Like a Tree Planted

I am sorry I haven’t posted for a few days. We’ve been on vacation to Williamsburg, VA, and experienced there where we experienced everywhere, the CORONA! But I did get to do one thing that I won’t soon forget, standing the waves at the seashore at Virginia Beach.

We got there early enough on Saturday to get a good spot on the shore line, before a lot of people had arrived. The sun was up and the temperature was still pretty decent. Even my son who spends his days on his computer enjoyed getting into the water and lazying around in the waves. My wife and daughter also enjoyed themselves. I enjoyed getting down into the waves and just feeling the movement of the waves rolling in. The sound of the waves was enchanting, and had I a place to lay down, I probably would have, fallen asleep, and gotten a worse sunburn than I already have.

But this text above reminds of that day. A tree planted by the waters experiences those same waves (or current). But unlike me, who had to constant adjust my position to stay upright, a tree digs into the shore and is steady and steadfast. That’s really the difference between those who follow current trends and those who stay rooted in God’s word, isn’t it?

“Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit.”
(Eph 4:14)

I don’t know what you choose to govern the affairs of your life, whether you choose to follow the latest popular wisdom coming from CNN or TMZ, or if like me you anchor yourself in God’s Word. I suspect if you are reading this blog, it’s probably the latter. But in this age where “truth” changes from hour to hour, I would rather keep my truth well anchored in the shoreline of God’s word.

I have felt the waves, and I enjoyed feeling the waves bob me up and down, but I wouldn’t want to live like that. I need something solid to rest my feet upon. I know of no surer place that the Word of God, an unchanging, immutable Father who never changes, who is the Rock and the shelter of my soul. In Him I rest.

Lord Jesus, thank You for being my Rock, my anchor, and my hope. More than ever, I need You as my support and foundation of a life constantly bombarded with tossing waves and stormy seas. I have no surer Rock than You. In You Name I pray, Amen.



Have you ever needed a place to “hole up” for a bit? I am reminded of those old western movies where the outlaws had a hide-out, kind of a stronghold or refuge where they could hide from the law and be safe from arrest. Even further back, David and his men had strongholds in the wilderness to protect them from capture by Saul’s forces. Jesus often retreated to the wilderness to avoid the crowds and to get some rest.

From outlaws to the Messiah, we find that a place to retreat to is important. For you it may be your home, or a place in your home where you can be alone, or in the comfort of close friends or family. You may be the kind that needs that kind of intimate encouragement (and I think we all are) every so often to keep you “sane”.

I had a conversation with a person not long ago who had no such place, whose life flitted from work to home to bars and the bed. This person never had a respite, a safe place to vent or unwind. And over time, this person’s soul was slowly worn away, until this person was in a kind of survival mode, just doing what needed to be done to get by. It is a hardscrabble way to live. And I don’t think Jesus intended us to live that way.

As Jesus once said, “take my yoke upon you, for my burden is light”. More than this, God intended us to take Him as our refuge, because this world offers few places for refuge away from evil. Sometimes even the church is no refuge from wicked plans and evil people, and I admit that with both experience and sorrow. But not every church is like this, don’t misunderstand. I have had some of the best, most profound experiences in the presence of other believers, and even in the midst of people I didn’t like.

So may I encourage you to find that place of solace and of rest, even if it is to pause in your day, acknowledge the Lord above, and give Him thanks. Prayer doesn’t have to be located anywhere special, but it alone can be a powerful place of rest. Your soul needs it.

Heavenly Father, I know that today, I need to make You my place of solace and rest. I know that the only place I can rest is in Your presence. Lord may I descend into prayer as I would be cradled by Your powerful protective arms, to hold me as my soul needs restorative strength. I pray Lord Jesus to hold me close so that I may weather the strains and pressures of life. Thank You Lord for being my refuge. In Your Name I pray, Amen.

The Darkest Valley

Though I’m used to reading “the valley of the shadow of death”, somehow this makes more sense to me. Darkest valley sounds like a more accurate translation than the King James, since adding “death” to the phrase includes and unnecessary note to an already dark passage. One should never add to the Scripture, as the inclusion of “death” implies that this passage only has relevance to someone who is dying, which isn’t true at all. This passage speaks to everyone. David knew especially what it meant to trod this valley. He knew depression, which anyone who read through the Psalms can easily surmise. David, along with other great men of the Bible (Moses and Elijah) experienced profound depression, and may have been been diagnosed today as manic depressive or bi-polar. They had extremely high highs and extremely low lows. Yet God used all of them to great effect.

