Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Fear - Part 1

Over the last couple of months I’ve had a series of conversations with my daughter, Maelei.   At the time they all seem to be quite random conversations, yet recently I realized a common thread.  Let me share with you the jist of those “Maelei Talks.”

The first “Maelei Talk” was about going to college.  Although she was in the 6th grade at the time, she had been considering which college was best.  She chose a local college because it was close to home, infact it was right next door to where my wife works...mom could actually take her every day.  Given her desire to be a teacher, the school she chose was perfect.  After I recovered from the tuition sticker shock, I praised her choice.  

The next “Maelei Talk” was about living at home.  She had been giving a lot of thought about where she was going to live, especially while attending college.  So she asked if she could simply live at home; stating that saving money on laundry, food, living expenses and the such would make it “easier for us.”   It wasn’t long after that discussion that she revisited the subject by asking if it would be okay if she just lived with us for the rest of our lives.    Understanding she was only 12 years old and that her desire to live at home would no doubt change, we both agreed that our home was always open to her to live as long as she liked.

The third “Maelei Talk” was  about her vocation.  For years she had desperately wanted to be a teacher, just like mom, but now she had changed her mind.  She wanted to be a veterinarian.    A high and noble aspiration and with her love for animals and her giftedness of being an “animal whisperer” it seem like a good fit...at least on the surface.

That last “Maelei Talk” stayed with me for days.  I had a nagging question that caused Maelei and I to revisit her vocation change.   Upon further investigation she revealed that her change of vocation was because “teachers get killed at school and veterinarians don’t.”   Suddenly I saw the thread...she was afraid.   

Fear of the unknown directed her desire to stay close to home.   Fear of being alone had caused her to maintain her current address for the rest of our lives.   Fear of dying in a school shooting had changed her calling and vocation.  Fear was controlling her life.

I suspect Maelei isn’t alone...perhaps you and Maelei have something in common.  


  • Keeps some of us from entering into relationships because we may get hurt.
  • Keeps some of us from going to the mall because we might die in a terrorist attack.
  • Keeps some of us from achieving our dreams because we might fail.
  • Keeps some of us from….fill in blank

But as children of God we are told to “fear not.”  In fact over 80 times in God’s word the command to “fear not” is used and seems to be paired with the thought that God is with us.  We are not to fear because God is with us.  And according to Romans 8:31; “....If God is for us, who can be against us?”  

No matter what God is with us.  

Soon after the Paris terrorist bombings and as the news stations were posting every detail about the senseless attacks, I could see panic and fear on Maelei’s face.   It prompted yet another “Maelei Talk.”

I asked her what was wrong and she stated that she was afraid of terrorism happening here and killing one of us [her family].  I explained to her that we trust in God and that He will take care of us, protecting us from harm.   I was surprised at her response, “I’m sure that some of them trusted Jesus too and yet they’re dead.”  

I was stunned!   She was right.   Then came this moment of spiritual truth that I shared with her.   The same sovereign God that keeps and protect us from harm is the same sovereign God that will keep and sustain us should we fall victim to an act of violence.   If we trust Him when life is good then  we can trust him when life is not so good.   That’s essentially what Job said in Chapter 2:10

If you are afraid...that truth is for you.  For Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  So fear not!   I know...easier said than done.

Over the next couple of blogs we’re going to consider fear and how to overcome with God’s help.  In the meantime, fear not for God is with you, as he was yesterday, so he is today and will be tomorrow.  Be of good cheer...God is for you!.

Friday, October 2, 2015

We are Never Alone

I had just left a home visit with a grieving widow and had listen to her share how alone she felt.   No matter the time of day, where she was or who she was with, there was an ever presence sense of aloneness with her.   Hour by hour, day after day; it was always the same.  There was rarely a break, few changes ever occurred; just near constant aloneness.  Loneliness had become her constant companion.  Ironic isn’t?

