Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Word Brings Life - October 23, 2016

1 Peter 1:23 - For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

It's always refreshing to see someone "get it". This is definitely true with barefoot running as one begins to reap the benefits of learning ball/heel, or if you like mid-foot strike technique. The minimal impact incurred running barefoot versus running with shoes is remarkable in most new convert's minds as they begin their barefoot running journey. Or, for those of you who are not runners, when you understand why someone like myself or others would run barefoot in the first place. Of course, most readers know that in my case, necessity (bad knees) became the mother of invention. For the uninformed, it is quite easy for someone to shout from a car window "Hey, get some shoes on ..." not understanding the method behind the seeming madness.

We all have moments of clarity when the lights literally come on regarding life's situations. We think we understand, but when the epiphany comes we will never again look at the situation quite the same way. We may have possessed an intellectual understanding of something, but once we experience the truth and the reality it all becomes brilliantly clear. I can vividly remember the birth of my children, especially my first child and son, Benaiah. Even though it was nearly 23 years ago, the image and joy of that moment is still transfixed into my memory. When Benaiah's head popped out and he came into this world, I was overcome with joy and love for my newborn son. I wept uncontrollably, hearing his cry as he breathed air for the first time. One could never have related to me how I would feel at that precise moment in time. I witnessed the miracle of birth and it captivated my spirit, soul, and body to the point where I was overcome with emotion. (Note: Today is my second son, Samson's 21st birthday. Happy birthday son!)

The joyousness of the moment of birth in the heart of a father is shown over and over again in the scripture as the Father of Lights draws us to a place of accepting His Son as our Personal Savior -- to be literally changed by the power of the Holy Spirit. One of my favorite examples of this is when Jesus is talking to the crowds regarding the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7) and He declares that there is joy in heaven when someone repents and experiences the new birth. I believe that there is a joyous outburst of the Trinity along with all the saints and the angels in heaven when someone truly turns to God. However, I believe becoming a true son or daughter of God goes much deeper than merely uttering a few words as "every head is bowed and all eyes are closed". Even Paul understood this as he addressed King Agrippa in Acts 26:27-28. Agrippa told Paul that ... In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian. Agrippa's thought patterns had changed and he may well have been on his way to conversion, but conversion is not salvation. Converted thinking may lead to salvation, but is not salvation in and of itself. The knowledge and converted mind must take up residence 18 inches below the head in the heart. When the Word lives in the heart then someone like Agrippa can say as Isaiah said ... "Woe as me, I am a man of unclean lips" and later that "... our own righteousness is as filthy rags". To be born again is not merely hearing the Word of God and making a decision to follow Jesus Christ. It is much more than that. It is a deep understanding that the Risen Son died for us, and that He has invited us to be identified with His death that we might walk in His Life! (Romans 6:4). This does not come by just reading a scripture and making a decision. It comes by seeing that we are wretched sinners that have violated our existence on this earth by being creatures of sin that have transgressed against a Holy God!

True understanding is only limited by our experience. If we have never "walked in someone else's shoes" (or bare feet!) we can never say equivocally that we understand their experience. Others may look on with admiration at a Christian's life and think they live admirably and respectively in this world of ours. Yet, they may never understand that as Paul stated, "It is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me" unless they too become born again by the power of the Living Word. Those who have truly experienced the life changing power of God and know the reality of the Risen Lord wag their heads when folks commend them on their respectable lives. They know that the reality of their understanding only came through the Living Word which demonstrably changed their life from the inside-out. Only His Word can bring this type of life altering change. May heaven rejoice, this day, over many who would not only hear the word, but allow it to live through them.

Your Barefoot Servant,


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Beyond Ourselves - October 16, 2016

Jeremiah 15:11- The LORD said, "Surely I will set you free for purposes of good; Surely I will cause the enemy to make supplication to you in a time of disaster and a time of distress."

As many of you know, barefoot running literally set me free back in 2003 from achy joints and the possibility of knee surgery. As time passed, I have realized that not everyone has "ears to hear" what I purport about my running recovery. That's okay. I realize barefoot running is not for everyone. However, I have realized that God has given me an extraordinary gift that garners some attention. It is my responsibility as a believer to "decrease so He can increase". It is with joy that I try to give back through my witness and charity work to those around me, both in person and through cyberspace.

