…be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. I Corinthians 15:58

Ever felt like you just blew it? You’ve just ruined everything? Or, at least, your brilliant scheme has just come to naught? What must Peter have felt when he knew he had done exactly what Jesus predicted – he’d denied his best friend, his Lord and Savior. Worst of all, Jesus heard him do it. He turned and looked at Peter, and Peter left his presence weeping bitterly. In Jesus’ greatest hour of need, Peter failed.

Who hasn’t fallen short of expectations? Who hasn’t deeply disappointed himself? Perhaps it’s a relationship, a work assignment, a missed goal, something really significant—we’ve all done it. We’ve failed at one time or another. You may just now be overwhelmed by failure.

Peter wept; he sought out the company of his friends; and he retreated to what was comfortable for him – he went fishing. But the important thing is not what Peter did; it’s what Jesus did. He had a plan for Peter, and as soon as he was resurrected, he opened a path for reconciliation, not condemnation. “Do you love me?” he asked Peter, not once but three times. Never a word of disparagement. He saw Peter’s heart, his brokenness, and knew that here was a man he could use. No more would Peter be identified by his impetuosity and no more would he rely on his cleverness or personality. All self-reliance was gone. From that point on he would rely on Jesus and become “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord…”

All because he had failed…and been restored.

Father, accept our failures, our poor judgments, our mistakes and transform them into a culture of total dependence on you so that in success and failure all that shines through is Jesus. Amen.


…this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 (KJV)

I attended Moses’ graduation from Uganda Christian University in Mokono where he was President of the Student Council, President of his class, and Outstanding Male Student. When he came to the States for further study, we stayed in touch by phone, and then Moses returned to Uganda for a time of fruitful ministry.

A few years later, I was getting ready to make a visit to Uganda and received a message that Moses, after his evening prayer time, had an aneurism and quietly entered God’s presence. I got to the village in time for the burial service.

Members of Parliament stood to remember Moses’ contributions to the community and nation; a former teacher spoke; and the Archbishop delivered a powerful message. Then Moses’ father stood. The old retired bishop thanked everyone for coming and was the soul of grace. Then he began to sing, a capella, in his local tongue. I recognized the tune from childhood:

I’m pressing on the upward way
New heights I’m gaining every day
Still praying as I’m onward bound
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”


Lord, lift me up and let me stand
By faith on heaven’s table land
A higher plane than I have found
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

That precious father went on to sing every verse, a prayer to his Father who had never forsaken or disappointed him. He had lived his life daily abiding in God, trusting him for every need. When the ultimate test came, by faith he was able to turn his mourning into praise.

Father, we want to be like this dear man. We want to know you intimately, walk with you consistently, and love you deeply so that in our times of severe testing, you are glorified in us. In the name of your dear Son. Amen.


She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. Luke 10:39 (NIV)

Our Bible study has been examining the practice of Christian meditation, a discipline that’s long been neglected. We’ve tried to dissect and analyze all the aspects that make this such an important practice for contemporary Christians.

I think Marietta got it right. She thinks of it as a special date with Jesus, a time to set aside each day to be with him when they can talk, pour out their hearts, listen to each other, and laugh and cry together. She looks forward each day to being with Jesus.

Putting it that way, it’s not at all complicated or esoteric. Meditation, the joy of intentionally taking time to be with our heavenly Lord Jesus.

Father, in our desire to draw closer to you, help us to put aside the things that distract us so that we can truly listen. In Jesus our Lord. Amen.


Look unto me, and be ye saved all the ends of the earth… Isaiah 45:22

My Ethiopian friend Getch is an evangelist extraordinaire. Leading people to Jesus is his passion, and discipling them is a close second. But he cautions, “Boundaries are important. For every little thing, a new convert comes to you. But you have to teach [him] to rely on God. Jesus is the Savior, not you.”

It’s easy to become addicted to being needed, to the idea that someone might not succeed without you. And it’s easy to take that same distorted sense of necessity and transform it into control. When that happens, we turn that soul away from Jesus and to ourselves. As soon as someone gets sight of Jesus, we must decrease so that he can increase.

I once had a counselor tell me that I was coming between someone I loved and Jesus every time I intervened in his life. Just the opposite of what I wanted to do. I had to discipline myself to let go.

Establishing parameters is important to protect healthy relationships between ourselves and others, but we also have to draw those lines to keep us from tinkering with God’s work in his children.

Dear Lord, teach us to be instruments of your use. Remind us that you are the Source, and we are merely conduits through which you work. Let there be nothing of us that comes between you and what you long to do in all your children. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

In spite of being called from the burning bush, Moses still had qualms about becoming leader of his people, the Israelites. He’d had the training, the heritage, and then the anointing. But what is that to him or to us when fear and anxiety intrude?

