Author Archives: Bryan Thayer

A New Beginning

Bryan entered glory and went to be present with Christ on August 26, 2016. (You may read his obituary here.) The ministry of GLOW will continue, and we thank you for your on-going interest and support.
He wrote the following letter to be read at his celebration of life service. As Bryan begins his life in glory, these are the words he wants you to hear from him. ~ Marcia

Thank you all for being a part of my life.  Thank you for making it a richer experience by the way you modeled compassion, integrity, respect, and loving concern.

I am grateful for you joining in me in bringing practical love and hope of Jesus to the poorest of poor by partnering in the global missions of Go Light Our World, and for your teamwork in advancing great causes at work, changing the world for people.  You are the light of the world.

Thank you for challenging me in areas of truth and discernment, for sometimes being my teachers and role models, and for your encouragement. Thank you for sharing your joys and making me laugh.

Thank you too for sharing your sorrows and tender tears and for talking about things that really matter.  I’m thankful for when you visited me when I was sick, for doing yard work I was unable to do, and for your prayers.  Thank you for being a good friend.

I hope you will remember the purpose and passion for life we shared, and the love and respect that bound us together.  I know my life was an imperfect testimony to God’s love, but I hope you will carry with you some memory that encourages you when you’re feeling sad, something that brings a smile to your face, something that reminds you to live your life with God’s purpose and passion.  Remember how very much Jesus loves you and wants to draw you close to him.  Be gentle with each other and love one another.

To my dear friends who haven’t yet made a decision about Jesus, I respect you deeply and encourage you to give Jesus a chance to reveal himself in your life.  Read the gospel of John. Ask a Christian friend to read it with you.  Ask God how you should respond to his invitation to accept his free gift of salvation and grace.

Actually, this is my hope for all of you.  Give Jesus a chance to really transform your life into something new and powerful.  Be real with God.

I thank God for each of you and ask his great mercy to comfort, strengthen and guide you to a great life.  Thank you for being part of my life.  I look forward to seeing you again in heaven.

My confidence in going to heaven is not by the great quests pursued in work, not in my character, or faithful endurance through suffering.  It is not by gifts to the church, not by philosophy or education, nor by any means.

My confidence is in the promise of God to rescue and redeem everyone who believes in the name of his Son Jesus.  It’s by his grace alone, not by works lest we should boast.  We are saved by his amazing grace, created for his workmanship and his glory.

In the meantime, I will be eternally grateful for any kindness, compassion and encouragement you show to my beloved wife, my magnificent children and grandchildren.

Live well my friends.  Don’t waste your life.  Be happy and laugh often. Enjoy the life that God desires for you.  Enjoy him.

Do not fear

Do not fear.

We are told this 365 times in the Bible, once for every day of the year. Why do you suppose that is? God always reveals to us what is important for us and what is essential for living vital and abundant lives. We can presume this phrase is used so frequently because it’s an attitude of our heart and our mind that prevails over our lives. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like fear. It seems more like anxiety or stress or worry or a certain preoccupation. It manifests itself When we become impatient with others, ourselves, or even God. But what it really is, if we take off the final mask, is fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of feeling inadequate and useless. Fear that God’s promises aren’t really true, fear of being alone.

Whatever it is, God’s response is always, “Do not fear.” Do not fear, I am with you. Do not fear, I will never leave you. Do not fear, my grace is sufficient for all your needs. Do not fear, all things do work out for good  for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.

“Do not fear” always  requires trust. We can trust ourselves, someone else, in accomplishments or in things and accumulations. But ultimately “do not fear” means trusting God for what he says is true, for what he has done, for what he is doing now that we cannot see, and for how he will ultimately prevail over every circumstance in our lives. Consider Isaiah 43:1–3:

” but now, this is what the Lord says – he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel:

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

Maybe you’re one who finds it easy to memorize entire passages like this one.  Often, for me, I need to break this down into smaller bits that I can grasp.  I connect these like train cars, connected together to the Power of the engine that can pull the true weight of the message I need  to carry from my head to my heart.  The “cars” in this passage are found in the operative words “I have redeemed you,” “I have summoned you by name. These are connected with “you are mine,” and “I will be with you.” The “engine” in this analogy is of course, God’s faithfulness, unending love, and amazing grace.  So I repeat these phrases over and over in my mind and on my lips:

I have redeemed you,

I have summoned you by name,

You are mine.

