Guatemalan mountains, Peten, Guatemala

Where do you go for help?

When you need help where do you look? Do you read an instruction manual? Do you Google the problem? I’m guilty of that, honestly. When I have a problem I don’t know how to solve, my first instinct is to find a way to solve it on my own. I rarely ask for advice. That may be a pride issue.

And there’s nothing wrong with trying to find the answer on your own. There’s nothing wrong with looking for help on the internet or even in consulting friends you trust. But what happens when you encounter a problem that none of them can help you solve? Where do you go then?

Guatemalan mountains, Peten, Guatemala

Guatemalan mountains, Peten, Guatemala

Today’s verse is Psalm 121:1-2.

I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!

One of the cultural things I learned in Guatemala is that when you’re telling a Kekchi person about God you don’t have to convince them that God exists. That’s what we deal with in the States. If you’re trying to share your faith with someone who doesn’t believe, generally the biggest barrier you’ll encounter is that Americans don’t always believe that God is real. That’s not the case in Guatemala. The Kekchi believe God exists; they just don’t believe He’s any different than the gods they already serve. And the god that is most important to them is the god of the earth because the earth is close to them. So mountains are sacred.

It’s ironic because God is even closer to us than the Earth is. But as foreign and strange as that may sound to an American, we do the same thing. When we have trouble, do we look to God? Not always. We look to TV talk shows or 12-step books. We rely on what Dr. Phil says. We search for what the leading evangelists in the nation have to say on the subject. Or we research what the great minds of theology believed.

How often do we just sit down and ask God for help? This is something I’m trying to teach myself to do, that before I race around trying to solve my problem for myself, I take it to Him. God has all the answers we need, and we have access to everything we need through Him. So why do we try to fix things on our own?

Like I said earlier, for me it goes back to pride. I don’t like to rely on anyone else. I don’t like to trust my issues to anyone else. I don’t like being dependent on anyone else. But I’m not self-sufficient, as much as my pride tells me I am.

So how about it? Where do you look for help? Who are you looking to for help today? Are you trying to figure out life’s issues on your own? You can try, but you’re going to hit a dead end, especially if you’re relying on your own knowledge. God gave us the Bible for a reason. No matter what problem we’re facing, it has the answers we’re looking for. We just have to dig in and look for them. God will help us find what we need. And I’m pretty sure your favorite TV talk show host won’t make the same offer.

Lion at the Sedgwick County Zoo - Wichita, KS

God gives His people strength

Tired yet? It’s only Tuesday, and my feet are already dragging.  Judgement House, the outreach drama my church puts on every October, is an amazing ministry. There is no other ministry I love being a part of more; however, I can tell you there’s no other ministry that exhausts me more.

We finished on Sunday, and now I’m trying to remember how to live a normal life again, without spending every waking moment ensuring that tour groups have a guide to lead them every ten minutes.

Like so many other people who volunteer for Judgement House, I work a full-time job. And it’s not just a job; it’s a very stressful job. I love it, and I’m thankful for it. But it’s fast paced, high tension, and 100 percent necessary to be able to think on my toes. All of the above are difficult when I’m physically, mentally, and emotionally worn out.

So where do I get the strength to make it through the week? How can I get the strength I need to do not only what is necessary but also what God expects of me? How do I accomplish that, and how do I stop worrying about it?

Lion at the Sedgwick County Zoo - Wichita, KS

Lion at the Sedgwick County Zoo – Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Psalm 29:11.

The Lord gives his people strength.
    The Lord blesses them with peace.

I love the Bible. Seriously, any question you have, it has an answer. Like this. Where do you get strength? Ask God.

God strengthens His people.

Think about that. If you follow Christ, you are one of God’s people. And God will give his people strength when they need it.

I will admit: I almost didn’t use this verse today. Why? Well, it’s obvious. Isn’t it? Of course, we get our strength from God. Of course, God gives us peace. Where else would we get it from? Granted, we can look for it elsewhere, but we won’t find it. And if you’ve been following Christ for any amount of time, you’ll know that nothing else satisfies like He does.

