A Reminder to Remember

I am beginning to identify with Jeremiah, the one called “the weeping prophet.” Not that I consider myself a prophet, but I am one who weeps.  
Each time my fingers tap out the words to send from my heart to yours, this thought runs through my brain, “Maybe I should write something that has a lighter feel.” And each time God whispers to my ear that there are so many people hurting, struggling, wounded, and uncertain about the future. I count myself one of the many.

We truly want to finish well the race that is set before us. But in the spirit of authenticity, sometimes I find my faith teetering on the fence of doubt. 

Perhaps the days of lightheartedness will come soon. I hope so. 

But for now, we are called to-

lock arms 
hold one another up 
offer grace when one stumbles
lift each other up
and take one more step in this heavenly race.


We are to remember that this world truly is not our permanent home (Hebrews 13:14). There is a glorious place waiting for us. But until we stand face to face with Christ in all of His glory, we must remember we are ambassadors of His kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:20-21). We are called to bring what’s up there down here in our day to day lives. We are reflectors of grace, set apart for a greater purpose.

We are called to know Him and the power of His resurrection as well as the fellowship of His suffering (Philippians 3:10). Confession time. We have all seen that crazed football fan. The one who paints his/her face with the team colors and roars with every advancement of the ball down the field then jumps up punching the air with his/her giant sponge hand when the team scores.  That’s me when I hear the first part of this verse, “the power of His resurrection.” YES!!! Go, God! That’s what I want to see, the resurrection power. 

As I reflect on this verse in light of so many who find themselves in life’s hard places, there is a clearer message coming into view. There can be no resurrection power without death first. Wow! I never saw that before. 

Maybe today you are experiencing a death of sorts–the death of a dream, a job, a relationship, health, or expectation. My friend, these are the places where His resurrection power breathes life into dry bones. 

Every victory won was first a battle fought.
Each body cured, was first a disease diagnosed.
All mountain top views were reached by trekking the valley.


This week’s “Hope for the Journey” is less organized in thought than I am comfortable with.  However, it seemed fitting to take a step back and remember some truths about who we are and who we are called to be. Suffering never negates the greater purposes of God or our identity in Him. 
 

Stand strong, dear one. Hold tight to His promises. Live with your eyes wide open to…

His divine peace
His miraculous ways
His overwhelming joy
His unexplainable presence
His extravagant love
His wondrous grace


This is our God!
Remember Him and live in awe.

Until next time, let’s find hope in the journey,
Evelyn

Hi There! My name is Evelyn. I am a lover of all things family, faith and Fall. So grateful that you found your way here. The chaos of life can leave us feeling a bit worn around the edges. Sometimes a little ray of hope is all we need to provide courage for the next step in our journey. So come on in, take a deep breath. My prayer is that in this space, you will be able to grab hold of hope. For more of Evelyn’s columns, see her blog Hope for the Journey.

I’ve Not Forgot

“Oh, no!” says the Lord.
“That’s not your lot.
“Look unto me; I’ve not forgot.
“Give Me your hand,
“And come my way.
“You have a future.
“It’s a brand new day.”

Margarett Inez Bates

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15)

Christian philosopher, Bible teacher, author, and prolific poet, Margarett Inez Bates is a graduate of Mount Vernon Bible College with a Bachelor’s degree from the Christian International School of Theology. Actively involved in Christian service for over forty years she currently resides in her hometown, Kokomo, Indiana. Margarett has published two books: Poetical Insights: Lifting Up a Standard, and Poetical Insights Vol. 2: A Closer Look. You can read more of her work at Kokomo Poet.

So God, What is the Next Step?

The room is filled with deafening silence except for the tick of the clock and the periodic roar of the blood pressure cup inflating. We find ourselves once again in life’s waiting room. Dad has just come back from having his heart cath. He sleeps. I write. We both wait for the doctor to inform of us of the next step.

