…the godly man’s life is exciting.  Proverbs 14:14b  (TLB)


“And Lord, let Marthe have some adventures,” my friend Lynn prayed just before we left for vacation in France.  Peter and I had been practicing our French for months, and we looked forward to a leisurely meander through the villages and on down south to Avignon and the Côte d’Azur.



Landing at Charles de Gaulle Airport, the largest I’d ever seen with thousands of people scurrying about, we retrieved our luggage and began scanning the crowd for Philippe.  Our friends had said that staff member Philippe would be carrying a sign with our name and would take us to their house in a village near Orléans.

We looked and looked for someone who might be Philippe, but no one had a sign with our name.  After a rather long wait, I suggested that Peter stay put with the bags while I ventured around looking for someone I’d not yet met.  Thirty minutes or so later, there was no Philippe.  I reported back to Peter and continued searching. More time elapsed, and we still hadn’t sighted our driver.  We regrouped to determine our next steps.  Now, Lord, getting lost in a major international airport is not my idea of adventure, I thought.

After more searching for what seemed like ages, I prayed desperately, “Lord, please, let the next man I run into be Philippe.”  I stepped back into the crowd and looked up to see an intense young man making his way toward me.  I went up to him and said, “Phillipe?”  “Oui,” he answered.  “Madam Curry?”  Thank God.  I took Philippe to meet Peter, and we learned that he was expecting us to be carrying a sign.  Our first international adventure (and challenge in cross-cultural communication).

We enjoyed a few days of touring in the Centre region of France and then headed south in the car furnished by our friends.  Once on the autoroute I was agitated when I glanced at the speedometer and saw the high speed at which we were traveling, but even then, the French drivers were passing us in droves.

We detoured several times to see quaint villages and acres of poppies and yellow rapeseed fields embracing the roads.  For lunch we stopped at a tiny farmhouse along the way, devoured the daily special, and were ready to leave when we were told that we had only eaten the appetizer!  The main dish would follow.  Just one more adventure.

The drive was more picturesque than we’d foreseen.  Besides large swaths of color, the scenery included installations of highway art—large, powerful sculptures.  Miles down the road, and as the sun was easing over the horizon, Peter and I reflected on the sweet, relaxing day.  We had just left the environs of Lyon and were within an hour of our first stop, a sunflower farm, when we were jolted from our reverie by a crash in the rear.  Someone had run into our car and almost knocked us off the autoroute!  Only Peter’s skillful driving (and those prayers) kept us intact.

Peter carefully guided the car to the shoulder of the road, and we both got out rather shaken.  Another vehicle pulled off and stopped directly in front of us.  Two young men—the ones who had hit us—rushed toward us, both speaking at the same time.  “My friend’s neck is hurt,” the first one spoke accusingly.  “But you hit us,” I countered.  The man continued to argue while Peter went around inspecting the damage to our borrowed vehicle.  In the middle of my conversation, I looked up in time to see that the second young man had jumped into our car and was pulling onto the autoroute.  While Peter and I stood in astonishment watching the car disappear into traffic, the first young man got into his car and took off.

All I could do was repeat the license number over and over until Peter pulled out paper and pen to write—in between exclamations of shock and remembrances of such tales reported in the news.  We stood helpless on the side of the autoroute in the gathering darkness, and a soft, gentle rain began to fall.

(On Monday read the next installment of this adventure and God’s providence.)


Father, again I say thank you for sparing us, and thank you for grace that was and is given in abundance.  You are always faithful.  AMEN.



Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare. Jeremiah 29:7

How do you tell Christians living in the middle of severe persecution and repression to pray for the perpetrators?  Well, that’s exactly what John Chew, former Archbishop of Singapore, told his thousands of parishioners who live in Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, Vietnam, and Thailand.  Some of those countries are on the World Watch List (Open Doors) for persecution of Christians.

When I questioned Chew about this strange mandate, he reminded me of the context of this verse penned by the Jeremiah.  Thousands of years ago, the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah warned the people of Judah of impending disaster if they continued to disregard God and his laws.  In spite of repeated warnings from numerous men of God, the people continued to follow their own desires, worshiping idols, abusing the poor, sacrificing their own children, and turning their backs on God. Finally, they were taken into captivity in Babylon.  Many would never return to their homes.  In distress one of the exiles wrote a plaintive dirge (Psalm 137):


By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.

There on the poplars

we hung our harps,

for there our captors asked us for songs,

our tormentors demanded songs of joy;

they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How can we sing the songs of the Lord

while in a foreign land?

