Monday, May 29, 2017



[Photo of a toddler wearing a harness]

…there was given to me a thorn in the
flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment
me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord
to take it away from me. But he said,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for
my power is made perfect in weakness.”
—2 Corinthians 12:7-9

As a toddler, my younger sister liked to put stones from our driveway in her mouth. To avoid this danger, my mother used a tether on my sister and tied her to the laundry pole in the backyard while Mom hung the wash on the line. Unpleasant for a time, this method of guarding my sister’s behavior proved extremely helpful in preventing the “stone eating.”

Have you ever felt tethered to something that kept you from the freedom you would like? Certainly, God can use the tethering cord for a short time. But, what about those times when He tethers us for a very long term?

Perhaps you feel tethered to a financial problem, a debt that won’t go away, or a life of poverty. Maybe you have a chronic physical problem that severely limits your activities, even those you would like to accomplish for the Kingdom of God. Or, maybe you feel tethered to a boss who, regardless of your prayers and hard work, fails to commend you or pay you what you are worth.

The Apostle Paul, in the passage at the beginning of this blog post, recounted a physical problem with which God had tethered him. He had begged God to take it away. But instead, God, in His overarching love and wisdom, denied Paul’s request.

When we ponder this kind of experience, we all ask, “Why?”

Paul knew why God had given him this weakness. Prior to this, Paul had experienced the privilege of a divine revelation. In order to keep him from conceit, God made him humble through this “thorny” physical limitation—perhaps something that disfigured his appearance or hampered his clear vision.

As I considered Paul’s situation, I realized that my mother had tied my sister to the laundry pole for the sake of her protection—nothing else. We must consider that perhaps our long term trial has come from God for just such a purpose. What sin might He have kept us from through the trial? What accident or wrong choice has He shielded us from?

Then again, perhaps God saw how self-reliant we had become, how easily we go about our own agenda, leaning on our own feeble ability and power, rather than on His enormous ability and power.

Perhaps, God wants us all to realize that, like Paul, we need His strength instead of our own, and that “His power is made perfect in our weakness.”

Another reason for God to tether us comes from the reality that He has other people whom He wants to bless through us. Sometimes, to reveal His grace, people need to see the way in which He does the impossible for us. Even Lazarus’ death , recorded in John 11, came about because Jesus wanted to be glorified through Lazarus’ resurrection.

We may never know the reason for the bothersome, painful, joy-sucking tether we wear. But, we can get ever-closer to trusting our wise and loving Savior with the decision He has made to tether us.

Let us pray to have the grace, strength, and dedication to Him and to His cause that will result in His glory! Amen.



Monday, May 22, 2017



[Photo of a woman touching the hem of Jesus' garment]

And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood
twelve years, and had suffered many things of
many physicians, and had spent all that she had,
and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,

When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press
behind, and touched his garment. For she said,
If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.

And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made
thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.
—Mark 5:25-28, 34 KJV

In our current culture, we use the word, “issues” in an entirely different manner than it was used historically. To us it means negative circumstances or questions. In the passage above, the word referred to a “discharge from the body.”

Nevertheless, I see a very real parallel between this Biblical story and current usage. We certainly deal with “issues” in our lives. Some wear us down, as the discharge of blood did this woman. Some make us physically sick, financially vulnerable, heart-wounded, grief-stricken, scared, lonely, hopeless, etc.

What are our “issues” today? Have we strained to reach out to Christ, who has power over all the woes of our lives and can help us make sense, or at least cope with all that happens?

The use of the word, “spent” in this story also speaks to me. The woman had spent all she had. And, even the doctors had come to the end of their solutions. As an old hymn states:1

When we have exhausted
   our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed
   ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end
   of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

A wonderful friend of mine has written a morning prayer on this subject. I give you some of her words:2

Quite literally, Lord, I am bleeding to death, so I press toward you this morning, because I realize I need only that which you can supply. It seems that I’m beholding you from afar. Although it is closer than I’ve ever been before, it is still not close enough to touch you. Do you know I’m here? Do you hear the pleading of my heart? Are you aware that I finally know that, without you, I can do nothing?

Just a touch this morning is all I need—no spouse’s touch, no physician’s touch, just your strengthening touch which will bring with it healing, wholeness and peace. Amen.


1 Flint, Annie Johnson. He Giveth More Grace. Lillenas Publishing Co. 1941.

2 Ruffin, Clara V. “I Come With Issues.” From: He’s Prepared My Heart for Harvest. Hartford, Connecticut: Food for Thought, 1998. p. 18.



