Archive for February, 2009

Rooted in Him…

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Our Bible Study this week focuses on being rooted in Christ. One of the verses that I’m very familiar with stirred something in my heart yesterday as I re-read it.

“He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:8).

A tree that’s roots lead to the water is never thirsty. The heat doesn’t bother it, its leaves are always beautiful and green. A drought does not affect it and its fruit is always plenteous because the roots run all the way to the source of water, the stream.

So our Christian lives are if we are rooted, grounded in the source of water, Jesus Christ. If we are connected to the living stream, then a drought of sorrow or grief or disappointment or pain will not leave us dry and cause us to be fruitless. Our effectiveness will not falter as long as we are drawing from the stream of living water. A heatwave of fear or death or loss of job or discouragement will not cause our leaves of faithfulness and love and patience and endurance to die and fade away. Instead our leaves and fruit of the spirit will remain fresh and beautiful even when they’re put to the test.

Be rooted in Christ today and find that His source for water to our souls is all we need!

Praying for the Coleman Young family today as they grieve the loss of their beautiful home to a tragic fire yesterday. As Jenni was quoted in the local paper, “Nobody was hurt…it’s all material.”  The Youngs will always hold a special place in our hearts. When we arrived at the airport on Father’s Day 2006 to put Hannah, Mickey and Deb on the plane for the first time to M. D. Anderson, Cole and Jenni were there seeing Lauren off to a mission trip. We were able to draw strength from them and they joined hands with us as we prayed for the journey that lie ahead. It was at that time that Deb prayed, “Dear Jesus, we must see Your hand at every turn!” And we continue to see His hand even today. Lord, we know the Youngs are rooted in You. Please bless this beautiful family this day as they regroup and begin restoration from their great loss. May they, too, see Your hand at every turn.

Hope

 

Who’s in charge of your day planner?

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

“When I planned this, did I do it lightly?…do I make my plans in a worldly manner?” (2 Corinthians 1:17 NIV).

“…the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh?” (KJV)

What’s on your agenda for today? What or who controls your daily schedule? Are you running around trying to get it all in? And if so, what then? Suppose you were to get it all in, what will have been accomplished? A modern philosopher once said, “So what if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat!” Now I’m not calling any of you a rat, but what is accomplished if our entire lives we run around wide open from one appointment, one game, one errand to the next and never slow down to appreciate our family, our friends, and most important, our Father who just wants to spend a little bit of time with us.

Boy, I’m preaching to myself here. Friday I was in a tizzy to say the least. I had much to prepare for the Board Retreat on Saturday, and was hosting our monthly Sunday School class party at my house Friday evening. Clay’s cousin, David from Lynchburg, VA sent an email last week and asked if we were doing anything this past weekend that he’d like to come down. Clay answered, “Nah! Come on down!” knowing that if David waits for us “not to be doing anything” he’d never visit! So David arrived around 4:00 pm Friday and I came rushing in with groceries in arms and announced that we were hosting a party. We hoped he didn’t mind! He just grinned as if to say, “Why am I not surprised?” After everyone left Friday night Clay and I stayed up until 1:30 am revisiting our vision for the ministry. Up at 6:00, cooked a couple of breakfast casseroles for the Board, loaded David up and took him to the meeting for the day. Saturday evening there were about 3 things we could do but Clay decided he was going to hang out with Cousin David and do none of the 3. After I washed a couple of loads of clothes, cleaned up the kitchen behind Caleb and Jordi and Clay and David, looked over my Bible Study, I decided I was tired so I joined them in a movie. Sunday was a whirlwind for me but Clay was able to spend much of the afternoon with David (if you can call sleeping in recliners across the room from each other bonding) and then we sent David back home Monday morning hoping we didn’t neglect him.

So I get up on Monday morning and do my 3 mile workout, all the while feeling like I had gone like a wild woman all weekend. I have to confess I had not spent much time just me and the Lord. I’m sure He was thinking, “All of this is good stuff, Hope, but what about Me?” I am convicted today for my lack of time that I spend one-on-one with my Father. Psalm 105 gives us a good example of how to include the Lord in our daily schedule. Here are a few…

Look to the Lord and His strength.

Seek His face.

Tell of all His wondrous acts.

Call on His name.

And the list goes on and on. Who’s in charge of your day planner?

Hope

Come and see…

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

“Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one that Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ ‘Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked. ‘Come and see,’ said Philip.” (John 1:45 & 46).

Jesus of Nazareth? Can anything good come from Nazareth? Philip had no doubt because he had already met this Jesus. He told Nathanael to come and see. He was telling his friend, “Don’t take my word for it, come and see for yourself!” And when Nathanael met Jesus, Jesus immediately called Nathanael by name and after having only one short conversation with Him, Nathanael proclaimed, “You are the Son of God.”

Maybe you don’t know this Jesus of Nazareth that I talk about every day on this blog. Maybe you’ve heard a lot about Him but you still wonder if anything good could come from a po-dunk town such as Nazareth. Don’t take my word for it. Come and see for yourself. Read all about Him in the Bible and then have just a short conversation with Him. You’ll find that He already knows your name and He’ll be able to tell you all about yourself. You won’t have to spend much time with Him before you, too will proclaim, “Jesus! You truly are the Son of God!”

Come and see…

I’m taking Jax to the vet this afternoon. He’s been having small spells that resemble miniature seizures to me. I’ve already told Clay and Caleb that if anything happens to this cute-as-a-button puppy dog, we’re not getting another one. My heart can’t take it! Who’d a thunk it coming from me???? (No laughing, Poppy!!)

Hope

 

Nothing is too hard for Him…

Friday, February 20th, 2009

“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).

We are at a pivotal point at Hannah’s Hope Ministries, and it’s an exciting time. Where do we go from here? The direction of the ministry has taken a huge turn toward the medical community but there is still a demand for speaking in churches as well. We will spend the day tomorrow at our first HHM Board Retreat brainstorming about what, when, where, how and who. Oh how I wish the Lord would send me His agenda for the next several years, and that He’d fax it on down this afternoon! But He just doesn’t work that way. Instead He sends me His plan through His word. And last night I picked up my Believing God devotional journal by Beth Moore and there on the page was exactly what I needed to hear. Jeremiah 32:17.

“Hope,” the Lord said, “I am Sovereign! I am so powerful that I created the heavens and the earth by simply outstretching my arm. Nothing is too hard for me! When will you ever trust me?” And I dropped my head and cried. Tears of joy, tears of encouragement, tears of frustration at myself for ever doubting, and tears of exhileration at what God is going to do with this ministry that He began now over two years ago.

So that’s my word for you today too. Are you desperately praying that God will send His agenda with each line item marked by date and time? It’s not going to happen! But instead He gives us His plan beautifully laid out in His Word. We just have to believe Him.

Nothing is too hard for Him…

Hope

Back to Gibbs Cancer Center at SRMC

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Our enemy is not flesh and blood! This is the reality, isn’t it Father? We are fighting spiritual battles in the heavenly realms, aren’t we?  You tell us that in Ephesians chapter 6 – that famous chapter that we so often refer to about the armor of God. Many times we begin by memorizing from about v.10 and following – wonderful verses – “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God . . . so that. . .you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this I mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”

But Father, sometime we don’t pay as much attention to v.11 and 12. Those seem a little farther removed and we don’t really want to think much about those verses. We like to picture the “Armor of God.” But Father, Your intent in the passage is that we as believers recognize that we are in a spiritual battle. “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand AGAINST THE DEVIL’S SCHEMES. FOR OUR STRUGGLE IS NOT AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD, BUT AGAINST THE RULERS, AGAINST THE AUTHORITIES, AGAINST THE POWERS OF THIS DARK WORLD AND AGAINST THE SPIRITUAL FORCES OF EVIL IN THE HEAVENLY REALMS.” That is not a place we want to “camp” very long. We don’t want to ponder the reality of a “spiritual battle” in the heavenly realm. But Father, You desire for Your body to be very wise about the battle we are in. Any good soldier understands and recognizes his enemy.

Our focus is never to be our enemy but our focus is to be upon You, Jesus, The Captain of the Lord’s army!

I hear my friend’s exhortation ringing in my ear as we walk, “You’ve got to know the enemy. You’ve got to know what you are fighting against.”  And so Lord, it seems that with somewhat fresh understanding, You are allowing me to grasp this to a new level even this week. I don’t want to – I didn’t ask to – but You are continuing to open the eyes of my spiritual understanding more and more. I have felt the battle this week and I now acknowledge that it has been a spiritual battle. I supposed it was just a battle with my own flesh and depravity and certainly that is a battle we fight every day. The scripture tells us “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9 But Father, You desire for  us to understand as Your body, that we are in a serious spiritual battle and the stakes are very high – the stakes are eternal ones and our enemy, the devil, plays a very nasty game.

He has us believing some lies. He does not want us to ponder that we are in a spiritual battle. As long as he can keep us thinking about the picture of the armor, we don’t have to ponder the spiritual battle. But Father, it seems that there is much sickness within the body of Christ and we cannot accomplish what You desire to accomplish in our generation because of the state of our weakness and powerlessness.  We have spiritual diseases – we are preoccupied with our physical diseases – our pain eats us up! You have a plan for Your kingdom – just for this generation! But we are powerless to accomplish it unless we ban together and help each other! We desperately need each other – to edify – to build up and encourage each other. There is such strength in unity.

We, as believers, must search our hearts before You and sincerely seek You with all of our hearts. There are places of pain that You desire for us to face so that You can free us from those. There are places that are uncomfortable for us that You want to take us so that You can free us from them. We must sincerely want to know what the problem is.  It may be pain from the death of a child, pain from a rebellious child, it may be divorce, it may be disease, it may be a broken relationship, it may our sin of pride.

When we confess our pain, You forgive us and we can have freedom. True repentance is freedom!

In order for us to get on Your agenda, we have to help each other become healthy so that we can accomplish the purposes and plan You have for this generation! And if we can’t do it for ourselves, WE MUST DO IT FOR OUR CHILDREN!  You are interested in our hearts! Your people are scattered by the enemy because of our trials, disappointments, and our despair. Jesus, You came to free us! And You free us by Your truth! “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” John 8:32

This week, Lord, You took me back to a place of pain in my life and You had me look it square in the eye. You took me back, for the first time, to the Spartanburg Regional Medical Center where Hannah was a patient many times from September until November. You had me walk in the door where we walked so many times. You had me sit on the couch in the lobby and pray where we met many times to pray with many believers we didn’t even know to call our to You for Hannah’s physical healing. You had me walk to the nurse’s station and hug several necks that I recognized. You allowed me to go into that little “prayer room” where we met with Dr. Corso and he told us that there was nothing else he could do. At the time, I didn’t know anything else to do but pray. On Wednesday, when I got to that room with two very dear friends, I, once again, didn’t know anything to do but pray. And so we did. We blessed You and thanked You for Your strength to walk back to this place of pain and face it. Oh, Jesus, how healing!!!!

You had me walk around the entire circle of rooms in that oncology ward and as I passed by the doors where Hannah had been a patient I recounted memories that had been made in each room – many were not easy memories – many were painful! We walked to the area in the atrium where the Dorman High School Chorus stood and sang with great beauty and authority while Hannah listened from her wheel chair.

You had me go upstairs to the office area of Dr. Corso. You had me walk through the lab area where Hannah’s blood was drawn many times. You had me walk down the hall into his office where we had wheeled Hannah several times. You had me remember the exact chairs Mickey & I sat in as we received very difficult news. You allowed me to write on an “I Have Hope” card a simple message to Dr. Corso – “Dr. Corso – thank you – Debbie!” That was it! I didn’t think he was there but then you had us walk around the corner and see the newspaper articles that he had posted outside of his office about Hannah and her journey. That blessed my heart!!! We went into the examining room area, hugged Melody and Dr. Corso’s necks and walked into the two rooms where Hannah was examined several times. And in that examining room, there she was – the “Hannah’s Journey DVD, and the pamphlets about HHM. That blessed my heart! We hugged their necks again, and we exited in the same manner we always did with Hannah – past the exit desk – which now holds an “I Have Hope” sign setting on it, past the restroom, around the corner and into the hall.

Lord, that was HUGE for me!  Jesus, You wanted me to go there and face my pain, didn’t You? You wanted me to have victory – sweet victory – You wanted me to know that I could that with Your help, didn’t You?  You placed that on my heart early Wednesday morning through some words of wisdom I had received from Mickey the evening before. He didn’t know how You had used his words to challenge and convict my heart.

Jesus, I bless You, I praise You that Your strength has once again been perfected in my extreme weakness and th
at Your grace has amazed me once again!  Bless Your Name! You desire to set us free from our prisons so that we might declare Your praises. Psalm 142:7 I am amazed again by Your faithfulness!

Lord, there will always be those memories in that place for me but You empowered me to overcome my fear of returning to that place and I thank You! Set me freer and freer and freer! “I run in the path of Your commands for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32 Amen and Amen!    

And Father, free us, as the body of Christ to new levels! In Jesus name we pray together, Amen!  

We just keep going back for more…

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Jax the beagle just never learns. Every morning he sniffs my ankles and my feet after I’ve applied my Love Spell lotion and every morning he jumps back, shakes his head back and forth, snorts and sneezes and carries on – and then comes right back for more the next day. I say to him every time, “Jax, it is still the same lotion! Why do you put yourself through this?”

That’s the way we are with our doubts and worries and even sins. We know they’re going to be bad for us. We know they’ll come back to sting more than just our nose but we just keep going back! God wants us to learn our lesson once and for all and not go sniffing where we know there’s trouble! He wants us to remember what He’s done for us – the good stuff and quit messing with what’s not.

“Remember therefore what you have received and heard” (Revelation 3:3).

“Remember those earlier days…when you stood your ground” (Hebrews 10:32).

Hope  

It’s all God…

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

As I read Deb’s journal entry this morning, I wasn’t at all surprised to see that God was speaking to her heart much as He’s speaking to mine this morning. I read the Psalm for today, Psalm 18 and then I read it in The Message. Again, I wasn’t at all surprised to find a Word from Him for direction as we move forward with Hannah’s Hope Ministries…

“It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect” (Psalm 18:32 NIV).

“Is not this the God who armed me, then aimed me in the right direction?” (Psalm 18:32 The Message).

This entire Hannah’s Hope Ministries journey, as well as Hannah’s six month battle with sarcoma, has been all God. He armed us for the battle, and then He aimed us in the right direction. We would have never chosen this direction and certainly without His strength, we could not continue on this path. When God chooses, He prepares, then He plots out the path. All we have to do is trust Him each day for direction on that path. Much like what Deb said in her entry, sometimes we wish He’d go ahead and draw the entire path for us so that we can see where each curve is, each bump along the way, each hill we’ll climb, each downhill slope, each water break on the side, all the way to the end. But that’s not the faith walk, that’s the sight walk. And when we depend on what we know and what we see, we depend on ourselves and that will always end in disaster.

So for this day, Father, we once again allow You to arm us for this day’s battle, and trust You to point us in the right direction. We will continue on that path by faith. And I pray this same prayer for our web friends. Maybe someone else is wondering which way to go and which way to turn and what is waiting around the next bend. Encourage their hearts today with Your truth in Psalm 18. The entire chapter is full of extra nudges to keep on going! You are our Refuge, our Fortress, our Strength, our Rock, our Road Map. Praise Your name today for the booster shot from Your Word!!

Hope

Seek You – With All My Heart

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Dear Father, Abraham got up and he went and the scripture says he didn’t know where he was going.” You told him to go and one day at a time, he figured out where it was You were leading him. And so it is in my life, Father. I can look back and without any question I can see Your hand over my life and the path You have had me on. But Lord, I, like Abraham, can’t see the path ahead. I suppose that is why You tell us in Your word that we walk by “faith” and not by “sight.” You know Lord, it would be a lot more comfortable on this earth if You just wrote it all out. But then I wouldn’t need to trust You, I wouldn’t need to seek You, would I?  And Lord, You are all about me seeking You – Your word is full of encouragement for me to seek You – not just “seek” You Father but passionately pursue You! And You tell me in Your word, “When you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” Jeremiah 29:13 (Message) That is a pretty great promise Lord and one that makes me want to seek You with all of my heart!

A friend was sharing with me that Sunday her pastor was speaking about the scripture from Matthew 6:33 where Jesus was teaching “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. . .” He encouraged his congregation that what that means is “seeking God on steroids.” I love that! Seeking God in super-drive! “To plot or capture,” “to crave, to search for diligently.” That is precious, Lord! What a picture! What a purpose! What a purpose for our lives daily – the passionate pursuit of You – and You alone! And as we pursue You, You lay out the path and plan step by step!

I suppose, Lord, these thoughts are more at the forefront of my thinking this morning as we look ahead to first Board Retreat of HHM – an extended time of seeking Your face and understanding Your heart. Without any question, we can look back and see Your hand over the path You have had us on. You gave us the scripture from Revelation 3:8 “See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” You knew how little our strength was, Lord, and You also knew that throughout the journey our hearts had been not to deny Your name.  With that encouragement from You, Hope stepped up to become the Executive Director of HHM. What did that mean? It meant that day by day, step by step, You would show her Your path and plan.

Shortly thereafter, the board encouraged Mickey and I to share about our journey on DVD. There is no way in the world we could have done that without Your empowering presence with and over us. We had just lost our baby girl to a nasty cancer. In May of that year, You enabled Hope to compile “Hannah’s Hope – A Journey of Faith” with the Caring Bridge entries that were penned during the six month journey of Hannah’s illness. Last year, by Your amazing grace alone, You took me on a journey of revisiting each day of our journey through my prayer journal and going back to those very difficult places we found ourselves. You allowed me to lay it all before You because You knew I would need to do that for You to begin the process of healing my heart. And 9 months later, the length of carrying a baby, You birthed, “A Dove Set Free.” Once again, Lord, I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that was all You – You gave me the title, the chapters, and the parallels. I could never have done that on my own. And You have been so faithful to bring so much healing through the writing of that book and I bless Your Name Lord!

You put a vision in the heart of Hannah’s oncologist, Steve Corso, to have a pin designed that would communicate to those who find themselves in very difficult places, that there is a hope bigger and beyond their immediate crisis. It was in his heart that that simple puzzle pin free care-givers who know You to take the opportunity to pray for their patients. From personal experience, we know how powerful it was to have caregivers pray with us and for us during the wee hours of the morning. You have honored the vision You placed in his heart in ways we would never have thought of!

You continue to bring people into our lives who are facing their own personal crisis. The other night at the Dorman Freshman Campus, a nurse walked up to me, introduced herself and told me that she had been one of Hannah’s caregivers. She went on to share with me that her father has recently been diagnosed with cancer and asked me to pray for him. This morning, Father, I bring Mr. Pettit to Your throne – he is a believer, he knows You. Today Father, will You wrap Your big arms of love, comfort, mercy and peace around him. Will You fill him with an amazing sense of Your presence? Will You thrill his heart with thoughts of his eternal home in heaven with You? Will You speak peace to his family as they minister at his bedside. And Lord, will You gently, quickly and completely bring to pass that which You have purposed to complete in and through his life to the praise of Your glory~ In the name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.

You know, Lord, we didn’t make this journey up on our own! There is no way we could have! But w have watched You, step by step, lighten the path for just the next step ahead. We sat together last night with Clay and once again we gave all of this to You – we asked for Your direction, Your wisdom, Your guidance and Your plan and purpose to be fulfilled through this tool. And Father, even during the wee hours of the night, You shed just a little more light for me. And Father, I thank You for that! Help me be obedient today for those things You have placed on my heart. In the name of Jesus, I pray, Amen

Keep on going…

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

I was giving Deb back road directions from our office to the westside of town a couple of weeks ago, and was reminded of that experience just this morning as I cut through that way myself. Deb was driving as I instructed her to turn left or right, and at one particular left turn she said, “Oh my, this isn’t the best part of town, is it?” I answered, “No, but just keep on going. Don’t slow down and don’t stop for anyone, keep driving and you’ll get to a better area in just a minute.” We had a couple of good laughs as she wound her way through a less desirable area of town.

That is much like our walk with the Lord. The trip will not always be pleasant and we will find ourselves in areas and situations that are not so pleasant and not very desirable. We must keep on going, don’t look to the right or the left and don’t stop for any distractions along the way. Just keep on booking it, knowing that we will come out on the other side and things will be pleasant once again. So if you find yourself in a spiritual bad part of town, don’t hang out there. Keep on driving until you reach the good part of town.

“Anyone signing up for the kingdom of God has to go through plenty of hard times” (Acts 14:22 The Message).

Hope

 

Look past the reflection…

Monday, February 16th, 2009

While driving down the road the other night I glanced out the window to see if there was a car beside me and I almost missed it because instead I caught a glimpse of myself in the reflection. I blinked and refocused to find that in fact there was a car approaching. That could have been disasterous.

So it is in our Christian walk. Dr. Corso shared some scriptures with us last week concerning the fields being white unto harvest. I thought of how we often miss the harvest, we don’t see the needs of others because while looking out we get side tracked with a reflection of ourselves. We lose focus of what our real mission is when we focus on ourselves. Had I kept my focus on my own reflection, I would have changed lanes and would have side-swiped the approaching car. So it is in our walk with the Lord. If we keep our eyes on ourselves and on our own circumstances and our own problems and our own needs and our own wants and wishes, we will miss the opportunities to minister to others. And that can end in a disaster as well.Keep your focus on the needs of others and off of your own reflection. You will find that there is great satisfaction and no time for self-pity or discouragement when you’re looking out for others. Look past your own reflection and see the opportunities that are approaching.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3 & 4).

Hope