The Prophet Who Turned

17 08 2020

In his day, his words were the voice of God to the entire nation. At times he wrote with the crude fury of a Steinbeck. Then he might wake up a la Tennyson and spread sunshine over the people.

His life became a frequent object lesson for the nation, for he heard crazy commands from God to illustrate the message. He must have spent sleepless nights in fitful prayer, hearing the murmurings of God.

The voices toggled between vengeance and comfort. God seemed ever disappointed with His people, chiding them for their disobedience and fakery, only to relent and invite them back to His mercy and a cup of tea.

For a long time, God’s voice had been unforgiving. The words poured out disappointment on one group after another. Parchments became dispatches of judgment which divided the people and sent the nation into despair. Brother distanced himself from brother, father from son. No one seemed to listen for the voice of God anymore.

Then the worst happened. No one was prepared for their world to be turned on its head. The prophet would never forget the year his life changed…

In the year that King Uzziah died.

It was a horrible year (like 2020 AD). King Uzziah had reigned many years and strengthened the nation. But he grew arrogant and “transgressed the LORD his God by entering the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar” (2 Chron. 26:16). As judgment on usurping the function of the priests, Uzziah was struck with leprosy, and lived in isolation till his ignominious death.

The prophet Isaiah had been angry for months. Just read chapters one through five of his collection. He saw Jerusalem as a whore, all perfumed and bejeweled. Princes were thieves, bribing for gain and neglecting the fatherless. The nation was a vineyard that held great promise but, come harvest time, bore inedible grapes.

In this bog of loss and disappointment, God pauses His words for the people. Instead, a searing hot spear pierces the heart of the prophet himself. He envisions a throne room with worshipping angels in glorious regalia, calling to each other in words which depict a world Isaiah had rarely imagined.

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory” (Isa. 6:3)

Glory? How did these heavenly spirits see the earth with greater clarity than he? Why had he never known of such a King?

His anger at others turned inward. He saw his own hubris. His judgmental words by which he castigated others reverberated back to his own soul, and he cried,
“Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips. For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (6:5).

As I tell the story of this prophet, I must pause and be honest. Do we not also live among people of unclean lips? Many of our leaders and even our fellow Christians are speaking self-righteous words which divide. Truth suffers a lack of love. Love leaves truth behind. When did we lose sight of the King?

In the vision, an angel brings a burning coal from the altar. Touching it to Isaiah’s month, the seraphim consoles, “Behold this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged” (6:7).

Words can only turn sweet if the heart is first changed.

Now the prophet hears a conversation within the Tri-une God, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us” (6:8)?

Can’t’ I just sit here in my house and enjoy feeling clean? Can’t I distract myself, and protect myself from the messiness out there?

Once in a while, a messenger wakes up to realize that he or she is not just an activist for a cause or group, but an ambassador for a King.

They, with Isaiah, say, “Here am I! Send me.”

A school of prophets is forming today. They too are undone by their own self-righteousness. Their hearts are being cleansed and their lips beginning to represent their King, Jesus.

And it may be that some people will listen to them. But not many. Like Isaiah, these new prophets will encounter deaf ears and dull eyes. Why? Because people always get what they asked for. Their treasure always follows their heart.
Often the prophet must watch the city fall into ruin, must grieve the failing homes, must lament the oppressed lands.

They must look for the new remnant to rise from the heap, for God is ever willing to start over.

“Who will go for us?”





Morning prayer of a Christian Writer

30 11 2016

“My heart is overflowing with a good theme. I recite my composition concerning the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” Psalm 45:1

writers prayerI praise You, O God for the gift of this day. I desire to live it for Your glory — to be of enjoyment and usefulness to You today.

I acknowledge that You created me with a desire and skill to write words which change lives. I am a steward of this gift. May I manage it today in a way that pleases You. Give me Your words.

I offer again to You in surrender my mind and my heart, for this is where You must put Your thoughts. Stir up my soul with Your truth, excite my pen with Your thoughts. Write to someone You love through me today.

Open Your word to me that I may glimpse more of Your glory.

Deepen my understanding of Your wisdom and grace. Let me see beyond the veil to behold more of Your beauty, the beauty this ugly world needs to see, even longs with desperation to see. Let me feel You power today, that I may strengthen that one who is weak.

And finally, grant me grace to do the unpleasant tasks of the writer who must work to publicize his words. Put me out onto the highways, that I may announce the good words You give — not for my own reputation, but to wave the flag of the good news.     Amen


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For Nov. 9 and thereafter

6 11 2016

day for calm





A prayer for community

6 11 2016

“You’ve heard of missing persons. Have you ever thought about missing prayers, prayer requests that God ought to hear regularly but that we scarcely speak? The prayer for spiritual discovery ought frequently to grace our lips.

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you,
we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding”
(Colossians 1:9).

candle prayerFrom SAFE IN HIS SANCTUARY, by Robert Rasmussen (Multnomah 1999), p161.





Reality in Rio. A life changed, a call to pray

4 08 2016

As the Olympics unfold in Rio, consider this story of hope from the underworld of that city.