Nuggets: Hang Your Hope Up

flicker5-copy-4I’m hanging my hope on …

We’ve all said this at one time or another, or admonished someone else, “Don’t hang your hopes on that!”

Where is it safe to hang your hopes? Are you sometimes afraid to even identify what you hope for, for fear that it will never come to fruition? That if you hang it up, it will dangle precariously and then crash at your feet in a thousand pieces? Another common phrase is “hopes dashed to pieces.” We all know the feeling and the gut-wrenching sound of shattering hope.

So again, where is it safe to hang your hope?

Psalm 62:5 says, “For God alone, Oh my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.” That’s the ESV, but KJV words it this way, ” … for my expectation is from Him.”

That word “expectation” in the Hebrew is tiqvah and actually means: cord, expectation, hope.

I can picture a cord with all my hopes swinging from it.

I wrote recently about expectation in marriage and how quickly it can dissolve intimacy. I also read this: It Takes a Lot to Build a Marriage and Only One Thing to Kill It.  I can personally attest to hanging high hopes on my husband–hopes that he often doesn’t even know about since he can’t read my mind. And then, having them hopelessly crushed when he is unable to fulfill my lofty, mysterious expectations.

Do you know why he cannot fulfill them? Because in the end of Psalm 62 it says, ” … power belongs to God, and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.”

God alone has the power to meet my expectations. He only knows the desires of my heart (even before I voice them–even before I identify them). He alone is the safe place to hang my hope. 

Where is yours today? Is your hope safe?

Nuggets: Flu Shot Jesus

Currently, my husband’s and my favorite pastor to listen to online is Craig  Groeschel. This morning he made an unsettling point.

Do you treat Jesus like a vaccination? 

When you get a flu shot, you are essentially being injected with a weakened strain of the flu virus. Within a couple weeks, your body develops antibodies to the infection so that in the future you are protected from it. You might feel a bit under-the-weather after receiving a flu shot, but for the most part you can go along your merry way. You got just enough of the virus to make you immune to it.

Many of us have received just enough of the Gospel to be immune to Jesus. We’ve been doused with church and Christian-ese. We’ve learned the moral things and can spout off the Ten Commandments, John 3:16 and most of the 23rd Psalm. We’re familiar enough with Jesus that He doesn’t radically impact our lives on a daily basis. Basically, we’re immune–numb.

If we’re not careful, that weakened strain of the Gospel will prevent us from getting  “really infected” with the person of Jesus Christ. It will certainly keep us from being contagious. 

Just a nugget. Just a thought.

Nuggets: Be Unashamed of Your Body

I think Heaven should have a special appeal to all those who have struggled with body image. Not that Heaven isn’t just plain awesome, period. But, the way it’s described in Scripture, tugs my formerly eating disordered heart in a unique way.

I’ve recently listened to Pastor Chip Ingram’s series on Heaven and I highly recommend it! One of the things he presses, is that Heaven will not seem incredibly foreign. It’s not something that we can “only imagine”. Heaven is the place that God dwells, it’s where He wants to live and where He wants to live in close, face-to-face relationship with His people for all eternity. It’s actually very like what He created in the first place. And we have a pretty good description of Eden in Genesis.

My favorite line in all of Genesis is verse 2:25, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”

Can you imagine (perhaps this is where we have to employ imagination) what it would be likely to be completely unashamed of your body?

We are told that we will have new, glorified bodies but we will have bodies. Psalm 139 expresses God’s intention and pleasure in the unique way He sculpted you and me. He wants me to look this way! He is happy with the way you turned out!

So, set your sight again on the eternal. Don’t get hung up on the things that moths and dust will corrupt. One day, you’ll look at yourself and truly see you as God does–with pleasure, joy and peace.

Nuggets: How To Let it Go Over the Holidays

Who sat on your last nerve yesterday? What relative, family friend, crazy-Christmas shopper or road hog nearly sent you over the edge?

It’s easy to quickly lose our cool with those who frustrate us. It’s especially draining when we’re talking about ongoing discord. These relationships and situations are likely to come into painful proximity over the holidays. I’m not sure why, but God recently gave me a perspective check.

In the heat of the moment, our reactions to these people is fiery. It’s us against them; you against us; I’m right and you’re wrong. But regardless of who is “right” in any given circumstance, one of the best ways to defuse an argument and lower your blood pressure is to remember that the other person isn’t evil, they aren’t your true enemy and chances are they have good intentions. 

When you look at the word “wicked” throughout the book of Proverbs, you get a pretty good idea of what God considers a wicked person:

  • devises evil plans
  • runs to do evil
  • walks in darkness
  • conceals violence
  • his soul desires evil

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that most of us don’t know anyone like this. At the very least, your spouse probably isn’t evil. Neither is your mother-in-law, sister or best friend’s boyfriend.

So, if they have good intentions as you do, if they are not really an evil person, maybe you can just let this one go?

Nuggets-What Are We Supposed to Be Thankful In?

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. “

What has that meant to you in the past?

How have you heard it preached?

Grit your teeth and thank God that your life is falling apart, your spouse left, your kid is a practicing prodigal, you’ve got cancer or any other possible terrible circumstance?

