I still remember certain accusations hurled my way.  Some complaints air their ugly heads during a church elder’s meeting decades ago.  Seems now like a different lifetime.  It’s my Dickensian ‘best of times, worst of times’ experience.

What was one infraction laid at my feet that night?  A former secretary points her finger at me saying that one time, upon entering my office, I was looking out the window.  Hmm.  What?  Really?  Daydreaming?  How disillusioning!  Such heinous behavior!  Should be fired on the spot while being tarred and feathered!

When I heard this bum rap, I looked around the room (not out the window!) knowing that Candid Camera’s Alan Funt must be lurking somewhere in the shadows.  Had to be a joke.  It wasn’t.  Church leaders were shocked when others mentioned that I wore shorts downtown during summer weather.  Worst of times.

The best began when I left that church of my own free will, discovering that the Lord had much better in store.  Like for Old Testament Joseph, who stays faithful throughout his worst times.  How I’d love to be like him, but to be honest…  Well, you know.

One door closes while another opens with the Lord Jesus as my trusted doorkeeper.  Locks the one behind me.  Unlocks so many good ones before me.  As in a successful 20 year financial planning career.  The icing on the cake being 14 years serving a small, loving church in that same town.  That thankful fellowship now honors me as their pastor emeritus.  Smell of tar dissipates!  Feathers all blown to smithereens!

Genesis 50: 19-21–“But Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid…You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  So then, don’t be afraid.  I will provide…’

God allows bad things to happen to His people.  Not all peaches and cream.  Some noxious weeds grow in my field.  Some of my own planting and others that blow in from outside.  All within God’s knowledge and care.

Someone reading this devotional needs to give the Lord all the good and the bad.  The best of times and the worst.  He’ll make something beautiful of them both.  As only He can…and will (Romans 8:28).  I had a choice.  Curse Him for dealing me a rotten hand?  Or see what He has in store.  Same choice for you.

The Lord handles our lives so much better.  I know.  I’m still learning to lean on Him.  He’s not done with me… or you… yet!


Thank you, Lord, for seeing us through to a better future.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

GREAT TIME TO BE A CHRISTIAN 1 Thessalonians 2: 1-16

Really?  Great time?  Am I crazy?  Should I crawl out from under the rock I’m hiding under?  Get my head out of the sand?  No.  These are great times to be a Christian!

I know it’s not politically correct, as battles for the Lord are getting harder to win in our culture.  Losses mount.  Labels of bigotry and narrowness hurled our way.  Certain notable moral issues cause major rifts.

Saying you’re a Christian leaves you wide open to nasty comments.  But so what.  Rejoice!  You’re on God’s team.  If we lose this battle, we know that God has the ultimate victory!   For sure.

But family and friends?  That’s when the rubber meets the road.  We’ve lost some.   Hurt and sorrow tear at our hearts.  So, we pause and consider.  But hasn’t Jesus warned us (John 16:33, Matthew 10:34-39)?  Comes as no shock?  Yet it does.  After all, we’re not made of stone.  More like dust and clay.  Rejection hurts.  Scorn stings.

I sense the Lord wants to toughen me up.  Thicken my hide.  Be who I say I am.  I could use some of the Apostle Paul’s gutsy hard shell.   I don’t mean rudeness or arrogance; which, unfortunately, I have resorted to at times when cornered.  But more like what Paul says –‘We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.  You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed–God is our witness.  We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else’ (1 Thess. 2:4-6).  See what I mean?

When studying for my masters at Princeton Seminary, many of us took a social mobility test.  The results?   Most, me included, wound up as ‘country club managers’, making sure everyone was happy and taken care of.  Peanuts and drinks well supplied.  No controversies.  Everything cool and collected.  The model pastor?

Not what the Apostle Paul has in mind!  Stand tall for Jesus.  Lean in next to Him, holding on for dear life.  Helps us stay upright.  Tempered with love and humility.  And have a great time!


Lord, give us the strength to be yours regardless of anything.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen.


TWISTED Psalm 106

For the past 30 years, I’ve read the Bible from cover to cover.  After retiring from the pastorate, I’ve committed to in-depth study of God’s Word and its original languages.  For no other reason than to know the Lord better.  To get closer to Jesus.  Be more like Him?  A hope with little howling success to brag about.

What I notice is that my internal view of God can be quite different from what I encounter in His Book.  A good example can be found in Psalm 106:1–‘Praise the Lord.  Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.’  God is so good.  His love lasts forever.  Praise God!  Clear as a bell.

