Monthly Archives: August 2014

God loves me just the way I am.

By now, many of us have learned that Christian singer/song writer Vicky Beeching, the writer of songs like ‘Great is Your Glory’ and ‘Deliver’, has publicly announced that she is homosexual.  Anticipating criticism, she claimed in advance that ‘I feel certain God loves me just the way I am’.

In a way, her assertion is correct, if we only view God as a Creative benefactor bestowing gifts of love of which His creations are beneficiaries.  Twice in Psalm 145, God is said to be ‘loving toward all He has made’.  But God is more than just a Creator.  He is also a Covenant God.  Whether evidenced in His covenants with Abraham, Israel or others and especially noted in His covenant to mankind through the blood of Jesus, God is lifted up as a covenant making God.  What this means is that there is more to ‘FEEL’ and acknowledge than His love for His creation.  We must ‘FEEL’ and acknowledge His acts of saving covenant as well.  But, what does that include?

1.  We must feel and acknowledge the guilt of having willfully breached God’s standards of holiness.  These include but are not limited to acts of greed, deceit, theft, murder or sexual impurity of which homosexuality is a part.  Colossians 3:5-6.

2.  We must feel and acknowledge the shame of lawlessness that these sins generate.  Participation in them makes us ‘law breakers’ before God, regardless of what desire there may be to make them simple attempts at ‘self-actualization’.  I Timothy 1:8-11.

3.  We must feel and acknowledge the despair of coming under God’s declaration that those who do such things or approve of those who do have become ‘objects of His wrath’.  Romans 1:18-32.

4.  We must feel and acknowledge the hope of knowing that Jesus came into the world to save us from the wrath to come.  His blood sacrifice, and that alone, can atone for the sins of a person who has fallen beneath the wrath of God.  I Thessalonians 1:9-10.

5.  We must feel  and acknowledge the call of God offering us forgiveness through faith in His Son Jesus.  God graciously offers this forgiveness to those who call on Jesus’ name.  Romans 10:13.

6.  We must feel and acknowledge the need to turn from that which God abhors and turn to that which He accepts.  Be holy as He is holy.  I Peter 1:15-16.

7.  We must feel and acknowledge the humility to submit to those things that bring gladness to God’s heart and glory to God’s name, seeking His grace to help us want to do and then do what He has declared is His pleasing will.  Philippians 2:12-13.

8.  We must feel and acknowledge the joy of the Lord as it strengthens us in His ways.  Nehemiah 8:10.

9.  We must feel and acknowledge the anticipation of struggle as we fight to do  God’s will despite pressures from without and fears from within.  II Corinthians 7:5.

10.  We must feel and acknowledge the strain of reaching toward God’s goals for us regardless of what could be lifelong disappointment or endless delay.  Hebrews 11:13.

Yes, as our Creator, God loves us.  And we will feel that and should acknowledge that.   But, as the One Who ALONE offers, through His Son, to rescue us from the wrath to come, God gives us much more to feel and acknowledge.   MUCH MORE!  THAT, too, we must feel and acknowledge, if we are to have FELLOWSHIP with Him and not simply have FEELINGS about Him.











A goofy old Country Music song goes, ‘Gloom despair and agony on me.  Deep dark depression excessive misery.  If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.  Gloom despair and agony on me’.

Clinically speaking, depression can be easily defined.  But, until it’s been experienced, it is hard to understand.  This was true for me.  I had counseled, prayed with and attempted to help more than a few people deal with depression.  Hearing their descriptions of a ‘darkness that is so real, so present that you can literally FEEL it’ meant much more to me once I had felt its menacing grip.  Throughout my experience, I came to more readily understand the Apostle Paul’s comment that he ‘despaired even of life’.

Like so many others, I went through the common process of seeking medical help and attempting to win the ‘hope battle’.  For eight months, I daily wrestled with and struggled to shake the grip of this unwelcome attachment.  In the end, I had discovered three powerful antidotes to depression:  the precious presence of God, the piercing light of truth and the profound strength of the prayers of loved ones.

