A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  John 13:34 NIV


Love is more than sentiment.  At its best, it’s an action verb.  Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages lists ways of showing love:  affirming, touching, giving, serving, and spending time with the beloved.  One can love without all the fuzzy emotions we sometimes equate with romantic love by simply doing those things that build up that other person and letting him or her know that he or she is special, is cared for, is thought about.


Cheerleading, forming your own one-person fan club, is a potent way of demonstrating love.  Think of all the ways we can build each other up (I Thess. 5:11) once we get out of ourselves.  And think of all the people who desperately need love.  We can praise, compliment, encourage, pray with and for, be available, do random acts of kindness, demonstrate thoughtfulness, and on and on.


But we have to move beyond our intense concern for ourselves.  I’ve discovered that the more I become aware and sensitive to the needs of others, the more obscure my own issues become.  The more I embrace others, the more joy and freedom I experience in my own life.  The more transparent I become in loving others, the more reciprocal the relationship becomes.  And healing can even take place when love flows.


Think of the transformations in which we might participate if we chose to forget about ourselves and become more interconnected to others.  Of all the unfortunate people imaginable, Job tops the list.  Having lost everything (but his critical wife) and being surrounded by unfeeling friends who only compounded his misery, we’re told that after Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes (Job 42:10) …  When Job moved beyond his own suffering to see the vacuum in his friends, he was able to pray, and God responded by working in Job’s life.


William Carey, the “father” of modern missions (18th Century) faithfully worked, carrying the Gospel to India and translating the Bible into many Indian dialects.  Many people know of Carey, but few know of his sister who was bedridden and unable to use her limbs for about 52 years.  Every day, Carey’s sister prayed for him and maintained a vibrant correspondence by writing with a pencil in her mouth.  Such was her love for her brother.


Who can we actively love today?  How can we sacrificially give our time to affirm someone?  How can we, through God’s love, leave our own cares and be cheerleaders for someone else?   The biggest cost is our own self-interest, but that begins to diminish as we get into the big world of GOD’S LOVE.  Find somebody to love.


Father, show me who needs my love and give me creative ideas for encouraging, affirming, building up, and healing.  I want to be your cheerleader.  Thank you.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.


The prayer of the righteous person is powerful in what it can achieve. James 5:16 (CEB)

Of all the times during my lifespan, this seems to be one of the most crucial periods for believers to vigorously engage in prayer. Friends are coping with serious medical conditions; some are dealing with economic crises; relational stresses are threatening families; and the political and global situations are unprecedented. If we ever need to be effective in prayer, now is the time.

If we are to pray all the time (I Thess. 5:17, Rom. 12:12), our physical position must be inconsequential. If right-standing with God signifies power in prayer (above), the form of our prayer—formal or informal, spontaneous or read, silent or said aloud—has no significance. It appears that God is primarily concerned with relationships—between us and him and us and others—when it comes to prayer.

Here are just a few of my gleanings from Scripture about prayer:

• The focus of prayer is relating to God and not about getting answers. (I Chron. 16:11, Psa. 145:18, Song of Sol. 2:14 and many others)
• We must be reconciled to him and others before we pray. (Matt. 5:23, I Peter 3:7, Luke 6:27, 28)
• God listens to our prayers. (I John 5:14, Jer. 29:12, Psa. 145:18, Heb. 4:16)
• God always responds to prayer in his time, according to his will, and in his way. (Mark 11:24, Jer. 33:3, Matt. 6:6, I John 5:15, Jas. 4:2b)

When my children were first away at school, I knew that almost every time they called, they wanted or needed something. As their mother, I was happy to respond to meet their needs when I could. But the day finally arrived when they called just to chat. What a joy. We had moved beyond need to relationship.

How happy God must be when we talk with him just because we enjoy his company.

Our Father in heaven, teach us to pray and to come to you just to enjoy your presence. AMEN.


…we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. I John 3:2 (NIV)
“Every day I look in the mirror to see if I see Jesus there,” remarked my friend Lynne. We were talking about what we’re doing to become more like Jesus. In the course of the conversation, Lynne mentioned some of her personal disciplines and how she is trying to intentionally follow Jesus.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Lynne’s comment. Years ago I placed myself in God’s hands when I put my faith in Jesus and committed my life to him. But I am wondering what I should be seeing when I “look in the mirror,” searching for Jesus.

