Tag Archives: Hope

Wedding day hopes


My nephew is getting married today. I hope the very best for him and his bride.


I hope they celebrate this special day for all the joy it offers. And may whatever planning and effort went into this one great day pale in comparison to the happy building of a great lifetime together.


I hope they have fun(!), that they laugh often, and enjoy the simple things that remind them every-single-day how special life is – together.


I hope they experience the depth of love that grows and abounds more and more, and in ever deeper ways; the love that drinks deeply from the well of cherishing, honoring, forgiving, and submitting to each other before our great God who first loved us; the love that keeps on loving when it doesn’t feel like being loving; the love that perseveres against all competing desires and abides when all else fades away.


I hope they learn quickly that marriage is not so much the efficient allocation of “yours” and “mine” as it is the creation and nurturing of a new being called “Us.” “Us” is not a 50/50 negotiation; it’s both giving 100% or more…ALL the time. “Us” is a fragile creation that needs constant protection all its life yet is as powerful as it is fragile. I hope they learn the power of “Us” is greater than the sum of “you and me.”


I hope they discover the exceeding greatness of finding “us” is more than just the two of them; that where “us” is powerful, “God in us” is invincible; and that where “the two of us” bond with others in mutual support and encouragement, the greater “us” can transcend the world.


I hope they find riches even in poverty, humility in success, persistence in challenge, guiding and sustaining faith in all difficulty, and secure hope in uncertain and threatening times.


I hope they create and nurture a great life of love and devotion together… one that never loses hope, the secure anchor for our love,


…the real hope we all need.


Why does God allow tragedy?


April 19, 1995. Twenty years ago today, a senseless act of evil took the live of 168 people as a bomb ripped through the Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City. Many cried out “Why?” And even today we cry out “Why, God?” when tragedy strikes our own lives. Why does God allow tragedy in our lives?


Reflect on some of the key points that Billy Graham made in answer to this question when he spoke at a statewide prayer service twenty years ago.


I appreciate reverend Graham’s honesty is first saying, “I don’t know ‘why’. I only know there are lessons to learn.” One of those lessons is that life is a mystery. We don’t understand all things. Job didn’t understand why he lost his wife and family, his good health, and all his possessions. His wife’s advice to him was “Curse God and die!” But in the face of tragedy and intense ongoing pain, Job remained faithful. He believed that despite his circumstances that God was a loving and good God.


Another lesson of tragedy is a reminder that evil remains in the world – for a time. It is the essence of the dEVIL’s name. In the face of evil, you and I have two choices: 1) We can become bitter and angry at God or 2) We can turn to Him in trust Him, even when we don’t have the answer to all our questions. It is the essence of our faith, to believe when we cannot see clearly.


A third lesson of suffering is that it brings together the real community of God. Job missed this. Maybe you’ve missed this as your own tragic circumstances have left you isolated. But suffering produces an environment that invites community to flourish. It invites each of us to BE that community. We saw this as a nation, if if only short-lived, following the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11. We see it today in community-wide disasters. People come together, not because they can solve a problem, but as a reminder that God cares for us. He promises that those who mourn will be comforted. His compassions never fail. His mercies are new every morning.


We should be comforted that even Jesus asked, “Why?” He cried out in agony, “Why, God have you forsaken me?” And His answer was quick in coming. The message of Easter is that hope follows tragedy. There is hope for your suffering, hope for your pain, and hope for your despair. We are minded in tragedy that life is brief and uncertain. None of us know which moment will be our last. But the hope remains for those who love God that His comfort, compassion, love, and forgiveness are available to us today even in the face of tragedy.


If you haven’t surrendered the control of your life to Jesus, what better time than today – while time remains?


Watch the 8 minute video of Billy Graham’s 1995 message here:



Recovering a sense of future


When life comes crashing down, either suddenly or over the crushing weight of burdens carried too long, our vision becomes clouded and it’s hard to imagine a better future, or even any future at all. But recovering a sense of future is necessary to transition from surviving to thriving… to living well today. Despite the pain, sorrow, and disappointment that darkens our world right now, we need to recover a hope for the future.


Robert was one of the NYC firemen who responded to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. But experiencing that tragedy didn’t prepare him for the crisis he experienced when diagnosed with crippling MDS four years later. Losing his job to disability and surviving a stem cell transplant, he had to redefine how he saw himself, the limited control he still had in his life, his sense of purpose and meaning, and his sense of the future.


“I’m still dealing with GVHD, as well as weight gain and mood swings from steroids. The hardest part is not being able to keep commitments because I never know how I will feel from one day to the next. It’s hard to accomplish tasks I set for myself. On the positive side, I’m getting better. My fear about getting sick has decreased. I don’t need blood transfusions anymore and I don’t worry about blood tests. And even though I miss working, it’s a relief to not have to worry about returning to work and wondering if I’d be able to perform my duties.”


