Doing Everything

“The Lord will do everything for me.

O Lord, your mercy endures forever.

Do not let go of what your hands have made.”

[ Psalm 138:8 ]

I need a lot of help.  With practically everything I’m doing these days.   Since my husband transferred to Heaven, I realize many times a day all that he had done for me each day.  Now that it’s all up to  me, I have become excruciatingly clear on all that he had taken care of for me.

How do I tap into this statement from David?   What does that look like….for the Lord to do everything for me?   What I am most in touch with are those practical, tangible, everyday needs of life….tasks….provisions….presence.   Everything?

There is no part of my life that He does not know.  Nothing is hidden.  Nothing is “too much”  for His awareness, mercy and care.

Is it a ticket to get everythingI want, or think I should have or deserve?  I don’t see any examples of that in His Word.  But, everything that truly matters in this life . . . in the perspective of Eternity, is within the parameters of “everything for me.”   As is true with children, they need a lot of help.  Yet, a loving parent senses when their “help” is doing their child no favors. The child will need to have the skills and experience to walk through life using the training they have been given from experiencing life on this planet.

Knowing that His Hands have made me, and that they will continue to hold me no matter what may come, is an amazing Mercy.  I am not immune to this fallen world’s affects.  But knowing that He is near…holding me…is the greatest Mercy I can imagine.  The natural cycle of life. . . learning to crawl, walk, and run will continue to repeat again and again.  But His Hands continue to be my cradle.

It has something to do with His Mercy.  A “forever” kind of Mercy….a Mercy that will last and go on without end.  Mercy is active in sparing us from experiences that would be beyond what we could bear.  Mercy is in the midst of experiences which make us feel that it’s just too much.  Yet, we survive and walk….stumble….crawl through them.  And the next time the unbearable happens, we look back on the last time, having survived it and come through it a bit stronger than before. That process goes on and on, gently creating in me a sense of His trustworthiness…His strength that never weakens….His Mercy that surrounds me in this world of sorrows, tragedies, and loss.

A cry from my heart calls out once again.  I grasp for His Hand… again.  I cling tightly to His Hand….the Hands that made me, formed my life, guided my steps, and strengthened me to move on. . .  one step at a time.


“But first,

be concerned about His Kingdom

and what has His approval.

Then all these things will be provided for you.”


It’s difficult for us, as people living in the Western Hemisphere, to begin to wrap our minds around what it means to live in a Kingdom.   Our nation’s very roots came out of a determination to live freely, independently of a kingdom that had always dictated the rule of life.  They established a new way of life, one which was “self-governing,” rather than under the rule of a king.  Independenceis an underlying rule of life for Americans.  And, of course, it also affects our understanding of all that a King is in all of his power, authority, rule, and majesty.

When we step into the Kingdom of God, we have the challenge of learning what it means to live in the Kingdom over which God is the King.  He isn’t the President of a democracy.  He is The King.

My first real exposure to a kingdom on this earth, and of an actual king, came through my experience in the desert refugee camps.  Through the decisions of a King and Kingdom, their country was militarily invaded, and their lives and future as a nation were forever changed.  The Saharawi people left their homes, neighborhoods, belongings, jobs, and all that encompassed their daily lives as they literally ran into the barren, harsh desert across their nation’s border. Everything changed.  All that had been, was no more.  A Kingdom had come, in all of its power and rule.

We have the King of all Kings invitingus into His Kingdom.  He does not come with force, even though His Power is far beyond all powers on this earth.  His Kingdom is perfect.  His rule is based on perfect Love, and is Just and True.  This King does not invade our lives by force.  He invites us into His Kingdom, having personally paid the cost for each of us to enter.  We are not required to earn our entrance into His Kingdom…it is offered freely.

What desert have you stepped into, where people wait to hear the Good News of a Perfect Kingdom, whose Perfect King invites them to enter and live?





