Friday, March 31, 2017

Cross Reflection 2

Lent Day 30 & 31. 

A poem for reflection (old churches in Great Britain have such lovely crosses):

Am I a Soldier of the Cross

by Isaac Watts 

Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb?
And shall I fear to own His cause
Or blush to speak His Name?

Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease
While others fought to win the prize
And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace
To help me on to God?

Since I might fight if I would reign,
Increase my courage, Lord;
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Cross Reflection

Lent Day 29.

For the word
          the account
          the story
                          of the cross
                   to those who are perishing
                                                         separated from God 
                                                                          and on their way to destruction.
         to us who are being saved
                                               made whole
                                                          rescued from spiritual disease 
                                                                         and on their way to heaven,
(1 Corinthians 1:18 - Peg's Amplified Translation)

The cross.
An executioner's greatest, most excruciating tool...
Used to silence insurrectionists.

But, even in death -
The Jesus-story would not be silenced...
Carried on through history.

So, with a hope of shutting it down -
And shutting up believers - 
The cross became a mockery.

But, alas -
Even foolishness sat down...

...And, a new tactic stood up.
Make it decor.
Cover it in precious metal, or gems, and, minimize it's rough, splintery, obnoxious cruelty.

Even still, there's no way to beautify an instrument of torture.
Try doing that with a guillotine...
From King Henry the VIII's London Tower.

It was a cross!
An emblem of suffering and shame...

We may try to keep it on a hill far away,
Or relegate it to a far wall of a church,
Or place it out of sight atop a steeple...
But, over the course of our #lentenjourney, it is time to re-visit the cross...
To stand in its shadow.

There, under its resurrected memory,
On that hill far away...
There is still power
                      for those
                                who are on the way, hell-bent to destruction
                                            to make a course correction
                                                        and be made whole (!)
                                                                    fit for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I'm Made New!

Lent Day 28

This morning, I read this:  

“Our true identity is discovered not when we find ourselves, but when we lose ourselves for Him 
(John Fischer).”

This may not be from any written “Lenten” material, but it is a great thought on which to meditate….especially on the heels of yesterday’s Lenten post, and the idea of “yielding up one’s life for truth…”

It’s my belief I will NEVER be able to fully yield myself to Christ, until I live confidently in who I am in Him and am convinced of that new “i am”. 

It’s a popular phrase.
I’ve heard it repeated often. 
I think it may have it’s beginnings around the time I entered college.
You’ve probably heard it, as well.
It revolves around a concept of “discovering oneself.”
It seems many people are lost.
They can’t “find themselves.”
Others struggle in a search for identity…
…unsure who they are.
…Or, maybe uncertain their lives have value, they seek meaning and significance.

Yet, the Lord intends for us to “lose ourselves.”
To be lost gets us on the right road for truly discovering truth

That road (for finding identity, discovering the true self, weighing out the value of my life) begins in a Garden…

The Garden where it all began. 
The Garden that initiated my birthright of sin.
The Garden that revealed to me my desperate need of a Savior.
There, I have to re-discover my sinfulness.
The beauty of re-discovering my sinfulness is that it removes the blinders so I can see my real value.

That value doesn’t come in anything I can do, or any quality character I may have. 

My value, believe it, or not, is shown most, because of the very thing that’s wrong with me: my sin!

The fact that I’m a sinner, actually means something…it means I am worth quite a lot…worth the price of Someone dying on my behalf. 

“Sin is a tragedy because we are worth something. It ultimately destroys us. It brings down a good thing (John Fischer).” 

So, the Lord God entered the business of redemption. He made us. We are His creation. No matter what we did wrong, or how much sin we got ourselves into, He loved us. Then, He bought us back…and what a price He paid! 

There it is…the root of my identity…
…Not in finding myself.
But in losing myself, so He could find me, buy me, free me. 
I lose myself…FOR (!) Him (!)
So He can make me NEW…

As I’m made new…
…my true identity comes alive…

Therefore, in Christ I am a new creation, the old is gone, the new has come! 
2 Corinthians 5:17

Monday, March 27, 2017

To the Pious Memory of William Hunter

Lent Day 26 & 27...

