So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. II Peter 1:9

I have the same routine every morning. I grab my robe and slippers, and Edward and Frances and I head downstairs to the back yard where the puppies will take care of business and check to see who may have visited through the night. I flip on the switch that activates the fountain so the fish get a little exercise, and the water is aerated.
We come back upstairs; I grab a cup of tea; and then we go into my tiny library where I pull back the draperies on two sets of windows. I open the French doors (even in the cold) so the puppies can observe the neighborhood waking up and say hello to their friends next door. But the French doors have a deeper significance for me.
Initially, the outlook is completely black; darkness veils everything. I begin my devotional reading in my cozy armchair, and as time progresses the stark outline of bare branches can be seen through the open doors. I continue reading, and eventually the grayness brings a bit more clarity to the scene. Then comes a soft golden light that touches the surrounding rooftops and reveals the squirrels who are busily collecting nuts and scurrying from limb to limb. Finally, by the time my prayers are done, I open my eyes to see the whole panorama clear and bright from the blaze of the fully awakened sun.
Is this not something like our spiritual progress? We begin in darkness, moving slowly by faith and the little knowledge we have. Then we begin to see the outlines of the life we have chosen with Christ, and we ask the Spirit’s guidance in making sense of these foundational truths. As we continue to walk by faith, diligently obeying the truths we are learning, the light becomes brighter (Prov. 4:18). And we discover that staying in the Word, studying and responding through our daily actions, the light of understanding brings clarity to those ancient truths that have guided saints through the ages.
The light doesn’t come all at once. New babes in Christ are not expected to understand all things, but we are not to stay babes. We are expected to study the Word so that we can understand and discern God’s Truth (II Tim. 2:15) and thereby grow and enjoy him. God has given us the precious opportunity to increase our intimacy with him during our time on earth. And as we get better acquainted, our love and appreciation for him grows.
Let the light dawn in our hearts.


Precious Father, break forth into our lives with your Light that we may better know, understand, and walk with you. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Luke 2:12


On this Christmas Day it is with joy and awe that we approach the Babe, God Incarnate, Ruler of the Universe, tiny, vulnerable, and accessible to any and all who seek him. Jesus Christ from birth, appointed to bring salvation, not only to his own people, but to all those who were far off.


From the beginning there were signs, hints and clues, as to whom this wondrous Baby would be and what his ministry would entail. An angel appeared to his mother and father to foretell his birth; Wise Men were guided by a star to confirm his royalty; shepherds were surrounded by God’s glory and the angels’ announcement of Messiah; and Simeon and Anna affirmed the birth of the Promised One.


But have you noticed an obscure little clue that was present at the beginning when the angels appeared to the shepherds? The angel said to them, “You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” In French, the word manger (mahn-zhay) means “to eat.” Among his many “I Am” descriptors (self-description statements), Jesus would call himself the Bread of Life (John 6:35).  In whatever language the words would be translated, this Messiah would say, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life…”(John 6:54)


Was it coincidental that Jesus would be found lying in a place where one would expect to find nourishment? The Son of God came to this world to bring Life—physical, emotional, spiritual—and only as we partake of him do we accrue to ourselves the fulfillment of this promise. As if to underscore this wonder, Jesus twice took handfuls of bread to feed the multitudes and to demonstrate his identity as Bread of Life. And as he handed out bits of broken bread to his disciples on that fateful night, he told them, “…eat, this is my body” (Matt. 26:26).


And in eating Jesus promises us, “… whoever comes to me shall not hunger” (John 6:35). In taking what Jesus offers, ingesting and chewing on it, and then swallowing and consuming it we participate in eternal life. Our hunger is satisfied; we are transformed; and nothing else will ever fulfill us.
On this Christmas Day, let us reverently approach the Baby lying in a manger.


O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel.


Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life? II Peter 3:11 (The Message)

I woke up the other morning with a thought running through my head: Live in the light of eternity. I’ve been pondering that phrase over and over. What does it mean to free ourselves of the parameters of this temporal life and live as if eternity were already with us, for, in truth, it is. What would it be like to live with abandonment under the reign of Jesus Christ? What alterations would we make?
For starters, I thought of Paul’s determination to “[forget] those things which are behind, and [to reach] forth unto those things which are before” (Phil 3:13). The failures and the successes are all behind. They belong to another time. I am to learn from them; cast them on the stream of time; and let them go. Look forward to the things God has ahead.
I will forgive just as my Father has forgiven me. Eternity doesn’t permit unforgiveness. There’s no place for grudges, bitterness, or demonstrations of pettiness. Instead, I can shower love and pray blessings on friends and foes alike.
God is our Father. I must become even more aware of my brothers and sisters throughout the world who are part of the Family and Body of Christ. God is not exclusive. All are welcome in his Family. Eternity is an opportunity to practice oneness in Christ. I can help to bear someone else’s burdens; weep and rejoice with others; and build others up. And I can find ways to encourage his love to flow through me.
Living in eternity’s light will find me walking in the Spirit and abiding in Christ. I will listen for his every word and watch for his appearances. I will be sensitive to his direction. I will fellowship in his presence and look forward to my times with him.
I will be kind to others, preferring them before myself. I will practice compassion; become a healer; pour myself out for others; and be broken bread for a hurting world. I will intentionally make time and room in my heart for others.
“All things come from [the Lord]”(I Chron. 29:14), and everything I receive comes from his hands. In eternity’s light I will enjoy his blessings and embrace afflictions confident that when he plows, he purposes a crop.
I will crucify everything prefixed with “self-“, e.g. self-conscious, self-made, self-image, self-esteem. The list goes on. I give myself far too much credit and attention while at the same time accept far too much guilt. In eternity’s light I will welcome opportunities to deny the flesh and die to self (Galatians 2:20).
I will live praising, rejoicing, and worshiping. My joy is in the Lord. He is worthy of and inhabits the praises of his children. We rejoice in hope and trust of him and his Word, knowing he does not fail, and his Word is true.
In eternity’s light I will rest in Christ. I trust him. I root out all anxiety. Jesus is peace and speaks peace into our trust and obedience. Trusting his faithfulness dispels fear, suppositions, and anxiety.
I will submit to his discipline. A good father loves and wants only the best for his children. A wise father does what is needed to train and teach his children for maturity. I will welcome his discipline.
I will wait on him trusting that he is always working and that he will “present me faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24).
I will see Jesus everywhere and in everything. The God of the universe is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent.
In awe, I will live with thanksgiving for unmerited blessings, goodness, and mercy that have followed me and brought me to live in the light of eternity.
Now it’s your turn. This is just an introductory list. How would you begin to live in the light of eternity?

Father, we know that once we are born, we have eternal life. Open our understanding of how, then, we should live. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8


How many times have you quoted Jesus’ departing words to his disciples, those words that were intended to strengthen and comfort them (and us): “Surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). When we’re children, we remind ourselves of this word so that we’re not afraid – Jesus is with me. And when we’re navigating the rough patches of adulthood, those words still keep us going. Jesus is with me.
But, truth be told, the tangible presence of our Lord is sometimes missing during the unexplained. We may not see him when we’re suffering injustice. When the pain pushes us to the point of despair, we may look around for Jesus and wonder about that promise.
I was thinking about this word of truth from Matthew, and it must be true because Jesus said it, and wondering how it could occasionally seem so baffling. There are times when we just don’t see Jesus. So how can he always be with us—even until the end?
And then I remembered something we often proclaim—we are the hands and feet of Jesus, and he lives in us. With the Holy Spirit and Jesus living in us we are to be the fulfillment of that promise to one another and to a very lonely world. We are to comfort, love, encourage, uphold, bless, heal, and be everything God would minister through us for the occasion.
In my international work, we send teams around the world, but it’s always to places where we have established “feet on the ground,” those people who represent us and speak and act for us. Just like that, we are God’s feet on the ground acting and moving and speaking for him. We are God’s reminders that he’s always with his children.
Yes, we are all to live by faith, and we realize his presence never leaves us, and he won’t forsake us. We practice abiding, living, and having our being in him. And we know that nothing separates us from his love (Romans 8:35-39). But if we are to allow him to continue to grow in us, we must obey him in making ourselves available channels through which his Spirit can flow and bless and refresh. And we are to be humble and receptive to the other members of Christ’s Body who are sent to walk with us.
Do you know someone who needs to see Jesus just now? Someone who would love to have him show up? Be there—for him and for them.
Sweet Father, thank you that all your promises are yes and amen. Help us to see our part in their fulfillment. We give you all glory. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.



