In the Cleft of the Rock

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5 Sometimes that scripture seems impossible to believe, doesn’t it? Moments come when the darkness seems so thick you find it difficult to breathe. Your deceiving heart insists it will suffocate you. And yet your lungs fill again. But with every breath, the darkness murmurs it will have the next one. It won’t, beloved, unless you allow it to. Perhaps I need to remind you who gives you breath. The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33:4 The enemy doesn’t own your breath, dear one. He just wants you to think he does. And there’s something else the enemy doesn’t want you to know. The light that defeats the darkness rests within you. Christ gave it to you. Beloved, you hold the power within you to defeat the lord of the darkness. And he’s terrified you’ll figure that out. So the deceiver of the whole world (Revelation 12:9) works his illusions, insisting he is stronger than you and that darkness prevails. But his schemes only work if you believe him. This last month has brought an onslaught of darkness against my family. Serious health concerns have come out of nowhere against four of my family members. The enemy whispers the future holds the promise of more darkness. If I didn’t know my God so well, fear may have crumbled me. But I do know my beloved Savior. So I told the enemy I would not take his fear. I belong to the Most High God, and I rest in the shadow of the Almighty. And the God I love has promised: [...]

A Miraculous Delay

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 Are you the kind of person that likes immediate results? I am. I’ll admit I’m not a very patient person by nature. Waiting frustrates me. Just ask my kids. So when God whispers instruction into my life and I choose to trust Him through faithful obedience, I tend to expect that I’ll soon see Him fulfill a promise. After all, Scripture teaches that God blesses the faithful. But I’ve discovered that God’s timetable rarely matches my own. Sometimes blessings loom just beyond the horizon. Time passes and promises remain unfulfilled. And I get weary from waiting. Ever been there? Beloved, just as God calls us to trust His plans, He also insists we trust His timing. So how do you and I keep from becoming weary while we wait? Perhaps we need to allow God to change our perspective. I want to challenge you to consider something. What if the waiting is actually part of the blessing? What if that time between the promise and its fulfillment actually provides an opportunity to experience God in a way you’d miss without it? Caleb knows what I’m talking about. You may be familiar with Caleb’s story. He was one of only two men that God delivered from slavery in Egypt through Moses that made it into the Promised Land. The rest of them died in the desert. Let’s visit Caleb and the Israelites to watch him receive his blessing. When we left the Israelites last week they were ready to choose a new leader and head back to Egypt. As a [...]

Enter In

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:5-6 NIV A delightful inheritance awaits you in Jesus Christ. Whether you believe it yet or not, God has wonderful plans for you. He has drawn your boundary lines in pleasant places. The only catch is, you need to go claim that ground. Many of us—dare I say most of us—are stuck floundering in desert places while the promised blessings Jesus made available to us lie just ahead. I’m tired of the desert. Aren't you? The Israelites once stood where you now stand. Their feet camped on desert ground while the land God promised them remained just that: a promise. God told Moses to send a representative from each of the twelve tribes to explore the land He'd set before them and bring back a report. They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit.” Numbers 13:27 Imagine that! They found the land exactly the way God had described it. God had called them out of Egypt by faith, but He didn’t stop there. He allowed them to witness the bounty of His provision with their eyes. Not just a promise. A reality. Surely they would run toward their allotted inheritance! Unfortunately they also saw something else. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. Numbers 13:28 Suddenly an adversary appeared bigger than their God. Fear overshadowed them, erasing their witness of God’s faithfulness. [...]

A Celebration of Grace

“Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him. Mark 15:32 At times I have difficulty grasping the depths of God’s love. While His own people spit at Him and mocked Him, Jesus silently bore the weight of a cross and stumbled up the hill to Calvary. There, angry soldiers pounded nails into His hands and feet, pinning Him to that cross. The ground beneath Him stained crimson by the blood of earth’s Creator, at last Jesus proclaimed, “It is finished” (John 19:30). It might be easy for us to blame the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. But the truth is, you and I put Jesus there as much as they did. Our sin nailed Him to that cross. These words from Sidewalk Prophets’ song, You Love Me Anyway, pierce my heart each time I hear them. I am the thorn in Your crown, but You love me anyway I am the sweat from Your brow, but You love me anyway I am the nail in Your wrist, but You love me anyway I am Judas' kiss, but You love me anyway I am a blessed recipient of God’s grace, dear one, of His incomprehensible love. For 26 years I rejected my Lord and King while pretending to love Him. Yet still He welcomed me with open arms the moment I finally opened my heart to Him. Words cannot express my gratitude over His pursuit of this prodigal. He intersected my life, pierced my blindness with His glorious truth, and inscribed His Word upon my heart. I am eternally grateful. History records another recipient of grace [...]

