Archive for June, 2012

No strings attached…

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

So many of our relationships come with strings attached. If we’ll, then they’ll. When we’ll, then they’ll. Because we, then they. But not God’s love. His love comes with no expectations. He knows how we are. He knows what we’re capable of. After all, He created us. No expectations. God’s love comes with no hidden agendas. He’s not trying to manipulate us by loving us. He doesn’t love us so that we’ll do anything except love Him back. No hidden agenda. God’s love comes with no secrets. He doesn’t hide anything from us. His Word is pretty detailed and quite descriptive of His love. No secrets. And God’s love comes with no strings attached. He doesn’t give us a big long list of do’s and don’ts, loving us only if we’re able to check off the list. He doesn’t expect perfection or the ability to get it together and keep it together. No strings attached.

God’s love is simply pure, unconditional love. He loves us in spite of ourselves. He loves us when we are dirty and rotten. He loves us when we are making good decisions, and when we make poor decisions that cause heartache for others. He loves us when we pray to Him faithfully, and He loves us when get so busy doing “stuff” that we don’t speak to Him for days. He loves us when we seek His face for direction, and He loves us when we set out on our own in total disregard of His leadership. God’s love is unconditional, no strings attached. Bask in it today!

“I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever” (Psalm 52:8).

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Hope

Wait for it…

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Lauren has gone home to Parkersburg, WV for a week. On her flight home she wrote a devotional from the quote I shared with you yesterday. She had no idea I was writing one, nor did I know she was. It’s interesting how two people can take the exact quote and go in two entirely different directions. I share with you Lauren’s devotional…

Wait for it….

While flying on a plane recently back home to WV, I sat on the runway for ever! You’ve been there, done that, right? It’s so much easier to be sitting in the air, rather than on the ground. I just wanted to G-O!! The bigger picture was, however, the plane wasn’t ready to go yet. We had to get the luggage loaded, refueled; pilots geared up, and lastly, wait for multiple planes to take off in front of us-all very necessary steps in order for us to have a successful flight. 

In our lives, how often do we find ourselves sitting and waiting? Waiting to buy a new house, a new car, waiting to get married, have kids, have a job, finish school, waiting in line, waiting to get better, waiting for a loved one to get better? At some point we are all just waiting. As we kept waiting on the runway, I continued to read my book that’s teaching me to pray Gods word. With each prayer, I began to realize that I myself was not near as ready for my trip home as I thought I was. I needed that waiting period on the runway for God to work in my heart. It’s a bitter sweet trip home, as I am stepping back into one of the most life changing weeks of my life-celebrating my Mom’s 1 year anniversary of entering into heaven. A line from one of my favorite sermons goes like this, “Sometimes what seems to be like a painful waiting room is actually Gods most productive workroom.” Though my waiting room was a temporary one on a runway, the Lord used it as a production room and got some work done in my heart. He fueled my heart, loaded me with luggage of scripture and truths I will need for this week, and established a confidence in my heart, reminding me that He was my pilot and we would have a successful flight.

So, maybe you are in a waiting room? If not, you will be. When that happens, don’t spend your time waiting for what God is going to do tomorrow, and open your eyes to what He is going to do today. Let Him use that time of what seems to be monotonous waiting to prepare you for the flight ahead. You’ll be glad you did, and He will too.

Lauren Hanlon

Not bad for a 21-year-old, huh?

“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7).

“I will wait for the LORD…I will put my trust in him” (Isaiah 8:17).

Hope

God’s Workroom…

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

“What seems to you like a pointless or even painful ‘waiting room’ may be God’s most productive workroom.” ~ Holly Furtick

Lauren shared this quote with me yesterday, and I immediately thought of Grandma Ruth’s illness. Ruth has been clinging to life for several days now. Her family is split between two waiting rooms, one on the first floor and one on the second. They’ve spent countless hours in a painful waiting room – literally and figuratively. God has them in a waiting pattern, and this is one situation that we don’t have to ask why. We’re watching Him use this waiting room as a productive workroom. It’s crazy to see His handiwork in Ruth’s circumstances and situation. Things that seemed hopeless and heartbreaking late Friday night turned into victory and God-winks Sunday afternoon. And His work continues even today. Every time I hear from Scott, Caleb’s dad with an update I chuckle at God’s power and sovereignty. I shared the above quote with Scott this morning and he responded, “His greatest work has been in my heart, teaching me to trust Him and not everyone else.” Now that’s some handiwork right there!

