Do yourself a favor by first reading this portion of Acts 12.  So, what do you think?  What grabs me is what I’ll do on rainy days.  What?  Hear me out!

Here in the Pacific Northwest of the USA we get lots of rain, at least west of the Cascade mountains.  Clouds blow in off the Pacific Ocean, heavily weighted with H2O.  Since bloated clouds can’t easily ascend over the mountains, they dump their moisture over us all winter long.  I exaggerate.  But only a little!

We become indoor people.  Not jailed but it may feel that way.  Cabin fever sets in.  Light deficiency a possibility.  Webbed feet grow.  Wet clothes hardly a rarity.

Life itself gets that way at times.  We feel hemmed in.  Pinned down in some nasty business.  Family trouble surfaces putting the kibosh on just about everything.  Money worries skyrocket.  Hurt feelings harvest a bumper crop of noxious weeds.

Rainy days set in.  Dark and depressing.  What to do?  Well, I suppose you’ve found ways of coping.  As in fighting back or fleeing the scene.  Usually, one or the other.  Actually, there’s another possibility–burying your head in the sand!  Not sure any of these coping mechanisms have much going for them.  I tend to fight back only to feel guilty for being a bully and a bother.  And you?

Back to Acts 12.  The Apostle Peter is in prison.  James, the brother of John, has met his end at the tip of a sword.  Peter figures he’s next.  Ominous clouds fill the sky.  Rainy days loom large.  A funnel cloud appears, shooting debris everywhere, destroying much in its path.

On this rainy day, the early church knows what to do.  Doubt anyone has to tell them.  They get right on their knees.  Turn to their Lord.  Pour out their hearts, trying as best they can to cast their burdens on Him.  Not easy… but to prayer they go.  As we must.

Even if our faith is teensy-weensy, rivalling the size of an itsy-bitsy mustard seed.  Not to worry.  God sees it.  Honors it.  Loves us.  Cares about our troubles and tiny faith.

Let Him have His way.  Move aside, so to speak.  Tell Him everything.  Hold back nothing.  Lean on your Lord.  Look up to Him.  Pray.  And see what Jesus makes of a rainy day!


Thank you, Jesus, for being so close to us.  Amen.


In Hebrew language ‘Jerusalem’ translates as ‘city of peace’.  Iru…shalom=City of Peace.  Too bad it’s almost never been such in its long history.  But some day.  When newness hits the horizon and breaks the eastern sky, bearing the coming Messiah to rule and reign in glory!  Probably not today.  Possibly not tomorrow.  But the day after!

King David sings in Psalm 122: 6–‘Pray for the peace of Jerusalem’.  Peace for the city of peace.  God wants nothing better than for peace to prevail in His holy city, and especially for His people.  For you and me.

Psalm 122 is one of those psalms sung by pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem for one of three annual sacred festivals.  It’s called a ‘Song of Ascent’.  From whatever direction you approach Jerusalem, it’s always an ascent, a going up to the holy city and the Holy One.

How could we ever forget our first view of Jerusalem.  Sue and I have been touring with our group for over a week.  Amazing sights.  Awesome biblical insights.  Only downside remains battling a hot, dusty sandstorm all week long.  Nasty with nary a sign of letting up.  Until we arrive at the Ambassador Hotel in Jerusalem.  Putting the luggage into our room, which has large picture windows, there it is.  Right in front of our eyes.  Jerusalem!  At night.  All lit up.  And finally not a bit of sand in the air!  Crystal clear.

Breathtaking an understatement.  Had to pinch ourselves.  Are we really here?  Are we seeing what our eyes behold?  A dream come true?  Yes, to all the above.

Except little peace was found almost anywhere.  Israeli soldiers, everywhere.  Palestinians we befriended, entrenched in past grievances.  Not willing to budge an inch.  Religions proliferate with pilgrims scurrying from one shrine to the next.  Peace…barely evident.

Peace is what God gives to His own.  From Jesus, the Prince of Peace.  Exactly what we need.  No matter how rotten life becomes, He still offers peace like a river (Is. 48:18), that steadies fragile nerves (Is. 26:3-4), which solitude and calm become His will for us (Is. 26:12).

Jesus also promises this–‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you…not… as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid’ (John 14:27).  Promises given.  Promises fulfilled…just around the corner!