These days seemed to be filled with waiting and unknowns. My prayers of adoration often become overshadowed by prayers of desperation. “God, what is the next step? Just tell me and I will do it.” And just like we wait now for the doctor, I wake each day waiting for God to step in and provide light for my next step. Next steps for…

  • Dad’s health
  • Wisdom for caregiving
  • Guidance in my job
  • Answers for hurting friends
  • Stewardship of time and resources
  • Strength for my weary body

I glance toward my father. His deep breathing now adds to the rhythmic sounds being played out in this room. As my eyes witness the gentle rise and fall of his chest with each breath, my mind replays his favorite verse. The one I need to hear right now in the wait.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.
 

Isaiah 40:31

This “doing heart” of mine is unnerved with waiting. You too? To just sit seems so counterproductive. I would much rather be busy, moving around. At least then things are accomplished. But are they the right things? Are they the best things? 

As I reflect on this familiar passage, my eyes move past the phrases at the front end and land on the “doing” words. “They will walk, they will run, they will soar.” These are the words that grab my attention when steeped in turmoil. However, these action words give me a false sense of control when life is filled with uncertainty.  Then God draws my attention to the first half of that scripture.  My eyes shift and I stare at the uncomfortable part of this passage… they that wait. 

It is in the waiting light is given for the next step we take. It is in the waiting wisdom is gleaned for the race we run. It is in the waiting courage is gained so that we may soar higher than we dare dream.  

Perhaps this is due in part to the desperation that comes in the silence of waiting. Our hearts yearn for comfort, direction, and wisdom.  We intentionally lean in anxious to hear answers to the prayers we have poured out in the night season. We strain to hear the Father whisper hope to our worn heart. 

My friend, maybe you can relate to the season of waiting. I am right there with you. One thing I know…God speaks in the wait. It may not be within the realm of our comfort zone, but He does speak.  So, we must resist the temptation to rush ahead. The slow pace of waiting affords us precious time in His presence that is often stolen by the fast pace of life. It is in this time, waiting at His feet, that He does a transformative work in our hearts.

Let’s hold tight to Him knowing that He is with us in the wait. He is renewing, strengthening, and transforming us.

Until next week, let’s find hope in the journey.
Evelyn Sherwood

Hi There! My name is Evelyn. I am a lover of all things family, faith and Fall. So grateful that you found your way here. The chaos of life can leave us feeling a bit worn around the edges. Sometimes a little ray of hope is all we need to provide courage for the next step in our journey. So come on in, take a deep breath. My prayer is that in this space, you will be able to grab hold of hope. For more of Evelyn’s columns, see her blog Hope for the Journey.

When All You Have is a Silent Prayer

My drive into work finds the car filled with an unfamiliar silence. This space is typically flooded with prayers and contemplation woven together with an outburst of worship songs. But not today. Fatigue weighs on my shoulders like a wet blanket…pressing down, smothering. I am trying hard to pray, but nothing escapes my lips but a deep sigh. “Lord, there’s nothing I can say that I haven’t already said.  I am worn. So, if it is ok with you, I will exhale a silent prayer.” 

I wait in uncomfortable silence. Will He speak? If He does, will it be the answer to so many prayers I have wept? Will strength find its way to my weary bones? 

Then in the quiet, I hear that still small voice, “Look around.” Hands clutched tight around the steering wheel I glance to the left. The sun is peeking up over the eastern horizon spreading rays of vibrant orange, plum red, and canary yellow across the sky. I turn to the right and catch a glimpse of cornfields, swaying gently with the rhythm of the wind. My heart inhales deep gratitude for the farmers who thought their fields would lie in muddy waste this year.  My eyes are waking up as I spy geese skimming the diamond-studded ponds on either side of the road. The fog begins to lift off of the landscape and my heart as I take in the wonders of His handiwork.  

He speaks.

“My child, you have prayed all your wants, concerns, and needs. Though I long to hear your heart, there is something you are missing. You are consumed with expressing your weaknesses, while I am more concerned that you understand my strength. This life is less about you constantly remembering your inefficiencies and more about embracing my all-sufficiency. Remember me, who I am. I am God.