Whew! I'm a couple days behind as it's been a bit of a crazy schedule since our late landing in London on Saturday. Yet, what a joy and privilege to be in such a lovely country, filled with warm friendly people, yummy food (yesterday, we were served homemade Yorkshire Pudding for supper...mmmmmm.....), and rich in history (a personal love of mine). We've already been involved in some bit of ministry and have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities that have presented themselves. However, I'd like to highlight a little English Christian history.

We are staying in Brentwood, Essex, a lovely little town outside of London, perhaps an hour's drive. Spring has sprung in the UK, and the daffodils are extraordinarily beautiful, as well as the bright green fields, and budding trees.

Yesterday, March 26th, we took a walk down in the village. Surprisingly, right in the midst of a small strip mall parking lot, there is a memorial stone. This monument was built to remember Brentwood's first (maybe her only) Christian martyr during the reign of Mary Tudor. William Hunter, age 19, was burnt at a stake on this day in 1555 (we had no idea that it was the anniversary date when we stopped to read the stone).

Young William's crime?

Well, he was caught reading the Bible for himself in Brentwood Chapel, which later became Brentwood School.

After he was taken before a local Justice, William was sent to London to appear before Bishop Bonner, "an agent of royal supremacy." Apparently, as the story is told, church officials attempted to bribe him, as well as threaten him, to repent of his crime, and to recant of his openly known heresy in regards to the Catholic teaching of transubstantiation (the doctrine that the communion elements actually become the body and blood of Christ). Yet, William would not recant of either "crime," and, so was sent back to Brentwood to be burned.

The memorial stone is not on the original site of his actual "incineration"...but just down the block is an elm tree with another plaque on it, which was planted on the original site. The memorial reads:

To the Pious Memory of
William Hunter
A native of Brentwood
Who, maintaining his right
to search the Scriptures
and in all matters of faith and practice
to follow their sole guidance
was condemned at the early age of nineteen
by Bishop Bonner in the reign of Queen Mary
and burned at the stake near this spot
He yielded his life for the Truth
Sealing it with his blood
to the Praise of God

That line, third to the bottom, is what grips my heart:

"He yielded his life for the Truth."

Lent - it's a season of remembrance.
It's a season of preparation.
It's a season of gratitude, generosity...and one of sacrifice.

In no way, does William Hunter's execution rival that of our Savior's
Yet at such a young age, this boy, sacrificed his life to have the right to "search the Scriptures" for himself.
He wanted to know exactly what was TRUTH, in order to live by it.

And...I our age of me-ism, where, as one writer put it, "we can't swing a cat without hitting a narcissist," how hungry are we for truth, let alone so convinced by it that we'd die for it? Did young men, as well as other martyrs throughout the ages, die in vain that we might obtain this freedom, only to so take it for granted that it has become impotent in our lives? How diligently do we search the Scriptures that we might follow them? Are they our sole source of guidance, or have we chosen what "seems right in our own eyes" and followed that? How important is getting to the TRUTH and TRUTH alone? Not truth as the world spouts it, or as the media portrays it, or as Hollywood colors it, or as man guesses at it?

William's act to yield his life for Truth, sealing it in blood, bought us the Bibles we freely read. We have access, because of men and women, just like William Hunter!

And, I'm convicted by one monument, standing alone, in the midst of busy-ness of a little English village - does this kind of sacrifice stand alone, in the midst of my busy-ness, in my little world, often passed by, and ignored? Has the depth of the price paid been forgotten and taken for granted?

May it never be!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Meditations on Brokenness

Lent Day 25.

It's late. I'm in Houston. Ready to finish the remainder of our trip to London. It's already been a long day. But, as follow-up to today's blog, I'm posting tomorrow's blog. Just a few little thoughts on brokenness from others to ruminate on at this junction of our #lentenjourney.

Thought 1: Paul David Tripp.

