A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

Martin Luther wrote this hymn as a battle cry of the Reformation movement. This hymn is based on Psalm 46.

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.

“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah (ESV)

Luther strongly felt that there was power in sacred music. He is quoted as saying, “If any man despises music, as all fanatics do, for him I have no liking; for music is a gift and grace of God, not an invention of men. Thus it drives out the devil and makes people cheerful. Then one forgets all wrath, impurity and other devices.”

1) A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;

There are many times in God’s Word where it states that God is our rock and refuge, our strong defender. Look at 2 Samuel 22:3, Psalm 18:2, Psalm 31:2, Psalm 71:3, Psalm 94:22, Psalm 68:5.

our helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.

This line brings to mind Isaiah 43 –

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

When we go through hard times, our Heavenly Dad is with us AND He knows us by name.

For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.

Ephesians 6 tells us to take up the full armor of God so that we can stand against the devil’s schemes.

Martin Luther believed in incorporating the truth of scripture into his songs he wrote. He is quoted as saying, “I wish to compose sacred hymns so that the Word of God may dwell among the people by means of songs.”

And if you think about it, people in general remember the words to songs far easier than just memorizing written word. (There are many studies about this – here is just one link: https://web.colby.edu/cogblog/2014/04/28/does-the-sound-of-music-really-help-with-memory/).

2) Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing,
were not the Right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who That may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His name, from age to age the same,
and He must win the battle.

This second verse calls to mind Hebrews 12: verse 2 tells us to look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith; verse 28 tells us we have an unshakable Kingdom. Hebrews 4:14-16 and Hebrews 5 are worth taking the time to study to learn more about Jesus’ love for us and the redemption we have in Him alone.

3) And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.

Jesus, Himself, in Matthew 4 shows us how to fight the devil with the Word of God:

Matthew 4: 1Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’


“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”

(You can also read about this in Luke 4: 1- 13.)

4. That Word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours, thru Him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
the body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still;
His kingdom is forever.

God’s Word is rich and alive, sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). Psalm 18:30 states, “This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.”

Proverbs 30:5 states, “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”

Isaiah 41:8 tells us that the Word of God will stand forever;

Isaiah 50:4 tells us God sustains us with His Word.

John 1 tells us that Jesus is the Word.

Ephesians 6 tells us the Word of God is our sword.

Colossians 3 exhorts us to let the Word of God dwell in us richly.

Martin Luther, through this hymn, was expressing the truth of these scriptures. Our God is our mighty fortress and it is His Word that sustains us and fights our battles. He truly is our helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.


Of Cell Phones and Malongs

Seeing God In The Ordinary – Part 5

Seeing God In Cell Phones and Malongs

Something I’m rather sure each of us has on our person at almost all times is a cell phone. I’d never really used a cell phone much until we moved to the Philippines, which is known as the texting capital of the world.

In the Philippines, people text rather than call because it is less expensive to do so.

Many mission organizations required (and I’m sure still do) that their missionaries had a cell phone with them at all times in case of emergencies.

It really is the best way to get hold of people.

So what spiritual significance does this cell phone have for me, for us?

A cell phone/smart phone can be a visual reminder to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17).

Martin Luther stated that prayer is the lifeblood of the Christian. It is. Continual conversation with God. Prayer is not some ritual, formulated order of words but a daily, moment by moment conversing with God about everything, every moment.

I highly recommend reading, A Praying Life, by Paul E. Miller. Developing a praying life is a life-long journey. Prayer really is interconnected with every part of our lives.

I highly recommend reading this book!!

As Paul Miller states in his book, …a praying life isn’t something you accomplish in a year. It is a journey of a lifetime. The same is true of learning how to love your spouse or a good friend. You never stop learning this side of heaven. There is far too much depth in people to be able to capture love easily. Likewise, there is far too much depth in God to capture prayer easily.

It is a daily choice to remember and meditate on the fact that “the Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:5-7)

A praying life actively chooses to focus on God and His way, to set my mind on whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable. If there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, I will think about these things (Philippians 4:8). Living thankfully is a mindset. Choosing His way, to give thanks in all things (1 Thess. 5:18); even in the hard times, choosing to see the graces. This is the treasure of joy in the darkness (Isaiah 45:3).

God is always listening. There’s no fear of not getting through due to cell phone tower connection issues. He tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). He longs for relationship with His people. He rejoices over us with gladness, quiets us with His love (Zephaniah 3:17).

So next time you use your phone, remember to pray.

What’s a malong you ask?

I’ll let Wikepedia explain : The malong is a traditional Filipino rectangular or tube-like wraparound skirt bearing a variety of geometric or okir designs. The malong is traditionally used as a garment by both men and women of the numerous ethnic groups in the mainland Mindanao and parts of the Sulu Archipelago. They are wrapped around at waist or chest-height and secured by tucked ends, with belts of braided material or other pieces of cloth, or are knotted over one shoulder. They were traditionally hand-woven, with the patterns usually distinctive to a particular ethnic group. However, modern malong are usually machine-made or even imported, with patterns that mimic the traditional local designs.

The malong can function as a skirt for both men and women, a turban, Niqab, Hijab, a dress, a blanket, a sunshade, a bedsheet, a “dressing room”, a hammock, a prayer mat, and other purposes. A newborn is wrapped in a malong, and as he grows this piece of cloth becomes a part of his daily life. When he dies, he is once again wrapped in a malong. Among traditional tribal peoples, the malong is used in everyday life. Even in areas where people wear Western-style clothing during the day, the malong is commonly used as sleepwear. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malong)

In short, a malong is a covering in many ways.

