Posts Tagged ‘Hope’


Meander Scar 1

“A meander scar, occasionally meander scarp,[1] is a geological feature formed by the remnants of a meandering water channel. They are characterized by “a crescentic cut in a bluff or valley wall, produced by…a meandering stream…Meander scars are caused by the varying velocities of current within the river channel. Due to higher velocity current on the outer banks of the river through the bend, more erosion occurs causing the characteristic steep outer slopes.[1] In certain habitats, if the scar has sufficient water, or as an oxbow lake fills with sediment, these areas may become marshes or wetlands.”


I love words. Of course I do, I’m a writer. But when I ran across the words “meander scar” in my son’s Texas text book, being a sand-in-my-shoes Florida girl, I was bumfuzzled. I’d never heard those two words linked together before.

Now, for the past thirty years I’ve become a Texas gal, and I’ve seen boo-coddles of meander scars, ‘cause we have multitudes of flash floods out here. Raging walls of water that carve new pathways through whatever is in their way.

Tornadoes and spring storms feed these flash floods and scar the landscape with their zig-zag slashes. A number of years back one of these rogue storms transformed the normally quiet Guadalupe River into a water butcher, sculpting, and slashing new paths through the Texas Hill Country.

Along the Guadaloupe River

Now a scar by definition is a blemish, deformity, defect, or disfigurement. And left in their raw state, scars are often unsightly. But did you ever consider how many times our hearts, minds, and bodies suffer turbulence from flash floods of grief, relational pain, or consequences of diseases that leave meandering scars carved inside and outside our bodies?


The Word of God says: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren…whom He called He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Romans 8:28-30 NAS).

Meander Scar 4


Just like God transforms those ugly meander scars in the landscape, He promises to transform the scars inflicted in your mind, body, and heart, if you’ll let Him. And like Texas in the springtime heals and blossoms with the beauty of His handiwork, transforming those deep, ugly gashes in the land into multi-dimensional layers of spectacular photo opportunities, the Spirit of the Living God will heal, transform, and cover your scars with His mercy, His grace, and His love. He will turn you into a multi-dimensional vessel, assigned to pour love, mercy, and grace onto a lost dying neighborhood, town, nation—yes, even the world.


Spring 2016 BB 2


“And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is. Because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27 NAS).


This Spring I’m off on another road-trip to locate and photograph those bluebonnet-covered meander scars. But for the past sixteen years God has been softening and transforming my own scars from the death of my daughter and my parents through my participation in the Grief Share ministry. How does He accomplish this restoration? By pointing those new to this journey through the valley of the shadow of death to Jesus, then watching them blossom as He heals and transforms them too.

bb fence and blossoms 2a

Are you allowing God to transform and heal your scars? He will, you know, but first you must acknowledge your need, come to Him, thank Him for who He is, ask His forgiveness for your sin of unbelief. Ask for His healing and His peace. Then rest in Him to perform the miracle of new birth in you.


“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17 NAS).


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Part Two of this post brings me to a truly enormous learning curve.

It’s not all about me.


And that’s one of the major problems we all face in today’s culture. Bombarded with the deception if it feels good—do it, we are led to believe we deserve to be happy.

A group of hot-shot educators began teaching this philosophy over fifty years ago. And we’ve allowed at least two generations of young people to believe life is all about them. They are special. And our tax dollars have paid and will continue to pay that costly bill. Parents bought the lie that their kid’s self-worth is the most important value we can teach them. And the P.C. police have pushed so far that everyone on the team gets a trophy…everybody’s a winner.

But we’ve failed to teach our children the Truth of the Word of God…without which, in the end, nobody wins. And you can’t teach what you don’t know, believe and practice.

God created the family first. He didn’t create government, entertainment, or even the church first. Family was and is first. A nation is no stronger than its families. Which leads me, after the fact, to consider the importance God places on the family. Satan dealt us a two-fisted-knock-out punch with no-fault divorce, and we cheered.  Now there is no difference between divorce rates inside or outside the church.

Am I qualified to speak on this issue? You bet I am. In the old days of all about me, I packed up two small children and hit the door of our house, running straight to the courthouse.  I chose divorce. I wasn’t happy. I made a wrong mate choice.  I couldn’t tolerate another minute. But forty plus years later, I’ve come to understand I’ll never know what God could have done in that marriage had I trusted and allowed God time to change both of us.

And the consequences of my choice bled a permanent stain into the lives of me, my ex-husband, our new spouses, our parents, our friends, my children, and goodness knows who else. Has God forgiven me? Oh my yes. God is full of mercy and grace and when we repent, He always forgives the sin. But those stinky consequences lurk alive and well in the lives of angry children and my new-found knowledge I didn’t trust God. I knew about Him, but I didn’t trust Him as Lord and Savior. Because, at that time, my life was all about me.


All the “buts” don’t matter. And we always have a list of them, don’t we? “But I made a wrong choice in the first place.”  “But he or she doesn’t meet my needs.”  “But I don’t love him or her anymore.” God is either sovereign over all things or He is sovereign over nothing. And when He said, I hate divorce, there was a reason. And, after the fact, the consequences have taught me—just like what He told Judah in Jeremiah 2:19:

“Your own wickedness will correct you, and your apostasies will reprove you. Know therefore and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God, and the dread of Me is not in you,” declares the Lord God of hosts.”

