“SOAPSUDS & TOY SOLDIERS”:  GRACE & HOPE

I recently discovered a poem by Jason Reynolds. I recognized the importance of its message and will feature the poem today. I want to share it and how it relates to hope.

When poets (or others) express ideas that help the rest of us realize meaningful thoughts it gives me hope. Maybe you will find hope in it also. At least maybe you will enjoy reading a son’s appreciation for His mother as I did.

May this poem be our reminder to express appreciation for our loved ones when we have opportunities.

One specific verse in the Bible book of Ephesians teaches us to share good words and edify others. May we learn well how to use our words to edify others. By doing this we give grace and hope.

I appreciate Jason Reynolds’ poem below for the grace and hope it gives me.

My mother
Is coming home
From the hospital
Tomorrow

And it has occurred
To me  that
Somewhere
Between being bathed
In a bathtub
Overflowing with
“Soapsuds and toy soldiers”

And today

I have learned to appreciate her

Seems like sickness
Becomes signals
To selfish sons
Saying

Trouble don’t last always
Nor do mothers

(Jason Reynolds)

Let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but if there is any good word for edification according to the need of the moment, say that so that it will give grace to those who hear.”  (Ephesians 4: 29)

“WAKE UP, AMERICA!”: PEACE, LIBERTY, LAW, HOPE

In Sunday’s message Rev. John Hagee of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, criticized the assault on Congress by what he called “a rebellious mob.”

He described a sad event in American history that occurred the previous week, “The Secret Service had to escort the Vice-president of the United States to safety out of the Capitol building. Gun shots were fired. Tear gas was deployed in the Capitol Rotunda. People were killed…. This was an assault on law. Attacking the Capitol was not patriotism, it was anarchy.”

Weak applause followed, but soon Hagee received a standing ovation when he focused on law enforcement: “This is what happens when you mob the police. This is what happens when you fire the police.”

“This is what happens when you watch a policeman shot and belittle his sacrifice for the public…. Wake up, America! America and democracy cannot function without the rule of law. We back the blue.”

I find hope in Hagee’s words and in the standing ovation by Texans in support of law enforcement. These words bear repeating: “WAKE UP, AMERICA! America and democracy cannot function without the rule of law. We back the blue.”

Unfortunately we may see other incidents or even worse in our future, but I believe there will always be patriotic Americans who proudly — and rightly — promote peace, liberty, law, and hope. I have hope when Americans realize important aspects of society that honor God. He wants peace, liberty, law, and hope for His people. Life will be better in a future where they are strong and will continue to be.

“The Lord will give strength to His people;
The Lord will bless His people with peace.”  (Psalm 29:11)

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
(2 Corinthians 3: 17)

“Those who love Your law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble.” 
(Psalm 119: 165)

“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 15:13)

The above post was inspired by an AP News article, “Trump-supporting Christian Leaders and Their Sunday Messages,” 10/10/2021, by Mariam Fam, Elana Schor, and David Crary.

PSALM 23: SHEPHERD’S HOPE

“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside still waters. He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies. Thou anointest my head with oil. My cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23)

Any day is a good day to read God’s Word to find hope. Recently a sweet friend reminded me of hope to be found in Psalm 23. Those Old Testament verses are so full of the loving benefits of knowing God that I want to share this hopeful reminder here.

The author of the message below that features Psalm 23 is unknown, but I am confident that person knew the Lord as personal Shepherd and was blessed by His hope.

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD

“The Lord is my Shepherd
That’s RELATIONSHIP!

I shall not want —
That’s SUPPLY!

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures —
That’s REST!

He leadeth me beside still waters —
That’s REFRESHMENT!

He restoreth my soul —
That’s HEALING!

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness —
That’s GUIDANCE!

For His name’s sake —
That’s PURPOSE!

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil —
That’s PROTECTION!

For Thou art with me —
That’s FAITHFULNESS!

Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me —
That’s COMFORT!

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies —
That’s HOPE!

Thou anointest my head with oil —
That’s CONSECRATION!

My cup runneth over —
That’s ABUNDANCE!

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life —
That’s BLESSING!

And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord —
That’s SECURITY!

Forever — That’s ETERNITY!”  (author unknown)

If you know the Good Shepherd, then the above message will be a reminder to you. If you do not, then read it again and ponder the benefits that are available to you when you are His.

ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING:  KEEP CALM & HAVE HOPE

As this new year begins, I believe that God has a message for us. It was given in the New Testament book of Philippians.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 4: 6-7)

For anyone plagued by anxiety, I recommend a book by Max Lucado entitled ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World. I recommend any of his books for any time, but today in our current situation this one meets a definite need.

