Tag Archives: hope

Parting Words From The Word . . . I’m in Over My Head

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As some of you know, my mother had a horrible fall 19 days ago that resulted in days in ICU, then on the trauma floor, then surgery, and eventually discharged to a rehab center to begin her long road to recovery. As is always the case with difficult situations, satan sees this as an opportunity to confuse and confound God’s people. And for a while, he was able to confuse and confound me. But not any more.

Most mornings, I listen to three or four worship songs on Pandora to prepare me for worship before I open His word, listen for His voice, and spend time in prayer. I had already listened to four songs and was ready to turn off the music when I saw the title of the next song, “In Over My Head.”

That was exactly how I felt at that moment: In over my head. I decided I’d listen to one more song. I’m glad I did.

The version I listened to was an 8-minute worship set and I listened to it for almost an hour, drawing closer to the Father with each repeat, claiming the words as my own.

What about you? Have you felt lately like you’re in over your head? Deadlines or debt got you down? Rejections and responsibilities weighing heavy on your heart? Or perhaps you’re like me and watching your parents or children struggle in life. It’s almost more than you can bear.

Would you join me and prayerfully listen to the words of the 5-minute version of this song by Jenn Johnson, offering them as a gift to Jesus, the Healer of all broken hearts?

After worshiping for quite a while–playing it over and over again–I felt the warmth and healing begin deep inside and work its way to my heart, mind, and spirit.

I realized that the evil one wanted me to dwell on the broken heart and the shock of all that had happened, but Jesus wants me to dwell only on Him, regardless of the circumstances. I gave it all to Him that morning. And every time that snake started replaying the what-ifs, I replayed the song for him . . . and praised God that He alone is in control.

I had to decide I was going to believe our Father who seeks and saves the lost rather than believe the father of lies who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy our lives. Powerful revelation!

Then the Lord took me to Isaiah 43:1b-3a.

“. . . Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
 When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior . . . .” Isaiah 43:1b-3a (NLT)

Powerful, powerful passage! The “a” and “b” are because He’s speaking to Israel, but since I’m adopted into the family, He’s speaking it to me–and you–when we fully trust Him, let go of the pain, and give it wholly to Him. I could not allow the evil one to win or confuse my heart and my mind any longer.

It’s a beautiful thing to be in over our heads, to lose control. That’s where, no matter whether we sink or swim, it makes no difference. Either way, when we allow Jesus to take over, we’re finally free.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,

Vonda

 

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Parting Words From The WORD…Need Joy, Peace, and Hope?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

 

Joy, peace, and hope. Three words that can sometimes feel elusive and unattainable. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

I love reading Paul’s letter to the church at Rome. In Romans, he taught about salvation, grace, righteousness, and how to relate to one another as Christians. I’ve read through and studied this book many times through the years. But today, as I was reading in Romans, I read this verse and saw some things I’d never noticed before.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NIV)

Here are the new insights I found today:

  1. Paul’s not asking that we’d simply be filled with joy and peace, but that we’d be filled with ALL joy and peace. Every bit of it.
  2. When and how do we get all this joy and peace? As we’re trusting in Him. Not when we’re working hard enough or giving enough money or doing enough for others, but AS we trust in Him.
  3. And when we trust in Him, we not only get ALL joy and peace, but we also get so much hope that it’s overflowing!
  4. That hope comes by the power of the Holy Spirit. Again, not because of any works we’ve done, but only because we’re given it by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Joy and peace…all. Hope…overflowing.

And I receive them AS…not before or after or when, but as…I trust in Him.

I’m trusting Him today for joy, peace, and hope in your life and mine.

Vonda

 

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Parting Words From The WORD…Robin Williams and All Us Creatives, by Dave Weiss

Dave Weiss stage shotAs you know, Fridays are usually a day to look at a specific Bible passage or Bible truth God has shown me through His Word. But today I want to share a post from my friend, author, speaker, artist, and AMOKArts founder, Dave Weiss.

As Christian creatives, Dave and I–and hopefully you, too–are always looking for ways to use our creative gifts for the Lord. But creatives are often different from much of the “normal” world. Dave wrote about the loss of Robin Williams this week and he was kind enough to let me share it with my Christian creative friends.

