A Letter of Encouragment From God’s Word


Dear Chosen One, holy and beloved,

I know the plans I have for you. These plans are to prosper you and not to harm you. These plans I have for you are to give you hope and a future. Commit your way to Me; trust in Me, and I will act on your behalf. Trust in Me with all your heart. Don’t depend on your own understanding. Seek My will in all you do, and I will show you which path to take.

Be humbled, therefore, under My mighty hand, that I may exalt you at the right time. And cast all your cares on Me, for I am the One Who takes care of you.

You are My masterpiece! I have created you anew in Christ Jesus, so you can do the good things I planned for you long ago. For I formed your inward parts; I knitted you together in your mother’s womb. Even before a word is on your tongue I know every one of them. I hem you in, behind and before, and lay My hand upon you. I saw you before you were born. Every day of your life was recorded in My book; Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

I will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong. You shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.

Oh beloved, I establish your steps, when you delight in My way. Even though you stumble, you will never fall, for I hold you by the hand. Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which I have prepared for you because you love Me. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. I will fulfill My purpose for you; My steadfast love endures forever. I will not forsake the work of My hands!

The LORD of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand!”

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, Beloved. Behold, it was for your welfare that you had great bitterness; but in love I have delivered your life from the pit of destruction, for I have cast all your sins behind My back. Be confident of this very thing, that I have begun a good work in you and will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ! I will keep you in perfect peace if you stay your mind on Me, because you trust in Me.

Do not be ashamed, oh chosen one: for you know Whom you have believed in. Be strongly persuaded – I am able to keep that which you have committed unto Me against that day.

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.Trust in Me forever, for  I AM the everlasting rock.

I AM faithful. I will establish you, and keep you from evil. I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me.

I AM the Alpha and the Omega–the beginning and the end, I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come ~ the Almighty One.

Col. 3:12, Jeremiah 29:11 NIV, Ps 139:4-5ESV, Ps 139:13 ESV, Ps 139:16NLT, Ps 32:8 ESV, 1 Corinthians 2:9 KJV, Proverbs 23:18 NIV, Eph 2:10 NLT, Isaiah 14:24 ESV, Isaiah 55:8ESV, Ps 138:8 ESV, Isaiah 38:17 ESV, Isaiah 26:3 ESV, Phil 1:6 KJV, 2 Tim 1:12 KJV, Ps 37:5 ESV, Pro 3:5-6 NLT, 1 Peter 5:6-7 ABPE, Isaiah 58:11 ESV, Jer 31:3ESV, Isaiah 26:4, 2 Thess. 3:3 KJV, Rev 1:8 NLT, 2 Cor 6:18

A Place of Training

It’s been a rough week.

After two years of orthodontic torture and enduring near constant discomfort in order to get my adult tooth pulled down where it should be, I was told that the tooth had died in the process.

This journey has been a roller coaster of eager hope crashing down around me, only to be carefully pieced together and revived again. After all, what is life without something to hope for?

The latest news sent me spiraling, numb, into gloomy disappointment and disillusionment.

Why hope? hope-2

I thumbed the pages of my Bible indifferently. Did it even matter? My brain felt calloused. I didn’t want to feel this way…but I couldn’t help it. In the past, I’ve wrestled through times like this by being thankful, grudgingly at first, but gradually moving out of the bog into grateful living.

I tried to thank God for my dead tooth, for the rest of my strong, healthy teeth, but it was forced, fake.

The pages fell open to Proverbs 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…”

“Truth”, I thought. But it wasn’t comforting in the slightest. If anything it made me sink lower into my despondency. My hope had definitely been deferred, leaving my heart ill with worry and confusion. So how on earth do you stay strong in the faith – believe with all your heart that everything is for the best and trust, trust, trust – when your heart is impaired because of hope that never happens?

I hit a new low the next evening and felt like I would burst from the burden of, what I later realized was, unsurrendered pain. My dear parents prayed for me and we talked it out until late.

The next morning I turned to my daily devotional titled, What Do You Expect?