Everyone that knows the Lord Jesus Christ and has trusted in His grace has been set free from their respective lives of sin. God does not merely set us free to lounge in His pleasure, drinking in the fellowship of His love and goodness. Each and everyone of us who know the Lord have been set free to help to set others free. It is our responsibility to be faithful to Jesus' admonition to go forth and make disciples of all nations. That literally means to make others like myself! Around 400 years ago, John Donne the Jacobean Poet/Preacher stated "...No man is an island, entire of itself ..." Certainly Jeremiah felt this affinity toward the nation of Israel. He identified with it -- he wept for it as God moved through him with His own aching heart. Jeremiah 15 is atypical of the "weeping prophet's" dilemma of standing in the gap between God and the nation of Israel. The prophet has been shut up in prison by evil King Manasseh and the Lord is pronouncing the king's and his rebellious nation's doom. In verse 10, Jeremiah cries out to God and says, "Woe to the mother who bore me" and began his complaint to God for even being borne to such a grievous task. God quickly stops Jeremiah and states that He has a higher, nobler call for the prophet rather than languishing in a prison. The Lord stated that He would set Jeremiah "... free for purposes of good." Beyond that, God stated that Jeremiah's enemies (the ruling class of Israel) would humble themselves to the prophet when Jerusalem was besieged from without by the Assyrians.

While most of us have not spent time languishing behind bars, many of us have spent years enslaved to sin and its dire consequences. While my selfishness was fortified by alcohol addiction, others suffer just as debilitating "prisons" in their own lives. Jesus said, "If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed". Following this freedom comes the very ambassadorship that Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians 5:20 where we have the privilege of representing our Lord and helping others be free from a similar "prison". I take my "ambassadorship" very circumspectly to the men at the local mission where I volunteer. I continue to build friendships with these men because they know that I too have come from a similar background of homelessness aggravated by addiction. When I share the Word with these men once a month in chapel, they understand and relate. Truly, if I were a Japanese ambassador for our country, I would not be as comfortable with an interpreter as I would be knowing the language and communicating directly. Truly, I know these men's "language" when it comes to the heartaches of what sin produces in its many manifestations. Even as in Jeremiah's time when the rulers came to him and released him from prison and sought his advice regarding Israel's onslaught, so even today those who are truly set free from sin will experience those who once were hostile to the Gospel actually coming, asking, "What shall we do to be saved?"

Then, there are those who are so duped by the enemy that they haven't a clue that they are still in their own prisons of sin. There are countless folks who have attempted to turn this scripture around and try to do "good" through lives of giving and helping others to balm their conscience and to gain their salvation. While there are numerous noble works of charity being accomplished by millions throughout the world, it all means nothing in the light of eternity if they do not know the Lord. Jesus said in John 8:24 "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He [the Messiah], you will die in your sins." Jesus Christ offers a way out of our prison pits of hopelessness. THEN, He will equip us to do good.

For those of us who know the Lord, let us ask this question of ourselves: "What is our personal message to a dying world around us? Is our ambassadorship being received in a noticeable way? Are others understanding that our lives were once sin-stained and without hope until we came and laid them at the feet of Jesus? Friends, he has commissioned all of us to GO and to be His ambassadors to a dying world. We were not saved to be safe and content, but to pour out our lives even as Christ poured out His. If we are not giving, we are truly dying inside. What are the "purposes of good" that God wants you to accomplish today? If we have not experienced and known that He has truly set us free from the dungeon of sin and despair it is unlikely we will feel much compelled to be a thankful people ready to do His will. May we all understand that He brought us all out of treacherous rebellion to Him and into a place where we can lead others to His pastures of delight!

Your Barefoot Servant,


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Remember! - October 9, 2016

Revelations 2:4-5a - But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first;

I have taken a few spills when running, but probably far less since I started my barefoot running journey. As I have said in some of my earlier writings, eye/foot coordination becomes a highly developed skill when running sans shoes. It has to be, otherwise the consequences might be dire. Occasionally, however, I will still fall from this place of "grace" when my feet don't do exactly what I expect of them. I have probably stubbed one of my toes only 2 or 3 times since running barefoot. When I do, it is a shock back to reality that I am only human when it comes to proper foot placement. I was keenly aware of this once when I whacked a curb with my left foot, not bringing it up high enough to clear. The black toenail was a reminder for the next several weeks of my error.