And yet, it was to these very exiles that Jeremiah wrote the words that persecuted Christians in Archbishop Chew’s churches would also be given:  Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.  Jeremiah and Chew both understood that God’s grace, whether in exile or in persecution, was abundant and that God would sustain through their prayers and repentance.  “In its welfare you will have welfare” reminded them that nations and communities at peace are more likely to benefit the people than those experiencing deprivation, violence, or unrest.

Paul took this a step further when he admonished Timothy (2:2) to “pray for rulers and for all who have authority. Pray for these leaders so that we can live quiet and peaceful lives—lives full of devotion to God and respect for him.”  He didn’t put any stipulations on the prayers such as “pray for good rulers” or “pray for the rulers you like.”

Perhaps one of the reasons we experience so much conflict at home and abroad is that we’ve forgotten that strange mandate about praying for cities, for leaders, for all in authority.  It’s not too late to start.


Father, all the leaders of the world bear heavy burdens.  Work your will, your peace, and your love in their hearts.  Fill them with your wisdom to govern that we may all live in peace and bring glory to your name.  In Jesus our Lord.  AMEN.


Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  Matthew 6:25-27

Our 24/7 news cycle underscores the fact that we have plenty to worry us.  Every day seems to announce a new disaster, a devastating tragedy, a shocking terrorist attack, or an unimagined horror.  And in the middle of all this, Jesus tells us quite directly that we are not to worry.  He points out the simple provision for the creatures of the air while at the same time bluntly asking us when we’ve accomplished anything through worry.

From John 16 and 17 we see Jesus preparing his disciples for the hardships they will soon face.  Rather than anticipating his own pain and suffering of the cross, he is concerned that his followers will be strengthened to stand.  He assures them that they will have trouble in this world but tells them to cheer up.  He has already overcome the world.  The theme of peace and joy in Jesus permeates these two chapters and echoes Philippians 4:6-7 that reminds us of the incomprehensible peace given to God’s children through prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving.

Who’s not tempted to worry?  But do we really achieve anything through worry?  I’ve not yet seen empirical evidence to indicate the positive effect of worry.  So what steps can we take to avoid this temptation?

  1. Acknowledge/confess the problem – worry.
  2. Remember God’s promises found in the Word – seek them out or ask the Holy Spirit to reveal them.
  3. Apply the promises – determine to activate Scripture through discipline and prayer.
  4. Let go of worry – choose to trust God and his Word.
  5. Listen to God’s voice and obey – quiet yourself to hear so you know what to do next.

Don’t focus on the problem, focus on the Lord.  Peter walked on water until he became distracted by the waves.  God is able to do what he has promised, but we must do our part in pushing aside worry, praying, and thanking him.  That’s when the peace comes but not until then.


Father, we are living in trying times.  Cause us to move from worry to trust so that we live in your peace.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.



And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten…  Joel 2:25  (KJV)

Sadly, or perhaps thankfully, life has no fast forwards or instant rewinds.  There’s no way we can reach back into painful or unsuccessful eras of our lives and redo them.  And we can’t wish away the present into the bliss of utopia.

I know folks who are contemplating making major changes to their lives because of disappointment or ending of a life season.  One has been treated badly by family members; others are yearning for adventure and new horizons.  The ones who are burdened with regret are suffering most.  They just want to start over.

The children of Israel had lived one of the most checkered existences of any nation in their on again-off again relationship with their God who had promised, blessed,  sustained, rescued, established, and prospered them.  Through the times of the judges, they typically followed God’s laws, but in between everybody did what he wanted to do.  (A bit like today.)  When they had kings, they followed God if the king did.

Finally, God had enough, and the country divided.  The northern kingdom eventually went into exile, and the southern kingdom followed within a generation.  The prophet Joel warned the Israelites of coming judgment for their disobedience and urged them to repent.  Finally, he reminds them of God’s mercy and faithfulness when they return to him.  God will restore what has been eaten, Joel says.

What incredible news.  Those damaged places in their lives and ours that we’d rather forget or paste over, when surrendered to God in repentance, can be restored, and we can be freed.  Not my word – God’s.  When we’re tempted to think that the past can’t be undone, we must remember these powerful words:  God will restore.  Just as with prayer, God will restore in his way, his time, and according to his will.

It’s a promise.  Bank on it.  We can start over.


Father, in the middle of the stresses in our world today, there is Good News with you.  Take our past failures and sins, our brokenness and pain, and heal us, restore us, and set us free.  We ask this for your glory and in your powerful name.  AMEN.


But ask the animals, and they will teach you…that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.  Job 12:7, 9, 10

Today I came across a picture of Josephine.  It evoked nostalgia and reminded me of my adventure with her and the bond we formed in months of working in the capital of Uganda, Kampala.  Being away from home so long, I was missing Albert and Victoria and the companionship that came with their unconditional love.