Monday, May 15, 2017



[Photo of the whatever smiley]

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble,
whatever is right, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is
admirable—if anything is excellent
or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
—Philippians 4:8

Do you catch yourself using the fad expression, “Whatever!”? I do. In our current culture, it has become an expression of resignation to something less than ideal we feel we have accept.

In the verse above, “whatever” indicates the importance of discrimination in choosing the things about which God expects us to think. He concerns Himself with not only what we do, but also with what we think about.

In Colossians 3:2, Paul admonishes us by saying:

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

The author of Hebrews, in Hebrews 3:1, says:

Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus.

The list in Philippians contains descriptive adjectives we rarely use in our current culture: noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy. Can we even define these words?

Christians, moved by God about their thoughts, will need to look in uncommon places to find such things on which to dwell. We can start with Scripture. How often do we put our minds to memorizing verses that God has brought to our attention? How many times God has brought to our awareness a verse that speaks to our needs?

We can also memorize the words to hymns that draw our attention to Christ. Many of us know familiar hymns, and with a little polishing could easily recite the texts from memory. The rhyme of the words and the tune will make remembering hymns even easier than memorizing Scripture verses.

I can’t count the number of times God has brought a line from a hymn to my mind while I’m praying to encourage me or counsel me. This kind of thinking fits perfectly with the adjectives in the verse at the beginning of this blog post.

Other beautiful and thought-worthy things with which we can fill our minds—uncommonly though they may occur in the surrounding culture—would include such things as good music, poetry, wholesome reading, nature walks, or conversation with uplifting friends.

Jesus said, as recorded in Mark 12:30:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

Choosing to discipline our minds by thinking about praiseworthy things will help us go a long way toward fulfilling this command of our Lord.

Whatever! Indeed! Whatever fits the description of noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy! It takes discriminating taste and a mind to please our Lord. Let’s just think about that!



Monday, May 8, 2017

Because I Said So!


[Photo of woman with her head in her hand]

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter.”
—Proverbs 25:2

“Because I said so!” How many times have we heard our mothers’ voices come from our own lips as we repeated those words? Most times we give good reasons when we want children to respond positively to our decisions. However, sometimes when the matter seems either too complicated, because children can’t have the privileged information we have, or because we don’t have either the time or energy to discuss it, this particularly adult response comes from our lips.

Fortunately, we can take some comfort from the fact that God has been known to deal with us in the very same way. In Scripture, we read the stories of Moses, Job, David, Naomi, and others whom God dealt with in mysterious ways.

Joseph, in prison in Egypt, certainly didn’t know what God had in His plan. God had given Joseph dreams about a future in leadership that he had accepted by faith, yet everything seemed to go in the wrong direction for him. Sold by his brothers into Egypt, he had eventually been falsely accused and was now prison! Where did he go wrong? Only years later did he find out God’s awesome and complicated plan to rescue him and the entire nation of Israel.

Sometimes nothing seems to make sense to us. I’m thinking about those times when God requires us to experience failure, pain, or loss; when we have done all we thought God was asking of us and still things don’t turn out well, at least according to our human reasoning.

I love this old hymn. Here are a few verses:

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
and rides upon the storm.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
but trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
but sweet will be the flower.1

Do we trust God’s love enough to allow Him to keep silent regarding His plan for us? Maybe we can’t understand the complication of the matter. Maybe He hasn’t given us privileged information that He alone has.

But, what we should know, deep in our innermost beings, is that He does not withhold information from us simply because, unlike us, He doesn’t have the energy or time.

The question we must ask ourselves, “Do we trust His authority and His wisdom when He says to us, ‘Because I said so!’”


1 Cowper, William, God Moves in a Mysterious Way. Public Domain.



Monday, May 1, 2017

Following Hard


[Photo of a child hugging his parent]

“They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with
Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were
astonished, while those who followed were afraid.”
—Mark 10:32

Have you ever watched a child cling to a parent and constantly step on the parent’s shoes while watching something scary? That’s how I feel sometimes with God. Life is scary, and the surest Help I have comes from Him.

It seems that all of us follow God more closely when we feel the need for Him the most. Yet, truthfully, we need to acknowledge our need and cling to Him in all circumstances—including those in which we feel confident.

We can become lost in the crowd, or confused by the signals we see. I remember my first experience with a subway and my mother telling me I had to stay close because the door could close on me and leave me behind.

In the Authorized King James Version of Psalm 63:8, we read:

My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.

We need that kind of confidence in God every day and in every place. We know that He never leaves us or forsakes us. But, how often do we forget Him and wonder away?

The moral of this story can be summed up, “In order to keep from getting lost, facing scary things alone, and being able to hear the voice of our Savior, we need to stay close to Him at all times.” Let’s make that our aim this week.