I write today to those in their darkest valleys. Whether by external circumstances, for which this year provides plenty of, or something more internal, I want you to know that God has not forgotten you. You have not been left abandoned on the side of the road by the Lord God Almighty. He still loves and cares for you, even though you can’t feel it right now. God never stops loving you. But He does test us.

You may be familiar with the story about the father and son who sent into the woods. The boy was to be tested for manhood. The father sat him on a stump, blind-folded him, and told him to stay put until morning, when he could take off the blindfold. All through the night, the boy stayed on that stump, though he heard growls and howls throughout those chilling hours. He was afraid, but knew he must stay there, or he would never be accepted as a man. When the sun rose in the morning, the boy took of his blindfold to see his father sitting just across from him. While the boy sat and endured the test, even though he couldn’t see his father, his father never left him.

I am telling this story from memory so my details are probably way off, but the gist of the story illustrates the truth of our Heavenly Father. We are always walking through dark valleys, and it seems that at those times God steps away, when the truth is that God is never far from us, but always watching out for the dangers we cannot see and protecting us.

My prayer is for you walking in a dark valley today. Fear not. God is with you. God will never forsake you. Even in 2020, God is still God.

The Gift

Have you ever received a gift so treasured, that you keep it with you at all times? I have bought many things for myself, my cell phone, my wallet, my keys, my Emmaus cross, that I always keep on my person, as often as I can. Even when I am asleep, I keep my phone and my watch close by. But something someone else has given me, nothing comes to mind right off. I’m sure your experience is different. I just don’t get gifts like that very often.

Part of the problem is that I just have anyone that close to me. I’ll be honest, I do tend to keep everyone at arm’s length. I just don’t let very many in. My wife and my children are probably the closest human beings I let in, but even with them I keep some things to myself. Maybe its because I’m an introvert and I maintain a private world. Maybe its because some of the few times I open up a little bit, all I get is confusion in return, so why bother?

So when I am given a gift as mentioned in today’s verse, it is a profundity that I have a hard time comprehending. Paul isn’t just writing about any spirit here, but he is referring to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit isn’t afraid of anything. There is nothing in this world that scares the Holy Spirit. I’m glad he’s on our side. Note the three qualities Paul mentions: power, love, and sound judgment. The Holy Spirit, because He is God, is Power. He holds all power to do as God wishes. He is Love because God is love. And in Him is all sound judgment, because God is the Ruler and Judge of this world.

So what does this mean to us? This Spirit is God’s gift to us. When we were baptized, we received the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is the Presence of God in us. This is God dwelling in us. So that in us, God works to mature us and help us grow in faith. It is when we aren’t close to God’s presence that we feel fear. When we are close to Him, we experience the sense of His power, feel and exercise His love, and sound judgment. We could even exercise that power if the Lord so wills.

Best of all, this is a gift that you can take with you wherever you, even if everything else was taken away from you. No power on earth can take God’s Holy Spirit from you, nor His power, love or sound judgment. It is the one thing you can carry with your wherever you go.

May I encourage you to consult with the Holy Spirit today? In this age of fear, let us remember that the Spirit is about power, love, and sound judgment. We are not powerless, apathetic, or foolish. We have a voice, and it needs to be heard, because God has something to say to this dark and evil world. He is the light and we are the lampbearers.

Lord Jesus, help me today to remember who I am, what I am to do, and to do so with grace and mercy, just as you did to me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


What is enough? Something that I’ve discovered over the course of the last few months is that I have enough clothes. I have more than enough clothes, so much so that since Goodwill finally opened back up, I have been able to donate a dozen bags of clothes. I don’t know how I’ve been able to gather so much, but over a lifetime, with a little here and a little there, It’s not much of a mystery.

I suppose this is the first time I’ve had to do a purge. I possessed a hoard of clothes that just don’t fit me anymore, or needed to be discarded for one reason or another. But I’ve never lacked having enough clothes to wear. That is a blessing. And I know that it comes from the Lord. I also know that I am blessed to live in this nation, because there are many places in the world where having a week’s worth of clothing is considered a luxury.