Psalm 5 reminds us that God is our covering. He spreads His protection over us, He covers us with His favor as a shield. There are Eight Redemptive Names of God. He is our:

  • Jehovah-Jireh – which means “The Lord our provider” – (Gen. 22:14).
  • Jehovah-Nissi – “Our banner, a banner of love and protection” – (Ex. 17:15).
  • Jehovah-Shalom – “Our perfect peace” – (Judges 6:24).
  • Jehovah-Tsid-Kenu – “The Lord is our righteousness” – (Jeremiah 23:6 and 33:16).
  • Jehovah-Shammah – “The One Who is with us everywhere for He is Omnipresent” – (see Ezekiel 48:35, Isaiah 60:19-20 and Revelation 21:3).
  • Jehovah-Sabaoth – “The Lord of Hosts, our Protector.” (Psalm 46:7).
  • Jehovah-Raah – “Our Shepherd Who tenderly leads us, loves us and will keep us safe.” (see Psalm 23).
  • Jehovah-Rapha – “I am the Lord Your Physician or I am the Lord Your Healer” – this name especially was a Name God prophetically spoke about Himself, not one that someone gave Him. Exodus 15:26.

Source: Holman Bible Dictionary and the book All the Divine Names And Titles In The Bible by Herbert Lockyer.

Malongs are not used much in the United States, but next time you cover yourself with your bedsheet or put clothing on your body remember that you are always in His care.

Psalm 91:4 He will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.


Seeing God In The Ordinary

Hand Sanitizer

I am starting a series of blogs based on a talk I’ve given about how the ordinary teaches us God’s extra-ordinary!

All around us are reminders of God’s love for each of us. He makes Himself known to us in the ordinary, seemingly mundane aspects of life. Just as Jesus taught in parables about lost coins, lost sheep, bread, water, so, too, daily objects and events from life now teach us unfathomable riches of His grace and love.

Parables, the use of ordinary, teaches extraordinary.

Take hand sanitizer for instance………………………

Hand Sanitizer and Dangerous Blood Alcohol Levels ...

When we first arrived in Davao, Philippines, the guest house manager gave me a small bottle of hand sanitizer and small packet of tissue. “Carry these with you always. The Crs do not have tissue” she advised me. (CR [comfort room] is the Filipine term for bathroom).

And it was true. Most of the public Crs did not have tissue. And while there was probably water to wash hands with there was no soap or towels to use.

So I got in the habit of leaving the public CRs without washing and just used the hand sanitizer in my purse. After 12 years in the Philippines, it became so habitual for me to have tissue and hand sanitizer that I continued that habit once we moved to the USA in 2018. Which has come in very handy with the pandemic. Now when I leave a grocery store or public building of any kind, I sanitize my hands.

Often, while using either hand sanitizer or washing with soap and water my mind wanders to Psalm 51….Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!…Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow…..Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me…..

Where is my heart with God? Am I allowing the Holy Spirit to wash over me, to wash me whiter than snow?

Psalm 51:7 “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Just like this alcohol and tissue can help keep my body clean, my Father’s Word and working can create in me, in each of us who believe in Jesus, a clean heart and a right spirit.

Something very deep and mysterious, very holy and sacred, is taking place in our lives right where we are, and the more attentive we become the more we will begin to see and hear it. The more our spiritual sensitivities come to the surface of our daily lives, the more we will discover—uncover—a new presence in our lives.

Henri Nouwen

1 Corinthians 6:11 tells us But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Ephesians 5:25-27 says Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish…

  Hebrews 10:22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Take time to reflect on any or all of the above verses, or look up other verses that reference washing. It’s important for us as Christians to allow God’s Word to soak into our souls, for His Word is alive and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, and able to pierce to the division of soul and of spirit, discerning the thoughts and intentions of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12).

Take a few minutes to present yourself before God in silence and surrender. Allow His Word, His love to wash over you! And the next time you wash your hands, may you offer worship to Him who cleanses us from all our sins by the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, our blessed Saviour (1 John 1:7).


Taste This Wisdom

“Wisdom is not to be found in the art of oratory, or in great books, but in a withdrawal from these sensible things and in a turning to the most simple and infinite forms. You will learn how to receive it into a temple purged from all vice, and by fervent love to cling to it until you may taste it and see how sweet That is which is all sweetness. Once this has been tasted, all things which you now consider as important will appear as vile, and you will be so humbled that no arrogance or other vice will remain in you. Once having tasted this wisdom, you will inseparably adhere to it with a chaste and pure heart. You will choose rather to forsake this world and all else that is not of this wisdom, and living with unspeakable happiness you will die.”
― Nicolaus Cusanus

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.  Hebrews 12:2

Ephesians 1:16 – 18

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,



I have a condition known as Wolf-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome. Basically it means I was born with extra electrical pathways in my heart. I was in my 20s when officially diagnosed with it. I never really had it treated because mostly I was trying to ignore it.

I mean who wants to admit they have cardiac issues or any health issue for that matter – sometimes acknowledging the truth of a matter is very difficult. So, I mostly ignored the times my heart took off racing like a wild stallion. When it did, I used the vagal maneuvers my cardiologist had taught me. They usually worked until I reached my upper 50’s. (Read about WPW at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/wolff-parkinson-white-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20354626 and more about vagal maneuvers at https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/atrial-fibrillation/vagal-maneuvers-and-heart-rate ).

I had learned to ignore my body and what it was telling me as a kid. Growing up being sexually abused by my dad I had to split how my body felt and how I felt about my body into a separate compartment of my internal world in order to “act happy and normal” with the outside world. I mostly thought of my body as bad and tried to ignore it as much as possible.


