Cartoon of man being blown back by wind

Blown Away

Love is a fruit in season at all times and in reach of every hand.

Mother Teresa

I love metaphors, but more often, I use interjections. Wow, great job, and yikes, are interjections. One interjection that we used in our recent past was “blown away.” We would say things like, “Have you tried those new Dorito® taco shells at Taco Bell®? They blew me away!” Or, “I was blown away by Alan Jackson’s ”Gospel Songs“ album!”

Blown Away

These thoughts about interjections and metaphors came into my mind when I read King Hezekiah’s poem1. He used a highly descriptive metaphor that will remain in my thoughts forever. Here’s the verse, as translated in the New Living Translation of the Bible:

My life has been blown away
like a shepherd’s tent in a storm.

Isaiah 38:12

I can relate to King Hezekiah. There have been times when I felt like my life was being “blown away,” not like an interjection but as a metaphor. I could see pieces of my life being stripped off like the shingles on my roof during a derecho (high-velocity straight-line winds).

Perhaps, you have had a derecho experience in your life. Maybe you worked for the same company for several years, and then, suddenly, the company downsizes or goes out of business, and you’re stripped of your career.

Maybe you and your spouse raised your kids for 18+ years, and then suddenly, you are empty-nesters. Perhaps you find yourself fighting a serious, life-threatening illness; your life is what might be stripped away. It might be that you have invested many years of your life in a church ministry, and suddenly, the Holy Spirit is calling you to a new people, a new place, and a new purpose. Your tent is being blown away.

God miraculously healed King Hezekiah from certain death. God is not constrained by time or circumstances; He still does miracles. As King Hezekiah wrote in his poem, “Each generation tells of your faithfulness to the next.2

Good News

You can trust God the Father, Jesus, the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit. The Triune God lives in you if you are a believer. God is ready to be your Amen.

Amen: The basic meaning of the Semitic root from which it is derived is “firm,” “fixed,” or “sure,” and the related Hebrew verb also means “to be reliable” and “to be trusted.”

(2023, July 10). amen. Britannica.

When the storms of life try to blow away your tent, lean into the Amen of your life. He will allow you to keep what is in His will and He blow away the things that are not His will. In both the keeping and the losing, our God will always keep you, care for you, love you. You are in Good Hands. Be at peace.

Image by Azmi Talib from Pixabay

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[1]: Isaiah 38 NLT – Bible Gateway.
[2]: Isaiah 38:19b NLT – Bible Gateway.

Relax, Refresh, Renew

Some men from our church home regularly meet for breakfast every Friday. Recently, one of the guys was diagnosed with bone cancer. As you can imagine, this news was a fierce blow to him and his family. Many people have joined in asking the Father for his healing. If you feel led, please remember him in your prayers.

I usually share a very brief devotional while we wait for our food. Today, I used this passage:

Isaiah 25:4 ESV

Then I asked what happens to us when we find shade from the heat. The first response was, “Relax!” This picture helped all of us around the table to see shade as a metaphor for hope for our dear brother and all of us.

Lately, the weather where we live has been staggeringly hot. Just a few minutes outside saps our strength. The heat compels us to go back inside. It disrupts our summer plans. Likewise, the heat from disease can easily crush us, but God has given us a promise with a history.

Notice what the prophet Isaiah says about God: “You have been.” That’s history. It is not “You will be;” something that will happen somewhere in the future. I like that history. The promises in verse four have stood the test of time, and they are still for us.

God has been a stronghold (fortress, castle) for the poor and the needy in distress. God has been a shelter from the storms of life. And God has been the shade from the heat. These promises are from God for us, and history has proved them.

Now here is an important point. When we enter a fortress or a shelter, we quickly become relaxed; anxiety leaves. The stronghold of Jesus exchanges our fear and frustration with a peace that transcends human comprehension.

When we come into (abide) in Jesus, we become refreshed and re-hydrated by His living water. Lastly, the shade of Jesus renews us. When we are relaxed and refreshed, we can escape the heat that withers life; under Christ’s shade, we become renewed.

Isaiah 25:4 reminds me of another of God’s promises:

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
    the righteous man runs into it and is safe.

Proverbs 18:10 ESV

It is not necessary for the redeemed of the LORD to be fearful, anxious, or depressed by the troubles that come to us from the world. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.(John 16:33 NIV) Claim the promises of God so that regardless of the trouble you can be relaxed, refreshed, and renewed.

Image by Sally Wynn from Pixabay

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Misplaced Expectations

The Bare Facts

Isaiah was a prophet of God. One day, God gave him an almost unimaginable message. In the twentieth chapter of Isaiah, we learn that the LORD told Isaiah to “Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.” And he did so, going around stripped and barefoot.1” He did this for three years!

Then the LORD told him that this was a sign – “a symbol of the terrible troubles” – that would come on Egypt and Ethiopia. I wonder if the thought went through Isaiah’s mind, “Now you tell me!”

