A Call to Remember

A Call to Remember

We were in Israel over their Memorial Day. In fact we had just landed and were driving north to the Galilee. At precisely 11 am our driver pulled over to the side of the road (as did all the other vehicles), we got out and stood for 3 minutes of silence remembering all those who lost their lives fighting for Israel.

At the very heart of Israel’s culture is the word “remember”. Moses “reminded” the children of Israel how God led them out of Egypt with His mighty outstretched arm. Before going in to the Promised Land Joshua reminded them of the same thing. When the Priests crossed the flooded Jordan on dry land God told them to set up 12 stones as a memorial. When their children saw them and asked about them they were told how God had dried up the waters so their parents/grandparents could cross on dry ground and that all the earth would know that the hand of God is mighty.

When you see a Jewish cemetery it is not uncommon to see stones piled on top of the monuments. These are memorial stones, placed there in memory of the one who died. At Yad Veshem you see statues erected to memorialize the holocaust victims and at the bottom are carefully placed stones.

Still today it is not uncommon to see soldiers at significant sights all over Israel like Yad Vashem (the Holocaust museum) the Western Wall, in the Old City and many other places. This is part of their training to help them to “remember” why they fight for the state of Israel and what God has done for them in the past.

No matter how painful it may be, there is something to be said for intentionally remembering. In the pain of remembering also lives validation, healing and strength, ability to move into the future and protection from repeating the same mistakes.

Remembering those who died serving their country; family and friends who have passed away, acts of God, destructions of man, God’s deliverance and His provisions help us to understand why things are what they are.

History is also important to instill a sense of nationalism into its citizens. “Make em proud” to live in a certain country. I think we could learn something from Israel’s practice of remembering. Perhaps we should implement a similar show of respect and honor. Some are suggesting you stop at noon on Memorial Day to remember those who lost their lives serving our country and also to pray for the troops. I personally think it is a great idea.

Why not begin your journey of remembrance this Memorial Day Weekend. In fact on Monday at noon take time wherever you are to stop and remember those who lost their lives for our country, also pray for our troops to remember why they are fighting.

While you are remembering how about dropping a note/email/facebook message/text/Tweet etc. to someone who has lost a loved one while serving their country. Encourage others to do so as well!

Robyn Harrison, Tristyn Harris, Jan and Don Priddy –

We will never forget PFC Jonathan Hall! — > https://goo.gl/jY46xd

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Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother’s Day, the day we celebrate “Mother, Mom, Mommy, Mama …”

As I sit down to write my mind is spinning off in a million different directions like a cotton candy machine spinning sugar. Oh the countless hours I’ve spent perusing the card section, looking for the perfect Mother’s Day card, only to find that they were all dripping sweet, syrupy sentiments. I almost felt the need to wear a hazmat suit to protect myself from all the goo!

In my search for the perfect card I noticed how much the price of cards had gone up. Now the dilemma is, card or gift? Or is the card a gift? I know mom is worth much more than that, but it seems Hallmark and 1-800-Flowers have it going on.

Motherhood is a high and lofty calling. It is one of those callings that many people don’t understand; yet it is the most influential position one could hold.

Think about it.

Every doctor, rocket scientist, President of the United States and even the Queen Mother, has a mother.

Every homeless person, drug addict, prostitute and gang member has a mother.

Every world leader, terrorist, professional ball player and everyone in between has a mother.

And every one of them wants to either praise or blame their mother for what they are today.

Even Jesus had a mother!

In a culture where motherhood is increasingly under attack, as believers we should be the first in line to honor mothers. But because we live in a fallen world, among fallen people, not everyone has a mother they want to enthusiastically celebrate.

As I stare at the shelves overflowing with cards, trying to decide if I want to go with a funny one or sentimental one, my mind drifts. I am mindful of those in my own circles who have struggled, who are struggling and who will be facing a gamut of emotions in the face of this upcoming Mother’s Day celebration. You know them; they are in your circles as well. There are those who are facing Mother’s Day

