Category Archives: Scripture

who shall declare His generation?

“He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken” –Isaiah 53:8

Their words brought a chill to my bones, while at the same time setting my spirit on fire. Chilling because of the certain reminder of how powerful and effective the winds of strong words can quickly bring a sleepy soul to shivering and warming because of the certain reminder of how powerful and effective the fuel of strong words can quickly fan into flame the embers of a fire temporarily forgotten.

Isaiah 53. The entire chapter. Twelve verses. Spoken from memory, together and out loud for the first time by sixteen, fourth graders on Thursday morning. They’ve been working on the chapter in sections since the beginning of the school year, and this week, they put the verses all together. I wish you could have been there as witnesses. The further along they went in their recitation, the louder their volume. When they got to the end, a hearty round of applause could be heard, and for the more perceptive, a few tears could be observed in the eyes of their teacher.

This is how we win, students. This is how we defeat the enemy, the true enemy behind all the evil in the world. We may not be able to stop a bullet from tearing into our flesh, but we can stop a bullet from tearing into our spirits. This is how we win. With God. With truth in our hearts and with truth spoken from our lips. Do not ever let these words depart from your heart. Practice them every now and again so you don’t forget. This way, for the rest of your days, you’ll always know that you’re not alone … that there is One who has made his home with you, taken up his cross to save you, and now lives to make intercession for you.

And then I told them that, perhaps, in those hallowed moments of their speaking truth out loud, God just might have called the prophet Isaiah over and, together, the two of them listened in to our morning recitations with a smile across their hearts. I can’t prove it happened that way, but I like thinking about it. So did my students.

Chilling winds; stoked embers; peaceful pause.

This is how we win. This is how we defeat the enemy in times of terror. We may not be able to stop a bullet to our chests, but we can make certain that if one lodges there, it is encased and swallowed up by layers of truth – God’s truth that is lavishly given to us in the pages of holy writ, the Bible. The world would be a better place if it stopped trying to manage and manipulate truth, and, instead, meditated upon it, memorized it, and allowed it to transform each one of us from the inside-out.

Who shall declare his generation? Who will tell his story?

I will. Maybe even a few of my students will. Why? Because his story has become … is becoming our story. Every day we are learning truth, and while it might not all make sense to my students at this point in their journeys of grace, I know one day it will. Why? Because God makes sense and his words have everlasting depth. They strike through to the bone, chilling us when we need to awaken from our drowsiness and warming us when we’ve forgotten the strength of a single, lit match.

Stay in the Word, friends. Stay with Jesus every day. He is how we win. He is how we stay alive, even in the midst of death. As always …

Peace for the journey,

distracted …


I am. I have been for the past couple of weeks, and now I’m physically sick. What has been brewing in my mind and circling over my emotions has taken root in my flesh, and I have taken to my bed. Oh, perhaps there’s a floating bug in the air that took advantage of my compromised immune system; ‘tis the season to catch unwanted viruses. But I’m thinking the two are connected.

Whenever a virus lies in wait, whether of the physical variety or of the assault-your-heart-and-mind variety, some breakage is inevitable. When both are present at the same time, there’s bound to be a collision that forces the issue of healing.

I hear the Father’s question spoken to my heart today, even as I read it in antiquity from John’s Gospel (5:6) …

Do you want to get well … Elaine?

The answer seems obvious. However, that which is obvious is not always that which is chosen. Follow-thru is paramount regarding a choice for health. If I want to get well, I’d better start acting toward that end. What does this look like for me?

Two things: a choice to medicate and a choice to meditate. To fuel my body with the proper regimen of proven remedies and to fuel my mind with the same. And so, as I reach over to my nightstand for another Vitamin C tablet to bolster my flesh, I also reach for the Book that’s been remedying my soul-maladies for nearly half a century. Together, they are prescriptive, a best course of treatment for attacking the viruses within and bringing about my healing in due time.

When I am distracted by God’s Word, I am less distracted by the many cares of this world. Not that I live apart from the world; the world is ever-present around me and requires my participation. But in the midst of that requirement, there are ways to temper such burden. A good dose of vitamins and a good dive into scripture is a good beginning.

