A Paraphrase of Isaiah 61

Years ago I worked at Tyndale House Publishers and was able to spend time with Dr. Ken Taylor, the founder of the company who wrote the Living Bible. One thought I had about him was of all the people who ever read the Living Bible, who got the most out of it?

Dr. Taylor did.

He wrote it.

So, I decided to try this method of Bible study. Paraphrase the verse and see if you can get all of the original meaning into your paraphrase.

Here is my attempt at Isaiah 61. See how you think I did.

KJVBarlow Paraphrase
Isaiah 61:1The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;The presence of God is with me. His Spirit is on me empowering me to proclaim the gospel to those who are so weak and poor. I have a commission from Him to wrap up and bandage the hearts that have been shattered and to tell the captives that they are now free.
Isaiah 61:2To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;Jubilee has come! God is ready to set the record straight, to balance the scales, to right the wrongs and bring deep comfort to those whose hearts are mourning.
Isaiah 61:3To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.Here’s how He’s going to fix it: for those whose lives seem nothing but ashes He’s going to make them beautiful, green and full of life. For those who are weighed down with heavy sadness, just like a brand new garment He’s going to adorn you with praise! These children of God who God does this for are going to be planted firm in Him, like beautiful, fruitful trees. Giving God constant glory.
Isaiah 61:4And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.After God affects these people in this way, the effect they will have on others will be amazing. Places that have been totally destroyed, just like their lives were will be restored as well as they are. The generational curses on families will be broken. The blessing has come.
Isaiah 61:5And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.You’ll be amazed at who God will send to help you. People from foreign countries and those you don’t even know will feed your flocks, plow your fields and tend your vines,
Isaiah 61:6But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.because you will be too busy for that. People will call you Priests of the Lord and Ministers of the Most High God. The wealth of those who don’t even know God will come looking for you. God has appointed it to you. Their glorious riches will be yours.
Isaiah 61:7For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them.For all the shame, pain and confusion you’ve endured God will give you double blessing. In your land you will have twice as much blessing as the pain you endured. Oh the joy that will be on them! It won’t end.
Isaiah 61:8For I the LORD love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.I, your God, love fixing things this way! I hate when people try to work their own salvation. I want to do it for them. I want to do the cutting so they don’t have to. It’s my covenant with them and it will pass down to their kids,
Isaiah 61:9And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the LORD hath blessed.Their children will be known all over the world. Everyone that sees them will be confronted with how much I’ve blessed them. They will acknowledge the ones I have blessed as chosen by me.
Isaiah 61:10I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.Lord, I am overwhelmed with joy and thankfulness for everything you’ve done. I’m completely clothed and protected with your salvation and you make look great in your eyes with your gift of righteousness. I feel as well taken care of as a the groom at a wedding; I’m totally decked out. Or like a bride covered with her dress and beautiful attire; your salvation on us is so beautiful.
Isaiah 61:11For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.It’s amazing how soil grows what’s sown it; the seeds bud and flourish. Just so, Lord, you are causing your praise and glory to spring up throughout the nations because of how extravagant your salvation is.

I Don’t Want To Be The One Who’s Missing

Lord, I see all of these Father’s Day posts, while I’m thankful for being honored. The thing that bothers me is the number of people who’s father has passed and they are sore lamenting the loss of their father and missing him everyday. I don’t want that. I don’t want to be the one who is missing. I don’t want my kids to lament me not being there. Give me wisdom God. I want to affect their lives in a positive way, I want them to be thankful, but I do not want them to miss me everyday.

Many words, meant to be said, were unspoken. Many hearts that needed to be known were left closed. Many that needed a touch from their father were left alone. Son, you have spoken into their lives. You have ministered my love. You have done well Son.

While you can’t control how you will be remembered, you can influence it.

Keep loving Son.

Keep listening.

Keep empowering them towards confidence and accomplishment.

Keep directing their hearts to love others.

That outward focus will leave them satisfied at your departure.

Son, I’m with you.

We have much loving to do.

Let us work while we have the light.

Move forward in me son, without shame and without apology.

Impact this world with my love and my wisdom.

That is your commission.


Matthew 26 (KJV):

40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

A friend of mine writes books about family matters, one of his quotes is ‘peer pressure is only as strong as family identity is weak.’ (Gary Ezzo)

Peer pressure is an external emotional pressure that works to get you to conform to a certain line of thinking or behavior. It’s pack mentality; go with the crowd. The bigger the crowd, the stronger the influence. Gravely, negative behavior has come about in kids from great families because peer pressure won.

