Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.  Isaiah 29:14

For months now we’ve listened to experts admonish on COVID19, opine on civil unrest, and caution on the economy only to revise their narratives the following day.  It’s somewhat akin to watching a soap opera—plenty of drama with various players vilified with the shifting scenes.  It’s hard to keep up, and it can be terribly dismaying.

Until we go to the Word…  In the Psalter, Psalm 73 for example, the poet bemoans all the inequities and troubles surrounding him day after day, year after year.  He is grieved that wrong is ongoing while God seems so inattentive.  “UNTIL [he] entered the sanctuary of God…”  (v. 17).  UNTIL he stopped looking out and began to look up.  Then his vision was clarified, and he saw that God has everything under control, and he acts at the time of his choosing.

In another Psalm (2), we see people raging and conspiring to do evil while God laughs seeing the limit to earthly power.  At the time he chooses to intervene, he breaks evil with an iron rod and dashes it to pieces “like a potter’s vessel.”  Essentially, God is sovereign, and all creation exists and moves at his pleasure.  There is no need to be disheartened when we abide in his presence and do his will.

My mother had a little poem on her kitchen bulletin board that read:

          Said the robin to the sparrow,
          “I should really like to know,
          Why these anxious human beings
          Rush about and worry so.”
          Said the sparrow to the robin,
          “Friend I think that it must be,
          That they have no Heavenly Father,
          Such as cares for you and me.”  (Elizabeth Cheney)

Does this negate prudence and neighborly love for such a time as this?  Absolutely not; it reinforces our trust in God’s watchful care over his children and our obligation to faithful obedience as we patiently wait for him to act.

By the way, Handel’s Messiah prominently features Psalm 2 (above) with bass and tenor proclaiming God’s vengeance on evil.  And what follows immediately?  The Hallelujah Chorus, “For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”

Father, you hold all the affairs of our world in your hand.  Let us never forget that you are in control.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.


“Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” Mark 13:2

Not long before Jesus’ crucifixion, he was teaching in the temple. His disciples were marveling at the magnificent structure when Jesus predicted that it would be totally destroyed. While “Solomon’s Temple” took only six years to build, Herod’s grand monument had been many years under construction and would not be completed until 63 AD, long after Jesus’ death. To say, or even to think, that the temple would be entirely ruined was not only an affront to God but also to the king. How dare Jesus make such a pronouncement?

In 2018, long after Jesus and his disciples walked and talked on earth, Sam and Kassi, two of my grandchildren, and I were touring the Forum in Rome when we came to the Arch of Titus, dedicated to the Roman general (and future emperor) who had sacked Jerusalem in 70 AD. Interestingly, Titus’ father, Emperor Vespasian, and the empire were short of funds due to the profligate Emperor Nero. So what did nations and empires do to fill their coffers? They went to war. And it just so happened that at that time Israel was rebelling against the Roman Empire.

The need for money and the need to put down a rebellious population coincided, and Titus was on the march. After a brutal siege during which the population was starved and eventually massacred, the temple in which Jesus had preached and taught and healed was destroyed with “a river of blood [pouring down the sanctuary steps] and the bodies of those killed at the top slither[ing] to the bottom” (Josephus). And not one stone was left upon another.

So, what does this have to do with Titus’ Arch? When one looks carefully at the insides of the Arch, carved with precision and great detail are depictions of the menorah from the temple at Jerusalem and the table of shewbread, both wrenched from the holy place and brought in triumph to Rome along with thousands of Jewish captives. While the Arch was erected to honor Titus, that great general “reportedly refused to accept a wreath of victory, saying that the victory did not come through his own efforts but that he had merely served as an instrument of God’s wrath” (Philostratus).

Decades prior to the event, Jesus, Son of God, pronounced the end of God’s presence in Jerusalem.

Father, your word is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword. Your word foretells and forth-tells. Help us to be mindful and obedient. You are sovereign. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.



I being in the way, the Lord led me… Genesis 24:27 (KJV)