I will be with you.

Repeat this several times out loud. Shut out the rest of the world for even a minute or two. Let truth replace lies. As you keep meditating on these fundamental truths, can you sense the power, not of repeated chants, but the power of the one who first spoke them into being when he created you?  We can perseverate on problems or meditate on the solutions to our cares. It’s a choice we make hundreds of times a day,  to focus on our problems or to turn our eyes upon Jesus.

What ever the problems that beset us we can say to ourselves “do not fear” because we who believe in Jesus belong to the king of kings, to the lord God Almighty.

Finding peace

When you read, do certain words or phrases seem to jump out at you?

I wonder, what words speak to you in this passage from Isaiah 26:3–4?

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they
trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is
the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26.3-4

Immediately I see the word peace and not just peace but perfect peace. Perfect peace is only that which comes from God. In Philippians 4:6–7, it is the peace that surpasses all understanding. It’s not the peace that’s found in the world,  God’s perfect peace speaks to you in the depths of your soul. It’s the peace you seek when nothing else can.

Where is this peace found? In minds that are steadfastly focused on what is true, what never changes, God’s word.

How  can I have such a steadfast mind? By trusting in God alone because he never changes, his word never changes, his character never changes, his promises are always true and he never fails.

We learn to trust in a lot of things, most of them temporary, most of them conditional. But God’s word and promise is forever and never changes, it’s unconditionally offered to all who call on the name of Jesus as their Lord and Savior, the one true son of God.

We learn to trust in anything or anyone for big things by first trusting them  in small ways.  We learn to trust God for the deepest sorrows of our life, the greatest pains that we endure, by first trusting him when things are good, when life seems to be going “my way.” Gradually as  I have come to experience his word and promise to be faithful in small things it’s easier to trust him for greater things. After isn’t the opposite also true. Having trusted God for my eternal salvation, can I not trust him for this tempora problem that  confronts me?

Throughout Scripture God is described as the eternal rock,  the firm foundation,  solid rock the strong refuge the tall tower to which we can run to find refuge and safety.

My friend are you looking for peace  in your life? Turn to God and keep turning to God trust him for one thing and then another. Believe that he hears you even when he seems to be silent, when he says “I see you where you are, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.”

Develop a  steadfast mind by continuing to trust that his word is true even when it doesn’t seem to be.

Sometime he calms the storm. Sometimes he comes the sailor in the middle of the storm.

Find the peace find the peace you’ve always wanted in the place it’s always been.  .  . In Jesus, in you.

Medical update from the hospice house

I have come to inpatient hospice at
Kavenaugh House for adjustment of my
pain medications.
900 56th Street
Room 14
Des Moines IA 50312
(515) 255-0857 (reach me by cell
641-521-5619… But be prepared. I am
generally too sleepy to talk,)

Don’t try to send mail, as I expect to
be out by Monday or earlier. They
started this afternoon with a 2mg shot
of dilaudid. I’m told this is the
equivalent if 60 mg (4 doses ) of
morphine. So far it helps only a little
with pain and makes me very sleepy. I now have A subcutaneous pump
strapped to my arm that gIves me
a somewhat constant flow of the medication. If
things go badly I’ll be sent home to
die, per request. Otherwise, discharge
with pump probably by Monday.

I don’t understand why the pain persists. But I am reminded that Jesus carried pain too. He is not untouched by or ignorant of what I – or you – are experiencing. As he entered the garden he said these words: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.”

My friend John reminds me also, “Just as David poured out as an offering before the Lord the water his soldiers risked their lives to get for him, so offer up your pain as a
sacrifice of praise to him. May his great name be praised in all we walk
through in life.”

