Inspire – February 17 – Shore

When was the last time you stood on a shore?

One of my favorite stops in Israel last March was Galilee. One of the Lifeway Tour Bible teachers, Lysa TerKeurst, taught while we stood on the peaceful shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was not hard for me to “see” Jesus preparing breakfast for His grieving disciples after a rough night of fishing. It was not difficult to imagine the disciples gathered around their Master – blown away that He was in their midst again – sharing His wisdom and truth. I so wanted Jesus to show up for us, too, that afternoon.

Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?” — knowing that it was the Lord. – John 21:12

A few days later, Phil and I flew to Greece. We met up with our friend Christy to tour Athens and Corinth. Our guide took us to Ancient Corinth where we walked on a shore where the apostle Paul set sail for his missionary journeys. Closing my eyes, I envisioned the fiery preacher/tentmaker shoving off – not knowing what was in store for him – yet leaving with the knowledge he had encountered the living God. Paul was a changed man and he was determined to tell everyone about his Savior.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” – I Corinthians 15:58

Ten days ago, our friend, Greg, crossed over to the shores of heaven. He “lost” his earthly battle with cancer here in northeast Indiana but won his heavenly prize. He has already spent precious time with Jesus and a multitude of saints. Maybe he’s rubbed shoulders with the original disciples or encountered his former Sunday school teachers or Billy Graham or Mother Teresa. Maybe he is just kneeling in awe – with no words to adequately express his gratitude. Maybe he is in heaven’s band – playing the mouth trumpet – or singing four-part harmony with a quartet. Whatever is happening on heaven’s shores has to be awesome and amazing and much more than our human minds can comprehend.

Friends, I don’t know exactly what heaven will be like but I’ve read John’s words and his description in the book of Revelation. Heaven sounds more spectacular than any shore I’ve ever walked upon.

In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also – John 14:2-3

Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” –Revelation 7:15-17

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal” – Revelation 21:9-11

The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass. – Revelation 21:21

In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” -Revelation 22:2

They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever” – Revelation 22:4-5

May we know the joy of stepping on heaven’s shore when our time on earth is completed. And may we know the joy of the Savior and love Him well before that time comes.

Cheering you on!

Inspire – February 3, 2020 – Mononymous

Anyone come to mind with one name?

Mononymous. Known by one name. Last name unnecessary.

Cher, Reba, Prince, Oprah, Madonna, Beyonce, Ellen, Sting, Halsey, Bono, Twiggy, Liberace, Seal, Rihanna, Barney, Adele, Lorde, Ringo, Mickey, Mackelmore, Jewel and Pink.

Jesus.

Although no other name is needed to identify Jesus – He is known by many. The Christ, Prince of Peace, King of kings, Lord of lords, The Good Shepherd, Bread of Life, The Living Water, The Way, The Truth, the Life, Son of God, Messiah, Savior, Emmanuel, Light of the World, Rabboni, Lamb of God, Logos (The Word), etc.

He is. He was. He will be. Always. Forever. Jesus.

His Name is above all other names. His Name brings peace. His Name gives life. His Name spreads joy. His Name heals. His Name soothes the distraught. His Name offers hope. The name of Jesus speaks love into the most unlovable. His Name. The Name. Jesus.

Phil and I met with friends last week to sing hymns and praise songs. Songs about Jesus. None of us know the day or time we will meet Jesus face-to-face but we know that some day we will. Barring a divine healing – one of our friends is close to meeting Jesus. At times I envy him knowing he is going to be with his Savior – that he will be healed and whole – he will have no more sorrow – no more suffering – no more pain. But his loved ones come to mind and I picture the huge hole his home going will leave in their hearts. The only prayer I can utter is, “Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.” I have nothing else. Only His name. Only Jesus.

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

My friends, Jesus loves you and is waiting for you to call on His Name. For salvation. For comfort. For healing. For peace. For eternal life. For help. For everything. In the simplest of words, “Jesus loves me this I know. For the Bible tells me so.” I believe it and I believe in Him.

May the Name of Jesus be your Name above all names.

Cheering you on!

Inspire – January 27 – Comfort

How do we comfort?

I’ve learned a great deal about comfort over my 65+ years of life. The first two decades were more self-centered than these last 4.5. Difficulties, losses, illnesses and deaths have changed my perspective regarding giving and receiving comfort.

