The sound of many waters

9 05 2017

carlon falls

I discovered a great hike in the Sierra’s and a wonderful waterfall.

The trail was easy for the most part, then moderate as one ascended up to the top of the falls.

As I reached the “top” I discovered not one fall, but a cascade of 10 or 12 successive falls. It was magnificent!


The roar reminded me of the scripture where in the Revelation the apostle John turns to see the voice speaking to him in the vision.

“His voice as the sound of many waters” (Revelation 1:15)

And I love what that voice says, then and now…

“Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” (Rev. 1:17-18).

Hear the voice which calls out today as the sound of many waters.

A man climbed a hill

8 05 2017

There was a man who climbed a hill.

hill pic

As he walked he pondered the section of the trail, and the season of his life. The terrain was windswept. Only the most scrappy bushes still clung by their stubborn roots, blown sideways away from the Pacific.

Patches of dandelions gripped the ground, their yellow flowers offering unexpected beauty in this stark place.

Below, waves crashed against rocks which stood as dutiful sentinels, metaphors of stability in troubled times.


As he walked, the man concluded that he may not be able to understand why his path to the hill had brought so much pain.

What mattered now was to search out whatever meaning could be taken for the journey ahead.

from the hill

Hi knew that this was a time for roots to cling to the soil.










So, you’ve visited the cross lately

4 05 2017

visited cross of Christ

If you are a follower of Jesus, like me, the cross is not only a past event of history. It is a recurring spiritual experience. That’s why I suggest you have visited there lately.

I believe that one of the fantastic results of our Savior being ALIVE today is that He meets us in these experiences. Here is how I define it:

–>> the ever-available spiritual altar on which you can sacrifice to God anything that impedes His will and your holiness.

I am in my 60s and as I look back over my life I can point to several major events that have brought me back to the cross of Jesus.

  • One was when I faced a crisis of deciding what career path to pursue.
  • Another was when my wife and I faced years of infertility
  • Yet another visit to the cross was when God asked my wife and I to go as missionaries to Kenya.

That’s why I am quite sure that you or someone close to you has also been called back to a cross-like experience. Really, this should not surprise us since Jesus said that anyone who wants to be his disciple must take up their cross and follow him.

Hasn’t God been showing you these truths? I would love to help you examine your experience in light of these Biblical teachings.

I have developed a series of five emails called “Following Jesus.” In those brief lessons, I give you a look at:

  • the spiritual experience that preceded your cross-visit
  • the spiritual experience that follows your cross-visit
  • and God’s real purpose in calling you back to the cross

I would love to send these lessons to you. There is no charge; no gimmicks. Just your permission. Thanks for giving me the opportunity.

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conformed to cross










From sadness to lament

3 05 2017

I am not an expert on this topic, but an explorer of my own experience and emotions. Maybe you, my reader friend, can help me out.

lament is sadness shared

Is there a difference between sadness and lament?  I am using “sadness” in the sense of the raw emotion which results from loss or other event which causes my inner being to be weighed down, disheartened, or despairing.

During this time period my adult children and I have been feeling sad about the loss of my wife to cancer. So there is a connection between sadness and grief; perhaps grief if a specific expression of sadness, I don’t know.

Then there is the idea of “lament,” which is less often used but worth reconsidering. I am a Christian so I gravitate toward the Bible’s frequent use of lament. There are many lament psalms, and an entire book in the Bible called “Lamentations.”

In my attempt to deal with our sadness (and grief), I am thinking through ways in which lament is possibly different that sadness. (I am thinking as a non-professional.) Here are some.

quote lament

Characteristics which I hope are true of lament:

  • While sadness is a raw emotion that can settle in my heart and rot, lament is sadness honestly felt and expressed to others and to God.
  • Lament is felt and expressed knowingly in God’s presence, for His “ears”. therefore the sadness is heard, weighed, and understood. If we have someone we trust with our sadness, we can lament with them and feel understood.
  • Both sadness and lament are my personal experience. But with lament, I am aware that my emotion is shared, and therefore not as lonely as sadness.
  • Sadness leaves me feeling helpless. But since God shares my lament in at least hearing it, and since the sad thing does not cause God to despair, I am partially helped.
  • This all is, of course, by faith. Sadness is an emotional response. Lament, as sad as it is, has the value of making me reach toward God even in this very unpleasant way. Lament with God has purpose.
  • God feels sadness too. (We get our emotions from being made in His image.) For God, hope is stronger than sadness. So when I lament with God, I have the right to draw hope from Him. Lament with God brings hope.

