Sealed by the cross

“And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”

John 12:32 (NAB)

As usual, Jesus’ words contain more than a single meaning. When He referred to Himself as being lifted up, He was hinting about the type of impending death He would suffer, through crucifixion. 

Being lifted up can also refer to other things, like lifting Him up in our family priorities, our conversations, our individual lives of faith, or even placing the symbol of His cross on the top of a building to ask God’s blessing upon it. 

The first attached photo was taken when the cross was placed on top of Lutheran General hospital in 1959, when it first came to Park Ridge, Illinois. The second photo was taken on my way to work last week. 

The cross, that lights up each night sky, has been standing on top of that hospital, going on seven decades.

There have been many changes of corporate leadership over those years, and not all the policies and decisions have been beneficial ones, but good men and women have cared for thousands of patients, who each have a story of healing from their time spent in the hospital with the lighted cross standing on top of it’s roof. Commercial airline pilots have shared testimonies of how that cross has been a lighted landmark and beacon that safely guided them to O’Hare airport in dark, stormy nights. 

It reminds me that we are all human beings, who have ups and downs, virtues and vices, joys and sorrows. We all make good and bad decisions throughout our lives. There is an invisible cross standing tall over each one of us, which represents the grace of God through Jesus. That grace will also guide us through the stormy nights in our lives. 

We are all a people set apart, marked and sealed by the Holy Spirit. God seems to always put His mark on people. The Hebrew people were instructed to put the blood of a lamb on their doorposts, so that it would be seen as a mark or a seal of protection. 

The blood painted on those doorposts could also resemble the shape of a cross. When the angel swept through Egypt that night, he passed over all those homes with blood on doorposts, saving the people, marked by the blood.

To some, the cross is a mere symbol, but for us who are sealed by it, the cross represents our faith in what Jesus accomplished, and not our own accomplishments. We are saved by the same grace as the Hebrews were, with blood on their doorposts. 

Lord, we lift up your cross, which seals us as your people, and we thank you for your grace that saves us. We are honored to be forever marked by your cross and precious blood of Jesus. Amen


The Guest room

“Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’

Mark 14:14 (NAB)

Jesus sent this message to the master of a house, asking where His guest room is, in order to use it for the Passover celebration with His disciples, but I think there is a special message packed into every question Jesus asks.

We are the masters of our spiritual home, and we are the only ones who can give Jesus His own guest room and place of honor in our lives. I know from my own experience, that we can become so anxious over a list of needs, asking for His help or healing, that we don’t hear Him asking us, “Where is My guest room?”

It makes me think about how a guest room is prepared for Jesus. If I become overwhelmed with urgent needs, I can lose focus on Him as my honored guest. Instead of spending time listening to what He has to say, showing Him gratitude or giving Him praise, I may be treating Him more like a servant than a guest. Some days I feel like I’m handing Him a laundry list of prayer requests for the day, and then running off.

Jesus told us to ask, seek knock, and we will receive from Him, but we were meant to give Him the glory and honor that He is worthy of. The Holy Spirit keeps sending me this subtle message that prayer is to be accompanied with worship.

If a highly honored guest or one of our favorite celebrities was staying in our home with us, we wouldn’t greet them with a list of chores. We would be so excited to have that special guest in our home, that we would set aside time just to enjoy their presence, and dine with them.

I would also prepare the guest room by cleaning it up, putting fresh linens on the bed, and stocking my pantry full of good food, so that my guest can dine in excellence with me. 

Jesus is our special guest, who will live in our guest room, and dine with us every day. I wouldn’t want to be so preoccupied, that I leave Him standing outside, asking, “Where is my guest room?” It reminds me of that old classic painting of Jesus standing outside and knocking on the door, waiting to be let in. 

The guest room we give to Him is an attitude of our heart. It’s a self reminder that even if nothing else on that laundry list ever got done, it’s an honor to have Jesus in our home. Giving Him His guest room means loving Him for who He is, and not just for what He can do for us. This is what worship is really about.

There is a  guest room in the upper room of our heart, which was always intended for Him, not to be left empty. It’s an attitude where He receives the glory and honor that He deserves. In return, we receive the reward of His fellowship and dine with Him each day.  

I can imagine Jesus saying to each of us,

“I hear your requests, and everything is going to be okay, but give Me My guest room.”

