always believing

We can be all kinds of emotional. All kinds – nervous, joyful, sad, fearful – all kinds. It seems like mine have run the gamut here in NYC. I can sink in sadness and in the very next moment be heaped in hope. They are all mixed up here in NYC; maybe emotions are mixed up everywhere.

But in every kind of emotion we must be always believing.

I think this is taking deep root in the soil of my soul these days and certainly as I read the lectionary reading this morning from Psalm 119.

I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I set your rules before me.
I cling to your testimonies, O Lord;
let me not be put to shame!
I will run in the way of your commandments
when you enlarge my heart! (Psalm 119:30-32, ESV)

I love to read the conviction in David’s declarations, because I know he was an emotional guy and he had every right to be emotional. Chased by death and failing kingdoms and family matters and desert armies, David lived the kind of life that seemed to warrant fist shaking at the sky.

But inside his mixed up emotions, David chose the way of faithfulness. Because he was not helpless against the affections of his heart. David set the Lord’s rules before him and clung to the Lord’s testimonies.

In choosing and doing these things, David is actively believing that this is the best way to move forward with mixed emotions.

Sunk in sadness or heaped in hope, David chose to run in the way of the Lord’s commandments. I can almost hear the pulse of his feet pounding the desert path in the direction of the Lord’s commandments. It sounds strange, even as a word picture. Why would he run in the direction of commandments – in the direction of something that appears to fix his feet in one place? Why would David love the Lord’s rules that seem to restrict instead of set free?

Running is freedom, at least it seems so to me. It means throwing off hindrances and making steady progress in a particular direction. And David is running in the direction of the Lord’s commands because freedom gives birth to freedom. The Lord enlarged the heart that powered his running feet and with his freedom he ran in the direction of faithfulness. David believe that the Lord would keep His promises and that being near to the Lord was the best destination, the best lifestyle, the best routine – that meant being near to His commands.

David knew inside his heart of mixed emotions that the Lord’s commands were not a straight jacket but a mysterious wardrobe where marvelous things were hidden. David believed the Lord’s commands would grant him more freedom than anything the world could promise him.

The Lord granted David freedom to run and with that freedom, David ran in the direction of most delight – the way of pleasing the Freedom Giver.

I can’t imagine experiencing all the range of emotions tangled up inside David’s heart while he was hidden in caves or castles or closets. But I do know where he found strength when he was sunk with sadness or heaped with hope. He found strength as the Lord grew his heart and he ran in the way of faithfulness.

He chose to chase the mysteries of the Lord’s commands because He wanted to please the Freedom Giver… and because (I think) he knew that the most joy in this life would be found running toward and not away from God’s gracious constraints.

In every kind of emotion, God grants the grace that we can be always believing.

believing the stories I tell

I had just barely finished a dramatic retelling of David and Goliath when one of the littles in my backseat said, “Is that story about Jesus? We wanted to hear a story about Jesus!”

I looked back in my rearview mirror and saw two pair of eyes waiting expectantly (the third pair was fast asleep) – they had asked me for the story I promised a week before and I told it with as many gestures as my driving could allow.

I breathed one of those desperate, silent, wordless prayers and said, “Yes, yes it is. Because every story in the Bible is about Jesus. This story about David and Goliath really happened and it reminds us that no matter how big the trouble or the evil, God is more powerful.”

I think I intended to say more, to give more context or connect more dots, but then one of the littles said something like this, “Because Jesus is powerful and powerful means that then He was died but then He was more strong and was alive and all the peoples that wanted him to be dead seen that He was more strong because He was powerful. And He was alive after the evil.”

I think if I hadn’t been on a schedule, I might have pulled over. I might have looked in that little one’s eyes and said, “Yes, sweet girl. That is what powerful is.” And as I said it I marveled at how much she had remembered from the previous week’s story about Jesus.

I fumbled around to explain that because God is so powerful and because He cares for us so much, we can be sure of our safety and hope in Him. We can be brave and courageous because in the end there is no evil that will overcome Him.

We pulled into the driveway and they ran past the baby ducks and into the house.

Then I turned my key to leave and not a single light showed on my dashboard, not a single sound of turning over from my engine.

