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(ISAIAH 58:10-11)








 When Steve took some extra training in Fargo for a year, we were blessed to have Greg Scharf, the back-up speaker for John Stott, as our pastor. (Our own Renee and Wanda were blessed by that church and Greg’s preaching as well.) I remember the Sunday he preached on Isaiah 58 and we were riveted. He said that Christians tended to define morality in terms of very narrow issues instead of seeing the broad spectrum of God’s heart. At one moment, in application, he said that one of the ways he and his wife were able to practice hospitality to those in need was by simply have someone move right in with them. (Twenty years later, Greg and Ruth invited our daughter Sally, who had just lost her dad, to live with them while going to school near them.)

Steve and I left church that day determined to follow his suggestion “to have someone move right in with us.” Our house guests have not always been easy, but oh, we have seen God move in marvelous ways. Greg’s exhortation also led to our adoption of five-year-old Annie from an orphanage in Seoul. Oh, how this child is a blessing!

And yet, years later, when Steve wanted to adopt again I dug in my heels.

He said, “This time, I think we are ready for a challenge — a handicapped child, an older child, a sibling group!”



Way too scary.  We’re way too busy. That’s way too much.

Then, when Steve and I prayed about it, he said he heard “a little girl crying.”

“I think you imagined that,” I told him.

But God patiently, through His Spirit, His Body, and His Word persuaded me to go His upside down way. I think one of the happiest days in Steve’s life was when we went to Bang-Kok to pick up twelve-year-old Beth as our daughter.

Steve at Beth’s school in Bang-Kok
Beth- Thailand copy
Beth when we took her to the beach in Thailand before bringing her home

When we saw the orphanage in Bang-Kok where Beth had grown up, we were shocked. With ten other girls, she had shared a shaky structure that was a little bigger than a one-car garage. On the dirt floor, there was barely enough room for each girl to lie down on a mat. In the corner were eleven stacked shoe-boxes that contained each girl’s worldly possessions. The privy outside made me gag, and the tin tub they bathed in had a layer of mold caked on.

But it was not the paucity of material things that scarred these children, but the paucity of love. Often the guardians were broken people themselves, and instead of protecting the children, abused them.

When Beth began college in our town, her speech teacher called to tell me that she had given an unforgettable speech. She said Beth walked to the front of the class and startled everyone by saying,

When I was a baby, my parents cut off my arm and threw me away. But I didn’t die – someone found me and rushed me to the hospital.

Then Beth pressed a button on her recording device and the class heard the chorus to a contemporary version of Amazing Grace.         

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound

that saved a wretch like me

I once was lost, but now I’m found

was blind but now I see.

Then she continued:

In the orphanage people hurt me. I wanted a mom and a dad like some of the kids were getting, but they didn’t want me. When I was going to turn ten I figured I’d never have a family of my own. People don’t want old kids. They want babies, or at least little kids. At night when no one could see, I’d cry.

But way across the ocean a man was praying, asking God if he and his wife should adopt, and he heard me crying. He came to get me and take me back to his home in America.

Then Beth played the same refrain:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost, but now I’m found

Was blind but now I see.

Beth is an inspiration to me. On Thursday of last week she gave birth to her third child. How she does what she does with one arm amazes me. She is a joy. Her dad was so sad he had to leave her — but I’ll tell you more of that story next week.

I don’t want to paint a picture that adoption is easy, or that working with prisoners is easy, or that pouring yourself out for the poor is easy. But I will tell you that happiest people I know are Isaiah 58 people. I think of my own sister, Sally, who works with ex-sex-offenders, “the lepers” of our society; of my friend Linda Strom, who works with prisoners constantly; of our own Rebecca who is pouring herself out for autistic children; of Ann Voskamp, who flew to Iraq to see what she could do! And I think of saints of the past like George Mueller and Mother Theresa. What do they have in common? The joyful presence of the Lord.


This week let’s consider how to be Isaiah 58 people. How to practice the upside-down secret.


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

Monday-Wednesday Bible Study

Prepare your heart with this:


2. Read Isaiah 58 in its entirety and write down anything that quickens you.

3. Greg Scharf said that Christians tend to define morality in terms of a few issues. (That is not to say those issues are not important. I pray in agreement with Eric Metaxas who hopes the new Planned Parenthood videos are a Wilberforce moment for the world.) But what are some of the additional issues in which God defines morality according to Isaiah 58?

4. Read Isaiah 58:1-3a

A. How do we know this is important, according to verse 1?

B. Why were God’s people upset?

C. What phrases show that God sees them differently than they see themselves? 

5. Read Isaiah 58:3b-5 and describe the hypocrisy of their religiosity.

6. What is pleasing to God according to Isaiah 58:6-7?

7. What does God promise of you live this way according to Isaiah 58:8-14?

8. How is this upside-down thinking to how the world, and often we, think?

9. What speaks to your heart personally? How could you be more of a Isaiah 58 woman?

10. Is this scary? What truth could you speak to your soul?

11. How could you pray Isaiah 58 into your heart? Write your prayer here.



Turn my heart of stone to a heart of flesh!

Thursday-Friday Free Keller Isaiah 58 Sermon

Justice – Timothy J. Keller


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

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  1. 1.  What stood out to you from the above and why?   Dee, you had me from the first question:  “Why do I so often resist the first prompting of His Spirit?”  As I took a few moments to read through Isaiah 58 and a few sister passages the answer is distressing and yet quite clear.  Even as a follower of Jesus, longing to love Him more and more……I am prone to be seduced by the “Religious way” rather than the “Gospel way”.  Taking up my cross is, well, taking up a cross.  Hard.  Inconvenient.  Weighty. Drenched in my own blood, sweat and tears and leading to sure death.  Your example of adopting Beth just shines, Dee……your initial response of thinking “we’re way too busy” …..probably much of that busyness was GOOD ….if I’m right you were already writing and leading women’s Bible studies – and how thankful we ALL are that the Lord continued to lead you on THAT path!!  But the Lord had even better things in mind for you in this adoption!!  How humbling right down to your toes it had to be when Beth’s speech teacher called you…..and you began to realize just how fully Beth saw THE GOSPEL in her story.  Not just Jesus sprinkled on the periphery of her life story, but Jesus Christ, the very heart of her life story!!  Oh, I’m trembling and tearing up even as I write this…..and that PHOTO of Steve in Bang-Kok!!  You have shared it before and it so pierces me …..for I have looked at it and I feel like I know this man!  And in a sense I do….for the Lord Jesus is shining through Steve in that photo like a light on a hilltop!  “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  John 3:30.  I so do see these words of John the Baptist in your sharing about Steve…..and it IS the picture we see in Isaiah 58 of the contrast between the Gospel way and the Religious way.  😉  What a week this promises to be!!

  2. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why? So much!  First, I think I recall the story of Steve hearing a child’s cry when praying about adopting Beth in a book of yours (but I can’t recall which one, maybe one right after The Friendships of Women?)  Anyway, I love that story.  Secondly, I appreciate that you share your own reluctance at times to follow the Lord’s leading (because clearly He uses you, despite that!)  And thirdly, how timely this is.  The county I live in in Ohio had their fair this week (we are always the last fair of the year in Ohio.)  My brother and his wife and their teenage daughter came up for a couple days of it (and they had a wedding to attend as well.)  My sister-in-law and niece decided to do this game where you basically punch each other with these padded, long poles (like a sort of boxing match, I guess they needed to release a little tension toward each other!)  Anyway, several of us talked to the young man who was running the game.  He had a bit of a speech impediment and spoke a little slowly but oh, he was so sweet.  He said that if he could do math well, he’d have gone to college.  He said he works at a local store here in our town.  I really felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to tell him where I go to church and invite him to visit sometime….but I let thoughts like “he’ll think you’re just a religious person, pushing your beliefs on him” or “He’ll think you’re trying to come on to him!!” stop me.  I have not stopped thinking about that missed opportunity since.  Now I’m wondering if I could go to the store where he said he works and find him and invite him, but I know sometimes there is a moment that is right and maybe that has already passed?  Anyway, I know God’s love for me regardless of whether I follow His Spirit’s leading…and that is what makes my heart ache worse when I don’t, but also what comforts the ache.  Praying for His leading to never stop.

      1. But if only I HAD obeyed the prompting of the Spirit…I sure missed the boat this time.

    1. Mary, I smiled as I read your story about the young man at the fair. Perhaps you will indeed see him at that store! Sometimes our opportunities are dismaying…I remember one day at the grocery story I saw an elderly woman trying to unload her shopping cart and put all these bags in her car. I approached her and asked her if I might help her. Her purse was in the cart and she picked it up and looked at me suspiciously and said no thank you – I felt terrible then! I didn’t know I looked so threatening:))

      1. Susan – I couldn’t help it, I laughed out loud at your description of yourself as “threatening”!  So thankful that the Lord gives us the gifts of laughter and humor!

      2. Oh Susan!  Like, Jackie, I chuckle at the thought of you looking “threatening.”  She must have just be highly suspicious of everyone.  At least you tried. 

    2. Mary – how I love your story, for it is so REAL!!!  Just like Dee, you had to talk to your soul a little to get your actions to catch up with your heart!!  In your heart I think you ARE an “Isaiah 58 girl”…..for I have so seen you desiring to reach out to others even in your darkest moments….wanting God to be glorified through the pain and hard times and for others to see HIM.  I’ll be interested to see if you ever do see this guy again in his store….or if the Lord leads you to a different person, different opportunity!  🙂  

  3. Oh, how I love your term “Isaiah 58 people”!!  Upside down for sure, for they ARE the happiest people that I know too.  😉  You spoke of choosing to live among the lepers of society – too many of us care WAY too much about the fact that other people WILL shrink back from us when we begin to make those choices.  I thought about when my son Zack took a few days off from work awhile back to fly to WI to visit his cousin in prison – his boss was dismayed.  He himself  has a cousin in prison and he told Zack that his cousin was “right where he should be and I don’t care if I ever see him again!”.  Mind you, Zack wasn’t saying his own cousin shouldn’t be where he was….nor was he headed to visit him and orchestrate a prison break!  But the compassion of Christ drove him to take time off work, spend money and travel to a destination few would “enjoy”.  

    1. I love that Zack did that, Jackie.  I know you have you daughter, Jess, who needs the Lord, but I did not know about Zack, who had Him. 🙂  I’m sure he is also praying for Jess and is a testimony to her.

