Archive for May, 2008

Do not grieve…

Friday, May 30th, 2008

I know I mentioned that we had a Going Away party for the Robinsons on Sunday and what a great time that was. But they don’t actually leave until early tomorrow morning. So I’m going to their Spartanburg home this afternoon for the last time. I told Clay and Caleb last night that I’ve spent this entire week ignoring the fact that they’re leaving. Every time it crosses my mind I subconsciously dismiss any thoughts of it. I did not realize until about 3:30 this morning just how sad I really am to be losing this family to Texas. You hear “Our loss is their gain,” well for this family, it could not be more true. 

So this morning I opened my Bible to the study of the life of Jesus in Luke that I’ve been doing and the book (written by Beth Moore of course) referred me to Nehemiah. The topic had absolutely nothing to do with grief or sadness, but this verse is what God said to me this morning…

“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10).

Why am I going to miss this family? Because they represent Hannah to me. Had it not been for Hannah’s journey with sarcoma I would have never met them. I knew “of” Jacob and he was actually in our home for Hannah’s surprise 17th birthday party but he was among many teenagers so I did not remember him. Their oldest son, Josh was the “first Robinson on the scene” when Hannah was at M. D. Anderson and I took an immediate liking to him. And then God placed the entire Robinson family in our lives AND HEARTS and they have proven to be my lifeline on more occasions than I can count. When I’m feeling insecure about my place in Hannah’s Hope Ministries I can always depend on Glenn, Rhonda, Jacob or Sarah Katherine to quickly remind me of why I’m here. I’ve received more encouraging emails from Glenn and Rhonda than from anyone anywhere. Rhonda and I hit it off immediately, kindred spirits, and she is my biggest fan as a writer – and Glenn is my bestest cheerleader. I love these peeps! So yes, doggone it, I am very sad! But God gave me a word this morning and I will not only be okay with their leaving, I will rejoice. How? Because the joy of the Lord is my strength. Joy! So there you have it. My tribute to the Robinson family. I love you guys!!

Maybe you’re grieving over the loss of a loved one much as we have for Hannah, or maybe you’re just grieving over the loss of a friend to another area of the world, or a child’s graduation from high school to bigger and better things. I don’t know where you are today but I have a word for you from our Father, Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!

Have a blessed weekend.

Hope

Satisfied…but not stuffed

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

I was reading in Psalm 90 this morning and the thought occured to me that God wants us to be satisfied with His provision. Satisfied, but not stuffed. That may be a mountain term, I’m not sure. I’ve used it all my life which could be a good indication of such. When I’ve eaten just enough I’ll say, “I’m satisfied but not stuffed. I think I’ll stop here.” It’s rather obvious by looking at me that I haven’t said that enough over the years. Where am I going with this? Check out this verse…

“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14).

The Psalmist David did not ask God to fill him to capacity and overload him with His unfailing love, but rather to satisfy him. That should be our prayer each morning for God to satisfy us in the morning with enough unfailing love to carry us through with joy and gladness to the next day. Then the next day we’ll need to call on Him again, thus depending on His daily sufficient supply of unfailing love and grace and mercy and strength and…you get the idea. A daily dependency on Him.

Give us just enough, Lord to get us through and to put a song in our hearts for this day, and may we visit You again tomorrow morning. Give us what we need – satisfy us. If You give us too much, we’ll become immune and take it for granted. Give us just enough so that we’ll be satisfied…but not stuffed.

Hope

 

In order to be blessed, I must believe!

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

“Blessed is she (Mary) who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” (Luke 1:45). Emphasis mine.

The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her, a young teenage virgin Hebrew girl that she was to bear the Son of God. That has got to be one of the most random, outlandish announcements of all time. Not only was this girl just a plain, ordinary girl, she was a virgin girl betrothed to a young carpenter boy. Why would God choose to send His only Son, Son of the Most High to such a place and allow such a lowly young girl to be His mother? Because God is all about using the least among us, the ordinary. Can you imagine the heart of that young girl? I imagine “a little anxious” didn’t scratch the surface of what she was feeling! But you know what? She knew God and she knew Him well. If you study the first chapter of Luke you will find Mary’s song and in that song she has several quotes from the Old Testament. She had His word hid in her heart and she knew Him well. For that reason, she believed Gabriel. She only asked one question and that was “How is this to be when I am a virgin girl?” Gabriel told her she would conceive by the Holy Spirit. She didn’t have any more questions. It was as if she said, “Oh. Okay.”

Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, an elderly lady who at an old age had become pregnant with John the Baptist. When Elizabeth greeted Mary, the baby lept in Elizabeth’s womb and her words to Mary are recorded in the above referenced verse, “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord said to her will be accomplished.” Mary believed God – and she was blessed by all generations.

I want to be blessed and called blessed, don’t you? In order to receive all God has for me, I must believe Him. Even when His words or His plans or His ways or His purpose seems random and “out there.” Even when nothing makes sense. I must believe Him.

Hope

 

No ifs, buts or ands about it…

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Have you ever been determined to do something and you made the statement, “There are no ifs, buts or ands about it. That’s just how it’s going to be.” In other words, this is not up for discussion, not negotiable, I am determined. That’s what Paul was saying in Philippians 3:10…

“I want to know Christ…becoming like him” (Philippians 3:10).

The Amplified Bible says, “My determined purpose is that I may know Him.”

Deb has used this scripture several times lately and I like it! I echo Paul in that I want to get to know Christ in an intimate way, and do so with determination and purpose. I’m on a mission and I want to use any Bible study books, references, various versions of the Bible to find out all I can about the person of Christ so that I will know Him intimately. I love the Lord and I know Him personally, but I want to know Him intimately. When you know someone on a deep and intimate level, you stand up for them, you fight for them, you defend them regardless of the accuser. You do not waiver in where you stand on their behalf. That’s what Christ wants from us. We do not need to shy away from opportunities to stand up for Christ and what we believe. But before we can do that, we’ve got to decide what we believe. The only way to do that is to get to know Him on a personal basis. You can’t base your belief on what others say, you’ve got to know it for a fact.

Make it your determined purpose to get to know Christ so that you can stand with full confidence and proclaim His name above all names, no ifs, buts or ands about it. Period. Dot.

I hope each of you had a great Memorial Weekend. We did. Deb and I spent Saturday at Cliffside Baptist Church in Cliffside, NC at a ladies conference. Deb was one of four speakers and the day was phenonemal. God has opened some pretty incredible doors lately. We just stand back and shake our heads. Then Sunday afternoon we met to say “Goodbye” the Robinsons, our dear friends that Hannah introduced us to. Glenn will continue to serve on our Board of Directors “from afar” in Waco, TX but we will miss all of them so much. God has used them in a tremendous way in Hannah’s life and now at Hannah’s Hope Ministries. We send them off with many prayers and much excitement for what God will continue to do in their lives. Then we went to the Department of Juvenile Justice in Union. Hannah’s Hope Ministries is now approved to visit there the 4th Sunday night of each month. That is a great opportunity to share the hope of Jesus Christ to some pretty lonely and confused young people. Deb, Carmela and I laughed Sunday night as we were setting up in the gym at DJJ that Hannah, doggone her hide, is keeping us pretty busy. But we still get the last word because we’re taking her wherever we want to and she gets no say so! However, in reality she does get the last word because the short little 3 minute clip from the interview between Hannah and a local news anchor says more than we can say in hours. Everyone is captured by her words and her spirit. God had a big ole plan and He will continue to use Hannah’s life for years to come.

Have a great day!

Hope

 

I Know My Redeemer Lives…

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

For those of you who follow Christian music, I’m sure you’ve heard about the tragedy in Steven Curtis Chapman’s family. On Wednesday afternoon his family was outside preparing to celebrate his son, Caleb’s high school graduation and just a few hours previously had celebrated the announcement of his daughter’s engagement. By some tragic accident, their 5-year-old daughter, Maria Sue was run over in their driveway and killed, the driver was their teenage son. Maria Sue is one of three daughters that Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman have adopted from China. Because their son’s name is Caleb, and because we know what it’s like to lose a daughter/sister/niece/granddaughter, I have been unable to get this family off my mind. The tragedy of losing the little girl is bad enough but to think what this young boy is going through is heart breaking.

This morning I was praying for them as I was driving down the road and the song, “I Know My Redeemer Lives” came on the radio. And I just cried and cried. The truth is that if this family or any other family facing tragedy did not know that they know that they know that their Redeemer is alive, there is no way they could face the next day, or even their next breath with any hope at all. The song says, “Who taught the sun where to stand in the morning? Who told the ocean you can only go this far? Who told the moon where to hide til evening? Whose words alone can catch a falling star?…The very same God who spins things in orbit runs to the weary, the worn and the weak.” Then later on in the song it says, “Because He lives I can face tomorrow.” There’s no other way – not with sanity for sure! Job says…

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God…” (Job 19:25 & 26).

