Category Archives: Hope

Frozen Lasagna

lasagna

Perhaps I’m stating the obvious, but frozen lasagna generally cooks better when the oven is turned on. I was reminded of this just last week when my growling tummy urged me into the kitchen to partake of what should have been a bubbly, cheesy delight, only to find a rock-solid block of disappointment instead.

Heat is not always a bad thing!

Truthfully, I would do well to remember that this summer, as I begin to complain at the high temps, and grumble that I don’t do heat (or mornings). Better yet, I would do well to remember the benefits of heat when I am in the midst of spiritual battles -and spiritual growth –both of which often go hand-in-hand.

The apostle Peter acknowledges that our trials are fiery: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.” (I Peter 4:12)

Furthermore, James encourages us to embrace our trials: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

I repeat, heat is not always a bad thing!

Dear reader, may we all persevere through all of life’s battles, no matter how difficult they may be, knowing full-well that the heat of adversity is the element which refines us, and defines us; preparing us to be individuals who are pleasing to the Lord.

Those fiery trials, which we all know so well, only serve to ensure that when at last we stand before our Lord face-to-face, we will be ‘on fire’  –never  a cold,  rock-solid block of disappointment!

Mostly Dead

winter tree

Wesley died and all hope with him. His true love would now be forced to marry the disdainful prince and live unhappily ever after, or so it seemed. But as fate would have it, the hero of The Princess Bride was not really dead. He was, we are told, “mostly dead –there’s a big difference between dead and mostly dead!”

Granted, it is easy to sometimes think that some of our hopes and dreams have withered and died. We have probably all faced that at some point. Mark Twain said, “Lord save us all from… a hope tree that has lost the faculty of putting out blossoms.” Perhaps he was referencing Proverbs 13:12: Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

When I think of that scripture, I think of a natural tree. It remains dormant in the bleakness of winter –its branches bare. However, when spring arrives, the tree bursts forth with abundance. Solomon said:
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven
 (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Likewise, the fulfillment of hope also arrives at its appointed time.

Always remember, circumstances might be such that hope has seemingly died, but there is a big difference between dead and mostly dead. All it takes to revive hope is one simple prayer. Then, in its proper season, that hope which has been deferred will burst forth with fulfillment.

May we all find comfort in knowing this.

Shofar So Good!

shofar

Have you ever heard the sound of a shofar? There is just something deeply stirring about the deep trumpet-like sound that erupts from this (ram’s) horn, signaling either a solemn or joyous occasion.

This week, folks around the globe celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles, starting with a shofar blast. Tabernacles is a time of great rejoicing because it is one of God’s appointed times and according to Scripture, it is the true time of the Savior’s birth.

As I listened to the sound of the shofar this week, I couldn’t help but think of a time, many years ago, when the sound of a shofar greatly excited my daughter, who was only three or four years old at the time. As we travelled down the road, I popped a new music CD into the player. Unbeknownst to me, the very first thing to play was the very long blast of a shofar.

“THE RAPTURE!” she squealed with delight.

Even at that tender young age, my precious knew that in the near future, a heavenly shofar will sound when the Messiah, Jesus Christ, returns at the last trump, or shofar (I Corinthians 15:52).

Of course, no one knows the day or the hour that our LORD will return, but we know He will; and that, I believe, very soon! When he does, saint and sinner alike will hear the shofar blast and every eye will see Him coming in the clouds (Revelation 1:7).

Whether that shofar blast will be solemn, or joyous, will depend on the faith of the hearer. I pray, dear reader, you are ready for His return, and like my young daughter, waiting with great expectancy for that glorious day when He catches us away to be with Him.

If not, it is never too late to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you have any questions, or would like someone to pray for you, I would be honored; just drop me a note.

Matthew 24:44 – Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

Wilted and Exhausted?

hot

Today, it is hot enough outside to melt a lizard! Even so, my husband had to work outside in this scorching heat all day, while I finished up the week’s errands, driving place to place in a van with a malfunctioning air conditioner. By the time we came home, we were both wilted and exhausted from the sweltering attack on our bodies.

Thankfully, the air conditioning does work in our home. This is one of the blessings that I try not to take for granted and thank God for often. Do we NEED the air conditioning? No, but it sure is a comfort during seasons of great heat.

Speaking of seasons, I am often amused at how fickle we humans can be. Once we are hit with the sultry days of summer, we wish for winter. Then, when winter days become a little too frigid, we long for summer. And so it goes for many areas of our lives: When we are young we wish to be older; when we are old, we long for youth. When we have little, we wish for much; when we have much, we long for simplicity, and etc.

