The Gospel According To Isaiah

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

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Get Ready, Get Set, for A Fruitful Lent!

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

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My Heart Bursts Its Banks

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

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CUT TO THE HEART (Psalm 16 Part 2)

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

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

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

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Resurrection Power in our Sisterhood

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

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The Stark Reality of the Psalms

Philip Yancey said that when he was feeling sad or stressed, people told him to read the psalms, and he would come across one of the “wintriest” psalms and go away frostily depressed. But then he realized that the psalms were not like the other books in the Bible. Instead of God writing to us, it is if we are reading over the shoulder of the psalmist, peeking at his honest prayer journal. The psalms are the inspired prayer book of the Bible, and because life has both great highs and great lows, so do the psalms. “Rife with the pathos of praise and the ethos of agony, the book of Psalms captures better than any other corpus of Scripture, the bi-polar life of faith.” (William Brown) Indeed, ever since paradise was lost, this life is bi-polar, and we need to […]

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Be Still and Know in 2018

Tis a season for everything under heaven, and Advent and Christmas are lovely, but the decorations are looking a little sad, the sweets have made me a bit sluggish, the money spent a little too freely, and all the festivities may have crowded out time with Him. So it is time to turn. January is the season of new beginnings, the season of quiet, where we can renew (or establish) the habit of drawing near to the One who makes all things new.   They say it takes 21 days to establish a habit. Let’s meet together, daily, and see how God indeed, will renew us. If you are new, just click on the “blog” at the top, and then on the “Getting Started” door and follow the easy directions. We have a wonderful group of women here who will […]

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Oh Holy Night! The Angels Song!

He wooed me as a child, appealing to all my senses. My mittened hand in my dad’s big gloved hand as we walked toward the church on a snowy Christmas Eve. Luminaries lined the walk, bells chimed from the tower, and the fragrance of pine enveloped the sanctuary. An unusual hush was over the congregation as we waited for the service to begin, for this, my father whispered, was a holy night. Then, the service began when, from the back balcony, a lone soprano’s voice filled the air: T Though my church as a child did not hold to the Bible, the carols and the hymns we sang did, and stayed in my memory, playing a part in helping me to listen when, as an adult, the gospel was presented to me. Though today is Christmas Eve, and this week […]

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Zechariah’s Song

Nine months deaf Nine months mute Nine months of wonder as his withered wife blossoms. Nine months to ponder Nine months to repent And then, God unleashes Zechariah’s tongue. When Zechariah’s “tongue was loosed” a holy FEAR (the Greek word “phobos”) fell upon the neighbors, and then, throughout Judea. Why? Because Zechariah’s Prophetic Song showed the promised time had come. Don’t you think they each thought: Am I ready? Just as we know the 2nd Advent is promised, can you imagine how you would feel if God showed you Christ’s return was going to happen today? Would you not think? Am I ready? Let us delve together into the rich song of Zechariah, and in so doing, truly prepare our hearts for this Christmas.   Last Thursday R. C. Sproul died, a man that God used mightily to remind God’s people of […]

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Zechariah’s Preparation (Part 1)

Zechariah is a godly man, blameless in the sight of God. Unlike so many husbands in Scripture, he had not taken another wife when Elizabeth was barren. Only once a year did the high priest go into the Temple, and Zechariah did not expect to see an angel. But he did.   Philip Yancey says that angels never say, “Hi.” They always say, “FEAR NOT!” For even Gabriel, the angel of good news, brought fear with His appearing. He reassures Zechariah: How many years had it been since Elizabeth and Zechariah had given up praying for a child? This was too much. Unlike Mary, Zechariah doubts, asks for a sign. Gabriel’s answer is swift and severe. The consequences are high, as we will see. Last week we had a good discussion about the difference between punishment (to make you pay for […]

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Mindful of Us! Mary’s Magnificat!

When David looked up at the starry heavens, he marveled: What is man that thou art mindful of him? Mary quoted that psalm, echoing David’s amazement in her Magnificat.  My soul magnifies the Lord, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. Her Magnificat also seems much inspired by Hannah’s prayer. Hannah was taunted by her husband’s second wife, Peninnah, whom he married because Hannah was barren.  Hannah went to the temple to pour out her heart to God, and she was so fervent the priest thought she was drunk. Before she knew if God was going to answer her prayer for a child, she went away and her face was no longer sad. Hannah, David, and Mary all knew the character of God, and you can see it in their prayers. We can learn from […]

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Advent 2017: The Prayers of Christmas

This year I got talked into letting my home be on the “Holiday Home Tour” to help a local children’s center. I protested, “But my home isn’t that grand, and I don’t go all out decorating at Christmas!” They persuaded me that was okay — they were interested in different philosophies about Christmas, and mine could be the value of simplicity. And so I agreed, explaining on the brochure that simplicity was okay, for after all, the King of kings was born in a manger. That may be just a very good excuse, but honestly, when you prayerfully consider what matters most, a lot can go so that He doesn’t get crowded out. This Advent we’re going to immerse ourselves in the prayers of Christmas: Elizabeth’s Spirit-led Prophecy over Mary; Mary’s Magnificat; Zechariah’s Song; Simeon’s Dedication and Prophecy; and on Christmas […]

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How To Respond To Thankless Thanksgiving Dinners!

Your heart’s desire is for a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving where you go around the table several times with various ways of thanking God. The fellowship is sweet, rich, laced with laughter, and glorifying to God.   But that may not happen. You may be at a home where the host is hostile to Christianity, or uncomfortable with the idea of sharing, or simply hasn’t thought beyond giving grace. There is a time to speak and a time to be silent. If there is hostility toward Christianity, you will likely be seen like this:   And instead of drawing them to Christ, it may actually be a stumbling block. On the other hand, if there an openness, a little encouragement from you might be what God is calling you to do, for it might be truly thought-provoking to some there. There […]

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THANKSGIVING 2017 (PART I)

God is near to the humble, to those who know their desperate need for Him, to those who know that without Him they can do nothing. As I told the women in prison last week: “Every time I come here, I feel the breath of God on the back of my neck, for He certainly shows up for you, and so I get to be a part of that. The most alive church I know is in the faith dorms of prison!”   My son J. R. came with me to do the filming for He Calls You Beautiful. On Sunday he went to death row, and came out shaken at the presence of God. He said, “Mom — they were in small cells, but I was overwhelmed by their joy!” When one woman looked up at him he was […]

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