It’s Coming…Just Not Yet

I’ve decided I want to chat with Caleb in heaven. Of course, by the time we get there this thought won’t matter, but currently I’m curious.

I’ve never thought about this before today, so here’s the deal. Caleb and his pals were sent to spy out the land of Canaan in Numbers 13. The end result, only Caleb and one other guy said they believed God would allow them to take the land; he was outvoiced by the other ten guys and spent the next 40 years waiting to enter the land. Caleb believed God, but his belief didn’t allow him to receive what he could have had in that moment. He had to wait because of other men’s fears and unbelief. He did nothing wrong, but he had to wait.

Scripture doesn’t mention anything about Caleb during these 40 years.  All we know is that when they were up, he was more than ready to claim his inheritance (see Joshua 14-15). Evidently, Caleb waited well. He didn’t allow himself to get focused on himself long enough for anyone to notice. 

No “poor me!” No “what did I do to deserve this?” 

No, he made a choice to “wholly follow the Lord God of Israel” even after watching his spying pals focus on themselves to the point of death.

Maybe your life situation is the result of someone else’s bad choice. Maybe it’s “not your fault.” Maybe you’d rather get what’s coming to you sooner than later. 

May you catch some hope from Caleb. God sees you. He is for you. He hasn’t forgotten you. Your thousand days are a second to him. Hold on. It’s coming…just not yet.

This Is So

(Lyrics to a song inspired by Joshua 4:24)

Verse 1

With each sunrise you refill me

To recount the hope that I see

Looking back to claim your promise

All my words proclaim your goodness

 

Chorus

This is so

All may know that You are God

This is so

I may always fear You, Lord

Write it on my heart

Remind me who you are

May I not forget

This is so

 

Verse 2

Waves behind me tell your story

Ever lifting all your glory

Here’s my song to join in raising

Yours alone the name worth praising

 

Bridge

In your presence I’m made holy

By your strength I’m standing only

Hope Restorer

You may have asked or been asked the question, “If you could have one super power, what would it be?” After today, I know a pretty good answer.

Within three hours, God gave me the opportunity to have four conversations-three with people I met for the first time. He apparently wanted to see if I would give them what he gave me (see July 1 post).  To summarize in one word what these conversations circled around, they were all about restoration:

  • Joy Restoration
  • Security Restoration
  • Connection Restoration
  • Faith, Love, and Value Restoration 

In the eyes of someone seeking restoration, you see many things: loss, fear, loneliness, anger, confusion, hurt-to name a few. But when they are given a different vision, a different lens that gives them a peek at an answer or a way out, something else flashes across their eyes. Their restoration has been birthed by a glimpse of hope.

What if we all pursued the super power of restoring hope? If you’re thinking you don’t have any hope to offer, then maybe it’s time for you to be a receiver (see yesterday’s post). Or maybe you’re thinking, I don’t know how to restore hope. Congratulations! You just made yourself available for the Holy Spirit to do his work through you rather than you doing it for him. One thing is for sure-we can’t give something that we don’t have.

So here’s the challenge: store up your own hope. Be ready to give it away to those who show you they need it. Be prepared to answer the super power question: “I already have one. I’m a Hope Restorer.”

“Which Way?”

I have a new favorite verse. At least for today.

“This is what the Lord says: Stand by the roadways and look. Ask about the ancient paths, “Which is the way to what is good?” Then take it and find rest for yourselves. But they protested, “We won’t!””‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭6:16‬ ‭CSB‬‬

(Check out how these translations ask the question: ESV, NIV, NKJV “Where the good way is?” The Message paraphrases it as the “tried-and-true road.”)

The visual is so clear, yet we seem blind.

Rest doesn’t have to be that hard. Temptations draw us away convincing us rest is a myth. But according to God’s message through Jeremiah, rest has been found by all our preceding generations. In this day of great change and progress, God’s message is still the same:

“Stop hurrying about looking for a new way. Cease driving up and down the road chasing disguised lights of hope. Search out those who have heavenly peace. Humbly ask them the road to it. Join me on that road where rest awaits anyone who trusts rather than protests.”

Bob’s Jordan Journey

Our team that went to Jordan had a life-impacting journey. Here is one member’s note about his journey.

img-20180418-wa00161158138559.jpgOn my first Syrian refugee home visit, I choked back tears as I listened to heart- wrenching stories of their lives. I began to wonder how I would make it through the next 10 days. I wondered if my being there was a mistake. Then God began to show me hope! These people who have no material possessions have everything in Jesus Christ. They have faith that I can only pray to have someday. That faith, that God is in control, gives them hope for tomorrow and a better life.