I was on my way back to my office from that visit…alone I might add.  I was thinking about how it must feel being so alone.  I have to admit that I had a hard time imaging it.  You see at my house, with a wife, four children and a dog named “Charlie” there is rarely a moment by yourself.  My struggle is trying to steal a moment or two here or there to be alone.   But even in those moments, I don’t feel “alone.” 

As I was pondering this unfamiliar idea of “aloneness,” in the background music was playing on my radio.  As I turned my attention to one of my favorite Southern Gospel groups (okay, I know what you’re thinking), I was blown away by what I heard, “Never Walk Alone” written by J.P. Williams (no relation) and Jeremy Johnson.   Here are some of the lyrics: 

Arms stretched opened wide. Barely hanging on
to life, Left to suffer all alone. You came for all
man kind to bridge the great divide. Somehow
ended up alone. Because of all the blood and
tears You shed. I will never know that kind of loneliness.
Your spirit never leaves me. Even when I'm
hurting. I don't have to bare that burden on
my on. You carried all the pain and buried all
the shame when You made that rugged tree Your
Righteous Throne. Because of You, I'll never walk alone
(Emphasis mine.)

“Aloneness” is unfamiliar because we are never alone.   

Moses had died but not before he had commissioned Joshua to take his place of leadership over God’s people, the Israelites.   Can you imagine how Joshua must have felt?   Joshua must have looked around and for the first time Moses wasn’t there!  Whoa!  A rush of aloneness must have swept over him.  But immediately God came to Joshua and said to him, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV, emphasis mine).  And perhaps he needed reminding from time to time, because in Joshua 1:9 God says again, “…Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (emphasis mine). 

The message of “I am with you” was spoken to Isaac as he re-dug the wells of his father Abraham.  It was the message that Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Haggai heard time after time and it was the message of Jesus just as he ascended in to heaven…. I AM WITH YOU!

We are never alone.   The room may be empty, we may be the only one around but we are not alone.   We may feel the absence of a relationship, the distance of a caring soul, but we are never alone.   The phone may never ring, the mail may never come, but we are never alone.  How do I know…because Jesus said so.  “I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20, NASB).   And no matter where we go, we can never escape the ever present, always near, presence of God. 

The psalmist asked where he could go to be alone.  Heaven?  No, God is there.  To the underworld?   No, God is there.  To the depths of the ocean?  No…God’s there too.  There is no place you can go that God is not there.   I AM WITH YOU…ALWAYS!

Do you feel alone?  Are you overcome by a sense of aloneness?  Call out to God.  Psalm 18:6 David says, “In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, And my cry for help before Him came into His ears.”   And God delivered him (v.17), strengthened him (V.32), and gave him a song to sing (v. 49).  And He will do He will do the same for you.

Monday, August 31, 2015

A Carrot, An Egg and A Coffee Bean!!!

Recently a colleague shared this story…

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed that as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She then pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me, what do you see?"

"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.

The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, Mother?"

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity -- boiling water -- but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

The unknown author of the story pauses to ask the question, "Which are you?"

As I think about you and who is reading this e-devotional….I’m aware that some of you are single with children, others are married with children, some have only a spouse, and some are single but all of you are trying to move forward in your career and improve yourself.   Some are working full-time, others part-time and some of you are dealing with unemployment.   Many of you are trying to manage a job, a home, an education and everything else in between.  In the midst of it all…you may be facing uncertain times, pain and suffering, loss and grief and the list goes on.    Adversity may be your middle name.

In his book entitled “21 Reasons Bad Things Happen to Good People” Dave Earley says, “One of the many good things that can come from very bad things is a clearer, bigger perspective.  More important than knowing exactly why we are suffering is the knowledge gained of God through our suffering.  More significant than receiving an explanation for our pain is embracing a bigger view of God through our pain.” (p. 35)

In other words, adversity gives us an opportunity to gain a bigger perspective of God.   Our God is an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present God who not only spoke the world into existence, but also has all the resources to provide the very thing we need….(Psalm 50:10).  

