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You are a spring in the garden, a fountain of pure water, and a refreshing stream from Mount Lebanon. Song of Solomon 4:15 (CEV)

Stagnant water.

Just reading those words conjure up the rancid odor, the slimy film, the repulsiveness of it. It could have been on a walk through the woods on a stifling summer day or while cleaning up some deserted lot full of tires and other ‘water catching’ containers.

Stagnant water breeds disease. Stagnant water squelches life. Stagnant water pushes us away. Stagnant water never satisfies. Stagnant water puts within us a desire to find fresh water.

Sometimes life can be like that stagnant pool we try to avoid. You can’t put your finger on it really, the source that is. You just feel flat. For a writer or speaker it can be those times when you stare at the computer screen or paper for what seems like hours wondering what comes next.

Stagnancy of the spirit. It’s tough. It takes away your creativity. It can make you irritable, impatient, restless. Stagnancy of the heart drives us to look for more in our relationships, more in our job contentment, more in our spiritual walk. At its worst, stagnancy of the heart can drive us to lose the will to live at all.

You rarely see condominiums built next to an ugly bog, or see people gather to take pictures in front of a swamp. On the other hand, people yearn for the freshness of a mountain stream, a shooting fountain or a waterfall plummeting over a cliff. These are signs of life, of beauty, of freshness!

In one of the greatest loves stories of all time, the ‘beloved’ is described as a spring in a garden, a fountain of purity, a refreshing stream from the loftiest mountain. As one scholar wrote, Though the fountain is lowly, the source is lofty; fed by the perpetual snows of Lebanon, refreshingly cool, fertilizing the gardens of Damascus. It springs upon earth; its source is heaven. It is now not “sealed,” but open “streams”.

It’s easy, during those ‘stagnant times’ of our walk to forget the source of our vitality. The follower of Jesus Christ need never fret those times of occasional stagnancy for we know that the freshness of our souls, the vitality of our hearts, doesn’t rest on our own abilities or on the environment we live in.

May we always be the conduit of freshness from heaven. May our hearts overflow with the fresh water of God’s Holy Spirit. May others see in us a fresh mountain stream with its source in heaven and not a stagnant pond intent on focusing on ourselves.

PRAYER: Father God. I confess that there are times in my life when I allow the cares of life to cause me to be stagnant. Fill me to overflowing with the freshness of your Spirit so that I can feel revived and others can benefit from your love. Amen.


As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Genesis 15:12

It’s during those darkest times of our lives that God often reveals himself. It’s when we are too tired from striving that his strength comforts us. It’s during those times when we can’t see his hand that he reveals himself.

Imagine the scene when God revealed himself to Abram. Jehovah God had promised Abram that his descendants would be more numerous than the sand and that his seed would deliver mankind from their captivity.

God’s promise was sealed with sacrifice but not until Abram fell into a deep sleep and a thick and dreadful darkness encompassed him. It was then, at this darkest time in Abram’s life that God restated his promise.

That’s the way God tends to work. We don’t understand it. It doesn’t always seem real loving for a God who is, in essence love, but it’s the way he works and our trust in him is the foundation on which we enter into the darkness and exit in his timing.

Hundreds of years later, on a stormy Sea of Galilee, a small boat was tossed about in the darkness. The crew was trying desperately to get the boat to shore before the waves broke up the ship and sent them all to a watery grave.

In the midst of the terror, someone noticed a lone figure asleep in the bow. “Jesus!” They screamed over the howling wind, “Don’t you care that we are drowning?” It wasn’t a gentle question. It wasn’t whispered in his ear. It was a scream of terror.

How could Jesus sleep through the darkness and fierceness of the storm? It’s easy to do when you trust the one directing the wind. Complete trust in God allows us to rest in the midst of the most dreadful periods of our lives.

If you are like me, you will admit that most of the time, we lay awake at night because of worry. It could be worry based on our own poor choices. It could be worry over the effect others can have on us. It can be worry over things we know we should have done, or not done, long ago.

Abram, like Jesus, teach us something important for life. During the darkest, scariest, most dreadful times of our lives, our hearts can rest when we completely trust a God who loves us and has promised he will never leave us. EVER.

PRAYER: Father, I confess to you that I’m scared. The things I see in my world, my relationships, and my future are dark and dreadful. Through the power of your Spirit I ask that you would help me rest in you because my trust lay wholly in you for my tomorrows, regardless of my past. Amen.


But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Psalm 5:11

Years ago now the news broke in my area of a young person who died tragically in a house fire. What made the death even more of a tragedy is that when he heard the smoke detectors in the middle of the night, he got scared and hid under his bed. When his parents frantically checked his room they didn’t see him and thought him to be outside. He was too scared to answer their calls.

By the time they realized he hadn’t made it outside it was too late. The young man perished from smoke inhalation. The fire was put out quickly. The rest of the family, while devastated at the loss of a loved one, was able to rebuild and go on with life. But the wound of that night haunted them for years. “He was so close to safety,” his dad remarked, “yet his fear was so much greater than his understanding of the situation it twisted his thinking with deadly consequences.”

When we are afraid, for whatever reason, we naturally look for a safe place to regroup. We seek a refuge that will protect us from further pain or harm, a place where we can feel safe and comforted. A place of refuge that will allow us to reach the full potential of our being.

The strength of our refuge determines the amount of peace, safety and healing we take with us on the journey. Some take refuge from emotional pain in new relationships. But relationships are fickle at best and can’t offer the lasting peace we crave. People who aren’t comfortable with the relationship they have with themselves find it difficult, if not impossible, to find true fulfillment in relationship with someone else.