These three components prepared the pathway that I walked to freedom.  Please let me explain.

When my medical tests returned with normal readings–my doctor said that he wished he had MY numbers– I called the Elders of the church to pray for me.   Lovingly and gently, they came to our home repeatedly to offer love, support and prayers.  God answered those prayers and began to renew my strength, at least enough to take the next step.  Once, while sitting at a favorite spot near our fireplace, Lydia Grace, our youngest daughter, bounced into the room in her normal carefree 5 year old exuberant way and asked me directly if she could read a verse from the Bible for me.  I knew that she knew the alphabet, but I also knew that she would not be able to read a lot of verses from the Bible.  So I said, “Yes you can, but would you like to find the verse and let me read to you”?   She was happy to comply.  Now I’m not a fan of the so called ‘inspired finger’ approach to Bible reading where you let your Bible fall open, put your finger on a text and assume that God wants you to read that passage as the answer to your questions.  On this occasion, however, I wondered if God would reach out to me through her childlike faith.  Finding the place in her Bible and marking it with her finger, she brought it to me.  Looking down and with tears beginning to form in the corners of my eyes, I read the words she pointed to: ‘As a father has compassion for His children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.  For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust’.  Psalm 103:13-14.  In that moment, the light of scripture truth shone through and I realized that I had developed an ‘exaggerated’ view of the world around me with all of its troubles and an ’emaciated’ view of God within me with all of His compassion and strength.  This revelation prepared me for the experience that set my foot on the path of deliverance.  March 21st of that year, while outside splitting some fireplace wood to bring in and fix a fire, something flew close to my face.  I instinctively swatted at it as if it were a fly or something.  When it happened again, I swatted but looked to see what it was.  I could hardly believe that I was watching a monarch butterfly fluttering around my face.  I KNOW… A butterfly in Wisconsin in March with snow on the ground!  The improbability of the incident caused me to wonder what God intended to teach me through the event.  Once inside, I rethought through the process of caterpillar transformation and focused on one particular moment in its life cycle.

There is a moment when the worm becomes completely vulnerable to all elements around it: the moment it finally closes it cocoon and rests.  There it is, hanging by a thread, swinging in the breeze and open to attack with no recourse for survival.  In that moment, it must willingly or not, submit to the process of transformation that God, the Creator, designed.  Patiently it waits.  God does His Divine work and a butterfly emerges.  God’s lesson was clear: like the caterpillar, my transformation occurs as I submit to His choice of life altering events and receive the change He has designed for my life.

I can’t say, nor would I suggest, that knowledge of this truth sort of ‘turned the lights on’ and I was immediately stronger.  I wasn’t instantly changed.  However, I did have enough light shed on God’s chosen path for me that I could begin walking forward in faith.  And that is what I did.  Eventually, by God’s grace, I strengthened, grew and received victory over my depression.

Your experience will likely be somewhat different than mine.   But there are a few words of counsel that I would give to anyone that desires deliverance.  Those words come from Jeremiah 29:13-14a: ‘You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with your whole heart.  I WILL BE FOUND BY YOU…’.

Those words are for kings as well as servants, the prosperous as well as the poor, the strong as well as the weak, the healthy as well as the sick and the popular as well as the obscure.  All are told to SEEK.  And so all must SEEK.

But consider these truths carefully.  You cannot find if you only pretend to seek.  You cannot hear if you only pretend to listen.  And you don’t have faith if you only pretend to submit.

With your WHOLE heart, seek Him, reach out for Him and find Him.  Know that depression cannot limit God’s presence and it cannot obscure His truth.   He will be found by you and show you ‘great and unsearchable things that you do not know’.  Jeremiah 33:3.

Today, turn to Him, find Him and trust Him.  Human depression MUST give way to God’s  DEITY.














If you have ever been through the process of having a home built, having it remodeled or simply having a room renovated, then you know the frustration of having to re-do some part of it that was either done improperly or didn’t quite meet your expectation.

