Jesus, Thank-you!

I’ve been working my way through Isaiah 12, one verse per week, hoping to put the entire wee chapter in my memory bank.  But more than that I’d like it to be true in my life.  Here’s what it says:

1 You will say in that day: “I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me. 2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”

3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 4 And you will say in that day: “Give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. 6 Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” Is.12:1-6 ESV

Now from the context (Is.11)  it is pretty clear that this prophecy is specifically referring to Israel and is descriptive of their Messiah’s return to set up His Kingdom and to deliver them from their enemies.  But there’s also a pattern here which I believe holds true for all who have found peace with God, all those who have found the comfort of knowing that their sins are no longer held against them and God’s wrath toward them has been turned away because of Jesus.

The pattern I see is one of deep heartfelt gratitude for God’s salvation, and of fearless trust in light of who God is to me.  It is one of confidence and joy as a result of continuing to drawing on this salvation for daily strength.  This phrase: “With JOY you will DRAW WATER from the wells of salvation” is a beautiful one.  Salvation is not a one-time thing, but a continual life sustaining refreshment.  The reality that I’ve been ‘saved’ from God’s wrath and made His child is never meant to grow ‘ho-hum’ or irrelevant to my daily experience, but rather to result in a continual consciousness of God’s greatness and His active presence in my life and in all the world around me.

“Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

We live between Jesus’ first and second comings.  His salvation has been provided through the cross for all who will look and live. The wells of salvation have been dug, so to speak.  And they are sufficient to sustain life and godliness in this broken world despite the blight of sin within and without, despite its consequences, despite disappointments and pain and sadness.  At the wells of salvation there is always strength, always grace, always rest, always wisdom, always joy!  This is a great salvation we are meant to draw from and to keep drawing from.

We were never intended to settle for fearful,  joy-deprived, burdensome living.  Instead, we are invited to draw water and drink deeply from the wells of salvation and there to find joy unspeakable.  And if this passage is any clue, it all seems to begin with gratitude for what Christ has done in turning away God’s  wrath so that we might know His comfort.

And curiously enough, the words of a song  entitled: “Jesus, Thank-you” have been playing over and over in my mind this past week.  They’ve been just what I’ve needed!  I commend them to you.

Jesus, Thank-you!

The mystery of the cross I cannot comprehend
The agonies of Calvary
You the perfect Holy One, crushed Your Son
Who drank the bitter cup reserved for me
Your blood has washed away my sin
Jesus, thank You
The Father’s wrath completely satisfied
Jesus, thank You
Once Your enemy, now seated at Your table
Jesus, thank You
By Your perfect sacrifice I’ve been brought near
Your enemy You’ve made Your friend
Pouring out the riches of Your glorious grace
Your mercy and Your kindness know no end
Lover of my soul
I want to live for You.

May you (and me too!!) know the joy of drawing deeply from the wells of salvation this week, and for eternity


“…so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” Heb.9:28

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. I Pet.1:8,9

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Mt.11:28-30 as paraphrased in The Message by Eugene Peterson

When Strivings Cease…

Jacob’s all-night wrestling match with God has long been a fixating story for me.  I returned to this post this week because I still need the reminder that rest is found in surrender to our Faithful and Almighty God…

“Jacob Wrestling with the Angel,” by Gustave Dore, 1855

What is the essence of this story from Genesis 32? Is it a model for prevailing prayer?  A template for securing God’s blessing?  Or is there more to this story than meets the eye in its sparsely told format?

Up to this point in Jacob’s life there has been little to commend him as a man of faith.  He has lived up to the meaning of his name mostly, and has struggled with everyone in his life in order to secure himself a blessing.  He’s been a cheat and a conniver, looking out for his own interests and enjoying the blessings of God without acknowledging God as His rightful Lord.  He has spent the most productive years of his life living in exile from his own family, putting in slave labor for his uncle, being cheated and taken advantage of himself but always rising to the top, always making things work out… and now he has a big family, two wives, and a whole lot of progeny, not to mention flocks and herds. He left home with just a staff and now he’s returning with his own entourage…

Yes, he’s returning at last. This was God’s idea.

