Archive for May, 2011

Nice outfit!

Friday, May 27th, 2011

As a tag on to yesterday’s little sermonette, I’ll offer words of encouragement for how we can clean it up and answer the “How are YOU doing?” question with “Nice outfit!”. Check out the next passage from Colossians 3…

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:12-14).

Clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other (or don’t turn your back on your Christian brother/sister) and forgive one another…as the Lord forgave you. That’s a toughy – but it is doable! If it were not doable, Paul would not encourage us to do it. So each morning as you’re picking out what you’re gonna wear, choose to clothe yourself with as many items off this list as you can. And when you do, each time you pass a spiritual mirror, you’ll be able to tell yourself, “Nice outfit!” And you just might hear the same compliment from others!

Have a safe and fun Memorial Weekend! Clay and I are camping with our Sunday School class. I’ll check in with you at the first of the week.

Hope

How are YOU doing?

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

The best way to nip judging others in the bud is to take a look at yourself. Clay did a great job wrapping up Colossians Sunday . Man, it’s so easy to look at others through the self-righteous eyes of “I’d never do that” or “I’d never participate in that” or “I’d never go there” or “I don’t know how they call themselves Christians.” But if I stop judging long enough to do a self-check and ask myself, “Hope, how are YOU doing?”, I’ll find I don’t have time to keep up with what rules everybody else is breaking. I have a full time job keeping up with myself.

That’s my challenge to you, too. Next time you focus on other’s list of broken rules, say to yourself, “How are YOU doing?” Use this scripture for your personal checklist.

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry…You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Colossians 3:5, 7-10).

Hope

Where are you?

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Where are you? God asked Adam and Eve this question. They had sinned against God, and when they realized He was seeking them out they hid. God knew the answer. He knew exactly where they were and what they had done. Yet He asked the question, “Where are you?” He wanted them to confess their sins and return to Him.

God asks you and me that same question. Where are you in your Christian walk? Are you hiding in your sin? We can’t hide from God. He knows exactly where we are, and He longs for us to turn back and confess our sins. Or maybe it is not intentional sin you are hiding in. Maybe you are hiding in a garden of distrust – you’re not sure  God can really handle your situation. Or maybe it is fear, or doubt, or anxiety, or guilt. God knows where you are and He longs for you to turn to Him and allow Him to be Lord of your life.

God is calling you out today. Where are you?

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?’” (Genesis 3:8 & 9).

Hope

I Bless You Lord, I Bless You!!

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Oh Dear Jesus, my heart is so full and I have so much to be thankful for! My heart is overflowing with thanksgiving this morning! What a blessing and gift to wake up with a thankful heart! Thankful hearts come from You – from knowing You and understanding Your love for me.

 

Thank You for these cut yellow flowers on my dining room table – they represent my discipleship girls and the dinner we shared to finish our year! What a blessing they have been to me! The first night we met was on Hannah’s birthday – a year after she went to heaven! We had a girl party Sunday night with china, flowers and gifts! I love girl parties! We celebrated our last meeting with Caroline – she is moving to Colorado! We have met in her home for the last four years – seasons – changes – You alone are Unchanging God! Through ups and downs, good and bad, ebb and flow, You remain the same! Constant – Your faithfulness remains the same! Psalm 91:4 says Your faithfulness is my shield – Your faithfulness IS my shield – Your faithfulness protects me!  I can count on Your faithfulness!

 

I can count on Your faithfulness even when I am not faithful or joyful! Your love for me is unconditional. I was reminded of that again last evening as I helped my son clean up and change his room around – he wasn’t all excited about the process – and a couple of times he let me know. But I always knew that he loved me and that when the process was finished he would be thankful we had walked through the journey together – and he was! And as You are working peace more and more in my heart and spirit, I can step back from the “moment” and rest in the outcome of what is being accomplished!

 

Surely that lesson was for me and what You are doing in my life! Sometimes I don’t like the process – but You hang in there with me – You don’t yell back – because You see further down the path! You allow me to “say” and “stew” but You keep working me through the process! You are always after my being conformed to You and You always see the final picture! The final picture – me in Your presence – at perfect peace and perfect rest – completely restored to Creation state! You see me there already! Keep that picture in my view so that I can walk in daily triumph!

 

Thank You for allowing me to share yesterday morning with Erin! I had asked You specifically to give me someone to go with me to Relay for Life – it was early and a little distance and I just needed a buddy! The day before she had sent me a message and asked when we could get together – immediately I said “How about tomorrow morning at 8:00 for Relay for Life?”  What a beautiful morning – and once again You showed me Your faithfulness! You had gone before and prepared the path – You spoke Your truth – You didn’t need me! There I was walking around the Relay track with Erin – because of Hannah! We walked the survivors lap – we are survivors! And walked the silent lap with hundreds of kids! And as we walked, You gave me the privilege of praying with a precious mother whose eleven year old son, Sam, is walking down a cancer journey! You are unquestionably her strength as she watches her son! What a privilege and blessing for me to share in that moment with her as I had been praying for her and for her son!

 

And then You connected another thread in this tapestry You are weaving! I met Michelle – she was the ER nurse the night we showed up with Hannah – May 9, 2006 – 5 years ago! You don’t miss any threads, do You?  How precious that was to me! She remembers the night vividly – we hope to do lunch soon – I would love to hear her story – another life You used to bless ours when we were too stunned to even know it! I hugged her neck and the neck of her mother – also going through cancer – and gave her a copy of “A Dove Set Free!” 

 

After supper, I sat in the grass in the front yard and watched my guys “chip” golf balls and just enjoyed the moment! I am so thankful to have Michael home – and he is so content! Godliness with contentment is great gain! Thank You Jesus! Thank You for working in his life and thank You for using his life – thank You for giving him the opportunity to share on Monday night at a sports camp! Thank You for allowing me to get a glimpse into his heart through a mother who was present! Thank You for allowing me to understand, once again, his great loss in the loss of Hannah – Thank You for continuing to heal his heart and thank You that by sharing and pouring out – You bring healing!

 

Thank You for Your hand of favor upon Andrew’s life – thank You for Jr. Marshall’s and baseball banquets. Thank You for Camp Voyager, KY, Palmetto Boys State and Cross Country Camp! Thank You for strong, healthy bodies and the ability to bless Your name!

 

Thank You for my flowers outside and the ones I need to get in the ground even this morning – Thank You for the beauty, wonder and promise of the new day! I bless You Lord, I bless You! 

 

 

 

 

Strategery…

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Remember this word from mock-George W. Bush catchphrases early on in his presidency? I’m not jumping on that poke-fun band wagon at all. But I do love this made up word and I have to say I use it often. Strategery – very clever strategic planning (taken from Hope’s Dictionary).

Please allow me to go back to yesterday’s Jesus Calling that I loved so much. Sarah Young penned that Jesus strategically places hidden treasures throughout our day. Jesus practices strategery – He has a strategy behind His actions. What does that mean? Simply that treasures don’t just pop up with no purpose. Jesus hand-picked every location and event and circumstance and situation with a plan and a purpose. He doesn’t want us to miss His strategery. What just exactly was His plan for what you’re going through right now? I can’t answer that. I challenge you to spend time with Him and in His word and allow Him to reveal just exactly that He wants you to take from it. You may never know the “why”, but you can know the lesson to be had.

Jesus, the Master of Strategery.

“He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure” (Isaiah 33:6).

Hope

Shake me free!

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

From Jesus Calling today I swipe the following phrase and then get on my own rampage with it…

Some of the treasures (in life) are trials, designed to shake you free from earth-shackles.

Let me make myself perfectly clear. I do NOT want to be shackled to this earth! Shake me, free, Jesus, shake me free! There is nothing about this earthly life, earthly body, earthly lifestyle, that is worth being shackled to. Friday evening Clay and I visited a friend who was in the last hours of a 3 year battle with colon cancer. 47 years old. I have never seen anyone waste away like that man did. Nope, I have no interested in being shackled to this life where sickness, pain and death are rampant. Tony escaped from here – Jesus shook him free at 1:50 a.m. Saturday morning. Good for him! And just about an hour and a half later, around 3:35 a.m. a dear friend’s father, who had been diagnosed with lung and liver cancer only a week ago, escaped. Jesus shook him free and he is in the presence of the Lord. Woo Hoo!

So see your trials as treasures – treasures that are designed by Jesus to shake you free from clinging to this earth. Let’s practice this – every time we face a trial, let’s say, “Shake me free!”

“He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure” (Isaiah 33:6).

Hope

Mission accomplished…

Friday, May 20th, 2011

I apologize for no post yesterday and the server issues that caused our site to crash. We’re up and running again. Thank you for your patience.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7 & 8).

I am working to compile some information for the producer in L.A. to help him “get to know Hannah a little better” and I came across the testimony that she wrote for a Sports Banquet when she was in the 8th grade. I think it is appropriate to share it with you today and allow Hannah to provide the daily devotional to kick off our weekend.

Hannah’s Testimony

Sports Banquet 2002-2203

When Coach Smith asked me to do the devotion for tonight I started thinking about the things that have challenged me in the last couple months and the first thing that came to my mind was the life of a girl named Bethany Groce, a 17 year old girl in my youth group at church who died in January.  She had fought with cancer for a year and a half. Bethany lived a life that glorified God even through her struggle with cancer.

As I begin to think about a passage I could share for the devotion tonight a scripture that came to my mind was 2 Timothy 4:7-8. Bethany fought the good fight, finished the race and kept her faith strong through it all. She put God first in her life and kept him the main priority.

The one question that has challenged me the most is how am I living my life and am I making a difference so that when my race is finished people will be able to look back on my life and say she made a difference! In everything I do I want to strive to make God the first priority in my life.

Whether its school, basketball, football, volleyball, cheerleading, or anything else that goes on in our lives we should strive to make God number 1.

I would say she accomplished her mission.

Hope

Fuel up!

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

You remember my pilot story from my trip to Nashville – “Things ought to be fine for the most part.” Well on our trip to L.A. last week, the pilot announced, as we were taxiing for take-off from Houston to L.A., that there were several storms that we’d have to contend with. He said, “We may have to dodge them, but we have plenty of gas in case we have to hang out up here a little longer.” Well, that was good to know! It’s interesting how they wait until all the doors are barred and they have you on the runway before sharing this type information.

There will be plenty of storms between us and our final destination and we must be sure we have plenty of gas to get us there. Spiritual energy that is. I share often when I speak that we have got to know what we believe before the storm hits. We’ve gotta be ready for it. The only way to do that is to spend quality time with the Lord. Read His Word, listen to what He has to say. Watch how He works. Study His history. Be aware of He is working presently in your life. Talk to Him often through prayer. Know Him intimately. That is how you fuel up with spiritual energy so that you have plenty of gas to get you through – just in case you have to weather some intense storms.

- One of Deb’s favorite passages – “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life.” (Psalm 119:92 & 93)

Fuel up! Make sure you have plenty of gas to make it through.

Hope

Life is tough, but God is tougher…

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Life is tough, but God is tougher…I have no idea where I read this quote. Usually I can give credit where credit is due but the source from whence this cometh escapes me. Nonetheless, I love it.

Today is a very rainy day in Sparkle City. I had a great morning, accomplished a lot, got a call to meet a couple of family members for lunch, loaded Caleb up in my less than one month old Honda Accord, enjoyed a delicious Fuddrucker’s chicken taco salad, headed back to the office “the back way” in the pouring down rain, approached the narrow underpass on New Cut Road and Howard Street, yielded the right of way to a speeding ambulance (which is always a good idea), and from nowhere – WHAM! A girl in a PT Cruiser, in Caleb’s words “cruised all over the back of this brand new Accord.” I honestly didn’t see her coming because I was watching the ambulance to be sure he had room to get past me. I mean she knocked the soup out of me. She never hit her brakes. Caleb and I both bounced forward and back from the impact. Of course her story is that her brakes went out (??). I got out of the car in the steady rain and was shocked to find that my bumper is not even dented. It is scratched and there is a fairly deep gash in it but from a distance you can’t tell I’ve been hit. The RENTED PT Cruiser on the other hand – the front bumper was scattered in parts on the road, the grill was busted, the radiator was smoking, and the hood was smashed in. I looked at her car and back at mine several times in disbelief of the difference in damage. A PT Cruiser may be tough, but a Honda is tougher.

There was a part of me that wished I had bullied my way through the underpass and cut off that ambulance (a small part of me) because I really don’t want the headache of having to get my car fixed. My day was going so well! From nowhere I was hit without warning. Doesn’t that describe our spiritual life? Life is going so well and from nowhere WHAM! We are rear-ended with an unexpected attack from Satan. And our first reaction is that life stinks. We can’t seem to stay on top of our circumstances. Life is tough, but let me assure you – God is tougher. There is nothing too big for Him. Nothing rear-ends God. He sees all, knows all, watches all. So whatever you’re faced with, be reminded that we serve a big, bad, tough God. Let Him fight your battles.

Here’s a verse I stole from Di…sorta. I mean it’s in the Bible so technically I didn’t steal it.

“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 32:7).

Life is tough, but God is tougher.

So if you know us personally, you may want to ask Caleb about our accident. His re-enactment is quite entertaining.

Hope

Path of peace…

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Reading Max Lucado this morning a statement caught my eye and my heart…as you journey on a path of peace. Max wasn’t going where I’m taking this statement, but I’m sure he won’t mind. Peace is not a location that we drop by at our convenience. Nor is it a location that we look for in hopes of coming across it by accident. Peace is a continuous path that we can travel on by God’s design. If we remain in Him and keep our minds and thoughts on Him, we will travel on the path of peace. The way to veer from it and become anxious and overwhelmed with life is to take our thoughts and minds and hearts off of the Lord and put them on our circumstances, or on other’s circumstances.

I needed to hear this message that I’m preaching. I’m physically very tired. I arrived back on the east coast, safe and sound in my home around 8:15 Saturday evening, after getting up at 4:00am on the west coast in order to board a plan at 7. We were all day getting home. The meetings in L.A. were very productive and the time was well spent. The sightseeing in the evenings was a lot of fun. But the long hours were tiring. Then yesterday morning our quartet sang at a church in Landrum for their Homecoming service, and Clay shared Hannah’s story. We didn’t get home until mid-afternoon. I looked around my house – after working late into the night Monday and Tuesday evenings last week with the producers, then my trip to L.A., and I was more than tempted to become overwhelmed. Laundry is piling up, I haven’t helped Caleb rearrange attic space to store his dorm “stuff”, Caleb needs a job, there are ZERO groceries in the fridge, the cupboards are barren, the dogs are neglected (ha!), the list goes on and on. As I rested my head on my pillow last night, I started going over the list of things I need to do in an effort to secure $2.5 million to make Hannah’s story into a film. I have to admit I veered off the path of peace and became quite anxious. Sleep did not come easy.

Then this morning I opened Grace for the Moment and there was that one little phrase that God used to calm my heart and spirit. “As you journey on a path of peace.” I went to this scripture…

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3).

In order to stay on the path of peace, our minds must be steadfast by trusting in the Lord. He will guide us. Then I read Jesus Calling and in essence I was reminded that Jesus may not plan to work things out the way I think He will, but I need to be faithful to carry on until I see otherwise. I’ll keep chugging along in efforts to secure $2.5 million – and who knows, the Lord may drop it all in our laps at one time! That’ll work!

Have a great week. Love you all much!

Hope