“If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you will find it quite intolerable; think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.” C.S. Lewis, God in the Docks

Ah, that’s my problem. I think I’m entitled to certain things in this life – marriage, health, good food, good friends, a decent amount of money, a job I like, fun things to do, and the opportunity to travel – among others, I’m sure. While it’s not something I’ll readily admit, that’s just what it is – expectations I have of life. When one of these gifts fail to meet my expectations I feel cheated. I doubt God’s goodness. I get heart sick because my hope is deferred.

“Sometimes we expect that life should be happy and pain-free. But that is not what the Bible teaches. For the believer, this world is a place of spiritual development through both good and bad times. Jesus was realistic when He explained what to expect out of life. He told His disciples, “In the world you will have tribulation…” Dennis Fisher Our Daily Bread October 9, 2014

Why do we think we deserve more and better from life? It truly isn’t the Word of God that gives us this impression! The Bible is filled with warning us about a life of trials and encouragement to get through them.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12-13

“Imagine a set of people all living in the same building.”, C.S. Lewis wrote, “Half of them think it is a hotel, the other half think it is a prison. Those who think it a hotel might regard it as quite intolerable, and those who thought it was a prison might decide that it was really surprisingly comfortable.”

This keen illustration left me thinking about how I perceive life and what I am expecting from it. Quite a lot to be honest. I want a grand hotel where I’m pampered and waited on. But God has different plans.

Christ continues His dialog with His disciples, “But be of good cheer, I have over come the world”. (John 16:33) The devotional ends with these words…

In facing life’s blessings and bruises, we can have the inner peace that God is orchestrating events according to His sovereign plan.

This life is a place of training. It’s not a 5 star resort where we can kick up our feet and vacation on the beach. Truly, trials make us stronger. Pain surrendered molds us to be the people God meant for us to be.

There really is no reason to hope… in things of this world. But hope in God is not futile.

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,

to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly

for the salvation of the Lord.

What Are You Living For?

I’ve watched this video by Francis Chan before, but had to pull it up again this morning because I need this perspective.

I need to be reminded that life is not about having fun and doing what I want to do, or what the culture dictates I should do. It’s not about me and my short little life on this earth.

It’s about GOD, and eternity, and LOVE, and life after this two inches of red rope.

We Aren’t a Free Nation, We’re a Passive Nation

I don’t hear it as much anymore because I avoid the Christian forums filled with people waving the American flag and chanting “God Bless America – the land of the free!”

They read about persecuted Paul and Peter and thank God for a country that doesn’t throw people in jail for standing up for righteousness. They look with pity and prayers upon Vietnam and the Christians who get beaten for their faith, and say, “I’m sure glad that doesn’t happen to us here in America”, as they sip their Starbucks latte in between filling out their tax forms and watching the latest political scandals on the news.


The Bible promises persecution will come to those who stand for righteousness Matthew 24:9, but I think American Christians have it all figured out…if we don’t make waves, we can skip that step. We can believe Jesus Christ died to save us, we can go to church and worship all we want, we can pray in public, read our Bible and even talk about it with anyone we like. That’s free, right?

Let’s just overlook the fact that our taxes go to support murder, abortion, homosexuality, evildoers, covetousness, unrighteous wars, and the demoralization and depravity of mankind. Because, if we stopped supporting all these sins by not paying taxes, we’d go to jail.

Let’s not think about the corrupt politicians who make more and more laws that expressly go against God’s Holy Law and Order. Or the people they put in power to enforce those laws with guns and violence. Because, if we stood up and told these people that government is not God and that God is our only government, we’d go to jail.

Let’s be good little citizens and make sure all our papers are in order knowing it goes against the laws of the land to not get a birth certificate, a social security number, a driver’s license, a marriage certificate, a death certificate, and the mark of the beast (Revelation 13:17). After all, we wouldn’t want to deprive the US Government of using us as collateral for the national debt, would we? Nor do we want to go to jail for not having any of the above.