Being in a traveling frame of mind, I am thinking about the various folks I’ve shared planes with in the recent past and wondering who I will meet on these flights to Spain. In our “business” we always pray for divine appointments. While it’s obvious that some passengers are heaven-sent, and others are, well, opportunities, I’ve had some memorable encounters.
Like the man who disrupted the whole section of seats near us when the passenger ahead of his wife abruptly lowered the seat, spilling wine all over his wife. Attendants raced to the scene to calm the husband who temper was quickly escalating. The two combatants were safely and literally separated.
And then there was the extended family that sat on either side of the jumbo jet and proceeded to discuss family events over the heads of the whole middle section at about 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. That was a long flight.
One darling little girl heading to Africa from Europe had obviously just seen the movie “Frozen.” We were all serenaded with ditties for a while. You can guess her favorite: when she got to “To Let It Go,” she did. One could accurately describe her enthusiasm as voce alta, singing with a LOUD voice.
Of course, we’ve experienced hours of crying babies whose little ears were suffering from the altitude, and there was the little girl who sat behind me sobbed silently. I began making little playful gestures with my fingers over the back of the seat. And then I drew cartoons on the pad I always carry just in case. The cartoons caught her interest, and she responded with her own set of drawings. I learned she was flying alone and was scared to death.
But the passenger I won’t forget was Aisha. I had missed my flight from Frankfort to Moscow because of a glitch with my visa and so didn’t make a most important meeting with Dr. Maria Tschernoskaya. God intervened, and I was able to get a new visa and make the evening flight. I prayed that no one would sit near me so I could catch up on the work that had been neglected due to my delay. That prayer was not to be answered.
I tried to appear busy and unapproachable as the plane filled, and an attractive young lady sat one seat over. We exchanged polite greetings, and then I turned back to my papers. But Aisha was not to be daunted. “What takes you to Moscow? What will you be doing?” Just what I wanted to avoid. I curtly answered her questions, adding that I was to have met with one of the foremost experts in care for orphans and vulnerable children.
Aisha listed quietly and then said, “I work with someone who is an expert in care for orphans and vulnerable children.”
Somewhat interested, I added, “This woman has a model project, and we were to meet to collaborate on a program for all of Eastern Europe.”
“The woman I work with also consults with many people who come to see her work in Moscow,” Aisha remarked.
Finally, I described our vision, and Aisha revealed that she was an Oxford professor who had come to work with—yes, Dr. Maria Tschernoskaya. Together they were developing methods that could be replicated in many of the former Soviet Union facilities.
Eating humble pie, I began to question Aisha, and for the remainder of the flight we exchanged notes, and I wrote as fast as my hand would allow. Aisha with her command of the English language was much more proficient in describing the program than Dr. Tschernoskaya ever could have been. Everything I’d planned to discuss with the noted expert was addressed in my evening with Aisha.
As the plane was preparing for landing, Aisha turned to me and said, “I wasn’t supposed to be on this plane.”
“Nor was I.” I added.
What divine appointments will there be en route to Spain?


Father, why am I often surprised at your loving ways? Thank you for always going before us, and thank you that you’re way ahead of us on this flight to Spain. AMEN.


For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?  Esther 4:14



There are two overriding principles taught in the book of Esther:  God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility.  Esther is the Jewish girl, blessed by extraordinary beauty, who is chosen by King Xerxes to be his queen.  One of the king’s nobles, Haman, becomes angry that Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, won’t bow down to him, so he gets Xerxes to agree to have all the Jews exterminated (genocide goes back a long way).

Esther learns of the plot from Mordecai who challenges her to fulfill her responsibility to her people.  Mordecai implies that God has placed Esther in a high position so that she might save her people.  And, lest Esther decides to shirk this calling, Mordecai tells her, “…if you remain silent…relief and deliverance…will arise from another place…”  Do you see that Mordecai is imploring Esther to do her duty by her people?  But he goes on to say that whatever she does, God will provide deliverance.  GOD IS SOVEREIGN AND WILL NOT BE DETERRED BY THE DISOBEDIENCE OR FAILURE OF MAN.  He will find a way to fulfill his will.

We often hear people say, how can God permit…  (wars, illness, suffering, death, poverty…)  We rarely hear a call to our responsibility as his children to be peacemakers, to alleviate suffering, essentially, to be God’s hands and feet to the people of our world.  Instead, we blame God for corporate greed, for personal indulgences, for jaded sensitivities, for hearts of stone.  Simply put, we put the onus for the world’s ills on God’s back rather than accepting God’s call to us to bring deliverance.

I know a family whose baby became critically ill.  The mother begged the father to take the baby to the doctor, but he said that he had prayed for the baby and refused to consult the doctor.  The baby worsened, and the mother became distraught.  Eventually, as the baby’s condition declined, the father relented, but it was too late.  While I strongly believe that God heals, I am convinced that he works in myriad ways and often it is through the medical community.  Was God powerless in this situation or did the father fail to take responsibility and see that the doctor was the healer?

This is a good time to reflect to see if we are waiting for God to do what he’s called us to do.  I once heard that God will do what we cannot, but he will not do what we can.  Although not a scripture verse, God’s Word seems to corroborate this truth.  God is faithful, and he is sovereign to work through us to do his will.  But if we fail to obey, he will find someone who is willing.


Father, thank you for choosing us to participate in your work in the world.  Thank you that you are in charge and can be trusted to fulfill your plan no matter what.  Strengthen us to be readily available to do your will.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.