love what Dee said the other day on her F.B. “A new definition of sin is running from God, may I not run from Him today.” Yes, I so identify with that. This REALLY REALLY put my issue into the right perspective and fought off that lie.

    1. Good stuff Rebecca, textbook speaking the truth to your soul!

  22. 2. Do you have praise for something that happened over the Memorial Day weekend?

    I thank God always when my work obligations go well, He truly blesses me in this again &; again.

    Bill is gone to Disney World this week, chaperoning senior trip. I was supposed to go to, but ended up having too many work obligations & we could use the $ I would have spent & not have made had I gone. So I am here…working. I began to have a small pity party, the opening thoughts of this week’s study lifted me right out of it, I am grateful for the reminder of lifting my thoughts from self. I suspect Satan will hit me with this again over the next few days as I have 8 parties in 4 days and my best helpers are both in Florida!

    1. Praying for your parties this week Chris. Sorry you could not go too.

      1. Thanks Anne, a little empathy goes a long way!

        Bill is making it clear he misses me & that helps.

    2. Chris–I will pray too for your parties and this time alone. I was thinking this was a rather new job–did you start a few months ago? Sounds like your cooking must be a hit! Do you give online lessons? 😉

      1. Elizabeth, I started this job last August, the busy season is just beginning now, in the winter months I have a much lighter load, but much much lighter paychecks too!
        I do not usually cook, not really, just cheese trays, fruit trays, vegetable trays, sandwiches, that sort of thing. Most clients use one of our caterers.

        Those recent nights when I cooked were out of the ordinary.

        I book private events, communicate with the clients about what they want, and then I work at the events. We have a lot of weddings, anniversary parties, birthdays, retirements, business meetings etc. I am so busy right now, and for the most part I am happy to be! !

  23. 3. You saw His beauty? (See my five ways above)

    The sky was magnificent yesterday with the sun coming through the clouds in that way that seems to visually connects Heaven & Earth.

    I had dinner with Joe & his fiancé yesterday at a downtown restaurant, I was looking at all the different faces passing by outside and thinking about Keller’s stressing the value of humans over nature by using the image of a seeing a boulder coming down a mountainside and in its path are a person and a tree, how we all would gasp & hope it hits the tree, because deep down we all know humans have great worth. All those humans are Gods creation and he longs to show mercy to them.

    I felt the power of His word in the message from last week’s study on Hemans Psalm. It was a balm to me and there is so much there to hold on to for the future hurts that are sure to come.

    I also saw His power in the life of Timothy Donely and his family. He was terribly injured by an IED in Afghanistan in February, losing his lower legs and badly injuring his right arm. I with countless others have been praying for him & following his recovery on Facebook, he and his family have a strong faith and witness through all of this. Remarkably he is now home and rode in his local Memorial Day parade yesterday. The hearts of his family must have been praising God and filled unto bursting yesterday.

      1. Me too Dee, I keep contemplating it. When we think of creation I think most of us think of nature, not other humans.

        1. I thought of that this morning too!
          It brought tears, & I thought of these verses;

          Matthew 10:29-31 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
          But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.
          Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

          I love nature, birds & trees in particular. I confess when I think about humans especially large groups of them I often want to back up, recoil, there is a deep seated mistrust sort of thing going on.
          I was convicted years ago by 1 Corinthians 13 about the thiness of my love for people. There is a song by the Moody Blues with a line of lyrics that say “all the love you’ve been giving has all been meant for you” I felt this to be true of me. I have prayed for God to give me a heart of flesh, of real love for people, He is still working on me in this area, but I am different, I think, by His grace. All of those people are worth more than many sparrows, Christ died for them, for us all.

