Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.  Jude 24, 25 (KJV)


Do you ever worry about “blowing it” spiritually?  That maybe, just maybe, you might fail?  In our imperfect state, it’s not surprising that from time to time we might be tempted to look at our faults and worry that we won’t be capable of sustaining faith for the long run.  That’s TEMPTATION.  But we must remember that temptation speaks to possibility, not to reality.

Paul succinctly addresses that frightening possibility with these powerful words, “… sin  shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace”  (Romans 6:14 NIV).  Does that mean we’ll never again sin—that the potential to miss the mark has been eliminated because of our relationship with Jesus Christ?  That’s not what Paul is saying.  He’s telling us that since we’ve come to faith in Christ, we have a choice in our behavior:  now we can choose to always follow Jesus in obedience (not sinning) or we can fall back into self-indulgent behavior, which leads to sinning.  BUT there’s Jesus waiting to receive our confession as we repent; he forgives our sins and sets our feet on the right path again.

I heard a preacher once say that for Christians, the Ten Commandments now read, “You won’t want any other God.  You won’t want to have idols.  You won’t want to misuse God’s name.  You want to love your neighbor as yourself in word and action.”  The Law is now being fulfilled through God’s love and the power of the Holy Spirit in us.

As new creations in Christ Jesus (being re-created and made more like him every day), we now understand that we don’t have to walk around on spiritual egg shells.   Instead, we walk in total freedom knowing that he is able and he is the one who keeps us from falling.  All we have to do is abide in him and allow him to abide in us.

He doesn’t just keep us from falling, but one day he will present us faultless with great joy.  He does it all as we cooperate with him, and he receives all the glory.


Father, thank you for good news that we can live every single day without fear of falling.  You have the power to keep us, and you constantly work in us to make us just like you.  THANK YOU.  AMEN.


Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.  Psalm 27:14


It doesn’t take long to discover that seriously pursuing the life of faith and its Author, Jesus Christ, is not for sissies.  God seems to delight in stretching us – far beyond what we think is comfortable.   You don’t have to consider yourself a spiritual giant to get stretched.  All it takes is determination to live as Jesus teaches us.

In my lifetime I have experienced the stretching of family crises, serious health issues, financial scarcity, and just about everything that everyone alive goes through.  But sometimes waiting for little things can push me to the tipping point.

Take my summer of home repairs, for instance.  After a coupling in a bathroom broke and flooded much of my house, I waited – for the insurance process (thank you, Lord), movers (ALL the furniture had to be removed), and repairs.  While I waited, I added a request for patience and every good spiritual fruit God can give so that my constant companions (the workmen) would see Jesus.

During the wait time, my faithful refrigerator decided to die after only twenty-seven years.  And then the dishwasher died at seventeen years.  Termites chewed through a front porch post holding up the balcony, and the exterminators disappeared.  Lord, I really need patience.  The upholsterer who was making cushions lost my fabric.  My phone died, and that cup of hot tea spilled all over my laptop.  Then the contractor came in with his proposal for additional repairs needed in the kitchen.  I almost cried.

In the night as I lay in bed talking to the Lord, my conversation took on an edge that let me know I was being tempted to worry (hysteria?).  I’ve already learned that’s totally counterproductive.  I asked the Lord to help me be still and then I “heard,” Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5, 6)I relinquished those cares and waited to see what he would do.

Within the next few weeks I got a new (improved) phone, repaired the laptop, forgave the exterminator, replaced the post, and ordered new appliances—with the funds that just happened to come in.  Rather than stress about the contractor’s proposal that was way over budget, I waited to see how God would lead.

Someone recommended this painter; then someone suggested I try that tile man; and someone else said he had a great cabinet maker for the ‘fridge and dishwasher front panels.  As I’ve waited, these everyday stressors are being addressed by a good Father who understands that little things can cause great angst and is sending the help I need, one day and one person at a time.

The work in my kitchen isn’t complete yet, but the work in my spirit astonishes me.  I’m still very much a work in progress, but I am finding that trusting, acknowledging, and listening is so much better than stressing.  And I am meeting some really lovely people as I wait.


Father, you’ve done it again.  You’ve appeared in the middle of my frustrating circumstances, and you’re doing something really good.  What you’ve done inside me has become so much more valuable that what I see in my house.  Thank you for allowing these annoying circumstances to be such an enrichment.  AMEN.


