Be thankful for everything. Is that actually in the Bible? If so, how can I be thankful for something that is difficult to endure? To put it another way, how can I be thankful for what seems to be contrary to God’s will—my suffering?

Thankfulness

I can’t imagine God expecting me to be happy when I’m forced to walk a path so painful that I wonder at times if I will live through it. But is happy the same as thankful? No—it isn’t. It would be mockery to be happy while watching a child suffer a horrible injury, to see a family torn apart by unfaithfulness, or a wife die an agonizing death from cancer.

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This year a number of my close friends have suffered losses that are difficult to endure.

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When Gwen walked into my life so many years ago I felt in many ways as if my life had just begun. In many respects that was true.

When God called her home six years ago it seemed for a time that my life was over. I was wrong about that. My feelings overwhelmed me at the time and rendered me incapable of imagining the incredible plans that God had in store. I’m sorry to say that I have to admit that I wasn’t certain God could place meaning in my life again that made it worth getting up each morning.

Some of you are there today. I know because I attended funerals for your loved ones this year. Each Christmas I talk about the difficulties the holiday season brings. Perhaps it’s because there are so many wonderful memories attached to those whom we have lost. Perhaps it’s simply the aching in our hearts for missing someone so much that it’s hard to get up in the mornings, hard to face the bright lights of the holiday season, and a hard to smile and say Merry Christmas when our hearts are broken.

I was asked this year by a dear friend as we stood at the front of the church during his wife’s funeral if it gets any easier. I respect him too much to lie to him, so I told him no, it doesn’t. But praise be to God, his grace truly is sufficient to get me through the worst of days, and to remember that regardless of the pain I feel his plan is best. I may not understand. I may not choose it, but I can know that it is best.

God is sovereign.  He does nothing without great purpose.

I’m often asked about romance, kindness and passion—all good subjects.

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Sometimes the questions are very personal, like this one from a friend.

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Years ago, a friend approached Gwen with a horrible situation.

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She explained that she and her husband had been verbally attacking each other for weeks.

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As we approach the holiday season, I’m mindful that not everyone is without pain—many are suffering. I’ve been there, and learned that people who love us—friends and family, often don’t know what to say.

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This may be your first Christmas season without your husband or wife. Or perhaps it’s the first one you’ll spend without your daughter or son. If so you may feel empty, desperate, depressed or lonely. Then you smile and say, “Merry Christmas” to a friend, and something you didn’t expect happens–you feel guilty.

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WHY GO HERE?

November 7, 2014 — Leave a comment

It sounds mysterious to avoid giving specifics, but unfortunately it has to be that way.

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I just returned from a war-torn country that’s very far from home. But I feel very much at home there, and find myself missing the people when I return to the states. This picture is a sad remembrance of a time of joy when a father painstakingly carved a rocking horse for his child. It now lies in an abandoned rubbish heap from marauders who see no value in family or the true living God. This family is long gone, taking only the clothing they wore when their community was overrun.

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Last week I asked God to use not only my strengths, but my weaknesses. Be very, very careful what you pray for. 

The simple life in America means we live with less—right?

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But living with less here means something different than living with less elsewhere. For example, the little girl in this picture wanted nothing more than to sit on my lap and smile, even though war has torn her from her home.

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THE REST OF THE WORLD

November 4, 2014 — Leave a comment

When I see how the rest of the world lives, I am humbled–and determined to do something to help.

Dad’s, what do your kids see when they look at you?

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Another way to ask that is—what do they see you doing?

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