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Free From Prison, Yet Still Afraid

Thursday, August 26th, 2010


crop-yellow_jacket_hands_raised


As I watch the future approach, I can trust in His presence to guide me there. I can scream with fear, breathe in peace or I can just rest. From some angles they all look the same.


Gen. 3:8-10

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.  But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”


On Easter Sunday 2010, we lost our little Spencer doggie. He was killed by a car and  His death was a tragic reality of life here on earth.  We are but a mist, our lives are not guaranteed one more breathing second but God’s goodness remains. As we put his little body to rest, due to the pain of the empty void from his absence, we were very timid about investing in another dog. After 13 years of having him there was a gaping hole in our home, our lives, and our hearts but we weren’t sure we were up to going through it again. (You can read the story by clicking here.)


After a month or two I felt a desire to have a little puppy around again, but my wife Vileen wasn’t ready. A couple of months later she came to me and said she was ready to think about getting another dog. I was too, so we called the breeder where we had gotten Spencer and found that the prices had gone up exponentially in the last 13 years on purebred poodles! So we searched other places. We also began to search online for what was available.


One day I opened up the morning paper and found that there was a “puppy mill” that had been seized by the  animal protection authorities. This particular operation was breeding smaller dogs and I wondered if we might find God’s provision for us through this terrible situation. I tried to find out where we could locate the animals that had been removed, but nothing seemed to bring any answers.


We continued to search online and found some little poodles at “Sunny Meadows Safe Haven For Pets” a local animal rescue agency. So, we went to see one of them and found it was a 6 month old puppy that we just didn’t feel was the right one for us at this time. So we moved on slowly to look for another one.


Last week I happened to be in the area of Sunny Meadows. I stopped by just to see what they had and they told me they had a 2 1/2 year old female that seemed to have a real sweet temperament. So I went with the lady back to their running pen. As she handed the little one to me I held her in my arms for the longest time. She seemed to relax there even though she was extremely distrustful and fearful of humans.


DSC01459



Proverbs 29:25

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe





Her little life was spent in a cage for over two years. She was considered “breeding stock” to the owners. As we talked I was told that she had come from the puppy mill in Arkansas! Wow, this is interesting. That is what I was originally looking for. I found out that all of those dogs had been dispersed around the area to see if they could be adopted.


My heart immediately connected to this little girl. I went home and told my wife and we went back the next day to see her again. We both felt that this was the one we should take home with us. We found out that she had also contracted “heart worm” and would need special medical attention for some time to try to eradicate the worms from her little body.


I didn’t know much about this problem so I contacted a friend who is a veterinarian to ask some questions about what we would need to do. As I spoke with her I found out that she always refers her adoption inquiries to Sunny Meadows because she likes that agency and actually was their vet for a season.  I felt more secure in our selection process for sure.


At the end of the conversation I felt somewhat overwhelmed about the prognosis of her heart worm. She told me that the treatment may work well, but there are some that die within the process of treatment because of the difficulty of healing from this problem. I thought, “Well, Lord, we will at least give her a good loving home while she is alive, and maybe she’ll heal”. We realized we could lose her but it is worth pouring ourselves into her little life anyway.


We named her Mollie. I call her “Mollie Bear”. I wanted to give her an endearing name since her life had been so inhumane. As we talked with the adoption staff further we began the process of learning how to rehabilitate a puppy mill dog. They told us this would require patience and it could be a long process. They assured us that trust needs to be built since she had never been socialized. She hadn’t had any human interaction so she has a deep fear of humans that needs to be overcome.


We brought her home and held her for long periods of time. She was not eating, drinking, or releasing any body fluids. The first night we kept her by our bed in a safe place. She slept all night without moving.


The next day we tried to feed her again. Nope, she wouldn’t eat or drink. She calmed down at times then she would get all worked up again. Quick movements were startling to her so we tried as best we could to be ever so careful. Her endearing sweet temperament was working its way into our hearts.


