Monthly Archives: January 2022

In Your Corner


The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent. —Exodus 14:14

When I think about the Israelites escaping from Egypt toward the Red Sea, I imagine everyone walking in lockstep toward the water. But if you read the story in Scripture, there is a lot of questioning and griping along the way to the Red Sea. The people are not sure if this is going to work out at all. They see the Egyptian armies coming. They see the water of the Red Sea and they think they are doomed. That is until Moses says the words of Exodus 14:13-15: “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” In other words, sit still and let God do his work. And of course he did. Moses parted the waters of the Red Sea. The Israelites passed through on dry ground to safety on the other side, and the Egyptian armies drowned.

What strikes me are the words “The Lord will fight for you.” We sometimes forget that and then worry and complain and panic. He is in our corner and we just need to let him go to battle on our behalf. We may not see his efforts right away and things may look grim. But we have the best defense on our side and we simply need to trust him to knock out our enemies of various kinds. Our Egyptian armies may be illnesses or injuries, addictions or conditions, difficult coworkers or family members, even grief and sorrow. Our Fighter for us can find a way for us to triumph in the end. All we need to do is quiet down and have faith.



But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. —Malachi 3:2

I recently became curious about what fullers’ soap was. What I discovered was that in Bible times there were people with the occupation of a fuller. A fuller’s job was to use a strong soap and beat or stamp on wool until the impurities had been removed, so that it would be pure white and ready for dying, if desired. The smell of the soap was so strong that the work was done in what was called a fullers’ field outside of the city. The soap fullers used was made of salts mixed with oil and one of two other ingredients: carbonate of soda (what we call baking soda) or borax (a mineral commonly used in insecticides today). This was no Dial soap on the shelf in your shower. This was a harsh cleanser and the process of cleansing was rough on the cloth. But the end result was pristine fabric.

All our impurities, our sins, are removed through the “soap” of Christ’s blood shed for us through the beating of Christ’s back with whips and the stamping of nails into his hands and feet on the cross. This was a harsh process. But the end result was a removal of our transgressions and the purity of our souls.

In Revelation 7:14 Jesus reveals of the people in heaven, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” That is us. We are cleansed and we are purified because of Christ, better than any soap can do. We are cleansed to the depths of our souls.



I have a few friends who have hiked extended trails like the Appalachian Trail in the eastern United States and the Pacific Crest Trail in the Northwest and West, and I have heard about the Camino de Santiago in France and Spain. The books (and movies) A Walk in the Woods and Wild chronicle the experiences of “through walkers” who made the trek from the beginning to the end of the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail respectively. The movie The Way tells the fictional story of a man who traversed the Camino de Santiago in honor of his wife who passed away.

As you can perhaps tell, I enjoy these stories of long-range hikers. So many things can be learned from their experiences. For instance, it is better to pack light and pick up supplies along the way. The too-heavy backpack can slow you down too much and even cause physical harm. It is always best to rely on the help and advice of those you meet along the way who have been where you are going. And it is good to have your rain gear close at hand.

The parallels to the Christian life are obvious. Jesus himself told us to pack light on our journey of faith. “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics,” Jesus said to his disciples before he sent them on their way (Luke 9:3). The point was for the disciples to become a part of the communities where they stayed and not be loaded down with their own baggage, if you will.

When it came to relying on others, Jesus said: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. …  And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide” (Luke 10:5-7). It is good for us as Christians to be good guests of those we meet along the way and to take whatever we receive from others with great gratitude. Their wisdom and faith are the “food and drink” that nourish our spirits when we get tired or lost or scared down the road.

As for getting caught in the rain, Jesus makes it clear, “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). The trail will have trials, no matter what. Getting wet is no fun. Every day will not be a sunny day. But here is the “umbrella” of love Jesus gives to us: “But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). We have Jesus to protect us and cover over us when we encounter any storms in life. His power is greater than any raindrops, thunder or lightning (literally and figuratively speaking) that come our way.

We all are through-walkers in this Christian life as well. We are not called to veer off the path or stop the trip midpoint. We are not to go over, under or around but through whatever lies before us, always trusting in the One who went before us in life and death to save us, always moving forward toward the glory at the end of the trail, where we will find a room prepared with a door ajar that beckons, “Welcome home, good and faithful servant.”


look closely

It came to my attention recently that when the Bible says, “Behold!” it means “Look!” That’s a good way to put it. But for me it goes even deeper. For me it means, “Look very closely.” Consider well these Bible verses:

And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.” —Genesis 1:29

Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan. —Joshua 3:11

Behold, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him. —1 Samuel 17:23

[John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” —John 1:29

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” —Luke 2:10

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” —John 19:26

These instances where “behold” is used help us to recognize most profoundly the blessings of creation God has given us, the holiness of the presence of God in our midst, the dangers that come our way (as well as our ability to overcome them), the gift of our forgiveness in Christ, the beauty of the message of the Gospel and the rewards of solid relationships with others.

What can you truly behold from God today?

Basalt Columns

basalt columns

I recently saw a picture of basalt columns in Iceland and was amazed by how square and exact the columns were. Upon reading up on why that is, the best answer I can deduce is that it happens because of the nature of heating and cooling melted rock. Basalt is a volcanic rock that at one time was a hot, flowing liquid before a cooling process pulls the molten material toward a center point that forms the rock into hard hexagonal shapes.

Though I still don’t quite get it, I am fascinated by the beauty of this natural phenomenon. It makes me wonder: “If God can make these columns rise up from the ashy substance from a volcano, what else can he do?” A lot, of course. But so often we don’t give God the credit he deserves. We continue to think in our limited minds that we know best or we know how God goes about things.

The psalmist gets it right:

When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels
   and crowned them with glory and honor. —Psalm 8:3-5

We are only on this earth by God’s good pleasure. What he does and how he does things are still beyond our fully fathoming. We only get a glimpse of his vast ability and creativity when we see something like basalt columns. Yet this does not mean that he is not aware of us. By his great mercy, he crowns us with undeserved attention and significance. We are like the basalt columns, wondrously created and beautifully designed. And we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those similarly formed as prime examples of what our God can do by his mighty hand.

And marvel of marvels, God even takes the form of a human being in Jesus Christ that all the earth might be redeemed from the ravages of sin by the liquid flow of his blood through his death of the cross, that a rock might miraculous roll away from his tomb to reveal him alive forevermore. Now that’s a rock formation worth celebrating!

Yes, and …


Did you know about something called “yes, and … ” thinking used in improvisational comedy and even in business? It is a rule of thumb that says that a participant in a conversation should accept what another participant has said (“yes”) and then expand on that line of thinking (“and”). It is a way of continuing a dialogue and letting the others in the conversation know that you are listening and paying attention.

It strikes me that “yes, and … ” thinking can be used very effectively in discussing Jesus with others. Say, for instance, that someone says to you, “Jesus is my Savior.” Then you could say in response, “Yes, and he is with you.” Or you could say, “Yes, and he gives you strength.” Or “Yes, and he will guide you.” The list could go on, of course. But the point is that using any number of additional attributes of Jesus in a “yes, and … ” response will lead to more discussion of and expansion on the role of Jesus in our lives. Jesus is not someone you can pigeon-hole in a box and compartmentalize. He permeates through every aspect of your life and thoughts and experiences. Just when you think he is limited to one thing, think again. As the Bible says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:15-16). Now that’s a lot of “yes, and … ” language! Let us continue to be “yes, and … ” people for Christ.