Where was God? His Word was dust; her prayer life shriveled up.

Adults in Peanuts animated cartoons are only heard by the unintelligible sounds of a muted trombone (“mwah-mwah-mwah”) That’s how Sandy’s family hears her. A believer. Sandy ardently wants to share Jesus with family, but whenever she does, they roll their eyes. Her prayers are not answered. Something is malfunctioning. “Mwah-mwah-mwah!”


Sandy shares her story: “This past year has been an ongoing crisis. My daughter had an accident and I ended up being the caregiver, 24/7, for both daughter and newborn grandson. Included was being a nanny-on-demand for other relatives. The pressure never let up. My car went caput. I lost all sense of independence and was at the mercy of others for transportation. In my exhaustion. In the mix was my ex-husband, a constant thorn in my flesh. God seemed far, far away.”


Where was God? Sandy’s life consisted of a constant cycle of exhaustion and anger toward her family, her ex, and her non-helpful church family. The Word of God was dust; her prayer life shriveled up.


Finally, after a year of anguish, God spoke in a way which she did not anticipate. In the midst of her rants regarding her ex, God reminded her of her own sins. Sandy had never forgiven her ex or asked for his forgiveness regarding her own livid behavior towards him. John Piper writes: “God answers prayers for people who believe in his Son and who love each other. Prayer has a specific design, and if you misuse it, it malfunctions. What is the design of prayer? Prayer is designed by God to be the effect of faith and the cause of love. If we try to pray when our aim is not to love, prayer malfunctions.”


The Apostle John states in I John 3:18-24: We receive from Him whatever we ask, because we keep His commandments. John Piper explains: “Not because keeping his commandments earn answers to prayer, but because prayer is designed to give power in the path of obedience. Prayer is God’s way of making himself available for us when we are pouring ourselves out in love for others. Prayer is the power to love. Therefore, if we do not aim to love, we pray in vain.”


Bitterness had to be knocked off Sandy’s throne. The dam of unconfessed sin broke as God let her glimpse what and who she is: a ragged daughter of God who refused to aim to love. It is said, “If you have confessed 90% of your sin to God but knowingly keep back that 10%, that 10% is the 100% of what is hindering your prayer life and relationship with God.” Sandy gave up the 10%. A miracle has occurred. Her loved ones no longer hear “mwah-mwah-mwah” when she both speaks and acts. Her prayer life has been revived.


Are you holding back any 10% in confession to both God and man? It is humbling to make things right, but untold beauty from God can be yours. “And whatever we ask, we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.  This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. Love is costly, but love paves the way to the Prayer Room of God.

Click for further great info on unanswered prayers.


Church used to be so wonderful for her until the conflicts began.

Becky’s nights were sleepless. Joy was a distant memory. Church used to be so wonderful for her until the conflicts began. She was wounded by both staff and members, but at the same time she also let fly her own sharp verbal arrows. And so, she withdrew from her church family, from corporate worship. Now she only watches church online in the loneliness of her living room. She has drawn away and is a distant spectator.


As I listened to her story, I thought of all the times Jesus kept showing up on the Sabbath in the synagogue to worship. Rarely was He well received. In his home town they chased Him out and attempted to push Him off a cliff. Yet week after week, Jesus kept honoring God and His command for corporate worship. Corporate means: “formed into a unified body of individuals”. This is the unified body of individuals who worship the true and living God.


God doesn’t give exemptions in the fine print of the Bible. It does not say, “Stay home because Mrs. Smith is such a hypocrite. Pastor Smith has been known to occasionally be too blunt. Elder Smith has treated you unfairly. For all these reasons, ditch church.” Jesus rubbed shoulders with some of the worst of the worst in the Temple: the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the scribes. The vast majority treated Him unfairly. They didn’t know God; they were just religious. Yet Jesus kept worshipping corporately and obeying God because He loved God. It is a privilege to be able to worship together.


