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Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven… deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. Matthew 6:9-13

Halloween has always been my least favorite holiday, until now. It seems there is more to the tradition than you’ll find at the bib box stores. As leaves fall and chill winds and gray skies beckon us to hearth and home, we recognize autumn as a slowing down and moving inward, physically and spiritually. For millennia, Halloween was considered the 1st day of the autumn triduum with All Saints day and All Souls Day, coming between the fall equinox and the winter solstice; a time when the veil between this world and the next is thin. Celebrated to usher us into this quieter, more contemplative space, the autumn triduum honored our ancestors’ lives, contributions, and passings, with a glimpse into the scary, yet compelling mystery of death.


Unfortunately Western culture kept only the traditions rooted in superstition: costumes worn to prevent ghosts from recognizing us, jack o’ lanterns imitating skulls lit with candles to frighten spirits, and begging for wood to light a bonfire to keep away evil entities devolved into begging for candy.

Originally the word halloween meant “to make holy,” een being the shortened form of evening. Viewed from this perspective, Halloween becomes significant to our lives as Christians.


To restore this sacred time, herald its coming with a short meditation. In a prayerful posture, call to mind all the saintly people, past and present, public and private, who have made your life possible. Pray for them. Thank them and God for their presence in your life. Acknowledge those who rise to your awareness, knowing God sends them with love and healing. Then allow Jesus to come, the One who is the Source of our good. Thank Him for your many blessings, including the challenges which help us grow into our best selves. Thank Him for transforming the shadow of death into the light of the resurrection. We have nothing to fear from darkness—we have Jesus. This Hallowed Evening take time to remember the true Spirit of the season.


Deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.


Sign from God

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Others, to test him, kept demanding from him a sign from heaven. Luke 11:16


Do you ever speculate whether God is giving you signs that you somehow miss? I certainly do! We’ve all met people who think everything is a sign, from a gum wrapper on the ground to something the clerk at Walmart says. I don’t think I’d like to go through life like that, watching every second for a signal from God. But on the other hand, isn’t God speaking to us in some fashion all the time?


I had a sign shortly before I left my dysfunctional first marriage. I dreamed I had a huge glass shard in my arm that was bleeding profusely. I distinctly heard God say, “This glass is like your marriage. If you leave it in place, you will bleed to death. If you yank it out, it will hurt but it will heal.” Now I was pretty sure that was a sign, and it helped me make the decision to change my life. I’ve never regretted that decision, and I truly believe the dream was a profound message from God.


I’ve thought long and hard about that dream and what made me certain it was from God. I remember how it gave me the conviction, or certainty, that ending my marriage was the right thing to do. It puzzled me that I could find no specific passage of Scripture that supported that decision, but I knew God loved me and I knew He had great plans for me that I would never have achieved in my previous situation. From a human standpoint, at least, things were not going to change for me unless I made a new life for myself. I had spent my childhood in a dysfunctional family and, unfortunately I had chosen what was familiar to me rather than what was best for me. The circumstantial evidence was clear. Once the decision was made, I felt God’s peace like I had not felt in many years, and I knew I could trust Him to provide for me, which He did, abundantly. It didn’t matter to God how the first part of my life had gone; He was interested in the last chapter.


Heavenly Father, let me hear You clearly, whether You speak in a shout or a whisper. Amen


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So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. 1 Corinthians 10:12


Our daughter and her husband were coming in one hour with their three year old son and a brand new baby born. But three nights prior a huge storm had moved though packing straight line winds in excess of seventy miles per hour. When everyone on our street emerged from the safety of our basements, we saw what looked like a war zone. Although no houses were badly damaged, thirty year old trees had been blown down, blocking the streets. Power was out and debris was everywhere. We first began to clear away the fallen trees. But I had company coming! When I tried to sweep our house with a broom and dustpan, I desperately missed having electricity to run the vacuum cleaner. A simple appliance that we take for granted was not available to me when I needed it.


Seventeenth century French philosopher Blaise Pascal said, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” Many people come to Christ trying to fill that void. That is why I bowed at the feet of Jesus nearly forty years ago this month. I had completely run out of answers, options, and excuses. My life was on a downhill spiral and I believed I was destined to be unhappy and dissatisfied with myself for the rest of my days. But the indwelling Christ changed all of that, and now I feel my heart bursting with love for my Savior.


People have tried since time began to fill the “God shaped vacuum” with other things. Money, sex, drugs and alcohol, and any number of “philosophies” have been used in an attempt to satisfy the yearning people have to feel “whole.” This world is filled with “vacuum cleaners” that try to suck out of people what could be a natural and gratifying relationship with the King of the universe. First Timothy 6:9 says, “Those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” Are you filling that “God shaped vacuum” with what is supposed to fit there perfectly?


Fill us, Lord, with Your perfect love.




