[This is the tenth of fourteen passages that saved my life a few years ago.]

Be strong and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The LORD will do what is good in his sight.  1 Chronicles 19:13


When I discovered this small passage, sort of in passing, I pounced on it like it was $1000 bill that someone unwittingly put out with the recycling. It speaks to the challenge of trusting God for something that he may or may not give me in the end. It answers the question, “Why should I go to the trouble to trust God and live responsibly if he’s not going to give me what I’m working and trusting for?” Continue reading



[This is number nine of fourteen passages that sustained me in my dark palce a few years ago.]

 10 Who among you fears the LORD

       and obeys the word of his servant?

       Let him who walks in the dark,

       who has no light,

       trust in the name of the LORD

       and rely on his God.

 11 But now, all you who light fires

       and provide yourselves with flaming torches,

       go, walk in the light of your fires

       and of the torches you have set ablaze.

       This is what you shall receive from my hand:

       You will lie down in torment.  Isaiah 50:10-12

Evidently, darkness is not just reserved for the disobedient. When I “fear the Lord and obey the word of his servant” I still have to sometimes “walk in the dark” and rely on God to guide me through it. But, instead of trusting God in my dark place, I’m tempted to try to create my own light, to bring to my darkness a man-made light. I carry my own matches for such occasions. Continue reading


[This is the eighth of fourteen passages that sustained me in my dark place.]

…submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.   Hebrews 12:9-13


God is raising a family. As all kids do, we need discipline. What he uses most bring his discipline and develop his character in us is hardship. Honestly, I’m not always fond of this program. While I really do want “righteousness and peace,” I’ve been known to possess a serious aversion to some of his methods of getting me there. Continue reading


[This is the seventh of fourteen passages that sustained me in the while in the dark.]

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.    2 Corinthians 4:16-18

I’ve loved the fourth chapter of 2 Corinthians for many years, especially for the encouragement it’s given me during difficult moments as a pastor. It begins and ends with Paul’s testimony: “We don’t lose heart.” Everything in between is pretty much all about how not to lose heart, how to endure, how to persevere in the midst of the tumult in and around us. Continue reading


[This is the sixth of fourteen passages that sustained me in the while in the dark.]

4 I am in the midst of lions;

       I lie among ravenous beasts—

       men whose teeth are spears and arrows,

       whose tongues are sharp swords.

 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;

       let your glory be over all the earth.

 6 They spread a net for my feet—

       I was bowed down in distress.

       They dug a pit in my path—

       but they have fallen into it themselves.


 7 My heart is steadfast, O God,

       my heart is steadfast;

       I will sing and make music.

 8 Awake, my soul!

       Awake, harp and lyre!

       I will awaken the dawn.

 9 I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations;

       I will sing of you among the peoples.

 10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;

       your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

 11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;

       let your glory be over all the earth.   Psalm 57

The images of lions and beasts, and evil people with spears, arrows, and swords graphically depicted how I felt when the lights went out in my life. Demons and the people they inhabited wanted me defeated, if not dead. (Someone actually said they wished I would just die!) Continue reading


[This is the fourth of fourteen passages that sustained me in the while in the dark.]

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God and the peace of God that passes understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.   Philippians 4:6-7*

These words have always infused serenity into my own troubled mind. As a pastor, more than any other passage in the entire Bible, I quoted this one to fellow strugglers and rehearsed it in my own perplexing moments. Continue reading


[This is the third of fourteen passages that sustained me in the while in the dark.]

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters.

He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me;

Your rod and your staff they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil.

My cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.   Psalm 23

Almost everyone has heard this Psalm, at least at funerals. During my scariest times in ubiquitous darkness I frantically repeated it over and over in my mind, and sometimes out loud. The most memorable time when the Psalm brought comfort to me was when I was being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance with an allergic reaction to a cancer medication. Continue reading