Guess what, when I walked out that door, I forsook God’s authority over my life. Leaning to my own understanding, I pushed the fear of disobeying Him behind me, and I toted all my dirty laundry into a second marriage and Dick drug his rotten baggage along too. Divorce solved nothing.  We had to begin all over again–with our old problems and a stack of new ones too. We had to learn the lessons of faith and trust and Holy Spirit produced love God knew we must learn, else there would be a longer string of broken homes, broken lives, and broken people. Perhaps even people lost forever in the darkness and lies of it’s all about me.

Television, songs, movies, and of course, FaceBook scream words of unforgiveness, anger, and hatred, and we mimic what we hear, but God’s Word says, “If you don’t forgive others, I won’t forgive you.” (Translation by DiAne). In recent years I’m learning what that really means and sometimes the lessons are really hard.

Jesus Christ forgave me for every single evil, hateful thing I’ve ever done—past, present, and future on that night in January. My despicable thoughts, actions, and deeds were nailed as an indictment against Him when He hung on that cross, suffered, and died for me.  How then can I refuse to forgive every person who has been ugly, evil, or mean to me? And that’s the next lesson after life is not all about me. Refusing to forgive each other is not an option in the heart and life of a believer.


I am still learning, but have made great strides, in the dysfunctional use of my tongue. I don’t have to voice an opinion about everything and sometimes I just need to be silent. And most times, silence is preferred. I came from a loud and boisterous family and old habits and personality disorders die hard. I must choose to put them to death. Crucify them with the help of my Lord Jesus. Sure cuts down on the marital feuds and helps trend peace in my family and with others.

My ramblings, I hope, will strike a needful cord of help to some of you along the way. And, if you’d like, I’d love to have the opportunity to share more of those hard life lessons. Ours wasn’t always a peace-filled, loving forty years. I was taken to church from the nursery on. I walked the aisle at twelve with a group of girlfriends. But when we came to faith and trust in Christ in January of 1989, all things changed. Forever. The Spirit of God moved in, threw out a raft-a-garbage, tore down self-constructed walls, installed light that radiates into the dark, secret corners, and began a life-long remodeling job in our hearts, our home, and our lives.

Dick and I made a pledge to plaster prayer—together—into our daily lives. A praying plaster that cements that strong “cord of three strands” talked about in Ecclesiastes 4:12—The Father, Dick, and me—together ‘til He comes or we go to be with Him.  ‘Cause it’s real hard to be screaming hate and throwing a tantrum when the three of you are involved in a life-changing, life-long conversation together.

Hope your old-house make-over is well underway too! And I pray you younger couples, at whatever age and stage you find yourselves today, have the extreme joy and faith and trust to reach forty, fifty, maybe even sixty years together with your spouse and the Lord Jesus Christ.



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This week I’ve met a new friend in Kokomo, Indiana…you know, the town where the tornadoes struck and most news media failed to even report on national news because they were so busy promoting or trashing the two presidential nominees.

The following is what Amy Brock McNew posted on FaceBook the first day I met her:


Prairie Creek 2016 2


“I’m tired.
Tired of watching my friends suffer and sift through their homes.
Tired of seeing my stepdaughter sick because it’s all finally hitting her.
Tired of seeing my son cringe and get that look on his face when there’s red on the radar moving toward us again and the thunder starts crashing.
Tired of dealing with an insurance company where the only man responding is an auto claims assessor who is going above and beyond, doing things outside of his job description to help us because no one else will.
I’m tired of the migraine that attacked Monday with a vengeance and hasn’t stopped splitting my skull, making it near impossible to focus.
I’m tired of throwing stuff away, and watching water cause more damage to our home my husband worked so hard for.
I’m tired of the smell of wet wood and insulation and yuck.
I’m tired of having to shell out more money from a dwindling reserve to get his truck fixed because a state employee backed into our driveway, and then having to wait God knows how long to get the money back from the state.
And I’m tired of feeling so tired and sick and guilty because we got off easy compared to others whose headaches make mine look like a day at the beach.
Today is one of those days where joy and beauty and peace seem nonexistent. Today is a day where my armor feels so heavy it’s dragging me to the ground. Today is a day I’m trying not to think about dropping my sword and saying to heck with it. Today is a day I’m clinging to hope with my broken fingernails and drawing blood.
We covet your prayers. Especially for my precious friends who find out today if their home is a total loss. Especially for those on the next street over where I’m at this moment watching a bulldozer push through what’s left of what used to be their house.
And while you’re doing that, I’ll dig in the mud and gunk for my joy and the beautiful hope I know is under there somewhere.”


Amy received many responses, all with promises to pray for the people of Kokomo. And many of you have, in the past, experienced the pain and heartache going on in Kokomo.

The following post came from Amy today and I chose to put it here, so you could see the enormity of the damage and the amazing fact there were no deaths. God is indeed our Helper in times of trouble!


