Sometimes life throws us a curve ball…and sometimes this is the understatement of the day. Pain, suffering, disappointment and grief are no respecters of persons for they come to us all. And when the pain is so real and the suffering so intense, the human inclination is to become suspicious of God. We ask God that age-old question “why?” while already convinced that He couldn’t possibly have a satisfactory answer. But if these suspicions are ever to be replaced with trust, then we would do well to ask what there is about God that would demand our absolute trust.

A child might learn in Sunday school that he can trust in God because God is POWERFUL. God is big, God is strong, God is mighty! And so He is. Isaiah writes: “Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal. He humbles those who dwell on high, he lays the lofty city low; he levels it to the ground and casts it down to the dust” (26:4,5). And Paul says that Abraham “did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised” (Romans 4:20,21).

We trust God because we know He is powerful enough to do all that He says. He is sovereign and in total control of the universe, and there is absolutely nothing that is too hard for Him — “Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you” (Jeremiah 32:17).

And Jesus said simply: “All things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27). But there is nothing that will destroy trust faster than power that is abused. Power in and of itself will never earn a person’s trust. Satan is powerful. There are many men and women who wield power in this world, but not all are trusted. In other words, we trust God in part because He is powerful, but if God is only powerful, then He is not yet worthy of our trust.

But God is not just powerful, He is also GOOD. And power plus goodness equals a perfect and complete recipe for trust — almost. David exclaims: “How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings…Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 36:7;34:8). And Nahum writes in beautiful simplicity: “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him” (1:7).

Those who take refuge in God are those who have trusted in God and so we trust God because He is good and because we know that His power always works to accomplish our greatest good (Romans 8:28). On close examination we discover that power plus goodness is only an “almost” perfect recipe for trust, for someone may be both powerful and good, and still be quite stupid and foolish. The bumbling fool may be both powerful and good and still cause those around him to look upon him with pity even as they run for safety from his foolish decisions. So in the end we find that the only one who could possibly be worthy of absolute and unconditional trust is He who is infinitely powerful, infinitely good, AND INFINITELY WISE.


This is what the LORD says – he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams. Isaiah 44:2-4.

Lois and I – and the whole family – have certainly experienced the blessing of God’s presence like water poured out on dry ground! We fully recognize the great value of faithfully praying friends. Thanks.

On Friday, July 11, Lois finished the IV pump chemo we took home with us from Iowa City. Although the nausea medicine made her drowsy, there were no other side effects. We drove to the North Kansas City area on Saturday, had supper with a pastor and his wife and attended two different churches on Sunday before beginning set-up for camp.

We had a great week at camp. The Lord was so good to Lois as she was able to do a lot more at camp than any of us expected. She did go to our room and rest or nap several times per day; and everyone did their best to make sure she didn’t have to walk too much by giving her rides on the golf carts. The reaction from alumni staff and campers was almost overwhelming.

On Wednesday evening, Tim Smelcer, our speaker, used Lois as an illustration in talking about trusting God in even the most difficult circumstances. He led the campers in prayer and anointed Lois with oil as all the pastors present (about 8) laid their hands on her. That was especially moving. We took every opportunity to remind anyone who would listen that we, too, are believing God for a miracle but will still trust Him no matter what happens.

Today we were at the University Hospital in Iowa City for “round two” of chemo. The initial blood work indicated no major changes so we’ll move forward with the chemo plan agreed upon two weeks ago.

It took just under four hours to infuse the three chemo drugs and hookup the fanny pack pump Lois will wear for the next 46 hours. Lois did just fine until we got out to the car. She tried to remind me to take the stamped parking ticket out of my pocket before I sat down in the car and the words wouldn’t come out right. Her hands were trembling and she said her tongue, fingers and feet felt “funny.”

We walked back into the infusion center and described what was going on and were inundated with nurses and Drs. Lois’ blood pressure was high (191/101) but that is somewhat normal after one of the drugs and given the stress of the situation. They checked her over and had her relax in the recliner for the next 90 minutes before giving the OK for us to drive home. We were warned to watch for signs of a stroke and told to check her blood pressure often.

As I write this Lois is sleeping on the couch. The combination of chemo drugs and the nausea meds make her really drowsy.  We’ll do our best to keep everyone up-to-date.