Jesus said he always did those things that pleased his Father (John 8:29). Am I intentionally, eyes-wide-open, looking to do those things that please God? To paraphrase Hannah Whitall Smith, Am I loving God’s will?

Jesus said he came to fulfill the Law and not to abolish it (Matthew 5:17). Then he went on to give us those passages we call the Beatitudes (those attitudes that should be part of our intrinsic nature as his children). Am I seeking to obey him in all things and live out the Beatitudes, even when doing so would be uncomfortable or inconvenient?

Jesus said he would ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit who would teach and remind us of all things that he told us (John 14:26) and that the Holy Spirit would counsel us and convict us of sin (John 16:8). Am I staying filled with his Spirit so that I follow his direction and resist sin in my life? Is his Spirit producing fruit in my life—that supernatural love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control (Galatians 5:22, 23)?

There are so many descriptors of Jesus’ incarnational life on earth. Will I ever be like him? And then I am reminded of Paul’s wonderful word to the church at Corinth: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (II Corinthians 3:18 NIV) It is God who is working in us to make us like Jesus (Philippians 2:13). All we have to do is trust, obey, and let him work.

And so, as I think, ponder, and reflect on “the Lord’s glory,” as I center my thoughts and my life on him, I, too, will be changed into his likeness and, with Lynne, will see more and more Jesus when I look into the mirror.

What’s in your mirror?

Dear Lord, thank you for this wonderful encouragement that as we cooperate with you, you are making us more and more like Jesus. THANK YOU. AMEN.


For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)

Almost ten years ago my son and daughter-in-law walked into my house and said they had something to tell me. This wasn’t a casual visit, I could tell. I sat down on one of the sofas, and they sat across from me. They had come to tell me that my daughter had just been diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer. Without pausing to think, words popped out of my mouth: “God isn’t surprised.”

And with that announcement our family launched the support mechanism that springs into place in crisis. Some began researching for best doctors and hospitals, others made provisions for her two little girls, and we all put together a prayer campaign that spread around the world.

I sat with family members for the twelve-hour surgery that was part of Tish’s treatment regimen. With us was a sweet rabbi who read to me a Psalm that was used every day at his synagogue to pray for Tish. Each of us passed the time in terse conversation and responding to calls and emails for updates. And then I received a beautiful message from a clergyman in Rwanda: “This cancer may have a name, but we know the GREATEST NAME.” He had joined us in invoking that powerful name above all names, foretold by Isaiah, asking for healing.

That was ten years ago. This week I will accompany my daughter to M. D. Anderson for her regular check up and to celebrate the prayers that were answered by the One whose birthday we celebrate during this season. The greatest name, Emmanuel, God with us.

Father, all praise and glory be to you for your wonderful gift of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. May this season of celebration be centered on Emmanuel who came to meet all our deepest needs. In his name. AMEN.


Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. Jeremiah 33:3 (KJV)

I’ve had the opportunity recently of dealing with several large corporations by phone, and the experience has been less than joyful. Rarely have I reached a real person on my initial call, and I get handed from person to person after I’ve explained in detail my need. You know the drill as well as I do.

Now, can you imagine this scenario: You have a specific need, and you need to talk to the Lord, so you punch in the speed dial for heaven.

“Hello, you’ve reached heaven. Due to the large volume of calls this morning, your wait may be longer than usual, but your call is important to us. Please stay on the line.”

As you wait, Amazing Grace is played through the heavenly connection.

Finally, after an inordinately long amount of time, a recorded voice says, “If you want to speak to a lesser saint, press 1; to speak to your last preacher, press 2; to speak with Peter, press 3…to speak to God, press 7.” You press 7, and a voice says, “God is busy with the crisis in … and cannot come to the phone just now, but he does want to talk to you. Just leave your name, number, time you called, and your concern. Be assured that the Great Cloud of Witnesses will be discussing your situation in the meantime. Bless you.”

