The Old Rugged Cross

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 102,500 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it.

We are starting a new promotion. The person who is our 105,000 will wins some nice prizes. 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. 

+ Update! The book has been sent to my editor this week. Now I wait and see how many red marks she will have in it. 🙂 

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We have our regular guest blogger for the second month of each month here tonight. She has a perfect post for the Easter season. She talks about one of my favorite songs. The Old Rugged Cross.

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The Old Rugged Cross

I cannot sing and cry at the same time. Therefore, I never sing “The Old Rugged Cross.” You see, I had a precious grandmother whom I adored. She loved to sing the old hymns, loud and off-key. And that hymn was one of her favorites. I can still hear her voice ringing in my memory. Jesus has been listening to her sing for the last 56 years. I’m sure she sings much better now.

George Bennard, a Methodist evangelist, wrote the first verse of “The Old Rugged Cross” in 1912 and finished the hymn one year later. It is said that during one of his revival meetings, Bennard suffered ridicule when some youths heckled him. After which, he experienced a life struggle.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the first verse and chorus…

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

Refrain:
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

The One dying for the world’s sins carried a rugged crossbeam that fateful day…

A large, jeering crowd, intermingled with a great many mourners, moved toward Golgotha’s hill on the Via Dolorosa (the Way of Grief). A man, whipped beyond recognition, stumbled in agony under the weight of His crossbeam.

So disfigured and injured was He that the soldiers “laid hold on one Simon, a Cyrenean…and on his shoulders they put the cross, for him to carry it behind Jesus.” (Luke 23:26 Weymouth)

Jesus said to His disciples…

“If anyone desires to come after Me,

let him deny himself,

and take up his cross,

and follow Me.”

(Matt. 16:24 NKJV)

Matthew Henry wrote, “In taking up the cross, we must follow Christ’s example, and bear it as he did.”

Is it our heart’s desire to trail behind in the footsteps of Jesus so that we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him daily? I say as Paul did, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” (Phil. 3:10 NIV)

My heart has been to Golgotha’s hill. The agony of that cross pierced the depth of my soul. My life received the precious blood of salvation poured out at the foot of that cross, washing me with the Savior’s forgiveness, cleansing me of all my sins.

Therefore, I will deny myself, take up that old rugged cross, and follow Christ daily.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

How about you? Will you deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus daily?

From His feet,

Lynn

lynnmosher.com

 

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Not Tough Love, just Love

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 101,335 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it.

We are starting a new promotion. The person who is our 105,000 will wins some nice prizes. It goes very fast so don’t miss out. 

_____________________________________

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. Look for updates here.

+ Update! The book has been sent to my editor this week. Now I wait and see how many red marks she will have in it. 🙂 

__________________________________________________________

Welcome back Linda Clare. Her posts have us crying. They want us to reach out to help. They are inspiring.

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Not Tough Love—Just Love

That Sunday in church, tears slid down my face. I was so close to hopelessness, I didn’t care if my mascara ran. The night before, two of my grown sons, fueled by alcohol and drugs, had argued and nearly come to blows. Again.

The son who was supposed to be getting sober had relapsed. His brother was tweaking on meth. Around three AM, old grudges and rivalry reignited as their shouts woke my husband and me. We’d managed to break up the late-night fracas, but nothing was resolved. I felt trapped in a cycle: hope’s birth, followed by hope’s death, hope’s rebirth and back to death again. Now, even as Deacon Ron (not his real name) read aloud the Gospel, I wondered if I had strength enough to ever hope again.

My heart was heavy. Any hope of escaping the cycle seemed impossible. I was not only discouraged and sad, I was angry. Angry at my sons for their behavior and their choices. Angry at myself for my failure to enforce Tough Love. Angry at. . .well, just mad.

Bad enough that I felt hopeless. Recently, someone had remarked that I also appeared helpless. Tough Love sounded like a logical solution to a thorny problem, but I couldn’t make it work. That made me seem like a toothless T. Rex, my mini-arms clawing nothing but air.  Why couldn’t I do what so many friends, relatives, counselors and clergy had suggested over the years? Why couldn’t I detach myself from the alcoholics and addicts in my life? After services, I avoided eye contact as I slouched along in the handshake line.

The problem for me, lay in the popular meaning of the term Tough Love. Whenever people advise me to use Tough Love, they usually mean, “kick out your addicted loved ones.” In twenty-plus years of dealing with their substance abuse, I’ve ordered my loved ones into treatment, set rules and drawn up code of conduct contracts. I’ve called police, obtained restraining orders and separated from my alcoholic husband for a time. But what I could never do was kick them out—especially if it meant, “Don’t come back until you’ve licked this problem.”

