Wednesday, October 31, 2018


We just retuned from a twelve day trip to Oregon where we served / ministered in Bandon and McMinnville (there's a report of the trip located on my facebook page). In between events, we got a few special days on the Oregon coast, near where I grew up.

Bay treated us to a hotel that overlooked the rocky shores of the Pacific, and I was in my element. There is no place like the beach!

To say that I was spoiled lavishly is really an understatement. Who sits in their hotel room with doors wide open and a fire roaring, just to hear the waves rumble into shore, and watch the sun descend to the ocean floor? This girl!

I could hear the voice of one of my grand-motherly aunts ringing in my ears:

Red sky at night, sailor's delight...

Red sky in morning, sailor's take warning...

I took some long walks.

Sometimes alone.

Sometimes with Bay (yes, I allowed him to join my general silent reflection and prayer time).

Inevitably, I find treasures in the sand.

One afternoon, a broken half of a sand-dollar peeked out at me.

I generally pass the broken ones by, because who wants a broken one?

Not this girl!

But, I had recently had a lesson on broken's here, just in case you want to refer to it...and, this day my heart was feeling extremely tender toward brokenness.

Especially broken people.

More specifically, broken-hearted people.


So, I bent down to carefully pull it out of the wet sand, cradling it in my palm.

As I did, one of the "five doves" that are generally found inside a sand-dollar, fell out.

Now, in full disclosure, the "doves" are actually the "teeth" of a sand-dollar, but I've always loved the little poem that reveals how this ocean-treasure tells the story of the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  It's much more romantic...

You can find that poem here.

However, the doves can not be released until the sand-dollar is broken.

Out of brokenness comes something precious. 

In Scripture, the presence of a "dove" is indicative of the Spirit of God.

At salvation, the Lord plants in each of us His Sweet Spirit, who comes to dwell inside.

And, it dawned on me, as I looked at that broken piece of sea urchin (that's a message, too, isn't it - aren't we all "urchins" whom God has poured out grace upon?), that we can never fully release the fulness of the Spirit in us, unless we've experienced brokenness.

It was later this thought landed on the pages of my journal.

The broken among us are the bravest of all, because we are willing to risk brokenness, by putting ourselves in the most vulnerable position of all, with the potential to be hurt, wounded, and cast aside.  But, in allowing ourselves to risk that kind of pain, we also allow the Spirit in us to be released, and the sweet aroma of Christ to rise to heaven with eternal impact. 

When others get a whiff of the fragrance of the Spirit of the Savior, they will be drawn to Him.

When they are drawn to Him, in the messy middle of our lives, they are drawn to HOPE!

So, what if? What if the dispensing of hope really means that we are to live in vulnerability with the risk of brokenness?

Would you be willing?

Would you be that kind of brave?

Would you be a living, breathing pharmacy of hope?  A follower of Jesus who allows the Spirit of God freedom, because you have allowed the Lord to break you as He deems necessary? When you do,  you will also live in the fulness of His Grace?

For when we are broken, He is made strong! His grace is sufficient...

Far more importantly, am I willing to do the same?

This is where you find me wrestling today...

Yet, I'm of the mind that the minute we learn to reconcile ourselves to brokenness, healing begins...

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Ruthless Hope!!!

Hope and trust.

Conjoined twins.

It's been mentioned over and over in the 40-now blogs I've posted on hope.

So, I don't know why I was struck this week, by this sentence, which uses the following underlined phrase, in such a haunting way.

Beginning a new devotional plan in my YouVersion Bible App (Ragamuffin Reflections from Brennan Manning), I stopped reading with this sentence/underlined phrase:

Through countless hours of silence, solitude, soul-searching and prayer, I learned that the act of trust is an utterly ruthless act...

I've read a lot of Manning.

I've read his Ragamuffin Gospel, several times.

Never, did I pick up or underline this sentence prior.

Neither, did I realize, come to find out later, that he had also written a book, which he titled, Ruthless Trust.

The two words combined seemed odd to me.

They didn't juxtapose well together.

I often treat faith as a passive noun.

An attitude more than an action.

Add ruthless as an adjective, and, well, it changes EVERYTHING about faith...and HOPE!

It makes them both much more active.

Harsh, almost.

Because, as we all know, to be ruthless is to be without mercy, to show no pity, take no remorse.

To have ruthless faith thus would mean, I never let up, let go, leave behind, or run ahead of the SOURCE OF MY TRUST.


Ruthless faith finds nary an excuse or justification to "take a break."

It holds tightly to the CONVICTION, a KNOWING, that never stops for a moment to grip HOPE without wavering.

It only makes sense that hope is also without pity.

No matter what, we cling to it tenaciously.