There are only two responses to the brokenness that complicates our lives: cursing or mourning.

Let's be honest.

Cursing is the more natural response.
It's natural to be frustrated.

But cursing is the wrong response. Cursing is fundamentally self-centered.

Mourning is a much better response.
It embraces the tragedy of the fall.

Mourning grieves what Sin has done to the cosmos, and longs for the Redeemer to come...and to make the broken world right again
Mourning is the response prompted by grace.

Cursing is the default language of the Kingdom of Self.
Mourning is the default language of the Kingdom of Heaven.

In brokenness, we grieve sin...and we seek the coming of Heaven.

Thought 2: Ann Voskamp

In our brokenness, we remember there is a doctor in the house.
He is a wounded healer.

He treats those hurt on the inside, just as readily as those who are hurt and broken on the outside.

Brokenness is not scary to Jesus, nor uncomfortable to Him.
He knows brokenness.

How are the broken, suffering hearts healed?
Suffering is healed by suffering.
Wounds are healed by wounds.

Bad brokenness is healed by HIS GOOD BROKENNESS.

The One whose breath births galaxies into being, births healing into the hearts of the broken.

Thought 3:

Follow this link, to an old (and I mean OLD) song, by Christian artist, Steve you finish meditating today. It's always been a favorite of mine.

Leaving us with this prayer:

"In sweet abandon, let me be broken out and used up for Thee..."

The Door to the Father's Heart

Lent Day 24.

This morning, I begin a long journey across the ocean to London, and once there, I don't know about our internet capabilities. So, I may need to take a little break from posting while we're away (though I'll continue to pay attention to the spiritual preparation of Lent). If I have opportunity to post something - I will.

Today's "thought" is not an easy one for me.
I've struggled to write it.

It begins Ok-enough.
I'm just repeating the remainder of the sand-dollar-story.
Yesterday, we remembered Jesus' birth, death, and his wondrous resurrection.

However, to finish the story of the sand dollar...well, you have to break it.

Jesus was broken for us.
His body pierced and wounded.
His precious, compassionate heart ached; his inner turmoil was great.
So great, in fact, that as He prayed in the garden before His arrest, His sweat poured out in bloody droplets.
As He hung on the cross, and the soldier pierced His side, blood and water spilled to the ground.
All evidence of His broken heart.

I'd never broken a sand dollar on purpose.
I've seen plenty on sandy shores.
Why would anyone want to break open a rare treasure?
But, I wanted to see for myself if the accounting was true.

Honestly, I debated back and forth for some time.
I didn't want to break open this little thing of delicate beauty...
Crack it's fragile shell just to see what, if anything, was on the inside.
I fought it.
I whined about it.
Wasn't there another way to see what was in there?

Yet, I didn't want to just take the information for granted.
So, eventually, I broke down, and I broke the sand dollar.
It's true - five "doves" spill out (along with a lot of sand)...

The lesson is unmistakable.
Brokenness is a vital ingredient of the Christ-story.
We can't gloss over it.
We can't live in denial.
AND...the thing is....

I don't like brokenness.
I fight it.
I'm uncomfortable with it.
I whine about the process.
I ask the Lord, "Isn't there a better way?"
"Do I have to hurt?"

Yet, out of brokenness, God spills forth the beauty of the Spirit that lives inside.

Jesus understands.
He modeled brokenness for us.
His breaking allowed for the Spirit's coming...
That we might be filled to the full.
It's that same Spirit living in us that draws others to Him.

Yet, the Spirit is not ours to hoard.
The Spirit in us needs releasing.
So, now and again, the Lord allows our breaking, for the purpose of letting the Spirit loose...
...that the lost might see Him in us more clearly.

"The very thing we're afraid of, our brokenness, is the door to our Father's heart."
Paul E. Miller

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Re-Visit the Story

Lent Day 23.

Another gift from the Lord on my beach vacation last week was a great find, so rarely found.
To see one whole, buried in the sand, is like discovering buried treasure.
But, I found three!
All whole.
All perfect.
All telling a story for our #lentenjourney.
The story of Jesus, which is found in a sand dollar.

