Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Post by Jon at Stuff Christians Like
Sometimes, hope hurts.
It shouldn’t. The phrase, “hope hurts” should be an oxymoron like “Lady Gaga gospel album.” But I promise you, it’s not.
Sometimes when you’re so deep in a season of hurt, you get used to the bad. You start to think you deserve it. You start to expect it and get comfortable with it and get numb to it. And like a creature that lives so far down on the bottom of the sea, you adapt to it. You cobble together little survival mechanisms that help you get through. You get by.
But hope is tenacious …
Even in the darkest of my days, when I’d journal about suicide and despair, a fragment of hope still bounced about softly in the dryer of my head. (When you’re married with kids and have lots of laundry to do, 42% of your metaphors and analogies become housework flavored.)
There was a problem though, there was a painful obstacle between me and hope. You see, I was so far down the path of hopelessness, I was so lost and selfish and bent on destruction that I found myself in a terrible lose-lose situation. For example: If my wife was kind to me, I felt hurt because she didn’t know how hurtful I was secretly being to her with porn and a cadre of lies that would have killed her. If my wife was mean to me, I felt hurt because she had been mean to me. Any way I turned, simply resulted in more grossness.
And that is one of sin’s goals. Not simply to remove the good from your life, but to have it actually serve as a weapon of mass destruction.
Have you ever felt that way?
Have you ever felt completely unworthy when someone offers you love?
Have you ever been ashamed of the lies you’re living when someone offers you truth?
Have you ever felt undeserving of something good, because deep down, you believed that person wouldn’t really love you if they knew who you were?
It’s very possible that I’m the only one, and that’s OK. But I do need to tell you about the 9 words in the Bible that changed the way hope felt for me.
I’ve written about this before, but I’m a big fan of “edge verses.” I’m a big fan of looking on the periphery of a scene in the Bible and seeing all the deep truth that often gets hidden amidst a major scene. And in Luke 22 that certainly happens.
Jesus is on the threshold of getting crucified. He has the last supper with his disciples. He is sharing his thoughts on the father and the concept of serving and ruling. There is a sense of great importance heavy in the air. In the middle of that, he has a short conversation with Simon about how he is going to betray him.
It’s going to happen. Jesus knows this, but he wishes it wasn’t. He says to Simon in Luke 22:31-32:
Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.
And then, in 9 words, he explains a big part of the reason I thought a mess-up like me could be a Christian.
Jesus tells Simon:
“And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
That’s it, those are 9 really simple words, but they demand a second look.
Do you see what Jesus is saying in that first half of the sentence, And when you have turned back? He’s saying:
And when you fail.
And when you sin.
And when you blow it and sell me out like a common thief.
And when you literally and physically turn your back on me.
And when you ruin it all.
When you turn back.
That concept is part of why our God is so different than everything we expect. We can turn back. There’s a return. There’s a comeback. There’s a loss and a brokenness and a state of falling, but you can turn back. That door is open. When I read the phrase “And when you have turned back,” I read a loud, wild picture of what grace really looks like.
Then you get to the part that is so easy to miss, the comma. Thank God for the comma, because that’s not how I would have written that sentence.
Mine would have looked more like:
“And when you have turned back, repent for three years before you try to get within a mile of my holiness.”
“And when you have turned back, don’t think for a second you’re qualified to tell other people about me.”
“And when you have turned back, here’s a long list of works you’ll need to do in order to clean yourself of the mistakes you’ve made and the consequences you’ve earned.”
But Christ doesn’t do that! He throws in a comma. He continues the sentence and simply says, “strengthen your brothers.”
Four years ago I ruined my life, but you know what?
God gave me the gift of the comma.
And that’s why I write Stuff Christians Like.
I have turned back. Not once, not twice, but a million times. And now it’s time to strengthen my brothers.
I don’t know what you’ll get this Christmas for a present, but please know this, God wants to give you the comma. He wants to give you grace. He wants you to know that when you have turned back, you can still strengthen your brothers.
It’s time to accept the comma of grace.