Moses listened to God. The question was simple, “What’s in your hand?” Moses wasn’t asked to part the Red Sea as an opener. The first step of obedience was to allow God to use what Moses already possessed. And the rest is history.

We’re not being called to do the impossible. We’re simply being asked to respond to God’s calling by taking a small move in his direction. He will empower us to finish the task.

Father, move me from fear to faithfulness; from self-consciousness to God-consciousness; from timidity to audacity for your sake. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.


Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! II Corinthians 9:15 (KJV)

My friend Philippa was given a beautiful necklace for Christmas. Today I learned that the giver asked her to return the gift; it was far too expensive. Instead, she would be given something much cheaper. I discovered that the donor has a history of reclaiming gifts that were given “by mistake”.

We are all offered a wonderful gift, eternal life, by someone who, in contrast, has a reputation for generosity. Not only is the gift of incalculable worth, but the cost was beyond measure. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we become heirs to his kingdom and everything that accrues to him as God’s Son.
And he never takes his gifts back.

You may be horrified at Philippa’s story, as I was, but I wonder if we are as callous in our disregard of the precious gift we have in Jesus? Does gratitude propel us to thanksgiving and prompt us to tell others about this treasure?

Dearest Father, may we never forget your love in giving us Jesus and may we never lose our sense of joy in possessing this Pearl of Great Price. Amen.


…he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant… Philippians 2:7a (NIV)
“I did not come here to be fulfilled but to serve my Lord, and he is always faithful.”

My friend George, missionary to the Philippines, wrote the above words after being diagnosed with a chronic illness that is painful and limiting. Yet George is not identified by his illness but by his irrepressible joy and his deep love for others and his Lord.

I read this morning in The Message that if we want to go with Jesus, we have to let him lead, that the only way to find our true self is self sacrifice (not self-help). I think this is what George is talking about.

Loving Father, your Son who knelt to wash dirty feet, who reached out to touch the least among us, gave himself that we might be free to serve. Give us a servant’s heart that in serving we might be like him. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. II Corinthians 4:16 (KJV)

“Rats,” I can almost hear Charlie Brown say.

It’s that time of year again when ash and cedar allergens are off the chart. We’re walking around (if we dare get out of the house) sneezing, coughing, tearing, and being generally uncomfortable. We get out our favorite antihistamines and whine and complain about living in this place where we don’t have to shovel snow or go without basic services in bad weather.

And yet, this happens to us periodically. If you live in South Texas, you accept a few seasons of allergies instead of freezing temperatures and cities shut down with hazards of road travel, among other inconveniences. And we all know that this, too, will pass.

Physical discomfort (not speaking of terminal illness, that’s another topic) need not affect our souls and our spirits, let alone our attitudes. We can pray for grace, begin praising, and give thanks that the next serious wind will change our circumstances. We can differentiate between the eternal and the temporal.

My precious mother has been in hospice for over two years. Any time I speak to her or visit with her, she has something positive to say about our Lord. She could complain about not being able to get out of her chair or the limitations of being in one room or any number of things. Her mind left her years ago, and her body has steadily declined. But her spirit seems to be renewed every single day so that she is a delight to everyone.

Let’s repent and discard our whine, pack up our tissues and nasal sprays, and carry on with joy and grace. There are too many blessings awaiting us to miss out because of little things.

Father, thank you for your patience with us in our complaints about the mundane things of life. Lord, the way we handle the small things reveals who we really are. Strengthen us now so that when the big tests come, we will be prepared. Grace us and make us saints. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.


…freely you have received; freely give. Matthew 10:8b

I saw the most remarkable thing two weeks ago in Haiti. My friend John was showing us around a small village made up of former tent-city dwellers. Like the Pied Piper we were followed by an enthusiastic group of small children.

We stopped at a tiny cinder-block home in front of which a woman had fashioned a little convenience store of tarp and wooden poles. John introduced us and pulled out his wallet.

“Watch this,” he said. John bought a solitary small packet of cookies and handed it to a tiny preschooler.

This little one, surrounded by numerous others, silently began opening the package as we waited breathlessly. As soon the wrapper was removed, she systematically began handing out her cookies one by one not bothering to keep one for herself.

John bought more cookies, and we watched the action repeated until not a single child was denied the treat. A little child shall lead them.

Not only are most of us lavished with material goods, but we have free and abundant access to every spiritual blessing heaven affords. Are we passing these things around so that everyone is nourished? Who needs a cookie? Pass it around.

Father, forgive us for our selfishness. There’s plenty of blessing to go around. Here’s my part. Begin with me. Amen.