…for we walk by faith, not by sight.  II Corinthians 5:7  (ESV)


Allie and I were talking about the peaks and valleys of our spiritual journeys and how we are sometimes baffled about what we should do next.  It seems that not all pathways are sunshine and light but that darkness and shadow intrude when we least expect them.  And then what do we do?


A dear saint described her mundane life caring for her elderly mother who had Alzheimer’s.  In listening, one would think she was living in an extension of heaven rather than the confined reality she had lovingly embraced.  For several years she tended to the needs of her childlike mother, leaving the house only to do grocery shopping.  And yet, she, too grappled at the end with uncertainty about the next steps.


Allie said she has learned to, by faith, take the next faithful step.  Sometimes that may not be anything inspirational.  It may be as simple as running an errand or doing a chore, but it is part of the journey, and the very act of going opens into discernment and direction and joy.  For the sainted daughter, it was simply to put her trust in God to work through her mother’s physician when the time of uncertainty arose.  God affirmed her with his peace.


For me, the next faithful steps are often actions that have taken me out of myself to see God’s face more clearly instead of my own confusion or self-orientation.  Sometimes we make the Christian Way too difficult when we should just be moving on doing what we know to do and trusting God to do what he’s promised to do.


Father, thank you that you’re in charge, and we’re not.  Help us when we’re unclear about what we should be doing.  Cause us to move out knowing that you will be with us, and that you’ve promised to lead and guide us in the way you’d have us go.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.



But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19  (KJV).


From time to time I enjoy recounting to my grown children the many times God’s faithfulness has been so evident.  One of them was sharing a particular need over the weekend, and I was reminded of this story.


After being a college “stop-out” for twelve years, I was given an opportunity to dip my toe back into the educational process by taking one university class.  It was do or die, and I would desperately need a student loan to finish the next two years.


I filled out the myriad pages of the loan application with information about my status:  single parent with two children, part time employment, debts (including a mortgage), and so on.  I prayed about the packet and mailed it in, confident that I would be approved.  After all, we were living under the official poverty line, and a degree would ensure my ability to provide for my children.


I plodded through my university class, studying after the children were in bed and doing projects or special reports when they were away from home.  My professor assured me that I was doing well (in spite of the twelve-year absence) and that I was capable of completing a degree.  All I needed was tuition funds.


Mid-semester was getting closer, the time when we were to pre-register for the spring semester.  The deadline for that funding was close enough to touch.  I was getting a bit anxious but also knew I was highly qualified for a student loan.


When the packet arrived from the New Jersey funder, I could hardly wait to rip it open and share the good news.  I couldn’t believe the stunning conclusion when I discovered that I had been rejected.  How could I not have been approved? I wondered.  My income was not at all adequate for college tuition, and there seemed to be no other opportunities in sight.  I was devastated.


I wept and wept over my broken dreams and the loss of a degree that had seemed so much closer.  Finally, I laid the rejection letter on the bed and fell down beside it.  “God, if this one semester is all I’m to have, I relinquish my dream to you,” I said.  After more sobbing, I abandoned my hopes and my plans to my Father.


The following day I went to class, and responding to an impulse, I dropped in to see my advisor.  “Oh, I’ve been looking for you,” she said.  “I want you to interview for a job at a nearby school.”  I protested, reminding her that I didn’t yet have a degree, but she was insistent.  She called the school, and they asked her to send me right away.


I drove to the church school and had the strangest sensation as I walked up the front stairs.  This job is mine, I thought.  The kind, early childhood coordinator interviewed me, enlisted me to do a trial teaching stint for a week (pro bono), and then added, “If we decide to hire you, we will pay your tuition until you finish your degree.”


I left with a lighter heart than I’d had in days and got home just in time to answer the phone.  Another school department was calling saying they would pay my tuition if I would work with their students.  And then the university President’s office wrote to announce that I had been awarded a full scholarship for the spring semester.


I was hired by the church school and taught there until our headmaster retired and I had completed two degrees.  I had wanted—and prayed for a loan—God had in mind a scholarship.


Father, your ways are always so much higher and better than ours.  Help us always to trust you in all things, even when it seems that nothing is working the way we’ve planned.  Thank you that your provisions are infinite and your gifts are abundant.  AMEN.



[Jesus], having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.  John 13:1b (NKVJ)



They were part of a hand-picked cadre of men who had been carefully trained for a long-term mission.  For several years they had eaten, slept, lived, and traveled together in anticipation of deployment.  They were aware of the hazards that lay ahead and the potential dangers.  Still, they remained part of the chosen few.


While their training had been identical, their paths would slowly and imperceptibly begin to diverge although no one would know until much later.  One was a highly capable and trusted financial manager while the other was a married man who had initially answered the call of the sea.  Both were drawn to their charismatic leader – the money man cherished plans of a massive takeover; the fisherman, impetuous by nature, quickly apprehended their leader’s direction and just as quickly missed the deeper implications of his teachings.


