Hope’s Battleground is Upon Us

I am so honored to be with you each day sharing hope. The outreach has grown at a tremendous pace. There are over 50 new subscribers a day. The site just past 105,100 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it.

+ WE HAVE A WINNER IN OUR PROMOTION.  THE PERSON WHO HAS THE 105,00O REGISTRATION WILL WIN SOME NICE PRIZES. 

We are starting a new promotion tonight. The person who is our 110,000 followers will win some great prizes. As you can see it goes fast. Don‘t miss out. 

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Doug Bolton, the founder of Signs of Hope, is writing a new book, “Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of Life.” It reaches out the military and veterans who may be battling anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, rejections, PTSD, and many other usual suspects. There are 22 military connected suicides every day. That is almost one every hour. We need to help stop those statistics. Be looking for more updates about the new book.

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I am excited to say Linda Clare is back with her monthly guest blog. This one is her best in my opinion. As always she speaks directly from the heart and doesn’t pull any punches. 

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Hope’s Battleground

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. I Timothy 1:7 KJV

The day the doctor pronounced my mother legally blind in one eye, we both cried. That same day, a close friend, also in her mid-eighties called me, worried her only son’s fourth heart attack meant he might die before she does. I was still reeling over my own son’s recent psychotic episode—a meth-fueled outburst I’d never witnessed from him before. All the while, more mass shootings rocked the nation as gunmen took aim at innocents.

A man had shot and wounded US Congressmen during baseball practice. Whether from personal loss or mass shooting, that day we stood with our arms wrapped around one another, grieving in unison. Each fresh sorrow strained our shoulders. Spring would never come and our hearts would always be frozen, stuck in the numbness that presides over tragedy.

That day, hope got whupped by fear.

Fear like we’d never known—until. Until the Twin Towers fell. Until Dad got cancer, until the long-awaited baby died in his crib. Until. Now fear stormed our psyches, bullied optimism into the corner.

In airports, we’ve learned to be afraid of bombs in shoes—from now on we’ll glance about nervously at the stadium too. Fear will follow our days and lie down with us at night. We’ll worry our sons and daughters will die before we do and terror will stalk us if we go blind in one eye.

Life is so much scarier than in the good old days, some say. Now just going to the mailbox or heading out to ball practice might end it all.  But as the world grows more and more dangerous, we must not lose sight of life’s most dangerous thing.

Love.

Love is the most dangerous way to live. It runs into burning buildings. Real love swoops you up the day you come home and find your suicidal spouse sitting with a loaded gun. Love risks getting hurt, and doesn’t make blanket assumptions. Love hopes all things.

Love knows that if we cannot resurrect hope, our fears will surely come true.

I saw this up close and personal the night my son went berserk on a meth high—screaming obscenities, he threatened to shove a pot of boiling water off the stove and onto me. After the cops left, I went for a walk. I needed to pray.  I walked and sobbed.

I cried for my lost son, whose meth addiction has gone on so long that it seems intractable. I wept tears of rage for my failure to do as the cop admonished: kick out my two grown sons. Most of all, I cried because I was afraid. Afraid I couldn’t trust God anymore. Afraid God wasn’t there.

Over and over in scripture, my faith tells me not to be afraid. Christians are supposed to trust God, even when it makes no sense.  That day, I was terrified, not of the prospect of my son living his entire adult life as an active addict, but of something deeper. Love was excruciating. Hope had left the building.

I stumbled along, raking in gulps of air as my nose ran and my throat ached. I kept my head down in case neighbors saw me mumbling like a crazy woman.

At that moment, I feared God didn’t exist.

Living in fear instead of hope has chilling consequences. When bad stuff happens—like blindness or heart trouble or when a nut job with an automatic rifle shoots up a ball field—fear orders us to assume the future, too, is loaded with horrible events.

Fear said to me, “Don’t trust anybody. Keep your fists clenched, ready to fight. Lock the doors and sit in the dark. Don’t make eye contact with strangers, in case they’re ready to blow themselves up and take you with them. And by the way, your addicted sons are hopeless.”

Fear laughed. “There is no hope.”

My heart turned leaden. The beautiful mystery of an aspen tree’s leaves left me. Every prayer I’d ever aimed at heaven seemed stuck to one side of the sky—the way the wind pins trash against a chain link fence. What if the whole story—heaven, the God of Love, Jesus—is just a myth?