Maybe today a virus is eating away at your good health. You’re worn down from the chase, running in circles and slamming into walls that won’t move. Try as you may, you can no longer deny the impending collision. Where your preference plays a role is in answering the same question that was offered by Jesus to the one infirmed at the pool of Bethesda some 2000 years ago:

Do you want to get well?

I know I do. My prayer is that you will as well. Whatever sickbed you’re lying on today, the prescription for healing is within reach.

Medicate and meditate. Meditate and medicate. Back and forth – forth and back until the worldly disruption in your flesh and in your mind fades to black and the eternal distraction of Jesus comes into clear focus. In him and with him, all things are made well.

Peace for the journey,

moving the Kingdom forward in the next sixty minutes . . .

Movement wins. If you’ve been a regular reader at my blog in the past year, then you know that I chose this phrase to serve as my “anchor word” for 2012. Forward movement is a worthy pursuit, whether in the physical or spiritual realm of advancement. When we make the deliberate decision to move forward in faith, then it’s a win, not just for us but for the kingdom of God as well.

Along these lines, I’d like to offer you a challenge today—a single way that you can move your faith forward, thereby advancing God’s kingdom. It may sound simple, but I imagine it might be harder in practice. That’s what we’re going to do . . . practice our faith in a practical way. Practice is often the conduit for transformation. Great teaching will only take us so far, but great teaching applied in earnest unlocks the sacred potential in all of us to move forward in our perfection. So if you’re willing, let’s apply this one change to the way we spend our next hour (whenever this hour arrives for you).

Two steps are required. First, listen to the Word. Second, do the Word. Ready? Then listen up:

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.” –2 Corinthians 5:16

Now, do this one thing: No longer regard anyone from a worldly point of view.

Translation? Stop looking at the people in front of you from a worldly perspective. Stop viewing them as flesh and blood. Instead, view them as soul and spirit. See them not as temporal beings but, rather, as the eternal children of God. Look deeply into the faces of those around you, those who’ll cross your path in the next sixty minutes, and find the face of God. Notice Jesus and his pulse as he hovers around them. Recognize a single human life for what it is—a created being fashioned and formed in the image of God, a life worthy of Calvary’s investment. Grace’s investment.

With the Holy Spirit’s help, you can do this, friends. We can do this. In doing so, we move the kingdom of God forward. We may not be privy to the results of our investment or feel the earth move beneath our feet, but we can be certain that the heavens are marking our paces and turning the pages of the kingdom calendar in great anticipation of the arrival of its King.

This is not the time for weak faith and shoddy investments. This is the season for bold faith and Jesus investments. No, God doesn’t need us to move his kingdom forward, but because of his great love for us, he offers us the privilege of sacred participation. He gives us the opportunity and the occasion to see his people, all of his people, from his vantage point.

No longer regard anyone from a worldly point of view. The souls in front of us cannot afford our negligence. So get busy; the clock’s ticking. Fifty-seven minutes and counting. Make them count. As always . . .

Peace for the journey,

five steps to harvesting a good theology…

It’s been one of those mornings in Bible study—a time of reflection that promotes more questions than answers. A day when I (again) wrote these words in the margin of my current Bible study guide, “Do I really believe this?” Whenever this happens, my contemplation takes a turn, sometimes toward clarity, sometimes toward confusion. On this particular morning, there’s confusion—a long wrestling of thought, Word, and practical living that doesn’t compute fully with the author’s considerations. Accordingly, I won’t “go there,” at least not with you, friends. Instead, I’ll take my questions to God and continue to flesh out my beliefs with him, with his Word, and with an open heart. Sometimes it’s just better to let our questions simmer before him rather than fanning them into flame before mankind. Why?

