Tuesday, May 24, 2016


I've been thinking about this for a while now.  I have moved all this content to a new blog and will be posting new items there.  Here is the address.

His Unfolding Grace

Come and check it out!  Many blessings!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

If My People

"If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."  This is one of the most well-known verses in the Bible, 2 Chronicles 7:14.  In the verse right before it God talked about drought, locusts, and pestilence being the problems that would prompt His people to pray.  The occasion was the temple dedication.  Solomon had spent years constructing the temple his father David had planned for, and the time of blessing and dedication had arrived.  In the larger passage before this verse Solomon asked God to always have His eyes and ears open to this temple so that when His people experienced hardships of any kind they could pray toward this holy place and God would hear them.  God spoke to Solomon in the night and assured him that His eyes, ears, and heart would be attentive to the prayers offered in and toward this place.

He also assured him that if he turned from God to idols, God would uproot him and his house from the land.  Sin separated Israel from God's continued blessing.  Centuries later Israel and Judah were defeated and taken captive to Babylon, yet God renewed this promise.  In Jeremiah He promised to gather them out of all the lands to which He had driven them, saying, "Than you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."

 Today His people can still reach His heart.  We no longer have to pray toward a temple because we have direct access to God Himself when we pray.  Drought, locusts, and pestilence are still real problems in parts of the world, but hardships cover the globe in many forms.  The nightly news is rarely good news.  There is violence, evil, tragedy, and sickness everywhere.  Our land and our world needs healing, and many are held captive by sin.  But God's solution has not changed.  If His people, born-again Christians, humble THEMSELVES.  Nowhere are we instructed to correct or humiliate the world; we are to humble ourselves.  And pray.  Pray, not just complain, not just rant, not just petition or boycott or picket, not post really clever insulting statuses on social media, but really pray.  Seek His face.  Meet with Him face to face, however long it takes to see things from His perspective.  Turn from OUR wicked ways.  How long is that list.?  Do we turn from just our most wicked ways?  Does He really mean all wickedness of thought, word, and deed?  Are we willing to turn our backs on all our stuff and selfishness for the sake of the world?

If we will, THEN He will hear, forgive us, and heal our land.  I think it's time to stop trying other solutions of our own making and follow the instructions He's so clearly given us.  The eyes of the Lord move throughout the world looking for one heart, one man or woman whose heart is completely His.  For that one person He will move heaven and earth.  How can we ever know how much difference your obedient prayer will make, or mine?  When we obey and do our part we find ourselves covered in the full armor of God which will enable us to stand.  Stand.  Stand and pray.  Pray with our minds and in the Spirit for all His saints and for His kingdom to come.  We will be led by the Spirit of God who is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; not boastful, challenging, or envious.  Let us join His ranks in humility, grace, and prayerful attention.  Let's allow His love to be poured out through us by the Holy Spirit on a world that cannot fathom anything but strife and conflict.  Let's not wait until we see others agreeing with us or until a "movement" is organized.  Let's join Him now on His terms to pray for the world around us even if we feel alone.  He will raise His army on their knees.  Every battle is the Lord's, and He always wins.

2 Chronicles 7; Jeremiah 29:10-14; Hebrews 10:19-22; 1 John 5:13-15; Ephesians 5:15-17;
Ephesians 4:20-32; Psalm 19:14; 2 Chronicles 16:9; Ephesians 6:10-18; Galatians 5:22-26;
Romans 5:5; Galatians 5:13-14; 1 Samuel 17:47

Friday, April 29, 2016


I'm struggling, Lord, to understand how I'm
to respond to the changes I see in the world
around me.
It's easy to get angry or afraid, but mostly I'm just sad.
An election year seems to bring out the worst in everyone.
I see and hear such a wide range of
reactions and opinions that I need to close
all that out and hear from
Only You have the words of life.

These are tempestuous, times, to be sure.  Your need, My child, is to come to Me and hear My heart.  Close out the voices that scream for your attention and sit at My feet.  None of these things come as a surprise to Me, nor are they out of My ultimate control.  I have given dominion of the earth to man who fell under Satan's deceit, and the consequences are played out in every place on every day.  But I am still God, Alpha and Omega, beginning and end, and I rule over even the brokenness you see around you.

