A Proverb for Easter

9 April 2020

I found the Easter story as I was reading in Proverbs this morning. I wasn’t looking for it there, nor was I expecting to find it there. But there it was – a verse that so clearly sums up the events of Holy Week. Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

The events leading up to the death and resurrection of Christ are full of man’s plans. His disciples planned for Him to free Israel from the tyranny of Roman rule. (Some of them had already imagined what their place of leadership would be in His kingdom.) The chief priests and scribes planned to find a way to get rid of this man that was such a threat to their established religious rule. Judas had a very specific plan to make a little money on the side by betraying Jesus into the hands of His enemies.

Many were the plans in the hearts of men during that time. To the disciples, it seemed like all their hopes and plans died on that cross along with Jesus. For the chief priest and religious leaders, they watched Jesus die with a sense of achievement and relief. Their plans had won!

But then comes the triumphant resurrection of Jesus! The tomb is empty, and Jesus is alive, and in that moment, we see the glorious reality of God’s purpose prevailing over man’s plans in great power! Man’s plans had not only failed, but God used some of those very plans to bring about His ultimate and eternal purpose.

God’s purpose prevailing is echoed throughout all of Scripture. For many of us, as His children, we’ve seen these words played out in our own lives. But never in the history of the world has there been a more dramatic and glorious demonstration of Proverbs 19:21 than in the resurrection of Jesus. God’s purpose prevailed, despite all the plans of men, and it is that wonderful reality that we celebrate this Easter.

He is Risen!!  He is Risen indeed!!

Context Matters

22 January 2020


There are Christian phrases that become so familiar that we can miss the added depth that comes from reading them in context. One of those phrases, and one that I’ve been working at applying to my own life in recent days, is “Do not be anxious about anything.” (Philippians 4:6) That’s quite a challenge – especially when there are real circumstances and concerns that seem like pretty valid reasons to be anxious.

This wasn’t just a pep talk from Paul. He wasn’t sending the church in Philippi a slogan – words to be hung on the wall or sewn on a pillow or used on the front of their bulletin. These words were never meant to stand alone but are tucked between two truths that give us solid reasons to live free from anxiety.

The words that immediately precede Paul’s call to not be anxious are, “The Lord is near.” This is a wonderful assurance when anxiety seems to be a legitimate response to what’s going on in our lives. It’s not just that the Lord is aware of our situation, but that we are not alone no matter what we’re facing. God stands by us as that “ever-present help” in our times of trouble. (Psalm 46:1) The more we know the Lord, the more we will find His presence a perfect antidote for anxiety. It’s the assurance of His presence that can calm the anxious heart.

“Do not be anxious about anything” is not only preceded by the assurance of God’s presence but is followed by some words of instruction. Times of anxiety often bring with them a sense of helplessness. What can we do? What should we do? Paul answers those questions. Pray. Paul encourages us that in everything we can bring our requests and petitions to God. Anxiety accomplishes nothing. Prayer accomplishes much.  We have a God who is near and ready to listen.

“Do not be anxious about anything” is a tall order. These words taken by themselves can be hard to achieve when life seems to offer us legitimate reasons for anxiety. But take those same words and tuck them between the wonderful assurance of God’s presence and our freedom to unburden our hearts to Him in prayer, and we find solid ground for our feet to stand, anxious-free, during difficult days.

Those Windy Days

3 December 2019

Explanation or Excuse?

It’s been 2 years (plus) since I’ve written a new blog. The last one was “There Goes That Cloud Again” which shared about our move from PA to a new ministry in Ohio. And that ministry is part of the reason why this blog has been ignored.

I started the blog when I was home caring for Peter’s mother. As the Lord taught me things it was wonderful to be able to share them with you. Then we moved to Ohio and I began my ministry here as Director of Women’s Ministry and Prayer. Not only has that kept me busy (which I love!), but it has also given me a new outlet for sharing the things God has been teaching me. I love the women of Community Bible Church, and love sharing with them.

