A Celtic Prayer of Faith

I arise today
Through a mighty strength:
God’s power to guide me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s eyes to watch over me;
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to give me speech,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to shelter me,
God’s host to secure me.

Brigid of Gael, (c.451–525)

Saint Brigid of Brigid of Ireland is one of Ireland’s patron saints, along with Patrick and Columba. Irish hagiography reveres her as an early Irish Christian nun, abbess, and foundress of several monasteries of nuns, including that of Kildare.


Faith vs. Hope

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  This is what the ancients were commended for.”  Hebrews 11:1-2

I couldn’t let the month past without blogging on these verses from Hebrews, my favorite book of the Bible.  It’s chock full of inspiring statements and this particular one hangs on my bedroom wall.

My husband, who is a pastor, tells me that when he visits people who are ill or dying, he often hears these words:  “I believe in Jesus, and I hope I am saved.”  This is not quite right, because there is a difference between having faith and having hope (check it out on the website Beth Ann recommended, https://www.differencebetween.com).  Hope is anticipating that something may come to pass;  faith is an assurance that it will.  The author of Hebrews in exactly right:  if we have faith in Christ, we do not merely hope in our salvation we can be sure of it.  It also means we can be assured of many other promises of God, such as:

  • He is working all things out for our good
  • He will never leave us or forsake us
  • He will supply all our needs
  • Nothing can separate us from Him

and more.  Even those before Christ had this kind of faith because trusted in the promises of God even without seeing their fulfillment.

“These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” Hebrews 11:13

They were looking forward to something;  we are looking back.  Shouldn’t our faith be even stronger since we have the privilege of knowing our salvation has already been accomplished through Christ’s death on the cross?

Have faith, friends.  You can be sure.

“If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  Romans 10:9


Grown-Up Faith

I can’t fairly call this post a book review because I started reading a book called Grown-Up Faith by Kevin Myers and didn’t finish it.  Not because it’s a bad book, but simply because after the first few chapters, I didn’t seem to be learning anything new.  I actually would recommend it for a small group, especially one with newer Christians, to read and discuss together.  At the end of each chapter, there is a summary about “Grown-Up Faith in Action” and some chapters in the Bible to read before tackling the next chapter.  These passages take the reader from Genesis through Revelation, giving a good overview of the Bible and its’ message.

Grown-up Faith: The Big Picture for a Bigger Life by [Myers, Kevin]

I did like the premise explained by the author at the very beginning.  Here it is:

“A grown-up faith requires the involvement of the whole person.  It doesn’t come from half measures.  We can’t be half-in and expect whole results.”

If we want to be mature Christians, we must engage our mind (Biblical knowledge), our heart (spiritual intimacy with God) and our will (holy obedience).  How many of us stop at some point in this process?  Or develop only one in one area, ignoring the others?  This can lead to several problems such as:

  • Intellectualism:  Biblical knowledge without any real relationship with God or obedience to His Word
  • Emotionalism:  A relationship with God without knowledge of the Bible and obedience
  • Legalism:  Obedience to the Bible’s “rules” without an understanding of the full meaning of the gospel or spiritual intimacy with God

Individuals and even denominations can fall into the trap of being less than whole Christians because they neglect some areas, or overemphasize one.  My big take-away is something I’ve heard for years at Via de Cristo retreats:

There is no Christian life without Christian action

And it might be added, that action must spring from a correct motivation — one that flows out of a heart-felt relationship with Christ and a true knowledge of His teachings.

This book gives us all something to think about.  On which area am I (and possibly my church) weak?  I would say the Lutherans with whom I’m most familiar, lean toward intellectualism.  We know our Scripture well, but don’t always have a true hunger for Christ and obedience to His Word.  We know we’re saved by grace, isn’t that enough?  Well, it is and it isn’t.  True grace will lead us into true relationship and true obedience. Wherever you find yourself, go one step further.  Grow up in your faith.



