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?

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Whose Story Is It Anyway?

It’s easy to read the Bible as strictly past tense. After all, it happened thousands of years ago–right? We don’t often think about Abraham’s past, but eternity stretches on either side of Abraham’s personal dot on the timeline of history.

David Ramos’ book, Climbing With Abraham, opens with this unusual observation. Abraham’s future, his influence, is still potent today. And all of history prior to his birth was in some way preparing the earth for his mission–his time and place. Go figure!

… there was a before Abraham and there was an after Abraham, and the same is true for you. Countless stories have taken place to allow you to live at this precise moment in time. Countless more will be written after you are gone …

Your story is part of something much larger. (Day 1, “A Bigger Story,” Climbing With Abraham)

How does that make you feel? Is it a relief to know that nothing you do is actually the “end of the world”? Or, does it bother you to wonder if God simply sees you as a tiny cog in the monstrous “circle of life”?

I just opened David’s book this morning and I’m already cogitating on this little nugget. What does this finite moment of my forever future (praise God who has given eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ–John 3:16) mean for everyone who comes after me? Will it mean anything?

The only way my speck-story on the timeline of history will mean anything at all is if I understand everything that led up to me. In all that God has done to this day, He kept in mind His intention of creating me–Abby Kelly.

To glance briefly at this truth echoed in the life of another Old Testament character, see Esther and the wisdom one of her one predecessors spoke into her life:

“And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

What will you do with your past?

Lose my Life (my perfection) to Find It

I was plowing through old snippets, journal jots and tiddles and half notes to someone at sometime, when I came across this. Funny, no, awesome, how perfect God’s timing is to resurrect old lessons He’s taught and gently remind me.

Hope it brightens your heart today too:

To a Friend,

I completely agree and just this morning God was quickening my heart to this truth. You know Jesus says in Matt. 10:39 that we must lose our lives to find it. I have been mulling that over thinking: I must “lose” my fake happy, my artificial perfect (my attempts to create a perfect body or perfect diet or control my world) in order to find true happiness–true joy. We cannot grasp the real LIFE of Christ while our fists are tightly clinging to a poor substitute.

In the Greek, the word lose can be translated: render useless. I have to render useless all my “perfect” happy. And that may cost me something, it will cost me my control, my eating disorder identity and many other things. But, it WILL find abundant life that Christ gives me!

Welcome to Hell

Truthfully, my first read through C.S. Lewis’ book, The Great Divorce, was simply for enjoyment. I did hope that perhaps a little theological wisdom would seep into my mind as I read the pages for entertainment.

It wasn’t until more than halfway through the book that I even realized Lewis was struggling to depict Heaven, a reality beyond comprehensible reality. It wasn’t until this, my third reading, that I understood the mysterious place of origin.

The narrator finds himself in a dismal town, all but deserted save for a crowed of people waiting to board a train. Curious and disillusioned with the present, he wanders into the queue of people. Perhaps the destination will prove more interesting than this God-forsaken place.

Ah, and the story unfolds, for the narrator is indeed in the most God-forsaken place. They stand in Hell, but by some sheer mercy, he and anyone who will board the train, will be instantly transported to Heaven. There, they must decide whether to stay in Heaven or return to the familiar land of Hell where they began.

Seems like a no-brainer right? Given the choice, Heaven or Hell, I can hardly imagine anyone who would opt for the latter. Even the most convinced of atheists, when presented with the question (purely hypothetically, of course) would chose Heaven. But Lewis begs to differ.

As the crowd jostles for priority seating, arguments necessarily arise. The inconvenience of waiting, the need to politely step aside for others or ignore an unintentional elbow, gets everybody crotchety.

Listen:

I was now next to a very short man with a scowl who glanced at me with an expression of extreme disfavor and observed, rather unnecessarily loudly, to the man beyond him, ‘This sort of thing makes one think twice about going at all.’

‘I’m a plain man that’s what I am and I have got to have my rights same as anyone else, see?’

A moment later two young people in front of him also left us arm in arm…it was clear that each for the moment preferred the other to the chance of a place on the bus.

And it’s true, that’s a little what Heaven is like. There is only one way there, through Jesus Christ, and we have one choice, either to ride upon His righteousness and be accepted into Heaven through Him alone, or, to walk away.

Now the choice doesn’t seem so cut and dry, does it? Must we really abandon our RIGHTS! in order to go with Jesus? Must we really prefer Him over the other loves of our souls?

On Monday last week, God began pressing into me deeply, the truth that there is no god besides Him. Like pressing His thumb into a seal, He led me over and over to verses that declare His uniqueness. Finally, on Friday I strung all the the references together – a beautiful strand of wisdom. (Proverbs 1:9)

I have had so many gods besides my Lord. So very many times, I have stood at the bus stop and then been distracted by a tantalizing fragrance, an interesting conversation, a glittery bauble, a second-rate toy, my rights, my better idea, my preferred relationship. Then, for a moment at least, I left the platform and scurried to find whatever struck my fancy.

