Prayers, Fears and Promises


“Bzzzzz,” vibrated my phone in the middle of Senior Theses presentations last night. A student was defending her claim about the on-going effects of the French Revolution, when I glanced over to see the name of the Middle School principal who interviewed me 6 weeks ago in Asheville, NC.  However, since I was one of 2 judges, I couldn’t satisfy my curiosity at that moment.

By the time I WAS free; the civilized deadline for calling future bosses had come and gone.  But patience has its rewards and the news was good this morning.  I got the job!  So thank you for your prayers. I will be teaching French to Middle-Schoolers in the fall.

Now don’t you feel encouraged? – You, the Church?  I know that when I have prayed persistently and over a long period of time, my faith is strengthened upon learning how God has met the need of a brother or sister.  Answered prayer makes me want to pray all the more!  My unbelief is diminished and light expands to push back the dark corners of doubt.

On a side note, God DOES  have a sense of humor.  In our private prayers about this job, Mike and I had specifically asked God to provide me with a French job with a salary range of between X and Y.  And the offer was X!  (not a penny over).  I think Mike was a bit disappointed at first.  Who doesn’t hope for more?  But I can picture God smiling, having arranged the sure way to keep our hope in HIM, the owner and provider of ALL our resources, and not in cash flow.

Despite this great news, I confess that I still struggle with fears and what ifs.

I know – you’re surprised!

You’d think that with this answered prayer, coming on the heels of  last week’s offer on our current house (thank you, Father!), I’d not fear or worry about anything!

It’s true – I have to daily engage in the uphill hand- to- hand combat for faith.  My French 4 girls and I have been translating a list of 10 Truths/Reminders about God.  A young American pastor, Matt Reagan, compiled them in college when he realized that each morning he woke up having forgotten about God.

Demonic alchemy happens in the night and faith evaporates when that alarm goes off.  We have to RE-MEMBER / RE-CONSTRUCT our faith-foundation all over again.   It’s like putting on one’s defensive knight’s armor, piece by piece to engage the day.

Hence, my daily pondering of which promises/ truths encourage me the most:   When the dark clouds of fear start rolling in, I push back firmly with the brilliant rays of God’s truths.  Here are just 3 of those dailies:

·         No good thing does God withhold from those whose way is upright (Ps 84:11)

·         The Lord is with me, I will not fear; what can man do to me? (Psalm 118:6)

·         God works all things for my good because I have been called by Him and I love Him (Romans 8:32)  

 Join with me and let’s undertake this challenge together:  think about what daily spiritual vitamins protect you, feed you, strengthen you, empower you and share them.  Let’s not be anemic, starving Christians, for want of the power available in God’s word.

For the word of God is alive and full of power.

PS: The French translate Jesus/the Logos in John 1 as ‘the verb’.  Can’t you just picture active, coursing super-natural power? 

Name change


I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the word DISCIPLINE. 

Let me make a distinction.  I have no problem initiating my own disciplines, which I see simply as habits to happiness.   But when DISCIPLINE arrives from outside of me, handed down and imposed, I squirm and feel guilty as though deserving of punishment.  Self-discipline sits differently. In fact, I remember a line from “Seventeen” magazine that went like this:

“(Self)-discipline is remembering what you want!”

The context spoke of how to stick to healthy eating habits and work-out routines.

But the term discipline, when spoken of in the Bible, jars me, reminding me of childhood spankings and the accompanying shame…. )

……hence my presumptuous proposal to substitute “training” for “discipline”.  Training feels more forward-looking since it often travels in company with a 3-letter pronoun, the word FOR.  As in, “I’m training for a marathon” or “I’m in training for 6 months to become a nail technician.”

Before you start criticizing my hermeneutics or saying that I’m changing the Bible to suit myself, listen to what I’m not doing…..

  • I’m neither using POOR logic as in the case of Representative Rob Portman who just this past week flip-flopped his OPINION of what the Bible says about homosexual unions.  Previously he had defended the traditional and Biblical definition of marriage.  Now he has chosen to broaden it because of his son’s circumstances.  He therefore has applied a Procrustean trick and made the Bible fit his desires:

Premise 1 – A loving God just wants us to be happy

Premise 2 – My son is happy with his gay partner

Conclusion – Therefore, a loving God must approve of my son’s pursuit of


  • Nor am I playing loosey-goosey in how I define the term ‘discipline’.  After all, the Latin root of the word discipline is discipulus which means student or follower. I’m just building on the original meaning – think the 12 disciples.

