Especially in the Storm

Especially in the Storm - Do Not Depart

I heard it for the first time during a funeral for a godly mother of two young children. An 18-wheeler ran right over her suburban in heavy city highway traffic. An entire family forever changed in an instant.

It wasn’t just the words of “Praise You in the Storm” that impacted me. It was knowing that the family had picked the song. In the midst of overwhelming grief and life-altering circumstances they chose to praise God and stand on His truth no matter how things looked – or felt.

Here’s the chorus of the song by Casting Crowns (find the full lyrics here):

And I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

storm buttonThe truth reflected in “Praise You in the Storm” is very biblical, though it doesn’t come naturally – or easy – for many of us. When circumstances are dire, when the way is difficult, and even the future looks dark, we can praise God. We can stand firm on the truth of Who God is, even when our emotions tell us He doesn’t care or He has forgotten us.

God lovingly highlighted this truth for me a couple of years ago when pain hit our own family. Believer, sometimes, on the darkest days, we must simply choose to believe that God is there and working for our good. When all we see is chaos and all we feel is hopelessness, we can cling to what we know to be true about God.

Along with the prophet Habakkuk we can declare:

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains. Habakkuk 3:17-19, NLT

God is faithful and trustworthy all the time. Not just when everyone is healthy and there’s money in the bank. He is faithful and trustworthy in the midst of the storm. Especially in the storm.


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“When all we see is chaos we can cling to what we know to be true about God.” @DoNotDepart Click to Tweet

Singing Mountains and Clapping Trees

Isaiah 55:12-13

I would not have wanted Isaiah’s job. For 60 years he went to work every day to warn God’s people of His coming judgment on their unrepentant sin. The job must have had great benefits, because he stuck with it until the end.

Even though Isaiah’s message and contained a lot of “gloom and doom,” life-giving portions of it promised God’s restoration and ultimate salvation. All this month, we’ve focused on chapter 55, one of those hope-filled sections of Isaiah’s prophecy.

Isaiah 55:12-13

Today, we’ll finish the chapter with verses 12 and 13. But let’s get a running start. Here is Isaiah 55:10-13 from the NLT:

10“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. 11 It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.

12 You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! 13 Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”

God’s Word will fulfill God’s purposes. I love that we can trust this promise!

I also love that God intends for His Word to bring His people joy and peace. When we receive and accept His Word in our lives it will fill us with His joy and peace. God’s Word will restore and refresh.

Where grief and sadness once grew, His abundant love will take root and a song will burst forth from our lips. Where sadness once ruled, God’s power will reign and our feet will begin to dance to the Father’s heart beat.

Is your life overgrown with thorns and briers? Immerse yourself in God’s Word today. The mountains will  begin to sing and the trees will clap their hands!

Use Your Words

Use Your Words {}

Over the years, I’ve heard many believers say something like this:

“My life is my witness.”

And while it is true that our lives should testify to Christ and bring glory to God (Matthew 5:16, 1 Peter 2:12), this kind of statement is often used as an excuse to not open our mouths and speak words out loud about Jesus. People may indeed look at our lives and think we are great, kind, loving people. But if we don’t tell them Who makes the difference in our lives, it would just be sheer dumb luck for them to connect our good character with Jesus.

The New Testament is packed full of examples of believers “telling” the Good News of Jesus. The Gospel didn’t spread from Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria to Asia and to Rome because the first century believers led good lives. They “showed,” “went,” and “told!”

Use Your Words

I love Peter’s encouragement to tell in 1 Peter 3:15:

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

Are you prepared to tell others? The rest of this post is filled with some practical helps and links to resources to help you be prepared to give the reason for your hope!

Prepare Your “Story”

Your personal testimony about Jesus’ work in your life is really your life “story.” And “story” is a lot less threatening word to many people than “testimony.” Can I share my story with you?

4 components of your Jesus story:

  1. Background – What was your life like before you came to know Christ? You may not have a “dramatic” story and that’s okay!
  2. Transition – What caused you to begin thinking about spiritual things? Even if you were raised in church, there still had to be point where you realized you were a sinner and needed a Savior.
  3. First Step – What was your first step toward God? How did God bring you to salvation? (Be sure to include the primary components about why we need a Savior and how only Jesus is able to save.)
  4. Now – They will be encouraged if you let them know that you are growing in your relationship with Jesus but you have not fully “arrived.” It’s important that people see that salvation is just the beginning and not the “end.” Share what God is doing in your life right now, what are you learning about God right now.

