Posts Categorized: devotional

The Night Watchman

Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing. (ESV).

Turning My Page

I couldn’t sleep last night, so at 2 am, I gave up. Having a lot of work to do today, I ran out to get my computer charger from the car but didn’t make it past my front steps. The sky greeted me with brilliant constellations. Suddenly the weariness washed away, and I was wide awake with the pleasure of God’s company. I put my arms out in worship. Thank you, Lord, for the stars that remind me you are near.

 

Turning Your Page

You won’t always be able to sleep. Depression, grief, troubles, pain, and an enemy that seeks to crush God-gifted rest can wreak havoc for weeks, months, and even years. But if you remain open to the God of possibility, prayers in the night for others struggling, reading of the Psalms and crying out like David, and noticing God’s goodness in creation are constant refreshments.

 

Lord, I am weary. I don’t even have words for how much I long for perfect rest. Help me to take hold of your goodness to me and on behalf of others in the night.

Model of Forgiveness

How do I turn the other cheek?

Do I glare down my enemy with
kindness? Slap them over the head with
generosity? Silence them with my devoutness?
Humiliate them with my humility?

The goal of forgiveness can’t be to glorify self.
“Look at me. I’m better than them.”

I know no other way to forgive than to
take up my cross and follow Jesus.
To  train taut muscles ready
for revenge to submit to God’s will.

When I recognize that He sweated and bled
for both my enemy and I,
forgiveness becomes a gritty
part of who I am—a scream of 0bedience—not a selfish sacrifice
to force the other person to change.

Forgiveness has no return receipt.

Made in Your Image

 

Twisted by confusion and sin—
My body lay, crumbled, wearing rust
among the discarded and dispised things
of this world.
Worth. Purpose. What were those?
I was no longer useful.

Until you gathered my broken pieces
and welded my soul
into a reflection of your identity.
You gave me my wings of faith.
Now I soar with love, joy, and hope.

 

Furnace of Hope (Choka Haiku)

Belief’s amber warmth
chilled black by fear. I wonder—
Do I exist here?

Desolate nightmare
Purple bruises on repeat—
You rescued my heart.

Tender shoots of trust
sprout knowing Your faithfulness—
Nightmare crushed crimson.

Unquenchable Hope
stands beside. I emerge gold—
Revealed by evil.

Furnace of obedience
Penned before Satan’s ink dried.

The Father’s Heart

Start here. In
the shivering nakedness
of not knowing but
being known. A rebirth.
Where your heartbeat
nestles under the Father’s. Listen.
His voice secures
your every anxious thought when
He calls you by name. Beloved.
Finally, you can rest in His
sovereignty.

Jesus Steers Hope Towards The Mentally Ill

And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.

Mark 5:5-7, KJV

Turning My Page

Hopeless is a word I hear a lot as I walk through my daily encounters with people. “It’s a hopeless situation.” “Don’t lose hope.” “Don’t get your hopes up.”

Many of us have or are currently feeling hopeless about our, circumstances, loss, desires for a better life, families, and, friends. Like me you may have exhausted all medical avenues without finding relief.

My oldest son is dead. My middle son deals with many of the same painful symptoms his brother wrestled with, and my daughter and husband are constantly battling a known genetic disease. I don’t sleep. I have days in exhaustion, I am tempted to give in to hopelessness. Yet I read in scripture and acknowledge:

When all seems lost Jesus changes everything.

In Mark 5, this poor demon-possessed man in the passage is tortured and hopeless! Maybe his family tried the medical route, maybe they asked the priests to heal him. We know for sure that he was chained repeatedly but broken the chains every time. If you and I saw him today on the street, more than likely, we would give a wide berth and we certainly wouldn’t take a shortcut through the cemetery. He might be medicated and institutionalized.

Jesus drew close enough to the tortured man for the demons to recognize that he was “Jesus, Son of the Most High.” The idea of getting so close to demonic forces that they call me by name is frightening.

