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?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dispel Disappointment

As Mary traversed the rocky terrain leading to Jesus' crucifixion, questions concerning His suffering jolted her heart and mind. Her preconceptions of how Messiah would save His people from oppression hardly matched what unfolded during the arduous days we now celebrate as Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Mary's disappointment and grief numbed her as she observed Jesus' torture.

Why did it happen that way? Why didn't He just call down heaven's troops and overthrow his opponents? Why didn't He vindicate Himself?

Sometimes, we read God's inklings of the future like Rorschachs, making their pieces fit our best longings. That's quite possibly what Mary did as she waited for Jesus to reveal Himself as Israel's Messiah, for she had expected a throne, not a cross; vindication, not death. She had misinterpreted how God would save.

Like her, at times we miscalculate how God is going to intervene. Our why's jolt us to consider that God does not always act according to our best hopes. But, when we unpretentiously rely on God's wisdom and our relationship with the risen Christ, we learn to reinterpret setbacks and heart wrenching disappointment with the truth. God's ways are beyond our understanding.

Even after three days, there might not be a clear answer. However, a new glimpse that our Savior suffers with us and also triumphs over suffering, reintroduces the Prince of Peace as a faithful companion. We discard grave clothes, link arms to steady us on uneven terrain, and smile into Jesus' eyes. Each glimpse of glory dispels disappointment and we discover new power to trust God's ways. 

After all, our Savior knows what He's doing. 

For Your Consideration

 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9, NIV).

As you meditate on Jesus' death for the world, what might the Holy Spirit reveal about God's ways? Are there implications you can draw for your own circumstances?

How did Jesus arm Himself against why's and what-if's?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thank Offerings

The last thing we want to do when things are going bad is thank God. We plead, we ask for help, we complain, but we don't typically give thanks.

That's why scriptures refer to the sacrifice of praise. "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name" (Hebrews 13:15).  Isaiah says, He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God" (Psalm 50:23). When we sacrifice thank offerings, we prepare the way for God's salvation. Amazing! 

The only way to give thanks and praise in bad times is to intentionally shift focus. We look away from terror to Truth, from fear to Faithfulness, and we change. Not only do we find strength to persevere (see Hebrews 12), but we experience an other worldly peace that keeps our hearts and minds focused on what is true and lovely (Philippians 4:6-8)--a far cry from anxiety.

It's not Pollyanna thinking. We have to admit our challenges before Jesus our Intercessor. But as we start looking for things for which to give thanks, the Holy Spirit cleans our lenses and adjusts their focus. We become more aware that God's power and love far surpass our needs. Soon we learn to see the Almighty's hand in our lives even after we've shrunk back from some of the ugly gift wrapping.

This rediscovery (that we can trust God) prepares us to lay down worry and fear. It deactivates our default complaint button. The sacrifice of thanks and praise accustoms our eyes to behold our Savior in grander dimensions, including ones that speak to our needs.

While it's not easy or natural, sacrificing thank offerings honors God. It lays out the red carpet for Jesus, our Savior, to show us the stuff of His salvation.


Is there a situation in your life that is dragging your attention away from Christ and diminishing your sense of God's great care and presence? How might your sacrifice of thanksgiving impact your well being?

What aspect of God's salvation in your life is God revealing? 

Thank God anew for a time when your sacrifice of praise refocused you on God's presence and perspective. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Jesus Wants You

"Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted" (Mark 3:13, NIV).

I almost overlooked it.

He wanted them. Yes, Jesus chose them, but He wanted them. Every last one of them, including Judas.

Mark tells us that He appointed them so they could be with him (verse 14, italics mine).

He wanted their company. He wanted to teach them. He wanted to send them out to preach good news and to have authority to drive out demons. He wanted each one, and their names are recorded in the Scripture.

Jesus' desire to have these men spend time with Him was so they could experience, not merely teachings about God, but God in flesh. He would reveal Himself through miracles, teaching, disappointment, grief, and triumphs. There was no way to know what they would discover: awe, confusion, suffering, and joy. At the time of their call, they had already encountered Jesus as the compassionate healer and the authoritative rabbi. Their years with Him would expand their pebble ideas of God into wondrous mountain ranges.

Encouraging, isn't it, that Jesus also calls us to Himself. He wants us to bring His Kingdom near through His presence in us. But more than that, He wants to reside in us,  express His love and delight in us, and make us one with God. Eventually, as we give ourselves to God's purposes, we discover that in all turns of life, God is working to etch Christ Jesus in and through us.

Oh, dear Lord, thank you for wanting me. Thank you for calling me to spend time with You, and for giving Yourself to me so completely!

For Your Consideration

Reflect on your life. Why does Jesus want you to spend time with Him?