Thank you, Lord, for peace beyond measure.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


TOO YOUNG Psalm 115

At the ripe old age of 28, I become senior pastor of the West Side Presbyterian Church in Englewood, New Jersey.  Pretty good, huh?  However, the church had fallen on hard times.  Not because they call me as their pastor!  For lots of other reasons.  Some not so good.

Years before racism rears its ugly head, barring neighbors from membership for being of a different color.  Mistreated neighbors have long memories.  Adding insult to injury, the Gospel of salvation, with new birth in Jesus alone, rarely is preached.  Adds up to lots of trouble, inherited by their latest pastor, me!

On a wall of the secretary’s office are photos of all the pastors dating back to the church’s founding in the 1890’s.  Mine is the latest hanging, so to speak!  Always call those clergy photos the ‘Rogues Gallery’!  Most are very severe looking.  Spooky and scary.

My photo actually wins a prize!  Truly.  I’m filmed wearing my black Geneva pulpit gown, given to me by the youth group of the church I serve while studying at Princeton Seminary.  In full bloom blossoms my burgundy-red facial beard!  Eye glasses in one hand, with the other one positioned over my Bible.

Looks pretty good, if I must say so myself.  Actually, the photographer wins a prize not for subject matter but for composition.  The posed elements win.  That figures.  My luck.  Phooey.  Not about me at all.  Not in the least.  I’m merely a staged mannequin!

Now listen to Psalm 115–‘Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory…’ (v.1).  Twice the psalmist reminds us who deserves the glory and the credit.  Not me…or you.  Sorry, Charlie!  But who better to get all the praise than our Lord?  Who?

I was too young to be a senior minister.  Too inexperienced and self-centered.  ‘Not to us, O Lord…’ echoes faintly in my life back then.  But today’s a different time for me.  Much different.  Now I know who deserves all the praise and thanks.  No competition.  No arguments from me.  None whatsoever.  Why?

To be honest, it’s taken awhile to get where I am spiritually, still barely at the starting gate.  I’ve been through some wringers in the interim.  Crashing into some nasty potholes in life’s highway.  Rocks tossed at me and some I’ve thrown back.

Can honestly say that the Lord never gave up on me (and He won’t for you, either).  Rather that He allowed me to wallow in my own sinful messes, to be thumped down by other’s jealousy and meanness, always with His eyes watching over me.  Never letting go.  Never giving up.  Never.

Still those tough times were just that, tough times.  But the Lord wastes none of them.  All to teach me Psalm 115:1–‘Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness’.  I get it now.  Mainly on good days.  Still need to keep reminding myself–‘not to us, O Lord, not to us but to you…’  Let me repeat that.


Lord Jesus, we glorify you in every way, every day.  Amen.



I’ve never been shy about returning or exchanging something we’ve bought that’s broken, the wrong size or not at all what we expect.  Companies often include free return shipping with on-line purchases.  I don’t hesitate ordering something sight unseen.  Easy-peasy.  Or back it goes!

The Apostle Paul mentions an exchange that’s a bad bargain from start to finish.  Romans 1: 21-23–‘For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.’  Humanity, knowing about God, refuses to bow the knee to Him.  No gratitude for all He gives.  No praise to the only totally deserving One.

Rather mankind exchanges what’s right for what’s ‘futile’, ‘foolish’, ‘darkened’, and ‘degrading’.  The truth returned and exchanged for a lie.  Worshipping created things rather than its Creator.  Serving them and not Him.  Relishing the least, banning the best.  Sounds like a rotten deal to me.

Only problem is that I’m as a much a participant as anyone else.  Before accepting salvation through Jesus alone, through trusting Him, I’m sailing in the same boat up a creek over the approaching edge of Niagara Falls.

Even after believing and becoming His child, I feel the tug back to the abyss.  The temptation to return to old, broken ways.  Exchanging the fixed, settling for the broken.  You know the feeling.  I’m not alone.  Unfortunately.

Being aware of sin’s tug-and-pull, opens my eyes to how weak I am, and how much I need Jesus’ help.  As in all the time.  In every way.  I need moment-by-moment Holy Spirit boosting of my inner resolve, strengthening me.  Just me?

Don’t be satisfied with a broken life, lowering your sights with half a loaf.  Wearing something that doesn’t fit and looks horrible, which needs to be returned and exchanged.  Send it back.  Return to sin’s sender.  After all, Jesus has the best reserved for you and me!

Don’t settle for seconds!  Keep and enjoy what He gives us.  No returns needed!


Thank you, Jesus, for all your good gifts.  And the help of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.