For Becky, some excellent advice would be “turn your focus away from the people involved and the church itself and identify the root cause of your pain, turmoil, and disillusionment. Honestly identify what you are feeling. If you are like most people, here are some possibilities: anger, sorrow, disappointment, rejection, hurt, jealousy, vulnerability, fear, rebellion, pride, shame, embarrassment, or loss.


Find out what is at the core of your hurt—not what someone said or did to you, but what is really causing your pain? Then search the Scriptures to discover what God says about it. Take a Bible concordance and look up each word and read, think, pray, and apply the verse. For example, you may think that you are angry when in reality you feel rejected. What does God say about rejection? He says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5); “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3); and, “Surely I am with you always” Matthew 28:20).” (


Note the privilege of worship and the command in Hebrews 10:19-25. We need to: “hold on to the hope that we profess without the slightest hesitation—for he is utterly dependable—and let us think of one another and how we can encourage each other to love and do good deeds. And let us not hold aloof from our church meetings, as some do. Let us do all we can to help one another’s faith, and this the more earnestly as we see the final day drawing ever nearer.

Becky, draw near!!!

For further thought, click to listen to the story of Melody Green


Clueless unsaved John didn’t understand what real love meant. He was powerless.

I love watching “The Great British Bakeoff”. Twelve amateur bakers compete against each other to win the title of Greatest British Baker. Each round displays the bakers’ skills as they create roulades, fondant fancies, pavlovas, etc. I watch in wonder. Usually, I don’t understand the vocabulary or the method of what they are doing but I love their skill. Even if I obtained a great copy of their recipes, I could not master them. I am simply clueless (sadly, my family will agree) as a baker. Appreciating a skill set and being able to do it are two different things.


I John 3:11-18 was written by someone who previously was no expert at love. Clueless unsaved John didn’t understand what real love meant. He was powerless. Ray Stedman observes about John: “This is not his nature at all. He and his brother James earned from Jesus the title, “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17), because they were constantly wanting to blast back at those who opposed them. It was John and James who came to the Lord when a village refused to have them come in and said, “Shall we not call fire down from heaven upon them?” Luke 9:54). It was John and James who were constantly quarreling with the other disciples. The temperament of this man, John, was not one of naturally showing love.” John’s life was upended by the resurrected Christ. Overnight, he was given the power to love.


It is important to note the recipients of this epistle were having a problem with love. John’s readers were going through a time of church schism. Tempers were flaring and fists may very well have been flying.  In the midst of this, John describes the distinguishing mark of the genuine believers versus the false teachers that were invading the flock: love. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 


Before Christ, John only knew what Stedman describes as “me love”, a love of himself. “The love we show as non-Christians is really a love of ourselves. We love our children because they are extensions of us. Our life is related to our father or mother so we love them. We love our relatives (presumably) because they are ours. Of course, we love our dog, our cat, our horse. We love the friends who please us, we love those who help us. Love is always directed to those who do something to, or for, or receive from us. Therefore, what we really love is the projection of ourselves in others. Thus, human love is self-centered.”


John challenges us to display the kind of love that is often uncomfortable, humbling, and puts obedience to Christ above any type of pride. It shows the stark contrast between believers and people who are spiritually dead. If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. (1 John 3:14 NLT) No genuine Christ follower is allowed to be clueless and powerless in displaying sacrificial love.


John poses the question: are you genuinely saved? He doesn’t ask if you are a nice, kind, or a moral person. He challenges us to lay it all on the line: “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”  Only through relationship with Christ can we win the championship of loving other brothers and sisters in Christ such that we “lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” Don’t be clueless. John learned to be an expert lover and we can do the same.

Click to read the astonishing love testimony of Jacob Deshazer


Lord, you have been a guest, and I have been the host. From now on I am going to be the servant.

I didn’t know my grandmother very well. During my childhood, we visited her Sunday afternoon. She was a rather stern woman who enjoyed boxing matches on TV and ruled her household with an iron fist. My relationship with Grandma was superficial. When she died there was not a great hole in my life because the relationship never existed. I did not have an abiding relationship with Grandma. It contrasts with the “remain in Him” phrase in this passage because it means “abide in Him”. I did not abide with Grandma.