  • without their own mom who has died (Isaiah 46:4) This year this particular point is weighing heavy on my heart as we grieve with and pray for part of our faith family in the loss of their mother/grandmother/wife.
  • without their mother who has abandoned them – leaving children with unanswered questions. What did I do to make her leave me? What do I need to do to have her come back? I promise I will be good! And the cry goes on. (Isaiah 66:13)
  • with a wayward child – who is never far from the heart no matter where they are and all the mother wants is to know that they are ok.
  • plagued with infertility – month after month there is that reminder that you are not yet a mother. (Psalm 113:9)
  • riddled with memories of childhood abuse – abuse at the hands of the very one who should have protected them.
  • having lost a child – it seems so wrong, mothers should not have to bury their children. Children should be the ones burying their parents.
  • with memories of having aborted their child – plagued by the what “ifs”. If I had only known then what I know now maybe I would have made a different choice. If I hadn’t been so afraid… If I had only ….
  • with the memories of giving their baby up wondering where they are and how they are doing?
  • with the knowledge that their mother or child is an unbeliever – understanding that unless God intervenes they will not spend eternity together.
  • as a single parent – alone with no one to share the load. (Genesis 21:19)

I love my mother, and I appreciate what she has done to shape me into who I am today. So I struggle. Do I celebrate and take the chance of opening up the wounds of those whose hearts are raw and hurting? Or do I ignore it like some do? We celebrate it because God said so!

Honor your father and your mother – Exodus 20:12

So, I have chosen to celebrate mothers at the risk of causing harm to others, because all mothers suffer a certain amount of guilt and shame whether it is deserved or not and need encouraging.

Today I celebrate moms, deserving or not, because regardless of their short comings, in reality we are all “broken” and living in a broken world. Regardless of whether or not you like the circumstance you grew up in, those circumstances have fashioned you into who you are. All of those circumstances will be used by God for your good and His glory. Because God is sovereign, your past is the foundation from which He will launch your future. He will cause all things to work together for good, because He can.

So, celebrate Mother’s Day. God gave you just the right mother. Your mom has shaped you to be all that God designed you to be. Good or bad, her influence is the foundation of your life. And honestly, it fits right into God’s plan for you.

The choice is yours. You can resent your past and stay stuck steeped in bitterness and pain. Living a life that “coulda, woulda, shoulda been better if only…!” Or you can accept your past and use it as a platform from which you influence others to become who God created them to be, making Him known to all who are watching!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Finding Hope in a Hopeless World

Finding Hope in a Hopeless World

inductive bible study,

No matter who you are at some point in your life you will experience difficult times. You might suffer the loss of a loved one, have an illness, lose your job, have a broken relationship or go through a divorce. It’s so easy to be overcome with a sense of hopelessness.

Whatever you encounter, it is essential that you don’t lose hope. But, your hope must be rooted in something bigger than yourself! It can’t be dependent on a person or life circumstances. The object of your hope must be God alone! Otherwise, you will only be disappointed, and ultimately sucked into a vicious cycle which will lead you down a path of depression and despair. Satan is never happier than when he sees people giving in and giving up to despair and becoming lost in hopelessness.

Don’t let that happen to you. Be prepared for difficult times so that you are ready when they come.

How is it possible to not lose hope in difficult times?


First, what is hope?

Many people define hope as wishing something will happen. However, biblical hope is a hope of expectation, knowing that it will happen. You might even define it as an eager anticipation of God’s promise coming to pass. This kind of hope is based on knowing that God will do what He said He would do!

Where is hope found?

Again Isaiah says, “THERE SHALL COME THE ROOT OF JESSE, AND HE WHO ARISES TO RULE OVER THE GENTILES, IN HIM SHALL THE GENTILES HOPE.” Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:12-13

Before coming to Christ we were without hope (Ephesians 2:12). But now in Christ we have hope! Our hope is found in our love relationship with Jesus. As a believer we are never without hope! But that is not all, as we live a life of surrender to Christ; we also have joy, peace and power! (Romans 15:13) What more could you hope for?

Properly Placed Hope

God is the God of hope. He is the foundation on which our hope is built; He is both the object and the author of our hope. (1 Peter 1:3)

Trusting in God (Hebrews 11:1) by the power of the Holy Spirit we experience

  • Joy which comes as we anticipate seeing our hopes fulfilled.  Much like the excitement of a child on Christmas morning.
  • Peace which comes from the assurance that God will do what He said He would   do. (Philippians 4:7)

Misplaced Hope

Hope that is placed in someone or something other than God/Jesus Christ is misplaced hope. It will eventually lead one into

  • Hopelessness
  • Depression 
  • Despair

Hopelessness usually doesn’t come suddenly out of nowhere; rather it is usually the result of a series of events in which a false belief system is formed. It could be something like “I can do it“, which leads to “I thought I could do it”, to “I can’t do it”, and ultimately “it can’t done, there is no hope.” Hopelessness believes that no matter what you do, nothing will change.