Once, while Phil and Becca and the kids were up from their home in Florida to vacation at ours, I asked Phil if he would exchange some work on a yard shed for Shirley’s beef stroganoff and mashed potatoes.  He readily agreed.  🙂   We enjoyed the meal together, but I finished first and went out to work while he lingered to talk, laugh and reminisce with siblings.  Perhaps he was a bit fearful that ‘dad might not get it right’ or perhaps he just wanted to ‘be there to make sure I hadn’t missed a step in the process of roofing’, but he hurried out and while jogging toward the shed hollered, “WAIT.  WAIT.  WAIT.  WAIT.  WAIT”.

I was not a little bit annoyed and somewhat frustrated by his insistence that I stop.  After all, I was just stapling down the tar paper to the roof so we could shingle it.  “What’s so difficult about that”, I thought.  “Doesn’t he trust me to get that right”?

I already had the east side and 3/4 of the west side finished and readied for shingles when he so rudely and abruptly stopped me.  And I was making such good progress.   Turning around and sitting down to face him, I waited for an explanation for his interruption.  His question gave me pause, “Did you nail down the roof sheathing before you put the tar paper on?”.  “NOW THERE’S A GOOD QUESTION”, I thought.  It hadn’t even occurred to me to check that out.   I had noticed that the sheathing seemed to be a bit loose.  But I had been too concerned with reaching my goal of a finished roof to bother myself with the nagging little thought that something might not be quite right.

Hopping up onto the roof, Phil showed me that though the sheathing was ‘tacked’ in the corners it hadn’t been properly nailed down.  He and Josiah had only set the sheets of plywood in place and responded to a call to supper.  “One good storm”, he reasoned, “and your roof could have been in the neighbors yard”.  So we tore all the tar paper off (how I hated to waste the materials and labor), nailed the plywood down, re-papered and got the shingles on just as darkness fell.  That evening, it was so comforting to sit around a quiet peaceful fire and enjoy the accomplishment of a job done right.

Sometimes life is like this.  We busy ourselves working toward a desired goal convinced that we’ll soon be rewarded.  Sedated with the prospect of how happy we’ll be to achieve our goal, we neglect that little voice that is trying to get our attention and tell us that all is not right.  Oblivious to potential consequences, we forge our way ahead, hoping to be fulfilled.  Arriving at our destination, we realize, too late, that the thing we had hoped would make us happy only disappointed us.  It had promised so much and delivered so little.

Finding ourselves at this point, we have a few options:  become cynical and depressed, re-double failing efforts or turn to God.  And though we know that turning in submission to God is the right choice, we stubbornly resist Him.  Why?  Because, I think, we feel like He’s going to ‘stop our progress, tear apart what we’ve accomplished and leave us devastated’.  But quite the opposite is true.  Listen to the words of Hosea 6:1-3: “Come, let us return to the Lord; for He has torn us, THAT HE MAY HEAL US; He has struck us down and HE WILL BIND US UP.  After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will RAISE US UP, THAT WE MAY LIVE BEFORE HIM.  Let us know; let us PRESS ON TO KNOW THE LORD…”!

Through faith in Jesus Christ, let’s purpose to allow God to enable us to ‘be right before Him and live right for Him’.







Abraham, Martin and John

The song ‘Abraham, Martin and John’ written by Richard Holler and recorded by Dion in 1968 came to mind yesterday when I heard of Robin Williams’ death, especially the question, ‘can you tell me where he’s gone’.   Like other years, we’ve heard of several ‘untimely’ deaths especially among celebrities or other notable people.  The circumstances and timing of these deaths always surprise us.  And though our hearts go out to the families, friends and acquaintances of these people, there is more to their stories than we read about or hear of in the media.

God says in Hebrew 9:27, ‘And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that come judgment, 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.’

First, there is an appointment for an appearance: before God.  No masks.  No hiding.  No negotiating.  No denying.  Just God.