That means that no matter the adversity you face…God knows.   No matter the forces against you…God is greater.   No matter how alone you feel….God is there.   No matter what you need…God has it. 

So when faced with adversity how do you respond?

The rest of the story goes like this...

"When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity; do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor of your life. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level?

How do you handle adversity? Are you changed by your surroundings or do you bring life, flavor, to them?


Thursday, October 23, 2014

We're on the Move!

We're on the Move!

More than two years ago a local church opened their doors to Moriah Counseling and Consulting; a complete answer to our prayers as we obediently stepped out on faith to follow God’s plan for our lives.   We have been so blessed by the kindness and generosity of their pastor and his church in allowing us to launch a Christ centered counseling center.  Words cannot express how appreciative we are of all that God has blessed us with.   From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU!

Leaving a full-time, salary position and a job that was created with me in mind and venturing off into something way outside our box as a family was a huge step of faith.  Over the years we have been faced with similar situations, but each time the step has been bigger than the last and always requiring additional faith.   In February of 2012, we faced that same call and stepped out with God and His promise of “I have your backs, trust Me” and Moriah Counseling and Consulting was born.  Over two years later, God has blessed and blessed.  There have been countless stories of how God has worked and we give Him all the credit and honor.

For some time we have been feeling that God was once again calling us to something new, something bigger and something requiring even more faith.   So since March we have been in prayer concerning God’s next step for Moriah.  It wasn’t until recently that we began to capture a glimpse of what God was doing.   After a great deal of prayer and council, we have heard God say it was time for us to move our office from the church and into a new location.  So, in obedience to God and in faith in Him, on November 1, 2014, Moriah Counseling and Consulting, LLC will be located at 10983 State Road, North Royalton, OH 44133.   

This is an exciting time for us at Moriah.  Be in prayer with us as we move forward, taking a big step of faith.  But we are confident in Christ...after all He has our backs!.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


It was about 5:30pm on a Wednesday afternoon and I had just left the office. My cell phone rang and it was my wife, "Can you stop at the grocery store and pick up some shredded cheddar cheese for this recipe?”  Well on my way home, I was close enough to change my route and swing by the store.  As I walked into our home, my wife rhetorically asked with a chuckle, "What did we do before cell phones?"   Without missing a beat my 10 year old daughter, who really wanted to secretly justify her need for her own cell phone asked, “Daddy, how old were you when you got your first cell phone?”   “I believe I was about 27 years old and it was as big as one of the stone tablets that Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai!”   “That stone table, Daddy, was that before the Ipad?”

With laptops, Ipads, cell phones, Iphones and every other gadget on the planet; you and I are more connected than ever.  In fact, I wonder if we ever disconnect.   The answer is probably not!  In July 2013, the Huffington Post reported that 61% of employed Americans work while vacationing…that’s 6 out of 10 people. 

Truth be told, we are more likely to disconnect from our families and from God, before we disconnect from our jobs.   Harsh sounding?  Perhaps! But let’s be honest.  I see it nearly every day.  Kids in trouble because mom and dad are always on their cell phones taking another call, on their laptops pounding out one more report or never at home because there is just one more meeting to attend, rather than connecting with the kids.  The marriage takes a hit too.  We will talk to our bosses before our spouses. 

And what about God, have we disconnected from Him?   How many times has a headache on Sunday kept you from church, but the same headache did not keep you from work on Monday?  How many times have you come up with some lame excuse to stay home instead of connecting with the body of Christ and worshipping in one heart and spirit?   How many times have you forsaken the assembly (see Hebrews 10:25)? 

Is that you?  Are you more connected to the job or the activities of the world than you are to God or your family?  Are you proud that you work through the weekends and vacation to clear a better bottom line?  If so, then you need to refocus on God.  To start, confess your lack of connectivity with Him.  Tell him you are sorry and ask Him to empower you to make better choices to stay connected with Him.  Then go to your family and do the same thing.  

