There’s one in every bunch who seems to provide some comic relief to their friends.  I think Peter was “that guy” for the 12 disciples of Jesus.  I find him delightful, and love to “see” the color he often painted into the stories of Jesus.

Setting:   Jerusalem.  An intense time in Israel, with a maniac King (Herod) who had become obsessedwith abusive activities toward followers of Jesus. He had just had James (brother of John and one of the 12) executed.  That went over so well that Herod arrested Peter, too.

Peter now found himself in a prison cell under the 24/7 watch of 4 squads of soldier guards. Sixteen guards in a 4-squadron rotation. Two sat beside Peter in his cell, hands bound by two chains, while 2 more guarded the door to his cell.  We don’t know what Peter had been through under arrest, but King Herod was famous for brutality and torture, so Peter’s condition couldn’t have been good.  Yet, he slept.  Deeply, apparently.

A Glowing Angel from God suddenly appears in Peter’s cell, flooding it with Light.  I picture this shining angel’s sudden appearance in that dark, smelly, moldy cell.  It would have normally elicited shock and fear from the four soldiers and Peter. (Angels are used to that kind of reaction.)  But Peter didn’t even open an eye. Nothing stirred him.  I imagine the Angel sighing as he literally had to go over and nudgePeter.  He was “out!”  Not a common situation for an Angel, I would imagine.  Glowing Angel said,(likely in a whisper)  “Hurry!  Get up!” and Peter’s chains immediately fell off.

Glowing Angel returns to his regal stance of glowing.  But there’s a problem.  Peter’s still just sitting on the ground.  Perhaps nodding off again.  He’d been through alot…beatings, chains, probable death sentence.  You know….part of Peter’s “new life” in following Jesus.

Noticing the lack of activity from this sleepy fisherman-follower of Jesus,  Glowing Angel tells him to put his shoes on and get ready to go.  Go?  Go where?  Who are You?  Yikes…  OK.  Shoes on.   Again with the Regal Glowing Angel, “Put  your coat on, and follow me.”    I almost hear the celestial sigh and rolling of the glowing eyes.

Scraggly Prisoner and Glowing Angel walk right past the armed guards at Peter’s cell’s door and then past the next prison guardposts.  When they get to the iron gate that would lead to the city, the big old heavy thing opened by itself!  Groggy Peter thought he was dreaming.  The unlikely pair walked out, and headed up the street.

Glowing Angel of God had completed his brief, irregular rescue mission and disappeared. I wonder if it wasn’t one of the most unusual he’d ever been assigned.  Certainly a most uncommon reaction from the chosen Prisoner Peter.

Left on his own, with his shoes and coat on (hopefully), Peter went to Mary’s house, where a secret gathering of followers of Jesus were hiding….and praying.  For him.

Fully awake now, he knocked.  Here was a safe place for him.  Here were people surely praying for his safety…and freedom.   Through the door, Servant Girl recognizes that voice.  It’s Peter!!  Peter awaits a swift, stealthy opening of the door, ready to make quick steps into this safe house.  But instead, only silence as Servant Rhoda rushes back to tell the gathered friends that Peter was at the door knocking.  Knocking Peter keeps knocking.  No one in the room believed it was Peter, assuming he was now dead in prison.  The Knocker must be Peter’s angel, they thought.

Nervous Peter is in a predicament….he can’t call out, lest he be caught.  He can’t get in, as the door is locked.  At any moment the guards might burst from around the corner looking for their missing prisoner.

As the hushed conference continued inside the house, the Knocking Peter continued his frantic knocking…as quietly as he could.

The door finally cracks open…just enough for several eyeballs to see it was Peter.  Shushing them with his hand, Peter slips in.  What a story he had to tell them!  The whispered celebration must have continued the rest of the night.

Meanwhile….back at the jail, frantic guards were searching for Peter.  Even Herod was out there looking!   But Peter had disappeared.   And the most unfortunate guards realized they had spent the last night of their lives in the presence of a Sleepy Peter (and a Glowing Angel) who disappeared without a trace…shoes, coat and all!

Perfect Peace

“With perfect peace

 You will protect those whose minds cannot be changed,

    because they trust You.” 

