This poem is the result of a challenge, which led to an inspiration.  A dear friend asked if I would pen a poem using this word as it was a favorite of hers.  I told her I would try, but in all honesty, I didn’t foresee the emergence of a poem from such a word.  But, as with the word whatever, God showed me the wealth within this word and then…oh my goodness…how could I not write about its worth?  I hope this poem reveals the power and humility wrapped up in such a seemingly simple word…not unlike the way power and humility were once wrapped up in The seemingly simple Word.


 “Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me–nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.”  – Luke 22:42


“Nevertheless,” His words rang out,

To Father from the Son;

“Nevertheless, not what I will,

But what You will be done.”


“Nevertheless, I’ll drink this cup,

It’s what I came to do.

Though it will be a bitter drink,

My sup will man rescue.”

  Continue reading “Nevertheless”

How (Not) to Reset a Rooster

How (Not) to Reset a Rooster

“But if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  2 Peter 1:8

A week ago, most of us bid a reluctant farewell to Daylight Saving Time and mumbled a recalcitrant welcome to its often undesirable (and less excitingly named) counterpart…standard time.  This phenomenon, though technically occurring at 2:00 a.m., tends to be ushered in much earlier as people go about their home resetting clocks, appliances, and watches before they go to bed.  That’s what I did last Saturday night.  I reset clocks and timers all around the house so that, upon waking, I’d know the correct time.  I, like most people, enjoy my annual 25-hour day, and as I set clocks back, I set plans forward.  After much deliberation, I decided I’d use my “extra” hour that night to get some work done that would, hopefully, allow me to have some free time the following day.  It seemed like the perfect plan, but I forgot one thing:  you can’t reset a rooster.

Here’s what happened.  After setting every time-reflecting device in the house to its new time, I went to bed.  It was later than usual, due to the cashing in of my extra hour (turns out you can buy time on credit too, though it also has a hefty interest rate).  I was pleased with my usage of time and laid down for a much needed rest.  Within moments, or so it seemed, I was awakened by the crowing of our rooster.  That’s when it hit me:  you can’t reset a rooster!  While I had adjusted clocks, timers, and watches, I hadn’t adjusted the rooster (though in my mind I was thinking of how that might yet be done!), and it was a foul reminder that some things can’t be reset; some things are governed by inner laws and not outer labels.

Isn’t that true of us, too?  Or…shouldn’t that be true of us, too?  Shouldn’t there be attributes that are so deeply ingrained in us that the changing of time has no impact upon them, no possibility of resetting them or renaming them?  This lesson wasn’t the alarm I was expecting to wake up to last Sunday, but within the rooster’s innate wiring that caused him to crow, I found that in life, as in roosters, some things should not be reset because they are not meant to be reset.

As if to ingrain this message into my head even further, our Sunday school lesson that day came from 2 Peter 1:5-11.  One of my favorite verses lies within this passage:  verse eight, or, as it was first ‘magnified’ to me – 2P18 (two P one eight).  In these verses, Peter is introducing the early believers to Daylight Saving Time.  They’d previously been on standard time, but having encountered Jesus, the Timeless One, they were all due for a resetting!  And Peter was just the man for the job.  After all, his Son-dial had already been altered and his bout with a rooster had left him with an undeniable understanding of things that could not be reset.  So, with such knowledge fresh on his mind, Peter set out to reset what he could – the mindset of other believers.  That’s where 2P18 comes into play.  That’s where Peter “cleans the clocks” of those who are ready to leave standard time, and standard living, behind.

In verse eight of this passage, Peter writes, “But if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  The emphasis is on these thingsthese things that are to be present in every believer; these things that are not to be reset or readjusted, these things that are to keep time with the steady heartbeat of a palpable faith. So what are these things?  Peter tells us beginning in verse five:  “Therefore, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.  For if these things are yours and abound…”.  And there you have it:  Daylight Saving Time for every follower of Christ!  But just how do we move from a standard lifestyle to a time honoring one?  We allow Jesus to reset our spiritual clocks as we recognize that He alone holds our time in His hands.  We step out of living on standard time and step into living on reset time…on redeemed time…on Son-Light Saving Time!  And when we do, these things become our inner setting that, in time and with time, need never change.  Regardless of the season, regardless of the circumstance, regardless of the timing…faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love are to be as ingrained in us as the rising and the setting of the sun.  With each new day, these things hold true.  With each new season, these things ring true.  With each new resetting, these things remain true.  In season and out of season, these things are to be the default setting…the default crowing…of every believer.