Hanging out in a waiting room can be exhausting. There’s lots of pacing, a lot of sitting, a lot of looking at your watch, a lot of talking and chatting about absolutely nothing, and time creeps by. This is definitely where we are in the movie process. Waiting, wondering is there anything going on. We do our part and continue to knock on doors and walk through every one that opens. But we’re definitely in a waiting room. I have to admit I look at my watch and my calendar and feel like, based on my time line, we’re running close to the deadline to film in 2012. But God is faithful and He’s in charge. And He’s gracious to give us updates from time to time to remind us that He’s working. I just need to be content to wait. It’s His time line, not mine.

Are you in what appears to be a pointless or painful waiting room? Have you been asking God for answers or solutions or intervention and you seem to be pacing back and forth? Sitting for hours waiting for answers? Checking your watch every few minutes? Wasting time talking about pointless topics in hopes of getting your answer at any time? Stop pacing. Stop worrying. Stop trying to figure it out. God is working in ways you cannot see or fathom. God doesn’t waste any time. He doesn’t have you in waiting mode for nothing. Pointless is not in God’s vocabulary. Your waiting room is God’s most productive workshop. Be still and watch God work.

“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7).

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).

“Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man’s behalf!” (Psalm 66:5).

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).

Hope

Part the waters, Lord…

Monday, June 25th, 2012

I’ve mentioned the book of Joshua a couple of times recently, and I continue to be amazed by the beautiful picture of God’s provision for His children. Todd, Carmela, Clay and I are learning a new worship medley, and one of the lines is Joshua-appropriate.

When I feel like I’m going under, part the waters, Lord.

Sometimes He waits to part the waters until we’ve fought the waves of self-reliance, strong will and my way or the highway. He waits until we’ve exhausted all other options. He’s a pretty patient God. When we’re at the end of ourselves we are overwhelmed with the feeling of going under. And it is then we cry out and God parts the waters.

Yet sometimes we feel like we’re going under even when we’re allowing the Lord to have full control of our lives. We’re not depending on self, we’re not being controlling, we’re not being stubborn. We’re facing circumstances that are completely out of our control, circumstances that hit us blindsided, and they’re threatening to take us under. I’ve certainly faced a few situations recently that have caused me to cry out, “Part the waters, Lord!”, and He did. All He wants is our obedience, our total surrender to Him. He steps in and parts the waters. Just call on Him.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you” (Isaiah 43:2).

“The LORD is near to all who call on him” (Psalm 145:18).

Hope

I Can Only Imagine…

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

I received the call this afternoon that Caleb’s grandmother, my former mother-in-law, Ruth Cabiness is nearing heaven. Grandma Ruth is 84 years old and has been in fairly good health until just a few weeks ago. Her condition has steadily declined and now, unless God performs a miracle, her hours left here are few. As I was texting with Caleb deciding whether he should try to come home now or wait until she passes, the grief of losing such a sweet lady swept over me. And on Pandora Radio came…

I can only imagine what it will be like when I walk by Your side

Ruthie & Pam Tebow

And now as she is on a ventilator and not responding I can only imagine what is waiting for her. No one more than Ruthie is worthy of hearing her Lord and Savior say, “Well done my good and faithful servant. Welcome home” and join arms with Him and walk by His side, strolling through heaven hugging on those who have gone before her. Her husband of many years who accepted Christ only 10 days before dying, her sister, her mother, my daddy who was her “Preacher” and whom she loved like life, the list goes on and on. I can only imagine what her Heavenly Father has in store for her. Run home, Ruthie, run home.

“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things…Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23).