The second night, once again, she was put in her bed next to our bed. She quickly went to sleep. I the middle of the night I awoke hearing her little feet clicking on our wooden floors. I turned on the light and saw she had taken care of her eliminating needs. Actually, we were both so excited to see she is functioning! Sure it was a little bit of a mess but we were glad to see the improvement.


As I got up she ran into our closet into a dark corner all hunkered down in fear. I knew this wasn’t because she was ashamed for what she had done. She didn’t know any better since she had only been in a cage. Rather, she was scared to death of our large human bodies. But a ray of hope was present as she began to progress into some sense of normality. We held her for some time, calmed her down and put her back in bed.


I woke up and wondered, “What in the world are we doing?” Why would we spend the time and energy with a troubled dog when we could have chosen not to? We could just take her back  and stop the process that was becoming quite an investment. We knew that this wouldn’t be over soon and I had second thoughts about taking on the burden of all the things that would become necessary. Later that morning my wife and I talked between my appointments. She told me that Mollie had eaten some food and that she had some water. Wow! Another ray of hope, she is eating! OK, lets keep on moving forward with her.


We took her out into the back yard to give her more exposure to her outside space. I placed her on the grass and stood beside her to see if she would follow me a little. With lots of loving words and a little attention she walked a couple of steps. It was very clear that her muscles are not toned and she is very weak. But, she followed me a few steps and I tried it again and she followed a little further.


She seemed pretty tired and still burdened with the affects of the stress. So she spent some time laying beside me in my office quietly.


We are both wondering about her future. Will she survive the heart worm? Will she be fearful forever? Will she ever romp or play with us? There are no guarantees about any of these questions coming out positive. She may, or she may not ever, be a friendly little expressive doggie. But, we have given her a home and are trying to love her tenderly with hope that she will make it to all of these goals.


As I begin to walk alongside one of God’s wounded creatures I am asking my Father for clarity. What do you see in little Mollie Bear? What do you see in me, Lord? Was it the same way with me when you freed me from the cage I had lived in for so long? Is this what You see in all of your new children after the ravages of the pain of this world create fear in our hearts? Is this what it is like for You to treat us tenderly while we learn to trust you?


glory to god

Psalm 145:8-10 (The Message)

God is all mercy and grace— not quick to anger, is rich in love. God is good to one and all; everything he does is suffused with grace. Creation and creatures applaud you, God; your holy people bless you. They talk about the glories of your rule, they exclaim over your splendor.



This last couple of years I have seen a new side to my own spiritual walk with Jesus. I am beginning to understand that for some of us, the ways we have lived may require a long rehabilitation. It may require a safe, trust building exercise with you as our eternal adoptive Father. Yes, intellectually, I know you are a tremendously loving father but this doesn’t mean we are ready to receive what You have for us right away. You are so BIG! You are more than I can handle sometimes. I often struggle with trusting in Your kindness?


How about you?  Have you felt timid, fearful, or distrusting of God?  I have often thought, atheism is a deception.  I don’t think  anyone would turn away from God if they truly knew what His love and grace really is and could impart it to their own life.  I think a large part of our spiritual growth for us is that of growing to learn of God’s unconditional love more and more every day.


One of the greatest steps of growth I have experienced this last couple of years is that of knowing more about grace.  While I was in the middle of a willful act against what I know about God’s desire for us, He showed me a side of Himself that was life transforming.  I knew what I was doing was not giving Him glory and once I accepted my own responsibility for the willful choice I decided to impart something I have said many times; “therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1)!  So, I proclaimed this and found God began to speak with me in a very loving and yet challenging way.


towerProverbs 18:10

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.


We may have come to Him with our own heart worms. These little parasites invade the circulatory system preventing a healthy blood flow and at times affecting breathing and overall body health. I think when I came to Jesus I had emotional heart worm and He is still ridding my life of these things. I was not ready at the beginning for what He had for me. I had “heart disease” that needed some careful treatment. His blood flows through my veins but sometimes my own sin sickness can block the arteries.


Will we become all that He hopes we will be? I don’t think we will experience all of our potential here in this life. But He is rehabilitating us over time. As Christians we can call this the “sanctification” process. Moving from a wounded, fearful, distrustful child into His care takes time and all of us are on different schedule. Our unique circumstances require His prescriptive care. In the process we can trust in his promise to complete the work He has begun.


