“Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today…” Exodus 14:13


I’ve been mulling over a situation that has caused substantial grief in my world. Some of us have acted in ignorance; others have been wounded; there are those who have been misunderstood; and all of us are grieving. I’ve spent time and prayers trying to discern God’s way to healing and peace. I’ve walked around with a heavy heart and a determination not to make the issue a topic of public discussion.
For days I’ve carried this weight. You’re probably wondering why I didn’t roll it on the Lord, but I did. And then I tilted the prayer so that it rolled right back on me. How could I possibly resolve an issue I didn’t create but in which I was inadvertently caught up? And so I turned this about in my mind for too many days.
I’ve continued to pray and to ask our Father for a way forward. This morning, I read, “This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged… For the battle is not yours, but God’s” (II Chron. 20:15). For days I’ve been wrestling with this divisive issue and not finding any way to turn; then God speaks. “This is MY battle, not yours. Release the worry, the concern, your impotence, and trust me.”
How many battles did the Children of Israel face that seemed insurmountable? There was the crossing of the Red Sea under Moses; the capture of Jericho under Joshua; the defeat of the Midianites under Gideon; fighting the Philistine champion Goliath; and on and on. These were all God’s battles, and he would be victorious when he was trusted and obeyed.
Isn’t this a simple and happy way to move forward in confidence—eyes on Jesus and heart trusting him. We can let go and let God do the impossible. It’s his battle. Time to chill and watch him win.


Father, I forget sometimes that you’re in charge, and I’m not. It’s your battle, and you are Lord. Lead on. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.  And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.  Matthew 25:1, 2


Yes, Christmas IS coming.  A number of years ago I discovered that Christmas ALWAYS comes on December 25.  Not the 20th or the 27th and always in December.  In fact, as early as 273 A.D. the 25th was noted for the celebration of Christ’s birthday in conjunction with the “birth of the unconquered sun” (Christian History, August 2008).

I wonder why it took me so long to record this recurring celebration of Christ’s birth and all the joyous events surrounding it?  Once I was mindful of this fact, I began preparing in the fall by making lists and purchasing gifts for loved ones.  I began sketching out our family Christmas pageant and the ensuing dinner menu.  I was able to choose a convenient date for my annual parties.  Essentially, with all the preparations made beforehand, I could worship and enjoy the deeper significance of Christ’s coming.

You may be mildly surprised to learn that there are still thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands of our fellow countrymen and women who will be startled this December to learn that Christmas is only days away.  They will stress and fret at all the things that need to be done and the little time left in which to accomplish those tasks.  Christmas comes at such a busy time of the year.

The onslaught of Hurricane Harvey is reminding me of our lack of preparation for life’s events.  I’ve heard from family and friends that lines at grocery stores have been long and uncomfortable, and some items have been missing from the shelves.  It seems that many people haven’t thought about keeping a few non-perishable items in their pantries.  But the saddest thing is the expression of anxiety and fear among those who should otherwise recognize God’s peace and presence even in the middle of crisis.

Matthew records the parable about the virgins who were all confronted with the same event.  The Bridegroom was coming, and they needed oil.  Half were ready; half weren’t.  Half had been focused on consistent growth in Christ, of following him daily; half weren’t.  Half were allowing his Spirit to fill and transform them; half weren’t.  Half were being changed into his image; half weren’t.  When the crisis occurred (the Bridegroom’s arrival), half were prepared, half weren’t.

When the various storms come to our lives—and so many arrive unannounced—what have we been laying up in our spiritual stores?  Remember another of Jesus’ parables, the one about the two houses—one built on sand and the other on the rock (Matt. 7:24-27)?  Jesus said the story reflected someone who heard and did his word and someone who didn’t.  Crises are not one-time events, but when they arrive, we sometimes behave like students cramming for the final exam.  Trust isn’t an instant commodity that can be purchased at the corner store.  It’s an ongoing, daily exercise, a lifestyle relationship with Jesus.

Do you remember what happened with the two men in the two houses?  The one that was built on the rock STOOD.  And those same life storms come at us regularly.  We stand or fall based on what we’ve been doing beforehand.  Let’s get ready.  The storm is coming.

AND so is Christmas—December 25.  Mark your calendars.


Father, thank you for your mercy in all our trials.  Continue your faithful ministry in us by your Spirit so that we stand ready to glorify you in every event.  And be with all those touched by Harvey—comfort and meet every need.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.



For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  I Timothy 1:7  (NKJV)


Have you been as baffled as I at the outpouring of fear and anxiety that’s coming from so many mouths today?  And many of these concerns are from the Millennials, those whom one would think would be most hopeful of all.  The concerns that are being voiced are based on speculations, not facts.  Where, I wonder, are we placing our trust?

When my brother and I were growing up, Momo had a little ceramic plaque on the wall of the kitchen.  It 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.'”

The same God who saw our forefathers suffer and survive a revolution while building a nation founded on godly principles is the same One who sustained a divided nation during the Civil War to later reunite them.  He’s the same One who took us through the Great War and kept us when we might have perished during World War II.  On and on we could go through our modern history to see God’s mercy and blessing even when we so little deserve it.