Distress Call

In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. Psalm 18:6 It’s the unexpected things that send us reeling. Extraordinary circumstances that reach into an ordinary day and make it anything but. Like when a few hives decide they won’t respond to Benadryl. Or steroid shots. Or IV antihistamines. And you watch those few hives cover every ounce of your child and set his skin on fire. And he develops a fever. And he swells so much it takes two nurses and two technicians thirty minutes to find a place on his body where they can insert a needle to draw blood. And you hear a doctor say words like, “He may have Steven Johnson’s Syndrome, which is very rare but very aggressive. If that’s what this is, we’ll be sending him out to Hopkins or Hershey.” When a mother hears words like that, tears burn and threaten to fall. But they don’t. At least not right away. Because those eyes need to look into the eyes of her son and let him know it will be okay. But when she slips into an empty room in the ER and shuts the door, that’s another story. There strength crumbles, and she gasps for oxygen. At least that’s what I did. I cried out to my heavenly Father, begging for His breath. The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33:4 God has such beautiful ways of providing, dear one. Like sending a friend and prayer partner to wrap me in her arms and let me [...]

Seated in the Temple

He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. Psalm 62:2 God has a way of shaking things up so that only He and His Word remain. And when the dust settles, many who thought they’d be standing will find themselves scattered among the rubble. A great shaking looms on the horizon, dear one. In fact it has already begun. “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.” Hebrews 12:26-27 God is about to reveal the danger of trusting in created things. This isn’t the first time He’s done this. When Jesus walked the earth He spoke some words that sent the religious folk reeling. In fact, they used those words to accuse Him at His trial. “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’” Matthew 26:61 Mark 14:58 offers another detail. “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” Sounds like a shaking to me. God was about to destroy the temple they revered. A temple built with sweat and tears. A temple made with hands. But why would God destroy His own dwelling place? In order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.  The people needed to understand that God’s power didn’t rest in a building. It rests with Him. The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to [...]

Cultivating the Seed

And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:29 NKJV Life begins with a seed. In case you’re wondering where seed comes from, “The seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11). God speaks and establishes all things by His Word. Every seed spoken into existence by God carries unlimited potential, holding within it everything necessary to explode into life. The seed itself is good. Perfect. Lacking nothing. But the seed will not emerge as life on this earth without encountering two other elements God ordained to cultivate and release its potential. Curious? Let me show you. When God created this earth we call home, He determined that every living thing upon it—all plants, animals, and people—would emerge from seed and carry seed to reproduce. For now, we’ll focus on the green stuff. And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. Genesis 1:11-13 Marvel at the beauty of God’s way: Life begets life. In God’s plan, living things always give birth to new life. Life flows and continues eternally. And God saw that it was good. I love God’s declaration in verse 11, proving the creative power of His Word. And it was so. Now I want to show you something interesting in Genesis 2:5-7. When [...]

Feed My Lambs

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” John 21:15 ESV Do you love Jesus, dear one? Our opening scripture reveals what Jesus said should be evidence of your love for Him. Lovers of Jesus feed His sheep. Jesus pressed the point with Peter, repeatedly asking him the same question. He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” John 21:17 God never wastes words. Three times Jesus connected loving Him with caring for His sheep—particularly with feeding them. And when God repeats Himself, He draws our attention to the importance of His message. He wants us to understand this vital truth: We must feed and tend His sheep. Ezekiel 34 describes what unfed sheep look like. Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and [...]

The Other Prodigal

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 1 John 2:9 You’re probably familiar with the parable of the prodigal son. Jesus told of a son who demanded his inheritance from his father and journeyed to a far country, only to squander it away with wild living. He found himself starving, “longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, but no one gave him anything” (Luke 15:16). That sounds about right. Any time we try to satisfy our needs and desires apart from our heavenly Father, we’ll come up lacking. Empty. Starving. Yet we keep trying. And that’s exactly what this young son did. He wanted to trade on the benefits his position as a son afforded him without maintaining his relationship to his father. He didn’t want to stay close. He just wanted the property his father’s name entitled him to. Does that resonate, dear one? It does with me. For years I did the same thing. For a long time, I wanted the benefits that come with Jesus’ name—forgiveness, salvation, the Father’s blessing—but I didn’t really want Jesus. I wanted my Kingdom inheritance, but I had no real desire to draw near to God through Him. I still wanted to live my life my way. And just like the young prodigal, I soon discovered the futility of that thinking. You see, what our souls really long for is union with our heavenly Father. He is life, and we access that life through intimacy with Jesus. Jesus is the blessing we seek, dear one. So anything we try to enjoy apart from Him —even the good things that flow from His hand— leave us [...]

Love That Heals

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1 John 3:1 NIV Our hearts cry out to be known. Sin keeps us hiding from one another. But something deep within us all longs for significance. And in a world that easily overlooks us, God sees. He knows your name, dear one. He calls it—even when no one else cares to know it—inviting you to turn your gaze to Him. You see, God also longs to be known. We are not nameless to God. He knows us, and He desires us to hear Him calling our names. He taught me this one day as I walked through the village next to our base in Pemba. I had been visiting the neighbors for hours, and I was late for a discipleship meeting. As I hurried down a hill, I noticed a very old lady in rags sitting in the dirt against a mud hut. She was blind. Her eyes were pure white. I felt the Lord asking me to stop for her. In the local dialect I asked her what her name was. She told me she had none. I thought perhaps she was from another tribe and didn’t understand my Makua dialect. I asked her again in a different language, but her answer was the same: “I am blind. I have no name.” There was another woman sitting nearby. I asked her if she knew the blind woman’s name, and she too replied: “She is blind, and she has no name.” I was stunned. I hugged [...]