Every January 1st I start reading my Bible all over again.  Kick-start with Genesis, Psalms and Luke.  Two Old Testament and one New Testament reading every day will cover it all by year’s end.  My Bible hasn’t changed, but I have.  Thank the Lord!

Thirty years ago, when I first committed to reading my Bible annually, I was single and a financial planner with over 850 clients.  Worked hard every weekday and night, leaving weekends free to enjoy my sons.  A busy season of my life.  Not without some loneliness.  If it wasn’t for my boys, and all the good times we had together, life would have been very bleak.

Decades later, I’m happily married to a wonderful woman.  Our children are grown with grandchildren blessing this life’s season.  Retired and not too tired, as it feels like heavy weights have been lifted from my shoulders.

Time to slow down a bit?  Maybe.  In some ways.  But not much.  Still love to travel.  When home, daily write and rewrite.  Edit and re-edit.  Want to communicate the best I can, always depending on the Lord’s help.  And He does just that and more.  Thank you, Lord Jesus!

So what will this season, or any for that matter, look like?  Psalm 1:3 says–‘He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.’  No matter what season you’re in, grow and mature, be fun, season other’s lives as well as your own.  Grow your spiritual roots profoundly deep.

Come gather by the old mill stream.  Where fresh waters flow freely.  Soak in God’s Word.  Its truths buoy your mind and heart all year long.  Your relationship with the Lord, a rising tide of love, loyalty and mercy.  Spiritually sail on the waters of God’s Word.  Your Bible–life’s essential irrigation every day, all year.

Well watered.  But only if you drink deeply.  Dive in.  The water’s fine!  Happy New Year!


Thank you, Lord, for all we can do through you.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen.


The events surrounding Jesus’ birth hardly shout a ‘Merry Christmas’.  If Mary and Joseph post a Christmas letter, it will include some rather disruptive details.  You know them.  The unexpected pregnancy, especially since they hadn’t sexually consummated their marriage.  The accompanying whispers, rumors and stares of gloating, nosey neighbors and family.

The rotten timing of Rome’s census/tax business.  The arduous journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, which winds up having no room in which to stay, not even in some crummy hostel.  Only a stinky stable with its foul ball feeding trough in which to cradle this child.

And guess who shows up to wonder at the babe but some unknown, uninvited shepherds, whose acrid aromas fill the air.  Later on a bunch of astrologer-types, wearing strange outfits, show up from somewhere back East.  At least their gifts amount to a small treasure trove.  Maybe it will be a Merry Christmas after all!

But no, it’s off to Egypt they must flee, avoiding King Herod’s paranoid slaughter of innocent children.  Exiles now far from home, work, family and friends.  Now you know why no letter may be included in their Christmas cards.

However, what can be said is that in spite of everything, Jesus’ unassuming arrival into this battered and broken world is the best news ever.  Troubles will not win in the end.  They won’t grab hold of the upper hand.  Not for long.  So, we’ll say a hearty ‘Merry Christmas’ wherever we go, whatever we’re going through.  Whether anyone likes it or not.  Merry…Christmas!

When clouds roll in and storms lash away at us, let’s focus on Jesus more than ever.  Joining those shepherds and Magi surrounding that very humble family, gazing with wonder at God’s gift that Christmas day.

Have a ‘Merry Christmas’!  We are so blessed!  Aren’t we?


Father, thank you for the gift of Jesus, our Savior.  In His name.  Amen.



Elijah’s Christmas hint.  What?  Have I totally lost it?  Holiday season overly seasons my mind?  Not really.  Stay with me.  Maybe you’ll see what I’ve discovered deep in the Old Testament.  For this Christmas.

Elijah runs for his life after Jezebel threatens to turn him into holiday mince meat for what happens to her pagan priests.  He’s experienced God’s miraculous power.  Unfortunately, Elijah’s own strength does a vanishing act, leaving him spooked and in a cold sweat.

Off he goes to Horeb, God’s holy mountain.  Twice the Lord asks him why he’s there.  Twice he moans and groans about being the last godly man on the face of the earth.  None left.  Only him.  Really?  In the meantime, the Lord shows Elijah three demonstrations of His might–wind like a hurricane, earthquake well over 9.0, and fire fueled by hot sirocco winds.  Elijah notices that the Lord isn’t in any of these three power punches.

What comes next is unexpected.  Quiet and silence.  Stillness and peacefulness.  1 Kings 19:12–‘After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire came a gentle whisper.’

Christmastime could use some ‘gentle whisper’.  Some quiet contemplation.  Getting off by yourself reading those Christmas stories found early in Matthew and Luke.  Softly playing Christmas music in the background.  Sipping tea or coffee by yourself, while praying and thanking God for the gift of Jesus.

