God’s Plan

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May 16

Tuesday, May 16th, 2023

Timing…its all about timing.

I’m continuing my thoughts from some ladies who spoke on Mother’s Day:

Lady #3 had to learn timing…God’s timing…always is best. His timing rules. I mean, let’s face it, you are promised a child and through the offspring you and your husband would father a nation, one that would spring up the likes of which you could never imagine.

So you wait. And you wait. You got tired of waiting so you decided to take matters into your own hands. You give Hagar, your servant, to your husband. A son is born whom you resent. His name is Ishmael. An innumerable nation is the result, but he is not the chosen one. This nation, which was to become the Arab nation, would become and always would be a thorn in the side of the truly chosen nation.

You wait so long you even laugh at God because you overhear angels telling your husband you will become parents.  At the age of 100 (Abraham) and 89 (you) Isaac is born. Your firstborn. The promise made to Abraham years ago (see Genesis 12) is now on its way to fulfillment. Isaac would marry Rebekah and they would have two sons-Jacob and Esau. Jacob and Esau would go their separate ways with Jacob receiving the blessing from Isaac intended (human viewpoint) for Esau. Jacob would marry Leah and Rachel and father 12 sons (12 tribes of Israel) and it is off to the races.

Did Sarai (Sarah) know what it all meant? No. Did she always trust? (Can you say laughing at God and Ishmael?) Again, no. But it wasn’t her timing that was important; it was God’s. When it was physically impossible to have children, God showed her who was in charge.  He always has perfect timing. The heartache (and headache) caused by Sarah’s timing is proof positive that God always knows best.

Trust Him. Trust His timing. Romans 8:28-29 is still true.

May 15

Monday, May 15th, 2023

I asked several ladies (about 17) who they saw as a triumphant woman in the Bible. I then asked them to be involved in the Mother’s Day special this past Sunday. Seven agreed. My devotions over the next several days will be the ones they chose.

May 11- Lady #1- Mary of Bethany

Lady #2- Tamar- Story found in Genesis 38

Judah had 3 sons-Er, Onan, and Shelah.  He found a wife for Er named Tamar. But Er was wicked and the Lord put him to death (we are not told what his wickedness was). By custom, Onan was to marry Tamar.  He knew the offspring would not be his so he spilled his seed on the ground (v.9). That was wicked and he also was put to death. That left Shelah to eventually marry Tamar. Judah convinced Tamar to wait, but Judah held back until finally Tamar figured “enough is enough.”

After Judah’s wife died, he was going to visit friends and Tamar heard about it. She dressed disguised herself and enticed him. She bargained for his ring, his cord and his staff as proof he would keep his word on bringing her a goat as payment for her services. Tamar conceived, and when Judah was told, he was going to have her burned to death. He changed his tune when she sent the ring, the cord, and the staff as proof of who the father was.  She eventually had twins-Perez and Zerah. Perez is listed in the lineage of Jesus.

What an interesting story on so many angles! So unpredictable. Right smack dab in the middle of Joseph’s story. In chapter 38 it was Judah’s recommendation that they sell Joseph into slavery instead of just killing him. You know…out of sight out of mind. And why not make a little profit while we are at it? Judah was not an upstanding man. But his life was changed after this encounter with Tamar.

Sometimes unexpected events change us. Good and bad. Sometimes our lives are never the same. Nothing is ever wasted in God’s classroom. I’m reminded of Romans 8:28. I’m also reminded of James 1:2-4: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Let’s learn from every experience that God moves in ways we don’t often expect.


May 9

Tuesday, May 9th, 2023

I think one of the most common questions asked by both those who believe and those who don’t is, “Why me?” It is likely most, if not all of us, have asked that at one time or another in our life.

“Taking it on the chin” is not easy. Suffering is never easy. It gets worse as the suffering lingers. It gets worse when we see suffering as a punishment or as “God is getting even with me for something bad I have done.” The bottom drops out of our lives and we begin to wallow in self-pity, or worse, languish in despair. We begin to see no end to our pain, no end to the dead end road we are on, no end to the endless circle our life seems to be taking.

Do you mind if I take us in a different direction for a moment? Perhaps instead of asking, “Why me?” we should start asking, “What now?” I heard Joni, a quad since her teen years, express it that way. Instead of languishing in pity, maybe a more productive question would be, “Now that this has happened to me, how should I react?” Maybe a better response would be to ask ourselves how we should react to this trial, this suffering, this test I am going through?

Here’s an example I recently read: In 1953, a fledgling business called Rocket Chemical Company and its staff of three set out to create a line of rust-prevention solvents and de-greasers for use in the aerospace industry. The original secret for WD-40-which stands for Water Displacement 40th attempt-is still in use today. Its most recent net worth was 1.3 billion.

