On the brink…

Two men camped at the brink of the Jordan about to cross over to the land of their enemies.  One wrestled the night away in terror and unbelief, intent on wresting from God what He had already promised: “I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea…” Gen.33:12  He was lamed in the process and walked with a limp ever after, a reminder that no man shall hold God hostage.  He will bless whom He will bless. God had already chosen to bless him and to make him a blessing. He would father the twelve heads of the tribes of Israel.

Five hundred years later this man’s descendants would camp on the banks of this same Jordan awaiting their crossing to the land of their enemies. Though the Jordan was flooding its banks the man who would lead them was ready.  He had waited forty years for this opportunity, forty years of watching an entire generation die in the wilderness because of their unbelief. Only he and Caleb had lived to see this day. 

In those forty intervening years He had been Moses’ understudy. He had seen the glory of God and when his time came to lead  He had believed God’s reassurances: “just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to al the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go…” Joshua 1:7,8

His name of course, was Joshua and there he was, up early and ready to go.  The Ark of the Covenant was with them, a  sacred symbol of God’s covenant promises and of His presence with His people.  What more did they need?

The instructions were simple.  The priests carrying the Ark were to lead the way because the people ‘had not been this way before.’   They had only to take a step of faith, to wade into the water and God would do the rest.

This story resonates for me right now.  I’m not sitting on a riverbank exactly but there is quite a torrent around me—boxes and totes and  antique apple crates being filled and stacked and ready for a crossing in the morning…We’re going to get our feet wet, ready to make a move into a new province, without knowing the particulars of where we’ll get to unpack and settle. But we have a calling—to a job and to family.  And we are ready to take a step of faith.

Would it be stretching the analogy here to observe that we as believers, are also priests?  We’re ‘a kingdom of priests’, appointed to trust God and follow His directives, to step out in faith even if it means getting our feet wet,  because others follow behind us and may find dry land on which to follow….

This miraculous crossing was to be for them a sign that the living God was indeed among them and would go before them and drive out their enemies. (Joshua 3:10) And sure enough, as the priests carrying the Ark took the first steps, the waters stood up like a heap and the people were able to cross over on dry ground.

During the crossing twelve stones were chosen to be set up on the far bank as a memorial for the generations to come, as an object lesson for the stories parents would tell their children “so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.” Jos 4:24

Joshua’s story inspires me—the way he just believed God and ‘rose early in the morning and set out…’Joshua 3:1 to do what God had prepared him to do. He didn’t know all the details but he knew God would lead the way. I want to be like that, strong and courageous, trusting, obeying, moving forward as He directs, overcoming obstacles in His timing…

Joshua’s name is the Hebrew equivalent of the One we know as Jesus, meaning, “The Lord is salvation”.  This is the likeness God is pleased to conform us to as we walk by faith. Christ in me, my Hope of glory. Rejoicing in His strength, I am strong. Believing His promises I am made courageous. Holding His hand I am led to my inheritance…

And now, I had better get closing up boxes and readying for the ‘crossing’ .
Thank you for your prayers.  The next post, Lord willing, will come from Alberta!


Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever. Ps.146:5.6

Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass. Joshua 21:45 

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Requisite to Encouragement

Encouragement, whether you’re extending it or receiving it, requires faith. Ability to encourage is contingent on believing that what will be is more than what is now.  It takes vision, hope in what is yet unseen.  For faith is the stuff of things hoped for, things not visible, things yet to be…

If I have doubts that things really can get any better, I will be a poor encourager.  If I want to ignite faith in you, I must have faith myself. This makes sense to me.

But it occurs to me this week that receiving encouragement also requires faith. If I don’t believe that what you say is true, how will it encourage me? if I doubt your motives or overthink your kindnesses, your attempts at encouragement may only serve to strengthen my cynicism. “You’re just saying that.”  “That’s sounds too good to be true.”  “No, really? I don’t think so…”  Whether I find encouragement where it is offered all depends on faith.  And faith is strengthened or shattered by the messages I choose to believe.

