Archive for February, 2013

Jesus & chicken – what a combo!

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Our local Boiling Springs Zaxby’s has the sweetest little elderly gentleman who walks around greeting the customers. He is the grandfather of the owner, and is respectfully called Papa Claude. Everyone who eats in our Zaxby’s knows him. Today Di and I were in there for a late lunch and he struck up a conversation with us as we were emptying our trays. He told us he is 81 years old and said, “The Lord has been so good to me. I can never repay him for all He’s done for me over the years. And I hope I can be a blessing to you and to all the customers. I just wanna give everybody Jesus and chicken!” We responded, “Amen! Jesus and chicken- what a combo!”

We walked out rejoicing over the testimony of that little man. Jesus and chicken – that’s all he has to offer people. That’s enough! Just yesterday I had a conversation with some friends that with my luck, the main entree in heaven will be fish. I don’t care for fish, but Jesus ate it often, blessed it often, referred to it often, so it will probably be the Chef’s Special every night. And that’s okay! But I imagine there’ll be some good ole chicken on the menu, too – and burgers and hotdogs and steaks and whatever we like. But Jesus and chicken – that’s my combo request!

We can apply Papa Claude’s daily mission to our own lives, no matter what we do for a living. Maybe you work on air conditioner units. Then your mission each day should be to give everybody Jesus & air! If you are a nurse, then your mission should be to give your patients a daily dose of Jesus & meds. If you’re a school teacher, then your mission should be to give your students Jesus & Math or English or History every day. If you’re a computer programmer, then your mission should be to give your customers Jesus & simplified code every day. Jesus & whatever makes the perfect combo.

I love this. Papa Claude had the sweetest disposition and the perfect smile when he said, “I just wanna give everybody Jesus and chicken!” Jesus & chicken – what a combo! (And I added a Coke Zero to my order – that really topped it off!)

“…you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8b).

“I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22b).


Stay close…

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

A beautiful picture of grace and mercy in the Bible is Peter and Jesus Christ. Peter had promised Jesus that he would go with him to death, that he’d always be faithful, that he’d never EVER deny Him. Only a few hours later after Jesus had been captured, Peter warmed his hands by the fire and fell under peer pressure. Jesus was within sight of Peter and within hearing range. When Peter was asked if he was a follower of Jesus, Peter cursed and denied the accusation. Jesus turned and looked at Peter, I imagine with a heartbreaking yet loving stare. The best part of this story is that, although Peter had failed, he was still close enough to see the face of Christ. And though Jesus was heartbroken by Peter’s actions, He loved Peter deeply and showed him grace and mercy.

If we stray away, the accountability strays with us. The farther we get from Jesus, the easier to “hide” our sins. We’ve gotta stay close to Him. We’ve gotta be close enough to see His face, even when we fail. We serve a compassionate, loving Savior. He forgives and restores. Peter’s greatest ministry was post-denial. We’re gonna mess up, we’re gonna fail, we’re gonna have regrets. But one look at His face we’re reminded of His love and forgiveness.

Stay close.

“Peter replied, ‘Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!’ Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:60-62).


He giveth Coke Zero…

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Today as I arrived at the hospital around noon it was POURING rain and 36 degrees. I had a huge box of “supplies” that I could hardly see over that I needed to take to Poppy’s room, a complete outfit for him hanging on a hanger (ever tried to hang a handkerchief on a hanger? It can be done!), my purse, my iPad and my Diet Coke I had just purchased from Cook-Out. Diet Coke is not my favorite, Coke Zero is my favorite diet soda hands down. But Diet Coke is the only diet option at Cook-Out. I was on the phone with my dear Di when I arrived in the parking garage, and I named everything I needed to take with me – in hopes of getting it all in one very rainy trip. I said to her, “Something’s gonna have to stay behind, and I’m afraid it’s gonna be my Diet Coke. That’s the right thing to do.” And it was. About an hour later Di showed up in Poppy’s room with a – you guessed it, Coke Zero!! That girl knows me well – what a friend!!

