Archive for February, 2012

Jesus on His feet…

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Pastor Danny preached a message Sunday night that’ll make you wanna shout – even if you are not a shoutin’ kind of Christian! Check out this scripture…

“When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him [Stephen]. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul” (Acts 7:54-58).

In all the other references to Jesus in heaven hanging out with His Father, He is seated at the right hand of God. This is the only scripture that says Jesus is standing. One of His children, a faithful follower, a man who loved the Lord and served Him with all his heart, a sold-out servant who was willing to give his own life for the cause was about to be stoned to death. And Stephen never backed down. He didn’t waiver in his faith. He didn’t put his own well-being ahead of his call to serve. And what a reward! His life and death brought Jesus to His feet!

The question for us is will our life and death bring Jesus to His feet? We will most likely never be asked to give our life for the cause of Christ, as far as being persecuted and killed in the streets. And it’s probably a good thing we won’t be, because how do we do in every day life without persecution? How is our obedience, our commitment to Christ, our faithfulness to His call on our lives, our love for Him no matter what others around us are doing, our unwavering faith even when life as we know it is falling apart? How are we doing? Will my life, will your life bring Jesus to His feet? Oh I pray so!

What a beautiful picture of Jesus honoring a sinner who was saved by grace! I still wanna shout!

Hope

A radical change…

Monday, February 27th, 2012

We started the health program, First Place 4 Health at our church yesterday. I was a little hesitant to join, mostly because I am the worst at keeping track of everything I eat, determining whether it is a cup or 1/2 cup, knowing whether it is an oil or wheat or dairy or protein. Just seems so complicated! But as I prayed about the commitment I felt very strongly that the Lord wants to change my life – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. And He’ll do that only if I’m willing to make the commitment. And He won’t change it overnight nor will it be once and for all. I won’t wake up in the morning and suddenly I have a life-time supply of willpower and stick-to-it-edness.  Nope, God will radically change my life, but He’ll do it one day at a time.

And He wants to do the same for you. What radical change do you need God to do in your life?

Praying to have my heart wide open to that radical change every day!

“…give me only my daily bread” (Prov. 30:8).

“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. I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him’ (Lamentations 3:22-24).

“LORD, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning” (Isaiah 33:2).

Hope

The waiting mode…

Friday, February 24th, 2012

How good are you at waiting? I’m not very good at it. I don’t consider myself impatient, but I do like to have answers right away. God does His greatest work in our hearts while we’re in waiting mode. So many scriptures encourage us to hang in there, to be still, to wait on the Lord. Because while we wait we are growing in our faith.

I have several friends who are coasting in waiting mode. One is waiting for the Lord to restore her marriage. One is a college student who feels the Lord’s call on her life to do “something” and she’s not sure what that something is. One is a young man who has graduated college and knows God has called him to some type ministry and he’s waiting for direction. One is the husband of one of my dearest friends who has cancer and is waiting for more tests and then major surgery. As for me, I’m waiting for the balance of our movie budget in order to begin filming. You see the waiting mode is different in every situation. But the solution is the same for them, for me, and for you. Be still, wait for the Lord, be faithful right where you are until the answer comes. 

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD” (Psalm 27:13 & 14).

I saw this quote from Max Lucado…If you have no faith in the future, then you have no power in the present.

The waiting mode – it’s growing your faith.

Hope

God holds all the cards…

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

A few weeks ago I told you about my friend, Debbie Wiseman who died of leukemia. I loved Debbie’s analogy of God being the cardholder. I remember that when asked about her faith, she responded that God holds all the cards and that He gets to play them when He chooses and how He chooses. He gets the final play. 

If you are not a Christian or if you are not completely sold out to Christ, that analogy probably doesn’t sit well with you. And even those of us who strive to be sold out but still want to retain some control of our lives probably don’t love that analogy either. If God holds all the cards then He has full control. Rather than that truth frustrating us it should be freeing for us. God – the One Who created the universe,  the One Who spoke the words and all the world came into existence, the One Who waved His hand and filled the empty skies with stars and planets, the One Who tells the ocean how far to come on shore – that same God is in control of your life and mine. He’s got this, whatever “this” is in your life! He knows what you’re facing and He knows how to fix it. God holds all the cards, and He’ll play them when He sees fit and how He sees fit. Why fight against that which we cannot change? Surrender to His will for your life and live in freedom today.

