Archive for March, 2009

We can’t see the ocean for the puddles…

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

If we could just get a glimpse of the big picture, the small details of the picture would be much less significant. Jax has had a great time becoming acquainted with the beach. He loves digging as fast as his paws will dig into the sand and then sticking his nose into the hole. He pops his head back up and his nose and much of his face is covered in sand. He shakes his head like a wild man trying to get it all off. Then he’s quickly distracted by a puddle from the tide and he runs through it, grabs some seaweed on his way through and keeps on trotting. Clay made the comment this morning that he wasn’t sure Jax had even noticed that there’s a vast ocean right in front of him.

We get distracted just as easily in our spiritual walk. We have all of God’s vast blessings at our fingertips and we don’t see them for concentrating on the distractions. And we get so caught up in those distracting details that we miss the big picture. God uses everything that comes our way as a part of the picture of our lives that He’s painting. We need to trust Him and not miss the big plan.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…” (Romans 8:28).

“It was God who kept us focused on him, uncompromised…hoping that you’ll now see the whole picture as well as you’ve seen some of the details” (2 Corinthians 1:12 The Message).

Don’t focus on the murky puddles and miss the beauty of the ocean.

Hope

Bed-hair of the heart…

Monday, March 30th, 2009

I’m at the beach for Spring Break and we have my sister, Leigh and her girls with us. Matti, Leigh’s 5-year-old has hair the color of mine at that age, so blonde it’s almost white. It is straight as a stick in the front, but much like her Aunt Cissy’s hair, the back is a mess. And no matter how much we work with it or how good it looks when she goes to bed, she wakes with a terminal case of bed hair. Not that I have any room to talk. I let my hair go all natural curly last night and when I got up this morning and looked in the mirror I laughed and laughed. Clay said we should take pictures and vote on who had the more serious case of bed hair.

So I’m lounging here outside the indoor pool and I just thought that our hearts are much like that. We work on our attitudes and our thought process and our fruits of the spirit, and by the end of most days we have them like we want them. But something happens to our by-nature sinful hearts and we wake with a serious case of messed up bed-hair of the heart. That must be why David talks in the Psalms about seeking the Lord first thing in the morning. He must have had it, too! I’m so thankful that His mercies are new every morning so we’re not consumed by our bed-hair hearts. Just a little time with the Master and we’re good as new.

“But I cry to you for help, O LORD; in the morning my prayer comes before you” (Psalm 88:13)

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:23).

Hope

I Have the Mind of Christ

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Your mercy, Your grace, Your patience over my life continues to absolutely amaze me! I do not understand how You can be so long-suffering with me!  But I bless Your name that You are! Bless You Jesus!! I confess to You, Jesus, that my heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked and that when I turn my face from You, my perspective is skewed immediately. Jer. 17:9

You are continuing to teach me day by day to walk step in step in step with You. You are teaching me to wait upon You. You are teaching me over and over and over again that You are trustworthy and that I can relax and rest in You. You are daily showing me the picture of the universe to remind me that YOU alone are in control and that I will accomplish nothing when I try to help You!  You don’t need my help! You need my cooperation and my surrender to Your plan for my day! Lord, thank You for all the energy it is taking You to teach me! It must be taking more energy for You to teach me than it takes for You to hold the universe in place! The universe is probably cooperating with You more than I am! Forgive me, Jesus and oh Father, help me walk step in step with Your Spirit – not missing what You are placing right in front of me.

Thank You for putting Candy in my path – out of the blue – at the check out at Wal-Greens – a mother whose daughter died a year ago and is broken hearted. Thank You for putting Angela in my path the day before she celebrated the 4 year anniversary of her step daughter coming to heaven. Thank You that she shared with me the impact my daughter’s life had had upon her own. Thank You for the new friends I’ve made this week who are going through cancer and the mother I will speak with this morning whose precious son, Brandon, came to be with You in an instant very recently. Thank You for the precious young girl You allowed me to sit beside on the Chorus trip yesterday with the freshman campus band. Oh, Jesus, You aren’t making mistakes and then looking back and saying, “Oh shucks, I missed that.” You are planning my encounters, You are showing me Yourself at every turn – it isn’t hard – but I must be looking for You. I must be anticipating You. Faith is the mindset that expects God to act! Amen!  Oh Jesus, let me live with that perspective today!

Jesus, You have given me – You have given us as the body of Christ – the Mind of Christ! I received Your mind through Your Spirit at the point of my salvation! I have the mind of Christ!  And Father, when the clouds come rolling in and the fog begins to settle over my mind, You desire for me to speak this truth out loud to the skies, “I have the mind of Christ.” And as I speak Your truth, You lift the clouds!!! Bless You Jesus!  More and more I desire to have Your mind! More and more I desire for You to lift the clouds and the fog!  I shouted that truth to the skies this morning as I walked and You brought great freedom even through the saying of that truth!

I Corinthians 2:16 “But we have the mind of Christ.” My footnote says, “Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, believers have insight into some of God’s plans, thoughts, and actions – they, in fact, have the “mind of Christ.” Through the Holy Spirit we can begin to know God’s thoughts, talk with Him, and expect His answers to our prayers. Are you spending enough time with Christ to have His very mind in you? An intimate relationship with Christ comes only from spending time consistently in His presence and in His Word.” That is it, Lord! I want to the mind of Christ! I have the mind of Christ! Let me look at every circumstance and situation with Your mind, Your heart, Your purpose, and Your plan!  Oh, Jesus, help me! Help me today as I go with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to the beach for the weekend. Use my life – use it up – for Your glory and Your purpose! And Lord, when You do that, You fill me again and again and again to overflowing with Yourself – Your joy, Your strength and Your energy! Bless You Jesus! Thank You Lord for continuing Your mercy and patience over my life!

 

What’s on your list?

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Yesterday was a great day. I had so much to do before leaving for the beach today on Spring Break. I had my To Do list made, how many man hours it would take me to get it all in, and my day was set in motion. I looked up about mid-morning and in walked a dear friend who was in her own form of life crisis. Suddenly my plans didn’t mean a whole lot. I was able to listen to her, talk to her, pray with her, and as I watched her walk to her car, I thought, “That was time spent chasing what matters.”

So I kicked in to high gear to get my list checked off. As has been the case for most of my days lately, I didn’t take the time for a lunch hour but rather grabbed something and ate in the car as I ran from one errand to another. I got back to my desk around 2:00 and my 24-year-old nephew, Jordie called and asked if I was busy. “Uh, yeah, I am. Why do you ask?”, I answered absentmindedly as I continued to put numbers in QuickBooks. He said, “My friend (we’ll call him John) is hurting. He’s got some problems but mostly he just needs God.” Woe, I sat back in my chair and dropped my head, regaining focus on my important conversation with Jordie. Of course I quickly let him know that all I had to do was not as important as talking to John. “Tell him to come on over to the office.” By 4:00 John had not stopped by and I was beginning to get a little concerned, and then he walked in. John had accepted Christ as a young boy but is lacking the up-close and personal relationship that he needs. He was so sweet and very open. He poured his heart out to me and I just sat there and listened. One hour later I prayed with “John,” wrote down a reference for a particular type Bible for him to buy and sent him on his way.

It’s now 5:15 and everything on my list had not been checked off. Clay and I were to be at WGGS in Greenville at 7:15 for a live appearance on Nite Line and there was still much to do. I sat back in my chair and watched John drive away and once again thanked God for allowing me to put my organizational, gotta-get-it-all-done-at-just-the-right-time personality aside to chase what matters.

And last night Clay and I sat on the set of Nite Line and shared Hannah’s Hope with the TV audience for an hour and a half. It was very relaxing and the host, Greta Campbell was gracious. We are thankful for every opportunity to share where the ministry is going and what God is doing. We got back home around 10:20 and I started washing clothes and gathering items from my beach list. I collapsed into my comfy bed around 12:30 and Clay and I talked about the important things that we had accomplished this week. There is great peace in knowing you’re doing what the Lord wants you to be doing, even when some of those things are not on your list of Things To Do Today.

What’s on your To Do list today? Be sure to allow time for interruptions – the interruptions that can change eternity for others. Chase what matters today, even if it’s not on your list.

“Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others” (1 Corinthians 10:24).