“Abiding” in I John 2:28-3:3 is the idea of settling in; making a permanent home. To dwell with Jesus does not mean occasionally stopping by for coffee. It is not superficial, but a constantly deepening and vital relationship with Jesus Christ. Read what Jesus said about “abiding”: If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” (John 14:23) David Guzik writes: “There are two Greek words to convey the idea of “to live in”; one has the idea of living in a place as a stranger, and the other has the idea of settling down in a place to make it one’s permanent home. The beautiful doxology in Ephesians 3:14-19 uses the word “dwell”, the ancient Greek word for a permanent home. This indicates Jesus wants to settle down in our hearts, not just make a brief Sunday visit. Jesus is ready to park the U-Haul truck and unload his complete household into our hearts.


Allowing Christ to abide is the only way to discover His power to love people through us. In this broken world, Christ’s love is what people long to see. “Many people say they will have nothing to do with Christianity because of all the hypocrites. You see, if there were not some expectation Christians should be different, you couldn’t charge them with being hypocritical. You really wouldn’t go to a nightclub and discover the people at the next table weren’t overtly friendly, didn’t invite you to their home… If you discover one of them was sleeping with a prostitute, would you start talking about hypocrisy? No, no, no, no. In fact, in most of the religions of the world, there is no tie between morals and ethics on the one hand and religious commitment on the other.” (written by Don Carson) True commitment means abiding.


We aren’t talking about the type of love in Hallmark cards, little emojis, or “likes” on Facebook.  This quality of love goes into the trenches, pursues the unlovable, and spends a great deal of time on its knees. It doesn’t sacrifice so that it will look good or concern itself with “what will people think”. This is a strange love; the same sacrificial love by which Jesus gave His life for us. See how great a love the Father has given us, that we would be called children of God; and in fact we are. For this reason the world does not know us: because it did not know Him.” The world didn’t know what to make of Jesus. It certainly doesn’t know what to make of us when we begin abiding in Him and loving others to the point of being willing to give our lives for them. 


What is your relationship with Christ? In “My Heart-Christ’s Home”, Robert Boyd Munger writes: “I saw it in a minute and dropping to my knees, I said, “Lord, you have been a guest, and I have been the host. From now on I am going to be the servant. You are going to be the Lord.” Give Him the keys. Let Him abide. Permit Him to move in, rearrange, and makeover your entire inner life. Say, “Go at it Jesus. I can’t live the Christian life without You!” 

Click link to read “My Heart – Christ’s Home” – you won’t regret it.


Did you ever realize that God rarely ever tells His children the details of the future?

In 1988 our family moved to Illinois so my husband could go to seminary. Homesickness conquered my heart. “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayers were not cutting it.  What kind of spiritual life sustains you in crisis? Afterall, weren’t we “doing God’s work”? At the time, I didn’t realize God would do whatever He wanted, regardless of our personal plans. We had given God permission to do bring pain into our lives.


We experienced lots of surprises. The sale of our house was supposed to carry us through most of Bill’s education. The funds only lasted the first year. Our new home was in Zion, IL and it certainly was not the Zion associated with heaven. We had given away our church home, our close ties with family and friends, and the confidence we had from prior ministries. Pastor Bill now worked as Janitor Bill. Teacher Jacqui who had excelled at working with young children found herself way out of her league teaching middle school and high school students. Our two sons had to build an entirely new world of friends. Life was hard.


Did you ever realize that God rarely ever tells His children the details of the future? Daniel and his friends knew that God would eventually bring exiled their people back to Israel, but God neglected to tell them that lions, a furnace, and tests would abound. One thing that especially pops out when one reads the Book of Daniel – Daniel prayed, no matter what.


The reward for my struggles, in 1988-1991 amidst all the pain, was a prayer life that exponentially expanded into rich and deep conversations with God.  There was nowhere else to turn.  I began, out of desperation, to really focus on my relationship with God.  5 AM marked the time when I commenced going for long walks in the dark, crying out to God and asking for His guidance.  I felt liked the Israelites when they had to trust God as they walked across the Jordan. God commented, “you have not passed this way before.” 