Isaiah 26:3

The long history of God’s people is full of really tough times and experiences. Drama was always around the next corner, it seemed.  Wars, captivity, living in exile, being refugees, running for their lives, long periods of extreme cruelty, and Death.  God allowed all of this to be woven into their Story.  He saw it all.  He allowed it to go on.  That’s a tough thing for us to contemplate.

When I reverse the order of this verse, there are two things that are “on us” as His people:  His people trusted God, and their minds could not be changedLife on this earth is tough.  Sometimes it seems impossible.  TRUST requires intentionally putting our small hand into His enormous, powerful Hand….and hanging on.  No matter what.  It means accepting the fact that I cannot control the events of my life.  I can really try, but it is not humanly possible. What I can dois hold onto His Hand, like a child with his/her father. There we touch His Strength, His Presence, His Protection and Assurance.  Our Perfect Father has the perfect view of what is ahead, around and behind us.  We might even close our eyes as we squeeze His Hand.  That’s fine!  Hang on for dear life!

Unlike a human father, our Heavenly Father will not let go when we put our small hand in His.  And each time we experience Him as He walks us through this life, our trust grows. Each experience adds to our level of confidence  in HIM.Step by step, He will not let go…only wecan do that. We may have to walk through frightening times, painful experiences, rocky paths, dark days…life on this earth.  But, holding on tightly, our trust slowly grows.  Our minds begin to absorb the reality of His Presence, His Love, His trust-worthiness….especially through the most frightening times.

And slowly, slowly, with each experience we walk through holding His Hand, our mind becomes more believing because of what we’ve been through together.  Our trust grows, because He has walked withus.  We realize that keeping hold of His Hand becomes our safest place on earth. And out of the years of walking together through life, peace….PERFECT Peacebecomes our experience…It becomes part of our hearts….our minds.  It becomes TRUTH for us.  The pain and troubles of this earthly life do not change.  But the PEACEthat has grown and deepened through it all…remains.

Growing Old

“Even when you’re old, I’ll take care of you.

 Even when your hair turns gray,

 I’ll support you.

 I made you and will continue to care for you.

 I’ll support you and save you.”

 Isaiah 46:4

God’s tender words to Isaiah are so sweet…gentle…and intimate.  Isaiah had lived a long, long life.  He’d seen many Kings come and go throughout his long life as God’s mouthpiece to His people.

Prophets are often loners.  Their lives are focused on watching for and listening to God.  They’re not afraid to speak words…give messages….that “rock the boat” of other’s lives.  (I lived with one….I know what that’s like! Major boat-rocker!)   They need to get away from the crowds and be able to position themselves to listen to God’s quiet Voice.  They need to focus.   Practical things of life – especially plans for old age – are not a high priority. They’re far more tuned in to the here and now of what God is doing and saying.

In Isaiah’s time, there was no social security, no “retirement”, no medicare, and likely not much security of having children to take care of an elderly Prophet of God.  As he aged, his old bones would have been affecting his daily life.  Being alone brings a new reality to becoming old. And Isaiah was very old….

The tenderness of God’s Words directly to Isaiah’s old heart…..that “ear” that had heard so many Words from God which were meant for others – even kings – are poignantly personal and intimate for this old prophet.   God covered all of those bases that become part of the realities of the aged.   He knew. He saw.  He understood.  He was present in, and for, Isaiah.  This Message was specially for His old faithful servant.  His prophet.

Those Words give us a beautiful picture of God’s intimate knowledge of us.  When we are His, there can be no greater Love in our lives….even when we are “alone.”  Our hearts can rest, knowing that He is with us . . . with me.

Learning Trust

“Trust the Lord with all your heart,

and do not rely on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge Him,

and He will make your paths smooth.”   

Proverbs 3:5-6

This was one of the first verses I memorized as a child.  It would come to mind often as I grew up.  For a long time it was just words.  But in my teen years, as my “path” became far more bumpy, uneven and painful, the verse also deepened in its meaning and reality in my life.  I came to know Him more deeply as we walked that rough path together.   I learned how trust-worthy God through those years together.