      1. Mary – yes, sometimes it is almost surreal to me that Zack loves Jesus as he does!  It was just a couple of years ago, when I was focused almost entirely on my daughter’s and my other son’s trials, sorrows and grief, rebellion and addiction (Z’s brother  🙁  ) that Zack came to be a disciple of Christ!  Oh, the sweet surprises of God ……it has been phenomenal to watch this “new creation” that is Zack’s life unfold and blossom and thrive!  Thanks for your words of encouragement sister.  🙂  

  4. This whole post made me cry-clearly one of your best Dee. You had me at WHY DO I SO OFTEN RESIST THE FIRST PROMPTING OF HIS SPIRIT?” and then drew me in and I am encouraged this morning.  I am still moved at how God rescued Beth through Steve hearing her cry-and that picture of Steve is another favorite of mine! I could hear that story a million times and each time it strikes deep, and Beth’s presentation to her class- I haven’t heard that story before!!!-but oh.
    Of course Linda-I just love her anyway and have always wanted to go with you two some day to experience Him inside the walls but even if I am unable to Linda Strom’s book about Karla Faye Tucker’s life took me inside-it is an amazing book. 

      1. :)))

  5. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    I echo Jackie’s sentiments above about the photo of Steve in Bang-Kok. There is such JOY on his face as he is surrounded by those children, and how awesome that you captured that in a photo and that joy still shines today! I imagine he must’ve longed to scoop up all of those precious kids and take them home! And Beth’s speech before her class – it made me tear-up when I read, “At night when no one could see, I’d cry. But way across the ocean, a man was praying, asking God if he and his wife should adopt, and he heard me crying. He came to get me and take me back to his home in America.” This is amazing. The Master Weaver was taking threads and weaving them together before you even met each other.
    I also am convicted by the statement of the pastor about how Christians tend to define morality in narrow terms, all the while missing God’s heart. We (I) can feel so good about ourselves that we don’t drink, smoke, gossip, cuss…we read our Bibles daily (or try to) and go to church on Sunday and even join in a Bible study. Wow – isn’t God impressed?! We often cocoon ourselves in our little Christian bubbles, hardly forming relationships with those on the outside. This is really convicting.

    1. Susan – “little Christian bubbles” – oh yes, our CLIQUES.  A narrow, exclusive group of people.  Ugh.  How God’s heart must break.  Why doesn’t ours I wonder?  You are so right – this entire week is going to be convicting.  

  6. Sunday
    1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    How to be Isaiah 58 people. Upside down secret. Words are failing me right now as I look at the pictures of Steve, Beth and Linda. Tears of joy in seeing the smiles-each conveying a depth only God can bring; even Beth’s reserved smile, a sign of hope. Steve’s and Linda’s, signs of knowing wherever they are at  the moment was surely where God wanted them to be.

  7. Dee,
    This is heart-stirring and heart-searching.    
    I have “dug in my heals” at times when my husband suggested something that would demand more than I was willing to even try to give.   I was in the trenches with our own five children and didn’t, wouldn’t see the possibilities beyond that, at times.   
    This post brings tears of regret, but hope in His amazing mercy.
    Thank you Dee for your vulnerability that the Lord so often uses to speak to me.

    1. Ah Nila – my own heart stirs to read this.  Love you sister.  What came to mind is the “one thing” that Paul speaks of in Philippians 3:13…..” ….But one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and pressing on to what lies ahead.”  Your “hope in His amazing mercy” speaks so well of this pressing on.  Oswald Chambers helped me so much many years ago when I was unable to get past my tears and mourning….these words:  “Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future.  Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.”     I could never number the times that I have spoken these words to my soul…..”Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.”  Amen.  

      1. Jackie, Oswald Chambers words are so profound. I have been pondering how to see the losses of the past in light of Christ’s presence with me both now and for all of my tomorrows. Thank you for sharing this. I need to write it down somewhere to remind me.

        “Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future.  Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.”

        1. “Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future.  Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.”  Hope for somebody like me who have lost opportunities. Thank you, Diane.

        2. Bing, it was Jackie who shared Chambers words  about letting the past “sleep on the bosom of Christ” here first. I just requoted them. Aren’t they great, though?!

      2. Oh thank you, Jackie, for this:  Like Diane and Bing, I am so stirred by Chamber’s words.  Especially this.  I so much need to remember this.   

         Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.”


      3. Thank you for this Nila & Jackie, I am going to pass it on 🙂

      4. Thank you for this quote from Oswald Chambers, Jackie. I also have many “irreparable” things in my past that continue to haunt me and that the enemy brings up to accuse me.

      5. Oh, Jackie….I just spent a week wrestling with my past and having the oppressive cloak of things past and hurt drawing around me and threatening to suffocate….so helpless. God saved me Sunday through His word and the declaration that we are light because of His light within us…. But this Chambers quote…. Thank you. It even applies when it wasn’t our choice but someone else’s that hurt us so bad and seem irreparable … our of our control and so to leave on the bosom of Christ…. Beautiful.

        1. Precious, Jill.  So thankful that Chambers’ words were a balm to your soul.  

  8. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why? Beth’s speech to her college class. It made me cry and I’m not a crier. My whole life I have wanted to rescue children through foster care and/or adoption, but my husband has always been against it. It touches me so much to hear joyful stories of children who have been rescued.

  9. I can’t Not say anything here…this really spoke to my heart Dee.  I know Beth and what a beautiful precious soul…just like your other two daughters are.  I would of been scared to death too…like you were when you followed Steve leading…on adopting a handicapped,  older child.  
    I ask myself…Would I have adopted our own sweet Kendra….if she was an orphan?   I doubt very much…but God gave her to me…where I could not say No!  And Oh what a Wonderful Blessing she is to us.  
    I think we have to reach “Out of our Box” so to speak…more than what we think we can handle…leaning on God to do this.  We could never do something  like this on our own.  It takes so much …  Trusting the Lord, every day.
    This challenges  me to open up my heart and seek ways of helping others.  I have been so slack in doing so. 
    Thank You Dee for Isiaha 58 reminder. I’m reading it after church…in its entirety. 

    1. Joyce – when I see that you have jumped in here, I perk up and listen!  So thankful for what you have shared here as you have packed so much wisdom in a few lines…..I so love your reminder that when we reach out of the box and find ourselves with more than we can handle…..we lean on God…..we trust Him more….and He does what we cannot!!  🙂  And your life’s ministry to Kendra, with such Christ like love, IS Isaiah 58 in all of the best ways!!!  

    2. Joyce, loved the thought you shared here about Kendra. And thinking “outside the box”. Often times, the people that need us are right under our noses and we can’t see them because we maybe preoccupied with SELF. I do, like you, pray that I can be an Isaiah 58 kind of woman and not afraid to reach out.

    3. This is beautiful, Joyce.  And I love what you said about God giving you Kendra.  When we are given special needs children, we can’t imagine living any other way, though it would not have been our first choice.  It IS amazing how God gives us strength.  Our daughter’s special needs were nothing like Kendra’s in terms of labor intensity, (and especially so, as Kendra’s needs continue into all of her adult years)  and yet, when I look back, I often think,  “how did I do it all?”  And I can only say,  ‘by God’s grace.’  And I have to keep reminding myself of that because the future will always be uncertain.  Neither of her diseases have cures, so we certainly don’t know what is ahead.  I have to keep on building up my reservoir and be able to draw out again when the hard times come.  We all do. 

    4. Joyce, glad you jumped in here…you live this out every day.

  10. l. What stood out? Dee, you have a real gift at tying real life stories to Scripture. I had never heard the story about Beth’s college speech or of Steve hearing her crying. Oh, my! Such a man of God he was! And I am amazed at Linda’s courage in ministering to prisoners. Such godly examples.
    This week’s lesson ties in directly with something God is doing in my heart and in our churches here locally. God has called us to sponsor a refugee family from the Middle East. As many of you know, there are hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war-torn countries in the Middle East and Africa. I have been chosen to work on a Refugee Committee with a group of small rural churches who want to raise the money to bring a family to our area. (They will not be living in our village but a bigger village about an hour away.) At this point we do not know details, but it will probably be a Muslim family, perhaps from Iran or Syria. This is a very risky venture – an “upside down” one to love someone who might be antagonistic to Christians. Please pray for us and for the family that they will see the love of God in us and be drawn to Christ. Oh, I am scared of how much this will “cost” me in terms of time and emotion as well as finances. But I sense God calling me to step out of my comfort zone and do this.

    1. Oh Diane – may your tribe increase!!!!!!  This is a glorious, beautiful opportunity and challenge for you…..I am not a bit surprised that your soft heart is running through this open door.  I agree that the unknowns can be scary  – but the Lord is running before you on this and “my yoke is easy and my burden is light”.  🙂  How wondrous too that small, rural churches are coming together out of love for Christ and laying aside differences to share His love in tangible, COSTLY ways.  So glad you shared this with us!!!!

    2. oh Diane–I LOVE that you are sponsoring a family–beautiful!

    3. Wow-Diane! This is so Isaiah 58- so Jesus in the flesh. Praise God for giving you the courage to step out in faith. Be praying for you and your husband as you minister to the family God will bring into your midst.

    4. Oh DIANE!  This venture of love blesses me so much.  I will pray.  Please keep us updated as to how this is going.  An outpouring of love that you will never regret.  
      Just an aside here:   One of my husband’s best friends/former colleagues was born in a refugee camp in Thailand during the crisis in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and the war there.  His family were some of the ‘boat people’ of the ’70’s and were settled by Christian congregations in Wisconsin.  That is where they came to know the Lord.   Just an encouragement.  You don’t know the harvest that may come from the seeds of love you plant!  

      1. Wow, Wanda!  I think the story of your husband’s friend is a pretty incredible “aside”!!  How encouraging to Diane this little nugget will be.  

    5. Oh Diane!!How wonderful! I promise to pray!!

    6. Diane, YES!!!!!!!! :))))))) Yes, it is scary and hard..praying..I will pray as I get ready for work this morning!!! 

    7. Diane, may the Lord bless you and the others who are partnering together to sponsor this family…I believe meeting this family’s very real needs will open many doors.

    8. Diane, praying for you and this family! May God’s hand never leave your adventure of loving strangers radically….

  11. Dee, was it extremely heartbreaking to be at that orphanage (and see the deplorable conditions) and only take one child away from it, knowing others would continue to live there?  When I was reading the story I was thinking…Yikes, I’d be wanting to grab all of the kids and bring them back with me (not that it would be the Lord’s will, or even legal!)  