Jesus, today we invite you into our special guest room, in the upper room of our heart, prepared for you, with the honor and glory that you deserve, and we thank you for your presence, as we intend to dine with you each day. Amen 

(Actual upper room today)


We are His beloved, and He is ours

“My beloved has gone down to his garden, to the beds of spices,
to pasture his flock in the gardens,
and to gather lilies.

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine; he pastures his flock among the lilies.”

Song of Solomon 6:2-3 (RSV)

Solomon, David’s son, wrote this book of scripture for lovers, and yet there is a deeper meaning in it. 

The new covenant in Christ, refers to His church as His bride. The book known as both Song of Solomon or Song of Songs, has meaning regarding the intimacy between Christ and His church. 

David’s psalms revealed the intimacy of his relationship with the Lord. At the most difficult times in his life, David referred to God, as “my God”, and to God’s love as “ better than life.”

David had an intimacy with the Lord as his closest friend, and he has been a template of faith for his own son, Solomon, as well as all people, in whatever situation they are in. 

Whether we are going through sickness, sorrow, loss or tragedy, just like David, we must find and restore our intimacy with God, which is our anchor during hard times. 

These verses written by Solomon, “you are my beloved and I am yours.”is a statement of intimacy between lovers, but also between us and our God. 

Matthew Henry’s commentary on this scripture, best explains how it represent Christ and His people: 

“If our own hearts can witness for us that we are Christ’s, question not his being ours, for the covenant never breaks on His side. It is the comfort of the church, that He feeds among the lilies, that He takes delight in his people.”

God is our personal God and Savior, not because we receive everything we ask for, but because He loves us more than anyone on earth ever could. Jesus takes delight in His people, and desires intimacy with each of us. 

It’s not a relationship of servant and master, or magic formulas of getting things we want from a far off King on a throne. It’s a loving relationship between father and child, or as Solomon saw it, as lovers, or bride and groom.

When we have security in our own intimate friendship with Jesus, we enjoy seeing how someone else is blessed. We say to ourself, that’s “my God” who did that. In knowing Him personally, it gives us joy to know that others do as well.

I know I’ve used this analogy before, and it’s one that I recall from my childhood. My mother worked full time when I was a child, since my father was slightly disabled from a stroke. She took a city bus to and from work each day. I remember a friend I had as a child, named Mary Margaret O’Connor, who was a few years younger than me and lived only a couple doors away.

Whenever Mary Margaret saw my mother returning from work, getting off the city bus, and walking towards our house, she would run down the block excitedly to greet my mother. My mother greeted her with a big hug, even before me. 

The first time I saw her do this, I was very perplexed and wondered why she was so enthused to see my mother. Then I realized my mother was such a loving person that she was the highlight of the day for a little girl, who couldn’t wait to run and hug her.

I was secure enough that my mother loved me, and therefore, didn’t feel jealous when Mary Margaret ran way ahead of me to receive the first hug. Instead of envying her for taking over my mother, I found a sense of pride to have the kind of mother, who was so special and loving to someone else. 

That’s how I interpret intimacy with God. He has to be personal for us, in such a secure way that we rejoice when He also becomes personal to others. In the same way that I knew I was greatly loved by “my mother”, I now know I am greatly loved by “my God.” A relationship with God needs to be intimate, either as bride and groom or parent and child, and yet we are also proud of Him when others also know of His goodness. 

Jesus is our beloved and we are His, as Solomon wrote. We can know Him as David did, even through all the adversity and troubles of life. Our intimacy with Him is the anchor that keeps us solid in faith.

Lord, you love us as no one else ever could and your love is truly better than life itself. Help each of us to know that we are your beloved and you are ours. Anchor us in your love which keeps us through all the trials of our lives. Amen 


A golden bowl of prayers

“…. the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.”

Revelation 5:8 (NIV)

Sometimes we need a glimpse of heaven to meditate on. Each of the twenty four elders in heaven are holding a golden bowl filled with prayers, our prayers. In their other hand, they are holding a harp, and then they all bow before the Lamb, who is Jesus. 

The twenty four elders are probably a Judeo-Christian group consisting of the twelve apostles plus the twelve sons of Jacob. His twelve sons also represent the twelve tribes of Israel. They all stand in worship before the throne of Jesus, the Lamb of God.

