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. 


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. 🙂 


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.


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.

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,



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Is There Hope at the End of the Day?

We are so  honored to be with you each day sharing hope. Our outreach has grown at a tremendous pace. We just past 93,775 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it. We have a new promotion going with prizes. The person who is our 95,000 follower will receive two nice prizes, which we will not name. (This is called a hook in writing.) The number of followers raises fast. We are averaging close to 30 new subscribers each day. So don’t hesitate! Click on the icon right after the title of this post to subscribe to be eligible for the prizes. 


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 every 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. Look for updates here.


Something exciting happening soon.


This post for this Christmas season is powerful. Linda Clare has been through the gauntlet of despair the last few years. Her determination to not be overcome is amazing. Read her story about an addicted family and their struggles. 


Hope Resurrected


That Christmas was going to be the year: The year my fractured family had a happy Christmas, full of laughter, giving and hope. The year we stopped lobbing snarky remarks at each other and started hugging instead. The year I hoped to celebrate Christmas rather than plan another intervention.

That year, my family, like many families, gathered around a seven-foot artificial tree shimmering with lights and ornaments. The fake fir looked noble sitting next to a sickly, withered African violet on the window sill. We were at Mom’s place, set to do the whole Christmas Dinner thing. My mother was trying out a “new” Christmas menu taken from some gourmet magazine. You could say that’s when the trouble started.

Everyone crowded into Mom’s apartment, marveling at her tastefully appointed formal table set with silver and charger plates. One of the grandkids asked, “What’s that terrible smell?” Mom answered, “Brussels sprouts with shallots and salt pork!” The rest of us grumbled that we’d prefer instant mashed potatoes, jellied cranberry sauce and green bean casserole. Mom took this personally and poured herself another glass of wine.

Yet while we all wore holiday outfits, displayed wide smiles and politely raved over Mom’s “interesting” cooking, inside every one of us simmering resentments, personal grudges and high anxiety brewed. My adult sons and nephews busied themselves with making sure the beer and wines were never lonely, while I cast nervous glances to gauge just how blitzed they were becoming. One family member, who always tries to convert my hedonist boys, was preaching his yearly sermon from his spot at Mom’s grand piano, not realizing his own son was already six fingers into her liquor stash. I looked from face to face, reading the expressions: if I was even half-right, everybody in Mom’s living room appeared to be contemplating a jump off a bridge. With the brussel sprouts.

Whatever hope I had for a Norman Rockwell Christmas wilted like the African violet in the window. And I know my family isn’t alone.

December, perhaps more than any month, is where hope flickers and threatens to die. Even if you’re not particularly religious, the month of giving is known for overindulging, stress and expectations. While everybody seems to slouch toward excess, for those with addiction problems, temptation lies in wait everywhere. For those with mental illness, the demands of December’s holiday cheer can mean a cruel and isolated season. And for those of us who love addicts and/or the mentally ill, December marks the season of holding one’s breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop. That night, I was sure that shoe would crash down in the form of embarrassing and loud behavior from any number of inebriated fools and judgmental teetotalers. In other words, my relatives and me.

Measuring Advent in terms of catastrophes had become a habit for me. I’d become a kind of grinchy let’s-just-get-through-this kind of person, and I thought I had a good reason. I’d spent my tenth Christmas two states away from my family in a Shriner’s hospital ward, recovering from orthopedic surgery. Back then inpatients were only allowed two books and stationery from home. We couldn’t even wear our own clothes. Most of us stayed for at least three months—since October, I’d had two major surgeries on my paralyzed left arm and hand. At times, all of us felt more like inmates than inpatients.

Christmas Day, the hospital staff tried to make our day festive, feeding us a turkey dinner, bringing in a fake Santa and holding a street parade that we on the third-floor couldn’t really see. Most of the other girls on my ward were encased in plaster from their chins to their toes, and I was the only patient who could walk unassisted. That Christmas, I remember that nobody cared much about the parade, the dinner or even the phony Santa Claus. What we really wanted—no, needed—were our families.

