Get of the merry go round

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. I Peter 5:7

“Hang in there!” Has anyone ever offered you those “encouraging words”? They no doubt meant them to offer you encouragement. But maybe they had the opposite effect. To “hang in there” puts the focus on you and your ability to help yourself by holding something tightly-like when that merry-go-round got going too fast when you were a child so that you had to hold on “for dear life” just to survive the ride!

Did you realize that we who live on planet earth are actually moving about 67,000 miles per hour (by the time you figure in revolutions and rotations of our planet…). It’s no wonder then, that we become anxious from time to time! Our heads can be spinning while we ourselves are spinning like that “tea-cup ride” at the local fair.

When life is moving a little too fast, remember who is in control of all things, who was able to cause the winds and the waves that had been raging uncontrollably to become completely calm (Mark 4:35). He’s the same One who left his peaceful home in heaven behind, to ride it out with us here on earth, and to give us something to eagerly look forward to enjoying, when this ride we call life comes to an end.

He understands anxiety and even “sweated it out” in a Garden called Gethsemane where he would cast his anxiety on his heavenly Father (three times!) and put himself into his Father’s caring hand to carry out his will for the good of all mankind. It was there, in that garden that he was so anxious that his sweat was like drops of blood (Luke 22:44). His name is Jesus Christ and boy does he care for you!

He who did not want you to be anxious about what is going to happen to you when you die, is also interested in anchoring you firmly in this life when storms arise. He’s there for you. He understands anxiety. And he already took care of your greatest fear in life. With Jesus “on duty” you don’t have to “hang in there”. He would hang in there on a cross so you could know that it’s o.k. to just let go!


Lord, you invite us to “be still” and to know that you, the great “I AM”, are in control of all things. You have promised to see me through this life and to be with me when storms of life rage all around. Fill my heart with peace to “let go and to let God [YOU]” work everything out for my eternal good. I pray this to you because you obviously care for me! Amen.


Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:22-33

Cornelia Arnolda Johanna ten Boom is credited with the statement, “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed; If you look within, you’ll be depressed; If you look at God, you’ll be at rest.”

“Corrie” ten Boom was an amazing Christian. She and her sister were placed into a WWII concentration camp for trying to help Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust. She survived. Her sister did not.

Peter was doing great (even walking on water!)…until he took his eyes off of Jesus and looked around and saw the terrifying circumstances that surrounded him. Those circumstances began to swallow him up.


Circumstances plus Perspective equals Experience

This is one of our “tricks of the trade” to help people to cope with what’s going on in their lives is to invite them, when they can’t change their circumstances, to change their perspective which will inevitably change their experience.

If they can’t change their situation (circumstances) they can change how they choose to see themselves in their situation-and that will change how they experience what they’re dealing with.

If I know that I’m not walking alone through life and that God has a plan and purpose for everything He permits to happen in my life (and that He promises to help me handle whatever happens in my life), it makes all the difference how I experience life.

Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. He will see you through the storms until you’re safe with Him “on the other side”. He is with you always-until you will always be with Him in heaven!


Lord Jesus, help me to fix my eyes on you and not on the storms that come “crashing in on my party” all the time. Take away my anxiety and fill me with peace as I put my trust in You. Amen.

Greif loss

“Every time I drive past the Veteran’s home, I get a sick feeling in my stomach.” Margo had spent months at the facility caring for her husband. The day that he died, however, was a day she hadn’t gone to visit. She still remembers getting a phone call on that day informing her of his passing. And just like that, she was all alone.

Margo was grieving. Grief is an intense feeling of sadness caused by loss. Grief is real pain. And it lingers. We grieve because we love. Death causes the most profound sense of grief. A person might even feel guilt associated with grief. It might be guilt over unresolved actions or unspoken affections. Sometimes, the past can feed guilt and grief.

Some days, people can stuff their grief down inside; other days grief and loss can feel like a punch to the gut. Past memories and important dates such as holidays and anniversaries can creep up on a person and cause cruel pain.