The story of His birth.
The story of His resurrection.
There's another story, too, but one that will wait for tomorrow...

To find the sand dollars in triplicate was significant, I thought.
To me it meant "IMPORTANT"...
Indeed, we can't journey through Lent, without reminiscing.


Here is the story the sand dollar tells.

On one side of the sand dollar, at it's heart, is a very defined STAR: a reminder of the Star of Bethlehem that led the "wise men" to Jesus. Their visit was important. Scientifically, from their research, in conjunction with prophecy, they declared Jesus to be the long awaited Messiah. We know they came. We've reduced them to wise, but we minimize the science behind their arrival and their declaration. The very stars had declared His Glory!

Surrounding the center star, the Easter Lily. Symbolic of purity, hope, innocence, and peace, it's reminder is of the purity and innocence of the crucified Savior, the peace He died to purchase for mankind (as well as, the peace He will come again to bring), the hope of Heaven to which we cling...all because of Christ's VICTORIOUS RESURRECTION.

On the backside of the mollusk is another flower - a poinsettia - the flower most recognized at Christmas. Colored blood red, the poinsettia reminds us of the blood that the Christ child would have to shed. It tells the story of Isaiah 53, the suffering Christ. A visit to that passage is vitally important during Lent.

Finally, the five holes commonly found in most sand dollars. These remind us of the high price of His death - the nail holes in Christ's hands and feet, and at the center, in our Savior's side, the final crushing stab of the centurion's spear.

Today, once again, I'm taking the time to reflect on the STORY OF JESUS.
His Story.
Undeniable History.
So, tonight...after we finish packing for a two-week trip to London, we plan to re-visit that remarkable piece of history by streaming it as told through a director's visual.

It's your invitation, as well, re-visit HIS STORY as you re-set your heart for Easter's Celebration!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


Lent Day 22.

That morning I "left" to sit with Jesus...
On the beach...
At the quiet dawning of the morning...
And to simply chat with Him...
I basked in His glory,
and found JOY and PERSPECTIVE, once again, on this #lentenjourney.

It came in a simple reminder.
A stone in the sand.
I believe the Lord God Himself planted it so I would find it.
Of course, I didn't have my phone with me, so I don't have a picture to show.
Only to describe.

The stone was in the shape of a heart.

(...not my stone...)
A very definitive heart.
Some rocks, well, you have to dig deep in the imagination to see the shape.
Not this one.
There were no unusual edges that would need to be sanded or chiseled away.
It was smooth.

My stone-gift was also white.
Pure white, except for some splotches of amber on it.
Like blood had dripped on it, then dried.

And, I knew...
I knew the Lord wanted me to soak in His love...
That's what Lent is all about!! 
Soaking afresh in HIS LOVE.

The whole theme of the Easter story.
Every. Single. Part.

These words from a Hawk Nelson song popped up as an echo in my brain, describing His LOVE -
"More than the drops in the ocean..."

If you wanna know
How far my love can go
Just how deep, just how wide
If you wanna see
How much you mean to me
Look at my hands, look at my side
If you could count the times I'd say you are forgiven
It's more than the drops in the ocean
That's a lot of drops.
That's a lot of love...for me!

Then these words to Abraham in the form of a PROMISE...
Abrahams descendants.
More than the sands on the shores.
That's me!
A grain of sand...
On the shore...
A chosen descendant of Abraham.
(Genesis 22:16-18)

One little grain.
Have you ever tried to pick up one little grain of sand?
They are microscopic...
But, that's me!
A speck.

Yet, a speck that's KNOWN...
A speck that's LOVED....
to the UTTERMOST!!!

A speck that matters.

Reflect on that!
Let it soak deep.
It's so humbling.
We matter THIS MUCH!
And, because we do...out of love...Jesus spilled His blood...
Rose again.
Sent His Spirit to us.
And, He reigns on High next to His Father, so we have a positional place in the heavenlies with Him.