Please do not think for a second that I am suggesting you can lose your salvation. By no means. I am secure in Christ, but if I am honest, there have been many times that my heart has strayed from pure devotion to Him.

Praise the Lord, that He has never left me. Praise the Lord that He patiently waits for me to come running back when my cheap lover failed me. He is so good. But that I would never be distracted again! There is no love, no joy, no peace anywhere as there is near my Savior.

He is coming and He is not slow. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

But there remains only one way. “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:16

And I can promise you, that there is but One God, whose glory, whose reward far surpasses all other temporary fascinations.
“How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. And who is like your people Israel–the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt?” 
2 Samuel 7:22-23

For additional references to God’s uniqueness and surpassing value: Micah 7:18,
Ex. 15:11, Zeph. 3:17, Ps. 113:5-6, Ps. 71:19, Ps. 86:8

That’s What He Said.

There are few hungrier, predatory lies today than those that prey upon marriages and families. To that end, I recently wrote an article at StartMarriageRight, called, How to Get a Man to Talk.

That article got quite a bit of attention, rousing virtual dialogue among men and women, both those couples starting their marriages and those who have been practicing marriage for many years.

As I have been formulating and praying about a response, I stumbled upon (well, I stumbled upon, God was intentional) an article by Rev. Dan White. White wrote a piece called, What a Man Wants – Help! — Nagging, for HavenJournal, a highly relevant Christian ministry to women.

Rev. White takes a no-nonsense approach that might tempt women to balk. You know you’ve done it ladies, hands on hips, “How dare he,” “You don’t know my husband,” “I’ve tried that.” The trouble with that line of thinking is that this author is a man, so he likely knows the inside of your man better than you do, from experience. Also, he dares because Scripture backs him up. And, you may think you’ve tried what he’s suggesting, but what’s the harm in trying again?

In my article, I confessed that for many years, one of the reasons my husband didn’t talk to me much was because I filled all the extra airspace. Many of those words were perceived as nagging.

Remember Thumper? “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” Try it. Either shut up, or change up your words and your tone of voice.

And go read Rev. White’s article.

Is time on your side?

What really, really ticks you off? I mean, what really gets under your skin?

Is it the guy who cuts you off in traffic? I just realized, with the threat of a snow storm here tomorrow, that I actually get angry at the weather for slowing down the progression of my plans for the week.
Does the repairman who wants a 10 hour window of time for his appointment drive you nuts?
How about waiting in the only open checkout line while five bored-looking employees saunter outside for a smoke break?

Now you will have noticed that nothing throws [a human] into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him. [It] anger[s] him because he regards his time as his own and feels that it is being stolen.

It occurs to me that perhaps the most common and pervasive lie among men is that we honestly believe our time is our own.

The man can neither make, nor retain, one moment of time; it all comes to him by pure gift; he might as well regard the sun and moon as his chattels.

Guilty as charged.

Not only is this a prolific lie, but at Predatory Lies, the goal is to, “uncover the lies that destroy our lives.” Is this lie all that destructive, really?

It doesn’t seem like it. I mean, we might stress less if we actually understood that all of our striving and fretting and hurrying accomplishes nothing.
We might present the Gospel more winsomely if we weren’t thinking about how the person’s question really came at a bad time.
We might not mourn over death as much as we do if we believed that our time is not our own and that what time we do have is a gift from a benevolent Father, from whom all good gifts come. (James 1:17)

The misconception that time is our own leeches the joy, value and posterity from our lives. “Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Ps. 90:12

All quoted wisdom in this article, aside from Scripture, is courtesy of C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters.The Screwtape Letters.  

Here I Stand.

Round the corner, confront the lion.
March, mouth gaping. Spring is crying.
Sobbing from skies still dull and gray,
Pushing valiantly the clouds away.
Behind her warmer sunshine creeps.
Mid huffs and wheezes, a soft wind speaks.
It tells of fresh and new and green,
Beauty as if never seen.
Each year, I’m awed at lovely spring,
My heart, her merry tune still sings,
Since last year…
And wish her well and bid her hurry.
To best ole’ winter, in his fury.

Earlier this week, I told you that I intend to keep going with our conversations about The Screwtape Letters and the One Word, Naked. I plan to keep my promise.

However, last week was Ligonier Ministry’s annual National Conference. I wasn’t able to attend, but I received an email allowing me to listen to the entire conference online, after the fact.

I grew up hearing about Martin Luther. I read my history books dutifully, and passed the tests. Then, as most kids do, I promptly brain-dumped all the information other than his name and connecting it the Protestant Reformation. I got a refresher today from one of the speakers, Steven Lawson.

Lawson’s sermon was titled, “Here I Stand.” Personally, I felt as if much of what he said was redundant, but I was captured by the words he read directly from Martin Luther’s Here I Stand speech at the Diet of Worms. It rang of such conviction, such confidence in the truth, that it seemed almost to me, second to Scripture, to be the actual definition of truth. In fact, Luther’s entire point is to define truth as Scripture. I am compelled to share this with you today.

