The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Psalm 34:7 (NIV)

Sometimes my work is in areas that have security risks, not necessarily overtly dangerous, but places where I must exercise prudence. Such was the case recently when we went to facilitate a conference in another country known for its violence. When we do this, we always request prayers from our faithful supporters.

After a tiring day of travel we were escorted by our hosts through the encroaching twilight to the place we’d be staying for the next several days. Imagine my surprise and gratitude when I saw at least fifteen vehicles parked just in front of the building, all marked with signs indicating they were federal police. Surely, this had to be divine protection for us.

The next day during a break in sessions, I walked to the front entrance and looked out to see banks of uniformed, armed officers facing the building. Now, that was a prayer that was answered even beyond my thinking or imagination. Not only did we have one angel, but, apparently, there was a multitude of angels guarding us waking and sleeping.


Thank you, Lord, for the wonderful ways in which you answer our prayers and for your protection. All honor be yours. Amen.


…ye have not, because ye ask not. James 4:2b (KJV)

In good faith, we ordered imprinted notebooks for an upcoming workshop. For some days we didn’t hear from the vendor. We tried calling and e-mailing. And we prayed. Still no word. The materials would be no good to us after the meetings, so we intensified our prayers and our attempts to get a response.
We’re told that as Christians we shouldn’t be anxious about anything and should pray about everything; that we should pray and not give up (we needed those notebooks); and that he would supply our needs. There were many scripture verses about prayer that we could have leaned on. We figured that if God is concerned about hairs and birds and flowers and grass, he could surely deliver those notebooks in time.

The last possible day they could be delivered before the event, they were brought to my office. Coincidence? Perhaps. But I like Sir William Temple’s reasoning when he says, “When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I don’t, they don’t.” And so we prayed again—in thanksgiving.

Father, you know our needs, our frailties, and our little faith. Thank you that, in spite of all this, you still shower us with mercy and loving kindness. YES. Amen.


Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. Isaiah 12:2a (NIV)

Have you ever played the game What If? Actually, it’s not a game, and it’s not fun. It goes like this: You give free rein to your thoughts to create negative scenarios (notice they’re NEVER positive). Your mind is free to speculate. What if he has a wreck coming home? What if she doesn’t accept my explanation? What if I lose my job? What if we run out of money? What if they don’t like me? And on and on it goes until we are miserable.

What If is like teasing a frightened dog and being shocked when it bites. What If bites. It always leads to worry, fretting, anxiety, distress, even depression when given enough latitude.

Be honest with yourself. How many of your What Ifs were as bad as you imagined they would be? Probably very few. We work ourselves into a tizzy because the moment the What If creeps into our cognition, we entertain it rather than destroying it. We destroy it by remembering (or even saying aloud, if necessary), “God is my salvation. I will trust and not be afraid.” And we give the What If to God.

We take the next steps in full confidence that God goes ahead of us and gives every grace we need for the circumstance. Of course, it takes practice, so let’s get going.

Father, we spend so much time in speculation while we could spend the same time trusting you and thanking you that you’ve already created a way to save us. Forgive us and help us to move from What If to trust. In our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.


Cause me to hear Thy loving kindness in the morning, for in Thee do I trust. Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk, for I lift up my soul unto Thee. Psalm 143:8 (KJV)

I know a businessman who is in process of making a critical decision. He quoted the above scripture to me saying it had guided him for years and that his grandmother had “given” it to him. He is resting in the expectation that God will guide and give him the direction he needs. This man heads up a multimillion dollar corporation, and he still relies on a verse his grandmother spoke to him years ago.

How many of us affirm our children (and grandchildren) with scripture, and how authentic is the spiritual life we live before them so that they value our words—and keep them in their hearts forever? Little things we can do that cost nothing and that bear lifelong fruit in the lives of those we love…

Father, keep me faithful to encourage those you’ve given me, to affirm them in your Word, and to live uprightly before them. In Christ our Lord. Amen.


Love one another… John 13:34 (NIV)

A young father was telling me about a practice he’s begun with his family: Spontaneous Saturdays. Throughout the week each family member thinks of an activity for everyone’s enjoyment the upcoming Saturday. When the weekend arrives, the ideas are shared, and one is selected. The father’s animated face spoke volumes as he told me of a special treat he already had planned for his wife on a Saturday when the children would be with friends.

I can only imagine what fun those Saturdays must be as each family member is given voice to share what his/her thinking has produced for the enjoyment of them all. What mutual respect and love are nurtured by not only sharing time but in anticipating a whole week of planning a treat for the entire family. That’s called “doing love.” That’s living out the Word.

Father, you said people would know we are Christians by our love. Strengthen the love we have for one another, and help us to show it in tangible ways. Help us to be creative in demonstrating how much we care, and cause us to overflow with your love. In Jesus our Lord. Amen.


Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ… II Corinthians 2:14 (KJV)

I’m reading a book about dysfunctional families and the brokenness that often results in their offspring. It’s rather disconcerting until you look around to see whose family is not dysfunctional. Really, who has a perfect family with no flawed members?

