Tag Archives: Michael Card

Reconciliation, not Rejection

Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.
Acts 3:19, NLT*

Peter’s not being judgmental here, not waving a big stick or speaking condemnation. If we could hear his tone, we’d hear urgency. Longing.

In the Temple, he’s speaking to a crowd about Jesus. He has just put it to them plainly: Jesus is the Messiah from God, whom they and their leaders have rejected and killed.

He’s also declared that they didn’t know the full story, and their choices were part of God working out His plan (Acts 3:17-18).

Now that he has laid out the truth, he’s calling for a response. He’s inviting them into forgiveness. Into the Kingdom, where they belong.

This is Peter, who denied his Lord three times. He can’t even claim ignorance for that. Only fear. But Peter knows from personal experience about the forgiveness and grace of God, about the love that longs to restore and reinstate and repurpose.

We know that love, too, so as we encounter people who don’t know Jesus, if the Spirit leads us to address some form of sin that’s holding them back, let’s remember that the goal is reconciliation, not rejection.

Addressing sin isn’t about “look what you did.” It’s about “this is serious, but don’t let it keep you from God’s love.” And instead of pointing fingers, we can speak from a place of experience: “God does forgive, because He’s forgiven me.”

Oh Holy God, You alone are Judge, and You are also Saviour. Give us compassion for those still trapped in sin, and speak through us to offer reconciliation. We know this is a hard topic, and many will take offense at the truth, but help us to speak it in love and to entrust the results to You.

Here’s Michael Card’s haunting question: “What Will it Take to Keep You From Jesus?” Let’s remember the heart behind the call.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

To Know God

I will be faithful to you and make you mine,
and you will finally know me as the Lord.
Hosea 2:20, NLT* (emphasis mine)

My readings for the past few months have been in the Old Testament. In Daniel I picked up on how it’s the people who know God who will resist the evil leader’s flattery. (See Why We Need to Know God) Then I moved to Ezekiel, which is filled with “then they/you will know that I am God”.

Next stop: Hosea. What did I see today when I turned the  page? The verse above, already marked.

Anybody else sensing a theme?

Knowing God—knowing His character as revealed in the Bible and in our lives—is key to trusting Him, to staying faithful to Him, and as in the Daniel quote, to standing against the inroads of evil.

Our world is in a mess. Many people don’t know God. Some who knew seem to have forgotten. And lots of people think they know who He is, but their ideas come from rumour and speculation.

Which brings me to the next place I found this theme of knowing God today. See Who Is God? Seeking Answers from the Source (Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud).

Holy and Righteous God, help us to believe that You are who You say You are. Forgive us for the false beliefs we’ve accepted, and open us to know You in spirit and in truth—and to live for Your glory. And please… reveal Yourself to a hurting world who don’t even know that they don’t know who You are.

This week’s song is Michael Card’s “Know You in the Now“.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.



In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:1,14, NIV*

Fully God, fully man… the manger scenes can distract us from this mystery, but in the words of Charles Dickens, “This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.” (A Christmas Carol)

Each Christmas I’m more aware of the pain in the world, the brokenness. But that’s why He came.

We’re damaged goods—each of us—no matter if we’ve done or been done to.

I can’t imagine God choosing to confine Himself to the limitations of a baby… growing boy… man. In the squalor and darkness that is our earth, after dwelling in the glory of heaven.

He loves us this much!

Enough to stoop to our level, to look us in the eyes, to carry our pain and punishment so we could be restored to relationship with Him.

Eternal God, blessed Saviour, Holy Spirit, our minds aren’t big enough to grasp the mystery of the Incarnation, but we offer praise and thanks for Jesus, God made flesh, our deliverer. Our King. Thank You for setting Your love on us. Help us receive it.

Let Michael Card’s “The Final Word” bless your spirit today.

*THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Our God is With Us

Who among you fears the LORD
and obeys the word of his servant?
Let the one who walks in the dark,
who has no light,
trust in the name of the LORD
and rely on their God.
Isaiah 50:10, NIV*

Our first desire in hard times is for escape, and if we can’t have it right away, we at least need to know there’s the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Even Jesus focused on the joy ahead of Him when His road went through the Cross. (Hebrews 12:2)

Sometimes we can’t even see that light ahead—either because the path looks so long or because the tunnel bends.

What do we hold onto then?


His character, His promises, His presence with us even if we feel all alone.

Each Christmas I think of this more. On one hand it’s a terrible time of year to be struggling, but on the other, the pain can remind us that this is why Jesus came.