“Here’s an aerial view of part of our neighborhood. At the end, the Starbucks my stepdaughter was inside during the storm.
Remember, no serious injuries and no deaths. One of many blessings we’re counting right now.


Jason Fechner RTV6

August 24 at 9:25pm ·

Some incredible images of what’s left after one of at least 8 tornadoes ripped across central Indiana today…
This is a neighborhood in Kokomo, Indiana– watch to the end where the Starbucks was completely leveled.
Unreal that no one was hurt there…
Complete team coverage ahead on The News at 11:00 on RTV6 (WRTV – Indianapolis)…”


This next post came the day after the first one I read and if I had to put a title on this one I’d call it How To Survive When Disaster Strikes. Notice the difference in Amy’s tone.


“Been an interesting day. Interesting. Yeah, that’s the word for it.

Spent the better part of the day cleaning my fridge & freezer. When stuff thaws, melts, turns rancid, & refreezes, it creates a four kinds of special mess. I learned frozen bread dough melts, then turns into a part crispy, part spongy, gooey ball of not so delicious. Yum.

Spent 2 hours & more money than I care to think about in the grocery store replacing it all.

I then put in some more time cleaning debris out of our yard & the neighbors’. I entertained myself by cranking the tunes & playing the “Guess where these pieces came from” game I mentioned yesterday. It’s okay. By now I’m a professional at both the game & debris picking. Don’t try this at home, folks.

It was a good thing I cleaned up the things that could turn mushy, because then the rain came. Poured cats, dogs, & chinchilla babies. The tidbits I learned from that are: 1.) When you have a hole in your roof & a separated wall, it creates some amazing indoor water features. 2.) Blown insulation drips & splatters when wet, making your walls & now cockeyed door look like a toddler had a blast throwing mud pies. We won’t talk about the floor. 3.) It’s best to just throw towels over the whole mess & forget about it ’til the rain stops. If it does. We’ll see.

But there were high points.

One, I was able to go to the grocery & replace the food we lost, even though we ain’t seen hide nor hair of our insurance adjuster. Some either don’t have the money, or wouldn’t have a place to put the stuff if they did. We are blessed.

Two, we have cable & internet again. A simple thing that brings a piece of normal. Again, not all have it or have a place to use it. Plus, I made friends with the cable guy Tim, of course, & gave him a signed copy of Rebirth. He left us a note that said how much he enjoyed working in our home & spending time with us. We are blessed.

And finally, the Ball State women’s basketball team showed up & asked where we needed them. I was able to direct them to some folks who still have massive cleanup left, & some friends who have to move all their belongings out of their damaged home. We hugged them, thanked them, & cried a little. They blessed us. Again, we are so blessed.

One thing you have to do to get through all this without losing your marbles like Toodles is to find the joys & blessings. Though at times they’re hard to ferret out, they’re present. In everything. Some days you have to slog through mud, & melted dough, & unfrozen strawberry juice at the bottom of the freezer to find them, but I guarantee you’ll discover them if you search diligently enough.

Even if they’re hidden under the brown, goopy insulation you covered with a towel.”


Folks, it’s not if but when trials, trouble, and tribulation will strike each one of us. Today I ask you to think about how you’ll make it through to the other side when they arrive. There’s only one way—through the Lord Jesus Christ and His ability to give you an attitude of thankfulness if you’ll allow Him to replace the fear and despair with His hope!

And that takes time in prayer and in His Word. Time to prepare. Beforehand!

America stands at the threshold of God’s judgment because we’ve spurned Him. Perhaps we’re already there with tornadoes in Indiana, horrific floods and fires in Louisiana and across the western states. Riots against law and order ripping our country apart. Abortion. Lawlessness. Crime. And a famine of God’s Word in the schools, homes, and yes, even in churches.

Where is your hope—under the floods or burned by the fires or ripped away in the storm’s funnel?

The only lasting hope comes from God, through the life, death, and resurrection of His Only Son, Jesus Christ, through the power of His blood shed at Calvary. If you don’t yet have a relationship with the Only Hope, please ask Him to show you so you can turn to follow Jesus while there’s still time

“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40 NKJV).

These FaceBook posts used with permission of Amy Brock McNew

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It’s Spring in Texas and farmers are plowing ground, getting ready to sow seeds. Seeds that will produce whatever they plan to harvest in the Fall. If it’s a good year and we get a balance of enough rain and sunshine the farmer can reasonably expect a bumper crop. But once that seed is planted, the crop can’t change. Whatever seed germinates will produce after its kind.

Plowed Ground 2

We lived in Florida for a number of years and I promise, I’ve never seen cucumbers or tomatoes hanging from the limbs of that orange tree. Have you? Of course not, that’s against the law of reproduction commanded by God “In the beginning— “

 “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed and fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind, with seed in them on the earth; and it was so. And the earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit, with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:11-12 NAS).

But the old saying, “You get more than you sow and later than you sow,” is true. It’s a cyclical law of nature. And these same laws apply to our lives.

Anacortes Farm land

You and I are planting seeds today that will yield a greater harvest at some point in our future. So I ask, what kind of seeds you sowed last week? Or yesterday? Or today? Seeds of kindness or seeds of chaos? Seeds of hope or seeds of despair? In the process of life, we continually sow and reap. Every day. Are you satisfied with your harvest? If not, why not?

