Hope of Kindness: The Jesus Place

We are so  honored to be with you each day sharing hope. Our outreach has grown at a tremendous pace. We are averaging over 100 new subscribers a day. We just past 103,200 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it.

We are in a new promotion. The person who is our 105,000 will wins some nice prizes. That is only 1,800 away It goes very fast so 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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+ Update! The book has been sent to my editor recently. Now I wait and see how many red marks she will have in it. 🙂

There will be some incredible interviews with veterans in this book. Up to twenty different veterans agreed to let me ask them some very personal questions. Some answers will have you in tears.  

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I am very happy to see Linda Claire back as our guest blogger. Her posts are dynamic, gut wrenching, and full of true. Thank you so much Linda for opening up your heart to us. 

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The Jesus Place

By Linda S. Clare

I’ve always thought of myself as a reasonably kind person. I’ll hold open doors for wheelchair users. I smile at an elderly man on a park bench. I brought home every stray cat I ever saw. But put the same old man in front of me at the grocery store, counting out his bill in pennies, and my saintly kindness melts into impatience and even indignation.

When I was around twelve, Mom worked so I had to babysit my younger sister all summer. Sis was pretty typical for a second grader—she loved to play with her Barbies, her friends and since we grew up in Phoenix, she loved to swim. I was not especially kind to her and more than once lost my temper, swatted at her and then for several hours had to plead with her not to tell our parents.

One day, when I just didn’t feel like watching her and her gabby second-grade friends, I was extra mean. I locked her in the bathroom and then went to my air-conditioned room to read. Not exactly the picture of virtue. Big Sister Fail.

For that and many other sins, I doubt I’m winning the Good Girl Award any time soon. Then and now, it’s too easy to stay safe, to be cocooned in the familiar, to resist any push to step out into nothing. Supposedly, this desire for control over our lives goes way back—to that Tree with the fruit and Eve, who didn’t know a serpent from a stick. Any way you slice it, we’re stuck with sinful natures that get us into trouble and lock true kindness in the bathroom.

As my own family has struggled with addiction and mental health issues, I’ve been told to get some Tough Love so many times. My friends don’t like to watch me suffer and others just wish I’d shut up. Tough Love seems like the perfect answer to a really terrible problem.  Most people who see our circumstances from the outside think my addicted/alcoholic sons are simply playing me. Why, they’re having the time of their lives, sponging off mom and dad, getting drunk or high without consequences. I should tell my sons to get out, grow up and by the way, get a job. Right?

Well, hallelujah, you nailed it. Except that life is never so simple.

Fear of threats to our beings and our cultures is a natural human response. When we face a dangerous animal, natural disaster or in times of war, our fight or flight response kicks in to help us survive.

But at times, we trick ourselves into self-serving misperceptions of danger, and it is then that we cling to baseless fears that only hurt us. The early Christians had every right to fear the Romans and others who were trying to kill off the early Church. Over the millennia, we’ve made laws and statutes to keep our ways of life intact. Yet again and again in the New Testament, we are reminded to be kind to one another.

As in the early Church, today it’s easy to slip back into the clutches of the Old Covenant—the Law. The only way to grow in faith is to “long for the pure milk of the word,” which tells us to be humble, not thinking ourselves more than we are. The first step in growing a Just Love is to stop finger pointing and confess our own shortcomings. We can love the Law but we don’t always have to enforce the Law—especially when it comes to those we look down upon. This is grace.

So with my sons and their addictions, I’m compelled to extend to them the grace God freely offers to me. Every day I see my grown children’s brokenness adding up. The scars of addiction, as well as poverty, under-employment, mental health issues are etched deep into their expressions, like crevasses carved by glaciers.

I know this sounds odd, but I genuinely believe my sons hate what they’re doing. Life has become a vicious cycle of mental illness compounded by drug and alcohol use that only temporarily eases the pain.

Every day, the only truly kind act—that mercy thing God is so famous for—stares into my soul. Mercy, compassion, lovingkindness—call it what you wish. It dares me to love my boys again, by yes, first offering a way out. I say, “You’ve been trying things your way for a while now. How’s it working out for you?”

Some days they answer. Other times, they duck their chins and slip out of sight. On days they stay, I can say, “If you want to try treatment, I’m here for you.” On the days they run, I pray for them to run—straight into God’s arms.

Either way, I cannot change their minds. But what I can do no matter what, is treat them with respect. Look them in the eyes. Remind them how very much they are loved. This is the kindness I am learning from Jesus. Trees and serpents aside, I am so much less apt to sin again when I stay in the Jesus Place.

For me, the Jesus Place is about the Sermon on the Mount. There, Jesus reached out to the poor, the disabled, the ones more successful people looked down upon. When He modeled for them the Lord’s Prayer, he was showing everyone, at any time, that we are so much more than our latest screw-up.