And there you have it:  how not to reset a rooster.  He’ll crow when he’s supposed to; he’ll crow because he’s supposed to.  He’ll crow when it’s appreciated; he’ll crow when it’s depreciated.  He’ll crow when it’s standard time; he’ll crow when it’s Daylight Saving Time; but regardless of what others think or expect, he’ll crow at the right time…because you can’t reset a rooster.  May we live and learn and crow like him.  May we, like those men and women Peter addressed long ago, allow these things to be said of us, to be seen in us, and to be heard from us.


And the Award Goes to…Hope, for Best Virtue in a Lead!

And the Award Goes to…Hope, for Best Virtue in a Lead!

“Sustain me as You promised, and I will live; do not let me be ashamed of my hope.”   Psalm 119:116

 Hope, it’s a word we love to use and long to hear.  Phrases like, “I hope you get better soon,” or “I hope to see you next week,” roll off our tongue with little effort and, far too often, with little thought.  But true hope, real hope, is a God-given virtue that has every right to take center stage.  And so, that’s what I want to do!  I want to call on Hope to take its rightful place, as lead performer in a life…because nobody puts Hope in a corner!  (Oh, I know it’s bad, but I just had to!  Feel free to groan; I deserve it and, hey, I can’t hear you anyway!)

We have seen Hope cast in many roles, but usually as a supporting virtue.  For example, there’s its placement in the distinctive trilogy of Faith, Hope, and Love, for which Love received the “Best Leading Virtue” award as recorded in I Corinthians 13:13 (“and the greatest of these is love”).  Then, there’s its appearance in Hebrews 11:1 where it again stepped into the sidelines so that Faith could receive its accolades (“Now faith is the evidence of things hoped for, the substance of things not seen”).  And so it goes that, time after time, Hope is beautifully cast alongside its counterparts of Faith and Love, where it selflessly lends its support, but today, it’s time to nominate Hope for “Best Leading Virtue” in the docudrama:  My Christian Life.

There are three reasons for which Hope deserves this nomination.  First of all, Hope should be recognized for its stellar portrayal of a place.  Secondly, Hope should be acknowledged for its incredible representation of a Person.  And thirdly, Hope should be heralded for its exemplification of perpetual peace…of permanent peace.

Let’s first take a look at Hope’s performance in There’s No Place Like Home.  Truly, Hope’s portrayal of the life that is yet to come has caused souls to long for eternity since its debut!  Reviews recorded in the book of Titus give us insight to Hope’s rousing presentation:  “So that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life,” (Titus 3:7).  With this review, we learn that one of Hope’s roles is to cause us to long for Heaven, to long for our eternal home.  Hoping for trips to the beach or tours of the Bastille fade away in light of what we should rightly hope for…treks along pearled shores and visits to the pearly gate.

And, while we await our arrival to our Heavenly home, Hope fuels our longing by stretching our minds as we try to imagine light clearer than any we have ever seen, colors richer than any we have ever encountered, and music that not only surrounds us but emanates from within us.  It takes our imaginary breath away, so much so that we long to have our actual breath taken away!  Our ultimate trip is not to any location this world has to offer, but to Heaven’s courts where we’ll finally be who we were created to be and worship the One whom we were created to worship.  Hope keeps our eyes looking to the future and our hearts beating for forever.  Paul said it best when he stated, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied,” (I Cor. 15:19).  Because our hearts are stirred by Hope’s performance, our souls are stretched to long for eternity.

