Category Archives: Pray

Worship Wednesday – Unstoppable – David Crowder

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one...praying at all times. – Ephesians 6:11-16, 18

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” …His truth shall be your shield and buckler…Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you…for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.”
Psalm 91:1-2, 4b, 9-11, 14-15

From the Creation story to present day, we are confronted by lies. Through the world’s influence, in our own fallen flesh, and from Satan and his emissaries. Maybe we don’t think much about it, because lies just become part of our worldview if we aren’t on guard. Weighing truth against what seems true or what might be true. Just yesterday, my son told me about his 8 y/o’s troubling thought that he didn’t really love God. What I know of the Holy Spirit, that thought did not come from Him. Satan is the father of lies and the accuser of believers. My son was able to comfort our grandson with the truth, both about God and how this precious child’s thoughts can wrongly condemn him. The talk about our enemy, the Devil, will come later.

Much is written about spiritual warfare, and too often, it is as if it’s us, rather me, against Satan. God is our victor. The battle is truly His, and Satan is no match for the Creator. The Scripture is full of encouragements for us to be strong and courageous, to stand against our enemies, and to trust the Lord. The battle does not depend on our winning, it is God’s to win. However, God calls us to plant our feet on the truth of who He is, who we are, and what He intends for our lives (John Mark Comer, Live No Lies).


In recent days, I’ve been digging into John Mark Comer‘s and Henri Nouwen‘s writings. “Beloved” is a small volume calling us to recognize our identity in Christ and to draw near to Him in prayer, away from what we think is the busyness of a significant life. Comer’s book’s Live No Lies is a substantial and serious read on recognizing and resisting the same temptations Jesus endured in the wilderness, at the beginning of His public ministry. Both authors refer to this experience as common to all of us.

Jesus had three temptations in the desert [Matthew 4:1-11]: to be relevant – turning stones into bread; to be popular – jumping from the tower and have angels catch Him; to have power to possess all the land. Jesus refused all that because He didn’t have to prove to anybody that He was loveable. He was already the beloved. That’s precisely what the Spirit revealed to Him after He was baptised in the Jordan. The voice came and said, ‘You are My beloved son, on You My favour rests’. That’s who you are; you are the beloved, so you don’t have to be busy proving it. You don’t have to run around. Immediately, that same Spirit who revealed to Him that He was the beloved sent Him into the desert to be tested….Solitude is listening to the voice who calls you the beloved. It is being alone with the One who says, ‘You are My beloved, I want to be with you’...Solitude is the place where we go in order to hear the truth about ourselves. Henri Nouwen, “Beloved”

Monday Morning Moment – Henri Nouwen on Leadership – Deb Mills

Photo Credit: Heartlight

“The devil’s goal is to first isolate us, then implant in our minds deceitful ideas that play to our disordered desires, which we feel comfortable with because they are normalized by the status quo of our society. Specifically, he lies about who God is, who we are, and what the good life is, with an aim to undermine our trust in God’s love and wisdom. His intent is to get us to seize autonomy from God and redefine good and evil for ourselves, thereby leading to the ruin of our souls and society.” John Mark Comer, Live No Lies: Recognize and Resist the Three Enemies That Sabotage Your Peace

We are probably all familiar with Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness and Satan’s tempting Him. The Evil One has not changed his ways of beguiling since the beginning, when he similarly tempted Eve to distrust God. Ours is to follow and practice the way Jesus dealt with lies and with the accuser. With quiet prayer (in solitude), with seeking the truth (Scripture), with fasting. And in community. Satan attacks most when we are isolated from God and one another.

With the Spirit of God ruling in our hearts and lives, we need never fear. The battle is real, but God is present with us. We stand in His strength. Although our enemies are real and the world seems hostile to us, we have a greater Overcomer.

Singer/songwriter David Crowder tells this story in his rocking anthem Unstoppable. It puts in perspective that our God is invincible, and because we are in Him, we have the confidence and privilege of tasting His victory. Hallelujah!

Worship with me:

Devil’s playing fiddle
Demons coming like a missile
To my left, to my right
But I ain’t be dancing with ’em
I got angels watching over me
Fighting all my enemies
Wear ’em out, knock ’em down
‘Bout to taste that victory

Hey, hey
They can try to slow me
Thinking that they own me
They be thinking crazy
Hey
Welcome to the showdown
They about to find out

When I got You, I am unstoppable
When I got You, nothing’s impossible

No way I lose, I am unbeatable, powerful
Stronger than invincible
I feel bulletproof when I got You
When I got You

See these arrows in my quiver
Winner, winner, chicken dinner
If I’m bitten by the serpent
He’ll be sucking out the venom
I got someone watching over me
Fighting all my enemies
See that smile on my face
‘Bout to taste that victory

Hey, hey
They can try to slow me
Thinking that they own me
They be thinking crazy
Hey
Welcome to the showdown
They about to find out
A-a-amen

When I got You, I am unstoppable
When I got You, nothing’s impossible

No way I lose, I am unbeatable, powerful
Stronger than invincible
I feel bulletproof when I got You
When I got You

When I got You
When I got You

That’s my dad, I’m His son
He’s gonna make that Devil run

That’s my dad, that’s my dad
That’s my dad, I’m His son
Watch him make that Devil run
That’s my dad, that’s my dad

That’s my dad, and I’m His son
He’s gonna make that Devil run
That’s my dad, that’s my dad
That’s my dad, I’m His son
He’s gonna make that Devil run
That’s my dad, yeah, that’s my dad

When I got You, I am unstoppable
When I got You
When I got You, nothing’s impossible
When I got You
No way I lose, I am unbeatable, powerful
No way I lose
Stronger than invincible
I feel bulletproof when I got You
When I got You

When I got You
When I got You

*Lyrics to Unstoppable

Worship Wednesday – When We Pray – Tauren Wells – Deb Mills

Monday Morning Moment – “Be Strong and Courageous” – a Good Word for These Days – Deb Mills

Top 10 Quotes from Live No Lies by John Mark Comer – Joshua Branham

Book Review of “Live No Lies” by John Mark Comer – Fran Hill

Live No Lies Podcast with John Mark Comer

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Worship Wednesday – The Maker – Chris August

Photo Credit: Paul Lee & Roger M. Smith, Heartlight

Do you not know? Have you not heard?…
He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth….
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy….
Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?…. Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. –
Isaiah 40:21-22,26,28

Thus says the LORD, “I made the earth and created man on it: it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host”…This is what the Lord says—He who created the heavens, He is God; He who fashioned and made the earth, He founded it; He did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited—He says: “I am the Lord, and there is no other.”Isaiah 45:12,18

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.Psalm 8:3-5

Wherever your thoughts are taking you right now…open the door, first chance you get, and walk outside. The world is so much larger than we are. Take it in. The sights, the sounds. Breathe in. From the expansive heavens above us to the packed earth under our feet. Teeming with life we can’t even see but must appreciate. This world…was made for us…and we were made for God and each other.