So I’ve never really worried about what I am going to wear. Neither is food that much of an issue here, and there is always plenty of water. By those standards, I have no reason to worry. If there is a land of milk and honey, then we certainly live in it. And I know it is because of God’s blessing over and over, blessing our land for being founded and continued as a Christian nation. I also know that this is eroding, and our ability to supply food and clothing are also being affected.

My wife went to the grocery store last night and told me a grim story. The beef was mostly gone. What was left was overpriced. I have heard this isn’t because of a lack of beef, but the break in the supply chain. COVID19 has affected everything, but in this case, it seems to have affected the processing plants for the big meat packers the worst. I think as Christians we ought to have our eyes open on this. We have been so blessed for so long, that these interruptions become noticeable. Christians should notice when these basic blessings are interrupted. I think we ought to remember this, because when these things take place, we know that our nation is gently coming under judgment.

It is something that is a long time coming. Anyone familiar with the Scriptures know that Israel stumbled repeatedly, and the Lord sent invaders to chastise them until they fell to their knees and repented of their sins, and then then God restored them. This is a cycle we see repeatedly in the Scriptures. In our case, military invaders are always a threat, but not a serious one. Rather, it is the political invaders, the social invaders, and the medical invaders. Our politics are constantly being subverted, to where today we are willingly closing churches (for health reasons). Our social system is being overwhelmed because strangers and foreigners are overwhelming our social structures (and politicians support this subversion) while veterans and homeless are ignored. Our medical system is being overwhelmed, not only by diseases entering in through illegal  immigration but also in more subtle ways, like COVID-19. We may not be a nation overcome with military invaders, but we have invaders nevertheless. Like Rome, our chief problem isn’t that we aren’t the most powerful nation in the world. In many ways we are. But it is the chinks in our armor, the gaping holes where other kinds of invaders creep in and engage in rot and corruption within.

As a Christians, I want you to first be aware of when our basic blessings like food and clothing are being affected. This is a sign that God is placing our nation under judgment. But second, like Daniel (Dan 9) and Nehemiah (Neh 1) we must intervene for our nation before God. We must pray for national repentance, and national forgiveness. As citizens of this country, enjoying the freedoms we enjoy, we cannot ignore the fact that our nation is being eroded, and the strongest power we possess isn’t at the ballot box, but at the altar of prayer. You cannot afford to sit by and shake your head. This isn’t something that is happening to someone else. This affects all of us.

I encourage you as a believer to pray for our nation. Pray against this virus, yes, but also pray that the Lord stays His hand on our nation. Pray that the Lord preserve us for a while longer, that we appeal to His mercy, not because we are good, but because He is.

Dear Father, please hear our voice today. Father please spare our nation. Please do not lift Your hand from our leaders or our nation. We know that if you do, disaster follows, because by Your hand we are blessed. Please Lord, hear our prayers today. May You offer mercy. May You heal our land. May Your judgment complete its perfect work, but that You save Your people, and let this nation once again stand for Your great Name! In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.

I Need Joy

Its not that its a bad day today. In fact, its been a pretty good day. I was able to go to work today. I cam home. Did not run into anyone with the virus, as far as I know. I was able to talk to people today, and I hoped that listening to their troubles gave then some relief. But coming home is staying in and not going anywhere. This weekend was planned tkt be my daughter’s eighth grade trip to DC. Next week was going to belt wife and I’s 25th wedding anniversary trip, but now we need to cancer that too. She doesn’t want to be away from home so far with all the stuff happening. I don’t blame her.

It seems everyday we wake up to new rules. Everyday new businesses are being told to close for fear of drawing crowds, all except the stores that draw the largest crowds, like grocery stores. Nevermind logic. Each day we are given new insights into how thus virus works, how deadly it is, and what I need to do to stop it. I feel more informed about this one subject than anything else I’ve ever seen in the news.

But on top of all this, churches are voluntarily closed. One place that people can go when times are tough is the church. But now you have to have Internet or a phone to get that kind of ministry. I know it’s not permanent, but its one thing that will help all of us get through the next few weeks. I need the church. I need the social gathering. If where two or three or gathered, Christ is there, there is a sense I feel kind of cut off.

I’m sure I’m not the first to sense it. And maybe I just need to get over it for the duration of this crisis. Others have been cut off from church. I am not the first. Others have survived. I will too. But I am down and need joy. And I know my Lord can bring me joy.