Flee to the Scripture– A Quote by R.C. Sproul

“When you struggle with your faith, when you face the dark night of the soul, when you are not sure of where you
stand with the things of God, flee to the Scriptures. It is from those pages that God the Holy Spirit will speak to you, minister to your soul, and strengthen the faith that He gave to you in the first place.”
R.C. Sproul, What is Faith?


My Faith Looks Up to Thee

This well-known hymn was written by Ray Palmer, a young man who was preparing for the ministry.  It was his personal prayer for renewed courage and energy at a time when he was feeling exhausted and lonely.  He wrote the poem for himself with no plan to ever show it to another person.  Two years later (1832) he ran into his friend, Lowell Mason who asked him to compose some hymns for an upcoming hymnal.  Palmer was still too overwhelmed with the responsibilities of his life to feel up to writing something new, so he opened his journal and offered Mason this poem.  Mason promptly set it to music and told his friend,

“Mr. Palmer, you may live many years and do many good things, but I think you will be best known to posterity as the author of ‘My Faith Looks up to Thee.'”

When your faith is flagging, and you are afraid you can’t keep going, remember this hymn.  Ray Palmer did become a pastor, and wrote other hymns, but this is the most famous.  You can have faith that God uses us even in our weakest moments.

Who’s Got Your Back?

Robin“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:25-27

I’ve worked at some places that had “Team Building” exercises.  I hated one that came out (and I don’t know if they still do this), but you had to stand with your back to two or four people and just fall backwards and trust that they would catch you.  I never trusted the people behind me to catch me.  I couldn’t do this exercise.

But in my life I’ve learned to trust the Lord.  Now I figure trusting is just about the same as having faith.  They go hand in hand.  I looked up the differences between trust and faith, and there are differences.  According to http://www.differencebetween.com (yes, that’s a real website!) faith is used in the sense of ‘belief’ or ‘devotion’ and the word trust is used in the sense of ‘confidence’ and ‘reliance’.  Hummm, do you trust in your faith?  Or put another way, do you have confidence in your faith that the Lord will take care of you?

While I was the caregiver for my husband I found that I didn’t have confidence in my faith.  Why did my husband get sick?  Why did this happen?  I was terrified of being a single mom of two teen-aged sons without out a penny to put towards a funeral for my husband if he died.  Life just wasn’t supposed to happen this way.  But it did.

I read Matthew 6:25-27 and this verse held a whole new meaning for me.  I had faith in the Lord, but did I have the confidence that He would take care of my life?  At that time, the answer was no.  So I started to try to build my confidence in my faith.  The Lord helped by opening up my eyes and showing me all the little things in my life that He was taking care of.  As  my husband got worse, He brought people into our lives to show us that help was out there and they pointed me in the right direction.  We had in home aides so I could work and a chair lift so my husband could go up and down the steps.  These helps didn’t cost us a penny, but they were priceless.  As a result, my confidence got stronger.  Today, I know the Lord is looking out for me and has a plan.  I just have to listen to Him.

So, if you feel your confidence flagging, remember, God’s got this!!  He has your back.

Protecting the Pastor’s Time -Fanning the Flame CD

Once again our Fanning the Flame team gathered to listen to a CD.  This time the topic was “protecting the Pastor’s time.”  It started out with a reading from Acts, Chapter 6.  There is a controversy about the daily division of food, and the twelve disciples gathered together and decided:

“It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.  Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.  We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”  Acts 6:2-4

Notice it is not a question of the disciples being “too good” to perform such a menial task.  The men selected were also well respected, wise and spiritual.  It is a matter or prioritizing duties.  The disciples were called to a particular ministry, and they needed to focus on that responsibility.