 

Robin Williams and All Us Creatives…By Dave Weiss

I almost can’t believe I am writing this post. Yesterday Robin Williams died, apparently by his own hand. It’s tragic. One who brought so much joy to so many, could no longer find it in himself. He was a great entertainer and one of the funniest people alive and he will be sorely missed.

So many people are at a loss today. The resonating question is why? He had a great career, wealth, all of what the world had to offer, success most of us dream of and literally millions of fans. It’s the stuff of creative dreams and don’t miss this, it wasn’t enough. Most people will never get it but I do and my guess is, I am not the only one.

We creatives tend to feel more deeply. We tend to be more passionate. We tend toward perfectionism and, as visionary people, there is always more to be done to remake the world so it matches the vision that lives in our hearts. This is our blessing. This is our curse. If we’re not careful, no matter what we have, no matter what heights we reach, it’ll never be enough.

I didn’t know Mr. Williams, so may be I am completely off-base here, but I do know me and I have stoodRobin Williams Mork and Mindy at the same precipice looking into the unknown and wondering if it was worth it to live another day, and while I didn’t have all that he had, I had plenty to live for, but I couldn’t see it. Thankfully for me this has changed.

Here’s what I learned:

  1. There is hope. Those visionary dreams we see, the ones we can’t seem to get to… well there’s no guarantee that we get all the way there. Hope isn’t found in reaching the destination, it’s in moving forward toward it. Gaining ground becomes the goal, moving the ball forward. Even if I can’t get in the end zone, I can move the ball forward, so someone else can. He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
  2. You are worth it. Every time you get the idea that you’re worthless, remember who you are. The Son of God laid down his life and rose again so that you and I could live eternally when our missions are complete. Your value is high, both to God and to many others.
  3. Life is worth it. We don’t get to pick our level of success, but neither do we really know what success is. At any moment, even in some of the tamest, seemingly weakest moments, we can do something that changes the course of history (in big or small ways) forever. You never know what will be the thing that makes all the difference, so press on. Jesus said, “In this world you will, have trouble but take heart I have overcome the world.” Hang in there, because with Jesus, eventually, we win.
  4. You are loved. By God certainly, and that should be enough, but also by many people whether you believe it or not. There are a lot of people in this world who want you to stay in it. You enrich their lives.

There are of course many other lessons, but these four are special because they are the exact opposite of what the enemy of our souls tells us when he wants to destroy us. “It’s hopeless, you’re worthless, life just isn’t worth living, nobody loves you.” These are lies of the enemy from the pit of hell, told for your destruction. Don’t you believe them. There is hope, you have great value, life is worth it and you are loved. Believe it and if you need help to believe it, get help.

As I looked at all the social media tributes to this entertainment legend, I had a strange thought: I wonder if seeing this outpouring of love and adoration would have changed his mind. Unfortunately, we’ll never know. Suicide is a permanent “solution” to a temporary problem.

…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 NIV

It gets better… get help… and push through.

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…If Mama Ain’t Happy…

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Mother’s Day. A time to celebrate our moms and do everything we can to make them happy. After all, we all know the saying, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

But today I realized that many of the moms in my family, among my friends, and in my circle of influence are anything but happy. With broken hearts, they cradle seriously ill children, suffer unimaginable loss, and face another day alone.

They cry. They beg. They pray.

Today, as I prayed for those precious moms, I wondered, “Lord, why do they have to struggle at such a deep, gut-wrenching level, especially this weekend?”

And then I remembered Mary.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, knew what it meant to suffer. As a pregnant, unmarried teenager, she could have been stoned to death. And even though Joseph took her as his wife, the townspeople still knew. They could count the months. And I’m sure they did. Whispered accusations. Judging eyes. How hard that must have been for this virgin woman-child who simply wanted to please God and submit to His plan for her life.

But that was only the beginning. On the day Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the temple, a man named Simeon blessed them and then told Mary that her Son would “cause the falling and rising of many in Israel . . . And a sword will pierce your own soul, too.” Luke 2:34-35. He told Mary she was going to suffer.

