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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I am Loved, Warts and All

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 91,960. 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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I thought I would something different. (I know…scary right?)

This whole post is going to be all done from songs from last Sunday’s church service. You may recognize some of them. Here we go:

You listen every time I speak.

God listens to us. He doesn’t turn a deaf ear. I knows our needs. He knows our hurts and pain. He will listen and answer our prayers.

You are the one that never changes

God is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow. He never decides to change His promises He has laid out for us in the Bible.

My shame is undone because of you

We do not need to live in shame every day. Just one day of asking for forgiveness, and all shame is washed away. You have a clean slate. Pretty exciting.

You bring light to the darkness

We all have faced the dark side. We have all been through raging storms in our lives. God is there to help calm them and show us the way to the light.

It’s your breath in our lungs

We seem to forget that God put the first breath in Adam. He puts the breath into each and every one of us. We are made in His own image.

What will wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Oh precious is the flow that makes me white as snow.

Through the Bible we have learned that there is one and only one way to be saved and have salvation. Jesus went to the cross and endured much pain so we could have eternal life.

You praises will ever be on my lips

Because of all the things does for us from above we should be praising Him every day, 24/7. He loves us and we need to love Him in return. I say He loves us, and yes, that is warts and all. He doesn’t care if you are rich; good looking; or famous. He loves each of us at our own level.

Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all…never, ever, give up!

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You Won’t See Hearses Pulling U-Hauls

We are starting  a new promotion. The next winner will be the one that gets us to 83,000. We just passed 82,280. It will go fast as we have been averaging close to 100 new subscribers a day. There are nice prizes, so don’t miss out, subscribe today. Just click on the icon right after the title to do that.

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Doug Bolton, the founder of Signs of Hope, has written 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, 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. Doug sent off his mini proposal to an agent who is very interested in his concept. We will update you when we hear more.
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You have lots of stuff. I have lots of stuff, and yet we want more stuff. We fill up our garage with stuff we want and may use some day. We have a full garage, but we are all empty on the inside.
We are so caught up in the, “I want to have more than my neighbor,” routine that when they get a new boat we want a bigger one. When they buy a new car, we want a better one.
This is not right path for us to be walking on. It only leads to sadness, and broken dreams because we never reach the heights we wanted to.
Don’t get me wrong, God wants us to all have treasures. He even is OK with you storing them up. However He wants you to store them in the right place.
Matthew 6:19-21 says, ” Do not store up for your selves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
The title of this post tells it all. You can’t take it will you. Everything in that garage will go to someone else when you are gone.
I would like to share some lyrics I heard at my church last Sunday. They are little pieces from hymns that meant a lot to me:
“Your love breaks my fall.” When ever we have a fall that hurts us, God is there to pick us back up and walks with us on our path after that.
“Death’s power is as dead as your sin.” When we turn all our sins over to God we have a clean slate with Him.
“Oh to be like you!” We all should strive to be more like Jesus, who is the prime example we should follow.
“You give me hope. You give me love. You bring light to the darkness.” We will all face storms. Good is there to help calm them and give us hope.
“It’s your breath in my lungs.” This is one of my favorite lines from a song. This is telling us that God gave us life by breathing into our lungs. We should thank Him every day for that.
Remember:
You are never alone.
You are never forsaken.
You are never unloved.
And above all…never, ever, give up!
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Snapshots on the Soul

Not sure what is happening. I sent another email to a winner from last week and never received a response. I am wondering if the readers are putting in real email addresses. To win this promotion you have to have a valid email address for us to connect with to award you your prizes.

We have started a new promotion with the same prizes involved. The person who is the 72,000th subscriber will win two prizes that will be announced after we have established a winner. We are now at 71,450, so we are rolling fast to our next winning spot.
We hope to keep growing every day, so if you haven’t already subscribed please do now. You just click on the icon right after the title to do that. _________________________________________________________________
Doug Bolton, the founder of Signs of Hope, has written a new book, “Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of Life.” It will be reaching out the many soldiers and veterans who may be battling anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, rejections, 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. He just got back from a writer’s conference and had some very positive meetings with some agents who are interested in taking him on as a client for his new book. He will up date you as he finds out more.
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 Welcome back our guest blogger Lynn Mosher. She has a very interesting take on how we “see,” things in this great post.
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Snapshots on the Soul

 

Don’t you love it when God shows you something new or shows you something you already knew but in a new or different way? The Lord brought something to my mind in my prayer time the other day. Not really something I didn’t know but something revealed in a new way for me to discover.

 

Humor me for a second. Shut your eyes really tight and then open them again. So, what happened? The more you closed your eyes, the less light you saw, right?

 

Nothing new or different here, you say. Okay. How about this? (If you are familiar with how a camera works, hang in there. And if you’re not, hang in there!)

 

The body of a camera is sealed from any light except for a convex lens in one side. This lens, when opened all the way, receives full light, and as it is closed down, receives less and less light.

 

Like a camera body and lens, our body has a lens, our eye, or rather, our eyes. The lens of the eye opens and closes to let in light.

 

Our eyes also act as a spiritual lens. Luke tells us that the “eyes are the lamp for your body.” (Luke 11:34a CEV) Or as the King James says, “thine eye is single.”

 

Single, as in singleness of purpose or focus. If our eyes are not focused on the Lord, our vision is crowded and clouded with other things. If “your eye is unclouded, your whole body is full of light.” (Luke 11:34a GWT)

 

When we are filled with trials, griefs, disappointments, circumstances, self-sufficiency, sin, a negative attitude, pride, selfishness, unforgiveness, or whatever, our spiritual lens closes down. Less and less Light of the Lord can penetrate our heart and spirit.

 

Having our eyes wide open for all of God’s Light is essential. However…

 

The camera lens has what is called aperture settings or f-stops (or openings) through which light travels, regulating the amount of light passing through the lens onto the film or digital component.

 

A higher number f-stop will let in half as much light as a smaller number before it. So, the smaller the number, the larger the opening of the lens. (Seems backwards, doesn’t it?)

 

Changes to f-stop openings also affect the focus (depth of field). So, if you use a higher number f-stop (smaller opening), the more focused the picture will be.

 

Distance also affects the focus of the subject. The greater the distance, the higher the f-stop opening is necessary so that more will be in focus. The closer the object, the more the object will be in focus, while the background becomes fuzzy. However, if the lens is adjusted for close-ups, then all of the close-up will be in focus. (Unless, you choose for some of it to be out of focus.)

 

What do we choose to focus on? Do we want to focus on Jesus close-up, or at a distance?

 

Do we choose close-up, desiring Jesus to be the object of our full focus while the rest of the world remains fuzzy? Or do we choose at a distance, which encompasses the whole world view, and lose our focus on Him?

 

Though we want everything to be in focus, God doesn’t always allow the whole picture to be clear; therefore, we need to focus on Him, close-up.

When you take a picture, the lens concentrates the light, making an impression in the camera, whether on film or digitally, and forms an image.

 

What do our little eyes spy that makes an impression on the film of our soul, heart, mind, and spirit?

 

What we look at, what we focus on, becomes imprinted as snapshots within us.

 

Have you discovered your best place of focus?

 

May the snapshots on your soul be filled with the Light of Life.

 

From His feet, Lynn

lynnmosher.com

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