But years ago when he set out on this journey he had made a promise—granted it was an unabashedly conditional, ‘Jacob’ sort of promise—but a promise it was.  God had ‘seen him off’ on his journey with a vision by night in which He said: “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. … and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Gen.28:13 Jacob was awestruck by God’s presence and made a sort of altar out of his stone pillow in the morning, christening the place, “Bethel” (house of God), and vowing that if God would keep him in food and clothes and bring him safely home again that he, Jacob, would make this God his own God.

And now here he is, almost home.  But this is scary. The immediate dilemma in Jacob’s mind is that his presumably embittered brother, Esau, is on the march with 400  men. Jacob could lose everything, including his own life. But there’s another One he’s been running from. This God to whom he vowed allegiance has not forgotten Jacob’s vow at Bethel. He loves Jacob far too much to let him go on living by his own strength. And when Jacob has taken every last measure he can think of to gain his brother’s approval, and has sent his loved ones across the stream ahead of him…when he’s all alone at last, God shows up.

I love this about Jacob’s story. It’s really a story of God showing up, intervening, blessing, protecting, and guiding Jacob’s life in spite of himself, to a point where he will rest from his conniving and let God be God. It’s a story of God pursuing man. It’s our story… But I run ahead of myself.

The details of the all-night wrestling match are sparse. A ‘man’ wrestles with Jacob until morning light. Jacob refuses to yield until his hip is dislocated and finally, clinging on for dear life he declares “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”  (Gen.32:26) Who does he think is in charge?  Who’s not letting who go?  It seems to me that it is God who has initiated this match and God will say when it is finished.

Hosea’s commentary on this event helps: “The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways…He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God: Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us… Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.:” Hosea 12:2-6

I see a picture of a repentant Jacob finally yielding to God’s power, finally willing to admit that he really does need God’s blessing. He has found that ‘place of repentance’ that eluded his brother Esau.  God, like a kind Father has brought him to repentance, first matching his strength till he is spent, then with a mere touch dislocating Jacob’s hip…all to bring Jacob to the point of crying “Uncle!” (or could we say “Abba”)?  Or as he puts it: “ I will not let you go until you bless me”.  Jacob acknowledges that he is dependent on God’s mercy.  He cannot coerce God to bless him but he desperately needs what only God can give him–a new name, a new allegiance…God has orchestrated this moment.

It is not so much Jacob’s persistence that is to be lauded, but his crying out with the last of his strength for God’s mercy–recognizing that he is beholden to God for everything, even life itself.

“It depends not on human will or exertion but on God, who has mercy.” Rom.9:16

All night long God has hung on to Jacob awaiting his surrender, like a Father feigning weakness as he ‘wrestles’ with his toddler,  but this is no game.  God knows what Jacob needs most, the blessing of forgiveness and acceptance despite all he has done. He needs to be rightly related to this God as his God. A precious thing transpires at this point. God asks him a question that seems so obvious as to be silly. “What is your name.”

Long years ago Jacob had been asked this very question by his own father. And he had answered with a lie, the consequences of which have dogged him down through all these years and brought him full circle to this moment. He had said‘I’m Esau’ to procure his father’s blessing. And now he is here, a grown man pleading for a blessing from the God who has brought him to this moment for that express purpose.

But first he must confess his real name: “I’m Jacob” (the cheat, the deceiver, the usurper). And God is pleased to bless him with a new identity. He has come to the end of his struggling and will now bear the name Israel, denoting his life-long struggles with man and God, but also that “God Perseveres”. And I start to see that this is not so much the story of Jacob as it is that of God’s mercy and unrelenting love, carrying out all He has promised. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Rom.11:29  Jacob, now Israel, goes from this encounter, a reconciled man—finished with his struggles with God and with man. First chance he gets he buys up a parcel of land on which to pitch his tent and erect an altar.  And guess what he calls it?!  El-Elohe-Israel—God, the God of Israel.