A dear friend of mine is going through cancer treatment. It is the hard, “going for cure” kind of treatment. Every day, my friend faces new struggle, and yet she remembers God, her Maker. Even in her searching, she always lands here…God is good; He loves her and He will make a way for her.

Photo Credit: Karen Walker, Facebook

When we are in the throes of struggle whatever the situation may be, we may question the goodness of God. Even when He told us to expect trouble, we think it will land somewhere else. In John 16:33, Jesus told his disciples, on the night before he died, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Jesus had to take courage Himself that night – wrestling with the will of God. Yet, as He prayed, His peace was restored. He remembered the goodness of His Father. He knew a battle for our souls was in front of Him, and He faced it triumphantly.

This beautiful God – the Maker of this universe and the Lover of our souls – is the focus of singer, songwriter Chris August‘s anthem. If your circumstances have hit hard, and you are struggling with seeing God as Victor in your life, I pray you let the words of this song wash over you. You are so loved…and will be forever. Take heart, Dear One. He is faithful.

Worship with me.


I see You in the sunrise
I see You in the rain
I see You in the laughter
I feel You through the pain.

Everything that You have made is beautiful
Oh, my God, I can’t believe my eyes
But in all of this to think that You
Would think of me
Makes my heart come alive.

Your love is like a mighty fire
Deep inside my bones
I feel like I could climb a thousand mountains
All at once
And I never have to wonder
If somebody cares for me
I love the Maker
And the Maker loves me.

I see You
You are creation
I see the grandness of Your majesty
The universe is singing all Your glory
I can’t believe You live inside of me.

Everything that You have made is beautiful
Oh, my God, I can’t believe my eyes
But in all of this to think that You would think of me
Makes my heart come alive.

Your love is like a mighty fire
Deep inside my bones
I feel like I could climb a thousand mountains
All at once
And I never have to wonder
If somebody cares for me
I love the Maker
And the Maker loves me.

More than just some words upon a page
You’ve shown me in a million ways
But there is one that stands above them all
Hands of creation on a cross.

Your love is like a mighty fire
Deep inside my bones
I feel like I could climb a thousand mountains
All at once
And I never have to wonder
If somebody cares for me
I love the Maker
And the Maker loves me.*

“Even in your old age I AM he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and I will save.”Isaiah 46:4

Photo Credit: Bible App, Facebook

*Lyrics to “The Maker” – Songwriters: Chris August, Ed Cash

Private: The Maker-Creator

Story Behind the Song “The Maker”

Chris August’s testimony on how he wrote “The Maker” – Soundcloud

More Than a Song Podcast – “The Maker” by Chris August

Monday Morning Moment – The 6 Sacrifices of Leadership – in Memory of Clyde Meador

Photo Credit: GOBNM

10 years writing this blog. I started 10 years ago this very month. The reason, in particular, was because I felt my memory clouding some, and there were memories and counsel I wanted to make sure were left for my children. As writing does, the blog cut its course through many topics – God, life, marriage, parenting, beauty, friendship, work, meaning, purpose, and reflections of all sorts. Now 10 years out, my memory is still hanging in there, and for that I’m thankful. Also for the having of words to share with those I love.

Our friend Clyde Meador started a blog himself 3 years ago this month. He may have had similar hopes – to leave something for his children and for the sake of a greater work.

Leadership was a topic that I studied for years (posting in my Monday Morning Moment). I learned so much from great leaders in my life, as well as some leaders who could have used some mentoring by our friend Clyde. That may not have been kind, but good leaders matter – in our lives and in the futures of organizations.

Photo Credit: Facebook, Stephen White, 2017 [Clyde and his beloved wife, Elaine]

In the first year of Clyde’s blog, he wrote a series of posts entitled 6 Sacrifices of Leadership. The topics were:

  • Loss of Constant Firsthand Involvement
  • Too Much Negative Knowledge
  • Constant Criticism
  • Leaving
  • Sacrifice, Isolation, Ostracism
  • Impact on Family Ties Due to Travel and Workload

Take the time to study those posts to learn from Clyde. In a recent tribute to him, a friend and colleague, Charles Clark wrote a brief summary of Clyde’s six sacrifices, their dangers and rewards. You find them in the image below:

Photo Credit: Clyde Meador from Charles Clark’s Facebook page, May 2024

In April 2024, Clyde Meador, this wise, humble, and insightful leader friend of ours, died, at 70 years of age. Complications of a long battle with cancer. He leaves a big hole, for his family, but also for the many people who have known him and loved him through the years. However, he would say something along the lines of God doesn’t leave holes.

We all have stories with Clyde in them – his lessons on life and leading. His legacy is that he never wavered in his faith walk, his love for his family, or his determination to do excellence in the work God had given him. He and Elaine have been a picture of constancy in our lives. Leading and loving.

In July of 2023, life and cancer treatment got in the way of Clyde continuing his blog. What turned out to be his last blog is so appropriate and beautiful. “To Those Who Come After Us”. Here are the last paragraphs.

“I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.”  (Psalm 89:1, ESV)  “We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and His might, and the wonders that He has done.”  (Psalm 78:4, ESV)  This commitment of faithful followers of the Lord must be our commitment, also.

