How to Have Hope

The Bible does not shrink from telling us the ugly side of human history. God’s word tells us the truth, and clearly states that God’s desire for us is good. We need to seek God and His ways in every aspect of our lives. 

“How you have helped him who has no power!
How you have saved the arm that has no strength!”
Job 26: 2

Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you,
in the sight of the children of mankind!
Psalm 31:19

O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
Psalm 104:24

During this time of unrest and turmoil we have the opportunity to spread the hope of God’s word.

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
Isaiah 52:7

photo courtesy of unsplash

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: HOW

Remembering with Hope

Today we went to the cemetery and tended the family graves. We planted flowers and walked among the stones marking family members. As I read the names I was recalling family history.

My husband’s grandparents immigrated from Holland in 1911. In 1918 they lost three of their children when scarlet fever and the Spanish flu afflicted the family. William was a young adult, Winnie was a teenager and Cornelius was school age.

The family had worked hard to adjust to life in America and pay back the debts incurred during the first year. They had a deep faith in God and persevered. With support from a community of faith, they persevered through the grief of losing three children in one week.

We are blessed to have a family history written by my husband’s uncle. He wrote about his family and each of his sisters and brothers. He described the faith of his parents and siblings.

 I reflected on this as I thought about our Steven. The years of his cancer treatment were tough. He kept a journal, continued with school work and Awana lessons. He memorized many Bible verses. Three verse are listed on his gravestone.

The first one was chosen for him when he was dedicated as a baby.

Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Psalm 71:3

The second one relates to his participation in Awana, his Bible study.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

The third verse is one that he talked about in the last weeks of his life.

He [God] shall wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4

As a family we are bonded together in faith and hope. We remember those that have gone before us to eternal life.

If you, dear reader, are not a part of the family of God, you can be. The word [of faith] is near you . . . because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God, raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

Sunrise of Hope

Many years ago I worked the night shift in the neonatal intensive care unit at the University of Michigan. We had 12 hour shifts, and I worked from 7 pm to 7 am. Around 5:00 am as daylight crept across the sky, we were weary and needed to get our second wind. 

We would take turns, going to get coffee and a muffin from the hospital cafeteria. But what we most appreciated was walking down a hallway of windows that looked out to the sunrise. Morning had come and we would complete our nursing care and documentation. The light of a new day sustained us and promised rest.

We have challenges and a spiritual battle taking place in our world. The battle requires focus on God’s word and obedience to his commands. We must stay alert and look for God’s touch on our life. He will renew our spirit and give us rest.

photo by Cristina Gottardi via unsplash

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.

My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen wait for the morning, more than the watchmen wait for the morning.

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. Psalm 130: 6-7

It is Friday and I am joining the Five Minute Friday writing community. Kate’s prompt today is: MORE

Illness, Resilience and Spirituality

Two years ago I began corresponding with Marguerite Bouvard. She was looking for contributors for an anthology on illness and faith. I offered to write a chapter about my family’s experience caring for our son during his treatment for leukemia.

We continued to e-mail back and forth. I wrote my chapter, and Marguerite edited the anthology that includes the stories of twelve people that refer to different faith traditions:Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Native American,Yoga.  The book is titled Illness, Resilience and Spirituality.

Now I have the book in hand, and as I read through the chapters I see vulnerability as well as resilience. The book is not theological. It is the way twelve people have encountered illness and death, along with the questions that come with human frailty.

A serious illness leads to a search for hope. Some chapters have a perspective that seem self reliant. Other chapters find hope through the Bible and prayer. A couple of chapters mention how the faith of a grandmother was influential. 

Victoria Molt’s account of faith and prayer through mental illness touched me. My brother’s illness has sensitized me to the isolation that many with mental illness experience. 

The importance of a faith community stands out in many of the chapters. 

The chapter that I wrote is the first in the book and is titled, “Prayers Through Illness and Loss”. The book is available on Amazon. 

This post is linked with Booknificent Thursday and Literary Musing Monday

Book Review: Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia

The progressive loss of brain  function  in  Alzhiemer’s  disease  and     dementia is difficult to observe in a loved one.    My  mother’s  loss  of memory and physical skills has been gradually progressing. It would be wonderful to have a knowledgeable and experienced Christian doctor give guidance for both victim and the family.