I went to Jordan to be a blessing, but as God would have it I was blessed. Truly a humbling experience that I am grateful for.

-Bob Sagrilla

Sabbatical: The Saturday After

It was a good month. A very good month. Memorable in many ways. I was asked Thursday what was the best highlight. I gave an answer, but I could give you a different answer if you asked me today.

Rather than do highlights, here is the end of my journal entry from 10/30:

The lessons I take away from this month are:

  1. Grace is so needed in this world. I need to give more of it.
  2. People are very lonely in this world. I can offer them hope through my obedience to serve and to give my time, talents, and respect. 
  3. God has what people need in this world. They can find it through various methods-church, community, music, dance, family, books, new friendships, similar connections, and jobs where they can love people. 
  4. There is much to be in awe of in this world. But it shouldn’t replace my awe for the one responsible for all of it. 

For a bonus thought, I’ll share this note from my morning run today. In my first few miles, I wasn’t necessarily feeling it. I thought 7.5 may do it today, although I needed to do more. However, the more I ran the better my legs felt making me think double digit miles were possible after all (I was wearing Alabama socks…gotta be it). I ended up getting just over 10 done and felt good following. It reminded me of Sabbatical race #3 in Dover. 

Here’s the deal: our minds are a tool. They can beat us up or tear us down. Controlling the self talk in our head determines if we’ll finish strong or finish at all. 

Bottom line: Own Your Mind.

Photos to illustrate: 

Following mile 1 in Dover. Thought: “How will these next 12 miles go?”


Finish Line in Dover. Thought: “Thanks, God. We owned those last miles.”

Fruity Fridays: Don’t Give Up

(A series about the Fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5)

post by Eric Vorhies

After Adam and Eve ate the fruit, becoming aware of good and evil, God made a promise to bless the world through her seed. That blessing was Jesus. Now, let’s think about the events that took place between those two points in time. The newly freed Jews desired to be enslaved in Egypt rather than to depend on their miraculous God. From prophets to judges to kings, God’s chosen leader often rejected guidance and wisdom from their Creator. The world became so detestable at one point that God wiped it clean except for Noah and his family. And so on and so on.

If I was God, I would have been out by book two. So, in terms of what it means to be faithful, God is our model.

Faithfulness is an unswerving adherence to a person, thing, promise, etc. This is the characteristic that allows parents to have hope that their estranged child will come home. It gives permission to a devastated spouse to forgive the unfaithfulness (of any kind) of their partner. Faithfulness is at the heart of the story of the adult child who prays for 17 years that their mother would accept Christ as their Savior. Supernatural faithfulness isn’t a characteristic of the resilience of humanity. Rather, it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit that is imparted on us by God.

Here’s the take away — You don’t have to give up or give in. Everyone has some hope or desire that has been worn down and beat up by disappointments as time drags along. And, let’s be honest, it’s hard. It’s exhausting. It even seems pointless to continue pressing on. But the endurance that faithfulness demands of us isn’t our own. We have access to a Father that understands. And it is His strength that carries us. We don’t have to give up because God is our source.

Or maybe you are on the other side of the equation. Maybe you are the one who keeps failing. The one who keeps rejecting God when the pressure of the world seems to be upon you. You also don’t need to give up or give in. God’s faithfulness is greater than our unfaithfulness. And though we may stumble and fall, if we keep trying again and again, as many times as it takes, we will be able to tap into that power that God is offering us and become faithful.

So, don’t be like me…don’t say, ‘I’m out,’ before the end of book two…because the story that God is writing is much bigger than we can imagine…and masterpieces take time to complete.

What is My Personal Creed?

Reading this quote from The Critical Journey posed another question:

Usually people at this stage have been given a personal creed from God that guides their lives…a daily empowerment at a practical spiritual level…simple, intimate, and can extend to all people. Examples include: All will be well; God is enough; Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind; Be still and know that I am God; All is gift. (p. 210)

The question to me then was, what is my personal creed? My answer came quickly. My creed is an adaptation to the end of the Lord’s Prayer that I gleaned from reading a book on prayer. The creed is “Your will be done in my life as it is in heaven.”

