Tag Archives: HOPE

He Speaks To Us In Songs of Deliverance

The Psalms have been songs of deliverance for me more than once. And so I go there, whenever I am struggling with anything—because it is there HE SPEAKS to me.

songs of deliverance

In those sweet songs I find comfort, I find healing, I find wisdom, instruction, and redemption. In those one hundred and fifty passages—I find HOPE!

They are the Bible’s most beloved poetical anthems of praise and glory to God!

It was C. S. Lewis who wrote,

“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with. . .

The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.”

― C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms 

So for as long as it takes, let us journey through this Book of Songs, looking for the reasons why we can TRUST God.

I believe we shall find such beauty growing there, that by the time we are finished, we shall have discovered our own Garden of Eden in it’s pages.

you are my hiding place

And, songs.

That, too!

There will be songs of deliverance, that shall bring with them, all manner of good things. We shall find messages that will bolster our strength and courage, as well as the substance and evidence, for our faith and trust in a God who passionately loves us.

As C S. Lewis encouraged us to do, we shall “complete our enjoyment” by consuming all the beauty we shall surely uncover there.

Come, let’s mosey together down ancient paths laid out for us thousands of years ago, gathering wildflowers from the darker vales of sadness and lament, as well as in the highland meadows with their prospects of hopefulness.

As we refresh ourselves here and there, by pools of still waters, we shall find His messages of love for us. Then, like Lewis we shall also be able to say,

“The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance.”   

songs of deliverance

A Closer Walk: When God Asks Something Crazy

when God asks something crazyWhy would God ask me to do something so crazy?

I wanted to cry or wave my arms and scream at the unfairness of it all, but…

Sing?

It still amazes me how God will sometimes ask us to do the most extraordinary things at the most incredible times!

I thought, “Sing? You’ve GOT to be kidding!”

That was perhaps the very LAST thing I felt like doing. I mean, who sits in the ruins, life in shambles, a fresh scar on their face, and then sings about it?

Talk about asking something crazy!

I still believe in the old adage:

Pain is inevitable. ~ Misery is optional.

misery is optionalSo, I decided to try to sing.

Not an easy thing to do when you are hurting and choking on your own tears.

(No, not easy.)

I thought, “Perhaps this is what the scripture means when it says, “Give the sacrifice of praise.” a sacrifice always costs you something.

I really was trying to cooperate with God.

Again, not an easy thing to do when nothing in your life is the way you want it and I had to admit, I was still feeling plenty “ripped-off.”

sacrifice of praise

There was a stubborn part of my heart that was looking at all the rubble and thinking, “Is this all there is, if you do your best, work hard, and try to do it God’s way? Is this what you get?”

I couldn’t stop thinking about all I had given up—the place I had loved, the people I had cherished, all the shining possibilities for a career in ministry, to come back to a place I hated—for this; these ruins!

spirit of entitlementI looked at the ornery, selfish, and downright dishonest people that I had laid everything down for, and this is the result of years of obedience and faithfulness?

That spirit of entitlement dies a slow and painful death.

I didn’t know who I was more angry with, God, or the people who I believed had let me down?

And worse yet, I didn’t know how to stop being angry, especially when I looked at the way things had turned out. And now I am supposed to, SING?

Still, with all this anger I wasn’t having fun-time, either.

A gray fog of futility had settled down on me.

gray fog of futilityBefore all this happened I had always felt I knew what to do or where to go, I had a sense of direction and purpose, I had a handle on life—at least a small one. Now, I couldn’t seem to get my bearings. I didn’t want to sing, but I didn’t want to be angry either.

In truth, I didn’t know what I wanted.

I felt stuck and I hated that, too!

There’s nothing worse than being royally ticked-off and stuck inside your own skin with nowhere else to go.

God had asked me to trust Him and I thought I had.

Now I wasn’t so sure.

What if my decisions had all been wrong?

And, if you couldn’t trust God…

Who could you trust?

journal

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO NOW?

Ah yes, My sweet Dreamer, you are saved by trusting.

So, you found out the people who raised you weren’t the perfect people you wanted them to be.

Well, what are you going to do now? Be angry? Be depressed? Stay confused?

Honey, listen. What have I been teaching you for these past few years? You know. People fail. People let you down. People hurt people. Even the people we thought, never would, never could hurt us!

people fail

Where do you think that dream of yours was born?

I’ll tell you, through the things you’ve suffered. Dreams and dreamers that will change the hearts of men, and heal them, are not born in nurseries of perfect people posing, posturing, and pretending to have pain-free spotless lives!