His story gives me hope…for this God is my God.  This God is the One who holds me in the night of my fears for myself and my family.   When I struggle to work things out myself, He reminds me it’s His game plan that matters.  When I question ‘Why did you make me like this?!’ He reminds me that He is the Potter and that’s no way for clay to talk…When I see how weak I am, He reminds me this is the best place for His strength to be on display…

Ah, which reminds me.  There was another conversation God had with Jacob.  The night of wrestling was past.  The reunion with Esau had gone splendidly.  And God told Jacob to build an altar at Bethel. There God answered the question Jacob had asked of Him on the dark night of their wrestling: “Please, tell me your name.” Gen 32:29

God answered, “Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name…And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply…” Gen.35:10,11 The introductions were over. God Almighty is now the God of Jacob and Jacob will in turn  invoke this name to bless his own sons and their sons (43:14) just as his own father had done for him.

The story of Jacob at this point gets all but buried in the narrative of Joseph’s life. Jacob grieves the loss of his favored son Joseph until he is surprised beyond belief at the announcement that Joseph is alive and ruling in Egypt—a literal God-send for his family’s preservation. Life in God Almighty’s care goes beyond anything he could have schemed or dreamed up for himself. And so he grows old in the land of Egypt. But do you know what he is commended for in the great Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11)? It is not for his ‘power with God’ in that long ago wrestling match. It is not for his big family. He is commended for the faith expressed in his dying breath as he blessed the sons of Joseph bowing in worship on his staff. (Heb.11:21)

This was his blessing:

“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” Gen.48:15,16

How was this an expression of faith? Here are these two Jewish/Egyptian lads, Manasseh and Ephraim,  being reared in a pagan culture, but Jacob is confident that God Almighty is well able to take them and weave them into a great nation as He has promised. Jacob has traded in his wrestling for worship, his self-confidence for faith. And so he is commended for his faith not in wresting a blessing for himself, but in passing it on…

I’ve been magnetized to Jacob’s story for two weeks now, perhaps because I see my own propensity to struggle with God to bless me and mine, as if He were not faithful, as if all depended on my faithfulness…As if the struggle were requisite to the blessing.

One morning early last week I was bemoaning my perceived woes, filling my ‘quiet time’ with rankling memos in my journal of all that is not right in my little world…It was time to put on the teapot and fix breakfast and still I could not see God’s truth through my self-absorbed fog. At that moment I was reminded of these words from Isaiah: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” And a little farther along in the same passage, “The Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” (Is.30:15,18) Old familiar verses freshly applied to my heart.  They are the story of Jacob’s life and the requirement for my own.  It is not in the struggle that I prevail but in repentant rest and quiet trust. And when I cannot see the blessing that is promised, it is the waiting that will be blessed.


“So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.” Hos.12:6

“We do not present our pleas because of our righteousness but because of your great mercy.”  Dan.9:18

“O Lord, be gracious to us;
we wait for you.
Be our arm every morning,
Our salvation in the time of trouble.”


–I know this has been long but there are two songs that beg to keep company with Jacob’s (and my) story.  Take a few minutes to bless the God of Jacob as you listen:

In Christ Alone [Click title to listen]

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease

My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny

No power of hell, no scheme of man
Could ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I stand

Songwriters: Julian Keith Getty, Stuart Richard Townend


I am not skilled to understand
What God has willed, what God has planned
I only know at his right hand
Stands one who is my Savior

I take him at his word and deed
Christ died to save me this I read
And in my heart I find a need
For him to be my Savior

That he would leave his place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange, so once did I
Before I knew my Savior

My Savior loves, my Savior lives
My Savior’s always there for me
My God he was, my God he is
My God he’s always gonna be

Yes, living, dying; let me bring
My strength, my solace from this spring
That he who lives to be my King
Once died to be my Savior.
–Aaron Shust’s adaptation of the original by:
Dor­o­thy Green­well, Songs of Sal­va­tion, 1873

Originally posted Feb.10, 2012 as Wrestling with God

Our Fire-tending God

I had a hurried time in the Word one day this week, catching just a few snatches, a short Psalm, but even a few snatches are powerful when the Spirit applies them to the heart.  I read Psalm 93:

The LORD reigns…the world is established; it shall never be moved…The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods lift up their roaring!!
Mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty!  Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.”

And I scribbled these words in my journal before scooting off to breakfast and on with the day: How will this truth live in my thoughts and actions today and bring life to damaged belief systems?