Proverbs 1:33

But whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm


We’ve taken Mollie outside several times each day to acclimate her to our yard.  She is nervous and obviously fearful of the open space and the strange smells.  One day we thought we’d try to see if she would come to us if we walked away from her a few feet. With great trepidation on her face she actually ran away from us looking for a safer place in the flower garden.  A couple of days later we tried again and she was more willing and actually came to us seemingly more aware that we are safe for her.

When Adam and Eve sinned, they didn’t run to their Father, rather they ran and hid in the garden just like Mollie.  God searched for them calling them to Himself.  Our natural state of being is that of being afraid.  Unless someone takes that time with us to show us how to trust and not be afraid we will remain fearful.  I think at some level, we are all afraid.  Fear of being alone, fear of rejection, fear of being disliked, fear of failing – and the list goes on. Fear is at the root of many of our uncomfortable life situations.


Matthew 11:28

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.


Mollie is learning more about trust and the next day, when she was in the yard, she actually ran to us.  Day by day, I also trust in my Lord more.  I hope I run to Him more quickly when I am afraid.

I am so thankful that He is careful with me. I am also grateful that He is taking me through things that may cause me some angst, but they are for my good. He will continue to expose me to things that I may not ask for but he is loving me through them. His kind hands of guidance are really scary at times and I may run from them. He knows, and doesn’t mind. He just keeps trying with me until we make further progress. And when I need to be held, or calmed down, He will do that too.


sleep

Psalm 4:8

I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.


Little Mollie Bear is safe where she is. She is loved, and we will care for her the very best way we can. But we sure look forward to her growing more secure. I look forward to the day when she smiles! Yes, dogs smile. She may even laugh a little. I remember our little Spencer doggie running around in circles as though he was laughing, or experiencing joy. I sure hope she will get there. Maybe soon she’ll follow me further than just a few steps. She might even get to the place where she walks alongside me with ease.


walk with laughing jesus“Jesus, it’s like you and me isn’t it?


I’ll bet you can’t wait for me to experience more joy, more freedom, and to walk alongside you with ease.


Hosea 2:18

In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle I will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety.




 

Comforted To Comfort Others – Love One Another

Friday, August 20th, 2010


Flowing Stream

Smooth and yet powerful, the rolling of life is like a massage of our aches and yet there is evidence of a wearing away that deepens our experience.



As I looked at this picture it appeared to me to be strong, consistent, mighty and yet it was soothing and not turbulent. I thought, this is what life is like from a distance. If I look up close there is a movement that is powerful. Craggy rocks are worn away by the little brook, the edges of a sharp shell is honed away by the tides coming and going on the shoreline. But from far away, it seems a lot of the rough edges are smoothed out. But why? Why would the Lord want to wear away our rough edges?


pruning grapes

John 15:1-17

1-3 “I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.


It appears that the way of the Lord in our life is definitely to prune, to sand off those things that would hinder us from being our very best. Our best can only be achieved when we are grafted into Jesus’ vine and taken care of by the Master Gardner. This will require us to go through the chastening process. Wounds and healing are a natural part of our life. When we are pruned there is pain, there may be some bleeding, but when we are willing to be in communion with our Lord there will be healing too.


4″Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.


Go and bear fruit! What is the fruit of a fulfilling life? Good relationships? When we live a life of loving others sacrificially, we will show forth the fruit that our Father desires from us. Jesus said that this is the way our Father shows us who He is. He does this by loving us, unconditionally, without shame for our mistakes or shortcomings.


5-8″I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.


dos and donts

This next verse has often troubled me. “Keep My Commands”, scares me sometimes because I know how often I fail in daily life. What are His commands? Do they consist of a list of “do’s and don’ts”. If I read the new covenant correctly, I know that we have been freed from the law and brought into the life of grace. So, what is Jesus talking about here when He says in order to remain in Him, we must obey His commands?


9-10 “I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.


11-15″I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.


grapes-redleaves

16″You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.


17″But remember the root command: Love one another.”