When He said, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” He was tapping into much more than the problems we have if we max out the credit card. In biblical times, if you were a subsistence farmer, one bad harvest might not only result in you losing your land. You could wind up an indentured servant (slave) until you repaid your debt. The ones Jesus spoke to were the most vulnerable in that society. The ones living on the edge. Those with little or no hope.

The Jesus Place promotes mercy because it hands out mercy. Mercy is getting a break when you don’t deserve it. In turn, compassion upends cynical stereotyping and replaces it with hope. Hope we desperately need.

I know. It isn’t easy. Giving undeserved passes to rule breakers is really really hard. I’m not good at it either. But love is dangerous, people. It asks you to put your very tender heart out there on the altar when you know full well some bully is going to stomp on it.

But because Jesus was tempted in all things and yet did not sin, He could take all my stinky socks and my catalog of dumb, dumb moves and hang it all with Him on the Cross.

I used to think that made Him seem like some awful Poindexter—teacher’s pet who always knew the answer. My reaction was a little bitter, like Dana Carvey’s Church Lady from old SNL. Isn’t that special?

Trouble is, I wanted to sit in judgment of everyone else (because I’m almost always right) but run crying to God when someone dished garbage back to me. I didn’t see the connection between blue-eyed movie Jesus being annoyingly preachy and the actual Son of God, who is very serious about bringing Light into the world.

For me, His light used to be made of being nice to kitties and old grandpas and kid sisters—but only if they didn’t interfere with my day. It was like earning a Gold Star from the Big Guy if I held open the door for some poor wheelchair user, which by the way, is required by Jesus and not optional at all. Real compassion asks for real love and real hope that love wins.

You don’t have to listen or do what Jesus says. That’s not how He rolls. But He reaches out to those of us who aren’t so tough anymore, those for whom life and awful things like addiction have locked us in the bathroom. He promises that if we are merciful, we shall receive mercy. That if we show mercy to others, we are actually blessed. Blessed! Just for being truly kind, for merciful acts big and small. We don’t even always have to be in control, which is OK although some days, I’d still rather drive than ride. And even then, Jesus is really patient with me. Mostly.

I have to believe He is patient with my sons, too, and doesn’t wish for them to suffer. Tough Love says they deserve to suffer, and maybe that’s right in some cases. But Just Love keeps pointing me back to the Jesus Place, a place where the downtrodden, the forgotten, all of us debtors can find comfort under the Yoke of Love.

And in modern times, if we run up a big bill, we aren’t thrown into debtor’s prison or enslaved, at least not yet. We can, however still be financially ruined for a few bad spending decisions or an unexpected health crisis. The serpent is alive, I’m afraid.

Yet Jesus calls across millennia, looking us in the eyes and saying, “You’ve been trying life your way for a while now. How’s that working out for you?” Hang out at the Jesus Place for a while, friend. You’ll find it full of mercy, love and hope.

 

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“Let Me Know What I Can Do For You?”

We are so  honored to be with you each day sharing hope. Our outreach has grown at a tremendous pace. We just past 96,625 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it.

WE HAVE A WINNER!! We will be notifying the winner by email, if they put in the right email address. I will also let you know about when the winner subscription happened, so you can know that it may be yours. 

We are starting a new promotion and the winner will be the person who is the 100,000 subscriber. That is a huge milestone for us. More details later. 

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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 details about the new book. Doug just interviewed a WWII veteran, for the book.  Fascinating! Look for updates here.

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I have seen this happening many times. A person is hurting. Another person is there with them. The hurting person shares their hurts, and the other person says, Let me know what I can do for you, and then walks away. Nothing happens. the hurting person is still hurting. The other person has forgotten all about the conversation before the day is over.

Unfortunately we live in a society like this today. No one seems to care. No one wants to get involved. No one likes talking about serious things with a friend.

Let me share a parable with you:

A man is driving along a curvy road and loses control of his car. He goes over the embankment and crashed into a tree.  The car is starting to catch on fire. Another man comes by and sees the car. He shouts, Let me know what I can do to help. 

Really?

What is that parable telling us? It is saying that we need to take action and do it now.

That leads up to another parable by a man much more saintly than I am. Our own Jesus Christ.

There was a man who was walking along on a road to Jerusalem. It was a dangerous road. There were many robbers and thieves who attack there.

The man was attacked by thieves. They beat him, and tore off all of his clothes. They left him there to die.

A priest came walking by and saw the man. He went to the other side of the road to avoid the man. Another man came by, and he also crossed to the other side to avoid the man.

Then a Samaritan came by and felt pity for the man. He went to help him. He bandaged his wounds, took him to the nearest Inn and cared for him while he recovered.

He even told the Innkeeper to keep track of any monies the man owed and he would come back and pay all of it.

Which person are you? Would you cross to the other side of a road to avoid a hurting person? Would you tell them, Let me know what I can do,” but keep going?