Sobering Reminder for His People

“However, if My people, who are called by My Name,

 will humble themselves,


search for Me,

and turn from their evil ways,

then I will hear their prayer from heaven,

forgive their sins,

and heal their country.”

2 Chron. 7:14

God’s people were at a spiritual “high” . . . Their leadership (Solomon and King David) had completed the Temple dedicated to God.  God was more than pleased, and His Glory had filled the temple that had been prepared for Him.   Everything seemed to be going well for God’s people.

But in the midst of this spiritual “high,” God gave a strong caution. Spiritual “high’s” can get out of hand if His people begin to get wrapped up in spiritual experiences rather than in God Himself.  He knows our weaknesses, our temptations, and our tendencies to run ahead of His Plans. Notice His short list of “to do’s”:

  • Humble themselves….look realistically at our weaknesses and failures. Be honest about what is true of our own hearts.  When things are going well, it’s easy for pride to take root, grow, and overshadow the very actions that He was blessing.
  • Pray……Intentionally talk to Him, about everything; and listen to what He responds to our hearts.
  • Search for Me…..keep our eyes, ears, hearts open to what He is doing, where He is working (or not)…and intentionally join Him as we see or sense His Spirit active, whether it fits our thoughts and plans or not;
  • Turn from our evil ways….deliberately stop those actions and ways that are out of line with God’s living activities in our minds and hearts.

The powerful impact of His People living, breathing and moving together towards Him and His Purposes in this world, will be life-changing. . . . and world changing. Interesting note:   He is addressing His people, whether leaders are doing it or not….

If ever our world – our nation – has needed to know God is hearing us, forgiving us, and healing our country, it is now.  It’s on us – His people – to pursue humility, prayer, pursuit of Him, and obedience to Him.   Even if our leaders don’t, we can.  We must.

And we have His Word that He will respond by hearing us,  forgiving us,  and healing us, with a desperately needed impact on the hopeless world around us.

Shining in the Dark

“God wanted his people throughout the world to know the glorious riches of this mystery—

which is Christ living in you, giving you the hope of glory.

We spread the message about Christ

as we instruct and teach everyone with all the wisdom there is.

We want to present everyone as mature Christian people.” 


Did you ever encounter a person who had been watching you, detecting there was something “spiritual” about you, but not knowing exactly what that was?   When we have Christ living inside of us, those who watch can notice “something different” about our lives.   God’s heart is for everyone to know Him, but there is a huge chunk of this globe that has never seen or met someone who has Christ living in them.  For them, their encounter with a Follower is notable, and raises great curiosity. Sadly, most have probably never even met anyone who could answer their questions about Who Christ is.

A most memorable part of my story in the desert involved exactly such a situation. Two strangers (men) approached me, saying they had been watching me over time, and knew there was “something spiritual” about me, but did not know what it was.  “Are you Catholic? Are you Orthodox?”  (This was the extent of their exposure to Christianity.)

After responding “no”, they said, “Then what are you?”

Not knowing whether this was a “trap” or a sincere question, I hesitantly replied, “I am a person of The Book.   I follow Jesus.”   Their faces lit up, and one excitedly said, “We have been searching for someone who could answer our big question!   Now we can ask!”

Hesitantly, not knowing what kind of question was to come, I said, “What is your big question?”  Their reply rocked me.   “Who is Christ?”

Do you realize the Treasure you carry within your heart?  Your life?  Although we see all our flaws and failures, His Spirit in us is Light, and in a dark world, it is notable.  So many are looking for the Light….even if they are not aware of that longing.   The Spirit of Jesus, living in us, is Light in this dark world . . . God’s way of inviting them into His Light.  He uses usYOU!

These two men were top religious leaders of my desert people.  The story continues with them . . . but that is for another time.

The Light that lives within us is not only for our benefit. . . it is a significant way for God to expose and draw those living in darkness to come to know Him and to experience His Hope.

May your Light shine in your world.

Desert Shepard

“He found his people in a desertland,

 in a barren place where animals howl.