Do you know you can sow different seeds? Regardless of age, creed, or color, God stands ready to implement those seed changing attitudes and actions in your life and mine into a new and better crop. But perhaps you’re having trouble understanding and identifying what kinds of nasty seeds should be eradicated.

Reaping and Sowing

Seeds of anger, left to flourish, will choke out every other helpful and hopeful seeds your heart may attempt to cultivate. These stinky seeds must be yanked out by their roots. No tolerance. Because every day these boogers are left unattended, the second generation of anger seeds grow stronger and more resistant to extinction. And unfortunately, if left to reproduce, this generational crop will morph into bitterness.

God is very clear about this toxic crop.

“See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled” (Hebrews 12:15 NAS).

Oh, but you say, you don’t know what (you fill in the blank) did to me. Maybe not, but I know what our Lord Jesus Christ did for you. And how fitting we should talk about this today, Good Friday, the day when Jesus, a little over 2,000 years ago, took every sin you ever committed against Him into His sinless body. He chose to take God’s judgment and punishment for you. He was crucified so God could forgive you.

Now tell me again why you can’t forgive everyone for anything they’ve done to you in light of what Christ forgave you for?

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31 NAS).

Forgiveness isn’t a warm fuzzy. Nor is it a command to be best friends with the offender. Your anger and bitterness does no harm to the person who has wronged you. No, but it sure is a fatal disease for you.

I can tell you from firsthand experience forgiveness is a choice. A choice to obey God. A choice to release the subject of your vendetta and give it over to God. A choice to plant new seeds in your heart that will produce an abundant crop of joy and love and hope—for yourself and for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Plowed ground

Choosing to hold onto your anger renders what Christ did for you null and void. Is this the crop you willingly choose to produce? The crop you will one day give an answer for? The crop that prevents you from being all God intended for you to be?

“There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one. There throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths; and the path of peace have they not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:10-18 NAS).

This is the description of a man/woman, boy/girl, without Jesus. Will this be the final harvest you bring to the Lord in light of His sacrifice for you? You can lay it down today, this moment, by choosing to forgive.

There is great news and bad news about this choice. The great news? The moment you purpose in your heart to forgive—it’s a done deal. The bad news? It’s a life sentence. Yes, because you’ve already given Satan a heads-up on how to sabotage you. So every time that enemy of old tries to punch replay on your old tape of whatever that so-and-so did to me, you immediately punch the off button instead and forgive them again and again and again—seventy times seven. Until Satan sees you mean business and leaves you alone for a season.

Will you choose to let the Word of God plow the hard ground of your heart, and allow the Spirit of God to plant new seeds, for a new harvest? What greater gift could you give our Lord this Resurrection Sunday than to accept His forgiveness and then forgive one (name them) who has wronged you? The Holy Spirit will be faithful to nourish those new seeds of Christ’s love, mercy, and hope in your life that will, if you continue to weed and feed the pasture of your heart, produce a bumper crop!

A Matter of the Heart

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“You can’t stop birds from flying over your head, but you sure can keep ‘em from building a nest there.”

Mama’s voice still resonates in my ears and I can see her stern expression as she repeated her reprimand for any type of unbecoming behavior I displayed during my teen years.

Now I’ve never allowed these winged creatures to build nests inDSCF2525 my hair, but I’ve sure built some nasty nests in my mind.

Little by little, bit by bit, I collected trashy anger, strings of pain, and lint balls of jealousy and carefully poked them into the dark corners of my mind. I harbored those fragments of left-over animosity and replayed the tape—over and over again.

Ever done that?

Or have you captured broken twigs of disappointment and leaves of shame to feed the growing tangled nest of emotions? And tucked them away ‘til you were trapped in an emotional time-bomb of depression and self-pity dragging you into a quagmire from which you could not extract yourself?

Let me explain.

We live near a wetland area where eagles nest. Cameras set up by the wetland officials revealed skulls of ducks and skunks left in the nest. Nests are temporary shelters for baby birds to grow ‘til they can fly, not permanent homes. Nasty places filled with particles of animal remains, bugs, and unspeakable refuse. And the refuse we pile in our mind is no different and just as nasty.

God created us in His image and in the 15th Chapter of John gives us the cure for our self-destructive hoarding habits. Jesus said:

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love” (John 15:4-10 NAS).

In these six verses Jesus tells us to abide in Him ten times. And He gives us conditional promises if we do and lays out the consequences if we don’t.

Are we to have a part-time home in the tangled mess of past heartaches? Absolutely not.

Abide is the Greek verb meno and means to stay, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry.

Oh my, could that be why God’s people are in so much trouble? Why our families are falling apart? Why our nation is on the brink of disaster? We fail to stay, dwell, endure, remain in Him, in His Words, in His commandments, in His love.

I have read these words many times, but three weeks ago conviction stabbed to the depths of my heart and soul. I was not abiding in Jesus.

