Archives For encouragement

tulips-after-stormIt’s springtime in the South, which brings a kaleidoscope of natural beauty in the form of green trees and brightly-colored flowers. Until recent years, fall was always my season of choice. However, I just love the message of hope that truly is the universal proclamation of spring.

My wife, Michelle, absolutely loves tulips. And in the past couple weeks we’ve seen a number of these classy and majestic wonders. Unfortunately, tulips are as delicate as they are beautiful. And that’s not a good thing when storms move in.

And on Wednesday night we had our first real round of spring storms, complete with a spectacular lightning show. Some storms were severe, producing hail, powerful straightline winds, and a few tornadoes.

It turns out that Thursday was my assigned hospital rotation day. As I made my rounds through the Little Rock metro area, I saw very little evidence of the previous night’s storms. That is, except for the beds of tulips. They were still obviously tulips, but many of them were missing petals, bent over, battered, and broken from the wind and rain.

I’ve been made increasingly aware in recent weeks of a number of wonderful people who are dealing with their own storms: sudden losses of life, miscarriages, divorce, painful health crises and scary diagnoses, unemployment — just to name a few.

When I hear of such trials and heartbreaking circumstances, I make a point to pray. I simply cannot imagine going through this life without an abiding faith in Jesus Christ. If you’re going through a tough period in your life, I encourage you to meditate on the Scripture verses below that reveal some profound truths about God.

He is Our Refuge and Strength

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. (Psalm 46:1-3, ESV)

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10, ESV)

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13, ESV)

He is Our Peace Giver

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7, NIV)

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33, NIV) [Read in Context]

He is Our Faithful Provider

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. . . . Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:27-29, 34, NIV) [Read in Context]

He is Our Hope and Sustainer

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, NIV)

He is Our Salvation

The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1, NIV)

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12, ESV)

Whatever you may be experiencing today — grief, loss, public pain, private pain, anxiety, depression, despair, or something else altogether — I pray that you have the peace and hope that comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The disciple John recorded Jesus’ words to us all: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, ESV) [Read John 14]

yellow-tulips-sky-editedIf you don’t know Jesus, I would love to introduce you to Him today. Feel free to contact me. With Christ in your life, no matter how fierce the storms, you can still shine brightly and beautifully from the inside out.

Enjoy this spring season. And take time to savor the splendor of His creative powers.

IT’S YOUR TURN!
Do you have a favorite Scripture verse or passage that you go to in the storms of life?

2012reflections-shadowIt’s time to wrap up another calendar year and turn the page to a new one.

Our nation and our world have faced a plethora of challenges this year — many of them serious and challenging. While all the TV news programs have found a way to highlight the stories that mattered most, chances are that their stories were not the ones that most impacted your life.

Maybe you said goodbye to a loved one — through death or divorce.

Maybe you sent your first, last, or only child off to college or into the work force.

Maybe you lost a job — and/or took a new one.

Maybe you welcomed a new baby into the family.

Maybe you participated in a mission project — in your community or half-way around the world.

You probably did a lot of things that will never be mentioned in a ‘year in review’ report. But these things were meaningful to you because they were personal.

Tennyson wrote, “I am part of all that I have met.” We’d be hard-pressed to find a statement that rings more true. It’s true of the good things, the bad things, the ugly things. Whether we like it or not, everything we personally experience shapes us, our attitudes, and our perspective on life.

As we head full speed into a brand new year, I hope you’ll take time to reflect on the year that was. So often we fail to adequately process the events of this life. Instead we bounce like a pinball from one experience to another, taking no care to really think about how those experiences change us.

It has been said that pictures are worth a thousand words. Whether those are actual photos or mental images, I encourage you to take time to think through your pictures from the year that was.

Laugh.

Cry.

Meditate.

Grieve.

Give thanks.

Pray.

However you do it, acknowledge the impact of 2012, complete with its triumphs and its tragedies. Realize that there is absolutely nothing you can do to change what is past.

As a kid growing up, my parents had a plaque on the living room wall. Its message sticks with me even today:

Look to this day. Yesterday is a dream; tomorrow is a vision.

Jesus Himself took care to remind us that we can’t control everything. The older I get, the more I understand exactly how little I do control. Perhaps that’s why I’ve always found comfort in these words from Matthew 6:

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. – Matthew 6:25-30, ESV

As we close the door on 2012, let’s look to the new year with anticipation of what God will teach us in the next 12 months. Give Him your fears, your doubts, your hurts, habits, and hang-ups. Know that He is absolutely trustworthy. You can depend on Him. He is never surprised and never uncaring. He is faithful, forgiving, and fully involved in the events of this life.

I’ll leave you today with an Irish blessing that is my prayer for you in the year that awaits:

May the friendships you make,
Be those which endure,
And all of your grey clouds
Be small ones for sure.
And trusting in Him
To Whom we all pray,
May a song fill your heart,
Every step of the way.

IT’S YOUR TURN!
What did God teach you in 2012?