“So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”  (Psalm 71:18, ESV)  I am grateful that I have reached old age and gray hair, and pray that I will faithfully do all I can to communicate the truth of the Gospel to those who come after me.

Of all those things which we teach our children and those who come after them, nothing is more important, more urgent than the truth of the Gospel.  I have a less-than-perfect record of success in this endeavor, yet I seek to faithfully persist in sharing the Truth.  I challenge each of us to a major focus on sharing all we know about our Lord and Savior with the next generations! – Clyde Meador, To Those Who Come After Us

[Dave & Clyde, a few weeks before Clyde went to be with the Lord. So grateful. What a humble and wise mentor he was to so many.]

Worship Wednesday – Safe – Victory Worship [Ft. Isa Fabregas]

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Soon a violent windstorm came up, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was being swamped. But Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke Him and said, “Teacher, don’t You care that we are perishing?” Then Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and the sea. “Silence!” He commanded. “Be still!” And the wind died down, and it was perfectly calm.Mark 4:37-39

We are all ships in a storm, with Jesus onboard. He is our safe harbor. Not a place but a person. Safe in Him.

I follow this young man Ian Simkins. He does these succinct devotionals that are incredibly powerful. The one below inspired me to write on this topic today.

“Apart from the Holy Spirit, the Christian life isn’t difficult. It’s impossible…

We are sailboats. God is the wind. Even tattered sails do pretty well in a windstorm.

Take heart. Raise your sail.

How do we raise our sail?

Prayer. Scripture. Community. Silence. Stillness. Rest. Service. Sacrifice. Surrender.

Keep raising your sail, Friend.

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” – John 3:8

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” – John A. Shedd

“One cannot discover new lands unless they have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andrew Gide

A pastor at The Bridge Church in Nashville, Tennessee, Ian tells the story of an Indian couple whose home he visited while on a summer in India. They were poor, but in wisdom, very rich. The wife said to him, “We pray for you Christians in America. We can’t imagine trying to be with someone like Jesus in a place as distracting as America.”

A Kenyan pastor, after a violent attack, on a university campus a few years ago, left 150 people dead, responded:

“This attack has strengthened our conviction and resolve that the safest and securest place to be is at the center of God’s will. As it has been said, “Peace is not the absence of trouble but the assurance that God is with us no matter what.”

Where Can We Be Safe? – Heidi Carlson

We have this temptation to strive for safety. For ourselves and our families. What does it even look like to be “safe”? To build a perimeter between us and anything that might present a threat. What are we teaching our children and grandchildren? That we have to protect ourselves? From what?

With Christ within, no matter what happens, no matter the hardship or worry, we have a profound safe harbor in Him.

Just yesterday, I discovered that Tyler Staton, a young brother and spiritual father of mine, is in treatment for recurrent cancer. He is lead pastor for Bridgetown Church in Portland, Oregon and the author of the transformative book Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools.

In a video recently, Tyler gave a health update on how he is with treatment and in his walk with God through this cancer recurrence. He commented on how God is a master story-teller and is writing our stories. He calls us to “say yes to the story He’s writing” and step into/walk in that story. Tyler reported on how he was praying both Psalm 23 and Psalm 21. Psalm 23 reminds Tyler of “green pasture” and “still water” days and also days “in the shadow of death” – they are all part of our lives. Tyler expressed his desire “for God’s presence more than His power”. He also is praying Psalm 21 (“maybe hedging (his) bets with God”) which is a cry for God to lengthen his days – to grow old with his wife Kirsten and to see his children’s children.

From the time I first read Tyler’s book and returned to it many times since, I’m not at all surprised at how he has faced this cancer.

Does Tyler feel safe? I’m not even sure that is even the point for him. He wants to receive whatever God has for him, and if cancer is a part of that, then he receives it. Will he battle it? Absolutely. However you do not hear him recoil from God or question the His goodness in this. It is just part of the story of Tyler’s life.

Rather than safety as we might count it and go after it in this crazy world…let’s reconsider and deepen our understanding of how safe we are in Christ Jesus’ keeping.

Worship with me with Victory Worship‘s anthem “Safe”.

[Verse 1]
Under Your grace, Your mercy amazes me
Under Your wings, Your shadow covers me
Your promise of love, where my heart is safely undone

[Verse 2]
Speak to me, Lord, Your servant is listening
Over the noise, I hear You whispering
My hope has come and my heart is safely undone

[Chorus]
I found my fortress, in You
And my soul is anchored, with You
My resting place, is in Your name
Forever safe

[Verse 2]
Speak to me, Lord, Your servant is listening
Over the noise, I hear You whispering
My hope has come and my heart is safely undone, oh-oh

[Chorus]
I found my fortress, in You
And my soul is anchored, with You
My resting place, is in Your name
I found my fortress, in You
And my soul is anchored, with You
My resting place, is in Your name

[Post-Chorus]
Forever safe, forever safe
Forever safe, forever safe

[Bridge]
You are never far away
Always reaching out to save
My weakness covered by Your strength
And I am found forever safe
You are never far away
Always reaching out to save
My weakness covered by Your strength
And I am found forever safe

[Chorus]
I found my fortress, in You
And my soul is anchored, with You
My resting place, is in Your name
Forever safe
I found my fortress, in You
And my soul is anchored, with You
My resting place, is in Your name
I found my fortress, in You
And my soul is anchored, with You
My resting place, is in Your name
Forever safe*

*Lyrics to “Safe” – Songwriters: Lee Simon Brown, Moira Dela Torre, Juan Winans & Justin Gray

On Feeling Secure in God – John Piper

How Should Christians View Safety? – Brooks Buser

[The video below is a scene from The Chosen. It is based on the account of Jesus walking on rough waters and Peter coming out of the boat to Him. As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he was safe. This passage, like the one in Mark above, speaks to our safety in the midst of a storm as long as He holds us. Lots more to this story…but the scene beautifully demonstrates it.]

Photo Credit: Julian of Norwich, Cedarfield Pinnacle Living Readings and Reflections for Lent 2019

Monday Morning Moment – On the Journey of Not Giving Up

Photo Credit: Elbert Hubbard, Success.com

[Before jumping into this, let’s take a moment to give space for those who tried for a long, long time…and then felt there was no recourse but to give up. I have given up, too, in some situations, with some relationships…either because I lost hope, or heart, or strength, or opportunity, or time. We all have such stories. Today, let’s pause and consider the large and life-affirming possibility of just NOT giving up.]