Sometimes we need reminders not to make the same mistakes whether the result is a stubbed toe or wounding our relationship with Jesus. As believers, we can lose form and spiritual technique long before the proverbial "black toenail" manifests. Subtle divergences off the spiritual path will always be the greatest enemy of the vigilant pilgrim, and compromise will often seek to be the substitute for the diligent soul. It is quite easy to get lackadaisical in our spiritual "form" as we begin to take our walk with the Lord for granted. At times, it may be general laziness or contentment with where we are with God. Then, it can also be a general disassociation with godly things and a new fascination with the things of the world. One might defend their position in this regard and state that they are as busy as ever for Jesus and are stalwart in their devotion. However, it is one thing to be busy with the things of the Lord and quite another to be ministering along side of Him.

When Jesus initially swept us off our feet and we felt such closeness and love, we would do anything for Him and would shun all suspects seeking to interfere with our intimate relationship. We did not need any reminders of His love, peace, and joy. Conversely, when we venture away from God's love and embrace our own way then we are faced with the barrenness of a fruitless life. As the bride states in Song of Solomon 2:16, "My beloved is mine, and I am his". However, before this in verse 15 the bride says to the bridegroom, "Catch the foxes for us, The little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, While our vineyards are in blossom." The bride is aware and mindful that enough "little foxes" can destroy an entire vineyard if they are left to eat the grape blossoms. The same thing is true of developing "spiritual fruit" within our lives. We must be vigilant to protect what the Lord has given us to tend and to bring forth His fruit in due season.

However, what is the outcome if one day we "wake up" and find that that our proverbial vineyard has been destroyed? What if the "little foxes" of sin have taken over, little by little, until one day we realize that they have destroyed much of the relationship that we have with the Lord? From this point of clarity we can DO the following:

  • Remember or realize where we have fallen.
  • Repent of our failings and ask God to forgive us.
  • Restore our affections to Jesus through His grace.
  • Rejoice in the Lord and give Him thanks!

The Divine Memory of the Almighty is always there for us to draw upon to remind us of who we were, who we are (in Christ), and who He desires us to be. His reminders are not those of condescending rebukes when we fall from a place of grace, but those of loving memorials to His loving-kindness and mercy. He will most certainly set us once again on the path of righteousness and then with loving direction will correct us with His subtle reminders to cultivate our spiritual "form" and to tend to the way that He has laid out. The most important thing is to remember from whence we have fallen and to quickly ask for His grace to be once again restored!

Heavenly Father, we give ourselves afresh to You. Keep us in Your grace, steadfast in our affection to You. For You are the One that keeps us mindful of the way in which we should go. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Barefoot Rick

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Our Hiding Place - October 2, 2016

Psalm 32:7 - You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.

I am so grateful to the Almighty for my life. My days are full of His presence, which makes times with those I love even more special. I am a fortunate man to be so blessed. I am equally grateful for the gift of running that He allows me to enjoy. For me, barefoot running allows me a feeling of closeness with my God and the ability to share my experiences with others through this unusual gift. It is as if God has given me two instruments of worship -- my bare feet -- that allow me the privilege of entering into His presence through a "secret door" where only I know the way. It is like a personalized place that seems to be full of His presence and His joy! (He will never have to say to me "Remove your shoes, for the place where you tread is holy".) I know that when I kick off my daily runs that the Lord Jesus will be there to run and pray and worship and praise with me, all along the way. Although I am out on busy roads and sidewalks during my runs, I feel hidden away and quite isolated with my Lord. It is a wonderful thing to be able to run, uninhibited, and to drink in His presence.

Have you ever considered what are the "spiritual tools" that the Lord has given you that allow you quick access to His presence? Some have told me that they have a special "hiding place" where they go and seek the Lord. This may be a small room or closet within their house that feels secure and welcoming to the Holy Spirit as He descends in a time of communion. Others have told me that they feel and sense this hiding place in the midst of a great woods or a pastoral setting. Guys often tell me that they feel the closeness of God while hunting or fishing where they are surrounded by God's beauty in nature. It really does not matter where we meet God, but that we meet Him! There needs to be a sense of longing and urgency to get to that special place with the Lord as often as possible. This can literally be our very own chapel of devotion. While some meet God on Sunday mornings or Wednesday evenings in a church setting, others know that there is so much more if they will but take the time to find their own hiding place with God where they can worship Him with abandon. The remarkable thing about worship is that if it is true, Godly worship then it will lead us to thanksgiving and praise of the Eternal One! Worship is the very soil that praise will grow and flourish. Think about this the next time you are drawn into His presence in a place of worship. Thank Him for drawing you and praise Him unabashedly. It will truly be life changing.