I struggle with varied nagging fears.  It is my nature not to trust completely and to feel instead that it’s up to me to insure my well-being, and that of those I love.  This is problematic when circumstances are clearly outside my control!  I have been thinking about these things and on this particular day I got a little object lesson in how senseless and peace-robbing my fears are, and how trustworthy and holy-making is God’s Word at work in my heart.

Jim was burning brush in the backyard—a great mound of it left from his landscaping work… It has been so very dry here this summer. Fire bans were in effect while forest fires raged in record breaking ways nearby. But the rain has returned and cooler temperatures allow for burning once again. Still there is always a risk. And the crackling of fire, the smoke, the consciousness of its heat and potential make me wary… Well, so I took lunch out to Jim as he stood sentinel by his blazing inferno.  And we sat together at a short distance to eat. But I could not relax, could not enter into our usual discussion of life and faith… I kept straining to see if the fire was within its parameters and had not reached to lick up dry grass and spread out of control…It wasn’t my job. Jim was in charge. He was mindful. (And he is after all a trained fire fighter!)  But I felt an undue responsibility and it robbed me of a peaceful lunch and  meaningful conversation. But I recognized it, and that’s a start.

Well, the day was too lovely to be holed up indoors so after lunch I brought my current project out to sit and keep Jim company–stitching a pine needle basket. There’s nothing quite so peaceful and therapeutic, especially on such a day when there’s  just enough sun to be warm and enough cool to feel refreshed, enough autumn in the air to luxuriate in the remains of summer!  A perfectly restful idea, EXCEPT for the presence of that crackling blazing fire.

Could I actually relax and attend to MY business and let Jim attend to his as if there were no fire crackling nearby, no smoke lazily rising, no threat of catching the world on fire! I almost chose to stay inside rather than wrestle with my fears.

It seems a silly example but for my heart it was a moment to rest in  a bigger reality. God is the Fire-tender. (He is Himself a consuming fire!). His domain reaches infinitely beyond my own. He has given me a calling within it along with its attendant duties; these are my domain. He intends for me to carry them out at peace with the world–to stay calm and carry on, so to speak, to mind my own business, looking to Him for the wherewithal to do so and let Him mind His. When I do my task with inner peace and quiet joy, confident in His superintending care, I honor Him as a very good King. I am a subject; He the King. How blessed are the subjects of a wise King, as Queen Sheba commented in observing King Solomon’s impressive court.   And what  glory contented subjects bring to their King.

And with these thoughts fed by the morning’s reading of the Word, I sat and stitched…and let the fire be somebody else’s business.  The LORD reigns.  Forever.  Period.  The noise of a flood (or a fire!) may be in my ears, but HE reigns.  It can do no harm but what He allows.  This was a relevant object lesson for me.  I can trust Him to manage the fires in my life—the burning away of dross, the disciplining of His children for the sake of our holiness.  My response?  I can REJOICE in GOD even as I tremble at His Word.  Abiding in Him I can ask, knock, and seek,  confident that He hears, that He knows, and that He will grant what is in line with His purposes.  There is great peace in such an arrangement.

If you were to ask Jim whether I have fully learned this lesson of trust, he would let you know I’m still querying him about the smoke drifting past the window as the roots continue to burn day and night…I still remind him to check on things (as if he needed my reminder), and to be honest, I’m still a little on edge about this fire business in the back yard. I’ll be relieved when it has burned itself out completely.   But there it is, my object lesson about needless fears.  Were God only a consuming fire and not perfect LOVE, were I not His by means of a covenant He established and I have entered into by faith, I would do well to fear the FIRE.  But as it is, He is committed to my good, bringing all that He is to the task, for His glory’s sake.  He is a covenant keeping God.  I can rest in this… and go on stitching my little pine needle baskets to His glory…

So whatever you are doing today, do it to the glory of God—with quiet confidence that He reigns in all the raging world around, as you fulfill His purposes for you in the here and now.



“…we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God…” Rom. 5:1,2

More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Rom.5:11

For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.” Rom.5:17

But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,  keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. Jude 1:20-21

All that Matters in the Messy Moments

You’ve no doubt had those moments–when harsh reality hits and the world stops spinning for just a bit, or for weeks and months…  You didn’t see it coming, you had hoped and prayed it never would.  But it is here and is not welcome. It could be a death, a crash, a conversation, a crisis.  But in the moment life lies shattered at your feet.  This is not what you’d planned.

