For we live by faith, not by sight.  II Corinthians 5:7

We were headed for Hawaii to meet my brother who was flying in from Viet Nam for R&R.  My parents had been told by the Army that Jack was due for a break from the unrelenting fighting in the jungles where he and his men had spent the last six months.  On this weak assurance, my dad bought airline tickets for us all in expectation of reunion.

I’ll never forget the oppressive mixture of fear and anticipation as we awaited Jack’s arrival at the international airport in Honolulu.  There had been no guarantee Jack would even be on the plane, but we had come in hope.*  The first bus unloaded its cargo of expectant soldiers as their eyes scanned the crowds, looking for familiar faces, but our soldier was not in the crowd.  Then the second bus came, and still no Jack.  As two more buses emptied their precious load, Mom was on the verge of despair.  At the end of the line a final bus slowed at the curb, and the jostling men made their way through the folding doors.  Still that beloved face wasn’t to be seen until from the very back of the bus my brother emerged to his family who had come in anticipation, just hoping he might come.

I’ve often thought of that experience through the years as I’ve trusted God through difficult times, just praying he’d be present.  To intervene in situations where no one else could make a difference.  I’ve trusted his Word that he would be faithful to make a way where there seemed to be no way.  And sometimes, like my mom, I’ve despaired that maybe, just maybe, I had acted in presumption.  Maybe the promises were not to be claimed for this situation.

It’s taken years to learn that we DO live by faith, not by sight.  God presses us to move out of that familiar comfort zone into a more dangerous place of trusting him in circumstances that only he can resolve.  And in moving, living by faith, we often must move ahead of feelings that threaten to wash over us in waves of panic telling us we were expecting too much of God.  We were trying to live too far beyond ourselves and our predictable existences.  Sometimes when we indulge fear, we fall back where it feels more comfortable and breathing is easier.

But then the time comes that we finally push beyond fear, and we get ahead of emotion, saying, “My God can…”  We trust him to do what he said he will do.  And we wait.  And wait.  And trust.  And the waiting and the trusting are excruciating, but now we can do nothing else.   And then, in his time, he appears. 

And our feelings have to catch up.

Father, I’ve lived too long being pulled and jerked around by my feelings.  I’m ready to live by faith.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.

*We learned after the fact that Jack wasn’t supposed to be on the plane after all because he had been wounded in Cambodia, and the military typically didn’t allow soldiers to go on R&R with wounds.  When he returned to Viet Nam, he was checked into the hospital and recovered.


But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. II Peter 3:8


Ugandans have a wonderful expression, “slowly by slowly,” which we would probably translate, “little by little.” I, personally, prefer slowly by slowly, especially when I’m waiting for something to transpire. When it doesn’t happen within my timeframe, the days and weeks can drag on and on. The image of time as a snail precisely expresses my attitude as I wait for God’s intervention.


The faith walk can be described quite accurately as “slowly by slowly.” God gives us a word or direction, and we can often expect fulfillment just around the corner. Truth is frequently just the opposite. And sometimes it may seem that God doesn’t respond at all to our cries.


God promised Abraham a son; he waited twenty-five years for Isaac’s birth. Joseph dreamed of ruling; the reality occurred about thirteen years after his kidnapping. The Children of Israel were told they’d be returning to Canaan; after 400 years of slavery and then forty more years of wandering, they finally reached their homeland.


The people of Israel believed for centuries that God would send a Messiah, but for so many, that promise was never fulfilled because Jesus came in a form and with a mission they couldn’t accept. Paul strongly desired to go to Rome. That wish was granted, but Paul made his journey as the Empire’s prisoner. God is sovereign.


God’s promises are true, and he is faithful, but he doesn’t operate in our timeframe or according to our human schemes. The distance between promise/prayer and fulfillment/response is determined by God’s wisdom. We may mentally acquiesce that “his ways are higher than our ways” (Isa. 55:9), but we allow ourselves to become overwhelmed with disappointment when his time and methods don’t concur with ours.