Fast-forward through love, marriage, starting a church, and having two little boys join our family.  Then came #3. He became a great “teacher” for me.

From his first birthday, my life became a blur…often finding him in yet another life-threatening situation, or seeing him dramatically writhing on the floor as if his life was coming to an end. He had an incredibly strong will.  I experimented with all kinds of methods of getting him to calm down and listen to me.  I would often stand over him simply saying, “You’re not gonna win. You’re not gonna win.”  Once he’d calm down a bit, I’d get on his eye-level, pull his little face close to mine, and say “look in my eyes…look in my eyes.”  Of course, his little eyeballs were going everywhere except into mine.  But when we finally were eye-to-eye, my words could begin to be “heard.”  Soon we would be back on track and going about our day…until the next crisis.  I had to be consistent with him in disrupting his strong will, but I also had to be consistent with the peace-making and love afterwards.

I think that became a life-lesson for him in learning to trust….trust that he was loved, trust that he had boundaries to live within, and trust that even when he was going down a wrong “path” the standards remained…and that he was still loved.

How do we learn to trust God?   It’s not just a word.  It’s not just a concept we can decide is true for us.  TRUST is built.  With time, through tough “bumps in the road”, through falls and bruises and choices that end up with us writhing on the floor.  Mywillagainst HIS WILL.  It comes through times of God orchestrating getting our attention, with our face in His Hands, Eye to eye.  Until we finally let His Words sink in, andour willgives into His.

Each time we get up, look in His Eyes, hear Him…and can walk away knowing His Love goes with us, our trust in Him grows…stronger, deeper, solid.  Like a child.

Living Under the Shelter

“Whoever lives under the shelter of the Most High

will remain in the shadow of the Almighty.”   

Psalm 91:1

David, the shepherd boy who would become King, knew the dangers of living without shelter.  When shepherds take their flocks to the places where there is good pasture, it is normally a long trip, and sheep are not easy to move from one place to another. They are fearful animals, and almost any unexpected movement can send them into a panic…running for escape, even if it’s over the edge of a cliff.  They have no natural means of defense, except to run, often running into greater danger.

Pasture lands offer rare shelter for the sheep.  The shepherd himself must be their safe place.  The sheep need to see their shepherd, or they become skittish…nervous.  The sight of their shepherd brings a sense of calm and reassurance to the flock.  His presence is their shelter.

As “human sheep” we walk this earth, vulnerable and naturally defenseless to its dangers and evil.   Every human longs for shelter.  No matter how much we may try to create a safe place for ourselves, we cannot control every circumstance that comes our way.

To “live under the shelter” of the Most High, we must choose to enter there.  He will not force us into His Shelter. . . it must be our choice.  Coming and going in and out of His Shelter is not “living under His Shelter.”  To livethere is a choice on our part.  He opens the door and invites us in.  He allows us to choose.

Once I choose to live under His Shelter, I immediately experience being in His Shadow.  His Shadow is an extension of Himself. It is the evidence that He is there. He is present.  His Shadow cannot be where He is not.  His Shadow is proof that He Is right there….and very near.

The Most High has made Himself available to us.  But He will not force us to live under His Shelter.  Our Shelter is our safe place, our protection, the place where evil will never be invited and harm is kept at bay.  Stepping into His Shadow brings immediate relief from the “heat” of our day…the heat that could be deadly.  God places Himself between us and the blazing heat of life.  He provides His Own Shadow for our protection . . . our relief.

May we step into His Shelter with deep gratitude for His loving invitation.  And may we remain close to Him, within His very Shadow, where we find rest from the heat of this life, with full confidence in our Almighty One who has invited us to be so near to Him.



Living Your Identity

“The Father had put everything in Jesus’ control.

Jesus knew that.

He also knew that he had come from God

 and was going back to God.

  So he got up from the table, removed his outer clothes, took a towel, and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel that he had tied around his waist.”

John 13:3-5

Jesus knew exacty Who He Was.   And what an identity He had!!  He knew where He had come from, where He was going, and He knew the fact that he was in full control of everything!   He was One-of-a-Kind, in all of eternity.

Yet, directly tied to that Ultimate Identity, “because of that” look what He chose to do:

  • “So…He got up from the table.” Jesus got up from the cushion He was to sit on for this historic meal.  He stepped away from the table where His dearest friends would share the most important meal of the year, the Passover Meal.    Celebration. Family.  Remembering their people’s miraculous relationship with God.
  • “…Took off His outer robe”…His “good robe” . . .a mark of His identity and standing in that culture.  Jesus’ robe “had no seam”, a detail identifying the skillfully woven style of His outer robe, something of high quality.(John 19:23)
  • …”and instead took a towel and tied it around His waist.” The “uniform” of a servant, a slave.
  • “He poured water into a basin…” His friends knew exactly what that basin was for.  Jesus was preparing the “foot bath” for them.  This was the task of a servant, an act of total humility and practical necessity to be shown to guests.  This was a most lowly servant’s job.
  • “…and began to wash the disciples’ feet…” Dusty, dirty roads and hot climate made for sweaty, dirty people.  Sandaled feet took the worst of the dirt.  I would imagine smellyas well.  No one wanted to track dirty feet into someone’s home.  Keeping floors clean was difficult on its own, much less having a dozen men track the sand and dirt from outside into the room where they would eat the most important meal of the year.  Showing honor and hospitality in that part of the world was/is a high, high priority given to guests.  It would be shameful for the host to allow a guest to begin a visit without the best treatment they had to offer.  Jesus would have been the MOST honored guest that night, yet He purposefully took on the most lowly, humble role with His friends.  He put aside His Power and Identity and took on the lowest identity – that of a servant – who has no power at all.
  • “…and dry them with the towel He had tied around His waist.” This task takes time.  Washing….gently working the soap and water between toes, on the soles of each foot, and to the ankle.  It probably required changing the basin’s water many times, especially with 12 men. There is a humbling intimacy that occurs through this experience of having ones feet washed by someone of the home you are visiting.  There is personal care, gentleness, and time given in the process.  It is done with a heart of care and honor to each guest. It is not done quickly, as a dirty task that is finished as hurriedly as possible.  For the recipient, it is humbling.  Imagine the rough shape that open-sandaled feet are in, especially in a hot, dry, rocky land as Israel.  Cuts, bruises, calouses, blisters and hard, crusty skin (I don’t want to even think about the toenail situation)… each foot, by the hand of the host, is lifted, put into the basin of water, gently soaked and washed by the hand of the servant.  Then, the towel is carefully brought out to pat the freshly washed foot until it is dry.

“Jesus knew He had come from God and was going back to God.”   Very soon. Within the next few days.  He knew Who He Was….Whose He Was.  He knew “…everything was put in His [Jesus’] control”  by His Father.  He had the most miraculous, super-human, powerful, perfect Identity that ever walked the earth.  And He knew that these men, dear friends, would woefully fail Him in the coming hours and days.

Yet, in that Identity,  He chose humility, kindness, and love for His friends. He chose to serve them, notbe served by them.

 May we find such confidence in knowing Whose we are, that we can kindly, lovingly serve as Jesus served. . . even those who may hurt and disappoint us most.



  • How do you handle “serving”?
  • When do you struggle with thoughts of “deserving better” than what comes your way?
  • How might Jesus handle “being in your shoes [sandals]” in those moments?




Shelter and Shadows

“Whoever lives under the shelterof the Most High

    will remain in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say to the Lord,

    “You are my refugeand my fortress,

my God in whom I trust.”

Psalm 91:1-2

Shelter…..shadow…..refuge….fortress…..all words that were extremely important needs in the life of David, the Shepherd-King.  He knew what it was like to spend long stretches of time out in the arid, wide-open, unprotected lands, leading his father’s sheep to find good pasture.  He lived the long, lonely days of moving sheep toward better feeding grounds, followed by long, lonely nights of creating enough of a safe place for the skittish sheep to be able to rest.

David was very familiar with living out in the open, without a house or any other structure that would provide safety for himself or his sheep.  No roof, no walls, no door… no sense of safety. Windstorms blew, driving the stinging sands into eyes and skin,  and scaring the sheep which scattered in fear.  Shelterprovides a safe place within its boundaries.  In this dangerous world, He is our immediate Shelter.