God

With that simple yet profound word whispered to my heart partnered with the visual reminder of His creative power, hope and strength begin to rise. 

There are books of the Bible that get referenced abundantly when we face trials. David paints a picture of the authentic heart throughout all of the Psalms. We get a front-row seat to his deepest struggles and his resolve as he concludes that God is God. Somehow, his version of man’s inner wrestling is easier to identify with than say that of Lamentations. Just the mention of Lamentations and I feel as though I have watched a movie where all the heroes die in the end. 

Yet today, that is precisely where God led me. Tucked away in this book of deep grief is a passage that solidifies what God has been speaking to me in the car. Written by someone whose prayers were steeped in more pain than the ones I have been praying. But someone who in the middle of the crushing remembered the very character of God…and that was enough. 

But this I call to mind,
and therefore, I have hope:
 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore, I will hope in Him.”

Lamentations 3:22-24

There is truth to be gleaned from the old hymn Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

It has been quite some time since I have shifted my gaze toward Him. I had allowed the weight of my circumstances to nag at me, reminding me of lack. But one glance in his direction was all I needed to remind me that He is enough. No matter what surrounds me, He is enough to face it head-on. 

What about you? Do the voices in your head pull your gaze away from the one who loves you more than you love yourself? Are your eyes locked tight on your failures rather than His faithfulness? Then maybe these verses from Lamentations will guide your vision back to His glory like they did mine.

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
to the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.

Lamentations 3:25-26

Oh, my friends, life gets so busy and burdens pile up. It is in our nature to grab hold of our failures rather than reach for His faithfulness. But if we are to be a people of hope in troubled times, then we must turn our gaze away from our inadequacies and behold the One who is more than enough. 

“Father, the landfill of my failures continues to pile up. But You, oh God, are the faithful one. Today, fix my eyes on you the one starter and finisher of my faith. Remind me of all the ways you have led me up to this point in my life. And as I remember, may hope rise out of the ashes. May I see with a fresh vision that you God, who created all things, is the very one that cradles my heart in your hands.”

Until next time, let’s find hope in the journey,
Evelyn Sherwood

Hi There! My name is Evelyn. I am a lover of all things family, faith and Fall. So grateful that you found your way here. The chaos of life can leave us feeling a bit worn around the edges. Sometimes a little ray of hope is all we need to provide courage for the next step in our journey. So come on in, take a deep breath. My prayer is that in this space, you will be able to grab hold of hope. For more of Evelyn’s columns, see her blog Hope for the Journey.

Who Are My Neighbors and How Do I Love Them?

He asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

This past Sunday, Steve preached a message about what it means to start each day by “putting on Jesus.” What does it mean to get up each day and lay down self to be clothed with Christ? In the sermon, he shared the story of the good Samaritan from Luke 10:25-37. One I grew up hearing.

In short, a Jewish man gets beat up, robbed and left for dead. A priest walks by, sees the man and crosses over to the other side of the street. Then an assistant at the temple walks over, takes a look at the man lying in a crumpled heap, and turns away from the desperate scene. Finally, a Samaritan, despised by the Jews, sees the wounded man and has compassion. He cares for the man’s wounds then goes even further by ensuring that his medical needs were cared for. Jesus asked which of the three was a neighbor to the man. 

This morning as I climbed into the car for my morning commute, the question Jesus asked so many years ago, haunts my heart. I will most likely not come upon a physically wounded stranger.  But I may find myself surrounded by those whose wounds and scars are hidden to the natural eye. But I want to put on Jesus. I want to walk in compassion. How will I know if I don’t have His eyes to see? This line of thinking prompts a prayer on my lips, “Lord, who is my neighbor today?” 

That was the prayer, plain and simple, nothing more. But that simple prayer set my heart on a journey. It was an invitation to journey with eyes wide open to the wounded. An invitation to embrace my neighbor and wrap their wounds with grace. I arrived at work ready to meet my neighbor.

What a surprise God had in store for me. Instead of God sprinkling my path with neighbors to love He brought neighbors to love on me. I was the wounded one, lying in a heap and I didn’t even know it. But God let unassuming strangers see me. They saw past the facade of “I’m fine, really I am.”

