Finding Hope

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Sometimes it’s a hopeless world around us and all anyone can seem to do is just survive.

                                                             I don’t want to merely survive,

I want to bloom and grow and thrive in the place(s) that God has placed me.

                                                            Sometimes though I think that we all can just sort of settle for the “just good enoughs”.

I’m not talking about materialism or stuff but about our life circumstances and our hopes and dreams….

you see

 

when we were just kids

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We dreamed.  We welcomed imagination.  We hoped to become, and in that becoming the sky was the limit.  

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We weren’t weighed down by endless doubts, or the “not good enoughs” or the “I can’ts”…

 

 

we just imagined and dreamed big dreams…

 

 

 

                                                                                          but

 

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over time…

 

we started to believe what others thought about us.

 

over time…

we bought into the lies that this world told us.

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over time…

we accepting the truths of the fallen, instead of the truths of the risen.

 

So, for just a second, will you accepted this breath?

Will you accept this gift of hope again?  

 

Will you take these written words to heart…

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and believe again? 

 

 

 

Here is the hope that I have for you for me, for us 

 

today…

 

 

 

 

This is what I know HOPE to be: 

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H.elping us

 

O.pen our eyes to the 

 

P.ower of 

 

E.ternity 

 

 

This isn’t something readily accepted.  This isn’t something generally practiced…even though flowery speeches and whole sections of bookstores are devoted to “self-help”…they can fall short.  

Hope lifts our eyes.

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Helps us see beyond what this earth

has taught us to know.  

When we can begin to look up, accept divine help…

our eyes can become truly open to the possibilities again.

The power

God’s power, brings us closer, 

                        so much closer 

to the way things were created to be 

                               in the first place. 

Don’t be limited by your hopes and dreams…find hope…

                                                                                         and….

 

                                                                                                     let it….

                                                                                                                  set…

 

                                                                                                                           you…

 

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January 1st = Forgiveness (The 70X7 Principle)

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New beginnings.  That’s what some people are hoping for at the start of 2014.  Cue the song “High Hopes” (I’m really not being cynical here either…really).  I believe in the God of second chances, do you?  I believe that when His disciples asked Him how many times they had to forgive Jesus told them seventy times seven (Matt 18:21-22).  I know that He wasn’t just giving them a random number out of His head and it wasn’t legalistic in the sense that they only had to forgive 490 times (that’s 70 X 7 by the way for us who had to use a calculator cause we suck at math).  I believe the disciples eventually got Jesus’ point.  Forgiveness isn’t really about how many times we have to forgive but rather about the conditions of our hearts and the willingness to find grace for others.   Isn’t that what God has done for us?  We mess up royally and we don’t deserve God’s forgiveness and yet His prevenient grace is offered to us through Christ.  He forgives us COMPLETELY!   

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I don’t wish to imply that there are conditions on forgiveness here but think of it this way: Forgiveness of others and those who have wronged you alleviates the burdens and scorn you may still have in your heart for that person(s).  They may not even seek sincere forgiveness from you but when you wipe the slate clean of transgressions done to you, you are clearing the weight of that burdens of wrongs done to you.  It may sound selfish, but why live life burdened by the wrongs of others?  It holds you back.  It holds you captive.  You will always be a prisoner to their wrong doings done to you even if they have moved on.  So why let it fester?  Why let that kind of emotional/spiritual sliver remain?  Pluck it out and move on for your own health and well being. 

Secondly, forgiveness doesn’t mean that you become naive and trust people who haven’t earned that trust yet, but it does mean that you move on.  We must be wise in how we let others effect us coupled with the decisions we make which also impacts others.  Forgiveness and trust aren’t always mutually the same.  What forgiveness allows you to do (and the offending party) is to move on.  I don’t believe that we have to automatically forget but we forgive.  Afterall we can’t expect someone who has been sexually or physically abused to forget what was done to them right out of the “forgiveness gate”…it will take time to heal and to cope.  In the same way that it may take years of counseling and healing for the abused, those who have been wronged in other ways will find that time needs to pass before trust and “forgetting” can ever take place.

Lastly, I mentioned earlier about what the year of Jubilee meant in the Hebrew culture.  It was a year in which all debts were erased and people could start over.  Perhaps 2014 is that year of Jubilee for you.  Perhaps you’ve been holding onto pains, hurts, and grudges that need to be wiped completely away.  Forgiveness heals and lifts burdens of all parties.  

