Monday, September 28, 2009

Act in triumph

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

The splintering sound of wood hitting the concrete pavement sent chills through my already overwrought nerves. Prickly sensations ran from the back of my neck clear down to my toes.

Our two-month stay in a temporary apartment was ending. Household goods, packed weeks earlier into 16 crate-style pods for warehouse storage, were finally being delivered.

Unfortunately, due to misinformation, lack of communication, or just poor planning, a scheduled one-day unload turned into a three-day event. Each day a team of men dropped off just enough items that we couldn't do anything with what they delivered. Refrigerator, but no pots, pans, or utensils to prepare meals. Bed frame, but no bedding or mattress on which to sleep. Television stand, but no television to watch. Computer, but no hardware to connect the system. By the third day I was edgy; my typical good-natured temperament was tenuous, at best.

I heard the racket and turned slowly to face the direction of the sound. There in the moving van's open doorway, surrounded by a mountain of boxes, stood the young man who was responsible for transporting our belongings. We locked eyes. Everyone around us stopped what they were doing. They watched and waited.

Instantly, my mind began to play a lively game of ping-pong. "Take every thought captive, Bon. Make it obedient to Christ!" volleyed back-and-forth with, "Remember Bon. Cheerfully refuse to be embittered by the stupidities of daily life."

We experience challenging situations every day. Some involve downright ridiculous circumstances. Whether we follow Paul's directive in 2 Corinthians or the more lighthearted expression, the notion is the same. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we are empowered to think and equipped to act with gentleness (Hebrews 9:14).

I smiled at the distraught-looking man, nodded my head, and returned to what I'd been doing previously. The young man, encouraged by my reaction, continued unloading the truck. His team members followed suit. And, thanks to a local craftsman's talents, the dropped desktop hutch was restored to like-new condition.

What about you, friend. Are you pushed to end of your limits?

When we take action to capture our thoughts and deliberately choose to respond kindly, we start a trend that honors Christ. You are empowered to ACT. Cheers!

Blessings, dear friend.
Faithfully Following

Monday, September 21, 2009

Steady as it blows

"Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NIV)

Hey, friend. Have you ever been blown into a proverbial "ditch"?

Recently I worked with gusto at my computer. My back faced the windows of my home office; my thoughts focused on the words that my fingers, in turn, intently pecked out on the keyboard. Consequently, I was completely unaware of an approaching thunderstorm.

I'd awoken earlier to an unexpectedly cool summer day. The bright, yellow sun shone brilliantly. It greeted the new day with a hearty, "Good morning, world!" Birds were perched on nearby tree branches that gently swayed in the cool breeze. They chirped a chorus that filled the air with a sweet melody. Puffy, white clouds dotted a crayon-blue sky; each puff moved lazily across the horizon. The crystal-clear atmosphere enhanced the minutest details of a lush, green countryside. It was an absolutely breathtaking morning.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a strong gust of air blasted through the open windows and scattered papers throughout the room. Black, thunderous storm clouds gathered rapidly overhead. Without pause, the dark sky broke wide open and released pent-up rains. Powerful winds blew huge drops of water sideways. They slammed against the side of the house.

The unexpected storm's power was apparent. It left behind in its wake broken tree branches. Debris, carried by rushing water, littered the roadways. A plastic kiddie pool lay in a ditch.

What a vivid illustration of unexpected, difficult circumstances in life.

Such is the account of Naomi told in the Old Testament book of Ruth. Naomi and her family leave their home in Bethlehem because there's famine in the land. They move to the country of Moab. In a downward swirl of events, Naomi loses her husband, her two sons, her home, her livelihood, and perhaps even her hope. After ten years in Moab, she returns to Bethlehem, desolate. (Ruth)

Thank goodness God has a heart for rescue. He displays His sovereign control and His providential plan to Naomi through the unshaken love of her daughter-in-law, Ruth, and the kindness of a close relative, Boaz. Through their selfless acts, Naomi moves from emptiness to fullness (Ruth 1:21; 4:13-17).

Pastor and author Joe Stowell states, "God is in the details. He is at work in every circumstance of our life, particularly in the situations over which we have no control. The interesting thing, however, is that His providence is often hidden. He is at work and we don't know it. Given the sovereign, providential, loyal love of God in our life, we may not see anything happening. But, we can count on it!"

Sometimes life's storms hit with such force, they all but knock us off our feet. Where do you turn when the bottom drops out of your life? Where do you go when you face the end of a relationship, the loss of a loved one, the death of a dream, financial problems, or consequences of a poor choice?