    1. so true Mary.  I look at that incredible photo of Steve and the children and wonder where they all are today…..especially the little girl in the foreground looking at the camera.  She is so lovely…..but has what I would call that “old soul” look about her.  Made me wonder…..should I be adding select photos to my prayer journals?  Perhaps such a photo as this would be a perfect reminder to pray for the MILLIONS of orphans across this hurting world.  ?  Hmmm….

      1. That’s a good point, Jackie!

  12. I read the first line and immediately answered the question: “because I’m afraid”. And then you came back with ” I need not fear obeying Him”. Before reading this post even, I was thinking this morning how my anxiety, worries, are always rooted in a fear of loss. I fear losing comfort, losing my family, losing my reputation, my health. And yet He promises He has given me everything I need for this life, and I will inherit the Kingdom. It is actually “upside down” that we have any fear at all when we look at what He has promised us. It always goes back to, for me, believing He is who He says He is AND I am who He says I am…His own. 
    I love this call to ministry–to say the hard yes, and trust that He will provide. I do have “nudges”. I do want to do more. It feels “easy” (in some ways) to write a check of support–and yet, I do not want to end my life and have turned away from the whispers of His voice–those holy nudges in my heart to give more than my money, but my time, my life.And more than the monthly things we do for the poor here, more than a neat ‘organized’ thing… I know the more I hush the whispers, the less I can hear them. Children in need of family will always call heavy on my heart, and I’m not sure what lies ahead, but I’m feeling more open, more willing (my husband is a bit more practical at this point!)–and there is a nudge towards Africa I can’t explain…and so I pray.
    But OH. In ALL this beauty of this post, the one line that turned me to a mush–“a man was praying”. Not just because of my love for this godly man I look forward to one day hugging, but because of the POWER of prayer. Oh and that sweet Beth knows this–she knows how the power of prayer changed her life! I love prayer. And I would love a study on prayer (yes, that’s a hint Dee). Keller’s book on prayer is excellent–but I just am so thankful, so without words for it, grateful that we have this means of communicating with God! It is truly amazing. And that He hears. Out of time, but what a beautiful week ahead. Thank you Dee. 

    1. “It always goes back to, for me, believing He is who He says He is AND I am who He says I am…His own. ” – Loved that, of course!  
      Also, it’s funny you mentioned so much here (even Africa) about stepping out in a bigger way (than the usual things.)  In my class this morning I was just mentioning how I think we do not see God move in HUGE ways as much as we could because we so rarely (or I should say, I, not “we” but many of us in the USA, I think) put ourselves in a position (like Africa!) where we are outside the limits of what we can comfortably do on our own, in our own strength.  When we (with the leading of the Holy Spirit) step out of the boat, to walk to Jesus on the water, then we know that if we do, indeed remain above the water, it is ALL Him, not us!  And we see Him move like never before!  But, as you mentioned, I fear losing something, that is what holds me back.  And yet there is the paradox that in losing our lives we truly find them!

      1. Mary and Lizzy…..just couldn’t help it – the “Africa” thing just kept bubbling away in my mind.  Wondered if you have read “Kisses from Katie”?  In my opinion it is a “must read”!!!  The simple faith of this young woman who took God at His Word should give us all pause.  I feel like I’m often too quick to offer a disclaimer of sorts to stories like Katie’s…….I’ve come to a bit of a different place on that….stories such as Katie Davis’ story SHOULD make us a wee bit uncomfortable!  It brings me straight back to Dee’s opening question :  “Why do I so often resist the first prompting of His Spirit?”.  

        1. Oh Jackie, being the not-so-great reader that I am, I have not yet read that book but I saw an interview with her and WOW!  So incredible.  She truly has chosen to “lose her life” for Christ sake and in so dong has found it!  What a precious soul!

        2. I need to read this book too.  (I believe reading it is what precipitated my son and daughter in law to leave their home and comfort and the good job my son had and move a few states south and begin working/houseparenting with at risk kids here in the states.  She told me about the book about the time they told us they wanted to pursue this.)   I wonder if I could be as obedient as they have been?  Sometimes, those convicting books are easy to leave on the shelf.  Remind me to read it!

        3. Wanda – I had to reply to myself to make this entry, so hopefully you will see it!  🙂  I too left this book on my shelf for MONTHS before reading it…..that Katie Davis’ story would have even a tiny role in the decision that your son and daughter in law made to move to the ranch and serve at risk kids is yet another amazing thing….wonder just how MANY people are right now serving in ways they might not have ever considered because of this one, young, humble servant of Jesus?  🙂  And how about those soon-to-be-adopted twins that you would otherwise never have met???  Oh my.  Only eternity will reveal the fruit for sure!  I have to say too that I was slow to read this work because I was hesitant to be so deeply convicted – but what I found was that I was carried away with the awesomeness of our God.  THAT was my take away!  If you can find an interview that Katie did with David Platt from a couple of years back, that would be a GREAT introduction!  I’ll see if I saved it and try to pass it along to you privately.  You WILL be blessed!

    2. Lizzy  This line in your post stirred my heart. I have also felt how often I write a check yet how little I may lift up a prayer for the ministries or children I support.

      “I do want to do more. It feels “easy” (in some ways) to write a check of support–and yet, I do not want to end my life and have turned away from the whispers of His voice–those holy nudges in my heart to give more than my money, but my time, my life.And more than the monthly things we do for the poor here, more than a neat ‘organized’ thing… I know the more I hush the whispers, the less I can hear them.”


  13. Mary, so true-in losing our lives we truly find them!  And so glad to see you here.

    1. Amen to both things here from Bing..love you Mary and so blessed when you are here, sharing all that rich wisdom of yours…and you too, Bing! 😉

  14. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    Beth’s story…..so heartbreaking that a mother would treat her child in that manner. Cutting off her arm?! Throwing her away? I just don’t understand. I guess I live in a sheltered world. I think I have been living in my own upside down world this year. My unmarried, low IQ, stubborn daughter is about to give birth. I was pained when she told me she was pregnant. I know what a hard life she has made for herself. But, I think God is giving me the chance to make amends for some awful things I have done in my own life with this situation. I am happy to oblige Him! He loves life, He loves when we take  care of each other. It’s what He wants us to do.

  15. The very first thing you said, Dee, struck me.  Why do I resist the prompting of the Holy Spirit?  I have believed the lie that God is bent on depriving me.  I can tell you from my head it is a lie, but it feels true.  Feelings are so undependable and yet we set our course by them.  And then the take away.  I should comply with the Spirit because He cares for the fabric I am part of; for the life of Christ and the beauty of His whole story.  I am grateful that it is all so much grander and more wonderful than I can comprehend.

  16. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?   Oh my.  How do I begin?   Beth’s story is absolutely stunning.  And so beautiful, though it began with such horrific, unthinkable pain.  I am so moved.  I had no idea the circumstances of her adoption.  Almost speechless.
    The photo of Steve.  Yes, it does look like an absolute happiest of moments.  
    Your references to Greg Scharf.  I surely do remember their almost limit-less hospitality and how their guest room was almost always in use.  I learned a lot from them.  I remember several sermons and have a few on cassette tape.  (Somewhere, I bet I have notes on Greg’s Isaiah 58 sermon!)
    And:  My own son and daughter in law are in the process of adopting twin 9 year olds.  I can’t give more specifics at the moment, but we have seen the Lord moving in amazing ways.   We are praying every day that the adoption will go through without setbacks.  We have all grown to love the twins so much and can’t imagine life without them.  
    I have an exceptionally busy week ahead and will be out of town this coming weekend.  I hope to at least follow silently, if I can’t take the time to comment much.  I’m very interested in looking into Isaiah 58 with you.  (suddenly, I’m involved in 3 (sorta 4) other Bible reading/studying situations and I’m a bit overwhelmed to keep them all going! Yet, each one is different and beneficial in different ways.)

    1. Wanda, continuing to pray for that adoption…love this, “We have all grown to love the twins so much and can’t imagine life without them.” Blessings to you in your busy week!

  17. I wanted to put my comments here now as I was just so blessed by the reading of Isaiah 58. My apologies for being so long here.
    2. Read Isaiah 58 in its entirety and write down anything that quickens you.
    v. 5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself?
    If and then statements. If is the condition upon which the then statements is made possible.
    True fasting is a daily surrender, a bowing of the hearts (is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed?), and a deep regard and concern for what breaks the heart of God (thinking of Sarah Groves song, I saw what I saw) and doing something about it in obedience to what He calls us to do individually.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_RjndG0IX8 Matthew West “Do something”
    These phrases are jumping at me:
    Loose the chains of injustice
    Set the oppressed free and break every yoke
    Share your food with the hungry
    Provide the poor wanderer with shelter
    See the naked and clothed them
    Not to turn away from your own flesh and blood
    We are partnering with God in His plan of redemption for peoples when we do what He commands us to do. And besides the gift of guidance, provision, strength, joy, He gives us the gift of Himself. (v.9  Then you will call and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help and he will say: Here I am.) No better gift!
    Verses 11,12, 14-what blessings the Lord is giving when we commit to being Isaiah 58 women! It makes me think how close to the heart of God are these ministries to the poor, naked, hungry and oppressed and enslaved to bestow such blessing to those who obey!

  18. I cried when I read beths story again, it is so much like my own. My dreams of Lily, Paul’s reservations, my FEAR of adopting an older child. We are so blessed when we live beyond ourselves! It is HARD…but it is GOOD

    1. Cyndi, You and Lizzy do know the, “It is hard but good!!” I so love that you and Lizzy heard Him, like Steve did, and stepped out in faith.

  19. I have been reading this blog and posts for some time now.  My heart is touched, and I just want to be a part of women who want to know and love God with all of their hearts, souls, and minds.  This blog, in particular, spoke to me.  I’m in the process of adopting a 15 year old girl from Albania as she is aging out of the system and will be placed on the street – a high sex trafficking area of the world. I’m a single mom who has already helped to raise some inner city children.  I didn’t to do this again at 51, and all alone.  In my excitement, reality does set in, and sometimes I feel so overwhelmed.  But I do know that God asked me to do this – to get out of the boat, walk on the water, and come to Him and rest.  He, Who became poor to ransom my soul, will certainly give me sustaining grace and even joy in the process!  Thank you so much, Dee, for the example you have been to me and countless others, and for highlighting Isaiah 58 at this time. 

      1. Thank you, so much, Dee!!!  It is so comforting to be loved and welcomed by my sisters in Christ. I look forward to continuing to read your good blog and joining in from time to time!