Putting your hope in yourself is telling yourself a lie. You place your hope in yourself, others or your circumstances rather than God and you will ultimately be disappointed.

Loss of hope can also result in depression. Depression can be nothing more than a signal sent by your mind telling you that hope was lost. Often if you find a way to restore hope your depression will disappear.

What do you do when you find yourself hopeless, depressed and in despair?

What happens when you put your hope in God?

Have you ever been in despair? The answer is simple. Quit looking at your circumstances and look at God. Go to the Bible for direction. Jesus overcame every conflict he had with Satan by using the Word of God. The Word is a door for those in the prison of hopelessness through which they can look, see the light of hope, walk out of darkness into light, and find direction for their lives. (Psalms 119:105, Romans 15:4)

When you are in a difficult time, remember: don’t lose hope. Hope is essential; once you lose it, you have lost the game. Furthermore, it’s your responsibility to not lose hope.

Depression is the emotional result of hopelessness.

Joy is the emotional result of hope.

Peace is the emotional result of faith.

Our hope is based on knowing God will do what He said He would do. And so we wait expectantly knowing that Jesus is coming back!!!

God, did You bring me this far just to …

God, did You bring me this far just to …

Sovereignty of God,Exodus 14:1-4, Stress,Romans 8:28,inductive study,bj lawson

Your car is broken down and you don’t have the money to get it fixed. The company is laying off  workers. Your daughter is pregnant, but she is not married. Your marriage is coming apart. The list could go on and on, but you know the sort of pain I am talking about.

God, did you bring me this far just to destroy me and embarrass me?

The answer is no, He did not. Regardless of what you are facing, God is able to use the ugliness of life as fertile soil for the beautiful roses of His grace.

So, next time your world is coming apart, REST!

R – Remember God is sovereign.

I know you are tempted to say “amen” and go on. But, stay with me for a moment. It is easy to amen to the sovereignty of God when someone else is in trouble, and much harder when my own world is collapsing.

What does it mean that God is sovereign?

It means God controls the circumstances. Remember when the Israelis came out of Egypt? God lead them to the Red Sea (Exodus 14:1-4). He even told them exactly where to camp. God then brought the Egyptian army in behind them. With the Red Sea in front and the greatest army in that day behind them, they were trapped.

They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?…” (Exodus 14:11). Can you feel the stress in their cry? Their circumstances are about to kill them, or at least the stress might give them a heart attack.

Moses’ response is what we really need to pay attention to. “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord” (Exodus 14:13) Let me paraphrase that for you, relax and watch what God does.

What are circumstances that are stressing you out?

Remember, God is the God of and over circumstances. So, relax.

E – Exhale

I wanted to say breathe deep but E fit better with the REST acronym, so I went with exhale.

Breathing deep and exhaling slowly has a tremendous calming effect on the body and the soul. It slows the pace and gives you a moment to focus. Take a moment and control your breathing by inhaling slowly through the nose and exhaling slowly through the mouth. There is nothing especially spiritual about this, but it is effective.

S – Seek Seek the hand, the presence of God in the circumstances.

God is the God of revelation, He makes Himself known. Sometimes Christians have this idea that we discover God or His will. In Scripture God is not hiding, He is revealing. The whole universe declares His glory (Psalm 19:1).

If Israel had only paused for a moment they would have seen that God was about to glorify His name. “…I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD…” (Exodus 14:4)

Look at the circumstances which are causing you so much stress and ask God to reveal Himself in them.

T – Trust – Trust God

Whatever is going on God is going to use it for your good and His glory (Romans 8:28).

The children of Israel panicked even though they had the promises of God.

They were being led by God’s prophet, the promises to Abraham were part of the national consciousness, and they had all witnessed the miracles of God which plagued the Egyptians.

But, they refused to trust in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Notice I said refused. They had plenty of evidence of God’s power and of His love, but they made the conscious decision to refuse to see the hand of God in their circumstances instead of the God of the circumstances.

How are you doing in the stress causing situations you are facing? Are you RESTing in God or panicking in your circumstances?