Are you willing to forgive?  For those also who are seeking to find forgiveness, be strong.  It takes a lot of courage to own up to wrong doings so that you can grow and move on.  Don’t miss this opportunity on the first of the year to begin on the right foot!  

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-Just a thought for new beginnings.  

Finding Hope (A Poem)

Finding salvation and comfort…is that even possible?
In a world that seems so wrought with pain and sadness,
these half-timbered, dimly lit dwellings
plastered with the scabs of hurts and slings of words
how can hope spawn from such a place?
These tall escarpments seem too far,
and we, with reaches far too limited
how can hope ever stoop, low and bending
to such a place as this?

Yet, when the babe, cherubic and glorious
came to this fallen shambles of a place
we now, with arms extended
broken and needy
can embrace this light
beaming and radiant.

Hope?  Don’t speak of such a thing,
live it, experience it, vivid and streaked
with Theophonic glory…speak not
of falsities and half promises of this word!
Instead, with hearts extended
grooved and bending
no longer a barren land but
but rich, empirical
blazing in His glory!

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I’ll Fight!

 

In the years that I have lived, loved and groaned

I have never known the hunger pangs of children

I have never witnessed a child dying from the curable

because resources and money was lacking.

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I have never found pleasure in a single morsel of rice

because this was all I would eat in a week.

I have never been witness to the slaughter of my parents

because they believed in Jesus.

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I have never had to watch as my brothers and sisters

were sold into slavery on the human trafficking market,

loaded up in boxed trucks by the dozens like animals

heading to market…

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Yet I know it exists.

I know that many still today find grace in one ray of sunshine

in the midst of hell and fury of hate.

I know children go hungry as militant leaders steal

their wealth and resources and make child soldiers out of them.

I know Aids has killed and will kill entire generations in Africa

leaving orphans in its wake.

I know human slavery hasn’t been eradicated

but is extricating the innocent still to a shortened life of horror.

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I know.

But how can we end this?

How can we bring food to the hungry,

safety to the threatened

and cures to the dying?

My heart yearns to help.

My heart groans to give aid.

I want to fight this.

I want to stand in the gap for those who cannon for themselves.

I want to bring the light of Christ into darkened places.

To be a place of safe harbor to the lives clinging to death.

Lord how?

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How can we fight this?

How can we go?

How can we soldier on?

How do we shine when all we want to do cry and weep over

the evils of man?

This fight must begin and end with You!

Your strength.

Your peace.

Your discernment.

Your empowering arms of love.

Father, we cry out to You in a world

sin sick and broken.

Be our salve.

Be our shield.

Our fortress.

Our deliverance.

Our Victory.

I’ll fight!

I’ll fight on!

I’ll fight on into your victory!

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Fidelity & Infidelity in the Christian world.

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This is a very sensitive topic, I know.

I don’t know the effects of infidelity (thankfully) first hand, nor am I about to make a broad brush stroke and lump other marital issues such as physical or substance abuse in with unfaithfulness.  Let me be clear, my primary purpose in writing on this topic is strictly to confront areas of sinful unfaithfulness within the sacred partnership of marriage within the “Christian Church”.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this ought not be.  I do want to be sensitive with extemporaneous issues which might lead to such a betrayal, but in many cases Christians who are facing these types of issues in their marriage really need to consult professional marriage counseling before it gets worse.

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If we can learn anything from the story of Hosea and his marriage to Gomer (which was a metaphor for the sacred yet broken Covenant relationship God had with His people) we should learn just how serious a partnership the marriage relationship was and still is today.  After all, even the Apostle Paul wrote of the marriage relationship in Ephesians 5:22-33, and the main focal point in those verses center on resembling how Christ’s love is bestowed and poured out upon His bride the Church.