He guarded them,

took care of them,

and protected them

because they were helpless.”

Deut. 32:10

God had not intended to have His people living in a barren desert.   His plan had begun in a perfect paradise garden.  But over the ages, their story had spiraled down to a point where they were literally, and spiritually, in a barren desert.   They had become the “prey.”

And God found them there.  The desert had not been His intention, yet He had pursued them to the very place that would destroy them if left to themselves.   He stepped in as Guardian of their lives, providing for their needs in order to survive in this desolate destination of their own choices.  And He stepped in to protect them from all the things that threatened their existence.  They had gone too far to help themselves.  They were not able to protect themselves, or to do anything to escape their advancing demise.  They had gotten themselves into this deadly situation.

Yet, the Shepherd of all shepherds stepped into their hopeless reality:

  • He guardedthem . . . literally placing Himself between them and the danger that threatened their lives;
  • He took care of them . . . providing for their needs. . . food, water, healing, all the practical, day-in-day-out needs that require time, patience, knowledge of health and all that can lead to sickness and death.
  • He protected This requires constant attention to all that could come to threaten, harm, or destroy His people.  He watchfully was poised to intercept any danger that came near to the helplesscreatures He loved.  Sheep are the most helpless animals to care for, as they have NO means of natural defense…except to run until they literally knock themselves out in their frantic attempts to escape their threat.

In the desert refugee camps, I was privileged to know a man – a governor – who lived out a similar reality, as a Good Shepherd:

He led the largest camp with quiet strength, wisdom and vision.  The previously struggling camp was transforming into a vibrant, productive community.  He worked tirelessly toward his goal:  If they can learn to thrive in hardship, they will flourish when they are back in their homeland of Western Sahara.

Often weary and overwhelmed, he would journey alone to  the sand dunes and peer up into the star-studded heavens.  There in the vast quietness, he would pour out his heart to The Creator.  Perspective returned.  Clarity. Purpose.  Comfort.  And he would return to his camp of thousands, ready to face another day.



“But I know that my Defender lives,

and afterwards,

He will rise on the earth.”  

Job 19:25

There are times in life when accusations seem to swirl around us, absorbing our thoughts and emotions. Our hearts cry out, longing to defend ourselves . . . set the record straight.  We can become fully absorbed in rehearsing past situations, thinking about responses we’d like to give, and projecting how we long to see situations change.  The “could be’s”  and “if only’s” begin a spiral effect that can consume us.  The “Accuser” seems to gain strength in the downward spiral which grasps us in his evil clutches.

It’s nothing new. The activities of the Accuser go all the way back to the very first humans.  We are not exempt from his activities.

Job knew the horrible effects of being accused and having no recourse of defense.  He was nearly destroyed.  He had lost everything, by no fault of his own.  And his accusers no doubt felt that their case against him was right.

Yet, in Job’s personal torment, he focused his eyes and mind on the God he knew and followed.

Even though devastating words and actions fought to bring Job to utter hopelessness, He clung to the One he had come to know and follow.  He had already come to know Him as his Defender, and was confident that, in the end, The Defender would “rise on the earth.”

Jesus Himself experienced the Accuser’s powerful words.  Alone in the desert, He faced accusations from Satan himself….the one who devised accusations and the strategic ways to use them to the most devastating effects.  Jesus is our Defender. . . the One who faced and overcame the most powerful Accuser himself.   The desert setting offers no comfort, no distraction, no escape.  Life is stripped down to the bare necessities . . . ‘What do I need to survive this day?  …and tomorrow I will face survival again.”  Jesus, coming into direct, repeated confrontation with the Accuser himself, experienced our human need for a Defender.  And it was after that point in His earthly life, that He began to “rise” on the earth.

Our Defender LIVES….and may our lives reflect  Him in such a way that those around us can see Him rising in our own hearts and lives on this earth.  May we live on the side of “defenders” rather than accusers.  In our personal “desert world”, may we reflect Hope, Truth, and Mercy in a world that stands accused and hopeless.



