Archive for March, 2014

God’s good at that!

Monday, March 31st, 2014

I’ve had many opportunities to use the phrase, “God’s good at that!” just in the past few days.

A man in desperate need of a first shift job, but not wanting to leave the company where he was employed. They created a position for him on first shift. He said to me, “I guess if God can create the world, He can create a position for me!” I responded, “Yep. God’s good at that!”

A lady who has had years of struggles in her career, her personal life, and her spiritual journey. But positive things continue to fall into place for her. Her outlook? “God always shows up.” My response? “God’s good at that!”

A single mom of two girls who holds tightly to the hope that her marriage will be restored, though the husband has no interest in making that happen. God can surely work miracles, right? My response? “Yep. God’s good at that!”

A mom of a teenage girl who has decided she knows what’s best for her own life. She plans to move in with her boyfriend’s family, leaving behind all that she knows to be truth and “right.” Can God intervene before this young girl ruins her life? Yep! God’s good at that!

My own search for knowing exactly where I am to serve and what I am to do. What to say no to. What to say yes to. How to use what little “free time” I have. Wisdom for taking the right turn at a crossroads in my life. Does God know which turn I should take? Will He give me discernment and direction and peace in my decisions? Yep. God’s good at that!

Can God handle whatever you’re facing in life? Is He big enough to not just speak the world into existence but speak peace to your anxious, troubled heart? Yep. God’s good at that!

“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him” (Nahum 1:7).

Hope

Don’t get stuck there…

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

We talked yesterday about the good that is on the other side of “that.” But when we’re in those dark times it is almost impossible to think about the other side. Our mind is focused on now. It’s stuck there. It is so difficult to keep going. Quite often we don’t know whether to turn to the right or left, whether to back up or go forward. We are broken and exhausted. Too weary to even try. We just want to quit. But we must move forward. We cannot allow ourselves to get stuck there. Getting stuck there will bring defeat. There is no victory in hanging out in a pit. There is no comfort in wallering in mire, it is smothering.

God loves you. He longs to be Lord of your life. He wants to give you victory over your circumstances. He longs to carry you right on through this trial. Don’t get stuck there. Let God work on your behalf and you’ll find the good on the other side.

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand” (Psalm 40:2).

Hope

The good is on the other side…

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Think about this quote from Beth Moore…

The greatest work that God will ever do in your life is on the other side of “that.” 

“That” is whatever God has allowed in your life that is very difficult. He promises us that He works all things for our good. How can the death of a child be good? How can the loss of a job be good? How can an unfaithful spouse be good? How can the heartache of a wayward child be good? How can the diagnosis of cancer be good? How can loneliness be good? Yet He says He works all things for our good? The good that He is working is on the other side of “that.” He wants us to keep putting one foot in front of the other when the storm is the darkest, because it’s on the other side that He does His greatest work. We must get to the other side. And with His strength and His power at work within us, we will.

The good is on the other side.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28).

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done…” (Genesis 50:20).

Hope

Tomorrow’s clouds…

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Worry pulls tomorrow’s clouds over today’s sunshine. – Author Unknown (to me)

That is the perfect picture of worry. Things are going pretty good in our lives. Our health is good, our kids are behaving, our marriage is thriving, our bills are paid and there’s still some cash flow available, life is good. Yet there is this cloud of worry that sits over us. The definition of worry: to allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles. My personal definition is to concern yourself with things completely out of your control. When we allow our mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles, when we concern ourselves with things out of our control, we are pulling tomorrow’s clouds over today’s sunshine. A good worry will put the lights out of a bright sunny day in a heartbeat. Tomorrow’s clouds? They may not even come! And so because we don’t know whether they’re going to come or not, we borrow from the unknown and allow it to snuff out the good things going on in our lives. That sounds crazy and ridiculous, doesn’t it? Why do we do that?? Why in the world do we let those clouds cover our sunshine?