There are stages of grief. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (On Death and Dying) offers some insight:

Denial > Anger > Bargaining > Depression > Acceptance

Like the pain of grief, these stages come and go, and can be severe in one moment and slight in the next. It is important that people know these stages are fluid and linger. A person can experience one or more of these stages at a time.

Grief has a purpose. It allows us to mourn our loss and express our love. Things don’t get back to “normal.” That is not the purpose of the grieving process. The goal is to allow people to express their sadness and to absorb those emotions into their lives as they learn to find a new way to move forward. Grief is normal. It’s okay to be sad.

Even Jesus grieved. The Bible tells us that he was so overcome with sadness that he wept at the grave of his friend Lazarus. It is healthy for people to express their sorrow in response to grief and loss. Jesus knows the pain of loss and the sadness of sorrow. He knows the power of death. The Bible tells us that death is a sad consequence of sin. Grief and loss are also bitter realities of sin in this fallen world. But in our times of sorrow, we have One who sustains us. He is our Savior, Jesus Christ who conquered the grave, so that we might have hope.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  John 11:25-26

While it is natural to be sad and mourn the loss of a loved one, Jesus promises to be there with us and to hold us in his loving arms. He understands. He meets us in our grief. While there are tears on our cheeks, we have smiles on our hearts because Jesus dies and rose again. And he promises to come back to join us with our loved ones in the greatest reunion of all!

It is healthy and necessary to process our grief and the many ways it feels. Our Lord offers his comfort which allows us to redirect our hurts and sadness away from the “would’ve/could’ve/should’ve” wishful thinking patterns to real healing. No matter how we feel here, God promises a perfect, unending future with him. Today might hurt. Tomorrow is filled with hope.



Lord, I wish I understood your plans. I have to admit that I don’t. I am hurt, angry, and sad. Lord, I trust in your promises. Remind me that it is okay to be sad and that you meet me in my sadness. You will not leave me where you find me. You move me on to healing and hope. In your name, dear Jesus. Amen.


Micah remembers the first time he viewed sexually-explicit material. He was with some friends. One of them had a magazine he found at home hidden in the garage. It was full of arousing images of women. Micah remembers how he was awash with both excitement and guilt. He soon found himself fantasizing about those images and also scheming ways that he might be able to view more of them.

Pornography is sexually explicit material that degrades and dehumanizes men and women for the purpose of sexual self-gratification. These days it comes in many forms. The most prolific venue is the internet. It provides a myriad of content one can view anonymously. Much of it is also free of charge.

Pornography makes promises it cannot deliver. It promises sex without consequences. Porn promises to be harmless. It also promises to satisfy. Those are empty promises. There are serious consequences to regular consumption of pornography. There are physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences.

Over time, pornography loses its ability to satisfy. The desire to view porn intensifies, however. The craving for more leads a person to seek out more risky behavior and risqué material. This can lead to inter-relational problems. It breaks heart and severs engagements. Emotional and sexual intimacy between spouses is diminished. Prolonged use of pornography can lead to further sexual additions and pathology. Instead of leaving a person satisfied, pornography most often leaves a person feeling empty, guilty, shamed, and even depressed. Above all, pornography ruins the bond of love and commitment the Lord intended to exist in marriage.

Sexual sins are never static. Like all sin, sexual ones progress and draw people further away from God’s design for love. Many people feel that porn is innocent and not really sex. And so, people will use it to reward themselves. People will seek porn to relax or to unwind after a long day.

The Bible is very clear that pornography is a sexual sin. Sex is meant to be a beautiful expression of love in marriage. Satan tries to distort and destroy that gift. The reality is that pornography always hurts. It always lies. And it is never secret or anonymous. People think they can hide parts of themselves from others. Nothing is hidden from Christ, however. Not even sexual sin escapes his sight. The Bible tells us as much:

I am he who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.  Revelation 2:23

That should be enough to make us flee from such temptations. Our flesh is weak, however. We all make bad choices and those choices lead to sad consequences.