Walking by faith is just that. God speaks a prayer to our hearts or a word to our spirits and then asks us to trust him for its fulfillment. We pray for perfect healing; God answers by taking our loved one to perfect health in heaven. We ask for a loan; God gives us a grant. We ask for more grace in a difficult relationship; God removes that person from our lives. We ask that God does whatever is needed to bring someone to himself; God answers in ways we’d never imagined.


Slowly by slowly, step by painful step, through dark and perilous passages God asks us to trust his profound love and to walk with him. He asks us to trust that all his plans for us are good and that all things will work together for good (Jer. 29:11, Rom. 8:28). And while we lean and trust, we learn and grow. We shed much of our self-assurance and those selfish attitudes that lead us to trust ourselves more than our loving Father who is using delays and his methods to make us more and more like him and more and more dependent on him.


“My times are in your hands” (Psa. 31:15). Give him time to work out his perfect plan. God is never too slow and never late.


Father, strengthen our faith and help us to walk confidently with you even when we don’t understand your timing and your ways. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.



But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19

Our staff was challenged this past week with what anxieties and stresses Mary might have faced in her unique situation—pregnant, young, unmarried and living in an orthodox Jewish society—and how she handled them. Responses ranged from the frivolous, “Finding catering and wedding flowers in a strange place and the possibility of a shotgun wedding,” to real concerns such as having a baby without a mother or family members to help. After all, this was a young teenager who’d never been a mother, much less, the mother of Emmanuel, God with us.

The text in Luke (2:19, 51) provides insight to the strength that would carry Mary to Bethlehem, home to Nazareth, Jerusalem, various parts of Galilee, and finally to Golgotha: Mary treasured…these things and pondered them in her heart. What things might Mary have treasured? First, there was the visit from the angel Gabriel who announced that she would bear God’s Son and then the joyous affirmation by her cousin Elisabeth at her impromptu visit, “As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” (Luke 1:44)

In wonder, Mary would gather the memories that would flood her young heart and carry her through a lifetime of awe and suffering with her child, Messiah. She would be amazed at the coming of the shepherds and their tale of angels announcing the birth of their Savior and later as the distinguished visitors from the East recounted their miraculous tale of following a star to find the new King.

Mary would marvel when the Baby Jesus was presented at the temple for two elderly people there would give thanks to God for allowing them to see the promised child.  Old Simeon even said,

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)

When he became an adolescent, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem … and discovered on their return trip that Jesus wasn’t with the group. When they located him back at the temple, how baffled she was at the rapport her Son had with the scribes and teachers. Another wonder to treasure in her heart.

We don’t know all the signs and miracles Mary witnessed during Jesus’ short life, but we know she saw him turn water into wine and must have seen healings and transformations that came from Jesus’ ministry. After all, John said (21:25) that “if every one of [Jesus’ works] were written down…even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” So all these things Mary treasured in her heart. And she pondered them. What did they mean and how would it all turn out?

At the cross Mary lived out a mother’s most severe pain, the unjust suffering and death of her precious Son. This would be the time for Mary to look inside her heart at all those treasures she had been storing—the miracles, the wonders, the promises. And these would be the things that would sustain her through that Black Friday night and those incredibly long days that followed.

But on the third day, “…blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises…” Mary would again see an angel, this time sitting on a stone inside her Son’s tomb with another message of Good News, “He is not here; he is risen.” And she would see her Son again, alive and glorified and ascending to his Father. Those promises she had remembered and trusted would carry her to Pentecost and on to see her Son, her Emmanuel, throughout eternity.

“…blessed is she who…believed.”


Father, give us just a modicum of the faith of Mary that we may follow you always until we, too, see you in eternity. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.



