Category Archives: Take Him at His Word

The most beautiful thing…<3

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We are experiencing one of those rare summer mornings in the Midwest where there is no humidity, a light breeze, a clear sky and just the slightest chill in the air. 

For us it is like a day in February when the sun shines brightly and it warms enough that we can actually take a walk without danger of frostbite to the face and we are reminded that spring will come again. 

If your heart is oriented to this part of the country, these few days are hard-earned and pure delight and more than make up for the more brutal ends of the spectrum.

And I am one of those crazy people who say this is why I would never move to a more year- round temperate climate. I wouldn’t miss the Midwest for all the other choices in the world. 

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Sitting on our patio this morning, I had to slip my running jacket on… (and by running jacket I mean an athletic jacket that I wear to sit and sip coffee whilst I read on the patio or stand at a ball game in the spring and fall and watch younger people run)… as I worked my way through some of the most powerful and exciting pages of the book of Isaiah. 

As I read 53 through 58, I about ran out of ink with all my underlining, heart drawing and note making in this new Bible I have never used for a read-through. With having attended the Greenville College Messiah concerts a ton of Christmases over the years thanks to our violinist daughter, I actually sang some of these verses as I read them. 

Which can be somewhat annoying and distracting since Handel did that over-repetitious rendition and so sometimes I am hung up on a verse just having that play through my head in music -box fashion. But I digress…

digress…digress….yes, I surely digresseth. (that will make you laugh if you have ever listened to the Messiah…but if you haven’t just shake your head and move on)

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As I read the familiar and prophetic opening verses of Chapter 53, I was struck as I always am by the description of our Lord and Savior.

Isaiah had no idea who he was describing, but in obedience he wrote the description of the Messiah as He would appear to us. 

He grew up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Isaiah 53: 2-3 NKJV

I wrote in the margin of my bible this morning…

How contrary to our way of assessing success, power and majesty. 

I had to stop and just think on that description of Him. 

I am somewhat addicted to beauty.

I seek it in the natural world and I appreciate it greatly in the creative arts of humans.

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I always catch my breath and give God the glory for it because I know it is His hand behind both nature and the arts, but He chose to deliver His Son to us without the beauty I crave. 

Oh, He is beautiful…indeed He is the most beautiful…but if I were to see His incarnate self as a man here on earth, I would not have seen the perfection of form and loveliness of features that I tend to associate with the beautiful of this world. 

And I shudder to think that I would have looked on Him and not seen this Man of sorrows…acquainted with grief…as my Savior. My Lord. 

So I read on this morning and my foolish, often deceived heart, once again affirms the most beautiful Truth known to our human race. 

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgression, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53: 4-5 NKJV

I fall humbled before Him and ironically, speaking of music, yesterday we heard a song on the radio as we were driving home that was somewhat Handel-like in its use of repetition. 

Four men singing the same line basically over and over…He was pierced for our transgression, crushed for our sins, the punishment that brought us peace was on Him and by His wounds we are healed. 

I heard the song over and over in my head as I read those lines this morning. There is nothing wrong with that playing on the repeat all day. 

Nothing at all. 

In this world, there is no better place to live out the Gospel than from my knees remembering that by His wounds, I have been healed and forgiven. And only by His wounds. 

Here is the link to the recording of By His Wounds recorded by Mac Powell, Stephen Curtis Chapman, Brian Littrell and Mark Hall.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdLT-vvheV4

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One of my favorite basic principles about God’s love <3

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Hi and happy Friday!

I didn’t write last week because I was busy enjoying a day off with Russ and waiting for our John to arrive home to celebrate his birthday on Saturday.

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He wanted a “throw back” birthday for his 30th so we did a pickup softball game at the park and yes, he got to be a team captain.

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We grilled out burgers and brats and had watermelon and basically nothing healthy besides that. He asked for the old favorite from by-gone years, the DQ ice cream log cake which we all had forgotten about and is as surprisingly delicious as ever. 

It was a great time and went too fast and now we are a week into looking back and we are still smiling Except for the part where we miss everyone. 

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My thought today is nothing new or original but one God proves to me time and time again and it is this…you simply cannot out give God. 

We know it and yet every time some new encounter brings that truth to the forefront, I am once again in awe of how generous He is when I unpry my greedy little fingers off of earthly treasures and release them into His big unknown plans. Then before I can barely stuff them back into my pockets and turn to survey what I think has depleted my stock, He pours out blessings that exceed what I thought I gave up. 

On the north side of our house (I had to close my eyes and picture our house and then mentally walk around it and determine what each side faces to come up with that…and I went around the whole thing just to make sure I did it right. Twice) we have a patch of area that the builder of the home filled with ferns and hostas. The rabbits like to make their home in the ferns and dine on the big leaves of the hostas. Also because that patch gets direct sunlight for most of the day, these shade loving plants look pretty fried by mid to late June. 

I have longed to replace the whole area with sun loving, pollinator-attracting perfect for cutting a little vase or four of fresh flowers, perennial garden. Last year I pulled up a few ferns and planted two potentials and the rabbits muttered thank you as they licked their chops and hopped off after leveling both of them the first day. 

This year I pulled up a couple more ferns and planted 6 different plants and the rabbits got a bit of a start on them so we encased them in wire and they survived the initial attack. They are blooming and making me smile and I was well on my way to making the complete transition to this vision in my head. 

On Wednesday I got ambitious and dug up the entire fern population. As I looked at the stack on our wagon, it dawned on me that these were rather healthy root systems and maybe someone would like to have them. Plants are expensive and this would save someone a bunch of money. So I posted a “free to a good home” post and one of our friends responded quickly that he would take some or all. 