Honestly, this verse didn’t grab me until I read the whole Psalm. Yes, God gives his people strength. But what does that mean? How can we wrap our minds around the kind of strength that God is offering to us? That’s what the rest of the Psalm is about. This is a wonderful verse, but it’s impossible to grasp the immensity of this promise until you read the rest of it.

Psalm 29

Honor the Lord, you heavenly beings;
honor the Lord for his glory and strength.
Honor the Lord for the glory of his name.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

The voice of the Lord echoes above the sea.
The God of glory thunders.
The Lord thunders over the mighty sea.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord splits the mighty cedars;
the Lord shatters the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon’s mountains skip like a calf;
he makes Mount Hermon leap like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord strikes
with bolts of lightning.
The voice of the Lord makes the barren wilderness quake;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord twists mighty oaks
and strips the forests bare.
In his Temple everyone shouts, “Glory!”

The Lord rules over the floodwaters.
The Lord reigns as king forever.
The Lord gives his people strength.
The Lord blesses them with peace.

Do you see? Do you get it? God’s voice alone can split the sky, tear massive trees apart, and cause mighty mountains to tremble. Literally. That’s just His voice.  Imagine what the rest of Him can do. And He offers that strength to us.

So if you’re tired today, whether you volunteered at NewSpring’s Judgement House or not, know that it’s all right to be tired. We’re all human. We all run out of steam. But we don’t have to stay exhausted. God is standing by waiting for us to ask for His help.

God has offered His strength to us. And I, for one, intend to take Him up on it. Because coffee, though wonderful, can only accomplish so much. To get through a day when I’m tired to my soul, I need strength that doesn’t come from me. And thanks to Jesus, all I have to do to get it is ask for it.

Hippos working on their tans - Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Walking on porcupines

Have you ever tried to get a picture of a porcupine? Well, if you do, good for you. I’ve never seen a real one. So I have no photographs of porcupines, but I do have hippos. And that will work for today, because I’m not talking about real porcupines anyway. I’m actually talking about friendship.

I don’t think I post enough about friendships. I don’t even know where to start most of the time because I am so overwhelmed and so thankful to be friends with such amazing people.

Our friends determine so much in our lives. And if you have awesome friends — and I mean truly awesome friends and not just popular ones — you should count yourself fortunate.

Hippos working on their tans - Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Hippos working on their tans – Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Proverbs 18:24.

There are “friends” who destroy each other,
but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

Who are your friends? Do your friends ask more from you than they expect of themselves? Do your friends treat you the way you treat them? Do your friends love God? Do your friends speak truth? Do your friends give you sound advice based in Scripture and tempered with the love of God?

If you have friends like that, you are richer than the richest man in the universe. Because there are “friends” out there who will hang out with you just because they want something from you. There are “friends” out there who need a prop. And even though they may be your “friends” when they feel like it, the day will eventually come when they won’t have time for you. And they’ll drop you like a rock.

I always told myself that I didn’t really need friends, that I could get along just fine without them. And, if we’re being honest here, that’s probably true. But how lonely would life be? How empty would life be? And, truthfully, how much more difficult would life be? If I didn’t have my friends to rely on and blow up on and cry on, life would be much harder than it is now.

Today’s verse just made me think about friendship and what it really is. Because true friendship goes beyond blood. It stretches deeper than DNA and further than a family name. Because we don’t get to choose our families; we choose our friends. And, what’s more important, our friends choose us. And what’s more, true friends keep choosing us even when we have a bad day, even when we’re struggling at work or at home, even when we snap, even when we don’t feel good.

Can you imagine what it would be like to walk through a field of porcupines? Just think about that. It wouldn’t be pleasant at all. They’re volatile and unpredictable, and they’re covered in needles. All it would take is one wrong move, and they’ll let loose a volley of needles that will leave you wincing.

But no one walks on porcupines. I’m sure there’s some kind of fee or fine you have to pay for that. But even though we don’t actually walk on porcupines, we do have to walk through life. And life can have its needles and touchy spots. And so many times through Scripture, God talks about friends and walking. It’s not unusual to see the concept of friendship lined right up with the concept of walking through life.