This is what the LORD says – he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid . . . Thanks for praying


From Randy Mitchell

Living in the Midwest, we get to experience God’s handy work as temperatures rise in the middle of summer and we literally feel the effects of God turning up the heat.

Have you ever considered the idea that God turns up the heat at different times and through certain circumstances in our own lives to get our attention?  I’m convinced that God is not apathetic toward us.  I believe that there is one thing that could never be said of God, and that He is indifferent.

God is neither apathetic nor indifferent toward you.  He would go any length to prove that to you.  Anyone that would offer His Son to pay for your sin is serious about wanting you to know that how much He cares about you and about the plans He has for your life.  The Bible provides us a record of events and situations where God turned up the heat as it were, as an attention getter to prove that He could be trusted in every circumstance, face the reality of their sinful behavior and move men from wandering through life without purpose to important roles of leadership.

I remember from my childhood watching my grandmother and my mother can vegetables from our garden and make homemade jelly.

Adding to the misery of homes without air conditioning would be the heat and steam coming from burners on the kitchen stove that were boiling the imperfections from grapes and raspberries that would later be the jelly I would enjoy on my biscuits or toast at breakfast in days to come.  The product was worth the process.  The heat of the moment produced a product that was beneficial to many people.  The same is true in real life situations.  The heat of the moment can be the process by which god choose to change us.  The change is not just for our benefit, but for other lives He desires to impact.

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah spoke boldly to the people of his day to remind them that God is interested in the activities our lives and that He already knows and cares enough about it get our attention and get us looking to Him.

You live in the midst of deception; in their deceit they refuse to acknowledge me,” declares the LORD.  Therefore this is what the LORD Almighty says: “See, I will refine and test them, for what else can I do because of the sin of my people?  Jeremiah 9:6-7 NIV

Randy Mitchell is Senior Pastor at Flack Memorial in Excelsior Springs, MO


Trust in the Lord. A simple statement with incredible implications. It’s actually quite easy to trust the Lord when life is smoothly cruising along without any bumps or sharp curves or accidents or cancer. But when the tough times come, trusting the Lord is an act of the will. It’s not easy. It doesn’t feel good. Trusting the Lord in crises demands our full attention and complete obedience.  In those times we are held accountable to our commitment to God. Will we trust him completely even when . . . ?

We arrived at the hospital at 7:35 Wednesday morning for a day of tests and procedures and the first infusion of Chemo drugs. The first item on the agenda was lab work. Lois’ hemoglobin is 10.5. A little lower than optimum but a huge improvement from the 5 Lois was at on May 19.

Then it was on to Interventional Radiology where they surgically inserted a port into Lois’ upper right chest that gives easy and comfortable access to deliver drugs and draw blood. No more pokes in the arms for lab work.  As soon as Lois shook off enough of the grogginess from that procedure, they had her drink the grape flavored liquid to make her glow for the CT Scan.  Trust in the Lord.

Finally, after being at the hospital for six hours, we walked down to the cafeteria and ate lunch at 2 pm – the first food for Lois since Tuesday night at 10. Of course, when we got up to the Clinical Cancer Center, it was back to hurry up and wait to see the Dr.  The news was not what we wanted to hear. Trust in the Lord.

The CT Scan revealed growing tumors in the liver. The original three, which were found on May 21, have grown significantly and now there are many more tumors in the liver although they are mostly small. We could see the shock on the faces of the two Doctors who told us. Trust in the Lord.

Previous plans for the Chemo cocktail were abandoned and in 90 minutes a new combination of the same drugs in stronger amounts was finalized and prepared. The cocktail includes Avastin, which we weren’t scheduled to begin until July 23 but the Oncologists strongly recommended that we set aside caution and attack the cancer as aggressively as possible.  We agreed – but our trust is in the Lord. (Normally they wait at least 10 weeks after a major surgery to use Avastin since it greatly decreases the bloods’ clotting factor.)

The Infusion Center started the first drip at 4:20 and finished at 8:25. Then we had the fanny pack pump hooked up for a 46 hour delivery of one of the drugs. We arrived home at 10:10 pm and Lois slept as well as possible considering she had the pump hooked up and was sore on the right side where they inserted the port.  She is taking a low dose of pain medication and the meds to prevent nausea.

Home Health Care will come at 6:30 pm on Friday to unhook the pump and flush the port. We plan to leave about noon on Saturday to drive to Liberty, MO, just north of Kansas City. Sunday afternoon we begin set up for Tri State camp which begins on Monday afternoon and wraps up at noon on Saturday the 19th.