Just ask the men who tried, without having a personal relationship with Jesus, to cast out a demon. “And the evil spirit answered and said Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?” ( Acts 19:15, KJV). And then the demon proceeded to strip the men naked and beat them.

The more I know Jesus, the more I understand that he has given me his authority, but I honestly, don’t know how to use it yet. It certainly takes being led by the Holy Spirit. Speaking boldly most assuredly takes humility (knowing by whose authority we speak), obedience and discipline. The demons knew that Jesus had the power to destroy them.

Had those who loved the demon-possessed man struggled with wanting to give up? Most definitely. But God, had already planned to cross the grave to rescue this man through his son Jesus Christ. Rather than steering the boat away from the place of the dead and this man among the tombs, Jesus steered the boat towards him.

God steers his people towards the fight, not away from those in need.

I once lay in a hospital ICU with my wrists bound to the bed so that I didn’t hurt myself, but in the year to follow, God steered Christians my way. He showed me scripture that squarely placed my hope in him alone plus nothing. These men and women opened my eyes to his unconditional love, to his redemption, to the promises in scripture, and to the fact that I could live an abundant life praising him. I am unbound because God steered the boat of his love towards the graves, not away from them.

My current circumstances do not have the final word on my life or my family’s lives. Instead, I wait. I  cling to hope in Jesus. Heal us? With man this is impossible but nothing can stop God from healing our infirmities. Not even 2,000 demons.

 

Turning Your Page

When our enemy Satan and his minions see a Christian coming their way, do they tremble in fear? They should if we take the authority passed down to us through Jesus.

Miracles still happen today because the gospel of hope has never been thwarted from reaching its goal.

Christians must wake up every day and see that the world needs hope and that God has given us the authority to offer the truth of the gospel. God provides hope for deliverance, hope out of depression, hope for our marriages, and life to the fullest measure. Jesus came that we can have life and have it abundantly. Like the demoniac, there are so many left to wander life tortured and miserable.  Let’s offer the reason for our hope boldly!

Lord, I fear man, and as long as I speak by their authority rather than yours, any effort I make to offer hope will fall flat. Oh, Father, I praise you alone for saving me and ask that you strengthen me to proclaim freedom for the captive and release for the prisoner. Amen

Strengthened by Forgiveness

Strengthened by Forgiveness

Strengthened by Forgiveness

Words of yesterday slammed
into my chest, mocking the
rhythm of will.

Stupid.
Useless.
Pitiful.

Why do I till the rocky
soil of relationships for hope
day after day, I start again.
Close eyes.

Breathe.
Forgive.
Plant.

Let go—an impossible smile
appears on my battered tear-streaked face.

Strong.
Loving.
Chosen.

I look you boldly in the eye
strengthened by forgiveness. Whether
you ever embrace my love, I know I
have embraced His.

 

Turning My Page:

Embracing the love of Jesus is changing how I love. Quick-tempered, I replay events, fantasize what I would say to those who have hurt me.  I am the hero of every story. But, the truth is, I am often the villain, speaking words that cause heartache in my husband and children’s lives.

My daughter reminded me of this truth last week as she interrupted my son and me in a heated argument. Instantly the following happened:

  • I looked at Daniel and really saw him.
  • Recognized that what I was so defensive about mattered far less than my son.
  • To Natalie it didn’t matter who was right, it mattered that we love one another.
  • I prayed: God help me to love my son as you love me.
  • We apologized to one another.
  • Forgiveness strengthened our relationship.

I am different because Jesus said, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Thank you, Lord!

Turning Your Page:

Forgiveness strengthens us because it takes our focus off of self and places it squarely on Jesus. Jesus was dying on the cross when he said the above words. He had his eyes on the prize. Reconciliation between his Holy Father and the wretched sinners placing our only hope on the cross.

When another person hurts you can the wound be filtered through forgiveness? Maybe all you can manage now is to pray for them. That is okay. Ask God to help you.