The apostle Paul was surely no different than you and I in the beginning of his life. Towards the end, however, having matured spiritually, he began to see things from a whole new perspective, knowing that this life –with all its intricacies- is only temporal. Thus, through time and experience, he

“…learned to be content whatever the circumstances. [saying] I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:11-13

Dear reader, no matter which of life’s challenges has caused you to feel wilted and exhausted;  I pray that you find comfort in Paul’s words. We truly can learn to be content in all circumstances, knowing with full confidence that the Lord Jesus will help us and give us the strength to make it through. He is a always our greatest comfort during seasons of great heat.

I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.  –John 14:18

Strength of Flight

flight

Sampson slowly made his way to the edge of the lawn, surveyed his unfamiliar surroundings once more, then rocketed into the sky majestically, with great strength of flight. Had I not been nursing this beautiful pigeon back to health for the past week, I would never have known that he had recently been too injured and too frightened to fly.

In addition to a gash across his torso, a great many of Sampson’s breast feathers had been pulled out so that his strength was diminished, much like the biblical Sampson who lost his strength when his hair was cut; thus the bird’s nickname. But on this beautiful spring day Sampson was flying superbly like the strong racing pigeon he is, even before his feathers had a chance to fill back in. Words simply cannot express how much joy I felt at seeing him soar through the air, happy and free.

Seeing how quickly Sampson regained his strength brought to my mind Isaiah 40:29:

He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

Actually, we can all glean a little lesson about trust from Sampson –the bird, not the Israelite.  While caged, he may not have understood that he was being temporarily restrained for his own good; he probably didn’t perceive that in just a little while he would be as strong ever, yet he was still very calm and trusting the whole time he was under my care. And once healed, Sampson did not let fear stop him from immediately soaring to great heights.

Dear reader, perhaps the situations of life have left you wounded in some way, perhaps even feeling caged in. Be of good courage, for the LORD has everything under control and He is as anxious as you to see you soar to greater heights. And in His perfect time, He will give you the necessary ability and fortitude for incredible strength of flight!

It’s True, I’m an Alien

pass through

I remember well, gazing into the heavens when I was a teenager, asking no one in particular, “Why did you leave me here?” At that time, I didn’t even know if there really was a God or not, so I wasn’t necessarily addressing Him. Besides, for all I knew, ‘God’ could very well have been one of those outer-space aliens that my parents assured me were very real. Nonetheless, there were two things I was certain of. First, I lived in a very hostile world. Second, I didn’t feel I belonged there. Deep inside, I felt that my home was somewhere far, far away; and I longed to return there.

Imagine my surprise when, several years later, I learned the truth –I am indeed an alien, and this world is not really my home. No, I don’t believe in little green men from mars; that’s not the kind of alien I am. The dictionary defines an alien, amongst other things, as a resident belonging to another country, or a person who has been estranged or excluded. (Peter calls his fellow believers aliens and strangers –2:11).

As a follower of Jesus Christ, a child of the Most High, I am an alien on both counts. John spoke of this when he wrote, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world… therefore the world hateth you (John 15:18,19).”

Nevertheless, there are two things I am certain of. First this world is a hostile place. And second, this world is not our home; we are merely passing through, touching as many lives as possible while we’re here.

Dear reader, you know as well as I, that we will face much pain and heartache in this world, as we interact with those who despise us. In light of eternity, however, it really doesn’t matter; for our citizenship is in heaven ( Philippians 3:20) and one day soon we will be reunited with our King.

It’s true, I’m an alien.  I truly  hope you are as well.

“Do Not Touch!”

boundaries

My most favorite moment of the day is the one in which my husband returns home from work –or anywhere, for that matter. Although, yesterday was one of those rare occasions when, instead of being greeted with a hug and kiss, my beloved greeted me with the words, “Don’t touch me!” And I am certainly glad he did!

Allow me to explain. In his line of work, my husband is occasionally exposed to the one thing that I am deathly allergic to, and he is not willing to risk my well-being, should any of the nasty stuff be lingering on him or his clothes. Of course, he enjoys my hugs as well, but he loves me way too much to allow a simple moment of pleasure to put me in harm’s way.

When my beloved says, “Don’t touch me!” I am always thankful; not only for the caution he has given, but also for the additional steps he takes to keep me safe. After his warning, he immediately showers and washes the clothing he was wearing so I do not have to touch them. Afterwards, when I finally get my hug, I feel all the more loved.