Since this group is holding a harp, along with their bowl of prayers, it confirms the idea that worship goes hand in hand with prayer. 

This image of heaven describes a vivid combination of sights, scents and sounds. All of our senses are stimulated in heaven. There will be golden bowls to see, fragrant incense to smell and harp music to hear. The most interesting part of this scene, is the elders who hold our prayers within their golden bowls, presenting them to Jesus, who told us to ask anything in His name.

While we face adversity in our lives, it can be a struggle to believe that God hears all our prayers. John’s vision tells us that God not only hears us, but He values our prayers enough to put them in a golden bowl, which then is lit up, becoming a fragrant incense, ascending to our high priest intercessor, in heaven. 

There are no boundaries of time or space in heaven, so our prayers are ever present before Him. We may forget what we asked for a year or two ago, but Heaven never forgets. Every prayer we pray, endures in His eternal presence through the smoke of fragrant incense. He answers us in due time, according to His plan and purpose. Whatever we ask for in Jesus’ name, carries the aroma of Christ with it, all the way to God’s throne in heaven. 

(2 Corinthians 2:15)

Knowing this, we put our hope and faith in God, through Jesus, and offer our praise along with every petition. God is worthy of praise, because no one loves us more, no one takes our welfare more to His heart, or has a better plan for all things to work together for our good…than God. He deserves praise for who He is, not for what He does. He loves us for who we are, not for what we do. He is the image and author of the purest love.

Psalm 141:2 says, “Let my prayer come before you like incense.” David knew this truth and he lived his life in a constant state of worship, offering to God, his petitions with praise:

“I will bless the Lord at all times;

his praise shall be always in my mouth. My soul will glory in the Lord,

let the poor hear and be glad.

Magnify the Lord with me;

and let us exalt his name together.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me, delivered me from all my fears.”

(Psalm 34:2-5)

Praise is very therapeutic and it delivers us from every type of fear, because the fruit of praise is peace. 

Since my son’s coma from the motorcycle accident, God keeps me in peace, as long as I keep myself in an attitude of praise. 

The neurosurgeon told me that he expects Jon to eventually wake up, but he will have a long road of recovery ahead of him. 

Whenever someone reminds us that a situation is really bad, we need to remind ourselves that God is really good. If we keep His praise on our lips, God will keep us in perfect peace. 

I  know my son is receiving great medical care, but my hope is founded on the golden bowls in heaven, filled with the prayers of many faithful people. As I envision a golden bowl full of prayers, I thank each one of you for the prayers you have added to that bowl. 

God is good, and whatever His plan is, He always finds a way to show His goodness to whomever, however He chooses. 

Lord, we praise you and thank you that every prayer comes before you as incense from golden bowls. Grant us peace as we trust in you to answer our petitions and deliver us from all worry in the name of Jesus. Amen


Walking in silence with Jesus

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb,
so he opened not his mouth.”

Isaiah 53:7 (RSV)

Isaiah described a suffering, silent Messiah. Jesus always spoke boldly and was not afraid to tell the truth. There is a time for protest, as when He turned over the tables of money changers in the temple, or answered back at the religious authorities who constantly stalked and accused Him.

Beginning with His arrest, which is the start of His passion and suffering, we can see the image of Isaiah’s silent lamb. Jesus became silent, the oppressed one, who did not open up His mouth, except for a few potent phrases. The few words that Jesus did speak during this passion, are noteworthy for meditation. 

His arrest began with the kiss of betrayal from a friend, but afterward, Jesus clearly indicated that no one is taking His life, but that He is laying it down for all of us. 

He said, “Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father and he will not provide me at this moment with more than twelve legions of angels?” Then He went on to say, “How would the scriptures be fulfilled which say that it must come to pass in this way?” 

(Matthew 26:53-54)

Jesus was fulfilling scripture and He knew that everything that was happening was flowing according to God’s salvation plan and purpose. He asserted His authority of being fully God and yet fully human, by saying He could call down twelve legions of angels if He chose to, yet He emptied Himself of that authority, for the sake of obedience to the Father, and His love for all the souls of mankind. 

It’s the mystery of the ages, but in Christ, all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden. He fulfilled over 300 messianic prophecies from scripture. There is a comfort in knowing that God’s purpose and plan was perfectly fulfilled in Jesus, down to the timing and the details. We can walk with Him in silence during our difficult times, because He also has a plan and a purpose for everyone who surrenders their life to Him. 

Jesus barely answered Pilate, when questioned, and He basically ignored Herod, and when He carried His cross, He did it silently. 

While carrying His cross, He suffered the ridicule and insults of those who mocked Him, but He didn’t seek to be vindicated. He knew there was a purpose and a plan, and in doing His Father’s will, silence was a powerful tool during that time. Even in His silence, we can be sure that He was praying for His enemies, just as He taught us to do. 

The last words of Jesus are worthy to meditate on during any difficult situation. As I practice silence,  it gives me peace to focus on the words that Jesus did say while on the cross. 

He asked God to forgive all His enemies. He forgave the thief who asked for forgiveness, assuring him entry into heaven. When he cried out to God, asking why He had forsaken Him, He was quoting from David’s Psalm 22, which is a psalm packed with Messianic prophecies, down to the details of pierced hands and feet, and the casting of lots for His garments.

Another final phrase of Jesus was in telling John to care for His mother, Mary. In this statement Jesus shared His emotional connection to His mother, entrusting her care to John.

He also said He was thirsty, reminding us that the son of God lived in a body that felt pain, hunger and thirst, just as we do. 

Jesus, therefore, understands all of our physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

He commended His Spirit to God, His father, which every person must do in final moments. Finally, He said, 

“It is finished,” which are the words that say the most. Jesus completed the sacrifice on the cross, as both the lamb of God and the high priest who now lives to intercede for us. 

Meditating on these final words can bring His presence nearer to us during our own trials. 

Three days later, the silence of His own death was broken by His resurrection power, which promises us eternal life over death, and brings miraculous answers to our prayers today. 

We might think of a current situation in our lives, which can feel like we are carrying a cross.  Meditating on the final words of Jesus brings a mysterious peace to our silence, and that’s because He is real, and is walking right beside us. He knows everything we feel, and in our silence, we surrender it all to Him, and trust Him to take care of everything, according to His perfect purpose. 

Jesus is saying to each one of us, 

“Trust in Me, I’ve got this.”

In silence we remain prayerful, and His resurrection power and love surrounds us, and brings peace.

Jesus, help us to know you are walking beside us as silent lambs. We believe your resurrection power still changes lives, and your truth always prevails in the end. Speak to our hearts through your words on the cross, and in our silence, give us grace, strength and comfort through your resurrection power. Amen


The power in suffering

“But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”

1 Peter 4:13 (NIV)

“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death..”

Philippians 3:10 (NIV)

Suffering is not a popular topic in Sunday sermons. No one looks for suffering but when life brings it, the answers are found in the inspired teaching and examples of Peter and Paul. They both spoke so much about participating in Christ’s suffering.

Some churches ignore the cross and exalt the achievements preferred by our current culture. The world celebrates recognition, fame, wealth, health, talent, athletic skill and physical beauty as the goalposts of success. We can become so conformed to the world’s signs of success, that we interpret any kind of suffering as failure.

Jesus said His peace is not the kind the world offers, and it’s not found by conforming to the world’s standards, but by allowing God to transform our minds.  People are enthused with parades, fireworks, and victory celebrations, but Heaven knows that the real triumph is at the cross, where our final atonement was achieved. Jesus was more powerful in His suffering on the cross than in the celebration of Hosannas at His entry into Jerusalem.

The ministry of Paul was so anointed that when his handkerchief was taken to the sick, their illnesses were cured. That is resurrection power, but the cross has to precede the resurrection.

Peter and Paul both had ministries of healing and miracles, but they also suffered continually with hardships, afflictions, beatings and many kinds of persecution. They had a cross to carry but their suffering did not destroy them, it empowered them.

Therefore, our lives as believers will include this odd combination of suffering and resurrection power. Jesus didn’t tell us to take up His resurrection and follow Him, He told us to take up our cross and follow Him. (Matthew 16:24)

He knew that everyone who follows Him, will have a cross to carry, and resurrection power follows the cross. Jesus is closely connected to us when we suffer, whether physically, emotionally or spiritually.