I cry out to you Jesus! Help me to forgive as you have forgiven me. I am a wretch hating another wretch. Lord help me to keep my eyes fixed on you, and to love my enemies, no matter how my soul is battered by this world. Amen

For Further Reading: Conviction Overturned by Love

Sparrow Falls

Not Even Sparrows Fall: Suicide

Sparrows Fall: Suicide

Not even a sparrow falls without God’s knowledge and we are more precious than they. Oh, one day, I pray that I embrace this truth with the depth and security of one who trusts God no matter what I experience in this life. I’m not there yet. As the poem reflects this was a tear-streaked day. I have witnessed God’s care over and over, but I still don’t understand why he allowed Jonathan to die by suicide. Bottom line, I just want Jonathan here.

Turning My Page

I wanted your heart to heal from
the world’s unrelenting fists of hatred.
I tried to shield you, but their blows penetrated
to marrow. Broke bone and spirit without pity. They
meant to crush you—rob identity.
Rearranged home until
you no longer recognized love or belonging.

I thought if I cradled your heart
enough with my love, that somehow, someway
you’d emerge from despair.

But, control
of your rhythm was never mine. Your
soul was formed and shaped by a God
who knit you together in my womb.
On my knees I plead that His will be
done in your life—from beginning to end.

“DO SOMETHING!” I screamed at a
God who was not deaf to my desperation.

He comforted. He still comforts,
but I will not pretend to understand
why He didn’t rescue you.

Your future—my future—was never
mine to determine. And I pray
one day I walk this path knowing
that not even a sparrow falls to the earth
without God’s knowledge.

Your life mattered, and heaven
mourned you even deeper than I.

Turning Your Page: When Sparrows Fall to Suicide

You may have sparrows who have fallen in your life. Your mourning may be deep and waves of emotions swamp you.  Courage! May the promise of God’s care sustain you, even when the feelings simply are not there. You are precious to God. Your loved one was and is precious to a God who was willing to suffer with and for you. As you think about Easter consider the following:

  • “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners” (Romans 5:6, NLT).
  • “When He saw the crowds, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36, BSB).
  • “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father” (Matthew 10:29, ESV).

Lord, this sorrow is too great. Carry it for me. Your tenderness and mercy towards my loved ones exceed my own and not one of them falls to the earth without your knowledge and mourning. Amen

 

Further Resources

Rob’s Kids is an excellent resource for children who have lost a parent.

 

Healing Among Tombs

Healing Among Tombs

Healing among the Tombs emerged from time studying the demon-possessed man described in Mark 5. I wrestled with and even hesitate to post anything in this arena. I have edited this intro repeatedly, but a wise friend suggested, “If you could tell your audience anything, without hindrance, what would it be?”

I would tell you:

  • There is hope, no matter the reasons for your mental health struggles.
  • We have an enemy called Satan who seeks to separate us from the love of God in any way he can.
  • As Mark 5 shows, nothing will ever hinder Jesus, not even a legion of (approximately 6,000) demons.
  • We need to be as equipped by the Holy Spirit with discernment of the needs of those around us.
  • We fight the spiritual battle with scripture, allies, prayer, fasting, and by knowing whose authority we speak.

Many are terrorized by despair right now and I can’t just advocate for the physical fight. 

The people of the town had tried everything to subdue the man. Nothing in this world could save or relieve him of his torture.

He made his home among the tombs and was so violent that he broke through chains repeatedly. It seems that no one could possibly help this man. Had they given up? How did he come to be possessed? Did others bring him food? Did he have a family? Who chained him? What was the man’s family feeling? They may have even been the ones who chained him so that he would stop his self-harm.

The bottom line.

It took a divine encounter with Jesus to free him.

It took a divine encounter with Jesus to stop my self-harm and place me on a different path.

