As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake. Psalm 17:15


Our missionaries have had an ongoing relationship with Nebbi Diocese in remote, northwest Uganda for more than twenty years. I once spent a six-and-a-half-month visit with them working on a project some years ago, and I return to Nebbi once or twice almost every year. Besides its breathtaking natural beauty, I love the people of Nebbi. They are warm, friendly, and they love Jesus.
In Nebbi, the people have a beautiful greeting for one another. When one approaches the other, he says, “Pakabed ni Yesu,” (meaning “praise Jesus”). And the response is, “Yesu romo,” (“Jesus satisfies.”) Isn’t this a lovely way to greet one another? And the people live in that truth.
Having few financial resources, the Christians of Nebbi have learned to rely on Jesus. My friend Helen prayed for an old gentleman who was experiencing back pains. The next time she saw him, she asked about his health. He looked at her in surprise and remarked that she had prayed for him, and he was fine—of course. The Nebbi folk trust Jesus and look to him every day to supply their daily needs.
In an environment where we have more than we need, I wonder if we know how much we really need Jesus. He told us in John 15:5 that without him we can do nothing. Do we realize how truly impoverished we are without him? And even with all our stuff, are we satisfied unless we’ve found our satisfaction in him?
I came in my office one day and found a lovely pillow that had been embroidered with the text, “Yesu Romo.” One of my young friends had heard me talk about Nebbi and had the pillow made for me. It sits in my favorite chair now and every morning reminds me of the only true source of satisfaction: Jesus.


Father, you open your hands wide and fill us with yourself. Nothing can satisfy us like Jesus. May we never seek those things that only temporarily slake our thirst. Thank you for Jesus. AMEN


Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him… Job 13:15 (KJV)

Who has solved the dilemma of suffering? Even though we may trust God’s love and grace, many of us continue to struggle with his ways. But our quandary doesn’t seem to bother God. He knows what he’s doing, and he often allows pain without any rhyme or reason.
I think the inclusion of the Book of Job in our Bibles is a huge gift. We have the tiniest bit of insight into the back story of Job’s plight. Job is doing everything right, and still he suffers. In his suffering he questions God, the one whom he has pledged to trust even if God chooses to kill him.
The beautiful relationship between Job and God permits the questioning. God isn’t offended. He knows Job’s heart. He knows his integrity, and he knows Job means it when he says, “Though you slay me, I’ll still trust you.” Job trusts even when it doesn’t make sense. He doesn’t question his own righteousness; he doesn’t experience condemnation (except from his friends); and he determines to stay true to God. No matter what.
When Job’s religious friends come to berate his lack of faith and try to uncover his sin, Job doesn’t back down. Even his elders can’t shake that relationship with the One Job has faithfully trusted, and God commends him. The friends are a peripheral issue.
Rather than reprimand him, God turns Job’s attention to his own sovereignty by describing his wonderful works of creation that appeared at his spoken word. Even in listening, no one could have understood God’s marvelous ways. If Job (or anyone else, for that matter) couldn’t understand God’s goodness, how could he (or we) begin to understand suffering and pain?
And yet, God permits good and evil and expects us to hold steady through it all. He who sees the sparrow fall and who clothes the grass of the fields also allows his chosen ones to experience the same suffering that glorified his Son in that dark hour on the cross. God knows that not one particle of our eternal being will perish and always intends the outcome of suffering to be victory through him.
At the end of Job’s story we see his daughters more beautiful than any other girls, and he has more than ever before. Could this be a metaphor for our own painful experiences that evolve into a deeper relationship with our Father and a greater appreciation of his love that is determined to bring many sons (and daughters) to glory?
When God plows up our fields, he always intends a harvest.

Father, we all experience suffering in so many different ways. Thank you for assuring us that randomness is not part of your plan for us. Give us grace to stand, to endure, and to praise. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 (KJV)

Today we celebrate Martin Luther King’s Day and honor him for his contributions to our civil rights. But did you know that January also has designated days to recognize our Pharmacists, our House Plants, National Pie Day, and National Puzzle Day, among others? And the church calendar has feast days named for the saints of the church.
My friend Susan always celebrated First Fridays. She held open house on the first Friday of every month around the calendar. It was a multigenerational event with anyone and everyone invited to have lunch and dine on the numerous culinary treats that Susan relished preparing. The gathering was informal and so warm that everyone loved to drop in.
I just learned about Tuesday Presents. My friend Kay said they are undeserved, no-occasion gifts that are given on Tuesday “just because.” Kay said they are a special way of showing love. Among her Tuesday Presents, my friend says she counts her family and friends, grandchildren’s accomplishments, college acceptance letters, and most particularly, our Savior Jesus Christ.
In reflecting on all these ways that we can celebrate the day and the days, I add the verse from Psalm 118. Today, this day, is the day the Lord has made. And with it come all the blessings we have as his children, those “just because” reasons to rejoice. God made this day and gave it to us. Let’s take advantage of that and be glad.