Strangely (or not so strangely) enough, we were also recently reading this passage in Sunday School, as part of our study of spiritual gifts.  Certain gifts such as apostleship, teaching, shepherding and evangelism (probably most pastors have one or more of these) build up the body of Christ — they help it to grow, spiritually and numerically.  If the Pastor is distracted by too many “emergencies” and cannot concentrate on these gifts, the body will suffer.  According to the speaker, a good preacher will spend up to 22 hours per week in prayer, study and sermon preparation.  Is this really important?  Well, studies have shown that one of the biggest factors in whether visitors chose to join a particular church is the quality of the sermons and the preparedness of the preacher.  So, yes, it is.  Also, this speaker contends that a pastor’s counseling load will go down if his preaching is earnest and compelling enough to make a difference in the way his congregants lead their lives.

I actually think our congregation is quite respectful of my husband’s time.  However, as part of our Fanning the Flame process, he is trying to pull back from certain responsibilities that really aren’t his — for example, attending Church Council meetings.  He now goes to begin the meeting with some devotions and then leaves the council members to their work.  There is really no reason for him to be involved in getting the plumbing fixed, or scheduling the church picnic.

This CD urged pastors and church leaders to agree upon a list of 3-5 priorities for the pastor.  The list would probably include:

  1. Prayer and study
  2. Teaching and preaching the Word
  3. Leadership development

The CD also stressed the need for a commonly understood plan for all members to pray regularly for their pastor and church leaders.  This could even include signing a pledge or covenant and setting a particular time of the day.

The bottom line?  Your Pastor and every pastor needs to continue to grow in his relationship with the Lord.  His preaching should flow out of his devotional life.

Pathways by Tony Evans — Book Review

In this book, Pastor Tony Evans explains the doctrines of God’s sovereignty and God’s providence through a study of the book of Esther.  Some Christians dislike this book because God is never mentioned.  Martin Luther went so far as to say::

“I am so great an enemy to the second book of the Maccabees, and to Esther, that I wish they had not come to us at all…”

However, I choose to believe that if God allowed Esther to be included, there is a reason it will edify us.  Tony Evans says that although God is not mentioned in this book, his “fingerprints” are all over it. God is constantly at work behind the scenes, bringing His plan to fruition in His timing.  Maybe it’s meant to appeal to those of us who have a more intuitive nature.

Some of my take-aways were:

  1. God is always in control and His plans cannot be thwarted
  2. God blesses you so that you may become a blessing to others
  3. Faith is risky
  4. You will encounter spiritual roadblocks and trials
  5. It is our responsibility to live with the right perspective, and align ourselves with God’s plans, waiting for His timing and directionPathways

How do we accomplish #5?

“Study the word of God to obey it, and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.”

Overall, I enjoyed the book and found it to be an easy read.  There were a few statements I found slightly questionable as a Lutheran (Evans is a Baptist), but I was generally in agreement with his reading of Esther.  I learned a few things about the book (such as exactly where it falls in the biblical timeline).  At the end there is an appendix listing scripture verses on the topic of sovereignty, and also information on Evans’ ministry, The Urban Alternative.  He did rely on many sports analogies which may be appealing to men (forgive me if this is an incredibly sexist statement).

Verdict:  4 stars.  And ladies, if you are looking for a biblical role model, Esther would make an excellent choice!

If you would like to order this book or for more information, follow the link below:



It is Well with My Soul

Most people know the story behind this hymn, but I’ll repeat it again, just in case some readers haven’t heard it.  Horatio Spafford, an attorney was close to Dwight Moody and decided to visit Moody’s evangelistic meetings in England. At the last minute an urgent business matter detained Spafford in Chicago, so his wife and four daughters boarded the ocean liner alone, and he planned to follow.  On November 22, 1873, the ship collided with an iron sailing vessel and sank.  Spafford’s wife was rescued, but all of his children perished.  He immediately book passage to join his wife in Wales, where the survivors were taken.  The evening his ship passed over the place where his family’s ship went down, Spafford was unable to sleep.  He told himself, “It is well;  the will of God be done.”  Later he wrote his famous hymn based on these words.  (the melody was written by Philip Bliss).  It is truly a tribute to enduring tribulation with faith.