You know, Christians, if we don’t stand up against injustice, immoral practices, and evil people, well, we won’t get persecuted! That’s a comfortable thought, isn’t it? We can just keep going along to get along; keep taking the next tiny step toward complete communism and utter serfdom and keep lying to ourselves that we are free.

Does that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?  I hope not, because…

We aren’t free, Christians, we are passive.

We aren’t being persecuted because we aren’t making a stand against the corrupt, ungodly, evil world. We’re hiding. Hoping and praying it won’t touch us. Closing our eyes, plugging our ears and going about our merry way. We don’t want to know what is really happening.

As nice as it sounds to be blissfully ignorant, news flash, people, it won’t save us. Someday we’ll either have to make a stand for Christ and righteousness and be persecuted for it, or we will keep giving in to the evil until we suddenly find ourselves swallowed up by it.

Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 2 Timothy 3:12


Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10

I don’t want persecution any more than the you do. I dread the thought of walking the path of pain and suffering that Corrie Ten Boom, John Bunyan, Paul, Peter, and Christ did. I long to be taken from this dark, dark place, but there’s a reason I’m here and there’s a reason you’re here. That reason is only God and His grace.

It’s only by His grace that we can put off this passivity and stand for Him, for His righteousness, for His Kingdom…

…And let the chips fall where they may.

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Deuteronomy 31:6

America, Our Land is Polluted with Blood

I am sickened by the news this week. Three teenaged boys murdered an Australian jogger here in Oklahoma. When asked why they did it, they replied, ‘We were bored and decided to kill somebody.” and admitted they did it just for the fun of it.

No remorse, no regret, no apology. One of them started dancing when he was being booked and officers says they acted like it was just a joke.

This is horrifying. Something is very, very wrong in our society, America, when boys start killing for fun or beat up and kill elderly WWII vets at random.

What has caused this deplorable deterioration of our society and how can we remedy this? These are the questions spinning through my mind these last several days.

I don’t think it was by chance that I read Numbers chapter 35 this morning. It is about murderers and how they should be dealt with.

And these things shall be for a statute and rule for you throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the evidence of witnesses. But no person shall be put to death on the testimony of one witness. Moreover, you shall accept no ransom for the life of a murderer, who is guilty of death, but he shall be put to death. Numbers 35:29-31

Many people think the death penalty is too extreme, and I’ve wondered about it myself over the years, but now I know it is not. I know if you let people get away with murder they will keep murdering. If murderers are not severely dealt with (a life time sentence with food and board payed for by taxpayers is NOT severe punishment.), society will notice they get away with it, will not have the fear of punishment instilled into them, and will begin to murder as well.

Numbers 35: 33 states,

Do not pollute the land where you are. Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it.

Did you catch that? Bloodshed defiles the land and it can not be cleansed EXCEPT by the blood of the murderer. Do you know how many murderers are allowed to live in this country? Do you know how much blood is running down our streets because justice is not met out? Do you know why this is happening?

Ecclesiastes 8:11 tells us –

Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

That is why those 3 boys murdered the Australian man. That is why 2 teens murder an old man in Spokane. That is why women are getting raped every day, babies are being murdered in their mother’s womb, thieves are stealing more and more and the list goes on and on.  Sentence is not executed speedily and justly in our country, America. And until it is, we will continue to see crime getting worse and worse.

I never understood why, back in the old days, the whole town would come out to watch an execution. To me, it seemed morbid and uncivilized. But I get it now. When a man murdered another man in cold blood he was hung. And everyone in that town should know what he did and what the consequences are for murdering.

If children grew up today knowing that murderers get a swift and just punishment of death, the fear of God would be put in their hearts and I can guarantee you that they would think twice before they went out and killed someone for the fun of it.

But no, apparently the majority of Americans don’t want the fear of God put into the hearts of their children because God has been dismissed from our society. This is the very root of our problems in this country, America. When a country turns it’s back on God, as America has so clearly done, there is no where to go but down. Many don’t seem to understand that this downward path ends up in hell. Do we really need to taste more of this hell on earth before we repent and turn from our wicked ways?

