Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:24


Many of us are recovering from the effects of bad weather, especially our friends in the Carolinas. But there are other forms of stormy weather that impact our lives. Just now in my circle of family and friends, one young mother is worrying about the leak in their roof not covered by insurance and with no funds set aside for repairs. Another family has been stunned by the tragic death of their young son. Several friends have been dealing with serious illnesses. A very dear elderly lady is losing both sight and hearing, and her children live in other states. And there are others…
Jesus told the story of two men who built houses—one on sand and one on rock. The storm approached and hit both houses. Jesus said that both houses experienced the same assault: “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house” (Matthew 7:25, 27). Yet, the house that was built on a solid foundation, when it was all over, was still standing.
We build our lives and our families over the course of many years. As believers, we integrate the Word into everything we do, making certain that all our life assumptions are founded on the Rock, Jesus Christ. And then, drawing on the power of the Holy Spirit, we discipline ourselves to be doers of the Word and not just professors.
Does this mean that we don’t feel the effects of the storm? That we don’t suffer along with the sand-builders? Absolutely not. It does mean, however, that when the storm passes—and it will pass—we will not have been destroyed. Our confidence and our faith will not have been shaken. We may have lost some shingles and a bit of siding, but we are still standing in trust, grateful for God’s presence, and secure in his love.
Paul addresses this beautifully: “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed (II Corinthians 4:8, 9).
Storms come, the streams rise, and the winds blow, but when it’s all over—through God’s grace—we will still be standing.


Father, none of us likes storms, but they’re a part of life. Keep us obedient and true to you so that when it’s all said and done, we will be standing, glorifying you. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Matthew 7:3

At one time or another throughout the year, a specialist checks various bodily parts to see if they’re functioning correctly. For my last checkup I saw Dr. Ken, my wonderful ophthalmologist. After numerous tests with various sophisticated machines, he determined that my vision (with my glasses) was excellent.

Actually, I could have told him that. When I’m in the company of others, I can readily see the flaws, clay feet, and areas needing attention in all their lives. And my lunch date today told me that she has that same acuity. It’s so much easier to see perceived weaknesses in others than to identify them in our own lives. I recently read that the world around us is a mirror in which we see ourselves—and that’s why we sometimes don’t like what we see.

How often does someone who genuinely loves us have the boldness to point out the blind spots in our lives? Attitudes or behaviors that wound or that detract from those precious love fruits we so want to share? Jesus wouldn’t have mentioned “blind spots” if they didn’t exist in the lives of his children. And he wants us to be healed—through surgery of the Spirit or through personal discipline (with the help of the Spirit).

So I’m actually thankful that someone who loved me remarked on a trait of which I was totally oblivious. Moi? I admit that I was completely ignorant before that loving revelation, but ever since, I have practiced and prayed to eliminate it. I want my spiritual vision to be just as keen as my physical.

What about you?

Father, we don’t always know ourselves. Sometimes we project images that don’t represent our hearts. Open our eyes; help us to be rid of the “blind spots” and forget about the specks in those other eyes. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:14 NIV


I just this week learned about a new addiction that took an acquaintance’s life. I won’t even describe it to you; it’s bizarre and doesn’t need publicity. And lest you proudly thank God (as did the Pharisee in the temple) that you are not like other weaker people, take a few moments to reflect on those things that do keep us in bondage.

I knew someone who never stopped making fun of people who were overweight and unable to control their eating while he would have been desperate if you’d emptied his candy jars. And then there’s the guy who won’t come close to an illegal substance, but he can’t seem to break away from work. And one of my friends was witness to a tragic accident when a man was trying to get home in time to watch his team’s kickoff. There are all sorts of activities that, were we wrenched from them, we would be either miserable or feel condemned.

Let’s look at this from another perspective. Do you ever allow yourself the freedom to take a day to rest or reflect, to do nothing productive but to refresh your soul? Would the sky fall if you missed church to help a friend? Could you make it through the week if circumstances kept you from your usual Quiet Time? I love Oswald Chambers’ insight that we are sometimes committed to our devotional habits more than to God. Yes, we all tend to have routines and lifestyles that may hold us in bondage. Jesus baffled everyone because of his total freedom in his Father.

I love Webster’s definition of freedom: the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action. In other words, free people can act or be still, come or go, speak or be silent. There is no coercion. I think it’s what Paul spoke about when he said he could eat or not, was content in all circumstances, could be rich or poor. St. Paul was free in all things; there was no compulsion. In his freedom, he chose to move about when Christ beckoned, but he was also at peace when he was a prisoner of Jesus Christ. All things were his in Christ Jesus; he rejoiced always; he was happy to live or die; he companied with emperors, and he was friends with the destitute. That’s freedom.

Freedom is living in Christ without necessity, coercion, compulsion, or constraint. We live, move, have our being, and are complete in him because of his great love for us and ours for him.

Father, set us free. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


When people are brought low and you say, ‘Lift them up!’ then he will save the downcast. Job 22:29


It was one of those days—just like Alexander’s “Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”* Everything that could have gone wrong did. All my morning plans had fallen apart. And then, in returning from the library with my grandson, we were caught in a horrendous traffic jam due to a break in the water main. We got out as quickly as we could—thirty minutes later—only to find ourselves in another jam with people escaping the first. While we waited, I got distracted and rolled into the utility truck ahead of me. (Oh, yes, we were fine and the driver and police officer were both lovely.) When all the reports were filed, and we finally got home, I discovered that I had missed an important appointment that I’d tried to schedule four months earlier. Yes, it was a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” And the biggest annoyance was me.
When I was finally alone that evening and reflecting on the overload of stresses, I was still reeling from an overdose of my own stupidity. But even so, God hadn’t lost his joy, his sovereignty wasn’t affected, his love hadn’t disappeared, his presence hadn’t vanished, his mercy hadn’t failed, and his power wasn’t reduced. In fact, his grace was much more prominent in my weakness, and his reassurance brought comfort even as I remained frustrated.
With thanksgiving I rejoiced that circumstances and my humanity hadn’t confounded God. He is the same yesterday and today and forever and knows completely the dust from which I’m made. He is never surprised at my snafus or silly mistakes. In fact, he reminds me that I live in a world where all creation cries out for redemption, and bumps and “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day[s]” happen. I am to live gratefully through those times, too, knowing that “joy comes.” I am to be still…
God never has bad days.


Father, thank you for keeping us in days that are not our best and for staying with us as we recover from emotional roller coasters. Help us not to think too highly of ourselves and to lean more and more on you in total and absolute dependence. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

*Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst is a children’s classic describing Alexander’s thoughts when his day goes amiss.