So, in all the pain you may currently be going through, are you consciously keeping your eyes on God with the expectation that He will direct you since “you have not passed this way before”?  This may involve life changes such as intentionally spending more time talking to God and less time complaining to others about what is happening.  More actions carried out with the courage and wisdom of Jesus and less behaviors determined by your fears.  This is not the time for cookie cutter prayers, this is the time to move forward, deeper into the Christ Who knows “you have not passed this way before.” 


Ruth Haley Barton in “Sacred Rhythms” writes: “As long as we continue to reduce prayer to occasional piety we keep running away from the mystery of God’s jealous love.” I wanted to run away from this painful love.  Barton continues: “let God’s creative love touch the most hidden places of your being and …to listen with attentive, undivided heart to the inner movement of the Spirit of Jesus, even when that Spirit was leads to places you would rather not go.”  In the dark at 5 AM I began to let God pry my fingers off those things I had previously treasured.  I began to beg God for what He wanted to transpire in my life, as hard and painful as it was.  The floor had been ripped out, the roof blown off. God wanted to build my life in a new closer way. 


Barton continues: “We come to Him with empty hands and empty heart, having no agenda.  Half the time we don’t even know what we need; we just come with a sense of our own spiritual poverty.”  I just dumped all of it, every awful shaming moment of it all, and came to the cross with bended knee.  It was in the dark in Illinois that I learned to let God do whatever He wanted, no matter the future. I had “not passed this way before.” 


You don’t need additional Scriptures; you need to begin taking seriously what you already have.

Have you heard the commercial claiming if you ingest their fruit & vegetable supplements you will “feel better than you have had in years”? Regardless of your existing diet, “you are not receiving sufficient nutrients for optimal health”. By consuming their products, you will obtain the ticket golden for longevity. Bottom line is: YOU NEED MORE for these last hours. They have you pegged as a sitting duck.


In I John 2:18-27, John gives a warning for believers who think they need MORE. He warns of teachers who tell believable lies. “Even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.” Satan aims to get believers off track and useless for the Kingdom. John Piper summarizes the claims of the antichrists’: “We have the Spirit and can tell you some crucial information that you have been missing about Christ.” Their goal is to want us to think that we don’t have everything we need for these days.


The Apostle Peter writes: “For His (Christ’s) divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. Through these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world on account of lust.” (II Peter 1:3-4) Note the verb tense: “has granted”. This action has already taken place. Everything you need is offered by God Himself. When people have no theological depth and have not submitted to Christ working in their lives, they are sitting ducks for the antichrists. Do you know what a sitting duck is? Someone or something very easy for an enemy to shoot or attack.


During the 1,000 years, before the Protestant Reformation, average men and women had very little clue as to what the Bible said. They were sitting ducks. Without copies of Scripture in their own languages, the people had to totally rely on their local priest to tell them what they should or should not believe. They were easy pickings for false teachers.

God brought to the scene a man by the name of William Tyndale. Tyndale translated the Bible into English so that common people could read the words of God. When a bounty was put on Tyndale’s head, God brought another man, John Rogers, who rescued Tyndale’s translation. Rogers further edited it so that we could eventually have the Book we today may carelessly disregard.


Why were both Tyndale and Rogers murdered? Because they put “dangerous” words into the hands of everyday people. They didn’t give people new words of God; they gave them something ancient which could powerfully change their lives since it was now available in their own language.


Your Bible has the words of God. The Apostle John refers to “anointing”. Ray Stedman explains, this as “an illumination of the mind and the heart, and a deep persuasion from the Holy Spirit. It involves intense powers of persuasion, it is a compelling thing, but it is not an impartation of knowledge. It is not a case of the Holy Spirit giving information which is not recorded in the Bible; it is a taking of the Scriptures and confirming them.” You don’t need additional Scriptures; you need to begin taking seriously what you already have.