We keep pounding on Providence's door, with the unfailing promises of God,  waiting for our God to swing it wide on the hinges of peripety.

How can we have ruthless trust (ruthless hope)? Because we know the God who loves us and we are certain of His faithfulness toward us!

Then Manning says this:

I will trust to the degree I know I am loved...

How much more can God prove His love to me than through the cross?

This thought changes everything about the tenacity of my hope!

Hold fast!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Cautious Hope

This has been a week of putting into practice what I've been learning on HOPE.

A test has come...and gone...and I passed with mediocrity.

A "thing" which I had hoped-to-see occur (and, clung to a promise over) has passed...and, not according to MY hopeful expectation.

Here was the problem: 
I had already written the end of the story, and it didn't turn out as I had anticipated.

I wasn't telling God how to write the just made sense to me that this was the direction He was heading.

I didn't take into consideration the twists, turns, and human-interventions that would re-plot the course.

In fact, I thought there was a map, but there really wasn't.

Those of us involved were all marching-off-the-map, exploring, drawing the map as we were on our way.

I'd stood at the top of one mountain, and concluded that there was only one way this map could go. One path that seemed clearly marked.

One direction the story could take.

One ending that made total sense to me.

It wasn't. There wasn't.

There were several unseen paths along the way.

And, the Lord sent us down one that was unexpected...surprising, actually.

Now, we are back to bush-whacking...and praying.

I was reminded of Esther's story, all over again (specifically, Esther 9).

To be honest, her story, her courageous and vulnerable action, her risk-taking, had me hoping for a different ending.

I wanted King Xerxes to reverse the un-reversible Law of the Medes and Persians.

I wanted the salvation of the Jews to be without a fight...without death...without pain.

However, some endings don't have the fairy tale "and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after," do they...?

Esther's didn't either.

Not everyone lived happily-ever after.

What the King did to solve the problem was to give them all a fighting chance.

It was better than a slaughter; but, many who fought for life, sacrificed that others could live.

Mothers lost sons.

Wives lost husbands.

Everyone felt the pain of significant loss.

I would have written the end of that story differently, too.

I like the happy-ever-after concept for everyone.

Grieving loss is no fun.

So, here's this week's lesson on HOPE...and God-the-Reverser-of-Destinies...the Providential writer of peripety:

Be watchful and cautious of expectations.

Leave room for God to work, and move, and write the story according to His plans and purposes.

Write yourself a permission slip that says:

I will give myself permission to allow God to work His way, according to His will, in His timing, for the glory of His name.

Or, maybe:

I will give myself permission to not tell God how to end this story.

So, the story I was watching, waiting, and HOPING to see a specific conclusion for has come and gone.

It didn't end the way I wrote it.

It did, however, conclude the way the Lord intended, and that is enough.

It is all I need to remember...

Even when it feels like my world is shaken
Even when I've had all that I can take
I know
You never let me go...
And, even when the waters won't stop rising
Even when I'm caught in the dead of night
I know
No matter how it ends
You're with me even then...

link provided to YouTube

God tells us this:

“Indeed, my plans are not like your plans,

and my deeds are not like your deeds,

for just as the sky is higher than the earth,
so my deeds are superior to your deeds
and my plans superior to your plans.

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NET)

For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NET)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Hope and Revival in the Church

Today is a sandwich day.

No, I'm not eating a sandwich...'s an in-between day.

I'm in-between speaking at one retreat and heading for another.

I'm just home from a weekend with a lovely group of ladies (from three different churches, actually).

My heart is full.

What could make it fuller?

Another retreat!

Last weekend I was at Estes Park, Colorado, and this weekend I'm in Machias Valley, Maine (that's 2311.6 miles in difference...I checked).

These opportunities, where I get to share my messy, broken stories and how the Lord God has redeemed them, are HOPE-GIVING for me.

Every speaking assignment God sends reminds me the Lord is still using what He's doing in my life to point others to the abundance of life in Him.

So, when I'm in the middle of a story-not-yet-reversed-by-Jesus, the old stories leave me filled with HOPE.

That's what remembering does.

That's what speaking out loud the moments of past-peripety will do for the soul: HOPE WILL BE BORN ANEW.

The Apostle Peter, focused on suffering, says this:

According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you...
1 Peter 1:3-4

That is a passage packed full of lessons...there's just one I want to focus on today.

At salvation, our merciful God gifts His children a LIVING HOPE.

Not just any hope.

It's living!!!

Have you ever thought about what that means?

Our HOPE is meant to be active.

It's not ever passive.

According to my lexicon, in JESUS our HOPE has a vital power that is exerted upon our souls, and then, makes a difference in someone else's soul.

Our hope is fresh, never perishing.

It's strong, not meant to fizzle, or become weakened...'s reciprocal.