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We put them in buckets to soak and I mildly thought – wow …. Those probably cost the original home owner a chunk of change. I thought a bit about the investment yet to be made to fill in with more flowers but was relieved I wasn’t just throwing them in the garbage. 

Our friend later posted that he had some cone flowers and would bring and leave me some in exchange. I figured he was going to go dig up some of his extras and stick in water and leave on our porch, but no. He owns a landscaping business and when I got home last night, Russ showed me two beautiful commercially potted cone flower plants ready to plant as soon as we get more protective wire purchased, of course…or a dog who hunts rabbits…or both. 

And this morning I looked at them again and thought…just the picture of God. 

We give up some kind of something that we have on hand…some time, some money, some love…and we think we have donated some wonderful thing and aren’t we good? And He turns right around and just pours out something even better. 

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He is kind and He is generous. Full of grace and mercy. I think of the rich young ruler and how Jesus just asked Him to give up the ferns and the man couldn’t. And how when he walked away, thinking what he had was worth so much and not even knowing all that Jesus would have given him, it says….and Jesus watched him, and He loved him. 

He didn’t chase him down and he didn’t write him off. He loved him even when the man couldn’t release his earthly treasures for the untold riches of following Jesus. 

We are so blessed to become a blessing to others….and then He goes and blesses us back. How beautiful <3

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You alone <3

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Well, I just waved our boy off to head home. And as usual, I was a puddle. I try not to be, but it happens every time. 

We had a great weekend celebrating his birth with family and friends, all the while attempting social distancing

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pc/Big Jim Peck <3

which is next to impossible when Uncle John and Tia are in town…but we tried, honest we did. 

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I shared a bunch of pictures of some of the festivities on Facebook so am jumping to a devotional thought.

Because we all need some directions and encouragement and that’s what is on my heart this morning…besides wiping tears away and such…

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This morning I want to share a little something gleaned from my reading in Isaiah.

Today’s reading started with double trouble for Israel, but rolls into the part of the book where you can hear the music hit the crescendo heralding God’s promises and the coming Messiah. 

It starts in Chapter 36 when the King of Assyria is attacking Judah and all the fortified cities.

He sends his royal spokesman to the gates of Jerusalem with a message for King Hezekiah.

The pronouncement is shouted out asking King Hezekiah how long will he and his people trust in God to rescue them. 

The rant is loud and goes on and on with words of discouragement and examples of other Kings who placed their trust in their gods and what happened? They were soundly defeated. 

Deals of compromise are offered and one assurance after another of certain failure is predicted for anyone who remains loyal to King Hezekiah and God.

The officials of Judah request that this messenger speak in Aramaic, a language they spoke but the people of the city and the guards on the wall did not speak.

But the enemy of God continued to declare this barrage of discouragement in Hebrew so that fear and doubt would strike all the people hard. 

This is the first time I have read this passage in the Bible I am using for my annual read through, so I got my pen and I marked up the margins with the same thoughts that I get every time I read this….

The enemy discourages us in our native language. He lies to us in words that are familiar and ways that we can understand. He lies to us with offers of compromise and with the age old deception…”Did God really say__________?”

my bible journaling <3

As I read this description of the exchange going on, I marvel at how the people responded. 

They respond with silence.

The King had commanded them, “Don’t answer him.” And they didn’t. 

So again I pen the words of my understanding of how to apply this passage to modern battles with the voice of the enemy trying to discourage and dismantle God’s plan…

Don’t engage with the enemy. 

They also responded with signs of distress and mourning and grief, and in Chapter 37 Hezekiah took the threats written down on paper and laid them before God and prayed. 

Another strategy for this kind of attack: Take everything the enemy is saying and bring it right out in front of God. 

The rest of the chapter outlines how God responds to Hezekiah and the people of Judah and how He works in a mighty way to end the siege against them. 

We have an enemy bent on destroying the children of God.

He is not a human, but he works through humanity and sometimes we get it mixed up. We forget that our enemy is not flesh and blood and that our weapons are not the kind we use with our hands and our mouths. 

The weapons of our warfare are mighty in God but we can use the same principles involved in this attempt to deceive, discourage and defeat the Jews in fighting our battles today. 

  1. Recognize the lies that come to you in familiar and understandable language but do not line up with God’s Word
  2. Do not engage in arguments, corrections and shouting matches with the devil. 
  3. Take what is being said and all the feelings of fear and anxiety they are prompting and lay it out … literally write it out on paper… and lay it before the Lord and then humble yourself and be silent and listen. 
  4. If He gives you a direction to take, take it. If He says He will take care of it, trust Him to do it. 
  5. Know Him. Know His heart and then be found faithful in all things. 
  6. Acknowledge the “facts” and then declare the TRUTH

Here is the prayer of Hezekiah found in Chapter 37. It is a great example of how to pray when feeling discouraged and tempted to doubt:

LORD of Armies, God of Israel, enthroned beneath the cherubim, You are God – You alone – of all the kingdoms of the earth. You made the heavens and the earth.

Listen closely, LORD, and hear; open your eyes, LORD, and see.

Hear all the words that Sennacherib (the King of Assyria) has sent to mock the living God.

LORD, it is true that the kings of Assyria have devastated all these countries and their lands.

They have thrown their gods into the fire, for they were not gods but made from wood and stone by human hands. So they have destroyed them.

Now, LORD our God, save us from his power so that all the kingdoms on earth may know that you, LORD, are God – You alone. 

Isaiah 37: 16-20 CSB

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