Joy & Suffering — Good & Evil

Anchors, Birthdays, and Busy Summer Days

I awoke this morning before 6:00 with words swarming through my mind from the refrain of an old hymn I’d heard many times in childhood, but I doubt I’ve heard in years.

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.

My mind mulled over the final phrase, “in the Savior’s love.” Then the final words to Romans chapter 8 mingled with my thoughts, “the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

How does that verse begin? Oh, yes. The connection between hymn and biblical text deepened.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

These crescendoing verses fully awakened me, and I realized that this hymn needs to be woven into today’s blog post. Yes, I need to post today. It’s June’s last day, and I’ve not posted this month. June, seeming so threatening to me at the beginning of the month, had rolled over me like those billows. I had wondered how I would make it to July.

July 1 is a significant marker for  many companies and organizations, indicating “the beginning of the new fiscal year.”  Every year in the spring and through June we receive requests for donations, desiring contributions before that significant date of July 1.

For me, July 1 is also a significant marker. It always marks the beginning of a new year for me. It is my birthday. This year it marks 67 years. Wow. What a marker. What a sizable wave.

I need an anchor. An anchor grounded in the depths of my Savior’s love — from which nothing can separate me — not anything in life, and not even death itself.  So, the month of June could not destroy me  — nor you. We are anchored to Christ, our immovable rock.

Beauty and peace after a storm.

How does the rest of that hymn go? Who wrote it and why? After my morning routine, I pulled out my hymn history books, hymn books, and some online sources. Time to explore.

Continue reading

Categories: Devotional, Joy & Suffering -- Good & Evil, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Finding “Merry” in Good Ole “Merry Christmas”

Maybe you cringe as the sound of the word — “merry.” It has become trite — an overused word emptied of substance. It may also be a word that seems to mock you, especially this year. First, let’s put some substance back in the word-container, “merry.” Then, let’s see if it still mocks us.

Merry is a word for joy. Joy, as a word-container, holds a broad and deep cluster of concepts discoverable in the Scriptures!  When one facet of joy is absent from our hearts and lives, this does not mean that all joy is gone. We need to further explore both our lives and the joy word-containers found in Scripture to unearth other evidence and the many languages of joy available for us. This is an important way that we can take our distressed, panicky thoughts captive and live by the Spirit rather than by our limited sight (II Corinthians 10:3-5; 5:7). Boy, do I need this today!

Over a period of years I’ve researched these biblical ideas of joy, and I’ve been surprised at some of my discoveries. Certainly, ’tis the season to gift you with some of my finds — not mine to give but God’s gifts for me to share with you!

Continue reading

Categories: Devotional, Joy & Suffering -- Good & Evil, Theology | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Just Thinking…and Doing — Oh, Glory!

Oh my! You haven’t heard from me since the end of May! I did not get lost, but I did get overwhelmed. Not surprising. These are overwhelming times. You’ve probably been too busy to even notice my absence. I was expecting to write two posts during this interval.

If you look back at the last post, it presented a few thoughts about Ravi Zacharias who died on May 19.  You know, he was known for his thinking and for provoking others to think. He motivated others to act upon good, sound, biblical reasoning. Note the names of a number of his RZIM programs:

Just Thinking (a 15 minute program), Let My People Think (a 30 minute program), and Just a Thought (a one minute program). You’ll find a the link to these at the end of this post. *1

In times like these — this season of pandemic, this era of social, racial turmoil, this unanchoring epoch of cultural upheaval — I wonder what you’re thinking. I wonder how you’re processing.

I’ve been whirling around in my own world which whirls within this globe which whirls within the universe — all whirling within the Hand of God. II Corinthians 5:7 provides secure mooring for us within the whirling:  “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” Reasoned faith not manipulated sight, I trust and pray, is informing me. So, I have located a few faith-informed thoughts, quite precious to me, to pass on to you. Just thinking….

Continue reading

Categories: Christian Reader, Joy & Suffering -- Good & Evil, Spiritual Growth, The Thinking | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Why Suffering?