Recently I’ve been reminded of my neglect of this opportunity to jot down and share the things I’m learning in my ongoing journey with God. And so, after a pause of 2 years, I am once again sharing my heart and thoughts with you through “A View from the Sparrow’s Nest.” I trust that God will use these words to encourage your heart.


Those Windy Days

This morning I was reading the account of Jesus calming the storm. If you remember the story, the disciples were facing a life-threatening storm while Jesus remained asleep and undisturbed. The disciples urged Jesus to wake up, convinced that they were all going to drown.  Instead of sharing in their panic, Jesus simply spoke, and the “wind and the raging waters” became calm.

This was a powerful demonstration of the authority of Jesus. The disciples were amazed and awed that “even the winds” obeyed the command of Jesus.

Many sermons have been preached on this text, and the point that is most often made is God’s power to calm the storms that we face in our lives. And, thankfully, He can. But there’s a verse in the Psalms that adds another dimension to this truth.

Psalm 148 is a Psalm of praise. In fact, the word “praise” is mentioned 12 times in the 14 verses of this chapter, but tucked among all the praise is the phrase, “stormy winds that do His bidding.” (vs. 8) It’s exactly what the disciples saw demonstrated in a powerful way that day on the Sea of Galilee. The stormy winds obeyed the command of the Creator and became calm.

But that verse also gives us the assurance that God remains in control of all the “stormy winds” in our lives and can use them to accomplish His purposes. They all must do His “bidding.” Sometimes He commands them to be still, and sometimes He allows them to continue blowing. Both are under His command for His purposes. Both are doing His bidding.

I find great encouragement in that reminder on stormy days when I feel blown about by the circumstances in my life. Even the “stormy winds” are under His control and will be used for His purpose and His glory until the time when He says, “Be still!”

There Goes That Cloud Again!

6 October 2017

007-ls-moses-cloud“In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out.” Exodus 40:36

Imagine an Israelite woman waking up and thinking over the things she had to do that day. The children needed her care, she wanted to clean the tent, Jacob’s robe needed to be mended, and she wanted to try a new recipe for manna that Hannah had given her. Before beginning her busy day, she steps outside to enjoy a breath of fresh air when she sees it. There goes that cloud again…and there go her plans for the day. Instead, she will be packing up and following the cloud to the next place God has chosen for them.

I’m having a “there goes that cloud again” experience in my own life. I thought the cloud was staying over the corn fields of Pennsylvania where we were happily settled. And then one morning, I woke up and discovered, much to my surprise, that the cloud was on the move again. And so, we also are on the move again.

While this has been a surprise, and we find it hard to leave our home in central PA, we are excited about the direction the cloud is leading. Peter and I will be moving to Mansfield, Ohio to become part of the Community Bible Church where my son Dan is the Senior Pastor. I will be Director of Womens Ministries and Prayer while Peter will be using his gifts and skills in other areas of the ministry.

Another blessing of this particular cloud is that it’s leading to grandchildren. It will be fun to be able to attend their games, school plays, be there for Grandparents Day, celebrate birthdays, and have sleep-overs.  That’s the silver lining of this cloud.

And so…there goes that cloud again! We are surrounded by boxes and have lists and lists of things to do in preparation for the move, but, above all, we know who directs the cloud and His ways are always best. That makes following this cloud a privilege and a joy!


It’s Beyond Me!

14 June 2017

Book with heartDo you have times when your mind is stretched…and stretched? That’s been my experience these past few days. I’ve been reading a couple of books that are way beyond me—books about topics for which I have no educational background, written by people who are at a whole different level of intelligence than I am. But despite that, they were well worth the effort. To be honest, there was a lot I didn’t get, but I got enough to be totally in awe of God.

The first book was There is a God by Anthony Flew who for many years was a strong voice as an atheist scientist. As more became known about DNA and RNA, Dr. Flew became convinced that the evidence clearly indicated Intelligent Design. His reversal stunned the scientific world.

The second was Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer which documents his research into the popular theories held regarding the origin of life. His studies revealed the fallacies (and in many cases the absurdity) of these and convinced him of the valid scientific argument for Intelligent Design.