Thanks be to God, this IS NOT what happens. Jeremiah tells us that God answers when we call him (Jer. 33:3). The Psalmist says that when we call, God saves us and hears our voices (Psa. 55:16-17). Isaiah tells us, remarkably, that God sometimes answers before we call and hears while we are speaking (65:24). And Micah (7:7) also reminds us that God hears us.

God ALWAYS hears us. He ALWAYS answers us. Sometimes we keep calling because we don’t manage to get connected. The trouble is not with God; it’s with us. We’re halfhearted in our efforts or unbelieving in our attempts. But God has told us that IF WE CALL, HE WILL ANSWER. It may take us a while to still ourselves to get into his presence, but he is there WAITING.

Father, you invite us to call in Jeremiah, and in Song of Solomon, you tell us you want to hear our voices. Strengthen our faith and help us to persist in reaching out in confidence to you. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. II Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

I have a new trainer for my dogs, Edward and Frances. Truth is, as we all know, the trainer is training me, their owner. When I learn how to assume my rightful position as leader of the pack, we will have a more enjoyable and peaceful environment.

I am learning that I am the Alpha (the boss), that I can just ignore those frequent demands for attention, that I set the direction of behaviors for a specific time and place, and that my responsibility is to provide leadership. Which has brought to mind something else that is critical to peace in all our lives…

Have you ever had thoughts, like little puppies, get in your face and demand your attention? Are you ever distracted by nudges from this or that when you’re trying to focus on the Lord? Do worries barge into your peace, demanding dominance and usurping God’s promises for you? We can probably all say a resounding YES.

The obvious conclusion here is that we all need training to know how to deal with our thoughts. They are out there, and they will always be on the periphery watching to see who will have dominance—the Spirit of God in our lives or our thoughts of anxiety, distrust, fear, and negativity.

God has not given us a spirit of fear but of love and of power and of discipline. And so we, through God’s Spirit, confidently take control of those thoughts that threaten to destroy our peace and stability in Christ. We make those thoughts obey Christ. We control our thoughts through the truth of God’s Word; we ignore those thoughts that tempt us to fear; and we discipline those thoughts that want to introduce doubt.

And with faithful practice, as we are trained, the thoughts become captives to our focus on Christ. We dominate them; they are no longer in control. “And the peace that passes understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Lord, why does it take us so long to recognize the authority we have over what we think? Strengthen us to resist anxiety, negativity, anything that diminishes you, your will, and your peace in our lives, and help us to begin to discipline our thought life. We especially need your power for this. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


…you do not have because you do not ask God. James 4:2 (NIV)

Coming back from my first trip to Uganda after three hard weeks on pock-marked dusty roads in a glorious, yet unfamiliar setting, I was exhausted. We reached at the airport only to be told that our flight would be delayed by about 15 hours because of mechanical problems. We again boarded our mutatu (van) for a return trip to the Namirembe Guest House in Kampala.

Upon arrival, the two guys on the team said they were going to the airlines office to see what sort of compensation they might offer for causing us to miss our connecting flights in London and Detroit. Since this was my first trip and being the newbie on the team, I naively asked if they would see if we could get bumped up to better seats for our 18-hour-plus flights. All five of my companions laughed as if I’d asked for a private jet to take us home. I was determined. “You have not for you ask not,” I reminded the team.

An hour later, the fellows returned, and I asked—expectantly—“Did we get bumped up?”
With barely disguised smirks they responded negatively but allowed that we would all be treated to lunch in a London hotel and our own day rooms. Of course, that was lovely but not what I’d requested.

It was gratifying to have familiar food in London and a hot shower with a nap before preparing to board our transatlantic flight. An airlines vehicle delivered us back to the airport, and we were courteously escorted to our point of departure. Since our connecting flights had all been scrambled, our team was seated in various places throughout the coach section. I sat down with one of my team members, buckled up, and prepared my nest for the next leg of the trip.

As is my custom, I turned on the monitor to watch the progress of the flight as we crossed the ocean – but nothing happened. My companion tried to work the monitor. And then the steward did his best to make the contraption work. “Just wait until we’re airborne,” he assured me, “and I’ll reboot this from our controls.”

However many miles later and after many buttons were pushed unsuccessfully, the steward asked if I minded if he relocated me. “Oh, but I have to bring my friend,” I replied. “Of course,” he said.

A short time later, he reported. “I’ve looked all over the economy seating and can’t find a vacant seat. Would you mind if I put you in business class?” he queried. “Of course, not,” I responded with a huge smile.

As we were being ushered down the aisle, I couldn’t resist reminding my friends in passing, “You have not for you ask not.” It’s a lesson I haven’t forgotten.

Lord, I wonder how many blessings, large and small, we miss because we’re afraid to ask? Help us to remember that you’re a good Father who loves to give good gifts to your undeserving children, and we honor you by asking. Thank you again. AMEN.


So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. II Corinthians 4:16 (NIV)

Sid is an amazing person. In her nineties, she toodles around in her car wherever her fancy takes her; learned to knit so she could be part of the church’s knitting/prayer ministry; and lunches with her friends once a week (the rule being meals can’t cost over $7.00). I met Sid by virtue of the lavender prayer shawl she made for me while I was recuperating from surgery.

“O-l-d” is a three-letter word that’s become a pejorative term. But old is not a matter of years or time. Sid is not old. My thirty-something friend was old. He was always the first one to leave any gathering because he was tired. Old is an attitude, not a birth-date.

The Psalmist said in chapter 92, verse 14 that some of these mature folks “will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green…” Yep. That’s Sid.

Father, you are eternal, and you are making us into the image of your timeless Son. We receive from you renewing day by day, and we thank you that through your empowerment we can mount up with wings as eagles, run and not be weary, walk and not faint. AMEN.


You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen… Matthew 24:6 (NIV)

Have you ever thought of taking a holiday from the news? I mean, if you want a real downer, just turn on any of the news networks or read the online newspapers. Is there ever any good news to report? And before you know it, you’re talking with colleagues about the latest terrorist incident or killing or vitriol among the presidential candidates. And you get caught up in the angst and find yourself being sucked into the negative atmosphere of our times. Sound familiar?

That is not what Jesus told us to do. He was up front about what we could expect – wars and rumors of wars and any number of awful things. And then he follows that up in the same breath with, “See to it that you are not alarmed.” Who is not to be alarmed? That’s US, his children. Why? Because Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33), and we are always victorious (II Corinthians 2:14). When the world is going up in flames around us, we have his peace, and we have HIM.

What’s another name for the Gospel? GOOD NEWS. Instead of reeling under the latest horrific broadcast, let us be LIGHT in this dark place. Let us be JOY in the middle of sorrow. Let us be HOPE as people grasp for answers. That is precisely why we were called to the Kingdom for such a time as this. ONWARD.

Father, this is such a great time to be a Christian. Help our lights to shine so brightly that they can be seen in the midst of the darkest of nights. Love and hope through us, your children. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior. Isaiah 45:15 (ESV)

Sounds like a game we loved to play when we were children – hide and seek. It was so much fun to run around expectantly looking behind trees and under bushes for our friends (or siblings) when we were “it.” When we finally discovered the “hiders,” there was always laughter and amazement at their clever hiding places.

Now here is Isaiah telling us that God hides himself. Could it be that God has a sense of humor? After all, Jesus was anointed with joy more than any of his companions (Hebrews 1:9). Actually, this God who hides himself is much more than that.

God’s treasures are so abundant, so vast, so marvelous that they are not always readily discerned. Let me explain. God has packed his Word with promises that assure us that he is able to do more than we can think or ask, but there are stipulations. We must seek him; we must believe; we must ask.

He sets out a promise, and we take it by faith. Remember, he has hidden himself. He wants us to believe him without seeing him, without touching or feeling him. We remember his faithfulness; we encourage ourselves in the Lord; and we walk out the promise, claiming it by faith. And there he is. In fact, he’s been there all the time, but we haven’t perceived him until by faith our eyes are opened.

Why would God hide himself? Why wouldn’t he just allow anyone, anytime, to come and claim all his treasures? He wants to develop that love relationship with us, and he wants us to walk by faith so that as this walk deepens, the treasure is no longer the blessing, the treasure is himself.

Father, we love you for who you are. Thank you for your patience with us as we grow and for the delightful prospect of abiding with you. AMEN.