A few days ago, Henri Nouwen tweeted this quote from his book Letters to Marc about Jesus.

No matter what happens, don’t we all want a friend we can count on?

I’ve been navigating a difficult path with some friends for almost three years. God has revealed my inadequacy and inability to eliminate their hardship and pain. I am not the one responsible for their ultimate comfort. He is. Oh, He might use me in small ways but He is their true Comforter.

Many days I don’t know what to do or say. I want them to know I care. I want to give them comfort. I just want to be with them. Nouwen’s quote speaks to my soul. I want my friends to know they can count on me – not to solve anything – but to be there.

When Phil’s dad passed away, we were shocked by the number of people who came to the hospital to visit. Family. Friends. Neighbors. Church family. No pat answers. No solutions. They came. They sat with us. They brought comfort. We were grateful.

When we lost a baby when I was five months into the pregnancy, friends and family sent cards, prepared meals and delivered flowers – all of which were thoughtful and kind. But to be honest, we received the most comfort from those who just hugged and cried with us – without feeling they had to explain or give a “reason” for our loss.

So, my dear readers, if you are in need of comfort, I pray you’ll have a friend to count on.

Or – if you have a friend in need of comfort, I pray they will be able to count on you. Remember, you don’t have to say anything. You don’t necessarily have to do anything. Just let them know they can count on you.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

May God give comfort to all who need it. May we be a conduit of His comfort. May we give comfort and receive comfort well. In the name of the One we can always count on. Amen.

Cheering you on!

Inspire – January 20 – Name-calling

Anyone else involved in name-calling?

This post may rile up some people but I wrote out of love and pray God uses these words to refine us into the people we need to be. I generally avoid political posts because my mission is to inspire people to know, to love and to serve Jesus – NOT to support or disparage a particular political view. If you are upset with me or offended, I am sorry and hope you will extend grace.

I am saddened when I see believers involved in name-calling – especially on social media. Oh, maybe not directly calling someone a name but in “liking” a post or picture. Typically it’s about a political figure. It’s not just one political party. It’s all of them.

Derogatory posts and remarks about President Trump, Melania Trump, Barron Trump, former Presidents Obama, Clinton, Carter and Bush, Bernie Sanders, Mike Bloomberg, Mike Pence, Karen Pence, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and others are spread all over the internet. Even if someone is a total jerk, they are still God’s creation. Jesus died for them. He doesn’t just love Democrats. He doesn’t just love Republicans. He doesn’t just love a few. Jesus didn’t die just for Republicans alone or Democrats alone or Communists alone or Socialists alone. He died for everyone. He wants salvation as much for the most heinous terrorist as he does for the holiest of popes. This does not mean he condones evil actions. There are consequences for sin.

Facial features, appearance, body shape, etc. are not open targets for opposing parties or anyone for that matter. To trash talk someone because their nose is too long, rear is too large, hair is too weird – is not being kind and it is hurtful. Oh, I know, even those in leadership are involved in name-calling and you can rest assured I am pointing the finger at myself as well in this post.

Friends, we do NOT have to agree with everyone. In fact if we did, we would most certainly be in heaven. So, how about this? When we disagree with someone, could we please do so with dignity and respect? Could we stop the name-calling and ugliness? Could we refuse to participate in posting or “liking” ANYTHING that is in opposition to showing love and respect according to God’s word?

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

Romans 12:9 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”

Psalm 19:14 “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

What if we made a decision to NOT post, comment or like anything that is negative (for either party) starting today – starting right now? What if chose to pray for those we disagree with? What if we really prayed for our enemies? What if we prayed to see others with the eyes of our Lord? What if we chose to dwell on the good and not give space to the bad? I think we would see a world of change.

I know this is heavy but it has been weighing on me for several months. I didn’t want to post it but I couldn’t get away from it either. Forgive me if my words have hurt you and please consider this verse: “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Proverbs 27:6

May our posts – our words – our actions – our lives – be a reflection of God’s Son Jesus. May we make a difference. May it start with social media. May it start with me. In Jesus’ healing, life-giving name. The name above all names. Amen!

Cheering you on!

Inspire – January 13 – Together

I was privileged to speak at a high school basketball pre-game chapel on Saturday evening. The chapel is voluntary – five players plus two coaches attended.