Have you said any of these things recently? “I quit!” “I’m tired of trying.” “I give up.” “It’s not fair.” “It’s not worth it.” “Why do I have to do everything?” “It won’t last.” “There’s no use.” “I’m just not good at it.” “What difference does it make?”

Words matter. They can move us toward positive outcomes or negative ones. The negative affirmations above, spoken or just thought, sound true. Some may even be factual. They move us to action. The problem is when we are moved to act in ways that make things worse instead of better.

Negative Affirmations: Why You Should Avoid Them – Sanju Pradeepa

13 Reasons Why You Give Up So Easily (+ How Not To) – Natasha MacFarlane

Whether it is your job, a lifestyle change, or relationship…we choose whether to be proactive or reactive. Whether we give up or keep at it. Bit by bit. Day by day.

All of life is a journey. We move toward one another or away. Our temptation is to self-protect…or protect someone we love thinking it requires pulling away from someone else. We can give up without even realizing it. Just in the disappointment…the distancing. We pull away from possible solutions. They are just too hard. Or are they?

When we get to the point of giving up, it’s not just giving up on that person, but giving up on ourselves in relationship to that person. Maybe even giving up on God to help us repair the rupture, thus opening one between us and Him.

You may think I am philosophizing or making this too simple. Believe me, I totally get how complicated “not giving up” can be. And painful. And even isolating. However, giving up is more isolating…and potentially more painful. We can bury the pain, cover it over, but it’s still there.

Photo Credit: Ullie Kaye Poetry, Facebook

Now, we may not be able to restore the relationship…or heal a family wounded by rupture…but when we quit on them, the door to repair, from our side, closes.

Photo Credit: Danielle Bernock, Possibility Change, Instagram

The day will come, I am hoping and believing, with God’s help, that we will see good come through this hard place. For me, I am NOT giving up.

Stories of feeling the need or desire to quit abound. It may be your story as well. There is no blame here. No shaming whatsoever. It’s what we do with our stories that matters.

Attorney, writer, coach Marelisa Fabrega offers 8 strategies for not quitting. Her commentary is thought-provoking so don’t miss reading the article. I’m listing her strategies and adding my own quick thoughts.

  1. Adopt an “I Won’t Quit” Mindset. Make that decision ahead of the situation. When Dave and I began talking about marriage together, we both stated pretty emphatically that, for us, divorce would be off the table. I grew up in a blended family and divorce impacted all my brothers’ adult lives. With Dave, it was extended family who experienced the pain of divorce, and his family felt that pain. Marriage has had its hard seasons for Dave and me, but we fought through together. [Not everyone gets that opportunity as the other spouse can ditch the marriage without your input. I get how painful that is.] Whether in marriage, friendships, work, or physical/mental health, an “I won’t quit” mindset gives you fortification in hard situations.
  2. Watch Someone Else Persevere. It is a beautiful and poignant thing to watch when loved ones refuse to quit. I’m not saying to be a doormat or to continue to take terrible abuse. What I’m talking about is when people keep pressing forward in tough work or relationships when everything in their being and all those around are screaming, “Quit!” Two women come to mind here. One friend went though a struggle early in her marriage when her husband had an affair. All our friends (but me) advised her to divorce him and make him suffer for what he did to her. I asked her, “Do you still love him? Because if you do, and you could imagine being willing to take him back…wait.” She did love him and she decided to wait. He came back, wholeheartedly repentant. They went on to have a beautiful marriage, children, and now grandchildren. Another friend is in the furnace of a difficult relationship right now. I am watching her persevere. She has strong faith in God and a few deep friendships who are cheering her on. I believe she/they will make it.
  3. Call Someone. This is huge! I’m thinking have more than one person you can trust to be with you (and for you) in this arena when quitting feels like all you want to do. If you’ve already decided up-front that you want to not give up, these friends and family can stand with you when the battle has exhausted you. They are for you. Hopefully they are also for your spouse and family member. It’s better to have folks who are fighting for you AND for your relationship. Not out of some scruple or moralistic platform, but because it’s your life and your battle. It’s what you want. [That may change at some point down the road, and if it does, these same people who love you will still be there.]
  4. Go Back to Your “Why”. It’s extremely important to have a why for not giving up. A list of why’s, even better. I have loved ones very close to me who, if treated badly or served poorly, will determine not to trust an individual or business anymore. They just won’t go back. This is a much smaller situation than a deteriorating relationship. However, I’ve never understood the why and, after reading Fabrega’s piece, I plan to ask. These same people do not quit on family relationships, for which I’m grateful. So…we need to go back to our “why’s” of staying in relationship, or in a job for that matter.
  5. Find a Different “How”. If a difficult boss is blocking the way for you to succeed at a job you once loved, figure out a respectful work-around. If the approach you have always used for managing conflict in your marriage isn’t working, think of a different way. If you continue to struggle with managing a healthy lifestyle or avoiding cycles of anxiety/depression, seek help (counseling, coaching/mentoring, medical advice, support groups). Find another way forward. Outlast the person or problem.
  6. Succeed at Something Else. If you have been immersed in a painful situation, determining not to quit, you may just need a respite. A brief reprieve. A focus elsewhere for a few hours or days will be refreshing. Not seeing success in an area important to us colors how we feel about our self globally. Even when success isn’t visible to us, it may be coming, so we don’t give up. For that second wind, we might be refreshed by setting our sights on areas where we are seeing success (work, health, hobbies). Preferably, we do both – staying in the battle and interspersing life-giving activities.
  7. Use Failure as a Stepping Stone. No retaliation. No victim mentality. You have already made the decision of what kind of character you want in life. Keep growing. Don’t let failure define you. It actually may not even be your failure at all. So, as much as you can yourself, live the life and be the person you want to be. It is a journey after all.
  8. Keep Chipping Away. Like Fabrega has already said so well…keep going. Keep doing what you know is right. This is part of your story. Whatever happened in the relationship or work situation, you are making a future for yourself, and maybe for your children or family. Again, who you are is much more than what you’ve come through. – How to Not Give Up – 8 Strategies For Not Quitting – Marelisa Fabrega
Photo Credit: Danielle Bernock, Instagram