“Since your most serene majesty and your high mightinesses require from me a clear, simple, and precise answer, I will give you one, and it is this: I cannot submit my faith either to the pope or to the councils, because it is clear as the day that they have frequently erred and contradicted each other. Unless therefore I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture or by the clearest reasoning, unless I am persuaded by means of the passages I have quoted, and unless they thus render my conscience bound by the word of God, I cannot and I will not retract, for it is unsafe for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other; may God help me. Amen.”
http://www.specialtyinterests.net/lutherwords.html

Lastly, Max McLean has produced a fantastic rendering of Luther’s speech, and it is available on YouTube. It is a 3 part production, but I am inserting only part 2 here.
Part 2 contains all of Luther’s speech. Parts 1 and 3 are intro and background information.
– – – Forgive me friends, the code for embedding this video is not working. You can still follow this link here. 
consider.

Starved and Bored

“You don’t realize how enslaved they are to the pressure of the ordinary.” C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Sounds a lot like last week’s post, Stripped of Chaos.  However, humbly I admit that Lewis does a far more thorough and creative job of warning against this sneaky syndrome. Business, turmoil, digital content, hectic schedules, deadlines, productivity, expectations, urgency, all lend to distract us from the one purpose of our life.

Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
Westmister Shorter Catechism

Most of our hurry has become ordinary. But interestingly, another word for ordinary is humdrum, which Webster’s relates to boring, mundane, drab, blah, lifeless, insipid.

In Lewis’ book, Dear Uncle Screwtape, tells his protege a story about his golden years as a master tempter. He once had a patient hungry for knowledge. This man found himself in the museum feasting on books and historic truths. Suddenly, this ambitious young man was drawn to a fundamental truth, a truth that threatened the fabric of deception Screwtape had laid. In the quiet of a museum, the calm of solitude, what recourse did the demon have to distract his patient? Only the ordinary.

“I struck instantly at the part of the man which I had best under my control and suggested that it was just about time he had some lunch.”

The subject of interest was much to important to tackle on an empty stomach, so persuaded by his grumbling stomach, the man laid aside his book and left the museum in search of food. As soon as his shoes clipped the pavement, the man caught sight of a bus, then an advertisement, and heard a newsboy’s urgent call.

“I had got him into an unalterable conviction that, whatever odd ideas might come into a man’s head while shut up alone with his books, a healthy dose of ‘real life’ (by which he meant the bus and the newsboy) was enough to show him that all ‘that sort of thing’ just couldn’t be true.”

Ordinary chaos. Daily distraction. Buses, newspapers, hunger. I’m well aware of how distracting my humdrum life can be. In fact, I am sitting, even now, at Starbucks to write this post, because I find the dailiness of  home distracting. There is that hot-pink, sticky note t0-do list on the refrigerator that condemns me for sitting down to write. At home, there is a pair of sappy puppy eyes that accuse me of neglect (even though he already went of a 2 mile walk this morning). There is a hungry husband, a perpetually full laundry hamper and for some reason I am compelled to attend to the phone while within the four walls of my home. If I am this easily drawn away from my work, how easily am I lured away from my God?

If what deserves my full, momentary attention can be avoided, do I tire of and avoid the God that deserves my constant admiration?

Do not imagine me waggling my finger in your face admonishing, “Shouldn’t you be reading your Bible right now?”

But don’t you wonder how Job ever came to say, “I have not departed from his commands, but have treasured his words more than daily food.”? Job 23:12

And Jeremiah, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts.” Jer. 15:16

Jesus is an unordinary joy, an extraordinary magnetism. There may be a time of tasting. Like trying a new food, it requires digging into something that might look a little bland. But do not turn back to your common diet. To whet one’s appetite on Jesus is to never be able to get enough.

February in poetry

Snowflakes, fingerprints of heaven fall
A cross between drips of creamy milk and pin-sized shards of tinsel
Soft, liquid, hard and brittle
Till touching dirt, the life of manORGANIZERBLANK2012daveramseyfan
Where it melts and dies
Or, the lucky ones to fall on stream
And add their tiny life
To the rush over rocks, gentle bumps against bank
Now brown as blue, water and clay
Till lapped for refreshment
Then carried by wind, or carried by stream
Or born on critter’s paw

Launching into February, full steam ahead. I’m actually kind of sad to have finished a full month of One Word 2013, Naked. There’s so much more to say, so I will intersperse it with themes of coming months. For most of February, I will take a close look at C.S. Lewis’, The Screwtape Letters. 

A virtual monologue, it is a one-sided conversation between the head demon and his budding protege nephew. Lewis skillfully slices open the gray matter of deceit that divides absolute truth and lies. It is a microcosm of everything I wish to share here on Predatory Lies. Uncovering the lies that destroy our lives, so that we can live in the unfiltered light of truth.

Join me!