Thank you for ongoing prayers in this
difficult part of my journey to heaven.
May God be honored.


From where does your help come?

Where do you turn when the chips are down? When all seems to be unrelenting sorrow and pain? When prayers for relief go unanswered and real hope seems distant?

Hopefully, we turn to God, the author of our joy, the giver of all good things we enjoy when “times are good.” Where else could we turn? Does our fame or reputation soothe our pain? Can you purchase relief from your bank account? Not even a mountain of good deeds protects us from the sorrows that we sometimes must bear. Not even a truck load of prayer letters to God.

We ask for relief but none comes. The psalmist looked to the mountains and acknowledges his help comes from the Lord. (Psalm 121) He writes of God’s faithfulness to watch over us – the same God who sees us where we are, who has written our name on the palms of his hands, who created us and knows us, who catches every tear in a bottle, who doesn’t waste pain.

He is the great compassionate God to whom we turn, who will one day heal us perfectly and completely but for now stays by us in the midst of our pain. He is the God of the mountain from which all wisdom comes, the mountain where Jesus alone is revealed as the Lord and Savior of our souls. He is the mountain of mystery and power, the giver of faith at itself can move mountains of despair.

Job knew this God and turned to him although nothing would move his mountain of pain and sorrow. In chapter 30 he writes,

6 “And now my life ebbs away;
days of suffering grip me.
17 Night pierces my bones;
my gnawing pains never rest.

20 “I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer;
I stand up, but you merely look at me.
21 You turn on me ruthlessly;
with the might of your hand you attack me.
22 You snatch me up and drive me before the wind;
you toss me about in the storm.
23 I know you will bring me down to death,
to the place appointed for all the living.”

Job, whom God loved did find instant relief from his grief and pain. Yet in his pain he also found honesty and transparency with God. In Job 13:15, he says “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”

“And yet…”

Two words that turn around our point of view, from despair to trust and hope.

“Lord I don’t understand…and yet I will trust you.”

“Lord it hurts so much and it doesn’t go away…and yet I will praise you because your ways are higher than mine.. Thank you that you never go away, but always stay with me.”

In times of sorrow and pain and also in the celebration of life’s goodness,  let’s remember to hold hands as we climbed a mountain of God from our help comes.


Sticky notes

A friend wrote to me recently saying she’s had a sticky note on her computer for the last 3 1/2 years to remind her to pray each day for Marcia and me and for the Go Light Our World (GLOW) ministries across the world. Wow! What a faithful prayer warrior to intentionally carve out time each day to support us in a way that releases God’s power. And what a humbling thought that God invites you and me, broken vessels, to carry his blessings to others. My friend said about her brightly colored sticky note:

“Every once in a while it gets pretty tattered looking and I replace it. Right now, it’s starting to look tattered again and it’s reminding me that my faith has become a bit tattered lately…and I’m not facing a trial even remotely close to the trials of you and your loved ones. But, I’m also humbled and thankful that as easily as I can make a new sticky note reminder to pray for you, I can also, once again, take my tattered faith to our Lord Jesus. He can restore to me the joy of my salvation (Psalm 51:12), He can help my sometimes shaky belief (Mark 9:24) and He can encourage me in the most simple yet intricate ways through His people (Hebrews 10:24).”

She goes on to encourage us and remind us of this truth;

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

I love her comment: “I can also, once again, take my tattered faith to our Lord Jesus.” That is SO true! Our faith does at time seem tattered and torn. Troubles beset us and unanswered questions and prayers nag at us like a dripping faucet where refreshing water is intended to flow. Like the psalmist, we feel we are in a “dry and thirsty land.”

Sometimes my prayers seem so inadequate. Usually, when this happens, I struggle to remember verses that speak God’s truth an I pray those back to God. When you want wisdom, go to that place where true wisdom is found! Sometimes, I simply take my seemingly tattered faith and give it to God just as it is, yet reminding him “I don’t want to stay here.” I want to draw closer to him and to feel the warmth of his love and joy.