“God. You have to be there,” I said, “You have to be real. If you’re not, nothing matters.” My tears grew hot as I thought of my poor feeble-sighted mom, my worried friend, my struggling, addicted sons. How could a loving God allow so much heartache?

Fear gloated, but something else said, “Dare to love anyway.”

I sank down on the street curb; gazed up at the aspen’s shimmering leaves. I had no answers. Still, a strange sense of peace came over me as I thought about those I care for. “God, be there for them,” I finally said. “Be real to those who need love.”

Somehow I saw that hope takes its marching orders from the One who is Love. Hope says, go ahead, love your neighbor. Open your fist. Look people in the eye. Forgive them when they screw up. Be generous and compassionate and stop letting your judgments about other people splatter all over everybody. And even if you can’t quite do all of this, Hope says don’t stop trying. Keep right on loving, right on hoping.

It isn’t easy. If I could work miracles, I’d spit on the dirt like Jesus did, rub mud on Mom’s bad eye and she’d see again. I’d give my friend’s son a decent heart and I’d cure my son in his fight against meth. But even if I can’t work miracles, I won’t stop loving. Or hoping for a better tomorrow.

For a while, I let fear take over my life. I questioned the faith I live by. And Fear delighted in my weakness.

But Love answered, bringing with it hope I sorely needed. All sorts of disasters happen in life, but Love says don’t live in fear. Don’t assume the worst. With Love, we can hope for the best, trusting that we are all valued, watched over, loved.

I stood up and drew my sleeve across my wet cheeks. My tears were spent but I walked home surrounded by renewed hope in the Lover of souls.

If you get a horrid disease or you go blind or your child becomes addicted, that’s awful. I’m sorry. But as we grieve, look to love, not fear. And then we can get up and shine our love on somebody else’s hurt, another person’s tragedy. Tell them we love them and hand over a piece of our hope. Some may push us away, but we can’t stop loving, we won’t stop hoping. We’ll march out to the sandlot to play ball, even though there’s a chance people might die. Love smiles when hope beats the tar out of fear.

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Kindness is the Language Deaf can Hear and Blind can See

“Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained.”     Helen Keller

Believe it or not we are heading into the winter holidays. This seems to be the time when we reach out to others, and give more than we receive. We buy presents, and find joy in watching the people open them. We give to the needy more in the month of December than any month.

One may ask why don’t we do this all year around. Well, you can. You don’t have to give someone a present to open, you can give them the present of being a friend, and someone that cares for them when they need someone the most. Giving a present is a wonderful thing, but to have love flowing daily last longer, and builds up the self-esteem of anyone.

Mark Twain uses a lot of humor, but this quote I found from him gave me hope and inspired me to try harder:

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear, and the blind can see.” Beautiful words that have  great meaning.

My favorite person to quote, and I do often, is Ralph Waldo Emerson. He says: ” Right now is the time to be kind. You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”

God only gives us so many breaths. I strive to use each breath helping  someone else have a happy life. I suppose that sounds too noble, but I do spend much of my time checking in on friends, and relatives to see if they are doing OK.

How about you? When is the last time you called your dad or mom and told them you loved them? Have you recently  visited your sister or brother and went out to lunch with them? Did you go down to the one neighbor who is alone and just spend some time with them talking?

This all seem to be small things be each of them can be a huge up lifter. You never know when your family or friends needs someone to give them a lift.

It may just be a phone call to say hello, or sending a card for no reason but to cheer someone up.

Think on these things and start tomorrow to spend time finding ways to reach out to people. I will give you a big hint. When you help someone else out and it brings a smile to their face you have a smile on you face  as well. Helping others help you too.

In closing a poem by Henry Burton pretty much sums it up:

Have you had kindness shown?

Pass it on!

Twas not given for thee alone,

Pass it on!

Let it travel down the years,

Let it wipe another’s tears,

Till in heaven the deed appears-

Pass it on!

Try it you’ll like it.

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As for me and my Family, We Will Serve the Lord

I was Once Blind but Now I See

Is our ability to see God blinded? It seems that our world is slowly going blind to God and what He has provided for us.

The laws are turning their backs on the Bible, prayer, and displays that show the Ten Commandments. The majority of the people of the United States want more of each of these, but the minority is taking control.

We are given the rights to give our opinions, and try to sway the government to cause change. However it has gotten to the point where our rights are questionable, and may be altered.