I’d like to add a 9th strategy:

9. Look for Beauty. It is there. Just outside. Or just there within reach. Just in all the reasons you are you.

I’ve read all of psychiatrist Curt Thompson‘s books and he has inspired me to look for the beauty in front of us even in situations where we feel like giving up. He inspired Bill Haley to write an essay on beauty. Here is an excerpt:

“Etty Hillesum, a young Jewish woman from Holland, wrote one of the most truly amazing things I’ve ever read.  The context of her words makes all the difference.  She wrote them while imprisoned at Westerbork transit camp waiting to be taken to Auschwitz, where she died in 1943 at age 29.  Her diaries and letters were compiled into An Interrupted Life.

A very hard day.  But I keep finding myself in prayer.  And that is something I shall always be able to do, even in the smallest space: pray.  And I know for certain that there will be a continuity between the life I have led and the life about to begin…

I often walk with a spring in my step along the barbed wire and then time and again it soars straight from my heart — I can’t help it, that’s just the way it is, like some elementary force — the feeling that life is glorious and magnificent, and that one day we shall be building a whole new world.  Against every new outrage and every fresh horror we shall put up one more piece of love and goodness, drawing strength from within ourselves.  We may suffer, but we must not succumb…

Once you have begun to walk with God, you need only keep walking with Him and all of life becomes one long stroll.” – Bill Haley, “Why Beauty Matters Right Now”

What kind of people do we choose to be? With all my heart, I want to be one who is not giving up. My family (immediate and extended) knows I am for them. Also, hopefully other folks as well – friends and neighbors. I’m not going anywhere. This is not just a commitment. This is an issue of character that goes way beyond any circle I’m a part of. It’s the kind of person I want to be. It’s not a small thing. I get it. Probably a God-sized endeavor. God is for all of us. He does not give up. He is not going anywhere. He is in the room…and He is staying.

You may say…well, you haven’t reached your breaking point, and you are right, of course. We can’t know what it will take for us to get to the place that we want to quit. Sometimes, we have no other option but to let go, because the other person is, or appears to be, already gone. My hope and resolve is to hold out as long as possible. Who knows what difference that could make? I’m holding onto that.

Photo Credit: Dale Carnegie, Success.com

117 Never Give Up Quotes (+ My 5 Favorite Tips to Help You Keep Going) – Henrik Edberg

Photo Credit: QuoteFancy, Chester Nimitz

Worship Wednesday – Centering Prayer – The Potter’s Gate

“I want to be where my feet are.”

This curious little lyric comes from the album Sanctuary Songs. The song is Centering Prayer featuring Andrew Peterson & Leslie Jordan, a collaboration of The Potter’s Gate.

Centering Prayer calls us away from all our distractions, our plans, our worries, our over-thinking, our busyness…and calls us into a time of rest and focus on God whose presence we are never without.

Last week, I was checking out of our local free clinic with my Afghan grandmother friend. It’s always a stretching experience with trying to understand (even with an interpreter) what her health complaints are. Finally, we were finished with the doctor. As I stepped up to the counter to receive the forms for her bloodwork, specialist referral, and next appointment, I saw the sign (in the image above).

God is always with us. Period. Full-stop. That verse is one that brings to rest everything whirring around in our minds, remembering that God’s got this. Being present with a ever-present God transforms everything.

Another passage that reminds us to be still and stop fighting battles He means to fight Himself…for us…is Psalm 46. Below is the entire psalm. It is so worthy your stopping and reading along (or hear it read for you).

46 God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear
,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.
Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.

10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

“Be still and know that I AM God.”Psalm 46

Psalm 46 is a glorious and victorious psalm to encourage and embolden a people beleaguered by hardship (we don’t have details but given the context it was war, or some sort of calamity or terror). The psalmist was reminding the people that God is with them (with us) and will pierce through the noise of battle, with His powerful and persevering presence. He is here today just as much as He was with His people in the psalmist’s day.

Our part, like theirs, is to turn our ears, and our hearts, our bodies to Him.

Psalm 46 begins, not with a lament or cry for help, but an anthem of praise. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear”. Then he goes on to talk about super fearful things…yet from a place of awe and certainty. Even as the psalmist speaks with great confidence about God’s presence and provision in times of catastrophe, the Lord Himself enters the psalm with the command “Be still!”

Not just “Be quiet” but “Be still”. Stop!

Stop. Come away (from the battle). Quieten yourself. Cease striving.

God calls both His people and our enemies to essentially “put down your weapons!”

Especially to His own people, He urges them (and us today) to ‘snap out of it,’ ‘wake up,’ ‘stop fearing’—acknowledge who God is—be in awe! For us to take His “Be still” and treat it as “be quiet” is not incorrect, it’s just not enough to describe what God is truly saying.

God is about His business in fighting for us and those we love. Fighting also those who would see to do us harm. We don’t know how it will go in the moments ahead of us (whether this battle will “seem” lost or won to us) but we do know His promises that hold us fast, even in battle, for now and forever.

It’s for us to “be where our feet are”. To quieten our hearts and slow our steps. To put down the phone. To find His beauty to focus our eyes on. To “breathe the life around me” and “listen as my heart beats. Right. On. Time.”

What Does “Be Still and Know That I Am God” Really Mean? – Liz Auld

Psalm 46 – Enduring Word Bible Commentary

Centering prayer prompts us to lay down our burden and determine to stop worrying. Not just as a mindfulness exercise but with the God who loves us in full view. To see the anxiety for what it is – a tool used against us to take our peace away. To recognize that the depression we experience can be lightened if we open ourselves to Him and to His people praying with and for us. To remember that all the things that distract us dull our senses to the most real relationship we have in this life and the next.