I didn’t need these books to settle my belief in God as the Creator. For me, you just need to look around (with or without a scientific background) to see evidence everywhere. Without a knowledge of DNA and RNA, David declared that we are, “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14) And David was right!

But what these books did for me was to stretch my understanding of the great and unfathomable mind of God. What we see of God’s creation is amazing enough to bring us to our knees in worship, but what is unseen to the natural eye is even greater cause to bow. I find my heart echoing David’s words in Psalm 139:6: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.”

I recently made this comment when speaking to a women’s group: “We are only impressed with the privilege of walking and talking with God to the degree that we are impressed with God.” These books have made me so much more aware of the privilege of having a personal relationship with God—with the Creator whose mind is beyond my comprehension, but whose love invites me to a personal and close relationship with Him.

I am not necessarily smarter because I read those books (I certainly didn’t feel smart while reading them!), but I am so grateful to know this amazing Creator personally. What a privilege to be His!

The Manifest Presence of God

20 December 2016

manger-sceneNever was there a clearer display of the manifest presence of God than in the One whose birth we celebrate at this time of year. What an amazing reality for the shepherds, for Simeon and Anna, for the wise men, to see God manifest in the flesh of a newborn baby named Jesus.

In later years, He made it clear that to see Him was to see the Father. He was that manifest presence. But I didn’t live in those times. I wasn’t one of those privileged to see Christ – to hear Him preach, to watch His miracles.

I have, however, been privileged to experience that presence – that sense of the reality of God’s manifest presence. There was a time when a group of us teens were praying in the Prayer Chapel at Delta Lake and God came and met with us. I was at Asbury during the great revival that began there and spread to so many other colleges and churches. You could sense the presence of the Almighty as soon as you walked into Hughes Auditorium, and I remember that I didn’t want to ever leave. There have also been precious times of personal prayer and worship when God made His presence known and felt.

But the manifest presence of God isn’t our usual experience. Often we pray, sometimes even worship, without a sense of God’s presence. What then?

God reminded me this morning that the only difference between those times is my awareness of Him – not the reality of His presence. He is just as surely there when I don’t “sense” Him as in those wonderful moments when I do. That’s faith – the confidence in what isn’t seen or felt. God has promised to be with us. God has promised never, never, never to leave us. And God’s presence isn’t measured by my sense of His presence, but by the promise of His presence.

I didn’t see the baby Jesus. I didn’t hear the words of Christ as He taught or healed. Nor do I feel His manifest presence every time I read His Word or pray. But He is no less real. And that truth brings me great “comfort and joy” at this Christmas season and all year long.




Great Thoughts for a Great Christmas

30 November 2016

christmas“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” (A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy). Tozer’s right. But I also believe that what comes into our minds when we think about God can greatly affect our attitude toward Christmas.

If you have a small concept of God— if you think of Him as a benign grandfatherly type, safe and comfortable—then you will miss the wonder of this time of year. If the Christmas story is mere sentimentality, you may feel a sense of warmth as you hear it again, or as you listen to the familiar music of Christmas, but you’ll miss a sense of awe and amazement at the glorious truth that “the Word became flesh and lived among us.”

When our thoughts about God begin to line up with who He really is, we find a new joy in the Christmas story, and a new sense of awe that this little baby, born in a stable and laid in a manger, was Emmanuel—God Himself with us. When we begin to grasp the greatness and majesty of the Almighty, we also begin to grasp the wonder that this great God would enter our world in such a way. And as we become more aware of the true identity of Mary’s child, our hearts will join those of the shepherds and wise men as we “come and worship.” For He, a holy God in newborn flesh, is worthy!

I trust you will spend time thinking great thoughts about God this Christmas Season and experience the best Christmas ever.