The Bible tells us to cast all our cares on the Lord, ALL our cares, because He cares for us. He doesn’t want us to miss out on the bright sunny day He has blessed us with. So He’s offers to carry all our worries and burdens. All we have to do is let Him.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each dayhas enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Hope

After what I saw, how could I not be?

Monday, March 24th, 2014

One of the great lines from the recently released movie, Son of God, is a quote from John, the friend of Jesus. When asked if he was a follower of Christ, John answered, “After what I saw, how could I not be?”

Yesterday Clay and I along with our friends, Todd and Carmela were blessed with an opportunity to sing and tell Hannah’s story at Second Baptist Church of Rutherfordton, NC. The pastor is a lifelong friend, Keith Stephenson. Keith and I went to school together from Kindergarten through high school. We lost contact after my family moved from Bryson City, and I’ve seen him one time in those 34 years, and that one time was 17 years ago. He’s been pastoring this church in Rutherfordton, only 45 minutes up the road from us, for those 17 years and we haven’t seen each other at all. I’m still shaking my head that we could live that close together and have not hooked up. Keith and his wife, Bethel have their own journey, their own story of heartache and healing. In 1992 their 4 year old son was struck by a car and killed. Now that will rock your world, your marriage, and your faith whether you’re a pastor or not! And although it was devastating and the grief threatened to take them out many times, their faith was solid, their marriage was grounded on that faith, and their God was and is faithful. Keith has watched God’s hand of love and mercy and grace and protection do a great work not just in his life but in many lives over these years. He said to me yesterday, “We’re doing great, Hope. God is good.” I’m sure if I had posed the question to Keith now 22 years later why he is still a follower of Jesus, he’d respond, “After what I saw, how could I not be?”

Have I had my own share of heartache and disappointment? Have I thought God should answer my prayer in a particular way but instead He did something completely opposite? Yes. And have I witnessed God’s protection? His mercy? His love? His unmerited favor? His sustaining grace through the loss of a loved one? His healing power? His forgiveness and redemption from a life of sin? I certainly have. Why am I still a follower of Jesus in spite of grief and heartache and disappointment? Because after what I saw, how could I not be?

“This is the disciple [John] who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (John 21:24 & 25).

Hope

The dogwoods will bloom again!

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

FRIDAY, March 21, 2014

Today I did something I haven’t done in years. I laid out in the sun on my back deck. I’ve been going to the tanning bed for years, March through June to get a base tan. I don’t do panty hose and haven’t in many years. So I must have a bit of color on my otherwise lily white legs. Today was absolutely gorgeous! Close to the end of my outdoor tanning session, Di drove that long trek of one tenth of a mile from her house to mine. Yes she literally lives at the bottom of the hill from me and we love it! She joined me on the deck and we had our weekly chat time, our weekly talk about our dysfunctional families, our weekly jests and sarcasms, and we laughed our heads off at each other. I love that gal! And then we had our weekly prayer time, sitting on my deck basking in the second glorious day of Spring 2014. We, along with much of America have so longed for Spring! What a winter it has been! We looked down into the woods and spotted our two dogwood trees that are finally beginning to bloom. Yes!! Spring is finally here!

After Di left I thought about how this day represents a picture of our lives. Sometimes we go through painful bouts of winter, long dark nights and cold blustery days that threaten to chill us to our spiritual bones. And we grow weary from the cold. We cannot lose heart during those seasons! God promises to deliver us into a beautiful Spring season in His time. Hold on! God is faithful to His promises! The dogwoods will bloom again!

 ”See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come…” (Song of Solomon 2:11&12)

Hope

He took my place…

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

My pastor, Danny Garrett shared a great story. He loved to play basketball when he was growing up but he wasn’t good at free throws. When he was middle school age-ish he was fouled in a game and was headed for the free throw line. He whispered to one of his teammates that he wasn’t good at free throws, and the other kid told him to step back in the shadows and he’d shoot for him. The referee didn’t realize who the foul was called on so the kid shot for Danny and made both of the shots. After the game the boy who Danny fouled came up to him and said, “I thought you fouled me.” Danny answered, “I did.” The boy said, “Then why didn’t you shoot the free throws?” Danny pointed to his friend and said, “He took my place.”