    1. Miriam,
      Thank you for posting your story here.   He, Who became poor to ransom my soul, will certainly give me sustaining grace and even joy in the process.
      Convicting, challenging, encouraging.

      1. Thank you, Nila!

    2. Miriam – I have a dear friend from college who is now 60 and has been single all of her life.    She has adopted and raised two high risk daughters….as well as continually fostering other children along the way.  Her godly parents raised MANY foster children along with their own 6 children too….so to Lois this is very much a way of living life with Jesus!  I have always been in awe of her…..but she always just points to Jesus!!  🙂  I’m pretty sure you two would be kindred spirits!  THANK YOU for sharing this incredible news with us.  We will pray.
      Oh Father….as you have called Miriam to mother this precious teenager in such a place of crisis, so we know that you will enable her to persevere with joy.  Please bathe Miriam with Your peace that passes all understanding.  Please raise up sisters and brothers in Christ to surround her and uplift her and carry the burden along with her in very practical, flesh and blood ways.  For Your names’ glory in all of this wonder we pray.  Amen.  

      1. Thank you, Jackie.  I would love to hear more about your friend!!

    3. Miriam, welcome. I am awed to read of your conviction and obedience to adopting a 15 year old Albanian girl. May God bless you richly in this adventure. We would be honored to share in praying for you and having you share your journey with us here on the blog.

      1. Thank you, Diane.  Good to be here with you ladies.

    4. Miriam,  Welcome!  I love what Nila highlighted from your post.  So glad that you have joined us and that we have the privilege of praying for you and your daughter on this journey.   Adoption of whose who are high risk is what God has done for us.

      1. This made me cry.  I agree with your encouragement to Miriam and am stirred by her devotion to adopt.  

        Adoption of those who are high risk is what God has done for us

        It also makes me think of ‘our’ twin foster  grandsons and hope and pray they will be truly ours soon.  Not a foreign adoption, but from a high risk family in the U.S.   Can’t imagine them going back to live in the environment from whence they came.  

      2. Oh, Amen!  God is teaching me more about Himself than ever before through this adoption.  Sometimes, I sinfully doubt his love for me.  He has brought to my attention that I am willing to fly to a foreign country and sign on the line that I will adopt a stranger and pledge everything I have to be responsible for and care for her.  How much more does He love me, in the blessed fact that in the process of adopting me into His forever family, He pledged that He would be responsible for and care for me forever,….and He signed on the line with His own blood!  Praise Him!

    5. Miriam, I, too, am praying for you and for this precious soul that God is snatching from hell on earth (possibly being enslaved) through you ….God, may your Holy Spirit be palpably present with Miriam and this young one, that they both would be drawn to you, that You would be glorified, that you would make a way and touch the young one’s heart to be drawn to you and to know your love to her very depths. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

      1. Thank you so much for caring, Jill!  Except for the grace of God, where would we be?

    6. Oh Miriam, this is huge!  And wonderful!  Praying along with Dee’s prayer!

      1. Thank you, Mary!

    7. Miriam, thank you for your obedient, soft heart towards God that you are following His lead in adopting this girl from Albania. I cannot imagine placing a 15 year old girl on the street – anywhere in the world! That’s my daughter’s age. It is our privilege to pray for you.

      1. Thank you so very much!

    8. Miriam, WELCOME! I am thrilled you are with us!! Lord Jesus thank you that you see, that you are mindful and a father to the fatherless, that you love this 15 year old girl to the moon and you are providing her with Miriam. God we are in awe of how you rescue in wonderfully creative, mindful, and well in just amazing ways!

      1. Thank you, Rebecca!

    9. Miriam welcome. So glad you joined in here. Loved this

      “He, Who became poor to ransom my soul, will certainly give me sustaining grace and even joy in the process!” Lord be with Miriam as I know You are on this journey. Fill her with Your joy in this process.

      1. Good to be here, Liz!  Thank you for making me feel welcomed!

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

    Beth telling her story.
    Psalm 107:2
     “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
        whom he has redeemed from trouble”

    She was so brave, to speak in front of her class in that way. 

    And Steves hearing her cry, How like Christ!

    Psalm 116
    “I love the Lord, because he has heard
        my voice and my pleas for mercy.
    Because he inclined his ear to me,
      therefore I will call on him as long as I live.”
    The upside down secret…why do I fear?

    “And though this world, with devils filled,
    Should threaten to undo us;
    We will not fear, for God hath willed
    His truth to triumph through us.”

      1. I didn’t know that Dee, it is sadly unsurprising though, that people would miss the meaning.

  21. 2. Read Isaiah 58 in its entirety and write down anything that quickens you.
    verse 10: If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul,Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday.  
    I guess what I don’t see here is simply throwing money at the hungry, or merely encouraging someone who is afflicted with maybe a card or phone call then dread when they call me again because I know they will need more of me. I am SO guilty of this..OH I HATE MY SIN NATURE!!!! Both giving money and encouraging others are good, very good to do and we can’t obviously be there for everyone in need but what about the people God has us around on a daily basis?  Maybe showing mercy to the one who is afflicted by being there when they are hard to be around and mentally and physically extending myself anyway-It could be helping them get a job, encouraging them in their talents and skills, or just sitting Shiva with them. Just showing them His mercy like He shows me EVERY DAY, yet I am bent toward selfishness and idolatry so I need Him. 
    What I am learning is that I am poor, afflicted, disabled and like a prisoner. I am broken too. I don’t believe God has me here to ‘fix’ people because I need fixing too. What helps me is just starting there-on my face in desperate need of His mercy every day-and He melts me and empowers me to extend it to others..How then can I say no to Him? Yet I haven’t perfectly said yes all the time..but He is patient with me anyway-MELT.. It is all Him! HIS GLORY WILL BE MY REAR GUARD AND HE WILL GUIDE ME CONTINUALLY!. 🙂 
    I don’t know, it just thrills me knowing He has brought me into the dance to be part of His plan for creation too-His desire to see those made in His image flourish. All this capacity He has given me to give away to others to help them flourish is beyond me other than I know this is what God desires because this is who He is. The blessing along the way is having His Joy! I have to go and take a shower for work-so no editing. ;~)

    1. Rebecca, I am so glad you didn’t edit this, because it is perfect as it is. I so relate to your first paragraph…sending some encouragement but not wanting, really, to give more of myself…struggling to be with someone who is hard to be around. I identify that when I feel this way, it most likely is that I am looking to them to fill some need in me, and because they can’t give it, and instead are relying on me, I don’t like it. I’m reading Nouwen’s book on the Prodigal son…it’s hard to grow up and mature to fulfill the role of the father in the story. And this is such a great reminder: “I don’t believe God has me here to ‘fix’ people because I need fixing too.”
      And your last paragraph so describes the work that He has you doing now at the school!

      1. Susan, the work you do as a nurse is so much God’s desire in helping, nurturing and healing people, and your tender, quiet and loving spirit is so wonderful..I would LOVE to have you as my nurse if I ever end up in the hospital! Yes..the ickiness of my selfish nature too-yuk..yet His nature in me-thank you Lord!! I was telling God yesterday how I so identify with Paul in Romans-that I love to sin yet hate it!!  Grateful there is no condemnation for we are in Christ Jesus! 🙂  I hate that conundrum though and long for the day when we are face to face. I love that the reason we can even see it is because of Him inside us..and that He is transforming us and is faithful in that. I tend to beat up on myself when I sin forgetting the cost of Him forgiving me-His love and acceptance which should drive me to Him in repentance. My prayer request is that I would more and more instantly run to repentance via having a more Gospel ravaged heart-rather than wait trying to justify my sin first. 

    2. Rebecca, LIKE!! “What I am learning is that I am poor, afflicted, disabled and like a prisoner. I am broken too. I don’t believe God has me here to ‘fix’ people because I need fixing too.”

  22. 2. Read Isaiah 58 in its entirety and write down anything that quickens you.
    The very first lines jumped out because God isn’t playing games here; he says to “Shout it aloud…raise your voice like a trumpet…” and tell my people their sin and rebellion.
    The next few lines describe the things God’s people were doing: good things, like seeking the Lord, fasting, humbling themselves, eagerly wanting God to draw near. Yet, like Dee said above, they were defining their morality in terms of very narrow issues. They were missing the bigger picture. This line really jumped out: “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please…” This convicts me of how blind I can be to my own sin, how deceitful my own heart is. As Max Lucado put it in one of his books, I think I am finely dressed, while the truth is my clothes are raggedy and falling apart. My nakedness is showing through the unraveling seams. Yes, I can be showing outward demonstrations of morality and conformity to the Christian life, while still doing as I please. Keeping Jesus out of certain rooms in my heart, not really being fully submitted to Him in every area of my life. Is there anyone else here who can, at times, “feel” that undercurrent of rebellion in your own spirit? I can’t “see” it or touch it, but I know its there – that deep down wanting to have my own way, to do as I please. Not in every instance, but I wonder if this is the reason why the Lord can feel so distant?

