Category Archives: Adversity

Bartimaeus, stick a sock in it!

jesus_healing_blind.gifWhat do you want me to do for you? Jesus asked. (Mark 10:51)

Bartimaeus was the lucky guy to whom this question was addressed. He was blind, a beggar, and when he heard Jesus was passing by he began yelling, “Son of David, have mercy on me.”

The crowds tried to quiet him. If it was 2008, security would have tasered him. But he was desperate. No way was he going to let this opportunity slip by.

A blind man in that day was helpless, hopeless, destined to sit by the road and spend his pathetic life begging. Bartimaeus knew this might well be his only hope of rising above his circumstances. He kept yelling, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus turned and asked:

“What do you want me to do for you?”

Wow! I’m trying to imagine how that must have felt. Like Bill Gates handing you his ATM card and giving you the PIN number. What is it you need? Take my debit card. There’s enough in the account to cover it. Just take what you need!

What lesson can we take from Bartimaeus today? A couple of things. First, seize the opportunity when it presents itself. It may not come around again. Jesus may never have passed that way again. Bartimaeus knew it may be his one and only hope.

The other lesson? Persistence. Tenacity. Forget the detractors. Don’t listen to those who try to hold you back, hold you down.

If there is something you want, if you have a dream, a vision, go after it with your whole heart. Make no room for discouragement. Put away doubt. Cling to hope. Strengthen your faith. Then be ready to hear the words of Jesus:

“What do you want me to do for you?”

He’s still asking that question today of those who cry to him with their whole heart!

“Don’t worry about it” ???

christmas-in-hawaii2.jpgAt 7:55 this morning, my windows began to rattle. The sound became thunderous as five F-15 Eagle jet fighters from the Hawaii Air National Guard flew the “missing man” formation over Pearl Harbor. They came in so low over my home the pilot could have picked a papaya off the top of my tree.

Sixty five years ago to the minute, Japanese war planes flew that same route in their surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, plunging the US into war with Japan.

Years ago, I spoke with a gentleman who has carried a heavy burden since that Sunday morning in 1941. It was his first day at the Schofield Barracks duty station. He received a call from a radar installation on the North Shore of Oahu that detected incoming planes. Assuming they were our own B-17s, he uttered four words he has regretted his entire life. “Don’t worry about it.”

Later, a congressional investigation absolved him of negligence. They placed the responsibility on his superiors for inadequately preparing him for his responsibilities. Still, he lives under a cloud of guilt.

I often think about the responsibility God has given me as a husband and father. You see, we have an enemy and nothing would please him more than to pull off a surprise attack on our family. We need to be watchful, alert, always on our guard. 

not ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Cor. 2:11).

When our children were young and we would send them off to school, every morning we would all go through motions like we were putting our armor on. “Helmet of salvation? Check. Breastplate of righteousness? Check. Belt of truth? Check. Shield of faith? Check. Sword of the Spirit? Check. Shoes of the gospel of peace? Check.” Okay, we’re ready to go! They might have forgotten their pencils and tablets but they never forgot their armor!

Looking back, we came through a few battles. More than a few. I know you have as well. And there will be more to come, sorry to break it to you. But in all things, we can be more than conquerors through Jesus Christ who loves us and gave Himself for us.

So keep your armor on, my friend. You can leave home without your American Express but don’t leave home without your armor!

Wanted: Dead or Alive. Preferably Dead!

As Saul and his men began to close in, David tried his best to escape, but it was no use. But just then, a messenger reached Saul that the Philistines were raiding Israel again, so Saul quit the chase and returned to fight the Philistines. 1 Samuel 23:26-28

Who said God has no sense of humor?! I got a chuckle reading this passage today. It is so full of irony.

Think about it. David has two major enemies; the Philistines, who have his picture on every post office bulletin board in the land, and Saul, who sees David as a threat to his throne.

So Saul chases David down and corners him. No way of escape, no place to hide. David is toast.

Then Saul’s cell phone rings. Satellite images show Philistine troops unexpectedly amassing on the Israeli border. Saul has to pull back from his assault on David and return to the Pentagon.

The Philistines actions have unwittingly allowed their arch rival, David, to escape the hand of Saul!

The irony blows me away!

When David was trapped, I’ve got to believe he was praying. “O God, send someone to get me out of this mess! You saved me from the mouth of the bear and from the lion. You spared me from Goliath, the Philistine Giant…”

And I can imagine God saying, “Philistine? Did someone say Philistine? Hmm, I’ve got an idea…” and he uses one of David’s enemies to spare him from the other.

So where are we going with this? What is the message for us today?

When you and I are in trouble, we should never limit the way God can rescue us. He may send help from the least likely place. The last place on earth you are expecting. Just keep trusting Him. You never know how He will come through!