Next, there is an appointment for an appraisal: we each must give an account to God.    No grading on the curve.  No comparisons with anyone else but Jesus.  No second chances.  Just God.

Then, there is an appointment for adoration: every knee will bow and every tongue will confess.  It’s all about Jesus.

Finally, there is an appointment for advancement: every one will be ushered to their eternal place.  You’ll either enjoy life with God through Jesus or you’ll experience separation from God because you rejected Jesus while here.

Though I feel sorry for people who feel the trauma in life that produces the kind of despair that would drive someone into desperate sorrow, I shudder at the thought that someone would reject Jesus in this life only to be faced, in death, with the inescapable reality that that earthly rejection of Him now requires eternal separation from Him.

Let’s be people who come to Jesus by faith now!  If you hear His voice calling to you DON’T harden your heart.


When I began training for my bike ride across Wisconsin, I made a sort of covenant with myself.  I decided to ALWAYS finish my ride by biking up my drive.  Because of its length and incline, it’s no small matter to navigate it following a long ride.  As a matter of fact, it is so steep, I typically get to 25 mph at the bottom when leaving.  Because our road slightly declines away from our house, I can coast for the first 1 1/4 miles of a ride.

Once, at the conclusion of a record (then) 43 mile training session, my mind was negotiating with the rest of me to conclude the ride by walking up the drive.  Lungs heaving, sore seat, tight back, numb fingers and rubberized legs…”Yes, we’re gonna walk up”, I concluded.

As I turned onto the road in front of our house to finish the last 200 yards of the trip, I passed two women and one man on a walk.  I hadn’t seen them before, but after exchanging pleasantries, I prepared to turn onto the drive, get off and walk up.  Just as I began to coast to a stop and swing my leg over my bike to begin walking, the trio of ‘strangers’ began to chant, “Go. Go. Go.  You can do it.  Don’t stop.  Keep going.  Finish” and other similar encouragements.

I appreciated their enthusiasm, but I was a little uncomfortable.  Instead of being able to coast to the end, I now had to forcefully finish under the subtle ‘pressure of their encouragement’.

Sometimes our walk with the Lord is similar.  We feel like we’re in a place where we’ve had to work, tough it out, sacrifice or give up something of value.  All we really want to do is coast, sit down to rest or maybe even give up.  We arrive at the moment when we’ve chosen to just stop only to find two or three faithful friends urging us to “Go…go…go!  You can do it.  Don’t stop.  Finish.”

Their encouragement may not always be welcome or seem appropriate.  And the gentle pressure might even annoy us, but it is what God has prepared for us in those uncertain moments.  As He says in Hebrews 3:12-13: ‘See to it, brothers, that non of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness’.


It’s been almost a year since our down-sizing move from the home where we raised 6 children.  It has 5 bedrooms and just at 2700 sq. ft. and a playground type backyard to enjoy with all the little ones that were coming along.  We had friends who had made this transition.  Most, if not all, had a similar caution: ‘You won’t believe how much STUFF you have squirreled away that you forgot you had’.  ‘Alrighty then’, I thought casually.  My response wasn’t meant to be cavalier, but I did think I knew how much STUFF we had; that is until we began to empty out the STUFF’S SPACE.

We began with the outbuildings that held tools, yard equipment and other STUFF, some of which I had forgotten I had.  This pretty much filled the storage unit we had rented.  (We didn’t have a replacement house purchased yet so we needed space for the STUFF)  Next, we moved to the garage, which for normal people houses their car/s and related items.  For me, though, more tools.  ‘Not doing bad’, I mused.  This only half-filled the SECOND storage unit.  I consoled myself with the thought that I only had a few books in the attic.  (A full walk-in attic) 🙂  30 boxes of books and a whole lot of other STUFF later, our legs were telling us not to climb anymore steps, our backs were telling us to lay off the lifting and the THIRD storage unit was nearly full.  Now to the furniture, clothes, dishes, etc.