    1. Susan – I am certainly tracking with your entry here!  “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please.” stood out to me as well….in the same vein, v. 13 regarding the Sabbath really struck a chord with me as well – especially when the Lord is speaking of honoring the Sabbath by “not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly.”  When you speak of an inner rebellion, I found myself right smack there yesterday morning (the “Sabbath”) as I was preparing for the morning worship service.  The background story is WAY too long and truly unimportant here, but suffice it to say, I “retired” my old faithful car about two weeks ago…..and may not have another for awhile yet.  So, I’m basically “carless” for the FIRST time since I was 16!!  I have to say that I was abnormally excited about this journey…..to see what lessons the Lord would have for me in what I consider great deprivation!!  But I’m never prepared for the ACTUAL lessons He has for me….the deep rooted sin and ugliness within me that He is oh so faithfully holding up the mirror to and rooting out.  Sooooooo……I normally go to the early service at my church.  I LOVE the early service.  Now I will be riding to church with my son Zack for awhile…..and he goes to the LATE service.  Well, I have no words for the absolute mental and emotional TIZZY I had worked myself into by about 8 a.m. (the time I normally would be leaving for the early service!).  I was practically mourning having to miss “my people” and “my place”!!  I was beginning to mentally grumble to myself about how ill at ease I was sure I was going to feel at the late service…..and believe me, I’m only sharing the tip of the iceberg here!!!  But Isaiah 58 – and the preceding chapters as well as those after – really nailed me.  I saw clearly that, even in WORSHIP, I was bound to do as I pleased.  Even now, I’m shaken as I think that there’s not much that should cause me to tremble more than going to “worship” the Lord with a hard heart.  In the space of about an hour the Lord led me through His Word (Isaiah 57:18&19…) to a place of repentance and peace.  And so I went to worship…..which included a conviction to seek out and speak to a couple of women who I didn’t know….and the conversations took me way out of my comfort zone!  But that’s GOOD.  God was in this!  Afterwards, Zack and I had the sweetest lunch together…..talking at length about the incredible messsage our pastor gave us.  Then off to the races to support my husband and meet with some new owners – I would not ordinarily have done that on a Sunday, but God made it clear that going was a good and right thing.  When I first got to the racetrack a young man engaged me in conversation…..it was a pretty incredible conversation anyway, but then he just looked me in the eye and said “you’re a believer in Christ, aren’t you?”.  Indeed.  Of course the conversation got even MORE incredible after that!  Turns out this young man had been a hard core atheist…..adamant in fact!  Then the Lord opened his blind eyes about 2 years ago…..and he is so in love with Jesus!!  Amazing grace……and oh, yes, the horse ran a beautiful, competitive 2nd on the turf!  
      I know that some of you might differ with me on going to the races on a Sunday…….if it were just me, I wouldn’t be there either!  But…..having a beloved unbeliever as my husband, I do find that following Jesus often means that “not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure….” (Is 58:13)  means going the extra mile for Casey!  He was over the top delighted to see me there…..and wanted to know all about my conversation with the young man he saw me animatedly talking to while he was saddling the horse (and THAT was a conversation!!).    And then this morning I had an amazing email from the owners that I had spent a good deal of time getting to know….they were so very appreciative.  ALL of this was God’s lavish, amazing grace.  God moved POWERFULLY in my rebellious heart – using this very fellowship and Dee’s precise Scripture choices – and the day was SO MUCH MORE than I have even touched on here!  
      So yes, Susan.  I too am “out here” with a rebellious heart.  But He is so much bigger.  As long as I live, I’ll never stop needing Him to bring me to my knees over my sin.  He has promised us that we are new creatures, with new hearts…and that He will be faithful to complete what He has begun in us!!  Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift in Christ.  🙂  

      1. Jackie, I loved the “realness” of this post. I’ve found myself in similar situations especially around the holidays. So much grumbling over the details and plans for the day. Kind of makes a mockery of THANKSgiving and CHRISTmas. This year I just may turn it upside down!

        1. Dawn:    Smiling at your comment here.  Yet, I see myself in the complaining part….and also in the wanting to turn it upside down part. 

        2. Oh Dawn….hoping to hear more from you on this in the midst of the holiday season.  Can’t wait to see how the Lord leads you in turning it upside down!!  🙂  

        3. Dawn–LOVE this (and stealing it) “This year I just may turn it upside down!”

          Dee–I kind of like that baby “p” in the corner–I’m taking it as God’s reminder to me to pray before I post 😉

      2. Wow Jackie, I just felt like I walked through your Sunday right with you! Oh how I would long to have a spiritual conversation like you did with Zack, with one of my sons…how wonderful that you have been “stuck” riding to church with him…and the young man at the racetrack…he must have seen the Spirit in you to ask such a question. I don’t have a problem with you going to the races on a Sunday. That’s kind of like those legalistic rules that say don’t play cards or go to the movies. You obviously had a divine appointment at the racetrack, and that your husband was delighted to see you there – that is a good thing you did to bless your husband.

      3. Jackie thank you for being so transparent with us. I was really getting what you were sharing here with your experience with changes and going to a later service. How you invited the Lord into this change and how it changed you!

        This line though really got me:)

        “I know that some of you might differ with me on going to the races on a Sunday…….if it were just me, I wouldn’t be there either!  But…..having a beloved unbeliever as my husband, I do find that following Jesus often means that “not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure….” (Is 58:13)  means going the extra mile for Casey!  He was over the top delighted to see me there”



    2. Susan, Jackie, Dawn, Wanda…this whole conversation blessed me!

  23. once again I was a blubbering mess as I reread your story of Steve and Beth, that smile! He was SOOO happy to be saving the little girl he heard crying. 
    I feel God may be stretching us once again. as a staff member of a ministry it is easy to feel like you are doing what God wants you to. I think for this season I am, but I feel like we may be called to foster parent in the next few years. I have always said I would NEVER FOSTER PARENT I hate the system and it will break my heart…but you know…tell God what you wont do….
    notes on Isiah 58
    All our traditions, sacrifices, rule following….its nothing if we are not loving the poor, the lost, the prisoner, the orphan, the stranger, the widow…
    God says, take care of others, THEN HE will take care of you.
    “WHEN YOU GIVE YOU WILL GROW” (cyndi version)
    I love that HE tells us to ENJOY the sabeth..we NEED to rest! living for others is exhausting and HE knew we would need a day!
    personal share
    There are many ministries in our area that I love and really want to help but there is only so much time, so I stared a blog that will tell the stories of those who run the ministries and who have been served by them. Most those who are in the trenched do not have time to promote their ministry well, This is where I pray that I can help, I hope that they can use the stories I write as a tool to educate people about their ministry. This has been simmering in my heart for about a year now but I was not sure how to go about it. Please pray for me as I share peoples stories, that I will be true to them and that people will read them and be moved to help.

      1. I have to laugh at this! My pace is SOOOO much slower then it was when I was homeschooling and paperchasing for the adoptions 🙂 I covet your prayers thank you so much! Now that I have a little free time it’s knowing how to use it that is the most important. I’m hoping that this blog gives me a way to help all of the ministries that I love without running myself ragged! 🙂

        1. Cyndi-your laying your life down for others reminds me of Proverbs 31. You are young with energy and have a wonderful, honest personality, and using it to His glory. I love how you serve those God has put in your community-teens, and just all those around you. I am encouraged by your energy, your soft heart and zeal for Him. My personality is the opposite that is another reason I admire how God made you!! I tend to be so ‘reserved’ in decision making that I wonder if most of that is being afraid to step out in faith!! You are ‘ready to go’ in stepping out in faith-whereas I spend too much time in contemplation-when God may just be saying, Go!” 

    1. I am praying for your blog Cyndi, 16 people I sent invitations to have liked it already, a couple of them are seeking but as yet unbelieving friends. May God be pleased, for His glory, to do exceed lily abundantly above all we ask or imagine.

      1. Oh Chris! I’m so honored that you would share it!!! THANK you so much! I would live to share your story on the fb page. If you would like to send me a email about your journey I would be so honored to share about your faith in the midst of great loss. Theferrells@bex.net

        1. I love your blog Cyndi and love how excited you are about it!!!! Great idea Chris about sharing it!

  24. Oh wow… so MUCH stands out to me here that if I respond to all of it, I won’t get past the first day (again).  I had yo-yo emotions about  “Isaiah 58 people.”  First, I recalled with joy, “I used to be one” and remembered wishing that I could spend my whole life doing volunteer work.  Then, I thought, “then I got/now I am buried.”  But when I step back, I do see how God is weaving those desires and experiences together… and preparing me.  I think of multiple recent (as well as previous extensive/longer-term) experiences with a couple of neglected groups/individuals in society.  And I wonder about my willingness to not only serve “the least of these,” but to BECOME one of them (not that I’d have a choice about the becoming part or want to).  As I (very briefly) ponder the concept of being an Isaiah 58 person, I can’t help but wonder if God is preparing me not primarily to work with the “lepers” of society but to be one of them.  In many ways, I AM a leper, right now.  A safe and rescued one!

    1. Renee,   I have seen this in your heart for a long time.  To BE one of them.  I think God will honor that desire and calling; just not always clear when and how.  
      I love this:  

      In many ways, I AM a leper, right now.  A safe and rescued one!

      I believe that you will keep pursuing, with God, the ways to move beyond the safe zone.  

  25. 1.  What quickens me in Is 58:
    Oh my — the beginning:  “Cry aloud; do not hold back… declare to my people…the house of Jacob.”  This is convicting because it seems to me that the church in this country has become so politicized that I cringe and then withdraw when I hear (or read on FB) some “anti-___” statements.  I DO hold back.
    But I don’t get very far without seeing myself and the (most vocal from the?) church in the U.S.  (and I’m not referring to the “seek Me daily and delight to know my ways” part).  This saddens me because I do see the worship/church activity together with oppression of workers, with quarreling and fighting. 
    Then I am SO ENCOURAGED by the whole rest of the chapter.  I’m not “chased” into being an Is 58 person because of guilt or fear.  God draws me through this love.  What a promise: “your righteousness shall go before you;the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.”
    “if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.”   Still processing the first verse in light of the whole chapter.  I’d prefer to hold back with “crying out” 🙁
    Question about the if-thens:  Are these promises, maxims (was that the word??), or some of each?