Why Suffering? Why pandemics? In the conclusion to my last post, I wrote that in the next post “Lord willing, I hope to explore some thoughts” regarding these why questions. “I hope.”  “To explore.” “Some thoughts.” That tames the goal down a bit, but “a bit” is still a breath-taking task.

While I have never explored the role of pandemics, as a specific context of suffering, if you’ve followed me, you know I’ve researched the biblical literature on the themes of suffering and joy as the base for my dissertation, and that I am presently hammering out a Bible study developing these themes.

In this post, during the most holy season of the Christian calendar, I’ll offer some salient points along with Scriptural backing, for your exploration and prayerful meditation. At the end of this post, you will find three delightful and rich videos plus one sermon link to bless you in various ways. Stay with me, please.

Why suffering? Why suffering?

Hmm. What kind of creature would ask such a question?

Continue reading

Categories: Joy & Suffering -- Good & Evil, nature | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Thinking About Deborah: Thank You, Deborah!

Today, I’m thinking about Deborah. Hmm. I’m getting too personal. That’s because she told a personal story, which makes me think very personally about her. I’m referring to Dr. Deborah Birx. Everyone paying any attention to the news concerning the coronavirus knows about Dr. Birx. Dr. Deborah Leah Birx.

Her father, Donald Birx, was a mathematician and electrical engineer. Her mother, Adelle, was a nursing instructor. One brother, I’ve read, was or is a nuclear engineer and the other a mathematician. This family is both inspiring and intimidating.

According to Wikipedia, “Birx lives with her parents, husband, and one of her daughter’s family in a multi-generational home.”  My curiosity was piqued. Birx is her maiden name. She has a husband and  daughters, but who is her husband? She goes by her maiden name, lives in a multi-generational home, and I learned she has grandchildren. But I couldn’t discover the man. Then I found a name.

At least, a last name. At the follow site ( ), I discovered the names of her daughters, which listed their last names: Raybuck. Actually Birx-Raybuck. So, the mystery husband is Mr. Raybuck. I wonder. What he is like? What does he do? How does he support his wife in her work?

I would love to live in a multi-generational home. Wow. How wonderful to have your parents in their own apartment, you and your spouse in yours, and one of your grown children and family in the rest of the house, the main portion, with a big, back yard. To me, that would be a dream.

Deborah seems so calm and measured. I wonder if her daughters are like that. Generally, each child is so different from each parent, yet has characteristics of each. This Birx-Raybuck family has grandchildren, but I don’t know how many.

So, you may wonder why I’m particularly fascinated with Dr. Deborah Leah Birx , but I would guess that she’s caught your attention too! Well, I have at least three, specific reasons, and the third I find to be inspirational.

Continue reading

Categories: Biography, Joy & Suffering -- Good & Evil | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

Fine Resources for Living at Home and Letting Home Bless You and Others

Do you see some irony in our current situation? Our world is preyed upon by an invisible evil, pushing us back into our homes. Homes.

Most people have worked hard to have beautiful homes. Look at the popularity of HGTV! I too love creating a beautiful home. But the irony is that so many people really don’t want to live at home — working from home, schooling from home, and playing at home. Only for short segments are they comfortable there. Do our lovely homes intimidate us?

Cabin fever! At the large sizes of most American homes? Compare the size of an average home built in the USA in 1950 with today’s average: around 980 square feet in 1950 to around 2600 square feet in homes the last five years. You and I fit somewhere in there. If our homes or apartments have more than 980 square feet, then we live in relative spaciousness. And style and convenience. . . .

Click here:

The Size of a Home the Year You Were Born

Third world people may be more than puzzled at our angst at staying home, with our first world problems. Time to buck up (it appears we are) and be creative.

For most of us in America (and first world countries), we are called to fight this war in the luxury of our own homes. And with the luxury of all our modern conveniences (as long as we have them; may they continue, and may we be thankful).

Yes, yes, there is enormous stress we’re living through. A novel virus. Illness of varying degrees. Possible death. Shortages of medicine and supplies. Economic upheaval. All the unknowns. I’m telling you nothing you don’t know, except I state it to validate our multidimensional anxiety.  We’re told not to panic. Maybe trusting God would help. And so I could sermonize, but you’ve had sermons.

