Rising Tide!

I’ve had a rough couple of weeks. Maybe it’s even gone on for a month. You too?

People who have been part of the landscape all the years of my life have been leaving this world. I allowed publishing and deadline frustrations to load me with stress. A few physical annoyances have been reminding me how many years I’ve put on this body. And quarantines and social distancing left me feeling a bit detached from everything and everybody. As my granddaughter so perceptively pointed out, we introverts have finally gotten what we always thought we wanted—but it’s been an overdose.

What have you been wrestling with?

I’ve listened to at least three times more sermons in the last few months than ever before in my life. I’ve had more time to spend in the Word. On Facebook, in blogs, and by other virtual connections, believers have been encouraging others with uplifting words throughout this pandemic and the toxic political and social atmosphere. I have even gone back to read some sections in my own Hope Knows books, reminding myself of what I say I believe and how I want to live that out.

In spite of all that, I was struggling to be who I want to be and to live the way I want to live.

As I started out this morning on a walk under cloudy skies, my jacket zipped up to my chin because it’s chilly today, all I was hoping for was a brisk waking up. But, out of the blue—oh, what a silly phrase that is. It wasn’t out of the blue; it was straight out of my Father’s hand.

From the breath of His Spirit came a rising tide of joy.

He brought to mind four specific things I’ve heard or read over the last few weeks. Understand, these are things I’ve known forever. I’ve even written some version of the same things myself. But they had not worked their way out into my living during the last month. This morning, these things came with sharp clarity. And simply brought joy.    

* His Word always holds true. His promises are for every time, every season, every situation in which we find ourselves. No restriction, quarantine, or shutdown suspends His truths. Living by His promises can be more powerful now than ever before.  

* I’m working with Paul Stutzman on his next book, The Miracle Journey. It’s about restoration after devastation in our lives. One chapter that I particularly like is about finding ourselves stripped of everything and held captive within prison walls of grief, loss, pain. Those walls, though, can be broken down, and from the rubble of prisons, we can build mansions.

This virus has stripped away so much of life as we knew it. We might feel like prisoners. But we don’t have to wait until it’s over to take down the walls of our prison and build anew. We do have to rebuild our lives, but we aren’t prisoners, and we can be building those mansions right now. Might as well get started.

* A small sign in Winesburg, Ohio, caught my eye this week: “Even the tiniest spark cannot be extinguished by the darkness.”

* A quote from Darren Whitehead, pastor at Church of the City, Franklin, TN: “We are the people God has chosen to carry His light in these times.”

Light your world today. And “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)

News about the Hope Knows books

What hope is there in this world?

Those who belong to Christ have hope for every hour and every season of their lives, hope that affects our past, every minute of today, and all our tomorrows.

If you have been thinking about exploring the Hope Knows books, now is the time!

The publisher, JPV Press, will no longer be publishing these books. The books will be available in the future—in a second edition, from a different publisher.

But if you want the beautiful books JPV Press published as the first edition, they are currently running a special sale. If you order a single book, you’ll get 25% off the retail. Order the full set, and you’ll get 50% off.

As far as I know, these discounts are good through the end of this year. Once their inventory is gone, they will not be printing more. (If there are changes to that, I’ll post information here.)

A quick overview of the four books:

Getting Through Today was the first book to be released and continues to be the best seller. For many people, their greatest concern is simply “How am I going to get through this today?” The God of all hope has provided everything we need. These devotional readings look at those promises in depth.

Beyond the Past declares God’s reality: For those in Christ, the old is gone, the new is here! Thank God, He has taken care of our past. We need not be chained by it. A greater part of the book reminds us of and celebrates the new we have been given.

Facing the Future is not a book about prophecy. Instead, it’s a look at the clear promises of God, a reminder of what we can absolutely count on as we face tomorrow.

Can God be Trusted? addresses that key question. Because if we can’t trust God, then all this talk about hope is futile and foolish.

The books are available on Amazon and from Faith View Books (330-674-0684), but if you want the special discounts, call JPV Press directly at 844-260-4578 and ask for this special pricing.

Bitterness and Grace – Mandates for citizens of the Kingdom of Light

My daughter lost a cross. The chain on her necklace broke while she was gardening and the tiny cross fell somewhere in the grass or dirt. She searched a long time but gave up hope of ever finding it again.  

For some odd reason, I love searching for things like this—things that are supposedly gone forever, but we know they must be there somewhere. The cross had been gone for weeks and it was barely half an inch long, but I was determined to find it. I suppose I love rising to such challenges.

So I went to her gardens, got down on my knees and started combing through dirt and grass. She gave me this firm warning: “Don’t pull anything! Some of those tiny plants are things I want to save!”