  24. OH Dee I have read this twice, I just hear the Holy Spirit as I read it. He really gave you eyes to see and wisdom to put it into words! I do love the picture even though I do not think it was worth your fall:-) this has been a weekend of needyness and I woke up this morning so very weary but your words have refreshed my parched soul!
    Paul is dealing with depression again and my bossy words during projects have not helped matters any, He feels overwhelmed with responsability and I just have no simpathy for him….I just want to say “man-up and deal Im doing more then my share all ready” I dont, but that is what my heart is speaking to me. How I wish I was a naturally humble person and that God did not have to reteach me that lesson over and over!!!!
    Ellie, Abby and I got to spend all day sat. going to Abby’s best friends grad party 3 hours away, her mom is one of my dearest friends and I spent the day cooking and helping her….fun but pysically and emotionally draining….when did these girls grow up?!?!?!?!
    My friend Sarah (21 year old rape victom) came home and spent most of her time with me,she is attacking her mom, telling lots of conflicting stories and we are afraid she may have bourderline personality disorder like her dad..lots of time on the phone with her mom this weekend trying to talk HER in to getting the help SHE needs. this is going to be a LONG hard road….
    It was a wonderful weekend to open the pool, 97 out and sunny, the sunset was amazing yesterday, my flowers are all so pretty, my peas are coming up, I am always amazed and humbled by HIS beauty! God has given me a very dear freind who is a counseler and her and I have had some wonderful visits this weekend, she is such a blessing! my son Luke is so happy with his new girl friend and we all love her. she is on fire for God, attends an Assembly of God church on her own without her mom and dad…which is what I did when I was her age:-)
    So very glad that it is GOD who gives me the strenghth and Power to be victorious, not me! Glad HE is in charge and not me! and so glad that HE wants my eyes on HIM and not all the hurt and needs around me! HE has it covered and HE will let me know when HE needs me:-)
    Im off to get on my knees, only prayer can make a difference in ANY of this!!!

    P.S. Dee it makes me laugh out loud when you talk about your son’s pentalcostal perch…He and I live on the same perch! I love to jump and shout and all that other stuff that prob. drives you crazy:-) don’t you just love how GOD made us all diferent and how we each find HIM in such different ways!

    1. Cyndi, I’m so glad to hear that you are aware of how you are treating your husband and wanting to do the right thing. I have a fear of people thinking that I’m using depression and anxiety as an excuse not to do things and looking at it as a weakness and defect that I could get over if I really wanted to. I tend to not share with anyone (even my husband) because of it. I can definitely understand why my grandpa and his brother killed themselves, it can be torture to want to be and pretend to be better when you’re not.

      1. thanks Dawn! I think he is open to medication for the first time ever. I know its not his fault…..I just do not always handle it in a godly way:(

        1. None of us do. That’s why there’s forgiveness and grace.

      1. no Dee, I really am a pentalcostal… I became a christian in an Assembly of life church:-) I would still be there if i was not married to a NOT pentacostal:-)

        1. Assembly of God…not sure where life came from:) OH i know, my church was called New Life Assembly:-)

  25. I would like you all to know that I am still not receiving email updates. David and I were unable to figure out why.
    So if I miss a comment directed at me, I am sorry! It is hard to see everything without the updates, especially late in the week when I am busy & the comment list grows long!

      1. We didn’t try that. How might I un register in order to re-register? Should I email David?

  26. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    Wow, so much spoke to me. I have been praying that I would feel God’s presence through His creation. I’ve never been one to look at beautiful trees and think “Wow! there is a God!”. I more likely just think it’s a beautiful tree. I want to take time to slow down and really dwell on the fact the Lord created it.

    Also, your comments on forgiveness. I have been “putting off” forgiving my sister-in-law…and though I know it comes in layers, it’s something I need to address in my heart. I know I probably won’t see her until the end of July so it’s easy for me to bury, put off. Sort of like what you spoke of in letting ourselves become dull, immunized to the fact we need to live out justice.

    I also loved the photo of the solar eclipse and your comment that at least your tumble was romantic. That made me laugh. God has been talking to me about keeping my sense of humor and how it serves us in times of trouble. He’s there to laugh with us, as well as hurt with us.

      1. Yes, I read the short article and listened to one of the sermons. Would like to listen to the other. The article was good about being the one who is the peacemaker, and the sermon I listened to was about the older brother in the prodigal son story. How his son was about feeling righteous and better than his brother, and not getting what he was entitled to. Gave me something to think about. Originally I was like “that’s not me!” because of all of my hurt. But I think to some degree it is me.

