Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 2:6 (NLT)

Have you read “Pilgrim’s Progress” recently? That venerable tome written by John Bunyan was first published in the 17th Century as a result of time spent in Bedford jail in England and, apart from the Bible, became the best-selling book in publishing history.
In “Pilgrim’s Progress” Christian leaves the City of Destruction in a perilous journey to the Celestial City. As long as he obeys his guides, remembers the teachings, and holds to the path, he escapes the dangers inherent along the way. When he becomes distracted, he finds himself beset by any number of disturbances that cause him great grief and, occasionally, great pain. But there is always help for him.
Even though written hundreds of years ago, the path for pilgrims is still the same. Distractions abound and temptations surround the Christian. Just as the Pilgrim made progress by keeping to the path, by obeying those things he had been taught, and by keeping his focus on the Celestial City and the King, we can successfully negotiate the narrow way. We have a Guide who can be trusted, and experience should teach us the merits of listening to him rather than formulating our own direction.
Let us take advantage of this upcoming New Year to learn and become more astute in recognizing distractions as a danger to our growth and advancement. And we can set our sights on the high calling in Christ Jesus who has promised always to be with us and to lead us home.
Take time to read (or re-read) Bunyan’s classic. It will affirm, encourage, and inspire you.  And you very well may identify with some of the characters and much of the journey.


Father, thank you for those who have gone before us and who share their wisdom with those who follow. May we do the same. AMEN.



Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?  Jeremiah 8:22


Nighttime pain seems to go on and on, and the hours seem excruciatingly longer.  But finally, morning comes.

Just before daybreak several weeks ago, I called my son who lives fairly close by, and I told him I needed to go to the hospital.  The pain was becoming as much as I could bear, and I needed help.

Does everyone wait until the pain becomes intolerable before asking for help?  Or to make an appointment with the counselor?  Or to check in with a physical therapist?  Why we wait so long is not the point.  When the pain becomes more than we can bear, we usually ask for help.

So why is it that when we begin to have emotional or psychological angst, we find a way to cover it with distractions or denial, anything that makes the pain subside?  Except that it doesn’t go away.  It’s merely repressed.  Emotional or physical pain DOES NOT GO AWAY.  Time does not heal all wounds.

Just as an elevated temperature indicates infection in the body or unusual discomfort alerts us to abnormal body function, so the pain experienced with certain memories or chance encounters or random happenings should be a red flag about inner sickness.  Those aches that surprise us when we think we’ve moved beyond a hurtful relationship or emotional wounds should be recognized as God’s tender reminder of our need for his true, deep, and total healing.

God knows when we are spiritually mature enough to allow the deep wounds to emerge so that we can be forever healed.  Let us be at peace with psychological pain, even when it surprises us.  It’s God’s way of saying he wants to excise the thing that causes us to obsess on our inadequacies or someone else’s duplicity or any number of injuries that haunt us.  It’s his way of saying It’s time to be healed.

And we are healed by focusing on him, not the pain or ourselves, giving him all the wounds, all the wound-ers, and thanking him for his stripes that bring healing.  Then when we are tempted to revisit those wounds, we gently, again and again, turn our eyes away from the injury and back to Jesus who is our healer and the Author and Finisher of our faith.

Father, we are so engrossed with ourselves, even the worst part of ourselves, that we really need your saving power every single moment of every single day.  May we seek you and your Kingdom above all else that you may be glorified.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.



Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.  John 7:38


Our church offices are located on nineteen lush acres that have been inhabited for thousands of years before Christ.  Massive, ancient oaks, mountain Laurel, native grasses, and indigenous plants provide the habitat for birds and bugs and other critters.  Why has this particular spot drawn creatures great and small and hosted glorious trees and plants for eons?

A walk through the grounds, particularly after a time of heavy rains, reveals the secret.  Artesian springs bubble unexpectedly in crannies throughout, and we’re told that geysers spouted up to 20 feet in the days before urbanization.  In fact, a small lake several feet deep was a community draw with people coming for picnicking and boating.  People are attracted to water.  In fact, a community can’t exist without it.  And neither can we.

Jesus told the woman at the well that if she drank of the water he gave her, she would never thirst again.  Jesus satisfies, and nothing can really quench our thirst other than him.  Once we taste living water, we can never be content with anything less.  And once we begin abiding in him, we become conduits through which he freely pours water for other thirsty souls.

The water on our office grounds ebbs and flows with the rains just as the outflow in our spiritual lives ebbs and flows depending on our attachment to Jesus.  When we allow distractions, self –serving, or sin to clog our lives, the flow of living water is diminished, and others suffer through our neglect.  Perhaps we need spiritual housecleaning from time to time so that, as keepers of the spring, others can always be refreshed.

If we actively believe in Jesus Christ—which entails loving, obeying, and trusting him—that living water will flow in and out of us all the time.


Father, help us to mature into our calling to be keepers of the spring.  Remove from us anything that blocks the flow of your Spirit and water this thirsty land.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.


Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10


There is a tiny space between Christmas and New Year’s—it’s just about one week long—and it seems to be claimed by no other special activity or pressing responsibility.  Advent and preparation for the Lord’s coming takes us right up to Christmas, while the hustle and bustle that’s part of our traditional celebrations have consumed those weeks after Thanksgiving.  And  here we are at that quiet time after Christmas just before we launch headlong, full speed into the New Year.

What a good time to slow down, to process, to be still and know…  Could we set aside our personal agendas just for this week to listen?  Are we able to stop long enough to worship?  Can we quiet our passions to spend several days resting in him?

The story is told of an early explorer who was trekking across the jungles of interior Africa.  He had been advised that his porters could travel only a certain distance each day, but he was determined to make better time.   Day by day he pushed his men until one day he arose to find that no one would move from his tent.  No bit of cajoling or threatening would budge his team.  Finally, sensing the man’s frustration, one of the porters admitted that they had traveled so quickly, they had left their souls behind and were waiting for them to catch up.

We’ve been given the gift of this one week to be still, to let our souls catch up.  This is a week to acknowledge God’s sovereignty, to bask in his love, and to nourish that relationship with him.  Can we slow down enough—just for a week—to know that he’s God (and we’re not)?


Father, “the world is too much with us.”  The holidays are crammed with activities and distractions—so much for holy days.  Thank you for this brief, quiet time to reorder ourselves and our priorities.  To be.  Our eyes are on you.  AMEN.