The words of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego keep echoing in our hearts. (See Daniel 3:16-18) We know that God is able to heal Lois and take away all the cancer, but even if He does not, we will still trust Him; worship Him. That is our mutual commitment: Trust in the Lord.

Waterfall Leadership

by Dan Reiland

When they told us we could climb a 1,000 foot waterfall I had images of Niagara Falls in my mind and thought, “That’s not such a good idea.” Convinced otherwise by my family, it turned out to be one of the highlights of our vacation.

We were in Ocho Rios, Jamaica and signed up for the waterfall climb (Dunn’s River Falls) and beach party. It was way too much fun. In some of the most natural and beautiful Jamaican landscape (I would call it “friendly jungle”) we gathered up with about twenty others, paid our money, and got assigned our guides.

The falls were huge, with fast moving water over large boulders. But the naturally-terraced effect with pools of water to play a few times up the climb made it easy enough even for little kids. Well, mostly easy. There were a few scraped ankles and bruised toes, but hey, we need something to make it sound really cool.

The main guide, a tall and fit Jamaican with a great sense of humor stood before us and said “I am your leader, if you do what I tell you and follow me you will get soaking wet and have a great time.” We all stood there and just looked at him. He said, Hey Mon, this is Jamaica and you’re going to have fun… when I talk to you, you respond with a big and loud “Yeah Mon!!” So we did and there was something oddly fun about a bunch of out-of-shape Americans pretending to be Jamaicans that did make the whole thing more fun!!

He then instructed us that we were to hold hands and form this sort of long line of people connected by a rope – the rope being made of our hands and arms. It was counterintuitive at first, but it was only when we let go and picked our own rocks to climb on did we slip some and scrape a knee. OK, that I slipped and scrapped a knee. The kids seemed to do fine as the “big kids” dragged them up the rocks they couldn’t quite get themselves.

Only a preacher would come up with leadership thoughts as he made his way up this fun climb! So, are you ready Mon? Here’s where you say “Yeah Mon!”

Someone who has traveled only one step farther than you knows something valuable that you don’t yet know.
It’s difficult to put a price tag on experience, even when it’s only a few seconds beyond what you have accomplished. Every step mattered in our climb up the falls. A little to the left and you slip, a little to the right and you step in a deep hole. The leader went first and each person followed – one step at a time.

As a leader you don’t have to know all the answers, you just need to know the next step and take it successfully. If you do, others can safely follow. Trust is a big deal. They are counting on you to make the right choices.

If you are following, don’t expect your leader to know the entire plan – just the next step. The only reason our Jamaican guide knew every step so well is because he had completed this trip hundreds of times. This is the luxury of a leader repeating his journey. This is not the life of a church leader who, if they are truly making progress, is constantly navigating new waters.

It’s not the steepness of the climb it’s the speed of the water.
There were only a couple sections that were steep and long enough to make you quietly think… “Okay, here we go.” The surprising thing was that those sections weren’t really that big a deal. The real issue was the speed of the water. You would think that the water would run faster down the steeper sections, but the way it bounced off the boulders made it play unexpected tricks on you. I quickly learned that you can see the boulders but you can’t see the current.

Isn’t that the way it is in leadership? It’s what you can’t see that can trip you up, cause you to lose footing and stumble. It might be a turn in a relationship, a flip in the economy or change in current culture. You didn’t see it coming and boom. This is why I stay in touch with my mentors. They see things I don’t see and keep me from stepping in places I shouldn’t.

When you want to let go and climb on your own, it’s probably a mistake.
My first instinct was to let go of the person’s hand in front of me and try to grab onto the next rock to stabilize myself. Each time I did that, I lost my footing. There was a reason the guide lead us the way he did. Many leaders are entrepreneurs. They are visionaries and cut their own path. That’s good, but within limits. All good leaders must be willing to take a hand and be a good follower at some point. (And usually this is required at many points.)

It’s great when a leader steps out to find his or her own path, but there is something about the body of Christ and being a Christ-follower that puts boundaries on a leader’s climb. It’s interesting to note that it’s rarely at the lower levels of the climb that leaders get in trouble. It’s often after some success that leaders begin to call their own shots and then fall. Note to self. Keep holding on, first to the Father, then to others who have traveled before you and with you.

