The Wind

I snapped this pic after my run today.  A joy to be out.  A joy to be done.  My day off, I'd waited til after the kids left for school this morning.  With the sun up over the horizon warming the 8 degree skies, wind at 10+ mph, & a real feel of -3, I layered up appropriately.  Out I went to run the snow plowed, yet patchy streets of our subdivision with the assurance I had the right gear for the conditions.

For the first few minutes in the sub freezing outdoors you wanna think, "Agh, I overdressed.  I'm gonna get too hot before I'm done."  Then you remember two things: first, you got dressed where it was 60 degrees warmer; second, you always feel this way until the cold presses in through your layers.  Wait a few minutes before turning home to shed some gear.

Sure enough a mile or so down the road the warmth you felt yields to the weight of the cold.  Your flesh is screaming the reality, "It's really cold out here, Yehu!"  Experience speaks to your flesh again before you are tempted to turn home, "Give it a bit more & you'll warm up."

And, if you've dressed right, you do warm up.  You feel great.  Cold face, yes.  Chilled a bit here & there, at times.  Yet generally, just right.  Run you do, picking your steps through the snow & ice.

Then, just when things seem to be going so well, you face another force.  One more fierce than the cold.  "You conquered 8 degrees? Ha! Wait until you meet me," it growls.

You turn into the wind.

The wind.  Bites.  Cuts.  Hurts.

All the warmth from being layered right.  All the self-congrats for choosing well & running strong.  All are laughed at by the wind.

You push through.  You steel your will.  You suffer on.

No matter how you feel you have gotta get your miles.  And if it's too tough to get all your miles, you at least have to get home.  These conditions will hurt you.

Isn't life like that?

You bring your best plans.  Your best stuff.  Your best prep.  You are up to the challenge.  You are ready to conquer.

Then you turn into the wind.

The fierce, frozen, cutting, angry wind.

You question yourself.  You question God.  You second guess.  You doubt.  You cry.  You complain.  You stumble.

But you gotta keep going.  You can't stay out there in the cold.  You gotta reach the peace & warmth of home. You press on.


The wind.

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." Romans 8:37

It's Not About Me

You gotta love this picture: The James Family Four jumping for joy.

The grinning Mom is a friend I'd never met.  Beth James is the wife of a college buddy, David.

Beth James is battling cancer.

That word.  The C-word.  Stirs each of us.  Deeply.

Strong images & emotions within.  Fear.  Sickness.  Pain.  Sadness.  Suffering.  Death.  Anger.  Uncertainty. Hope.  Survival.  Faith.  Future.  Eternity.

Beth is in the midst of the battle of her life for her life.  Read about its unreal beginnings written by David here.

And then do not miss reading Beth's amazing perspective just two months into her battle here.

Join me in praying for Beth & her family.

And, as you read their story, be strengthened.  Be encouraged.

No matter your battle.

It's not about you.

God knows.

God loves.

He will carry you through.

Love Well

Have you ever wondered why God allows things to go on like He does?

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Why the suffering of innocents all around us?

If God is real, loving, & powerful, why does He allow all this mess?

Why do some appear so blessed & others accursed?

When I look around the world.  When I stop to count my blessings.  When I seek to name all I can give thanks for.  I am staggered of just how blessed I am.  That God chose me.  That God loves me.  Due to no good on my own, but His sovereignty.

In response I feel a responsibility to do something.  To be something.  To love in a God powered, other centered, self sacrificing way.  To be like.  To love like.  Jesus.

Steve Saccone writes (Relational Intelligence p.18, italics added):

(God) could have chosen to give us extraordinary powers to heal the sick or help the paralyzed walk.  He could have given us the ability to bring sight to the blind, or even given us the ability to coerce people to believe in God.  He could have told us how to become super human in our talent or intellect.  But instead of teaching us to be loudest with our voices, Jesus invited us to be abundantly free with our love.  He didn't admonish us to dominate with power, but to bend a knee and serve others.  He didn't indulge the part of us that wants to rule, but instead appealed to our hearts & invited us to love well.  He didn't command us to force our opinion of truth on others, but to live out His truth with love in our lives.

As you celebrate Thanksgiving.  As you count your blessings.  Hear God's appeal to your heart.

Accept His invitation.

Love Him.

Love others.

Love well.

In Suffering

I am young.  I don't know much.

But I have learned.

God.  In His sovereignty.  Has purpose.

In suffering.

How have you suffered?

Hurting.  Broken.  Rejected.  Weak.  Anxious.  Humiliated.  Worried.  Mistreated.  Ridiculed.  Depressed. Insulted.  Ashamed.  Despised.  Questioned.  Downcast.  Sick.  Diseased.  Wrestling.  Discouraged. Sleepless. Slandered.  Exhausted.  Overcome.  Spent.  Done.

Suffering.  Each of them.

God.  Has purpose.

In suffering.

Walking through suffering with Christ & one another will draw us closer & make us stronger.  Closer & stronger than we ever dreamed.

Walking through suffering with Christ & one another will grow greater love within us.  Greater than we ever imagined.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.  Ephesians 3:20 (MSG)

Glory to God.

In suffering.

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice that you participate in the suffering of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.  1 Peter 4:12-13 (NIV)

Glory to God.

In suffering.

Magic Bible


As a pastor. As a friend. As a person. Who doesn't like injustice or suffering or pain or any such ugliness. I've said before, "I wish I had a Magic Bible."
There is no such thing as a Magic Bible. The references to magic in the Bible are negative. Yet. There have been times when faced with a situation or a person I wish I could change, I would make the incongruous statement, "I wish I had a Magic Bible."
Some folks who needed it: I'd whop 'em over the head to straighten 'em out.
Other folks, the kinder type: I'd wave it gently to make everything better.
There is no such thing as a Magic Bible. But wouldn't it be nice if we could straighten folks out or make everything better as we chose?
I've got friends now. Dear people. Suffering. Heartbroken. Hurting. Questioning. Confused. I wish I had Magic Bible. I'd make it all right.
I've got no whopin' needing folks around right now. Just the waving kind. So, heartsick for them, I was thinking this Magic Bible silliness when I was convicted. By someone real. With real power. The Holy Spirit.
"You don't need a Magic Bible. You've got prayer. Pray for God to do something so big, so good, so unbelievable that only He can get the credit."
Alright, then. Let me start with this one:
God, you are Big. You are Love. Will you, please, move. Show us your hand. Demonstrate your power. We don't deserve it. We can't earn it. But you are gracious beyond belief. And merciful past understanding. We love you, Father, and we beg you, please, for your glory. Move. Touch. Heal. Restore. Convict us to pray. Embolden us with courage. Strengthen us to persevere. We are your people. We offer the sacrifices of self. We sing glory & praise to you. You tell us that "the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Teach us to be effectual. Fill us to be fervent. And for your glory, by your power, may our prayers much avail. Amen.