Let’s ask an obvious question: what if they had stopped at #39 and gave up in defeat? What is Joshua and the children of Israel had stopped at Day 6 or even Day 7 walk-around #6? They would have missed #7 and the opportunity to watch the walls of Jericho fall.

We are told in Isaiah 40 that those who wait/hope in the Lord will renew their strength. Don’t give up. Don’t quit. Don’t wallow in pity. Use this as an opportunity to grow.

April 25

Tuesday, April 25th, 2023

I’ve had my share of accidents. Besides the common everyday kind, like stubbing a toe and watching it make putting on a shoe or even walking difficult. Or like bending over and hitting my head on the way back up (that happens a lot when one is 6’5″ and his wife is barely 5’3″).

But I’ve also had my share of the more serious kind. Being hit while riding my bike in 2016 and then watching the hit-n-run driver just take off as I laid on the pavement. (It is mixed bag. I’m so grateful nothing was coming, but at the same time they may have seen the person never stop).  Three months later going over the handlebars while going downhill and breaking a collarbone, 3 ribs, and leaving a bunch of skin on the pavement. (I also split my helmet in three places. So grateful for that helmet which I won’t ride without). I eventually had back surgery to take a bone chip off a nerve. I’ve had a meniscus taken care of and have been told I need a knee replacement.  That was 6 years ago. I’m holding out till my death. 🙂

But mine are minor to the life-altering ones like cancer, heart issues, MS, Parkinson’s, and others. I spoke with someone recently whose life and plans have been turned upside down with a cancer diagnosis and a congenital heart issue she knew nothing about.

Suffering is hard to take. Understanding it is sometimes even harder. To simply say, “God allows suffering” doesn’t cut it with most people. But there is one thing that is true: God allows suffering and brings comfort so that we might have empathy for someone else. In fact, I told this person that I, obviously, have no way to know why this has come her way, but I do hope she will see others and give them the same comfort and hope and spiritual help she has received. Nothing is wasted. No lesson is to be kept to oneself. God does comfort us, but it is not just for us, but for others. We are to be a comfort to others.

Don’t wallow in self-pity or keep the lessons you are learning to yourself. Encourage others to keep going and to cling to Jesus as they do.

April 13

Thursday, April 13th, 2023

Anniversaries are dubious.

I remember once reading or hearing someone say that I ought to be aware of anniversaries in peoples’ lives.  He explained that by illustrating it like this: Our lives are like a circle that every year repeats itself in some way. Take a tire on a car or bike for example. You get a bulge or a nail in the tire and every time that tire makes a revolution, there is a bump (at least until the tire goes flat). My wife’s car tire recently had a screw in it. She could hear something but could not figure out what it was. She asked me to go for a ride to see what I thought and as she got in to drive I took a look at the passenger side front tire. There as plain as day was a screw. Another half revolution and she would have felt it again and I would not have seen it as quickly as I did. There, obviously, was no sense in driving! Every time that tire rotated it made a noise.

People’s lives are like that. Whenever a significant life event happens, a bulge is made in the “tire” of life. Every time the anniversary of that significant event comes around, emotions and memories kick in.  That’s why deaths, anniversaries (good and bad), highs and lows hit us as they do. Knowing this principle has helped me go a long way in understanding people’s ups and downs.

April 13 has two meanings to me. Today would have been my late mother’s 91st birthday. I watched her breathe her last breath in March of 2004, about one month before her 72nd birthday. (Is it bad that I can’t remember the exact date?) She died of a rare form of lung cancer which, at the time, mainly struck women who were non-smokers (like n.e.v.e.r.). Strangely, there is not a glitch in my tire. Even though I felt the loss at the moment, and as I did her funeral service, I rejoice at her reward. She is with Jesus and celebrating with her mother and father.

April 13, 1975 was also the day of my ordination into the ministry. I wanted to honor her witness and faithfulness by being set aside for the ministry on her birthday. She influenced me so much to follow Jesus and was so “proud” that all four of her boys served the Lord in some way. 48 “official” years today. So given my years of college ministry while still a student and the year following my graduation, I have been at this gig for 50+ years. There have been ups and downs but I wouldn’t trade it. The call of God on my life has been sure.

I’m grateful for my mother. I honor her today because her influence still remains in my calling to follow Jesus and to encourage others to do the same.  TODAY IS A GOOD DAY!

April 3

Monday, April 3rd, 2023

I’m writing this Sunday morning. The reason for that is found at the end.