Once you have taken that step…learn how to turn off the devices and disconnect so then you can reconnect with the most important thing. 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

You've Got the Gas!

About 15 years ago I decided to build a deck on the back of my house.   It was just a simple deck; nothing elaborate, no intricate detail, no fancy cuts…just a deck.  Little did I know that I picked the hottest day in July.  The thermometer read 96 degrees, the humidity was in the upper 90s, the sun was blistering hot and there was not a cloud in the sky.  By noon, I was 10 pounds lighter, two shades darker and my energy and strength had evaporated faster than the sweat that was dripping off me.  By dinner time the 2 pound hammer felt like I was swinging a 50 pound sledge.  By the time I hit the bed, my strength was gone.   
The next day was Sunday and when I awoke I seem to have a renewed sense of energy, life and strength.   In that moment I was reminded of Deuteronomy 33:25, it says, “The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze, and your strength will equal your days” (emphasis mine).  Think about that for a moment.

If you’re like me, you’ve read that passage many times and have glossed over an incredible promise, “…your strength will equal your days.”  Nestled in that long wordy blessing by Moses in chapter 33 is a promise of God, that my strength will equal my day.  Have you stopped to think about what that really means?  If you haven’t, consider this.  First, it means that no matter what you face today, God has already proportioned the strength you will need to face it.  You will have the strength to face whatever this day brings, without fail.   Count on it.

Secondly, it means you do not need to worry about what tomorrow may bring, because God is already there.  God has already allotted the strength you will need in order to face tomorrow’s challenges.  The strength of tomorrow has already been put aside for you and will be graciously lavished on you, tomorrow.  What about the next day?  Same thing!  That strength has been portioned out and will, when the time is ready, be given to you. 

Finally, what all this tells us is this…God loves you!  Remember these words, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26).  God loves you, he cares for you because you matter to Him.  And because you matter, He will provide, just as He provides food for the birds, the strength you need, today, tomorrow…and so on and so on. 

So when you hear yourself say, “I don’t have the strength to go on!”   Sure you do.  When you feel that you don’t have the strength to face another moment, say to yourself, “Sure I do!”  How do I know?  Because Deuteronomy 33:25 says so, “…YOUR STRENGTH WILL EQUAL YOUR DAYS!”  Go and do…you’ve got the fuel to do it.  AMEN!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Depression!?! But How?

Last week we examined the difference between sadness and depression but we stopped short of examining what can cause depression, so let’s look.


To begin this discussion, let’s point out that there are no real definitive causes for depression.  Arguments can be made for any of the following reasons for depression; genetics, nutrition, drug and alcohol abuse, and several other possibilities.  To examine them all would be lengthy, let’s look at four possibilities….two this week…two next week.


First, depression can be caused by physical or biological reasons.  Let me make this as simple as possible.  Each of us has neurotransmitters, chemical messengers in our brains that facilitate communication between nerve cells.   A nerve cell releases a packet of serotonin through an axon to another nerve cell through a receptor.  The connection is complete when the chemical message has been sent and received.  When one nerve cell fails to produce enough serotonin, or when another nerve cell has too few receptors, depression can occur.  In situations like this, medications can sometimes help.


Another cause of depression is circumstantial.  We all have problems that arise and demand our attention.  These problems require the use of all of our positive coping skills, our network of good support, much prayer and scripture and a host of other vital resources.  Yet when these problems go on without a break and other problems begin to occur, we become overwhelmed and exhausted.  When the circumstances look insurmountable we can lose hope, feel helpless and isolated. 


While we will look at two other causes of depression later…it is extremely important to remember two things.  First, if the cause is biological or physical, God still heals.  Whether that healing is by a miraculous wonder or through medical marvels, there is healing none the less.  Second, no matter what your circumstances are, if they are over your head, they are still under God’s feet.  God still solves problems.  It may not be easy or quick, but God has a plan and can still work through our circumstances.