Dr. John Dunlop does that in his book,  Finding Grace in the  Face  of  Dementia. He explains the disease in terms that non-medical people can understand.

As I read the book, pausing to take in the information in each chapter, I developed a better understanding of what is happening to my mother. (I wish that this book had been available four years ago; it is so helpful.)

Dr. Dunlop explains the progression of the disease along with suggestions for relating with the person with dementia. When the disease is well progressed an individual may not remember the past and have little interest in the future. But they can still enjoy moments in the present. He writes:

Dementia does not alter a person’s ability to experience pleasure. Victims of dementia may enjoy pleasing aromas and be put off by offensive ones. They may like good music and admire pretty scenes or pictures . . . They will often enjoy human touch. They may want their loved ones to hold their hands or put an arm around them . . .

He encourages both the victim and family members to turn to their faith in God. Prayer, Bible verses and hymns can all bring comfort. Being involved in the care of someone experiencing dementia can deepen our understanding of self-sacrificing love. Dr. Dunlop gives reference to Bible verses throughout the book.

In the last chapter of the book Dr. Dunlop discusses end of life issues. I greatly appreciate the explanation of decisions that may need to be made. He offers wise counsel and demonstrates his faith in God’s eternal plan.

I enjoy sharing books that have been a blessing to me. If you found this post helpful you might enjoy  my Facebook page  where I post articles  related to family and health.

Sharing this post with Faith on Fire,  Booknificent Thursday and Literacy Musing Monday

Our Common Condition & Hope

Today I am joining Five Minute Friday (#FMF) where bloggers write for five minutes about one word. The prompt for today is common. So here we go.

After a tumultuous and divisive election what do we as people have in common?

The Bible shows us these truths.

God loves us.

For God so loved the world that he have his only begotten Son. John 3:16

We have all sinned.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

We are all offered salvation.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Acts 16:31

We have hope through the completed work of Jesus.

Through his grace and mercy we can live a life of love and purpose.

Sharing this post with Word of God Speak and Five Minute Friday

Pregnant Creation: We Have Much to Anticipate!

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.

Romans 8: 19 ESV

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting.
Romans 8: 19-25 The Message

This statement by the apostle Paul is both striking and encouraging. And it fits the time we are living in.

Over the summer I have been studying the epistle of 1 Peter.   Peter      describes Christians as sojourners and provides instruction for how we are to live. This fall our Pastor will be teaching from Romans and my precept Bible study is on the book of Romans. I am excited to be spending time learning from Paul the essentials of faith in a culture that is    hostile.

We need grounding from the Word of God and guidance from the Holy Spirit. Then we can shine the light of truth, pointing to Jesus.

Sharing this post with Thought Provoking Thursday,  Thankful ThursdayChristian Blogger and Word of God Speak

Hope Shared by Women Around the World at TGCW16

Yellow Rose-Hope

What is better than singing praise to God with 7,200 women? The only thing I can think of, is praising God with all of the redeemed in heaven. It was so good to be at the Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference last week. Women from all 50 states and 38 countries were in attendance.

Each of the speakers focused on a portion of 1 Peter. Over the course of three days they taught all the way through this epistle. Some of the terms that come up in this book are: sojourners,  exiles,  royal priesthood,  God’s people. One of the threads running through the book is suffering and persecution. The other is a living hope!

Peter begins his letter with these encouraging words:

According to God’s 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, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.    1 Peter 1: 3-5

God keeps us in his sight! I am memorizing these verses.

Throughout each day Keith and Krysten Getty led us in worship.  They introduced songs that are on their newly released CD,  Facing a Task      Unfinished. One of my favorite songs is, He Will Hold Me Fast. God is faithful and will keep His people in his care.

Jen Wilkin’s message touched a sweet spot. As Christians we are called to give the message of God’s love that offers new life. She compared our Christian role to that of midwife and lactation consultant. Our desire is to nurture growth in new believers.