After years of being part of an elite team, the money man became impatient and frustrated with their leader’s failure to seize the power that was just within his grasp.  The fisherman was content just to follow and to learn and to love and be loved.  While the fisherman fell more deeply in love with his leader, the money man became more fascinated with the funds that were entrusted to him.  He began to think of them as his own and to treat them as such.  He made of himself a thief.


The leader, knowing all these things, held an exclusive dinner party – just for his special men.  Taking his place at the head of the table, he seated the money man at his left side, thinking perhaps he could whisper a few words that might alter his course.  As the evening progressed, he told the select gathering that one of them would turn against him.  Was this an opportunity for the money man to change his mind?  The men were shocked and in low tones began to ask each other who that could be.  The fisherman signaled to a team member on the leader’s right to ask the identity of the traitor.  Looking with unbearable grief and entreaty at the money man seated on his left, the leader explained.  “I’m sharing this piece of bread with the one who will betray me.” Another possibility for turning.  Instead, the man took the bread, consumed it, and walked out into the darkness of treachery.


The fisherman swore undying loyalty to his leader.  When soldiers came to take the leader away, the fisherman followed but under pressure, he, too, betrayed the one he had sworn to love.  He betrayed him not just once but three times.  The fisherman’s heart was broken when he saw the extent of his infidelity.


Two friends followed the same leader.  They ate, slept, lived, and traveled together and were taught by him as they awaited deployment.  One friend took the money he’d been given to betray his leader but then tossed it back.  Instead of returning to the leader who’d chosen him in the first place, in final despair he threw himself away.  The money man played god and went to his grave.


The fisherman went back to his nets.  Within days the leader found him and tenderly, graciously mended his heart and re-commissioned him as a sign of reconciliation.


Two friends:  Judas rejected Jesus, his love, his salvation, his future.  Peter rejected Jesus but was restored by his love, his salvation, and given a future.


Father, nothing can separate us from your love.  You have called us, and you are able to keep us.  When we have sinned and failed you, remind us of the great price Jesus paid that we might be forgiven and restored.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.


And [when] the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard [it]; and his anger was kindled… Numbers 11:1
Casey and his wife have a large glass container in which they put stones representing blessings. Each time God does something, they add a stone of remembrance. Casey says he can’t remember what each stone represents, but those stones are reminders of God’s provisions.

This morning Casey talked about the Children of Israel and their experience with the snakes (Numbers 21). Since there weren’t any markets in the desert and the food had long since run out, God provided manna – after the Israelites began complaining. And then they wanted meat, so God provided quail – after the Israelites complained. But God’s blessings were never enough.

Apparently, the Israelites had a bad case of “poormease,” and finally, God got really tired of their endless ingratitude. They’d been delivered from an abusive Pharaoh; rescued from the Egyptian army; given food, meat, water, and clothes that didn’t wear out; and yet it was never enough. So God got their attention.

Venomous snakes invaded the camp and bit the people. No one had to point out the fault of the Israelites. Immediately, they rushed to Moses saying they had sinned. They were well aware of their ingratitude and complaining not only against Moses but also against God who had provided everything they needed.

God’s remedy: Put a replica of those nasty snakes on a pole to remind the Israelites of what life would be like without God’s gracious provisions. Just one look cured them. We may not like the same-ness of the manna, but it nourishes us. We may get tired of quail, but it is an unexpected gift of love. We may be annoyed that the water comes from the rock rather than a pristine spring, but it quenches our thirst. Gripe, gripe, gripe.

I like Casey’s idea of the stone reminders. Lent is a good time to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Yes, I like that a lot better than venomous snakes.

Father, I have a choice between gratitude and griping. Help me always to remember that your blessings far exceed any trials that will ever come my way. In Jesus our Lord. AMEN.


Lamentations 3:25 The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

So many people I know are waiting on God just now – waiting for him to direct, to provide, to heal, to confirm. And almost everyone I know wishes God would hurry and arrive on the scene.

I wonder if Joseph felt that way as he waited on God to intervene in his unjust predicaments – first as slave, then as prisoner. He was sold by his own brothers; imprisoned because of deception; and forgotten even as he served his fellow prisoners. Did he ever wonder when God would break through and deliver him?

Then Abraham was told by God that he would have an heir and be the father of many nations. But Abraham got tired of waiting on God’s timing and tried to help God. He took Hagar (his wife’s servant) as a secondary wife and produced a son, but Ishmael wasn’t the child of promise. The strife that was initiated by Abraham’s impatience is with us still today.

In contrast, Hannah prayed faithfully for a child, and after many years of waiting, God answered with one who became that great man of God, Samuel. Hannah’s trust in God resulted in a child who would become Israel’s leader for many years and who would anoint Saul and David as their kings.