As for the bestselling supplement’s claims for additional health benefits? Their ads changed when lawsuits popped up. The website’s disclaimer currently states that the product “isn’t intended to treat or cure any diseases.” In contrast, God’s Word treats and cures our diseased hearts. Don’t be a sitting duck. We don’t need extra revelations by teachers who claim new and additional words from God. Regularly ingest what’s already graciously been given by God Himself. Pull down that ancient Book and begin reading it today!

For extra encouragement read about Tyndale and Rogers.


Yes, she’s had a long history of traumatic life events, but shouldn’t those scars be completely healed by now?

It is the perfect storm which seems to come out of nowhere. Yes, she’s had a long history of traumatic life events, but shouldn’t those scars be completely healed by now? The experiences that caused her so much pain now appear to be on a loop tape. How does she keep running into the same circumstances encountering the same people as the last time? It seems that the only thing that changes are the peoples’ names.


At this point of her life, shouldn’t those memories be long in the rearview mirror of her past? Of course, it has not helped that recently life around her has seemed like one bad nightmare of a circus. She feels helpless.


Some days just the thought of getting out of bed takes more energy than running a marathon.  There is just no more energy to give. Weighed down, 100 lb. weights tied to her ankles. Will it never get better?

This is life dealing with trauma.  It locks you down and freezes you into place. Sandra Marinella recalls: “I learned this as I sat on the edge of the black velvet chair in the chalk-white, sterile office. My heart clenched as I waited for a doctor I did not want to meet. The door swung open, and a chalk-white radiologist entered and motioned me to sit back. I began to choke, and tears of nervous anticipation flooded my eyes. And then it seemed as if we were trapped in a black-and-white 16mm movie of my life, a scary, surreal film — the kind of strange avant-garde ones Andy Warhol used to make in the ’60s. There was no sound but the ghostly doctor mouthing the words, “You have cancer.”


In Warhol style the film, appropriately titled Cancer, was projected onto dark walls — and it was showing my story. Then the projector clicked and sputtered and went silent. Suddenly my story seemed to have slipped off the spool and was cascading to the basement of my mind as ribbons of unwound, damaged film. Can this film — my story — be repaired?” (The Story You Need to Tell: Writing to Heal from Trauma, Illness, or Loss)

Is your film, your story, repairable? Yes, oh yes!  What are some steps toward healing?

  • Experience your pain and grief
  • Break your silence and find your voice
  • Accept and piece together a difficult or broken story
  • Find meaning or make sense of your event or story
  • Rewrite your story and find ways to reconnect with your health: physical, spiritual, emotional and mental

Take a pen and begin to write. Don’t be concerned with spelling or grammar, wondering if your writing is “any good”, or succeeding or failing, I challenge you to play around with a writing prompt this week. Begin by writing one or more statements that follow this form: “I want to…but I can’t because…” Examples are: “I want to move, but I can’t because I don’t make enough money.” “I want to find a find a friend, but I can’t because I suffer from shyness.” “I want to undertake a new challenge, but I can’t because I believe I am too old.”

Connect your statement with a dilemma currently face. Then answer these questions:  What is my dream? What obstacles are making it hard to accomplish my dream? How can I face this challenge? Write from your heart. Tell yourself the truth. It may be surprising what you learn. Ernest Hemingway wrote: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down with paper and bleed” Similar, but not the same, is my earlier post “Writing Your Story and Changing the Ending”.

Try learning to write (or sing) to the Lord a new song. It could be quite refreshing. Please let me know what you learn.


Just because one sinks to the depths doesn’t mean one has a truly repentant heart.

It is hard for me to believe; six months and out the door. Sue (name changed) and I had lunch to discuss her recent marriage and upcoming divorce. Her groom quickly broke his wedding vows. Sue professes being a believer. Prior to the marriage, Sue disregarded her counselor who strongly urged Sue not to get married. Her fiancé is not a Christ follower. Now Sue drowns in a sea of remorse. I mention some Scriptures that might help and Sue adamantly says, “How can Scripture help? After all, we know that the Bible is made up of a lot of fables. Take Jonah and the whale for instance.”