We hope and pray things will get better. We thank God for what He’s doing that we can’t see. And sometimes we just have to keep on keeping on, acting in faith that God is still good and in control. Knowing that, worst case scenario, when life ends He will take us to Himself.

Sovereign and loving God, we praise You for Your care and for the many times You make our paths easier. Thank You for sending Jesus as our Redeemer, so that no matter what life brings, we can walk through it with You and we can be assured of a place with You when it ends. Give us the faith we need to trust in You in the dark and in the light, and the courage to live boldly as Your children.

Here’s Michael Card’s beautiful “Immanuel”. Enjoy.

*THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

God is Present

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”
Genesis 28:16, NIV*

This is the Jacob who stole his brother’s birthright and was now fleeing for his life under the guise of visiting extended family to seek a wife. Not exactly abiding in God’s presence at this point in his life, was he?

On the road, “He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.” (Genesis 28:12, NIV*) And he saw God, who spoke to him.

God had been with Jacob all along, and Jacob hadn’t known it. Or lived like it. But when he recognized God, he worshipped.

It’s so easy to worship God in church and daily devotions, but then to go into daily life as if He’s not present. Violet Nesdoly touched on this recently at Other Food: Daily Devos when she quoted Nancy Pearcey’s book, Total Truth: “Sadly, many Christians … give cognitive assent to the great truths of Scripture but they make their practical, day-to-day decisions based only on what they can see, hear, measure, and calculate.”

Violet was talking about choosing to live daily life based on God’s Word, but the principle applies to living with awareness of God. You can read the whole post here: “Word-Directed  Living.”

I’ve seen a few references lately to a book called The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel. One of the questions Craig asks on his website is “Do you live your life as if God is in the room, or do you assume He’s not paying attention?

It’s so easy to forget, or to get distracted. If we’re not vigilant, intentional, and reminding ourselves to rely on God, we can act as if we’re on our own.

Promise-Keeping God, You said You’d never leave nor forsake us and yet we sometimes live like you’ve set us loose. Forgive us for being so easily distracted by life, and remind us of Your nearness. Help us learn to live daily in Your presence, confident in You and following Your leading.

Our song is Michael Card’s “Emmanuel.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scattered Thoughts

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5b, NIV*

Take captive every thought…

Paul is calling Christians to live “in the world but not of the world” and not to judge by human standards but by God’s. He’s talking about spiritual warfare and tearing down everything that “sets itself up against the knowledge of God”.

There’s a fierceness to his tone even though he starts with “By the humility and graciousness of Christ I appeal to you.

For me, the idea of taking every thought captive has meant not allowing myself to dwell on negatives and other temptations, but choosing to think about good and positive things. In reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts I’ve come to apply the verse by choosing gratitude instead of ingratitude.

But what if there’s more?

Take captive every thought…

Sometimes when I’m tired, this means pulling my thoughts together and marshalling enough mental energy to carry on in His strength.

Far more frequently than that, it means not letting my thoughts skitter away in all directions. Some of them rabbit-trail, others try to get into the future ahead of me.

“Take captive” is a good picture of what’s needed: they can bolt like a herd of wild horses, and I need a firm hand to lasso them and get them back into the corral.

Father, I want to live in the present, grounded and aware, seeking You first. I can’t do this on my own. Help me bring every thought and focus in line with You. Help me take one thing at a time, walking with You, open to hear anything You might say.

Here’s Michael Card’s “In Stillness and Simplicity.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Hope is Born

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6, NIV*

Jesus left the glory of heaven to be born as a human child and began the fulfillment of God’s redemption promise from Genesis.

Imagine… setting aside His rightful glory as God, submitting to the indignity of birth and infancy, to human frailty, rustic conditions and death… to redeem us. Not because He had to, but because He chose to out of love.

The world is still dark and painful. My personal prayers these days share the burden of four individuals needing work, two more grieving through the first Christmas without their husbands, one treading turbulent waters and one who needs the wholeness Jesus brings.

But if we’re open, He does bring wholeness. Hope.

We don’t have to drown in despair. Circumstances don’t get any less painful, but He came to be God with us. We don’t have to do this alone.

Somehow His grace gives us strength, His wisdom leads us, His love in our hearts warms us.

Because we trust Him, we can say “though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil…

Christmas is a hard time for people who are hurting, because the world puts on its happy mask and avoids them. But Jesus’ birth affirms the pain. That’s why He came.