It is important to know the triggers that lead to unhealthy choices. Avoid internet platforms that promote pornography. Do not use electronic devices in private. Install accountability software. Remember HALT.

H – hungry
A – angry
L – lonely
T – tired

Recognize those triggers. Be intentional and seek out someone to be an accountability partner to encourage healthy choices. It is best this is not a spouse or significant other. And be honest. The path of healing from sexual sin is to practice disclosure. This is how healing and forgiveness begins. At the heart of sexual sin is betrayal. Trust has been broken. Honesty is the first step in healing broken trust. Be honest. Be open. Confess and disclose your unhealthy sexual behavior with your partner. And disclose to your Savior. While Jesus already knows your sin, he is always ready to forgive them.

Remember you are loved. Sexual sin is forgiven sin. Jesus’ blood cancels out all sin. He sees and knows you. And still, he loves you.

Jesus will hold hope for you as he heals you to hold hope in yourself. And that takes time. Identify your spouse’s love languages. Speak to those languages in deliberate ways with sincere action. Trust is built gradually. As you speak in those love languages, you are speaking directly to the trust that has been betrayed. Betrayal needs time to be healed. Words + Actions + Time = Rebuilt trust. Trust is rebuilt slower than we want, but always faster than we deserve.

Above all, trust that Christ is your Savior. Find forgiveness in his promise and strength in his presence. He will not leave you alone. He will feed you with his promised love. He will calm your troubled hearts. His presence combats your loneliness. And his forgiveness provides peace to tired, guilty hearts.

So, H.A.L.T. Jesus is the healing salve to all those needs.



Jesus, I am dealing with pain over sexual sin. You promise to be with me. I trust in you. Help me to stand firm and to find freedom from the power that pornography holds over my impulses and choices. Amen.

Make a list of some things you think you are good at. Is shame on that list? Probably not. It should be, though. Whether we like to admit it or not, we are all good at shame. It’s been said that children begin to experience shame as soon as fifteen months of age. We are good at it because we’ve been practicing it for a while now.

Shame is destructive. It has a way of crumbling the image we have of ourselves. Some people might call this “self-esteem.” Self-esteem is that inner sense of worth or value that gives us elasticity when we are criticized or questioned. It’s sort of like a gauge that measures how a person feels or evaluates this concept of self-worth.

There is healthy self-esteem and unhealthy self-esteem. A healthy view of self does not mean someone is arrogant or proud. An unhealthy view may indicate self-hate or despair, however. As St. Paul says in Romans 12:3, we need to measure our sense of value and worth with honesty and fair-mindedness.

A low self-esteem can be dangerous because it leads to shame. Shame is extreme guilt. Guilt is that inner voice of the conscience that tells us, “I made a mistake.” Shame internalizes that statement to say: “I am a mistake.”

This can lead a person to unhelpful conclusions. Shame leads to feelings of self-hate, despair, lack of trust in God and others, overly competitive nature, need for constant praise and attention, and even to suicidal thoughts. Our self-esteem is in danger when we allow others to assess our value rather than listening to God’s assessment of our worth and value.

There are many Bible verses that speak to God’s assessment of our value and worth. One I like to share is as follows:

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well.

This passage encourages us to consider new thought patterns about how we see ourselves. It also exposes the lies that shame would have us believe. Far from being a mistake, you are wonderful to your Savior! Replace the list of lies shame tries to sell you with affirmations of value and worth spoken by your Lord.

Make a list of the positive traits, qualities, talents, or abilities which only God has given to you. Focus on that list and know that God made someone wonderful when he created you. Now, that you have a list which describes who you are in the Lord’s eyes, craft another list that speaks of whose you are!

You are loved by God. You are his child. You are the apple of his eye. You are his new creation. You have eternal value and worth to him. Who you are (a child of God) finds meaning and purpose in whose you are (dearly, loved, and cherished in Christ).

Now, that is a boost of encouragement. We are important to God. We are created and loved by him. We may not always be good at remembering those things. Now that we know them, however, we can put them into practice.