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Our land is polluted and deathly ill, America. When will we wake up?

I am Trying to Understand…

Some things just don’t go the way we want them to…Sometimes life throws in things we don’t want to deal with. We don’t get what we want much. Life can be unfair and harsh and hard to understand. There are times I want to give up…

But I can’t, because if I give up there’s nothing left to do but die, and because I can’t stop believing that there is a reason and that God’s hands, the “hands that shaped the world, are holding me, they hold me still” and I will never leave them.

May this song bless you as it has me today.

Your Hands ~ JJ Heller

I have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn’t there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That you would take my pain away
You would take my pain away

I am trying to understand
How to walk this weary land
Make straight the paths that crooked lie
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine

When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave your hands

When you walked upon the earth
You healed the broken, lost and hurt
I know you hate to see me cry
One day you will set all things right
Yeah, one day you will set all things right

When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave your hands

Your hands that shaped the world
Are holding me
They hold me still
Your hands that shaped the world
Are holding me
They hold me still

When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave you
When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave
I never leave your hands

We May Never “Outgrow” This One: The Adult Pacifier

I don’t know what woke me up at midnight last night. Maybe it was a crazy dream.  My brain was chugging along at a speed non-conductive to sleep and I lay there for what seemed like hours trying to make sense of it all. Loneliness in a world of people…people and their technology…technology and what it’s doing to us…us and our habits…habits that spiral us into a world of addiction…addictions that strain relationships…relationships that are draining…what we do when we’re drained.

I stopped.

I know what I want to do when I’m drained. Not just when I’m drained though – it’s when I’m feeling down and just want a break from reality; it’s when I’m hurting and don’t want to deal with it; it’s when I’m hungry for truth, but I’m too tired to seek.

For me it’s the computer, for many others is their smart phone. Everywhere we turn we see people on their electronic gadgets.

Closeup of young men and women holding cellphone

Are You Addicted to Your Phone?

For the younger generation, I see it as a security blanket – always looking busy on their phone they avoid human contact and potential conversations. I know this because I’ve been in situations where I wished I could whip out a phone and look totally engrossed in my “important” messages. There was a time I even scrolled through my contacts “looking busy” to avoid an awkward encounter with someone.


I forgot my iphone.

Suddenly it hit me. Smart phones are the adult version of a baby pacifier. I rolled over, flipped my light on, and scribbled the title of this post on the back of a list. Now before you go rebutting this midnight epiphany, hear me out.

A mayo clinic article offers pros and cons for the use of baby pacifiers. Here are a few of them…

Pros –

  • A pacifier might soothe a fussy baby. Some babies are happiest when they’re sucking on something.
  • A pacifier offers temporary distraction. A pacifier might come in handy during shots, blood tests or other procedures.
  • A pacifier might help your baby fall asleep. If your baby has trouble settling down, a pacifier might do the trick.
  • A pacifier might ease discomfort during flights.

Cons –

  • Early pacifier use might interfere with breast-feeding.
  • Your baby might become dependent on the pacifier. If your baby uses a pacifier to sleep, you might face frequent middle-of-the-night crying spells when the pacifier falls out of your baby’s mouth.

Now tell me if these pros and cons don’t apply to smart phones…

Pros –

  • A smart phone might soothe a fussy child/adult. Some people are happiest when they’ve got their phone in hand.
  • A smart phone offers temporary distraction. A phone might come in handy during awkward conversations, lunch dates, onslaughts of boredom, or other procedures.
  • A smart phone might help you fall asleep. If you’re having trouble settling down, a Pandora station might do the trick.
  • A smart phone might ease discomfort during flights. We all know sitting in close proximity to complete strangers is discomforting, as is having to listen to babies cry or people talking.

Cons –

  • Early smart phone use might interfere with, get this,  real life and  face-to-face human interaction.
  • You might become dependent on your smart phone. If you use a phone to sleep, you might face frequent middle-of-the-night crying spells when the phone falls out of your hand.