We stuffed STUFF in any available crevice and even forced STUFF into places where there were no spaces.  Finally, we were at a managable level of STUFF.  But we needed more STUFF space.  Kindly a son-in-law and daughter offered us a barn, friends offered us part of their basement and their garage and we finally were able to stuff the remaining STUFF into our cars, truck and trailer.  WHEW!  I was so relieved but wondered where all this STUFF had come from!  Technically speaking, I knew that I had purchased or collected it all, but when had it happened.  The answer: a little bit at a time over a long period of time.

For me, what is true of STUFF has, also, been true of sinful choices whether I do what I’m commanded NOT to do or don’t do what I’m commanded TO DO.  It’s a small compromise here or a neglected responsibility there.  We often justify ourselves that we’d only do this one thing once or we told ourselves that we would do the right thing tomorrow.  Like all the STUFF, sinful acts/habits are collected.  And they weigh us down and slow our progress in the Lord.

Just as Jesus said, ‘Be on your guard against the ‘yeast’ of the Pharisees and as God said through Paul, ‘Do you not know that a little ‘leaven’ leavens the whole lump?’.  Matthew 16:6; I Corinthians 5:6f

Let’s be a people who guard themselves against the collection of SINFUL STUFF.  After all, ‘the grace that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us to say NO to worldly passions…and ungodliness…and to live pure lives…’ .  Titus 2:11f



It was in the forth grade.  Our playground supervisor, Mrs. Rankin, allowed us to play catch with a football.  To say that it was unusual  for us to play with a football is not a stretch because all the other balls we ever played with were round: kickballs, softballs or basketballs.  But we never played with a football.  And in our little community school of 150 students, there was never enough interest or participants to form, furnish and fund a functioning football team.  It was all about basketball.  But on this day…the football came out.

I watched with interest as the guys tried to throw, catch and chase the oblong object that seemed to wildly careen every time it bounced.  The guys seemed to be having fun.  And I must admit it looked interesting…that is until the ball bounced near me.  As I leaned over to pick it up and politely toss it back, I noted an added element to the ‘game’.  It was called, ‘GET CHUCK.  HE HAS THE BALL’!

Instinctively, I turned to run, somewhat because it seemed the right thing to do and somewhat because I didn’t want to look like a scared girl and throw the ball down and go hide.  Quick as hungry hogs on slop, the boys were ‘on me’: literally.  One by one the ‘crush’ grew until I couldn’t breathe and there were only small snatches of light piercing between all the legs and dirty sneakers.

Fully in panic mode because of the bodies weight on top of me and the lack of oxygen inside me, I mustered a muffled scream of ‘HELP’!  Somehow through all the laughter and giggles, Leonard heard my frantic cry.  Over the raucous noise of the pile of boyhood, I heard Leonard shouting to everyone to ‘GET OFF’.  ‘HE’S SUFFOCATING’!  As he shouted, he began pulling bodies off the pile.  Soon another then another boy got the memo and began pulling off piled bodies.  An eternity later as the daytime was beginning to get dark, the last boy was pulled off and I was liberated.

I don’t remember much about the next few minutes.  By the time I was aware of what had transpired and what was then taking place, all the boys were off in another corner of the playground repeating the cycle, but with ‘bigger’ boys.  I was alone with my thoughts, except for Leonard.  He hadn’t left with the others and was somewhat preoccupied with questions like, ‘Are you o.k.?’  ‘Do you hurt anywhere?’  ‘Can you breathe alright?’

When I had answered his questions satisfactorily, he simply put his hand on my shoulder and we walked calmly back to class: together.  I didn’t need a body guard at that moment, but it sure was comforting to have him walk along with me.

I say all of that is order to say this, ‘You see, at just the right time, while we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly [us]’…!  As one of our hymns reminds us, ‘Oh to grace how great a debtor…’! And all God’s people say, ‘AMEN’!


It’s Just a Bush

Recently, while enjoying some family reunion time out of town, I returned home mid-visit to pay some bills, do some office work and enliven Shirley’s flowers with a good watering.  I carefully gave a must deserved drink to her flowers, but forgot to water the hydrangea bush I bought in springtime to commemorate my Dad’s heavenly ‘home-going’ 17 years ago.