April 1st is typically called April Fool’s Day.  That usually gives people the “oomph” to do something or some things silly to trick someone else. Sort of like “You have won a million dollars!” but not really.  Well, April 1 turned out to be not so much of a joke in my neck of the woods. Extreme weather passed through our area and at 10:30 Friday night (March 31) the sirens went off indicating a tornado had been spotted and was headed our way.  Jo and I were already asleep when Tami came into our room to wake us up (she hates storms so was still up. Plus she stays up way later than her old parents).  🙂  Anyway, she came in to wake me up and so we all sat in the living room ready to head to the bathroom in case of a tornado. Very soon all power went out and it was dark as midnight without any moon or stars shining. We were able to see by flashlight and the lights on our phones.  As I sat there it suddenly got deathly quiet and then it sounded like a freight train was going over us. One man said he went outside and could see the tornado in the clouds. Fortunately, it passed over our town. The damage to town was plenty of uprooted trees and some damage to houses (roof, siding, and some tree damage to roofs), but they were not so fortunate at McCormick’s Creek State Park (state park just outside the town of Spencer).  The campground in the park took a major hit that sheered trees, uprooted many (and I’m talking huge trees), turning over campers and destroying property.  As chaplain for the Owen County Sheriff Department, I was called to the park Saturday night where there were two confirmed deaths. (The family said they were Christians. If so, death is victory, but no easier to take when it is sudden).

I have ridden my bike through the park several times. Tall majestic trees brought a natural beauty to the park. The campground-for both glamping and roughing it-was a wonderful place to spend a weekend or a week. Lots of shade and peaceful visits with family and friends. Not any more.  It looked like someone has taken a saw and cut down tree after tree and broke off the tops like one would with a toothpick.

I stood in awe and “fear” of the power of nature and the power of the storm. But I also could not help but reflect on the creative power of God. There will be people questioning-always has been and always will be-why God did not stop the tornado from the park. Yes, He could have. Without a doubt. But He didn’t. Not this time. But that does not mean He isn’t God. He is still the God of the storm and wind and rain and sun. “The heavens declare the glory of God and the earth shows His handiwork” is the way the psalmist put it in Psalm 19:1.  Genesis 1:1 tells us “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” It is all His design.

The trees will eventually come back. Many will be leveled. Many new ones will be planted. My heart breaks, not for the park, but for the folks who lost loved ones.  As I texted several people who had minimal damage to their property: things can be replaced; people can’t.

Last night I wore a badge to be part of the “bad news” club. I knew it was a possibility when I became chaplain. Chaplain or pastor it is never easy, especially when you don’t know the people and can offer comfort but know they won’t take it from a stranger. So pray for the family (I don’t know their name but God does), and pray for the first responders who had to find, work to get them out from a collapsed camper, and for those who witnessed it.

The God who made the heavens and the earth and the storms also knows who they are. Thanks.

Jo and I left Sunday afternoon for a real short visit to Ohio. Her sister is now on kidney dialysis and her birthday is also tomorrow (Tuesday). We will be staying in Columbus where our daughter and grandson live, then head up to see her (she will probably not remember who we are) on Monday. Prayers for a safe trip are much appreciated.  Unless something major “inspires” me, I will not be posting tomorrow.

March 29

Wednesday, March 29th, 2023

There is one word that might be the most oft-used word in the English language. It only has three letters but it might as well have 15. It just might be the most troubling, most forlorn, most desperate word used. The word?


A tornado strikes a sleepy town in Anywhere, USA and its destruction involves property and life. The question? Why?

A shooter enters an elementary school and kills innocent children and adults. The question? Why?

A person seems to have life by the tail-career, fortune, fame-but decides to end it all. The question? Why?

A child (or adult) gets cancer, a glioblastoma for example, where they say there is no cure. The question? Why?

Sometimes the answer-although it still hurts-is easy to find. An overdose from a junkie. (The more daunting question is “Why did he/she make that choice?”). The death of 6 million at the hands of an evil madman. We understand somewhat how sin enters the picture or how we reap what we sow. But yes, we still ask, “Why?” That is a normal question.

Within the past few months I have been involved in ministering during a horrific event, and to top it off three people have found out they have a glioblastoma- two of them children. The resulting question? Why?  That is especially haunting when it involves children.

Truthfully, only a Sovereign God knows that answer. We can use cliches like “You can’t see the forest for the trees” or “When you get beyond and look back you will see” but while they may be true (to a certain extent), we are best served by leaving the “why?” question up to a sovereign God.

I’m sure the genocide of Hebrew boys was not understood. It led Moses’ mother to put him in a basket in the Nile; Pharaoh’s daughter finding him; Miriam intervening to have his mother care for him, and we can look back and see it set off a chain of events that revolutionized history. In this case, history gives us a pretty good answer to the “Why?” question.

God’s plan is always at work. We may not understand it. We may not see it. Our best approach is “Not my will but Yours be done” and let Him worry about the “Why?” question.

March 21

Tuesday, March 21st, 2023

You may have heard the saying-and I know I have used it numerous times:

God is seldom early but He’s never late.