My life has had several events that felt like mini deaths, followed by mini resurrections, but in each of these cycles, God helped me to better identify with Christ, and He with me.

Once we accept that every believer will carry a cross of some kind, yet still live in the resurrection power of Jesus, we don’t have to fear the many storms of life. To live in His resurrection power means that instead of fearing the storm, we can become the storm that makes Hell tremble.

It’s about knowing who we really are in Christ. “It is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” 

(Romans 8:16-17)

Since we are fellow heirs with Christ, God’s love for us casts out all fear, and His cross and resurrection has permanently disarmed the devil. It may not feel like it in the moment, but in whatever we are suffering, Jesus is drawing us closer to Himself, and a resurrection victory is coming.

Jesus, reveal to us the value of sharing in your suffering, so that we may share in your resurrection power and be more than conquerors through you, who are the Lord of all. Amen


Resting on the Rock

“When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.”

Exodus 17:12-13 (NIV)

After Moses led His people out of slavery in Egypt, they saw the miracles of God’s mighty power and lovingkindness. He parted the sea for them, gave them bread from heaven when they were hungry, and destroyed their enemy who pursued them to the edge of the sea. Pharaoh and his army were finally out of their lives for good, but soon after that victory, they had a new enemy to contend with. 

They had to quickly progress from slaves to warriors, fighting the various enemy tribes in the area, who tried to prevent them from moving into their promised land. 

Joshua, was mentored by Moses, but his gift was in the area of military skill. He led the Israelite army as they were confronted in battle with one of their new enemies, a tribe known as the Amalekites. Moses stood on top of a hill, holding up the staff of God in his hands, so his army could see it and be inspired. It was the same staff that he held over the sea when it parted, and it became a symbol of prayer and trust in God for victory. As soon as Moses held his staff up high in the air, the Israelites saw the staff instead of the multitude they were facing, and they started winning the battle against the Amalekites.

When Moses’ arms grew tired, he lowered them, and the enemy started to gain the advantage. In seeing this trend, Aaron, the brother of Moses and Hur, his friend, rushed over to stand on each side of him, holding up his tired arms. The battle immediately began to move back in favor of the Hebrew army.

Aaron and Hur found a large stone and put it under Moses so he could sit down. They held up Moses’ arms, so that the staff was high and visible for all to see, and the battle was finally won. God’s chosen people won the victory and could finally move on toward their promised land. 

We are all God’s people, on a journey to reach our promised land, which is heaven. We have highs and lows throughout our lives. After we experience many blessings and miracles, we could suddenly find ourselves faced with a new spiritual enemy. We face many obstacles in this life until we get to our promised land, and sometimes our faith and hope becomes weary, just like Moses’ arms. 

The prayers of fellow believers uphold us when we are weary, just as Aaron and Hur upheld Moses’ arms. Joshua’s army received hope and faith by seeing the staff of Moses held high in the air, on the top of that  hill, and they won the battle. 

We look to the cross, which was also at the top of a hill, and is our symbol of victory. As Moses rested himself sitting on a rock, we are resting on the Rock of our salvation, Jesus, who is our ever present help in times of trouble. 

David repeatedly referred to God in the Psalms as his rock, and Isaiah also wrote,

“Do not tremble, do not be afraid…..

Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” (Isaiah 44:8)

God wants us to know that He is more than enough to get us through the battle. There is no greater help than to trust in Him, and no other Rock, but Jesus. With prayerful support, we put all our hope in Him, keeping our eyes focused on His cross of victory, with nothing to fear. 

This past week, I can identify with having weary arms, in a battle of faith. I can also identify with the gospel story of the father who came to Jesus, saying, “Lord, Help me in my unbelief.” Even if our faith is weak, other people’s prayers are a gift of comfort, that lift our arms of hope and faith, and keep our eyes upward, toward Jesus. I thank you all for your prayers.

In my last conversation with my son’s surgeon, he told me that Jon is doing better than he ever expected. The bleeding in the brain has subsided enough that the two drains have been removed. The drain in his chest has also been removed. He moves his legs and his left arm, but is not following any commands or waking up yet. He has a long road of recovery ahead.

Besides knowing that so many are still praying, my comfort is found in practicing the presence of Jesus through all of this. If I keep my eyes upward, I draw my strength from Him. The presence of Jesus is with all of us in every battle and storm we face. 