“But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations” (Psalm 33:11).

Hope

Hope and Joy…

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Monday I posted on Facebook that I was headed to Birmingham with Joy, and I said, “A trip with Hope and Joy? There’s gotta be a spiritual application there somewhere.” My Texas bff, Rhonda Robinson posted “You can’t have one without the other!”

Hope…a confident expectation of something. Last night we presented Hannah’s story and the movie project to a small group of gentleman who are interested in investing in Christian films. One of the men said to me at the end of the presentation, “What the world is missing is hope. This story offers that.” Hope is being able to look at the horizon and keep your focus there when everything around you is seemingly hopeless. That’s what Hannah did. Hannah’s hope was not in this life. She set her eyes on the horizon because she had the confident expectation of things getting better, either here or in heaven. And her hope did not disappoint her. If we have hope, we will have joy in spite of our circumstances.

Joy…delight, an inner expression of exuberance. Inner expression, yes that’s it! Joy is what you have inside, not what’s going on outside. Joy cannot be stripped from you by your circumstances. It is an inner peace. And the only way for us to be joyful in times of suffering or heartache or any difficult time is to have our hope rooted in Christ.

Hope and joy – can’t have one without the other.

“We remember before our God and Father…your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

“…the joy of theLORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

I apologize for not posting yesterday. It was a very looooong day, but a productive and successful one. Thank you for your continued prayers!

Hope

 

Use your crisis to spread the good news…

Monday, February 20th, 2012

I’m in Birmingham, AL for a few days to meet with the production team and some potential investors. Joy McAbee is my travel partner for this trip, and we’ve had a great time. (For those of you who do not know Joy, she is Hannah’s best friend, Erin’s mother and serves on our Board.) That was the fastest 5 hour trip I’ve traveled in a while! We talked and talked and talked. We talked about our kids and our marriages (both of mine…), but mostly we talked about Hannah and Erin and the deep love they had for each other. What a journey God chose not just for Hannah but for Hannah’s best friend. 5 1/2 years later it would still be easy to ask why. Why in the world did such a beautiful young girl with her whole life ahead of her have to suffer as she did, and ultimately die from a horrible cancer? Why did her beautiful friend, Erin have to lose her rock, her validator, her counselor, her buddy?

And the whys far surpass Hannah’s journey. They nibble at each of us from time to time. Why are we asked to walk through dark valleys? Why do we have so much pain to contend with? Why does everything fall apart at one time? Why sickness? Why divorce? Why? Why?

God wants us to trust Him and allow all of our whys to bring Him glory. Look at this scripture…

“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel” (Philippians 1:12).

I pray that I allow God to work in and through me so that I, like the Apostle Paul, can proclaim that all that has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ. The good news that Jesus loves me and His grace is sufficient and that He has a plan and a purpose for my life and that He never leaves me and will never forsake me and that He looks beyond my faults and sees my need and that His arms are never too short and His ears are never stopped up that He doesn’t hear our cries and that His eyes are never blurred that He can’t see us right where we are. We have the good news! Use your crisis to spread it.

Hope

El Shaddai…

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Since our Bible Study on Wednesday night I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about God as El Shaddai – the All Sufficient God. In other words, God is enough. What does that look like in our lives?

Do you need a little bit of compassion today? God is enough. Do you need an extra boost of energy today? God is enough. Do you need to be rescued from your state of despair? God is enough. Do you need grace to get you through a very difficult time that doesn’t seem to have an end anytime soon? God is enough. Do you need a word of encouragement? God is enough. Do you need a bit of laughter in the midst of a long number of dark days? God is enough. Do you need direction for whatever is “next” in your life? God is enough. Do you need food on your table or gas in your car or money to pay your house payment? God is enough.

There is no need that we have that God cannot meet if we will but trust Him. He is El Shaddai. He is All Sufficient. He is enough.