“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8


I am in company with the disciples as we walk to Emmaus after the death of Jesus. The conversation is full of tears and disillusionment, downcast faces and dashed hopes. They had walked with Jesus and had trusted. They had watched him heal and do miracles. They had even seen the dead brought back to life. Now it seems that they must have missed something.
Have you ever trusted God about a matter—your expectation of how he should intervene in a particular way—and then he acts in a contrary manner? You had prayed with faith, all for his glory, and then you discover God’s ways to be confounding.
Joy Dawson, New Zealand missionary, once preached a spontaneous sermon about Lazarus and Jesus’ nonchalant attitude toward his friend. Remember that Jesus got word that Lazarus was ill, and still he stayed in place. By the time Jesus arrived at the scene, Lazarus had been in the tomb four days. The miracle that followed far surpassed the healing the sisters had been expecting. Dawson asked her audience, “Do you want a healing or a resurrection?”
It would seem that we can be satisfied with a band aid rather than a display of God’s omniscience and divine power. We see the finite matter of our interest and conclude that this, yes, this is what God should do, rather than surrendering to God’s will. To the infinite God who sees and knows far more about every circumstance than our collective minds could dream. And God is able to do exceeding above all we can ask or think.
I’ve asked myself if I trust God only when he answers prayer to my liking or if I can let go of my hopes and trust him when I do not understand. How many people followed Jesus when the loaves and fish were in abundance? And how many were at the foot of the cross when Jesus was becoming the Savior of the world?
Could it be that we follow when we understand but are adrift when divinity outstrips our humanity?


Father, I ask your forgiveness when my faith is earth-bound. You are God, and I am not. Let your will be done. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.



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.


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.


Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward.  Deuteronomy 2:3  (KJV)


This journey God has called us to is a walk of faith.  Sometimes we forget that.  We want a map, signs and wonders, confirmations, voices from the blue, and blessings every step we take.  We want the fleece to be dry at the snap of our fingers and otherwise wet to reassure  us.  What does that have to do with faith?

By faith Abraham, when called…obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.  That’s faith.  Abraham had no guide and no oversight committee, but he trusted God.  He was from a pagan society, but he trusted God.  And God didn’t fail him.  Every promise that was made to Abraham was fulfilled, and through him came our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Abraham listened and kept moving.

Moses, another faithful man, led the faithless Israelites out of bondage in Egypt and stopped on the way to get God’s instructions at Mt.Sinai.  He had barely trekked up the mountain when the Israelites asked Aaron to construct a god for them, a tangible symbol they could see and touch.  And, of course, there were many other times of disobedience and unbelief until finally God let them wander through years of sand and bare bones existence.  Their lack of trust in the God who had made a way through the Sea and through the chartless desert relegated them to a lifetime of unfulfilled wandering.

Finally, God said they had gone round and round long enough.  It was time to move on. Time to trust God to do what he’d promised, time to listen to him, time to obey.  Faith is “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1).  It is not seeing the end from the beginning—only God does that.  It is not seeing the fulfillment of our prayer at the moment we say amen.  Only God does that.  It is not understanding God’s methods, his delays, or his silences.  And it is definitely not reliance in our own abilities.  It is simply trusting God to do what he promised and to always make everything work together for good (Rom. 8:28).

So, isn’t it time to get up and move (Deut. 1:8)?   We’ve spent too long going round and round the mountain.  Onward.  God is able.


Father, we really expect magic from you at each point of distress.  Pull that rabbit out of the hat or part the waters at our command.  Forgive us.  Faith is hard, but it’s also your gift.  Help us to grow up and to move out in faith.  That pleases and blesses you.  Thank you.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.


“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”  James 4:17


Someone I know suffers from severe depression and has for years.  She is a faithful believer and spends time in the morning reading and studying the Bible.  In fact, she wouldn’t think of skipping a day without devotions.  When I mentioned that it might be helpful to look each day to see what God was actually telling her to do—something actionable—in the Word, it was as if lightning had struck.  This was a whole new concept.

