So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. II Corinthians 4:16 (NIV)

Sid is an amazing person. In her nineties, she toodles around in her car wherever her fancy takes her; learned to knit so she could be part of the church’s knitting/prayer ministry; and lunches with her friends once a week (the rule being meals can’t cost over $7.00). I met Sid by virtue of the lavender prayer shawl she made for me while I was recuperating from surgery.

“O-l-d” is a three-letter word that’s become a pejorative term. But old is not a matter of years or time. Sid is not old. My thirty-something friend was old. He was always the first one to leave any gathering because he was tired. Old is an attitude, not a birth-date.

The Psalmist said in chapter 92, verse 14 that some of these mature folks “will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green…” Yep. That’s Sid.

Father, you are eternal, and you are making us into the image of your timeless Son. We receive from you renewing day by day, and we thank you that through your empowerment we can mount up with wings as eagles, run and not be weary, walk and not faint. AMEN.


I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 (NIV)

Reggie was a beautiful little four-year-old – curly blonde hair and vibrant blue eyes—a real charmer. Happily, by the time he got to my class, I had a few years of teaching under my belt and was certified to work with “special” children.

In our first parent conference, Reggie’s caring parents asked if I’d be willing to work with the three psychologists who were overseeing Reggie’s developmental and behavioral issues. Of course, I wanted to do what I could to get this little guy on the right track.

At first, it was really easy. With small classes, my aide and I could keep an eye on Reggie, make notations on his chart every five minutes, and encourage him to participate appropriately. For a few weeks and with our guidance, he was a model student.

Then one day it happened. I was teaching, when suddenly Reggie exploded, shot out of his chair, and began jumping on tables and overturning empty chairs. I looked at my aide, and she immediately ushered the other students from the room while I softly talked to Reggie in an attempt to quiet him. Eventually, Reggie calmed down, and I was able to pull him onto my lap to talk.

“Reggie,” I said, “you’ve had so many good days. You’ve been doing so well. What happened?”

Without hesitation, Reggie responded, penitently, “Teacher, I ran out of nice.” Immediately, I understood.

The team and Reggie and I worked well together, and by year’s end there were no more outbursts, and he went on to become a lovely young man. But before then, he had other days when he “ran out of nice.”

I’ve done that. I’ve expended all my efforts trying to do what I knew I should (sometimes like Paul’s quandary in Romans 7) and failed. I’ve run out of nice. And then I remember that there really isn’t any good thing in my flawed humanity but only what Christ produces in and through me. So I have to make a U-turn and get back to the Source, the Source of nice, of goodness, of perfect love. And that Source never runs out.

Father, help me to stay focused on you and to live in you so that what comes out of me is your love, your kindness, your beauty. Remind me that I can do nothing without you, but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN.


And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath…” Deuteronomy 28:13 (KJV)

A friend asked someone, “How are you doing?” to which she responded, “Fine, under the circumstances.” At that point my friend said, “A Christian has no business being under the circumstances. In Christ we live above the circumstances.”

Often we can’t change our circumstances or our schedules or our budgets or the people in our lives, but we can allow ourselves to be changed so that in everything we live at peace and become more than conquerors. When Joseph was taken into slavery, for a long time it appeared that he was beneath, the tail. But you can’t keep a good man down. Joseph was a “goodly person,” excelled in his work, and kept his ear opened to God.

Even when falsely accused and forgotten, Joseph stayed above the circumstances. From a young, naïve, boastful boy, Joseph allowed God to use the circumstances to make him into a trusted employee, an honorable man, a wise manager, and an interpreter of dreams. Who would’ve thought? In God’s time and with his molding, Joseph was given a position that his spirit already occupied.

Naturally, Joseph’s brothers were frightened when they discovered him alive in Egypt. Not only was Joseph alive, but he was Pharaoh’s right-hand man. How they must have feared retribution when their father died, but all along Joseph understood that the circumstances had been God’s unique opportunity to raise him from the tail to the head for his purpose and greater glory.

Father, help us to grow up so that we begin to discern our circumstances as opportunities for you to do marvelous things. Help us to get over whining and complaining so that we become instruments of your glorious working, fully engaged with the process. AMEN.


Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. I Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

My friend Norma sent this to me. It was too good not to share:

Mark Twain said, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” Why does the Bible say, “Carry each other’s burdens”? Because one person can only carry a burden so far on their own.

American novelist John Kennedy Toole quickly discovered that. As a young writer he worked alone writing a novel in New Orleans. When it was finished he sent it to publisher after publisher, but they all turned him down. Overcome by rejection, he took his own life. Some time after the funeral, his mother found a coffee-stained manuscript in the attic and took it to a professor at Louisiana State University who agreed to read it. Immediately, he recognized its genius and recommended it to a major publisher.

After its release, John Kennedy Toole’s novel, A Confederacy of Dunces, won a Pulitzer Prize and was heralded as one of the major novels of the Twentieth Century. If only he’d surrounded himself with friends who knew how to share his burden, encourage him when he faced rejection, and motivate him to keep going, his life would have turned out very differently.

So the word for you today is, “Find people who believe in you.” Encourage and support them, and welcome their support in return. Spend more time with those who sharpen you and make you better, and less time with those who drain your energy, time, and talent. The truth is, friends who speak encouragement into your life are priceless. Their words are “like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11 NIV).

Chaplain Danny Hubbell
Special Forces Ministries

Father, all of us need encouragement from time to time. Help us to humble ourselves to receive the kindness of friends as well as extending it to those who may also need help bearing their loads. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere… Psalm 84:10 (NIV)

With the recent death of my mom, our whole family is more attuned to eternity than ever before. Even the youngest…

I was running errands with two of my grandchildren when five-year-old Caroline followed up a remark from her brother with an observation. “Mimi,” she told me, “I saw the headstone of Momo’s baby [when we were at the cemetery].” I explained that Momo’s little sister had gone to heaven just after she was born. And then Caroline exclaimed, “She was so lucky to get to live with God from the time she was a baby.”