Have you ever found yourself in a tiff with someone you love and care about, usually over something that doesn’t matter, and often due to a misunderstanding. And then you realize, “I can keep going the miserable direction I’m going” or “I can go away and pout for a while,” OR I can choose to say: “I love you deeply. I’m sorry we’re having this temporary time of poorly expressing that love. I want it to get back to the love and joy we both know.”

That’s the way God designed our lives. When we run into dry and tattered spots in our faith and relationships, he calls us to come closer to him, to put up a fresh new sticky note reminding us in one way or another that “The only thing that counts is faith, expressing itself through love.” We need reminders to encourage one another, to stay focused on the goal, and to run the race with perseverance.

Just as we continue to ask for a healing miracle that would allow us more ministry time together, we also seek the miracle of God using our tattered faith to actually advance the gospel of Jesus.

I think the Lord is honored when we are honest about a dry faith. He is always faithful to bring the well of living water.

The land between

We’re making intentional plans these days to make room in our lives for short “memory making” trips to celebrate the time we have remaining together. One of our recent trips was to Guttenberg, Iowa where we stayed at a cabin generously loaned to us for the weekend by caring and loving friends. We enjoyed taking short walks and watching the boats navigate Lock 10, one of a “ladder” of 23 stair-stepping locks along the northern part of the mighty Mississippi River.

Whether it was a single motorboat or a 15-barge tow, we found it interesting to watch the boats navigate their way through the lock.  For each of them it was a transitional place from one part of their journey to another. And it was a time of waitin; the 15-barge tow took over 1 1/2 hours to make the passage. All were hauling cargo, whether it be the life of a single sailor or hundreds of thousands of bushels of corn and soy beans  the barges in particular sat lighter or deeper in the water according to the weight of their cargo. I found it fascinating to learn that one 15-barge tow, 1/4 mile long, could carry as much cargo as an 11 mile caravan of 870 semi-trucks, all in transition from one place to another.

Jeff Manion, author of the book, In The Land Between, uses the biblical story of the Israelites’ exodus out of Egypt and transition to the Promised Land as a metaphor for how we find ourselves in the undesired, transitional spaces of our lives.

You’ve been there. Whether it’s in a hospital waiting room, the “waiting room” while you wait for answers to desperate prayers, or the transition between houses and jobs, you know how heavy the weight of uncertainty, fear, and anxiety can feel on your shoulders; how it feels like you’re “low in the water” because of the burdens you carry

We continue to wait on the Lord regarding my health.  Will God perform a truly miraculous healing so we can pursue the desires of our heart to serve him in Bolivia – or WHEREVER he calls us? Or have these three and a half years of growing the GLOW ministries been the miracle he intended all along? If he desires me to come home now, I am ready and willing. Whatever brings him more glory. We are where you are or once have been: In between the land of what used to be and the land where we have not yet arrived.

Manion observes that the land in between is fertile ground for anxiety, fear and doubt to grow. We have a choice to accept and tolerate such unwelcome invaders or to combat them with the antidote of faith. It’s up to us to choose peace or anxiety, assurance or fear, truth or doubt. Each of these problems that interrupt and disrupt our lives are in fact an opportunity to trust God for his solution. That is the hope of our lives and the message of Go Light Our World, that the Lord Jesus is everything we desperately need.

If you’ve come to trust him with the eternal condition of your soul, can you trust him also for this very difficult transitional place in your place in “the land between?”

What we’ve experienced is a gracious and loving God who is ever-patient with us as we navigate the difficult transitional times of our own lives. Though we might think we have the capacity of a 15-barge tow to buoy the weight of our problems, nothing compares with the capacity of Jesus to carry the full weight of our heaviest burdens.

This is why we believe the truth of God’s Word that teaches me, whether I live or die, I WIN!  Cancer is a mighty foe but it doesn’t have the power to defeat who I am in Christ. I can trust the answers to prayer God has already arranged while I wait for them to be made known.