When the stressors are present, REST! Ask God to let you see His hand at work in your circumstances and let Him increase your faith.

Instead of “Oh no! How am I going to fix this?” cry out to God and ask “Oh wow! What are You going to do God? And then REST.

We are to be sensitive to God’s voice, respond to it in obedience and to experience God’s rest!
I believe in God even when He’s silent!

I believe in God even when He’s silent!

believe in God,Psalm 119:105, Psalm 119:130, romans 8:28,

I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining.

I believe in love even when I don’t feel it.

I believe in God even when He is silent.

These three lines were scratched into the wall of a German concentration camp during World War two. In the midst of the horror, someone declared their faith in the God that did not answer the way they thought He would.

How do you believe in something you can’t see or experience?

  • I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining because I have already seen its light and felt its warmth.
  • I believe in love even when I don’t feel it because I have already been embraced by its light and felt its warmth.
  • I believe in God even when He is silent because I have already seen the light and knelt in His presence.

Where do you turn in the silence?

When life is easy we all find it easy to rest in the Lord. I can easily trust in the God of comfort and ease. But when life is challenging many of us find ourselves challenging God. “Why have you treated me this way God?”

In those times resting in the Lord becomes, wrestling with the Lord. What is the answer? Where do we turn in the dark coldness of silence? We turn to the same place we found light and warmth in the past, we turn to His Word.

How is it possible to rest in the Lord?

Resting in the Lord requires knowing the Lord intimately, personally. It means I know the Lord as I would know my spouse or my best friend, or perhaps knowing Him even better.

But I will only know Him intimately as I study His Word. This is the hard part about spiritual growth, it requires actual Bible study. The temptation for most of us believers is to listen to great sermons or teachers, read books written by good people, sing our favorite songs, talk to our friends about God and go to the best church in town instead of spending time reading our Bibles. But, listen to me – there is no substitute for actually reading the Bible itself!

Remember, in order to REST I must trust. To trust fully, most of the time and for most of us, I must know the one I am trusting in well.

Rest in His Word

Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. – Palm 119:105

The passage is so familiar I am afraid that we breeze too quickly by it without pausing to think about the implications.

“Your Word…”

The Psalmist is not referring to just any word, but the Word of God, the Bible. The Psalmist wants us to be very sure we understand exactly what he is talking about. This is not a statement about the latest Christian book or worship song, but a statement, or a promise if you will, concerning the Word of God, the Bible.

“is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

The Bible lights my path. In the darkness of silence (I only need a lamp or a light when I am in the darkness) the Bible is my light. In those times when God does not answer as I think He should, in those times when the heavens seem silent, I can trust the Word of God to show me the way.

Even when heaven is silent, the Word of God speaks.

The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130

The Word of God studied or unfolded, gives light and understanding.

One of the problems we all face with God’s silence in the face of our pain or suffering is that innate human desire for an explanation. The great “Why?” dominates our thinking in times of stress, silence, and darkness.

The unfolding of Scripture gives understanding, or to put it another way, it answers the “why?” Sometimes the answer is hard to hear, and sometimes it is not an answer we like, but the Word of God gives understanding of our circumstances and of the God of our circumstances.

On more than one occasion when God was silent I found myself drawn to Romans 8:28.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28

In the cold silence I found warmth in the light of His Word.

In this world we will have tribulation, and in our tribulation God is sometimes silent in that He doesn’t seem to answer our prayers the way we believe He should. In those moments what do we do? We rest in the Word. The Word, not our feelings, is the light for our path. Our “Why?” is answered in His Scriptures not in our logic or reasoning.

To rest in the Word is to relax knowing the Word of God and the God of the Word are both true. Rest, read, and refresh your spirit with the words of your Creator.



Be Still and Know that I am God

Be Still and Know that I am God

Be still and know that I am God, Psalm 46:10, BJ Lawson,HopeandHelpInternational.org, Bible study, life

It is a scary world that we live in and with each passing day the headlines tell of shootings, severe weather, terror threats, political unrest, economic upheaval and global instability.

In our personal lives we are faced with job insecurity, financial loss, health issues, broken relationships, prodigals, disobedient children, drama and the list goes on and on.

How quickly we find ourselves wringing our hands, trying to “make things work”, working hard to fix people, worrying about those we love and ourselves. Fear slithers in, like the one who uses it to pierce the heart and mind, and drains us of all peace.