Along the healing path of life God has had me on I have learned over the years to pay more attention to the body He gave me which is made in His image. While in the Philippines I learned even more about listening to my body. The heat is intense and when we first arrived I thought I’d die as my heart would race often. I learned quickly that I needed to stay well-hydrated in order to keep the racing heart at bay. Several other healing influences that taught me more about self-care were the spiritual realization that if I’m to love my neighbor as myself I need to love myself. Recognizing that when a friend or family member was ill I was concerned and tried to help them by getting them to a doctor and getting medicine needed I was like, “why not do that for myself?” An ah-hah moment from God.

Another influence in learning to take better care of myself was a dear friend, Judy. I used to think she went to the doctor to often. The reality is she went for yearly checkups and she went when truly not feeling well. In the Philippines it’s common for people to do things together, so I and another friend started scheduling yearly checkups at the same time Judy did. It was fun for three or four of us to go to the doctor’s together and wait for each other while each had their private checkup.

Two books that strongly influenced me in better caring for my self were Living Like You Mean It by Ronald J. Frederick and The Body Keeps Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.

God has designed us spirit, soul, and body – – Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

As I’ve gotten older, WPW has become more of an issue for me. Our last year in the Philippines I was 58 and my heart was racing wildly for a few seconds or minutes almost daily. Needless to say, when we arrived in the USA I saw a cardiologist.

In the summer of 2019 I had what is known as an electrophysiology study and ablation done at Henry Ford Cardiac Center in Detroit. It worked great.

(An electrophysiology study (EP) is a test performed to assess your heart’s electrical system or activity and is used to diagnose abnormal heartbeats or arrhythmia. An ablation cuts the extra electrical pathway. Learn more at https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cardiac-ablation/about/pac-20384993 or https://www.henryford.com/services/electrophysiology/treatments/ablation).

But, since electricity likes to jump, sometimes the extra pathway is re-formed or another one comes along years later. I have a friend who has had four ablations done for the same issue as I have. I pray not to have to end up with that many, but I will be having another ablation done on January 18th.

electricity jumping

As I was pondering about WPW, this upcoming procedure, the providence of God, and resting in Him no matter what trial comes along, the thought came to me that WPW can stand for something else:

Wrestle, Prayer, Worship

Instead of WPW being a syndrome it can (and should) be a way of life for Christians. There are two definitions given for the word syndrome –

From https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/syndrome

Combining its two Greek roots, syndrome means basically “running together”.


1: a group of signs and symptoms that occur together and characterize a particular abnormality or condition

2 : a set of concurrent things (such as emotions or actions) that usually form an identifiable pattern

So, while my physical heart may be displaying a group of signs and symptoms that occur together and characterize a particular abnormality or condition which in the case of WPW manifests in heart racing, trouble breathing and dizziness, my spiritual heart’s WPW is a set of concurrent things that usually form an identifiable pattern, a pattern every Christian should develop – one of honest wrestling with sins and past woundings; a prayer life that is unceasing; and worship. God’s deeds and love are truly amazing and we need to ascribe to the Lord the glory (worship) due His name.

We need to wrestle with our issues, delve into our past hurts, name them, lay them at the feet of Jesus. We need to wrestle with our anxieties, fears, concerns, name them, pray them to Jesus, just as the Psalms and so many other places in the Bible do. God wants our honesty. He doesn’t want plastic smiles and christianese speak that is not truthful – He wants our honesty. (Read more about christianese at https://www.dictionaryofchristianese.com/christianese/)

Suffering works God’s purpose. He loves that I struggle and persevere. He loves that I question and rage and am indignant at all this judgment and unrighteousness. He is sovereign, He reigns. Faith is not passive. Faith is active. Faith demands perseverance. Faith demands discipline to set my mind on Christ, to give thanks as a sacrifice of praise in the midst of storms and trials. My relationship to my Dad is so vital. He loves me. This I know. He cares about me. This I know. He holds me in His hands – this I know. And He loves to hear my questions and railings. This I know. He’s not mad at me for wrestling with Him. This I know. I am asking why. I cry. I rage. I hurt. And He loves me. This I know. I persevere. I seek Him. I praise Him. And underneath all, in the wrestling to rest, are His eternal arms (ref. Deuteronomy 33:27) (excerpt from unpublished Missionary Musings, Journal Reflections from a Borderline across Borders by Beth Symanzik, 2021.)

Amy Grant has a great song that speaks to this truth, Better Than An Hallelujah. Listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rm5kx3xqmg0.

God loves a lullaby in a mother’s tears in the dead of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes
God loves the drunkard’s cry, the soldier’s plea not to let him die
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes
We pour out our miseries, God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are; The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah
The woman holding on for life, the dying man giving up the fight
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes
The tears of shame for what’s been done, the silence when the words won’t come
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes
We pour out our miseries, God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are, The honest cries of breaking hearts Are better than a Hallelujah
Better than a church bell ringing; Better than a choir singing out, singing out
We pour out our miseries, God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are; The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

The truth is, the Psalms are filled with honest cries of breaking hearts. So in our wrestling we learn the heart of Jesus.

Of all the knowledge that we can ever obtain, the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of ourselves, are the most important. Jonathon Edwards

Prayer is the next thing. The following are just a few passages admonishing us to pray without ceasing, which goes hand in hand with wrestling and worship. In our trials, in our wrestlings, in every moment, pray. Prayer really is the life blood of the Christian. Martin Luther puts it this way, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.”