Peter, the lumberjack

Suddenly, there was a light in the cell and an angel of the Lord stood beside Peter! The angel slapped him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick. Get up.” And the chains fell off his wrists. Acts 12:7

The setting was Herod’s maximum security prison. James had been put to death and it pleased the Jewish leaders so Herod arrested Peter and scheduled him for execution the following morning.

He was in chains behind multiple locked doors, guarded by sixteen Roman soldiers.

I’m trying to imagine what was going through Peter’s mind. He must have reflected on the events of recent years. Only four short years ago, he was a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee, destined, he thought, to be a fisherman for life. Then Jesus said, “Follow me,” and life would never be the same!

Peter remembered the miracles. He remembered walking on water. He remembered Jesus calming the storm, healing his mother, feeding the five thousand.

He vividly remembered the crucifixion and the events leading up to it. How could he forget his betrayal of Christ?

But he also remembered the empty tomb, and Jesus on the seashore after the resurrection. He was there when Jesus returned to the Father.

Now, he is chained between two guards and in the morning, he goes before the firing squad. So what does Peter do? He falls asleep. In fact, he sleeps so soundly, the angel has to whack him on the side to wake him up.

Now, I don’t know about you but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be bagging Zzz’s, not on the night before I’m going to die. If I did doze it would be a light, restless sleep.

Not Peter. He is sawing some serious logs. It wasn’t the angel who shook the prison, it was Peter’s snoring!

Peter had no fear. He was ready to meet Jesus and he decided he might as well have a good nights rest before the reunion!

O Lord, may we have the faith and boldness of Peter, I pray. Amen.


She glanced over her shoulder and saw someone standing behind her. It was Jesus but she did not recognize Him… She thought He was the gardener. John 20:14,15

Mary Magdalene was standing at the tomb weeping because it was empty and she supposed someone had stolen the body of Jesus.

Interestingly, Jesus was standing right over her shoulder, in fact He spoke to her, but she mistook Him for the gardener. She didn’t recognize her closest friend.

Maybe her eyes were so full of tears she simply didn’t get a good look. But I suspect there was more to it than that.

I think she was so consumed in her sorrow she paid no attention to the one behind her. She was too caught up in her own emotions.

It makes me ask myself, when I am faced with a crisis, how often do I become so self absorbed that I fail to recognize Jesus standing over my shoulder? How often are my eyes so blinded by fear or pain that when He speaks, I mistake Him for the yardman?

Jesus promised He would never leave us nor forsake us. Through good times and bad… and especially in bad, He’s right by our side. 

Twenty four, seven, three sixty five. And an extra day on leap year, He is there.

Mustard seed faith



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Trust me on this one

trust-jesus.jpgBut Jesus ignored their comments and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just trust me.” Mark 5:36 (LB)

Jairus, the leader of the local synagogue, came to Jesus for help. His twelve year old daughter was at the point of death and she needed a miracle.

It’s interesting Jairus would turn to Jesus. Most synagogue leaders saw Jesus as an adversary. When you think synagogue you think Sabbath. You think Jewish customs and traditions. You remember Sunday morning headlines: Jesus breaks Sabbath!

The Jewish leaders were intent on discrediting Jesus. Sabotaging His ministry. Even plotting His death.

But Jairus was desperate. His daughter was dying. Doctors couldn’t help. There was no medicine, no further treatment. So he swallowed his pride and turned to Jesus.

It must have been humbling. How, he wonders, will Jesus respond? What will Jesus say? “Hey. Don’t I know you? Yeah. You’re the leader of the synagogue. You’re the guy who tried to throw me headlong off a cliff the other day.”

“Who, me? Oh, that’s a guy who looks a lot like me. I get that all the time.” 

But in desperation, he humbly asked Jesus to come and heal his little girl. Forget the past. Forget the differences of theology. He had a problem and only Jesus had the solution.

Thankfully, Jesus responded the way he does with all who turn to him with a broken and contrite heart. In His mercy, He offered to heal the little girl.

But then the text message came through, “It’s too late. The girl is dead.”

Jesus told Jairus, “Ignore it. Put it on vibrate. The girl will live. Trust me on this.”

And Jesus touched the girl and she sprang to her feet, alive and well.

So, what is the application? How does this apply to us today?

There may be things we no longer trust God for. Things we have given up trusting him for. We hear the words, “the girl is dead” and we become discouraged and give up.

Today, Jesus is saying, “Ignore the detractors. Don’t believe the circumstances. Things are not always as they appear. Trust me on this one.” 

O God, forgive us for the times our faith has wavered. Forgive us for our lack of trust. You have always proven yourself faithful and you will continue to be faithful until the end. Amen.

Some things you can do today:

  1. Think of something in your life that has died; a dream, a goal. Now ask God to renew your vision and restore it to life.
  2. Begin to trust Him for the answer. Don’t focus on the circumstances – they will pull you down. Look to Jesus – He will lift you up.