Hope

Jesus in a minivan…

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

The one year anniversary of Lauren’s mother’s death is next Thursday, June 28.  Today she asked me if I minded if she reminisced about the details of what she was doing a year ago today. Of course I was eager to hear about it. They brought her mother home from the hospital to spend her last days with the family. Lauren said one of her warmest memories is that when they drove into their driveway, Linda (Clay’s first cousin who introduced us to Lauren) was sitting in her van in the driveway. She said she felt like Jesus was waiting on her through Linda. I said, “Jesus in a minivan!” She giggled and responded, “Exactly!”

That’s how Jesus works. He uses us to be His arms to hug those who are hurting, His feet to go to those in need, His heart to love on someone who is grieving. The smallest of gestures – like sitting in a minivan in the driveway when someone gets home from a very difficult day. Don’t make light of those acts of kindness. Be sensitive to how you treat others and how you reach out to others. No deed is too small. No act is overlooked. Be Jesus in a minivan. You don’t know whose life you’ll change or whose heart you’ll encourage or whose grieving soul you’ll comfort.

And look for those who are reaching out to you. Don’t miss every time someone is being Jesus in a minivan to you.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12).

“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble” (1 Peter 3:8).

Hope

Standing along the shore…

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

I was listening to the song What Do I Know of Holy and snatched this phrase out of the middle…

Where have I even stood but the shore along Your ocean?

This is what I get out of that small phrase: Who in the world am I to question God’s decisions? His plans? His purposes? His will? His choices? To pretend to know how He should answer a prayer or how He should solve a problem or how He should change a circumstance or how He should end a story – what in the world am I thinking? Yeah, I know I’ve been around the block a few times. But I have only stood but along the shore of the vast ocean that God created. Not an ocean that took millions of years to evolve, but a vast ocean that God literally spoke into existence. Who am I to question what God is up to? Who am I to assume I know what He deems appropriate? Who am I to haughtily claim to know His plans? I mean where have I even stood but the shore along His ocean.

Let go of your preconceptions and misconceptions of who God is and what He’s doing and how He’s doing it. Give it up. You can’t even start to comprehend who He is or how holy He is. But the really good news in all of this is that He includes us in every inch of His plan. He doesn’t necessarily fill us in, but He engages us in the process. All we have to do is trust Him.

“Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt” (Job 38:8-11).

“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he” (Deut. 32:4).

“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).

Hope

Mmm!…No words

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

One of Lauren’s favorite sayings is simply, “Mmm!” said with deep emphasis on the entire Mmm! Shortly after she arrived in our home I noticed she had said, “Mmm!” at a time when she felt very passionate about something. I asked her what that meant just exactly and she said, “I use it when there are no words. No words at all.” Needless to say spending 15 – 16 hours a day with someone you quickly pick up their habits. I find myself responding with “Mmm!” when there are no words. By the way, I have nicknamed Lauren, La Tay. Her name is Lauren Taylor Hanlon. And yep, her nickname is pronounced latte, which is quite appropriate because La Tay is a much needed refreshment to my soul.

I found myself responding “Mmm!” several times this past weekend. Glenn, Rhonda, Jacob & Sarah Kathryn Robinson and Jacob’s fiancé, Melissa Kingsley came to Spartanburg for Martin & Teal Rosenlund Tiller’s wedding, and they stayed at our house. Mmm!…no words for how thrilled Clay and I were to have them in our home. The deep friendship that took root during our walk through Hannah’s journey has since been nurtured and fed and watered and pampered – Mmm! no words. They are as close to us as family. They are family. To watch Glenn, CEO of a large thriving hospital in Waco, TX, let his hair down and laugh until he nearly falls off the couch does my heart good! And to share tears and laughter for hours with Rhonda as we exchange life experiences that have taken place since the last time we were together – there are no words. And to see how mature Sarah Kathryn is and how she has grown in her love for the Lord – there are no words. And the absolute JOY that Jacob brings to us, he may as well be our own son. We love that young man, and Clay and I enjoy him SOOO much – there are no words. And Melissa, Jacob’s fiancé who he will marry on July 14? Such a beautiful young lady inside and out. She fit right in, not just literally as she, Rhonda, La Tay and I all squeezed on our couch, but emotionally. Melissa is now part of the family. Jacob has taken a position in the Adult Sports Ministry at Second Baptist in Houston. He has a bright future ahead of him, and Melissa is the perfect mate for him. No words.