I have tried to navigate my journey in a healthy way, but it is very unpredictable. I have lamented with a very small circle.  I find there are rainy day friends who come around when a sad things happen. They are curious. but when a sad thing happens, you really only want to share with someone who has shown they love you over the long haul, when things were good. That is the person who has earned trust.

It is hard for me to share sadness.

Perhaps you can identify with some of these personal observations:

  • I have always been able to “handle” myself emotionally. I am handicapped when it comes to sharing transparently. (This post is an attempt to learn)
  • It is a relief to share sadness. Part of the weight is lifted, at least temporarily.
  • Judging who to share with is tricky business. In lament I put myself out there, very vulnerably.
  • I am overly sensitive to how my friend responds. If I don’t feel empathy from him, I am embarrassed for having shared.

I have meditated on this theme often. I am in process.  Here is a post called Suffering. That which you avoid is what you need.
And here are some thoughts on how the gospel pattern helps with Prayer when suffering

Would you be willing to journey with me? I regularly blog about ways I am growing in Christ. I have a series of lessons about what I have learned in recent years about how God conforms us to Christ through what I call the “Gospel cycle.” Please get on my email list and I will send you the first lesson. I APPRECIATE IT!

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hope in lament

Suffering. That which you avoid is what you need.

18 04 2017

It seems almost un-American to speak of suffering. After all, doesn’t our country offer “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”?

Even Christians in America shy away from speaking about the difficulties of life. Many preachers carve out a ministry by emphasizing only the positive aspects of following Jesus.

Not so with Jesus. He suffered and promised the same for his followers. In more recent years, my family has suffered a fair amount. I don’t like it. But I am trying to learn from my suffering.

Joy when suffering?

Ironically, suffering is often spoken of alongside joy.

Jesus endured the cross “for the joy that was set before Him” (Heb. 12:2)

James wrote, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.”

These days I write about what I call the “gospel cycle.”  because I find so much clarity in the fact that God uses this four-fold pattern to grow every disciple into maturity — and that includes suffering.

For me, the gospel cycle unlocks the secret of how you can be joyful when you suffer. How so?

–>> Each encounter with suffering displays the risen Christ in and through you.

Let me explain. Our calling as disciples means that, as suffering comes, we share in the death and resurrection of Christ in a profound way. Nowhere is this truth stated more plainly that in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. Notice the pairs:

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed;
we are perplexed but not in despair;
persecuted, but not forsaken;
struck down but not destroyed”
(2 Cor. 4:7-9)

Disciples share in the death of Christ as we suffer in various ways. Paul lists some of those:

  • hard-pressed,
  • perplexed,
  • persecuted,
  • struck down.

We could add many others, such as: illness, loss of loved one, loss of property, criticism from unbelievers, getting sued, depression, weakness, etc.

treasure in clay potsPaul makes it clear that out of our death-like experiences emerge resurrection-like realities:

“always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus,
that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body”
(2 Cor. 4:10).

When you suffer, God is going to be at work to display Jesus in your life, and through you to others. The situation will still be difficult, but the privilege of displaying Jesus should give you joy.

As difficult as it is to endure a season of suffering, it can also be one of the more precious times of companionship with Jesus. In fact, some believers who look back on a time of intense suffering long to return, not to the hardship that came upon them, but to the closeness which they experienced with God.

I encourage you to linger with God during this time to experience whatever He desires. Elsewhere I have written on how this pattern helps us pray when we suffer.

The teaching on the Gospel-Cycle is powerful. It will unlock a lot of understanding for you. Please subscribe to my email list and I will send you more of this Biblical teaching.

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