“There was never a time when I didn’t look to the future. I worked toward short-term goals, like getting my central line removed, controlling my GVHD, and being able to quit taking steroids. Some days, I might be struggling with fatigue or just feeling down, but…once I’m on my feet I am able to keep going. Sometimes it’s hard to accept the changes I’ve been through, but I’m still getting better and adjusting to my ‘new normal.’ The main thing is that I’m here for my family and to see my kids grow up, and that gives me something to look forward to.”


Boy can I empathize with Robert! It’s like he is reading a page from my Leukemia journal. Keeping an eye on the future, without losing your focus on living well today, is a crucial element to making a successful transition from just surviving a tragic circumstance to living a thriving life. And our future is not just tomorrow or next week or even the years to come. Our greatest hope for the future is found in spending all eternity with God and reuniting with loved ones who have gone before us. Living with the future of heaven in mind is a great motivator for living well today!


Some thoughts to ponder as you consider the future:

Am I learning to better accept uncertainties in life?

How can I better adapt to uninvited change in my life?

What practical steps can I take to live fully today while planning for tomorrow?


If you struggle with the uncertainties that come with change or the thought of an unknown future, talk about your concerns with a trusted friend. Include God in your honest conversations. Recovering a hopeful sense of future helps you live purposefully and well today.


Beyond disappointment


I was between chemo treatments and before my stem cell transplant. With a quite unsure future ahead of us, we purchased a prepaid vacation to make some memories while we had time together. Little did we know I wouldn’t be well enough to use it for two more years. But at last, the time came and we packed the car for the transcontinental journey. Unfortunately, as has happened with each attempt to get away, I became sick again mid-trip. It seems the spirit is indeed willing but the flesh is too weak.


Disappointment doesn’t begin to describe our emotions. Marcia had to drive much more than she is comfortable doing, making frequent stops for me. The pristine white sands and emerald-green waters of the Florida beaches would have to wait. Our time of fellowship and encouragement with our good friends from New Orleans was interrupted. Preparations were made for a possible out-of-state hospital admission (that thankfully was averted).


You’ve been there, right? Maybe not the same situation, but you can empathize with the frustration and disappointment, the sense of wasted opportunity and resources. Maybe you poured everything you had into preserving a relationship that didn’t work out. Maybe you prayed and prayed for a specific outcome that never arrived. Maybe you worked ever so diligently toward a lifetime goal only to have your efforts thwarted by some opposing force. You thought you had an appointment with fulfillment but it seems the road sign looming ahead of you reads, “Welcome to Disappointment Valley.” What now?


Maybe we should look at that road sign again. What’s that it says at the bottom?


“Don’t stay long!”


We can’t avoid disappointment. We elevate our hopes and expectations in anticipation of a coming reward. But what do we do when the storms of life wash away our dreams? It’s a natural response to be sad, frustrated, disappointed, maybe even angry. But don’t stay long in that place. It only adds to the disappointment. Instead of bemoaning the loss, look for what you have been given.


Even while seemingly trapped in the middle of Disappointment Valley there is a place to go. It isn’t filled with giddy laughter or outrageous joy. But it’s a lot better place than frustration will take us. This place is called rest.


Our weapons of anger, bitterness, or regret, only infuriate the battle of disappointment. Jesus said, “Come to me all who are weary, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) What do we find in that place of rest? We find the peace that knows the battle is not up to us to win. We find assurance resting in the arms of a mighty and faithful God that our battles are not the only ones, not even the most important ones. We find thankfulness in realizing that it could be worse, much worse. There is also thankfulness in the caring of others. In rest you will discover perseverance, perspective, solace, and hope.


When you’re in the Valley of Disappointment, don’t let your heart stay long. Find a place of rest.



He who began a good work in you


Have you ever wondered if God is ignoring your prayers, if your dreams and hopes will never be realized? If you will be able to stand firm in faith? If no matter how hard you try, there will be no reward for your efforts? It’s part and parcel of walking by faith and not by sight, isn’t it? We don’t always get to see what is happening behind the scenes. What does God say about our sense of doubt?


“He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” Philippians 1:6


What a great verse of hope! But does that mean whatever task we undertake will be successful? Or that everything we seek to do ‘in the name of the Lord’ will be completed? Let’s look at the context of the verse.


Paul is writing a letter of encouragement to the faithful body of believers at Philippi. He tells them he thanks God for them and always prays for them with joy knowing they are faithfully living and advancing the gospel. They seem to be wholeheartedly doing ‘their part.’ But his confidence is not just that they will be successful but rather that GOD who first began a work of ‘good news’ in their hearts ‘from the first day until now’ ‘will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’.


