Hope of Kindness: The Jesus Place

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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 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.  


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. 


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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Do We Really God Anymore?

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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. Be looking for more details about the new book.


Glad to have Dennis Booth back as our guest blogger. He has a post on a public Holiday they have in Australia and New Zealand. Very interesting, and inspiring. Thank you Dennis.


This week in Australia and New Zealand we celebrate what is known as ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corp) Day and it is a Public Holiday when we remember the sacrifices of so many went to to war, some to return, many who did not.

It is a day of tears for many as they remember a grand father, indeed perhaps a great grandfather, a father, a mother, a sister, a brother, a relative who put on a uniform that told of where they had come from.

And now as we in these two countries reflect in the so many moving morning services we should also reflect that many of those in uniform were also Padres, men who were to offer hope of life thereafter if they fell in battle.

As men huddled in groups before a battle they were prayed over, scripture of hope read and then they went out and either returned from that particular confrontation or were injured, many badly or killed.

And some in years later would say what a senseless waste of human beings and if there was a God where was He when carnage seemed to be all around.

Where was God in the prisoner of war camps where men and indeed women suffered so terribly.

Yet I also know that just the existence of a Padre gave so many a sense of hope…they knew they had been prayed for and that there was talk of eternal life after earthly death.

Many of the Catholic faith had the last rites spoken over them.

My point in all of this is we live in a society today that seems to think we do not need God anymore, that Padres and Chaplains are not needed because political correctness would indicate that other religions are within the ranks of those serving and that if you cater to one then you must cater to all.

I am not going to debate that here save to say that so many who stepped off landing boats into a waiting hail of bullets and could hear them all around, needed hope to get them through what they were about to face.

I think more of the words spoken by Jesus Christ on the cross to one of the two thieves crucified alongside him…the thief who seemed to know Jesus was whom He said He was and who Jesus said to him….”this day you shall be in Paradise with me”.

And we too often tend to forget those words where the word “paradise” has given heart and courage to those who may be about to die.

In Australia and New Zealand on this day we hear an Ode and at the end we echo the final words…Lest We Forget….indeed!

Dennis Booth

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Wars, And Rumors of Wars Are Around Us

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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.
This Sunday we have Dennis Booth from Australia back with us. He has a post that may be hard to read, but with wars, and rumor of wars all around us, maybe this post will help wake us up. Thank you Dennis for your straight forward words of wisdom.

I have in recent ties been watching a television series called The War.

Created by a man called Ken Burns it is a look at how four towns/cities in the U.S suffered during WW2.

It could be said that other towns/cities suffered just as much but just taking four out of all of the probably brings a sense of what these four went through.

It is available on You Tube in Episode for but I got to see the whole thing on Netflix and now I know just how shocking war is….how soldiers, pilots and those in the air also, the navy were sent back with what they called in WW1, shell shock.

When we in Australia had war personnel return looking lost, dazed, unable to cope in ways they coped with before they went, they were called slackers, cowards and a new name or description of their plight was coined…war fatigue.

And it continued into the Vietnam War.

Now it is happening again in places like Afghanistan and the new term for those suffering hell on earth when they get home is Post traumatic stress.

To appreciate what these people went through you really do have to watch The War and it won’t be easy believe me.

The show pulls no punches in showing battle results graphically…carnage on a great style, the gory sights of bodies twisted to all angles.

It shows the continual shelling from heavy guns against soldiers trying to take whatever cover they can and the fear, the very real fear in their eyes and demeanour.

Burns doesn’t hide anything.

Pilots going out on mission after mission knowing every time increases their chance of never coming back.

The story of the sailors who had to jump into the ocean after their ship had been torpedoed only to watch sharks take many of them.

And of course it covers the arrival in the Holocaust camps of the British, Americans and Russians…soldiers who had killed their enemy but were absolutely appalled by what man could do to fellow man.

Why do I tell you all of this…because so often it reduced me to tears…that war is so terrible to contemplate what it does to people and that perhaps by watching shows like The War we will become an advocate for restraint.

Restraint because we may have to go to war again, hopefully not, but let the barbaric acts that have occurred cease, let restraint be a better measure.

Finally so many, many were killed on all sides…sudden death, that it is now my firm believe that Jesus was watching everyone who passed away and that there is indeed a heaven for no God, not atheist would let killing of that nature go without weeping and doing something about it.


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Are We Near the End Times?

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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. He got back from a writer’s conference recently 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.
It is great to have Dennis Booth Back doing a guest blog. He was a regular at one time. Pray for his recovery after having surgery. Thank you Dennis for taking time to share with us and helping us cope in this not so friendly world.

There may not be a world war at present but I think it fair to say the world is not at peace.

Turmoil in Middle Eastern countries with factions fighting factions has created not only unrest within the areas but those watching from outside feel uneasy.

And the West is not isolated from this lack of peace.

Governments throughout the world seem to be at times on a precipice and certainly the national economies of many countries are teetering one way or the other….again creating unease.

So where does it put you and me and the peace we so surely want to live in?

Firstly let’s take a look at Scripture because it was Jesus Christ himself who said we would have troubles in our lives and there would be rumours of war, earthquakes, calamities in general BUT…and He stresses none of these will be the end of mankind as some might predict because not even He knows the time….only His Father, God does.

So in a sense we need to take hold of that statement and grab some of the peace that issues from it.

But the Bible also tells us that if we commit to Christ that He and the Father (God) will come and live with us.

That would certainly give us the “peace beyond all understanding” but note the word “Commit”. …..you simply cannot give lip service to your walk with God and His Son and expect to know that peace because basically you are trying to have one step in the world and one step the other way.

So do you want to commit?

Let’s look at some salient points; in centuries past we have had calamity after calamity and yet the world continued to exist.

This even in the face of people who called themselves Christians perpetrating atrocities to their fellow man.

But it was those who committed who went to their death unafraid and that is in essence the peace beyond all understanding.

If you or your loved ones are going through problems, rather than blame God because He is seemingly absent, commit even more to Him as did the martyrs of old.

The point is you can break a body but you cannot break its spirit if that spirit does not want to be broken.

Remember God is never absent, nor is His Son or the Holy Spirit……they give committed Christians something that the non-committed do not have nor understand.

Dennis Booth

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