Well, sometimes we’re not as forgiving as God is. In fact, never are we as forgiving as God is. He’s more open-minded with our earnest probing and deliberate searches for answers. We, on the other hand, are more comfortable with ours judgments, making assumptions, drawing conclusions, and rendering a verdict when someone bravely risks doing the heart work attached to his/her faith and doing so out loud. And so today, I tuck away my questions, and I focus on a scripture that has surfaced for me from this same study and from God’s Word that doesn’t warrant my question mark but only my highlighter and my “Amen.” Hear now from God’s Word:

“So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah. She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough” (Ruth 2:17-18).

So what in the wide world of faith and function do these verses have in common with the questions stirring in my spirit this morning?

Everything, because in these two verses, God gives me . . . gives you a “how-to” for dealing with the hard wrestlings that sometime surface for us as we move forward in our faith and understanding. Ruth . . .

  • gleaned the harvest;
  • threshed the harvest;
  • carried the harvest;
  • ate the harvest;
  • shared the harvest

Good theology, good understanding begins in the wheat fields, where bread has already been planted by the Sower, watered by the Sower, and grown by the Sower. Truth cannot be created. Truth already is; accordingly, our souls’ understanding cannot, should not be built from scratch. We must start with good seed planted in rich soil—a harvest ready for gleaning. Good understanding begins with God and his Word. Get there first, and you’re in a good place of education and eternal growth. Glean truth from what’s already been grown; you won’t come up empty-handed. God’s already handed you his abundance.

Secondly, good understanding grows during the threshing process—a time when the wheat is spread out so that the edible grain can be loosened from the inedible chaff. A time of cutting through the chaff to get to the palatable. “Without the grain’s release from its hardened casing, the ripened seeds are reduced in their usefulness” (Peace for the Journey, 2010, pg. 113). Good understanding doesn’t come home to roost in our hearts unless there’s been a hearty threshing applied along the way. It’s not always easy to relinquish the harvest to the pounding; rarely is it comfortable, but if we’re after God’s truth—if we really want to know that we know that we know deep down in the marrow of our souls—then we must surrender our questions and our confusion to the winnowing process.

Notice Ruth’s next obedience. She carried the harvest back to town. When questions surface in our hearts regarding our faith and our theology, not only must we glean and thresh the harvest, but also we must carry the harvest with us . . . for a season. Let the work that’s being done in you, linger with you for awhile. Don’t short step this process or make false assumptions about your knowledge. Good understanding must be mulled over, contemplated, and developed over time. The saints of old spent a lifetime cultivating godly understanding. They didn’t have all the answers on the front side of their faith; the answers arrived for them along the way and as they went, one step at a time. You don’t have all the answers regarding God and his Word. Thinking that you do is a good indicator that there’s more work to be done.

Next, Ruth ate the harvest. After gleaning it, threshing it, and carrying it, the harvest was finally ready for consumption. I don’t know much about the digestion process, but I do know that once something goes in my mouth, it goes down . . . deep down and becomes (in essence) part of my inward being. Are you hearing what I’m saying (rather what I’m typing—rather quickly and furiously I might add, not furiously bad, but furiously good)? Before anything, any truth, any knowledge becomes part of our inward beings, let’s be sure we give it thorough consideration before we consume it. To blindly eat the harvest in front of us is to open up our souls to disaster, to waste, to fraudulent food that does more harm than good.

Finally, Ruth shared the harvest. After she had eaten her fill, she generously shared the harvest with Naomi. Initially, we might think Ruth would have first given the harvest to her mother-in-law; after all, Ruth’s generosity is clearly on display at every turn. But I want to lead you along for a moment with a thought that just occurred to me. Just as the ancient custom of the king’s cupbearer tasting the wine before passing it on to his master, could it be the same principle at work here—Ruth eating her fill, making sure it was good for consumption before passing it along to Naomi? Could it be the same for us in regards to spiritual understanding? That after we’ve gleaned, threshed, carried, and eaten the harvest, we might finally come to some realizations about God’s truth in regards to our wrestlings and questions? In other words, if it goes down smoothly for us, if the harvest is good for us, then, perhaps it might be good for others, might be ready for the sharing? Sometimes, eating the harvest is the only way to know if it’s safe for public consumption. Better to pass truth along after it’s been tested.