Turn down the noise.  Stop the shopping for a bit.  Forget the Christmas dinner menu at least for the moment.  Relish the sounds of silence.  God’s gentle whispers.

Elijah’s hint this Christmas season is God’s gift of quietness.  An undisturbed centering on Jesus, the focal point of the season.  A welcome downtime amidst all its feverish hustle and bustle.  ‘…a gentle whisper.’

Ssshhhh.  Elijah’s hint–not nutty fruitcake after all!  Ssshhhh.


For the gift of quietness, we thank you Lord.  Amen.



Merry Christmas!  Oh no, another of those dreaded Christmas letters!  Who needs another bragging missive about travel, kids and grandkids?  I read them, but under my breath can be heard–‘there’s more going on here.  Not all peaches and cream.  I know these people!’

Same goes for us.  We’ve had marvelous trips this year.  Grand France River Cruise for our 25th wedding anniversary.  Starting out at Cannes on the Mediterranean, to the coast of Normandy, winding up in Paris.  Not too bad!  Then, off we go on a 2 week tour all around Scotland, starting with the fabulous Military Tattoo in Edinburgh.  Loved every castle, twisty road and morning eggs boiled in oil.  Some Scots gaellic has crept into our wee vocabulary!

However, the last few years I’ve not written a Christmas letter.  Too many losses have hit our family.  Disappointments weigh heavy.  Certainly we’ll do no bragging except that the Lord is still who He is and we love Him even through sorrows and sadness.

This year for Christmas we’re more than going through the motions.  We’re enjoying the holidays though feeling a tad downcast.  Is that okay?  Not what you expect of a Christmas letter?  Too bad, so sad.  But such has been our life in certain respects.  What’s true is that there’s more good than the other.  Blessings still come our way from Jesus, and we’re so appreciative of His love and care.

Life must have been tough for Joseph and Mary.  Their Christmas letter contains noted unpleasantries.  Strange stories about her pregnancy with accompanying nasty rumors.  Disturbing dreams.  Tough and taxing travels.  Overcrowded inns.  Unknown shepherds showing up with unexpected news.  And more.

But look what came of it!  Yes.  The Babe of Bethlehem.  The Savior of the world.  Our Savior who makes life worth living.  Even when it doesn’t feel like it.  Even then.  Especially then.

Dare we say Merry Christmas?  Of course.  And a happy New Year!  Same to us!!  Blessings, John and Sue

AT ANY AGE Daniel 10 and Luke 2: 25-35

Our Bible readings bring into focus two old people.  Daniel is over the age of 80.  A real accomplishment in his time, when the average life expectancy was about half that.  And then there’s long in the tooth Simeon, one of my favorite characters in the Christmas story.  Steady-Eddie…for the Lord.  Waits patiently with great hope.  He recognizes Messiah as he holds the baby Jesus.

Two old codgers.  Yet to both come fresh insights from the Lord.  For Daniel, it’s a revelation of the coming Messiah. And also the end times, whatever and whenever that may be.  His understanding of God, and His plans, expands exponentially.  So can mine as an older man.  And yours.  Really, at any age.

For Simeon, he recognizes in this child the salvation of God’s people.  The One promised.  Must be next to impossible for Simeon to contain his emotions.  Joy erupts from his lips–‘…For my eyes have seen your salvation…’ (Luke 2:30).  However, God hints that all will not be fun and games.  Some will believe but many won’t, making life painful and harrowing for the promised One, including for Jesus’ mother Mary–‘And a sword will pierce your own soul too’ (Luke 2:35).

Both old men contemplate a godly, glorious future, in spite of all not being hunky-dory.  Here’s where a challenge confronts us.  At any age.  We have two hands.  We need to hold hope in one while the other juggles troubles and trials.  A balancing act helping us to stand up for the Lord, not stumbling down in the dumps.

I need more unflappable steadiness.  After all these years, I know a lot more.  Sort of.  Nothing new under this setting sun.  Seen it before.  Been there, done that.  Just me?  We can become grouchy, bitter sourpusses.  One-handed.  Tilted.  Burned by life’s dings and zings.

So, we need balance…from God’s promises.  His encouraging Words.  To hold them in our other hand until it becomes muscular and dominant.  Comes in handy, lifting our spirits.

Get tight-knit with Jesus.  Cuddle up a little closer.  Nudge Him for His help.  He loves to watch over us in every way.  Especially when we’ve run out of gas and He’s there to fill us up with high octane Holy Spirit!

Be a Daniel and a Simeon this Advent season.  Eyes wide open… embracing more of Jesus, standing firm on His promises.  At any age.


For hope in the midst of darkness, we thank you, Lord Jesus.  Amen.