Good Ol’ Garth

I had a Garth Brooks experience recently. No worries, I haven’t been hanging out with friends in low places, but I have thanked God for unanswered prayers.

We’ve all had them. They’re those prayers when we ask God to give us something that we think is best for us, and then we mourn when the answer is no. And we cry. And we complain. And we ask why…a lot. Not always, but sometimes God allows us to catch a glimpse of the answer to the question why, and when He did this for me, I was immediately humbled. God really did know best. He was being a Protector, a Good Father. Sometimes a Good Father has to say no, and always for good reason.

I hope I’ve learned a lesson from each time God gives me some insight into why He says no. I am in His hands. He guides, I obey. He is glorified, I am blessed.

Shall the ax boast itself against him who chops with it? Or shall the saw exalt itself against him who saws with it? Isaiah 10:15

 

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A Whole Lot of “Woe” Going On

Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees. Isaiah 10:1

Have you ever gone “dark side” as a parent, overreacting with harshness to your child’s misbehavior? I cringed last week as my teenage daughter told her friend about how once I bagged up a bunch of her toys one day and told her I was giving them to the garbage man. Ooh, harsh. I don’t even remember what she did and she doesn’t either, and I guess I didn’t scar her too badly because she was laughing about it some seven years later, but still…what was I thinking?

As I read Isaiah 10:1, my thoughts go immediately to the Supreme Court of our land, then to dictators, then to politicians with a godless agenda, but then I have to circle back to myself. Toward my children, or my spouse, or the people around me, am I in any way being unfair?

I Just Need Jesus

I need someone in my life. Someone Wonderful. A trustworthy Counselor. A Mighty God. A Father for evermore. One who commands peace, even a Prince of Peace. I need Jesus.

And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6).

Shadow of Death

Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined (Isa. 9:2).

The shadow of death is not just a patch of shade.  The shadow of death is a valley surrounded by steep, foreboding mountains of danger with no passage of escape. Have you walked in that shadow? The hint of death blocks the light. I recently had the occasion to walk in that shadow. When I realized I was standing in that shadow, I looked around to consider the view. It wasn’t as scary as I thought, though, because I knew that Jesus was there with me. He lit up that valley because He IS the light, and nothing and no one can block His illumination. Let His light shine.

Don’t Look Down

Those silly squirrels can teach us so much.

I confess being deep in thought — okay, maybe it was more like worry — as I gazed out my bedroom window. What is God doing? And why can’t I figure it out? I was tired of reminding myself over and over not to worry, but to trust. Then I noticed a busy squirrel, scampering across a narrow branch about 30 feet off the ground. He was back and forth, up and down, occupied in his own world. How does he do it? Dangling so high above the ground, trusting that his tiny paws won’t slip to sudden death. Then I realized, he’s not cautiously weighing each step. He’s just doing it; he doesn’t look down and tempt himself to worry.

Isaiah said, “I will wait on the LORD….And I will hope in Him” (8:17). Sometimes it’s just that simple. Wait on Him. Hope in Him. Live and move in Him.

 

Choosing Between Family and Jesus

My stomach churned as I perched beside this dear South Asian woman. God had put words in my mouth to say to her, but I had no idea how she would respond. I shared the gospel, a message of hope she has heard many times. I have spoken her name in prayer before the Lord many times, asking for her salvation. Would she be ready to trust Jesus?

“I have started to believe in Jesus a little bit. I want to become a Christian, but my husband said he will kick me out if I do. I will lose everything. I will lose my family.”

God has said, “The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow; let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread” (Isa. 8:13). I have never faced such a decision as my friend in South Asia. My heart breaks over her agonizing situation, but I believe in the power and the grace of God. Please pray for my friend and the many women who are facing the same situation. Pray that they choose Jesus.

The Fight Was Over Before it Started

This is just crazy, but a true story. In high school, this very short, thin, feisty girl I’d never met before approached me one day and announced she was about to take me down because her sister was mad at me. (I know, right? First of all, how could her sister possibly be angry with me because surely I hadn’t done anything worthy of anger. How bizarre!) I had never been in a fight before (unless you count when I sat on a boy on the playground in first grade because he was picking on this new girl from Cambodia, so don’t judge because I have a heart for the nations.) But I sized up my would-be opponent and felt pretty confident that I was in no real danger. I encouraged her to step away. I’m not sure who was more surprised, her or me, that I was not responding in fear.

God’s people have always had enemies. Here’s a word of courage: “Speak the word, but it will not stand. For God is with us” (Isa. 8:10). What God has said, He will do, but the words of the enemy are just…words. Nothing will ever happen to God’s people without it first passing through the hands of God, and rest assured, God is indeed with us.

Can I Get a Volunteer?

When you’re in a crowd and the guy with a microphone says, “Can I get a volunteer from the audience?”, are you that person who raises your hand? It’s funny how most children’s hands shoot up in the air and wave with an obvious plea of “pick me! Pick me!” But most adults are looking around nervously, trying not to make eye contact with Mr. Microphone.

God asked the question, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?”, and Isaiah replied, “Here am I! Send me” (Isa. 6:8). Isaiah wanted the privilege of being picked to go into the world to share the message of God. Isaiah had just had the life-changing experience of seeing the glory of God and experiencing His forgiveness, and it made him eager to honor God as His ambassador.

Are you eager to go and share? When you hear the word “missions,” do you ask God to pick you? Allow His glory and forgiveness to inspire you.