Delete the Yet.

Words are my life. If I’m not speaking/teaching with them, I’m either writing them or playing games with them. Consequently, I find myself doing a lot of self-editing to make sure my message is clear.

Editing sometimes involves correcting punctuation. Putting a comma in the right place can make all the difference in the meaning of a statement. For example, which is better: I like cooking my family and my pets; or I like cooking, my family, and my pets. Or: Let’s eat grandma; or Let’s eat, grandma.

Using words or deleting them can change the meaning being conveyed. I would like to suggest an editing correction to an old hymn that has been recently updated, and is currently playing on Christian radio.

In one of the previous churches I attended we often had hymn sings, times when the people would call out the hymnal number or title of their favorite hymn. I would cringe when I heard someone request number 443, “He Never Has Failed Me Yet.”


And now a whole new generation of believers is hearing this disappointing musical theology.

I can almost imagine your confused looks as you read my concern. Am I majoring in minor things and making mountains out of molehills? I don’t think so. This simple three-letter word injects an enormous dose of doubt into our faith in God. Simply put: while affirming God’s got a pretty good track record so far, we’re not sure about the future. Including the “yet: implies there’s still potential for God to not come through—and that’s not possible!

Sure, we can all point to times when we didn’t get what we wanted: a job, health, money, or the miracle to save the day. But that doesn’t mean God failed. 

Tucked in Jeremiah is a verse often quoted, worn on t-shirts, or slapped on mugs. The people were in an unbelievably difficult situation—one they’d never chosen…but God did. His message: “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).” 

God has plans for you, good plans. He will not fail.

Paul, understood this, too. While in prison (talk about a situation that could seem like a God-fail), he wrote: “We know God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (Romans 8:28, NLT).” Not everything will seem good, but God can make them work together for good. Like Jeremiah said, for His plans and purpose.

I’m not suggesting we take a marker and start crossing out all the “yets” in the hymnal, but I do believe we need to edit that kind of thinking our of our faith and our living. Drop the yet, and put a period there.

He never has failed me. And He never will.

Hopefully Devoted: Even Though

60394195-CC73-462A-B321-3DD930609685Habakkuk 3:17-19, NLT

Yesterday I listened in on an excellent teaching by Andy Lee. I love her “Bite Of Bread” ministry. The verse she drew from was Romans 8:28: And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (NLT).

I confess I got stuck on the word “good.”

Here’s the comment I left for Andy after the study: “As you were teaching, I found I was focused on the idea of good…God’s ways are not our ways, we don’t think alike—and we don’t work from the same experiential dictionary or definitions. His concept of what is GOOD for us may not fall within our ability to comprehend, and that may be in part because we are focused on the immediate rather than the future and the big picture which he can fully see. Seeds for more thinking.”

So how interesting it was for me that I found these words when I opened my devotional today: “God alone holds the “big picture of our existence.”

The scripture quoted above was the recommended reading to go along with the devotion.

In essence, Habakkuk is saying: “Even though every thing goes wrong. Even though nothing goes the way I wanted or planned. Even though…yet.”

Yet I will rejoice.

Even though God is working things in a manner that I don’t understand, that hurts, that I don’t want no way, no how. I am going to trust that he knows what he’s doing because he sees the big picture. He knows. And I will rejoice in that knowledge. I will rest in it.

He is my strength to get to the other side of “even though” to rejoicing.

Springtime Snow?

WP spring

I was so excited to celebrate I wore spring colors and grabbed a light weight sweater. Before I left for work I took the dogs out for their morning duty

and it was snowing!

The deflating of my spirit could be felt all the way to Cleveland.

This has been one of the top five coldest and snowiest winters in the last thirty years. And I was ready for it to be done.

But it was snowing.

IMG_20150320_111041Can you relate?

As I was driving to work, I was just about to express my displeasure to God  in prayer, when it occurred to me it’s still the first day of Spring! An occasional snow squall or ice storm or even freezing rain will happen–because that’s what Spring is.

Spring is the greening time: grass and trees. Spring is rain that brings flowers…and mud. We get to the end of Spring and we’re praying for summer’s warmth and fun. And then we want Autumn’s cooler temps and glorious display of color.

But without winter..without that season of rest and death…there would be no Spring.

So I hear you thinking, “What on earth does this have to do with Lent or seeing God?”