Living Water

“He said loudly,

“Whoever is thirsty must come to me to drink.

As Scripture says,

‘Streams of living water will flow

from deep within the person who believes in me.’ “     

John 7:37-38

It was the last day of a huge festival in Israel, in the Fall of the year, when families moved into “tents” to remember the forty years in the desert after fleeing Egypt.  Living in a desert was nearly impossible.  It was a powerful piece of their story… so significant that to this day, the week-long festival continues to be celebrated in Israel.

In the desert, finding “living water” is extremely rare.  Living water must come from a spring under the ground.  It comes up from below the desert floor.  Living water is fresh, clean water.  It gives life.

The bedouin (shepherd) heritage of my desert family knows well the preciousness and necessity of living water.  Shepherds are the ones who know where the springs are, knowledge passed down from generations of shepherds moving their flocks and herds through the desert.  It is a matter of life or death for the shepherd to know where the living water springs are, hidden under burning sand which bakes in the blazing sun every day.  The lives of their flocks  depend on drinking that water.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, had been in Jerusalem for the week-long celebration of remembering God’s salvation of His people through 40 years of refugee desert survival.  He had spent those days surrounded by “sheep” who did not have a Shepherd.  They were in the process of dying of thirst;  not a physical death, but a spiritual death. Like sheep that have no shepherd, death will result.  They will find no fresh, living water on their own.

On the seventh day of the festival, surrounded by throngs of “sheep without a Shepherd”….Jesus could remain quiet no longer.  Love, compassion, crystal- clear knowledge of the life-threatening thirst from which the multitude of “sheep” were suffering seemed to have burst from His Heart.  They were dying from thirst.  He was the Source of the living water for which they were desperately searching.  The Stream would not be hidden under the sands….the Living Water could miraculously spring from within their own hearts and  spirits.  They would neverhave to be thirsty again. As a good shepherd sacrifices his own life for the sheep, Jesus was nearing the time when, in that very city, He would give His life for them.

It was time. He could bear seeing their dying thirst no longer. “COME to ME! LIVE!”

Eye of the Storm

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble,

You preserve my life.”

Psalm 138:7

Sometimes in life, it seems that trouble is apparent on all fronts.  Whether self-created, others-created, or “just happens”….those are times when we can feel the most alone.  And sometimes that sense of being alone is the most intense and painful in the midst of those times of trouble.  It feels like you have somehow stepped into “the eye of the storm,” and it is overwhelming and scary.

In the early years of my “desert life,” I was in the market area when I noticed a sudden scrambling of women gathering their children and rushing toward their tents. The shopkeeper directed my attention to the horizon, where a massive, dark “mountain range” had appeared out of nowhere.  But the “mountains” were moving, rapidly, towards us.  I had never seen anything like it – a massive sandstorm was coming. Immediately, I rushed out the door to head back to the building in which I was staying.  Windows were shuttered, curtains drawn, water bottles readied, team members gathered, and prayers for protection began frantically being voiced.

I could not imagine the tents and shanties withstanding the power that would soon be upon us.  Darkness covered everything as the powerful “mountain-range” rolled over us, dropping sand, stones, debris and even scorpions it had picked up as it had rolled across the desert.

In the midst of that dim, dusty air, there appeared at the door, a woman.  She was carrying a gift which she quietly presented.  Saying nothing, she turned and disappeared into the storm.

Our room was silent. Who? Why? How?  We had no answers.  But her presence in that moment quieted our fears.  She had come in the midst of the storm.  A sense of calm and reassurance filled the dim, dusty room.

God brings His Comfort in most unexpected ways.  Our visitor’s courage to come to us “in the midst of the storm” helped our own faith to grow.  Her example reassured us that this was not an impossible situation.

We sensed that God had sent her, reassuring us  that He was indeed with us, “in the eye of the storm.”