I am wondering if Caroline is more in touch with reality than many of her elders? We sing about heaven and talk about its beauty and perfection—no more tears or sorrow or dying, getting to be with Jesus forever. And then when the time actually comes for us or for one we love to make that journey, one would think utter catastrophe lies ahead. What a paradox.

I just read a wonderful little poem by Ruth Graham in which she wondered why Jesus wept when he arrived at Lazarus’ tomb. Was he joining the mourners? Was he sorry he was late? Graham concludes, “Or could it be because he had to bring him back?”

Father, thank you for the many ways you speak to us. Open our eyes and hearts to your eternal presence so that when it’s time for us to leave this world, we will go forth rejoicing, knowing that what we’ve experienced of you here is the tiniest foretaste of heaven’s bounty. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (NIV)

Have you heard the predictions about the cataclysm that may be just a few days away? I have friends who are stocking up on food and water, just in case. (I did grab extra peanut butter when I was out shopping.)

In an earlier conversation with my brother, practical person that he is, he pointed out that hungry people would be driven to desperation and would break in to empty out those well-stocked pantries among us. And, on the other hand, wouldn’t it be our Christian duty to share with those in need and thereby show Christ’s love?

Any way one looks at the future, we always come back to one of our core principles: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not depend on your own understanding. Surely, the One who feeds the sparrows and multiplies loaves and fishes is able to sustain his children. And perhaps that will be through those who were led to get extra provisions for just such a time. (I’ve got peanut butter to share.)

Father, help us to never yield to fear no matter how desperate our situation. Help us to remember all the saints for whom you provided, knowing that you are the same God yesterday, today, and forever. Help us to keep trusting you. AMEN.


…not my will, but yours be done. Luke 22:42 (NIV)

A friend was recently comparing the French Revolution to the American Revolution. He reminded us that while the American Revolution was about religion, the French Revolution focused on reason. David went on to say that this latest cultural revolution is neither religion nor reason; it’s all about feeling. “I’m okay; you’re okay.” And the individual is the center of his universe.

We sacrifice truth for political correctness; we discard discipline for indulgence; and we trump righteousness with personal rights. We have forgotten that our lives are to reflect Jesus who prayed, “…not my will, but yours be done.” Our contemporary thinking, if we think at all about God, is, “not your will, but mine be done.” We really want and expect God to bless our plans, our self-orientation, and to give us our rights. And how infrequently do we think of sacrificing ourselves for others?

Oswald Chambers, Bible teacher from another time, said that we must become God-conscious rather than self-conscious. Attending to God brings us to the place where we desire his will; it creates space for others; and we finally move into real fulfillment. We’ve got it backwards. Self-consciousness diminishes us while God-consciousness enlarges our world view and brings true enrichment.

When I was a child, we sang a song: Jesus and others and you, what a wonderful way to spell joy. J is for Jesus, for he has first place. O is for others we meet face to face. Y is for you in whatever you do. Put yourself last and spell joy.

Father, help us to be God-conscious in a world that seems to increasingly value self-realization. Help us to pray for your will and grace us to joyously live that out. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


…thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness…
Jonah 4:2

Jonah was so convinced of God’s mercy and grace that he preferred running away to Tarshish than running to Nineveh, the assignment God had given him. After all, Nineveh was wicked, and the Assyrians had been the oppressors of his people for generations. It wasn’t fair that God should forgive them. So Jonah ran away.

But the same gracious and merciful God prepared a fish for him and sent him right back in the direction of Nineveh. To Jonah’s consternation, the Ninevites, from the king down to the animals, demonstrated repentance, and God saw and heard. And Jonah was angry.

Jonah with his disobedience, his nasty attitude, and his unforgiveness couldn’t understand God’s patience with Nineveh, many whose population was so young they didn’t know their right hand from their left. God saw and withheld judgment.

While we may be shocked at Jonah’s hypocrisy, I wonder if we would be grateful if God showed mercy to someone who deserves judgment or if he pours out grace when we know punishment would be just? Isn’t it a good thing that, because of Jesus, God’s mercies are new every day, and we don’t get what we deserve?

Father, your steadfast love never changes, and your mercies never come to an end. Thank you that the chiefest of sinners can repent and accept your forgiveness. That’s us, Lord, and we thank you. AMEN.


You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen… Matthew 24:6 (NIV)

Have you ever thought of taking a holiday from the news? I mean, if you want a real downer, just turn on any of the news networks or read the online newspapers. Is there ever any good news to report? And before you know it, you’re talking with colleagues about the latest terrorist incident or killing or vitriol among the presidential candidates. And you get caught up in the angst and find yourself being sucked into the negative atmosphere of our times. Sound familiar?

That is not what Jesus told us to do. He was up front about what we could expect – wars and rumors of wars and any number of awful things. And then he follows that up in the same breath with, “See to it that you are not alarmed.” Who is not to be alarmed? That’s US, his children. Why? Because Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33), and we are always victorious (II Corinthians 2:14). When the world is going up in flames around us, we have his peace, and we have HIM.

What’s another name for the Gospel? GOOD NEWS. Instead of reeling under the latest horrific broadcast, let us be LIGHT in this dark place. Let us be JOY in the middle of sorrow. Let us be HOPE as people grasp for answers. That is precisely why we were called to the Kingdom for such a time as this. ONWARD.

Father, this is such a great time to be a Christian. Help our lights to shine so brightly that they can be seen in the midst of the darkest of nights. Love and hope through us, your children. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.