As you sit with Me, hear My beating heart for a world and its people who are blinded, seduced, and enslaved by sin.  I sent My very own Son to pay the price in full for the sins of the world; His blood was powerful enough to cover it all.  It is My will and heart that each person would come into My kingdom.  There is not a person that I do not love with all My heart.  I hate sin, but I do not hate sinners.

Beware of pride or any form of self-righteousness.  I hate the sins of My children just as much as any sins of the world.  Besides simply being wrong, those who practice these sins heap more condemnation on themselves by claiming to know Me or speak for Me.  They mislead people by giving the impression that I agree with their assessment even while they speak in hateful language.  Cursing, name-calling, belittling, and the like have no place in My vocabulary, nor should they in yours.

Right is right.  Wrong is wrong.  I am a holy God, and judgment lies with Me alone.  Leave it there.  I can handle it. Remember that I see every attitude and sin of your heart, speech, action, and motive just as clearly as I see any flagrant sin of any unbeliever.

No matter who I put in your path...at your workplace, your family gathering, your grocery store, your gas station, your school, your church, your golf course, your rec center...remember I put them there.  I love them.  I expect you to let Me love them through you.  Be willing to face criticism, but do not assume the worst in others.  If others speak ill of you, love them and pray for them.  Give no one cause to disrespect Me, but live so that your good works and kind ways silence and discredit their criticisms.

Pray.  Pray like you have never prayed before.  Pray for your country, your leaders, and your citizens. Pray for conviction and repentance to sweep the land.  But as you pray remember that your country is not My kingdom.  Pray for My kingdom to have dominion and rule over all, and for your country to play its part in My sovereign plan for the world.  Keep your citizenship firmly planted in My kingdom, and let My peace rule your heart.

Luke 10:41-42; Genesis 1:28; Genesis 3; Ephesians 1:18-23; John 3:16-17; Luke 10:1-10;
Matthew 23:13-15; Jude 14-15; Jude 17-25; Matthew 5:43-48; 1 Peter 3:14-17;
1 Timothy 2:1-8; Matthew 6:10, 33; Philippians 3:20; Colossians 3:15-17

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Even If

We are so often overcome.  Our daily lives balance on a precipice of our own making, and we are just fine as long as nothing upsets that tension.  We juggle marriage, children, work, home, personal care, rest, never-ending schedules from every possible source, church, community, extended family, interests, recreation, entertainment, trying to make God the ruler over all these areas...all while trying to give the impression that life is manageable and we've got this.  And we pull that off most of the time.

So it's no small wonder that when we are honest with ourselves we feel more overwhelmed than we care to admit.  At times we feel inadequate for the task of daily living, and feel ourselves falling over the precipice when extra challenges arise. It's easy to blame ourselves and try to be stronger, but the truth is, we are more weak and frail than we know.  We have no power against the natural progression of time, no power to actually determine the quality of our health, nor the ability to guarantee the outcome of our lives.

Isaiah spoke about the plight of His people who found themselves in captivity or hardship at the hands of an enemy.  As a nation, Israel had been unfaithful to God, and He eventually sent enemy forces to capture their kingdom and reduce the people to captivity.  Yet He heard the cries of each heart that turned back to Him, and He never deserted them in the midst of their suffering.  He said, "Can plunder be retrieved from a giant, prisoners of war gotten back from a tyrant?  But God says, 'Even if a giant grips the plunder and a tyrant holds My people prisoner, I'm the one who's on your side, defending your cause, rescuing your children.  And your enemies, crazed and desperate, will turn on themselves...'  (Isaiah 49:24-26 The Message)

We face giants and tyrants every day.  Some appear and leave again in a few minutes, while others live right with us, holding us in their grip year, after year, after year.  Some of them we invited into our lives and now we are helpless against them, while others invade with the force and suddenness of a spring storm, leaving devastation as they pass.

In the Gospel of Mark chapter five we read three stories in quick succession of giants and tyrants that people were helpless to fight.  The demoniac had been living in the cemetery possibly for years.  Every human effort had been made to help or restrain him to no avail.  Hopeless.  Jairus had a twelve year old daughter at death's door who, in fact, died before Jesus could get to her.  Hopeless.  The woman in the crowd had been sick and bleeding for twelve years.  Not only had doctors not helped, they had taken all her money and left her worse off than before.  She did not even feel worthy to speak to Jesus and ask for help.  Hopeless.

