Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fresh Hope Delivered Daily

I love the word, “hope.” It’s so full of joy—as in longings fulfilled and good things.

But having hope—no matter what your circumstances—takes courage. And it takes faith.

It begins with a single step, from where you are right now to and exciting new path. Whether you begin hesitantly or with a let’s-have-an-adventure excitement, the important thing is that you begin—and keep choosing hope.

Seek the Lord and listen for his guidance. And He will lead you. By taking one step, and then another and another, you leave the old place of brokenness and rubble, fraught with complication and unanswered questions.

Even when the future is unclear and it feels like a primordial haze hangs over your heart, walk on. Because like the early morning low cloudiness in San Francisco, eventually the fog will lift and clarity will come. Your blue sky days of joy will return.

Be assured, though, that walking with hope is not like being in a Disney cartoon where bluebirds carrying colorful ribbons lead the way and happy chipmunks wave as you skip down the lane and daisies bloom instantly at your feet.

Not so much.

As you walk down Hope Road, you may have obstacles or roadblocks ahead. You may not be able to see the way ahead or you may feel lost. But keep on walking, and in time things will begin to change.

True hope believes that God will give good things. “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” (Psalm 84:11, emphasis mine)

Every morning the sun rises; every day the Lord delivers fresh hope. Despite life’s discouragement and difficulties, you can look back at all God has done in the past in other areas of your life—how He’s kept His promises and has been faithful to keep his word—and you can look forward with hope for good things to come in the future.

Hope is confident expectation that you will receive what you hope for, that a desire will come to pass. Like if you planted dahlia seeds in your garden, you would hope that brightly colored flowers would one spring up. As you covered the seeds with dark brown soil, you’d be confident that, in time, there’d be growth even though you do not yet see results.

Romans 8:24, 25 says, “Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

You may have just lost your job, or relationship, or spouse. You may only have a few dollars to your name, or have an illness you just can’t seem to beat. Maybe your kids are making unwise choices, or you have a huge decision to make and you don’t know what to do. Whatever you’re going through…

Hope on…and see the goodness of the Lord. It just may surprise you.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Love, Life and the Larger Story

If your life were a story in a book or movie, what would it be? A comedy? Drama? Mystery?

Eugene Peterson once said, "We live in a narrative, we live in story...We have a beginning and an end. We have a plot, we have characters."

In his classic work, The Sacred Romance, John Eldredge talks about God as the Hero in the Larger Story of life:

"It is only when we see God as the Hero of the larger story that we come to know that his heart is good."

Do you believe God is GOOD? That He is pursuing you, that He loves you more than you will ever know?

Your story, your life has a purpose. Whether it's been a "good read" or something you'd like to edit and change, it's been--up until now--the story you've had. Your past.

But that doesn't mean the future can't be different.

There is more to this life, and more to your story. It's just not been written yet. Life is a path that unfolds before you. We take right and left turns. Often we hesitate and do nothing. But, with a phone call or an "aha moment" or one single choice...

Life changes.

As you put your hope in God--the Author and the Hero in the story of your life--ask Him to lead, guide, and unfold his BEST for you. Trust that all things really do work together for the good--whether or not you can see the end result from here.

At times, it may feel like "The End"; it's over. It's too late. But maybe it's merely a new chapter in life...or a new volume. A new beginning.

Perhaps it's time for some changes, good and worthy and right. You never know what is just around the corner.

The best is yet to come--in your story and mine.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Freedom from Fear and Finding Peace After a Breakup

The end of a relationship can put a lot of ideas into a your head. What if I’m making a mistake? What if no one ever loves me again? What if I’m too old, too fat, too thin, too boring, or too whatever? What if I never get married and have kids?

What if. . .?

Rejection and the resulting fear can often be crippling. It can hold you back from moving forward and taking risks in the future.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

While some fears are founded, others are irrational and will never come to pass. And it’s important to know the difference.

