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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THOSE CHALLENGING STORIES (Abraham and Isaac)

This week we are going to look at one of the most challenging stories in Scripture: “The Sacrifice of Isaac.” We read it and think: What? God you abhor child sacrifice! But there is gold in this mine. What I see Abraham doing, and I think you will too, is talking to his soul about what he knows about God. Again and again I see how important it is when life is hard, when God isn’t making sense, when you are faced with losses, to talk to our souls instead of listening to them. Last week was a hard week for me — a child deeply struggling, some really bad financial news, and no easy answers. The scene outside my window matched the turmoil in my heart. But I did what the Lord has taught me to do — to talk […]

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Faith and Art (Part 1 of The Story of the Lamb)

Sitting by the fire on the anniversary of Steve’s death this month, my daughter Sally and I remembered one of the ways God ministered to us in our grief was through the story of the lamb, a story that runs throughout Scripture. I have often told of how God led Sally to paint Aslan, just a month before Steve’s fatal diagnosis, for God was preparing to uphold us when the earth gave way. As a little girl Sally had always loved Narnia, and the scene where the children first heard about Aslan, “the King of the whole wood,” came to mind:              “Is he a man?” asked Lucy.                         “Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not! I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-sea. Don’t you know […]

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THE TAPESTRY OF YOUR LIFE

We’ve seen Him do it here, on the blog: weaving our lives together so that we  feel His breath on the back of our necks. One incident I’ll never forget happened when I was trying to show that God has a plan for our lives that will make sense when we get to heaven. When He looks down, He says: “You are on track.” “You are right where I want you to be.” “You are here.” This is not the end of the story, however. It will make sense, one day. I posted a sign I just grabbed from google images: When our own dear Chris saw that sign, she froze. THAT WAS THE EXACT SIGN, THE VERY HOSPITAL SIGN, WHERE SHE AND HER HUSBAND SAT IN GRIEF AFTER GETTING BAD NEWS ABOUT THEIR SON DANIEL.  DANIEL HAD BEEN ACCOSTED […]

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WHERE IS YOUR IDENTITY, TRULY?

Years ago, I was ice skating with a new friend in Fargo. I had decided before we came it was time to find out where she really was with Jesus, for though I knew she was a church-goer, I had never heard her speak of the Lord in a personal way. As we skated around the rink, I braved what I hoped was a gentle question.  “Would you say that you are a Christian or that you are still on the way?”   Oh – how that backfired on me! She exploded in anger:   “Miss Dee, why would you think I am not a Christian? What is so bad about me?”   She was so angry she couldn’t hear me as I stuttered to explain that I was very bad — and I certainly wasn’t saying anything about her […]

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SET FREE OF RELIGION!

Martin Luther called it “the default mode of the human heart.” What is it? RELIGION   Tim Keller said that religion is just as dangerous as irreligion and the gospel calls us out of both. i Have you ever felt like God is punishing you because you failed Him? That’s religion.   Have you ever felt that if you would be better about Bible study and being pure, God would love you more? That’s religion.   Does your prayer life consist nearly exclusively of requests to control your environment? Religion again.   This summer we had a week where we saw how Galatians 4 used the story of Hagar and Sarah to illustrate the difference between the religion and the gospel. (If you missed it, you can review it here: The Enslavement of Non-Gods But in a nutshell, the birth […]

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The Gospel According to Noah

When Joni Eareckson Tada and Ken Estes wrote When God Weeps,  they made the controversial statement that it isn’t just that God allows sorrow, He appoints it. How I remember talking to our grief-struck daughter, Sally, after her dad’s death. We were swimming to our neighbor’s raft when Sally flipped on her back, looked up at the rose-colored clouds, and asked the really hard question. “Mom, I’ve been reading Ann VosKamp’s One Thousand Gifts and she says that even the hard things are planned by God. She quotes Amos, who said, ‘Does disaster come upon a city unless the Lord has done it?’ Did God plan for Dad to die?” I told her I knew God would bring good out of it, and she said, “That’s not what i’m asking. Did God plan Dad’s death?” Though it seems harsh to say, “Yes,” […]

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Let Not Many of You Become Teachers

 God warns that teachers will receive a stricter judgment, So I must come to you and tell you I shouldn’t have endorsed the “gospel sentence” that some saw in the Hebrew meanings of the ten names listed in Genesis 5. For those of you who have just joined us, this is what I found so fascinating, but now about which I have serious doubts. I’ll explain why, what I learned, and ask for your forgiveness,   For a few of you, this raised red flags, and I’m thankful, for it caused me to check with Hebrew scholars, to whom I am so grateful. I learned a lot, though I wish I had checked before I posted. I don’t know Hebrew and I certainly don’t know the finer art of Hebrew: Semantics.  I had looked up all the names in two […]

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LORD OF THE STORM

Like many of you, there are people I love who have faced the wrath of Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida. In communicating with them, I heard repeatedly that their trust was in God, for He is “The Lord of the Storm.” Indeed, Scripture clearly reveals He brings both disaster and rescue for His own good purposes. One way we have evidence of God’s sovereignty is that the whole Bible hangs together. In fact you can see the gospel truths revealed over and over again by the true stories in Genesis. Again and again we see this pattern. In fact, we see it in both the story of Adam and Noah, the bookends of this genealogy of Genesis 5. So this week we will look at Adam, and at the “first gospel,” known as the proto-evangelium. Then next week […]

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2017 A SUMMER OF WONDERS (Week Two of a Two Week Study)

We are continuing our review of our summer of God sightings, so that we will not forget God’s benefits, and so we can tell them to our children, and to our children’s children. We do not want to be like the Israelites who forgot His works, and the wonders that He had shown them. We began, this summer, by going on a God hunt. With the help of the psalms, and some of the ways the Mains helped us to see God, let us continue our review of the summer. Perhaps you will be with family or friends this holiday weekend. I challenge you to tell them about a God sighting! Sunday: 9/3: Bless the Lord, O My Soul   Prepare your heart for the week with this: 1. Have you told anyone about a God Sighting from this summer? […]

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2017: A SUMMER OF WONDERS (Week One of a Two Week Study)

We’ve been going on a God Hunt this summer, and it is time to reflect on our summer of wonders. Psalm 78:6 urges us “not to forget the works of God.” So, over the next two weeks, at summer’s end, let us reflect, each day, with the help of the psalms, “the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” (Psalm 78:4) Why? For our own hearts, for we will need to remember when God seems to be hiding His face, and remembrance of His presence is sorely needed. And for one another, to stir one another up. And to record them for the next generation. I’m praying, despite the busyness the approaching fall always brings, that you can check in each day and record, with the help of the psalms, one “God […]

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