Had I missed Sunday services? Of course not, but once in the car on the way home my mind shifted gears. Did I neglect to pray at night? No. I always mumbled incoherent thanks for the day and His blessings before my eyes closed. Didn’t I? And I always read that little devotional blurb at night.

Dr. Paul David Tripp says, “We trouble our own trouble.” And that’s exactly where I had lived for months. Troubling my own trouble. Choosing to spend more and more time in the nasty nest of anguish, plucking at lint and strings, wondering why I couldn’t soar with the eagles.

DSCF4307 “Today I start a new chapter in my life.
I close the door to the past and open the door to the future, take a deep breath and step into my new life.”

Abiding in Jesus is a choice we must make every day. And I’m so grateful God’s mercies to us are new every morning. His love never fails and His arms are outstretched to those whose hearts are toward Him. Jesus’ blood washes all my sin away and He fills me with His joy.

What about you? Where are you spending your time? Abiding in Jesus or sinking in a nasty nest of anguish? You don’t have to keep traveling the same painful road. Give all your heartache to Jesus and abide with Him. He’s waiting. Just for you.

“Brokenness is realizing He is all we have.IMG_0013
Hope is realizing He is all we need.
Joy is realizing He is all we want.”

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Have you ever held a baby lamb? Felt the softness of the white wool? And understood the vulnerability of this little creature?

In the 12th Chapter of Exodus God instructed Moses to have each household of the congregation of Israel take a lamb for themselves, according to the number of people in the family.
Their lamb had to be an unblemished male, a year old, and they were to care for until the fourteenth day of the same month.

Can you imagine the joy of the younger children in the household?
I can hear them say, “Oh Daddy, can we keep the lamb?” But on the fourteenth day of that month, at twilight, each special lamb, in every household of the congregation of Israel was killed.

Imagine the number of lambs slain that night. Imagine the tension in each family. Imagine the fear. The anticipation. The hope. They were instructed to paint some of the blood on the two doorposts and on the lintels of their houses.

Roasting directions were given and they were to eat all of the lamb, have their clothes packed, and be ready to leave Egypt at dawn. This meal would be known forever as The Lord’s Passover—the night the Lord passed through Egypt and killed the first-born of every household without the lamb’s blood on the doorposts.

God told Israel, “I am the Lord.” And the blood would be a sign for them, when He saw the blood He would pass over them, and no plague would destroy them when He struck Egypt. And God did just as He promised.

This Passover Celebration continues in Jewish households today and is a permanent ordinance for them. Forever. The date of this event would have been around 1445 B.C.

Let’s fast-forward through the pages of the Old Testament. God told Israel over and over again in the fullness of time their would be another lamb. One Lamb, Messiah, Prince of Peace would come and deliver them. And they envisioned a king. A king who would sweep in, deliver them from all their woes, set up a regal kingdom and life would be good. They refused to hear and understand what God said.

We have the complete Word of God. They didn’t. And we still refuse to hear God’s Word. Like the stubborn and prideful Israelites, we apply our own understanding to what He has said rather than read and heed the beautiful painting of words our merciful God has preserved for us?

From that Passover night in Egypt how fitting that shepherds would receive the good news of the long awaited Savior—Christ, the Lord—a baby—God’s Passover Lamb, laying in a manger in Bethlehem. Just where the prophets said He would be. Yet, everyone but the shepherds missed it.

God’s Lamb left His throne in heaven and submitted Himself to the confines of a human being in order to become our Kinsman Redeemer. He loved us enough to live on this hostile, sin-filled planet in order to become our perfect, Passover Lamb. He obeyed the Father’s just judgment in order that you and I might be painted with His blood and washed clean and white. Forgiven. And through God’s mercy and grace and love adopted into His family. Forever.

Have the door posts of your life been painted with the blood of the Perfect Lamb, God’s Only Lamb, your Passover Lamb?DSCF2349

If you hear His voice today, be very sure, because the Word tells us He’s coming again. And soon. And this time He won’t be in a stable in Bethlehem. He will be The Prince of Peace, The Lord of Lords, and The King of Kings. Forever.

“All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:37-40 NAS).

Have a joyful and blessed Christmas as we celebrate The Lamb!

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Stuffed in my ears and heaped in stacks around my feet. From hands-free devices to flat screens. TVs. Phones. And books. Zillions of them. A constant barrage of words. All day, every day and into the night, words surround me.

But is anyone listening? Does anyone really hear my words?

As a parent I’ve asked the above questions concerning my children, my spouse and my friends.

So why should I even take the time and energy to speak today?

Because the Lord Jesus Christ gave me the ability to speak and the command to go and tell.

“So what am I supposed to tell them, Lord? And how am I supposed to say it?”

Jesus instructed I am  to… “Go and make disciples.”

Now preachers go to seminary to learn apologetics—how to present God’s Word to their congregations. But I’m just a normal person. I don’t have all those degrees. I don’t know what to say or how to say it.

My mind raced back to those first century Christians. How did they make disciples? They didn’t have Bibles. Yet their numbers multiplied. They just shared their experiences. The joy and peace they found in knowing Jesus after centuries of enduring a bloody altar that didn’t fix their sin or their problems. The joy of suffering persecution on account of His name. The joy of knowing and believing their life on this earth was only the beginning.