But deep inside, I’m waiting for His other shoe to drop.  One more mistake and my house of cards collapses.  Unfortunately, He knows all about me.  One more slipup and out the backdoor I go?  God’s anger lingers with an even longer memory and shorter fuse?  Will He pull the rug out from under me at the slightest provocation?  Pour salt on exposed wounds?  This is what I think.  Like I said, twisted and contorted, like our filbert tree out front.

My off-kilter views of God need revising.  All those years of sin done by me, and what’s been aimed at me by others, take a heavy toll.  Paying out at a devastatingly high price.  Warping my ideas of God.  Putting the kibosh on my relationship with Him.  Just little ol’ me?

That’s why I keep my head deep down in my Bible every single day.  Week by week.  Year by year.   Ignored and cobwebs show up, skewing my spiritual vision.  I really want to experience something like this– ‘…that I may enjoy the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may share in the joy of your nation and join your inheritance in giving praise’ (Psalm 106:5).

Relishing God who is so good and even more loving than I can imagine.  Dare I suggest that you too might need a bit more time in God’s Word?  If so, the skies grow clearer, so to speak.  The air noticeably cleaner.  Fog lifts as you mosey along with Jesus!

Arm in arm.  Hand in hand.  Exactly where I want to be.  Come on– join me.  There’s plenty of room!


Thank you, Lord, for opening our eyes to your goodness and love.  Amen.


At times I’ve made my search for God’s will way too complicated.  Hemmed and hawed, tied up in knots, pinned-down with indecision.  An old friend could rarely make up his mind about almost anything.  He searched for divine signs high and low, under rocks and trees.  Even the color of a squirrel that crosses his path discloses God’s decision about whatever.  Really?  Very strange!

Others I’ve known test the Lord through fleece contests, wondering what His answers will be.  Superstitious use of a ouija board, reading a horoscope, prognosticating tea leaves, all of which I don’t recommend.  If any of these apply to you, stop!  No ifs and or buts.

Still want to know God’s will?  Listen to Psalm 92:1-2—‘It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night…’  Praise… thanks… and singing to Him!  That’s not too complicated, is it?  Hey, it’s exactly what He wants.  No exceptions.  No shilly-shallying waste of time.  His or yours.

Love Jesus.  Worship the Father.  Be filled with the Holy Spirit.   A Gaither gospel song keeps running through my mind–‘Jesus Is Lord of All’.  ‘All my tomorrows, all my life, Jesus is Lord of all.’  The song lifts my praise to Jesus.  Yes, Lord…of all!

Want to know God’s will?  The Presbyterian Westminster (1647AD) Larger Catechism’s opening question gets down to brass tacks–‘What is the chief and highest end (purpose) of man?  Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God and fully to enjoy Him forever.’  It’s that simple.  Easy as pie.  Child’s play–for such is the Kingdom.

Glorify Him.  Enjoy Him.  Fully!  That’s not too complicated, is it?


Thank you, Jesus, for loving us and giving us your salvation.  Amen.

NIGHT TERRORS Psalm 91 and 1 John 4:16-18

I’m not alone experiencing ‘night terrors’.  Waking up in the wee hours gripped with anxiety’s sweat.  Like the psalmist writes–‘…the terror of night…the pestilence that stalks in the darkness…’ (Psalm 91:5-6).  Apt description, wondering when yet another of life’s shoes will drop.  Especially during these pandemic times.

But our psalmist offers hope– ‘…you will not fear the terror of night…nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness’ (Ps.91:5-6).  We won’t?  How?  Easier said than done.

Prayer offers me relief.  Startled awake, I spend time with God, reducing fear and panic.  I’ve much to pray about.  Asking relief for those up against it.  Help for family and friends.  Praising Him for so much.  Prayer pushes worry to the exit.  Shoved out the door.  Not enough room for both.  At least for awhile.

Here’s more help.  1 John 4: 16–‘And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.’  God’s love, known and relied upon.  But to be honest, I fear God’s punishment more than I rely upon His love.  The back of His hand more than His helping hand.  His patience running dangerously thin.  Distrusting His love more than trusting it.

Sorry to admit this.  Shameful for a retired pastor?  Hey, the Lord knows.  Comes as no surprise to Him.  After all, honesty with Jesus is never rejected.  It’s repentance and humility He looks for.  As in owning up.

1 John 4: 18–‘There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear…’  Letting God’s love simmer in my soul helps cast out fear.  Holding onto Him for dear life.  As if nothing else really matters… but Him.

Yes, I’ve a long way to go.  I’m neither faultless nor flawless.  Not even close.  Barely out of the starting gate.  Still in faith’s kindergarten.  But when I think of how much I love our children and grandchildren, and how each one is far from perfect, yet how much I love them anyway, then how about God and His love for you and me?  Think about that this week.


Thank you, Jesus, for being our Lord and Savior… and Friend.  Amen.