I’ve been racking up a list of resources that may contain sources of blessing to us and for others. How can we employ some of these, especially for those of us who are isolated or quarantined at home, to serve others in our families, churches, and neighborhoods? While most likely you are already accessing some of these, this list may stir your imagination, bolster your motivation, and invigorate your spirit!

Forward this email to someone who may need some of this encouragement. (Thus, I’m playing a role from my sun room!)

Skim through this list. Choose something to try. Take your time and come back to this JNC post to grab another resource idea or site. Knowing the rich blessings available here, I’m delighted for you.

Continue reading

Categories: Christian Reader, Joy & Suffering -- Good & Evil, Parenting, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

“Social Distancing” or “Spatial Distancing”: Living from Home

Much has happened since my last post, when Paul and I were still in Florida. We left Florida, spent five days in South Carolina, and arrived home safely on Friday, March 13. I had a list of topics I wanted to develop, but evidences of a fallen and groaning earth have encroached upon all of our plans. 

Paul and I did get sick with the flu while in South Carolina, which caused us to shorten by a few days our two month long, southern experience. We are almost recovered, but we too, like most Americans, are now hunkering in at home. 

In this post, I’m going to offer some “good ideas” (I hope you’ll agree) for living at home during this season of “social distancing.” I’d prefer to call it “spatial distancing,” because I think we should work all more intentionally during this time at cultivating relationships,  just from a spatial distance. 

Continue reading

Categories: Christian Reader, Joy & Suffering -- Good & Evil, Parenting, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Joy to the Suffering World

I’ve been thinking so much about you, my dear readers, these weeks since I last posted. I hold various mental conversations with you as I anticipate writing a new blog post. By the time I attempt the new post, most of my ideas are gone or must go. There is just too much to talk and write about!

At this season for celebrating our Savior’s birth and incarnation, I send you my best thoughts for joy in the season to share with those you love. I pray for you — that God, who holds you in the palm of His Hand, will continue to nurture and guide you, and that you will bring joy to His heart as you love Him through your thoughts and actions.

I am attaching chapter 5 to this blog of the book I am currently writing, A Traveler’s Guide through Suffering and Joy.

I had expected to post it a few weeks ago, but I’ve struggled through this chapter. If you have not read any or all of the previous chapters, I think you can approach this chapter as a stand alone for the most part. I lived this chapter, which is why I struggled through it and why it took so much time.  Click below to access it. You may want to print it and write all over it.

Continue reading

Categories: Being Like Jesus, Joy & Suffering -- Good & Evil, Spiritual Growth, Theology | Tags: , | 2 Comments

From Richard Wurmbrand to Our Suffering Sovereign

I’ve finished another chapter draft in the book I am writing, A Traveler’s Guide through Suffering and Joy. I will give you a link to it below. This is how the chapter starts:

Richard Wurmbrand retells a fascinating Jewish legend in his book, 100 Prison Meditations. Moses is sitting at a well when three men, one at a time, stop by. (Apparently, Moses is simply an observer, out of sight.)

The first man unknowingly loses his purse of money in the sand. After he leaves, a second man passes through, finds the purse lying in the sand by the well and gladly takes it with him. Later, a third man comes to the well, drinks, and falls asleep there. The first man returns for his purse and kills the innocent, third man, believing him to be the thief.

Moses questions God. Continue reading

Categories: Joy & Suffering -- Good & Evil, Spiritual Growth, Theology | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Chapter 2: The Ground Under Our Feet

Today’s post will not be long. I have another chapter to offer you along with some gorgeous pictures of our back yard in fabulous fall colors. I hope the pictures make you smile. And if you want to explore the chapter, you can.

I’ll only post one or two more chapters, and then then I’ll go back to writing my regular, topical blog posts (which may sometimes relate to the book). I will be taking down my chapters by the end of the year, so they will not be permanently on this blog site.  If you’d like for me to write on a particular topic, do submit a comment and let me know!

Since my last post almost a month ago,

Continue reading

Categories: Joy & Suffering -- Good & Evil, Spiritual Growth, Theology | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Blog at