When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. Isaiah 59:19 (KJV)


I’ve just returned from a Borderland Conference where we were invited to report on our ministries in Border countries and opportunities for collaboration. While we have churches providing humanitarian aid to refugees along with worship services, our primary focus is their countries of origin—education and economic development as spiritual outreach. Our experience has been that people prefer to stay in their own culture and in their homeland if they can have their needs met.
In some places violence and poverty have created an environment that threatens the lives and well-being of many people. Such was the case in a city in one of the countries where we work in Central America. Domestic abuse, witchcraft, cults, and alcoholism led to poverty and violence that seemed endless. In fact, crime was so bad in that small city that it was necessary to have four jails just to house the criminals. Finally, the church people got desperate. They determined to do something extremely radical. They prayed.
Three to four times a week, church members got together to pray. Some even began the practice of fasting. They prayed and fasted, and they didn’t stop. Eventually, disruptive family members began coming to faith in Jesus, and violence declined. The crime rate dropped so dramatically that the authorities closed the jails.
As people began practicing their faith, their lives, their families, and their community were transformed. People began working again, and the economy grew. Their town is now one of the cleanest and most prosperous in the country. When asked if they’d like to join the “caravan” headed for the United States, people responded that there was no need to leave.
So one might think that the church has diminished their fasting and prayers, but instead, they say they need to be vigilant so that their story can be shared as encouragement that God can do what no one else can. They continue to meet together on Saturdays for prayer vigils, and others continue to fast.


The Bible challenges us with stories of God’s people who have encountered powerful enemies such as Sennacherib’s attack on Jerusalem during Hezekiah’s reign (II Kings 19) and the Moabites’ and Ammonites’ attack on Jehoshaphat (II Chronicles 20). And who can forget God’s deliverance of David from Saul and his many other enemies? In each of these biblical stories, the people in desperation turned in prayer to God, asking for his intervention and his wisdom. And God answered.
I am sorry to say that as I have shared the story of the folks in the transformed city of Central America, I have been greeted with polite smiles and, for the most part, silence. Is prayer too radical for us today? And as I heard someone say when prayer was mentioned, “Oh, my, has it come to that?” I think it’s time to get radical.


Father, you tell us that we have not for we ask not. We’d rather work through our situations on our own—until we can’t. Stir us until we again turn to you expectantly with our most serious of needs. It’s time NOW. We need to pray. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


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


At the last school assembly of the year with all the visiting parents and grandparents in attendance, our headmaster loved to say, “Allow your children to be bored.  Let them go outside and lie on the grass and look up at the sky and listen to the birds and the insects.  Don’t plan every moment of their summer.”  I’ve been thinking of that recently as I’ve looked at all the ways I keep myself from being bored.

Like everyone else, I spend a lot of my time waiting.  Waiting in line; waiting in doctor’s offices; waiting to get my oil changed.  Just waiting.  It used to be that I would look around at other people and imagine their circumstances and sometimes pray for them.  There was always something interesting happening around me because I entered into the present and became engaged.

I suddenly realized over the weekend that when everything stops, I pull out my IPhone to see if I have any messages.  I check FaceBook for new entries.  Has someone posted on Instagram?  Is there an update on the News bureaus?  Does Marco Polo have something?  And if I’ve already done that, there are games I can play.  I like Spider Solitaire and plain old Solitaire.  My IPhone does not allow me to be bored.  Or to be quiet.

There are so many messages in my head in response to what’s been sent to me or news items that disturb me.  I’m frustrated that I’m having a losing streak with Spider Solitaire.  I’m reflecting on work challenges that were revealed in weekend emails.  I don’t have time to be bored.  And how can I possibly be quiet?

How can I hear what God wants to say to me when I am able—all by myself—to be stimulated or frustrated or entertained with that little electronic rectangle I keep in my pocket?  I’ve come up with a brilliant solution, and so far, it’s working:  FAST.  Yes, fasting from all electronics that are not mandatory for family relationships and work.  I’m trying it cold turkey, and it’s rather nice.

Obviously, I’m speaking in hyperbole, but I’ve been observing how electronics can bless or curse us.  I don’t want the Voice I most need to hear and observe to be obscured because I’ve forgotten how to be still.  So for now, I’ve called a fast.


Father, above all things we need to hear you.  Show us what to do to ensure that we never miss a word from you.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.


Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.  Jeremiah 33:3  (NIV)


How blessed we are in the United States to have access to fine education, outstanding healthcare, comfortable housing (including indoor plumbing and electricity), adequate to excellent infrastructure, and blessings many other people only dream about.  Of course, these things are not free, but our fathers taught us that hard work and a good attitude would take us a long way.

And so that’s the mindset most of us grow up with in our country.  Try hard enough, work hard enough, and you’ll succeed at getting what you want.  Until we don’t.  When our circumstances become difficult beyond our abilities to solve (or beyond our ability to buy solutions), we become desperate.  And I’m talking about Christians.  In many instances, we behave just like pagans when we’re pushed to the wall.