  27. 2. Do you have a praise for something that happened over the Memorial Day weekend?

    I think one thing that comes to mind is the Lord giving me wisdom with our oldest son Syd, who graduated from eighth grade. He has a good buddy in a girl from his class. Yesterday I was reading some of their texts to one another which are very innocent. But at one point she texted I love you and he texted back I love you too. As we drove to a state park yesterday morning I asked God how to deal with this. I was very troubled, as was my husband. The Lord brought to mind some godly young men that Syd admires a lot and how they vowed never to say I love you to any girl but the one they knew they were going to marry. I told him this at the park and he listened and said he wouldn’t say that to her anymore. I told him it wasn’t fair to her and if they ever parted ways, would only make it harder. It all made me realize how much we depend on the Lord for our parenting help!

    1. wow–thanks for this tip anne meredith, I think I’ll use it ahead of time! Not sure how I’d handle finding a text like that in 5 years…but I’m sure I wouldn’t be as wise as you were!

      1. Definitely wisdom from the Lord! They text quite a bit and Steve and I need to address that…not quite sure how without sounding totally controlling.

  28. you saw His beauty? (See my five ways above)

    I feel most definitely through His presence in suffering. The last two years have been a journey from being diagnosed with major depression and being on up to four medications at a time for it to help me even get to a place where I could begin to deal with it, with the Lord’s help. He really has taken me from strength to strength and I am now “in remission” but the depression is something I cannot sweep under a mat, I have to turn to Him afresh every morning and surrender my day and ask for His strength. I have felt His presence closer to me in ways I hadn’t before. Just knowing He knows my heart, my all, better than anyone else. That His love is unconditional for me. It gives me strength to go on.

    1. anne meredith–I am so sorry for your struggle with depression. I will remember to pray for the depression to stay lifted. I know it can be such a dark and lonely place. I was comforted once when I heard that many godly saints of old had struggled with depression–i can’t remember exactly who was speaking, it was on Christian radio, but alluding to the fact that because this is NOT our home, we can expect to feel such deep inner struggle–longings, homesickness, for Home. Thankful for His new mercies, every morning

      1. Elizabeth, I read the diaries of David Brainerd and he was struck with debilitating “melancholy” sometimes he didn’t get out of bed for days, but God used him mightily!! I also read that Charles Spurgeon struggled with this also and that David Brainerd was one person that he admired greatly.

        1. That’s interesting, thanks for sharing that Dawn

      2. thanks so much Elizabeth. It has and does help me to remember I will always have this longing for home, this quest for eternal happiness that can’t be found on earth. thankful His mercies are new every morning.

  29. 9. Share a time when you “ran from God,” but He pursued you, rescuing you from your own self-destructive behavior.
    When I was living in an openly gay relationship when my daughter was in grade school. I would send her away to stay at my sister’s house on the weekends to she can go to Sunday school. And also to give her a break from the dysfunctional upbringing I was giving because my partner an alcoholic.
    At night when my daughter was gone and my partner was passed out, the famous picture of Jesus knocking on door would come to my mind. And I would say not yet. I was thinking I needed to raise Angela first, however the Lord had other plans for her life.
    An incident had finally occured, my partner was drunk and stuck a unloaded pistol in my face, and father ( who was always aloof when came my situation) intervened with accommodations for a motel room. And I left with a basket of clothing. It was getting close to summer break and Angela finished out her year.
    We moved after her school year was complete.
    I didn’t realize until later on that the door in the famous picture of Jesus standing knocking actually has no door knob.
    My life wasn’t exactly easy ever after, but the Image of Jesus knocking left and was replaced with a Cross.
    I no longer had dreams of running away but instead coming to Calvary!
    This is the Peace He always promised, a Peace I never had when I was living outside His plan and purpose for my life!

    1. How wonderful for you to acknowledge that Jesus was calling even if you put it off. I didn’t realize that there was no doorknob on the door in that picture. I’m so happy that you are finding peace.