Heavenly Father, this is not a good time. In fact, this is a difficult time. I feel Your church has been slighted. And I am angry. But I know these happen or not at Your word. If we need some time away from pretty buildings and slide presentations, loud music and smoke machines to help us hear your voice again, help me hear it. Help me hear that voice that calls to me day and night, so that I might enter the joy of the Lord. In Your Son’s holy Name, Amen.

He Cares

Living with anxiety is a tough thing. When you are worried all the time about how life will work out unless you actively worry about it. Many that I talk to who experience anxiety constantly just can’t give it up to God. They rely on anxiety meds when they can get them. They worry that life today will not work out. The stress is real. The anxiety is real. Is there any hope?


Because God is greater than our anxiety. But I don’t think realizing that truth is the problem. Sometimes anxiety takes on a life of its own; that if I don’t worry about something, I will need to invent something to worry about, because it is not ok to have peace. Somewhere in the growing up years you learned that you are responsible for everything, or that you are the reason things don’t go right. Maybe if you didn’t worry about it, it wouldn’t happen. But somewhere you learned that you are the center of all things, and that all things depend on you. What a great load of responsibility. Who can bear it?

No one can.

I know in my head that this is take God’s own responsibility for all things. It is to put myself in the place of God. But if there was an easy way to fix it, I don’t know it. Drugs help, but they don’t solve the problem. Scripture promises aside, anxiety is a real thing. And sometimes we have to look at what powers in us or around us are influencing us to stay anxious. We suffer stomach aches and head aches and gut issues abound. Our soul aches for relief from the overwhelming anxiety. We long to be liberated, but we can’t.

Take a serious look at your life. When did you start having these feelings and how did they manifest? Has the Enemy latched in to that and magnified it? Do you need to pray for liberation from the Enemy while you deal with they false narratives playing in your soul? It is not God’s will for you to suffer from anxiety. Hold that truth up to the mirror of your life. You don’t have to worry about everything. Cast your cares on Him because He cares for you. He wants to liberate you from your anxieties, but you must be willing to let Him. You must choose to surrender your anxiety to Jesus.

Heavenly Father, I can’t bear these anxieties any more. They are suffocating me. I can’t breathe. I feel pain all the time. I don’t know why I feel this way. Open my eyes to my own life and show me where and when I began to feel like this. Help me find a counselor who can help talk me through these things. Bind those powers that seek my harm. If there be any demons that are binding me to anxiety, help me break those bonds of oppression and show me the path to peace. I need you Lord now more than ever. I pray these things in your Son’s Name, Amen!

It’s Demons!

Once in a while you come upon one of those cases where nothing works. Meds don’t work. Sound reasoning from the Scriptures does no good. What’s left? Behavioral modification, psychoanalysis, extended rehab, nothing is effective to change the heart. If you know Jesus, you know that Jesus is the only one who can change the heart, but a person must also choose Jesus. Jesus wants to change everyone, but only those who let Him can receive that change.

But you know who doesn’t want that change? Do you know who wants you to stay just the way you are in depression and anxiety, in anger or self-destruction? It’s Demons! The devil has every interest in seeing you destroy yourself. He wants to take you away from God and will do all in his power, as God allows him, to destroy your sense of self-worth, your feeling of forgiveness and grace, especially your peace. He will sense his henchmen to take you down, through whispers, through oppression, through others who will hurt you.

And yet here is this promise in the Scripture. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. You must choose God. And in that choice you have the power to resist the devil. You have the power to choose not to listen to him or his minions. You have the power to resist him and his spiritual poverty. It is in your power to choose, and in that choice, many find healing. Because sometimes it isn’t a biological problem or a thought problem, but it’s demons. Demons will steal your joy and impoverish your spirit. They constantly tell you that life isn’t worth living and that you are alone. They will isolate you and corral you to believe that you are the only one with your problem.

You must choose to believe the truth. Jesus loves you and had died for you. Jesus has given everyone because He loves you. Even now He longs for you. He calls to you. Amidst all of the voice of sorrow and despair, Jesus’ is the only one speaking hope into you. Resist the devil. He will flee. Resist the darkness, and light will flood in. Resist the voices. They don’t love you. Submit yourself to God and enjoy His love and grace.