Breaking the Stigma of Mental Illness – One Song at a Time – Kathy Powell

“Centering Prayer,” written by Brian Eichelberger, Nicholas Chambers and Kate Bluett — and featuring Andrew Peterson and Leslie Jordan — invites the listener to a sense of groundedness with its calm melody. The lyrics give language to a clinically recommended practice of grounding that invites practitioners to reconnect with themselves in the present. The song, with lyrics asking for God’s help to “be where my feet are,” is itself a tool for calming anxieties and opening a more accessible prayer experience.Kathy Powell

Photo Credit: Corrie Ten Boom Quotes – Facebook

Worship with me…by just listening to this song, preparing to pray, or singing it with lyrics below:

I wanna be where my feet are

I wanna breathe the life around me

I wanna listen as my heart beats, right on time

I wanna be where my feet are

I chase my worries

I flee my sorrows

But what You give me

Is now

So take my burdens

And my tomorrows

I wanna be where my feet are, mmm, mmm

Mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm

I wanna be where my feet are

I wanna breathe the life around me

I wanna listen as my heart beats, right on time

I wanna be where my feet are

I run to capture

The next horizon

But what You give me

Is here

I get no farther

And still I find You

I wanna be where my feet are

I wanna be where my feet are (on repeat)

The ground below me

Is how you Hold me

I wanna be where my feet are

The ground below me

Is how You hold me

I wanna be where my feet are

The ground below me

Is how You hold me

I wanna be where my feet are (on repeat)*

*Lyrics to Centering Prayer – Songwriters: Brian Eichelberger, Nicholas Chambers and Kate Bluett

The Porter’s Gate Hopes to Bridge Gap Between Mental Health and Faith With New Album – Kathryn Post

A Saturday Too Quiet…Then Clarity: Room For God…Be Still My Soul – Deb Mills

Photo Credit: Corrie Ten Boom Quotes, Facebook

Worship Wednesday – Firm Foundation (He Won’t) – Cody Carnes & Chandler Moore with Maverick City

Photo Credit: Heartlight

The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer. My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.Psalm 18:2

“And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”Deuteronomy 31:8

I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread.Psalm 37:25

Last week, during a trip to see family and friends in my home state of Georgia, I was reminded often of what a firm foundation we have in Jesus. Spending hours in the car, driving from one house to another, the local Christian radio station had Cody Carnes’ song was played over and over again.

Now does this just happen? Firm Foundation was released over two years ago, but I must have heard it on the radio this week like ten times or more.

It came repeatedly to my attention during the perfect week. My family is hugely important to me. Within our large extended family, there are struggles, like with any family. Mom/grandma/memaw was our spiritual and emotional rock. She held us tightly together despite our big and sometimes disagreeable personalities. However, she has now been with the Lord over twenty years.

Now it is up to us to hold together and believe that God is for us…each of us, and all of us together.

We can’t just make that happen in our own strength, and we don’t have to. We have a firm foundation.

Believe me, if I could take away some of the pain in my family, I would. Praying, encouraging, trusting. God is kind to allow us to be in the battle for our loved ones, but it is not enough. The foundation we build our lives on is crucial. We can’t do that for each other…it is between each of us and a good God.

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. Matthew 7:24-25

Cody Carnes’ Firm Foundation reminds me of another worship song. A great old hymn entitled “How Firm a Foundation”. Some of the lyrics are in the graphic below. Powerful and true!

Blog - How Firm - biblevisuals.org
Photo Credit: Biblevisuals.org

If you listen to Cody Carnes’ Firm Foundation on YouTube, read the comments. Testimony after testimony after testimony of people who have been in terribly hard places yet they stood firm in their faith. Crediting God for being with them, sustaining them, comforting them, fortifying their hope.

He won’t fail us. That is His promise. He will never leave us or forsake us. Again, His promise to His children. Rest in that. Lean into Him and each other.

Worship with me.

Christ is my firm foundation
The Rock on which I stand
When everything around me is shaking
I’ve never been more glad
That I put my faith in Jesus
‘Cause He’s never let me down (Yeah)
He’s faithful through generations
So why would He fail now?
He won’t (No, He won’t, no, He won’t)
He won’t (He won’t, He won’t, He won’t)

And I’ve still got joy in chaos
I’ve got peace that makes no sense
So I won’t be going under
I’m not held by my own strength
‘Cause I build my life on Jesus
Hе’s never let mе down
He’s faithful through every season
So why would He fail now? (Sing it out)

He won’t
He won’t
He won’t fail
He won’t fail
He won’t
He won’t

No, no, no, no, He won’t fail
He won’t fail (No)
He won’t fail (One more time, say it)

Christ is my firm foundation (Testify)
The Rock on which I stand
When everything around me is shaking (I’ve never been more)
I’ve never been more glad (Sing it now)
That I put my faith in Jesus (Yeah)
‘Cause He’s never let me down (He’s faithful)
He’s faithful through generations (So why)
So why would He fail now? (I need you to shout it out)
He won’t (Sing it out, say)
He won’t (No He won’t, no He won’t)
He won’t fail (No, no)
He won’t fail, no, no (One more time)
He won’t (Yeah-ayy-ayy-ayy, ayy-ayy)
He won’t (I’ve never seen You fail, no)
He won’t fail (No)
He won’t fail

I have a testimony
I have a story to sing
This is my story to sing my song
I have a testimony, you wanna see my testimony?