Reach out to the downtrodden. Help those who suffer. Be a good Samaritan. You will be happy you did and so will God.

Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all..never, ever, give up! 

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Where Do I Go When the Storms Hit?

We have another promotion where there will be prizes. The next winner will be the person who is our 95,000th subscriber. As you found out here, it goes very fast. We average over 30 new subscribers a day. We will get there pretty fast. We just passed 91,850. If you haven’t already subscribed please do by clicking on the icon right after the title of this post.

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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 will be reaching out the many military and veterans who may be battling anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, rejections, PTSD, and the many other usual suspects. There are 22 military connected suicides ever day. That is almost one every hour. Doug wants to help stop those statistics. Be looking for more details about the new book. Doug Is also seeking military who would be willing to do an interview. It will be part of the book. Sharing by actual soldiers will help many others.

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Just  had a scary morning. I lost my billfold and couldn’t find it for a couple of hours of heavy searching. The fear of someone finding it and using my cards and identity was overwhelming for a while.

I finally found it a couple minutes ago stuck between my car door and the seat. This proves that 99% of what we worry about never happens. We just need to turn the other 01% over to God.

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If you were able to choose a place to go to with  snap of  your finger where would you go? Hawaii? Bahamas? London, Paris, Rome, in  a package deal? Disneyland? Siberia in winter? Sahara Desert in summer?

The first  six are no  brainers. We all would like to go to any of those. The last two…are you kidding me? That would be very stressful and frankly very dangerous.

Well, those last two are called  “the wilderness.” We all have to face the wilderness in our lives. We have times when the days seem unbearable. We have times when we want to hid from the world.

Those day are what I call as “storms” we have to face. Some storms aren’t too bad, but others are like what I see out my window right now, lots of wind and tons of rain falling.

It is the raging storms where we have to depend on God. It could be a doctor’s appoint with bad news coming. It could be a broken relationship. It could even be a loss of a love one.

Any of those situations are hard, at best, to face. We can’t do it alone. We can’t try to wing it without God. That would like jumping off a cliff without a parachute. The outcome doesn’t look good.

If you are troubled. If you are facing some very stormy days, lean on God. He cares. He loves you. He made you in His own image. He gave you your first breath. He will allow the storms, but He will be there to help calm them.

Stay strong in the love of God, and your storms will come and go, but you will be stronger with God on  your side.

So, enjoy the Bahamas, Hawaii, etc, but know that you will find refuge even when the bad times show up.

Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all…never, ever, give up!

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Do You Believe in Miracles? Check This Out!

I mentioned on Facebook that I would be doing a post on miracles tonight.

Do you belive in Miracles? Have you witnessed one? Make a comment to this post if you know of a miracle that has happened. Some of them will be shared in a future post, with your name shared if you agree to let us do that.

I was at a breakfast this morning, and the Holy Spirit really brought out some wonderful stores from the men.

I am sharing three true stories with you now:

  • One of the men there said he had a friend that was on the operating table, and had gone into cardiac arrest. The doctors and nurses were frantic as they tried to revive him. They tried the shock treatments several times and there was still a flat line. The doctor noted the time, pronounced the man dead, and walked out. He started to take off his working uniform, but he had a funny feeling. For some reason he felt he should go back and try the shock treatment one more time. He walked back in the operating room and told the team to hook the man back up and try to shock him again. They all thought the doctor was crazy. He insisted, and they shocked the man one more time. The flat line disappeared, and the man’s heart started beating again. He is alive today because of a “feeling,” the doctor had.
  • Another one of the men out the breakfast table shared that his brother was once on life support is wasn’t expected to live much longer. My friend was summoned to Bend, Oregon to make a decision as to if they should pull the plug on his brother or not. My friend was ready to go  when he came down very ill. He couldn’t go the day they wanted him to come. He felt better a few days later, and called to say he was coming. The doctor was very excited on the phone and said, “I have no idea what happened, but your brother suddenly improved. He is off life support, and getting all his color back. It has to be a miracle.” If my friend had left on the first day he was supposed to, he may have pulled the plug too soon.
  • A third man at the table, was traveling over the Cascade Mountain pass recently, and the road was full of black ice. That is ice you can’t see, but is very dangerous. My friend lost control of his car, and was spinning right towards an on coming semi truck. My friend said he felt he was going to die at that moment. He tried to straighten out the car but it didn’t respond. This was a blessing because the car did its own correction and missed the semi by inches. After he came to a stop he saw that the car was in neutral. He then knew that if it had been in gear, he would have turned the car in the wrong direction. He never recalls putting the car in neutral.

These are all true stories that have happened to some of my own friends. All at the same table this morning.  I have my own stores about how God has spared me.

Our God is a powerful, compassionate, God. He can cause miracles in anyone’s life. Never give up! Always pray! God is there and listening.

EXPECT A MIRACLE!!

 

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