Spiritual Growth

For Your Progress and Joy in the Faith

You’ll find this phrase, “for your progress and joy in the faith,” in the middle of a Pauline passage, Philippians 1: 21-26, which needs to be read within the context of the entire, little epistle.

It is true that I did not post anything in the month of February. I have a draft that I never finished, and I’m not going to use it. I am starting with a fresh focus today that has been simmering in my mind recently, and it awoke me this morning: “for your progress and joy in the faith.” Such an intriguing thought nested within Paul’s themes.

I found this picture at the Good Samaritan Mission. It fits perfectly with the class I taught there called A Traveler’s Guide through Suffering and Joy.

Though a fresh focus, it fits well with my last post, my January post, which caused a number of you to contact me personally via email, phone, and even by card through the postal system! I felt a need to be more personal, because it is easy for us to simplify, unintentionally, those people who write or speak, because we do not see them in their contexts. So I gave you a bit more of my context. Thank you for your caring touches.

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Categories: A Personal Note, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , | 6 Comments

Their Tales Still Surprised Me

In my last post, “Sequence and Surprise,” I told “A Tale of Two Houses in One City” — our experience of moving from our first Fort Wayne home into what we hope will be our final home before our eternal home. Lord willing, no more moving!

“Lord willing” is an important qualification. It’s a planning perspective that takes into account my responsibility within the reality that ultimately, I am not in control. Life is neither random nor fixed. “Lord willing” is the perspective of walking by faith.

While we were involved in a move consuming six months, we witnessed amazing and surprising events,  in the lives of some people dear to us. I mentioned them by name in the previous post and now I want to describe some of those surprises and the impact of these people and events on me.

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Categories: Moving, Spiritual Growth | Tags: | 4 Comments

Sequence and Surprise

Woe! What’s happened? Two months have swallowed me rather like Jonah in the whale. As I’ve come up for air, rather dizzy and sea sick, I’ve needed to take in the journey’s views quietly. Now, as 2021 ends, what is there to think and to say?

First, the journey has taught me again (repetition is a key to learning) that, no matter how wise or foolish my thinking or choices may be, I am not in charge (control is an illusion), and to underscore the elementary lesson, the journey has  also illustrated that “you” (today’s “everyman” you) are not in charge either.

Are we lost in the cosmic darkness?

How necessary that we hear again the angel say, “Fear not!”

But how can we not fear, o we of faux control?

“Fear not, for I bring you tidings of great news.”

The angel-messenger indicates that we are not alone in some cosmic emptiness. Someone is in control. The Someone outside of “us” (transcendent), but near us (immanent), and is named Emmanuel — “God with us.”

I observe that our “God with us-God,” the “I AM-God” who claims to be in control, demonstrates His rule in our lives and in the world. He doesn’t offer to us His rule as an option; then we would be in charge.  But He does offer as on option to us His comfort. “Fear not.” “Good news.”

So what is so good about bad news? (Or, what is so bad about good news?)

Now we are getting into deep, theological territory. (Sigh. I only wanted to catch you up on the last few months, but my mind always goes to meaning — to the themes behind the unfolding sequences of events.)

If your life is anything like mine, the sequences of events at certain turns this year probably surprised you. Anyway, the turns in our road (almost always hidden from view) surely caught me by surprise and surprise, but the Apostle Peter counsels us not to be surprised (I Peter 4:12).

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Categories: Moving, Spiritual Growth | Leave a comment

Progress Via Plodding

What have I accomplished since my last post?

I informed you of my aims to start a podcast, build a website, and publish (unsure of the form and method) my book. So, since then, I’ve further researched publishing approaches and podcasting. I’ve taken several online courses in self-publishing and in podcasting. I’ve listened to You-Tube talks on the subjects. I made some decisions and made some purchases.

Let me explain, but first, make sure you scroll to the bottom of this post to access a fascinating and outstanding documentary entitled The God Who Speaks. It is worth your attention, and you may want to pass it on to others.

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Categories: Christian Reader, Spiritual Growth | 2 Comments

Escape, Not Just from Winter . . .

This was our plan from the start. Should we return to the Midwest (which we did do in 2018), then we planned to escape the terse winters. A compromise. We would have preferred to have stayed in Arizona for the rest of our lives. Family in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio wooed us back to the heartland. You understand.

Paul and I have been in Florida for nearly a month now.  I think that one of the most calming aspects of being here is sitting in the lanai (or sunroom), feeling a soft breeze, and watching the sway of the palm branches.

View from the lanai or sunroom.



Palm branches, slow-dancing in the breeze, sooth my soul, reminding me, ironically, of Psalm 46:10. Ironically? Yes. This verse instructs us to “be still” or “cease striving.” It is the movement of the branches that arrests me. Rhythmic palm branches slow, slow, slow my spirit. My pattering thoughts nearly stop. “Be still” (KJV) or “cease striving” (NASB) “and know that I am God,” waft through my  mind, while the palm trees woo.