If it were not for the hope of eternity with our Redeemer, we would be overtaken with despair. If you believe this today, say it several times aloud and then cast all of your cares and worries and heartaches on the assurance that I Know My Redeemer Lives! Even when we don’t feel like His plan makes any sense at all. Even when His plan seems quite warped from our perspective. How do we face tomorrow? Because He lives!!

Hope

 

Praise Him in spite of your circumstances…

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

The book of Psalms is full of examples of praising the Lord in spite of your circumstances. David cries out to God as if God were no where to be found, yet in the same chapter praises Him for Who He is and what He has done for him. Many times when reading the Psalms I find myself saying, “Make up your mind, David. Has God forsaken you or has He not?” The truth is God had not forsaken David, nor has He forsaken me or you. We just have to change gears quickly like David does and turn our groans and heart cries to songs of praise and deliverance. Here is an example…

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent” (Psalm 22:1 & 2).

Then in the same chapter David changes gears and he says, “in you they trusted and were not disappointed…You who fear the Lord, praise him!…They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn – for he has done it” (Psalm 22:5, 23 & 31).

Casting Crowns may have recorded the song, “Praise You in the Storm” but it was David’s idea first! All through the Psalms David cries out from a pit feeling neglected, forgotten and abandoned and then turns that cry into praise. The truth is if we get our eyes off of our troubles and onto the Lord, we find we can’t whine. We just automatically start praising Him. I’ve found that to be the case over the past couple of weeks. Every time I start to ask God for something I find myself unable to do anything but thank Him for His goodness. Then I make my list of requests.

Where are you today? What circumstances are weighing heavy on you? Praise Him in spite of those circumstances, and you’ll find your heart is light and the burden has been lifted.

Hope

 

What has been gained?

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

My sister, Leigh shared a couple of verses with me the other day that I guess I had read in the past but certainly had not focused on. If our goals and desires are based on our own merit, our own accomplishments, our own good deeds or our own strength, if we set out for things of the world to fulfill our desires, all will be meaningless. There will always be a void. If God is not Lord of our lives, all is meaningless. Here are the verses…

“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor.

Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:10 & 11).

What does your heart take delight in? Is it all that you’ve accomplished? Self-achievement? If your eyes desire it, do you set out to get, denying yourself nothing? If so, take a survey of all that you have and you’ll find that everything is meaningless, and nothing has been gained that will stand. This scripture stirred a longing in my heart to get my priorities in line. One of Hannah’s quotes in her interview with a local news anchor only six days before she went to heaven is, “I’ve found that material things just don’t matter, you know? Relationships and friendships are what matter. They have more eternal value than all the worldly things that life has to offer…” Spoken from the words of a beautiful 18-year-old girl who had been stripped of her health, her physical body was wasting away. Yet she realized what would stand at the end of life.

Here is the other verse that Leigh gave to me, one of the last verses in Ecclesiastes.

“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

The conclusion in the matter is to fear God and keep His commandments. That’s the whole duty of man. That’s all that will stand.

“What good will it be a for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

Take a look back at your life thus far…what part have you allowed God to play in your daily plans? What has been gained?

Hope

 

I’m looking for You, Lord

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

Over the weekend, Lord, I saw Prince Caspian – C.S. LEWIS’ Chronicles of Narnia. There was little Lucy – her faith was so simple and pure. She saw You when no one else did. She was looking for You and You didn’t disappoint her. You are portrayed as a lion, Aslan, the Lion of Judah, in the movie. At one point You appear to Lucy and encourage her to follow You in a certain direction. She follows You a little distance and then she turns back to look back for her siblings. When she turns back around to see You, You are no longer in sight. She had taken her eyes off of You and because of that she ended up taking a much longer journey to the intended destination.

When she finally gets sight of You again, Lord, she asks You this question, “Why didn’t the others see You?” referring to her siblings.  And You, in great wisdom reply, “Because they weren’t looking for Me.” Oh Father, that was such a powerful word and such a powerful picture. You are there Lord, You are desiring to show me Yourself at every turn in every day. But I must keep my focus and my heart tuned in to You alone and not turn toward the voices of any other. I can’t follow any other except You Father or else it will also take me longer to reach the intended places You have ordained for me. There is none like You, Lord. “You are not a tame God but You are a good God.” Your paths are not always easy, but they are filled up with Your presence. Is there anything of any greater value than knowing and experiencing the presence of Almighty God.

You have challenged my heart through that picture Lord. Oh Jesus, let me keep my eyes on You and You alone. Don’t let me take my eyes from You. And oh Jesus, when I turn away from You, turn me quickly back to looking into Your face. Lord, everyday I must see You. I desperately need to see You daily Father. There is nothing of greater importance in my life than daily seeing Jesus. Oh Father today, I am looking for You and I know You won’t disappoint me!