“Hm.” I thought of three problem solving possibilities. They all included prayer. And I thought of David and Goliath and my insistence that we can be safe and secure in God. I took several breaths and turned the key several more times with the same result. I know that God doesn’t always keep us safe by the ways we would choose. And I was actually very prepared for Him to work out this scenario in a way that would push me out of comfort.

But, I kept praying (nothing really intelligible, just one of those rumbling soul pleas that you trust God understands). And before I gave up completely, I tried to turn the key one last time… and then I backed out of that little driveway and drove straight to AutoZone where they told me my battery and alternator checked out fine.

Spring is stretching to shed the winter and God is reminding me that He is faithful. He is trustworthy. He is kind and generous. My God will supply all my needs, according to His riches in glory – which are endless.

He will provide with an endless bounty as I believe Him to be my Provider.

Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me

sophia means wisdom

I wrote this for the past newsletter and thought now was an appropriate time to post as a blog entry. This past week has been hard. Hard and good. It feels like this piece is just as appropriate today as it was a month ago. Not surprising, I suppose.


Maybe it’s the early darkness in the evening or the brisk whip of the breeze… Maybe it’s my imagination of ocean in the air or maybe it is because at this time of year we are all looking for a safe harbor. For whatever reason, my soul’s compass is scanning the shoreline. Whether I’m careening across placid waters in the early morning or waging war against waves in the middle night, my heart is heavy with need.

At times, it feels like I’m bailing out water in the middle of a downpour with a colander. Other times, I rush the bow to flail my arms wide, trying to take in all the beauty at once. What fails to change with emotions or season or temperament, is need.

If I’ve learned anything in my (just recently celebrated) twenty-six years and in my two and a half years here in Honduras, I have certainly learned life is unpredictable. In so many ways, the unpredictability thrills me, like what a ship’s captain must have felt at the start of a journey. This uncertainty also leads me, sometimes gasping for air, straight to the One who holds all things together, singing my favorite song of this season, “Jesus, Savior, Pilot me.”

Reading through 1 Samuel has trained my eyes once again to see God’s faithfulness illuminated against whatever treachery the high seas might heave my way. What I find so beautiful about both the song and the story of King David is very simple: history.

Every single day David crept about in the wilderness, hiding in caves and seeking refuge in foreign cities, God hemmed him in with history. From the intimate times in the mountains as a shepherd to the lop-sided duel with a giant, God’s character remained perfect and unchanged. As David feared for his life and spears flew just shy of his ears, he was keenly aware of his need to depend on God and trust He would be faithful.

My favorite lines in the hymn are several verses down,

“Though the sea be smooth and bright,
Sparkling with the stars of night,
And my ship’s path be ablaze
With the light of halcyon days,
Still I know my need of Thee;
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.”

What David learned in his desperate days he brought with him into the calmer, halcyon hours. In the same way that our need of a Savior never changes, God’s place as Savior is forever.

God is ever behind and before us, not contained by time or our understanding or physical place. God is altogether outside of the evil crashing up against the sides of our vessel, yet intentionally and intimately involved in our safe passage and final destination.

It is history that reminds us of God’s gift of our beginning breaths, of our failure and God’s faithfulness, of our rebellion and God’s invitation to repentance. It is history that boasts the best and only hope in view of our ever-pressing need… a Savior.

I love these stories we carry around like mental felt boards, ready at any moment to reassure us of both our heritage and our inheritance. When we are caught unaware amid boisterous waves or settled back on our haunches, it is history that assures us that no captain ever possessed more power to truly say, “Fear not, I will pilot thee.”

please, let’s

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

Whom Shall I Fear?


Is this the way ?
Image by Lionoche via Flickr


If you have ever been near me when a door slams or a bell rings or a balloon pops or a loud noise sounds, you might know of my irrational reaction. It is safe to say that surprises often end with me on the floor or clutching the nearest person’s sweater.

Even if you don’t have an extremely embarrassing, undiagnosed and somewhat questionable condition like mine, you still might find yourself, at times, afraid.

We shouldn’t be surprised. A life completely void of fear would be … well, it would be heaven and we can all admit we’re not there yet.