My Best for His Glory

18 October 2016

chambersThe often repeated challenge of Oswald Chambers to give “my utmost for His highest” became the title of one of the most widely read devotional books of all time. But coupled with that phrase are also the words, “my best for His glory.” I find those words equally challenging, along with his frequent encouragement to “be absolutely His!” (see June 2011 post)

I’ve been re-reading the biography of Oswald Chambers and find a man who lived out these words in his own life in a remarkable way. He truly was given over entirely to the Lord whom he loved above all else. He was absolutely His and continually gave his utmost and his best to God for His glory.

It has made me take a good hard look at my own life. Truthfully, it’s made me wish I had another life to give to the Lord – that I could start all over again. Obviously, that’s not possible (and I really wouldn’t want to start all over again!). What is possible is for me to choose to be “absolutely His” for whatever years remain – to live each day offering “my utmost for His highest” and “my best for His glory.” There’s a temptation in the later years of our life to feel entitled to take it easy – even spiritually and in service to the Lord.

I would encourage (even urge) you to read Oswald Chamber: Abandoned to God by David McCasland, but with that urging comes a warning. Do not read this book if you’re content with your life now. It’s possible you may be challenged and changed as I have been through the example of this man whose heart was passionately in love with God – who truly gave “his utmost for His highest.”

A “PS” to this post: I am getting “re-blessed” by this book as I go back and pray through the parts I underlined. (See August 25th, 2012 blog.)

An Extraordinary Ordinary Life

17 February 2016

DSC04481 - CopyIt’s been 2 weeks since my mother passed away. Two weeks of remembering this amazing and precious lady. Two weeks of tears and rejoicing. But mostly, two weeks of realizing anew the blessing that has been mine to call Mary McGarvey, “Mother.”

I have a quote in the front of my Bible from Oswald Chambers that says, “It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God – but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people…”

Those words sum up my mother’s life. Her life was lived mostly on the ordinary streets among ordinary people – 7 very ordinary children included. But she lived that life in a quiet demonstration of the reality of the God she loved and served. She didn’t write a book, seldom did public speaking, never sought the limelight, but she, in her consistent walk with God, had great impact on many, many lives.

Towards the end, Mother’s speech became limited. Her clearest communication was when she prayed. We would catch frequent phrases about service, love, and she would often just repeat, “Wonderful, wonderful!” There was a part of her that wasn’t touched by dementia – a part of her that was still in vibrant communication with the God she loved and still bore testimony of that to those around her.

Mother’s funeral was triumphant. I don’t think I’ve ever used that word to describe a funeral before, but it’s the right word. Mother had chosen Scriptures to be read and hymns to be sung and so we honored her wishes to exalt God as we celebrated her life. There were 72 of her 75 children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren in attendance. Those lives alone are a tribute to the heritage of this godly woman.

The closing hymn, “Be Thou Exalted,” was chosen by my mother and expressed the deep desire of her heart. She never knew how wonderfully God honored that desire as she live a holy life on ordinary streets among ordinary people. And that is extraordinary!

Because of Christmas

22 December 2015

The following is a poem written by my father years ago. Yesterday we took it with us when we visited my mother and Peter read it to her. She had no recognition of this familiar poem – no memory that my father had written it. But what we did see was a precious identification with the truth of these words. She was so responsive to the message of the poem even though its origin and author were forgotten.

As I read over these words again this morning, I was struck by the realization that all of this is possible because of Christmas. God gave us the amazing gift of His Son, and we truly are “complete in Him.”


“You are complete in Him” Colossians 2:10 (NKJV)

In Christ I have a pardon full

From all the guilt of sin,

The fountain flowing from His wounds

Keeps cleansing me within.

In Christ access to God in mine

He lives to intercede.

Before the Father’s glorious throne

He brings my slightest need.

In Christ I’ve found a calm repose

While in His arms I rest.

The circling storms can hold no threat

Nor mounting waves molest.

In Christ I have a blessed hope

No earthly prize can dim.

The trumpet’s sound shall call me up –

Eternity with Him.

Nor have I ought, but what He gives,

And bowing at His feet,

This joyous truth enthralls my soul –

In Christ I am complete!

(Samuel W. McGarvey, July 7, 1948)


“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15

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