Ugh, it’s a lie spawned from Hell itself.

Do you know how many of My children feel or believe, they are disqualified from their dreams because of their failure, or the failures of others?

you are not disqualified

MILLIONS—millions of hearts, full of millions of hopes, hiding!

Why?

Because they are convinced that all is lost before they even try.

And, how can these dreams be saved? How can these dreamers be salvaged?

They are saved by trusting.

Did you know TRUST is contagious?

Did you know HOPE is infectious?

Your enemy knows.

I guess you’d better get busy.

a closer walk

 

“We are saved by trusting…”

Romans 8:24

 

Never Losing the Light: Under Hopeless Circumstances

“… under hopeless circumstances he hopefully believed.” Romans 4:18

alone in a storm

Be willing to live by believing and neither think nor desire to live in any other way.

Be willing to see every outward light extinguished, to see the eclipse of every star in the blue heavens, leaving nothing but darkness and perils around, if God will only leave in thy soul the inner radiance, the pure bright lamp which faith has kindled.

—Thomas C. Upham

Are you in a storm?

Is it dark?

Are you running low on hope?

Does it feel like you’re all alone or that Jesus has gone to sleep in your boat?

Well, if that’s you, I want you to know I’ve been there!

I’ve been in storms that I believed would finish me off!

(They didn’t. But at the time I sure believed they would!)

The reason they didn’t is because of The Light,  who is also called the  Holy Spirit. He is not intimidated by any storm, and part of the reason is because He works with a Saviour who is a water-walkin’ Master Mariner!

Just between you and me? When the storm is raging? They are the One’s who are willing to come close, whispering the words of hope-filled-Light and encouragement that we desperately need.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t get through a single day in my life without Them.

So, if you’re tired of bailing on your own? If you’re ready for Someone else to row for awhile? Then move over and let Them take the oars!

(They have been hoping that you would.)

Why don’t you come with us?

We’re all going to the other side of this storm!

When the world asks if there is any hope, we can say absolutely! No one is exempt from tragedy or disappointment—God himself was not exempt. Jesus offered no immunity, no way out of the unfairness, but rather a way through it to the other side.
Philip Yancey

North Vietnam: Under The Cover of Light

Under The Cover of Light was a difficult book for me to read. I mean, Vietnam was my war. Guys from my graduating class of 1969 were signing-up for military service before they finished their senior year!

And yes, I will never forget the funerals that took place in our little town.

Vietnam War POW

Vietnam was up close and personal for me.

Yet as tough a “read” as this story was for me, I am so glad I read this book. There are eternal lessons for all of us in Jerry Curtis’s seven and a half years of horror as a POW in North Vietnam.

The book has lots of military jargon and that really slowed me down, but once I got past all of that, I began to identify with the timeless truths woven throughout this story. The transformation that our prayers bring. The unity forged in the fires of shared suffering.  The inability of anyone or anything to keep us separate from the keeping power of Christ’s love—even in a pit from hell dubbed—Briarpatch.

Jerry Curtis asked all the questions any of us ask when we find ourselves in circumstances beyond our control.

But, in one of his darkest moments a fellow POW reaches out to him and he realizes,

“…the sacrament through the walls led Jerry to understand that wrapped up in any explanation as to why believers might experience horrific circumstances in their lives was OPPORTUNITY—opportunity to fulfill a God-glorifying task, heightened by or as a direct result of the horrific event itself. The tragedy either brought others across a believer’s path who needed to receive God’s light FROM the believer or who needed to see God’s light THROUGH the believer. Then, once engaged, that person perhaps would become a light bearer too.

Jerry realized he had been a conduit for God’s glory to an unknown and unseen prisoner, and an eternal truth surfaced in his mind: the deeper the darkness, the more brilliant the light.”

I am so glad I read this heroic story. We need to be reminded that there are still heroes in this world.

Honestly, the accounts of torture are tough to get through, but the spiritual message from this man’s experience is one we can all grow and benefit from.

My thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for sending this complimentary copy in exchange for my review.

Under The Cover of Light is available on Amazon or at your other fine book retailers.

A Closer Walk: A Storm That Terrifies

Have you ever been in a severe storm?

Man, I have. It was driving back from the airport in Wichita to Hutchinson, Kansas to stay with friends.

It was my first time in a “tornado watch.”

We left the airport under sunny skies but soon after a storm began to brew. It looked like we were driving into the wrath of God with pitch black skies in the middle of the afternoon. Lightning was hitting the ground all around us and the peals of thunder were so loud I thought the sky was splitting in two!