Jesus does not have the same attitude about Scripture as Sue. He references the account of Jonah as literal in Matthew 12:40-41. It’s interesting that Sue and Jonah share the same wrong mindset toward the sanctity of God’s Word and commands. God has told both Sue and Jonah to turn right and they run in the opposite direction. Sue runs into a disaster of a marriage and Jonah takes a ship to nowhere. Regardless, Sue wants God to make her happy again, even though she rejects His Word. Jonah wants to again breathe on dry land.


Sue and Jonah share something else – a lack of repentance. Remorse is quite different than repentance. Sue regrets her unhappiness and Jonah regrets his lack of oxygen. Remorse is a sadness or disappointment over something that has happened. Repentance is to rearrange your entire way of thinking, feeling, and behavior in order to forsake that which is wrong. Sue regrets losing her marriage. She is not interested that God has a good plan for her life. Jonah regrets not being on dry land. They share remorse but not repentance.


A truly repentant heart is expressed by David: Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight.   Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. (Psalm 51:2-9 NLT) Contrast this with Jonah’s prayer in Jonah 2. Do you hear Jonah recognizing his rebellion; owning up to his sin? Does he confess the enormity of his disregard of God? Or is his prayer a “hail Mary”? The kind of prayer you utter when you have used all your lifelines. It’s the scream of one drowning.


Jonah purposely turned the opposite direction from God and ends up being been cast into the sea. Our merciful God rescues Jonah but lets him flounder around in the insides of a fish for three terrifying days. Yes, Jonah ends up going to Nineveh and fulfills the original command given by God. Yet if you look at Jonah 4, Jonah is angry at God compassion. Jonah throws a tantrum when the shade tree he sits under wilts. God addresses the real heart disease of Jonah in 4:10-11: Then the Lord said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”. I wonder if Jonah ever comes to terms with God?


I still wonder if my friend Sue ever accepts the God Who knows what is right and can be trusted. Will she repent of her heart attitude? Does she recognize her rebellion? Does it haunt her day and night? Just because one sinks to the depths doesn’t mean one has a truly repentant heart. Maybe your heart needs a checkup on its own relationship to God. Has sin taken up residence? Don’t be a Sue and definitely don’t be a Jonah.


Your story needs to be told

Everyone has a “I don’t believe this is happening to me” story. The story that makes you feel as if you are drowning, not even sure if you will survive. The experience that has sucked the air out of you and made you feel as if you are going under. This is your journey.


Sandra Marinella writes: “When things happen that are unexpected, unwelcome, challenging, disorienting, or traumatic, we survive, but the storyline we were following is shattered. Untold stories don’t go away; they morph into volatile emotions, into flashbacks and anxiety, into behaviors we don’t understand in ourselves, things we wish we didn’t do — lash out, hide, avoid, get depressed, become lethargic, unable to go on. Untold stories cause ruptures in relationships, ill health, and spiritual or religious crisis, and contribute to a growing sense that our lives are disintegrating into chaos.” You need to find your story.


Why not try writing? Maybe you’re not a writer. You don’t have to ever show anyone your writing, and it will still work on your heart and mind to reorganize your life. Maybe you don’t have time for this. Ten minutes a day? Really? That’s way shorter than a Facebook minute. Possibly it’s scary to think of putting your life-breaking moments into words. This is your safety net. Are you ready to live a more resilient story? You can get through a crisis. You can survive grief. Repeat: find your story.


A key is finding the place that lies between our hopes and reality.  For example, let’s share the saga of Janet. She is the parent of 2 adult children, Sandy and John. Janet had always imagined that she would have a close family where her adult children deeply loved Christ and nurtured that same love within their own children, Joyce’s grandchildren. She imagined Sunday dinners, like a scene from the TV series “Bluebloods”.

However, Janet’s reality is that she has 2 adult children, only one of whom she feels even remotely close to. As for sharing a same love for Christ, that isn’t even on the table at this point in her children’s adult lives, let alone if they actually provided Janet with grandchildren. The only Bluebloods family dinners she experiences is if she watches a family of actors on TV. Janet’s heartbreak is daily and drains her from finding any joy. Could Janet rewrite her story?


