Lift Up Your Eyes

By |2021-01-11T08:06:06-05:00January 11th, 2021|

The clouds hung low, blocking the horizon and limiting visibility to only a few hundred yards. The minutes dragged on. The effect on my mood was noticeable. But then, as afternoon approached, the clouds began to break, and I saw it: beautiful Pikes Peak, the most recognizable landmark of my city, flanked on each side by the mountain range. A smile broke over my face. I considered that even our physical perspective—our literal line of sight—can affect our spiritual vision. And I was reminded of the psalmist singing, “I lift my eyes to the mountains” (Psalm 121:1). Sometimes we simply need to lift our eyes a bit higher!

The psalmist pondered where his help came from, maybe because the hilltops around Israel were dotted with altars to pagan gods and often contained robbers. Or it could have been because the psalmist looked up beyond the hills to Mount Zion where the Temple stood, and remembered that the Maker of Heaven and Earth was his covenant God (v. 2). Either way, to worship we must look up. We have to lift our eyes higher than our circumstances, higher than our troubles and trials, higher than the empty promises of the false gods of our day. Then we can see the Creator and Redeemer, the One who calls us by name. He’s the one who will “watch over your coming and going” today and forevermore (v. 8).

Depths of Love

By |2021-01-06T08:06:09-05:00January 6th, 2021|

Three-year-old Dylan McCoy had just learned to swim when he fell through a rotted plywood covering into a forty-foot deep, stone-walled well in his grandfather’s backyard. Dylan managed to stay afloat in ten feet of water until his father climbed down the slippery rocks to rescue him. Firefighters brought ropes to raise the boy but the father was so worried about his son that he hastily climbed down to make sure he was safe.

Oh, the love of a parent! Oh, the lengths (and depths) we will go for our children!

When the apostle John writes to believers in the early church who were struggling to find footing for their faith as false teaching swirled about them, he extends these words like a life-preserver: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1). Naming the followers of Jesus as “children” of God was an intimate and legal labeling that brought validity to all who follow Jesus.

Oh, the lengths and depths God will go for His children!  

There are actions a parent will take only for their child—like Dylan’s dad descending into a well to save his son. And like the ultimate act of our heavenly Father, who sent His only Son to gather us close to His heart and restore us to life with Him (vv. 5–6).

When the Floods Come

By |2021-01-02T08:06:04-05:00January 2nd, 2021|

I live in Colorado, a state in the western US known for the Rocky Mountains and our annual snowfall. But the worst natural disaster in my state had nothing to do with snow, but rain. The Big Thompson flood occurred on July 31, 1976, around the resort town of Estes Park. When the water finally receded, the death toll was 144 lives, not including livestock. In the wake of that disaster significant studies were done in the area, especially in regard to the foundation of roads and highways. The walls of the roads that withstood the storm were those filled with concrete. In other words, they had a sure and strong foundation. 

In our lives the question is not if the floods will come, but when. Sometimes we have advance notice, but usually not. Jesus stresses a strong foundation for such times—one built by not just hearing His words but also by living out the gospel (Luke 6:47). That practice is almost like pouring concrete into your life. When the floods come, and they will, we can withstand them because we’ve been “well built” (v. 48). The absence of practice leaves our lives vulnerable to collapse and destruction (v. 49). It’s the difference between being wise and foolish.

It’s good to pause occasionally and do a little foundation assessment. The Lord will help us to fortify the weak places that we might stand strong in His power when the floods come.

Uncharted Waters

By |2021-01-01T08:06:06-05:00January 1st, 2021|

The ball drops in New York’s Times Square. The crowd counts down to Big Ben chiming. Sydney Harbor erupts in fireworks. However your city marks it, there’s something exciting about welcoming in a new year and the fresh start it brings. On New Year’s Day we push out into new waters. What friendships and opportunities might we find?

For all its excitement, though, a new year can be unsettling. None of us knows the future or what storms it may hold. Many New Year’s traditions reflect this. Fireworks were invented in China to supposedly ward off evil spirits and make a new season prosperous. New Year’s resolutions date back to the Babylonians who made vows to appease their gods. Such acts were an attempt to make an unknown future secure.

When they weren’t making vows, the Babylonians were busy conquering people—including Israel. In time, God sent the enslaved Jews this message: “Do not fear . . . .When you pass through the waters, I will be with you” (Isaiah 43:1–2). Later, Jesus said something similar when He and the disciples were caught sailing in a violent storm. “Why are you afraid?” He said as they panicked, before He commanded the waters to be still (Matthew 8:23–27).

Today we push out from the shore into new, uncharted waters. Whatever we face, He’s with us—and He has the power to calm the waves.

Perspectives from Above

By |2020-06-08T13:35:22-04:00June 11th, 2020|

When Peter Welch was a young boy in the 1970s, using a metal detector was only a hobby. But since 1990, he’s been leading people from around the world on metal-detecting excursions. They’ve made thousands of discoveries—swords, ancient jewelry, coins. Using “Google Earth,” a computer program based on satellite imagery, they look for patterns in the landscape on farmland in the United Kingdom...

Take Your Tears to God

By |2020-05-14T11:53:17-04:00May 22nd, 2020|

Last summer, an orca named Talequah gave birth. Talequah’s pod of killer whales was endangered, and her newborn was their hope for the future. But the calf lived for less than an hour. In a show of grief that was watched by people around the world, Talequah pushed her dead calf through the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean for seventeen days before letting her go...

What’s in a Name?

By |2020-05-11T12:05:56-04:00May 17th, 2020|

In God’s timing, our son Kofi was born on a Friday, which is exactly what his name means—boy born on Friday. We named him after a Ghanaian friend of ours, a pastor whose only son died. He prays for our Kofi constantly. We’re deeply honored. It’s easy to miss the significance in a name if you don’t know the story behind it...

Open Arms

By |2020-05-08T16:04:47-04:00May 12th, 2020|

Saydee and his family have an “open arms and open home” philosophy. People are always welcome in their home, “especially those who are in distress,” he says. That’s the kind of household he had growing up in Liberia with his nine siblings. Their parents always welcomed others into their family. He says, “We grew up as a community. We loved one another. Everybody was responsible for everybody...

Through the Waters

By |2020-04-22T11:55:12-04:00April 27th, 2020|

The movie The Free State of Jones tells the US Civil War story of Newton Knight and some Confederate deserters and slaves who aided the Union Army and then resisted slaveholders after the war. Many herald Knight as the hero, but two slaves first saved his life after his desertion. They carried him deep into a secluded swampland and tended a leg wound he suffered while fleeing Confederate forces...

A World of Provision

By |2020-04-20T13:43:45-04:00April 22nd, 2020|

It’s 2 a.m. when Nadia, a farmer of sea cucumbers, walks into a roped-off pen in the ocean shallows near her Madagascar village to harvest her “crop.” The early hour doesn’t bother her. “Life was very hard before I started farming,” she says. “I didn’t have any source of income.” Now, as a member of a marine-protection program called Velondriake, meaning “to live with the sea,” Nadia sees her income growing and stabilizing...

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