Wait Patiently

If we have faith, in times of uncertainty we wait patiently, relying on God’s promises. As the book of Romans tells us:

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”  Romans 12:12

Some things (like the day and hour of the second coming) may still be uncertain when we die.  Other uncertain situations will come to an end.  The uncertainty about our new grandson, Bradley David, was resolved on August 6th, when he made his first appearance.

There is talk of a vaccine for the coronavirus, so we can look forward to a time when masks and social distancing will become a thing of the past.  The questions of when my husband will retire and where we will live will eventually be answered.  The currently jobless will find occupations, babies will learn to sleep through the night, teenagers will become adults and discover their callings and soulmates, and the world will keep spinning.  Sometimes we’ll be disappointed because things don’t work out as we hoped, but many times we’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover that God’s plans are even better than we imagined.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

If you’re uncertain, wait patiently.  Hope. Pray.  Remember that God is at work.  Life is uncertain, but He is not.

For more on waiting, see these posts:

Patiently Waiting?

Weak and Waiting

Worth Waiting For



New Month/New Theme

I’m posting this for our author, Martha, because of some “technical difficulties” with the blog.

The theme for August is Faith in Times of Uncertainty. As I write this, my family is waiting for results from my sister’s test for coronavirus, as she had some symptoms earlier this week. I am at this moment very familiar with uncertainty.
Jesus lived in a time of uncertainty, too. People in His culture had to deal with the Roman occupation, with incurable diseases such as leprosy, with poverty, and with the prospect of dying young, even in the best of times. Still, the people in the New Testament who are dealing with the biggest problems are the ones with the greatest faith: the woman with the bleeding issue (Matthew 9:20–22, Mark 5:25–34, Luke 8:43–48), the centurion with the sick servant (Matthew 8:5-13), the Syrophoenician, or Canaanite, woman whose daughter was ill (Matthew 15:21-28) – Jesus praised these people for their faith. And Jesus had faith to go to the cross, faith that His Father would raise Him up from the dead – and He did.
I, too, must lean on faith to trust that God has my sister in His hands. Satan will try to grab hold of our struggles and turn them into despair, but faith is trusting that God is still in control when everything seems out of control, and that He will see us through everything that lies ahead. “I don’t know what the future may hold, but I know who holds the future.”
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the new pandemic-fueled realities, the political unrest in our nation, or personal struggles that you are facing, turn them over to God (even if it means praying, “God, I want to give you this trouble, but I need you to pry my fingers off it as I don’t have the power to let go”). Turn your troubles over to the God who honors the prayer, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:23-25). Times may be uncertain, but God never is.

When There is No Clarity Exercise Charity

Let’s face it friends, there are times when there is no clarity.  This pandemic is an example.  We just don’t have enough information to be confident that the right decisions are being made.  We know contagion is spread by close, personal contact … but how close?  It may live on surfaces for a time …. but how long?  Masks might protect us, or at least others… do we wear them all the time?…. only inside?…. only when social distancing isn’t possible?  Gloves are helpful … but only if you change them every time you touch something different.  Infections seem to be declining …. but will there be another wave?  A vaccine is in the offing …. but how long until it can be tested and produced safely?  Certain drugs could help …. or on the other hand, maybe they’re dangerous. We should probably stay home alone …. or only with our families …. or in groups of ten or less …. or gather only outside …  or who knows?

Understandably this is causing a lot of anxiety and disagreement, even in churches.  Can we resume services?  Can we sing?  How do we offer communion?  Do we have to wear masks?  Is it okay to touch doorknobs?  Should overhead fans be turned off?  How far do we sit from one another?  Well, you get the idea.  There are a million questions, and almost as many opinions.  Some want to keep things 100% safe (not possible);  others want to behave as if everything is the same as it was a few months ago (also not possible).

