As a 19 year old American college student, the one thing I knew I wanted was to go to Intervarsity Chapter Camp and learn to lead a Bible Study. That desire made me a less than typical 19 year old, but I am forever grateful for the week of training that acted as a catalyst for the course my life has taken. I longed to be a leader, a good leader. I wanted to take an active part in leading people to know Jesus better. After attending Chapter Camp, I realized I had a long way to go in leading other people, especially in leading others to understand the Bible.

The first passage I was assigned to break down inductively for a small group of peers was the story of the Demon Possessed man who was healed in Mark Chapter 5. At the time, I couldn’t seem to ask questions that drew deep answers from anyone about that passage, mainly because I was at a loss about what great lesson I could take from a story about Jesus casting out demons and sending them into a herd of pigs who ran off a cliff! To me, it was sort of a long-shot to come away with more than, “Wow, that’s an odd story.” Truthfully, I was wrestling in my heart with what I would do if I ever encountered a demon, and I had no answers for anyone, nor questions that drew answers from anyone!

I spent the summer using my brother as a practice buddy, leading him through studies on the Bible that had much more relevance in my mind. I can’t say that I felt ready to lead a Bible study the following school year, but I cannot recall one study as painful as that first study I led on Mark 5. For years, I would flit back to that passage and wonder, “what would I do with it now?” Sometimes I would imagine myself being more honest about my struggle with the passage. Other times I pictured a deep discussion about spiritual warfare. Something always gnawed at me about the story, though. I knew there was some deep insight that eluded me.

For sure, the straight forward message of Jesus’ power and willingness to bring freedom to the captives of darkness stands large in the story…but why the pigs? Why did they run off the cliff? What happened with the demons after that? I remained confused about why that story was relevant in the Living Word of God. I had a few conversations with the Lord about it over the years. I used to be embarrassed at my inability to draw life from the passage. The Lord helped me see the humor in that scene from Chapter Camp, and I found peace in knowing I didn’t have to have all the answers. Really, I let go of it all, choosing to allow the Lord his mystery!

This past summer, exactly 16 years later, my father-in-law gave us a MP3 dramatization of the New Testament. We listened to it in the car nearly every day, running errands or going on adventures. It took us a couple months to finish. At the end of the reading of Revelation, the producers of the recording shared testimonies of how their ministry has been making an impact around the world. The stories brought me to tears. Then, to my great excitement and astonishment, there was a story about the passage in Mark 5!

The group “Faith Comes by Hearing” produce this dramatization in languages around the world. One indigenous African tribe with no written language had an opportunity to listen to the Bible in their own language for the first time. They were troubled by the story of Jesus in Mark 5, commenting, “I thought Jesus was good!?” It seems that they could not understand why Jesus would destroy the livelihood of the pig farmer. In their culture, a large heard of pigs would be the equivalent of several hundred thousand dollars in American culture. After arguing and discussing, the elders of the tribe finally came to a consensus on the message Jesus meant to convey in this act. The demon possessed man reminded them of an outsider in their own tribe. And although he was troublesome and annoying to the average tribes-person, to God, the life of one person, no matter his situation, was worth a great deal. Jesus was making a statement on the value of human life. This one man’s seemingly wasted life was worth more than anyone else was willing to pay. But Jesus took the time to help him and show the world that individuals are more important than we realize. This was the deeper message I longed to hear and know about this passage. I wept. I wept for joy and for gratitude and for a new understanding of what Jesus paid for my life. I wept because Jesus loved me enough to answer a question I had laid to rest. I wept because this was a new proof that the Word of God is active and living and useful and relevant. I wept because I felt connected to a group of people in Africa that I have never met. I wept because I felt the Lord’s pleasure.

So I share this story, still laughing that anyone would assign that passage to someone new to inductive Bible study, but more grateful than I can describe that they assigned it to me, so I could hear an answer 16 years later. It reminds me of Proverbs 25:2—“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” What answers has God concealed that your heart is searching out?

