Archive for February, 2012

The Secret

Psalm 25, The Secret of the Lord

Peanut butter normally glues my mouth and brain cells together. Not so for my friend Dave. Arrested by his spontaneous comment during lunch, my mind came unstuck and I stopped eating immediately to write down his quote. “Life is full of pain,” he said so simply, “and Psalms are the medicine.”

Dave loves Psalms and knows about pain. We know about physical, vocational, relational, emotional, mental, or spiritual pain. Jesus knew these and said, “In this world you have trouble.” How true is that?!

King David sometimes wrote engulfed in pain. In Psalm 25, David’s mini-journal of personal confession and trust is like the refuge of an airport gift shop full of enticing foods after ten sparse days in a desperate country. (This happened to me in Cuba.)

David’s personal and political demons are legion. When he prays “lift up my soul” in Psalm 25, he means it. “…I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses,” he prays. His heart-cry becomes our’s as he struggles with iniquities, enemies, and loss of confidence and reputation. I live in David’s house. Do you? Notably, David sees and prays about these troubles for his nation, too.

His hope and strength come from God—a particular and peculiar God greater than surrounding lesser gods. He is: compassionate, full of steadfast love, good and upright, protecting His own people as they guard His reputation (“for your name sake”).

David’s trust (v.2) is rooted in a promise in verse 14: “The secret of the Lord” (NASB) in the midst of trouble, i.e., deep counsel, friendship, and intimacy with God, comes to those who “fear God.” How great our privilege to revere, worship, adore, and trust God in trouble since all His paths are perfectly righteous and His character flawless. A child holding tightly to their parent in public is soaked to the bone in the knowledge they are secure in staying close, undesirable things happen if they don’t, and rewards wait for following closely (“abide in prosperity/well-being”)!

As he typically does, David offers some habits for heart and life for those who seek to follow Jesus well and finish strong: waiting on God, confronting sin, humility, obedience, integrity, uprightness. I need to press forward in these. Will you join me?

Thank You Lord Jesus, for unsticking my heart at lunch, for Dave, for Jesus who shows the way, and for David’s honest prayer song that is mine, too…and for peanut butter!

Peace Everyday


As I was passing out bulletins last Sunday, someone I deeply respect intentionally walked right to me and handed me a piece of paper. Her name sketched modestly on the bottom, she listed an acrostic for hope: Having Optimal Peace Everyday.

This note was written by the hand of a saint who models a deep trust in Christ deeper than circumstances. A widow, she has triumphed through a myriad of tests of faith for decades. Though I am quite sure she has difficult days-all followers of Jesus do-she models the very word she used to encourage me.

If you were to send her a note, what would you say? Picking up on my last column in The Herald-News (I really believe this stuff!), I wrote the following. (I am using my wife’s name to guard her identity.)


Thanks so much for your “hope”ful acrostic and note. I like it. And, where would we be without Christ our hope?!

I have always thought of you as a great woman of God. There are many reasons for this, but your constant encouraging role-like the note Sunday-is one major one. I looked forward to seeing you when I was on [church] staff. You were-are-such a servant-hearted follower of Jesus.

Did you know I am writing a column for the paper now? Just started. You’ve encouraged me to in creative things-and do them yourself. I have in mind articles for those that seek to follow Jesus well and finish strong. Young ones passionate about walking with Jesus; some of us not-so young moving quickly toward heaven who want to finish strong.

This phrase in Hebrews 7 about Jesus has captured me: He lived an “indestructible life.” Certainly, in context, His priesthood was greatest because He was uncorrupted–He was pure. He defeated death in His resurrection, too. Who He was and what He did lasts.

The promise is: as we glorify the Father, are transformed into Jesus’ likeness, and live faithfully because of and for and like Him, we too leave more than a legacy or good memories. We bring Christ into time, reproduce His values in others, and, in serving, are important links in the chain of advancing God’s kingdom.

You are one of these persons to me Cheryl. Thank you. I am sorry we have not connected more in recent years. May Jesus remedy that!

Philemon 7 (truly), John.

Who is a hope-filled person you can send a letter this week?

The Herald-News
February 8, 2012

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