God is still in charge.  If we really want to make a difference in our land, we can pray and then act.  Oswald Chambers says that prayer does not change things.  Prayer changes us, and we change things.  We embrace the Sermon on the Mount,* and we begin to live it out.  As we dispel fear through obedience, love and power and a sound mind fill the vacuum.  Who are we that we should be identified by our fears and our uncertainties?

God is still God and still waits for us to cast all our cares on him because he cares for us (I Peter 5:7).  He is the solitary power in the universe who longs to be gracious to [us]; therefore he will rise up to show [us] compassion (Isaiah 30:18).  “The eternal God is [our] refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…” (Deuteronomy 33:2)

Let’s stop whining about our circumstances, whatever they are, and look to Jesus who takes away our fears, is our refuge, and who loves and cares for us.


Father, sometimes we get caught up in our secular culture and forget that you are still God.  We give you all our anxieties and fears and ask, instead, for your love, your power, and your sound mind.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.


*If you haven’t read the Sermon on the Mount lately, take a little time to really chew on it:  Matthew 5-7.



Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:2  (BSB)


Have you noticed that the thing that most occupies our thoughts is typically the thing that most affects our attitudes and behavior?  For example, focusing on world affairs tends to evoke frustration and a sense of helplessness (if not hopelessness).  Attention to today’s politics can arouse anger; fear of the future can provoke anxiety; while exaggerated concern about our health can create hypochondria.  Proverbs 23:7 confirms that we are what we think in our hearts.

Paul wrote to the church at Philippi (4:8) to think about whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable… Essentially, we need to take control of what we entertain in our heads (and hearts).  We are to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (II Corinthians 10:5). 

We CAN discipline our thoughts and our thinking patterns.  …we have the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16) and can expect the Holy Spirit to empower us to keep our eyes on Jesus rather than on things that rob us of what he would do in and through us.

So here’s the simple cure for anxiety, for (unrighteous) anger, for negativity, for worry or fear:  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus.  Abiding in him, thanking and praising him, and focusing on him brings peace and joy.  In fact, in [his] presence is fulness of joy; at [his] right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Psalm 16:11).

The hard part is consistently practicing this simple cure.  But we have the Holy Spirit in us to strengthen us to do what pleases the Father.  Now, let’s get started.


Heavenly Father, it’s tiring and counter-productive to think negatively.  It’s depressing to become preoccupied with self.  Train us to keep our eyes on Jesus.  Thank you.  AMEN.



Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”  Isaiah 30:21  (NIV)


Yesterday was Scott’s turn to teach our adult Sunday school class.  The topic from the Believe series was Peaceful.  The lesson was structured around three points:  peace with God, peace with others, and peace within ourselves.  As he addressed the foundational issue, peace with God, Scott gave us a list that contrasted God’s voice and the voice of our arch-enemy, Satan.


God’s Voice Satan’s Voice
Still Rushing
Leading Pushing/restraining
Reassuring Frightening
Enlightening Confusing
Encouraging Discouraging
Comforting Worrying/distressing
Calming Obsessing
Convicting Condemning


We all have voices in our heads—sometimes they’re our own thoughts, and sometimes God is speaking to us.  But often Satan injects thoughts that are destructive, negative, or in some way detrimental to our spiritual life.  They rob us of our peace and produce distress in its stead.


My mom had an interesting method for identifying the voices in her head.  She said, “Always listen to the pronouns.  You can detect the source if the voice says, ‘He or him.’  God always say, ‘I.’” 


Jesus told us that we will know his voice if we’re his sheep.  I speak with my two grown children almost every day.  Never do they call and identify themselves; they just begin the conversation as soon as I say hello.  I know their voices, and they know mine.  I’m convinced that frequent conversations with our Lord will make us more and more familiar with his voice, and we’ll at some time be able to recognize him the moment he speaks.


We have all these and many more wonderful tools for walking in peace with Jesus:  discernment of the intent of the message, listening to the pronouns, and recognizing the voice.  There’s no need for us to ever be in confusion.


Father, thank you for all the wonderful teachers you’ve given us to grow us in our relationship with you.  Keep us in your peace as we listen to you and follow you.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.


Shew me a token for good…because thou, Lord, hast holpen me, and comforted me. Psalm 86:17 (KJV)

Ordinarily, I’m not someone who looks for “signs,” but when my husband told me to begin planning for my first transatlantic flight, I needed reassurance. Peter had traveled widely prior to our marriage, but I’d never flown so long over the water. I wasn’t exactly afraid, but I didn’t relish all those hours suspended over the ocean.

Our destination was Ireland, and I would have an opportunity to see firsthand the beauty of the Emerald Isle. I threw myself into preparations, hoping to ease or forget my apprehension. Still, I couldn’t get rid of that nagging anxiety.

Chastising myself for lack of trust, I recalled verses of Scripture that related to God’s protection. Nothing seemed to help. I was too embarrassed to admit to my family or friends that I, a Bible study teacher and mentor, was nervous about such a silly thing. Privately, I prayed about my misgivings and surrendered them to the Lord.