So, what do we do with this thing called fear? There are so many things in this world that make us want to hide under the table or curl up under the covers or find a friend for comfort. Everything in our world seems impossibly broken, which has us constantly running for cover.

Maybe you fear grades or parents or the weekend or strangers or your future plans. Or maybe you fear the things you hide deep down inside yourself – those things you’ve allowed no one to know.

In Psalm 27, David shows us that fear is not something to get over or pass through, but rather something that requires daily persistence to live confident of God’s protection. He writes, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

However easy this sounds, David does not stop with these questions. He vividly describes some of the worst enemies – the things in his life very worthy of fear. In light of these, he writes, “One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.”

David knows the only safe and secure place for his soul is where the Lord dwells. The Lord fears nothing, for He created everything.

What better place to find shelter from our fears? “For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.” Find yourself safe in the Lord today.

This appeared in the last High School Guidance Newsletter.

are you going to

let LOVE fly like CRAZY



Image via Wikipedia


Lately, I’ve been working on study skills workshops for several classes. Our students struggle to manage time, organize their materials, and (most importantly) recall the information they cram into their brains the night before a test.

I think these things are universal, but my job is not to figure out how similar are the struggles… I want to encourage the students to push through! In the process of all my searching (I didn’t have all those education courses, so it’s all new to me), I found some amazing resources.

I got so excited about this “Periodic Table of Elements” song that I showed it to everyone who came into my office (and some who happened to be standing outside!). Then, I started to look up more about this man, Tom Lehrer, who set all kinds of information to music. Two things made me love this: 1) learning happens 2) music happens.

After all my rambling about the beautiful gift and calling to THINK, I’ve been more aware of how thinking happens around me. How do the students think? How does the staff think? How do I think? What is my purpose, my methods, my result?

As I watched this video, I couldn’t help but make connections. We are made with minds to think and to seek knowledge. This, from the recent Desiring God National Conference,

“Knowledge that is loveless is not true knowledge. It’s imaginary knowledge, no matter how factual it is: ‘If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God’ (1 Corinthians 8:1-3)

Knowing as we ought to know is a knowing for the sake of loving. Loving God and loving people.” -J. Piper

So, if our knowledge – the true kind – has something other than empirical (numbers and words on pages with red grades glaring up top) implications, then maybe our ‘knowing’ must come about in a way that remains in our life after gradebooks close.

And for this reason, I love that our “knowing for the sake of loving” can come about as it did for David… through music. He wasn’t memorizing God’s attributes on a list so he could spit them out at the end of the week and move on to the list of God’s commands. No, as David was singing and playing and creating, he was hiding God’s Word in his heart.

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.  With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!  I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.  Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes!  With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.  In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.  I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.  I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. (Psalm 119:9-16 ESV)

I love this.

I love that even the process we choose to seek after knowledge can reflect our love for the Lord and can more firmly set the knowledge into our hearts. How many times have you praised God through the words in Psalms? When we set out to find our very strength in the Word, it becomes more than just memorization. It becomes bread.

Here’s a little example of Tom Lehrer in action.

Transforming Grace

If you think God might be tending to other, more important matters today, here is a very necessary reminder: you are the important matter. God is intimately involved in His creation and the process of our sanctification. He cares so deeply and is so relentless in His pursuit of us, that He offers a transformative grace to draw us into His presence.

Sometimes that grace confuses us because it isn’t peaceful and comfortable and full of relief. Sometimes it means getting broken… actually, I would say more times than not. Read this article by Paul Tripp about the beauty of grace and David’s prayer for broken bones to rejoice in Psalm 51.

He writes,

“Although our greatest personal need is to live in a life-shaping relationship with the Lord, as sinners we have hearts that have a propensity to wander. We very quickly forget God and begin to put ourselves or some aspect of the creation in his place. We soon forget that he’s to be the center of everything we think, desire, say and do…

It’s time for each of us to embrace, teach, and encourage others with the broken-bone theology of uncomfortable grace. Because as long as each of us still has sin living in us, producing a propensity to forget and wander, God’s grace will come to us in uncomfortable forms.”

Pack that up in your lunch today,  folks.