  • Matthew 5: 9 – 13 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
  • Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
  • Ephesians 6:18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
  • Philippians 4:6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
  • Colossians 4:2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:16 – 18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Worship, the last letter of the WPW abbreviation, is integral to the life of a Christian. Worship can be one of those nebulous words that we feel we may have some understanding of but not really. Here are a few quotes on worship to hopefully help clarify what worship is:

  • What is worship? It is essentially doxology, a giving of glory, praise, honour, and homage to God… “Godliness is a worship” wrote Swinnak. Worship comprehends all that respect which man oweth and giveth to his Maker…it is the tribute which we pay to the King of Kings, whereby we acknowledge His sovereignty over us, and our dependence on Him…all that inward reverence and respect, and all that outward obedience and service to God, which the word “godliness” enjoineth is included in this one word worship. (pg. 249 J.I. Packer A Quest for Godliness.)
  • Father, since Hebrews 12 deals with discipline, endurance, and struggling against sin and concludes with “offer to God acceptable worship”, is that our worship? To show You love and reverence? to fight and struggle against sin? to not be complacent? Do You view our struggles to walk Your way in the hard as worship? I think You do. I feel like You are saying that exactly: to press on, pursue joy, to diligently pursue Your holiness, to not get weary, to strive for peace with everyone, to strive for holiness without which we will not see You. This is worshipping You. (excerpt from unpublished Missionary Musings, Journal Reflections from a Borderline across Borders by Beth Symanzik, 2021.)

Worship is acknowledging His Sovereignty and giving thanks to Him in all things.

  • John 4:24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.
  • Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
  • Hebrews 12:28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,
  • Revelations 13:3-4 And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
  • Nehemiah 9: 5-6 Then the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, “Stand up and bless the Lord your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you
  • Psalm 29:2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

God is Spirit and the Source of all love. Our spiritual journey calls us to seek and find this living God of love in prayer, worship, spiritual reading, spiritual mentoring, compassionate service to the poor, and good friends.Let us claim the truth that we are loved and open our hearts to receive God’s overflowing love poured out for us. And living fully each day let us share that love in all our wonderful and difficult relationships, responsibilities, and passages. The seeds of death are at work in us, but love is stronger than death. Your death and mine are our final passage, our exodus to the full realization of our identity as God’s beloved children and to full communion with the God of Love. Jesus walked the path ahead of us and invites us to choose the same path during our lifetime. He calls to us, “Follow me.” He assures us, “Do not be afraid.” This is our faith. Henri Nouwen

Isaiah 64:3,4 For when You did awesome things that we did not expect, You came down, and the mountains trembled before You. Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides You, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.


The Night That Changed Everything

Our family enjoyed a quiet, family Christmas Eve at home. It’s a bit strange not having extended family over although we did take some food and gifts to Kurt’s dad and enjoyed a short visit with him on Christmas Eve morning. I look forward to the time when inviting others over will be alright again, or at least when the weather will be warmer in the spring and summer to host outdoor gatherings.

Anyway, back to Christmas Eve. We had our own Christmas Eve Service at home. I based it on Luke 2 and corresponding hymns. It was a reflective celebration of Christ’s birth, His love for us, and a time of worship to Him. The celebration of Christmas, of Christ’s birth, truly is a celebration of the night that changed everything.

Silent Night has four verses. The second verse says, Silent night, Holy night, Darkness flies; all is light…and that is the truth. Christ’s coming to earth as a baby, The Word becoming flesh, His light shining and not overcome by the world (John 1:1 – 5)…Love’s pure light, His redeeming grace….the older I get the more reflective I’ve become on the love, mercy, and grace shown to us by God’s redemptive love wrapped in infant babe.

I hope this holiday season you’ll take time to reflect deeply on the amazing grace He showed in sending His only Son to earth, veiled in flesh, our Redeemer. We who’ve walked in darkness have seen a great light…For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end
(Isaiah 9: 2, 6,7).

Below is the service we had in case you are interested in using any or all of it in your own family worship time.

Christmas Eve Service – family – 12/24/2020

Unison Reading:

  • God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16


Luke 2: 1 – 7 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.


Silent Night

1. Silent night, holy night, All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace

2. Silent night, holy night, Darkness flies, all is light;
Shepherds hear the angels sing,Alleluia! Hail the King!” Christ the Saviour is born, Christ the Saviour is born.

3. Silent night, holy night, Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing ‘Alleluia
Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born.

4. Silent night, holy night, Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth, Jesus Lord, at Thy birth.


Luke 2:8 – 14 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 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. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”


Angels We Have Heard On High

1. Angels we have heard on high sweetly singing o’er the plains,
and the mountains in reply echoing their joyous strains.

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

2. Shepherds, why this jubilee? Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be which inspire your heavenly song?

3. Come to Bethlehem and see Christ whose birth the angels sing,
come, adore on bended knee, Christ the Lord, the newborn King.

4. See him in a manger laid, whom the choirs of angels praise,
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid, while our hearts in love we raise.

Unison Reading:

  • Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10


Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

1. Hark! the herald angels sing: “Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise Join the triumph of the skies
With angelic hosts proclaim: “Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! the herald angels sing: “Glory to the newborn King!”

2. Christ by highest Heav’n adored, Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come, Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! the herald angels sing: “Glory to the newborn King!”

3. Hail the Heav’n-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth Born to give them second birth
Hark! the herald angels sing: “Glory to the newborn King!”


Luke 2: 15 – 20 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.


What Child Is This?

1. What child is this who laid to rest, On Mary’s lap is sleeping
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, While shepherds watch are keeping
This, this is Christ the king, Whom shepherds guard and angels sing
Haste, haste to bring him laud, The babe, the son of Mary.

2. Why lies he in such mean estate, Where ox and ass are feeding
The end of fear for all who hear, The silent Word is speaking
This, this is Christ the king, Whom shepherds guard and angels sing
Haste, haste to bring him laud, The babe, the son of Mary.

3. So bring him incense, gold and myrrh, Come peasant king to love him;
The king of kings salvation brings, Let loving hearts enthrone him
This, this is Christ the king, Whom shepherds guard and angels sing
Haste, haste to bring him praise, The babe, the son of Mary.