How are we to respond?

When life begins to crumble you find yourself drowning in a sea of circumstances, when the world is swirling and the noise is deafening REMEMBER

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…  Psalm 46:1-2

The pressure to embrace the fear is great! But, our Refuge is even greater! As believers it is possible to be strong and confident no matter what is happening in today’s headlines, in our families or in our personal lives.

The way to overcome that fear is to trust what God’s Word says is true and cling to it, the way a child who is afraid, wraps their arms and legs around their father and refuses to let go. Why do they do that? Because they KNOW they are safe in their daddy’s arms. He is their refuge in times of trouble.

We live in a sinful, broken world and the one thing we can be certain of, is that our days are uncertain!

BUT, God’s Word is crystal clear – we serve a BIG God who is ever present and personal. While the nations are raging and kingdoms totter, the Lord of Hosts is with us – He is our fortress! (Psalm 46:6-7)

So what do you do when you are struggling with fear and uncertainty?

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! – Psalm 46:10

There are three parts to this verse

  • Be Still  (cease striving)

It carries the idea of – stop struggling against, stop fighting, stop trying to figure things out. In other words we are to rest, relax, chill out, drop our weapons and stop fighting!

I don’t know about you, but it is very hard for me to be still. When I am struggling with fear and feeling out of control I want to do something. I want to take matters into my own hands and do whatever it takes to “make it right” – in doing so I often find refuge in all the wrong places. I trust in myself or others rather than resting in God.

But, there is another aspect to being still – that is learning to be quiet.

We live in a noisy world, one that is not only filled with sounds but with a multitude of voices. If we were honest with ourselves, most of us would confess that we are “plugged in” 24/7. The TV is on 24/7 (even if it is just for noise), iPods are plugged in, fans are blowing, Sirius XM enables us to listen in the car, at home or anywhere we happen to be!

There is also the multitude of voices: friends, family, foes, teachers, mentors and other sundry voices. Which ones do you listen to? Who carries the heaviest weight? We need to discern if this is God speaking through them or is it just the flesh?

When we are free from outside turbulence we are better able to hear the still, small voice of God’s Spirit. He speaks to us, but sometimes we aren’t quiet enough to hear Him.

One other voice that needs to b quieted is the voice of our flesh, the one which speaks in the language of worries, doubts and fears. By taking those thoughts captive and resting in God’s Word, peace replaces the turbulence. That doesn’t mean the storm has passed, it means the storm is no longer within you. The storms may still rage, but you will be free from their effects.

  • Know that I am God

Learn that He is God, or you might think of it as “see that I am God”, or “Get to know Me better”. The way to get to know God better is to consistently be in His Word, learning who He is, what your relationship with Him is and how He operates. There is no better way to get to know someone than by spending time with them.

The more you get to know God, the easer it becomes to step back and see that He is who He says He is!

  • I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth

Often I exalt myself and try to be my own god. I do what I want to do, when I want to do it! I take matters into my own hands. “I do it!”, as my granddaughter says.

However, there is only one god! (Deuteronomy 6:4) I am not He and neither are you!

When we become still and get to know Him we can stand in confidence no matter what is happening around us. And when we do, others will see and they too will know that He is God – and hopefully want whatever it is that we have!

Where do I start?

I would like to suggest you read Psalm 46, implant its words deep down in your heart so that you can stand firm on them when your circumstances try to consume you.

Actually, I think it would be a great exercise to not simply read Psalm 46, but to engage with it.

  • Print out a copy of the text. (Double spaced to give yourself some room to work.)
  • Read Psalm 46
  • Mark God by drawing a triangle over every reference to God, including synonyms and pronouns.
  • Make a list  of everything you learn about God in this Psalm. For example:

1. God is our refuge and strength (verse 1)

2. A very present help in trouble (verse 1)

  • Evaluate your list  and see how it applies to you.

When I find myself in trouble, I need to act on what I know know is true. For example:

I can run to God my refuge and strength and not to my friends.

I pray.

I go to His Word for strength and direction.

I cling to the truth of the Bible even when I don’t understand my circumstances.

Wrap Up

Often we create our own drama because we don’t know how to live quietly, how to be still at the proper time. One of the marks of a mature believer is being still and confident, trusting God no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, as the result of being in the Word.

Stillness and confidence will be your strength and will reveal the One you serve!

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