The message I hear in this reading is that we are ultimately called to love one another. To remain in Jesus is to continue to allow His chastening, His cleansing, so that we can follow in his model of relationship in loving each other with a selfless love.


clingy signWhen I was in my mid thirties I was hungry for friends. I looked all around for a friend that would meet my needs. I felt very alone and relationally starved. I met a man that paid attention to me. He was kind, affirming, very gifted and seemed to want to spend time with me. As we began to build a relationship we had lots of fun, we spent time together and even went on a couple of weekend trips together. I thought I had found the best friend in the world. I felt special and significant because of this friendship.


After a short time things started to get uncomfortable but I was unwilling to be honest about what I was feeling. When I saw him with someone else I was jealous.  If he didn’t have time to do something with me I felt rejected.  When these feelings would surface, I would begin to manipulate him with carefully chosen words to hopefully produce my desired outcome.  I had begun to make this man an idol in my life. I was far too focused on his life, his opinions, his affirmation of me.  I had become extremely enmeshed in the relationship. I didn’t want to be hungry and lonely again like I was. So I was clingy and desperate to keep what I had with this friendship.


In our own ways, each of us started hurting one another with words, actions, and an attempt to pull away from something that was beginning to hurt us. But I ignored the pain thinking surely this could be solved without giving up the friendship.  I thought, if only he would change or if I would do just the right thing, it would all be better.


After about two years, the pain became so great that I felt I had no option but to let go. I contacted him and said that it was not healthy for us to remain in contact with each other. I was unwilling to endure further pain and I also took responsibility for my negative impact on his life from being so clingy and controlling. In a phone call I released him. I realized that I was not loving him, but rather in my selfishness I “needed” him to meet my desires for connection.


It was shortly after our last conversation that God began to speak to me about relationships. It was the words in John chapter15, that changed my life forever.


First of all I learned that there was a model of relationship that Jesus gave us to follow. Second, I learned that Jesus was the “friend” that I had looked for all of my life. He was the friend that unconditionally loved me, He would never leave me nor forsake me, and He knew everything about me from the beginning to the end. It seemed that this knowledge pierced my heart deeply and showed me I never had to be alone again.


john 15 ringThe three points of healthy relationship I learned from Jesus’ model of relationship are these:

1. To be honest with each other. Jesus told us everything His Father told Him to tell us, holding nothing back.


I was living dishonestly in numerous ways with my friend.  In my dishonesty he didn’t know how to connect with me so there were many mistakes and mis-communications along the way.


2. To make choices in our relationships. The choice to pursue, the choices needed in healthy relationships, the choice to give sacrificially. Without making choices in relationships we will fall prey to the enemy’s fleshly distractions which actually harm good relationships.


I didn’t implement healthy boundaries where they were necessary. I was willing to drop commitments, other friends, and my own priorities in exchange for time with my friend.


3. To always keep in mind the purpose of relationship is to bear fruit for the kingdom.


There was a drain from my life and my energy which limited the potential fruit that could have come through our relationship with each other.  Our selfishness and idolatry was certainly not based on kingdom values – rather it was based on temporal human desires.


From the time my friendship was given to the Lord through today, my friends are additions to my life, not the center of my life. I really have not since that time felt anxious about friendships like I did before. I felt the deep pain of the cutting away of that friendship but in the end, it was the very best thing for me – and for him. The lessons I have learned about healthy relationships have benefited me and others tremendously.  The pruning was worth it for sure.


I also learned that Jesus’ model of relationship fails if we are not in the care of the Master Gardener. If we are resistant to being pruned or we are bitter when His discipline comes into our lives, we will miss the mark in our relationships. We will not live in his commandment to love each other. It doesn’t work to control relationships into our lonely nests rooted in neediness.


If we do not remain in Him, we will become self sustaijohn 15 familyning which will lead us to selfishness and again separation from the source of our relationship provision.


As the strong, powerful “smoothing” water in our lives rolls over us it is with purpose. It will round off our rough edges so that we will not cut one another with our sharp sides. It will bring a fresh new growth into places we have desired but were too sharp to enjoy.