But our moms and dads hadn’t even been allowed to send us gifts—to help keep patients from low-income homes from feeling bad. Instead, each patient, sitting on her hospital bed, got a visit from that fake Santa and two small wrapped gifts marked, “For a Girl.” I opened mine and stared at a cartoonish, stuffed Rudolph and a cheap plastic doll. I scolded myself. Be grateful, don’t cry. I felt under my pillow for my little white Bible—one of my two books (the other was a Nancy Drew) from home.

At that moment, more than anything, I wanted someone to hold my hand and tell me I was loveable, if not loved. That even though I wasn’t home for Christmas, they hoped I’d be released soon. The ward nurses scurried from patient to patient, handing out bed pans, taking temperatures and admonishing girls to stay on their beds.  I kept my feelings to myself.

I kept smiling, but my prayer for a Christmas Miracle, in the form of being somehow transported home to Yuma, Arizona, faded away like the Santa’s ho-ho-hos. I buried a boatload of hope that day, not understanding how God had overlooked such a heartfelt request.

Three weeks later, I finally made it home, where my family had kept the Christmas tree up until I arrived. That tree was brown and dead now, but it resurrected my hope for better days ahead. I don’t remember what gifts I received, only that I was so happy—happy to have Christmas with my loved ones, happy to be home. Even then I wondered whether I would have known such happiness if I hadn’t lived through the Fake Santa Christmas first.

And that fateful Christmas at Mom’s, it occurred to me that we continually walk this path of death and resurrection.

The death of hope when a child’s wish isn’t fulfilled or when a codependent mother secretly tracks her sons’ drinking shadows the thorny path from the Cross to Easter’s resurrection. Death is necessary to create new life.  It’s a circle of Good Friday to Sunday, played out on a small scale, again and again.

While I don’t wish suffering or calamity on anyone, it does seem as if our best times come in contrast to our worst times. We savor warmth if we’ve been cold, food if we’ve been hungry. We appreciate shelter if we’ve been homeless and kindness if we’ve seen discrimination or indifference. I doubt I could ever entertain unconditional love if I hadn’t also experienced the pain of rejection. Even so, I struggle to understand the addiction and mental illness in my family and my own role in it. But hope allows me to keep on learning.

Hope is about failing and daring to hope again. It’s about hurting someone’s feelings with a careless remark but sincerely atoning for it and vowing to do better. It’s about extending love to all those who are different, disabled or even those whom we wish would get their doggone acts together. Hope rises from the ashes of our mistakes and helps us keep lurching forward, even if we’re bound for another valley of trial.

Christmas time is tough for so many. For those who suffer from loneliness, addiction, mental illness or just a crazy family like mine, December can be the cruelest month.  Yet I’ve found that the best cure for times when hope withers and threatens to croak is to look outside myself. The One Who is Hope guides me to those who need a little cheer. Hope is born again in me as I embrace others just as they are. Even when you’re broken and hurting and secretly wish those with the glowing annual Christmas letters would stuff it, just keep walking toward the Star, and hope floods in.

That year at Mom’s, I watched as one of my sons withdrew more with each bottle of stout beer he drank. I went to him, huddled in the corner, booze on his breath, desperation in his eyes. There was nothing I could do or not do to convince him to lay aside alcohol. Just as nobody could talk Mom out of her horrid gourmet menu, I was helpless to fix my son’s substance abuse problem. So I did the only thing I could: I took his hand and said, “I love you to the moon and back—and by the way, we could go out for a little fresh air if you need some.”

“Mom.” He smiled. “I love you too.”


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Good Friday

“So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him…” John 19:16b-18a

Good Friday is really good for those who have come to the foot of the cross of Jesus, in repentance and faith. It is a commemoration for Christians of the ultimate and final sacrifice for the sins of the world. Through a cruel and grueling death, Christ gave His life—His body wreathed in pain, so the sick could be healed. He felt abandonment, so the rejected could be accepted. He knew no sin, but became sin, so sinners could be forgiven. 