A family must create or discern its own identity and develops its own ‘family pressure’. If there is buy-in by most or all of the members then a sufficient offset to peer pressure exists. It’s really a battle between two different mindsets- the family vs. the peer crowd. It’s two different crowds. It’s two different directions. It’s two different sets of values.

If a child spends more time with their friends than with their family the influence of their friends will be strengthened. If they spend more time with their family, then they will find family values and ideas to be more acceptable.

You have to believe in the set of values you follow. It helps if you are around others who also believe in those same values so you can successfully live out those values in your life.

Jesus said to watch and pray so that you won’t fall into temptation. Can you see how you will be stronger against temptation if you spend time with God in prayer? You will be influenced with His values, His desires, His ways. As you get to know Him better the influence and ways of the world become more and more distasteful. Temptation loses its strength. The more time you spend with God in prayer the stronger you will be against temptation. As a matter of fact, temptation becomes a non-issue.

Resisting temptation is easy if you are strongly identified with Jesus. If you identify with being part of God’s family then you know who you are.

Do you know how much I’m tempted to do drugs right now? Zero! Not at all. I’m not around drugs. I don’t hang out with people who are doing drugs, I have no desire for the high that drugs produce. I’m quite happy without them. So there is the freedom from temptation because of the proximity to the temptation.

But when I was in high school, I used to take my guitar and go out behind the school on the other side of a hill and play my guitar for all the kids who were getting high. I never saw them doing the drugs I could just always see that glassy look in their eyes and I noticed their altered state of mind. I was around them a lot. Apparently my guitar playing was quite impressive when they were high. But I can tell you quite honestly that in all that time I was never once tempted to partake in their drugs. I knew who I was, I was regularly reading my Bible, I was constantly praying. I was aware of God’s presence. I also knew who my family was and what they stood for. Actually in my family we used to make fun of people who had to use alcohol or drugs to have a good time. To be quite honest in my young mind, an image had formed through family conversations to the effect that joy was for higher life forms and lower life forms had to use drugs and alcohol to partake of joy. Because of this mindset, right or wrong, I never envied the people who were getting high. I just enjoyed playing guitar for them, because they seemed to enjoy it as well.

So, I want to encourage you that temptation may be quite helpful to you in that it exposes where you may have a weak philosophy about something. Maybe you don’t believe something as deeply as you should. The Devil looks for open doors not solid walls. So go revisit what you believe in the area you are being tempted in. Go find out why you believe what you believe. You might need to fortify something. You might need to strengthen your beliefs so that you’ll be stronger.

Who Defines You

When I was in high school, my younger brother and I were in the same math class. He was smarter than me in that topic and more motivated. I didn’t have a problem with being in the same class with my younger brother. It never bothered me. I had my own strengths and was happy that he had his. One of my strengths was guitar playing.

In our Catholic high school we had all school masses (basically a worship service) on some regular basis. As a guitar player, I joined the team to lead the singing. Sometimes I would do a special song right after communion for the whole school. On one particular day, I sang a somewhat popular song and the student body responded very favorably; they loved it. On my way to math class right after the mass I was congratulated and complimented frequently by my peers. It was a great feeling being appreciated.

When I sat down in class, my brother was sitting right behind me, then it happened: a pretty girl in the class came up to us, turned to my brother and asked “What’s it like to have a brother who’s wonderful?”  I was very angered by her question. Although I didn’t show it, I was livid. Didn’t she understand what she was doing? Didn’t she understand the place she was putting my brother into? I wasn’t concerned for me. I was concerned for him. She was placing him into what I’ll refer to as negative space. She was highlighting the space I was in and making it clear that he dwelt in the opposite space of me – the negative space.

I never discussed with my brother how this affected him. I’ve never brought it up until this writing. I hope he didn’t let this become a defining moment for him. That would be sad to let someone else’s limited perspective define you. Choosing the negative space as your identity isn’t about you. It’s about the other person. If you do this, you and the world will never find out who you are.

If you live in the shadow of someone, or think you do, don’t let yourself be defined by what you are not. Don’t take the negative space and say “that must be who I am.” No! You are a unique and awesome individual not to be defined by someone else, but by who God made you to be. Discover your own characteristics.

If you define yourself by negative space, then you take the definition of that other person and choose the opposite and say “that must be who I am.” So if I play guitar, my brother then would have to reject playing guitar, whether or not he had an innate talent or skill. If I chose Christ he then would have to reject Christ to maintain his identity. If I am straight he must choose to be gay to maintain his identity.