That’s exactly what God does for us. Sometimes we have to leave behind something that means the most to us. We have to sacrifice that which means a lot in order to fulfill our mission. My mission was to provide to Poppy the supplies he needed and an outfit should he get to put on anything other than that modest hospital gown that we all love and cherish. And I had to have my iPad so I could get some work done while sitting with Poppy. I couldn’t leave any of those things behind. The right thing for me to do was do for others, sacrificing my own wants. And because I did, God didn’t just repay me – He repaid me with much better than I gave up! He does that! He never takes from us but what He restores even more. A friend who lost his wife to cancer recently told me that the Lord told him when his wife was nearing death, “The best is yet to come.” And he said to me, “I’m holding God to that. I know He didn’t choose to take my wife only to leave me here to struggle. The best is yet to come, and I’m waiting on it!”

Trust God with every single area of your life. When He asks you to leave something behind, do so with the confidence that in His time He will return it to you in better form. When He asks you to sacrifice your wants for someone else’s needs, do so in full confidence that He will repay you for your sacrifice, and the repayment will be better than the sacrifice. Give up your Diet Coke – and enjoy that moment when He giveth Coke Zero.

“May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge” (Ruth 2:12).

“The Lord rewards every man for his righteousness and faithfulness” (1 Samuel 26:23).


Fulfill your destiny…

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

You were made to reflect God’s glory. Fulfill your destiny. – Tony Evans

Well, evidently Leon “Poppy” Houchins has more people to reflect God’s glory upon at Spartanburg Regional Hospital. We had to readmit him there this morning for dehydration and low blood pressure. He’s doing better tonight, thank the Lord! Please help us pray that his body will rebound and recover quickly. But we’re glad to be back on 4 Tower. The nurses there enjoy caring for Poppy. He never complains. He apologizes for things he can’t help but that inconvenience his caregivers. He is very appreciative. Says thank you always. Does any of this sound familiar? Yes, he is exactly as Hannah was. She must have gotten her sweet, grateful spirit from her Poppy. We were made to reflect God’s glory in all we do. Hannah did it beautifully, and so does her Poppy.

All for His glory, not your own. God desires to work in your life so that His glory will be revealed and reflected. Whether you’re asked to walk through a dark valley or to enjoy a beautiful mountain top, may God’s glory be reflected through your attitude. Fulfill your destiny.

“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).


Update on Poppy…

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

Here’s a video update on Poppy…

Grace is my story…

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

I was editing my video devotional earlier about Poppy’s illness, and I realized I used the word “grace” over and over and over. And the song, New Grace came to mind. The first line says, All of grace is my story. That’s me. Grace IS my story. I’ve received grace…

  • When I prayed to accept Christ in May 1972.
  • When I made some really poor decisions.
  • When I strayed from what I knew to be the truth.
  • When I went through my divorce.
  • When I took my eyes off the main thing.
  • When my dad passed away at age 62.
  • When I lost my job right after Clay and I got married.
  • When Hannah fought an ugly cancer, and died at age 18.
  • When I had surgery.
  • When my only brother committed suicide at age 51.
  • When I try to be my own savior rather than depending on my Savior.
  • When I fail to keep up. 
  • When I fail to stay on track.
  • When I fail to do what I know is the right thing.
  • When I put my trust in man rather than God.
  • When I blow it.
  • When my heart hurts.

Yes, grace is my story. And I’m so thankful that God continues to give more grace – time after time after time! Not at all dependent on my actions or accomplishments –  it’s all Him!

“But He gives us more grace…” (James 4:6).

“He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap” (1 Samuel 2:8).


Moses didn’t have anything on us…

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Today was my busiest day-of-visits since we started Hannah’s Hope Ministries. I made 7 visits to individuals in life crisis. From a 42-year-old man who is headed to M. D. Anderson with a rare cancer, to an elderly gentleman who has days to live but is ready to reunite with his wife. I woke up so excited about my day. This is exactly what I’ve been praying would happen. Not that I’m excited for people to be in crisis, but they’re gonna be in crisis anyway. I may as well get to minister to them. And the scripture the Lord gave me to share with folks today is one I can easily remember…

“As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5).