A storm unleashing its fury can be terrifying.

But what about spiritual storms?

They can be just as terrifying.

motoring through lifeWe can be motoring through life with our destination firmly fixed in our minds and “Wham!” we can find ourselves unexpectedly hurled into a cyclone of  emotional devastation wondering, “Where is God?”

That’s how I remember January 1999. My life turning upside down and inside out with all of my nice neat expectations shattered and in broken pieces all about me—caught in my own Hurricane Andrew.

Remember Andrew? Not only did Andrew erase everything in his path as he swept through central Florida, the tornadoes that spun off the main storm created all kinds of chaos and collateral damage.

That’s what I want to talk about.

Storms that catch us off guard. Storms that flatten and confuse us. Storms that test everything we believe and then leave us asking questions like, “Will I survive this? How will I survive this? Do I even want to survive this? What will I believe afterward even if I do make it through this?

What will survival look like?

I want to take you on my journey through a personal hurricane.

I want you to meet a God who walks in when the rest of the world walks out and marvel at a Savior who treads on the top of our storms.

I hope you will also hear a Holy Voice whisper, with a Voice so quiet that sometimes He must shut out everything else in our lives, so that only His Still Small Voice can be heard.

Okay, so here is where my story begins.

It’s January in the Central Valley of California. The weather is cold, foggy and miserable, which is normal for our winters.

I love my busy life. I have a job I love with people who are depending on me every day. I am tired most of the time but who isn’t in these stress-filled days we live in? When I’m feeling exhausted (which is most of the time) I chug another diet cola, get a new caffeine fix, and motor-on.

Flu is everywhere. It’s the season for flu. So I don’t think it strange when I wake up one morning feeling like I’ve come down with a “bug.” It’s a pain, but a minor inconvenience, not a devastating catastrophe. I curl up on my couch under my favorite quilt and resolve to endure a week of misery. But you know how flu is. As the day wears on I begin to feel worse until it feels like everything in my stomach is about to hurl, so I run for a bathroom. That’s the last thing I remember until I wake up on my bathroom floor lying in a pool of my own blood.

I’m laying there trying to figure out how bad I’m hurt. What happened and why does my face feel like I’ve been kicked by a mule?

I holler for help so a family member can call 911. Minutes later paramedics are putting me in the back of an ambulance and I am on my way to an emergency room at a local hospital.

a storm that terrifiesAfter three days of running tests my doctors come to my room to share their results. Starched white coats with grim faces and official looking clipboards begin to paint me a picture black and bleak.

They tell me of the health issues they believe I am facing.

Their findings were all based on erroneous information but that will only come into the light—later.

My doctors get it all wrong but in the meanwhile…

Me? I’m doing my best to listen and not freak out!

I try to listen hard to what these men are saying, but their “conclusions” don’t fit with the facts that I’m remembering and the evidence on my face.

In addition I am missing the most important thing I need. I don’t have the “inner peace” I depend upon when making life-altering decisions.

These doctors are telling me I need to begin a drug therapy program immediately, but when I ask them about side effects, they freely admit these drugs will cause great harm if they are the “wrong” stuff.

So I tell my doctors, “I have to pray about this.”

They just stare back at me in stunned silence. These men are used to being obeyed without question. They do not take it well when I tell them, “No, I will pray first—then we will talk about what to do.”

They argue with me but I stand my ground. They threaten dire consequences but I stand my ground. They storm out in anger but I am still holding on to my ground!

I want to talk to God FIRST.

In the middle of my storm I reach for the Gideon Bible next to the bed, trying my best not to panic.

Praying  a desperate prayer I say, “God I am in DEEP trouble. I don’t know what to believe. You HAVE to show me what to do—and I mean RIGHT NOW!”

I don’t usually talk to God like that, but when you’re caught in a TERRIFYING storm flowery prayers are the last thing on your mind!

After I prayed I opened the Bible to Isaiah 51 and this is what I read,

a closer walk“I, even I, am He who comforts you… so what right have you to fear mere mortal men, who wither like the grass and disappear? And yet you have no fear of God, your Maker? ~ You have forgotten Him, the One who spread the stars throughout the skies and made the earth. Will you be in constant dread of men’s oppression, and fear their anger all day long? Soon, soon you slaves shall be released; dungeon, starvation, and death ARE NOT YOUR FATE.” [Isaiah 51:12-14 TLB]

I closed the Bible and said, “Okay God, that’s good enough for me.”

 

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