Dear Lord,

Please bless my children and keep them as they go to sleep tonight. Help them to know You and walk with You. Please fill them with your Spirit and comfort them. Minister to their needs and help them to hear Your voice. I plead the blood of Jesus over them and ask You to protect them as they sleep. Help them to have sweet dreams and to be filled with Your peace. Help them to love one another and be a blessing to all those around them. Help them to live for You and give generously out of the abundance You have given them. Help them to follow Your example and grow in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man just as Jesus did here on earth as a child. Help us to be good parents, and where we fail or fall short, be there for them as their Heavenly Father. Help them to respond to You in faith and see You as the good Father you are. Help them to respond to Your love and be close to You all the days of their lives.

In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Sometimes, the simplest gesture goes a long way in creating friendships, building bridges, and making amends. Especially if it is heartfelt. My favorite way to attempt all of these is by baking Banana Bread. So in effort to give you a cyber-gift, I will pass along my favorite recipe! I always double the recipe below. Then I have one loaf to share with a neighbor, and one loaf to share with my family.

Banana Bread

(simple and wonderful)

Preheat the oven to 325°


3 large ripe bananas

1 cup sugar

1 egg

4 Tbs. butter

1 cup all purpose flour

½ cup whole wheat flour (can substitute white flour if there is no wheat flour handy)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

Pam spray (or some other cooking spray, or butter, or grease---for the pan)


Preheat oven to 325°. Spray 9x5 inch loaf pan with Pam spray; set aside. In a bowl smash bananas well (banana mash should equal 1 cup or a bit more). Beat in sugar, then egg and butter. In another bowl, stir together flours, salt, and baking soda; add banana mixture and stir just until all flour is moistened. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes. (It begins to pull away from sides of pan when done, and a toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, or the top bounces back when poked with a finger.) Banana bread always tastes better when made at least one day ahead. Wrap tightly in foil after it is cooled and refrigerate. (Although, this doesn’t often make it to the fridge after coming out of the oven!)

P.S. One could add nuts or raisins, but I find most people (myself included) prefer it without!

"Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification." Romans 15:2

I speak

to the words that have moved me

that have spoken faith





I speak

to the words that have hindered me

that have spoken hurt





I speak

to the words that have inspired me

that have stirred me to do





I speak

to the words that have bound me

that have kept me in darkness





To the “symphony true”

To the “sigh of the oppressed creature”

To the “as I believe the sun has risen”

To the “I have a dream”

To the “Leap of faith”

You are not enough.

To you all I say, “Be still!”

Be still

Before the greater Word.

For He comes like a reaper

Who has let the grain

Grow up together

With the weeds.

Now he is ready

To harvest and bundle what is His

And burn the rest.

One late afternoon while I was working on my masters and interning at an inner-city middle school, I went out running. Running or walking outdoors always clears my head, gives me an opportunity to hear God, and helps me process my thoughts in a healthy way. While I ran, I wrestled with the hurt and hardships of life, particularly those in my students’ lives. I don’t recall the details of the long hard day, but I clearly recall asking God, “If good is stronger than evil, why does it look like evil is constantly winning?” Instantly, I was reminded of Miami.

The Miami Beaches are in trouble. The sea reportedly erodes the Miami shoreline 14 to 25 feet each year! The local and federal governments spend millions of dollars every year on replenishing the sand in order to protect the people, the city structures, and the tourism. The problems associated with this issue are political, environmental, and personal for anyone or anything connected to the Miami area.

I first came across this information in an Environmental Studies class during my undergraduate work. Initially it struck me as an interesting fact, something to tell people during a conversation lull, or maybe an attention grabber for teaching Earth Science to 8th graders. Little did I realize the life lesson this battle between Nature and Humankind could offer.

As the images of truckloads of sand dumping on the Florida coastline filled my head, the Holy Spirit impressed a question on my heart: Over time who will win, the ocean or the people dumping sand?

I answered, “The ocean!”

The response astounded me: The ocean is like My Love—constant, enduring, continually eroding the sands of evil from the world, no matter what grand efforts the enemy makes. The enemy is frantic and failing. He has no lasting power. And like the sands of Miami, he will not stand the test of time or My Love.

I am often in awe of this picture the Lord gave me, now over 13 years ago. I have been asking Him lately what it looks like to walk in power, the kind of power He promised with his Holy Spirit. The answer is to walk in His constant love, to watch with Him as the sands of evil erode and all that is left are the deep oceans of His enduring love.

The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, than the mighty waves of the sea. Psalm 93:4