We sometimes act as if everything is up to us. Indeed, it is our job to faithfully respond to God’s call on our lives. But if we had the capacity to carry our good works on to our completion, then why did Jesus send his holy spirit? The good work in our lives did not even spring out of our own altruistic minds. It was begun by God. And it is God who will bring that good work to completion.


What good work is that? Is it our happiness and comfort? Is it the results of earthly ambitions, even those ‘committed to the Lord’? Paul was wearing prison chains as he wrote to them. That doesn’t sound like the successful completion of a plan. Yet he saw that even those punishing aspects of his life served to advance the gospel because they gave him opportunity to trust God and give testimony to his truth and grace.


Every problem is an opportunity to trust God.


Paul trusted God would be faithful to make their “love abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.” He trusted God would give them discernment to know not only what was good, but what was BEST, that their lives would be “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus – to the glory of God.” If you had just this carried to completion in your life, would that be enough?


This famous verse is not just about us. In fact, it is primarily about God, his goodness, and his persevering good work in us. Take heart. He who began a good work in you will not allow any circumstance to keep it from his completion.



What season are you in?


There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.
Ecclesiastes 3:3-8,14


What season are you in right now?


There’s the season of the young mom putting away her toddler’s toys and clothes as her little one busily empties them out again. Of giving them a bath only to have them spill soggy cereal on their head.


There is a season when careers threaten to hijack our lives, squeezing more out of the day than we’d like. At the same time, it is a season of accomplishment, income generation, and hopefully beneficial relationships.


For some there is a season of expanding homes to make room for growing families. a season of launching children into the world ‘on their own’ and the season of them ‘coming back.’ There’s a season called ’empty nest’ and a season of ‘all alone.’ There’s a season of illness that sometimes stays for too long a time. There’s a season of going and a season of waiting. There is a season of seemingly endless frustrations and a usually shorter time of a plan coming together.


There’s a temptation to believe that the season we’re in will last forever – forever young, forever happy, or forever in pain, grief, despair. But the truth is that seasons change, sometimes without notice. And there is a constant thread that binds all the seasons of our lives together.


Whatever season you are in right now, the God of all ages is there to meet you. He has gone ahead to prepare this place for you and you for this time. Seasons of life reveal what’s in our heart. Every season bears the mark of his “in all things” goodness if you search for it and the opportunity to seek his purpose. He gives wisdom, strength and courage to those who ask and grace that sustains to those in need. In all seasons you can find faith, hope, and love.


Always a season for resting on God's promises!

Always a season for resting on God’s promises!


Whether you are in the season of sunrise, sunset, or the noonday sun, let it be marked by God’s enduring love.



Culture of life


Reverend Franklin Graham was recently quoted saying that America is increasingly embracing a “culture of death” that reflects a rejection of the gospel of Jesus, even among Christians.


I read that nearly 15 million people tuned in to watch the latest episode of the zombie-filled Walking Dead, outranking even the Broncos-Chiefs game viewers. Even if Dracula could not see his reflection in a mirror, the godless worldview that has such a hold on our society can be clearly seen. It seems ironic that there is such a fixation on fictional death while ignoring the reality of our own death and what happens after that.


Life is short and after that – eternity, the forever and ever. Sadly, few will engage in any meaningful discussion of this reality or make preparation for it. Days, months, and years fly by in pursuit of nothing that lasts and loss of everything that does.


“Death is not a fictional television series,” said Rev. Graham.  “It is not a popular gaming topic. It is the entryway into either eternal life or eternal death. And a culture that treats it as mere fantasy and amusing entertainment does so at its peril.”


Where is our hope? Our hope is found in letting God control the remote of our lives, asking “Will this honor Him?” before we press the button. Our hope is found in standing firm in our faith and living in the culture of life that Jesus offers us, abundant life to the full – even in the face of cancer, poverty, loneliness, pain, anxiety, and depression.


None of us know the time of our last breath. For some, it comes quite unexpectedly. Don’t let your life be marked by the celebration of Hollywood’s obsession with death. Let your day be filled with real life, abundant and full. Let God’s Spirit show you the way to live a life that matters, both now… And forever!



The everlasting Christmas gift of hope



Everlasting Father

Everlasting. Eternal. Never changing. Forever the same.


Just as you and I like to take snapshots of our children when they are born, so the birth of baby Jesus is a snapshot in his life. But what is different about Jesus is that he has always existed. He was with God the Father when the worlds were created (and before). He lived on earth fully God and yet fully man. He lives forever, sitting at the right hand of His Heavenly Father, forever, for everlasting. This is the Jesus we worship at Christmas.