Hope is a verb, not a noun, that turns around and puts more hope into the heart of someone else.

No wonder the enemy fights hope-in-our-hearts so hugely.

??? Think what our world would be like if everyone lived with more hope, then passed it on to someone else, who passed it on to someone else...???

I'm not sure, but I think REVIVAL could be an outflow!

Revival is desperately needed in the American church.

Hope is at a premium.

The enemy stands at the gates of our hearts ready to deplete us of hope at every turn.

The "foxes are in the vineyards."

It's time to trap them, eliminate them, and restore LIVING HOPE once more.

Hope waits, but does not sit. It strains with eager anticipation to see what may be coming on the horizon. Hope does not pacify; it does not make us docile and mediocre. Instead, it draws us to greater risk and perseverance.
Dan Allender

I, for one, can't wait to share the source of my living hope for another weekend!

May the Lord show up in all His Glory!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Resist: A Final Ingredient in a Weed-Killer to Eliminate ANXIETY

Be alert.

Stay watchful.

We have an enemy.

He's LIKE a lion.

He's not one; but he wants us to think he is.

He wants us to believe he can devour us.

He prowls in such a way, so that we will believe he can totally destroy us...

He roars like he can...

But, he can't.

He's "like" a lion; but, he is not a lion...

Oh, don't get me wrong...he can do plenty of damage.

That's why we are to be watchful.

Psalm 22 gives us a great description of what a roaring lion can do (see verses 13-15):

I am poured out like water;
all my bones feel out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
my strength is dried up like a potsherd.
my tongue sticks to my jaws...

That's exactly it.

That's what my enemy, the devil, does to me.

He intimidates.

The more he roars his lies at me, the more believable he seems.

It's a mental game he plays...

...But, it's a serious game - there's really no "play" in it.

Well, no play for anyone except for my/our adversary - he's totally in it for the fun of seeing me squirm in misery.

This is his modus operandi:

He corners us, and he dances in delight.

His roaring causes us to fight, freeze, or to flee.

Typically, I freeze.

But, the older I get, the more I am preferring to face my enemy and fight back.

It makes me angry that he can have such power with just a roar.

I believe that's what Peter is hoping for in 1 Peter 5:5-11:

Anger at the enemy!

Yep, Peter desires for us to respond with righteous anger.

Righteous anger is not wrong anger.

We MUST make sure we deal with it rightly.

In your anger, do not sin...
Ephesians 4:26a

So, just as Jesus got angry with the tax collectors and took a stand against them, Peter tells us to stand firm against our enemy...

Resist him, firm in your faith...
1 Peter 5:9

We won't resists him as long as he scares the snot out of us.

James, the brother of Jesus, concurs with Peter.

Resist the devil...
James 4:7b

Resist: to push back; stand up against; stand firm against; express opposition through action and words; refuse to comply.

...but, how...???????????

Truly, this adversary is powerful.

Lions can swat a man's head off with just one swipe of a paw.

Not sure I want to stay standing in the path of, or anywhere near, even one like-a-lion-who-is-not-a-lion.

Thankfully, Peter and James give us a plan of action.

Add four teaspoons of "resist" to our weed-killer for anxiety:

1. Submit to the Lord (James 4:7a).  I humble myself under God's mighty providential hand. I put myself under obedience to the Lord my God. I give up control. I yield to God's will, His way.

2. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you (James 4:8a). I boldly come before the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16) - because there, and only there, will I find HELP for my time of need.

3. Cleanse your hands, you sinners (James 4:8b). I confess my sins, agreeing with the Lord that my heart is impure. I then live in the truth of 1 John 1:9 and Isaiah 1:16-19.

4. Be steadfast in faith (1 Peter 5:9).  Be immovable in what you believe. Stand up and declare it to the enemy. Rehearse the faithfulness of God, not just to yourself, but to your adversary. Remind that devil he is already defeated. He's already been bound, and is on his way to slaughter. He may seem scary, but he is an overcome-defeated-foe (Colossians 2:15).


Add these things to that weed-killer we've been mixing...and the outcome is guaranteed.

Our enemy, the devil, who prowls LIKE a roaring lion that is seeking to devour something (or someone), will TURN TAIL AND RUN.

He will vanish.

He will FEAR US.

That description of Psalm 22:14-15? Instead of defining me, now, it will describe him.

He will attempt to be saved FROM ME - to escape ME, safely out of danger.

This isn't just words.

This is God's TRUTH for ALL OF US - a promise of HOPE.

God's Truth will fight for me.

He will fight for me.

How do I vanquish this enemy who seeks to intimidate me with anxiety?

I give absolutely NO OPPORTUNITY to the devil (Eph 4:27).

I get mad.

I take a stand.

I face him, looking him squarely in the eyes, and...