“God has been gracious to me and I have all I need” (Genesis 33:11).

Hope

The pain from past thorns…

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Last night in Bible Study we ladies were discussing the “thorns” in life that we are asked to live with and how sometimes even when the thorn is gone, the pain is still there. My friend / pastor’s wife, Kim shared with our group that she worked at a florist last weekend to help fill orders for Valentine’s roses. She said that her fingers are so sore from the many thorns that pricked the tips of her fingers, although the thorns are no longer there. She’s one of my faithful readers so she grinned as she saw my wheels turning, and gave me permission to steal her analogy.

Perhaps your life has been pricked and prodded and poked by painful thorns. Maybe the thorn was an abusive parent, or you were abandoned by a parent. Maybe the thorn was the death of someone you loved deeply. Maybe the thorn was an unfaithful spouse. Maybe the thorn was an ungrateful rebellious child. Maybe the thorn was the loss of a job that you had given many years to. Maybe the thorn was an unfair accusation that threatened to destroy your reputation. Obviously I could go on and on with this list. Whatever the thorn, the pain is still there. Many times you’ve asked God to remove the pain, to help you forget the pain but it just hasn’t happened. He removed the thorn but the pain is still there. Why? Why will He not completely remove the pain?

Often God leaves the reminder of our past hurts so that we can remember Who our help and our strength comes from. He doesn’t want us to be self-sufficient. He created us to love Him and glorify Him and worship Him and honor Him. When we’re self-sufficient we often don’t even acknowledge Him. One thing is certain…when God chooses not to remove the pain, He provides grace. Sufficient grace. 

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Hope

What door have you locked out of fear?

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

When Jesus appeared to the disciples post-resurrection, they were behind closed and LOCKED doors out of fear. The first thing Jesus said to the men was, “Peace be with you!” These men who had followed Jesus so closely and watched the many miracles performed were acting out of fear. They got so caught up in the anguish and heartache of the crucifixion that they forgot all they had learned from Jesus.

Hmmm…does any of this strike a chord with you? How many doors have you closed and LOCKED out of fear? Have you felt like the Lord was leading you to do something and you were too afraid? Did you feel Him leading you in a particular direction and you went the other way out of fear? Have you felt a strong call to take a position or stand up against something or in favor of something but then you backed out? Or maybe you are in a very dark place and rather than pull yourself up by your boot straps and do something about it you just exist. Only do what you have to do to get by. All of these scenarios are ways that we close and lock the door out of fear. Jesus has a word for you…”Peace be with you.” The only real peace is in Jesus Christ. Trust Him. Don’t be afraid.

Or perhaps you don’t know Jesus. If that’s the case then the door to your heart is locked out of fear. Fear of the unknown. Jesus has a word for you too…”Peace be with you.” The only real peace is in Jesus Christ. Trust Him. Don’t be afraid.

“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19).

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

Hope

Unfailing love…

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

On this annual day to celebrate love, I want to remind my web friends, who I love to pieces, that God’s love is unfailing. Here’s a verse I “came across” this morning…

“…Redeem us because of your unfailing love” (Psalm 44:26).

Has someone failed you lately? Or maybe it’s been many years since someone stripped you of their trust and it left you gun-shy to love. Or maybe you feel like love is so far “out there” that you’ll never reach it, never grasp it, never know what it means to be cared for so deeply. I encourage you today to put your trust in God whose love is unfailing and unconditional. He doesn’t love us “because” or “if” or “when.” He loves us, period. And to prove that love to us He wrote beautiful love letters throughout His Word with promises that will never fail us, never disappoint us, never harm us. Spend some time reading His love letter to you today. It will warm your heart.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t desire to be loved by someone with flesh on. Love was God’s idea, and it was a good one. But He wants us to love Him first and allow Him to fill the deepest yearnings in our hearts. And then when He graciously places someone in our lives to love us and care for us on this earth, we can appreciate the very idea of love because we will know that our true identity and self-worth doesn’t rest in anyone with flesh on.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you. I do love you and appreciate you SOOOO much!

Hope