Whether I am completely healed and see the goodness of the Lord here in the land of the living, or in heaven, I rest in peace knowing I will be healed.

We all live in the land between this present life and our eternal one. Between this present problem and God’s future solution. What matters most, in fact the ONLY thing that counts, is that we live lives marked by faith that expresses itself through love.

Freedom within

Independence Day.

A day of celebrating liberation from oppressive forces, and of remembering with bowed hearts the unthinkable sacrifices made to secure that very freedom we enjoy today.

But can you imagine a scene where the liberating troops came marching home to find those for whom they fought remaining in bondage? In fact, insisting on living war-torn lives even after their freedom has been won?!

After all the wars that have been fought, so many do continue to live such defeated lives. On the surface they might appear normal, even productive. But if you were able to look a little deeper into the dark crevices of their minds or could hear the silent cries of their hearts, you would at once come to know the terror of their imprisoned lives. Maybe this is a picture of your life right now, free but still at war within yourself.

Who are their invisible oppressors? What are the names of these terrorists who war against us? They are called by many names: worry, anxiety, irrational fear, underserved guilt. Their cousins are apathy, greed, bitterness, and selfishness. How many other of their names come to your mind?

Our eternal victor has flung open the prison doors, having won for us peace, joy, calm assurance, real purpose for living meaningful lives, and satisfaction beyond what we could imagine.  But here we remain imprisoned alone in our self-locked cells, insisting the war rages on within us. It is as Pascal said: “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.” Jesus has won the war over our sin. He’s overcome the grave. He’s given us his own Spirit to teach, comfort, convict, and empower us, and to remain within us always. And yet we sit in a cell as if we were all alone.

He has given us what Victor Frankl called that miraculous and wondrous “freedom within.” It is the freedom to allow a space between what we see with our eyes and what we know in our heart. It’s the freedom that allows a space between what happens to us and how we respond.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

No longer does a hurtful word spoken in haste have the power to demand my own hurtful response. No longer do past hurts dictate my future joys. No longer does worry and constant anxiety command authority over the self-chosen peace afforded to me by the assurance that God really does hear my heartfelt prayers. He does in fact see us where we are. He has truly written our names on the palms of his hand. He catches ALL our tears in a bottle and so pain, while it demands our attention, is not wasted.

True, it sometimes appears as if I’m losing the battle, but even the pain that wars within my body this very moment cannot silence the truth and grace that our good and loving God speaks to my spirit and soul. My desire for a comfortable life of having everything my way is strong, but it cannot compete with the desire to see others experience this same freedom within – to choose to be thankful and find hope even when circumstances offer only sorrow and despair.

Today can be your Independence Day. Believe the victor Jesus for all he has accomplished, not only the forgiveness of sin and eternal salvation, but also for your present and future joy.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1


Invited to the celebration


Having enjoyed a relaxing picnic on the deck, we find such simple joy in listening to the birds pronounce their greetings on the day. What a privilege it is to be invited into the celebration of God’s goodness among his creation at Thayerapy Gardens, or any place you can get away from the daily grind. The simple joy of being quiet in this too busy world easily evades us. So many other demands beckon us to “get something done.” What if what needs getting done is the restoring of your noisy soul? Such joy and contentment comes only by intentional invitation, only by sacrificing some lesser thing on the altar of living in order to enjoy another more fully.

Would you think it strange to experience such beauty and peace in the battle cries of cancer? Or any other great burden that presses against your own life? It needn’t be strange. But it seldom comes by accident. Whether it is 60 seconds of relaxation breathing at your desk, a five-minute walk outside, a mini adventure of a back roads day trip, or an all out getaway vacation, the decision to introduce peace and quiet into an otherwise noisy day is yours – and mine – for the choosing.

It comes at the cost of so little and offers to you the treasures of the world to be still and wonder at the goodness of the life God has given you – this life, the new beginning this day offers, this moment, this very breath that satisfies your lungs and speaks such peace to your mind.