So what should we do? As always pray.  Be considerate of others, regardless of their viewpoint (this is charity, or love).  Be kind, gentle and respectful in expressing our feelings (this is self-control). Put others first — do what you can to allay fear (this is self-sacrifice). Wait before judging because things will become clearer in time (patience).  In other words, practice the fruit of the Spirit (described in Galatians).  This is our calling as followers of Christ.  The crisis can tear us apart, or set us apart.  Let the world see how we love one another.

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”  Ephesians 4:3

For more posts on the coronavirus see:

New Month – June 2020 Clearer Vision Because of the Coronavirus

Positive Thinking

The Snare is Broken part 1

For more on the fruit of the Spirit:

Let the Fruit of the Spirit Flow

The Story Isn’t Over ….

Small Things

This is an article I wrote which will be appearing in the June Ambassador, the denominational magazine for the AFLC (Association of Free Lutheran Churches).  I would be interested to hear from other authors and readers about what their churches are doing to reach out to the community during the pandemic.

When I saw the notice in the May Ambassador requesting articles about what our churches are doing to help the community during the pandemic, I felt a little depressed. I wish I could say that here at St. Paul’s in Leitersburg, we are doing great things for the Lord. However, we’re small and have many elderly members, so our abilities are limited. Then I realized our size and our resources don’t matter – the Bible tells us that even small things can be used in a big way by God. We just have to be willing to give what we have, like the little boy with his loaves and fishes.

So here are some small things we have been doing at St. Paul’s:

  • We have a little free library. The emails I get as a steward of the library mentioned that many were removing books from their libraries, due to the fear of passing infection by books being borrowed and then returned or replaced by many people. Some stewards were turning their libraries into “blessing boxes” by filling them with paper goods or other needed supplies. We decided to put canned and boxed food in ours, posting a note to “Take What You Need.”
  • This past year we started a Youth Ministry for the teens who reside at a local mental health facility. Due to social distancing we are unable to see them, or even send them packages. Instead we encouraged our members to send notes and cards, asking for their prayer requests and telling them we loved and cared for them. We are also preparing a “goodie basket” of snacks for the staff.
  • A number of our members carry “blessing bags” of food, a small Bible and needed hygienic supplies to give out to the homeless we see as we run our daily errands. I find that I am giving out even more than usual right now.
  • We could not serve our scheduled meal at the local mission last month. However, we were able to prepare a dinner and drop it off.
  • One of our small discipleship groups is collecting plastic bags (the kind you get in the grocery store) so that they can weave them into mats to give out to the homeless.
  • Of course, we are trying to stay in touch and encourage our own members who are shut-in through cards and calls, and our prayer team is still active and taking requests, although not meeting in person.

I’m sure there are many other churches, community groups and individuals who are doing “little” things to help others. They may not seem like much in the face of a global problem, but they mean the world to each person they touch. The Gospel, after all, is spread by one person speaking to another. So don’t be discouraged. Do the small things you can, and trust God to use them.

” Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” Zechariah 4:10 (New Living Translation)

New Month/No Theme

Another month has passed, and it’s been a long one for many people — closures, cancellations, church services on Zoom and Facebook Live. Face masks and social distancing have become normal. Life has changed. I hope our readers and authors have been praying for the world during this pandemic, and maybe stay-at-home orders have given many of us time to ponder the things that are really important in life.

So, what are your thoughts during this crisis?  Have you been studying, reading, meditating?  Have you been bored and frustrated?  Worried?  Content to be taking a break? How has your life changed and where do you want to go from here?

This is a free-for-all, no theme month.  Readers, tell us what you’d like to discuss.  Authors, this is your chance to speak your mind — go where God leads you!  Whatever happens, He loves you and so do I!

God’s Victory Through the Sacrament of Communion, part 1

This is my husband’s sermon for Maundy Thursday.  Because of the coronavirus, the congregation could not gather, but it is also posted on our church website.  I think it does a good job of explaining the different beliefs about this sacrament, and how it is a crucial component of God’s plan for victory over evil.