    2. Love the door imagery He used to woo you to Himself.

    3. You paint a powerful picture Laura. I am glad your earthly father came through for you at that time & for the patience of our Heavenly Father!

  30. Since we are taking this slow I will only answer one question right now.

    2. Do you have a praise for something that happened over the Memorial Day weekend? After returning from helping my sister with my niece’s 16th birthday party, I spent a quiet, peaceful night with my husband. We grilled hamburgers and sat out in the yard talking until almost 11PM. It was what I imagined life would be like after the kids were grown, but since we work opposite shifts it’s one of the rare times that it’s actually happened. We were able to talk about a lot of the important things that have been happening to both of us. It was refreshing and went by too fast.

    On another note, I think that I may be an appendix in the body of Christ 🙂

    1. Dawn, we can’t have 2…

      1. Lol Anne & Dawn!

  31. my blog this morning was inspired by your blog….hope its not a copy right issue;-)

  32. Did I miss the link for the sermon in the first week? Or is there just one sermon for both weeks?

  33. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    Great quote: If you are a Christian, and you refrain from committing adultery or using profanity or missing church, but you don’t do the hard work of thinking through how to do justice in every area of life — you are failing o live justly and righteously.
    Seems like this study follows what I am working on in my life, loving others and seeing them on their level as opposed to a perch of righteousness and turning from self absorption to God awe daily.

  34. 4. They had an appearance of holiness because they sought Him desiring to know His ways. They prayed for justice and desire God’s nearness to them.

    5. God’s response revealed their true hearts. He did not respond as they expected.

    6. According to Isaiah 58:6-7, describe a “true fast.”
    1. To break the chains of wickedness. I think this refers to my own life and to bringing the gospel to others who are bound by sin.
    2. To free the oppressed.
    3. Share with the needy.
    4. To share my home with the poor and needy.
    5. To care for my own family.

    I think this refers to more than fasting but to all who call themselves by the name of Christ. I am quite convicted here for my intentionality in these things is lacking quite a bit. But as Keller said, guilt is not the response that will bring true change. Dee, I sensed that you are saying it is the continuous gaze on Christ and His word that will bring the love, forgiveness and generosity. It makes me think of Paul, changed so by his encounter with the risen, glorified Lord.

    7. We hurt ourselves when we disobey God, when we run from God. What blessings do we forfeit according to Isaiah 58:8-14?
    Oh, how I love verse 12! This is what I want to be: repairer of the broken walls! Restorer of the foundations laid long ago!
    I will come back to this question. I want to savor it.

  35. 4. Read Isaiah 58:1-2 and describe how they had an appearance of holiness.
    Chris has gotten me re-hooked on the Message. This verse is very convicting: “They’re busy, busy, busy at worship, and love studying all about me.To all appearances they’re a nation of right-living people— law-abiding, God-honoring.They ask me, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’ and love having me on their side.”
    It’s humbling to realize how easily we can fake our Christianity—and look really good before man. But He knows our hearts. And storms reveal them.

    5. But, according to Isaiah 58:3-5, what revealed their true hearts?
    They were only in the relationship to get something from God, the Older Son syndrome. They wanted to be noticed and thought well of, blessings for their offerings—they were enslaved by their idol of approval.

      1. Elizabeth and Dee, I so agree. It amazes me how God is illuminating His heart in His word more and more-the things that I have not seen over the past 20 years in scripture are sticking out like that eclipsed sunset picture J.R. took-things are connecting all over scripture and it is beautiful. 🙂

      2. This is true! Thanks for pointing it out because if helps me to understand the Bible more and more. I have a lot to learn if I am to be ready when He calls me home 🙂

  36. Our memorial weekend was terrible! I was out of control and if you don’t believe me…ask my husband! He will tell you, I was yelling and angry and crying and shaking and in terrible pain. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, so I called my daughter in CA and she ask me some questions (she is a probation officer).