After services, instead of slinking off, I knelt at the prayer bench where Deacon Ron waits to pray for those who ask him. Ron’s also a Jail Chaplain, and has led a prison ministry for at least twenty years. He knows my family’s situation well. “Please pray for me.” I hung my head but he placed his hands on my shoulders. I glanced up and confessed. “I’m a terrible failure at Tough Love.”

What he said next made my jaw drop. “I don’t believe in Tough Love.”

I’d never heard anyone say that.  I thought Tough Love was the only way I’d ever convince my sons to go into recovery. The reason they were still using their drugs of choice was that I sucked at Tough Love. Unwittingly, I’d chained them to a life of self-destructive misery by not “kicking them out.”

I own a battered copy of the 1982 book, ToughLove, by family therapists and drug and alcohol counselors Phyllis and David York. After the tumultuous sixties and seventies, more and more teens were using tobacco and alcohol, and the crack cocaine epidemic was hitting youth hard. TOUGHLOVE was touted as the solution to restore parents’ control over their wayward youths. The book was a bestseller and changed many lives.

Somewhere along the way, though, TOUGHLOVE became Tough Love. While counseling professionals may still use the phrase to reference the Yorks’ program to establish control over wayward teens, most people today tend to think of Tough Love as, “kicking him/her out,” cutting off contact and withholding resources.

The idea works some of the time. I know several parents whose adult and teenage sons recovered after a Tough Love ultimatum. One friend’s son, in his forties, was a meth addict who recovered after his family said he wasn’t welcome at the family Christmas gathering. My own husband of forty years gave up drinking after we separated, and I’m thankful.

But not every family’s so lucky.  Sadly, addiction and mental illness are often tangled together. Too unstable to hold a job, find housing or pay for treatment, those with both mental conditions and substance abuse problems often self-medicate. Some are like my middle son, whose drug use and mental illness give him an emotional and social age of about ten years old.

Many alcoholics and addicts either cannot or will not get the help they need. Sometimes addicts are stubborn, but more often they’re destitute, physically sick, mentally ill or all three.  After the closure of most mental hospitals in the eighties, individuals once committed to institutions are now forced to live in the streets.  And what’s left for these people is more tough than loving.

My knees hurt as I knelt before Deacon Ron, but my mind raced. Why didn’t he believe in Tough Love? I remembered our own attempts to use Tough Love—we really did try. When our meth addict was not even sixteen, we “kicked him out.” Surely our son would feel the cold and wet from an Oregon winter night and beg to go to rehab. I packed my son’s belongings into a black trash bag, sobbing as I placed it outside the front door. We stood firm as he tried to talk his way back inside. We locked all the doors, only to find him asleep in his bed the next morning. This went on for days.

We finally gave up trying to kick him out, fearing he’d die if he had to live on the street.

Deacon Ron’s gaze drilled through me as I knelt. “Did you know that I lost a son to drugs?”

My eyes must have widened. Ron may have sensed I needed to know he wasn’t just opinionated—he’d already made the ultimate sacrifice. “No,” I mumbled. “I’m sorry for your loss.” I took a breath. “See, that’s why I fail at Tough Love— if I turn my back on them, I’m scared my sons will die.”

Ron smiled a little. “What does Jesus command us to do?”

“Ah. Love the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul. And love your neighbor as yourself.”

“That’s right.” Ron bowed his head and asked God to give me wisdom, courage, to help me love not only my sons, but to forgive those who judge me if I can’t do what they suggest. My soggy heart felt lighter as I began to I understand that talking about difficult problems like substance abuse and mental illness makes people uncomfortable. People naturally want to do something—anything—to make the pain stop. Tough Love sounds easy—just remove the addict from your midst and the problem is solved. In our culture, hard problems like addiction, sickness and death aren’t discussed much, let alone embraced.

I’m as squeamish as the next person—I still can’t watch the part of the movie where the Romans flog Jesus. But God has provided me with the grace and enough hope to keep encouraging and yes, often nudging my sons to get clean.

As Ron prayed, I also felt more compassion for those who can’t tolerate the idea of suffering, those whose story must turn away from the Passion and always be tuned to the glory of Easter. I forgave myself for being so sucky at Tough Love. Slowly, anger was replaced by love.

That day, I arrived home to the sound of our lawn mower. One son had transformed our yard from a mess after the harsh winter storms to an emerald-jeweled landscape. Besides mowing, he’d hauled fallen branches, edged the planters, raked leaves and swept the driveway. He’d even mowed the neighbor’s yard. He beamed as I thanked him for his efforts. Inside, his brother had cooked a Sunday dinner fit for royalty, and the house had been tidied too. A bouquet of fresh daffodils sat on the dining table. Both my sons demonstrated their love by doing, without being asked, chores that for me are difficult. I hugged each of them, hard, whispering that I loved them to the moon and back.