This author is gifted to write and has used his gifts to bring hope and to bless many hearts including mine. Inspired by teachings from Philippians 4 and Lucado’s insight, Shawn McEnvoy shares an acrostic, C-A-L-M, for “Philippians 4’s Prescription for Anxiety.”

“Beloved pastor and author Max Lucado sees, via his giftedness in plumbing the depths of Scripture, if not a cure, at least a healing balm. And it’s hiding right in plain sight, right among Paul’s oft-quoted directive to ‘be anxious for nothing’ (Philippians 4:6).” (McEvoy)

McEnvoy interviewed Lucado about why he wrote on the issue of anxiety and chose his title from Philippians: ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World.”

“The book is built around the passage in Philippians 4 that the Apostle Paul wrote. And that gives birth to the title of the book when the Apostle Paul said, ‘be anxious for nothing.’ When he writes, ‘be anxious for nothing,’ by the way, he doesn’t mean ‘never feel anxiety.’ The way that he constructed his Greek verb there is ‘do not allow yourself to be perpetually anxious,’ don’t allow yourself to slip into a mindset of perpetual anxiety. Anxiety is an option, but the Prison of Anxiety is not an option.

And he gives us such a wonderful teaching to deal with anxiety. First he says, ‘Rejoice in the Lord always.’ And then he says, ‘Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and petition let your requests be made known to God.’ And then he says, ‘With thanksgiving.’  And then he says, ‘Meditate on these things.’

So those are the four big ideas. And I took those four big ideas and created this little acronym C-A-L-M: first we Celebrate God, then we Ask God for help, we Leave the problem with God, and then we Meditate on good things.” (McEnvoy)

Max shared his reason for the book. “So basically the idea of the book is to help people have this as a tool with which to respond to the presence of anxiety. Again anxiety’s gonna come; anxiety will always knock at the door, but we don’t have to invite anxiety in for dinner. We respond by Celebrating God, Asking God for help, Leaving the problem with Him, and then Meditating on good things.” (Lucado)

I think “CALM” is one acrostic that will be helpful to remember. Of course it will only serve its purpose if I follow its ideas. In 2021 I intend to Celebrate God, Ask God for help, Leave the problem with Him, and then Meditate on good things. I am looking forward to a calm new year!

MY BIRTHDAY:  HOPE & PRAISE

It is December 27 already… this year is ending soon! I do not remember a year that so many are so glad when it will be over. Of course that is because they hope the pandemic will end — as if virus germs adhere to a calendar. I think it is normal to want to forget the negative of the past and look to the positive of the future.

Today is MY BIRTHDAY. When I was born those “many” years ago, my family was impacted but probably few others noticed my birth. No angels heralded my arrival, no star marked the location of the not-world-changing event, no wise men traveled from afar to welcome me, and no gold, frankincense, nor myrrh were delivered. As special, wanted, and loved as my family made me feel, among the multitudes of babies born on our planet, I did not stand out.

More than 2000 years ago, one baby did stand out, and His birthday was celebrated around the world just a couple of days ago. His extraordinary birth was a pivotal point in human history. His birth was truly different for He was born as no other before or since.

That unique baby was born fully man and fully God in God’s divine plan. Only He was the perfect One to be the payment for the sin of the world to allow God’s forgiveness, to provide salvation for whosoever will believe and by faith in Jesus Christ alone receive eternal life as a free gift from God.

That baby grew up to willingly give His life on a cruel cross, and His resurrection proved He was the fulfillment of Scriptures and is Saviour to the world. What a plan… what a life… what a Saviour! It is all because of His great love for us!

As the angels proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2: 14)

Today I celebrate MY BIRTHDAY and ponder the original Christmas birthday. I am thankful for both. My life is in God’s hands, and whether I have twenty more birthdays or no more, I am His child and trust His plan for my life here and in the next life.

I have HOPE in Him and PRAISE for Him: Glory to an awesome God!

LISA APPELO:  GIVING FAITH AND HOPE

Today many are edging toward a time of last-minute shopping for Christmas gifts. I want to share a thought from Lisa Appelo to help us maintain a proper perspective: “We bring gifts because of Jesus — not Santa.”

Lisa has learned important life lessons through hard experiences that include grief and loss. Her personal example  increases my faith and gives me hope. To learn more about her story and to find encouragement for faith, hope, and grief visit her website at LisaAppelo.com.

Lisa reminds us that Jesus modeled generosity, compassion, and gift giving. As John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave his One and only Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

There is no CHRISTmas without CHRIST after all! According to Lisa, we give at Christmas because God first gave to us.

Lisa is wisely teaching her children to give to needs around them and thinks that Christmas is a great time to see and meet the needs of others.

May we remember the world’s greatest Gift ever given as we celebrate this Season of that Gift. And may we each receive that which we all need this year — faith and hope that are at the heart of a real Christmas.