And so today, on a day when I wrestle through some questions, I’ll do so with Ruth’s example in mind. I’ll glean from God’s fields, thresh the wheat, carry the edible around with me for awhile, eat it while monitoring my digestion, and then, maybe I’ll share it with you. Maybe I won’t. It’s too early to tell.

Oh that we all might take Ruth’s lead and step back from the mirror long enough to submit our thoughts, questions, and theology to the harvesting process so that we might arrive at the place of fully believing in the faith that we are so willing to boldly profess!

For what it’s worth, it’s what I’m thinking about today. What are you thinking about? As always . . .

Peace for the journey,

when Genesis falls to the floor…

Genesis went flying to the floor . . . literally. It came unglued, unhinged from its binding and cascaded to the ground a few weeks ago while I was walking down the hallway. I knew it was loose, knew it wouldn’t be long before I would have to give attention to its permanency. The cover holding it all together—the entirety of God’s Word—had long since lost its luster. My Bible desperately needed a make-over, but I kept hoping for “later” rather than “sooner.” It kept telling me “sooner” rather than “later,” and when Genesis fell to the floor, I made the decision to fix the problem.


After all, what good is the story—my story—when the beginning is omitted? When Genesis goes missing, so goes understanding. Life, faith, and truth must be worked out within the framework of Genesis—our beginning days when the Word hovered over the dark and the deep and spoke words of gracious and good creation. We need the witness of our beginning. No life story is complete without it. With this in mind, I carefully packed my “Genesis,” along with the remaining balance of Scripture, and sent my beloved Bible to Burrows, IN. Apparently, the Word is alive and active in Burrows, and there are some wonderful folks at Leonard’s Books more than willing to make sure that my beginning stays intact.


I am grateful for their handiwork. Yes, I could have purchased another Bible, perhaps a couple for the price that I paid to have it restored, but they wouldn’t be able to replace this one. Why? Because it is this Bible, the one I purchased eight years ago, that has literally transformed my heart. This Bible and I have some longevity with one another; I plan on it walking with me the rest of the journey home. Having my beginning in hand makes my ending that much sweeter.


So, a question or two. What do you do when your beginning—your “Genesis”—falls to the ground, separates itself from the rest of the pages of your story? Do you leave it there unattended? Do you tuck it away in a drawer with good intentions to graft it back in at a later date? Do you cast it aside, deem it unnecessary and discard it along with yesterday’s trash? Do you stuff it back inside the covers of your story with hopes that it will stay . . . all on its own, without glue, without hinge?


Sometimes, our stories take a hit or two. Sometimes our “Genesis” falls to the ground. We lose our compass and stray far from God’s intended path. We foolishly make assumptions regarding the “fix” thereby postponing understanding. We patch, paste, and carelessly cram God’s Word together, hoping it will be enough to carry us through to the finish. But patching, pasting, and cramming leave the door open for neglect—for misplaced pages, fallen chapters, and lost beginnings. When we forsake the entirety of God’s Word, when we pick and choose what stays and what gets left behind, we’ve lost some of our story. And to lose our story, friends, is to lose the purpose of our lives.


How much better would it be if we carefully and willingly picked up the missing pages of our stories and sent them to God for the rebinding? He is the glue who holds our pages together, who scripts our lives from beginning to end, and who promises to make them all count . . . every last word of this great adventure called life.


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning (John 1:1-2).


He is with us still—our “sooner” rather than “later.” I don’t know about you, but I could certainly use some soul-rebinding right now . . . there’s something missing in my life, a few pages that have been lost along the way. Even as I am willing to send off my Bible for repair, I pray for a heart that is willing to do the same. Maybe you understand; maybe this post is for you.


May the tender, gracious hands of the Father rest upon you and lovingly rebind your story to his this day. May the truth that you hold in your heart be the same truth that he holds in his, and may his covering be the strength that binds all the pages of your story together and that carries you safely home to heaven. As always . . .


Peace for the journey,

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