It started with the lady at the flower shop who heard me as I shared why I needed pink flowers. “My friend is still in the hospital battling cancer. She loves pink.” With that, a few extra flowers and greenery were added to the mix at no additional cost. With an encouraging word and a bit of wisdom, “Don’t forget to take care of yourself,” she sent me on my way. 

It was in the smile of the barista who looked me in the deep in the eyes and asked, “So, how is your day going?” Her gaze at me reflected a heart that genuinely cared. 

It was the bubbly teller at the bank, the one who threw her arms up in excitement as I entered the building. She had mistaken me for a dear friend. Though I was a temporary embarrassment, the kindness, smile, and conversation that proceeded, brought a ray of sunshine to both of us. 

While I had hoped to be a neighbor to others, God taught me a lesson today.

When we love the Lord with our whole being and demonstrate that love by serving our neighbors with compassion, He, in turn, wraps our wounded places with His grace and mercy. 

You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, 
all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ 
And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Luke 10:27

I can’t wait to see who my neighbors will be tomorrow!

Who are your neighbors?

Until next time, let’s find hope in the journey,
Evelyn

P.S. If you know someone who is weary, struggling to hold tight to hope, please invite them into the journey with us. Let’s encourage one another on to love and good deeds. 

Hi There! My name is Evelyn. I am a lover of all things family, faith and Fall. So grateful that you found your way here. The chaos of life can leave us feeling a bit worn around the edges. Sometimes a little ray of hope is all we need to provide courage for the next step in our journey. So come on in, take a deep breath. My prayer is that in this space, you will be able to grab hold of hope. For more of Evelyn’s columns, see her blog Hope for the Journey.

Who Asked You? Part 2

“We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” – The Apostle Paul, Romans 8:26

“Be still, and know that I am God.” – Psalms 46:10

Probably too often, we think of prayer as an opportunity to talk to God.

Not nearly often enough do we use it as a profound opportunity to listen to God.  When we do – listen, that is – it is quite possible to be stunned by the deep knowledge, creativity, compassion, wisdom, and forethought God can offer each one of us in every prayerful moment.  God is always aware of the big plan – His Big Plan – while rarely do we look beyond our present circumstances, and then only dimly. God is big, we are small.

When Jesus is minutes away from His arrest by Jewish guards, hours away from his trials before Jewish leaders and Roman prelate Pontius Pilate, shortly after which He would be crucified by the Romans, His startling last words to His disciples spoke of nothing they could have imagined, asked for, or, until later, understood.

At that juncture, which we see in John 15-16-17, did any single one of the disciples have it in his mind to pray for all the things Jesus was about to bring into their lives, or the work of salvation He was going to complete for all humanity? 

Who among the disciples would have prayed that Jesus fulfill His mission by giving Himself up to His own humiliating death?  Who would have prayed for their joy to be complete?  Who would have thought to ask for eternal life – for themselves?  Or to learn the true and immutable name of God in loving relationship as only Jesus truly knew each of them?  Who would have prayed for Jesus to send the Holy Spirit by which they later could understand many things, find peace in the Lord, and be comforted? 

Who would have prayed for Jesus to be relieved of His loneliness as He was deserted by men?  Who would have thought to ask Jesus to forgive them for deserting Him?  Who would have known and prayed for the looming sacrifice of Jesus that would cover all their sins and restore humanity’s relationship with God Almighty forever?

Likely someone would have prayed for courage, but would they have included the prayer for the gift of conquest over sin?  There’s no record that any prayer was offered by the disciples during this time: Jesus the son of God was doing all the talking.

Simply enough, any Jew you asked at that point in their history about what they expected of the promised “Messiah,” would have responded, “To kill the Romans.”  The astute likely would also pray for the return of Israel with a King and a Kingdom.