And she did.

She knew how it felt to lose a twelve-year-old child for three days (Luke 2:41-50) and to be ignored by her Son (Mark 3:31-35). Her other children rejected Jesus (John 7:5) and she was apparently widowed at a young age.

But the worst anguish of all was watching Jesus suffer at the hands of those He came to save. Not only was her innocent Son being put to death, but a guilty murderer was going free in His place!

Oh, how Mary’s heart must have broken when she saw Him hanging on that cross! At that moment—in the midst of His suffering—what did she see? Did her mind replay His childhood? Did she see the mischievous smile of her little boy? Did she hear His giggles and feel His hugs and smell His sweaty hair?

Or did she see the blood of the Sacrifice, willingly given for her own sin, and the sin of the world?

Regardless of what she saw at that moment, I can assure you of one thing—Mary was not happy.

It just wasn’t fair!

But Mary had hope, because she had a history with God. She could look back and remember the day He spoke to her. The day she answered with, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Luke 1:38.

She could look back at the day her suffering was foretold, and know God had a plan.

There’s comfort in a history with God. There’s comfort in knowing that regardless of what happens, He has a plan. He doesn’t tell us life will be wonderful, but He does tell us life will be worthwhile, that He can use us in the midst of our suffering.

Mom, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, friend…Are you hurting today? Are you wondering why He doesn’t heal him? Why He took her away? Why He doesn’t seem to hear you?

I pray today, regardless of what you’re going through, you can remember something wonderful in your history with God and take comfort in it. I promise you it’s there somewhere.

And then remember that He does indeed have a plan, a perfect plan to give hope and bring good, even in the suffering. After all, Jesus said:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 NIV

Grace and peace be yours in abundance during this special weekend.

Vonda

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Bad News is Good News in Fiction

Photo courtesy of StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Last week I posted Conflict: A Necessary Evil in Fiction. Soon afterward, I received a request to continue that conversation to include some how-tos and how-not-tos. So I’d like to take this week to address something about conflict that is often missing.

Conflict for the sake of conflict is not enough

That’s right. It’s not enough to bring hardship and struggle and danger and difficult relationships into the story. A key consideration for a successful story is how the resolution of the conflict is handled.

Many years ago I read women’s book of Christian fiction. And let me tell you, it was full of conflict! An ill husband; grown children with complicated, sinful lives; financial stress; health issues of her own. For anyone looking for conflict, it was in there!

But the book was not a satisfying read. Even though there was plenty of conflict and a variety of story lines, the resolution was way off. Bottom line: it wasn’t real.

Here was this poor woman, facing all this hardship, getting knocked down in every area of her life, but yet after each conflict she’d get up, dust herself off and say, “God is good.”

One of her family members dies. She gets up, dusts herself off and says, “God is good.”

Another person has a terrible accident. She gets up, dusts herself off and says, “God is good.”

All of her children sin. And each time, she gets up, dusts herself off and says, “God is good.”

Aarrrggghhh!

Yes, God IS good. Yes, God CAN redeem the past. Yes, God DOES use the hardships of life to bring Himself glory. But my goodness, let’s get real here. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t struggle with her faith, her feelings, or her trust somewhere along the way! Yet she never cried out to God. She never asked Him why. She never questioned her faith.

Which makes me ask, why not?

So in the end, instead of being encouraged to grow during difficult situations, I felt like a failure. I knew I’d never measure up. I was too weak, too superficial, too something…simply because I wasn’t like her. She went straight from despair to complete happiness, which, for most of us, is too big a jump.

Fictional bad news is good news when its resolution is real

But what if the author had taken that same lady with the same conflicts packed into her story, but instead of floating above the struggle like an angel, she got down and dirty, and fought and cried and begged her way to God? What if in the end she understood and accepted that she was not alone, that God would take care of her, even in the midst of her struggle? What if she went from despair to hope?

Now that’s a woman I can identify with. That’s a woman who can encourage me to hang in there when times are hard, when life doesn’t go as expected.

That’s a woman who’s real.

(Photo courtesy of StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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