 “Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20)

Lord, thank you for praying friends and I ask that you lift up the arms of all those who are weary today. Help us to rest on you, our Rock, and to keep our eyes on you, instead of the enemy. Give us victory over every spiritual battle before us, and let your divine and perfect will be done. Amen


The Spirit and the bride say come

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

John 14:3 (NIV)

Let’s time travel back to the custom of marriage in Jesus’ lifetime in order to better understand the metaphor of the church as His bride. 

Every marriage during His time and culture began with the father of the groom, who sent his servant to negotiate the marriage arrangement. A generous price was paid to the bride’s family and a binding contract was signed. The servant then returned to the master’s house, and the Son excitedly began to prepare his bridal chamber. It could take up to a year for the groom to construct and prepare the place for him and his bride to reside.

Through that same negotiating servant, the groom sends his betrothed bride an engagement gift of gold jewelry. The engaged bride wears her gifts of betrothal, while waiting for her wedding day. She had to be ready at any moment, because the day and time of the groom’s arrival was unknown, but would be announced with a trumpet call and a shout.  

When I learned about these traditions, it brought new meaning to the words of Jesus, promising that He is going to prepare a place for us. 

The church is His bride and His Father paid the highest possible cost, with His Son’s divine, precious blood. That is the binding marriage contract. The resurrected Jesus is betrothed to whoever will accept His proposal, and He prepares a place for them, in His Father’s mansion. 

Instead of gold jewelry, He adorns us with all the engagement gifts of His Holy Spirit, who is the Negotiator for the Father. He distributes many different spiritual gifts of betrothal to the church, His bride. We wear and use these gifts of the Spirit, while we are waiting for the bridegroom’s return. 

We are still residing in our current home, but we are being prepared to live in a better and eternal one. Everything that happens in our lives has been a preparation for the goal of this union.

The date is unknown, and will be a surprise, announced by an angel’s trumpet call and a shout from heaven. We are His betrothed bride, and Jesus prepares His heavenly wedding chamber for us.  

We will learn how our whole life has been a time of preparation, and how every event served a purpose to make us better, motivated by His pure and infinite love for us. 

Like an engaged bride we anticipate the day of His second coming, and the marriage supper of the Lamb will be the greatest wedding feast of all time. On that day we will meet the One who loves us with an everlasting love and gave Himself for us. 

Until the bridegroom arrives, we hold within us all the grace and strength we need for whatever we were born to do. We cannot add time to our lives, but we can add spiritual quality to the time we have left to live.

In the the book of Revelation, Jesus is calling to each of us, saying, “Yes, I am coming soon,” and as our eyes look toward Heaven, we say “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus”.


Hope for a miracle

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men,” 1 Timothy 2:1

 “This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

1 Timothy 2:3-4

I have always believed that God wants us to offer prayers to intercede for others. After writing a meditation on Tuesday of this week about the importance of intercession and prayer for our own family members, it seems that meditation brought a new reality into my life.  I have been interceding in prayer for my son, Jon, but yesterday I faced a situation that put me to the test. 

I received a phone-call around 6 pm that my son, Jon, who is 43, was in a very serious accident on I-90, driving his motorcycle without a helmet. He has a depressed skull fracture and had surgery last night to remove blood from both sides of his brain. 

The surgeon said he is still in a very unstable state, and when he arrived to the ER he was in a coma scale of 6, and the lower the number the worse the condition. He remains in the ICU and no one knows what to expect.

This is the son who separated and estranged himself from the entire family for no apparent reason, four years ago. There were no arguments or disagreements, he showed some signs of mental health issues and suddenly dropped out of everyone’s lives, and disappeared. It is possible that substance abuse was involved, but there was no alcohol in his blood. They are testing for drugs today. 

All of his family members are still in shock, but we pray for God’s will to be done and whatever is best for Jon’s life, soul and eternal welfare. I left the ICU unit at 11pm last night, with a heavy heart. His family members and I gathered at his bedside last night and prayed for him, asking for the miraculous of course, and for God’s will to be done. 

I regret that I do not have a more encouraging story to share in this meditation, but since his condition is unstable and his prognosis is not good, we can only hope and pray for better news in the days to come. 