By the end of the day, I had sore knees, a singing heart and a stronger hope than ever. I’ll keep pushing them (and myself) to lay down demons and hold them accountable if they fight those demons with T. Rex arms. More than anything, I will keep on loving without conditions. That’s the toughest kind of love there is.

Linda Clare

Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken. 

You are never unloved.

And above all….never ever give up!

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Can Persecution be a Good Thing?

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 99,650 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it.

In our current promotion the winner will be the person who is the 100,000th subscriber will win some nice prizes. We are down to the last 350. It will go very fast. This is a huge milestone for us. 

______________________________________________________________________

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. Look for updates here.

UPDATE!!  In the final stages of having the book finished. Much of it is already sent off to my editor. The countdown begins!!

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We have a special guest blogger today. Taylor Wilkins ison staff for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. FCA is reaching out to the local high schools in my area, and Taylor (with God) is the reason for all of its success. This post will show you why.

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Signs of Hope- The Honor of Persecution

“they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” -Revelation 12:10-11

Have you ever been put down, persecuted, or physically abused for your belief?

I’m sure to some extent all of us have experienced this; but for most of us, we don’t consider persecution a blessing—At least not yet!

Throughout this past week God has been highlighting to me Persecution. In John 15:20 Jesus tells his followers; “no servant is greater than his master, if they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” and again in John 16:33 Jesus says; “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” As I asked God to search me and show me the places in my life that need to grow, the fear of persecution has been revealed to me as a weakness. This is not good because this causes a compromise in my obedience to the Holy Spirit’s voice and leading in my walk with him.

The reason to fear persecution usually comes from a lack of understanding about the treasure behind it. Jesus says that blessed are you when you are persecuted for my names sake. Even when the world comes against us for our faith we are blessed by our father in heaven. The weight of being persecuted by man compared to being blessed by God is of no comparison, yet we often fear the latter!

It could be that what I’ve been describing above is resonating with you—or maybe you have been abused for things completely unrelated to faith. We live in a world that often tears people down better then it builds them up. Your story could be of broken trust, abuse, bullying, an affair, sexual abuse, or abusive parents. My heart breaks thinking of the terrible things that are happening to wonderful innocent people—and often the ones who can’t defend themselves. If your story of persecution is along these lines, I want you to know it is the glory of God to redeem that which was lost. God has been through everything with you and he will not let your tears fall to the ground unnoticed. He loves you, and He will redeem your life.

Today this is a Sign of Hope, that no matter the circumstance you are in, or the breakthrough you need, God is near to you and He has “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Taylor Wilkins

Fellowship of Christian Athletes

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Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all….never, ever, give up!

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Walking an Unknown Path Can be Scary

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 99,000 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it.

In our current promotion the winner will be the person who is the 100,000 subscriber will win some nice prizes. We are down to the last 1,000. It will go very fast. This is a huge milestone for us. 

______________________________________________________________________

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. Look for updates here.

UPDATE!!  In the final stages of having the book finished. Much of it is already sent off to my editor. The countdown begins!!

________________________________________________________

I have walked a straight and narrow path the last few years. It has been very hard. Every bend in the path causes me to wonder what is around that bend ahead of me. I have often prayed about it, and God seems to be telling me, walk by faith!

It is easy to say OK, Lord, but in truth it is very hard sometimes. The unknown is often scary. I learned that during my time in the military. There were many bends in our paths, and I had no idea what was around that next bend for me.

Faith is what we cling to. Faith is what keeps us going. Faith carries us over the walls that block us.

I weighed in this morning like I do every morning. It is required by my cardiologist. If I am up two pounds overnight, I have to increase my “water pills,” to a whole one instead of a half. It is usually because fluids are building up around my heart. Not a good thing.

So, I weighed and I swore it said, ONLY ONE PERSON ON THE SCALES AT ONE TIME!

I was up 1.6 pounds. Not enough to increase meds, but degrading just the same.

Losing weight, or maintaining it, is a full time job. It is a job no one really gets excited about doing.

I look at like its my life. I need to do inventory everyday to see where I am at. I need to correct some things if it looks like I have faltered a little.

Do I love weighing in every day? I think you already know the answer to that. However, if I don’t I will be paying serious consequences that could even lead to my death.

The same goes for my daily life. I need to check my path constantly. I need to adjust my thinking; my attitude; my outlook on life, and I have to do it often.

With the world we live in now, it can be very easy to give up and go with the flow. It would be easy to not fight the dark side.

Don’t allow this to happen. You also need to take inventory of your life, EVERY DAY!

Stop the creeping vines that are wrapping around your legs, and be strong. Let God be your guide. Lean on His strength.

Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all…never, ever, give up!

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