Husbands and wives, when you make that solemn commitment and say “I do” you are committing to that person FOR LIFE!  This isn’t some kind of two year cell phone commitment, where, after two years, you can upgrade to a different model.  This is why it is so crucial to get to know your “bride-to-be” or “groom-to-be” before you make that life long commitment!  How heart wrenching it is to watch two committed Christians split up over some elicit affair or “moment of weakness”.  Many psychologists have ascertained that a betrayal like this can be as devastating as a death in the family.   (http://www.alfredadler.edu/sites/default/files/Livingston%20MP%202012.pdf)

One of the biggest public stories recently in Hollywood is of the elicit affair Kristen Stewart had with a married man, Rupert Sanders.  Though this isn’t specifically a Christian story, the devastation that this had on both parties has ended in divorce and separation.  How horrifying it must be to discover the one you have confided in and trusted your heart and life with has betrayed you.  http://www.eonline.com/news/475712/liberty-ross-opens-up-about-husband-s-affair-with-kristen-stewart-it-was-really-the-worst

As Christian people, we are a living example of Christ to the world around us.  I believe it hurts the heart of our Lord when marriages fall apart and unfaithfulness is at its center.  Beware too…don’t ever think that you are not susceptible to such trappings of temptation!  Steer clear of these moments of weakness.  Don’t place yourself in compromising situations where you may be tempted!  Keep your allegiance not only to God but also with your spouse and life-partner!  Hebrews 13:4 Says; “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”

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Get Help!  

If you and your spouse are facing issues in your marriage, don’t be afraid to seek professional help with a Christian marriage counselor!  It is a sign of strength and not weakness that you do so.  After all, if there is something worth protecting in this life it would have to be your marriage and family?   So take the time, seek support and guidance and don’t put it on the back burner because life is “too busy” right now!   Be proactive in your marriage and don’t wait for the bags to be packed and the sofa full of pillows and blankets!

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Cherish!

Seek fidelity in your marriage, but go way beyond that!  Cherish your spouse!  Be attentive, supportive, communicative and loving!  Be selfless in your attitude towards each other instead of selfish!  Spend time with one another and perhaps plan dates away from the kids and the stresses of work!  Invest in your relationship and don’t neglect it!  If we are to be amazing representatives of Christ-like living in this world it ought to begin with cherishing and preserving our love for our spouses and family first.

Pray!

Make sure you pray for one another, both privately in your own personal devotions as well as together.  Prayer is not only our source of communication with God but it unifies and solidifies our intentions as couples.  Never stop praying for your relationship, and also pray that Christ’s love would be demonstrated in how you treat each other.

Just an important thought for all of my married brothers and sisters out there today!

I am certainly not a marriage counselor, but I recognize this very real danger in our Church today and feel I must constantly remind myself and you of how easy these temptations can turn into moments of full blown infidelity if we are not diligent and aware of their trappings.

Blessings on you and your spouse today!

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At the moment of resignation and surrender (Poem)

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I want to grasp your hand dear Lord

But my grip is oh so weak

An ebbing strength of childlike hands

dulled senses, calloused and poor.

Yet as fingertips extend to where

They have never touched the heavens

All blood escapes as gravity closes in for a closer look

Kissing the heart strings as I strain

But Lord how feeble I must seem

All the while you, in all your glory

Indescribable in your majesty and might.

Even though I reach and strain

Gritting teeth and labored breath

I am no closer to you than when I started…

It is in a moment of complete resignation

Shoulders slumped, eye lids shut

Bitterness on the tongue pushed back

Swallowed and helplessness in my heart…

It is in this moment of complete and utter

Abandon of self-worth and personal gain

That I feel something.

That I feel a touch.

That I feel a warmth, like never before

As blazing fingertips extend and grasp onto mine

As I pull back in surprise for but a moment

As I recognize that I am in your very presence

Totally lost, powerless and surrendered…

You hold my hands in yours, I can feel your power

I can feel your strength as if it beckons me to

Believe. 

Looking up, hesitant, penitent

I find love.

I find joy.

I find peace.

All of my labored aching ceases

I am whole.

I am found.

I am Yours. 

Apathy and the Wilderness

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Luke 5:16 (ASV)
But he withdrew himself in the deserts, and prayed.

Apathy is the death of man’s spiritual relationship with God.  It happens when we stop caring, or find ourselves at a point in our lives where we are unfeeling.  Have you been there before?  It can be both terrifying and silent because we are often very good at faking it.  We are often quite good at acting the part even when the heart isn’t in it.

I don’t mean to cast any doubts your way today or cause you to feel down…because there is hope in all of this!  Sometimes this pathway of apathy leads directly to the wilderness.  What do I mean by the wilderness?  I don’t mean an empty lonely place full of strife and pain.  When I say wilderness I am implying that there are times in which God is longing for us to draw closer to Him.  If we are aware of this apathetic pathway we can take steps in the right direction.

