And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. Isaiah 30:21 (ESV)


I must admit that it was with a certain sense of trepidation that I backed my car out of the drive this morning. I was to speak at a church in another town, but I wasn’t totally certain how to get there. But I did have a rather reliable helper—Siri. (In the event you don’t know Siri, she’s my personal assistant who lives in my Iphone and is powered by artificial intelligence.) Siri told me which streets would take me to the interstate highway I needed for the journey.

And a few miles before I was to turn, Siri would warn me that at a certain point I would turn right or left and the exit number to take. If there were optional roads, she would tell me that my route was down the second (or third) turn. But she didn’t lay out the whole route prior to my leaving. Siri just spoke to me as I traveled. And, finally, after I’d listened and heeded throughout my drive, Siri announced that my destination was on the right. Sure enough, I’d reached the church where I would be speaking, and I was on time. What a wonderful relief.

Now Siri and artificial intelligence (AI) are relatively new aides for the many tasks of our daily lives, but as believers we’ve had access to SI (Spirit intelligence) from the beginning of our faith walks. Jesus told us that the Comforter Whom he would send would teach, guide, help, remind, seal, free, anoint, empower, witness, strengthen, fill, and so many other things. It so happens that our Spiritual Helper is able to do so much more than any earthly power and is instantly accessed with just a call. But, like Siri, he doesn’t tell us the whole route prior to departure. In fact, he guides us a step at a time, and as we listen and follow, we find that we always arrive at the desired location.

If you’ve not read the book of Acts recently, I encourage you to do so. (It is said that the average American watches about 3 hours of television daily, but you could take just a little over 2 of those hours and instead read the entire account of the work of the Holy Spirit in the First Church. And I believe you’ll be so much more enriched than the TV viewing that you miss.) It’s amazing how God took ordinary people and empowered them to do extraordinary things through his Spirit. Of course, they did signs and wonders, and miracles were wrought through those early followers. But the more astonishing thing, I believe, was the radical transformation of timid, unlearned, back-country people into mighty people of God. They were strengthened through the power of the Holy Spirit to live and think and act as followers and lovers of Jesus.

They were just like us, and just like them we can open ourselves to God’s infilling and be led and anointed and strengthened to live Jesus-lives, doing his will, and glorifying him. And we never need to be lost in our world. With just a quick call, we have his direction and everything we need for life and godliness.

(Did I mention I also returned home safely and with no hassle?)


Heavenly Father, fill us with your Spirit that we may be everything you want us to be. Lead us, guide us, empower us. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.



…we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. Romans 8:28 The Message.

I’m preparing a lesson for Sunday school about prayer—answered and unanswered—that I’ll be teaching in a few weeks, and here are a few preliminary thoughts.

First, prayer is totally relational. Prayer has nothing to do with getting things from God, but it’s all about moving closer to God. As we develop intimacy with our Father, we begin to understand that “every detail in our lives is worked into something good.”  (One of my friends said this should be followed by—“eventually.” A trusting relationship with our heavenly Father believes that he deeply loves us and will take the beautiful happenings together with the disappointments and heartbreaks and weave them all together into good for his beloved child.

The proper sequence in our life of discipleship goes something like this: facts>faith>feelings. The facts always precede faith, and feelings are a far distant third. So what are the facts? The facts are all contained in God’s Word, such things as:
• God rewards those who diligently seek him (Heb. 11:6);
• He tells us to call him and promises to answer (Jer. 33:3);
• He tells us to ask (Matt. 7:7);
• James says we don’t possess because we don’t ask (Jas. 4:2);
• James also says that we don’t receive because we ask for the wrong things (Jas. 4:3); and…
• The Psalmist says God doesn’t listen when there’s sin in our hearts (Ps. 66:18).

These are a few of the many facts that we can rely on. Some people call them the “promises” of God. Then faith follows the facts, for “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). It’s difficult to know the facts, or promises, if we’re not familiar with what our Father says in his Word.

When it comes to feelings, only a few moments of reflection confirm that feelings can be good or bad, happy or sad, depending on what we ate, our mood, traffic, and a score of other things. Feelings are fickle and must be disciplined in order to consistently live out our faith.

Oswald Chambers says that prayer doesn’t change things. Prayer changes us, and we change things. We can’t do what God does, but he won’t do what we can do. So, no matter the outcome of our prayers, we’re always richer, and God is glorified because of them.

Father, you told us to pray without ceasing. Thank you for the privilege of this ongoing conversation with you. Remind us of that treasure. AMEN.