It’s a bad pun and I fell into it before I realized it. Looking ahead to next year I have realized that the Lord has brought me a gift in this time period. The past two years and the year ahead are pivotal.

It is a moving away from the hectic scramble and stress our current culture has fallen into and a move into the purpose of what the end goal is all about. In the next 20 years, what will be the work the Lord has for me? How am I to finish well?

Of course, the word that comes to me is: “Focus”. Then, the realization that next year is 2020, and, well, you see where the pun lands.

Yet, is that not a great theme?

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Life goals

I am working my way through Fleming Rutledge’s wonderful work on Advent (again). There was a description she gave of John Stott that stood out to me and I have set it in the form of a question for my life. Could this be my eulogy?

Will I have a single-hearted devotion to the glory of God and the spread of the gospel?


Consistent Life Ethic

If there is something I’ve tried to work on over the years, it would be a philosophy of a “whole life ethic.” It turns out there is a framework for that called “Consistent Life Ethic.” It is truly my life goal to say, “No one is more ‘pro-life’ than me outside of the pope.”

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A Lament

I don’t write poetry or songs. I can barely write sentences.

But my heart is broken and I need to let loose in a lament. I’m not the psalmist and it isn’t inspired.

The feeling of loss is overwhelming at times. I believe in healing and ask for healing and yet I watch people lose those battles. It isn’t a lack of ultimate faith, or not “rejoicing” that they’ve gone into the presence of Jesus and the pain is no more… I DO “rejoice” in the release of pain.

Yet, I long to see healing. I long to see more miracles. Two college students in the past few months that I’ve known in some way have lost battles. One to brain cancer. Another to heart disease. The last one was sudden and tragic.

People in their 20s… gone. Parents burying their children.

Losses hurt. These are times when I long for the healing power of Jesus to work far more than the “healing” thought of “no more pain.”

I’m tired of praying for headaches to be gone and that might happen… and seeing people lose battles to bigger things. Cancer “winning”… heart disease “winning.” Lack of prayer. Lack of persistence in prayer… Lack of longing for God to move in a more powerful way…

It’s not a doubt of God I have… it’s a wrenching in my heart that cries out when I think, “It just doesn’t have to be this way.” Not ALL the time anyway!

People die. Got that.

People suffer. Got that.

God is sovereign. Got that.

And it still wrenches my heart because all the brain knowledge in the world doesn’t wipe away the emotion of loss. That’s why we have “laments” in the Psalms. And it’s why it hurts today.

4 My heart is in anguish within me;
    the terrors of death have fallen on me.
5 Fear and trembling have beset me;
    horror has overwhelmed me. (Ps. 54:4-5)


Panic Attacks

There are those days when the cares of life seem to overwhelm. “Seem?” Who am I kidding?

There are those days when the cares of life overwhelm us. The pressures come crashing in on us and while we know Scripture and can go to reliable places for meditation, it does not necessarily stop the attack. The attacks press in because the enemy is always looking for opportunity to press in on the weak spots.

These are opportunities for crying out (sometimes literally) to God. To confess our weakness. To beg for his strength. To be honest about being overwhelmed.

Don’t lie about the feelings. They are overwhelming and you feel the pressure.

Have mercy on me, O God, for men are attacking me!
All day long hostile enemies are tormenting me.
Those who anticipate my defeat attack me all day long.
Indeed, many are fighting against me, O Exalted One. (Ps. 56:1-2, NET Bible)

But even though you may think, “I’ve called out to God before. This is ridiculous! It’s like I’m not trusting him!” just remember: call out to him again.

When I am afraid,
I trust in you.
In God—I boast in his promise—
in God I trust, I am not afraid.
What can mere men do to me? (Ps. 56:3-4, NET Bible)

The cares of this world, the anxiety of life, has NOTHING on the provision of our Father. What can mere mortals do to us?



We’ve dealt with some heartbreaking losses over the weekend. A missionary’s father went to be with the Lord. A member of our church passed away Saturday. A pastor’s wife in our metro area went to be with the Lord on Sunday.

Now, I read Chuck Colson is near death’s door.

It seems to have come in a wave at this point in time. There is rejoicing over the promotion of dear people to heaven. There is the loss of family members and friends.

Facing mortality has come up close and personal this week, it seems.


Thoughts on Desperation

The story is sketchy. The details are sparse.

The news only says a woman walked onto the freeway at the beginning of rush hour and lay down in the lane. Several vehicles hit her before anyone knew what was happening.

This is what I know of the story to this point, but it is a story that has stayed with me. What was it that caused someone to walk out into that situation?

I thought of the Henry David Thoreau quote:

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.

Was this a life lived in quiet desperation? What was the song that did not get out?

Perhaps it was nothing like that. Yet, the story has caught my imagination for the moment. Someone letting things go in anonymity. Was anyone paying attention?

Dare to Hope

The text for the first Sunday of Advent is Isaiah 2:1-5. As I work on this text I am always puzzled by the latter part of v. 4. There will be a time when war is studied no more.

For traditional dispensationalists it can only come after the Rapture, etc.

For other traditions, that time is something still to look forward to… but how? When? Those are the challenges. And they can lead to great difficulties.

I am sure there was hope at one time that the United Nations might have provided this answer. But when we refuse to make Yahweh the focus of our hope and teaching, it is futile. The United Nations severely disappoints.

Yet, why give up hope? Why not still look to God and live with hope?

Think of the possibilities if we DID refuse to “study war no more.”

Beat some of those defense dollars into research dollars. Beat some other defense dollars into education dollars. Beat other defense dollars into healthcare reform dollars. Into energy reform dollars. Into technology reform dollars. Into performing arts dollars.

Just THINK! Don’t just settle for pat answers. DREAM!

Would the people of God follow the dream of this day? To CHOOSE to educate themselves in fields that would advance creativity again? Why are we so hesitant? I think it’s because we’ve become lazy.

We need to set our eyes again on the HOPE found in God. Then, even though the world decays around us, and there are things that may look hopeless (you have to read Isaiah 1, then Isaiah 2:6ff to see this whole picture), we continue to hope.


Dare to do something extraordinary for the HOPE of Christ! Dare to LOVE rather than hate. Dare to CREATE rather than destroy. Dare to BUILD UP rather than tear down.

See what COULD happen if we would dare to truly follow Yahweh and we would DARE to hope!

Living with Expectation and Hope… in YAHWEH,

The Apprentice

Gut Punch

It is unbelievable how this week has unfolded. The news keeps coming and it’s so heart-wrenching. A friend struggling with a wife’s mental illness. The loss of a great woman of God (my wife’s grandmother). The news of cancer striking at a friend, and they have kids all under the age of 12. The news of a children pastor’s wife dying suddenly. Overwhelming.

A few weeks ago I was in a Borders bookstore and saw the new book by Mary Beth Chapman. I could only read the first two pages as she related that horrible day when their son accidentally ran over their five-year-old daughter… I had to put the book down and almost run out of the store because of my emotions. Now, an interview in Christianity Today tells her story and you will want to read it. Have the Kleenex close by.

These are days for crying out to God. We need to see some miracles. We need to grieve. We need God to be our ever present help in times of trouble.

The Opposite of Love…

A few weeks ago at a conference one of the plenary speakers said something that has rolled around in my mind since then. She said the opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is silence. (That may be the wrong word, but it conveys the thought.)

When you ignore someone, you are basically saying, “I do not even acknowledge your existence.” At least with an act of hatred you are acknowledging that person is in the room.

It’s a powerful thought. I know that when I bring something up in a meeting or try to point out an issue and then get NO RESPONSE, it is far more hurtful than having a reaction to counter what I just said.