So, here is my thinking: IF God sovereignly sends/ allows…….  suffering….disappointments….frustrations, and IF God’s goal for ALL of His born-again covenant children is their sanctification or growth in holiness, and IF there is now no condemnation for those who are joined with Christ, and IF God is ‘totally for us’……then it sure makes the idea of discipline as training easier for me to swallow, accept and embrace with peace.  I can trust and flow with EVERYTHING that happens to me as part of God’s plan for my good.  Knowing that the painful stuff is not punishment, but TRAINING, meant to build my faith, increase my holiness, grow my readiness to flee to Jesus, lessen my grip on earthly pleasures and increase my satisfaction in God alone is a gift.

Remembering that scripture is the spoken (and written) WORD of God, let’s be assured by what God says through Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16-17:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for    correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man/servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for all good works.

It could be God delivered you of that rebellious streak when you were united with Christ, but I must still have it, if I’m chafing at a word usage.  If so, then I will watch and see how God changes my heart.

But in the meantime, I will submit gladly to the ‘blessed and only Controller/Sovereign’ who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (1 Tim 6:15) in whatever He plans for me.  

Re-interpreting the Word

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“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” Romans 5:5

Once upon a time there was a Christian woman who thought that she was unlike those liberals who dismiss parts of the Bible that don’t fit with their viewpoint or worldview.

She once dined with a lapsed Catholic who had stumbled over the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality.  This woman loyally defended a dear nephew who had come out about his sexuality.  Since the aunt knew what a kind and loving young man he was, she chose to reject the Bible’s clear precepts against any sex outside of covenant marriage between a man and a woman.

Contrary to this ‘confused former Catholic’, our Christian woman clearly thought that she did not suffer from that kind of buffet/ pick and choose mentality view of the Bible.

So it came as a shock when one day the Holy Spirit gently pointed out HER blind spot.  It turns out that she was guilty of the very same sin!


Here’s what happened.  See the above verse about God’s love having been poured out/ shed abroad/made to flow (ekcheoin the Greek)?   For quite a while, I have dismissed this verse as not true, because it does not match my experience.  I don’t FEEL a lot of love in my heart.  So I have sought to re-interpret that verb to mean IS BEING POURED OUT.  That makes more sense to me.  Maybe I’ll feel more love later on as I grow in my faith.

But that is not what the verse says.  It presents this bestowal/ filling of love in my heart as a done deal, a completed action.  We learn from the passage that this divine love is given to us by the Holy Spirit. It does not take a leap of logic to figure out the timing of this ‘love gift’.  It must have been when we were regenerated, when we were given saving faith and then in turn responded to the light.

This past Sunday, it hit me that I had dismissed the verse entirely.  I had approached the verse with my pre-supposition (if it doesn’t fit my beliefs, experiences, it must not be true).  What a shock!!!  I didn’t think I was capable of that.

Thank you Holy Spirit for giving me MORE light, so I can see the devious plot of the Evil One.


Back to our ‘once upon a time’ gal:   Since that HS revelation, she is proceeding cautiously ahead, eyes open to other errors she has probably made in understanding scripture.  Here’s her new axiom:

“If my first reaction to God’s truth in the Bible is – THAT CAN’T BE!, then I should stop and humbly ask the HS to guide me in my understanding, confident that He will answer the genuine request for wisdom.”

Worth pondering:  How does this new fact that God has ALREADY filled my heart with His love, change how I look at others?


What about Adam?


The June 2011 issue of “Christianity Today” features a provocative report about the churn among Christians over whether Adam & Eve were historical individuals as portrayed in the Bible.  Francis Collins who currently is director of a Senate-approved agency (National Institutes of Health) considers himself Christian and favors theistic evolution.  As director of the Human Genome Project (completed in 2003) Collins and colleagues mapped out gene sequencing in humans.  Collins has concluded from this study, as reported in a book he recently co-authored (The Language of Science and Faith), that “Adam & Eve as the literal first couple and ancestors of all humans do not fit the evidence”.