What key lessons has Jesus taught you in recent years about (a) His love for you, and (b) your part in letting Him love people through you?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Keep Looking at Me

I know that God cares about me when He repeatedly instructs me with a particular scripture. In the past several weeks, the Holy Spirit has spotlighted different verses in Hebrews 12. Using this favorite passage, my Coach is retraining me to jump hurdles. On my own, I can't, but the Spirit of God in me can.  So I choose to keep looking to Jesus, the 'champion who initiates and perfects [my] faith' (see Hebrews 12:1-2, NLT).

As I face a succession of challenges--unfamiliar doctors, pain, broken machinery--I deliberately remember the biggies are beyond my ability and intentionally turn and look into Jesus' face. That focus, rather than the jarring circumstances, slowly renews my relationship with Him. Though confidence is thin at times, I remember it is well placed. Jesus Himself could face great suffering because He was closely linked with Father, so I ask for a stronger link: close, tight, and unshaken by circumstances. I read and pray the Scripture, applying it to the issue, and look to Truth to coach me in running the race set before me.

Interestingly, I rediscover my Helper created me to look confidently to Him at all times, not just when I see rough terrain ahead. My Creator loves me to trust and dialogue with Him. God desires to guide, strengthen and love me. So I'm looking, again and again, and learning new confidence in God's ways even when they don't make sense. It's relationship He's after.

Keep looking at Me, My child. Look into My eyes. I am looking at you.


Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.  (Hebrews 12:1-2, NTL).

Are you facing a challenge that draws your eyes away from the One who is making you into a champion?

What can you do to refocus keenly on your Coach, Jesus Christ?

Spend at least one minute giving thanks for specific evidence of God at work in your life.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Think Beyond Yourself

Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in our thinking be adults (1 Corinthians 14:20, NIV).

Haven't you met people who thought the world existed to meet their needs? And haven't you, at times, been one of those people?

Some have had all they longed for handed to them by Mommy and Daddy. The clothes, schools, networks, jobs--all, with more piled on, were offered endlessly. No demands, no responsibility. If Jared failed, Mommy would come behind him hushing his cries and doing her best to keep the teacher's wrath at bay. If Jessica fell down, Daddy would soothe his princess to a fault so she didn't have to pick herself up and keep running.

Others didn't. They had to scrap and work hard for everything. They easily concluded that they deserved to call the shots and enjoy the perks no matter what. After all, nothing was handed to them on a platter. Rejection and loss were companions they learned to ditch, and their temptation might be to do what they want, when and how, without concern for others. That is, only if it suited them.

But if we are to grow up, regardless of where we fall on that continuum, we have to become God centered. We discover that means thinking like Jesus. God's Word challenges us to seek not our pleasure primarily, but God's. Like Jesus did. When we start responding to God's desires for us, instead of wallowing in self-centeredness, we speak the truth about our situation. That opens a door to a life changing perspective.

In hardship, we can discover fresh intimacy with the Lord. His presence transforms us as we realign our thinking according to God's revealed Word. We grow into adults--worshipping adults. And others will come along to worship.


Read 1 Corinthians 14:12 - 25.

Has The Lord been alerting you to self-centered thinking that's begging to be replaced?

What specifically needs to be addressed, and what kind of help will you need in making that transition?

One consequence of mature obedience to God is others might be drawn to worship
(Verse 25: So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, "God is really among you!")

Monday, January 6, 2014

Holds Your Hand

For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

I had no idea I had blockages. The cardiologist's plan to cut my artery and send a camera through my arm after an prolonged episode of atrial fibrillation was both a relief and an anxiety.

 A cousin sent me Isaiah 41:13. I figured God had sent it to me for a reason, and started meditating on it.

It gave me fresh encouragement. I needed God and He took the initiative to hold my hand. He used  a familiar promise but in a new way. The doctor planned to go through my right wrist and the Word promised me God would hold my right hand. God's Spirit had taken hold of my hand before. Several times. Now He would help me again.

When I was nine years old, I realized God wanted a personal relationship with me. With time, His Word became increasingly alive to me and knew I could count on what He said. Precious words that I had encountered before came back to steady heart and hand. I focused on what was true: God's hand had taken hold of mine! God up close, personal--my little hand covered by His eternal one.

Once when our then five year old daughter was ill, our routine bedtime prayer was punctuated by her little voice, Mummy, I can feel Jesus holding my hand!  At the time I marveled. I didn't know if it was her imagination or a special gift. God used that memory to fan my faith. God was holding my hand. Yes, even my right hand--roadway to my heart.

So when I fear, I squeeze Jesus' hand and ask Him to remind me that His hand holds mine. He can replace fear with faith, and anxiety with peace. And I breathe more easily knowing He's with me all the way.

Now that's comfort and power. And I'm holding tight.

For Your Consideration

Read Isaiah 41:13 slowly, and read it several times. After each reading, listen to how the Holy Spirit might  address your needs. 

If you knew the Lord was actually holding your hand and looking into your eyes, what fear would He ask you to release to Him? What help could you ask for?

Enjoy His love for you and rest in His desire to meet your needs as you face a New Year.