Dear Father, I know I’m not much. But with you, I am something. All my life the enemy has tried to tear me down and make me feel like I am worthless. I know that’s not true. I am valuable because your Som died for me. I have been bought with a price, far more valuable than gold or silver. Help me see that today, to resist the darts and wiles of the devil, and embrace your grace in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Dear Friend

What you may not see in this translation is John’s hope for Gaius is two-fold, both that he may prosper financially as well as physically, just as his soul prospers. To prosper is to be financially well-off, to be “successful” or be financially secure. Someone who prospers is doing well. It is similar to the Vulcan benediction, “live long and prosper.” It is good wishes on those we care about. But what John adds here is the prosperity of the soul your physical and financial prosperity ought to be tied to how well your soul is doing. To be rich and healthy yet miserable is what we call Depression in America. What would you give to be happy? What would you give to have peace?

So what John wishes upon his friend Gaius is not so unusual. As a leader in the early church, he notes that physical and financial prosperity are both dependent on your soul’s health. And keeping a soul healthy depends on its reliance on the Lord. As he says in vs. 3, “you are walking in the truth.”

Soul health demands truth-walking. A healthy soul takes regular strolls through the halls of God’s word, takes in the sights, meditates on them, and allows them to fill his soul. He then can take his insights with him wherever he goes. If you are not spending time with God, you aren’t working on your soul.

So like a good pastor, John reminds Gaius (who probably didn’t need the reminder so much as those who would read the letter after him) that a healthy soul is necessary for physical health and financial health. As Paul once wrote, “godliness with contentment is great gain.” A godly soul is content even with a little, and considers it wealth. Don’t imagine for a minute John is inventing a “get rich” scheme here. The point of this physical health and prosperity is not to get religion. Being obedient to religious rules isn’t the beginning of a healthy retirement. Being obedient to the Lord is.

Like Gaius, let us hold fast the confession of our faith unwavering. And allow God to bless us in health and wealth as He sees fit. Let us not serve the Lord to be wealthy. Let us serve Him to be well in our soul. Yes, there is a return for faithful service. It is this, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!”

God bless you today!

Anxiety Nation

I’m not sure why we are so anxious, but we are. Easily half of the people I talk to, and that includes myself, feel some form of anxiety. It may be anxiety about work, about family, about health, or how that person over there is looking at me strangely. Anxiety doesn’t need a logical basis to exist. It can exist simply because we are not anxious, and probably ought to be. Anxiety is the reason for prescribed or over the counter medication, probably more than anything else, as many stomach and headache issues can be attributed to it.

The Scripture today acknowledges this reality. Anxiety is a real thing, and even the wisest Solomon understood it. He understood its effect on the human heart (or psyche), in that it is “weighed down”, which easily translates to “feeling down”. Anxiety robs our joy, steals our contentment, and makes foolish our faith. That’s right. If you worry, your faith isn’t operating as it should.

“I believe in God, but . . . ” Really? You believe in God’s providential care? You believe that God has prepared the way and the circumstances you are experiencing right now? You believe that God truly loves you and only wants what’s best for you? You truly believe there is nothing to fear because there is no fear in love? You believe that? “Perfect love casts out fear … and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18) And there it is. Anxiety is fear, sometimes paralyzing fear. We fear for the future. We fear that we won’t have enough money to make rent or groceries. We fear that our needs will not be met. Fear is a sign of immature faith. If our love is not perfect, or mature, then we will feel anxiety about God’s ability to care for us.

Now I won’t sit here on a high horse and tell you I’m perfect. Far from it. I still feel fear and anxiety. The Bible clearly says even believers still feel fear. But these two things, fear and faith, are at war in our heart, and are frequently tested. It is maturity to weather these tests and grow in our faith. Remember that to grow in our faith, the tests must be harder. But we have this confidence: the God who brought us through the last test will bring us through this one.

By the same token, we can offer and ought to offer encouragement to others who growing. A kind word, a helpful encouragement, a joy shared can all be helpful for those in anxiety. As believers, it is our responsibility to share the lessons we have learned. When God brought you through that horrible health problem, or financial burden, or relationship, you have the responsibility to share that with others going through the same thing now. Everyone’s pain is unique, but if you can share your trial overcome through faith in God’s provision, that can offer hope to someone lost in anxiety. I might say that this hope is the one sure antidote to anxiety. Anxiety says, “all is lost.” Hope says, “the best is yet to come.”

If you are going through anxiety, may I offer hope that God is not done with you? May your eyes be open today to others going through tough times, that you may offer them hope in the love of God who eagerly desires to provide for them and satisfy their needs, just as He does for you.

God bless you today.