We need a helping hand. We need someone who understands.

Can't find anyone? Why not share Naomi's rescuer? In her journey from despair in Moab to happiness in Bethlehem, Naomi came to know Him as Faithful and Redeemer. We know Him today by another name: Jesus. He's still available to people who need help standing in the midst of an unexpected storm.

Blessings, my friend.
Faithfully Following

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Too lofty to know better

"For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul."
Proverbs 2:10 (NIV)

"Lady, you're growing one of the hardiest poison ivy plants I've ever seen in my life!" declared the lawncare technician.

Moving during our son's junior high school year created incentive to get settled into our new house as quickly as possible. I anticipated him leaving for college within the next year and didn't want to miss a second of time he was at home.

Besides, I thought I had this relocation thing down pat. I experienced three moves and developed a routine that included finding a church, meeting the neighbors, decorating the house, and attending to the lawn. With the speed of a tractor-trailer truck rolling down a highway, I was "executing against plan." Unfortunately, in my exuberance, I didn't consider I just might not know everything.

To create a welcoming first impression, I enthusiastically trimmed plant hedges, cleared debris, and arranged flower beds. I carefully tended one particular plant that was sure to bring smiles of appreciation from guests walking up the front walkway. Giving it just the right amount of water and weeding around its base, the plant grew into a mini-size bush. I felt almost giddy waiting for the foliage to bloom.

And bloom it did; right into the itchiest case of poison ivy rash!

How embarrassing. I was raised on a farm for goodness sake! I grew up picking my way through wild blackberry patches intermingled with the poisonous vine. My mother cautioned me to stay away from its creeping, ivy leaf. Consequently, the technician's toxicodendron radicans analysis hit my sense of pride quite deeply.

In Psalm 139 the psalmist praises the God of all creation acknowledging, "You hem me in--behind and before...Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain." (Psalm 139:5-6) Understanding our intellectual limits, the writer of the New Testament book of James encourages if we lack wisdom, we should ask. God gives generously, without finding fault (James 1:5-7).

We don't have all the answers. In some instances, not knowing what we don't know puts us in danger. Or, like me, maybe you get into trouble because you don't ask the questions you should ask.

A visit to the doctor's office, an injection of Prednisone, and numerous applications of Calamine lotion later, the rash finally disappeared. I, however, learned a lesson in humility that has lasted, especially regarding "ask first."

How about you. Are you tending any weeds?

Blessings, my friend.
Faithfully Following

Monday, September 7, 2009

Rules for the road

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
2 Timothy 3:16-18 (NIV)

"You're bold walking with your back to traffic," observed the passerby.

Every dedicated walker knows the importance of practicing safety tips when walking on public roadways. Helping make one more visible, walkers should keep to the side of the road facing oncoming traffic, walk single file, wear bright color clothing, and so on.

These directives assume, of course, passing motorists are attentive as well, i.e., not exceeding posted speed limits, consoling upset children in the vehicle's backseat, sending text messages, or conducting cell phone conversations while changing the radio dial to a favorite station. I believe an emphatic "NOT" would be appropriate at this point. But, I digress.

My fellow walker's comment was valid as I was, indeed, not walking facing oncoming traffic. She was unaware, however, that having considered the narrow two-lane road ahead of me with minimal shoulder area and impending sharp turn creating a potential motorist blind spot, I had intentionally crossed over to the "wrong side" just a minute earlier.

Adhering to rules of safety when walking outdoors is wise. It helps keep everyone free of injury. More importantly, however, is applying wisdom for good living.

Introduction of the internet in the mid-1990s resulted in an explosion of available information and services, the likes of which we have never seen before. With a click of a computer mouse, we have access to content in virtually every aspect of modern human life; more data and material than we could ever read in ten lifetimes, must less one. One search alone of "good living" produced 1.7 million results, all suggesting ways for better living, being happier, or enjoying a successful life.

When it comes to offering truth and wisdom for living good, however, only one book continues to stand the test of time--the Bible. God chose devout men and inspired them to write His message to us; revealing His love through the accounts of real people, real places, and real times in history. Not merely a collection of principles for daily living, a textbook that answers every possible question we may have, or a resource that predicts every last detail about the future, the central and most important teaching in the Bible is the good news of God's gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Feeling bold? Let's turn our backs to the noise of our information-cluttered society. Everything God wants us to know about Himself is contained in His Word; and through the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit reveals truth and gives wisdom. Truly, God's Word is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path. (Psalm 119:105).