This assumption is disturbing on two accounts: First of all, those who support the findings and support theistic evolution minimize the impact of their assertions.  Second and more fraught with potential harm, is the implication for much of Biblical Theology and directly the trustworthiness of the Bible.  I will address the second of these issues.

The author of the “Christianity Today” article, Richard Ostling, correctly articulates what is at stake:

–      Humans’ unique status as image bearers of God

–      The doctrine of original sin and the fall

–      The genealogy of Jesus in Luke 3

–      Jesus’ teaching that all of the Old Testament points to Him (Luke 24)

–      Paul’s teaching that links the historical Adam with redemption through Christ

This issue is different from the debate among evangelical Christians who argue Old Earth vs. Young Earth.  In that arena, it is clearer that there are at least two possible interpretations.  The Bible refers to days (yowm) spent in creating the world.  In Hebrew ‘yowm/Strongs H3117’ can mean 24 hours, a year or a long period of time.  So the creation account is open to discussion without raising the trustworthiness of the Bible as an issue.

But if there is not a literal and historical Adam, then here are the implications:

-God did NOT decide as a Trinitarian unit to make man in His image, male and female (Gen 1:27)

-God did NOT have a conversation with Adam in Gen 2:16-17

-Eve did NOT talk with Satan as serpent in Gen 3:1-5

-Eve did NOT sin in Gen 3:6

-No sudden guilt, shame and cover-up happened in Gen 3:7

-No face-to-face encounter between God and the first couple took place in Gen 3:8-9

-Adam & Eve did not try to pass the buck, playing the blame game in Gen 3:11-13

-Gospel Hope was not first preached in Gen 3:15

-No penalty for sin was announced in Gen 3:16-19, thereby explaining what is wrong with our world

Given the above, I spent a sleepless night this past weekend.  I had to contemplate what it would mean NOT to trust that every word of the Bible is sovereignly breathed out by God. For 12-15 hours, I floated in a nightmarish free-for-all.  In that land, Jesus is no longer my living Rock (Psalm 18:46), no longer my reliable/faithful/true shield and bulwark/defending fortress that protects me (Psalm 91:4)   If I can’t count on God’s word as true, there is no truth.

But wishing doesn’t make it so.

How do we determine that the Bible is reliable and trustworthy as it is written?  What about scientific discoveries that seem to point to other conclusions?  I have no scientific background, but I am a bit more equipped to reason philosophically.  And that is the approach I want briefly to try out.  It is not enough to just say, “The Bible claims to be the true word of God, so it must be so.” That is circular reasoning.  We are trying to prove why the Bible is trustworthy.

For the purposes of this discussion, I am starting with the pre-supposition that God exists. Here is how it goes from there:

For God to be God, He has to be supernatural.  He has to be all-powerful and all-knowing.  And from everything I have witnessed in life, He is also all-good. What is my evidence? : my life, the lives of Christian friends, the accounts of dead ‘saints’ and the historical events of Biblical characters.  In all of these, there is evidence of God working through ‘bad’ circumstances in lives to bring about amazing results.  Having established that He is supernaturally all-good, He also has to be completely truthful and dependable. For someone who is good cannot lie or be wishy-washy.

So, if a transcendent god with these qualities were to ordain that a document be written for the benefit of his creation, would it not follow that this document would be a reflection of his character?   In our everyday life, what we say and do springs from who we are. It is only logical that the same would pertain to this god.   It is therefore ‘reasonable’ ( in the true sense of the word, i.e. logical) to assume that the Bible reflects the character of God.  If God is trustworthy and faithful and true, then so is His Word.  At this point, we can then add what the Bible says about itself.  There are many verses, but here are two that come to mind:

–      Psalm 19: 7-9 gives many adjectives about God’s written word.  It is PERFECT, SURE, RIGHT, PURE, ENDURING, TRUE and RIGHTEOUS

–      Hebrews 4:12 says that God’s word is ALIVE, ACTIVE, EFFECTUAL and FULL OF POWER.