Thank you, Lord for reminding me that I am your precious child. Help me to always remember how much I mean to you. You love me with an everlasting love, and my life has value and purpose right now. I am not a mistake. I am wonderfully and fearfully made. Thank you for making me your very own in your Son, Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.


forgiven Child

I remember when I was young, and I did something terrible.  I stole a piece of candy from the local drug store.  I wasn’t very smart in my thievery, though.  As soon as we were in the car, I sat in the back seat and began to enjoy my ill-gotten booty. That’s when my mother caught me.

Immediately, she turned the car around, marched me into the store, called for the store manager, made me apologize, and pay for the candy. Oh!  The guilt! I remember feeling red hot and exposed and weighed down by a burden of wrong.  And all that for a piece of “Bit O; Honey!” Yuck!

Guilt is a feeling of deep regret and responsibility for some action.  Now, there is real guilt and there is felt guilt.  Real guilt is the kind Adam felt in Genesis 3.  Adam was led to realize that his doubt and disobedience had broken the bond he shared with the LORD God. He knew that God’s penetrating gaze would see through to his guilt and failure.  When God confronted Adam with his sin, he refused to accept responsibility and tried to excuse himself by blaming Eve.  That’s when the “blame game” began.

Adam and Eve had real guilt.  They had broken a moral principle or law which the LORD God had established.  There is a difference between being guilty and feeling guilty, however.  Sometimes, people get blamed or punished for things they didn’t do.  This can lead to feelings of worthlessness.

We learn something from how the Lord dealt with Adam and Eve.  It is important that people verbalize their feelings of guilt, whether real or felt.  This is often the first step to the healing of forgiveness.  The real guilt we feel, which is triggered by the Holy Spirit, leads to an honest admission of guilt (we call that “Confession”) as well as to hear the promise of forgiveness (we call that “Absolution”).

Real guilt leads to repentance and restoration.  False guilt leads to regret and failed expectations.  Either way, guilt feels like a hot flame that exposes and a heavy burden that crushes.  God is not a burden, though. He is the burden-bearer. There is a Bible passage that reminds us of this truth:


Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Psalm 68:19

God, our heavenly Father, placed our sins on Jesus Christ at Calvary.  He quenched the flame that exposes and he removed the burden that crushes. Our risen Savior daily calls us to cast our burdens on him because he cares for us (Matthew 11:28-30).

The Lord is gracious and loving. The commandments that he gave were designed to keep us safe and free to love him.  That means we must be free from the burdens of guilt.  And we are!  Even when we mess up, there is no condemnation for those who trust in Christ (Romans 8:1). That means God continues to forgive our sin and “wipes out [our] transgressions,” remembering them no more (Isaiah 43:25).

We may have to live with consequences of our choices, but never with the weight of guilt.  We can find the ability to turn off the mental voice recorder of Satan who tries to accuse us.  Jesus said, “It is finished!” (John 19:30) That means Satan’s accusations of guilt (real or felt) are cancelled.  Jesus says so.

It might help to have a “guilt bucket.”  Every time you feel guilt sneaking up on you, write that feeling on a piece of paper and throw it in the bucket as if to bury it in Easter’s empty tomb.  This is especially helpful for people dealing with felt guilt.  Forgiveness means freedom.  And freedom from guilt means we can live anew for Christ.  Freedom from guilt means we are free to show kindness to others.  We are freed to practice forgiveness in our relationships.  This helps us move past the powerful feelings of guilt.

And guilt is powerful.  The Lord God uses it to show us where we have gone astray and need to be honest with him in forgiveness.  On the other hand, guilt can be a prison that locks us away from the joy of forgiveness we have in Christ.  Know the difference.  Know that you are freely and fully forgiven in Christ.  That’s because God declares us to be forgiven children in his Son, Jesus. That is God’s promises whether we feel it or not.



Lord, sometimes I am embarrassed to admit my sins and mistakes.  Yet you know me as I really am. You know my sinfulness. Even more important, you know me as your forgiven child in Christ Jesus, your Son.  Assure me that I am forgiven and loved by you.  Amen.