Lord, thank you for all the “just because” gifts you provide out of your profound love to us. May we rejoice and give you great joy in return. AMEN.


Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:19-21 (KJV)


On his latest visit, my Ethiopian friend Getch was confounded by the proliferation of “storage units” throughout our city. “Whatever are they for?” he wondered. It was difficult for me to explain that Americans have so much stuff that they have to rent additional space to warehouse it. In the whole continent of Africa where most people are happy just to have daily food for their families, the idea of excess was incomprehensible to Getch. And it was a little difficult for me to justify the situation.
In the Bible Jesus is approached by a man who wants him to convince his brother to divide an inheritance. Rather than side with the offended man, Jesus says that life doesn’t consist of lots of things (not what the brother wanted to hear). Jesus goes on to tell the story of the rich man whose harvest was so great, his barns couldn’t hold everything. Instead of opening the barn doors and inviting the poor and needy to help themselves, the rich man decided to tear down the structures and build larger barns so that he could sit back and enjoy his wealth. Jesus calls him a fool. Life isn’t about things.
Have you ever wrecked your dream car? Or had moths eat holes into an expensive Oriental rug? Or had someone accidently break a treasured piece of porcelain? Or even lost a valued possession? Life isn’t about things.
I heard a noted Bible scholar say once that abundance is having enough for the needs of you and your family with something left to share. That’s what those charity bags are all about. This is a great time of the year to open up the barns and pull out everything we don’t need or use. And it’s a good time to open our hearts to see if we’re holding things or if they’re holding us.
What about conducting a little test? Can we readily open up the closets and cupboards and take out those spare items that we’re storing for that rainy day? Things that we might need some year way down the line? What would happen if we all radically began to give generously, even sacrificially? Let’s get our bags out today and see. It IS more blessed to give than to receive.


Father, we are so blessed that sometimes it’s hard for us to let go. Fill us with such gratitude that we joyously open our hearts and hands to those in need—just as you did and do with us. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.




Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail… Job 38:22 (KJV)

A few years ago we visited an orphanage in a village outside Nairobi. We arrived in time for the closing session of the small elementary school and were treated to recitations and musical performances. Scores of precious children in their brown slacks or skirts and white-checked shirts eagerly shared what they’d been learning.
It was near Christmas, and carols were abundant. My favorite song, however, was when they broke out into a cheerful, “Dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh… Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way…” Somehow, I think none of those sweet little children had ever or would ever experience snow, but they loved singing about it.
Here in the southwest, we, too, love to sing and think about snow. Just a few weeks ago, I was leaving a restaurant with my brother and sister-in-law and was surprised to be met by a serious snow flurry. I hadn’t been watching the weather (How many variations of hot to warm can one have in south Texas?) and was startled to see the magical flakes collapsed together in heaps throughout the parking lot. In fact, I had to wait a considerable time until the heater had melted the snow on my windshield so I could safely head home.
The following day a teammate and I headed south for the Rio Grande Valley through an absolute wonderland of white. The route down I37 that we negotiate so often is typically flat, straight, and downright boring. But with barren branches traced in snow, cactus covered with natural frosting, and miles of flat land touched by the unexpected whiteness, the drive delightful. My friend said she wouldn’t have known where she was if road signs hadn’t been visible.
We passed highway workers in bright neon yellow clothing throwing snowballs at one another. Children were constructing their first snow men. Animals were tentative at the wonder around them. And people were smiling.
Obviously, we do not live in the north where snow storms become hazardous, and we do not spend weeks or months shoveling snow or waiting for the plow to arrive. For us in the south, snow is an unexpected pleasure, and this snow was a delightful surprise. Social media was full of snow pictures. Even businesses took note of the snow.
Now with all our technology, resources, and wealth who among us could have brought so much pleasure to so many people with just a word? All the snow machines of the world couldn’t have created the wonderland we enjoyed in south Texas. The snow fell on the just and the unjust without discrimination. Isn’t that just like God? He doesn’t stingily hand out his gifts; they’re for everyone who will to receive. And all his gifts are just reminders of his intense love for his creation and his desire to give joy.
Can you imagine all those tiny snowflakes that God meticulously and individually designs? Apparently, he also delights in what he describes as treasure to be kept in his storehouses (Job 38:22). How many ways does he surprise us with his abundance? How many times do we receive and acknowledge his gifts with gratitude?
Let it snow.