Absolutely no praying person looked at Jesus and asked him to provide all of humanity with forgiveness, eternal love, eternal life, and intimate knowledge of the good, loving, and righteous God.  No one prayed for their own pathway of faith and hope into the Kingdom of Heaven.  Neither the disciples, family, nor friends who loved Jesus, nor the greatest minds of Israel trying to kill Him, saw any of that coming.

This is all to say, then, that when you’re not sure what to pray for, invite God to go ahead and do His thing.  Then … be still and listen.  You may be very surprised.

Walters (rlwcom@aol.com) notes that God and Jesus never asked a question to which they did not already know the answer. That makes it hard to argue with them. For more of Walters’ columns, see commonchristianity.blogspot.com. For his books, see www.lulu.com/spotlight/CommonChristianity.

Who Asked You? Part 1

“… I tell you the truth, my father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” – Jesus to the disciples, John 16:23

For quasi-Christians with a stubborn, worldly cant who go to church only when convenient, study the Bible only lightly, and think religion is “to get stuff,” John 16:23 appears to be the ultimate good news: God will give you whatever you want.

Wow! A free pass through the check-out lane of life!  Just pray and say “Jesus!”

It’s a fake-news notion that’s launched a thousand sinking ships.
Our purpose today is not to rant about the “prosperity” gospel, “name it-claim it” doctrine, the “golden” gospel, or any other assorted false flags of me-directed faith.  Context in the Bible is everything – I mean, Jesus is everything, of course – but a “Playtex” interpretation of scripture where you “lift” a verse or phrase you like and then “separate” it from its holy intent, dis-serves the Spirit and darkens one’s humanity.
It’s never a good thing to replace a truth with a lie, not when God is watching.

And He’s always watching.

We’ve been studying this section of scripture – John 15-16-17 – in our Thursday morning Mustard Seed Bible Study.  It’s the teaching of Jesus after the Last Supper and before the Garden of Gethsemane.  Last week’s column, pulled from John’s earlier writing in chapter 3, focused on our “belief” in Jesus the Son of God as the key to salvation.

As Jesus spends these final couple of hours with His disciples before His arrest, trial, humiliation, beating, flogging, crucifixion, and death, Jesus is decisively and directly telling the disciples that He is one with the Father, that He came from the Father, that He is going back to the Father, and that because they know Him – Jesus – they – the disciples – also now know the Father.  That is Jesus’s final teaching, and the headline Jesus leaves with His disciples is: “You know God, because you know Me.”

That’s the revealing and critical bit of the context to the line, “whatever you ask in my name.”  It’s a line Jesus repeats in verse 26, “…you will ask in my name.”  Jesus says it twice – so it’s important – and it is as shocking as it is true. But the focus here should not be the word “ask.”  Instead, take full measure of the word “name.”

After previous BC (or BCE) millennia of Jewish instruction never to say the name of God, and that we will never see God, Jesus is telling His disciples that they have encountered both the person and the name of God … in the flesh … in Him.  “Name” here isn’t just a “Joe-Bob” or “Linda-Sue.”   No, in this context “name” implies both knowledge of and relationship with the person being “named.”  Jesus is talking about not just His own person but the very name of God; Jesus is saying, “That’s Who I Am.”

The disciples of course don’t quite get it all; not yet.  They know Jesus saw into their hearts, revealed to them what they were thinking, and knows them personally.  But what Jesus really is giving to them and to all humanity is something for which they never would have thought to ask: to know the heart of Almighty God; to know His Name.

That is our gift from Jesus, and it can only be unwrapped by a believing heart.

Walters (rlwcom@aol.com) finds it fascinating that in this most profound and critical section of scripture, neither sin nor forgiveness are mentioned, only belief. More next week. For more of Walters’ columns, see commonchristianity.blogspot.com. For his books, see www.lulu.com/spotlight/CommonChristianity.

Overcoming PTSD

9AM—6PM, Saturday, July 27, 2019
Criterion Water Labs, LLC (329 E. Firmin St., Kokomo)

Hey Overcomer!

