Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Hope that Doesn't Disappoint

'. . . those who hope in Me will not be disappointed."
                                                       -Isaiah 49:23

Usually when I start a post with a Bible verse, I'm looking at the larger context of the verse in trying to understand it. I know that context is important when talking about Scripture, but this time, my thoughts are specific to these 9 words of this one verse. I believe the concept I'm talking about is supported by the whole of Scripture.

We all hope in something. Whether we realize it or not, we've all placed our hope in something or in many things. The reality is that we could probably all list a few things we are currently, or have in the past, put our hope in.

As we've probably all realized at one point or another, the thing(s) we're placed our hope in does disappoint and we discover that our hope was misplaced. Anything or any person we place our hope in on earth will disappoint us eventually. Any circumstance we place our hope in will disappoint us.

It's only when we put our hope in God that we won't be disappointed.

But, how do we reconcile the times we feel disappointed with our hope being placed in a God Who says, if we hope in Him we'll never be disappointed?

I don't think we can guarantee we'll never be disappointed about something, even when we're choosing to place our hope in God. I think, the difference comes in how we handle those feelings of disappointment. We can feel disappointed, but we're not lost in despair because it's not where we ultimately place our hope.

Even when things go wrong.
Even when things aren't happening the way we think they should
Even when we're longing for something that hasn't happened yet

We feel disappointed over these things, but when our hope isn't placed in them, we know that's not the end. The disappointment lasts only a moment, because that's not where we have placed our hope.

Where have you placed your hope?

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Roots

Deep roots
Able to stand strong
Rushing waters
Cannot destroy

Shallow roots
Unable to stand
Rushing waters
Leave no trace behind

Deep roots
Seeking sustenance
That won't run dry
That's always there

Shallow roots
Grabbing at the surface
All that quickly fades
Leaving nothing behind

Deep roots
Resistant to the drought
Finding the water
Deep below the surface

Shallow roots
Destroyed by drought
No water there to find
On hard, cracked dirt

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Sabbath

Sabbath
Rest from busy-ness
Stopping the running
Breaking from expectation

Pray
Telling God your thoughts
Listening for His response
A two-way conversation

Play
Doing things just for fun
Laughter and enjoyment
Learning to "waste time" again

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Are You Letting Fear Kill Your Dreams?

"If we're more impressed with bad men, than a good God, fear will kill our dreams." - Gary Haugen

I was at the Global Leadership Summit last week and the words that I opened this post with have been stuck in my mind ever since. They were spoken by the speaker from the closing session - Gary Haugen, founder and president of International Justice Mission.

The entire closing session was on fear and how it can destroy any dream we have if we allow it to. No matter what our training or our knowledge or our dream, fear can completely destroy us. Haugen then went on to talk about how we can stand against fear and not allow us to destroy our dream.

This is when he said the words I opened this post with.

"If we're more impressed with bad men, than a good God, fear will kill our dreams."

When God has given us a dream, something He's asking us to do, whether we are actually able to do it or not depends on where we're looking and on who we're walking with. 

We can look at the size of the dream and all that could go wrong, and allow our fear to take over. We can look at all of those who oppose our dream, and allow fear to destroy us.

OR . . .

We can look at the God Who gave us the dream, and move forward on it. We can choose to surround ourselves with people who will encourage us and help us keep our focus on God, and move forward on it.

I've been challenged the last few days, with these thoughts about fear, and where I'm focusing.

"If we're more impressed with bad men, than a good God, fear will kill our dream."

Where are you focused?
On what could go wrong?
Or on what could go right?

Keep your eyes on our good God and surround yourself with people doing the same thing, and you'll be able to move forward in the dream, the calling, that God has given you.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

How Can we Make a Difference in Our Response?

Over the last couple days I've watched, with increasing sadness, as #MeToo began showing up regularly in my social media feeds. And I've watched the responses that have shown up - both in the comments and the blogs and articles it has prompted.

It's been an inescapable reminder of the brokennness of our world, of how lost we've become.
How did we get to a place where so many women have been sexually harassed or assaulted?
How did we get to a place where any of us could think this was acceptable or expected or normal?
What has happened to us?

I don't want this post to be just another one that jumps on with everyone else. I don't want to just repeat what I've read elsewhere. But, I've also realized this is something where I can't just stay quiet. This is something that hits far too close to home for me.

I'm not going to share personal experiences or stories here. That's not what compelled me to write this. If we take the time to read any of the posts shared in the last few days, we can all see pretty clearly what the issue is here.

As I've read these posts, I've wondered about whether these people sharing this have any places in their lives where they have or where they could talk about it. Ir is social media the only place they feel they have to turn?

I firmly believe the church should be one of the safest places to turn with this kind of pain. But, far too often, it's not. Far too often our response actually just causes more pain.

Instead of the love and care they so desperately need, we offer judgement and condemnation.
Instead of the listening ear they need to know they're not alone, we rush to offer solutions for how to move on or how to keep it from happening again.
Instead of just believing their stories, we look for things they could have done differently.

But, we don't have to continue this way. We can do something differently. We offer the love of Christ to those in our circles who have spoken up. Many of those who have shared are already in our churches, in our social circles. We have connections to them.

It could be easy to get overwhelmed by the size of the issue. We see how big the problem is and we end up paralyzed because we feel so small in comparison. The result is that nothing changes.

But, if we all did what we could in our own spheres of influence, we would have a bigger impact than we can envision. Start where you are at. When you see or hear something that's not right, say something. Our silence is essentially approval. Speak up.

If someone shares their experience with you, listen. Don't try to find an answer or a solution. Listen and love them first. Then offer help and things that could be done. But, whatever you do, don't skip the listening first.

Start small.
Start where you are.
That changes everything.