No matter what we may be experiencing when coming to a place of worship can be made "right-sized" by our attitude to the Lord. Psalm 32:7 is a remarkable verse in that it does not say that the Lord gives us hiding places from trouble, but that we must be hidden with Him from all life's turmoil. Paul stated this profoundly in Colossians 3:3 "For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God." This does not imply that we have to necessarily hide ourselves away in a cubby hole or a closet or to even be lost in the beauty of nature (or even a barefoot run!) It truly states that as New Testament believers that we can KNOW that we have died with Christ on Calvary's tree and that we are now alive with Christ in God. Not only are we sharers of Christ's life but we are "hidden" in Christ where the enemy or our souls can not touch us if we choose to remain within our Fortress of Love. Christ does give us stalwart protection to isolate us from the world, but also to identify us in His life behind the strong walls of His powerful life to make us true disciples.

There is a hiding place for all who would but believe in Him. Physical things such as running, or nature, or whatever location are only shadows of eternal things, and the animate tools he gives us should ultimately lead to the spiritual hiding place of the Most High. If we are only finding this place, arbitrarily and sporadically, at our respective churches then we have horribly missed the mark. God is calling us to places of worship all day long. He desires to hide us away in His presence through simple acts of worship that will lead ultimately to praise and thanksgiving. A lost and dying world is looking and longing to see true examples of those that are lost in His presence, simply hidden in Christ Jesus and living a life that is sanctified and holy for the Lord.

Your Barefoot Servant,


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Radical Obedience - September 25, 2016

Mark 9:7 - Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, " This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!"

Barefoot running is the most radical thing I have ever done in my life on a consistent basis. What started as a "fun" thing to do has turned into something much more. It has become a point of obedience from the Lord. To be honest, I might not be doing what I am doing with BF running if it weren't for the Lord taking over this ministry. The past few years I have been content to just run and not make a big deal out of it. However, He keeps wanting to throw me into situations where I have the opportunity to be obedient to Him. Several years ago, I ran in an event with several thousand people in attendance. As the race wove through neighborhoods, there I was busily handing out flyers and information on the Free Wheelchair Mission. People were surprised and shocked when I would run into their front yards and hand them a piece of literature. To be truthful, I felt somewhat embarrassed both during and after the race for doing so, but I knew that it was a point of obedience for me.

The word "radical" has its origins from the Middle Ages. Derived from the word rādīcālis it literally means "having roots". The implication of "radical obedience" means a type of obedience that is rooted in the very fundamentals of obedience to God's holy commands. For truly as the root IS, so IS the tree. (No where is this stated clearer than John the Baptist's admonition regarding the axe being laid to the root [Matthew 3:10]). In the same way that a tree "having roots" is descriptive of radical obedience, adversely the roots can be just as radical toward toward selfishness and disobedience resulting in the displeasure and judgment of the Father.

Radical obedience does not come without both a price and a reward. The price is most people not understanding what you are up to and judging you accordingly. The reward is a transfiguration only the Lord can cause. This is sanctification, pure and simple. In the Old Testament, prophets were often told to do seemingly absurd things such as walk barefoot and naked (Isaiah 20), wear an oxen yoke around their necks (Jeremiah 27), or marry a harlot knowing that she would be unfaithful (Hosea 1) just to name a few. God is noticeably silent regarding the prophets and their obedience. There is a stark lack of commentary from the Lord regarding their following the Lord's commands. No where in the Old Testament have I found where God says to the prophets "Good job for being obedient and looking like a fool so I could get my point across". Radical obedience seldom has God's demonstrative commentary attached. However, we do find certain other notables in the Old Testament that don't lack God's testimony of favor. These are men that walked with God and gained His favor through obedience that spanned their lifetimes, not necessarily just through a time of prophetic calling. Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness" (Genesis 15:6). Moses was the friend of God and the most humble man on earth (Numbers 12:3). David was a man after God's own heart (I Samuel 16:7). These were men who knew the Lord through faith and righteousness through years of walking with Him in radical obedience.