Slow-dancing palm branches. (Yes, those are my tootsies. I’m leaning back in a comfortable chair. Being still.)





The sons of Korah composed this impressive psalm. Long before the psalmists’ insistent imperatives of verse 8 (“Come, behold the works of the LORD”) and verse 10 (“Be still”) are seven verses of declaratives: truth claims and affirmations.  Just what our hearts need.

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Categories: Devotional, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , | Leave a comment

It Happened One Eve

I wrote the following three weeks ago, but life kept rolling so fast, and with my limited energy, I didn’t get to the “edit and add pictures” stage, so I’m just now getting this done and posted. In the meantime, there are so many other topics I’d like to address, but I’ll post our evening “happening” anyway along with some responsive thoughts to the event.

At 7:30 Monday evening, August 10, I cozied up in my recliner by the fireplace, ready to chat with my best friend from high school. Soon I was saying “How was your birthday?” Sandy had just turned 65. After 45 years of marriage to Bill, this spring she became a widow. I had been Sandy’s maid-of-honor. On this first birthday without Bill, I wanted to give her a long hug over the phone lines.

Paul was in our back yard preparing for a rainstorm that was about to come through. We had expected rain the previous evening but none came. Fine. Now we could tell it was coming. Paul saw it on his radar (the obsessive, retired Air Traffic Controller always checks weather). In the late afternoon he observed the skies preparing. Soon it would be here. The sky was darkening

Paul put most of the lawn furniture in our new shed and was closing up everything.

7:33. Sitting on my recliner, I noted an increase in noise. A sudden rushing noise. The beautiful, red, smoky bushes outside my window angrily whipped back and forth. How dark it had quickly turned!

Paul lowered the patio umbrella and with no time to do any more, he rushed inside. “Get away from that window!” Paul yelled at me. Outside the wind blew furiously. “Get away from the window!”

As best I could, I jumped up and scurried to the front of the house. The rushing noise crescendoed and at 7:35 I heard this long, loud, cracking noise.

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Categories: nature, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , | 6 Comments

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….

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

Spring Therapy

Ahh. Spring! Thank you, Lord, for Your gift of the seasons reminding us of Your faithfulness.  Some disagree! “A faithful God? How can you say that in light of this horrible, Coronavirus striking people, taking lives, and causing economic upheaval?”

Yet, we are haunted by Thomas Chisholm’s old words, the hymn writer who claimed, “Great is Thy faithfulness!” He obtained this concept from Scripture (Lamentations 3:23) and through experience. In 1923, at the age of 57, having endured much, he penned,  “Morning by morning new mercies I see.”

We must choose to see God’s mercies. And we must choose to remember that Christ holds all things together (Col. 1:16-7),  even in a broken cosmos so that day and night continue to turn;  that we “are loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3); that “The eternal God is [our] dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut. 33:2 ); and that this life is meant to be mortal, thus a portal into eternity (John 14).

So, right here on our own property in Fort Wayne, Indiana, I’ve been choosing to remember and to see Creation’s witness to God’s faithfulness. As Chisholm described:

“Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.”

Our fragrant Ornamental Weeping Crabapple tree in our front yard.

I invite you into our yard to view the lovely witness of ornamental cherry, pear, and crabapple trees, the witness of a Mr. and Mrs Goose and our black bird with a red and yellow stripe perching protectively on a cattail above his nesting wife, and in closing,  the witness of April Joy, a 36 hour old baby snuggled in my arms. Such witnesses are spring therapy to our weared souls.

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Categories: nature, Pictures, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , | 6 Comments

Clues from the Kingdom Sighted in Coronaville

How are you doing? I’m sitting in my sunroom here in Fort Wayne, Indiana, looking at the white blossoms on our ornamental pear trees which beautifully contrast with the richly green lawn. I breathe deeply. And there are a cluster of blooming daffodils prospering along the patio’s edge, waving their happy yellow at me. A lovely sight. Looking up from my studies I’ve viewed several squirrels and a little chipmunk scampering across our expansive yard. The tree blossoms, the scampering critters, and the yellow daffodils ignore our viral enemy and economic insecurity.

Nature is a gift to us, offering clues from His Kingdom, right here in our “Coronaville” (as Dr. Fred Chay has dubbed this time; maybe you’ve heard this name, but it was new to me!). I am reminded (aren’t you?) of Jesus’ perspective-correcting words in Matthew 6: 28-34. (You’ll find this passage below.)

This is the fifth post in this current series that I’m writing during this Coronavirus pandemic. I began the series on March 19 and posted weekly until recently. The last post was enough to simmer on for a few weeks. Today’s will be a Kingdom patchwork of pass-alongs from three, godly people I highly respect.

We must have a dozen of these blossoming trees on our property, praising God! Clue #1: Praise Him in your troubles.


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Categories: Devotional, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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.

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

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