I think nothing has seemed so strange to me as writing a Maundy Thursday sermon knowing that the sacrament of Holy Communion will not take place that night. Nor will we strip the chancel area in preparation for a Good Friday service. It is, however, important for us not to forget these times at this most important part of the Church year. We are people of faith, faith in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of the living God who bore our punishment for our sinfulness and freed us all from the power of sin, death and the devil. Satan no doubt thinks he has won some sort of battle here by emptying sanctuaries around the world this paschal season, but he is not only a liar, he is a fool for, while the Lord is present in His sanctuary, so He is present in the hearts and minds of His chosen people. This week is the week of Christus Victor, the victorious Messiah, victorious over all that is wrong with creation, all that has been distorted by sin.

We see part of the Lord’s victory here in the 26th chapter of Matthew beginning at the 26th verse.

The Lord and His closest disciples are assembled in the upper room for a final meal together. Jesus has spoken of it as the Passover meal, but it is a day earlier than the calendar denotes Passover because, by the time most Jews were eating Passover, Jesus would be in the tomb. The Passover meal has many discrete parts because it is not only a time of eating but of learning and re-learning about God’s rescue of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Each part of the meal was a discreet learning experience. Jesus starts something new that night. He establishes another meal to replace the Passover, one that is meant to teach and re-teach believers over the centuries like the Passover meal, but with a great difference between the two celebrations. The Passover meal looked back in remembrance alone, it is intellectual and maybe spiritual. God is spoken of but not present physically because He was, at that time, not yet incarnated, He had not taken on the body of a man. In Christ Jesus, however, God had become like us, He had walked among us, living like us except without sin. And He was going to stay with us in a new way, a way both physical and spiritual. And so the new meal of the faithful must be both physical and spiritual.

To be continued ……

The Weeping Prophet

As I write this, I’ve just read that the coming week may be the worst one so far for the United States during this pandemic.  The prophet, Jeremiah had also seen the worst of things happen.  In fact, he is known as the “weeping prophet.”  Jerusalem, the city of David, the city of God, had fallen.  Many people were killed, and others were carried off into exile. The book of Lamentations is Jeremiah’s mourning cry for the glory that is gone.  It is written in the style of an ancient, Jewish funeral song.

“How deserted lies the city, once so full of people!

How like a widow is she, who once was great among nations!”  Lamentations 1:1

Sound a lot like what’s going on now.  Few people are venturing out.  Businesses are closed.  People are wondering if our economy can withstand this blow.  Many are wondering where God is in all this.  Well, Jeremiah wondered, too.

“I have been deprived of peace;  I have forgotten what prosperity is.

So, I say, ‘My splendor is gone, and all that I had hoped from God’.”  Lamentations 3:17-18

Sad as this book is, it also offers comfort. Jeremiah, though depressed and discouraged, does not lose faith in God.

“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;  great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion;  therefore I will wait for him.”  Lamentations 3:22-24

Bad things happen to people, even God’s people. The Gospel does not promise us wealth, permanent good health or perpetual happiness.  It does not promise that our country will always be the number one power in the world.  It does promise eternal life for those who believe in the Savior.  It does promise that God will be with us, and will lead us through all of our trials.  He has compassion, and when we trust in Him we experience His peace — a peace the world does not understand.  A peace that we can have even now.  God will always triumph over evil.  Even this evil will end.  Trust in Him.



