…you do not have because you do not ask God. James 4:2 (NIV)

Coming back from my first trip to Uganda after three hard weeks on pock-marked dusty roads in a glorious, yet unfamiliar setting, I was exhausted. We reached at the airport only to be told that our flight would be delayed by about 15 hours because of mechanical problems. We again boarded our mutatu (van) for a return trip to the Namirembe Guest House in Kampala.

Upon arrival, the two guys on the team said they were going to the airlines office to see what sort of compensation they might offer for causing us to miss our connecting flights in London and Detroit. Since this was my first trip and being the newbie on the team, I naively asked if they would see if we could get bumped up to better seats for our 18-hour-plus flights. All five of my companions laughed as if I’d asked for a private jet to take us home. I was determined. “You have not for you ask not,” I reminded the team.

An hour later, the fellows returned, and I asked—expectantly—“Did we get bumped up?”
With barely disguised smirks they responded negatively but allowed that we would all be treated to lunch in a London hotel and our own day rooms. Of course, that was lovely but not what I’d requested.

It was gratifying to have familiar food in London and a hot shower with a nap before preparing to board our transatlantic flight. An airlines vehicle delivered us back to the airport, and we were courteously escorted to our point of departure. Since our connecting flights had all been scrambled, our team was seated in various places throughout the coach section. I sat down with one of my team members, buckled up, and prepared my nest for the next leg of the trip.

As is my custom, I turned on the monitor to watch the progress of the flight as we crossed the ocean – but nothing happened. My companion tried to work the monitor. And then the steward did his best to make the contraption work. “Just wait until we’re airborne,” he assured me, “and I’ll reboot this from our controls.”

However many miles later and after many buttons were pushed unsuccessfully, the steward asked if I minded if he relocated me. “Oh, but I have to bring my friend,” I replied. “Of course,” he said.

A short time later, he reported. “I’ve looked all over the economy seating and can’t find a vacant seat. Would you mind if I put you in business class?” he queried. “Of course, not,” I responded with a huge smile.

As we were being ushered down the aisle, I couldn’t resist reminding my friends in passing, “You have not for you ask not.” It’s a lesson I haven’t forgotten.

Lord, I wonder how many blessings, large and small, we miss because we’re afraid to ask? Help us to remember that you’re a good Father who loves to give good gifts to your undeserving children, and we honor you by asking. Thank you again. AMEN.


…by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Hebrews 5:12 (NIV)

I was somewhat amused as I saw the teacher remonstrating in the hall with her fourth-grade student. Apparently, his boyish behavior had not been deemed appropriate, and she had pulled him out of class. I chuckled as she told the young miscreant to “GROW UP.” (At nine years old, how grown up could he be?)

But just recently when I inquired about the absence of registered attendees for a Christian conference, I was not at all amused to learn that several folks had refused to come when they learned that certain other people would be there. That’s when I wanted to say, “GROW UP.”

In the Hebrews passage mentioned above, the writer says that Jesus, our High Priest, learned obedience by the things he suffered. He wasn’t exempted from hardships or pain or people he didn’t like because he was God’s Son. In fact, it was exactly those things that made him the perfect High Priest who is able to empathize with all our circumstances because he has been tempted just as we are—and without sinning (Hebrews 4:15) or failing out of weakness or self-indulgence or immaturity.

If we can only view those things that make us uncomfortable as opportunities to allow God’s grace to flow through us instead of running from them because we don’t like this or that, how quickly we would move forward in spiritual maturity. So what I’m really trying to say here is, “GROW UP.” (And I’m looking in the mirror.)

Father, your patience is staggering. Thank you for giving us second and third and more chances to become what you want us to be. Help us to more and more deny ourselves so that more of Jesus lives through us. AMEN.


Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25
Have you looked lately at the list of fruit we’ll be bearing when we’re allowing the Holy Spirit to work freely in us? Let me remind you: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, meekness, self-control, faithfulness. We don’t have to stress about producing fruit. I’ve never seen a fruit tree straining to produce apples or oranges or pears.