You amaze me by the ways You show me Yourself when I am looking for You and pursuing You. You blew me away over the weekend while we were out of town with Michael. We met a precious waitress in a restaurant near where we were staying on Saturday evening and she shared just a little of a journey that You are taking her on. She was clinging to You for victory over a certain area in her life. I shared just a little of our journey with her. She mentioned that she had moved into the area because of the church she is attending. She told us where it was and told us we should visit. I had determined that I was going to worship with the body of Christ somewhere and so on Sunday morning I set out on an adventure with You.

I drove in the direction she had instructed me and passed many little churches along the way where I could have stopped, talking to You the whole way. It seemed that I had gone quite a distance and I was about to turn around – just like Lucy –  and visit another church I had seen along the way but just before I did I caught sight of the church she had mentioned. It was right there in the middle of no where and it was a lovely place. I pulled into the parking lot and who was the first person I saw? The waitress from the restaurant! She normally goes to Sunday School but had worked late and was just coming to church at 10:00. So I park the car and we walk into church together. A precious service, precious people and a challenge about the fruit of the Spirit being evident in our lives. I had great conversation and prayer with her in the parking lot about some current challenges in her life. You ordained the entire morning – there was no question. I was so excited about how clearly You had shown me Yourself. I’m so thankful I was looking for You. I’m looking for You today, too, Lord! And You are continuing to show me Yourself! You are working, Lord and I bless Your name!

I saw a marquee on the road by a church this week that read, “He who has the most faith has the most fun.” Life with You is either the great adventure or it is not! It is Lord! Down paths we would never choose but You are clearing the path and You are making the way! Bless Your Name!

“I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord.  I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all Your mighty deeds. Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; You display Your power among the peoples.”

 

“I have chosen you…”

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

“‘…I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the LORD Almighty” (Hagai 2:23).

What is a signet ring? It is a ring with the king’s seal or name that he used to authorize documents. The signet ring symbolized the king’s authority. The Lord is telling Hagai in this passage to give Zerubbabel the message that his life will be used as a signet ring, his life will symbolize the authority of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

What does it mean to be chosen by God? I’m sure Deb and/or I have shared this story with you before but I’d like to remind you. Hannah was on a ventilator for 17 days and the family was told during that time that cancer had spread to her lungs and she was not going to make. She would only live a few days. That was July 21, 2006. On July 25th Hannah was miraculously removed from the ventilator and cancer in her lungs was never mentioned again to her death. On Wednesday evening, July 26 Hannah was listening to First Baptist Spartanburg’s youth service, Crossfire, via the internet in her ICU room in M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX. In Hannah’s room with her were her friend, Jacob and her youth minister’s wife, Robin. After the service ended Hannah said, “Let’s pray.” Jacob and Robin each voiced a prayer and then Hannah prayed. Jacob and Robin shared with us later that Hannah’s prayer went like this, “Thank you, God for choosing me. Of all the people you could have chosen, you chose me.” This sweet prayer of thanksgiving to God came only one day after coming off of a ventilator that had sustained her life for 17 days. Amazing.

Deb shares that Hannah’s journey has given the family a whole new perspective on what it means to be chosen by God. Maybe you are in a tough spot today and you just don’t understand why you’re there. Could it be that God chose you for this season? Could it be that God wants to fulfill an amazing plan for you and then later use you as a signet ring, one with the authority of God Himself? Before you were formed in your mother’s womb God had a plan and a purpose for your life. You have been chosen. Allow God to use your valley to bring glory to Himself on the mountain top.

There is great peace and freedom in the assurance that God says to me, “I have chosen you…”

Hope

 

A Walk to Remember

Monday, May 19th, 2008

“A Walk to Remember,” that was the title of our Pastor’s challenge to our 2008 graduates yesterday. What a great word. Danny referred to the movie which was based on Nicholas Sparks’ book, A Walk to Remember. The story is of a young teenage girl who walked with the Lord and was very faithful in her devotion to Him. She died of leukemia but the walk of her life was one to remember. That was the challenge to our graduates, walk the talk and make it a walk to remember.

That doesn’t just apply to young people. That is a great challenge for us old folks, too. The scripture referenced yesterday is…

“I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless” (Genesis 17:1). The Message says, “live entirely before me, live to the hilt!”

Live life entirely, don’t miss anything but always remember that He is God Almighty. Live your life as if walking in front of Him today, because in reality we are. He is ever present. Be blameless in your actions, words and deeds. Get all you can out of life, but do so without blame. Make your life a walk to remember.

Hope