Unison Reading:

  • When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Matthew 2:10-11

Joy To The World

1. Joy to the world, the Lord is come; Let earth receive her King:
Let every heart prepare Him room, And heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing

2. Joy to the world, the Savior reigns; Let men their songs employ:
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plain, Repeat the sounding joy, repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

3. No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make His blessings flow; Far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found
Far as, far as the curse is found.

4. He rules the world with truth and grace, And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness, And wonders of His love, and wonders of His love
And wonders, wonders of His love.

O Come, All Ye Faithful

1. O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant!
O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem
Come and behold Him, Born the King of Angels
O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him
Christ the Lord!

2. Sing choirs of angels, sing in exultation,
O sing, all ye citizens of heaven above! Glory to God, all glory in the highest:
O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him
Christ the Lord!

3. Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning,
Jesus, to Thee be all glory given; Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing:
O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him
Christ the Lord!

Unison Prayer:

  • O God, Who by the birth of Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ did give Yourself to mankind; Grant that, being born in our hearts, He may save us from all our sins, and restore within us the image and likeness of our creator, to whom be everlasting praise and glory, world without end, Amen. (#685, United Methodist Hymnal).

Why I Post Hymn Stories

In the words of Terry L. Bresinger “I consider the traditional versus contemporary debate to be somewhat troubling. The question of hymns and choruses goes well beyond musical preferences. While I deeply enjoy much of what we call contemporary music, I fear that by discarding traditional music and various forms altogether, we may in fact be discarding the past. Hymns from various time periods, for example, provide windows into the experiences of the community of faith at that time. Were we to make the effort to learn them and understand the situations out of which they developed, we might discover riches that we never knew were there before. (Brensinger: A Theology of Worship).

This poem, written by an unknown author, also explains why I like delving into the theology and back story of a hymn:

The Power Of A Christian Song

There's something about a fine old hymn                                                                                      That can stir the heart of a man, woman, child;                                                                          That can reach to the goal of his/her inmost soul                                                                        Such as no mere preaching can.                                                                                                        It's more than the tune of the song being sung                                                                           And it's more than the verses' rhyme -                                                                                              It's the Spirit of God working through these things                                                                      That gives them their power sublime!                                                                                               So we thank Thee, Lord, for the fine old hymns;                                                                           May we use them again and again                                                                                                   As we seek to save from a hopeless grave                                                                                      The souls of our fellow kin.

I grew up in a Methodist household. The church we attended sang wonderful hymns like How Great Thou Art; Holy, Holy, Holy; And Can It Be; It Is Well With My Soul; On Christ The Solid Rock I Stand, and so many others. At my family’s reunions held in July at the church built by ancestors who’d come from England to Wisconsin for religious freedom hymns were a mainstay of the event. To listen to a large gathering of relatives singing in four-part harmony wonderful words of life and God be with you til we meet again stirred my soul to ponder these words, to ponder upon God and His rich love.

John Calvin, in his commentary about the Psalms says this: “I have been accustomed to call this book… “An Anatomy of all the Parts of the Soul,” for there is not an emotion of which one can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror… …[and] they call, or rather draw, each of us to the examination of ourselves in particular so that none of the many infirmities to which we are subject, and the vices with which we abound, may remain concealed.”

I think hymns do a similar thing.

In my thirties I wrote a song for my Dad. He used to sing hymns to me when I was little as he tucked me into bed. I incorporated many lines from hymns in this song: Here are the lyrics:

Dad's Song

On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suff'ring and shame
and I love that old cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain........

My Father used to sing to me "The Old Rugged Cross"
Tucked me in and rubbed my back and said "good night my child."
His tenor voice would fill the room with sweet refrains of hymns
And in my tender childhood days I knew I'd trust in Him
Images of Jesus' death emblazened in my mind
"Wondrous'ly attracting me to the Dear Lamb of God"*
"Amazing Grace" has saved my soul and "It Is Well"
"I Love To Tell The Story" that "Jesus Paid It All."

	As Father and Daughter we've travled rough roads 
	And I never thanked my father for singing me those hymns

I pray that in his twilight years he knows I've forgiven him
Pain and darkness are turning to peace in my Heavenly Father's hands
“Christ has regarded my helpless estate”*** “Gives me grace for every trial”****
I hope his soul has answered Him and His glory forever he shares.

   So I'll cherish the old rugged cross, where my trophies at last I'll lay down
   I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it someday for a crown.

I'm passing on the good things to children of my own
Singing them the hymns I heard and grew to love so
"Blest Be The Ties" and "God Be With You", "I'm Going Home"
Songs rich in truth passed lovingly from him to me to them.
To the old rugged cross I will ever be true, it's shame and reproach gladly bear
Then He'll call me someday to my home far away where His glory forever I'll share 
So I'll cherish the old rugged cross, where my trophies at last I'll lay down
I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it someday for a crown.
Copyright 1996 - All Rights Reserved :  
* Line excerpted from "The Old Rugged Cross":"The Old Rugged Cross" copyright 1913 by George Bernard.    ** Line excerpted from "Battle Hymn of the Republic";   ***Line excerpted from “It Is Well”    ****Line exerpted from “All The Way My Saviour Leads Me”	Words and music by Beth M. Symanzik -----  5/23/1996

I was trying to find words to explain the importance of hymns in a Christian’s life and I found this article that explains so well what I wanted to say. Below are some excerpts taken from the full article that can be found at:


  • Many hymns actually are born out of meditation upon scripture – an art we desperately need to relearn. Tim Keller (pastor at Redeemer Church in NYC) says meditation is thinking a truth in [into your heart] and then thinking it out [thinking out the implications of this truth for your life etc.] That is what the hymns help us do as they take their theme and turn it over and let us gaze upon it from all different angles. And they often will suggest (though by no means do they ever exhaust) ways in which this truth should change our lives. In this way they model how to meditate upon scripture and the truths of the gospel. This is not just a happy coincidence, it is born out of the fact that hymns are usually the result of meditation in the first place. A great example of this is “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds” by John Newton (18th century.) We have the notes from Newton’s sermon the day he introduced this hymn to his congregation and it reveals that his text was “Thy Name is as ointment poured forth” (Song of Solomon 1:3). As he reflected upon that text all week he saw its fulfillment in Jesus and the implication for the trials and tribulations of the Christian’s life. When was the last time you got that much out of meditating on Song of Solomon 1:3?
  • Hymns offer a more full emotional range of expression.Dan Allender (author and Christian counselor) has said that if we sang more Psalms we would have a lot less need for Christian counselors.
  • Hymns are theology on fire.We need solid theology rather than just a constant diet of fluff and fads. Hymns are a great way to wrestle with theology because they connect theology to life and worship rather than allowing theology to just puff us up as disconnected truths that we memorize to impress our friends. J.I. Packer (in the introduction to “Knowing God”) says it is vital for us to turn what we know about God into a basis for praising God – and hymns are wonderful vehicles for this.
  • Hymns remind us that the church is bigger than the people we know, or even who are alive today. Through hymns we can connect with believers who lived centuries before us. We can have “mystic sweet communion, with those whose rest is won” (from “The Church’s One Foundation” by Stone). When I introduce people to Anne Steele’s hymns (like “Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul”) they are struck by the powerful way she dealt with her immense suffering and find that her cries can become their cries, and her tears can join with their tears, and that her faith can encourage their faith. To see that we can connect with an English lady who lived in a small village 300 years ago and feel what she felt is powerful. All of the sudden the kingdom of God grows much bigger. Thus it really helps to study the stories behind the hymns.

So, pull out a hymnal and sing!!!!


‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus

1. ’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise, And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

Chorus: Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er; Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

2. Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me ’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

3. Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus, Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking Life and rest, and joy and peace.

4. I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee, Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me, Wilt be with me to the end.

This hymn was written by Louisa M. R. Stead in 1879 after the tragic drowning of her husband.

Louisa, her husband, and their four year old daughter, Lily, decided one day to enjoy a sunny day at a beach in Long Island Sound, New York.

While they were eating lunch on the beach, they heard cries for help and saw a boy in the water, drowning.

Mr. Stead ran into the water; and as often happens with a drowning person, the struggling boy pulled Mr. Stead who was trying to rescue him, under the water and they both drowned.

Louisa and Lily witnessed this horrifying event.

Out of her grief, her asking “why?” she wrote Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word; Just to rest upon His promise; just to know, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’

(to read more about this story and other hymn stories, check out Kenneth W. Osbeck’s books, 101 Hymn Stories and 101 More Hymn Stories).

Hebrews 6: 17 – 19 tells us So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever

God is the anchor of our soul, our steadfast hope no matter what storm is tossing our soul.

2 Corinthians 1: 3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

His Word revives, heals, teaches and instructs us:

Fall deeper in love with Jesus, take Him at His Word.

2 Corinthians 1:20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,Just to take Him at His Word;

Just to rest upon His promise,And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest,…Hebrews 4:11

Trust and Obey

When I became pregnant with my first child I started praying that all my children would grow up in love with the Word of God and seek Him first in all their ways. When they were little I used to tuck them in to bed and sing this hymn to them: Trust and Obey.

D.L. Moody, an evangelist in the 1800’s was quoted as saying the formula for a successful Christian life is this:

The blood alone makes us safe –

The Word alone makes us sure –

But obedience alone makes us happy.

Daniel B. Towner, the music composer for this hymn used to lead music for D.L. Moody’s revivals and at one service, a young man stood up and said, “I am not quite sure – but I am going to trust, and I am going to obey.” He wrote that line down and sent it to his friend, John H. Sammis, a Prebyterian minister, who took inspiration from the story of this young man and wrote the words to this hymn. Daniel Towner wrote the melody.

1. When we walk with the Lord in the light of his word,
what a glory he sheds on our way!
While we do his good will, he abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

2. Not a shadow can rise, Not a cloud in the skies, But His smile quickly drives it away; Not a doubt nor a fear, Not a sigh nor a tear, Can abide while we trust and obey. [Refrain]

3. Not a burden we bear,
not a sorrow we share, but our toil he doth richly repay;
not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross, but is blest if we trust and obey. [Refrain]

4. But we never can prove the delights of his love
until all on the altar we lay;
for the favor he shows, for the joy he bestows, are for them who will trust and obey. [Refrain]

5. Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at his feet,
or we’ll walk by his side in the way;
what he says we will do, where he sends we will go; never fear, only trust and obey. [Refrain]

Psalm 119 tells us that God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (119:105).

2 Timothy 3: 16 tells us that All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.

Trust Him, Trust His Word. Trust and Obey.