Love you all,
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
The last few weeks have been very full....and most of y'all know that it leaves me feeling very fatigued. Even though the fatigue has been really hard the last week or so, I am really trying to be thankful. Just look at these pictures....I have an amazing husband who loves me with all of his heart and a daughter who is JOY and ENERGY wrapped up in a little body. I love them so much. Then, I have a family who loves and supports me through all of the trials going on with my body and mind. It is so easy for me to get overwhelmed with all of the hard stuff and to not remember how much I have. The Lord is good in the hard times and the good times. He knows where I am....and He alone is faithful. Why do I continue to try and do it on my own?! One of my favorite pastors of all time....Matt Chandler....has been diagnosed with a malignant tumor in his brain. I can't even imagine how difficult it is for his wife Lauren and their three kids. Tonight, I was reading his twitter and it says, "Why not me? Why not you".....okay WOW!! What an eternal perspective! PLEASE PRAY FOR A MIRACLE FOR MATT!!! I want to love people and live life to the fullest. I want to know the Lord in a deeper way. I want to walk along side of people that are passionate about orphans and adoptions....and I want to be a mouth piece for the millions of kids all over the world. I am tired of being tired and living life in isolation. Please pray for me as I continue to battle.
On another note...driving home for Thanksgiving, my car went CRAZY (literally it took us 11.5 hours to get to LR when it should have been 5). We had to get quite a few things fixed....which was not good timing (is it ever?). Then, on our way home from Little Rock, we realized my heater was GONE. We took it to two places that confirmed it would be a lot of money to fix it. So, right now we are braving the cold. I bundle Eliana up and I drive fast (just kidding)! When I went to our mailbox tonight, I found an anonymous card with a "gift" to us. THANK YOU ANONYMOUS FRIEND!! We are beyond thankful. God used you to bring hope to us tonight. We would give you huge hugs if we knew who it was. Just know we both cried....and thanked God!!
Okay, I am done rambling. I love you all.....I am going to try and write more. I need to.
I love you all,
P.S. Our friends, the Hook family (from the previous post) have set up an "I Choose You" account at our church. If you want to give to this INCREDIBLE family so that they can bring home their sweet Evangeline from Russia.....here is where you send it:
Fellowship Bible Church
1210 Franklin Rd.
Brentwood, TN 37027
"I Choose You"- the Hook family
....write on the memo line of the check "The Hook Family"!! It is 100% tax-deductible!!! :-)
Saturday, December 5, 2009
A recent blog post from an incredible family....check out the Hollis family!
I logged off my computer at 5:30pm and didn't check it again until 11pm. Here is the latest:
Most of you know by now, our family decided three years ago to forgo giving presents to one another during the holidays. Instead, we reach out and raise money for orphan ministries.
We just finished going through the book, "Crazy Love" by Frances Chan with our kids and decided this year, we wanted to be CRAZY for Jesus! He is so crazy about us, we wanted to share His love with everyone throughout the year, but especially during November and December.
Lydia (SHE IS 11 YEARS OLD!!) took "CRAZY" to a whole new level, however, when she approached me (while her dad was on a mission trip in Africa) and asked if she raised $20,000.00 before Thanksgiving, could we adopt a little orphan girl, Darya, who has Down Syndrome in Eastern Europe. (A friend of ours adopted a little boy from the same orphanage and reported that Darya gets no attention at all....no one speaks to her or holds her.)
THAT WAS 8 DAYS AGO! Being a sensible 41 year old, I told Lydia she would never be able to raise $20,000.00 in 8 days.....she is only eleven. She didn't hear me. Instead, she asked again, "But if I do raise the money, will you adopt her?" I responded yes, if she raised that much money in 8 days, we would know God is in it and would travel to adopt Darya!
Tonight, I would like to report that Miss Lydia has raised $26,550.00 and the donations are still coming in. It just so happens, we have good friends who have been planning to adopt a little one with Down Syndrome through Reece's Rainbow, but lack of funds has delayed them. Not anymore, everything above $20,000.00 goes to them.
So, friends, you have been a part of a double Thanksgiving Miracle. Not only will Darya have a home ....but through your gifts, another little angel will be given hope for a family tomorrow too! God is so great, isn't He?
Lydia will be on the local Fox Morning Show tomorrow at 6:45am. I will try my very best to post it to the blog, because I know so many want to see it.
"Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say REJOICE!" Phil. 4:4
P.S. We are celebrating with our friends, the Hook family.....they are being given the remaining money to adopt another precious girl at the same orphanage!!! GIVE!! GIVE!!! GIVE!!!! Let's bring these babies HOME!!!
Love you all,