I like how Charles Dickens put it in A Christmas Carol when Bob Cratchit describes his fragile son, Tiny Tim:

“Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.” [You can read A Christmas Carol online at Literature.org. This quote comes from chapter 3.]

Father, how can we help but love and praise You for reaching into our mess to bring hope and healing? This Christmas season, may we celebrate Your greatest gift, may Your love flow through us to those we touch, and may the world in its turmoil somehow pause to receive its King. Thank You that someday every knee will bow and every tongue confess Him as Lord. Until then, have mercy on us all.

This week’s song is “Celebrate the Child,” by Michael Card. Let’s celebrate indeed!

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Joy in Trial

Consider it pure joy, my brothers [and sisters], whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4, NIV*

I’ve read these verses over the years and always thought the “pure joy” at trials was for a level of spirituality I hadn’t yet reached. The Apostle James could do it, and probably folks like Billy Graham and Mother Theresa, but not me, not yet. Then I noticed something new: there’s no period after “trials of many kinds” – there’s a comma, an explanation.

James isn’t saying “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials.” He calls us to consider it joy because behind the trial is a test of faith. And it isn’t the pass/fail kind of test to disqualify us. It’s the kind of test that proves our faith is real and strong. It’s the kind of test that will strengthen and develop us.

So… we can consider it pure joy to see that God is using the circumstances of our current trials to prove the strength of the faith He has given us, and to develop perseverance within us. He’s completing the work He begun in us, and in that we can be joyful.

Father, You are so good to us. Thank You that nothing comes to Your children without being filtered through Your fingers. Thank You that what the enemy of our souls means for harm, You can work to good. Please strengthen our faith, help us trust You, grow us in perseverance. Because of Jesus. Amen.

This week’s song is Michael Card‘s “Joy in the Journey.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Holy Awe

When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.’
Exodus 20:18-19 NIV*

In Exodus 19, God had declared Mount Sinai off-limits to the people. Only Moses and Aaron were permitted to meet with God on the mountain to receive the ten commandments. God said, “Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they go up the mountain.” (Exodus 19:13b)

Maybe the trumpet the people heard here was the all-clear, and they could safely approach the mountain and their God. Maybe not.

Thunder, lightning, black smoke covering the mountain… no wonder they were terrified. And they hadn’t heard much about God’s mercy or grace. But didn’t anyone feel a longing, a drawing toward this holy God who created and rescued them? A moth-to-flame compulsion?

It’s sad that they stayed at a distance and begged Moses to stand between them and God. How would things have turned out if they’d said like Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” (Job 13:15) If they’d come, shaking with holy fear, unable to look away from the glory of God?

Yet we do the same thing. We ask our church leaders to teach us, instead of getting to know God ourselves. We ask a praying friend for a word from God rather than listening for Him in our own spirits. What are we afraid He’ll do to us… or ask of us?

Or we ignore His majesty and buddy up to Him, enjoying His presence without letting it change us.

Father, teach us a proper respect for Your power and glory. Thank You that through Jesus we can come boldly and confidently before Your throne. Help us come ourselves instead of looking for intermediaries. And give us a holy awe of You. Let us never forget that although You’ve called us Your children, You are neither tame nor safe. We praise You that You are good.

Our song this week is by Michael Card, “Know You in the Now“.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.
John 10:27-28 NIV*

There is security in being shepherded by Jesus. Eternal life gives us security for the future, but today I’m drawn by the day-to-day side of it: No one can snatch us out of His hand.

No one can snatch Him from us either. He’s with us for the duration.

We know from Psalm 23 that the pastures won’t always be green nor the waters still, but He will always be with us. And if He leads us through a dark valley, He has a purpose and a plan.

Sometimes we see those valleys coming: the doctor’s appointment or the bad news we have to break. Sometimes our easy path takes a sharp turn and we’re blindsided.

Jesus is never caught off-guard. By His very nature, He cannot vanish in a puff of confusion. His rod and staff are with Him to comfort us, and He knows the best route through the valley.

The most beautiful discovery I’ve made in those dark parts of the journey is this: God was still with me. Even when I was completely surprised, He already knew how He planned to bring me through. He knew it, and He did it.

Jesus thank You that You are the good Shepherd. We can trust Your intentions, wisdom, strength and care… whatever happens. Please give us the faith and courage we need to stay by Your side instead of fleeing when we see danger.

Our song this week is an old hymn, “Be Thou My Vision,” sung here by Michael Card. This one was my sustaining prayer on the way into one of those valleys I saw coming and feared the way out of.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.