Our Identity

Henri Nouwen’s words regarding the truth of our identity in Christ are what I would like to share with you today….(check out more of his writings at https://henrinouwen.org/meditation/)

The Fundamental Truth of Your Identity
Jesus died well because he knew he was going to God and he would soon send his Spirit of Love to his friends. “It is good for you that I leave,” he said, “because unless I leave, I cannot send my Spirit who will lead you to the full communion, to the full truth, to the full betrothal.” With that Holy Spirit he knew that his beloved apostles would live better, happier lives.This vision is not just about Jesus. It is also about you and me. Jesus came to share his identity with you and to tell you that you are the Beloved Sons and Daughters of God. Just for a moment try to enter this enormous mystery that you, like Jesus, are the beloved daughter or the beloved son of God. This is the truth. Furthermore, your belovedness preceded your birth. You were the beloved before your father, mother, brother, sister, or church loved you or hurt you. You are the beloved because you belong to God from all eternity.God loved you before you were born, and God will love you after you die. In Scripture, God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” This is a very fundamental truth of your identity. This is who you are whether you feel it or not. You belong to God from eternity to eternity. Life is just a little opportunity for you during a few years to say, “I love you, too.”
Henri J. M. Nouwen

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”

HEBREWS 10:23,24 (NIV)


Scared, she ran to her father’s room. Thunder, lightening unsettling her world. He invites her into his bed, wraps his arm around her, explains how to judge the distance of lightening by counting seconds between the light and the thunder. She falls asleep only to be awakened by a crushing weight rocking on her, feeling a hose moving up and down between her legs. She keeps her eyes shut, the weight on top moans and rolls off and starts snoring. The thunderstorm is over.

But not for her. Childhood sexual abuse is a constant storm internally of shame, guilt, grief, anger.

How do we heal from childhood hurts? from wounds to deep for words?

How do we find that peace that passes all understanding when our internal lives feel so chaotic?

How do we feel truly loved when shame keeps us feeling so unloveable and dirty? How do we feel worth while when experiences in life have caused us to feel so worthless? What are the prerequisites for growth? for healing?

How do we apply God’s Word to our emotional messiness?

It’s easy to spout verses like in all your ways acknowledge Him (Proverbs 3:6) or bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5) or do not worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34) but how do they become practical realities in our life?

How do they become truly the natural paradigm of our life?

It takes tenacity – a form of the word tenacious – which means: 1 : not easily stopped or pulled apart : firm or strong 2 : continuing for a long time 3 : very determined to do something (Merriam-Webster online dictionary https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenacious accessed 1/26/22).

It takes patience. Just like a child grows from baby to adult little by little, so we, too, grow in God’s Wisdom and grace little by little, one step at a time.

Making God’s Word real in our lives is a tenaciously patient setting of one’s mind, will, soul and body on seeking Him first in all our ways. Making God’s Word real in our lives takes a daily determining to set one’s mind on things above. This does not happen all at once. Viewing life through His lens happens little by little, precept upon precept.

We will fall and fail but we can get back up (Proverbs 24:16 – A righteous person falls seven times and gets up again. Matthew 12:20 – a bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not quench, until He brings justice to victory;)

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God remains for ever” (Isaiah 40:8). The Word of God is powerful indeed. Not only the Jesus Prayer but many words from the Scriptures can reshape the inner self. When I take the words that strike me during a service into the day and slowly repeat them while reading or working, more or less chewing on them, they create new life. Sometimes when I wake up during the night I am still saying them, and they become like wings carrying me above the moods and turbulences of the days and weeks. Henri Nouwen

But He answered, “It is written: ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ “MATTHEW 4:4

Sour Milk Baking

I enjoy collecting recipes and baking. I’ve been collecting recipes my mom and grandmas used – the following recipes are all from their collection of recipes.

I thought I’d share a few recipes with you today on what to do with sour milk – don’t throw it away – try making these:

Sour Milk Biscuits

1 ¾ c. all purpose flour

1 t. salt

2 t. baking powder

1 t. sugar

½ t. soda

Cut in 5 T butter.

Add: 2/3 – ¾ c. sour milk

Mix well. Form into biscuits.

Bake 425 degrees for 12 minutes.

Sour Milk Waffles

2 cups flour

6 T melted shortening or butter

1 tsp baking pwd

2 eggs, separated

1/2 tsp soda

2 T sugar

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups sour milk

Mix egg yolks and above ingredients together well. Beat egg whites separate until fluffy and stiff and fold in as last step to waffle mix. Cook in waffle iron.

Sour Milk Banana Cake

2/3 c butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

3 -4 mashed bananas (about 1 cup)

1/4 cup sour milk

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Mix well. Bake in 8″ or 9″ cake pans, greased and floured for 20 – 25 minutes in a 375F oven.

Sour Milk Pancakes

2 c. sour milk

2 large egg

1T sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 3/4 c. flour

1 T oil

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. cinnamon (optional)

1 tsp. nutmeg (optional, to taste)

Mix all ingredients together. Heat up a skillet or griddle to medium-low. Grease. Pour batter (about 2 – 3 T per pancake). Flip once so both sides get lightly browned.

Number of Servings: 12


Pin on Fitness Tips
I would rephrase that to “Wake up, Spend time with God, and then Workout.”

One thing I really enjoy doing in the morning is exercising. After starting my day with a cup of coffee that is low in caffeine, Bible reading and prayer, I exercise.

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
    for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
    for to you I lift up my soul.

Psalm 143:8

O Lord, in the morning You hear my voice;
    in the morning I direct my prayer to You and watch.

Psalm 5:3

Some days I walk and lift weights, some days I work out with my daughter, Mikayla, and lift weights. Some days I do all three activities. I exercise a minimum of 20 minutes in the morning but more often go for 30 – 45 minutes.

Health and Fitness Quotes : Quotes on walking & exercise ...

One self-care item recommended for people with heart conditions is exercise, so I have made it a discipline to exercise daily, eat a lower-salt diet, and maintain a healthy weight. There is so much written about heart health and exercise that I won’t post more about that here other than to direct you to at least two websites with helpful information:

Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control…

1 Corinthians 9: 25-27
Morning Workout Quotes. QuotesGram

Even though my daughter lives in Milwaukee, I can exercise with her through the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Recreation Center Facebook page. During the Covid lockdown she was filming 20 – 35 minute workouts that were made available through the UWM Recreation Facebook page; she also made two ten-minute workouts at the rec center. Check out their Facebook page for many good exercise videos: https://www.facebook.com/uwmurec

Working out with her brings fond memories of when she was younger. We would work out together with Billy Blanks Tae Bo videos (yes, 20 years ago we used videos, but now you can access his workouts on YouTube – here is one of them – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaS1gBeistM).