 4 Tips for Helping Your Story Connect:

  1. Use everyday language instead of “churchy” words.
  2. Emphasize an active, dynamic relationship with a person instead of a plan.
  3. Show how your faith is a growing, changing, and fulfilling relationship with a person instead of a one-time decision in the past.
  4. Consider what you can use that will connect with the person you are sharing with. For example, do you both have young children? Maybe you’ve both recently lost a loved one.

Free Prayer Resource: The most important thing we can do to “prepare” is to pray. Pray for your heart, for God to give you not only opportunity to share, but also to break your heart for the lost. Pray for those in your life that don’t yet know Jesus. The “Sharing Jesus” Prayer Guide is a downloadable resource that lists Scriptures to pray for yourself and for those who need to know Jesus. Feel free to print it and share it!

When we take time to pray and prepare, we will be ready when God gives the opportunity. Are you ready? Let’s preach it, sister!

When was the last time you shared Jesus with your words? Do you find that hard?


“Your testimony about Jesus’ work in your life is your life “story.” “Story” can be less threatening to many.″ – Click here to tweet this.

“4 Tips for Helping Your Faith Story Connect with Others - via @KathyHHoward at @DoNotDepart #ShowGoTell” – Click here to tweet this.

It’s Time for Show, Go, & Tell

Missions, evangelism

Maybe my confession will shock you and maybe it won’t:

Telling others about Jesus does not come naturally or easy for me.

In contrast, my friend Kim turns every encounter into a conversation about Jesus with what seems like no effort at all. It simply oozes out of her pours. And another friend, Susan, purposefully and joyfully builds relationships with hurting people who need to know Jesus.

Missions, evangelismI could just forget about it and say I’m not “gifted” in evangelism and while true, that’s just an excuse. In reality, I haven’t had enough practice. That’s my fault.

God calls every believer to share Jesus with those who need Him. He wants us to show them what a life of faith looks like, go to places that need Jesus, and tell everyone about the eternal life found in Him.

Jesus’ last words to us before He ascended to heaven reminds us of this divine directive:

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20, NIV

Our February theme at Do Not Depart is “Show, Go, and Tell.” We’ll talk about the biblical basis of living “missional” lives, tell about some of the ways we share Jesus with others, and give you some tips and resources to “show, go, and tell!”

Right now, I’m preparing for a short-term mission trip to Bangladesh. Honestly, I’m a bit nervous, but I know God called me to go. One of my biggest prayers over the last few months is that God would give me a heart for the girls and women we will be ministering to. I want my heart to break for them. I want it to be burdened for their physical and their spiritual need.

God loves them. Jesus died for them. But unless they hear, unless they come to know Jesus, they’ll remain lost, condemned (John 3:16-18). This is true for every soul in the world. In Bangladesh. In Africa. In America. Next door. So Jesus sends us. Will we go?

What would you like to hear or learn during this month that could help you foster a “missional” life?


So, What’s New?

I got several “new” things for Christmas. Duck Commander pajama pants. A bag of flavored coffee. A Tupperware container. These nice gifts replaced things that were worn out or used up, but they weren’t really different than anything I’ve had before. These “new” items were merely unused, unworn, recently made.

But “new” can have a deeper meaning. Consider 2 Corinthians 5:17. Here it is in the New King James:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

The Greek word translated as “new” in this verse doesn’t simply refer to something recently made. It also means a new kind, a change in substance, form, or quality. When we become “new” in Christ, we aren’t simply a new person. We are a different kind of person, with a different kind of nature.

New Beginnings Series -

It’s Not Just You that’s New!

I love what else pops out in the NKJV and the KJV. When we come to Christ, this “newness” doesn’t stop with us. It changes everything in our lives. “All things become new.”

Yes, because of my saving relationship with Jesus, I am new. I am spiritually reborn. I am a new creature with a new spiritual nature. Praise God! But because I am new in Christ that newness also transforms everything in my life.

Because I am a new creation, my relationships are “new.” Because I am new in Christ, my work is “new.” Because I am a new kind of person, my motivations, desires, and goals are different. I approach life with a “new” attitude. I interact with people in a “new” way. I meet life’s circumstances with a “new” outlook.

Therefore, nothing is the same. Everything is changed. Christ has made all things new.

Discard the Old, Embrace the New

Do you ever feel like you’re lost in a sea of sameness? That your life is common, boring, or dull? Do you ever wish you could do something different, be someone different?

If you have fallen into a tired slump of bland routine, remind yourself of this truth: God has made you into something radical. Believer, you are different, unusual, and unique.

Look at yourself and your life through Jesus’ “new” lenses. See the world with His eyes and embrace the “new” life in Him. Allow His newness to transform everything around you.

Have you forgotten that Jesus makes all things new? In what areas of your life do you need to be reminded of this truth?