Peter has instruction for women. And it includes the word submission. We may have trouble with this word, but the truth is that God gives us guidance for relationships. God provides order for healthy relationships. I was a little slow in learning this lesson. My husband and I have a good relationship, but it could have been better sooner.  We disagree and     argue from time to time but we communicate better when I show him respect.

For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. 1 Peter 3: 5-6

At the conference I heard that last phrase and paused. Do not fear anything that is frightening. God invites us to trust him completely. I do not have to fear the outcome of the current election—but I will participate in the process as a citizen of this country.

The first epistle of Peter applies to the current time. I encourage you to read through 1 Peter. You can also listen to the messages given at the conference. The sessions are available on-line. Click here.

Linking with Let Us Grow, Word of God Speak,  Faith Filled Friday,  Thought Provoking Thursday,  Whole Hearted Home  and  A Little R & R

Lily of the Valley and a Song on My Heart

Lily of the Valley

Lily of the valley is blooming in my backyard. I saw the delicate bell shaped flowers when I returned from a visit with my mother. She was placed in a nursing home last week.

The transition to the nursing home is a huge change. New environment. New people. Changing shifts for caregivers. Physical therapy. Occupational therapy. It is not surprising that she is exhausted.

On Sunday morning I wheeled her to the hymn sing taking place in the activity room. We joined a circle of wheel chairs. Favorite hymns were played on the sound system and the words to the lyrics appeared on a large screen. At first Mom was nodding off.

I took her hand and clasped it in mine. Her hand was cool and soft. Gradually she returned the clasp. She looked up and began to softly song the words to hymns that she remembered. One of the hymns was “The Lily of the Valley” by Charles W. Fry (1881).

I have found a friend in Jesus, He’s everything to me,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul;
The Lily of the Valley, in Him alone I see
All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole.
In sorrow He’s my comfort, in trouble He’s my stay;
He tells me every care on Him to roll.

He’s the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.

I have a vase filled with stems of lily of the valley on my kitchen table. This song continues to play in my heart as I pray for Mom.

lily-of-the-valley-arrangement

These verses in Revelation give hope and comfort. Jesus is the Bright and Morning Star.

Behold, I am coming soon . . .
I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the root and offspring of David, and the Bright and Morning Star. Revelation 22: 12a, 16

Linking with Thought Provoking Thursday,  Us, Coffee & Jesus,  Let Us Grow,  Word of God Speak,  A Little R & R and Whole Hearted Wednesday

Hope of the Gospel Overcomes Shipwreck

HHS Mandate and Little Sisters of the Poor

As the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11

 I am finishing up my study of the book of Acts,  and I can see how    Isaiah’s declaration applies to Paul.    Several times in Acts, Luke      describes Paul’s call to Rome—and his determination to go there to testify. After being imprisoned in Caesarea for two years he is finally on his way to Rome, by ship. They are traveling in a season not favorable for sailing. He and the 275 other people on board the ship are shipwrecked.  God protects them and they are treated well by the  people of Malta. They wait out the winter there. Luke, the physician, was with Paul and recorded the journey to Rome in the 27th chapter of Acts.

Shipwreck
Painting by Bonaventura Peeters

Matthew Henry comments on chapter 27 with these words:

No storms or tempests can hinder God’s favour to his people, for he is a Help, always at hand.

The work that God had prepared beforehand for Paul was to proclaim the message of the gospel.  Acts 9:15 states this about Paul:   he is a  chosen instrument of mine [of God] to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. Paul was called to proclaim the message of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection in Rome. He was to tell people about God’s offer of salvation through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

It is easy to get distracted by world events and by tragedies in our    nation. Why are Christians being beheaded?  How did we ever get to the point that medical research seeks baby parts from abortion      clinics? Why did Justice Scalia die now? In some sense our nation is in a shipwreck.

The words from Isaiah and the example of Paul are a great encouragement. Paul was not deterred by the execution of James and or by his own imprisonments.

Even though storms come up, we need to keep our focus on Jesus. God’s word will not return empty. I may stumble but He is faithful to help. We live with a precious hope. May we bring God glory.

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Linking with Weekend Whispers, Word of God SpeakFaith Filled Friday and Friendship Friday