Rain came, wind blew
But my house was built on You
I’m safe with You
I’m gonna make it through (I feel somebody’s faith rising)
Rain came and wind blew
But my house was built on You (This is the reason you made it, ’cause)
I’m safe with You
I’m gonna make it through
(One more time, oh, rain came)
Oh, rain came and wind blew
But my house was built
on You (This is the reason I’m standing)
Oh, I’m safe with You
I’m gonna make it (I’m gonna make it)
Yeah, I’m gonna make it through (‘Cause I’m standing)
‘Cause I’m standing strong on You (I’m gonna make it)
Yeah, I’m gonna make it through (My house is built on)
‘Cause my house is built on You (One more time y’all, say it)

And Christ is my firm foundation (Ayy)
The Rock on which I stand
When everything around me is shaking (Oh, woah-oh)
I’ve never been more glad (Sing it out)
That I put my faith in Jesus (He’s never let me down)
‘Cause He’s never let me down (Faithful)
He’s faithful through generations (Oh, yeah)
So why would He fail now?
He won’t
He won’t
He won’t fail (Say it)
He won’t fail
He won’t (Oh-oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh)
He won’t (No, no, no, no, no, no)
He won’t fail (Woah)
He won’t fail

Never seen the righteous forsaken
And He won’t start now
Never seen the righteous forsaken
And He won’t start now
Rain came, wind blew
My house was built on You (This is how I made it)
I’m safe with You
I’m gonna make it through (Oh, rain came)
Rain came, wind blew (It tried to knock me out, it tried to shape me up)
But my house was built on You (But my house was built on You, oh-oh-oh)
I’m safe with You
I’m gonna make it (Yes, I’m gonna make it)
I’m gonna make it through (I’m standing strong on You)
‘Cause I’m standing strong on You (I’m gonna make it through)
I’m gonna make it through (‘Cause my house is built on)
‘Cause my house is built on You (‘Cause you’re gonna make it through)
I’m gonna make it through (‘Cause I’m standing strong)
‘Cause I’m standing strong on You (I’m gonna make it)
I’m gonna make it through
‘Cause my house is built on You*

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Blog-Firm-foundation-they-Lord-will-not-forsake-his-faithful-ones-Psalm-37-28-heartlight.jpg
Photo Credit: Heartlight

*Lyrics to Firm Foundation (He Won’t) – Songwriters: Cody Carnes, Austin Davis, & Chandler Moore

Worship Wednesday – How Firm a Foundation – Illustrated – Deb Mills

Blog - How Firm a Foundation - buff.ly - Laura Kranz

Photo Credit: Laura A. Kranz

Monday Morning Moment – Advent – Celebrating the Coming of Christ

Advent means “coming”. We celebrate the coming of Christ, as Messiah, a helpless baby born of a virgin mother. God in arms. Miracle and mystery. Advent also commemorates the coming again of Christ in the last days. We look with hope to the day He will come again for His people, as Redeemer King.

Advent is a time of preparing our hearts for His coming – we light candles to remind us how Jesus’ birth brought light into a dark world. Celebrating Advent happens over the four Sundays before Christmas. The candles we light represent Christ’s gifts to us: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. A fifth candle is lit on Christmas Eve celebrating Jesus, the One who came for us.

[Our current favorites for this Advent]

What the practice of Advent does is to keep Christ central in all the busyness of Christmas.

Those Sunday advent worship gatherings lead us then to continue in the Word through each week, focused, in particular, on the wonder of God coming so near to us…humbling Himself to enter this human space as an infant…to awaken us to who He was and is and grasp what only He could fully bring to us.

In celebrating the joy and peace we have in Advent, anticipating Christ’s coming, we look to the blessing Paul wrote to the Roman church which, at the time, was enduring terrible suffering.

May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace, in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in HOPE. – Romans 15:13

Let’s rest in Christ’s beautiful word to us. Focusing on all the other stuff of Christmas can be exhausting…and sometimes unsatisfying. Keeping Christ as center is where we experience his hope, peace, joy and love.

This Christ who drew near to us in a humble creche and held nothing back from us, even in His death on a cross. Oh the love, the joy, the hope and peace, we have in Him. Hallelujah!

[Below are images of the Women’s Christmas Event, celebrating Advent, at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, Richmond, Virginia. We were surrounded by beauty and loving hospitality in this experience.]

Lord Jesus, Master of both the light and the darkness, send Your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas. We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day. We who are anxious about many things look forward to Your coming among us. We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of Your kingdom. We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence. We are your people walking in darkness, yet seeking the light. To You we say, “Come, Lord Jesus!” Amen. – Henri J. M. Nouwen

Online Advent Readings/Studies

Biola University Center for Christianity, Culture and the Arts – The Advent Project – a daily Advent offering of art, poetry, music, and devotional from Scripture

The Gospel Coalition – Advent Readings

Gospel in Life – Advent Devotional Readings

Kate Bowler – Bless the Advent We Actually Have

Justin Whitmel Earley – Advent Readings

The Dawning of Indestructible Joy – John Piper – pdf

[What are some of your favorite Advent resources? Please post in Comments for all of us reading.]

Worship Wednesday – First Things First – with Consumed by Fire

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Then the man and his wife [Adam and Eve] heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the breeze of the day, and they hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord called out to the man, “Where are you?Genesis 3:8-9

One day in a place where Jesus had just finished praying, one of His disciples requested, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” So Jesus told them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come… – Luke 11:1-2

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence [boldness], so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16

What is it that keeps us from praying?

Is it shame or fear? Yet God calls for us to show ourselves to Him. He looks on us with deep compassion.

Is it not our practice? The disciples witnessed both Jesus’ pattern of prayer and His power to live a life pleasing to the Father. They didn’t ask what was His secret. They seemed to know it was his dependence on the Father through prayer.

Is it our sin that makes us too shy to talk to God? He is not surprised at our struggle. He knows our weaknesses and loves us still. We have a sinless mediator in Jesus and because of Him we have access to the Father.

Prayer can be hard for me for all the above reasons. Add to those the weight of so much need in the world, and I find myself too quickly distracted by the world’s chatter. Oh to stay in the quiet of His peace!

So I pray a bit then switch to over-thinking and worry, or drop out altogether to some other cheap substitute to prayer. Nevertheless, because of His long-suffering with His children, He draws us back to Himself, and I return often to that throne of grace. As a child running to my dad…the best dad we could ever hope to have. Father God.

Have you read Tyler Staton‘s Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools yet? It has been my guidebook (alongside the Bible) in recent months toward a deeper walk with the Lord.

Tyler Staton introduces his readers to writer teacher John Mark Comer. Comer is the founder of Practicing the Way. This is a website with the focus of offering a pathway to becoming like Jesus in community. All of the teaching and resources are free, and I’ve been grateful to God for how He is speaking to me in this space. My hope is to be part of a prayer community in our local church. Pray with me for this. Are you part of such a community?