The second reason I’d like to nominate Hope for “Best Leading Virtue” lies in its performance in Israel’s Hope:  The Life of a Nazarene.  In this role, Hope so closely identified with its character that it literally “put on His flesh”.  When Jesus left His seat of honor at the right hand of God the Father to come to earth, He reignited Hope on earth.  Though He returned to His Father’s right hand when His work was complete, Hope remained.  The reason this performance deserves recognition is because, as seen in this role, Hope is a Person.

We’ve typecast Hope to serve in smaller roles by assigning it to those whom we admire.  We hope our parents are proud of us, we hope the doctor says the tests are fine, we hope the judge rules in our favor, we hope our team wins the championship.  All are examples of hope placed upon people, but the ultimate role of Hope is not placed on a person, but in a Person, and His name is Jesus Christ.  In Psalm 130:7, we read, “O Israel, hope in the LORD!  For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with Him is plentiful redemption.”  And, in Titus 2:13, Hope is again depicted as a Person when Paul writes, “Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”  Is there any Hope apart from Jesus Christ?  Can we worship the Son and not have Hope in His supreme redemption and in His second return?  Surely, for this role Hope deserves an honor!

The third reason I believe Hope should receive the coveted “Best Leading Virtue” award is for its exemplification in The State of Permanence: A Never Ending Story.  This role required much from the substance of Hope as it pushed it into a theatrical orbit, causing even its audience to experience a gravitational spin in its collective mindset as it moved from positional thinking to perpetual thinking.  How often have we allowed hope to be stereotyped as something short-term or transitional?  We have treated Hope as if it were a wishing well…we throw in a coin, make a wish, and hope it comes true.  We have attached it to Christmas morning, hoping we’d get what we’d wished for, and to days at the lake, hoping the rain would hold off.  We’ve sometimes stretched it out as we try to cover our relationships and careers with it; we hope we marry the perfect mate, we hope we have the perfect children, we hope we land the perfect job.  We hope, we hope, we hope…but we fail to have true Hope.  We forget that true Hope is lasting hope, that perfect Hope is perpetual hope.  And so we settle for the short-term, we sell-out for the here-and-now; we toss a coin, make a wish, and call it hope.  But Hope came along and changed the scene, rewrote the lines.  Hope entered stage right…and stayed there; for the entire performance, for the second and third encore, and for all the performances that continue to play out night after night, year after year, century after century. 

Hope’s role in The State of Permanence has shown us, and continues to show us, that Hope is here to stay.  Hope isn’t temporary but is timeless.  It is what tethers believers in the present to their destination in the future, and it never wears out, runs down, or expires.  Hope is eternity that touches the present and pulls us to its anchoring point day by day, month by month, year by year, until we cease to stand in the present without also standing in the future.  Paul attests to Hope’s antiquity in Titus 2:1 when he writes, “In hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began,” and Solomon declares Hope’s longevity when he states “hope will not be cut off” (Proverbs 24:14).  So from before time until beyond time, Hope was, and is, and will be.  And so, I raise my hat to Hope; I bow to Hope; I stand for…and in…Hope!

Will you cast your vote for Hope as “Best Leading Virtue”?  Truly, it could not be successful without its two leading counterparts, Love and Faith; but because every attribute deserves its time in the spotlight, today I nominate Hope for its depiction of a Place, its representation of a Person, and its exemplification of a Permanence.

And the award goes to…Hope! 

Where do I put my hope

Things That Are Stretched

Things That Are Stretched

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or imagine…”        
  –Ephesians 3:20a

I’m not a big game show fan, but there are a few that have piqued my interest over the years.  One of them was the $25,000 Pyramid.  Actually, it began as the $10,000 Pyramid but later increased its prize money…and its hosting talent (sorry Bill Cullen)…when Dick Clark took the helm.  If you are unfamiliar with this oldie but goodie, then here is a brief description.  Contestants had to take turns giving and receiving clues from their “star” partner in order to name seven items that were somehow related in a given category.  The team with the most correct guesses would go on to the “big” pyramid.  At this level, the rules reversed and now the contestant had to identify the category from a list of descriptive clues.