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May you produce children…and, through the children that the Lord will give you by this young woman, may your house be like the house of (an ancestor of David). Ruth 4:11-12


Do you ever wonder where expressions or idioms come from? An idiom is defined as an expression with a special meaning. The website lists a number of fun idioms with surprising origins. “Go the whole nine yards,” for example has nothing to do with football (shows you what I know!). During World War II, the fighter pilots were equipped with nine yards of ammunition. When they ran out, it meant they had tried their best at fighting off the target with the all their ammunition. Hence, the expression came to mean “try your best.” “Giving a cold shoulder” means being unwelcoming toward another person. In medieval England, people gave a cold piece of meat from the shoulder of the animal when the host felt it was time for a guest to leave. The message was, “You’ve overstayed your welcome.” And how about “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater?” We use it to mean don’t get rid of something valuable while you are cleaning out things you don’t need. Many years ago, people bathed very seldom, and those living in each household used the same water. Adult men bathed first, then the women, then the older kids and finally the babies—in water that was by now filthy. Moms had to take care not to miss a small child when emptying the murky mix!


My friend Bob Albers and I were emailing back and forth about the origin of the term “spitting image.” I searched the Internet and found many different accounts as to how the expression came about. Some had to do with a child looking so much like his parent that he could have been “spat” from the mother or father’s mouth. But the one Bob and I agreed we liked the most and thought was true was that the original saying was “spirit and image.” If a youngster appeared similar to his parents, it was said he had both the “spirit” and the “image” of them. The words became slurred together, but this meaning seems the most flattering.


Lord, make us the “spirit and image” of You! Amen


Couple Shouting

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Their throats are opened graves; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of vipers is under their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Romans 3:13-14

Some people I know make me very sad. I know a couple who have been married many years, yet it is impossible to be around them for more than a few minutes before they are in an argument. Not just a small tiff; these people are ready to go for each other’s throats and sometimes it seems they would, even with others around them. People’s reactions vary, but most of us try to ignore them, make light of the situation, or just plain leave the room. Even though I know these people well, I do not understand, nor can I fathom how they’ve gotten to this place. What makes anybody—Christian or not—get so out of control in front of others? And if it’s that bad with an audience, what is it like when they are alone? The issues must be so ingrained in each of them that nothing gets in the way of their antagonism towards each other.

When I was a college counselor and thought I was pretty smart, I used to have a saying: A healthy relationship is one in which two people who are totally capable of taking care of themselves choose to care for one another. Not “take care of” one another, but “care for” one another. Well, I’ve had to back off of that somewhat idealistic description of a “healthy” union in recent years. What about things like substance abuse and addiction? Profound physical illness or disability? Mental illness? Unforeseen events that leave one or both persons severely traumatized? The simple fact is, long-term relationships, especially marriage, are difficult for many of us. One thing is certain: without Christ as the head of the household, things can and do get dicey. If God is truly at the helm of our lives, our relationship with Him cannot help but affect our dealings with people. The first four commandments speak of loving God (Deuteronomy 5:6-15). The last six tell us how to love other people (Deuteronomy 5:16-21). Loving God and loving others are interdependent and require our total dependence on Him.

Loving Lord, You created marriage as a sacred bond. Grant us Your wisdom and patience in our unions. Amen


Five Senses

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If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9


Every school kid knows we have five natural senses: hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and feeling. Evangelist Billy Graham says we have a sixth sense: the ability to believe. What does “believing” mean to you? Webster defines the word as “trusting in,” or “accepting as true.” I know that I trust God, but why is that so? Part of the mystery of faith is that we don’t really know why we believe; we just do. Unlike me, some people are raised in a church family where it was an accepted thing to love the Lord throughout life. There are lots of stories about young people who don’t follow Christ after their parents can no longer make them go to church. I heard about a pastor who found a deer inside the church one Sunday morning. When he told the parishioners about it, they all asked, “How did you get it out of the building?” His reply: “I confirmed it and it left on its own.”


I, on the other hand, didn’t get “into” church until I was almost thirty, and I haven’t had any desire to leave. That doesn’t mean I have any more or less faith than a person raised in the church. Faith is a very personal thing, which is part of the mystery. I can use my natural senses to see a person attending Sunday morning services, placing something in the collection plate, and taking communion. I can hear her singing with the congregation, and I can even feel a certain warmth about the person that would lead me to believe she is sincere. (The smelling and tasting parts might come in at a church supper.) But I don’t know that person is a believer unless I spend time with her or him, and even then, I could be mistaken. But the important thing is that God knows, and it’s nobody else’s business except God and the individual. Like today’s Scripture says, believing is a “heart thing.” We know that we know that we know we believe, and God knows it too. Tell someone else today about your sixth sense: believing!


Holy God, we believe Your Word and we believe in You. Amen



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To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. Psalm 25:1


“I’ve got soul” is an expression we hear in conjunction with certain music performed by the likes of BB King, Aretha Franklin, and Ray Charles. Soul music is a combination of Rhythm and Blues (R&B) and gospel, sometimes combining spiritual and secular music. Some say soul songs makes you feel the music as well as hear it.


British author C.S. Lewis once said, “You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body” (italics mine). My “personhood,” what makes me me, is apparently different than what I’ve been led to believe. Lewis’s point is that we (people) are eternal beings who just happen to store our souls in a temporary physical body while we reside on earth. But often, “soul” and “spirit” are used interchangeably. So what is the difference?