The night before we were to leave, a simple thing happened. I stepped into the shower before going to bed and was surprised by the most wonderful scent. Someone, I still don’t know who, had placed in the soap dish a bar of Irish Spring hand soap which literally permeated the atmosphere with hope, joy, and reassurance. I knew it would be a wonderful trip.

Nowadays I spend days and nights on planes going to our various mission ministries around the world, and I am always grateful for God’s patience in giving me such a little thing to assure me he was in control. He prepared me for what he had prepared for me.

Father, your kindness and mercy are beyond comprehension. You answer our prayers and reassure us in the most unexpected ways. Help us to be open to any way in which you choose to comfort and care for us. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN.


And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (NIV)

Have you heard the predictions about the cataclysm that may be just a few days away? I have friends who are stocking up on food and water, just in case. (I did grab extra peanut butter when I was out shopping.)

In an earlier conversation with my brother, practical person that he is, he pointed out that hungry people would be driven to desperation and would break in to empty out those well-stocked pantries among us. And, on the other hand, wouldn’t it be our Christian duty to share with those in need and thereby show Christ’s love?

Any way one looks at the future, we always come back to one of our core principles: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not depend on your own understanding. Surely, the One who feeds the sparrows and multiplies loaves and fishes is able to sustain his children. And perhaps that will be through those who were led to get extra provisions for just such a time. (I’ve got peanut butter to share.)

Father, help us to never yield to fear no matter how desperate our situation. Help us to remember all the saints for whom you provided, knowing that you are the same God yesterday, today, and forever. Help us to keep trusting you. AMEN.


Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

Yesterday a friend who lives in the guest apartment above my garage called to tell me that the air conditioner had fallen out of the window. Is that even possible? Apparently, all the bad weather and wind had loosened the supports of the unit, and it fell two stories to the ground. A couple of friends came and re-installed it, but it didn’t work. No surprise.

In the afternoon two repairmen came to replace cracked glass in my windows while I was out. When I returned, I saw that three window panes in each window had the original see-through glass, and the new ones had opaque glass that no one could see through. Didn’t they notice that it was different? (This was after the A/C fell out of the back window.)

I went to bed last night feeling like Job and thinking about the windows, the broken air conditioner, and the cost, not to mention hassle. And these are only trivia compared to the grave matters in our world. Just as I was beginning to grind my teeth, I remembered that worrying doesn’t do anything positive, and it certainly isn’t conducive to sleep. With every ounce of my will, I gave the matters over to God and snoozed.

Today, the repairman found a little wire had gotten disconnected in the fall, and the A/C is back in service. And the glass people are coming back – with the right glass this time.

Father, thank you for being patient with me and reminding me that worrying is counterproductive. Help me to trust you in ALL things. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


…ye have not, because ye ask not. James 4:2b (KJV)

In good faith, we ordered imprinted notebooks for an upcoming workshop. For some days we didn’t hear from the vendor. We tried calling and e-mailing. And we prayed. Still no word. The materials would be no good to us after the meetings, so we intensified our prayers and our attempts to get a response.
We’re told that as Christians we shouldn’t be anxious about anything and should pray about everything; that we should pray and not give up (we needed those notebooks); and that he would supply our needs. There were many scripture verses about prayer that we could have leaned on. We figured that if God is concerned about hairs and birds and flowers and grass, he could surely deliver those notebooks in time.

The last possible day they could be delivered before the event, they were brought to my office. Coincidence? Perhaps. But I like Sir William Temple’s reasoning when he says, “When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I don’t, they don’t.” And so we prayed again—in thanksgiving.

Father, you know our needs, our frailties, and our little faith. Thank you that, in spite of all this, you still shower us with mercy and loving kindness. YES. Amen.


Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. Isaiah 12:2a (NIV)

Have you ever played the game What If? Actually, it’s not a game, and it’s not fun. It goes like this: You give free rein to your thoughts to create negative scenarios (notice they’re NEVER positive). Your mind is free to speculate. What if he has a wreck coming home? What if she doesn’t accept my explanation? What if I lose my job? What if we run out of money? What if they don’t like me? And on and on it goes until we are miserable.

What If is like teasing a frightened dog and being shocked when it bites. What If bites. It always leads to worry, fretting, anxiety, distress, even depression when given enough latitude.

Be honest with yourself. How many of your What Ifs were as bad as you imagined they would be? Probably very few. We work ourselves into a tizzy because the moment the What If creeps into our cognition, we entertain it rather than destroying it. We destroy it by remembering (or even saying aloud, if necessary), “God is my salvation. I will trust and not be afraid.” And we give the What If to God.

We take the next steps in full confidence that God goes ahead of us and gives every grace we need for the circumstance. Of course, it takes practice, so let’s get going.

Father, we spend so much time in speculation while we could spend the same time trusting you and thanking you that you’ve already created a way to save us. Forgive us and help us to move from What If to trust. In our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.