Billy blanks tae bo reviews

There was also a “Mommy and Me” video we watched that had an exercise routine we did together.

I enjoyed doing those workouts with all of my kiddos when they were younger. It’s nice to see that seeds planted in childhood have blossomed to maturity in adulthood. The value of daily exercise and weight lifting can not be overstated. (here’s one link that discusses that more – https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389)

If you want to exercise with Mikayla, here’s a link to one of the workouts – https://www.facebook.com/uwmurec/videos/834578570720319

10 Fitness Quotes you need to know – Move Love Eat


James and I created 14 pints of salsa the other day. Most of the peppers that went into the salsa came from our garden.

It is very rewarding and enjoyable to garden, grow produce, use it in meals, can salsas and relishes with it.

Our family eats a lot of salsa so we made a big batch. We’ll be making more soon so that we have plenty for the year ahead.

Here is the recipe I used. The original recipe can be found in this book

This is an excellent book I’ve borrowed from the library. I plan on purchasing my own copy sometime.

But, as I view recipes more as suggestions rather than mandates I tweaked it to our liking. So here is my recipe:

Garden Fresh Salsa

  • 20 cups chopped, cored, peeled tomatoes
  • 6 cups chopped onion
  • 4 cups coarsly chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 or 2 cherry bomb peppers (depending on how much heat you want to pack)
  • 16 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped (or leave seeds in for more heat)
  • 2 cans (5.5oz) tomato paste
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 1 cup fresh, finely chopped cilantro OR 1/4 cup dried cilantro
  • 1 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • Mix all the ingredients together in a large stainless steel pot. Over medium heat, stir frequently and bring to boil. Reduce heat and boil gently until thickened, about 30 – 45 minutes or so.
  • Ladle hot salsa into hot pint canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim, put canning lid on. Screw band down and tighten by hand.
  • Process in boiling water bath for 20 minutes. Remove canner lid. Allow to sit in water for additional 5 minutes. Remove jars from water, cool on towel undisturbed for overnight. Label and store.

If you want to find out more details on the how-to’s of canning, I highly recommend the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving or The All New Ball Book Of Canning And Preserving: Over 350 of the Best Canned, Jammed, Pickled, and Preserved Recipes.

I borrowed this book from the library and then found a great deal on purchasing the book, so now I have my own copy and don’t have to be concerned about spilling on the pages of a library book! And the copy I found online is spiral-bound. A great bonus!!!
James and I do all of our chopping by hand with either knives or these Pampered Chef food choppers we found at yard sales!

I haven’t always been a gardener. But over the course of 12 years in the Philippines, my interest in gardening grew. Many Filipinos have small garden plots that produce edible items constantly. I loved being able to buy fresh produce all year round from the market.

Roadside market in Philippines

I decided when we returned to the USA and had a house, I’d do a vegetable garden. I can’t grow items year round but I certainly enjoy planning my garden, planting, and harvesting the produce when the seasons allow.

I love working the soil, pulling weeds, watching the seeds grow into plants, eating and preserving the results. I am thankful that my mom did so much canning and taught me by her example how to can goods.

And I find that as my interest in gardening has grown over the years, so has my interest in spiritual growth. Why is it some people grow in their faith while others seem to whither? God calls us to produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit – Galatians 5:22-24

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Galatians 5: 22 – 24

Growth in our spiritual life entails pulling weeds, tilling soil, fertilizing, planting seed, prayer. Spiritual practices such as contemplative prayer, meditation on scripture, self-examination, solitude strengthen our walk with Christ.

Colossians 3 tells us to put to death what’s earthly in us. This is the pulling weeds part. Some weeds send their roots down deep and if only the growth above ground is pulled, the root will send new growth. The root needs to be pulled. This is not an easy process.

The Holy Spirit helps us in growing the fruit of the Spirit. Just as a pear, which starts out small, hard, and sour matures into a fruit green and delicious, so our growth in Christ matures. As disciples of Christ our lives will grow increasingly loving, kind, gentle, patient, faithful, self-controlled, joy-filled, peace-filled, and good.

Jesus gives us many analogies of our spiritual growth compared with plant growth –

 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

John 15:1-8

Abiding in Christ, setting our minds on Him, on things above, seeking Him first in all our ways – these are all attitudes of the heart, disciplines of the mind that can be cultivated in the soil of our spiritual growth. Faith is active. Just as gardening can be hard work yet so richly rewarding, so is actively living as a follower of Christ. Read His Word. Hide His Word in your heart. Seek Him first in all your ways. Only God gives the growth (1 Corinthians 3: 6-9).

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:5

Seeing God In The Ordinary Summary

The parables of Jesus used ordinary objects in daily life to show His Extraordinary.

When I have presented my power point talk on seeing God in the ordinary, I ended by tying many of the ordinary items of life that can remind us of God to scripture from Revelations 7. And as I read Revelations 7 I would hold up the item spoken of. I’ll do this now by adding pictures in the appropriate places along with the date posted originally ….

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages,

standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.

Bracelets remind us to give thanks and offer worship and praise 8/9

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.”

And he said to me, “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.

Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence

He is our covering, our protector – Malong 8/6

They shall hunger no more

He provides for all our needs – Rice 8/11

neither thirst anymore

He is our living water – Water bottles 4/10

; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat.

For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith….

Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

Seek Him first in all your ways (Matthew 6:33).