I can feel the warmth and care of His honing of my life. I trust His motives are always from a pure love.  He is asking us to do the same.  Love One Another, this is His command.  Maybe we need some smoothing out before we can do that.  Are we willing to ask Him to work in us so that is possible?


Prov. 3:1-2

My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.


Prov. 3:11-12

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he love, as a father the son he delights in.


Job 5:17-18

“Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.




 

Transitions in Life – Guide me Lord!

Friday, August 13th, 2010


two_kids_runningacrossriver


Sometimes after we cross over there is still a hill to climb.


He’ll give us what we need to make it.





When we are born, we pass through the birth canal into a life that is bright, loud, and extremely foreign. The transition must occur or else we will die in our mother’s womb.


This won’t be the last time we cross over from familiarity to a foreign place! Life transitions occur all through life. Toddler to Kindergarten, childhood to puberty, high school to college and the dramatic life adjustments continue.


There are the natural seasons of life but in retrospect, some of the most challenging transitions are those we didn’t necessarily ask for. When a loved one dies, a spouse leaves us in divorce, we are laid off from our job, or serious illness takes us away from our independence. What are we to do now? How can I make it through this? Will life ever be “normal” again.


We are crossing over seemingly at times with no road map to find our way. Or maybe the hill seems just too steep to climb. How can we possibly make it through?


seasons of lifeAre you going through a life season change? What transition have you been “thrown” into lately? Or did something impact you a while ago and it just seems you can’t get out of the quicksand of your circumstances? As I am searching the scriptures for answers to those questions I find there are a tremendous number of passages that remind me that He is there! The Comforter, the Counselor, the Savior of my soul is able to provide me with what I need to make it.


Today is the second day of school for my grandson. I told him when he turned 10 that it is time for more responsibility in his life. Walking to school is one of those new privileges that have come with his age. As I watched him go out the door to walk to school for the first time, by himself, I felt fear in my heart. Will he make it? Is he safe? Does he feel alone as he makes his trek four blocks to the school doors?


I watched him through the window since I didn’t want him to think I was checking up on him. I gave him a few minutes and then I quietly went out onto the porch peering through the bushes to see him walk down the street. A few minutes later I went out onto the porch to see if I could see him across the street as he moved towards a place out of my sight.


I felt the Lord prompting me, “John, I got this one. He is making a transition into his own independence.” Sure, I realized he might feel alone, He may fall and skin his knees and no one will be there to say it’s ok. But the Lord reminded me that we all have to learn to live life outside of our physical covering and to be placed into the hands of our loving God.


One of my favorite passages that speaks to me very personally about life and its challenges is in Romans.


Rom. 5:3-5

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.


I was praying for a friend the other day who is going through a terrible battle right now. As I prayed, I was reminded that there may not be a feeling of hope when we are in the midst of a trial. Paul tells us that the hope comes after we persevere some and develop our character along the way. I don’t like that truth because I’d rather have the hope up front, I think you would too. But really, the hope we need is much larger than just believing we will make it through our current trials.


James 1:2-5

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.


The joy is not a denial of our pain. It also isn’t false covering of our authentic feelings. Rather, it is realizing that we have joy from the bigger picture of redemption, salvation and eternity. I find it interesting that James follows up with encouraging us to ask for help from our loving God.


mosesOur forefathers, the Israelites went through another kind of transition. They hungered for freedom from their bondage to slavery. They cried out for help over and over and finally, God bought them a deliverer in Moses. So, with excitement and joy they began their trek away from Egypt. He began the journey giving glory to the real deliverer, the LORD.


Exodus 13:3

Then Moses said to the people, “Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the LORD brought you out of it with a mighty hand.




Then he made plans for them that seemed curious but again, the Lord was concerned about the potential that they would become discouraged.


Exodus 13:17-18

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle.


He guided them with the cloud and the pillar of fire. He always had one or the other in place, never leaving them without direction.


pillar of fireExodus 13:20-22

After leaving Succoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.


Exodus 15:13

“In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.


Psalm 43:3

Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.