They understood with their minds and believed in their hearts that at the moment of death they would open their eyes and be in the presence of the Lord. Forever. In His everlasting kingdom that is to come. Where He will rule and reign here on earth.

The accounts of these early saints lives and deaths are an incredible role model for us today as we see persecution of believers escalating around the globe.

Perhaps that’s the problem. We lack experiences. Maybe. But I don’t think we need more experiences or how to—I think we need more want to. I wonder if pride and churchiness aren’t the issues preventing us from sharing our heart.

Fear and pride are sister-boogers-in-the-woodwork. Fear and pride of what others would think if they really knew what we had done, what had been done to us, or what we really think in those dark corridors of our minds. Fear and pride of deception, thinking we are better than we are.

So we retreat behind the walls of the church, compare ourselves to all those sinners who don’t go to church, and become clones of one another. Using fancy words. Words without power. Words that do not affect or change the life of another, much less our own life.

The cure comes when we begin to recognize the depth of our deception, dear church, acknowledge our need for repentance, and get real with others about how and why God is transforming our lives. Sounds easy doesn’t it? It’s not. Being transparent is painful, to us and sometimes to others.

I’m here today to use my word limit to share my troublesome boogers with you. Not with flowery words that loose us in a trail of sweet sounding emptiness. No. Just the sorrow of my heart and the immediate and responsive love of my Savior.

This past Christmas Season was the most difficult one of my life. Family issues, changing relationships, grief and coming uncertainties for America, brought the onslaught of a spiritual battle in me that loomed larger each passing day.

‘Til I admitted that terrible word—depression—and fell on my face, crying to my Lord Jesus for help. I was ashamed and confessed that I had squandered this year’s holy celebration. More concerned about me and mine rather than focusing on the miracle of His conception and pondering the purpose of His birth, death and resurrection. I had to confess I had ignored God. When I did that, I bowed to worship of The Sovereign God of all creation—Immanuel—God with us.

He didn’t stand me in the corner. He didn’t shout reprimands. He immediately answered the groaning of my heart and reminded me, I’m His child. He dried my tears and wrapped me in the warm Emergency Room blanket of His love and refocused my eyes and my heart on His mercy and everlasting love for me.         

“You Yourself have recorded my wanderings. Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your records?” (Psalm 56:8).

The battle ceased. The fog of deception lifted. Have the problems vanished? No, but the bottomless well-spring of His joy immediately bubbled-up and filled my spirit to overflowing. When a wisp of gloom tries to creep back into my thoughts I capture that thought and give it to Jesus. The light of His love overpowers the shadow of darkness every time.

The formula is simple but sure:

My plight + my cries to Him + His love and power = His comfort, His mercy, His grace and His healing = complete forgiveness and restoration for me, now and forever.

As soon as my lids flutter open in the morning, my heart tunes to sing the anthem, “For Thou, O Lord, art a shield for me, the glory and the lifter of my head.”

No sin is beyond His ability to forgive. How long has it been since you have had honest words with God? How long has it been since He rescued you? How long has it been since you’ve used words and actions to tell and show someone what God has done for you? Now is the perfect opportunity. I invite you to share with the readers of this blog what God has done and is doing in your life today.

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Have you ever given serious thought to why Jesus would weep when He stood with Mary and Martha at their brother’s tomb?

God would honor His command and Lazarus would walk from the grave. Resurrected. Alive. And Jesus knew this would happen.

So why the tears?

Could it be that He looked into the hearts of His friends and others mourning and in His humanity became overwhelmed with their sorrow? Could it be He looked back through the corridors of time and saw the centuries of tragedy and anguish that sin and death had inflicted on His creation? Could it be He saw His own sacrificial death looming on the horizon? Could He have gazed into future millennia and seen the wars and disease and destruction that must be completed before the end of this era?

Perhaps Jesus also saw how life could have been. God said creation was very good. A perfect relationship, between God and His creations. A perfect life and a perfect future. With no death.

And He wept.

God tells us that the final enemy is death. And anyone who comes face to face with that adversary weeps.

Still that old “if only” rhetoric springs to our minds. If only Adam and Eve hadn’t made that stupid choice. If only I’d been there, I wouldn’t have listened to Lucifer. If only, if only… But the truth is, if we’d been present at creation, we would have made the same choice they did. Look around. Folks still choose death. Every day.

Glance in the mirror. We all make those wrong choices.

I think about the number of times I have deliberately rebelled against God. Knowing what He said, I made the choice to disobey, and have repeated that defiance over and over again. Continually casting my vote for death.

God told Adam and Eve, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die,” (NKJ Genesis 2:16-17). And they did. They ate. They died. Spiritually and physically. Since that time the sin gene has passed from generation to generation. The Word says, “The soul who sins shall But God had a plan to redeem us to Himself. And His plan was and is His Son—Jesus Christ. God’s righteousness demands judgment. We can’t do anything to save ourselves or to pay that price, because we have birth defects. Perpetual sins that need healing. We’re not perfect. And that’s why Jesus had to die.