Photo Credit: YouTube, John Mark Comer

Comer’s series on prayer is also available on YouTube. The first two messages are linked (the other two I will link when they come online).

YouTube Video: Prayer – Talking to God – John Mark Comer

YouTube Video: Prayer – Talking with God – John Mark Comer

Photo Credit: YouTube, John Mark Comer

YouTube Video: Prayer – Listening to God – John Mark Comer

YouTube Video: Prayer – Being with God – John Mark Comer

Photo Credit: YouTube, John Mark Comer

As often happens, while thinking about the whole practice of prayer in my life, I heard the song below on the car radio. It preached!

Worship with me to the deeply intimate song “First Things First” by the band of brothers Consumed by Fire.

All the things that I have held dear
The vanities that whispered in my ear
What would I do if they all disappeared
Riches and fame and all that they could buy
I’ve come to find they never satisfy
What would I gain if my soul’s the price

I don’t wanna love what the world loves
I don’t wanna chase what the world does
I only want you
I only want you

First thing’s first
I seek Your will
Not my own
Surrender all my wants to you
Keep the first thing first
To live Your truth
Walk Your ways
Set my eyes
Lord, I fix my face on you
All my desires reversed
To keep the first thing first

I give it all
My life an offering
My heart is yours
So have Your way in me
Your kingdom’s all I wanna seek

I don’t wanna love what the world loves
No, I don’t wanna chase what the world does
I only want you
I only want you

First thing’s first
I seek Your will
Not my own
Surrender all my wants to you
Keep the first thing first
To live Your truth
Walk Your ways
Set my eyes
Lord, I fix my face on you
All my desires reversed
To keep the first thing first
To keep the first thing first
All my desires reversed
To keep the first thing first, oh
To keep the first thing first, oh

First thing’s first
I seek Your will
Not my own
Surrender all my wants to you
Keep the first thing first
To live Your truth
Walk Your ways
Set my eyes
Lord, I fix my face on you
All my desires reversed
To keep the first thing first, oh
To keep the first thing first, oh
To keep the first thing first

All my desires reversed
To keep the first thing first*

Rejoice at all times. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

*Lyrics to First Things First – Songwriters: Jake Hess, Jordan David Ward, Caleb Paul Ward, Grant Timothy Bias

YouTube Video – Consumed by Fire – “First Things First” – (Acoustic + Story Behind)

Photo Credit: YouTube, J. C. Ryle, John Mark Comer

Let’s keep worshiping, y’all!

Worship Wednesday – A Lament on War – Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Photo Credit: Public Domain Pictures

Many say of me, “God will not deliver him.” Selah But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, and the One who lifts up my head.Psalm 3:2-3

Blessed be the LORD, for He has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart rejoices, and I give thanks to Him with my song.Psalm 28:6-7

Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.1 Peter 5:7-9

Last night, in the car leaving his taekwondo lesson, our 7 y/o grandson wanted to talk about the most recent conflict between Israel and Palestine. I was shocked that he knew about it given such an adult situation. Maybe he heard his parents talk. Maybe they were praying as a family for the conflict…now war.

He had amazingly mature thoughts and questions about it. You can imagine that it led to a discussion that went all the way back to Adam and Eve and all the way forward to Heaven and Hell. He wondered if America would ever have war and what that would look like. We talked about both the sadness of the situation for Israel and Palestine, and we talked about what our response as Christ-followers must be.

I grew up in the 60s and 70s. During the Vietnam War era. I also grew up with a mom who taught us not to hate. It was never acceptable. If we loved Jesus then we did not have the privilege or luxury or burden (however you see it) of hating another individual or group of people. It went against everything we understood of Jesus, including His very own teaching to love even our enemies (Matthew 5:44).

During the Vietnam war, the culture was mixed (as it is today) with opinions on what was right and what was wrong. In high school, I wrote letters of encouragement to soldiers (brothers, friends, and sometimes strangers who became penpals). Writing to boys only a few years older than me…gone to war.

In college, I, like so many others, participated in protests of a too-long and too-costly war. Protests and prayer vigils.

The music and film of that day reflected our struggle. Some of the songs that have stayed with me for all these years have been “Teach Your Children Well”, “Children Will Listen”, and “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught”. Do you know them?

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

YouTube Video – Mandy Patinkin Sings You’ve Got to be Carefully taught; Children Will Listen Medley

In these days, we cry out to God for the sake of Israel and Palestine…and the rest of the world, not knowing what will happen in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.

It feels very weighty.

A lament to God…many laments…are appropriate.

Photo Credit: YouTube

In the book study When You Pray, author/speaker Jennifer Rothschild gives 5 elements of lament:

  1. Address God. (Focus your prayer on the One who hears and answers.)
  2. Pour out your heart. (Bring Him your complaints and concerns.)
  3. Request help. (Ask God for what you need.)
  4. Express trust. (Affirm your faith in His character and His Word.)
  5. Praise Him. (Worship Him because He is worthy.)

“Confessing trust in God is the hinge that turns our grieving into grace, tears into trust, and worries into worship.” Jennifer Rothschild

If you’re like me, you’ve lost confidence in much of what we see in the news. Or at least, we sift through several accounts of events to determine what might be true.

This I know: something catastrophic is happening in the Middle East right now which will most probably have a wide ripple effect into coming generations. There is much to lament here. God’s face is the only one to which we can look with complete trust and confidence.

So here we are…

Worship with me to the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir‘s rendition of the lament in Psalm 3.

Many are they increased that troubled me
Many are they that rise up against me
Many there be which say of my soul
There is no help for him in God

But Thou, oh Lord are a shield for me
My glory and the lifter of my head
Thou, oh Lord are a shield for me
My glory and the lifter of my head

[Repeat]

I cried unto the Lord with my voice
And he heard me out of His holy hill
I laid me down and slept and awaked
For the Lord sustained, for he sustained me

Thou, oh Lord are a shield for me
My glory and the lifter of my head
Thou, oh Lord are shield for me
My glory and the lifter of my head

[Repeat Twice]
For Thou oh Lord are a shield for me
My glory and the lifter of my head
Of my head
My head*

*Lyrics to Thou O Lord as sung by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir