Archive for July, 2011

God is good either way…

Friday, July 29th, 2011

I posted the following Facebook status this morning…

Last day of vacation. We’ve had a wonderful week. 3-on-3 wiffle ball in the pool, Bocce on the beach every evening, water aerobics every day (to offset the following…) homemade ice cream every night, Braves games, chic flicks – it’s been a much needed chillaxing week. God is good!

After posting it I thought, “God is good either way.”

All six of us have gotten along so well. We’ve been great friends with Todd and Carmela Rice for years, but spending a week in the same house sharing the same kitchen and couch and restaurant opinions and recreation ideas can shed a whole new light on a friendship. This week has only deepened our friendship and has grown our newer found friendship with Ray and Di Easler. We have had so much fun. No moodiness, no worries about who may go off on someone, all six of us are the same every morning. That’s been amazing to me. As exhausted as we’ve been by the end of the day, we still laugh and joke and make fun of each other and then go to bed looking forward to another day of doing whatever we want to do.

But in reality if the week had ended up being miserable with misunderstandings, unpredictable moodiness, personalities on opposite ends of the spectrum, gripes and growls and groans, God is still good. Because God’s goodness does not depend on things going just like we want them to go. His goodness does not depend on if the sun comes out instead of scattered thunderstorms all day. His goodness does not depend on whether the restaurant one couple chooses has great food and great service. And His goodness does not depend on whether physically, emotionally,  and financially things are going great. He loves us and blesses us with both good times and bad, good news and bad, good days and bad. God is good either way.

“…May your faithful people rejoice in your goodness” (2 Chronicles 6:41).

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3).

Hope

There’s not a period at the end of your current sentence…

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Di shared a quote she lifted from a friend’s Facebook post…

“I think hope is not simply looking around and saying that everything’s great – that’s just ridiculous. For hope to have substance, it has to acknowledge the pain. But hope is saying that’s not the final story. It’s not saying pain doesn’t exist, but it’s saying there’s not a period at the end of that sentence. It’s still being written.” -copied.

I can’t give credit where credit is due because even googling I can’t find an original source. But that’s okay. The message is quite powerful. For hope to have substance, it has to acknowledge pain. Hope is saying that’s not the final story. Hope is not saying pain doesn’t exist, but it’s saying there’s not a period at the end of that sentence. It’s still being written.

Our hope does not rest in our circumstances. Our circumstances are not the end of our sentence. Our story is still being written. Hope assures us there’s more and better to come. If we hope for something, that means we don’t have it yet. Faith is the evidence of what we hope for. Hope is not a wish. It’s a confident assurance that the period has not been placed at the end of our sentence. It is still being written. Don’t allow your current situation to cloud your hope in Christ. If you do not face pain, there’s nothing to hope for. Rest in knowing that the pain you are now facing will give way to something great.

There’s not a period at the end of your current sentence…

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1).

Hope

Don’t just live, flourish!

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

This is the first time Clay and I have been on vacation with our buddies, Todd & Carmela Rice and Ray & Di Easler. We are having a BLAST! We have laughed at and with each other until we’ve cried! Yesterday morning I went to Jeremiah 29 to read the all-time favorite verses 11-14 but instead read the entire chapter. The first part of that chapter has the message for us, and I preached it to our friends. Allow me to paraphrase it…

The Lord says, “Yes I have allowed you to be in captivity. You are hundreds of miles from your homeland in a very hard place in your life. Build houses and settle down. You may be there a while. Marry and have children. Pick wives for your sons (I love that part!), marry off your daughters, encourage grandchildren, plant lots of crops, provide well for your family, stay true to me and you will be set free in my time.”

He has the same message for us. Have you found yourself in a very difficult place, far from “home” where you are comfortable, held captive by a heartache or illness or very difficult circumstance that tempts you to barely exist until you’re set free? The Lord is asking you to not just live but to flourish where you are. Don’t just “carry on”, carry on well! Make plans for your future, prepare for your future, provide well for your family, spend time with them, make the best of your situation because God is not caught off guard by where you are. After all, (now we get to our favorite verse) He knows the plans He has for you. He plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future. In His time.

“This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:4-7).

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Don’t just live, flourish!

Hope

 

Lesser things…

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Love the song, “Blessings” by Laura Story, our own Spartanburg young lady who God is using in an amazing way. This week the lyrics have been very comforting to me.

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?
What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

I love the truth that God loves us too much to give us lesser things – but that’s what we pray for without even knowing it! When we pray for blessings, peace, protection, comfort, healing, we are praying for things to turn out good. We want life to be easy, of course! And we want our children and our families and our friends not to have to suffer or hurt or be sad. This is really asking God for the lesser things when what He’s wanting to do in our hearts is so much bigger through every trial! What if it through the pain that we come to know Him personally and intimately? What if these trials are mercies in disguise? Do we trust Him to know the greater from the lesser? Chew on that this weekend.

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10).

Here’s a link to listen to Laura’s song…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mmgV6mPvb0

Clay and I leave for a week in Pawley’s Island tomorrow, but I will continue to post my devos so stick with me! Have a great weekend!

Hope

My Catholic angel…

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

God – the Master of getting me out of my box. I was raised a very conservative Baptist who lived within my Baptist box and was convinced God was Baptist – thus keeping Him in my Baptist box. I admit that this narrow thinking made it quite tight and suffocating inside my self-made box. God has used many circumstances in my life to get me out of my box and to show me that He’s too powerful to be put in any kind of box, let alone a narrow Baptist one! My most recent lesson occurred today…

I’ve told you about this guy before. He’s a local businessman who gave me the illustration of God and me being on a two-seated bicycle. God is on the front seat driving and my only job is to pedal. He is a Catholic for crying out loud! My Baptist box doesn’t provide for such! Well this guy dropped by the office today to check on the movie and when he walked in the door he hugged me, pulled up a chair all the way to the edge of my desk, looked me in the eyes and said, “You look so tired, Hope. You are exhausted aren’t you.” I fought back tears as I “confessed” my sin of worry (pardon the pun) to my Catholic friend. He pointed his finger at me and said, “This is not yours to carry, Hope. Your only job is to pedal in complete trust of God Who is in the driver’s seat. The success or failure of this movie does not rest on your shoulders. Stop trying to pedal for God. Sit back and enjoy the ride! And simply pedal.” Then he challenged me to ask myself two questions every day when I’m tempted to take on the burden. I pose those questions to you, my web family.

  1. Do you believe God is the Master of the Universe? Do you really believe that He created everything around you, including you?
  2. Do you believe the Master of the Universe can fix this problem (insert your own burden you may be carrying)?

Settle the answer to those two questions in your heart and you, like I did, will find that you have nothing to worry about! I was floating on air by the time my Catholic angel left my office. Who knows, Gabriel might just be Catholic rather than Baptist after all!

“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (Hebrews 11:3).

“For I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12 NASB).

Hope

Don’t forget what you’ve seen…

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

This morning after Caleb left for summer school and Clay left for work, I gathered my Bible and devo books, poured a fresh cup of Hazelnut Crème coffee with Southern Butter Pecan creamer, nestled into my comfy oversize lounger in my cozy living room…and proceeded to fall apart on the Lord. I mean I fell apart! I blubbered and sobbed and blew my nose and blubbered some more. I tried to journal but couldn’t see to write for my tears. I began throwing out questions like, “Lord, are we on the right track here?” “Why is the money just trickling in?” “Should we put the shoot dates off a few months?” “Are we missing the mark all together?” At the end of my “How many questions can I throw at God and get by with it” session, I let the dogs out so they wouldn’t think I’d lost my mind and then I BEGGED the Lord, “Please oh please give me some fuel for my energy tank! I am physically and mentally exhausted! I need a fresh Word!” I sat my Bible on the ottoman in front of me and it fell open to Mark 8, and in the margins I had written notes from one of Danny’s sermons in April 2008. You’re not gonna believe this, yeah you probably will. Here’s what I had written…

What do I need to do that the disciples did?

  1. 1. Don’t forget what I’ve seen; and
  2. 2. Don’t forget God’s
    1. a. Power
    2. b. Provision
    3. c. Presence

This message could not have been more for me if God had stood before me and spoke the words audibly! So if this devo isn’t for you, please just sit back, enjoy a Latte on me and bear with me while I preach to myself. The disciples had just witnessed firsthand Jesus take five loaves and feed five thousand, and then later feed four thousand with seven loaves. Now they find themselves with only one loaf and they consider it a “not enough.” Jesus couldn’t believe what He was hearing! He asked them, “What are you guys thinking? Do you not remember?”

Oh how quickly I forget what I’ve seen God do! I’ve been eyewitness to miracle after miracle through Hannah’s life and in many other areas of my life. And I know God has all power. I believe with every ounce of my being that He could pick my house up and move it from North River Hills to Denver, CO and not break a dish should He choose to. And He has provided for me personally and this ministry time after time after time. And His presence? Oh my, how He has been so very real to me. How He has comforted me and encouraged me and CARRIED me in some very dark hours! I’m sure He says to me as He did to His disciples, “What are you thinking? Do you not remember?”

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat…They discussed this with one another…Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” “Twelve,” they replied. “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” They answered, “Seven.” He said to them, “Do you still not understand?” (Mark 8:14-21).

I’m so thankful for this word and I press on with confident determination to raise the rest of the funding – and believing it’s going to come in very soon!!

Don’t forget what you’ve seen…

Hope

Flooding our souls…

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

I just finished a Christian fiction novel by Dee Henderson and the setting was the aftermath of a flood. The author does an incredible job painting a visual that allows you to see through the pages exactly what’s taking place. She described how the flood waters take over the interior of a house, uproot the heaviest of furniture, and wash away all personal belongings with an unimaginable force. And the flood waters cannot be contained inside the house, they rush out to all surrounding areas.

I read this quote on a tweet this morning…

It’s not a matter of not doing wrong. It’s a matter of filling your life with Christ so that He floods everything else out. – Mike Glenn (whoever he is – it was retweeted by a Twitter friend).

After reading the novel, I get a clear visual of this statement. It’s not a matter of not doing wrong. We will never be able to not do anything wrong in this life – and that’s not the issue. It’s a matter of filling our life with Christ so that He floods everything else out. Imagine your “wrongs” being personal items in a house, and Christ’s love and grace and mercy are the flood waters that rush in through faith with an unimaginable force, washing everything else out. Christ wants to flood our lives so that there’s no room for anything else. Unfortunately we’d rather just allow Him in a few small rooms of our lives. He can’t flood all the bad out if we don’t allow Him to have it all. And once we’ve surrendered to Him, the good waters of His love will spill out on those around us.

Christ wants to flood your soul, and overflow into others’ lives. Will you allow Him to take over and flood all the bad out? You’ll be glad you did.

“May the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you” (1 Thessalonians 3:11&12 The Msg).

Hope

Sparkling surprises for this flimsy frame!

Monday, July 18th, 2011

I’ve bellyached enough lately for you to know that the task of raising the funds for the movie is a HUGE assignment for me. Last week was an emotional roller coaster – one I’ll be fine to never ride again! And it’s at those time that the Lord whispers peace and contentment to me through a variety of sources, not the least of which is His Word. But often times He uses other servants to share a version of His Word that I may have missed. Sarah Young is just that servant in her July 14 and 15th Jesus Calling. Let me share just a portion of both…

Keep walking with Me along the path I have chosen for you…together we will forge a pathway up the high mountain…The journey is arduous at times, and you are weak…All I require of you is to take the next step, clinging to My hand for strength and direction…there are sparkling surprises just around the bend. (July 14)

Do not worry about tomorrow! This is not a suggestion, but a command…When you worry about the future, you heap day upon day of troubles onto your flimsy frame…You stagger under this heavy load, which I never intended you to carry. (July 15)

Only Di and the Lord knows how desperately I needed to hear this! Di was with me in Nashville late last week and I was a day behind reading Jesus Calling. I literally collapsed in my bed in the hotel room after 11+ hours of seminar and meetings, opened my little JC book, and I couldn’t decide whether to jump up and down on the bed or fall down and weep! She and I both latched onto the sparkling surprises and the flimsy frame. God knows this flimsy frame needs some sparkling surprises! And since reading this Friday night I have been looking with much anticipation around every corner with a confident hope that the sparkling surprises are at hand!

Are you weary from the load that was never meant for you to carry? Keep walking in faith and allow the Lord to carry the burden. Your frame is as flimsy as mine – and He has sparkling surprises for you too!

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand [sparkling surprises]” (Psalm 16:11).

Hope

Our story…

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Somewhere recently I heard or read or made up the following statement….

In the end all we really own is our story.

I can’t help but think about Hannah when I read this statement. Over the course of Hannah’s six month journey with cancer she was been surrounded by a massive amount of gifts. Many of them had the word Hope on them. Just a few days before Hannah checked out of here and into heaven she told me that I could have everything that had my name on it. I told her that was very sweet and she could wrap them and give them to me for Christmas. She smiled sweetly but looked at me as if to say, “You know I won’t be here.” I squinted my nose at her and we changed the subject.

Hannah was nearing the end of her life, although she continued to believe God could heal her – and we continued to believe and cry out for God to do so. But material things no longer mattered. I remember a couple of nights before she went to heaven that Deb wanted her to see her closet. Deb had someone come in and remodel Hannah’s closet, putting in shelves, adding rods, making the best use of the space. It looked very good. But Hannah didn’t have the energy to walk in her bedroom from the big red couch in the living room. Hannah had lost interest in earthly stuff.

In the end all Hannah owned was her story. And her story will be with us forever. So when we spend countless hours working to make that incredible story into a movie, it’s not because we want her or her parents or her brothers or her uncle or her aunt to be famous. It’s because Hannah’s story is all she had and it’s all we have left. And it’s powerful and triumphant, in spite of death.

In the end all you will own is your story. What does that look like for you? It’s never too late to do a rewrite!

“by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead” (Hebrews 11:14b).

Hope

I still believe…

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Dr. Steve Corso reminded me yesterday of Hannah’s last words to him, “I still believe.” We have been in crisis mode for our fundraising, and all of us are feeling the pressure. $3.5 million is a lot of money! Dr. Corso knew that I was feeling the burden and wasn’t sure that my shoulders were going to hold up one more day from the load. He sent me the text of Hannah’s words – and the Lord used her words to massage my shoulders and calm my heart!

I still believe. Hannah’s words just a couple of hours before she left this earth and entered eternity. “I still believe” even though God was not going to heal her on this earth. “I still believe” even though all of life was going on around her – without her. “I still believe” even though we had cried out to God for months for her healing and that prayer was not being answered the way we thought it should be. Still Hannah believed.

I still believe. Even when the money doesn’t roll in like we thought it would. I still believe even though individuals that we just KNEW would pull out their checkbooks and ask, “How much do you want?” won’t even return our phone calls. I still believe even if I have to spend the next five months beating the streets. I still believe.

How about you? Can you say you still believe even when things are contrary to what you want them to be? Do you still believe even when God’s answers are on the other end of the spectrum from your answers? Do you still believe even when a family member is diagnosed with cancer or your spouse leaves you for someone else or your children rebel or your finances are threatening to consume you? Do you still believe? I pray so! God is faithful and He loves you. All He wants you to do is trust Him.

“Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised good things to your servant” (2 Samuel 7:28).

He’s sovereign and trustworthy and has promised good things to me. I still believe.

Hope