This is an easy verse to personalize. As the Lord was with Moses, so He will be with me. He will never leave me nor forsake me. As Christians we believe this verse, most of the time. But for a non-believer, they have a hard time grasping it. The man who is going to M. D. Anderson admitted to me that he’s not sure how he feels about the whole faith thing. But he was open to all I had to say. He stared off in the distance as I shared this verse with him. I assured him that God would be with him at every turn in Houston. He was familiar with Hannah’s story and he had a lot of questions about her cancer and her time in Houston. I talked about Hannah’s steadfast, unwavering faith; that she knew God had a plan and a purpose for her life and she rested in that truth. He teared up and nodded as I talked. The Lord used Hannah’s story again today to encourage someone in crisis. I pray her legacy of faith will be the open door for the Holy Spirit to do a work in that man’s heart.

It occurred to me, Moses didn’t have anything on us. The same God who parted the Red Sea and engraved the Ten Commandments in a tablet is intricately and intimately involved in our lives as well. As He was with Moses, so He is with us. He will never leave us nor forsake us. That’s a promise to hold onto!


You can rest now…

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

One of my favorite chapters of the Grace book by Max Lucado is entitled, You Can Rest Now. So much is clamoring for our attention. So many disappointments threaten to discourage us. So many obligations threaten to exhaust us. So many commitments threaten to overwhelm us. We don’t know how to say “No” because “No” is a dirty word in Christian living. We put false guilt on ourselves if we are not consumed with churchy-kinda stuff. We are physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally exhausted.

God’s grace is our place for rest. We will never be able to do enough to buy our way into God’s good graces. So He sent Jesus to pay our way into His good graces. Without Jesus, we’re out. With Jesus, we’re in – in spite of ourselves! Nothing good we’ve done on our own, simply our faith in the Son of God. And once we’ve accepted Him, we’re covered. We can’t keep up – no doubt about it! So rather than wearing ourselves out trying, we need to rest in His grace.

Hear the Father whispering, “I know you’re tired. Because My grace is sufficient, you can rest now.”

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).


Pay attention…

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Love this from Max Lucado…

The next time you are called to suffer, pay attention. The hand that extends itself to lead you out of the fog is a pierced one.

I’m reading On Calvary’s Hill by Max. It’s a 40 day reading for the Easter season. Max does such a beautiful job walking through the details leading up to and of the crucifixion in the scriptures. The statement above spoke volumes to me this morning. Max didn’t go very far with it. Often he doesn’t elaborate. He gives us just enough to make us think, challenging us to go deep and make the application where appropriate. I have been praying for and working with so many who are suffering – from lymphoma, to breast cancer, to liver cancer, to pancreatic cancer, to a marital affair, to a child who is dallying in homosexuality. The list absolutely goes on and on! The only One who can pull us out of the fog that settles around us during our suffering is Jesus. So many times we don’t recognize Him though. We think we are so self-sufficient. We think our will is strong enough to save us and that is all we need. We think our friends and family are the source of our strength. And while God uses all of the above, none of these can save us outside of the work of Jesus. He allows us to go through the dark valleys so that we can see His hand at work. He is intimately involved in our lives.

Don’t miss His hand. Don’t get so focused on the suffering that you are overwhelmed by the circumstances. Don’t get lost in the fog. Look closely. Pay attention. The hand that extends itself to lead you out of the fog is a pierced one.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” Luke 19:10.

“As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness” (Ezekiel 34:12).


My son’s coming home today!

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Clay was out of town Monday through Friday of last week, and most every time I visited Poppy in the hospital he’d ask what day it was and what day Clay was coming home. On Friday he told all his nurses, PCAs and the doctors, “My son’s coming home today!” He could not wait for Clay to get home. And Clay was just as anxious to get back in town and spend time with his Dad. The reunion and time they spent together over the weekend was very, very sweet.

I imagine that on the day of our Lord and Savior’s ascension to Heaven, our Heavenly Father was beyond excited. He probably paced the streets of gold in anticipation of His Son’s return. And He probably stopped every angel that flew by to tell them, “My Son’s coming home today!” What a reunion that must have been!

And one day there will be such a reunion for each of us who have accepted Christ! We’ve talked many times about the celebration that surely took place in heaven when Hannah arrived. The Lord had her days numbered before she was formed in Deb’s womb, and He knew the day and hour, even the minute when she would arrive home. And He knows the same for each of us. What anticipation for the angels, for the Father, and for the child of God. The reunion will be sweet!

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15).