  • Begin by finding a comfortable spot to write. If you want, bring your water bottle, coffee, or tea.
  • Choose a journal, notebook, or computer.
  • Forget about rules — grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Just plan to write.
  • ​Choose a prompt, put your pen to paper (or your fingers on your keyboard), and write for at least five minutes. If you write more, congratulate yourself! If a prompt fails to connect with you, try the next one.
  • Write as often and as much as you dare. Give it your best.
  • ​Then reread and reflect on what you have written. You may be surprised at the stories or thoughts you hold within.
  • ​Work to develop a personal writing practice that works for you. Every writer is unique, and by finding how you write best, you will grow your words and your voice.

This Week’s Writing Prompt: The Tragic Gap

Start by creating “tragic gap statements.” Do this by writing one or more statements that follow this form: “I want to…but I can’t because…” Here are some examples: I want to move, but I can’t because I don’t make enough money. I want to be an actor, but I can’t because I suffer from anxiety when I try to perform. I want to undertake a new challenge, but I can’t because I believe I am too old. Choose a dilemma you are facing. After you write this statement, answer these questions as best you can: What is your dream? What obstacles are making it hard to accomplish your dream? How can you face this challenge? What can you change? Open and close each writing period in prayer.

Freely borrowed from: Sandra Marinella. “The Story You Need to Tell: Writing to Heal from Trauma, Illness, or Loss” Highly recommend this book!


He shakes the sand off his feet and goes on to the next problem he will solve.  Afterall, he knows the answers…

Sam is saved, redeemed and sits in the front row of his Bible classes so that he will not miss a single word of the professor. At last, he knows all the answers to how to minister! And then comes the weekend. His sister Katie visits. She is a believer, struggling with hurts suffered from other believers. She opens up to Sam. He immediately jumps at the opportunity to straighten out his sister; to give her the prescription he has carefully memorized. Surely his love has been transformed?

Yet, things don’t go as planned. Katie takes afront to him and clams up. Sam has just dumped on her the truth and she has not listened. The brother shakes the sand off his feet and goes on to the next problem he will solve.  Afterall, he knows the answers…


The author of I John is the same disciple who wanted to call down fire from heaven upon those who rejected Jesus. (Luke 9:52-55) Sam’s behavior toward Katie is akin to the Luke account. However, disciple John featured in the Book of Luke and the John writing the epistle of I John are as different as night and day. The mature version of John has learned the love that makes every effort to conform to God’s mindset toward believers, even the prickly ones who have gotten a little lost in the shuffle. John’s love has been transformed.


Transformed love described in I John 2:7-11 is not a new love. The commandment existed from the beginning but there is new energy when a believer begins to live and obey the word. The Holy Spirit transforms us, enabling us to have the same love Jesus extended to His “besties”, the disciples.


This is foundational to the gospel message. John Piper writes: “For John, the commandment of love belongs to what people should hear from the beginning. It is not an optional stage two in Christian growth.” The gospel contains not only the commandment to trust Jesus, but also the commandment, by the power of that trust in Christ, demanding transformation into a new loving person.


In that living room, Sam never listened to Katie, never shared her pain, never waited for the nudging of the Holy Spirit in the conversation. Sam considers himself the pharmacist, the one who dispenses the medicine and goes on to the next patient. He does not beg Christ to change him into a loving person who can walk alongside his sister, helping her to heal.


It is costly to walk alongside someone who is hurting. Jesus spent three years walking alongside 12 men whose spiritual growth was often negligible. Yet, He endured, nudging them toward maturity.  John commands that this type of love enter the life of every believer. It is not optional. The Apostle John pretty much says, “If you don’t want to love, then you have not been changed.” Sam missed the boat by not bending to the command to fully and humbly love his sister. Is your ability to love transformed by the power and wisdom of Christ? Can Katie safely come knocking at your door?

For further inspiration regarding transforming love, watch the testimony of Gracia Burnham