That’s exactly what Jesus did for me. I’m the one who isn’t good at life. I am the one who sins. Jesus didn’t do anything wrong. But when it came time for me to step up to the line, He took my place. He who knew no sin became sin for me. And for you. That’s grace.

“Christ had no sin, but God made him become sin so that in Christ we could become right with God” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NCV).

Hope

Who I was got washed away…

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Who I was got washed away when mercy found me.  I wish I could take credit for that beautiful statement but I can’t. It’s part of the lyrics of a song. But I’m rejoicing in that truth today! I was reminded just yesterday of a very dark area of my past. An area that I can’t even think about without feeling absolutely overtaken by guilt and regret. But I don’t stay there long. I immediately start thanking the Lord for loving me in the midst of it, for not allowing me to go as far as I could’ve gone during that hard time in my life, for protecting me from what could have and would have ruined my life. While the decisions I made during that time were poor and foolish, I was a Christian and I had enough truth embedded in my heart and mind that I could not and would not cross the line. That truth protected me from destruction. And when I start talking to the Lord about it and thanking Him for keeping me in His grace, He reminds me that who I was got washed away when mercy found me. Oh praise the Lord for that truth!

Don’t let Satan hold you back based on a dark area of your life. Don’t let him tell you you’re not worthy. Don’t let him tell you that God can’t use you. Don’t let him tell you that your poor decisions define your future. Don’t let him throw your past back at you and stop you in your track with guilt. He is the master liar! He came to steal, kill and destroy! But Jesus came to give us life – abundant life! If you have confessed your sins to the Sovereign God of this Universe and accepted Christ as your Savior, who you were got washed away when mercy found you! Live in that cleansing today. You’ve been redeemed – you can now live abundantly and free of guilt! That, my friends, is the good news!

“A thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I came to give life—life in all its fullness” (John 10:10 NCV).

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22).

Hope

Proverbs 3:5 kinda chic…

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

One of my favorite “default” scriptures is Proverbs 3:5 & 6. I love it in The Message!

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own” (Proverbs 3:5 The MSG).

Just go ahead and call me out right there in black and white! My name may as well be stamped across the middle of that verse. I am the master of trying to figure out everything on my own. Something will happen and I’ll waste a ton of emotional energy trying to figure out why it happened, who caused, who will fix it, and what God will do with it when all is said and done. I say I trust God, and I do, but if I trust Him from the bottom of my heart then I won’t try to figure out everything on my own. I’ll rest in His promises. I’ll lean on Him and not on my own strength. I’d get a whole lot more done if I spent my emotional energy on things that were within my control. I’m working on that. I’m so glad God is patient with me.

Praying that I’ll be a Proverbs 3:5 kinda chic. What about you?

Hope

Falling into place…

Monday, March 17th, 2014

When everything falls apart, God makes sure it falls into place. – Author Unknown (to me anyway)

I can’t seem to shake this quote that I read earlier today. Things do not happen by chance. Life doesn’t fall apart on us for no reason. God either plans it or allows it so that He can do a great work in our lives. When everything starts falling apart it is only natural to be overcome with fear. “What in the world am I gonna do??” is usually our first response. “How can this be happening?” “Really, God?! Where are You in this??” We feel as if He’s abandoned us. But He hasn’t. If we will call on Him and trust the situation in His hands, He will work on our behalf, ensuring the pieces fall into place. So that when everything settles down, the pieces have come together in just the right place for our good and His glory.

Is life falling apart on you? Take heart. Be encouraged. It’s falling into place.

“Everything’s falling apart on me, God; put me together again with your Word” (Psalm 119:107 The MSG).

Hope