Or, perhaps you’ve put the verse into practice by saying, “God, thank you inSPITE of all I’m facing. InSPITE off all the terrible things, I will be thankful.”

But that’s not really what it says, is it?

” … give thanks in all circumstances … “

That little word “in” isn’t too hard to understand. It just means “smack in the middle of”(my personal definition). It means, even in the middle of the crap, the crud and the costly, find something to be thankful for.

We can and should start with the Gospel: “That Christ Jesus came to save sinners,” (1 Timothy 1:15). 

Nuggets: What Christians Must Remember About Donald Trump …

( … and all elected officials)

I didn’t stay awake to watch the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, but I did know that at 3 a.m. I would check the results with my baby in my arms–a baby who will keenly experience the repercussions of America’s decision last night.

And praise the LORD.

It’s no secret who I voted for. Evangelical voters turned out in droves for Trump and I have no shame aligning myself with that crowd.

But as I rejoiced, I felt a warning rise up in my spirit:

In recent days, I’ve heard many Christians espouse their strong assurance that God is in control. When it seemed like Hillary might win, we declared that no matter what happened, God is on the throne.

We remembered that it doesn’t really matter who is in office. God sets up kings, leaders, rulers and God tears down the same. We remembered that He does whatever He pleases in heaven and on earth in the seas and all the deeps. “HE it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightenings for the rain and brings for the wind from His storehouses.” (Psalm 135:6-7)

Now, lest we rejoice in our new found political stature as conservatives, lest we find hope in supreme court justices, a majority in the US Senate, the US House, a prolife president or the resounding commentary on the outgoing administration: let us remember what we said yesterday as we cast our ballots.

‘It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him.’ Daniel 2:21-22

Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Psalm 100:3

Nuggets: What were you expecting?

So, my hubby comes out of the field for (what feels like) the 100th time today. This excursion was only a couple nights, but a quick glance back at the month of October and I realize the heavy toll I’m feeling is grounded in the fact that we scarcely had a single weekend together last month.

I’m sitting comfortably at my kitchen table, enjoying quiet time with Jesus and waiting for Eve to wake. He texts me and suddenly my mind is off, thinking about what our evening will hold, happy that he has tomorrow off and conjuring up a myriad of expectations for our window of time together:

I want him to enjoy Eve … I want to feel intimate and close to him … I want physical affection … I want a chance to talk to him … I want him to express an achy “I missed you guys” too … I want him to tell me about what happened out there and how things went … I want to talk to him about some ideas rumbling around in my head … I want to make fun plans for this coming weekend since he’ll finally be home …

Quickly, (thankfully) God stopped my musings.

Haven’t we talked about this before?

This single greatest danger I have allowed to enter our marriage through my own weaknesses is expectation. Expectation of another fallen human being is doomed for failure, reaps disappointment and breeds discontentment and ultimately bitterness.

Psalm 62:5 says, “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.”

My expectations have no place but in God. There is no one else who will meet them every single time. There is no one else in whom they are safe. There’s honestly no one else who can handle them and no one else who can comfort me when they go unmet.

Where are your expectations today? What are you going to do when someone lets you down?

Nuggets: Cut Off Your Hand

In the span of 24 hours, three women I love deeply told me of their partner’s unfaithfulness. And it all began in their right hands.

That stupid phone.

That little gadget puts more power beneath our thumbs than between our ears. And more danger at our finger tips than in any previous generation.

All three women discovered that their husbands (one is a boyfriend) are having ongoing conversations with other women. Simple texts morphed quickly into rendezvous, emotional attachments and physical relationships.

And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

I’ve always thought Matthew 5:30 seemed a little odd. At least Jesus was using hyperbole, right? I still don’t think Jesus intends for us to literally chop off our hands, but it’s more obvious to me now how segmented we pretend sin is.

It’s almost as if when sin starts (and stays for a while) in just our hands, and not yet in our hearts or the rest of our bodies, we excuse it: “It’s just a text right?”

It’s as if we think when sin is so simple, so easy it must not be as bad, right?

Jesus doesn’t think so. My loved ones know it isn’t so. Sin hurts, destroys, kills. And it can start in the palm of your hand.

 

Nuggets: How to Rest

Most of us know we’re sleep deprived, or at least over worked and stressed out. (Come on, it’s the modern curse that this is actually a badge of honor!) At the same time, most Christians are fully aware of God’s call to rest. If nothing else, in the 10 Commandments, we learn that God modeled a Sabbath rest for us.

Wouldn’t you like to take a rest?

It requires more than you think. Resting is costly.

Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”… Matthew 11:29

The prerequisite for rest, for truly letting your guard down, giving up control and walking with the Spirit is ultimate humility.

Yep. Rest might cost you your reputation, your wealth, your esteem, your drive and more.

True rest is found beneath the yoke of Christ. Look at Him. He tells us to learn from Him about rest and He certainly wasn’t taking a lot of long naps!

No, spirit-deep rest is found in surrender, gentleness and humility. But I have a feeling, that when we learn these traits from Jesus, we’ll find a supernatural rest that even affects us physically and mentally.