Reading this quote again and writing down my creed, another thought occurred to me. Creeds certainly can come from Scripture, but it seems they could also come from songs that are scripture based. Lyrics are powerful and certainly can carry a person through a stage of life. So to further exemplify creeds, here are some of my “lyric creeds”:

  • “I want no regrets when the horses come for me.” -Margaret Becker
  • “Me without You is a lie.” -Avalon
  • “It’s your breath in my lungs…great are you, Lord.” -All Sons and Daughters
  • “I’m in awe of you…I owe all to you.” -Chris Tomlin
  • “You’re my hope.” -Danny Gokey
  • “My soul will sing your praise unending.” -Matt Redman
  • “Here I am, knees to the earth, here I am.” -Watermark
  • “I am a child of God.” -Bethel Music
  • “Be my heart’s obsession, first and only in my life. In your love alone my soul is satisfied.” -Elevation Worship

What are your scripture and/or lyric creeds?

Hope in Loss

Over the last 24 hours, I’ve witnessed two families say goodbye to a family member. Both were relatively young, 41 and 61. Both stories could be looked through the lens that life can be cruel. Yet, the witness I’ve observed revealed a different perspective. 

Both of these family members left behind adult children in their 30s and 20s, young adults. Through various means, these young adults, in the middle of their pain and grief, affirmed that even though life can be cruel it can also be hopeful.  In that light, here are a few pastoral thoughts for all family members.

To the older adults, interpreted as you have adult children and maybe even some grandchildren:

  • Spend time (intentional/fun/memorable/meaningful) with your family
  • Model for them what it means to pursue a relationship with God
  • Challenge them to live as much or more for others than themselves
  • Live with eternity in mind
  • Teach them the only source for hope when it comes time to leave this earth isn’t found in anything on this earth

To the young adults:

  • Guess what? Your parents know they aren’t perfect. Love them anyway, like God does you.
  • God has a purpose for you in your family. It may seem weird to step into a more leading role in the absence of your parent, but God is available to guide you just like he was available to guide your parent.
  • The strength that is holding you up right now is the strength you’ll need the rest of your life. Don’t let go. Relentlessly hold on. Better yet, just rest in it.
  • The maturity you’re experiencing right now through this event is just another step of life. There will be more maturing moments. Embrace them. Learn from them. Seek God through them.
  • Life is going to be cruel again; that’s what we’re in for until God returns. Keep your eyes on hope. Guard your hearts from bitterness through gripping to hope.

May these words encourage you:

“Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.””‭‭ Joshua‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭

Hope

Yesterday, for the first time I can recall, I watched the entire movie The Shawshank Redemption. I’d only seen portions before, so now I know the full story of the two main characters, Andy and Red. Andy, falsely convicted of murdering his wife and her lover, and Red, serving a life sentence for a just conviction, both battled hope. Andy’s hope was stronger because he envisioned something beyond what he could see; he placed his actions and his beliefs in that hope. (That’s all the plot I’ll divulge; get some popcorn and watch it and enjoy to see how it works out for Andy and Red.)

The lines from the dialogue and the theme of the movie led me to think further about my hope, where is it and where should it be. I was reminded that my hope isn’t in temporal things but in eternal things. My values aren’t satisfied by temporal things, as much as I’m tempted to go after them.

Turning to scripture then, here are 10 passages that define my hope. May they give you a starting place for yours.

“Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:1-5‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

“Now in this hope we were saved, yet hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:24-25 HCSB

“Now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭39:7‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

“Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭62:5‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

“The Lord values those who fear Him, those who put their hope in His faithful love.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭147:11‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

“The hope of the righteous is joy, but the expectation of the wicked comes to nothing.” ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭10:28‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

“Yet I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! I say: The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him. The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good to wait quietly for deliverance from the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is still young. Let him sit alone and be silent, for God has disciplined him. Let him put his mouth in the dust — perhaps there is still hope.”‭‭ Lamentations‬ ‭3:21-29‬ ‭HCSB‬

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭15:13‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

“Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them. He remains faithful forever, executing justice for the exploited and giving food to the hungry. The Lord frees prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord raises up those who are oppressed. The Lord loves the righteous. The Lord protects foreigners and helps the fatherless and the widow, but He frustrates the ways of the wicked. The Lord reigns forever; Zion, your God reigns for all generations. Hallelujah!” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭146:5-10‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

“Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:23‬ ‭HCSB‬‬