I wonder when we think ourselves too busy to rest, that we put ourselves in danger of being too busy to live. In my masters studies I discovered the difference between “wreckreation” and recreation. The former is the often exhausting outpouring of energies into pursuits that leave us wanting a real vacation when we’re done. Recreation, as God designed it, offers the opportunity to re-create, rebuild, restore, and recharge ourselves. It turns our inner focus to an outward view that expands our perspective. Maybe you’ve discovered this when you decided to “walk away” from a problem only to find the solution that evaded you now readily revealed.

It’s in such quietness of the mind that God invites us to draw near to him, to sit awhile on his deck and share in the goodness that he freely offers you. Jesus himself invites us: “Come to me all of you who are burdened and I will give you rest.”

There’s so much to do and to be accomplished in this short life. Perhaps one of the most important is to accept the invitation to the celebration of God’s goodness in you, and around you in others.



Learning to die – Learning to live

Learning to die is such a curious thing.

On the one hand it is so foreign, even distasteful to us, we are usually afraid to approach the subject. We’ve never been to this place before and suddenly, ready or not,  here we are. Fear of the unknown sets in like an ominous fog that swallows up everything it encompasses.

On the other hand, death is indeed a natural part of the circle of life.  And we have been to this place before, in fact many times.

We learned to die to our way of living in the womb to the completely unknown and foreign world of breathing air. I wonder what grief a baby faces when they make that most amazing and painful transition from darkness to light, from a world of moistness to dry air, from relative quiet to a cacophony  of noise, light, and multiple sensations.

We learned, each of us, to die from being a baby to becoming a young child, from laying on our backs to crawling to walking and running. We died to our pacifier, blankie, and baby bed to more intricate toys and the “big boy (or girl) bed.” From the delight of childhood to the angst of teenage life. We died to high school and graduated to college, and from college we graduated to the completely new life of work and marriage and families. And so we all face the “final” death and graduate to a new life.

Oh for sure, this “real” death, the end of all life as we know it is indeed something quite different from these other life transitions and it does bring on such a frightful array of emotions. At least with previous “graduations,” we had others to assure us it will be okay. We learned from their experiences as they recalled to us what it was like when they were there. Wouldn’t you have loved to visit with Lazarus after Jesus raised him from the dead?! “Tell us Lazarus, what was it like?”

We call dearth “the final event.” But death is not the end. It’s turning the page of one chapter to the beginning of the next and final chapter of the story of life. Like leaving school, it’s our graduation to an exciting new life of unimaginable wonder and joy.* And we do have someone to guide us and teach us to navigate this narrow and seemingly perilous path. Much more than our guide, Jesus delivers us through this amazing gateway to our wondrous new forever-joyful life that awaits us on the other side. We can believe and trust him because his promises are  always and faithfully true. And if in my clearly imperfect life I can trust him, so can you trust him to guide you as your Lord and Savior through this life and death to the life ever after.?

Yes, God created us with an immensely strong desire experience life and we naturally grieve losing all we have known, all we’ve seen, heard, touched, tasted, and experienced. Of course we grieve being separated if even temporarily from those we love and cherish. We grieve the loss of physical and emotional comfort, the joy of being strong and being able to choose the many options the menu of life offers.

And yet our truly one great hope is in achieving the prize of our highest dreams, to graduate to heaven, our forever home of peace and joy.

It’s in embracing this choice of learning to die that we truly learn to live well.

*Footnote: I speak here of the transition from death to a wonderful and eternal life of “no more sorrow and no more pain that is freely offered by Jesus to any who follow him. There is, we are clearly told in God’s Word, the BIble, another death that leads to eternal pain and suffering and the lonely and forever separation from God and everyone we ever loved. Jesus says the choice is ours. “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. I Am the resurrection and the life.” While I respect the right of each person to make their own choice, I sincerely invite you to give Jesus a chance to be real in your life.

Choose well, my friend. Choose Jesus.