According to the website,, “the spirit gives us the ability to have an intimate relationship with God (John 4:24).” As C.C Lewis said, we are souls, but we have a body, and also a spirit. The word “soul” means “life,” referring to spiritual and emotional experiences (Psalm 43:5).

Simply put, the soul is the essence of humanity’s being; it is who we are; the spirit is the aspect of humanity that connects with God. And the body is a convenient self-contained package, home to the soul in this realm we call life.


O Lord, You have designed us intricately and well. We may not understand how You did it, but we thank You! Amen


Man Praying 2I pray that, according to the riches of His glory, He may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through His Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19


Ann Graham Lotz once said, “If you and I ever truly know God, it will not be an accident. It will happen when…we abandon every other goal, every other priority, and embrace the God-filled life until He becomes our magnificent obsession.” I want to be like that! I keep trying, but it is in the trying that I miss the mark. Maybe I just need to accept whatever God has in store for me, no questions asked. I know the times I have come to the end of myself, God was waiting there with what seemed like a new beginning, but which was really just a continuum of God’s plan for me, ever unfolding. I can’t really go to God “broken,” because He doesn’t see me that way. He sees me as His holy and blameless child, perfect in His eyes. He is just always glad I’ve taken the time to seek Him out and say, “Hey.”


I’ve thought a lot about “praying without ceasing,” which Paul writes to the Thessalonian church (1 Thessalonians 5:17). In that same passage, Paul says, “rejoice always”(v. 16), “give thanks in all circumstances” (v. 18), and “do not quench the Spirit” (v. 19). There is so much in this one passage, how is a person supposed to do all that? Graham Lotz’ answer is simple: make it our number one goal in this life. And the only way to do that is with God’s power, not our own. Today’s Scripture passage says that God is ready to grant us the power to do everything He wills us to do, “according to the riches of His glory” (Ephesians 3:16). The obsession is His with us as well as ours with Him.


Come, Lord Jesus, fill my empty places with Your radiant power. Amen


JacobThe spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me…to provide for those who mourn in Zion—to give them a garland instead of ashes; the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. Isaiah 61:1,3


“I decided when he took my son, not to let the abductor take anything else from me,” she said, “so I put him in a box .” These were the words of Patty Wetterling to a group of dinner companions at a sexual violence prevention conference. On this date in 1989, Patty and her husband Jerry’s son Jacob was abducted by a stranger on a country road near the family’s home at age eleven. His whereabouts are unknown. Her statement hit me like a ton of bricks. As a survivor of sexual violence, I allowed the man who assaulted me and was never caught to chew up a lot of my life, energy, and sensibility for many years. I suddenly realized that’s why I have admired Patty so much and cheered for this woman as she has helped to change the landscape for missing and abducted children since that fateful day on a road by her house.


Where can we go when we bear unspeakable pain? How can we escape the clutching hands of an event that can never not have happened? For Patty Wetterling, she took her pain and used it as a springboard for good. Four months after Jacob’s abduction, the Wetterlings founded the Jacob Wetterling Foundation (now the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center), a non-profit organization dedicated to child safety education. Patty chairs the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and serves on many boards working to end violence against children. Patty’s courage, generosity, steadfastness, and belief in a future world free of violence have borne fruit out of sorrow and goodness out of suffering.


Lord, thank You for these oaks of righteousness who carry Your love to a hurting and sin-ridden world. Amen


Child Thinking 2“For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:16


I recently received an email with an anonymous essay called EXPLANATION OF GOD BY A SIX YEAR OLD. It read, in part, “One of God’s main jobs is making people…to replace the ones that die… He doesn’t make grownups, just babies…they are smaller and easier to make. He doesn’t have to take up His valuable time teaching them to talk and walk; He can just leave that to mothers and fathers. God’s second most important job is listening to prayers. God doesn’t have time to listen to the radio or TV because of this. God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere which keeps Him pretty busy. So you shouldn’t go wasting His time by going over your mom and dad’s head asking for something they said you couldn’t have.

“Jesus is God’s Son. He used to do all the hard work, like walking on water and performing miracles and trying to teach the people who didn’t want to learn about God. They finally got tired of Him preaching to them and they crucified him. But He was good and kind, like his Father, and He told His Father that they didn’t know what they were doing and to forgive them and God said O.K. His dad (God) appreciated everything that He had done and all His hard work on earth so He told him He didn’t have to go out on the road anymore. He could stay in heaven. So He did. And now He helps his Dad out by listening to prayers and seeing things which are important for God to take care of and which ones He can take care of Himself without having to bother God. Like a secretary, only more important. You can pray anytime you want and They are sure to help you because They got it worked out so One of Them is on duty all the time. But…you shouldn’t just always think of what God can do for you. I figure God put me here and He can take me back anytime he pleases.”


I couldn’t have said it any better!


All Knowing God, bless the little children in this world and help them learn about You. Amen