Can you see how faulty and tragic this can be? I believe this happens all over the world and throughout the human race over and over. We must give people the freedom to be who they are, and the affirmation of that as valuable.

Can You Fly Too?

How long have I wondered what it would be like to fly? I have had dreams in which I could jump really high. Just any time I wanted I could jump up and get something or jump up and look at something, as high as I wanted. But the process has happened in my dreams so many times that I have had those weird moments when I’m awake when I wonder if it’s really true. Could I really jump as high as I want? Is it just a dream? Or has God been trying to train me for something? I sometimes feel like the processes I’ve experienced in repetitive dreams have been the Lord trying to lay some new roadwork in my thinking.

Many years ago I had a dream that I was jogging/running down a sidewalk when I just decided to jump up and float on the same path just two or three feet above the sidewalk. So I did. I was still going the same pace, I was just floating. I was able to stay aloft as long as I wanted. Now remember this was a dream.

Years ago my son, Mark, had been hearing me tell these stories at the dinner table or at our family meetings and he didn’t seem to grasp the fact that these were dreams I had been talking about. At our old church one day I was called upon to close the service in prayer. After I finished the prayer and dismissed the people Mark came running up to me very excitedly and said “Dad, wait! Show them how you can fly!” I had described my dreams so vividly that he perceived them as reality. That’s not altogether a bad thing. He still has that heart of simple faith.

In one of my dreams I was teaching a class where there was a platform in the front of the room. So, (remember ‘in my dream’) I wanted to demonstrate to the class how I could fly. I stood up on the platform and jumped off, simply floating like a balloon, gently to the back of the classroom. As I came to the back wall I had lost most of my altitude and I was almost to the floor. So, I pushed off the back wall, pushing myself up a little bit so I could return to the front of the class. I came back to the front of the class and at will I just landed. End of dream. It’s amazing how much rest there is in this state of flying or floating – that speaks of the rest of faith.

Another time (in my dreams) I was running and then floating above a sidewalk and there was a right angle coming up in the sidewalk so I wondered if I would be able to turn right while I was floating/flying. When I got to the turn I easily made it without effort and continued on. This flying thing is fun. It’s adventurous. It’s stretching my paradigms. It’s giving me some new thought processes.

I was speaking with a friend, who could be considered a prophetess, (this is real life now, not a dream) and shared the dreams with her. She looked shocked when I told her these things. She said excitedly, “Do you know what this means?” I said, “No, I’ve just been enjoying them.” She said, “God is trying to tell you that whatever you set out to do, nothing will be impossible for you. You can do anything you want to do.” So, I was pretty excited about that, but if you know the Word of God, you know that she didn’t give me anything that wasn’t already written in there to all believers. Yet I knew these dreams were from God. He was purposefully giving them to me so I would wake up in this area of faith – not for flying but for faith.

God desires to bring His Word and His truth into our lives and that they be so real, so encouraging, so believable that you can walk in what He says without doubting.

Thank you Lord for these dreams. Thank  you for training me in these dreams to believe you, to believe your Word that all things are possible to those who believe.

He wants to stretch all of us. He wants to grow us. He wants to put things into our hearts that will make our futures more satisfying, happy, fruitful. I’m loving this life. I really love the Lord.

Does this kind of talk make you wish you had experiences like this? I hope so. I write these things only to share with you and hopefully induce in you a hunger to know God. Seek Him. Draw near to Him. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. To show you who He is. The Word of God says that He is no respecter of persons, meaning He doesn’t like me more than you.

If He will reveal Himself to me, ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Open the Word, and seek Him out. Listen to good preaching/teaching that reveals His goodness. You were created to hunger for this. When this hunger gets satisfied it is almost base, in the sense that it feeds a core instinctual need. God made you so He could fit inside. You are His hiding place. Let Him dwell in you. Let Him love you. Let Him train you for great things in your future. God bless you my friend.

Transition: By Natalie Barlow

You know that feeling when you’re at the top of a roller coaster? You’ve gone up the steep incline, you see the exhilarating drop that is about to come, you’re nervous, excited, scared out of your mind, ecstatic, and peace seems like it’s completely out of your reach. It’s transition time. Yeah, that’s pretty much where life has been at lately… moving out of the home 3 months ago, getting engaged 2 months ago, most of the girls that I’ve mentored have gone off to college, so God has begun to bring new ones, my family is on a Sabbatical from ministry for the first time ever, I’m running the church with the rest of the team while they’re gone, and my brother just moved to California today. I feel so many things right now. Some good, some not so good. It’s not a common occurrence for me to just feel emotions but I know it’s a healthy time to do so. So here’s my processing. 