What happened to the people that have become blinded to what God has given us. Basic things like, the wind flowing through the trees; every sunrise and sunset; every cloud in the sky, every flower that blooms, and every leaf that fades. God made all of these for us to enjoy. We need to look for God in everything around us each day.  

If we can’t see God in our lives then we are blinded. We are trying to “wing it” on our own.

Going that path will leave us powerless wo withstand the prince of this world. We shouldn’t just learn from experience, but turn to God. We need to start walking a new path with God as our guide.

Of course, we don’t go out of our way to disobey God. We just don’t listen to Him. We are given directions by Him, but we pay no attention-not from open disobedience, but because we don’t really love and respect Him.

Maybe it is that if we have to listen to God, we have to make a decision. We either have to obey or disobey. Many of us can’t face the stress of that. We would rather ignore God, and live a free easy going life.

So what are we to do in our world? Should we just lay back and let the river flow where ever it may. Do we turn our backs and not look to God, so that we aren’t under pressure to cling to His will?

This would be a much easier approach don’t you think?

The truth is that God is a loving God, and He lets us chose to follow Him or ignore him. But remember then there is the judgment. 

As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord. Not out of fear of punishment. Not out of wanting to show good works to earn my way to heaven, but because of my love for my heavenly Father who made me in His own image, and wants the best for me because of that.

I was once blind but now I see….

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The Power of Goodness

The power of goodness is found in the tiny. Since the beginning, God has chosen the tiny over the large: David over Goliath, Gideon and his 300 soldiers over thouSands of Midianties, Elijah over the prophets of Baal, one sheep over 99 sheep. Spirituality is about doing the tiny work of God, little acts, small responses to God’s presence in our lives.

Because we have heard the biblical stories over and over again, we have exaggerated the size of the tiny ministry Jesus actually had. Jesus was around for 3 years and he really didn’t do all that much. He hung out with a few guys, healed a leper or 2 and a couple of lame folk and a blind guy, made some wine, helped out 3 or 4 women, raised one person from the dead, calmed down a crazy person or 2, caused a scene in the temple, and then disappeared.

Think what Jesus could have accomplished if he’d stayed on earth for 20, 30, or 50 more years.

Nope. Jesus showed up for a little while, did a few tiny miracles, said a few amazing words, and left.

But his few tiny acts changed the world forever. Tiny becomes huge when Jesus is involved.

Spiritual people are about tiny things, which is the fruit of their spirituality. The spiritual life is not a life of success; it is a life of faithfulness and it’s not easy. God does “big” things once in a while, but there is no question that the primary work of God in the world is salt-and-light tiny. God knew we would naturally be dazzled by big; that’s why Jesus told parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son, and the mustard seed. Jesus was trying to tell us something: the spiritual life is a tiny life, filled with little decisions, tiny steps toward God, tiny glimpses of his presence, little changes and small movings, tiny successes and imperceptible stirrings.

We shouldn’t be surprised. Jesus chose not to change the world with armies, swords, legions of angels, and lightning bolts. Instead, he changed the world by rejecting fame and welcoming the infamy of a criminal’s death.

Morehead Minnesota, the home of Concordia College, lies across the state line from Fargo North Dakota, a very bleak part of the country (especially during the winter.). All year, the community anticipates Concordia’s annual Christmas concert. Each December, a huge choir and a full orchestra give a musical performance in the concert hall at the college.

Every year, the people in the community create a unique background for the concert-a 100×30 foot mosaic. Beginning in the summer, about six months before the concert, the community designs a new mosaic, rents an empty building, and the painting begins. Thousands of people, from junior high schoolers to senior citizens, paint the mosaic. They paint by number on a large scale design that has thousands and thousands of tiny pieces. Day after day, month after month, one little painted piece at a time, the picture on the mosaic gradually takes shape.

When everyone has finished painting, an artist goes over the entire creation, perfecting the final work of art. When the mosaic is completed, they place it behind the choir. It has the appearance of an enormous, beautiful stained-glass window. The weekend of the concert, those people who helped paint arrives early, along with their friends and neighbors. Throughout the building, you can hear people whispering, “See that little green spot below the camel’s foot? I painted it.”

Our tiny choices and tiny moves toward God may not seem like much. But someday you and I will stand together in the great cathedral of heaven, and up front, by Jesus, will hang the most magnificent mosaic we could ever imagine, made up of thousands and thousands of our tiny responses to God’s love in our lives.

excerpt from ‘Messy Spirituality’
by Michael Yaconelli

 

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