Why? Well, think about it. What else do friends do but walk with you, even through the most difficult times in your life? That’s what friends are for.

I got to thinking about this verse because of a birthday present one of my friends gave me. Silly socks covered in porcupines! They’re adorable! And they’re bright, and they’re fun! I love them! (So far, I have encountered two things that turn me girly: Bath & Body Works hand soaps and funny, silly socks.)

But beyond the fun of the socks, they just made me think about friendship. Because friendships aren’t forged in the good times. Maybe they start in good times. Maybe they start over a fun conversation or a good cup of coffee. But they don’t get very deep there. To grow a deep friendship, you have to walk through some porcupines, and you have to do it together. And somewhere between needles, you’ll make a choice to either keep walking or turn back.

Don’t get me wrong. You need to determine if the friendship is one that’s worth pursuing. Sometimes turning back is the best decision you can make. But if you turn back on every friendship the moment the going gets tough, you’ll never understand what it really means to have a real friend.

I guess, what I’m saying this morning, is that the closest friendships in my life have come through some amount of difficulty — whether it was through a difficult situation we tackled together or through a difficult conversation we had to have to straighten things out between us. The best friendships you have aren’t just going to happen. Like any relationship, you have to work at them.

So if you have a friend (or friends) in your life who you have walked on porcupines with, be thankful for them. And tell them that you’re thankful for them. You never know when you might not have the opportunity to thank them anymore.

And if you’ve never walked through porcupines, you will. So it might not be a bad idea to find someone who won’t mind walking with you. Just remember that true friendship is a two-way street. And if you’re walking through a field of porcupines with a friend, you’ll both take hits, but you’ll both be there to keep each other going.

Moon over Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS


Life is complicated. And I don’t know about you, but for me, I get really involved in the complexities of life really quickly. I don’t know if it’s because my brain is wired strangely or if it’s because I just attract complex problems or what. But usually issues that start out simple never stay that way, and before I know it I can end up neck deep in major issues that are too intricate and convoluted for me to take care of by myself.

And when that happens (and it happens frequently), I tend to get gloomy. I don’t like asking for help. And then I turn around and read a verse like today’s verse.

Moon over Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

Moon over Safe Haven Farm – Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Psalm 146:5.

But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.

According to this, people who ask God for help are joyful. Wow! Because “asking for help” and “being joyful” rarely belong in the same sentence as far as I’m concerned. Those two concepts just don’t go together.

The entirety of Psalm 146 is pretty straightforward. It includes a lot of simple concepts about who you should put your confidence in. Like people, don’t put your confidence in Men because Men eventually die and their plans die with them.

But trust in God. Because He doesn’t die, because He made everything, because He is faithful, because He is just and true and right, because He is merciful and loving and compassionate, because He is our refuge. And because all of those things are true, asking God for help is a joyful experience.

Simple, right?

Why is asking for help usually thought of in a negative context? Maybe this isn’t the case for anyone else, but when I think of asking for help, I think of how the person I’m asking will react. Will they think I’m nagging? Will they think I’m bothering them? Will they wonder why I don’t just try to do it myself? Will they think I’m weak? Will I be putting a strain on them financially, emotionally, physically? All of those things go through my mind, and it’s just so much easier and so much simpler to not ask. It’s so much easier to go it alone than to ask for help and have to deal with the blow back of admitting that I can’t do it by myself.

But when you ask God for help, He doesn’t think any of those things. He doesn’t have any limitations. And He recognizes that we are weak and that we do need help, and He doesn’t wonder why we’re asking. He doesn’t think that we should try to do things by ourselves. He wants to help us. It brings Him joy to help us.

My best friend just started a new blog about being thankful and about the things in her life that bring her joy. It makes me smile because many of them are the same things that bring me joy too, but what is really interesting is that none of them are very complicated. They are all simple things.

I think life gets complicated because I make it complicated. I don’t intend to do that. I think it just happens because my brain is a complicated place to live. But if you really think about it, life is simple. At least, it should be. Asking for help should be simple too. And when you ask God for help, it is. Because He’s the one person who you can never confuse, even with all your intricate complexities. He always has an answer, and He always has a plan, and He always knows exactly what needs to happen.