The Main Point

The Philistines, Israel’s continual nemesis, felt safe because they believed that if Assyria ever attempted to attack them, then Egypt and/or Ethiopia would give them protection. WRONG!

The LORD told Isaiah that the king of Assyria would conquer Egypt and Ethiopia. And then the Philistines would become terrified! “They will say, ‘If this can happen to Egypt, what chance do we have? We were counting on Egypt to protect us from the king of Assyria.2’”

Misplaced Expectations

Just like people, throughout history, nations have made dangerous decisions based on bad assumptions. A stark example happened in 1957.

The Soviet Union Invaded Hungary

The November 1957 invasion by the Soviet Union into Hungary is a painful reminder of the danger of trusting other nations for your own nation’s safety. In 1956, a national movement swept the people of Hungary to throw off the outdated Soviet repression of their nation. At the beginning of the movement, they did not seek an alliance with NATO, just as Ukraine did not seek a military alliance with the West. But, just as the Soviet Union increased its pressure on Hungary, Russia did the same to Ukraine. And, just as we have recently seen in the war between Russia and Ukraine, the Soviet Union invaded Hungary. Both Hungary and Ukraine looked to the West for help; only Ukraine received it.

The Hungarian anti-Soviet militia thought they would succeed in their effort because they believed rumors, published by the CIA, that NATO and the US would step in and stop the invasion3. No help came from the West, so the Soviet Union’s invasion was an overwhelming success.

I have placed my fingers in some of the hundreds of bullet holes in Hungary’s parliament building that was besieged during the 1957 invasion. It is a chilling reminder of how political decisions do affect people’s lives.

As a side note, few people remember that Elvis Presley made a personal effort to help the Hungarians.

On Sunday, January 6, 1957, as millions of Americans watched Ed Sullivan’s popular television variety show, with the nearly 22 year-old Elvis Presley headlining for the third time, Sullivan told viewers Presley felt “so keenly about Hungarian relief, he urges all of us through the country to remember that immediate aid is needed.” The host followed this with Elvis singing an unrecorded number, the gospel song “Peace in the Valley,” saying “he feels that this is sort of in the mood that he’d like to create. – Wikipedia

Good News

God has given good promises to those that trust Him, who look to Him for their help, their hope, their hero.

6 Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed;
he will answer him from his holy heaven
with the saving might of his right hand.
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
8 They collapse and fall,
but we rise and stand upright.

Psalms 20:6–8 ESV

Both personally and as a nation, I pray that we change, that we stop trusting the untrustworthy and wholeheartedly trust our place in Jesus for our strength.

Photo by Házy Zsolt, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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[1]: Isaiah 20:2 NIV
[2]: Isaiah 20:6 NLT
[3]: After the USSR defeated the anti-communist Hungarian Revolution, the revolutionists criticised the CIA and its RFE network for having deceived the Hungarians into believing that the West—NATO and the US—would expel the USSR from the Hungarian People’s Republic. Although incitements to violence were officially against RFE policy, an internal analysis by RFE adviser William Griffith found, as summarized by the National Security Archive at George Washington University, that “RFE broadcasts in several cases had implied that foreign aid would be forthcoming if the Hungarians succeeded in establishing a ‘central military command’” and “appealed to the Hungarians to ‘continue to fight vigorously’”. – Hungarian Revolution of 1956

Binding Contract Contract Secure Agreement Binding

Beware of a Pernicious Promise

Promises are a powerful tool. They can be used as a form of motivation and they are often seen as an expression of love. However, promises can also be harmful, especially when we make them without thinking about their consequences.

The problem is that we often make promises without thinking about the consequences. We may say “yes” to something because it’s easy or because someone is pressuring us to do it. It’s important that we think carefully about our promises before making them so that we don’t end up regretting them later on.

8 At her mother’s urging, the girl said, “I want the head of John the Baptist on a tray!” 9 Then the king regretted what he had said; but because of the vow he had made in front of his guests, he issued the necessary orders. 10 So John was beheaded in the prison, 11 and his head was brought on a tray and given to the girl, who took it to her mother.

Matthew 14:8–11

Promises Aren’t Forgotten

It is so easy to make a promise. It’s like buying a car with no payments for three months. It’s so much fun until that first payment comes due. All too often, we will make a promise, and then afterward, we forget the promise or find it to be a heavy burden that Jesus never expected to place on us.

Have you ever attended your local church when a missionary spoke? He or she likely asked the congregation to pray for them and God’s work through them. They may have asked for a show of hands from everyone that committed to pray for them. Guess what? God still remembers that promise and still expects us to honor that prayer.

I’m not picking on anyone. Many years ago, a young man in our church had enlisted in the army. For his last Sunday before heading to boot camp, our pastor asked the church to pray for him and then asked for a show of hands for people that would continue to hold this young man up in prayer. I raised my hand; it was the right thing to do.