Well, I recall Job mused on this and his response to his wife’s disgruntlement with the way things were going down was, “Shall we take the good and not the bad?”

Pretty gutsy for a guy who lost everything, was covered with boils, and surrounded by some unsupportive friends. But it’s probably because in spite of it all, he learned this truth:  He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) 

The apostle Paul also got it. He’s the one who said: And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28)

Notice this: it doesn’t say all things are good. Paul is clear that this amazing, lavishly loving God, is able to make all the things–good, bad, or otherwise–work together for our good.

And here’s what I know about Spring snow: it doesn’t last!

PRAYER: God of seasons, change, and time. Forgive our reluctance in accepting the disappointments of life and not seeing your hand at work in  it ALL. Help us to trust that you are working, using ALL things for our good and your glory.

 WP spring snow



There’s a HUGE difference in the way believers should be waiting.

If we believe that God is in control. That what happens in our lives has reason and meaning. That even when we can’t see or understand what’s going on…God is still in the business of “working all things for our good” (Romans 8:28).

Then we should be expecting something—anticipating God to do something.


As we draw ever nearer to Christmas, I pray that we would find our childlike faith. Watch a child and how they are just about to burst with anticipation.

God is about to break into the scene afresh.

Anticipate it. Expect it. Rejoice in it.

PRAYER: God, I want to believe you are working all things for my good. I don’t always see it. I don’t expect it. Forgive me for doubting and looking for the other shoe to drop. Renew my childlike faith and give eyes to see you working anew and afresh. Amen.


Tough to Swallow

In John 6 we find the story of Jesus feeding the multitudes. When lunch is over he identifies himself as the Bread of Life. Then in a way that shocked the crowd, he goes on to tell them they must eat his flesh and drink his blood.

Their response: Many among his disciples heard this and said, “This is tough teaching, too tough to swallow.” (John 6:60, The Message)

Too tough to swallow.

What do you find tough to swallow?

Has life handed you some bitter pills?

I always had a terrible time swallowing pills when I was a kid. All the way up through college, I would ask for a shot rather than have to swallow pills.

Penicillin was the worst. I couldn’t make those pills slide down no matter how much I drank. Nothing tasted worse. I would cry, beg, to not have to take the pills. My mom wasn’t very sympathetic. I know now she was “hard-nosed” about the whole thing because her ultimate concern wasn’t my immediate comfort but my eventual health.

Have you begged and cried out for God to remove some difficulty, an illness, financial challenges, physical limitations, or loss? But he lets it remain.

And that’s just pretty tough to swallow.

Doesn’t God care that you are suffering? Doesn’t he want you to be happy? Doesn’t he hear your pleas for relief?

Yes. But just like my mom, he loves you too much to leave you in your sin-sick condition.

There are so many stories in the Bible that are just heart-breaking. Widows who lose their only children. Poor Naomi and Ruth. And who can forget Job? But let’s consider Paul for just a moment.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church (See 2 Corinthians 12) he writes about his “thorn in the flesh.” Whatever it was, the apostle prayed on three occasions for God to remove it. And God said no.

He also said: “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).”

As a result Paul declared: “I am glad to boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weakness, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong (1 Corinthians 12:10).”

Talk about a bitter pill. Paul endured much that we would find tough to swallow. But he also knew a strength and grace that enabled him to come through all the difficulty and in a way that brought honor and glory to the One who provided the strength and grace in the first place.

On the day when some of Jesus’ disciples found his message to be a bitter pill many left. Jesus turned to those who remained and asked if they were thinking of bailing, too. Peter spoke up for the remaining twelve: Where else can we go? You alone have the words of life.

Peter didn’t try to sugar coat it. Sometimes bitter pills lead to life.

Job, that persecuted and often misunderstood man from the Old Testament, grasped this one thing like nothing else in his ordeal. He summed up his ability to hang onto God in the midst of all his suffering this way: shall we take the good and not the bad? (See Job 2:10)

Paul went a step further and told the Roman believers that no matter how bitter the pill God was able to cause all the bad, the negative, the difficult to work for good. He never says that the bad is good, just that God can take all the negative and difficult and make them work for our good and his glory (See Romans 8:28).

Tough to swallow…perhaps. But remember, God knows what is absolutely best for you. You can trust him. It may be tough, but don’t walk away now. In him there is fullness of life, your life and mine, now and forever.

%d bloggers like this: