Tag Archives: Keep on believing

What does it mean to receive?


Imagine someone who has fallen overboard in an ocean voyage. Surrounded by darkness and the peril of the deep, they cry out for help. Over and over they cry out, “Someone, please help me!” And then a life preserver is tossed to them. Receiving it into their arms, they shout for joy, “Oh thank you, thank you, thank you!”


Happy ending, right? The one who was lost to the depths was found and brought to,safety. But let’s go back in the story. What if the one in distress didn’t receive the life preserver? What if instead, they shouted, “Oh thank you. Thank you so much, but I am not worthy of being saved. You don’t know the secret and shameful burdens I’ve carried for so many years. I’d rather die in these dark waters than live and have my sins revealed.”


Does such a story rewrite seem inconceivable? I can tell you it happens more than we know.  I witnessed it ten years ago. She said, “I know you want me to accept Jesus but I am just not worthy.” Despite opening the bible to passages that reveal truth that confronts that lie, she would not grab onto the life preserver; she wouldn’t receive the gift that was offered.


The promise is this:

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12


I suppose we often think about this in relationship to that time we were “saved.” But years later, as we walk with Jesus, one step at a time, three words continue to speak to us in our daily battle of surrendering our will to God’s. Three words:  received, believed, right.


Receiving isn’t just acknowledging a gift and then putting it on the closet shelf. It means embracing it with such joy you don’t want to let it go.


Believing is not just an acceptance that something is true. If I understand correctly, the text actually means “keep on believing.” We can receive the gift of Jesus’ salvation and the promises of a transformed life, filled with power to be an overcomer in life’s hardest struggles. But if we do not keep on believing in times of the toughest of all battles, what help will we have? What good are promises if we don’t believe them and instead go back to doing things our way?


We sometimes think the US Constitution gives us the right to be happy. But what it actually says is, we have the right to the pursuit of happiness. The right of pursuit is not the same as actually being happy and content . . . unless we are talking about our relationship with the one and only true God who loves you whose promise IS always true, who does reach out with his very Spirit to guide you and me through the confusing emotions and self demeaning thoughts. He gives us the choice (right) to question him and to choose to receive his perfect gift, believing in all situations that his peace is better than your worry and anxiety. His truth is more reliable than all your doubts. His love covers a multitude of sins – forever. His contented spirit allows your faith to survive and thrive regardless what difficulties come your way.


Having the right to be God’s child is not the same as receiving and believing that inheritance is yours. It’s not the same as acting like God’s own adopted child. When trials come your way, face them with the faith of actually being God’s child.


Be blessed.



The sum of your life


Do you ever think about your purpose in life? About what will be remembered after all the work is done and the chores are finished (at least for the day)? Days go by and turn into weeks and months and years. You might ask, “Does my life account for anything?”


For those most seen in the public’s eye, Wikipedia may include a page listing notable accomplishments. For many, decades of struggles, accomplishments, sorrows and joy are summed up in a few paragraphs in the paper’s obituaries.


Sometimes I think about the genealogies of the bible. You know, where so and so begat so and so. The dream, passions, and life efforts of an entire generation of people were represented by one single name. And what about the “400 years of silence” between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament?! Surely, there was something worthwhile to be remembered, wasn’t there?


And then there’s Damaris. Her name is recorded just once in the bible (Acts 17). And what was accounted to her? What was her famous stake in life that led her to be mentioned in place of many others who remained anonymous?


She believed.

She responded to the good news and believed in Jesus.


No doubt, there was more than that. Likely, she cooked countless meals that nourished her family, washed baskets full of clothes, and swept the floor hundreds of times. Being a believer, I’m guessing she spent long times in quiet wonder of the amazing Jesus she adored. Maybe she sang songs of worship. Probably she encouraged others in the faith, possibly opening her home up welcome strangers so they could experience the truth and grace that flowed from her transformed life. I suspect troubles and sorrow visited her house just like they come to you and me. Maybe there were times of doubt and despair. We don’t know the details of her life. It’s not that they were unimportant. It’s just that they weren’t the most notable aspect of her life. What mattered most was that she believed.


Isn’t that true for us as well? Certainly, when God says, “Go” you should go. When he says, “Encourage your neighbor” we should be about that task. What we do matters much. But in the end, who we are matters more. God says to each of us:

Stay faithful in the presence of doubt.
Keep trusting in the face of fear.
Stand firm when your life is shaken.
Show grace when you are offended.
Speak truth in the presence of lies.
Love when you don’t feel like loving.
Keep on believing.


Our whole life is summed in this:
What did I believe and how did I live it?


May your day be marked by your all surpassing belief in the one true God who makes life worth living!



Plow Continually

The farmer believes in the harvest. He cannot see it. In fact, the physical evidence of flood or drought or disease may lead him to doubt the outcome and the worth of his efforts. But he plows and cultivates in faith, without ceasing.

Your life may appear like that. You want to believe in a full harvest, a happy outcome. But the hard evidence of life points to a dismal ending, in your job,, your relationships, your health, or finances; even your very aspirations. Things are just not going according to plans. But we live by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7) We also have to keep plowing new ground, planting good seed, and cultivating where God directs us.

Keep believing. Keep faith. Practice the presence of God in your life…and for your life.

Belief Trumps Attitude

I am learning some important lessons in this journey. For example, as strength varies throughout the day and when appetite diminishes, I learn to eat my ice cream FIRST! 🙂

I have heard many folks say we have good spirits or a strong attitude in the face of this cancer. The simple truth is this:

“Our gospel came to you not simply with words, but with POWER, with the Holy Spirit, and with DEEP CONVICTION. The word of God is AT WORK in you who BELIEVE.” 1 Thessalonians 1:5,13

None of us get this right all the time. We all get distracted. (For example, getting up the courage to eat was sometimes a struggle for me during the chemo, as was forcing myself to walk at least a half mile on my weakest days.) But God’s Word promises there is real power available to those who believe it…power to live out our moment by moment lives according to what we believe.

I remember teaching a values clarification class on stress management years ago to a group of adults with mental illness. In the middle of the discussion, a young man raised his hand and asked, “So you are saying that whenever we act in ways that contradict our true beliefs, we will always experience stress?” Exactly!

Belief is an active word. It doesn’t just refer to an historical discovery of some principle. True belief drives us to present action despite what circumstances may present themselves. We choose to love in unlovable moments. We keep quiet when we are tempted to complain about someone. We reach out when we are inclined to withdraw. We believe even as doubts cross our mind.

When the Bible says ‘believe’ it actually means “Keep on believing.” We can’t simply rely on a past decision or experience. We have to keep believing in the midst of each circumstance, the great ones and the challenging ones. True belief reminds us of our passion and purpose and doesn’t let the storms of life distract us. True belief keeps us focused with eyes firmly fixed on our goal, so we can continue to press on toward the prize we seek.

Dealing with this Leukemia requires all the prayers that many of you are offering on behalf of Marcia and me. (It matters!) And it requires believing and acting on belief, in what is and always has been true, and always will be true.