Twelve spies took a peek at the land the Lord had promised them. It was good, very good.  Too good to be true.  Their gaze was quickly averted from the good things God intended for them to the obstacles that lay in the way.  Fearsome giants. Fortified cities.  Their own weakness. “We are like grasshoppers before them.” Only two spies believed, disregarding the strength of the opposition in comparison to the Word and proven character of their God. “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” Num.13:30  Their encouragement came not from what they had seen but from what they knew to be true. But the people chose to listen to the faithless voices:  “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” Num.13:30-31 They refused the encouragement that comes of faith and ended up in despair and rebellion, looking for a leader to take them back to Egypt! They missed out on the good land God had for them.

We’ve been spying out  the land ourselves this week. It has resulted in an invitation to work an hour away from our grandkids, something we’ve dreamed of for years now. (Our oldest grandchild will be 7 this summer!)We can start the job any time, as soon as we can get there.

But rent is high and places to rent are very scarce. Looking too closely at rental listings is demoralizing.  Are we crazy? Why are we moving there of all places?! And yet we are confident that God is making a way and we are intent on following by faith.  So yes, I’ll be packing up a contingent of things this week, enough to live on, and just after Easter we plan to be heading out, for new beginnings in a new place.

It is not clear just how this will work out.  But we want to be like Joshua and Caleb, not focused on the impossibility of doing this thing, but trusting that God will provide as He leads the way.

God knows my sometimes faint-hearted faith; it is not beyond His ability to encourage.  I noticed a sweet thing yesterday as I meditated on the story of the two Mary’s showing up at the empty tomb early ‘Easter’ morning (in Matthew 28) What did they expect to find? Jesus had told them he would rise from the dead yet they came with spices to anoint His body…Did they not understand?  Did they not believe? 

All the truth in the world will fail to encourage the broken-hearted if it is not believed. 

But there is help for the faint-hearted. God knows. When they arrived at the tomb they found the stone blocking its entrance had been rolled away. Why?

Did Jesus need it out of the way in order to escape the tomb?  Certainly not.  I have a hunch it was rolled away in order that His followers could see and believe.  God Himself was at work to encourage their faith in what Jesus had already told them.  The only thing holding them back from the joy of the resurrection was their unbelief.  Now they are given opportunity to see and believe. “Come, see the place where He lay”  the angel invited.  “He is not here, for he has risen.” Mt.28:6

They hurried away to spread the good news with fear and GREAT JOY! Mt.28:8They had seen and believed. Faith had made the difference.

I know my faith falters easily. At the same time I know it is faith that pleases God; without it there is only sin and its assorted miseries (Rom.14:23).  But I don’t always know what to do about my feeble faith.  But God does.  Here I  glimpse the heart of my God who not only desires faith, but also encourages us toward it.  Here He arranges for the stone to be rolled away so we can see.  He arranges for a welcoming committee of angels who point out the obvious truth: “He is risen” and more than that they give instructions for a rendezvous:  “…behold he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.  See, I have told you.”  And He graciously repeats Himself as often as needed:  Fear not, fear not, fear not…. 

But best of all He gives us His Word, with its abundance of outrageous promises that would all be too good to be true if they were spoken by anyone but Him. There are things here that should make us live out the rest of our days skipping like spring lambs! Things like:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Rom.8:1-2

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. Jn.15:9

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Mt.28:20

God has given us His Word and He has given us His Spirit to breathe life into those words, to ignite faith and so to fulfill in us His joy. May He soften our hearts always to believe that we might be perennially encouraged and able to encourage. 

May He give us all ‘a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him’ that we may know ‘what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places’…Eph.1:17-19

This is my prayer for me, and for you  ( :


Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here, for He has risen, as He said….See, I have told you. Mt.28:5

“…let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!  Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!” Ps.105:3-4

You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.” …  Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! Ps.27:8,14

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. Jn.20:29

The Only Thing that Counts

How do you measure the worth of a day?
What’s your criterion for ‘a good day’?

Most of my life I’ve kept journals—recording happenings, feelings, revelations, and just plain history.  They’ve become repositories of words that track my life.  When I was young I wrote of actual things that were happening.  Things that seem mostly mundane now, or overrated, or downright silly: “Today is Friday.  I played at the shale pit and took Heather to see the fort and to feed the geese…I watched Brady Bunch and Partridge Family.  They were not re-runs.” [March 16, 1973]

These days journaling is mostly a record of my inner life and of God’s words intersecting my own thoughts in ways that beg to be recorded.  But at night before I turn out the light, there is a book for the little things, the happenings, just a few lines per day.  I’m not sure why I keep it, really. “What did I do today?” is a pretty mundane question at this stage in my life. [I need perhaps another question that would help me milk the beauty of the day for the record, if you have any suggestions?] Though this book comes in handy for verifying dates when ‘such and such’ happened I’m not sure why I feel compelled to keep jotting down things in it every night, as though the day doesn’t ‘count’ unless I’ve recorded something here.