And that makes me think about our loving Heavenly Father. He too has established some boundaries for mankind, which are all designed to keep us safe from harm. And He loves us enough that He takes care of even the minutest details as we trust Him, and obey Him.

What about you dear reader, have you ever been frustrated by any of those ‘Thou Shall Not’ instructions in the Bible? If so, I would like you to encourage you that any time our precious LORD says no, He is not doing so to hinder us –quite the opposite in fact; they are simply boundaries meant to keep us safe and enjoy a more abundant, healthy and happy life, as it is written:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

Having said that, the next time that you hear that soft voice of conviction warn you, “Do Not Touch,” even for something as simple as a book, or a television show, I hope you will walk away, rejoicing in the overwhelming love of your Heavenly Father -a love that cares too much to allow you to put yourself in harm’s way.

Paradise Dreaming

hammock

Here it is, the end of January, and I have fresh-washed laundry hanging outside to dry. While the clothes dance in a warmish breeze, I daydream of lounging with my beloved on a Hawaiian island; our hammock swaying lazily in the tropical sun. Oh, how I long to hear my husband speak the same words to me that Jesus spoke to the repentant thief on the cross: “Today you will be with me in Paradise,” speaking of some exotic hideaway, of course.

Even if we could manage such a vacation, however, we wouldn’t really be interested in any of the popular tourist packages; both of us have always been the type to wander off the beaten path and enjoy the solitude and raw beauty of nature. Sometimes, getting to those places takes a little work, but it is always worth it!

Speaking of the road less travelled, I am thankful that the LORD is walking with me on my life’s journey. You will recall His instruction to enter through the narrow gate…. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to [eternal] life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:13,14). Had it not been for the LORD’s infinite mercy, I would never have found the narrow road, let alone been able to navigate it.

As you probbly know, dear reader, traversing the narrow path is not always easy. In fact, the path often seems insurmountable with its many obstacles and dangers. But praise be to the LORD, He has promised: To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God Revelation 2:7).

This is the paradise I dream about most. How about you, have you been dreaming of Paradise? Perhaps you will be able, in the near future,  to slip off for a relaxing getaway at some tropical island, perhaps not. But know this for certain, there awaits a reward for those who follow Jesus; and it is far more splendid than any exotic paradise this world has to offer. I leave you now to dream about this for a few moments:

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him (I Corinthians 2:9).

This too shall pass!

bunny.engergizer

Certainly, we all need to: Put on the whole armor of God, that [we] may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Ephesians 6:11

Although, truth be told, sometimes the devil has absolutely nothing to do with those insufferable days and seasons when everything that can go wrong does; and like the Energizer® bunny, just keeps on going. Comedian and Gospel singer, Mark Lowry, has often said that his favorite Bible verse is, “This too shall pass!” Of course, that’s not a literal verse, but the concept is certainly found within the pages of our precious Holy Bible.

Dear reader, I pray you start every day, especially the more difficult ones, with the full assurance that When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles (Psalms 34:17).

And, if you listen closely during those trying times, you will most assuredly hear the LORD gently remind you, “This too shall pass!”

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Is your armor scratched and well-worn? If so, you may enjoy my Rays of Light blog:
KNIGHTS IN DAZE
(click on this link to view)

“I Was Asleep”

My son recently upgraded to a larger, softer bed. A few days later, hoping that this had helped to alleviate some of the discomfort that he had been having, I asked, “Did you sleep any better?” Without skipping a beat, he nonchalantly answered, “I don’t know. I was asleep.”

To some, this answer might sound smart-alecky, but to those who know my son to be the concrete thinker that he is, his answer was perfectly logical. It never occurred to him that within my question, there was an implied inquiry as to whether or not the new mattress had a positive effect on his body. Still, his answer took me by surprise. I expected a yes or no, at the very least, but instead, he simply answered that he was asleep.

That plain, uncomplicated response brought to my mind the following Scripture:

I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep:
for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.
–Psalms 4:8

Dear reader, it doesn’t get any simpler than this. The Lord has everything under control, and He will take care of us! I pray, therefore, that whenever you are distressed and discomfited, that you will not be tempted to stay awake at night fretting and worrying. Let us instead look to Jesus as our example. When the storm was raging, He was sleeping on a cushion in the stern of the boat (Mark 4:38). Likewise, when the storms of life raged so fiercely that others feared you would drown, I trust you simply, and confidently, told them, “I was asleep!”