The night was rainy, one of those times when the skies seemed to be falling and the rain drops stung when they hit you.  It was impossible to sleep.  In the middle of that thunderous monsoon, I heard a sound of desperate crying coming from somewhere near.  I wanted to pretend I hadn’t heard that piercing sound and tried to go back to sleep.  But the moans wouldn’t stop.

Finally, I put on my robe, picked up my umbrella and my torch (flashlight), and headed out the door to locate the source of the cries.  Louder and louder they came as I approached the huge rubbish pit in the banana trees just below my terrace.  I shined my light all around the bottom of the hole, and about fourteen feet down, I saw a terrified dog who had fallen in during her nightly quest for food.  I called to her, but there was nothing I could do until the household woke up, and I could get a ladder.

Several hours later, the house lights came on, so I knocked on the back door and explained the dilemma and need for help.  Gilbert and Jackson put on their rain slickers, got a ladder, and followed me.  The three of us were eventually able to subdue and get the frightened animal out of the hole.  As soon as she reached the top, she sped to a place near the back of the compound where we discovered she had four newborn babies.  (Later, in the morning we discovered two more babies who had fallen into the nearby latrine and needed rescuing.)

Josephine (so named because we had pulled her out of the pit) became my constant companion anytime I left my apartment on the compound.  We gave the babies biblical names (Joseph, Daniel, Jeremiah, etc.) referring to those who had also had “pit” experiences.  The house boys helped with feeding Josephine—the neighboring guest house saved us all their scraps—Josephine didn’t like commercial dog food.  And various neighbors eventually adopted all the babies.

Whenever I needed a little reminder of home, Josephine was there.  She and the babies ran to greet me anytime I was within viewing distance of their little makeshift home.  She changed the entire culture of the compound in a place that wasn’t accustomed to having animals as pets.  And she shared that same unconditional love with all our visitors.

The day came for me to pack up and begin my twenty-seven hour trip home.  I couldn’t bear to tell Josephine I was leaving, but somehow she knew and came up to my apartment to haunt the doorway all day long.  Then she disappeared.  When my driver appeared to take me to the airport that night, I saw a movement in the bushes.  It was Josephine.  She had come out to say goodbye.  And then she was gone.

In all my later visits back to my temporary home in Kampala, Josephine remembered me and was always as happy to see me as I her.  The boys kept their promise and watched over and loved her.  This past year I got a message that Josephine was sick, and the vet was called (an amazing occurrence).  Josephine was loved and buried within the compound.

Am I romanticizing to think that God sent her just to bring me companionship at a lonely time?  That she stayed to demonstrate unconditional love to the other family members in the compound?  And that Josephine changed a tiny piece of culture?


Father, I am so grateful for all those demonstrations of love you shower on us.  Thank you especially for Albert and Victoria, for Edward and Frances, and for sweet Josephine.  They have been wonderful blessings from you who created all things.  AMEN.


As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you.  I Samuel 12:23  (NIV)

During the Enlightenment, the philosophes and many religious leaders embraced the “omnicompetence of human reason” (Alister E. McGrath).  What a disillusionment it must have been to see the human and moral failure of the French Revolution and intellect—even coupled with high ideals.

And then the Romanticists turned to feelings to liberate the human spirit.  The imagination was freed to soar to God, to turn to him to touch man’s deepest needs.  But feelings, too, were insufficient to bring us into satisfying, consistent relationship with the divine.

The Marxists propagated the notion that religion is a creation of the people and their response to social and economic conditions.  Essentially, addressing economic and social ills would, in time, eliminate spiritual hunger.

And so on…

Today, there are so many issues with few policy statements or resolutions proposed that do not in some way inflict harm on someone or some group.  It’s as if imposition of My Truth (whatever that may be) will resolve the suffering, the marginalization, the lostness we see in so many places around the world.

Several years ago, I was at a religious conference that was designed to explore problems in the church.  Guest speakers (recognized experts in their fields) dissected the concerns from every imaginable position but suggested no strategic plan or resolution.  During the break, I was so frustrated, I approached a couple of the “experts” and pointed out that these were the same issues with the same arguments that we’d heard at the last conferences.  Had it occurred to anyone that, since we don’t seem to have answers, perhaps we should gather to pray?  To seek Divine guidance?  To ask God for healing and wisdom?  There was dead silence until one of the clergy standing nearby said, “You can use my church.”

Yes, people are being killed, there is destruction in our land, there are divisions, in some places anarchy appears to threaten, but are we spending as much time praying about these situations as we are talking and grieving about them?  Are we praying for our leaders as much as we criticize them?  Are we helping our neighbors as much as we judge them?  Do we have a pile of rocks at the ready to stone those sinners among us whom we disapprove (before we look into our own hearts)?

God forbid that I should sin by ceasing to pray for you.  It’s a start.