To the degree that we know the Lord through faith and righteousness, will be the degree that we are walking in obedience to His word. Just because we are working out our salvation through obeying His promptings and through His written word, this does not necessarily mean that we are always going to be receiving an "Atta boy or girl" from the Lord. The instances of the audible voice of God commending His Son in the New Testament scriptures are very few. Probably, the greatest commentary to radical obedience was given on the Mount of Transfiguration when God the Father said "This is my beloved Son, listen to Him!" Not only do we hear the Father stating that Jesus was the perfect embodiment of Himself by his proclamation of His love for Him (for He saw no sin in His Son, but a life being lived in purity), but we hear the commandment of the Father to LISTEN TO HIM! This is the Divine Testimony that the Father concurred that Jesus His Son was LIVING a radically obedient life and that ALL should heed what He says. In the Father's summation, it could not be any better or purer!

While we may never hear the audible voice of God, we will surely experience His peace and His still, small voice as we turn toward Him in all instances of our respective lives. Those of us who have served the Lord for a while know how easy it is to grieve His Spirit away and feel absent of His presence. However, when we begin to turn back to the Lord with an attitude of extravagant or radical obedience, then we begin to sense the Lord rejoicing in us and over us.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, Thank you for your wonderful example of obedience. May we learn the secret of abiding in your love and life that we would truly be pleasing to the Father in all things. In Christ's name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Barefoot Rick

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Perseverance Through Love - September 18, 2016

Romans 5:3-5 - And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Most of us have never experienced what the apostle Paul speaks of in this scripture. God has not put many of us in situations where we are literally suffering for the sake of Christ as the Roman Christians suffered. Even today, most that are able to read this devotional are in countries that allow and actually celebrate freedom of belief and religion. However, there are many who don't have computers let alone electricity who are in violent, Christ-hating regions where their very testimony is an act of extraordinary faith. Nonetheless, God meets us where we are and gives to us the measure that we need in our present circumstances. These in distant countries exult in their tribulations, knowing they bring about proven character. Circumspectly, those of us who do not know or understand true Godly tribulation may still understand with measure what it means to persevere through our day to day trials. God has us all exactly where we are to be at this exact moment. Therefore, we must take every opportunity the Lord gives us to practice the instances of character building the Lord brings our way.

Before knowing the Lord Jesus, I ran away from and quit everything of significance that I ever started in life. I quit high school to join the Navy. I quit the Navy to be out on my own and to go to college. Quitting college after one semester, I quit innumerable jobs and relationships for many years until I came to the end of myself and I just couldn't run away from life anymore. I was physically, mentally, and spiritually bankrupt. Once I re-committed my life to the Lord, I began to understand the importance of finishing what I had started. Enrolling and attending college, I gained more and more confidence as the semesters began piling up with high marks. The perseverance that I learned in college in my late 30s and early 40s were things most learned as youths and teenagers. Nonetheless, those were the days when I "grew up" and started acting like a man. The disciplines that I learned in those first few years of sobriety and re-commitment to the Lord carried over when I took up running once again in 1998. Sure, I had trained and ran a marathon a few years earlier. However, this was different than when I started running 8 years earlier. This was a commitment to a lifestyle -- a "life hobby" as my brother so appropriately called it.

Self-imposed tribulation as I experienced is never the ideal way to learn one's lessons and to "grow up". However, self-imposed discipline is CHOSEN and embraced to develop various physical as well as mental and spiritual attributes. I bore up under the pain through my own failings before Christ, and now I am continually learning how to deal with pain through disciplines that lead to success after success. Rather than look at our tribulations or trials as a catalyst to develop perseverance and ultimately proven character, hope, and love, we too often look at these perceived hindrances as nuisances and bothers. "Well, I'm just a little annoyed today" one might say with disdain and a gloomy countenance. Or, one might conversely say "I have the opportunity to be shaped more like my Lord through this ordeal". Perspective is the key. When running up hills during marathons I love shouting out "Hills are our FRIENDS!" Other runners look at me like I'm nuts (usually those who are walking UP the hill), but some nod in approval. They know that hills really show what a runner is truly made of -- they are to be conquered and not acquiesced to.