I admit that I also have this compulsion (sometimes) to pull other people’s weeds when I see them poking up obnoxiously in a flower bed. (What? You do, too? 😊)

I thought about pulling weeds in her garden when I read this:

Hebrews 12:15
Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God.
Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.

Wow. Talk about challenges. Here are two for everyone who follows Jesus, is a citizen of His kingdom, and has become a son or daughter of God.

That poisonous root of bitterness. Be vigilant against it. The world today is infested with an unrestrained, particularly aggressive species of bitterness. I’m sad to say that I’ve seen it taking root and cropping up in places it has never before been allowed to flourish—in churches, between neighbors, in families, circles of friends. In my own heart and mind.

How do we pull up those roots of bitterness? It’s growing everywhere in our nation today. But it seems as though anything I might do would be ineffective against the great crop that is growing so rapidly today. How do we “watch out” that it does not overtake our relationships and interactions? 

Here’s the thing: I can’t pull weeds from other people’s gardens. I can only tend the garden of my own heart and mind. That warning to “watch out” is meant for me to heed on a personal level. I’ve got to stomp out this invasive species whenever I find it taking root in my own garden.

But lest we retreat too much to tend only our own backyards and let the world do what it may, read again the first words of Hebrews 12:15: “Look after each other…”

We are to be involved in the lives of others. The NIV wording is even more emphatic in urging us to “see to it that no one misses the grace of God…”  We are to be carriers of God’s grace in this world. We’re to promote the spread of His magnificent grace. That’s the invasive species that every mission-partner of Jesus is to be planting.

When it comes to the bitterness spreading so fast in our world today, we’ve got to weed it out of our own souls. Leave no stray root that will grow up to corrupt. That’s a challenge.

When it comes to the grace of God, though, God’s children are to be a conduit through which it flows out, unhindered and extravagant, to everyone with whom we interact.

Everyone. Because that’s who God wants to reach with His grace. I admit, that’s an even bigger challenge for me.

But this is the mandate for citizens of His kingdom. Talk about rising to the challenge… Will we?  


p.s. Yes. I did find the cross.

Mystery seeds of 2020

(This is an unscheduled interruption of our Dwelling posts. I had to get this out of my head — and into yours.)

Strange packets of seeds that people have never even considered ordering are appearing in mailboxes around the world.

Supposedly, the packages originated in a foreign country. And, adding to the puzzle, they may not even be labeled as seeds but as jewelry. In this season of quarantine and isolation, when we can’t even ship packages overseas and our domestic mail is facing serious obstacles, these packages that seem to have been dropped on us from nowhere are mystifying. The USDA is trying to discover what they are, if they pose a danger, who sent them, and what the best course is in handling them.

Let’s not be mystified, though, about other seeds that are being slyly dropped into our lives today.

These seeds are, beyond any doubt, dangerous—deadly, even. The packages may have attractive labels. But we cannot, dare not, must not plant them and let them take root. Let’s name and nail the sender: the enemy of our souls and our faith. The purpose is to grow robust crops of fear, anxiety, anger, quarreling, resentment, harsh words, rage, slander, self-preservation, division, criticism, and hostility. Invasive species, these crops are meant to choke out love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

If these seeds are dropped at your door, DO NOT PLANT. Give them no soil to take root. Hand them over to an Authority who knows what to do with them.       

Book Tour, COVID style

We’ve all been walloped by the reality that we cannot control, predict, or depend on what we thought we knew of the future.

But there are certain things that God repeatedly and emphatically tells us we can always be certain of—no matter what the next hour, the next day, or the next year might look like.

Those certainties—and the difference this hope makes in our lives right now—are celebrated in the fourth book of the Hope Knows series, Facing the Future. The book can be used as a devotional, for group study, or as a springboard to dig deeper into Scriptures to keep your hope strong.

For the first three books in the Hope Knows series, YOU have taken the time and made the effort to come to ME at book signings or to purchase your books at local stores. Now it’s my turn to come to you.

Since no book signing event is planned, I’d love to do a book “tour.”

If you want to buy a signed copy of the book, I’ll deliver one to your doorstep, your porch, your backyard picnic table, or whatever socially-distanced place works for you. If you prefer, I’ll send your copy in the mail.

The planned “tour” to deliver books is this Saturday, May 23. PM me on Facebook, or contact me through the email on my blog site for more details or to order.

Looking forward to sharing hope with you.

P.S. The Hope Knows books are also available at local bookstores and on Amazon. Or you can order directly from the publisher, http://www.jpvpress.com. JPV Press has two special offers right now. When you order Facing the Future, you’ll receive the third book in the series Can God be  Trusted? FREE. Or, if you’d like the complete set of all Hope Knows books, a special price saves you $15 on the four. Click on their Bookstore.