He had a destination in mind that wasn’t a physical location, it didn’t have an address. You wouldn’t find it on Google Maps! We are going to His House! It’s a spiritual destination of eternity with Him. Of course, if you are like me I’d rather have something a little more tangible than that.


God, can’t you take away the pain I am feeling? Can’t you provide a new job for me today? I want to feel better and this illness just seems to linger on and on. God, restore my broken marriage, I can’t imagine living life alone but it is so painful right now, and what about my kids. Surely this isn’t your will. Take them out of my life, God. They are creating havoc for me and others! Free me from this terrible situation.


But the truth is, when we do receive freedom, and we have in many ways, we find ourselves in our own deserts of confusion, personal blindness, and grumbling spirits. If we don’t keep our minds on the real goals then the short sighted ones are disappointing for sure.


Isaiah 49:10

They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat upon them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water.


So, ask. Ask Him for what you need.


Psalm 25:4-5

Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.


Psalm 48:14

For this God is our God forever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.


Psalm 73:24

You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory


Psalm 4:11

I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths


And the list goes on! He has promised us that He is the one we must trust in after we cross over to a new experience. He is the Counselor who will provide wisdom and insights. He will bring us peace.


Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.


bride-and-groom

Even in the transitions we ask for, such as getting a new job that we really wanted, or, walking down the aisle with our new bride or groom, there is an unknown experience to face. What about that brand new little baby that seems so sweet? There is a hill to climb after every life transition no matter how it comes about. It isn’t easy and there will be a wall of challenge that we’ll have to face. Transition always means we are entering into uncharted territories.


Isaiah 42:16

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.


When I left my position at Love In Action in 2008 I felt relieved to be free from the intense turmoil. I remember praying, “God, I am in your hands. I do not want to contrive my future or just settle into something that is familiar. Surprise me with your goodness in a plan that comes from you.” I dreamed of what those surprises might look like.


My wife and I were on a cruise in the Caribbean Islands. I saw such poverty and struggle on one of the islands as they were trying to start over after a military base closed up taking away many of their jobs and their ability to survive. I thought for a moment, I wonder if God would bring us here. What a great opportunity to show the love of God to a struggling people. Hum, what would it be like living on this island? If the cruise lines see potential here surely You do too!


I thought about it for a moment as I enjoyed the bright blue water, the amazing climate and dreamed of the glamour of living in the Caribbean. Then I realized all of their drinking water had to be brought in, everything they needed had to be special ordered and the loneliness of island living was a likely reality. But, even as I considered the potential as I pondered the idea, I felt strongly that there would be great joy in seeing Christ love these people and I would love to be a part of something like that. Of course, my wife wasn’t ready to pack up and move to the Caribbean.


Even now every time I see shows on island living I still think about that day and wonder, God might you end up sending us into this mission? What was that all about? I think at the very least, it was God asking me I were willing to cross over the water into whatever He might put into place for me.


In order for God to guide us in our new experiences it is really important for us to follow His direction. Sometimes, like the Israelites must have thought, it will not make sense. It didn’t make sense to take the long way around through the desert, but their loving deliverer had a plan for them that was good. He has a plan for us too, a great one, if we will learn to follow His ways. He then provides the wisdom and counsel needed to succeed.


John 14:15-17

“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”


Devin made it to school and I don’t think I will worry so much tomorrow. He is stronger now for his challenge. It will become old hat soon and there will be other transitions for him to grow through. I am sure I will still be the fretting grandpa each step of the way. I trust the Father to provide much better than I can, what Devin needs. I am so thankful I know Him.


cross-and-water1One of the most significant transitions we will ever make is to cross over from death to life in Christ! Talk about a transition! I remember becoming a Christian when I was about 28 years old. I was changed from the inside out and boy was I clumsy about it all. I felt stupid, impatient, confused, and blown away about what I was experiencing. It was as though my eyes had been opened for the first time. But over the years since 1982 I have learned lessons over and over about God’s faithfulness to provide for me what I needed to make it through the rivers I had crossed. The Gospel transition is the greatest miracle of all time and for most of us, one of the most challenging transitions as we cross over.