A Final Journey

 “When Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem,

 he took the twelve apostles aside

 and said to them privately,

“We’re going to Jerusalem.

There the Son of Man will be betrayed

to the chief priests and the experts in Moses’ Teachings.

They will condemn him to death and hand him over to foreigners.

They will make fun of him, whip him, and crucify him.

But on the third day

he will be brought back to life.”  

Matthew 20:17-19

It is nearly impossible for me to imagine this scene.  Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem for the last time.  He had known for eternity that this earthly moment would come.  Now it was here.  And the weight of the world rested on His shoulders.

It boggles my mind to imagine how Jesus, in His Divine Perfection…having never experienced sin, was about to experience it for the whole world.

Yet, in the midst of purposefully moving toward Death itself, He pulled His dearest followers aside to clearly spell out what was ahead.  Like a mother who  is about to go through surgery in order to be well.  She pulls her child near and tries her best to prepare him, telling him the primary things she will have to experience, trying to lessen the fears. But the most important point is that, after the surgery, she will be well.  All the pain that had led up to this point would be finished. Life will change.

He spoke as if He was talking about someone else.  It was a description of what His chosen humanness would experience. . . the humanness He had chosen for the Love of the whole world, including us…now.

Each step…each moment on that final journey walking toward Jerusalem was His choice to give His life, not for His benefit, but for theirs.  The love behind each word He spoke to them was moving toward the ultimate act of love that would forever change them, and the future of the whole world.  He was specific.  The description was solid, without any pull for sympathy.  With no regrets.  With an intentionality that would change all of eternity.

Did they hear Him?  Reading of those last days of Jesus’  human experience, it seems they didn’t.  And He would have known that.  But He told them anyway. . . out of love.



Fisherman to Fisher of Men

“Because of this, make every effort to

add integrity to your faith;

and to integrity add knowledge;

to knowledge add self-control;

to self-control add endurance;

to endurance add godliness;

to godliness add Christian affection;

and to Christian affection add love.

If you have these qualities and they are increasing, it demonstrates that your knowledge about our Lord Jesus Christ is living and productive.”

2 Peter 1:5-8

Dear, honest Peter!   This earthy, hard-working fisherman was quite the character….before and during his time with Jesus.  Fishermen are pretty tough.  They understand fish.  They understand the feel in the air…the effect of the wind….and the sense of “they’re bitin’….let’s get out there!”   And they like old, ratty clothes and often smell bad.

When Jesus disrupted Peter’s life, he had a lot of struggles trying to contain his “fisherman ways” as he was learning to walk with Jesus.  And he learned – changed – SO much.  Here we read an amazing list of what Peter had been learning and experiencing.

I’d like to reverse the order of his words, in a way of looking at why one characteristic needs the other.  I have a feeling these were all coming from his own life experience as He learned to follow and walk with the Good Shepherd Jesus, and to see Jesus’ Divine Nature begin to reflect in his own old fisherman’s nature:

  • Faith needs Integrity: Integrity grounds and solidifies Faith…Integrity keeps Faith honest;
  • Integrity needs Knowledge: Knowledge adds factual substance to upright character;
  • Knowledge needs Self-Control: You can know a lot, but without self-control, it may not be lived out in the day-to-day of life.  Knowledge needs to translate into real life.
  • Self-Control needs Endurance: It’s easier to control one’s self on those “good days”, but it becomes harder in the long-haul;   (“I’ve given up chocolate” days)
  • Endurance needs Godliness: “I can…I can…I can…” can be all about ME, not about God, or the people in my life.
  • Godliness needs Christian Affection: Living “in the spiritual clouds”  or in “righteous ways” can lose touch with the human needs for affection and emotional connections;
  • Christian Affection needs Love: ..emotional connections… can go off in wrong directions rather quickly.  Love is not an emotion….it’s the choices and actions that put the “other” above my own needs and priority.  Love lays down one’s own life for the “other.”

Peter’s list is wonderful.  They’re all good things…greatly needed to be lived out in this world.