Hebrews 9:11(b) tells us “without the shedding of blood there is no remission” from sin. That’s why God killed the animals and used their skins to cover Adam and Eve. A blood sacrifice. That’s why those Hebrew children had to watch their fathers kill their perfect little lambs that first Passover night so long ago. So that when the death angel entered the land of Egypt, he would pass over the houses whose door posts were painted with the blood of the lamb. Another blood sacrifice. That’s why days after raising Lazarus, Jesus would become the once-for-all-time blood sacrifice.

The Lord Jesus Christ, our soon-to-be Passover Lamb stood at the grave site of Lazarus and wept.

This Immanuel—God with us, was born to die.

We want to skim over all that history and get to the good stuff. You know, about the resurrection, our new bodies, and heaven. But we can’t get to the good stuff without going through His blood. And to think there are churches today who never mention the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. They never mention sin. The blood that covers sin. The blood that cleanses. The blood that redeems. And Jesus knew that too.

And He wept.

Could His tears also have been for the multiplied millions who, through all of human time, would refuse to go through His blood? Perhaps He cried for their refusal to hear, their futile attempts to cleanse themselves through religiosity, their ultimate rejection of the only way to God the Father.

And He still weeps.

But the Father has set a day. A day, only He knows, when Death will die.

Dr. Paul Tripp says “We will all get to attend the funeral of Death. And that’s a funeral we will all want to go to. A date certain when we will all see Death placed in the coffin.”

There are two classifications of folks in this world when it comes to grief. Those who are grieving and those who will be grieving. Yes, at some point in your life, you too will stand at someone’s grave site and weep.

But, if your loved one who died was washed in the blood of Jesus, and if you’ve been washed in that blood too, there will be a reunion. God promises. All who have trusted in the blood of Jesus to cover their sins will be with Him. Forever. The curse will be lifted, and the earth restored. And when that day comes, there will be no more death. Death will finally die.

And He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true,” (NAS Revelation 21:4-5).


PRESCRIPTION: Are you ready? Ready to cry? Ready to die? If not, please contemplate the words in John 3:16-17 and insert your name:

“For God so loved DiAne Gates that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus Christ) that if DiAne Gates would believe on Him (Jesus Christ), DiAne Gates would not perish but DiAne Gates would have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son (Jesus) into the world (the kosmos) to condemn the world (the human race), but that the world (everyone who hears and believes) through Him (Jesus) might be saved,” (NKJ John 3:16).


“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times, things that are not yet done. Saying, “ My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure”  (NKJ Isaiah 46:9-10).

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It’s been a year. Maybe two.

You ask, “When will this pain go away?”

You’re ready to be done. Ready to be normal again. Ready for any tiny glimmer of hope and joy.

Grief is an exhausting zillion-mile-an-hour trip down Life’s Mall, through dense fog. People are talking, but you can’t understand them. Their blurry faces pass before you, but you don’t recognize them. Your mind operates in slow motion—if at all. Day. After day. After day.

Grief steals your ability to concentrate and focus. Misplaced keys, memory loss, forgotten bills and events are common, unwelcomed additions to life after the loss of a loved one. I would be driving down the freeway confused about how I got to that place. Worse yet, we live in the country with winding two lane roads. More than once, I wondered where am I and how do I get home?

Grief also precipitates physical pain. Your muscles tense causing neck, back, and shoulder pain. And you’re tired. All the time. Sleepy, but unable to sleep. The fridge is heaped up and running over with all those dishes of love from well-meaning friends. You’re not ungrateful, but you’re not hungry. Worst of all, you’re alone, in the middle of a crowd. That one missing loved one means you stand alone.

It’s not uncommon to see your deceased loved one walking down the hallway. You swear they’re real. But you know better. Your mind plays tricks in the middle of devastating turmoil. Troubling. But normal.

You’re not crazy. It’s grief.

But grief is not the end. It’s just the beginning.      

Remember the story in John 6:1-13 where Jesus feeds the five thousand with five barley loaves and two fishes? Truth is that was only the men. When the women and children were counted, there were probably ten to twelve thousand hungry folks to feed that day.

Do you recall how He blessed that little boy’s meager lunch, broke it up, and the disciples distributed it to the crowd?

But do you know the rest of the story?

After everyone had eaten their fill, He instructed the disciples to gather up the fragments so that nothing would be lost or wasted. And there were twelve baskets full of left-overs.

When death shatters your life, by the loss of a loved one, all that remains are left-overs. Fragments.

Then I make a ridiculous statement: God never wastes anything—even your grief.

You ask, “How can God ever use anything as dark and ugly as what I’m going through? What am I to do with the crumbs of my life? Which way do I turn? Where do I go?

The answer is to Jesus. He scoops up the cracked pieces of our lives and places them on His potter’s wheel to repair, integrate, and reshape us into new vessels. By the power of His love, the warmth of His hands, and the pain we’ve experienced, He changes pride into humility, anger into hope, and sorrow into comfort.

Then He certifies all He repairs, “comforting us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (NAS I Corinthians 1:4).

I know this arduous journey has taught me lessons I could never have learned any other way. Jesus used those scattered fragments of grief, after Michelle’s death, and made a new beginning for me.