 A voice of one calling:  “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; straight in the desert a highway for our God.”  Isaiah 40:3




In the liturgical church, the season of Advent precedes Christmas and is a time of waiting and preparation for Jesus’ birth.  It should be a time of reflection and of readying our hearts for a season of renewal in Christ to see what new thing he will birth in us.


Matthew 25 tells us about wise and foolish virgins.  They were all waiting for the bridegroom to come so they could participate in the festivities.  Five of the women had spent time in preparation, making certain they would be ready for the bridegroom’s arrival.  The other women either hadn’t prepared or hadn’t anticipated the long wait.  All the virgins knew the bridegroom was coming, but only half of them had gotten ready for his arrival.  The other half missed the whole event. 


Advent charges us to prepare for Christ’s inauspicious coming, not the gawdy commercialization tempting to distract us in so many ways.  Even the shopper’s countdown to December 25 is filled with a sense of urgency.  But Advent quietly draws us into relationship with him, into his peace, into his love, into his wholeness.  Yes, it’s a precious time of waiting and preparation.


Here are just a few things we can do to get ready for Jesus:


Thoughtfully, reread the Christmas story in Luke’s Gospel (1:5-56; 2:1-20).  Prayerfully, in your mind’s eye, become a participant of the wonder of Jesus’ incarnation.


Make an Advent Wreath, light a candle each week, and read an Advent devotion (


Meditate on the meaning of Christ’s coming for the world.


The French verb, manger, means “to eat.”  How could this possibly relate to the life of the Babe lying in the manger?


List the many ways Emmanuel has affected your life.


Find ways to demonstrate Christ’s love for others (


Sit quietly in contemplative prayer, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak.


To enjoy this beautiful season, we have to intentionally engage with Christ Jesus rather than getting distracted by the mad rush of buying, and cooking, and festivities.   Do the shopping and cooking and celebrating, but keep Jesus at the forefront of everything.  (A little preplanning helps.)


May this Advent season find us all closer to our Lord, sitting with Mary at his feet, and not busy about so many things that we miss out on his coming.


Father, the world is so much with us that we often miss out on the joy of being in your presence.  Remind us to stop and wait for you; to be still and know.  Our hearts are willing.  Help us to rest in you.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.



…his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness… II Peter 1:3 (KJV)

I’m learning to use my new “Think Pad,” after the demise of my ancient laptop. My technician friend spent about an hour with me yesterday explaining the new features. And then he left a full-page list of directions among which are these sorts of instructions: Think twice before installing software that didn’t come from the manufacturer. Do not install browsers that didn’t come from the manufacturer. Don’t install malware software; you already have it. You have everything you need.
If there are any of you who don’t understand computer jargon, essentially my technician said, Just use what was installed by the manufacturer and not anything that comes from anyone else. You already have everything you need. And his note was written all in capital letters, which in computerese is like shouting or at least strongly emphasizing the message.
As I reflected on this, I thought about the times I look outside God’s provisions for an easier or better way to address my concerns. Perhaps that person could give me insight; that new book might shed light on the matter; or there may be a technique I haven’t yet tried. You know what I mean.
I recently was tempted to fret about a relational matter. I examined the situation from one side and then the other. I stewed about what seemed too complex to unwind. I knew to cast my cares on the Lord, but as soon as I had the opportunity, I hashed the whole thing out with a trusted person. Of course, that didn’t bring satisfaction, so I thought about contacting a counselor. In the meantime, I had created more than a tempest in a teapot.
I wish I’d had Ric’s directions to remind me to use only what was installed by the Manufacturer. You already have everything you need. God has, not will, already provided everything we need that pertains to life and godliness. He has said that we’re not to be anxious about anything but to pray and give thanks, and then God’s peace will fill our hearts and minds.  And there are so many other wonderful promises we can access when necessary.
After struggling with my concern and allowing it to distract me from the peace and trust that was already mine in Christ Jesus, I released the care and cast it on the Lord just as was advised in the Manufacturer’s directions. I haven’t added an inch to my stature or changed the circumstances, but I’ve put the issue where it belongs—on Jesus’ shoulders. And he’s giving grace that I need to move forward.
I’m going to keep Ric’s reminders close at hand: You already have what you need; use only what came from the Manufacturer; don’t add anything to that.

Father, thank you for the many ways you remind us to listen to you and to rely on your provisions. Forgive me when I forget. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.