I watch while desperation pushes us to every imaginable answer available and even beyond.  We try this and then that.  We read this author and that one.  We pray this prayer and then that one.  I used to (pridefully) be confident of God’s answers to my prayers (emphasis on my will).  It took years before I sincerely embraced “thy will be done” (the prayer that is always answered).  I believed that doing all the right things—tithing,  sacrificial giving, good deeds, right living, going to church and Bible studies, even the extremes of fasting and self denial—was like making deposits in a heavenly account. These were all enriching my standing in heaven so that when I prayed, my will was done.

Desperation, our friend, eventually depletes that “account” and brings us right to the foot of the cross where we say, “Nothing in my hand I bring; simply to the cross I cling.”  The stark reality of our total dependence on God’s grace and mercy becomes true for us.  As we sink into the stormy waves, we are ready to abandon all pretense and cry out to Jesus, “Lord save me,” and we discover that he is waiting for us.  Jesus lifts us up to himself, and nothing else matters.

It’s in him that we find his security, his healing, his peace, his comfort, everything we will ever want or need.  When at the very central heart of our lives we begin abiding in him, everything else comes into perspective.  Everything is measured by eternity, and God is enough.

Are we willing to be stripped of everything but Jesus?  Desperation can do that.


Father, thank you for gently and patiently moving us along in our journey so that the excess baggage no longer matters—we can discard its unnecessary weight.  Thank you that you allow us to become desperate as we weigh temporal things against your Kingdom.  Please keep up the process.  The results are heavenly.  AMEN.



We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.  II Chronicles 20:12  (Amp.)

Large numbers of soldiers from several lands were marching toward Judah to destroy God’s children.  King Jehoshaphat, godly leader of the Southern Kingdom of Judah, was frightened and called all the people together to fast and to consult the Lord.  Jehoshaphat reminded God of the long relationship between him and his people, and then he prayed, quite candidly, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”

Once again our beloved country is grieving after the tragic deaths of numerous people in Orlando.  We’ve seen this before.  In fact, the scene is becoming all too familiar.  Death of innocent people unexplained and unjustified.  We hear the horror as recounted by survivors and amazing tales of forgiveness from others.

Violence begets violence (Matt. 26:52).   We seem not to know how to stop this horrible evil existing throughout the world.  Our one common enemy has come to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10), and all our negotiations and conciliation do not bring about the peace that’s vacant in so many hearts.

Those of us whose allegiance is to the eternal King who self-identifies as Love can lift our voices, crying for his mercy, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”  When Jehoshaphat listened, he was given a unique battle plan tailored precisely for the circumstance.  It worked without Judah’s having to inflict any harm.

It’s past time for us to unite in prayer for our country and for the peace of the whole world.


Father, only through the Prince of Peace will we ever know lasting peace.  Cause us to seek you for your direction and then to be obedient to act as your children.  In Jesus’ Name.  AMEN.


Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20 (KJV)

Growing up, Lent was never part of our church tradition, but last year I became very interested in the opportunity to specifically focus on the meaning of Christ’s passion during the Easter season and began my own observation of Lent. It was such an enriching experience that I’ve decided to engage again, so I’ve done a bit of research.

“Lent” comes from an old English word meaning “spring” and is the 40 days prior to Easter. Typically, it’s a time of penitence and can include fasting, prayer, and almsgiving (charitable gifts). It is also a time of self-denial. I love the idea of “spring,” a time for spiritual renewal and refreshing in Christ.

I think for years I rejected the thought of observing Lent because it seemed to me to be an effort by practitioners to merit God’s favor, something that only comes through his grace. But last year as I contemplated my own practice of Lent, I gained a whole different perspective.

Why not grasp Lent as an occasion of thanksgiving for all God’s faithful blessings, I wondered. So I moved into the season skipping as many meals as practical (some might call it fasting), which gave me additional time for prayer and reading of spiritual material. As I pursued study, meditation, and prayer, Lent became a gift rather than a burden. Additional study brought new insights and with that came joy. Prayer brought to mind needs I’d never contemplated along with hearts that longed for divine intervention and ministry. A greater sense of God’s presence became part of my daily experience to the point that I hated to see the approach of Easter, which signals the end of Lent. But, of course, Easter always brings its own joy as we celebrate a risen and ascended Lord who now inhabits the lives of all believers.

I have been looking forward to Lent for months now. Instead of seeing it as denial of myself, I view it as opportunity to move more closer into God’s presence. If you’ve never tried Lent – no matter your church tradition – may I encourage you to prayerfully consider taking advantage of this little space on the church calendar to draw nearer to Jesus. I think you’ll be glad you did. (I’d love to hear about your experience.)

Father, how blessed we are that we can fellowship with you and that you want to share the joy of your presence. Welcome now and forever. AMEN.