I miss my family. It’s finally been setting in that I’m an adult, living away from home, times with the family are no longer consistent, goodbyes have become more difficult and it’s really rough when I think about the fact that I won’t get to be a part of the daily life at home, watching my siblings grow up, and hearing and seeing every ridiculous and adorable thing that they do. Yet at the same time, I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I love living on my own. Times with the family are now more intentional and “full”. My roommates are wonderful, no crazy stories here! I’m so blessed by each one of them… they are a true gift from God and I love doing life with them.

I’m so thankful to have the greatest fiancé in the world. For real, I know I talk about him a lot, but I will never fully be able to express the love and appreciation that I have for Danny. I’m so blessed to do life alongside this man, he challenges me, cares for me, he knows me. They say to be loved is to be known. I have never felt more known by somebody in my entire life, and yet loved so fully. Last night I finally let the tears flow, this week has been full of a lot of heavy things and big changes with my family and friends, and as I cried, he sat there and chose to just “be” with me. And after my face was swollen and I had used about 20 tissues, he then encouraged me in who I was, in the season I’m in, I think he saw that I was fearing the drop on this roller coaster, that I was looking at all the scary things that could happen, yet, he grabbed my hand, told me that we’re in this together, and showed me that this new season is good, that it’s okay to face reality, it’s a big change, but none of these changes are bad…they’re actually some of the most wonderful things that could happen! I began to realize that peace isn’t out of my reach.

It talks in the Bible about how God gives us a peace that passes all understanding. The truth is, that’s what I need right now. There’s uncertainty, there’s sadness, there’s joy, there’s fear, there’s heaviness, there’s A LOT of change, and it’s easy to think I have to carry all of this, but when I take a step back and look at it all, I see that His plans are good and they’re not supposed to weigh me down. All those negative things I feel are just feelings. They don’t define truth. They don’t define my life. It’s okay for me to identify that they’re there, but the minute that I step into letting fear control me, is the minute that I resist the peace that He has for me…and that’s all I truly want right now, so why hold on to fear? Why hold on to doubt and uncertainty when I could let go of those things and grab on to peace?! The peace that passes all understanding, it’s mine, and I choose to operate in this peace that allows me to throw my hands in the air, smile and laugh and enjoy the ride. Bring on that drop, I’m ready for this roller coaster!



Have you ever met a man who was a really good father? There are some out there.

Jesus said

Mat 7:16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

A quick way to find good parents or a good father: look for good kids. If you find some kids who seem to be raised right, who are a blessing to others; then you are hot on the trail to finding what you’re looking for.

How about in the word of God? The Bible? Are there some good examples of fathers in there?

One wonderful thing about the Bible is that it doesn’t just paint a rosy picture about everything. It tells the truth. It shows the negative along with the positive.

In the area of fatherhood the scales seem to be tilted. There are more negative examples of fathers in the Bible than positive. But that doesn’t leave us wanting. The absolute best example of a father is found in the Bible.

We know that our Heavenly Father, God Almighty is the ultimate example of a father. But throughout most of scripture He is so far removed from being an example that it is hard to get ahold of some real basic fathering principles from Him. So He gives us a picture.

Joh 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Joh 14:7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Joh 14:8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Joh 14:9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Joh 14:10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.

Joh 14:11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.

Now most everyone knows what a wonderful example Jesus was to all of us. Now we know who’s example He was following, who He was accurately representing: God the Father.

So, now we know that if we want to be a good father, the best example to follow is Jesus Christ himself. The fatherly characteristics we need are found in Him.

Men, fathers, study the life of Jesus. Look at the way He walks, talks, loves, acts, corrects, holds to the truth, the standard. Watch His life; in it you will find yours. And your children will find a true father. Men, you can do it. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you.

Blessings on you




Hey Friends,

Do you need some encouragement?
Well, know this:
God Himself made you!
He looked ahead and saw your life and saw the world as it would be during your days on this planet and He made you special; He filled you with all the gifts necessary for you to become a great blessing to this planet and to the people in your life. 
You are potential embodied. 
You are full. 
Now go be a blessing to someone. Go do something with that gift that’s on the inside of you. 
If you can’t think of anything else to do, just go make someone smile. Your effort will be rewarded.