Blessings, dear friend.
Faithfully Following

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A friend indeed

"Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well."
3 John 1:2 (NIV)

What are characteristics of a true friend?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a friend is a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard; a person who gives assistance, a supporter; someone who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile. describes friendship as a mutually cooperative and supportive behavior between two or more people. While rather obvious, it's important to note that friendship involves a connection between or among human beings.

Let's take a look at several accounts in God's Word and behaviors demonstrated between people considered friends.


Jonathan and David made for an unlikely friendship. The eldest son of Saul, the first king of Israel, Jonathan was heir to his father's throne. The shepherd boy, David, on the other hand, was the youngest of Jesse's eight sons and quite insignificant. In fact, when King Saul turned away from following the LORD God and God sent the prophet Samuel to Jesse's home to anoint the future king of Israel, David was all but forgotten until Samuel asks, "Are these all the sons you have?"

Coming to love David as himself, Jonathan presents David with his own royal robes and armor as an acceptance of David as his equal. (
1 Samuel 18)


Initially, people are quite often drawn together by a common interest, such as a hobby, work, or shared passion. While on his fourth missionary journey, the apostle Paul met a Jew named Aquila and his wife Priscilla in Corinth. (
Acts 18) Tentmakers by trade, Paul stayed and worked with them; and sometime later, they accompanied Paul when he sailed to Syria. Later, Paul acknowledges his friends in his letter to the Romans stating, "Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, risked their lives for me." (Romans 16:3)

David and Jonathan's friendship endured even when it became clear that David was to replace Jonathan as successor to his father's throne. Realizing his father's intentions to kill David, Jonathan devised a plan to save his friend's life. With great sadness and reaffirming their friendship, Jonathan and David part ways declaring, "
Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD." (1 Samuel 20:42) Later, hearing of Jonathan's death, David honors his friend with the song of the bow. (2 Samulel 1:18)

Good friends urge, encourage, and hold one another accountable. Writing in his letter to the Philippians, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Paul is adamant about thinking on those things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable--anything that is excellent or praiseworthy. In so doing, "the God of peace will be with you." (Philippians 4:8-9)

When the apostle Peter buckles under pressure from a group called the Judaizers, going against what he knows to be right concerning the gospel message, Paul opposes him. Holding Peter accountable, Paul reminds Peter of the truth he learned from Jesus. (Galatians 2)


King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is on a rampage. Angry and furious that his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers are unable to tell him what his distressing dream was
and interpret it, the king orders the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. Learning of the execution order, Daniel, a young man from Jerusalem taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar along with friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, calls on his friends to plead for mercy from God that they not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. God reveals the king's dream and the meaning to Daniel and everyone is saved. (Daniel 2)

In the New Testament book of James, the apostle urges we pray when in trouble or sick for the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (
James 5:16)


True friendship allows for no hidden agendas with friends sharing with one another genuine emotions, needs, and joys.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul expresses gratitude for the concern and aid shown him writing that it's good for others to share in his troubles. With authentic, emotional appeal, Paul also pleads for his young companion Timothy to do his best to come quickly because another co-worker, Demas, has deserted him. (
2 Timothy 4:9-13) "Only Luke is with me," he writes. "Get Mark and bring him...when you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments."

Luke, Paul's travel companion, shares one particularly tender moment of transparency in
Acts 20. Preparing to leave Ephesus for Jerusalem, Paul encourages church leaders to continue in their work. He kneels down with all of them and prays. Realizing they will never see each other again and bidding farewell, they weep and embrace one another, finally tearing "ourselves away from them we put out to sea."


Today's technologically-oriented, internet-savvy, linkedin/twitter/facebook, social-media society can create a false impression that friendships can develop without experiencing face-to-face encounters. While I thoroughly enjoy aspects of the internet helping me stay in contact with friends, there is no substitution for personal, face-to-face time for a relationship to mature.

During His time on earth, Jesus dedicated three years teaching and mentoring a group of twelve men. Returning from a preaching experience, excited to share all they had done and taught, Jesus tells the twelve, "
Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." (Mark 6:31)

Friendship. A gift from God that's blessed in every part, born through love and loyalty, conceived within the heart. Celebrate the blessing of friendship with someone who has filled your life with its precious joys.

Blessings, my friend.

Faithfully Following