    My back surgery date is June 12th and I got a letter saying to be off of all my medicines except my thyroid, two weeks before my surgery. So last thursday, I went off my 800mg Ibuprofen (every 8 hrs) and my 500 tab Vicodin (one to two tabs every four hours if needed). I only take 4 vicodin a day from morning to night, so I didn’t think I would be addicted to them…but I must of been!

    My daughter said the vicodin is a narcotic (codine), and the worse thing I could do is go “cold turkey”. But I did and by saturday and sunday, I was a wreck. She had me take one and then slowly back off of them, which I am doing. I am in alot more pain, but I’m doing okay gradually backing off of them.

    I didn’t even think about that! How nieve I am! My Dr. or nurse never said anything about backing off slowly. But I have learned my lesson. I hope I don’t ever need a pain medicine after I am over my surgery and recovery. I scared everyone and including myself.

    I am taking it real easy tho, untill surgery, as I am in alot of pain when I stand or walk. So I am not doing much, but resting. Kendra is like a little mother to me, she is so sweet. She said “I saurry u back, mom.” (sorry your back) She can’t talk very well, but she is precious.

    I will remind you all to pray for me, before I leave for Omaha on June 11th! Love you all.

      1. Thank you so much, Dee

    1. Oh, Joyce. I am sorry you are having such a hard time. It is great that you have a daughter who recognized the signs of addiction withdrawal. I probably would not have thought of that either, but the doctors and nurses should have. I will be praying for you beginning today and continuously for the next few weeks. Do you know how long you will be in hospital? Will you have any access to internet during that time? May the Lord be with you and His presence strong in you.

      1. Thank you, Diane, I won’t have access, but it will only be 2 days in hospital probly, as it is only one disk, fused to the other’s…so not as bad as last time:)

    2. Dear Joyce, so thankful for the wisdom of your daughter, and so sorry for you. What an awful thing to experience. I love that Kendra is being kind to you!
      It is good to ‘know’, even when we can’t ‘feel’ it that God is working everything together for good.
      Praying for your present pain & upcoming surgery
      Love to you!

    3. I’ll be praying for you Joyce! I know how painful back issues can be!

    4. they really told you NO vicadin? wow I knew the ipuprophin but the Vicodin makes no sence….you also should NEVER go from 4 to none. you needed to step down! please call your fam. doc and ask them. you can really get very sick from going off cold turkey, and you should NOT be asked to have that kind of back pain without any meds. please ask for a 2nd oppinion….i hate to see you suffer so! I am praying for relief from your pain! I know my mom was on it up until the day before her back surgery.

      1. I will call them today, Cyndi..thanks for the head’s up!

    5. Joyce–you came to mind early this morning before I read this–and I prayed for you. I will continue dear friend. S wish I could be closer and help you–but I will pray

      1. Thank you Elizabeth, and I am praying for you!

    6. Joyce, I pray that the Lord would be your comfort and step in where the drugs are not strong enough or doing their part to help the pain now. That you could totally rest in Him and He would give you joy that you don’t know where it’s coming from except the Lord! Sorry you are hurting so much.

    7. Dear Jesus, please help our dear Joyce with pain and medication. Give wisdom concerning her physical body and we ask that this would be the final surgery needed. Thank you for surrounding her with your love today. We trust you with her because we know you love her more than we can imagine. Touch Kendra and Maurice at the point of their needs and bless this precious family. Thank you. Amen.

      1. Thank you Kim and Anne…so much!

    8. Joyce, has the same surgeon done all of you back surgeries?

      1. Yes, except my first one back in 1983. My favorite Dr. Steve Brestin done it and he would pray with me, before surgery. What a wonderful, humble man. Wish he could help me now, he was the best .Now I have to go to Omaha to find a Dr. as good.. The one’s in Kearney won’t touch my back they say.

        1. Well I am praying for you. May this be the last one. Kendra is so sweet. I love what she said.
          Are u sure they said not to take your Vicodin? Our back patients take their narcotics right up until the morning of surgery. I wonder if they just forgot to clarify what they meant.

    9. Dear Lord, thank you for doctors and nurses who have the skills to help us when we are not well physically. Thank you for modern medicines and technology to help us get through difficult medical issues. Please help Joyce to be calm and manage through this very painful, exhausting time in her life. Thank you for helping Kendra through seeing her mother in pain and not understanding exactly what is going on with her mom. Help Kendra to also be calm and not fret. Thank you Jesus.

  37. 7. We hurt ourselves when we disobey God, when we run from God. What blessings do we forfeit according to Isaiah 58:8-14?

    If we run or disobey we forfeit the completeness God wants us to have. You give up the light; you will live in darkness. You will be unhealed in your afflictions and we will not have a direct communication with the Lord, nor will He stand with you. If we cry for Him, we won’t hear Him answer our cry. We won’t have His guidance as we would if we obey the command to take care of others. There will be no joy.

  38. Isaiah 58

    It is so easy to appear to be walking with the Lord, when in reality we are pointing our fingers at other people, shutting up our compassions to those in need, and “hiding” from our own flesh and blood. This is a passage that can change your life. Study it — then listen to Keller — and its beauty can awaken you!

    4. Read Isaiah 58:1-2 and describe how they had an appearance of holiness.

    OH MY…Love this passage. It feels like a whole new passage. Like I have never read it before.

    They seem eager to know God’s ways and appear as they are doing everything ‘right’ and would never forsake God’s commands.

    They ask God for just decisions and seem eager for God to come close to them.

    5. But, according to Isaiah 58:3-5, what revealed their true hearts?

    In the way they treated other people-they were self centered and wicked toward them while they were fasting and lying in sackcloth and ashes. It seems they weren’t eager for God to come close to them, rather they used God to look Holy before others, but I think they really thought they were pleasing God. In reality their hearts were so far from His heart.

    It is easy to do all the right things, follow the rules-but it can be painful to truly love because it requires sacrifice. I firmly believe the only way we can truly, sacrificially love is when He loves through us-but we have to love Him more than ourselves and when that happens fasting won’t be a duty, humbling ourselves will be real and our desires will line up with His. We will care for the things He cares about.

    This is helping me to really examine my life.

    1. Rebecca–such good truths, and the way you put it inspires rather than makes it seem like a “task”–“we have to love Him more than ourselves and when that happens fasting won’t be a duty, humbling ourselves will be real and our desires will line up with His.”

  39. Susan–been thinking of you & wondering how your big weekend went. Miss you!

    1. Thanks for asking, Elizabeth. I have had no time to be on this week except to read comments. It was a beautiful graduation ceremony, and I cried before it even started! Thankful all the grandparents were there, and very proud of our son. He did well in high school – God has gifted him with a great mind.

  40. 4. Read Isaiah 58:1-2 and describe how they had an appearance of holiness.

    They seek God daily, The Message says “they are busy, busy, busy at worship” , they love having God “on their side”.

    Brought to mind the sailors in the boat with Jonah, carrying their gods with them like a good luck charm.

    5. But, according to Isaiah 58:3-5, what revealed their true hearts?

    “Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure”

    “ Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist”
    “Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD?”

    6. According to Isaiah 58:6-7, describe a “true fast.” Don’t be afraid to let Him speak to you hear — He loves you and wants to bless you.

    Laying down my life for others is what I see here, but even if I do all of these things, fight for the oppressed, open my home to those in need, caring for the poor and the least of these, even if I do it all, if I do it to make myself look good, and not from a heart of love, I am just a noisy gong & a clanging symbol.

    This came home to me when we took in Mike, Maggie & Brian. I felt rudely awakened to my lack of love for them, of my self –centeredness, of my need to walk in the light daily to receive a power that didn’t come from me to love them.

    I ask again for eyes that see past today, that I might lay down my pride my comfort my self seeking ways for the glory of God.

    2 Corinthians 12:9
    “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

  41. I spent more time earlier this morning with Isaiah 58:2-3. This theme, of a righteous appearance, but inward lost-ness–I see it more and more. The pharisee would claimed to be better than the tax collector in Luke, then this in Malachi 3:14 “You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts?”. I was thinking of the soils, and also the sermon of the mount…and I am just reminded, like in all bold caps–that if my motivation is not love and only love, I am vulnerable to this type of serving.
    When I look at my children, one is consumed already with the world’s and our approval. That is the motivator for good behavior. But we’ve noticed how easily it wears out. And if our approval isn’t “enough”, there are teachers, friends…and we see an inner need to find it somewhere. But if the motivator is love, not approval–that lasts. That is when we are able to act in obedience to Him without thought of what we will gain. That is when I can pray and pour out my heart because I just love Him and want to be near Him–I’m not asking for anything more than that. It has strengthened me beyond words to know I cannot lose that Love, and that His love truly can fill me. He has so much to give. He is by nature, the Giver. And yet, my nature is to think He wants to take–but He wants to give His love until we our filled up and running over.

  42. 7. We hurt ourselves when we disobey God, when we run from God. What blessings do we forfeit according to Isaiah 58:8-14?

    I love this passage from The Message;
    Isaiah 58:9-11 “Then when you pray, GOD will answer. You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’ “If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people’s sins,
    If you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
    I will always show you where to go. I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places– firm muscles, strong bones. You’ll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. ”

    I give up a lot when I live for myself, I am glad He promises to complete the work he has begun in me!

    As we have been walking through these verses I keep thinking of the song Show Me How to Love by Babbie Mason;

    You didn’t have to leave the glory of heaven
    but you became a simple man
    You didn’t have to serve the poor and afflicted
    But you touched and healed their brokenness

    No greater love has been given
    You became the ultimate sacrifice
    Create in me the heart of a servant
    Let this be my soul’s desire

    Show me how to love
    In the true meaning of the word
    Teach me to sacrifice
    Expecting nothing in return

    I want to give my life away
    becoming more like you each and every day
    My words are not enough
    Please show me how to love

    I saw a bruised and battered woman
    With her hungry children on the street
    Then I heard ask in that still small voice
    What have you done for the least of these

    Lord, please consume with a burning fire
    That melts away my complacency
    Let me moved with love and compassion
    Then someone will find the way through me

    Open up my eyes that I might really see
    More and more and more of you
    And less of me
    By loving the unlovable
    And touching the untouchable
    Let my actions speak louder than my words

    1. Wow! Really powerful words in this song. I am not familiar with it. I searched the internet and found one person singing it acapella and one instrumental of it, but if anyone knows a good version of this online I would appreciate finding it. The instrumental is beautiful but I am not sure I am putting the words with the notes. I sing a bit and would like to learn this song.

      1. Diane,

        Sorry, I’m jumping in and out. Have been reading some and praying. More later. R

        1. Thanks, Renee, but it only played 30 seconds of the song. Perhaps it is not available in my area because I live in Canada.

        2. This worked. Thanks very much.

        3. BTW, glad to see you here. Miss your perspective.

        4. Thanks! Was out of town without a computer. Will be around a little more this week.

    2. Chris–thank you for this–so powerful, humbling

  43. 4. Read Isaiah 58:1-2 and describe how they had an appearance of holiness.

    They seemed eager to know Gods ways; and for God to come near them and not forsaken the commands of God.

    Lord Help me to want to know your ways, and help me to want to draw near to you and help me also not forsake the commands of you. Help me to obey you.

  44. 5. But, according to Isaiah 58:3-5, what revealed their true hearts? Their selfishness being selfcentered toward others while fasting and in sackcloths.

  45. Just wanted to ask How everyone is doing? I havent been able to keep up with comments but I pray for this group of women.. Hope everyone is doing well!

  46. 4. Read Isaiah 58:1-2 and describe how they had an appearance of holiness.
    They sought the Lord daily; delighted to know His ways. They asked of the laws of justice and took delight in approaching God.

    5. But, according to Isaiah 58:3-5, what revealed their true hearts?
    They fasted, but according to God, found pleasure while they fasted and exploited their laborers. They also fasted to make their voice heard, and did it with strife and to “strike with the fist of wickedness” (NKJV).