My devotional was based on real-life experiences with my high school friendships and I challenged them to:

  1. Be real. We have enough fake everything these days. Real-ness is a fresh breath of air. No one has a perfect life – even if it looks like they do – they don’t. Everyone has problems. If someone says their life is perfect – they aren’t being honest – everyone has heartaches, disappointments and hardships.
  2. Be aware. Keep your eyes open to those who are hurting or need a kind word or a helping hand. Some people act like “jerks” because they have been mistreated by a “jerk.” You never know whose parents are fighting, separating, divorcing, losing a job, dealing with financial struggles, losing a home, facing life-threatening medical procedures, etc. We don’t know what is going on with people we see day in and day out. Be aware and offer grace.
  3. Be kind. You can be fierce. You can be competitive. But you can also be kind. Kindness can cover a great deal of garbage. You can choose to not be mean.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 was the verse I chose for the chapel: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Before they headed to the gym, I asked them to humor me with taking a photo. They cheerfully agreed and here it is:

Then I asked what they said when they huddled in the locker room before going out to the gym. They said they yelled, “Together”. How appropriate! Together. Nine players with one goal – to play and win – together. I challenged them to encourage each other, to help lift each other up when they are down and to not be too hard on their team mates when they make mistakes – to choose to learn from them and get back at it – together.

Something happens when we spend time together. We learn about each other. We see the good, the bad, and the ugly – possibly all within the same hour. A camaraderie develops when we live, work, play ball, go to school, attend church, etc. together. In our dark moments, the together times are even more precious and treasured.

May we stick together as God’s people. May we be real. May we be aware. May we be kind. May we be Jesus with skin on as we do this life together.

Cheering you on!

Inspire – hope*writer challenge – January 12 – Rise

My kids grew up in the pre-FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok, Snapchat days. I tried to encourage them to rise above difficult situations. To not stoop to dirty tactics. To not get involved in jealousy and fighting. To avoid retaliation. Often it fell on deaf ears. But it wasn’t just the kids’ ears. I needed to hear, “rise above it” and “do the right thing”, too.

Rising above seems more difficult today. It is not easy to rise up and choose the high road when everyone else is seemingly taking the low road. When the arguments flare up on FaceBook or Twitter, I’ve typed out many a response only to hit ‘delete’ instead of ‘send’. I’ve spewed out angry retorts to jerky comments and forced myself to not post them.

My heart’s desire is to rise up and the only way I can do it is with God’s help. The Holy Spirit is our Helper.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” John 14:26 NASB

We can choose to rise up because of His power within us. We can encourage others to do the same. We can make a difference – starting with our circles of influence – friends in real life as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Do you rise above on social media or in real life? Above evil? Above wrong? Above negativity? Above meanness? Above injustice?

How do we rise?

R = Refuse to respond with destructive, demeaning, or damning words.

I = Insist on waiting at least 24 hours before posting a response or comment if you are angry.

S = Seek God’s help before reacting or taking action. Pray before posting.

E = Extend grace like you would like grace to be extended to you.

May we rise. May we rise even if no one else chooses to do so.

Cheering you on!

@hopewriters #hopewriterlife

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Inspire – hope*writer challenge – January 11 – Brave

Are you brave?

The Cultivate Church Guatemala mission team nicknamed me their “fearless” leader. Fearless is not a word I would use to describe myself. Oh, I can be brave like Merida when standing up for injustice or protecting my loved ones but I am paralyzed with fear upon seeing a scorpion or spider. You could say “brave” is situational for me.

God’s Word teaches that we can be brave even in fearful situations. When Moses was nearing the end of his life, he turned the reigns of leadership over to Joshua. He encouraged Joshua and his people in Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” God promised to be with Joshua. He did not need to fear.

On a day trip to Panabar, Guatemala, the rocky road up Volcano San Pedro was treacherous in spots. One particular stretch had been washed out by summer rains. We trusted our driver as one of the IMPACTO staff leaned out the bus door to give verbal directions. Our back tire was hanging out over a void in the road. Julie, my bus seat mate jumped on me and pushed me toward the aisle. I was afraid we were going to end up tumbling down the ravine. Seeing her face and hearing her scream “everyone, get on the other side” while she was basically on top of me caused me to start laughing – laughing so hard that my fear was gone.