Just think!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Lent Day 21

Last week, about this time, Bay & I had just finished speaking at a Missionary Conference at New Life Family Center in California, and were sneaking our way through traffic toward San Diego for a few days of vacation on the beach.

There is no other place where my heart feels so at home. Having been raised on the coast in Oregon, the sounds, sights, smells of the ocean simply draw me into the Presence of the Savior. Of course, in His Presence is my "joy place;" and, that joy wells up almost immediately.

 It's almost magical, but not.

For 2 1/2 days, we joined dear friends on Coronado Island, staying on the U.S. Navy Base. From the lodge room, we could walk 57 steps and be on sandy shores. I counted.

I woke up the first morning, quite early, grabbed my free cup of coffee from the lobby, and sat on our balcony to soak in JOY.

This morning, I turned to Mark 1:35 and read these words:

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up and left the house, and went to pray in a solitary place.

It was early.
Not dark...the sun was rising.
This word struck me: "LEFT."

Jesus left.
He left the house.

Before the rest of the world was awake,
or the light had dawned,
or lanterns were lit.
Before the house was a hub of activity.
Before the birds sang their choruses,
or rooster's crowed (well, that could be debatable, our kids across the street have roosters, and they don't limit their crowing exclusively to dawn).
Before traffic to the markets, or the wells, or the city gates clogged the streets.
Before words were exchanged between humans...words were exchanged between God the Father, and
God the Son.

Jesus left for solitude.

It was my invitation to be alone.
To exchange words with my God.
To be in His Presence.
"To depart, or go forth, into a place of influence for a purpose" (that's what my Greek Lexicon gave me for a definition of "left").

So, I responded. 
I left my seat.
Sat on the beach.

Talked to the Lord about a number of things, beginning with Thanksgiving.
Bridging thanks into Praise.
Repenting of my negative nature that sees things as 1/2 empty so much of the time.
Repentant of disgruntlement...
Seeking a new touch from the Lord.
Prayerful - not to speak, but to be spoken to...

These were the first words that I heard in the silence.

"When you seek Me, you will find me... Call on Me, and I will answer you, and show you GREAT and MIGHTY things...even things you do not know."

In leaving I found a place of influence...
And God spoke.

My invitation is also God's invitation to each of us. 
Sometimes we need to LEAVE the house.
Now and again, we need a QUIET place....
For the purpose of finding a place of influence for the purpose of being in God's Presence.
JOY Restored.

This is an open invitation.
Find your place of solitude during Lent.
It doesn't have to be a beach.
It could be a coffee shop (I've often felt very alone in the middle of people because of a beautiful word called "anonymity")
A place for the purpose of being in His Presence...
For restoring your JOY!


Monday, March 20, 2017

Give Thanks in All Places!

Lent Day 20

I don't know WHERE you ARE today, but think about this...

I've been stuck on the verse "in everything give thanks"... 

Along those's not just in everything! hit me this's EVERYWHERE, as well!

Look at the places people have been when they gave thanks (keep in mind this is as random as my brain):
  • Paul gave thanks in palaces before kings, in the depths of the ocean, seated before a fire on an unplanned island destination, and chained in prison.
  • David gave thanks while hiding in a cave, on the run, in the midst of battles, in the camp of his enemies the Philistines, and living in a luxurious palace.
  • Moses gave thanks in a dry desert, while walking in circles.
  • Abraham gave thanks in a tent.
  • Adam gave thanks in a lush garden.
  • Samuel and Solomon gave thanks in the temple/church.
  • Many of the prophets gave thanks while in slavery to their captors.
  • Daniel gave thanks in the den of lions.
  • Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego gave thanks in a fiery furnace.
  • Jesus gave thanks in solitary places and on his journey to Calvary.
  • The apostle John gave thanks in exile.
  • Jonah offered a song of thanks in the belly of the whale.
  • Jeremiah gave thanks while in stocks.
  • Mary, the mother of Jesus, sang her Magnificat in her cousin’s home.
  • Mary (the “other” Mary) gave thanks at Jesus feet.
  • Stephen gave thanks while being stoned to death in a pit.
  • The disciples gave thanks in an upper room.
  • Peter gave thanks in the middle of a city square...and before the Sanhedrin (the same ones who had Jesus crucified).
  • Cornelius gave thanks in his home.