  26. 2. Read Isaiah 58 in its entirety and write down anything that quickens you.
    I have some similar thoughts as Renee expressed.  I also wondered about the ‘if-then’ verses.  Have had them all marked and circled in the text for awhile now.  And I haven’t sorted that out.  
    (I love Isaiah so much, I keep a paperback copy that is just Isaiah and carry it with me fairly often.  It’s an NIV copy from the ’70’s when the entire NIV was not yet out. Isaiah was translated and published on it’s own before the rest of the OT.   I have an NIV NT and a single book of Isaiah from that era.  Renee:  do you still have yours?  We had Isaiah class together 🙂  )  
    When I read the first paragraph; vs 1-3, I feel that it reads like a commentary on (the most vocal) church in America and how many have linked certain political stances and trends with being true Christianity.  This is not a biblical, God-ordained linking.  It resounds with that narrow spectrum in which morality is defined and it is clear that God is not pleased with those feeble attempts to define Him and His ways.  I cringe at so much of what the church in America does in that regard.     Where I used to engage in discussion about it, I now withdraw in frustration.    And often; tears.  
    However, then I must stop and look at myself.  Because I am part of the church and I claim the name of Christ as my Lord and guide.  So, as hard as it is; I need to focus alone on how i personally reflect the broad spectrum of  morality or even more accurately,  what God’s character  can look like in the life of one devoted to serving Him.   That’s a constant challenge.
    This is exactly what the church we attend has been challenging us with this month.  One of the most convicting messages was when we talked about loving our neighbors as loving our literal neighbors.   it’s fairly ‘easy’ in my mind to say that I love the poor, the destitute, the abused in society.  As others have said, it’s fairly easy to write a check or gather items for a shoebox to send, financially sponsor kids in poverty,  or help pack meals for the starving,  (wonderful ministry in Minnesota called Feed My Starving Children) etc.   Even though I participate in these and other things  (and don’t do any of it as well as I feel in my heart I should),  what about my literal neighbors???    They are a messy bunch lately.  And it’s so much easier to look at the ‘programs’ where I can plug in and join what is already a significant, powerful ministry.  But, who will step up to get to know and reach out to my literal neighbors?  This is hard.  
    Also, yesterday, our church had a Sunday morning set aside, to ‘be the church’ in the community.  We met, in our work clothes, armed with rakes, gloves, ladders and more, and after a time of singing (challenging songs to reach out in justice) and prayer, we disbursed in teams to serve needy people in teams.  (all pre arranged as to going to others’ homes, nursing homes, community service centers, etc.)   The team my husband and I were on, raked leaves for an elderly couple; the man had just had foot surgery as well.  They had a humungous yard and I have not physically worked that hard in a long time.  Every muscle and several joints are hurting today!  But, it felt so good to ‘be the church’ in the community with others.  We met back for a potluck dinner and shared stories with each other.  One friend, who did one on one visiting in a nursing home, told me of the man she met, who is a retired University prof, all alone except for one visit a week from his son.  He was watching Joel Osteen.  That got the conversation started.  He told my friend that he did not believe in or follow Jesus but thought J.O. was a good communicator.  (lots to say here.  only wanted to mention this because it was she was able to begin the conversation)  When she asked if she could pray with him, he said,  ‘Are you going to come back?’    That spoke volumes.  How many people maybe come in and ‘do their religious thing’ and don’t ever come back.  She said she would.  And she prayed with him.  As she was telling me this, she was wondering how she would fit it in to her already over-loaded life.  But, she is determined to visit him again. What an example of following this text.  
    I love verse 8.  Will have to save that for another time. 

    1. “Are you going to come back?”  How convicting for us all, Wanda.

    2. Wanda I love your church actually moving from ideas into real action, and the coming back together to share the experience.We had a meeting at church last night, our pastor gave a short talk on loving difficult people, it was convicting and motivating. Much of what love shared fits tightly to what we discussed, Holy Spirit reinforcement!

    3. Wanda, our family was the recipient of church community work this past weekend too! A local church came to help us remove blackberry bushes in our back yard! It was so kind and thoughtful and very much appreciated! It made us feel as if someone cared about us! We have received so much from so many around us in the past few months, it can be a bit embarrassing. The reason we were “on the list” was because a friend of mine asked me if there was anything her former church could do for us. In the past I would have said “no, we are all set, we don’t need anything; we can handle life ourselves, no worries,” etc. After reading something, somewhere (? Maybe here) about a man who used to rise in the morning and pray these words…Jesus I am a person in desperate need of help today; God, in your grace send helpers my way; Spirit, give me the humility to receive the help when it comes. Amen…..I now say the words many mornings, and am able to accept help when it arises because I could sure use help in me overly busy life these days! It was a blessing to have them come and help my husband who won’t EVER ask for help and projects never get completed as a result of the busyness of our lives. He worked along side them and how sweet the time was! Thank you Wanda for blessing those in your neighborhood!

      1. This is wonderful, Laura!  I’m glad you shared it.  I love the prayer you’ve prayed and I think that is so vital.  To be willing to receive help as well as give it.  That’s how the body of Christ operates.   Glad you were blessed and that your husband joined in.  That’s one thing our pastor told us before we went out.  ‘If someone from the home you go to, wants to help, make a way for them to do that.’  He said he had made the mistake in the past of saying,  ‘oh no.  We’ve got this.  you just relax.’  but that excludes them, and even if they are unable to do much (not talking about your husband here!  but the elderly and not well people we helped) it is so important for them to come alongside as they are able.  What a sweet camaraderie that is!  

      2. Laura I too love the prayer you shared. And more so the result of that.

    4. oh Wanda–I was reading your post, right-clicking “copy” and there was just SO much I wanted to copy–it’s nearly the whole thing. OK, the sending shoe boxes (check mark) vs. loving our literal neighbors–I feel like you’ve had a bug in my kitchen! Since moving (a few years ago now) it has been so hard to even really know our neighbors, and as much as I try to teach my kids against “peer approval-idols” oh my, I am the pot (or kettle!) I do think there is something so much harder about really loving, ‘pouring ourselves out’ to those we see every day and fear their approval. I’ve also still been convicted by your son (I think) who had said the Church often ‘hates the sin, and ignores the sinner’. I loved this you said here, “what God’s character  can look like in the life of one devoted to serving Him.” Yes, a challenge for sure.

  27. “How many people maybe come in and ‘do their religious thing and don’t ever come back?” How true and profound! The person in the nursing home feels less like a person and more like a project after such an encounter. They already feel like a “job” to their caretakers and probably a burden to their families. Lord, I want to be a true friend to the friendless.

  28. “2. Read Isaiah 58 in its entirety and write down anything that quickens you.
    No, this is the kind of fasting I want:Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free,and remove the chains that bind people.
    Share your food with the hungry,and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

    Then your salvation will come like the dawn,and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind.

    Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.

  29. Reading through again tonight, I was struck by Beth’s words of her rescue: “he heard me crying. He came to get me and take me back“–and then I found Psalm 18:6 “In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.”–and OH, melted again. It’s just such a beautiful picture of rescue, that models OUR Rescue, our Rescuer, He does hear our cries, and He comes to us. OK, and full disclosure Dee, yesterday when I first pulled this post up and noticed it was that picture of Steve, I tried to quickly scroll past because I knew at the place I was in, I would just crumble at that picture! But then Beth’s words got me! But such a beautiful tapestry of hope, by the Master Weaver, as Susan said.

      1. oh no, Dee–not crumble in a bad/sad way! Just Steve, and honestly those sweet children’s faces–you know I’ve become more and more of a sentimental mushy one, not sure how/why that happened–but I tear up in sweet tears so often! BI just have such a love for who Steve was–what he models of Christ-like love, and that picture especially–SO captures his joy (in my mind) and that other-centered love…just love how excited he is to love those who need it most…am I making sense or rambling?! Sorry, off to work now! 🙂 But it wasn’t a bad “crumble”, just hits a tender spot

        1. Same Lizzy, SAME!

  30. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why? “We fear pouring ourselves out….the more we follow His heart the more His heart grows in us…”
    This is something the Lord has been whispering to me for some time now as I have wrestled with different things. The continual realization that it is not about me. True love is pouring out. Being a friend is giving to others. Doing ministry is giving to others. Being a mother is giving to others. And culture tells me, it’s too much, you need to make sure you are filled, too. (And there is wisdom in taking care of oneself to not burn out, get sick, etc.) But He fills me. The emphasis here is not time or balance, but in trusting Him, rather than myself, to give my heart what it needs/wants/ultimately desires. If I try to do these good things with self-salvation in mind then it is idolatry, but if I am trusting Him in each next step, then yes, indeed we are following His heart and it grows in us…. 

    1. Jill!   I loved your comments here and I wrote you a long response, but I clicked submit before I had put in my name and email and I lost the whole thing!  (unless it mysteriously appears, but I don’t think so).

      I have to go to bed now.  I will try again tomorrow!

    2. True love is pouring out. Being a friend is giving to others. Doing ministry is giving to others. Being a mother is giving to others. And culture tells me, it’s too much, you need to make sure you are filled, too.


       But He fills me. The emphasis here is not time or balance, but in trusting Him, rather than myself, to give my heart what it needs/wants/ultimately desires.


      Jill, I’m finally getting back to you here.  I just loved how you said this!   Though I realize it would have involved traveling through time and space,  I wish we would have been next door neighbors  when I had 3 little ones under my wing! ~ (3 under 3 and  a half. )  My husband was working full time and going to school full time, and in his spare? time, played a lot of softball.  I was home alone with the kids a LOT.   One with special needs that required so much medical attention.    Your words here are so wise.   I remember feeling so much like this, but I struggled with it.  I never could put it into words.  The trusting Him to give my heart what it needed wavered constantly.     I did have some great support, but no one can be by your side often enough to alleviate the load day after day.  You know that!    I remember once, when my daughter got out of the hospital,  and I had been with her day and night, never even leaving the hospital to go outside, I was so tired, I thought I would fall over.   A couple days later, a friend told me, You HAVE to do something just for YOU.  And I knew that was a good idea, but I thought of everything I may be able to do, and ALL I really wanted was for my daughter not to be sick anymore.  It was hard to even think of anything else that would help ME feel better.  I kind of rebelled against the idea of taking time for me.  But on the flip side, so often, I did get angry with life and I didn’t practice exercising drawing near and gazing at Him.   I am still just beginning to learn.  So grateful for the grace that got me through so many hard times and somehow, all of those little scenes are a part of the big picture.  And He was in each of them.

    1. Yes Dee, I read Miriam’s entry and said, WOW too.. every thought/sentence is wonderful!!

    1. Oh, cyndi. I LOVE Lily’s story on your blog!!! It is so wonderful to think of her “thriving” against such odds because of God’s grace and your obedience.

    2. WOW thank you for your kind words. I spent hours on it not knowing of anyone would ever read it 🙂 I have no words for how it feels to have you COMPLIMENT it! THANK YOU!