I haven’t thought of this game show in a long time…until the other day.  I was thinking about the irony (or so it seemed to me) of God stretching our faith.  I thought about how stretching things usually made them weaker, not stronger.  I started to think of things that not only get stretched, but get stretched out.  First, I remembered my grade school knee socks; one always seemed drawn to my ankle more than to my knee, which resulted in my using a rubber band to hold it up.  (If you fold the sock down over the rubber band it goes unnoticed…unless the rubber band is too tight in which case the purple thigh gives it away.)  This memory led me to add both rubber bands and socks to my list of stretched out things; then I thought of elastic.  Next, I started to think a little more broadly and came up with imaginations, the truth, and a pregnant woman’s stomach!  By now, I felt like a contestant on the $25,000 Pyramid, giving clues for the category “Things that are Stretched”.  And there you have it.  Stretched faith led to stretched knee socks which eventually led to an old game show.  What’s not to understand?

When the reverie was over, I returned to my original thought:  God stretches our faith.  In doing this, our faith is made stronger; it never needs a rubber band to hold it up as with each tug and pull its elasticity actually increases.  Every time God allows us to be in a situation in which we not only need faith to stand but we literally have nothing left to stand on without it, our faith grows.  Every time we are made to go outside of our comfort area, God stretches our faith to cover this expanded territory, and our faith grows.  And, every time we find ourselves at the end of ourselves, God holds out a rope of faith…just beyond where we can grasp without leaning way, way out to lay hold of it…and our faith grows.

I thought about the other dispositions God stretches for the purpose of strengthening:  there’s knowledge, self-control, perseverance, patience, obedience, and love.  Every one of these is bound to be placed upon God’s stretching rack at some point, and repeatedly, with the express purpose of increasing its durability and usability.  When I think about what is required in order for these attributes to mature, I realize I shouldn’t have such an adverse reaction to those things that are used for my own good…and growth.  When circumstances arise that tug on my patience, yank on my perseverance, or wrench on my obedience, I want to wriggle out of them and avoid the discomfort.  But, if I would just remember that it is during these spiritual bouts of tug-of-war that God is strengthening me, then I think (I hope) I would have a whole new attitude…and even an appreciation…for what is taking place.

If I could remember this, I would realize I am in good company.  I could even become a member of the ‘Stretchy Club’.  In this select group, we find Moses, Joshua, Esther, Elijah, Rahab, John, and Peter.  Every one of these individuals found themselves in situations in which their faith was stretched beyond their comfort zone, beyond their former belief zone, and way, way past their own ability zone.  Moses informed Pharaoh each plague would come; Joshua told his army the walls would fall down, Ester told the king she needed to speak with him, Elijah told the prophets of Baal his offering would burn, Rahab told her family they would be spared, John and Peter told the lame man he could walk.  Each of these acts required more faith than each person initially had, but when they reached out for more…when they put not only their neck but God’s name on the line…they found their faith was stretched, strengthened, and stationed.  There was no recoiling or rebounding once their faith was extended; it didn’t snap back like a rubber band but kept its new shape while also keeping its elasticity.  It would be stretched again, and it would expand again, and stretched again, and expand again, and…well, you get the picture.  How God-like to do something so contrary to what we expect.  Only He could pull on something again and again and receive a positive result; only He could stretch something out and make it better than it was to start with.  When God does the stretching, it isn’t to make something less effective but more expansive.  In His hands, things that are stretched don’t lose their vitality, they attain it.

So, with this new understanding of stretchy things, with this categorical mind-set of “things that need stretching”, and with this uncanny desire to watch the $25,000 Pyramid (while wearing knee socks and snapping rubber bands), I submit myself to God’s stretching table.  I empty my pockets of wrapped up obedience and unwrapped patience.  I retrieve my locked box and dump out the contents of knowledge, self-control, perseverance, and love.  I take all the things I wanted to keep in their original containers and I allow them to be handled, and tugged, and stretched; I place them in God’s hands so He can continually reshape them and reshape me.  I wait for the pull…and know with every tug and tweak, my faith isn’t being worn out, it’s being stretched out.  And that’s a good thing; that’s a God thing.

things that crumble