I prayed for him for several months, and then my promise slipped into my archive, where I keep my prayers for people and their needs. But God didn’t let me off the hook. Even today, the Holy Spirit will prod me to pray for this young (well, middle-aged) man. God never forgets.

Pernicious Promises

When looking back to the Old Testament, we find that God holds us to whatever promise we make. When God was teaching the Israelites in the desert, He said they were never to make a covenant (promise) with false gods or the people who worshipped them. (Exodus 23:32)

Sadly, they trusted their wisdom instead of asking for God’s wisdom. So, the Israelites were tricked into making a vow to a tribe that purposely misled them. It was a pernicious promise because it was harmful in a gradual, subtle way. Still, God required the Israelites to keep that vow. (Joshua 9:3) When the Israelites became angry at the leaders because they chose to honor their vow, here’s what they said:

19 But all the leaders said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, and now we may not touch them.

Joshua 9:19

Be Sure When You Promise

So, you see, God doesn’t let us off the hook if we make a silly promise. Instead, He holds us to it. I once watched my pastor eat lunch on the roof of our church! He promised us that he’d eat his lunch on the roof if we broke the attendance record. We did, so he did.

Be careful when you speak; our tongue can get us in all kinds of trouble!

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Rusty old car in the woods


My grandpa was a carpenter for the North East Oklahoma railroad. Their inside joke was that they worked for NEO (any old) railroad. Since he was a carpenter, he had carpenter stuff in his garage. I once found a bucket full of rusty old nails in there. They were probably new when he put them there. But when I found them, he had been retired for quite a while, and any time he had, he spent fishing, so the nails no doubt stayed in that bucket until he passed and someone else cleaned out his garage.

Nails forged from iron will remain iron for as long as this world exists if they are protected. But exposure to corrosive elements and iron transforms into rust which is corrupted iron, iron which has no strength and cannot be used for the nail’s intended purpose.  

Evil Can’t Exist Without Good

Evil can be compared to rust on an iron nail. Just as iron rust can’t exist without iron, so the corruption of evil can’t exist without good. We find in Genesis 1:31 (ESV), “God saw all that he had made, and behold, it was very good….“. Only when God’s good came could evil come forth and cause corruption.

As I mentioned previously, a rusty iron has no strength. Similarly, evil in a person steals their moral strength, making them weak and unable to do what is right. Also, a rusty nail can’t be used for its designed purpose. So, too, a person corrupted by evil is unable to fulfill God’s purpose for them. 

No Fear of Rust

Yes, corruption is active all around us, but as Christians, we are as protected iron for we have this promise in Galatians 1:3-5 (ESV): “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Jesus has immersed us in grace and peace, sealing us with the Holy Spirit. While we live in this corrosive world, we need not be afraid of its rust.

Photo by Brandon Molitwenik on Unsplash

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God is a covenant-making God. God’s covenants are not agreements between equals, but arrangements offered by God which contain promises based on conditions [a]. We correctly focus on the New Covenant and keep in mind that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Heb. 9:22) The shed blood of Jesus was the sacrifice for sins to make the way for our salvation.

What we may not be aware of is that God also makes covenants not concerning sin. We read right over many available covenants (i.e., promise/condition) such as “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps. 37:4) Individuals can choose to enter into these covenants that have been made available by God. 
In our personal relationship with Jesus, He also may speak to us a promise with conditions. If it doesn’t align with the Bible, then you didn’t hear it correctly. 

Jesus did this with me. I had newly recommitted my life to Jesus when I got a job as an electronics technician (ET). Before that, I worked as a parts guy in a Chevy dealership. I’d never had an actual job as an ET, and I was now the only one for the whole company. My boss, a salesperson, led to the back of their building, showed me the workbench, and a pile of stuff that needed to be repaired, then he walked away. I was sweating bullets.

Most of the items had broken wires or apparent problems. Then I came to this device that had an 8″ x 16″ circuit board full of components and no schematic and it only partly worked. I knew I was in big trouble. I had never tackled anything like that and didn’t have a clue how to start. So, I bowed my head and prayed. I didn’t really understand what happened then, but God made a covenant with me. If I gave Him the credit, He would show me how to fix stuff. He led me, and I fixed that device.

I’ll give you one more example, though there are many more, just to drive the point home. There was a time when I was an ET for Columbia Records/CBS, yes, that one. As a courtesy to the local public library, some manager offered to fix a broken device they had. I was told to go pick it up and fix it. I brought it back, opened it up, and the other ET’s openly laughed. They knew I was a Christian and they thought I was now in deep trouble. They didn’t know I was in covenant with Jesus. A few minutes later I had it fixed and ready to return.

I’m not special, and God doesn’t love me more than anyone else. I have also seen these covenants with God in many other people’s lives.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” So, ask, if this is something you desire.

[a] paraphrase from Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers

Photo by Thomas Jensen on Unsplash

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