And when I sit here typing this devotional with Pandora Radio playing softly in the background, Amazing Love is playing.

I’m forgiven because You were forsaken

I’m accepted, You were condemned

I’m alive and well. Your spirit lives within me

Because You died and rose again

Amazing love how can it be

that You, my King, would die for me

And my response is, “Mmm!” because truly when it comes to what Christ did for me, there are no words. Amazing love – Mmm!

“The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift [Jesus Christ] followed many trespasses and brought justification” (Romans 5:16).

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

Hope

 

Flood stage…

Monday, June 18th, 2012

First let me say I am so confused as to what happened to my devotional on Friday. It is somewhere in cyberspace. Please, please forgive me. Here it is again…

I just love the book of Joshua. Our Sunday School lessons are in Joshua for the next few weeks, and there is some good stuff! One of the notes I made last Sunday was, God does His greatest work at flood stage. The Israelites came to the Jordan River and needed to cross over. It was flood stage – or flood season, so the waters were rough and tumultuous. God ordered Joshua and the children of Israel to step their toes into the water. In other words, they didn’t have to dive in, just simply take one step of obedience. And when they did, the waters receded uphill and the ground was dry for them to cross over. God worked a miracle for His children. All they had to do was be obedient. Their response could have been, “But God, this is flood stage! The waters are deep and choppy and dangerous. We can’t step into that water! What about our small children? What about our wives? What about our livestock?” The list of reasons why they didn’t want to trust God during flood stage could have gone on and on. But instead they were obedient, and God was faithful.

How do you do with trusting God to do His best work during flood stage? Do you question His ability? Do you argue with Him? Do you have a better way that seems much less “dangerous”? Do you make excuses and try to get out of the act of obedience He calls you to? Do you worry about your children? Your spouse? Your material things? Do you, in your finite mind, try to make sense of God’s ways? I encourage you to take one step of obedience and watch Him do a great work. He does His greatest work in flood stage.

“So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho” (Joshua 3:14-16).

Hope

Keep scratching…

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

My Mom always said, “Stop scratching that bite! You’ll make it bleed.” Or “Stop scratching! It only makes it itch worse.” Yours probably said the same things. And I’ve used the “Stop scratching!” command to Jax and Muggsy many times. You know how dogs are, they think they have to scratch an area of a rug or their bed or wherever they’re about to lay before curling up all cozy. I always say the same thing, “No, Jax, stop scratching!”

Lauren and I have started the Bible Study, Experiencing God as our summer study. In today’s lesson one of Henry Blackaby’s statements caused me to shake my head and write in the margin, “We haven’t even scratched the surface of Who God is.” No matter how long we’ve been a Christian. No matter how many studies we’ve attended or completed on our own. No matter how many messages we may have preached or Sunday School lessons we may have taught. No matter how many devotionals we may have read or written. No matter how many sermons we have sat under. No matter how many people we’ve prayed with or how many hundreds of quiet times we’ve had. We haven’t even scratched the surface of Who God is and Who He wants to be in our lives. I shared that with Lauren as we got together to tell what we got out of today’s lesson, and I said to her, “We’ve gotta keep scratching!” You may never hear that exhortation in reference to any other area of your life. But I encourage you to keep scratching! You haven’t scratched the surface of God, and you want to get deeper and deeper into His love and His mercy and His plans and His purposes and His blessings. He’s a big God, and He has LOTS to tell us!

Keep scratching…

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen” (Romans 11:33-36).

Love it in The Message…

“Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It’s way over our heads. We’ll never figure it out. Is there anyone around who can explain God? Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do? Anyone who has done him such a huge favor that God has to ask his advice? Everything comes from him; Everything happens through him; Everything ends up in him. Always glory! Always praise! Yes. Yes. Yes.” (The Msg)

Hope

#digdeep