Hope 

 

Fearless…

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

“Take my side, God—I’m getting kicked around, stomped on every day. Not a day goes by but somebody beats me up; They make it their duty to beat me up. When I get really afraid I come to you in trust. I’m proud to praise God; fearless now, I trust in God. What can mere mortals do?” (Psalm 56:1-4 The Message).

Does this ever sound like a prayer from your heart? Do you feel like you’re getting kicked around, stomped on from every direction? Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t lash out at you? I love this version of Psalm 56. “When I get really afraid I come to you (God) in trust.” What does it mean to go to God in trust? It means that we’re out of options, our efforts have come back void and our hearts are weary and all we can do is go to God, trusting that He’ll handle things in a way that we had not thought of. Then the rest of that passage says, “Fearless now, I trust in God.” Fearless, man that sounds mighty brave! But if we truly trust God with our problems and our circumstances, we will be brave and will face our trials head on, fearlessly recognizing that with the Almighty God in control, what in the world can mere mortals do to me?

Trust Him today, and stand fearless before all of your adversaries!

Hope

 

Until all have heard…

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Echoes of Hope (the gospel group that Clay and I sing in with Todd & Carmela Rice) is learning a new song, “Preach the Word.” Some of the words are…

Preach the Word, Preach the Cross

Preach redemption to a lost and dying world

Lift your voice unashamed for the gospel of His name

Until all have heard, Preach the Word

This song is based on Paul’s writing to Timothy. And though Paul’s message is over two thousand years old, it’s still a fresh message. That’s Echoes of Hope’s goal, and it’s our goal at Hannah’s Hope Ministries. We will preach the Word by sharing Hannah’s Hope through speaking engagements, daily devotionals, one-on-one contact, whatever door the Lord opens. And we’ll continue to lift our voice unashamed until all have heard about our hope in Christ. Our mission? To provide hope to individuals and families in life crisis. We have the answer – and if you’re a Believer, so do you! The answer is Jesus Christ! What is the question? you may ask. Doesn’t really matter. Jesus is the answer. Everybody needs Jesus, and Jesus is all everybody needs.

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

“Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy” (The Message).

Stay at it, until all have heard…

Hope

Strength to endure…

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

I was briskly walking through Christian Supply earlier today delivering books, and a plaque caught my attention. I can’t remember the entire message (because I was briskly walking) but Strength to Endure jumped out at me. That is exactly what the Lord gives us, strength to endure whatever course He chooses for us. And that strength only comes when we need it. We are weak vessels much of the time and when we see others going through horrendous trials we are quick to say, “I have no idea how they do it. I’d never be able to put one foot in front of the other if that were me.” But then when our horrendous trial arrives, we are given the strength to endure. Daily strength, sometimes moment-by-moment strength, nonetheless just enough strength to endure.

“And we pray…that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way…being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience…” (Colossians 1:10 & 11).

That’s my prayer for each of you today, and for myself, that we will live a life worthy of the Lord and be strengthened with all power according to His might (which is ALL power!) so that we may endure with patience what He has set before us.

Hope

Just settle down…

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

“In quietness and trust is your strength…” (Isaiah 30:15 NIV).

Hanging in the dining area of my friend, Di’s house is a beautiful plaque with the above scripture. I looked it up in The Message this afternoon and of course I love it…

“Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me” (Isaiah 30:15 The Message).

I talked to a sweet little friend last night whose heart is in turmoil over a personal crisis that she is going through. I could tell by her emotions that she was about to come out of her skin from the frustration of wanting to fix the problem. She wailed as she poured her heart out to me. When I read the above scripture in The Message I thought of her. She will find strength when she settles down in complete dependence on the Only One who can fix her situation. I shot her an email this afternoon and shared this Word with her. I pray it’ll help.

Maybe you, too, are in utter turmoil trying to fix an area in your life or in the life of someone you love. There is so much desperation and unrest when we try to control things that are out of our control! My heart races and my head aches just typing this. The only peace and rest we’ll find is when we depend, COMPLETELY depend on the Lord. He is not caught off guard nor is anything you’re going through new to Him. Sometimes I hear of something and I say, “Woe, that’s a first!” God never says that. There’s nothing new under the sun with Him. He and His Son and the Holy Spirit are on top of things (even when all indications are that they’re no where to be found).

Just settle down…and completely depend on your Father.

Hope

Choosing to accept the Cup

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

You know, Lord, You’ve had me pondering about the assignments You give us. You continue to write upon my heart that it is indeed You that gives us our assignments. You want to see if we will trust You with the assignments You give us. Yesterday, as I was dusting a shelf, the scripture on my perpetual calendar was John 18:11. It was such a picture of me (us), Lord. We love You, we want to follow You, we want to be obedient to You . . . until it doesn’t look like You know what You are doing or until it looks like we probably have a better idea. And then we decide to try and help You out. I know You must laugh at me.

The scripture passage was when Jesus had finished praying in the garden and Judas came with a detachment of soldiers to arrest Him. In verse 4, the scripture says, “Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him,”. . . You know, Lord, we don’t know all that is going to happen to us but You knew what was going to happen to You. And even though You did, You continued to trust Your Heavenly Father. Jesus “went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”  “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am He,” Jesus said. At which point “they drew back and fell to the ground.” You so desired that they see and acknowledge Your power and presence that You simply overwhelmed them. You were trying to show Your mercy, weren’t You Lord? You were giving them every opportunity to acknowledge You. You do the same with me everyday, Lord. You continue to show me Your mercy.

And then the part that really struck me Lord. “Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away!” Peter wanted desperately to fix it for You, Lord. His motive was to help You! Oh, how many times we want to help You! How many times we want to fix it for someone else . . . and we can’t. Jesus went on to say, “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given Me?”

“Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given Me?” What a powerful statement, Father. Choosing to accept the cup the Father has given. Jesus didn’t want Peter to rescue him at that moment. Your plan for Jesus was that He would be arrested. You had assigned Jesus His portion and His cup. You have also assigned me my portion and my cup. My part is to accept what You have given understanding Your truth that I have a delightful inheritance.” Psalm 16:5-6

Father, I began with this thought early this morning and now the evening has come. And I understand once again that choosing to accept the cup You have given comes each day – one at a time – and sometimes Lord, not even a whole day at a time – sometimes it comes moment by moment.

Dear Jesus, teach me to accept the assignments that You give me daily understanding that there is more to every situation than I can see or understand. In the name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.

The fog will lift…

Friday, March 20th, 2009

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).

When Jesus left the earth and went back Home He left the Holy Spirit behind to guide us, to protect us, to prompt us when we’re approaching danger, to post tail lights in front of us when there is so much fog we can’t see 10 feet in front of us. One time a couple of years ago when I was just a young adult (okay, maybe it was a few years ago) I was driving back home to Spartanburg from my parents’ house in Swannanoa, NC. There was a light mist of rain falling and there were small patches of fog here and there. But just as I topped Saluda Mountain and started down the grade I hit a WALL of fog that was so dense I literally could not see anything. NOTHING! Solid white was all I could see! Fear swept over me as I knew that I was on that steep grade and was going probably 55mph (at least). Just typing this brings back the rush of anxiety that I felt. Thoughts were rushing through my head like, “Am I near the guard rail?”, “Am I still in my lane?”, “Was anyone beside me that I might side swipe?”, “What if I’m close to the edge of the mountain?”, “If I slam on my breaks, will someone ram me from behind?!”, “What about that concrete wall in the median??” I was in HIGH PRIORITY praying mode! Then suddenly I spotted some very faint red tail lights just ahead of me. The lights were very dim but they were lights nonetheless. I decided I’d trust those lights to lead me so at least if we were going to hit something, they’d hit it first! The only bad thing would have been if they had driven off the side of the mountain I guess I’d have been right behind them. But the Lord was gracious and both my leader and I were able to reach the foot of the mountain safely and the fog lifted.

That’s what the Holy Spirit does for us. It is there to lead us in every step of life. Even when things in our lives are so foggy that we can not see where our next step will take us. When we are so blinded by our problems and heartaches that fear grips us with anxious thoughts, we must kick in to HIGH PRIORITY prayer mode and allow the Holy Spirit, the Spirit that we live by, to guide our steps and lead us to safety. If we slow down, take our time and follow the Spirit, we will reach the other side safely and the fog will lift.

Have a fun weekend. What a beautiful forecast for Sunny Spartanburg, South Carolina!

Hope