But we have cause to hope.  Each of these desperate people did the same thing when they saw Jesus.  They ran to Him and fell to their knees.  They knew they were helpless and undeserving.  They submitted to His authority and begged for His mercy.  The demoniac was delivered, clothed, sitting in his right mind, and sent back to his own people to tell about God's mercy.  The woman was recognized, her healing confirmed, and sent to live in peace.  Jairus saw his daughter raised from the dead and his fear turned to joy.

We can't face the things in our paths.  We aren't meant to.  But no matter what giant or tyrant we face God has not left us to stand alone.  We can come to Him, fall to our knees, submit to His ways, and ask for His mercy.  He may deliver us quickly or He may keep us where we are.  But even in the midst of trial He is the one who's on our side, defending our cause, and rescuing our children...right now in the present tense.  Even if the giant and tyrant remain, He is working on our behalf defending and rescuing us and our children.  Our only part is to run to Him and fall on our knees, asking His mercy.  He has engraved us on the palm of His hand, and He will not forget!

Isaiah 49; Mark 5

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Praying Our Deepest Desires

In my Bible reading right now I'm using a method that I've really liked over the years.  I divide the text into five sections:  history, (Genesis-Job), poetry (Psalms-Song of Solomon), prophecy (Isaiah-Malachi), Gospels & Acts (Matthew-Acts), and Epistles & Revelation (Romans-Revelation).  If the goal is to read through the Bible in a year, you read two chapters of history, one chapter of poetry, one chapter of prophecy, and one chapter of either Gospels or Epistles five days a week.  That leaves you with some breathing space for missed days through the year.  Whether you keep a schedule or not, I like reading from different sections simultaneously because I don't feel like I'm in just one view of God's word for a long time.  The other thing I like is sometimes what I read in one section makes what I read in another richer and deeper; it's amazing how often they can go together.  You might think one Spirit wrote the entire Book!  Duh!

Today I read about part of Joseph's story.  He'd been hated by his brothers and sold into slavery.  He was bought by Potiphar, and God favored him so well that everything he did prospered.  Potiphar put him in charge of all his affairs, but he was still a slave.  Unjustly accused, he was sent to prison where, again, God's favor rested on him, and he eventually managed the entire prison without oversight.  But he was still a prisoner.  I don't know how many years Joseph spent as a slave and then a prisoner before God delivered him into a position of being ruler in the land, second only to Pharaoh, but I am sure that Joseph did a lot of praying in those years.

Jumping ahead to my reading in Matthew, Jesus often encountered people who were in desperate need.  Sometimes the need wasn't immediately obvious, but most often their plight was crystal clear.  They were crying out to Him because they were blind, or lame, or deaf, or ill, or demon-possessed.  Sometimes the crowd objected to the interruption of their cries, but Jesus never did.  Yet when He spoke with them He would often ask, "What do you want from Me?"  Really?  Jesus, isn't it obvious?  I'm blind, or lame, or.... What do You think I want?

These readings reflect some truth to me about prayer.  God knows what I need before I ever ask, yet He wants me to ask.  He wants me to realize that what I need can ONLY be provided by Him.  As I begin to pray, very often I know exactly what I want.  I would suppose that many of Joseph's prayers began with, "Please, Lord, set me free from this slavery or prison!"  But as I spend time speaking back and forth with God, He often shows me my deeper need and desire.  Perhaps Joseph's prayers would change to, "Please, Lord, use me as a slave or prisoner.  Help me to walk with integrity in this place.  I trust Your ways and timing."  I know my prayers can go from what I thought I wanted to what I really need and the far deeper desires of my heart for His glory to be shown through me, Jon, and our family.

What holds you in captivity?  What do you want from Him?  You must ask.  Never be afraid to ask your Father for the desires of your heart, and also be willing for Him to refine those desires over time into His own.  He will never let you go unheard, unanswered, or uncared-for.  His timing is perfect.

Genesis 39-40; Matthew 20:29-34; Matthew 6:32-33; Matthew 7:7-8