Would I love to have my daughter back? Of course. But wouldn’t that be selfish? She’s healed and with her Lord Jesus. To have her back would mean she’d have to die again.

I am so thankful God didn’t abandon me outside the hospital room that night.    And neither has he abandoned you.

He picked up those heart wrenching fragments and transformed me.

And He is ready to transform you too.

Yes, God didn’t waste anything—even the darkest moments of my grief that sent me fleeing into His arms.

Now it’s your choice—His light or your darkness. His comfort or your anger. His love and mercy or your doubt and unbelief.

He will transform your life, if you allow Him. You will become a conduit of His mercy and grace to be poured out on others about to enter this foggy journey. And your legacy will point others toward the light of His glory that shines in the darkness of this very long tunnel.

So don’t quit. Don’t run away. Don’t take grief as your identify.

Because grief is not the end. It’s just the beginning.


Prescription: Sort the fragments of your grief into a neat stack. Then one by one, “Cast all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you” (NAS I Peter 5:7).


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Those of you who follow my blog know my husband and I lost a daughter eleven years ago. Michelle’s death plunged us into deep, inky waters of grief. While struggling just to survive we were blind-sided by Grief’s ugly-step-sisters—Secondary Losses.

Grief is an unwelcome guest who stays much too long, not pretty at all, who plunges the family into chaos. But Secondary Losses are the evil relatives of Grief that slip in the back-door and linger forever. They litter the landscape with shrapnel-sized-shards of anguish that are often as difficult to deal with as the original loss.

Worse yet, they lurk behind the shadow of family members, good friends, even making appearances at happy events. Ever waiting to earn the greatest buck-for-the-bang and then they implode. The injuries they inflict are not terminal, but often perpetrate permanent disabilities upon their victims.

So what in the world are secondary losses?

Well, they’re certainly not bashful. Their name shouts their identity—a related loss that evolves out of the original loss. An additional loss that strikes when you least expect it, when you are most vulnerable.

Like the granddaughter whose grandmother died this year. Her Mimi was the glue that held the family together. Several weeks after her death, grandpa announced he wanted all her stuff out of the house and wanted nothing to do with the rest of the family. Ever. No more Sunday dinners at grandma’s. No more visiting the home that stored a lifetime of memories for this teen. No more relationship with the grandfather she had loved. Three secondary losses that left this grandchild shattered.

When an infant dies, the parents loose their future—their dreams. There will be no first steps, first words. No smiles or hugs. No first day at school. The list multiplies. For years after a baby’s tragic demise, secondary losses accumulate, building a wall of separation and blame between the couple. Unless the grieving couple gets help, more often than not, their marriage disintegrates.

When a husband or wife dies the spouse will most likely remarry. The family is swept up in a reconstruction zone. Where the flood waters of grief mix with the dust of new construction and can cause a murky mess.  Often there are too many in-laws for the new mom or dad to deal with. These secondary relational losses impact everyone—kids, grandparents, aunts, uncles and yes, sometimes even family friends. Holidays, birthdays, and special events change or are forever lost.

The loss of an older child results in the loss of an expected future for the entire family. The role that child played in the family circle sits vacant. For siblings, it’s a wrenching or splitting apart of the oneness that brothers and sisters enjoy that leaves them empty. Half of a whole. If the siblings were twins, many more layers are involved.

The aging process robs us of our parents. While they may be sick and ready to leave this life, there are secondary losses even with an expected departure. You and I are moved up—next in line. We unwillingly become the matriarchs and patriarchs of the family. The structure of the family changes. Everything changes. And we don’t like change.

So what are we to do with these loose strings of grief that tangle, knot, and upset our lives? Are we doomed to a life of grief? No. Not at all. But we must travel those dark corridors. Not climbing over, tunneling under, nor sneaking around the pain. We must work through the grief. And it is work. Left to itself, grief will make you bitter. With God’s help and comfort you will become better. But it’s your choice.

We must understand and accept that it is alright to grieve. It is necessary to grieve. It is normal to grieve. And yes, Christians must grieve. Grief is the normal reaction when someone we love dies.   

Tears are the safety valve God has given the pressure cooker of our injured hearts and our shattered dreams. I tell my GriefShare folks they  must cry 5,395 times during this sorrowful journey, so they’d best get started. Scripture tells us God saves our tears in a bottle. (NAS Psalm 56:8).

Strength and ability to endure great tragedy and loss comes from the power of God, through the Word of God, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. There is no true healing from this traumatic life experience outside of the touch of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Oh, you can stuff your agony into the depths of your heart. But I promise you, if you bury grief alive, there will be a resurrection one day, and it won’t be pretty.

So let’s determine to walk together in this wretched journey for the next few weeks and I’ll introduce you to several prescriptions that will bring you safely to the other side of this horrendous event, if you’ll follow the Great Physician’s orders.

Prescription #1 – GriefShare is a Christ based support group that is a safe place to empty all the pain and anguish threatening to drown you. Go online to www.GriefShare.org and click Find A Group to locate a group near you.

Next week we’ll talk about how to manage those nasty secondary losses.

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