Wednesday, August 31, 2016

You Just Gotta Keep Looking

Six thirty and wide awake before my alarm, I swung my feet to the floor and went into the living room. I opened the blinds to whorled plumes as if an unseen hand had been painting with a giant pinwheel. I couldn't help but smile, and watched mesmerized as it spead throughout the sky.

Soon, pink clouds stretched as far as I could see. The heavens were declaing the glory of God. In my little space, I grinned and applauded for the Creator of marvels.

I turned on the burner under my tea kettle and put away the clean dishes. By time I was back, the sky had put on drab clothes. No more pinks, just indistinct, dark clouds casting dreariness on the morning ahead.

It happened quickly. I thanked the Lord I'd been wakened so I could see The Creator's spectacular sky.

To receive this gift, I chose to get up before the alarm, open the blinds and position myself to look. Then I chose to take time to watch the display unfold. Lastly, I chose to be thankful. Though engaging  colors had been replaced by morose gray, I reminded myself that amazing blue was behind the heavy veil and the sun would be out another time.

We've all seen God's amazing dawns. We've also experienced countless other gifts--undeserved, but joyfully given by the Father of Lights. The gray morning lows that follow beautiful dawn highs can remind us that, if we keep looking for signs of God's amazing handiwork, we will again see unexpected surprises.


Meditate on James 1, especially verses 12-17.

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation.... Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens (verses 12 and 17, New Living Translation).

When your view changes from sunshine to clouds, what focus helps you endure the dark spell?

How could your discoveries encourage a friend to endure trying times?

Choose a word or phrase to help you stay steadfast when your circumstances change.

Friday, September 19, 2014


I decided to post this letter (submitted this letter to the Warsaw Times on Aug 18th, 2014) because I haven't posted in a while. The attention to Robin Willliams' death has waned, but the questions are still important, and need to be asked.

So here it is.

Robin Williams’ untimely death saddened and shocked me. An incredibly talented man, he made us laugh, cry, and temporarily forget our worries.  My heart aches for his family.

I was unaware that he suffered with depression and addictions. As I watched reports on accomplishments mined from movies and friends, I wished for an opportunity to publicly explore hope and the afterlife from our historically Christian perspective. Once woven into our public consciousness, that perspective has now been muzzled by fear of offending anyone, even at the expense of permanent results.

Why did Robin Williams plummet into a pit of hopelessness that had no bottom? Drugs apparently only offered temporary relief but with a horrible aftertaste. Medications were not enough either.
Possible reasons for his suicide are many. Plus mental illness is complicated. There are no easy answers even for professionals.  

This tragedy can lead us to question our own lives. If many wonderful attributes and accomplishments can’t deeply satisfy, what might? Where do I find hope when my distractions no longer work? Could I be missing a personal connection with God for which I was created?

If this life is a preparation for the next, then how do I get ready? What provisions have already been made? Am I willing seek absolute versus subjective truth?

I hope each reader will entertain these questions. If you are interested in exploring what Jesus Christ had to say about hope and the way he made to open the door to eternal hope, even in the midst of deep pain, you could read St John’s gospel. It is only one of many books in the Bible that speak to hope and eternal life.

It could be time well spent to prepare for stepping out beyond time.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Two Cows and a Miracle

Can you imagine two lactating cows pulling a driverless cart going anywhere but to their calves?
It would take a miracle. 

Do you remember the story? The ark (the box that symbolized God's holy presence and which was to honored in the tabernacle) had become a trophy of war. The Israelites had been ignoring God's commands, but took the ark to war in hope that God would miraculously help them win.

This duplicity gave the Philistines an open door to victory.  Gloating over their conquest, they placed the ark along with their god, Dagon, in his temple.

In the morning they found Dagon on his face before the ark. The following morning, Dagon was again face down, but with head and arms broken off.

Painful tumors, diseased rats and awful deaths then plagued the city. Each time they moved the ark to another Philistine city, tumors and multiple deaths followed. Eventually they made the connection between the holy ark and unholy consequences. Results of disobedience and dishonor were scattered across the landscape. The God of the ark was not to be trifled with.

Leaders came up with the idea of hitching two milking cows to a new cart carrying the ark and their guilt offering to discern if the tumors and deaths were truly because of the ark. With no driver to guide, the cart was pointed toward the border and they watched where it would go. For twelve hours, God's unseen hand, led them away from their calves. Painfully stretched udders and an unknown destination did not stop them till they arrived in Beth Shemesh, an Israelite town. 

Mission accomplished. A miracle.

For Your Consideration

Read 1 Samuel 4-6, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal insights for your life.

Have you ever made a decision based on magical thinking instead of God's revelation?

Might you be under high stress? To what course of action might God's Spirit guide you?

If you're in the midst of difficulty while obeying God, what comfort can you gain from this account?

Now, meditate on Jesus' words. 
     “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” Matthew 19:26.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Prepare for Comfort

"In the desert prepare the way for the LORD" (Isaiah 40:3, NIV)

Dry, burning feet; sun-cracked lips; hoarse whispers; weary days and frigid nights. These are companions in the desert. Sad hearts, weary hands and limp hopes: these are signs of the wilderness.

There, overcome by heat, we hear God calling. Prepare the way for Me to come. 