  47. 4. Read Isaiah 58:1-2 and describe how they had an appearance of holiness.

    They look like they are seeking God daily, delighting to know God’s ways, asking for God righteous judgments, and they delight in drawing near to God. This reminds me of Isaiah 29:13, “this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me”.

    5. But, according to Isaiah 58:3-5, what revealed their true hearts?

    In the day of their fast they seek their own pleasure and oppress all their workers. They fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist.

    I think this means that we do our religious deeds but continue to be self-seeking and after earthly pleasure and gain without regard to those around us, hurting others to get our own way. This is not pleasing to the Lord. He sees behind all our religious pretense.

    6. According to Isaiah 58:6-7, describe a “true fast.” Don’t be afraid to let Him speak to you hear — He loves you and wants to bless you.

    True fasting is to work for justice, share our food, homes and clothing with everyone – the hungry, homeless, naked and our own family. I find it interesting that “your own flesh” is included here. Many people would care for their own family and consider their obligations for charity done. They consider looking after anyone outside their family as optional. That is not what this passage is saying. It seems that the hungry, poor, naked are equal with family in this context.

    It is probably obvious that we don’t do what God is asking here. We don’t really believe that the hungry, homeless, naked are equal with our family. This is very heavy. What are the implications here? How can we live this out?

  48. 7. We hurt ourselves when we disobey God, when we run from God. What blessings do we forfeit according to Isaiah 58:8-14?

    When we disobey the Lord, the glory of the Lord is not our rear guard (vs. 8). As we obey our light will rise, our gloom will lift (v. 10), the Lord will guide us, satisfy our desires, make our bones strong and “and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” (v. 11) We will “ride on the heights of the earth” (v. 14). What an encouragement to those of us struggling with storms and darkness – physical and emotional.

    Furthermore, we shall become a repairer of ruined walls (v. 12).
    12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
    you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
    you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
    the restorer of streets to dwell in.

    This picture reminds me of Nehemiah who supervised the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, at great cost and with much opposition and discouragement. It is so amazing that as we obey the Lord, destroyed walls in relationships can be rebuilt. This is the Lord’s doing as a blessing for our obedience. What a hopeful passage to those of us who have ruins in our relationships – both with family and with other Christians.

    1. diane–such a good reminder of truth for me–“as we obey the Lord, destroyed walls in relationships can be rebuilt”

  49. 2. Do you have a praise for something that happened over the Memorial Day weekend? Yes, praise for rest. We had been moving – not a small task after 31 years of marriage, painting and cleaning for a week and the three day holiday couldn’t have come at a better time. We enjoyed going out of town with our adult kids for a day trip and enjoyed good conversation to and from.

    3. you saw His beauty? (See my five ways above) I saw his beauty in me when I visited my little lady in the nursing home Friday. I felt like I was His hands holding hers, His voice when I prayed comfort for her, His eyes when mine filled with tears of gratefulness at having had her in my life, if only for a short time. It was a supernatural love coming from me – nothing I could have conjured up – just Him, loving her and it was pure beauty. I went to bless her but ended up being the one blessed. This is living! Being used to bless and love people.

    1. You are acting out your part in being the body of Christ Kim, like the Casting Crowns song, If We are the Body.
      Any good news of reconciliation with her daughter?

      1. No but we are believing for without faith we cannot please Him. Thanks for standing with me. 🙂

        1. I thought of this for you Kim;

          Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer”

          Joyful in hope & patient in prayer for your friend & her daughter!

  50. 4. Read Isaiah 58:1-2 and describe how they had an appearance of holiness.

    Outwardly pious, daily attendance to things of the Lord; delight in learning (Ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth?); pretense in acting like a righteous nation and in acting like they want to be near God; selfish prayer.

    5. But, according to Isaiah 58:3-5, what revealed their true hearts?

    While fasting, they expected payback due from God; Going through the motions of penance, while treating their neighbors with contempt; fighting; unfairness to employees. Their religion was a show, trying to impress others.