Winning attitudes toward life's respective "hills" aren't automatic on our proverbial "race days". Nothing has taught me more about tenacity and perseverance than running on a daily basis -- some days trudging away when no one but myself and God are there to acknowledge it. This simple commitment is a constant reminder to me of the lost soul that I was for so many years -- how doing something consistently reconfirms to me the mercy of the Lord to bring me out of a life of dogged failure and disappointment. My former self-imposed life of tribulation created the willingness in me to do something different which ultimately began molding the "character" I am today. Metaphorically speaking, when we finally get tired of running away from God, we can begin to run toward Him and to embrace the obstacles along the way as those which will save us and not enslave us to hopelessness and despair. This is only possible as we trust in the Lord and rejoice when the hard times come. Most assuredly, they will because He loves us too much to leave us as we are and desires us to be perfected through perseverance in His love.

Your Barefoot Servant,


Sunday, September 11, 2016

It is Well With My Soul - September 11, 2016

Job 1:21b - ... The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.

A few years ago, a friend of mine wrote to me, describing an encounter he had with a man and his family. According to my friend, this man is angry with God because of seemingly unjust calamities that have plagued their household. Last year, they lost their four month old to SIDS, a negligent driver caused an accident that totaled their car, their house burned down and he recently broke his leg as a sub-contractor. He wants to know what else God wants from him. They're presently living in a motel. My friend and his wife listened and gave little advice. He said they felt like Job's friends with little ability to console. I wrote my friend back stating, "Yeah, what do you say to a guy who has gone through all that?". I told him that I would pray for the family, that they would ultimately understand God's love even when it seems that He has forgotten them.

Later in the day I was reflecting on this situation and I started humming and singing "It is Well With My Soul". I first thought, this is a curious thing to be singing this particular song while meditating on the woes of these unfortunate folks. Then, I remembered. It as if God allowed me to sing that song to be transported back to the time when I originally read the circumstances behind the writing of that powerful hymn. The following is from Wikipedia regarding the man behind the lyrics:

It Is Well with My Soul is a very influential hymn penned by hymnist Horatio Spafford and composed by Philip Bliss.

This hymn was written after several traumatic events in Spafford’s life. The first was the death of his only son in 1871, shortly followed by the great Chicago Fire which ruined him financially (he had been a successful lawyer). Then in 1873, he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the S.S. Ville Du Havre, but sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business. While crossing the At­lan­tic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with another ship, and all four of Spafford's daugh­ters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, "Saved alone." Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.

Many times misconceptions can form in the minds of those who do not know the Lord. Some churches have fostered the delusion that once a person accepts Christ into their lives, they will have continual prosperity and no harm will befall them. If it does, it is because they have allowed Satan to come and rob them. A simple rebuke of the evil one is all that it should take to get the blessings flowing once again, they would say. This is not the case, in most instances. True, God does give to those who give their lives to Him. However, there can be those times of misunderstanding and confusion when the Lord begins to move contrary to what we consider the "blessed life". Look at Job. The man Job was a righteous soul, yet God had allowed his family and life to be ruined for no apparent reason. Was God making sport of him? Was he creating some "grand game" in the heavenlies so that He could get His chuckles at Job's expense? God forbid! Instead, He was proving to all that Job was a man of character and integrity. In the end, he would be more prosperous and closer to God BECAUSE of the calamities.

So what do you tell someone who does not know God, or if they do, they are so wrapped up in anger that they can't see any purpose in their dire predicaments? Nothing. Unless you have lived through similar heartaches and disappointments, you don't have counsel that will comfort someone when they encounter supreme loss. The best to do is to listen thoughtfully. However, there is an exception. If one understands and feels the heart of the Father for that individual, then yes, words of consolation will be received. These are truly words of life that have been grown in the garden of the Father's heart and are full of compassion and love. Horatio Spafford understood. God gave the man and his wife more children and he went on to create a mission to the poor in Jerusalem because of the heart that the Father gifted him with after his traumatic ordeal. It is all about perception, my friends. We can take on the bitter heart of an isolated soul that is angry for God dealing us a bad hand in life. Conversely, there is an opportunity to take and embrace our losses and watch our Heavenly Father turn them into mighty gains. As the old adage suggests: We all have the opportunity to grow bitter or better. Can you say with the hymnist today ... It is well, with my soul?

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul, it is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed his own blood for my soul.
It is well with my soul, it is well, it is well with my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
It is well with my soul, it is well, it is well with my soul.

And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul, it is well, it is well with my soul.

Your Barefoot Servant,