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Why did God lead His people into the wilderness in the first place?   Through this dry and thirsty place God showed His chosen ones how they could fully rely on Him.  He was present for them.  He was (and still is) in love with His people.  When they were in this barren wilderness the total acknowledgement that they needed help became completely apparent.  Stepping onto this pathway of apathy is dangerous, but it can also lead us back to the wilderness and back to a right relationship with God.

Are you unfeeling today?  Are you simply  going through the motions in life right now?  Sure the routine is somewhat rewarding but somehow you’ve lost that passion you once had.  Perhaps it’s time to take a step into the wilderness once again and get reconnected with the Almighty.  Apathy might be the death of man’s spiritual relationship with God…but it doesn’t have to be!

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Taking time to stand before God without distractions of all kinds is absolutely necessary!  If Jesus had to get away and commune with the Father what makes us think that we can simply ‘go it alone’?  The truth of the matter is we cannot!  The wilderness is calling…will you go?  Will you take the time that your spirit and heart crave?  Will you sacrifice some of your schedule in this day and give it completely to God so that He has your undivided attention?  It’s not so much for His benefit but rather completely for our benefit and His renewal that we do this.

Go into your wilderness and meet with The Father, and over time you will find that every motion your body makes, every schedule that you keep matters to Him as well.  He wants to be included in it all, He wants you to bring glory to Him in all things.  But it begins with our time in the wilderness before Him.

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1 Peter 5:7

We all find ourselves in high anxiety our trouble…we ought to find the strength and courage to cast it all on our Lord who can help us through it all!

1 Peter 5:7

We all find ourselves in high anxiety our trouble…we ought to find the strength and courage to cast it all on our Lord who can help us through it all!

Finding Encouragement:

encouragement

 

Let’s face it, we are all accustomed to disappointment and discouragement.  Some days we might even ask ourselves ‘why did I even get up this morning?’  Yet I do know that there is comfort in the knowledge that we aren’t alone in our disappointments and troubles.  Though these times come to us all, we can recognize that we don’t have to endure these difficult moments alone.

Are you facing trouble today?  Are you downcast, disillusioned, weary?  Allow me an opportunity here to share with you an encouraging passage of scripture:

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Did you catch that?  Let me break it down for you:

1. The Lord God is here in your midst: 

God is here

He’s not far away, or distant.  He is with you in your good days, your bad days, your indifferent days.  God is near!  How encouraging is that?!  We serve a mighty, all knowing God that isn’t distant but personal with each of us.  He care for you.  He wants to be involved intimately in your life!  And despite our struggles, God is here in your midst.

2. He saves us!

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He doesn’t wear a red cape like superman, but He saves us!  His love doesn’t end with being near, He desire fellowship with us and for our deliverance from sin and death!  In Christ’s suffering and death, God provides salvation!  Our redemption comes through Christ, and now we not only long for Eternity but we have the Kingdom of God here on Earth with us!  We have been redeemed!  We have been saved!  Hallelujah!

3. He will quiet us with His love!

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Have you ever gotten bent out of shape?  Have you ever found yourself panic stricken, stress laden and crying out for relief from it all?  In your despair God is there and He, with His loving arms, will quiet our manic lives.  How amazing is that?  I can’t tell you how often stress gets the better of me.  Or how often my mind won’t turn itself off at bed time because I’m so consumed with worry or fear.  Yet when I allow God access to these emotions and these situations, I am not only comforted but I am reminded that His strength is enough!  There is nothing, absolutely nothing too difficult for Him to handle!  He will quiet us and our distress…if we allow Him access to our lives!

4.  He will exult over you with loud singing…

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um, ok that sounds kind of funny doesn’t it?  Yet think about it?  And don’t envision God with a megaphone singing loudly in your ear either!  But think of it like this:  God spoke the world into being with just mere words.  He will comfort us with these same audible words that formed the very stars that we look at!  How encouraging is that?  God will remind us of His might through this as well!  If He could do all of these marvelous deeds, how tiny our problems must seem to Him.  He will bring to us His songs of peace and deliverance.  He will declare His majesty through the music of Eternity.

-Put it all together-

Think of it again…in every season God is there! He wants to be involved in our lives and He will be there in our discouragements and in times of despair.  Take comfort in this verse, though it was originally intended for Israel at a time of exile, this verse is for all those who are called children of God through faith in Jesus Christ!

Discouraged?  Find Encouragement today!

-Just a thought.

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