Just down the street my neighbor has a gorgeous pear tree. I love seeing the fragrant blooms that never fail to cover the tree in the spring time. I walk by that tree frequently, and I have not one time seen it demonstrating the least bit of anxiety as it blooms prolifically and later is covered with pears.

That tree stands silently rooted deep in the soil, absorbing the moisture of the rain and its faithful owner, and reaching up to enjoy the predictable Texas sunshine. The tree IS. And the tree ABIDES. When the proper season arrives, fruit grows.

If we stay rooted in the Word, drink in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, live in the light of Truth and transparency, we, too, will effortlessly be loving, joyous, peaceful, patient, gentle, good, meek, self-controlled, and faithful. No effort. God’s Spirit will flow out of us for his glory and the blessing of others.

Father, help us to stop striving and start obeying you by reading your Word, by being constantly refilled with your Spirit, and by walking in your Light. When we do this, we can’t help bearing fruit. AMEN.


And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men… Colossians 3:23 (KJV)

I was quite taken by the comments of a bishop at our workshop this weekend. He said he trains all his people to excel at everything they do for the Lord. He gave an example: When anyone is to read Scripture in a service, he asks them not only to practice but also to memorize the Scripture they will read so that they are totally familiar with the Word and do not have to look down. He encourages excellence in all his parishioners rather than mere compliance.

How many times do we perform tasks in church or at work or at home just to finish the job rather than seeking ways to heartily do what we have been called to do? Wouldn’t we bring honor to God if in everything we do we do our very best? After all, Jesus always gave his best for us. Surely, with love and commitment for him, we can do the same.

I’m a reader this weekend. I’m headed off to memorize my passage.

Father, you have always given us your finest. Stir us to be intolerant of personal mediocrity and to heartily serve and love others as you have served and loved us. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord… Isaiah 54:13

When my daughter left for college, she went with two admonitions: “Remember Whose you are” and “Get a job.” Coming from a single parent family, work was nothing new to Tish, but we realized finding a job in a small college town might be a challenge. We prayed.

The first week of school Tish was recruited by a student whose boss was looking for help. From semester to semester, she found work and learned to pray through school and job problems. When work was scarce in her senior year, Tish went into the school placement office and was hired on the spot by the manager who needed a babysitter. One evening Tish called to chat and tell me an experience with her new job.

“There’s been so much to do around here with the children and both the parents so busy, I’ve started helping out with the house and laundry. Mom, there was so much ironing, I knew it would take hours. And then I remembered how we always used to sing while we worked. I pulled out the ironing board and sang one song after another as I ironed, and the work seemed so much easier and was finished before I knew it.

“And you know what, Mom? I felt happy that I could do it. Singing really works. And you should’ve seen their faces when they came home,” Tish concluded.

She should’ve seen my face. (How many times have I been reminded that Tish’s name means joyous Christian?)

Father, your promise is so true: when we train our children and grandchildren in the ways of the Lord, they don’t depart from that. It may take a while, but you are always faithful. Thank you.


No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord. Isaiah 54:17 (KJV)
We were en route to the Alamo this past summer reviewing the events surrounding the fateful battle that is part of our Texas lore. Suddenly, my five-year-old granddaughter Caroline made a dramatic plea to her seven-year-old brother, “William, I don’t want you to go into the Army and be killed.” “Can’t you just be a doctor?” Caroline begged. “All right,” William consented, “I’ll be a Marine.”

That made me think of how we Christians mistake our calling. We forget that we are part of a mighty army whose battle is not against flesh and blood (people) but against powers and principalities, against spiritual wickedness in high places (supernatural powers) (Ephesians 6:12). And there’s no way we will escape the fight – even if we join the Marines. When we mistakenly identify people as the source of our difficulties, we overlook the real enemy that strategically uses and manipulates people to do his bidding.

But we’re not to be distressed or fearful. We have everything we need for the battle: a full set of armor (the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, truth for a belt, shoes of peace, a shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit – Ephesians 6:14-17), empowerment by the Spirit, more fighting with us than with our enemy (II Kings 6:16), and a promise of victory (II Corinthians 2:14). And, of course, we know what happens at the end of the Book.