Have you ever thought about why we call you an Overcomer? Well, it simply means there is something to overcome. Surely this is spiritual but there are also natural or physical things to overcome as well. It could be a loss of a hope or dream, loss of a loved one, or even a job. But it doesn’t have to be a loss at all. It could have to do with something else that holds your attention and keeps you from feeling free to thrive moving forward.

Stressful events are something that many people face but not everyone that experiences stressful events will get Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. I want to help you understand why that is.

It is not something you plan for, nor is it something you can write steps 1, 2, and 3 of how to get through it during the difficult moments. But, we have created a panel to discuss the Biblical principles to a person’s journey before, during and after stressful events of life.

We have used biblical, scientific and psychiatric studies to create this amazing conference and we invite you to join us online as we have this panel discussion. We believe you can overcome all traumatic stresses with God’s Word. Come and join us for this one day dynamic discussion and receive a new level of understanding for your journey of overcoming.

We want everyone well holding to this standard of all we do…

“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” 3 John 1:2

God wants you to be happy, well, sane and healthy. And so do I!

Would you join me online for this one-day discussion panel on Overcoming PTSD? This will not only help you if you are stuck in the past of a traumatic event but it can also help you NOT be affected by PTSD in the future.

God bless you,
Dr. Henry W. Wright
Be in Health
beinhealth.com/what-is-ptsd
You can also watch this conference at www.youtube.com/beinhealth

Embrace the Pleasure of Delight

Lately, I keep hearing the word “delight” whispered to my heart. It has been following me through the day like a puppy longing for attention. So tonight, I turn to face this word head on and ponder why God keeps dangling it in my view.

I retrace the steps of my day looking for clues. Woke up, prepped for the day, ate breakfast, grabbed the to-go coffee cup, and headed in to work. On my drive to the office, I spent time in prayer. Told God all my requests, my hopes, my dreams, my burdens, my sorrows. Arrived safely and jumped into the piles of paper on my desk. 

Then it hits me- I have been so caught up in me that I have been missing Him.

Did I notice the sunrise this morning? On my way home did I take note that the farmers were finally out in the fields prepping to plant due to a day filled with sun rather than rain? Even now as I type this out, I am catching hints of God’s daily presence; the songbirds outside my window, the hummingbird as it lands so delicately on the feeder, and the fresh blooms dotting the backyard with color. 

The pleasure of delighting in Him had slowly been replaced by the duty of doing for Him. It happens so swiftly and yet subtly.  This has been His whisper.  He has been calling me back to His heart, to the simple act of delighting in Who He is. To delight is to give keen enjoyment or to take great pleasure in. 

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires. –Psalm 37:4

Several years ago, while experiencing a waiting time in my life, the Lord impressed upon my heart this little essay/song. It rocked my heart then, and today it calls me back to the joy of delight.

Hush. Be Still. Don’t rush away.

Don’t just settle for a touch from Me.

Stay. Linger. Come know Me.

As did Adam, come walk with Me

In the cool of the day.

Know Me. Know my heart.

Do you see it? 

Do you see the delight in my face as we walk together?

It’s because of you. 

I created you and I bought you. 

You are my precious treasure.

I do-I do delight in you.

Do you delight in Me?

Sarah Young once wrote in her devotional Jesus Calling, “I begin each day with a sunrise, announcing My radiant Presence. By the time you rise from your bed, I have already prepared the way before you. I eagerly await your conscious thought. I rejoice when you glance my way. 

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24

When was the last time I truly delighted in, took great pleasure in the person of Jesus Christ? Today, may we take time to glance His way. To delight in His love, His grace, His communion with us, and to behold His beauty.

“The one thing I ask of the LORD— the thing I seek most— is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.”Psalm 27:4

Hi There! My name is Evelyn. I am a lover of all things family, faith and Fall. So grateful that you found your way here. The chaos of life can leave us feeling a bit worn around the edges. Sometimes a little ray of hope is all we need to provide courage for the next step in our journey. So come on in, take a deep breath. My prayer is that in this space, you will be able to grab hold of hope. For more of Evelyn’s columns, see her blog Hope for the Journey.