Shadows provide relief from the sun.  In a dry land there are not many trees, and any shade is a treasure, breaking the intense heat of the sun.  We all know the great relief we experience when, standing in the sun “cooking”, we step into a shadow.  There is immediate relief in that moment’s shadow.

Shepherd David clarifies that the Holy Shelteris the place we must live…not simply visit or jump in and out of.  It is safe there…immediately. Evil cannot  touch us there.  And withinthat Shelter is the Shadow of God Himself.  It isn’t a “place.”  It is an experiential reality of God’s Presence coming between me and the “heat” that could eventually be my doom. His “Shadow” doesn’t come to me.  I must choose to step into that Shelter of His, and to then experience His Shadow where I find immediate relief, rest,  and the clear evidence of His own Presence wrapping itself around me.

Experiencing His Shadow and Shelter, who could help but clearly acknowledge that He is my Refuge….my safe place from all that intends to destroy me.  And more than refuge,(an immediate, temporary safe place in times of crisis,)  . . . He is my Fortress!   Strong! Impenetrable!  Lasting through the ages.  My Fortressis fully armed, prepared and intent to do battle for me.  And while the battle rages, I am protected and safe within my Mighty Fortress.

By a Desert Spring

“The Messenger of the Lord found her

 by a spring in the desert,

 the spring on the way to Shur.”  

Genesis 16:7

She was a slave.  Her family, home, and former life was far, far away…in another country.  She was pregnant, mistreated by the wife of the father of her child, and now utterly alone in this harsh desert.  No shelter.  No man to protect her from the many, many dangers in the desert.  A woman without the protection of a man was doomed.  It would be a slow death, surely.  But most excruciatingly painful of all would be to lose the baby she carried.  She would never see his face or hold him.  There was nothing she could do.

Springs in a desert are well-known to all the people of that region.  It was a matter of life or death to know where to find a spring.  She was there, the only place of any hope for her.  But water alone was not enough to keep her alive.  It would merely prolong death.

Her despair must have been unfathomable.  Her story had been one of being “used”…first as a slave with no rights, taken from her home and family.  She had to learn a new language, new culture, new rules and expectations, with strangers now deciding everything concerning her life.  Everything of her former life was gone.   She had to survive an entirely new life, not by her own choice.  That’s what slaves do.  They are “used.”  Eventually she was “used” in the ultimate way…with her own body and deepest intimate part of her heart.

Now, their lives would end together, she and her unborn, only child. . . alone.

But God saw.  He knew. He loved and cared in a deeply personal way for this young slave woman at the little spring, waiting to die.  He had a Plan.

And for the first of only two times in Bible history, God’s Messenger came to a simple young woman, and called her by name.  He then went on to tell her that she would give birth to a son.  He even described what her child would be like.  And God’s own Messenger named this son she carried, “Ishma-el…which means ‘God hears.’”  Every time she would say her son’s name for the rest of her life, it would be a reminder of the God Who Hears….her!

Then, this foreigner, a slave, a girl, so “unqualified” to be having such a conversation with God’s own Messenger, named Him: “Lahai Roi, meaning: The God Who Watches Over Me.”

When we are in those “desert places” in life, no matter how deeply we are feeling alone, forgotten, rejected, or hopeless, thinking that life is over, God isthere.  The “little spring” to which we cling as our hope slips away is not the end of the story.  God Himself “hears”…it’s Who He Is. And in the most hopeless times in life, we can hold on to Who He Is: “The God Who Watches Over Me,” even in our most desperate, hopeless desert moments.


All That Night

All that night

the Lord drove the sea back.”

Exodus 14:21

God’s desert refugees were running for their lives.   Behind them in traumatizing, deadly pursuit was the most powerful army in the world.  Ahead of them was the Sea.  Men, women, children, grandparents, the sick, elderly, newborn and soon-to-be born babies. The terror and chaos had to have been unimaginable.  Death was in hot pursuit behind them . . . no safety nor “home” lay ahead.   Well over a million traumatized slaves. . . now refugees. But there was no refuge for them. Death loomed . . . at their backs and in their faces.  In the darkness, when terror and danger was all around them.

