GraceWaves Articles

The Paper Towel Tube

“Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. She went and filled the skin and gave the lad a drink.” Genesis 21:19 Imagine looking through a paper towel tube like you did when you were a kid. What you see is a very limited circle of reality. Now keep that in mind as we fill in some backstory. Hagar is the woman in this verse. She was Abraham’s concubine, a “gift” from Sarah, his wife, to bear him a child. As a practical aside here, wives don’t do this. Husbands don’t suggest it. In case there

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The Way to Stop Hating One Another

“What is man that Thou are mindful of him?” Psalm 8:4 Does the night sky make you feel insignificant? Most people reading this have a very limited access to the night sky, our city lights washing out all but a relative few bright points. But when you had a chance to see the vastness of our galaxy, perhaps even seeing the slash of the Milky Way across the night sky, did you feel small? That would be understandable. But did you feel insignificant? That’s hazardous. In his book, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, Neil de Grasse Tyson tells of

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Collateral Grace

“Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces enduring strength, and you must let that enduring strength have its full effect, that you be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4 I have a friend whose son is a professional pitcher, working his way through the many levels of the minor leagues in the hope of making it to The Show, Major League Baseball. He’s had all the ups and downs of a young, aspiring athlete. Success in an early level means a promotion to the

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When Faith Falters

“If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13 You’re not as faithful as you could be. I may not have met you, but I’m right! Right? Somehow your faith is not as steady, sturdy, regular, or deep as it could be or needs to be. You struggle with doubt and fear. The uncertainties in your life, perhaps right now, have nearly overwhelmed you. Or your faith has cooled to the point of irrelevance. Was it ever real? The easiest preaching in the world is soaked in guilt and shame. A clever speaker could

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Asking God

“May He grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans…May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.” Psalm 20:4-5 One of the most common questions people ask me in my 35+ years of ministry is some form of “Is it all right to ask God for things?” The “thing” may be healing for a sick loved one, direction for life, a mate, even divine help for a sports team (which is always acceptable for the Kentucky Wildcats…but never for a team with a satanic mascot name, like, say, Duke). The short answer is yes. Paul wrote that we should

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The Muddle of Uncertainty

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "Plans for your welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 GraceWaves are reminders for the most part. Seldom am I going to break some new ground, or reveal some new and deep insight. Frankly, I'm not that good. But I think I am a good "reminder." Today I want to remind you that God is taking care of you. He has not forgotten you. He has not overlooked you or neglected you, and He is not idle. He is at

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Joy: The Laughter of the Soul

“Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all people.” Luke 2:9 A scene from Bernard Shaw's play Saint Joan serves as a wonderful Third Sunday of Advent illustration. First, a little background. During the Hundred Years’ War, the teenage Joan of Arc claimed to hear the voices of Michael the Archangel and two other saints instructing her to support Charles VII and recover France from English domination. She eventually led several successful military campaigns that paved the way for Charles’ coronation and eventual French victory. That’s the history. Now in

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Trust + Obedience = Peace

“We have peace with God.” Romans 5:1 What a way to run an incarnation! The coming of God in the flesh is one of the great moments in history, right up there with Creation and the resurrection. Yet so much about the birth of the Messiah is puzzling, surprising, even outlandish. The casting appears all wrong. A peasant girl. A carpenter. The setting is puzzling. Bethlehem was full of surly, out-of-town tax payers. This is before Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Express, even Motel 6. The inns were booked. So full was the city that Joseph and Mary couldn’t find anywhere

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Hope

“And this hope does not disappoint because God’s love has been poured into our hearts.” Romans 5:5 Are you hopeful? Honestly, I fear hope is on the decline. All of our little handheld computers, and otherwise, are too often little more than the amygdala’s megaphone shouting all of our fears, angers, and frustrations to an itchy-eared audience. We broadcast our caustic emotions and create and ongoing expectation of imminent apocalypse. Hope is lost, or at least severely muted. Hope, however, is the theme of the first week of Advent, and hope is most needed where it appears most absent. In

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Drop the Reins

“The Lord is my shepherd.” Psalm 23:1 Do you know what to do if you get lost while riding a horse? Neither did I until I heard this story from an acquaintance. Alicia is an avid and experienced rider. She and a friend took their own horses to an unfamiliar piece of land. It was many acres, with rolling hills, woods, and water. All the elements to make for a fine morning excursion. After riding for more than an hour, they became disoriented. After a few uncertain efforts to find the right way they realized they could be wandering around

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God's Got This

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 A few years ago while going through a period of uncertainty and fear I called a good friend of mine, Bill Hamm, and said simply, “Bill, I’m just afraid.” He replied, “Terry, God’s got this.” God’s got this. The best theology is simple, and you can’t get much simpler than “God’s got this.” Those words at that time allayed my fear, renewed my trust, and calmed my heart. The outworking of that particular “this” still took some time, but “God’s

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Living in the Meantime

“The Lord made a covenant with us at Horeb…”         Deuteronomy 5:2 I wrote last week that God always speaks, but He usually whispers. However, you may be in a situation where you want a rushing mighty wind not a gentle breeze. Earthquake, fire, and wind are preferable to the still small voice. You want His voice to be louder than the noise of your crisis. In the Bible God sometimes does shout His answers. A divided sea, a healing, an exorcism, a stilled storm, a resurrection. It appears to happen all the time in Scripture. Why should

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Speak Lord, for We Are Listening

“The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.” 1 Samuel 3:1 This verse is sad and familiar. God created Israel, and all of us, to be in close fellowship with Him. Yet a dreadful silence had descended upon the people. I wonder if they noticed? It’s not unusual to hear someone suggest that God is silent. In America’s Four GodsPaul Froese and Christopher Bader write that one of the four main ways people view God is distant and uncommunicative. Interestingly, this group tends to have more years of education. I’ll leave that little detail

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Want to Fly Far, Far Away?

[Having grown weary of deadlines for 30+ years I took a break from GraceWaves for a while. Many thanks to all of you who encouraged its return. I look forward again to our weekly encounters. Grace always…] “O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Truly I would flee far away; I would lodge in the wilderness.” Psalm 55:6 Forrest Gump fans will remember the moving scene where little Jenny flees from her abusive father and hides in a corn field with Forrest. She kneels down and says “Pray with me Forrest!

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Surveying the Wondrous Cross

Surveying the Wondrous Cross “For God so loved you…” John 3:16 As we make our way to Easter let's take a look at the central idea of this most holy of weeks. The cross stands at the same time as a horrible and beautiful reminder. It is the crossroads of human brokenness and God's grace. The cross is the answer to the very question of our existence as humans. On one side we have the problem that, in a word, is sin. Most people would be surprised to find out that there are more than a dozen words for sin

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