CHRISTmas blessings to you all!

KOALA DECORATES CHRISTMAS TREE:  JOY & HOPE

Danielle Garrand’s article for CBS News on 12/4/20 featured an example of one of God’s creatures bringing joy to humans.

This particular example was a koala celebrating Christmas the best way it could. The brief article was entitled “Koala wanders into Australian family’s home and climbs their Christmas tree.” The accompanying photo gave me joy… and hope.

Amanda McCormick was surprised to find a koala perched in her Christmas tree. Apparently the koala entered a South Australian home, perched itself within a Christmas tree, and was found appearing to be very content among the ornaments.

The koala embraced the Christmas tree as we
should embrace Christmas celebrations that honor Christ. There is no Christmas without Christ’s birth! On the night of His birth God sent angels to proclaim, “good news of great joy which will be for all the people.” (Luke 2: 10)

The koala appeared to be content just being in his place as we should be content being in our place. Psalm 46: 10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” This realization brings contentment.

The koala brought joy to the McCormick family and to countless readers around the world. Koalas naturally climb trees to perch. That is how Creator God designed them. If we live as God designed us, then our lives will bring joy to others.

To share joyful blessings is to share hope. I can think of no better way to celebrate Christmas. What a surprise to be reminded by a koala that decorated a Christmas tree in Australia!

Whether or not you have a Christmas tree and whether or not it is decorated with a koala, may you celebrate the real “Reason for the Season.” Have a joyful CHRISTmas!
***

PEARL HARBOR DAY: HOPE & PEACE

Today is Pearl Harbor Day and marks 79 years since a terrible attack by Japanese planes that left thousands of American victims. It led to America’s entering into World War 2 and many more lives being lost. The cause was just, and when it was over — for a time — freedom and peace reigned. Unfortunately humankind does not embrace peace for long.

Today flags are at half-mast, and remembrance events are being held across America. I think it is important to remember such historic yet tragic events. They provide hope for the future and remind us to work harder to pursue peace.

These events remind me to be grateful for our military men and women. I especially think of the Greatest Generation. It is personal for me, because my parents were included in that generation.

Also these remembrances can remind us that we should follow the Prince of Peace. Only He can bring lasting peace to human hearts.

Now may the Lord of Peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all.”
(2 Thessalonians 3: 16)

“Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Romans 5: 1)

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”  (Romans 8: 6)

To read other posts regarding historic Pearl Harbor Day, please go to posts of 12/7/2018 and 12/7/2019. Look for the hope, and remember to pursue peace!

WHISPERING HOPE:  HOPE & COMFORT

I am thankful that my mother loved hymns, because she made sure that their music and messages were part of my childhood. I remember thinking as a child that “WHISPERING HOPE” was especially beautiful. Written by Septimus Winner, a well-known poet, composer, and violinist, this hymn was published in 1868.

Even when I was a child maybe that word, hope, held special meaning for me. Of course I did not imagine I would someday aim to share hope by writing a blog. No one even knew what a blog was when I was born during the mid-twentieth century!

If you do not know the song or have not heard it in awhile, please find it, listen, and be blessed. The hymn as sung by Jim Reeves is a favorite of many. May you be blessed with hope and comfort by its music and message. I will include the hopeful and comforting lyrics below.

WHISPERING HOPE

Soft as the voice of an angel breathing a lesson unheard,
Hope with a gentle persuasion whispers her comforting word.

Wait till the darkness is over, wait till the tempest is gone;
Hope for the sunshine tomorrow after the shower is gone.

Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.

Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.”
(S. W.)

Like many who author hymns, Winner based his on Scripture. His lyrics refer to Hebrews 6:19 and to the anchor that holds a believer’s soul steadfast… the “whispering hope.” The truth of this verse gives hope and comfort, so we can find these blessings in the hymn… thanks to one who surely had experienced that hope himself.

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil.”  (Hebrews 6: 19)

THANKSGIVING: GOD OF HOPE

Today is a US national holiday called Thanksgiving Day. No matter where you are, I hope you join me in giving sincere thanks for blessings from above.

May our hearts be filled with gratitude and recognition of blessings beyond measure. With attitudes of gratitude we will find that God is a God of Hope.

There is wisdom in the quotes below and promises associated with the following instructions from the Bible:

The best things in life are not things.”  (John Ruskin)

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched — they must be felt with the heart.”  (Helen Keller)

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.” 
(Colossians 4: 2)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 4: 6 & 7)

Please know that this hopeful messenger is thankful for you, the unseen reader. Let us pray for each other and keep sharing hope from our God of Hope.


[For history associated with Thanksgiving, please see these blogposts: November 20, 21, 22 of 2018 and November 27, 2019.]