That speaks to one of the hardest things we have to do, whether we are a Christ-follower or just a traveler on the earth:


We are not a patient lot. Just look at our eating habits. Microwave ovens. Get food done faster (although some foods don’t heat up well. Pizza tends to get rubbery). Microwave meals. Insta-pots (Jo uses hers a lot). Instant oatmeal.  Instant coffee (I don’t drink any coffee at all. Can’t stand the taste of it). Self-checkout at the stores (usually faster than standing in one of the few lines open at WM or some grocery store). Instant potatoes (talk about fake!). E-filing our taxes and direct deposit the refund (guilty as charged). The list goes on and on. We are accustomed to getting things now…not later. We are not kin to waiting.

“Hurry up and wait” seems to be the order of the day.

The saying I mentioned earlier-“God is seldom early but never late”-is often used when someone wonders why it is taking so long to get an answer from God. It’s like, “C’mon God! I prayed yesterday and I’m still waiting!” 🙂 And so we continue to wait.

Patience is not our strong suit. We want an answer and we want it N.O.W. We need to keep in mind that God’s timetable is not always ours. As much as it pains me to say it, from time to time God’s best answer for us to W.A.I.T. “Slow down,” He says. “Don’t be in such a hurry. I have your best interest in mind.”

There is a great Scripture in Galatians 4. In verse 4 it says, “But when the right time came, God sent His Son…” (NLT)  That phrase “But when the right time came” is so important. (There are several historical events that show why this is true, but this is not the time to state them. Maybe another time). Jesus came at just the right time. 

God always shows up at the right time. Not early. Not late. Trust Him. Don’t rush Him.

March 14

Tuesday, March 14th, 2023
  1. May I make a confession to you? You are saying, “Yes, of course. Let’s have the dirt.”

Sorry. You are going to hear dirt, but nothing that you haven’t heard from thousands of others. Here it is:


Not that you will ever see it. No siree. You’re crazy if you think I’m going to show it. But trust me: I’m a mess.

And so are you.

Now you are probably thinking, “Speak for yourself bub.” But, please, hear me out.

There is a story I suspect many of you have heard or read.  It is the story of a tapestry-a beautiful, fine-looking piece of art. Every piece in place. Every stitch, every strand of yarn is right where it needs to be. Now…turn it over. What do you see?  A mess. Yarn, string, fabric going everywhere in one big, tangled mess.

Now, turn it back over. Chaos to sublime. Chaos to order. Ugly to beauty.

So yes, I am a mess. Inside me is chaos, a real jumble of wires. It is called and made worse by sin. I know this verse is overused, sometimes misused, and sometimes nothing more than a picture on a wall or some “Jesus junk” (as Keith Green used to call it), but the words ring true: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” To get the real strength of that verse you MUST read the ones which follow. “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”  (Jer.29:11-13) (ESV)

The real truth is that God does bring order out of chaos. He does take messed up, tangled lives and makes them something beautiful. A song from years ago said, “He makes beauty from ashes.”

Let Him take your mess and your chaos and replace it with order and beauty.

March 6

Monday, March 6th, 2023

This past Saturday afternoon Jo and I went with some friends to see Jesus Revolution. It has surprised many pundits at the box office, taking in more than they ever predicted or maybe even dreamed of. My purpose here is not to give a review but to make a point about one of the characters.

The movie is about the early “story” of Pastor Greg Laurie’s search for meaning and hope in a world gone mad (some things never change do they?). It was a lesson though that Pastor Greg learned many years later-far removed from those Jesus Movement days-that  sticks with me. On July 25, 2008, Greg’s son, Christopher, died in a car accident he was responsible for. As you can imagine, Greg was devastated beyond words. I have 2 daughters and I simply cannot imagine the grief and pain I would feel if they were taken from this life.

But through his pain, Greg received some great words of wisdom from his mentor, Pastor Chuck Smith. Smith said,

“Don’t ever trade what you know for what you don’t know.”

With that in mind, what do I know?

  • I know that God loves me.
  • I know that God wants what is best for me (even though I can’t see it).
  • I know God has a plan for my life and knows the end of my days.
  • I know God has promised to never leave me or forsake me.
  • I also know God doesn’t always give me what I want and sometimes I have to wait for His answer.

Sometimes God doesn’t answer prayers as quickly as I want or would like Him to. But He will not let me down. Delays are not necessarily denials.  Sometimes we have those dark nights of the soul.

So…the next time you or I feel abandoned; the next time you or I feel alone; the next time you or I feel God is not listening “Don’t ever trade what you know for what you don’t know.” 

I heard it said recently: “Feelings are a great check engine light, but a terrible GPS.” Don’t trust your feelings. Trust the ONE whom you know.