      1. Cyndi ~   What an amazingly beautiful story.   So grateful it was posted here.

  31. 2.  Read Isaiah 58 in its entirety and write down anything that quickens you.  So much, so much.  I’ve had some extended time for reading in the last 24 hours and Isaiah 58 is where I have primarily stayed…..wow!  Like Wanda, Isaiah is a longtime favorite of mine  – and my very favorite chapter, hands down, in the Scriptures is Isaiah 53. In my reply to Susan I did share some of where God led me yesterday through the reading of Isaiah 58 – I daresay, my day would have looked a LOT different without you leading us here Dee.  His Holy Spirit at work here in the midst of this blog shakes me so.  
    In pondering this particular chapter, for some reason I began to think of the Proverbs 31 woman that we recently looked at.  In many ways being an Isaiah 58 woman looks a lot like being a Proverbs 31 woman.  Though the Proverbs 31 may have focused a bit more on home and family and Isaiah 58 more on those outside our own families, neither are neglected in either chapter.  Just as I don’t see the Proverbs 31 woman doing all that is spoken of in that chapter simultaneously all the days of her life, so I think that the things listed in Isaiah 58 might represent specific callings (some to prison ministry, some to foreign missions, etc) and seasons of life.  For instance, I used to puzzle a bit over verse 7, which tells us not to hide from or neglect our own family members who need our help.  Hmm.  That used to seem like a no brainer…..but now, with a very ill young adult child, it looks much different.  I feel like I’m only beginning to see how COSTLY this  can be.  Daily emotional and financial needs are overwhelming at times.  When your child’s dreams are shattered and their life turned upside down it is a new way of seeing what Jesus is calling us to.  Or at least for me that has surely been the case.  After 9+ years in jail ministry, it became obvious to me that the Lord was moving me away from that particular ministry into a new season……we had an amazing influx of enthusiastic new volunteers into the ministry at exactly the same time that my daughter’s needs began to increase, etc…..
    That being said, I don’t think that EXEMPTS me from all that’s encompassed in Isaiah 58…..I still think that an Isaiah 58 heart will be responsive to what we see as we go about our way…..”when you see the naked, ….cover him” (v.7).  I see the calling here as very sleeves rolled up kinds of responses – love the picture I have in my mind of dear Wanda raking away – and ACHING away because of it!!  My wonderful Isaiah commentary says that to “share your food” is literally to “break bread for”.  Sounds pretty up close and personal to me!  I kind of love the progression here in this chapter too….from sharing food in v.7 to “pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted” in v. 10.  This gets down to the business of soul to soul….and even desiring to help bring “something special” to another.  The little extras that we all grant to ourselves but might think of as “frivolous” to another.  ??  I think the Isaiah 58 heart begins to really SEE another soul and see what is special to that person…..and then maybe, just maybe, sacrifice something that is special to me so that I can provide a little something special for someone else instead.  Oh….this so makes me remember Joyce commenting on a lovely dress of yours Dee…..and her comment was that you wore that dress a lot – and that you could have had many more dresses than you did….but INSTEAD you sacrificed to help struggling women like her.  Oh my.  That was SO meaningful to me!  

    1. Jackie, this is a great post…thinking about what you said that”I think the Isaiah 58 heart begins to really SEE another soul and see what is special to that person…and then maybe, just maybe, sacrifice something that is special to me so that I can provide a little something special for someone else instead.” For me, sometimes that “something special to me” is my time. Especially on those days when I feel I have so much to get accomplished and I’m in a hurry (which is most days). I want to ignore a need because I feel I just don’t have time.

  32. 2. Read Isaiah 58 in its entirety and write down anything that quickens you.

    I didn’t think it was wise to share everything that quickened me, it was too much! I picked this:

    8 “Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing shall spring up speedily;
    your righteousness shall go before you;
    the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
    9Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
    you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.” There was a session at CCEF by Alasdair Groves, Delighting in the Growth of Others. He spoke about when it is right to seek rewards, and that our future glory will be in one another, that people are Christ’s inheritance and we share in His inheritance. Than in heaven we will get to enjoy forever the ways we have influenced one another for His Glory. It opens up understanding of passages like this one in wonderful new ways.
    It goes back again and again doesn’t it? Remembering who and what our lives are to be about, reversing the inward curve to a Godward and outward one, which makes us willing to serve, to be inconvenienced, to love because we’ve been loved, to speak truth because life saving truth has been spoken to us, to forgive and pursue our enemies because while we were His enemies Christ died for us. 

  33. 4. Read Isaiah 58:1-3a
    A. How do we know this is important, according to verse 1?  Isaiah emphasizes the importance of more than ritual when he begins “Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet.”
    B. Why were God’s people upset?   They thought they were doing the right stuff — daily quiet time 🙂 , “appropriate” form of worship, expecting God to judge all the sinners around them.  I can see their point!! They must’ve felt falsely accused — sort of like if I am given some standards to follow at work, meet and even exceed those standards, and then I’m told that I don’t meet the standards, but I don’t even know what the (unwritten) standards are.
    C. What phrases show that God sees them differently than they see themselves? 
    -they seek me…, delight in me… as if they were a nation that did righteousness…
    -This one, although not quite as obvious in pointing out that God seems them differently, is amusing:  “Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?”  Um, the irony of saying “I am so humble!”
    – “Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers.”  Seems as if someone in my distant past, and I think it may have been Greg Scharf, said something about Christian yellow pages & targeting/isolating a primarily Christian market (can’t remember exactly what was said). Since that time, I’ve always used more scrutiny with such lists. I hate to say it, but some of the Christian businessmen and managers I have known of (not always known well) who are held up as most “holy,” the greatest leaders in churches are the worst employers.  I’m thankful they haven’t been my employers! 

    I learned this lesson many years ago when seeking speakers for a Christian organization and was talking with a roommate, who recently had become a believer, and other friends about names from I had been given as potential speakers — oh dear, some of their reputations weren’t good.  I’m pretty disconnected right now, but I do know of leaders in churches I used to attend who also were owners of relatively large businesses, managers in universities, or supervisors in medical facilities:  I’d have to be pretty desperate to work for or with some of them (sexual harassment, maltreatment, exploitation, etc).  I also know of WONDERFUL Christians in similar positions; but I got to know the good ones over time. 

    The “bad” ones (and I didn’t necessarily find out they were bad until years later, though I may have had some ‘odd’ interactions) simply were held up as good Christian businessmen/women or supervisors because they talked a good talk at church — but the consequences of working for or trusting them was harmful for some people. I’ve been around the block for enough years and enough places to have more confidence in patterns of behavior than labels as Christian or Christian leader.  The world itself is much smaller than I once thought in terms of workplace, churches, distant relatives, and friendships (scary — but also kinda good for recognizing patterns).

    Hmmm… I wonder if the ages of travel and of the Internet will have something to do with God revealing who really is seeking Him. I don’t want to believe gossip but I do believe “victims,” especially when long-term patterns come out.

  34. 5. Read Isaiah 58:3b-5 and describe the hypocrisy of their religiosity.    I am skipping this questions because I kinda got into it in the last question, and I now am tired of thinking about hypocrisy, my own and that of others 😉
    6. What is pleasing to God according to Isaiah 58:6-7?   
    I like this question better 😀
    -loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke  (learn to pick locks?? 😉  )   Seriously, I’m not sure how to do this in a bureaucracy (never can spell that without spell check), except policy, unions (some good ones, some not good ones), and maybe reaching a few individuals.  Though, maybe this refers to both spiritual and other yokes?  And aren’t all/most yokes at least partly spiritual?  Based on the context of this passage, it does seem to involve much more than being vocal.
    -share your bread with the hungry (okay)
    -bring the homeless poor into your house  This seems risky, but I had bought my house with some of this in mind;  then someone else 🙂 moved in (and in retrospect, I’m so glad I had that opportunity).  Now I’m thinking about this in terms of long-term-care models in this country. (just deleted most of pondering on this, too confused!)
    -and not to hide yourself from your own flesh    So, I imagine this means to recognize my own hypocrisy, how I ignore promptings of the Holy Spirit.  (especially want to avoid the literal version of this one, my flesh in front of a mirror.  I prefer hiding my flesh in clothes).  This  is the place to start.  Yup, this is upside down; start at the bottom of the list.  Unless my heart is bare/clean/open before Him, only possible because He LOVES ME SO MUCH (this all comes back to SoS, or it would be one more personal guilt trip),  any attempts at the above will make me a noisy gong and clanging symbol.  Maybe that’s why so much political rhetoric sounds to me like fingernails on a chalkboard; even when I agree, I tune out.

    1. Just thinking more:  INTERESTING– cover the other naked guy but not hide from my own flesh.  SO, if I am to take the “my own flesh” part spiritually (rather than just literally look at my own naked self in the mirror), this means I also should consider the ramifications of “cover the naked” in a spiritual sense. GULP!  Because this chapter begins with “crying out,” this probably doesn’t mean completely overlooking hypocrisy in or outside the church.  But it does mean forgiving; through Jesus, God has covered me.  I’m pondering how I cover the naked in a way that is parallel to not hiding from my own flesh.  Still processing…

  35. But what are some of the additional issues in which God defines morality according to Isaiah 58?
     We are to share bread with the hungry, as well as offer the homeless a place to live.
    4. Read Isaiah 58:1-3a 
    A. How do we know this is important, according to verse 1?
    The voice is loud and commanding.
    B. Why were God’s people upset?
    They felt they were being slighted by God; like He wasn’t paying attention to them.
    C. What phrases show that God sees them differently than they see themselves? 
    ” Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high.”
    ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭58:3-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

  36. 3. But what are some of the additional issues in which God defines morality according to Isaiah 58?
    God says that morality is not exploiting your workers. I had listened to a sermon by Chip Ingram in which he said that men would go work for someone and be paid at the end of the day. There was no food in the pantry at home; they lived hand to mouth, and those daily wages bought their food. But some would exploit the workers by telling them at the end of the day that they weren’t going to be paid. There was nothing the worker could do about it.
    God’s morality is stopping injustice and oppression, to give food to the hungry, shelter to the homeless, clothing to those in need – meet practical needs, and treat these people with dignity. The verses imply perhaps inviting these people to your table and into your home.
    4. Read Isaiah 58:1-3a
    A. How do we know this is important, according to verse 1?
    God tells His prophet to “shout it aloud, do not hold back; raise your voice like a trumpet”. God wants everyone to hear this.
    B. Why were God’s people upset?
    They believe they are doing good things – being moral, upright people who fast and pray. They wonder why God seems so distant, doesn’t answer, doesn’t notice.
    C. What phrases show that God sees them differently than they see themselves?
    “…as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God.”
    “Yet on the day of your fasting you do as you please and exploit all your workers, your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists.”
    “You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.”
    “Is this the kind of fast I have chosen…?”
    “Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?”

  37. A. How do we know this is important, according to verse 1? God wants this shouted, not to be missed that the people would know they are sinful.
    B. Why were God’s people upset? They felt like they had come to God in vain, that their prayers were not being answered.
    C. What phrases show that God sees them differently than they see themselves?
    From the AMP
    “they seek, inquire for, and require Me daily and delight [externally]”
    “as [if they were in reality] a nation that did righteousness and forsook not the ordinance of their God”
    5. Read Isaiah 58:3b-5 and describe the hypocrisy of their religiosity.
    They made a show of fasting, but the real intention God planned for fasting was to be humbled to grieve over and turn from sin.
    The were going through the motions, but more than just missing the point, they were turning the day of fasting into a day of contention and greed.

    6. What is pleasing to God according to Isaiah 58:6-7?
    Helping to reveal and show the path of deliverance from sin to one another, caring in physical and spiritual ways for one another. This is obviously going to be inconvenient and costly, brings to mind this:
    John 15:13
    “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

  38. 5. Read Isaiah 58:3b-5 and describe the hypocrisy of their religiosity.
    The people are setting aside a day(s) to fast. Perhaps it’s like a “check-mark”, as we would say today, “check” – I read my Bible today, “check” – I went to church today. But it has no more meaning than an outward action. As they are abstaining from food, they are sinning against each other with exploitation of workers, quarreling that even leads to physical fist fights. They go through the outward motions, like bowing their heads and lying on sackcloth and ashes. But their hearts are not in it at all.
    I don’t fast like this or lie on sackcloth. But God is saying to me, “Yet on the day you go to church, you are disrespectful to your husband or you have an unforgiving spirit; you are not loving as I love and have commanded you to love. Do you expect me to notice your worship, your careful attention to the teaching? Is this what you call observing the Lord’s day? I would rather you stay at home and learn to love in the context of your own family, with those closest to you…and keep your money…”
    6. What is pleasing to God according to Isaiah 58:6-7?
    To work to stop injustice and oppression of the weak and vulnerable and to set people free. To share and provide food to the hungry, shelter to the one in need of it, clothing to the one in need, and to provide for your own family. To “not turn away from your own flesh and blood” would be things like helping aging parents…I thought of how in Jesus’ day the Pharisees were neglecting to care for their parents.

    1. Susan – I’m captured by the way you personalized God’s Word and applied it to your Sunday worship….as I shared my past Sunday’s rebellion prior to the service, I can relate!  Great application as well with your example of the Pharisees’ neglect of their aging parents – and actually calling it “holy” as they claimed that their money and time was devoted to God ….but in reality it was devoted to themselves!  Many layers of food for thought in that Susan!

  39. 3. Greg Scharf said that Christians tend to define morality in terms of a few issues. (That is not to say those issues are not important. I pray in agreement with Eric Metaxas who hopes the new Planned Parenthood videos are a Wilberforce moment for the world.) But what are some of the additional issues in which God defines morality according to Isaiah 58?
    OH MY OH MY HEART JUMP!!!!! I haven’t seen this before in Isaiah 58 and related it to God’s definition of morality..how in the past I have Soooo overfocused on moral issues-like drinking, smoking, gay marriage, sin issues in general that grieve God yes, but might not be nearest to God’s heart!!!!! HOW I was SO trying to push morality through politics in my past..oh how grateful I am that God is patient with me! What a GREAT question! Okay..deep breath..calm down..but OH..
    Verse 6 all the way to verse 14!!
    v 1-5 Doing moral things-i.e. as highlighted via religious fasts–but then verse 6 and what God sees as HIS fast-HIS morality..it IS upside down!!! Loose the bonds of wickedness, undo heavy burdens, let the oppressed go free, share your bread with the hungry, open your home to the poor who are cast out. Delighting in Him on the Sabbath-not in our ‘works’ of staying home doing nothing..or not buying alcohol or shopping. Maybe He puts someone who is afflicted, hungry, or in need in our path on the Sabbath-or calls us to work on that day to meet someone’s need? Will we say no because it is the Sabbath? 
    The ‘religious’ way of fasting prior to verse 6-focusing on sin nature- often leads to pointing fingers at others, quarrels, debates, etc..It can take our eyes of His true desires.
    OH and I have to tell you that in Steve’s story of how Beth was hesitant to let Steve in when she got there and instead of repelling away from her Steve entered into her world..and loved her and then she let her wall down. That has SO helped me in working with the teens I work with at school..When they are stubborn, God helps me to enter into their suffering or their world..and just wait..He is helping me to know when to give them time, how to help them turn from being stubborn and non compliant. He is helping me to learn them and what they need that takes time. 

    1. enlightening Rebecca! I guess it’s ok to work on Sunday for others….I never thought of that! Just trying to not work for myself on the sabbath these days.

      1. -Oh I just re-read what I wrote..don’t ask me how the last paragraph fits in-So glad you guys love me anyway!! lol. I told you I can relate with Peter in my zeal! :))

        I have been contemplating and want to add that obviously God hates sin..for Jesus told the adulterous woman-go and sin no more, but I think, and I could be wrong, that that scene was showing God’s wondrous Mercy and Grace-He could have killed her on the spot like the religious leaders wanted to but He forgave her-for this is why He came-to redeem us and bring us back into relationship and in that to change our stony hearts into His heart of flesh!

        I think in Isaiah 58 they fasted, giving up things, afflicting their souls, spreading out sackcloth and ashes all the while treating people horribly-they thought doing these things delighted God and it didn’t matter how they treated people..but OH the contrary!

        Their desires were not His in the first place because they were trying to earn His favor by doing things moral and right.  He wants us to want Him above all and out of the overflow of our hearts in being with Him our desires become His. Our empathy for those who are hurting grows and expands into helping them-sacrificing our lives for them. For example, this means fleeing strife an debate because that person means more to us than being right-and so we put our swords down.

        1. I love your heart Rebecca, may the overflow of our hearts because we’ve been with Him transform our desires, for real!

        2. Rebecca,  I also love your heart as evidenced in these last two posts!  It takes a soft, pliable heart to see (and especially to say!) that your thinking is shifting and you are seeing more of how God sees things in regard to moral issues.   I too have had these moments and I see how 180 my thinking is from what it was in years past.  Regarding morality,  I think groups like the Moral Majority (which were generally neither moral nor a majority, when you really break it down) have done so much to set back God’s real message of the broad spectrum of living according to His design.  But, that said, when I began to see the harm in that black/white, narrow spectrum thinking, I think that I went too far the other way.  I felt so repulsed by what I was seeing that misrepresented God’s real message of love and grace that I fled from anything that smacked of it.  BUT, I think in so doing it, I had a tendency of ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’ if you know what I mean.  How I need to constantly be reevaluating my heart, my thoughts and my motives.  As Dee said, it does so encourage to see your enthusiasm.   And to feel the fresh breeze of freedom from some of the things that can so readily bind us.

  40. 5. Read Isaiah 58:3b-5 and describe the hypocrisy of their religiosity.
    I had trouble figuring this out so I went to several bibles. The amplified helped me get it.
    “Why have we fasted, they say, and You do not see it? Why have we afflicted ourselves, and You take no knowledge [of it]? Behold [O Israel], on the day of your fast [when you should be grieving for your sins], you find profit in your business, and [instead of stopping all work, as the law implies you and your workmen should do] you extort from your hired servants a full amount of labor. [Lev. 16:29.]”
    ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭58:3‬ ‭AMP‬‬
    So the people were fasting, not being noticed, and had their servants working instead of fasting along with them. They were hypocrites. 
    This brings to mind Queen Esther, who, when put to the test, told ALL the Jews to fast and pray so she would know her decision to visit the king was well thought out and blessed.

  41. Isaiah 58 cyndi paraphrase 
    4-6. what your doing is self centered and NOT God centered, this fast is worthless to me because it is harmful to those I love. I tell you to fast in order to help the poor and the oppressed, not to cause them more.
    7-8 LOVE people. that is the sacrifice that I desire. Only then will you break through this dark world and bring light into it, only then will I protect you.
    9-10 your light will rise lin the darkness IF you pour yourself out for the oppressed. i did not call you to tell judge people I called you to serve them.
    11-12 AND when you do this I will be enough for you, dont worry that you will give to much away, I will be like a spring filling you up always
    13-14 If you rest like I tell you to, you will not burn out.
    I just love this chapter!!! thank you so much for having us dig deep into it Dee! The theme that I see running through the entire thing is that when you care for others God will care for you. When you EMPTY yourself out HE is shining HIS light through wHEN Yyou pour yourself out, HE fills you up. HE HATES ritual when there is no love for HIM or others behind what we are doing!

    1. I love your “Cyndi paraphrase”…you made it very concise and easy to understand!

  42. 3. Greg Scharf said that Christians tend to define morality in terms of a few issues. (That is not to say those issues are not important. I pray in agreement with Eric Metaxas who hopes the new Planned Parenthood videos are a Wilberforce moment for the world.) But what are some of the additional issues in which God defines morality according to Isaiah 58? 
    Giving ourselves to the hungry (I wonder if that means only the physically hungry, or also spiritually?) and satisfying the desires of the afflicted, opening our homes to the homeless, etc….  

  43. Hi there :). Testing from cell phone because I can’t post from Safari or Firefox on my computer.

    And I am (almost) dying to know something. This whole chapter screams to me of Jesus, the Gospels. So I’m wondering if I am imagining things, if I learned TOO well when we studied Psalms. Seems so incarnation-like.

    But, oh my, after my crazy interpretation of “your own flesh,” I’m not so sure. The thought of family, as in flesh and blood, didn’t cross my mind. Now, I think “duh!!”

    Anyone else having problems putting name and email in boxes through computer browser?

  44. I had a little trouble, because I got an error message that told me I had not put in name and email address.  But then, it didn’t give me the option to do it.  My comment disappeared.  Also there is a mysterious ‘p’ at the bottom of this comment space.  On the line that is below the little dotted line. Funny.  Wonder if it’s on other people’s space.

      1. I don’t seem able to post. It won’t allow me to enter my name & email.
        I am able to enter them in reply to a comment, but not to make a new post.

        1. Once I posted this my personal info showed up and I was able to post my comments.

          I like that it isn’t squishing the lines together anymore 🙂

      2. Thanks, Dee.  🙂

  45. 6. What is pleasing to God according to Isaiah 58:6-7?

    God want us “out there;” he wants us to help others… The homeless, the poor. The last line is interesting too.; hide from your own flesh. I take that to mean even though you may not be close to family members (my sister and I aren’t really that close) we should not “hide” from each other. We should care for each other anyway.

  46. Nope..I am not having issues with posting..it does look different now, which I like. 🙂 I can actually see everything I am typing instead of just a small area. This helps me to edit better. 🙂 I don’t have a lot of time to edit after I post in the mornings so this format is great for me. :))  I CAN INSERT LINKS NOW! 🙂 Testing by inserting a video of Sara Groves introducing her new album Floodplain. :))

    1. You’re right.  Rebecca and I hadn’t even noticed those things.  I was wondering about the print.  It’s nice it’s larger and a larger space!  All good.  🙂