We may trust God’s working and sense affirmation about a calling or direction, but we find ourselves struggling with his interminable delays. That’s what happened when Israel’s King Saul waited for Samuel to show up to offer a sacrifice before the army went into battle. Only the priests were to sacrifice to the Lord, but when Saul saw his army deserting, he took matters into his own hands. Just as the sacrifice was done, Samuel arrived. Saul’s disobedience and lack of waiting cost him a kingdom.

Being still, waiting on God requires spiritual discipline and trust that even when we do not sense God’s presence or working, he will be faithful and will act at the right time. Faith presupposes a relationship with God and a desire to see him glorified. Feeling prefers tangible evidence of spiritual activity and a desire to see ourselves gratified. Imagine what we might lose if, after God has clearly spoken, we do not wait. On the other hand, think of the joy we will be to our Father if we sit quietly, actively expecting his arrival.

God is faithful. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isa. 40:31).

Teach us, Lord, to wait. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth… Philippians 2:10 (NIV)

I saw the Conquerors riding by
With cruel lips and faces wan:
Musing on kingdoms sacked and burned
There rode the Mongol Ghengis Khan;

And Alexander, like a god,
Who sought to weld the world in one;
And Caesar with his laurel wreath;
And like a thing from Hell the Hun;

And, leading like a star the van,
Heedless of upstretched arm and groan,
Inscrutable Napoleon went
Dreaming of empire, and alone. . . .

Then all they perished from the earth
As fleeting shadows from a glass,
And, conquering down the centuries,
Came Christ, the Swordless, on an ass!*

Father, amid all the chaos and atrocities abounding throughout our lawless world, Jesus remains Victor and has already won earth’s battles. Help us to remember to whose Kingdom we belong and live glorifying him even as we await his final coronation. In Jesus’ name. AMEN 

*by Harry Kemp


So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. Hebrews 10:35 (NIV)

With Easter approaching, our choir was doubling down on rehearsals and more complex musical offerings. Sadly, our choirmaster had’nt yet discovered the joy of music, so rehearsals were often exercises in discipline. One particular evening, he scolded the sopranos particularly severely and shuffled our section around several times. Over and over we rehearsed our passages as he frowned upon us. I could hardly wait for the session to end.

I went home that evening convinced that I was the sour note, unable to contribute to a harmonious whole. The next few days I sat at my piano going over and over the offending phrases. Rather than feeling increasingly confident in my part and eager to sing God’s praises at Easter, my mood was more in line with the confused disciples who hid in the shadows on that fateful Friday.

And then I read that there are times when we take our confidence and throw it to the wind if our expectations aren’t met. We actually take the confidence we’ve gained through years of experience with our Father and toss it from us because of adversity, real or imagined, large or small. And here was I allowing some unsatisfactory choir rehearsals to color the rest of the days in my weeks.

I retrieved the confidence I had – which was in the Lord – and returned to rehearsals determined to hear the messages in the music and to use my voice, imperfect as it might be, as an instrument of praise. It appeared that my heart was more out of tune than my voice, and when that was corrected, I was more prepared (and equipped) to sing .

Easter Day was glorious; the choir’s melodious praises filled the sanctuary. And I learned a valuable lesson that had more to do with attitude than music.

Father, every time I make an incident about me, I become distracted. My confidence, my hope, my inspiration are all from you. Thank you. AMEN.


The prayer of the righteous person is powerful in what it can achieve. James 5:16 (CEB)

Of all the times during my lifespan, this seems to be one of the most crucial periods for believers to vigorously engage in prayer. Friends are coping with serious medical conditions; some are dealing with economic crises; relational stresses are threatening families; and the political and global situations are unprecedented. If we ever need to be effective in prayer, now is the time.

If we are to pray all the time (I Thess. 5:17, Rom. 12:12), our physical position must be inconsequential. If right-standing with God signifies power in prayer (above), the form of our prayer—formal or informal, spontaneous or read, silent or said aloud—has no significance. It appears that God is primarily concerned with relationships—between us and him and us and others—when it comes to prayer.

Here are just a few of my gleanings from Scripture about prayer:

• The focus of prayer is relating to God and not about getting answers. (I Chron. 16:11, Psa. 145:18, Song of Sol. 2:14 and many others)
• We must be reconciled to him and others before we pray. (Matt. 5:23, I Peter 3:7, Luke 6:27, 28)
• God listens to our prayers. (I John 5:14, Jer. 29:12, Psa. 145:18, Heb. 4:16)
• God always responds to prayer in his time, according to his will, and in his way. (Mark 11:24, Jer. 33:3, Matt. 6:6, I John 5:15, Jas. 4:2b)

When my children were first away at school, I knew that almost every time they called, they wanted or needed something. As their mother, I was happy to respond to meet their needs when I could. But the day finally arrived when they called just to chat. What a joy. We had moved beyond need to relationship.

How happy God must be when we talk with him just because we enjoy his company.

Our Father in heaven, teach us to pray and to come to you just to enjoy your presence. AMEN.