Father, you have gifted us with an unspeakably wonderful country.  We’ve made some bad choices. We haven’t loved our neighbors as ourselves.  We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart.  We are truly sorry and we humbly repent, for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us and heal our land; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.



…I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.  Revelation 2:17  (NIV)

My husband’s parents, like so many before them, came to this country seeking a new life filled with opportunity.  They followed a time-honored route from Lebanon to South America and eventually settled in New England.  As an initial step in becoming full Americans, they Anglicized their family name, el Khoury (the Priest), to Curry.  A new language and a whole new lifestyle were other changes that would follow.

With all the current interest in immigrants at home and abroad, I’ve been thinking about our own status as Christians.  Most of us were grafted into God’s family, as Paul refers to Gentile believers, and it has become our duty to learn the lifestyle and behaviors of the new Kingdom.  For us, the change is not usually physical relocation—instead, become new creations (II Corinthians 5:17-21) in Christ Jesus.  We are given new opportunities at life and fresh beginnings.

Most of all, I love the idea of having new names.  Throughout the Bible, much is made of names.   The names of biblical people revealed inherent character, and changed names reflected transformations of character.  Just look at Abraham’s grandson Jacob (usurper) who cleverly took his brother’s birthright and blessing and whose name was later changed to Israel after he wrestled with the angel, clinging until he was promised God’s blessing.  Or Simon (he has heard), that impetuous disciple of Jesus who was swift to listen and equally quick to act, whose name Jesus changed to Peter (rock).  God knew what he would do through both these men, and he knows what he will do through and in us.

Besides new names and new potential, we are continually being transformed with new  outcomes awaiting us.  Whatever threatened or diminished us in our old habitats is now addressed by us with our new Ruler, as we learn to embrace and assimilate into God’s Kingdom.  And for us, the assimilation is not just a one-time activity.  Paul tells us that as we contemplate him, we are changed into his image (II Corinthians 3:18)—new name, new person.

Do you know what your name means?  Are you living up to the promise it holds?


Father, thank you that you love us enough to continually work in us making us more and more like your beloved Son, Jesus.  We joyfully submit to your ministrations.  In Jesus our Lord.  AMEN.


Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD…  Psalm 33:12

I have been privileged to visit almost every part of our beautiful country.  I’ve met many of our wonderful citizens and seen vistas that rival the most stunning scenes in any part of the world.  We have architectural structures that please and fascinate, and the bounty we experience is historically unprecedented.

This is still the land of opportunity, and we are blessed.  We are still a country where hard work reaps amazing benefits; where anyone can receive an education; where basic healthcare is accessible to all; and where dreams can come true.  Contemplating these blessings, I went to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services’ web page to see how I should respond to the benefits that are provided to me, a citizen of this great country.  This is what I found:

I am to support and defend the Constitution, which outlines the fundamental laws and basic rights of citizens of the United States, discusses the representational form of our government, and specifies the checks and balances of the three branches of government.  If we are Christians, the Bible tells us to pray “for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (I Timothy 2:2).

I should stay informed of the issues affecting my community.  We are to be informed in order to address the needs of those marginalized or to be change agents in matters of wholesome, right living.

I should participate in the democratic process.  The immediate thing we can do is become informed about candidates running for office, contribute time or finance, and then vote.  How can we complain if we don’t vote?

I must respect and obey federal, state, and local laws.  If we don’t like the laws, we work to get them changed.  Otherwise, we respect and obey.

I must respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.  Paul says in Romans 13:10 that “love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”  We don’t have to agree with others, but we do have to love and respect them.

I should participate in my local community.  There are always opportunities to help out.  In this nation that has more volunteers per capita than any other country, we don’t have to go far to find a way to get involved.  Love does.

I must pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities.  Hebrews 13:17 urges us to “ Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves:”  Part of obedience is paying taxes.  After all, even Jesus made a point of paying his and Peter’s tax.

I should serve on a jury when called upon.  I always welcome and respond to the summons for jury duty knowing that I will never be chosen because of my husband’s long career as a state judge.  I once was a defendant in a civil suit, and I was grateful for all the people who were willing to give their time and attention to hear my story (and vote in my favor).

I should defend the country if the need should arise.  I am grateful for all the men and women who have given their lives for all the benefits and honor we enjoy as citizens of the United States of America.

May we all cherish this beautiful country for whom so many gave their all, and may we all do our duty as faithful citizens.  And may God bless America.

Heavenly Father, the blessings of being citizens of this great nation are innumerable.  Thank you for inspiring men and women of long ago to dream, to sacrifice, and to work that we might enjoy the benefits known to so few around the world.  We honor them, and we thank you for the great gift of our country, the United States of America.  AMEN.