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Oh what salvation and love—the Lord’s life consummated on Calvary. Oh what forgiveness—His raspy voice reiterated. Oh what compassion—His swollen face communicated. Oh what grace—His nail pierced hands activated. Oh what good news—His nail pierced feet initiated. Oh what humility—His crown of thorns demonstrated. 
It is Good Friday, because the good news of Jesus Christ’s love and forgiveness has been proclaimed around the world for almost two centuries. Taste and see that the Lord is good. He is good on Friday, but He is great on Sunday—because on the first day of the week He rose from the dead. Friday is good—but three days later is better—for He lives!

Indeed, some who killed Him instantly recognized Him for who He was—they believed.
“And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, Surely this man was the son of God” (Mark 15:39)! 

Good Friday’s come and Good Friday’s go, but how is it with your soul? Does the cross of Christ move you to emotion—are you a grateful and engaged follower of Jesus? If not, embrace and celebrate the Cross. Ask your heavenly Father to restore the joy of your salvation, or maybe, you are coming to Him for the first time in faith and trust. Surely, this man must be the Son of God—who came to save you and the world from their sins.

Make today a meaningful memory of what your master Jesus did for you. Linger long in reflection of the love that flowed down, and mingled with His precious blood. See His hands, see His feet; oh what love that makes your joy complete. You serve a risen Savior, who’s in the world today—He walks with you—He talks with you—He gave His life just for you. Good Friday is good—because Jesus is good—and His cross is God’s loving gift. 

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

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Catching God’s Vision

Think about some of the red furrows of life from which we often draw back. At such times we become “a corn of wheat afraid to die”.But, where there is no death, there can be no life. Outside the furrow we remain safe, warm, comfortable – and unfruitful.

First we shall consider what I am calling “divine delays” – those periods of life to which God leads us when it seems that nothing is happening and that His purposes for our lives are temporarily shelved. Perhaps you are at this point at this very moment. If so, don’t panic – God’s delays are not His denials. Our Master has a purpose in everything He does. You must believe that, even though your fears scream the opposite.

One of the most difficult things to do in the Christian life is to wait for God’s purposes to come to pass. Sometimes they take so long to materialize that we find ourselves getting vexed and frustrated. Have you heard about the Christian who prayed: “Lord, give me patience ‘ and I want it right now”?

Wouldn’t you rather do anything than wait? A man told a Christian counselor: “Waiting for God to bring His purposes to pass is the biggest problem I face in my Christian life; there is something within me that would rather do the wrong thing than wait.” As waiting for God to bring about His purposes is more the rule than the exception in the Christian life, we had better learn what God has in mind when His red light flashes out the signal, “Wait! Wait! Wait!”

Does this mean that for most of our Christian life we should do nothing but wait for God to move? No. Clearly there are certain aspects of the Christian life which require immediate and daily attention, and for which we have all the guidance we need.

We don’t need to wait on God, for example, to know what we should do about forgiving those who have hurt us, or sharing our faith with the unconverted. Those purposes of God are to be seen as standard operating procedure and are clearly set out in His Word.

I am referring here, not so much to His general purposes, but to His individual purposes – those special plans which He wants to achieve through us personally. Every Christian has the responsibility of coming before God to seek to discover just what it is that God wants to achieve through his or her life. And as we are faithful in reading His Word, obeying His commands, and communing with Him in prayer, we can expect Him to reveal those special plans for our lives.

Nehemiah served the king faithfully, but when he heard about the disgraceful condition of God’s city, Jerusalem, he caught a vision of rebuilding the walls. God then worked in the king’s heart to give him a desire to assist Nehemiah in achieving that vision. Have you caught the vision of what God wants to achieve through your own individual life and witness on this earth? If not, why not? What is the point? As we are faithful in following God, we can expect Him to reveal His special plan for our lives. Just as Nehemiah caught the vision of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, so we, too, if we are ready and alert, will catch the vision of what God has specially equipped us to do.