Seems like at all times and in all places, thanksgiving is an appropriate response! Today, I'll be driving for about 6 hours, what a great time & place to "give thanks!" 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Pausing in the Midst of Lent to Listen

Lent Day 19

Not too far back, I posted this song on my Facebook page. The hymn-like quality, the lyrics & music seemed to fit my Lenten Journey to date.

A prayer of the heart, leading to a proper identity in my Savior.

The power of a fast, leading to satisfaction in Christ alone.

The pregnant pause of thankfulness, leading to gratitude for the cross.

All adding up to sweet rejoicing.

Here are the words to view, but they need the music to truly speak deeply to your soul.

So, follow the link and travel to the cross to find your wealth, your value, your satisfaction, and your joy.

My Wealth is Not in What I Own

“My worth is not in what I own
Not in the strength of flesh and bone
But in the costly wounds of love
At the cross

My worth is not in skill or name
In win or lose, in pride or shame
But in the blood of Christ that flowed
At the cross

I rejoice in my Redeemer
Greatest Treasure,
Wellspring of my soul
I will trust in Him, no other.
My soul is satisfied in Him alone.

As summer flowers we fade and die
Fame, youth and beauty hurry by
But life eternal calls to us
At the cross

I will not boast in wealth or might
Or human wisdom’s fleeting light
But I will boast in knowing Christ
At the cross


Two wonders here that I confess
My worth and my unworthiness
My value fixed - my ransom paid
At the cross



Saturday, March 18, 2017

In NOT For

Lent Day 18.

Dear Paul,

As I’ve reflected on your words regarding the giving of thanks, I find myself a bit frustrated. 

You make it seem

Yet, if the giving of thanks is a lifestyle, then I am failing at this aspect of life!

Life isn't easy; and, when it's not, it's quite difficult to be filled with thanksgiving.

You know the things that fill my prayers...things that are personal...painful...problematic! Things that weigh heavy on my thoughts and in my heart. This list often seems bigger than my ability to be grateful; downright suffocating at times!

Desiring a heart of thanks, 

Dear Peg,

You have correctly discerned thankfulness with four words:  

gratitude is a choice! 

Obviously, you aren’t going to feel like giving thanks for the situations that are difficult.  I never ask you to do so.  Hear what I do say:

(In the middle of all things... give thanks.  In spite of the things...give thanks.  In the process of...give thanks.  Whether you feel like it or not...find ways to give thanks.)

I would never ask you to do something I didn’t model for you.  So, in Acts, chapter 16, you read the story of how Silas and I were thrown into prison for helping release a slave-girl from the captivity of divination.  Her masters didn’t much appreciate our brand of help, so they tore off our clothing and beat us with rods, and if that weren’t enough, threw us into prison.  

There, beaten, bloody, bruised, we were chained with our feet in stocks to the wall.  There was nothing to do but pray.  Praying reminded us that we serve a God who is bigger than our circumstances, who has a Sovereign plan for everything that happens, and that, in comparison, our prison was a very small thing.  

Praying turned to thanksgiving.  

Thanksgiving turned to praise.  

Praise turned to singing.  

As Silas and I plowed through our prison praise list, God responded with an earthquake.  Our shackles fell off, and the prison doors flew open.  We could have run, but we remembered God had us there for a reason.  He wasn’t through with us yet.  That prison became our pulpit. The gospel of Jesus needed proclamation...

Long story short, the result of our grateful hearts led to the salvation of many souls that night. 

When you remember that with me, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37)...When you remember that all things do work together for good to those who love the Lord (Romans 8:28)...When you remember that I will use all things to conform you to the image of my son (Romans 8:29), it’s easy to give thanks, not “for,” but “in.”

With grace, 

PS.  You might consider a prison playlist on your phone for just such a time as this...