The person behind you is depending on you.
This one seems obvious, but when the water is cold and you’ve slipped a couple times, it’s easy to focus on getting yourself to the top – forgetting about the person behind you.

This happened a few times to our crew. I won’t say which one, but one of my kids said: “The person behind me was too slow, if I held on to them, I’d either stop the whole group or get pulled back down.” In the immediate moment that seemed true. But from the big picture it couldn’t be farther from the truth. It was in the letting go that everyone had to stop and wait. Holding on cost us all a few seconds, letting go cost minutes.

Each person was counting on the person in front of them to hold on and not let go. The guy in front of me let go only once, and I immediately lost confidence in him for the remainder of the trip. It wasn’t a big deal, this was a fun waterfall climb, but it made me think about situations that were serious and much was at stake. I want to count on the person in front of me.

So let me ask you. Can the person behind you count on you to hold on?

What looks difficult at the bottom will often seem much easier at the top.
When we all got to the top of the falls, the climb seemed infinitely easier than when we looked up from the bottom. In fact, from the bottom, you couldn’t see even half of what was to come. After getting to the top it seemed like a piece of cake. It was definitely fun, but there was no real passion to do it a second time.

Leadership depends on us raising up other leaders. To be a good leader of leaders, a good leadership mentor, you must be willing to go back to the starting point and help others make the climb. One of the things that made the Jamaican guides so good was they gave each group 100% of their enthusiasm. For them, it was up the waterfall one more time. For us, it was a once in a lifetime family memory. You do the math.

That’s what leaders do, add passion to the trip. We inspire even when we’ve been there and done that. And that’s good news, because we’re all counting on someone to do the same for us! Yeah, Mon!

This article is used by permission from Dr. Dan Reiland’s free monthly e-newsletter, “The Pastor’s Coach,” available at www.INJOY.com. This information cannot be used for resale in any manner. Copyright 2008, INJOY 3760 Peachtree Crest Dr, Ste A, Duluth, GA 30097


An emperor in the Far East was growing old and knew it was time to choose his successor. Instead of choosing one of his assistants or his children, he decided something different. He called young people in the kingdom together one day.

He said, “It is time for me to step down and choose the next emperor. I have decided to choose one of you.”

The kids were shocked! But the emperor continued. “I am going to give each one of you a seed today. One very special seed. I want you to plant the seed, water it and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from this one seed. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next emperor!”

One boy named Ling was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly told his mother the story. She helped him get a pot and planting soil, and he planted the seed and watered it carefully. Every day he would water it and watch to see if it had grown.

After about three weeks, some of the other youths began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Ling kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. three weeks, 4 weeks, 5 weeks went by.

Still nothing.

By now, others were talking about their plants but Ling didn’t have a plant, and he felt like a failure. Six months went by — still nothing in Pal’s pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Ling didn’t say anything to his friend, however. He just kept waiting for his seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the youths of the kingdom brought their plants to the emperor for inspection. Ling told his mother that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot. But honest about what happened, Ling felt sick to his stomach, but he knew his mother was right. He took his empty pot to the palace. When Ling arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other youths. They were beautiful–in all shapes and sizes. Ling put his empty pot on the floor and many of the other kids laughed at him. A few felt sorry for him and just said, “Hey nice try.”

When the emperor arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted the young people. Ling just tried to hide in the back. “My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown,” said the emperor. “Today, one of you will be appointed the next emperor!” All of a sudden, the emperor spotted Ling at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered his guards to bring him to the front. Ling was terrified. “The emperor knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me killed!”

When Ling got to the front, the Emperor asked his name. “My name is Ling,” he replied. All the kids were laughing and making fun of him. The emperor asked everyone to quiet down. He looked at Ling, and then announced to the crowd, “Behold your new emperor! His name is Ling!”

Ling couldn’t believe it. Ling couldn’t even grow his seed. How could he be the new emperor? Then the emperor said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone here a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds which would not grow.

All of you, except Ling, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Ling was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new emperor!

God has given you a seed – a personality with gifts and flaws. A uniqueness that is YOU. We spend way too much time and energy trying to deal with the seed – making it into something we want instead of allowing God to make us into what He wants.

But His steadfast love will not let us go. We cannot escape Him! We are called to experience His faithfulness and love.

Story from “In The Garden With Jesus,” a children’s devotional written by Tiziana Ruff