The book describes the adult lives of children who are victims of childhood trauma, abuse, absent parents (physically or emotionally), illness, and numbers of other issues. I think I know a number of these people and the heaviness that still characterizes their lives. Some of them we would call victims. But, thanks be to God, there is healing for all our heartbreaks.

Some time ago I read about another victim. Jeanne Guyon was the daughter of wealthy parents in the 17th Century, was forced to marry an older man when she was 15, was abused by her mother-in-law and maid, suffered the deaths of three of her children, and finally was widowed. Refusing to become a victim, Madame Guyon instead drew closer to God. She used her money to reach out to other seekers and renounced her personal possessions. (One of her most ardent disciples who went on to become the Archbishop of Cambrai and a great mentor in his own right was François de la Mothe-Fénelon.) Even when imprisoned for her faith, Guyon spent her nights encouraging seekers through the bars of her cell.

Madame Jeanne Guyon’s writings still live on as testaments to a life of joy and intimacy with her Father who brought healing and redemption as she trusted in him. She chose to use her suffering to bring healing, to be a victor rather than a victim.

So can we…

Father, thank you that we can cling to you as our perfect, heavenly Father. Thank you for the healing that you bring to our broken places. Help us to choose victory through you rather than be identity as victims. You are able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think. Touch us and make us whole. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lead not on your own understanding… Proverbs 3:5 (NIV)

Just when we think we have God figured out, he changes the rules. Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt after stunning displays of God’s power. And then they came to the Red Sea. The battle-hardened army of Pharaoh got closer to the fleeing Israelites, and God’s children were, understandably, terrified. Moses reassured them by saying that God would fight for them.

What did God do? He told Moses to raise his hand so that the Israelites could cross the sea on dry ground. And that’s just what happened. The Israelites were just as joyful after escaping as they had been angry and frightened only the day before. They put their trust in God, danced, and sang praises.

We know that the bliss didn’t last, and after one too many complaints, God’s chosen people wandered forty long years in the wilderness. But God gave them another chance. When they were again approaching the Promised Land, God told Joshua to instruct the priests to take the ark and wade on out into the River Jordan (then at flood stage). Surely, Joshua remembered the first time they’d crossed through the water. It must have been much more comfortable to see the Sea open and then go across on dry land than to have to push forward through a swift-moving current.

There at the banks of the Jordan God upped the trust level AND the obedience level. (After all, the Israelites tended to have defective memories when it came to following God.) But God knew his man. Joshua, one of the spies who had encouraged the Israelites to conquer the Promised Land forty years earlier, listened and obeyed.

The priests took the ark, got into the water, and when “their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing.” Instead of relying on prior experience or his own understanding, Joshua listened to God and obeyed. The children of Israel entered the Promised Land.

Oh, Lord, how often do we assume to know your ways when we fail to listen to your voice? Remind us that your ways are higher than ours and that you do want us to depend totally on you. Thank you. In Jesus’ name.


…you are the light of the world… Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matt. 5:14, 16

God often has strange ways of answering prayer. Pastor Sayeed prayed that God would allow him to be a witness in some of the darkest places in the world, and he wound up in an abysmal prison where cruelty and torture are the norm. It’s been reported that this godly man has suffered greatly as he serves time for a trumped-up charge.

What remarkable stories of grace and salvation will emerge from this adversity? What is God doing in the secret places of the hearts of the men who are Sayeed’s daily companions? As his family works for his release, we can join their prayers for protection and for God’s love and abundant grace to work in and through his willing servant who prayed to be a witness in a dark place in the world.

May Sayeed’s example encourage us as we question the circumstances of our own lives. May we also fearlessly offer ourselves as light in dark places.

Father, open our eyes to the opportunities you provide every day. May our lights shine, and may your love be poured out through us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. Isaiah 53:10 (KJV)
I went to St. Luke’s School to have lunch with my blond, blue-eyed kindergarten grandson. As we stood in line, some of his friends started enthusiastically pelting me with information.

“We don’t go to school tomorrow,” said one little girl.

Innocently, I asked why.

“Oh, it’s Good Friday,” volunteered a student.

“What’s Good Friday?” I questioned.

At that, I got a cacophony of responses.

“Oh, that’s when Jesus was crucified,” said a wide-eyed kindergartner.

“And they put nails in his hands,” demonstrated another student with index finger to her palms.

“Then they put a crown—not a gold crown—of thorns on his head,” was the final dreadful recital.

At that moment, my William quietly said, “It was part of God’s plan, Mimi.”

Little folks are already learning that God uses suffering, particularly the suffering of his Son, to bring us to himself and to give eternal life. Will they remember this lesson as they grow up and experience suffering for themselves? It’s up to us to remind them (and ourselves), “It’s part of God’s plan.”

Father, help us to be like little children and trustfully allow you to be God in our lives and the lives of those we love. Draw us nearer that we may continue to believe that everything you plan is for ultimate good. In Jesus our Lord. Amen.