After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.  Revelation 7:9

I have the privilege of working with courageous missioners who have joyously given their lives to share Jesus with people around the world.  George and his family have served Christ in the Philippines for many years and recently sent me this beautiful reflection.  He gave me permission to use it here:

I live in a very crowded city, Manila, the densest city in the world. What would normally be a 15 minute drive in the USA can take up to 6 hours here on account of so many cars. People get irritated, and it’s hot.

All around me are represented the 180 or so languages that exist in the Philippines. One day there will be people from every one of these languages standing among the great multitude, offering praise in their language (tongue) to our Father. That is why I came here, to be stuck in this crowd for now so that one day they can join us before the Father in a much bigger crowd and with way more than 180 languages praising God.

On that day, we won’t be irritated at the tightness of the crowd but will rejoice that we have all been forgiven, redeemed, and can stand in his glory before the throne. I think I will stand in the Filipino section.


Heavenly Father, I thank you for all your devoted servants around the world who share you gladly in word and in deed.  Thank you for calling each one of us to service in your Kingdom.  AMEN.


Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Exodus 20:8  NIV


Keeping Sabbath (or Sunday, whatever your tradition) seems mostly to be a thing of the past.  Some of us remember the time in our country when many stores and places of business were closed on Sunday, the “Lord’s Day.”  That was also the day most people went to church.

Orthodox Jews still honor the Sabbath as a day to rest, refrain from work, and to contemplate the coming Messiah.  Many follow certain restrictions regarding travel and other activities.

But the point of this reflection is self-examination of our own Sabbath/Sunday practices.  How do we keep the Sabbath day holy?  Isaiah (58:13, 14) expands on this thought:

 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,

Then you will find your joy in the Lord…”

 Do our Sundays look any different from other days of the week?  Do we do as we please on Sunday?  Or do we set aside the day as holy unto the Lord?  Is our Sabbath practice a delight to the Lord?  Is our conversation different on Sunday?

I remember reading about the Billy Graham household when his children were growing up.  Ruth Graham ensured that Bible stories and games were available to the children and made Sundays a special day when the children could give themselves and their time to the Lord and each other.  Sundays were not just another day for entertainment but rather a time to spend together with God.

What does your Sabbath/Sunday look like?  Is it a delight to the Lord or the same old pursuit of self-indulgence?  Is it spent in loving others or is it one more day of narcissism?  I rather like the first part of Isaiah 58:14 that informs us of the joy we will find when we make the Sabbath a delight.  Worth trying, isn’t it?


Father, restore to us the joy of keeping Sabbath, even if it means we have to change our whole Sunday itinerary.  A radical shift could be just what we need.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.



For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Matthew 7:2  (NIV)


My friend Maria was traveling in South America in a city known for its high crime rate.  She had a business appointment and wanted to reach her destination as soon as possible.  She noticed that the cab driver had been traveling a circuitous route from the time he picked her up.  Having lived a number of years in New York where cabbies would often drive out of their way in order to hike rates, Maria became rather annoyed but didn’t say anything.  She later learned that kidnappings occurred whenever someone stopped for a red light, and her driver had been turning a different direction any time he saw the red lights—to keep her safe.

How often do we make judgments of people based on our personal experiences or evaluation of their character?  Jesus told us that we are not to judge (Matt. 7:1), and if we do, we’ll be judged by the same measure.  Do we look at others with mercy and compassion, making allowances for background or circumstances?

What about the rule of love?  Love doesn’t dishonor others; it doesn’t delight in evil; it protects and hopes; and it never fails (I Cor. 13).  The Golden Rule that we like to have applied to ourselves should remind us that “what goes ‘round comes ‘round.”  Let us love, not judge.  Besides, Oswald Chambers says there’s always one more thing you don’t know about that other person…


Father, thank you for the grace that covers us.  If you should mark iniquities, who would stand?  We’ve all fallen short of your righteousness and constantly need your mercy.  Help us, in turn to be merciful.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.


My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  John 15:12  (NIV)


Sermons are all around us—if we have eyes to see and ears to hear.  The totality of Jesus’ life was a seismic paradigm shift from the letter to the spirit of the law.  When he said, “Love one another,” he was pointing toward an internal work of the Spirit that would carry believers beyond the obligatory going the first mile and perfunctory forgiveness into abandoned display of God’s love through us.

That’s what we saw that twilight in Uganda.  I had asked our guide if we could please see some lions, a lion?  We traveled through miles of dusty roads cut through the game preserve, and then we stopped.  Just in front of our van was a gorgeous male lion at the side of the road under a bush only yards from us.  His tail politely, but effectively, stretched across the path blocking our further approach.  In his golden aura, he quietly surveyed us and his kingdom.