There were other occasions when God helped me to act brave while trusting Him. Often my braveness was faked for the sake of others. It’s interesting when I acted brave, I felt braver. When I laughed at fear, the fear lessened or even dissipated.

Do you need to be brave about something? A diagnosis, a separation, a divorce, a bankruptcy, a financial situation, a job, a project, a test? I don’t mean to trivialize your situation but I wonder if it would help if you laughed at it? Or just start acting brave. Speak words of power – God’s power. Be strong. Be of good courage. Do not fear. Do not be afraid. For God is with you. He will not leave you. You might even begin to feel and live braver.

May you be brave – because the Lord your God is WITH you.

Cheering you on!

@hopewriters #hopewriterlife

Inspire – hope*writer challenge – January 10 – Slow

Is slow a term to describe your life?

Most of us live at a break-neck speed. Our days are planned from early morning to late night. Meetings, sports, practices, appointments, hair cuts, shopping, church, classes, car pools. We fall into bed exhausted and wake up tired.

Do you ever want to yell, “Stop – just stop. Slow down?” I do. Even if I am physically doing nothing, my mind is constantly in motion. My body might be tired and as soon as my head hits the pillow – boing – I start thinking of things that need to be done. My brain is rarely still and that’s not a good thing.

The Bible has advice for us regarding slowing down.

“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations I will be exalted in the earth.'” Psalm 46:10.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

I want to be still more. I need to be still more. I need to go to Him. I need Him. I need His peace. How about you?

May I slow down. May we slow down. To listen to Him. To receive His rest. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Cheering you on!

@hopewriters #hopewriterlife

Inspire – hope*writer challenge – January 9 – Dream

Do you have dreams?

Many nights I wake up during a bad dream. I’ve been plagued with nightmares since I was a young girl. Sometimes it is the same awful dream that wakes me up trembling in a cold sweat.

I have good dreams, too. Some of my best dreams have included fun family gatherings or crazy events with friends.

I also have real life dreams. For an unbroken family circle. For a vacation home large enough for the entire family. For my loved ones and friends to know and love Jesus. For cancer to be eradicated. For a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. For love to conquer hate. For hunger to be eliminated. For clean water available for all.

I’m guilty of not talking to God about my dreams. I forget to ask Him. I try to handle them on my own – trying to make them come true. How about you? Do you have dreams? Do you tell God about them? He’s not like the Genie in Aladdin. We can’t “rub” Him to get whatever we ask for but we can tell Him our heart’s desires and allow Him to answer in whatever way is best for us and His kingdom. God is a good Father. He loves us and wants to bless us – but those blessings may not be so obvious to us or exactly what we had in mind.

Psalm 37:4 says, “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” In Psalm 20:4 we read, “May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans!” Matthew 6:21 tells us, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

May we go to the One who can make our dreams come true. May we ask Him to give us the desires of our hearts. May our dreams be in line with His.

@hopewriters #hopewriterlife

Cheering you on!

Inspire – hope*writer challenge – January 8 – Open

What do you struggle to open?

Prescription medicine containers, coffee creamers, kids’ boxed toys, etc. can transform me into the Incredible Hulk. I’ve fought many a pickle jar over my sixty-five years and I don’t intend to lose to one.

As difficult as it may be to open a variety of physical items, there is one thing even harder to open. Our hearts. We instinctively do whatever is necessary to protect our hearts, don’t we? We shut people out to avoid being hurt. We close off our minds so we don’t have to deal with differing opinions. We refrain from volunteering to keep from being told we aren’t “doing it” correctly or that our ideas aren’t good.

I’ve discovered it’s only when I’ve opened up my heart – risking rejection or being put down – that my world has been enlarged. It’s scary to be an open book. I hesitated in my writing many times in 2019 wondering if I should be open about my weaknesses and problems? Should I admit my failures and shortcomings? My most vulnerably open posts resulted in the most feedback and comments. Readers appreciated my honesty as I revealed my imperfections. It was embarrassing at times to be so open but I am confident God used my struggles to minister to others.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16

May we be open, my friends. Open to God’s leading. Open to the truth. Open to honesty. Open to one another. Open to confess our sins. May our openness bring healing and renewed faith in Jesus.

Cheering you on!

@hopewriters #hopewriterlife