While I am heavily burdened, God is our only hope in times like these.  I turn to my favorite words of Jesus who said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Today’s scripture encourages us to offer prayers, supplications, intercession as well as thanksgiving. Even when things look the worst, after praying and interceding, we offer thanksgiving in trust that God is good and His plan will always prove to be the best. 

I thank you for your prayers and I pray that all the readers will be lifted up in hope and faith today for whatever they are facing, and find rest in the arms of Jesus. Amen


Trust now, details to follow

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5-6  (NIV)

If anyone is an example of trust, it’s Joseph, the father of Jesus. I’m sure he read this scripture in Proverbs several times in his lifetime. He had a deep trust in God, which kept him strong when he was presented with complicated decisions and huge responsibilities. Joseph had decisions to make which affected the lives of Jesus and Mary.

Joseph was human and he became very perplexed and worried in first learning of Mary’s pregnancy. He probably prayed, asking God what to do, until an angel appeared to him in his dream, telling him to take Mary as his wife. Instead of trying figure out his own solution, he trusted God by obeying the angel.

At another time, Joseph heard an angel warning him to get up quickly, and take his family to Egypt. Traveling with a new mother and baby in the middle of the night, presented many challenges, and on top of that, Egypt was a very uncomfortable environment for religious Jews of the first century. In spite of it all, Joseph kept obeying. 

Joseph’s faith was tested in ways that would challenge any intellect, since he had to make decisions that were contrary to the norms of his time. In his day, it was not normal to marry a pregnant woman, or as a monotheistic Hebrew, to live in Egypt, among a culture of idol worshippers.

The result of his diligent trust and obedience saved Jesus from Herod’s mass murder plot. With Mary, they created a peaceful, secure family environment to raise Jesus, despite living in an alien culture and a cruel period of history.

God’s greatest plan since creation, was the plan for salvation of the whole world, and Joseph was called to father, raise and protect the Messiah, who was born for that purpose.

Any average man, a foster or step father, who married into a situation like Joseph’s would be asking himself, “How did I get myself into this?” For Joseph, it was about doing what Proverbs says, trusting the Lord with all his heart, not leaning on his own understanding. 

Joseph is considered to be the patron saint of all stepfathers and foster fathers. 

For most of his life, Joseph must have felt like he was living outside the norm, compared to his piers who were living “normal” lives. I think we all face circumstances at some time, which make us feel like we are living outside the norm, but if we compare ourselves to others, it becomes harder to trust in God.

When God leads us to do something new, He doesn’t always reveal the details. Joseph went beyond the call of duty in fulfilling his role, becoming a loving father and an ideal mentor for Jesus. We may all know a man like Joseph, who is a great example as a stepfather, foster father, uncle or grandfather to someone, who became an admired mentor for a child.

God can accomplish anything without our help, but He gave us guardian angels and people to help us. He sends both to us at the right place and time to serve and fulfill a purpose. 

Some of us can look back and see how God has led us down the right path after a confusing beginning. In some cases, we may never know the purpose for a certain sorrowful or confusing trial, but one thing we can be sure of; 

God rewards those who diligently seek and trust Him. 

There is an amazing true story of survival that I once read about. In 2015, a car lost control and turned over into an icy river in Utah. An 18 month old girl was in her car seat upside down, suspended above the frigid water for 14 hours. When police and fire fighters arrived, they heard an adult voice calling out from the car, “Help me.” Then they saw the little girl suspended upside down. Her mother had sadly died on impact, and no one could explain where that voice came from, or how that little girl survived for all those hours in the cold. 

I’m sure a guardian angel was involved in that child’s miraculous survival, even though the remaining details may never be known. 

As God used angels to guide Joseph throughout crucial moments, He helped him to do his part to protect and save the mother and baby he was responsible for. 

There is no better example of trust and obedience than Joseph. The details of a situation may not always be revealed, but there’s no better place to be than in the center of God’s will, and like Joseph, only trust can bring us there. 

There is deep peace in knowing we are in the will of God, and peace doesn’t mean the absence of trouble in our lives, but the presence of Christ and His angels.

Lord, just as you were pleased with Joseph’s trust and obedience, we pray we can imitate him. Help us to trust and obey, even when we don’t understand the purpose or details of whatever is happening in our lives. Amen