Just kidding about the last one, but how many people do you know who are completely dependent on and inseparable from their phone? Why, 12% of people admit to using their smart phones in the shower!


One survey showed the average American young person actually spends 7 hours and 38 minutes EVERY DAY on media.


The study also states, “The heaviest media users had a greater association with behavioral problems and lower grades: 47 percent of those who consumed an astounding 16 hours of media per day had grades of mostly Cs or lower. In comparison, just 23 percent of those who consumed media three hours or less had such grades. The heaviest media users were also more likely to report boredom, sadness or trouble at school.” (emphasis mine)

SmartphoneSmart phone usage is starting at younger and younger ages. Case in point, my 2 year old nephew. He doesn’t need a pacifier, he’s got his own ipod touch. He can navigate his i touch better than I can. Seeing his tiny little fingers swiping the screen and taping away is mind-boggling to me.

He’s a supper smart kid, but I wonder what all this constant media input with do to him as he gets older. This early in the game, we don’t really know the advantages and disadvantages of a child being raised with so much technology fed into their little brains.

Frankly, we don’t even know yet what it’s doing to us. Should we be concerned about the astronomical amount of time we spend on our phones and computers? What is it doing to our brains, or our relationships, or our life?

We are a people who seek fulfillment. We need purpose in our lives. We need something or someone to live for. And this is what I’m afraid of… that we are trying to find that fulfillment through our social media, or iphones, our Facebook accounts and blogs.

Every day I’m drawn to my computer by this unseen force. When I analyze it I realize I’m trying to find something there. Something inside me thinks cyberspace will give me what I want to make me happy, that something amazing and good will pop up in my Inbox that will change my life and give me new direction and meaning.

Blog comments, e-mails from friends, “likes”, and pingbacks give me a high and I have to keep coming back for more. I have to keep doing more to get more. I’m a social media addict.


Do smartphones make us happy?

This one isn’t much different than other addictions though. It leaves me feeling empty, lonely, and disappointed. What I’m really looking for is not there and never will be. While Smartphones are pretty incredible devices, they don’t necessarily make us smart. In fact, they might even dumb us down. They might just make us miss the little opportunities in life that make for big changes. Staring at a screen won’t allow us to see the beautiful things in life that are right beside us. Constantly engaging our minds with news, gossip, and media input could dim our awareness of bigger ideas and and thoughts that would transform our world.

We’ve all heard, or had, the baby that cries uncontrollably in the airplane, grocery store, or at home. After doing everything we can and still not knowing what he wants, we pop a pacifier in his mouth to give him something to take his mind off what the real issue is.

You really think this is helping?

You really think this is helping?

Have you ever reached for your iphone or computer because you just need to escape? I know I have. It’s a welcome break and keeps “the voices in my head from stealing my peace.” (Control – JJ Heller)

But is this healthy behavior? Does our obsession with phones and social media pacify us and keep us from going deeper, from seeking reality? From discovering what life is really about?

I can bet you it’s not about how many followers you have on Vine, or how many “friends” you have on Facebook, or how many “likes” you get on a post. It’s about knowing Who made you and why He made you. It’s about the people God puts around you and how you interact with them. (Yeah, I know, it’s always easier to get along with your phone.) It’s about loving, being kind, and always growing, seeking and finding, praying and waiting, inhaling, exhaling, praising God.

So I challenge you as I challenge myself, let’s hang up the electronics. For a day, for a week, for a month if you can. Let’s look strangers in the eye and give them a genuine smile. Let’s be open to random conversations or chatting in the waiting room. Let’s breath in some fresh air, sing a song, take a walk and thank God for His amazing creation WITHOUT, and this is the key, without instagraming the moment, or thinking of the next Facebook status, or planning your next blog post.


Ah! That’s a tough one isn’t it?

Now please excuse me while I shut my computer down for the rest of the weekend. :D