We have an enemy seeking to destroy us all and it is a spiritual battle as well as a physical one. I have witnessed spiritual attacks firsthand. I can’t pretend the problem will be only solved with physical solutions. 

This man needed Jesus. I need Jesus to stand against a spirit of despair that has led to over 48,000 suicides in the US. He will turn the tide, and my prayer is that you and I can be a spark of hope.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can make your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:10-12

Turning My Page: Among the Tombs

Forgotten, I greeted you from the remembrances. My home is hollowed from wealth, ready to entertain kings and demons. You crossed the unclean threshold of my grave, your royal robes billowing in the sea sworn breeze.

 

A crown, only seen by our eyes, testifies to us who you are. Naked, we claw with rocks at our putrid vulnerable flesh, mutilating your earthly jewel. We’ll make you unrecognizable too. Rip the flesh off God.

My God, why have you forsaken me?

 

 

I screamed for release from day and night horror. While they cried out to remain fast. I was a scarred lamb within, and a roaring lion without.

 

Mighty Samson would not tame we beating beasts.

 

But You, the Son of God, entered my tomb and knocked the breath out of me. What man chained you commanded freed. Clothed in righteousness, I now cling to you.

I am a demoniac commissioned to share the truth of your love for mankind.

Only God raises the dead.

 

Turning Your Page

You may have a loved one wrestling with mental illness. Whether demonic in nature, physical, or spiritual is not for us to determine. Only God can do so. Yet, God gives authority and discernment for man to cast out demons. Jesus used scripture to fight Satan; we can do the same.

  • Start with prayer. Ask God to equip you with His Holy Spirit’s guidance. 
  • Begin listing out scriptures that speak about the spiritual battle we fight.
    • Ephesians 6
    • 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
    • James 4:7
    • Mark 9:29

Lord, I acknowledge that I feel ill-equipped to catch glimpses of the heavenly battle, yet you have chosen to open my eyes to the unseen attacks of Satan. Father, train me from head to toe to trust your will and shut the mighty lion’s mouth that seeks to devour our world! Amen

 

 

Conviction Overturned by Love

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3;16

Turning My Page: Conviction Overturned by Love

Conviction certain,
I trembled as the sentence was pronounced.
The death penalty was on the table.
“Overturned by my Love!”
A collective gasp, some shouted praise.
Others cursed this Judge who lets sinners
go unpunished. I went to my knees grateful.

 

Turning Your Page

When was the last time you hurt another person, lied, stole, shirked responsibility, but instead of receiving what you deserved the offended party extended grace? Did you experience relief? Did you rush out to tell everyone about the turn of events? Did you quietly savor freedom? There isn’t a single one of us who hasn’t wronged another person. In a time when there is a lot of side picking and pointing fingers, grace, love, and forgiveness may feel like foreign words. We seem so eager to condemn one another. But God set up from the moment we fell a way for redemption.

Jesus addressed both our sin and the proper way to address sin when the woman caught in adultery was brought before him for judgment:

And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

John 8:7,9-11 ESV

This woman probably went away living and loving others differently.

Anyone who experiences a conviction overturned by unconditional love is bound to be confronted by both their worth and the drastic damage of the sin patterns in their lives. When the future apostle, Peter,  encountered the filling of his empty boat of fish, he fell to his knees and cried out, “Depart from me, I am a sinful man.” Encountering the unmerited love of Christ changes us. If you have experienced undeserved grace, forgiveness, or someone else took your punishment, spend some time journaling on the experience.

  • What was your response to unmerited grace?
  • How did others treat you?
  • How did your heart or actions change towards others after the experience?

Lord, I don’t deserve your kindness, and yet you are kind to me. I have been your enemy and yet you accept me now as your child. Thank you for not treating me as my sins deserve and teach me to love others as you have cherished me. Amen

(There is a difference between sin and human mistakes. It is important to develop an understanding of what constitutes sin.)

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Suicide Hotline

National Suicide Hotline

If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call the National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to the website at  SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.