You may have heard the saying “feel the fear and do it anyway.” Sometimes we need to push past how we feel in order to do the right thing, or get where we need to be in life.

When Jesus walked the earth, one of the disciples named Peter did a very courageous thing when he decided to trust God and defy gravity by walking on water. In John 14:22-33 you can read the account of Peter and other disciples who were in a boat some distance from the shore when they saw Jesus walking on the lake. They thought it was a ghost and they were terrified.

It wasn’t a ghost. It was the One who loved them most.

Jesus told them not to be afraid, and Peter replied to Jesus saying, "Tell me to come to you on the water." Pretty daring, I’d say.

And Jesus said, "Come."

Interestingly, Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he looked around he saw the wind, he became afraid, and began to sink into the lake.


But as Peter he began to descend into the dark waters he cried out, "Lord, save me!"

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand to Peter and lifted him up. Whew! A good lesson for us too: Eyes on Jesus we stand strong, eyes on the storm—we sink!

The Lord wants you to be free from fear, worry, and obsessive reasoning. He wants you to trust Him. When you do the rewards are great. Instead of fear, doubt, and panic, there is freedom, peace, joy.

Be at peace. The One who loves you most will take care of you.

Here are some Bible verses to reflect on –words of life and peace—to help you conquer your fears:

The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

In God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? Psalm 56:11

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. Psalm 56:3

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What to Look for in a Date or Mate

How do you know what to look for in someone to date or marry? What makes a relationship strong and lasting?

Check out today's post on the new Moody Publishing website, Start Marriage Right and you can be entered to win a movie/popcorn gift package.

Simply leave a reply and comment on the article at the link below TODAY, April 12:

Deciding whom you will marry is one of the most important decisions of your life. Choose wisely.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

When Life is Hard: Overcoming Obstacles to Hope

Sometimes life can feel like a never-ending path of roadblocks. You can’t seem to get what you want or go where you need to go. Things seem thwarted. And you’re oh so tired of waiting…always waiting for something good to happen.

Don’t give up. And don’t let anyone steal your Hope! Because just like the pretty purple crocus' pop their head through the ground after a cold, hard winter, your life can bloom with new beauty and joy.

Yep, your life!

When nothing seems to be happening…
when you are tired of trying to make things work out on your own…
when you cannot see the way, hold on to hope.

The cadence of Christ is often unlike your own pace, but God is still at work in your life. “Hope has its own rhythm,” said Larry Crabb in Shattered Dreams, “We cannot rush it. The water of life will find its way down the mountain to fill the lake from which we can drink.”

If hope is asleep in your life, how does it awaken?

Hope awakens because God arises. Despite the difficulties, you have the strength to wake up and walk on because God arises first. He lifts you up; He helps you to soar above your adversity. Psalm 68:1 says, “May God arise, may his enemies be scattered; may his foes flee before him.”

At first you may think, “I don’t have any enemies.” And then it dawns on you that you do have opponents on the road to hope and healing.

In addition to the evil one, our main adversary, difficulties like worry, fear, doubt, rejection, obsession, anxiety are “enemies” as well. They can come at you with the force of an opposing army. But that's not the end of the story.

Hope awakens from unconditional love. The total and absolute love of God and the love of supportive family and friends can change us from the inside out. On this path of heart healing know that you are loved, cared for. You are never alone.

Hope awakens from God’s Word. “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4). What a blessing to have words of hope in our own language, words that will heal your pain-weary heart.

Hope awakens to God’s sovereignty. Perhaps one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that God directs and redirects. He is sovereign, He is in control. Even when it SEEMS chaos reigns.

Every morning the sun rises; every day the Lord delivers fresh hope. Despite the discouragement and difficulties, you can look back at all God has done in the past in other areas of your life—how He’s kept His promises and has been faithful to keep his word—and you can look forward with hope for good things to come in the future.

“Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23

Fresh hope delivered daily. Count on it!