The battle is the Lord’s (II Chronicles 20:15). Let us daily go out fully equipped to overcome whatever foe that threatens to destroy our peace, our joy, our relationships, or our confidence in him and his promises. We are mighty through Christ Jesus to pull down strongholds (II Corinthians 10:4) and anything that would defeat us. Let us go forth and conquer in his name.

Heavenly Father, strengthen me and my faith to defeat those small and large things that every day attempt to rob and harm me. Remind me that you have already won the battle. All I need to do is access your victory for your glory. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only… James 1:22 (KJV)

In chapel, we heard the story of an Italian tour guide conducting a group through the Vatican. As they walked, a flock of chickens crossed their path, and the guide said, “These chickens are the very descendents of the rooster that crowed when Peter denied Christ.” Of course, the tourists were impressed until one man wondered aloud, “But how are they at laying eggs?” In essence, the heritage might be intimidating, but what actual value did the chickens have?

Some of us may boast of being “cradle-Christians,” of having cut our teeth on the church pews, of knowing all the hymns and prayers, and all the accoutrements that are part of being a “church person.” But what is the actual fruit of our lives? Jesus said that we would be known by our fruit. Is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness growing and observable in our lives? Is there consistency in our daily walk? Are we authentic?

There’s an old saying that goes like this: “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

Father, sometimes we get caught up in the trappings of religion and forget that our theme song is do-be-do-be-do. Do the works of Jesus and Be like Jesus. Strengthen us to follow you faithfully and to live out our hope through you. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN.


Shew me a token for good…because thou, Lord, hast holpen me, and comforted me. Psalm 86:17 (KJV)

Ordinarily, I’m not someone who looks for “signs,” but when my husband told me to begin planning for my first transatlantic flight, I needed reassurance. Peter had traveled widely prior to our marriage, but I’d never flown so long over the water. I wasn’t exactly afraid, but I didn’t relish all those hours suspended over the ocean.

Our destination was Ireland, and I would have an opportunity to see firsthand the beauty of the Emerald Isle. I threw myself into preparations, hoping to ease or forget my apprehension. Still, I couldn’t get rid of that nagging anxiety.

Chastising myself for lack of trust, I recalled verses of Scripture that related to God’s protection. Nothing seemed to help. I was too embarrassed to admit to my family or friends that I, a Bible study teacher and mentor, was nervous about such a silly thing. Privately, I prayed about my misgivings and surrendered them to the Lord.

The night before we were to leave, a simple thing happened. I stepped into the shower before going to bed and was surprised by the most wonderful scent. Someone, I still don’t know who, had placed in the soap dish a bar of Irish Spring hand soap which literally permeated the atmosphere with hope, joy, and reassurance. I knew it would be a wonderful trip.

Nowadays I spend days and nights on planes going to our various mission ministries around the world, and I am always grateful for God’s patience in giving me such a little thing to assure me he was in control. He prepared me for what he had prepared for me.

Father, your kindness and mercy are beyond comprehension. You answer our prayers and reassure us in the most unexpected ways. Help us to be open to any way in which you choose to comfort and care for us. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN.


Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Philippians 3:12
“There’s no sense in going further — it’s the edge of cultivation,”
So they said, and I believed it — broke my land and sowed my crop —
Built my barns and strung my fences in the little border station
Tucked away below the foothills where the trails run out and stop.

Till a voice, as bad as Conscience, rang interminable changes
In one everlasting Whisper day and night repeated — so:
“Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges —
Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!”
Anybody might have found it — but His Whisper came to Me!

I have always been intrigued by Kipling’s poem that speaks to me of God’s wonders in the natural world and in the Spirit. There are so many hidden treasures of God’s Kingdom that are only discovered by abandoned and radical pursuit of him. And once that wanderlust is awakened in us we will not be satisfied with anything less.

Father, awaken us to boldly launch out in faith to see what you have for us beyond the known. Help us to move to higher heights in you so that we may glorify you in the journey. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.