Momentarily, a second lion, as splendid as the first, arrived, and the lions embraced.  Their greeting was warm, full of affection, and deeply moving.  Not the National Geographic attack that we’d been programmed to see.

Four years ago when the first lion was found by park rangers, his leg had been caught in a poacher’s trap, and infection had already gone to the bone.  The resident vet determined that the leg had to be amputated to save the lion’s life.  And so it was that the king of the jungle was no longer able to hunt or protect himself.  But his brother appeared, and for four years the brother has walked with him and guarded him, and the females have brought him food.

We watched in silence.  Loving one another.  That’s what we saw.


Father, you’ve told us that the animals will teach us.  Help us to love the weak, the marginalized, the needy, and all those you’ve put in our lives—just as you love us.  In Jesus our Lord.  AMEN.


…but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.  I Samuel 30:6b  (KJV)

I’ve always found this verse from I Samuel intriguing.  While David and his motley crew were off doing battle, their camp had been attacked, and all the women and children had been taken away.  Things were so bad that his own men were speaking of stoning him.  David had nowhere to turn.

I doubt that any of us has ever been in such a desperate situation, but we may feel at one time or another that we have no place to turn.  Everyone has forsaken us, and there’s no help in sight.

Look at what David did:  he encouraged himself—in the Lord.  He didn’t give up because there was no shoulder to cry on, no counselor to give wise advice.  He went straight to God for encouragement.  He knew his help was in the Lord, that God was his strong fortress, and that he could run to him and find safety.

If we’ve ever confessed that Jesus Christ is Lord and that the Holy Spirit lives in us, we, too, will always find a place of safety whatever the crisis.  We can cry out to God and expect his comfort and find encouragement in him.  If we’ve been put in a solitary place for a time, we really have all we need in the Lord.  He will sustain; he will lift; he will guide; and he will protect.  All we need do is go to him.

So, what happened to David?  He went directly to the Lord who, as always, provided guidance.  David pursued his enemies, at God’s direction, and all that had been taken was recovered.  Because David encouraged himself in the Lord.


Father, how often do we rush elsewhere for help when all we have to do is turn to you?  Forgive us for our shortsightedness and draw us to your side that we may glorify you.  In Jesus name.  AMEN.


The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.  Psalms 37:23  (KJV)

When the Givors police determined that our carjacking hadn’t occurred in their jurisdiction, they turned us over to the police nationale in their mountainside headquartersThe cordial officer led us to a spacious office/converted bedroom in a former manor house, and we retold the events of our carjacking.


The new policeman glanced at the paperwork we had brought with us from the Givors gendarmes and dramatically tossed the packet over his shoulder.  “Pas bon.  [No good.] We will begin again,” he offered with a smile.  The police showered us with hospitality, bringing pastries and tea as we answered another set of questions.

Various officers came in to join the process, asking us about our lives in the States, why we were in the heartland of France, and if we were enjoying the trip thus far.  One would think this was a part of the Grand Tour—they were so hospitable.  In comparison to the intense interrogation of the Givors police, the police nationale were totally at ease, as if they’d done this before…

A number of cookies and several cups of tea later, the phone rang.  The officer answered, asked a few questions and gave clipped responses, and then he hung up.  “We have your car,” he announced.  “You do?” we asked in unison.  “Oui, we have found your car,” he repeated.  “What about our luggage?  Are our tickets there?  Did they find our passports?” we both asked at the same time.  “Oui, everything.  We have everything,” was the surprising answer.

“But how did they recover the car with everything in it,” Peter persisted.  “Monsieur Juge,” the man responded, “the young men who took your car pulled over to the side of the road to open your suitcases to see what was inside, and it seems that someone interrupted them, and they fled.  They left everything as it was.”  (Coincidentally, the time the men were “interrupted” was about the same time that our prayer group was meeting at home.)

After a round of handshakes and kisses on all cheeks, we were again shuttled into a police car to head for the nearby police garage.  Sure enough, our car was there with all the luggage, clothes, airline tickets, passports, credit cards, and even my purse.  My French francs were gone, but Peter had pocketed his wallet with cash when he had first jumped out of the car.  We still had adequate funds.  We paid the garage attendant, said goodbye to the police, got back on the road, and thanked God for the adventure he’d arranged with lots of stories for our children and grandchildren.