 I believe there are many of you now reading these lines who are living faithful lives for God, but you have never asked Him to show you the special thing He wants you to achieve for Him. And don’t think of that special calling in terms of something that will bring you prestige and glamour – to do that will take you right off the track.

If you have never done so before, ask the Lord right now to give you a vision of what He wants you to achieve for Him. Who knows – this could be, not just a new day, but a new beginning.

What happens next?  Usually, the next step after catching a vision is to see it die. There is a special reason for this: our vision often contains a combination of godly concerns and human perspectives, so God has to engineer a way whereby the godly concerns remain and the human perspectives are changed to divine perspectives. His way of doing this is to cause the vision to die.

This is a Biblical principle that can be traced from Genesis to Revelation. The vision Abraham received of being the father of a great nation “died” when he found his wife was barren. The vision Moses received “died” when he was rejected by his people and was forced to flee into the desert for forty years.

Why, we ask, does God bring a vision to birth and then allow it to die? For this reason: the waiting time in which we find ourselves during the death of a vision is God’s classroom for the development of godly character in us. It is in the waiting time, as the vision “dies”, that such qualities as patience, persistence, perseverance and self-control are built into us.

Has God given you in the past a vision of something that you knew was definitely from Him – but now the vision has died? Then don’t be discouraged. This is the way God works. He is using the waiting time to change your ideas to His ideas and your perspectives to His perspectives.

“ he rebuked Peter, and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men.” (v.33, RSV) 

Once we have been given a vision of what God wants us to do for Him, the next thing that happens is that the vision dies. The reason for this is that Christian character must be developed in us before God can accomplish His purpose in our lives, and this can only be done by God bringing our vision down into death.

Many Christians have been baffled by this strange strategy which God uses to develop Christ-likeness in us, but it is yet another illustration of the principle that death must precede life. An important thing to remember is that Satan is extremely operative at this time, for his purpose is to get you to fulfill the vision by your own human effort. And whenever you do this, you will finish up in conflict.

Remember what happened to Abraham? Rather than waiting for God to bring the vision into being at His own time, he tried to “help” God by having a son through Sarah’s maidservant, Hagar (Gen. 16:3-4). The result of that was conflict between Isaac and Ishmael – a conflict that has continued to this day. Peter was once used by Satan to talk Christ out of facing death on Calvary, but Jesus recognized the true source of his ideas and responded with the words: “Get behind me, Satan!” One writer comments on this passage: “Satan often uses those who are closest to us to ‘protect’ us from what we know God has called us to do.” Even close Christian friends sometimes fail to understand that before we can live for God’s purposes, we must die to our own.

What happens after God causes our vision to “die”, and His purpose of building into us the characteristics of Christ has been achieved? This: He then resurrects the vision and brings it to joyous fulfillment.

His purpose in doing this is not just to fulfill the vision, but to do so in a way that points to His supernatural intervention. In that way no onlooker can be in any doubt as to whose power lies behind its success – everyone recognizes it to be God.

While the disciples were with Christ, they received a vision of the coming kingdom, but on the cross they saw that vision die before their eyes. What happened then? Three days later, they witnessed the supernatural power of God bring Christ back from the dead – an event that turned them upside down

We come to a place where  own enthusiasm for it slowly ebbs away until we come to the place where we say: “God, it’s not mine – it’s Yours.” Then comes resurrection. From that time, God is  seen to have the greatest part in its compilation. And He alone receives the Glory.

Have Your  decisions brought You to a desert place?  God can use the desert to fulfill a greater purpose in Your  life. Moses spent the first 40 years of his life learning that he was something; he spent the next 40 years learning he was nothing; and  he spent the next 40 years learning that God could make something out of nothing! It’s time to discover what God wants to make of Your  life! Let Him prepare You for something bigger, something better in Him.

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