If we haven’t yet lived through such moments, we’ve surely seen them: Babies die; marriages self-destruct; dreams unravel; children depart; heroes fall; and, if we are honest with ourselves, we fail, miserably.  It is in the messes of our lives that we discover where our hope lies.

Now hope that is seen is not hope.  For who hopes for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Rom.8:24,25

It is in the crushing of our hopes that we discover how we have defined success. For me, I had thought never failing, or at least avoiding mistakes, was tantamount to success.  Keeping my nose clean, making only the best choices, and training my children to do the same–in hopes of us all living happily forever and always– was my definition of success.  But it’s not God’s.

 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. Gal.5:6

He’s not so concerned that we fail (nor is He surprised!).  His concern is that we repent.
It is not the sister caught in a sin that He resists, but the one who refuses to call upon her Saviour.
And it is not the good-deed-a-holic that impresses Him, but the one who believes.

Faith in the One who is our very Life is what matters.  And growing and fortifying that faith is God’s priority for His children.  Without it we cannot please Him.  Without it we haven’t got a life.

“…but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. Jn.20:31

So He allows us to make mistakes, to bring heaps of trouble on ourselves, to parent badly, to  make poor choices and even to live with the consequences.  Though He can, and we pray and plead that He will, God doesn’t always prevent disasters or circumvent consequences, or override our choices.  But He always uses them for our good and His glory.

It’s not that He doesn’t see or care.  It’s just that He has a bigger purpose in mind than our perfect track record or our seamless happiness.  If your own story doesn’t bear this out (yet), pick a Bible story, any story, and slow it down to feel the moments as they play out.  Stop the video as Naomi’s husband and sons die, one by one, leaving her alone in a foreign land…

Listen in as the gate clangs shut on Joseph’s prison cell. He’s done nothing to ‘deserve’ this; he’s been faithful; but here he sits.

And how was Samson’s mom feeling the day he married Delilah?  She’d followed God’s instructions and raised him as a Nazarite, but he wanted this girl so badly…

John the Baptist, faithful forerunner to Jesus, knew of faithfulness unrewarded.  He lost his head in prison.

Peter knew failure.  He had betrayed his most valued friend– His Lord and God!  Talk about disillusionment, what would it have been like to watch the One you’d trusted to save you be crucified Himself?

Messy moments. Painful moments–moments that were impossible to comprehend in the moment.   But each was a masterpiece God was creating.  We see this in hindsight.  But only the eye of faith could have imagined it.

  • A Moabite, Naomi’s daughter-in-law is planted in the family line of Jesus displaying the glorious grace of God that outshines the Law’s demands.
  • Joseph emerges from the dungeon to sit at Pharaoh’s right hand with the power to save God’s people from starvation!
  • Samson regains his faith and his strength and conquers God’s enemies by the laying down of his life.

We would not have scripted these stories this way.  At least I wouldn’t have!  But each is a story of redemption and of faith.  God saves the day. Messes are made to serve His purposes.  Faith is made strong.

[A little side note, do you know what Joseph was commended for?  “By faith, Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.” Heb.11:22 He would not live  to see his beloved home again but he died believing God would be faithful in taking His people back home to their own land one day…]

This is God’s heart for HIs children—that they would believe and so see His great glory.  This is our destiny and it is the overarching story of our lives.  All else pales in importance.

I read the story of Lazarus’ death today.  There was a crisis.  Lazarus lay dying. Mary and Martha sent for Jesus to come and heal Him.  He delayed, on purpose.  And Lazarus died. Why? Martha couldn’t understand it:  “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  She knew Jesus could heal him.  But what she did not yet know was that He could raise the dead.  He delayed for the sake of his friends and followers, so that they might believe and behold the glory of God.Jn.11:14,21,40

Our most painful moments may be the ones through which God is most greatly glorified.

Peter rebounded from his painful failure to write us this encouragement:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,  so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. I Pet.1:3-9 ESV

Faith is the victory that overcomes the world–faith in the God who sees where we cannot, faith in the God who is good when it’s NOT all good with us and ours. And as I sweep up my own pieces, wipe away tears and look around for Bandaids to patch my heart, I hear the distant strains of a symphony.  It is faint, just barely audible.  It’s the sound of hope, a better hope, dreams yet unimagined.  God is orchestrating circumstances for His own glory and for the refining of His children.  Ours is a God who redeems.  I will set my hope on Him.