Though we might entertain illusions that God has forgotten about us or is no longer attentive, He speaks. God's tender voice comes through Isaiah to His people then and now. I am here to comfort you. 

When adversity thins our will to overcome, God calls forth hope. When desert sucks water out of us and dries out containers too small for God, we encounter this oasis: God cares.

God offers us comfort. Our tender shepherd promises to gently lead and protect as we trudge through barren terrain.

Might He ask, Have you forgotten my wisdom is beyond yours? I measure the seas in the cup of my hand, and weigh mountains on my scales. Don't compare me to puny idols you have made, hoping they will save.

I see you. I know what you face. I don't grow weary, and I will share my strength with you.
Hope in Me. I will renew your strength. 
Don't give up. Look to My power and ready yourself to receive. Prepare space for me. 

As you do so, I will help you, and as you work with My strength, you will see My glory.


Study Isaiah 40. Place your desert circumstance before the God of all Comfort.  Choose some of Isaiah's metaphors and rephrase them to apply to your situation.

Can you see how that exercise prepares the way for God coming to you in your wilderness?

According to this chapter, what are some ways that God comes? For example as Creator (28), Shepherd (11), and Sovereign Lord (10). Now worship The Lord as He deserves. And exhale.

Monday, June 23, 2014

You Can't, but I Can.

Waves curled like angry fingers ready to grab the boat and shake the fishermen out like toys. The hull slammed the water and water pounded into their vessel. S
trong winds strained their muscles and tattered their hopes. 

Beyond each subsiding wave, a shadow appeared then disappeared. As the figure came closer, they trembled not from cold skin but quaking hearts. A ghost! Why now? Strong, burly fishermen cried out with fear. It was the last straw.

Out from the darkness, Jesus identified himself. "Take courage. It is I. Don 't be afraid" (Matthew 14:27). 

Sometimes, even as we obey Jesus' instructions, we encounter unexpected storms that buffet our boats and strain our fortitude.

At first we may not recognize Him, but Jesus comes to us, assuring us we need not fear. Water's violence is no match for Jesus' presence. The Creator who can calm a storm with a word, or who comes like a man walking on waves, puts all things under his feet. Storms, waves, hunger, fear, worry, evil. Our strained muscles regain new strength to mount waves.

As He encouraged Peter and his friends, so He encourages us. (Put your name here.) Alex, Kathy, Dan, Do not be afraid. Trust Me in this storm. It's havoc will end, but my power will prevail. 

We reach out to the sound of Hope, and take courage. The waves are no match for their Creator. What seems like the end of things, might be the doorway to walking on water.

Read Matthew 14:22-33 aware of Jesus speaking to you. What is He saying?

Are you able to see evidence of the Creator's presence in your storm? How will you respond? 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Pray, Aim, and Swat

I was tired and finally in bed. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I knew it would keep me awake. Annoying fly! I prayed it would settle or fly out of the room. 

Then as clear as the buzz, I realized I needed to rouse myself out of my comfortable bed and get the fly swatter. I had to make an effort to find and finish it.

If you've tried to find a loud fly in a full room, you know it can be quiet a challenge, even funny if you are in the right frame of mind. (I wasn't.) But as I washed my hands after removing the dead fly, the light came on.

Prayer is good. Always. But I needed to do my part in getting rid of what was bothering me--even if I was dog tired.

I was to be part of the answer to my prayer. I had to be willing to get out if my comfort zone, fetch the tool to deal with the disturbance, and aim to get rid of it. Aim and swat.

Reminds me of 'Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and act according to his good purpose' (see Philippians 2:12-13).

We work WITH God. Sometimes The Lord says, Do nothing yet. Be still. Sometimes He says, Get up and do what I tell you.

It's a partnership, and He's the one with all the wisdom. So when He shares it, I best do my part.
He might part a Red Sea, or He might position a loud fly so I can deal with it. 

My God is so practical! I fell asleep with a big smile. 


What is your annoying fly? When you pray about it, what comes to mind? (Wait? Act? Specifics?)

What tools can you access to deal with it? (E.G. Is there a scripture promise you can count on?)

How can you co-operate with God's Spirit? 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Love Gift

Landing on the white patio rail, he seemed to scrutinize me as I watched him just beyond the glass door. I expected him to fly away from the discomfort of human closeness but he stayed and walked the rail, twisting his head to assess his surroundings.

My Creator had used doves before to remind me of his presence. Once, from a red bud tree, God's Spirit spoke consolation as I meditated on Scripture. "My eye is on you."

I had been asking for a tangible expression of God's presence. Yes, I know the Word says God loves me and will not leave, but I was weary, unsettled by a long parade of unfamiliar circumstances that demanded hard decisions. So I looked for encouragement, and the Heavenly Dove sent me a turtledove.

I call you my friend. I love you as much as my Father loves me!  I will never leave nor forsake you. Didn't I promise to help you? Several times. Trust me, my love. Accept my presence as a love gift to you. (See John 15; Hebrews 13:5; Proverbs 3:5-6; Romans 8:32.)


I invite you to meditate with me on Hebrews 13:5-6:

God has said, "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you."
So we say with confidence,
"The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid."

How is the Lord's presence a love gift to you?

What is God saying to you?

What is your intellectual and emotional response?

What can you do to live confidently in His promises?