BUT GOD WAS THERE, saying “Go . . .”   Go to your new life . . . your new home . . . your new freedom . . .   I Am here.  I Am making a way for you.  It’s scary, it’s not easy.  One foot in front of the other.    I Am right here, making the Way for you!

 Nighttime seems to hold far more fear.  Darkness surrounds us, and fears grow.  We cannot see.  Our human frailty and vulnerability becomes far more tangible.  We long for the light.

God’s people…His refugees, saw the turbulent sea open before them, and the command came to step into that unimaginable journey in the darkness of night.  There was really no other option…theyhad to go.  

God was there. In the darkness.  He, Who had opened the sea and created the path to the other side, was there.  “All the night” . . . holding the sea back from utterly wiping out the people He had chosen to carry His Story to the world.  He had created the way for them, and He was holding the sea back.  No movie creation of man could begin to depict that scene.  We can only try to imagine it.  As His dearly loved people stepped onto the bottom of the sea, with the waters of that sea towering above them. . . in the darkness of that long, long night.   No words were necessary as He “held the sea back…all that night.”  They just needed to keep putting one foot in front of the other….He was doing all the rest.

I know He continues to “drive the sea back” throughout the nights of our souls.  May we continue to put one foot in front of the other on the Path He has made for each of us.



Desert Song

“Spring up, O well!

Sing about it.”

Numbers 21:17

God’s people had been going through a horrible time!  Slaves of Egypt for hundreds of years, running through the desert andthe Red Sea from Pharoah’s army, with the wall of the sea looming all along their panicked flight. . . then into another desert.   They had been bitten by snakes, struck with plague, learning how to follow leaders who didn’t know where they were going.  Frustration, hunger, running for their lives with children, animals, elderly, and sick people. They’d seen people swallowed up by the earth, being led through the days by a cloud…and the most awesome “nightlight” of fire. All through desert. No convenient natural water sources.  Always on the move, sleeping in temporary shelters, days..weeks…months….eventually 40 years. Including the hundreds of years as slaves in Egypt, this has to be the most horrendous refugee situation in history.

But all the while, God continued to be with them, tolerating their disobedience, bad attitudes, and complaints. They’d lost a lot of ground in Egypt.  He always gave them another chance. . . through miracles He orchestrated. They’d learned so much about Who God Is through that journey.

Now they were on the move again.  God had allowed poisonous snakes to bite His complaining people.  But He also provided a remedy:  Moses’ bronze snake on a pole.  They only had to look at it to live.

Still in the desert, they arrived at a well.  God told Moses, “Gather the people, andI will give them water.” (Num.21:16-18)

And God’s people sang this song,

  “Make your water spring up!

                                                            Sing to the well,

                                                            The well dug by princes

                                                            Dug out by the nobles of the people

                                                            With their scepters and staffs.”

Did those past Princes, using their scepters, know that they were digging a well for God’s refugee People?   Did those Nobles of the past, using their shepherd’s staffs, realize that they were digging a well that would be used by God to bless His people, led by a Shepherd who had been trained to be a Pharoah?  Did they know that God had prepared it long ago to keep them alive?

God knew exactly what was coming in the future.  He knew that His beloved people would pass through that desert place in desperate need of water.  He had provided long before their need passed that way.

We do not know what will come tomorrow in our lives.  Perhaps we would not even what to know.  We do not know how things we do today will affect our tomorrow…or the tomorrow’s of others.  But God knows. . . exactly.  And His Plans of how He will use those human efforts for His Purposes are already reality in His Mind.  Nothing escapes Him.

We can hold tightly to the Truth that He can use anything for our good.  It’s our job to hold tightly to His Hand as He continues to bring into existence the proof of His unfailing Love and Purposes for us.

Unlikely people . . . unlikely circumstances . . . unimagined tragedy may invade our lives.  Yet, whether we truly believe it or not, He’s got this!     And we can join that ancient song of Hope and Truth:   “Spring up, O Well!”