Father, with a word you have created all things. And for your pleasure all things have been created. Thank you for your beauty that is just a foretaste of everything you have for us. AMEN.



Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. John 7:17 (NIV)

My widowed aunt, a transplant from Tennessee, prepared herself every day for the tasks ahead. She styled her hair, put on makeup (her nails were always done), and fortified herself to check all the boxes on her to-do list. Well into her nineties, I stayed with her through her final days, and she would ask if her hair was in place. She mused about her responsibilities and seemed content that no task had been left undone. She had been faithful in all she was given. Auntie greeted her visitors with grace and optimism, never fearing her imminent departure. She was a survivor and had learned that preparation and wholesome activity were foundational for understanding and peace of mind.

In a compilation of George Macdonald’s sermons and writings (Discovering the Character of God), obedience is described as the soul of knowledge. Macdonald elaborates by saying that “upon obedience must our energy be spent; understanding will follow. Until a man begins to obey, the light that is in him is darkness.” Makes sense, doesn’t it? Why should God give us more if we refuse (or delay) to obey what we already know? Essentially, once God gives direction, our spiritual growth (and peace of mind) depend on our following through. We cannot substitute thinking and talking about what God would have us do in lieu of the actual doing of his will.

I read somewhere that procrastination is a form of rebellion. God, you’ve told me what to do, but I’m not ready yet. I’ll push that to the back of the list and work on what makes me more comfortable. Although we know God continues to work in us (Phil. 2:13), how can we expect growth in knowledge and understanding if we fail to do what we already know he’s given us to do? Instead, we must rouse ourselves to trust him to give us what we need when we need it—those tasks that will increase our patience, stretch our faith, grow our compassion, and enlarge our dependence on him. And as we obey, our understanding of him and his ways is increased. God doesn’t will that we ever stop obeying or become stagnant in our growth.

When we find ourselves at a dead end this New Year or wishing God would speak to us, we need to see if we’ve already done what he’s commanded. Oswald Chambers calls it, “…doing the task that lies nearest.” Have all the boxes been checked? Is there one more thing we have yet to do? Something that may be lying far back in the closet gathering dust?

A practical reminder for those times when we may feel a bit heavy in our spirits or tempted with depression or lacking understanding is to get moving. Obey the light that is already in us. God will bring more light (understanding) if we walk in the light that’s already been provided. There’s no need to ever fall prey to doldrums as God’s children. We just get up and start moving.

In our office we have a little reminder: Did you hear about the man who started walking? Well, well, well.

Father, we like new things, new thoughts, new revelations. Give us a will to be obedient to those commands you’ve already given us knowing that understanding follows obedience. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.



Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us… Hebrews 12:1


Happy New Year. I could not resist sharing this “handwritten party invitation sent to their friends” by George and Louisa Macdonald, Dec. 31st, 1885. (Bonfire at 7 p.m., dancing at 8)


Please come on Monday
The day after Sunday,
And mind that you start with
Something to part with;
A fire shall be ready
Glowing and steady
To receive it and burn it
And never return it.
Books that are silly,
Clothes outworn and chilly,
Hats, umbrellas or bonnets,
Dull letters, bad sonnets,
Whate’er to the furnace
By nature calls “Burn us!”
An ancient, bad temper
Will be noted no damper—
The fire will not scorn it
But glory to burn it!
Here every bad picture
Finds refuge from stricture;
Or any old grudge
That refuses to budge,
We’ll make it the tomb
For all sorts of gloom,
The out-of-door path
For every man’s wrath.
All lying and hinting,
All jealous squinting,
All unkind talking
And each other balking,
Let the fire’s holy actions
Turn to ghostly abstractions.
All antimacassars,
All moth-egg amassers,
Old gloves and old feathers,
Old shoes and old leathers,
Greasy or tar-ry,
Bring all you can carry!
We would not deceive you:
The fire shall relieve you,
The world will feel better,
And so be your debtor.
Be welcome then—very—
And come and be merry!

Father, this says it all. We joyously move into the New Year abandoning all to you and expecting great things. In Jesus name. AMEN.