I could hardly wait to tell Lynn and our friends about all the answers to prayer we’d experienced in response to their faithful intercessions.  We couldn’t have planned a more exciting and interesting journey.


Lord, you took what could have been a very serious situation with injury and loss and turned it into an adventure we’ll never forget.  Thank you for friends who pray and thank you for constantly watching over us.  AMEN.



For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways…  Psalm 91:11 (NIV).


The thought of praying for adventure may seem a bit hedonistic to some.  I didn’t pray the prayer, but when my friend did, I accepted it as a gift from God.  I have learned that God orders all our steps (Ps. 37:23), is never surprised at occurrences in our lives (Isa. 46:10), and doesn’t just stay in a church building (Ps. 139:9-12).  Furthermore, he has given us all things to enjoy (I Tim. 6:17).  It’s when we start looking for him in every circumstance that we begin to see him (II Kings 6:17).  And that’s what we were doing on this memorable vacation.



Peter and I were stranded on the side of the autoroute just outside the little village of Givors, near Lyon, France.  The sun was going down, and a soft rain had begun to fall.  When the carjackers left us, they took everything:  passports, airline tickets, French francs, and our suitcases full of clothes.  We must have looked strangely out of place there on the edge of the road:  two Americans, one in a business suit and tie and the other in slacks with a bright orange turtle-neck jumping up and down with arms frantically waving.

I was the jumper.  Surely, I thought, some kind person will be attracted by my bright sweater and obvious distress.  And, eventually, someone did stop—a curious young man who listened and was sympathetic to our plight.  He took us to the emergency telephone, called the police, and waited with us for their arrival.

For the second time, we told our story to the dutiful gendarmes who meticulously wrote every detail on their little pads.  By the time we were safely in their patrol car, the rain was pouring, and I was seated by the broken window that refused to close.  The whole plot was beginning to remind me of Inspector Clouseau of Pink Panther fame.  Naïve tourists carjacked, aided by friendly passerby, rescued by energetic policemen.

Even though I was being inundated, our brave heroes insisted on driving back and forth down the autoroute to ascertain exactly where we had been carjacked.  (Jurisdiction is extremely important in the Givors village, and the police didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes.)  Only when it was determined the precise spot where we had been hit and robbed did we proceed to headquarters.

Peter patiently spent the next several hours filling out reams of reports and answering the eager policemen.  (This might have been the most excitement they’d had in weeks.)  I worked with another team of police trying to reach home to cancel our credit cards – they were also in the stolen car.  I tried to emphasize the importance of quickly canceling the cards and the need to reach my mom, but the dauntless policeman insisted on making the call himself.  In heavily accented English, he said the few words he knew telling my mom that he was a policeman and had my daughter with him.  My mother, thinking someone was pulling a prank, hung up on him.  Several tries later, I was actually talking to Momo, explaining what had happened and thanking God that we hadn’t been hurt.

Later, the police released us for the night saying they would conduct further investigations the next day.  We got into the squad car, stopped at a drug store for toothbrushes and toothpaste, and were soon deposited at the Hotel of the Station (Hôtel de la Gare).  With great warmth we were bid à bientot  and left to register and find our way to our room.

Since it was after midnight, the proprietor was probably asleep, but he courteously guided us up the darkened spiral stairway to our second floor room.  When the door handle fell off in his hand, Peter did laugh, and we settled in at the Hôtel de la Gare .  Throughout the night, the room vibrated as every train going through Givors passed under our window.  And the rain was falling.

In the darkness, laughter and a song kept bubbling up, “All day, all night, angels watching over me, my Lord…”  With his typical dry humor, Peter intoned that we have would no longer have to worry about the crazy drivers on the autoroute.

Numbers of trains later, we joined our police friends in the bar where they were drinking coffee.  We had a quick breakfast and were prepared to return to headquarters when the gendarmes announced a change of plans.  The hierarchy had determined that the crime had not occurred in their jurisdiction, so we were being turned over to the police nationale.

After a drive up into the hillside, we arrived at the headquarters of the police nationale, a butter-colored manor house with patrol cars scattered about.  The officer in charge greeted us, spoke briefly to our departing friends, and we exchanged au revoirs.  Then we turned to the new agent de police who beamed at us and directed, “Follow me to zee bedroom.”

Join me on Thursday to see how God’s providence not only protected us but provided more than we could have asked or thought.


Father, thank you for parents who taught me that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord.  And thank you that you blessed me with a healthy sense of humor.  You have enriched me at every turn.  AMEN.