Others seek refuge in addictive behaviors, anger, religious experience, careers, social action and a variety of other things bent on helping them suppress the fear and anxiety in their lives and replace it with comfort and a sense of well-being.

Those who learn how to take refuge in our Heavenly Father find peace in the midst of tragedy; encouragement in the face of disappointment; healing when anger raises its ugly head. Why? Because our human intellect tells us a refuge is protection from the outside, but the eternal, unshakeable refuge we have in God through Jesus Christ is an internal refuge that guards what external refuges can never protect, our souls.

Our bodies will fail us. Old age and/or death are 100% likely for each of us. Relationships will fail. Careers will end. Dreams will slip away in the night. But there is nothing in the seen or the unseen world that will ever break through the refuge of our souls that Jesus Christ offers us.

PRAYER: Father God, I thank you for the protection that you offer us through Jesus Christ. I thank you that we can find complete inner peace and safety when we take refuge in you. I confess I too often seek refuge from things that don’t last. Empower me to learn how to rest in the refuge you can give so in the midst of my adversity I can find rest. Amen.


“I leave you peace; my peace I give you. I do not give it to you as the world does. So don’t let your hearts be troubled or afraid. John 14:27 NCV

It will happen all across the world today. Some places will have seen it by the time you read this. In a variety of ways, places and circumstances, ‘the ball will drop’. As people watch it drop they will celebrate the dawn of a new year.

Some will use this as a new beginning. Old habits will be left behind forever (or temporarily at least), diets will be started (or restarted), resolutions will be pledged, prayer vigils for world peace, eradication of hunger, and a variety of other causes will be staged.

But in all the hysteria, in all the celebration, lurking in the corner of people’s minds will be the monster called fear. Oh, he may lay low for awhile, a day or two, just to make you think that things really will get better. But he’ll be back. He may come in the way of a terrorist attack or natural disaster for a world-wide effect. He may come more subtly too. You could lose your job this year or a loved one or…the inevitable, this could be the year others lose you.

I don’t mean to be some Debbie-downer and spoil your celebration today. I do really hope that each of you will have a happy, blessed and safe New Year. There is one way we can all assure ourselves of a happy New Year regardless of what goes on around us and that is to claim the promise Jesus gives us.

Jesus was well aware of what lay ahead for his disciples when he made this promise. He is well aware of what is in store for you this year too. When Jesus promises peace his promise isn’t for external peace, but for a peace deep inside our soul. It’s a peace that comes to us regardless of the external events of our lives.

So, while I sincerely wish all of you a Happy New Year, my real prayer for you is that you will have a Peaceful New Year grounded in the fact that Jesus Christ loves you, gave his live for you, and promises that no matter how bad things get in 2012, he knows what lies ahead and promises to walk with us along the rugged, painful and sometimes terrifying journey. Jesus is the only real source of peace you will ever find and ever need.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus you’ve heard all the prognostications for 2012. Better yet, you’ve been there and back. My prayer for this world is that we will find the peace you have promised by putting our trust in you. May each of us live a life of peace grounded in you so others will find the way to peace with you as well. Amen.


In heaven the LORD laughs as he sits on his throne, making fun of the nations. Psalm 2:4 (CEV)

I’m always amused at how some animals don’t get the whole ‘pecking order’ thing. One example that comes to mind is a dog I used to have. My Chocolate Lab/Chesapeake Bay Retriever weighed in around 90 pounds. He was a muscular, fast dog, yet docile as they come. He’d rather play fetch than fight.

Next door to our house was an elderly lady with a small toy poodle. This dog probably weighed in a little over a pound. Yet when she was out in the yard she would come over and bark at my dog, run around him, try to pick a fight. It was obvious she was angry and ready to defend her territory to the end…obvious except perhaps to Charlie, my Lab.

One time in particular ‘the rat dog’ saw Charlie sleeping in the shade. She came flying across the yard barking like a banshee. I watched as Charlie opened one eye to look directly into the barking face of a little dog no more than six inches away. He lifted his head for a moment (maybe to focus?), then, seeing who it was put his head down and went back to his nap.

My dog could have put an end to the confrontation in an instant, yet he chose to ignore the aggressor. The poodle continued its barrage of verbal assault until her owner ‘called her off.’ The smaller dog trotted victoriously across the yard, apparently convinced she’d defeated the threat.

Psalm 2 talks about angry nation’s intent on destroying God, or the concept of God. They throw all sorts of ‘attacks’ heavenward. Yet our Father looks on with a smirk on his face. We as Christ-followers get angry at the way our faith is attacked. We worry about how God’s name will be hurt by this, or religion will be destroyed by that. We look at politicians and economic systems as being a threat to our existence.

In the meantime, like my Lab Charlie, God looks down from heaven and shrugs his shoulders. Nothing to worry about. In fact, the scripture implies he is even somewhat amused by man’s attempts to thwart his plan.

Our heavenly Father isn’t worried about terrorism. Our almighty God isn’t fazed by the economic uncertainty and the predicted upcoming collapse of the world economy. He’s not overwhelmed by the complexity of the global political climate. There is nothing in the seen and the unseen world that will detract from the fulfillment of his plan. You can trust him.

PRAYER: Almighty God and heavenly Father. There are many things in this world that worry me right now. My own finances, my relationships, my physical strength to carry on. Help me to remember that nothing that is going on around me worries you. Nothing I’m going through will keep you from fulfilling your plan. Empower me with your Spirit to walk bravely with you. Amen.

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