[Our] Redeemer is strong; the LORD of hosts is his name! Jer.50:34

“…I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” –Jesus Lk.22:32

For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. I Jn.5:4

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. Ps.34:18,19


May I offer you a song in hopes that it will bless your heart as it has mine?
Listen here or go to YouTube :

“Blessings” by Laura Story

Better yet, two songs ( :

We Believe
Listen on You Tube here:

In this time of desperation
When all we know is doubt and fear
There is only one foundation
We believe, we believe
In this broken generation
When all is dark, You help us see
There is only one salvation
We believe, we believe

We believe in God the Father
We believe in Jesus Christ
We believe in the Holy Spirit
And He’s given us new life
We believe in the crucifixion
We believe that He conquered death
We believe in the resurrection
And He’s coming’ back again, we believe

So, let our faith be more than anthems
Greater than the songs we sing
And in our weakness and temptations
We believe, we believe!

Let the lost be found and the dead be raised!
In the here and now, let love invade!
Let the church live love our God will save
We believe, we believe!
And the gates of hell will not prevail!
For the power of God, has torn the veil!
Now we know Your love will never fail!
We believe, we believe!

He’s comin’ back again!
He’s comin’ back again!
We believe!
We believe

–by Newsboys


When RIGHT goes wrong…

I cannot take the words back. They’re in print.  But they caused such pain.  What went wrong?  I’ve re-read them for content and I still stand by them.  They represent what I wanted to say, what I felt I needed to say.  I believed I was sending them in love, ‘for your good’.  But they cut like a knife; you’re bleeding.  Now what?

I have retraced my steps this week to think about what it means to ‘speak the truth in love’.  These thoughts have synced with my pondering of what it means to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  I’ve been thinking about each of these facets of me, wondering what it would look like to love God as He intends. For instance, if I am to love the Lord my God with all my heart what does this look like?

It’s one thing to love Him with the use of my mind; this seems to be my preferred mode. With my mind I study His Word.  With my mind I compose thoughts. Knowing the truth. Pondering the truth.  These things I enjoy doing.   But sometimes my heart gets left behind.

I can write right words without letting a heart of love control them.  Love is patient, love is kind.  It is not arrogant or rude insisting on its own way of thinking.  It is not driven by irritation or resentment.  (Words composed out of frustration are seldom words that effect the desired result!)  Words fired like rock salt  from a shotgun, though true, will only burn and wound.  These aren’t the wounds of a friend. 

I’m not big on mercy.  As those nearest me have already realized, it does not come naturally to me.  I’m all about TRUTH!  But without tender mercy truth only wounds, doing more harm than good.  Like a bleach bath for eczema, the proportions matter!  Too much bleach irritates, burns and destroys the skin it is intended to heal.

To love God with all my heart means I have to apply truth with kindness and gentleness, keeping truth and mercy in careful proportion.  Knowing and SAYING(!) what is right is not enough.  To love the Lord with all my heart means loving others in my dispensing of the truth they need to hear. It is not enough to say I’m speaking because I love them.  I must “speak the truth IN LOVE’’.  Love builds up. It encourages with the aim of motivating change for the other’s good.

Paul shows how this is done in advising Timothy how to negotiate with those who oppose him:  “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.”  Why?  Because the object is not to spout off the truth in offensive ways so that I can wear an “I’M RIGHT—YOU’RE WRONG” badge with self-congratulatory smugness.  (Love “does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”)  The object is to win over the ‘opponent’ to the truth.  To help him see rightly.  Caustic words don’t do that.  Gentle words may.  But ultimately it is God who grants the repentance that leads to a knowledge of truth.  Humble words delivered gently are much more apt to engender this coming to one’s senses and so escaping the snare of deception.  Isn’t this the object? 

Too often I have thought that being right and saying so would suffice.

But God speaks gently. He is kind. And patient. He leads me to repentance…by means of the Truth.


Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. Ps.19:14

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Eph.4:29

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
II Tim.2:24-26

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person. Col.4:6