Positive Thinking

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”  Philippians 4:8

In these verses, the apostle Paul is basically telling his friends in the church of Philippi to keep their minds focused on the positive things in life.  For many of us, that’s hard to do right now.  We’re isolated and worried about many things: our health, our income, and the many people across the world who are being adversely affected by the corona virus.  While these are legitimate concerns, we should not dwell on them or catastrophize.  It’s amazing to note that when Paul wrote this letter, full of joy and gratitude, he was in prison!  It seems he was able to take his own advice.  In fact, he sees a purpose in his situation:

“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.  And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”  Philippians 1:12-14

Here are some of the benefits of positive thinking:                                                                                                                                                                              Increased life span
Lower rates of depression
Lower levels of distress
Greater resistance to the common cold
Better psychological and physical well-being
Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

Instead of telling yourself that you or your loved ones will probably get this disease and die, give thanks for our healthcare system and the many doctors, nurses and researchers who are working to save lives.  Instead of bemoaning the fact that you can’t get out and see friends, send cards and write notes to those who are in nursing homes who are permanently shut-in.  Instead of hoarding, offer to share with a neighbor.  Take this unexpected “time-out” as an opportunity to pray and read your Bible. When you feel fearful, write down some of God’s promises. You get the idea.  I’d love to hear some more suggestions from our readers and other authors.  Can you, like Paul, see some purpose in this trial?  Are there blessings amidst the difficulty?

The Snare is Broken part 3

I hope everyone here today has learned that facing enemies alone is a frightening and often fruitless thing to do.  We’re witnessing today something that should concern all of us, this corona virus pandemic.  People are frightened, especially those who do not know the Lord.  They’re looking to governments to protect them and while governments can marshal armies to repel invaders, there’s not a lot they can do about illnesses such as this.  They don’t even know if the drastic actions they are taking will have anything to do with the eventual end of this worldwide problem.  They’re trying because people expect them to try.  In fact, people expect them to win against this disease.  But surely we should have learned by now that there will always be some new or mutated disease that will endanger people.  As another psalmist writes, “put not your trust in princes, in a son of man in whom there is no salvation.”

David was a king, a great king actually, but he knew it wasn’t his careful war and battle planning of the valor of his men or even good luck that saved Israel.  It was the Lord who made and claimed them as His own people.  In verse 7 of Psalm 124 David speaks of a fowler’s net.  This was for centuries the way people collected birds for food.  They would wait until birds were on the ground and then drop a net over them, trapping them until they could be killed.  But the Lord had broken the snare in which Israel’s enemies sought to trap them.  The cords of the net were cut and once cut, the bird was able to escape the death that awaited.

The snares that entrap the people of God will always be broken, His people will always be saved unto eternity.  The snare of sin has been defeated.  The snare of death has lost its’ sting, the snare of the devil has no more power.  And we could go on.  But the snares that would truly harm us have been broken on the cross of Calvary.  The snare of the satanic fowler and the snare of our own sinful natures have been rent asunder and no longer entrap us when we have come into the knowledge of the truth that is shown in Jesus Christ.

Still more to come …..

For parts 1 and 2 go to these posts:

The Snare is Broken part 1

The Snare is Broken part 2

New Month/New Theme

I’m posting this for one of our authors, Martha, who is having some “technical difficulties” with the blog today.

I have always loved books and movies that clearly depict the battle of good vs. evil, where good succeeds ( The Narnia Chronicles, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, etc.). But there is one book that excels all others for telling the story of how Good wins the victory over evil: the Bible.
Our theme for April is God’s victory over evil. This is relevant to our current circumstances, for in faith we trust that God will bring us through the COVID-19 crisis and that we will be able to return to the routines of our daily lives, in God’s good time. The virus is an evil, but God will triumph.
The theme also applies to God’s ultimate victory over evil, which was achieved through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and his glorious resurrection on the third day. The fact that we will still be in quarantine for Good Friday and Resurrection Day this year reduces not at all the solemn realization that Christ died for our sins and the glorious good news that Christ is risen indeed!
Rejoice!  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5). In our isolation this Easter we should all the more celebrate what God has done, for we know that we are the people of the Living God, and he is present with us always – and  no one will take away our joy (John 16:22)!
Be safe. Be well. Be blessed. And remember, if the days seem dark, that the day of Resurrection celebration is near and our salvation is certain.
God loves you, and so do I.