Finally, Jesus who is God, Himself validated the entire Old Testament when He explicitly taught some of the disciples who had been walking to Emmaus.  Over a meal, He showed them how the Pentateuch (includes Genesis) and the Prophets all pointed to Him. (Luke 24:27)

Thinking this through settles the issue for me.  God’s Word IS true and reliable and worth centering my life on.  What about the Human Genome Project?  I don’t know.  I will trust God to sort that out.  I don’t dismiss scientific inquiry. Neither do I default to submitting to science.  I don’t have to have all the answers to trust God, to rely on the Bible completely. I can take my concerns to God and lay them at His feet and trust that He will instruct me.  God is my lodestar.  That is the decision I have to make daily, hourly.

PS:   bereft of my bedrock for those few hours has had the sweet benefit of making me love the Bible all the more.  How precious are its words!  May we taste and see that He who is the Word is good.

Are you starving? – a new kind of Diet


Jesus said in Matt 4:4, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”

Are you hungry for God’s word?  If you think you are not, that is probably an indication of just how anemic, how weak and how starved you truly are!  But if you’re hungry, why aren’t you eating?  Because you have an enemy who is determined to do whatever it takes to keep you from being nourished in God’s word.  If you are fed regularly, then you might become an effective Christian.  He doesn’t want that.

Satan’s favorite thoughts to plant in us are:

  • I don’t have time….
  • I don’t really feel like it……
  • It’s kind of boring…….
  • It’s so overwhelming, that I don’t know where to begin!

The above FEEL like our own thoughts, but they are not.  They are the enemy’s suggestions that he has silently sewn in our minds.  But we do NOT have to submit.

In view of the approaching New Year, I am offering an example from real life: a man, a West Pointer who was not only a military hero, but a Christian soldier.

The following excerpted directly from an on-line essay by Dr. John Barnett when I googled General Harrison.

“Lt. General William K. Harrison was the most decorated soldier in the 30th Infantry Division, rated by General Eisenhower as the number one infantry division in World War II.  General Harrison was the first American to enter Belgium, which he did at the head of the Allied forces.  He received every decoration for valor except the Congressional Medal of Honor – being honored with the Distinguished Silver Cross, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, and the Purple Heart (he was one of the few generals to be wounded in action).  When the Korean War began, he served as Chief of Staff in the United Nations Command – and because of his character and self-control was ultimately President Eisenhower’s choice to head the long and tedious negotiations to end the war.

General Harrison, a soldier’s soldier who led a busy, ultra-kinetic life, was also an amazing man of the Word.  When he was a twenty-year-old West Point Cadet, he began reading the Old Testament once a year and the New Testament four times. General Harrison did this until the end of his life. Even in the thick of war he maintained his commitment by catching up during the two- and three-day respites for replacement and refitting which followed battles, so that when the war ended he was right on schedule.

When, at the age of ninety, his failing eyesight no longer permitted his discipline, he had read the Old Testament seventy times and the New Testament 280 times!  No wonder his godliness and wisdom were proverbial, and that the Lord used him for eighteen fruitful years to lead Officers Christian Fellowship (OCF).

General Harrison’s story tells us two things: it is possible for the busiest of us, to systematically feed on God’s Word. No one could be busier or lead a more demanding life than General Harrison. His life remains a demonstration of a mind programmed with God’s Word.  His closest associates say that every area of his life (domestic, spiritual, and professional) and each of the great problems he faced was informed by the Scriptures.  People marveled at his knowledge of the Bible and the ability to bring its light to every area of life. He lived out the experience of the Psalmist:


We are well-acquainted with how tempting it is to make a New Year’s resolution.  We also tend to think about the concomitant disappointment that follows when we break it.  But this is different. You CAN resolve to read your Bible every day and not fear.   As Christians, we have the gift of repentance as a WONDERFUL tool.  So if you miss a day, repent, ask for God’s help and begin again.  Keep Satan’s offense in mind.  He would love for us to miss a day and have that turn into a week and then in despair give up.  His seed/thought is ready to be fertilized in our souls, “I’m just not the kind of Christian who can consistently read her Bible” NOT TRUE!!!  Fight on!

Post a comment or send me an email if you would like me to pray that you would stay committed!  We need each other’s prayers.

May God bless and enrich your spiritual mealtime and put MEAT on your bones through regular feeding in 2011.  Bon appétit!


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