How much time do we spend reading and studying the Bible with absolutely no intention or thought of doing what God says in order to be transformed?  We are enjoying the status quo rather than being changed day by day into his image.  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine (principles of belief), for reproof (reprimand), for correction (making right), for instruction in righteousness (right standing with God):  That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.  (II Timothy 3:16-17)

The Word of God gives direction (Psa. 119:105); obeying the Word brings blessing (Luke 11:28); doing the Word protects us in the storm (Luke 7:24); the Word provides understanding (Psa. 119:130); the Word is truth (John 17:17); the Word heals (Psa. 107:20); whoever keeps his Word loves him (John 14:21); keeping his Word brings success (Josh. 1:8).  AND living in the Word is the surest way to grow spiritually and to maintain a joyous relationship with him.

Why should we sell ourselves short when delight in him is so easily accessed?  Pick up the Bible; ask him to speak through his Word; talk to him; and live in him.  He’s made the way so plain that even the most stupid can’t miss it (Isa. 35:8 TLB).


Father, in you is everything we will ever need for life and righteousness.  Strengthen our faith to trust you in all things, and help us to discipline ourselves so that we may be transformed into your likeness.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.


Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.  Psalm 42:5



My husband had been in the hospital for days recovering from heart surgery.  The longer we had dealt with his illness, surgery, and recovery, the heavier I’d felt.  Most waking hours I’d been with him, and I stayed each night until bedtime.  Rounding the corner in the now very familiar hospital corridor, Psalm 42:5 began to ring in my mind:  Why are you cast down?  Why are you disquieted?  Hope in God…

Over and over I seem to need this reminder:  Our hope is in God, not people, not resources.  Just God.  On the other hand, there’s nothing sub-Christian about being down, but it’s terribly debilitating to stay down.  Phillips’ version of II Corinthians 4:8-9 says, “We are handicapped on all sides, but we are never frustrated; we are puzzled, but never in despair. We are persecuted, but we never have to stand it alone: we may be knocked down, but we are never knocked out!”

What can we do when we’re knocked down?  It’s for sure we won’t get up if we wallow in self-pity.  In fact, I can’t think of anything good that comes of navel gazing.  The writer to the Hebrews reminds us that we all experience hardships, but we are to keep our eyes on Jesus so that we don’t get weary and lose heart.  Furthermore, we are to dust ourselves off, strengthen our weak knees, and get up so that those following us aren’t misled but healed.

There can be actual benefits derived by being cast down:  We are humbled to face our own vulnerability and offenses; we recognize our need for the Savior; we are disillusioned by our impotence while acknowledging his strength; and we cry out for God.  While we’re down, if we recognize the folly of undue attention to ourselves and, instead, look to Jesus, the experience can be another step toward transformation.  As we focus on his glory, we are changed into his image (II Corinthians 3:18) rather than the clay-footed one we now inhabit.

So, it’s heads up and eyes on Jesus, no matter what.  The Author and Finisher of our faith will always be there.


Father, even when I’m down, don’t lift up me until I’ve learned what you’re trying to teach me.  Thank you that being knocked down doesn’t mean that we’re knocked out.  We’re just temporarily disengaged.  Help us to keep our focus on you, and make us more like Jesus, whatever it takes.  AMEN.


But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.  I Corinthians 15:20  (KJV)



As this Holy Week ends on the high note of Resurrection, I have listed ten reasons I give thanks for everything Jesus’ resurrection means to me:


  1. It lends credibility to everything Jesus said and taught.
  2. It proves he is the living Son of God.
  3. It informs his suffering and death on the cross for our salvation, healing, and freedom.
  4. It is the foundation of our faith.
  5. It gives me hope that I, too, will some day be resurrected to eternal life in him.
  6. It ensures our righteousness in him and right-standing before God.
  7. It demonstrates our future transformed body.
  8. The Spirit of God that raised Jesus from the dead now lives in me.
  9. The last enemy, death, no longer has power over us.
  10. I am now empowered by God’s Spirit.



Father, Lent and the reminder of our human frailty is past.  We now can walk in resurrection life through Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death on the cross and his resurrection by your mighty power.  Help us to apply all that means to every day of our lives.  In his name.  AMEN.