My measure of a day’s worth is pretty warped.  I feel good about a day if I’ve checked off the things I’ve chosen as priorities.  If I’ve spent time in the Word, if I’ve done a bit of writing, if I’ve created something, and if I’ve spent some time reading a good book…these things frame the essentials of a ‘good’ day. My ‘to-do’ list is pretty basic.  You can no doubt see some glaring deficiencies with it.  So can I.  Some ‘givens’ are simply not listed…feeding my husband for instance! Getting exercise. Praying. And there are other priorities that don’t lend themselves to a check-off list, relationships, for instance.

But the question I’ve been asking this week is: How does God evaluate the worth of a day’s accomplishments? My checked off lists, mental or written, console me that the day wasn’t wasted.  Does He see it that way?  Or can lists become false comforts, distractions even, from the opportunities that matter most? If my list takes priority over the things that pose as interruptions but are really God-sent moments, what then?  Where do random conversations fit? or the phone call that catches me ‘in the middle of something’?  What of interruptions, sick days, and changes of plan outside my control?  Do these ‘count’ in the valuation of a day? Or are they just irritants that prevent me from ‘getting stuff done’?

Though their value is not quantifiable or visible the value of these unplanned moments may far surpass the value of reading # pages toward my monthly goal, or adding a daily doodle to my portfolio.  Hindsight shows that it’s the interruptions to my routines that have brought flavor and richness to my life.  (Thank God for a husband that drags me away from my desk to ride and to ski and to sit in the sun!)  In retrospect I am thankful for the non-routine elements that shape my days. I see in them God’s hand going about His work to rub off my sharp edges, to mellow my compulsions, to bring me delight and shower me with undeserved mercies.  They remind me that it is not my work but His that matters most.  The orderly things over which I claim control are the least likely to build my faith.  Of course, being faithful in the small things matters, but this is different than being compulsive about the small things! If I do them to bolster my self-worth or gain ‘brownie points’ for my diligence while neglecting weightier things (like relationships) they have become dead works, a waste of time and energy!

There remains a sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Heb.4:9,10

What matters most to God is not my compulsive need to be ‘doing something’ but my persistence in the hope of the Gospel, that teaches me that it’s what God did that matters most and my role is to believe and to rest in the reality that Christ has done all the right things in my place. He has finished the work that matters most. The real ‘to-do’ list is done.

He has canceled the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.  This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. Col.2:14

This changes the way I operate.  I will probably always be a list person. I work best with goals and schedules.  But these do not measure the worth of a day or a lifetime.  Complete or incomplete they do not establish my worth or a day’s value. Faith does. In inviting me to share His yoke Jesus calls me to walk by faith, to allow Him to direct and energize the good works He has prepared for me to walk in. He must be Lord of my ‘to-do-today’ lists, with the right to cancel them all and re-direct my focus completely.  They are not the measure of a ‘good day’.

The only thing that counts is faith
expressing itself through love. Gal.4:16 NIV

By faith…I can still establish priorities and carry them out, but also by faith I can welcome interruptions, alternatives, and days when nothing ‘gets done’.  I can trust that God is working where my best efforts are stymied, and that He will enable me to do what He wills me to accomplish.  By faith every day can be a good day.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Phil.2:13NLT

The obvious question becomes how do I know whether I’m operating out of faith in the mundane of day-to-day?  Where’s the evidence that I’m actually depending on God as I go about my work?

I’d love to hear your feedback on this question.  So far what I’ve come up with are these two attributes that will be present in a day walked out by faith.  Can you suggest others?

  • Thankful prayerfulness—The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  (Phil.4:5-7)  Faith expresses itself in praying without ceasing, committing what I am doing to Him, and even welcoming what I didn’t intend to be doing, in His name.  Talking to Him about everything with a thankful disposition reflects faith.
  • Peace of mind—a deep seated contentment with the way things are at this moment, even with the things that need to change eventually, reflects faith.  There is a patience in faith that reflects the knowledge that God is in control and will accomplish all that concerns me in His perfect time.  He is the Head of the Body.  He orchestrates its growth as its members are yielded to each other and to Him.  And He gives the ones who trust Him peace. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil4:7)

And those are qualities I want to be the measure of my days!
I’d very much appreciate your prayers that they would be so.