By the time I noticed its need, some of the branches were announcing its stress.  The largest leaves at the end of the branches, had begun to bend over and cover the fresh new buds that were about to appear.  As I looked at what had happened, I recognized the plant’s intentional efforts to use the larger, older leaves and their advanced strength to shield the new life from potential damage from the sun’s heat.  These more mature leaves had bent over and exposed their more fragile underside in order to arch over and provide protection for the new life that was appearing.  Some would say that the plant was ‘withering’, but actually it was protecting the weaker, more fragile life that was emerging.  (If it had been withering, I suspect that all the leaves would have been curling).

While I considered the condition of the plant and noted the efforts of those protective leaves, I was reminded of a verse in Romans 15, ‘The strong ought to bear the frailty of the weak and not to please themselves’.

At once, the applicable lesson came to mind: ‘This plant and many others like it in nature do what we humans sometimes refuse to do: protect the new life that is growing inside’!

May we be a people who are willing to sacrifice ourselves, our resources or our very lives if necessary to protect the life of all little ones, especially those that are in the womb.



Those ‘pesky’ thoughts

As soon as I nodded in mutual recognition to the gentleman exiting the grocery parking lot I was entering, I made the pilgrimage to the neatly lined rows of shopping carts.  He must have been after the same items I was, I thought: milk, juice and bread.  A quick survey of our refrigerator contents alerted me to the need to make the staple run to the store.  We could have made breakfast without those items had it not been for visiting guests.  But, hospitality necessitated the run.

So there I stood,  preparing to pull a cart from the nearest line of carts.  When I pulled it from its place and the rear collapsible portion of the next cart folded down, I saw it.  There in the cart I had chosen was a recently purchased gallon of milk, sweating from the combination of humidity and temperature differential.  My heart sank as I thought of the guy nearing the completion of his task, possibly already vicariously enjoying his milk, and realizing the need to retrace his steps to retrieve his purchase which had now come into my possession.  My second thought was the one that helped me begin to formulate a plan to secure his milk which I figured he ‘MIGHT’ come back to reclaim.  But it was the third thought that caused me to tremble as I took ‘HIS’ milk back to the grocer who happened to be standing at the checkout lane talking to one of his employees.

That thought arrived so quietly, so unexpectedly, so anonymously that I was caught completely off guard.  Here is what I heard.  ‘You know that that milk is already paid for and is outside the store don’t you?’

To say that I was shocked is quite an understatement.  I couldn’t believe what I heard!  ‘Where in the world did that thought come from?’, I asked myself.  ‘I’ve never EVER had a thought vaguely similar to that one’.  ‘What is happening to me?’, I questioned.  ‘Where is my faith here’?  Once the milk had been given back to the store manager and he had politely thanked me for being ‘an honest man’, I had opportunity to retrace my thoughts.  And what I discovered was helpful to me as I attempt to grow in the command of scripture to, ‘…take EVERY thought captive and make it obedient to Christ’…!  II Corinthians 10:5

First, thoughts often occur quite randomly and obscurely: they just ENTER.  Once they have entered, we begin the second phase of our ‘thought capture’: EVALUATION, the discernment of source, value, maturity, godliness, righteousness, etc. using Philippians 4:8 as our guide.  After we evaluate these thoughts, we then EDIT them.  The thoughts that honor the Lord we ENTERTAIN and the thoughts that are dishonorable we ELIMINATE.  Whenever we entertain thoughts that we should eliminate or eliminate thoughts that we should entertain, we are at the precipice of sin.

Let’s be a people who take all thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ, realizing that just ONE thought can lead us toward an ungodly act.  That act could lead us to an ungodly habit.  And that habit will usually contribute to an ungodly lifestyle that is both unworthy of our Lord and unwanted in the lives of His children.

Whatever we do, let’s purpose to do all to ‘the GLORY OF CHRIST’.