And you know what? That’s reason to have joy.

Stone path at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

Seeking God’s help is a journey

What does it mean to seek God? That’s another one of those Christian catch phrases church people drop when they want to sound spiritual. It’s a good generic answer for just about any question–“I’m seeking God’s will” or “I’m seeking God’s face.” But what does it mean?

Stone path at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

Stone path at Glen Eyrie – Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Psalm 69:32.

The humble will see their God at work and be glad.
    Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged.

This brightened my morning, to tell you the truth, and it kind of made me laugh. At the moment, my church is starting a 21-day challenge to prayer ( The whole congregation has the opportunity to journal together and share prayer requests with each other, and even though this is only the second day, many people have responded. It’s pretty cool, actually.

And then, seemingly totally at random, I start finding all these verses about asking God for help.  The Holy Spirit makes me smile.

But, in any case, what does it actually mean to seek God?

This is terrible, but the first thing I think about when I think about seeking help is The Wizard of Oz. You’ve got poor Dorothy stranded in a strange Technicolor world (which I’m sure was quite disturbing after coming from such a monochrome place as Kansas), and all she really wants is to get home. She’s got her three strange companions, and they embark on a journey to request help from the Great and Powerful Oz. Of course, just about everyone knows the story. Oz isn’t exactly who his reputation led them to believe, and Dorothy wakes up after all of it and finds it was all just a dream. Whatever. But the concept is there.

Dorothy needed something only the Wizard of Oz could provide — a way home. And she was willing to go great lengths to get to him, so she could ask him to help her.

Seeking God’s help is a journey because, in my experience, it’s rare that God answers a request exactly the way you ask Him to. Many times, God’s answer will sound like “No” and at that point, we give up and stop asking. But “Not yet” doesn’t necessarily mean “No.” And that’s why you have to keep asking. You have to keep on keeping on until the day when the “Not yet” becomes a “Go for it!”

I love the Amplified Version of the Bible. It really details a lot of words and their meanings, and usually I read every verse in this translation before I put it on here. Mainly, I just want to make sure I’m not missing something in the translation. And today, I think I would have missed this.

Because when we talk about seeking God’s help, we think about asking Him for something. But that’s not all the verse (and the word meaning) seems to imply.

Psalm 69:32 AMP

The humble shall see it and be glad; you who seek God, inquiring for and requiring Him [as your first need], let your hearts revive and live!

See that? Inquiring for and requiring Him as your first need.

We’re supposed to seek God, not only asking Him but requiring Him to the point of necessity. We’re supposed to need Him.

Needing someone goes beyond the simple recognition that a goal is outside our reach. Needing someone implies a complete and utter humility. Because if you need someone else, that means you can’t get through life without them.

I’m bad at that because I don’t really need anyone. I like my friends, and I enjoy people sometimes. But I’m really independent. Not that independence is bad, but it does tend to make me rely on myself far more often than I should, especially when I should be relying on God instead.

Dorothy and her friends in the Wizard of Oz stayed on the yellow brick road in spite of the numerous dangers they encountered on the way, and they didn’t get off the path until they reached the Emerald City. Were there other paths? I’m sure. But getting off the yellow brick road would have meant navigating would have been up to them. The yellow brick road was the straightest, most direct path to the Wizard of Oz.

Seeking God’s help is a choice we have to make every day, to stay on the path, to keep moving forward in spite of the answers we think we get. And you can be sure that if you get an answer that causes you to rely on yourself, that’s not from God. Because if we want God to help us, we have to put our faith and trust in Him completely.

Seeking God’s help is a journey that makes us realize how much we really need Him. And He has promised that those who come to Him seeking His help in a way that is truly humble will find a reason to be encouraged. Why?

Well, read the next verse (Psalm 69:33):

For the Lord hears the cries of the needy;
    he does not despise his imprisoned people.

Are you on a journey this morning? Are you seeking God’s help? Are you humble about it? Then be encouraged. Because He hears you.