“Let us therefore strive to enter that rest!” Heb.4:11


Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Ps.25:4,5

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:  May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.  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 1,2,20,21

Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ. Col.3:23,24



Good and Plenty


My box ran empty at last. I’ve been parceling them out a few at a time ever since our Christmas trip to the states. Now they’re gone. I quite like these delectably disguised nibs of licorice with the pink and white candy coating; they remind me of my childhood somehow. But that’s beside the point. As I plunked the empty box on my desk the other day I realized what an apt descriptor it bore of the God we serve. He is good and He is plenty–all we need, ever, to handle anything and everything.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. II Cor.9:8

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
II Cor.12:9

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. Ps.84:11

It’s a simple concept really, with endless Scriptural support, but it’s not so easy  to grab hold of in the day to day demands of our lives—God is Good and Plenty for all our needs.

I am easily intimidated by open-ended tasks, especially creative ones. What if I can’t come up with what is needed? What if it’s not good enough? What if it’s not ready in time? What if I-just-C-A-N’-T?! These questions are ultimately only answerable by faith. What God calls me to accomplish He will enable me to accomplish, maybe not in my timing, maybe not to my specifications, maybe it will be a different product than I envision, but He will enable me to do whatever He has called me to do for His glory. He is GOOD and He is always enough for my lack; He is the definition of ‘PLENTY’.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want…right?

I read the parable of the workers in the vineyard this week with its picture of the Master we serve. The early birds agreed on the day’s wage before starting in at the crack of dawn. They slaved away through the heat of the day. As they worked others were added to the workforce, some at mid-morning, others at noon and mid-afternoon, and some didn’t get to work until an hour before quitting time. To each the master promised: “Whatever is right I will give you.” But when the foreman handed out the pay, not only did he start with the late-comers, but he paid them a full day’s wage, the same as everybody else, even the hard-working early birds who had born the brunt of the burden in the vineyard that day.

When they protested to the Master, despite His having paid them exactly what was agreed upon at the start of the day, his response was:

‘Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ Mt.20:15

We serve a good and plenty God. He is lavish in dispensing His grace. It is enough for the first and the last, for all who serve Him, no matter what strength or weakness they bring to the task.

Oh, there may appear to be inequities in this lifetime. Some are called to suffer the heat of the day while others seem to get a free ride. Most of us live in mansions while multitudes live in ramshackle huts. Life doesn’t appear to be fair. Some people seem to have all the talent while others get stuck with the grunt work…but in the big scheme of things, God’s wage is good and plenty. And His grace is sufficient for each and every calling. And besides, what present challenge can compare with what’s to come at the end of the Day? Those He calls He grants an inheritance. We are God’s heirs, and joint-heirs with Christ!

“This shall be their inheritance: I am their inheritance: and you shall give them no possession in Israel; I am their possession. Ez.44:28

But I digress. Because God is Good and because He has Plenty He is only too willing to share, He is well able to equip us for whatever He calls us to do.

This couldn’t have been better illustrated than in my morning’s reading in Exodus 31. The detailed plans for the tent of meeting have been given to Moses. God has designed it to be gloriously beautiful–with gold and silver and bronze and fine linen ornately embroidered in blue and purple and scarlet yarns… The details go on and on. Now the people must create it as per His instructions. But He doesn’t leave them to their best efforts. He gifts them two men and He fills these two men with His Spirit and “with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones fro setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.” God gives the ability He requires to accomplish the task He commands.

“I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you.” Ex.31:6

His designs are grand and His Spirit will bring them to pass using mere men (and women). Wow!  So take heart if you have a calling that seems way over your head.  God is Good and Plenty to bring it to pass through you for His own glory.

He calls us to assess with sober judgment our calling according to the measure of faith that He has assigned and then… “having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them… “ Rom. 12:3-6

We serve a God who is GOOD and who is PLENTY for all we need.

Taste and see that the Lord is good! Ps.34:8

Good and Plenty


Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. Zech.4:6

Truly God is good…to those who are pure in heart.  Ps.73:1