“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8  God’s love endures forever.


The everlasting nature of Jesus conveys stability, confidence, trust. Life brings turmoil and trouble. It shakes us. We are tempted to worry and despair. But our foundation and our refuge and strength is everlasting. God doesn’t change. When something is everlasting we can depend on it, trust it. We don’t have any frame of reference for this on earth. I think of mountains as being everlasting, but even they are sometimes shaken and moved. Only the Everlasting Father is unchanging. In him we can safely and securely place our hope.


We may hope for safe travels to a reunion. We may hope for a nice time with family and friends. We may hope for a nice present. We may hope for peace on earth.  But the children of the one true everlasting God, those who trust in his son, have “the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.” (Titus 1:2) It is the Christmas gift of everlasting hope that is found at the feet of Jesus.


May Christmas fill you with such everlasting hope.



Partner with GLOW in Bolivia



Josias swim day lunch Go Light Our World (GLOW) is excited to support a vital gospel mission to the poorest of poor in Bolivia, South America. Our ministry brings the practical love of Jesus to those in need through programs in literacy, nutrition, and health. Those with emotional and spiritual needs are supported by caring counselors and friends.


Marco Young boys like Marco find reason for hope and opportunities to serve others. Marco cares for his own siblings and is a youth ambassador and leader to other youth. His growth as a godly leader is evidenced by the respect of his fellow youth.


bolivia 235Can see the joy and contentment in this little girl’s eyes? Children find love and hope when someone acknowledges and welcomes them in the name of Jesus. Marcia and I are excited at the prospects of returning to the Bolivia mission on a full-time basis next year as my health recovery progresses.


How about you? YOU too can make a difference in others’ lives by praying for the Bolivia mission, for children like Marco and families you won’t meet until you get to heaven. We believe nothing lasting happens without prayer. Will you partner with us to pray regularly for the GLOW ministries?


Another way to partner with GLOW is to make a one-time or monthly gift. Even $10-20-50 gifts go a long way in poverty-stricken Bolivia. We have no paid staff and our administrative costs are covered by one donor, so 100% of your tax-deductible donations go directly to the mission (See Giving page www.GoLightOurWorld.org).


You can also partner with us by spreading the word. Follow us on Facebook! ‘Share’ us on your Facebook page. Subscribe to the blog (it’s free), tell others about Go Light Our World.


Finally, you can partner with us by intentionally welcoming others in your own neighborhood and town, sharing with them the good news that offers hope and joy. Be a positive influence on our world!


‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40



My soul, wait in silence for God only



My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. Psalm 62:5


We are created with spirit, soul, and body and these three entities are constantly communicating with or ignoring the other.


Our spirit is created to align with God’s spirit in us. When we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior He gives us a new and pure spirit. Think of your noisy and often rebellious soul (our mind, will, emotions, and memory) as how we relate to others and our circumstances. The soul isn’t changed right away. It requires (often years of) training to listen to and obey the spirit. Our body, the temple of God, is commanded by our soul. It is the order of things as they were created.


With this framework, we understand Paul’s dilemma in Romans 7 where he says that he does the things he doesn’t want to do and doesn’t do the things he does want to do. Our spirit, our soul and our body battle with one another and nearly every day, one of them loses the battle. The soul becomes ‘prisoner’ to the body or the other way around. Only when God’s spirit breaks into that prison, do we find real freedom to live in peace.


Our soul often bemoans the past, whines about the present, and worries over the future. It complains incessantly even about its own struggles to surrender to God, seeking its own way instead.


The author of Ecclesiastes reminds us there is a season for all things, including “a time to be silent and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,7) The victorious life requires us to tell our noisy soul to be quiet and wait in silence only for God, for HE is our hope.


Is our soul ever controlled? I think we are better to think in terms of surrendering every part of our soul to God: our will, our thoughts, our emotions, our attitudes, our very heart. When we surrender all the soul to the spirit of God our soul is quieted and silenced before Him and then we can hear Him speak peace and joy and hope to us. It is then that all is well with our soul.


Too often I forget to keep attending to the spiritual nature of the battle around and within me. I wonder how many of our bodily woes are actually battle wounds from these struggles? This process of sanctification is a life-long series of struggles, bearing numerous scars. But the battle decreases when we live according to the proper role of submission: the Holy Spirit commands our spirit. Our spirit commands our soul. Our soul commands our body, bringing us into proper alignment with God’s good and perfect will.


Is it well with your soul today? Shut out the noise of the world and also the noise of your inner being. Be still. In silence let God speak hope, joy, and peace to your soul.