DO YOU NEED HOPE?

I have the honor and privilege to be on the Book Launch Team for a new 28 day devotional that will be available on Amazon January 1, 2021.  Bright Hope was written by Erin Cushman, the founder and former Executive Director of Hope Mommies (hopemommies.org), a gospel-centric nonprofit ministry that serves the infant loss community. 

Although, it is written with those families in mind, it ministers to anyone suffering loss and grief.  I am a great-grandmother and by God’s grace, I have not experienced the loss of a child, but I have had more grieving times in my life than I like to think about.  During those times I would have loved a book like this. 

You can’t ask someone who is grieving to focus and absorb big chunks of words, no matter how encouraging they might be.  With that in mind Erin has written this book for mourners who can grasp a little at a time.  During my times of grief my attention span shortens and my focus blurs. During those times, if you handed me five pages of encouragement to read, I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. Even Scripture that I love, I have to mustard all the concentration I can to read and absorb it. This is the beauty of Bright Hope. It gives me small doses of hope and comfort for 28 days.  That is a goal I can accomplish. 

But that is not all I love about this book.  It is filled with Scripture and theology and put together with grace and love. 

Let me give you an example.

“Grief makes us desperate.  Desperate for answers, for time to reverse itself; desperate for one last moment with our beloved.

Impatient to escape from the constant pain; frantic for understanding; desperate for good.  Grief is all consuming, taking over the heart, mind, and body.  It feels inescapable, and depression deepens.

David, the psalmist that penned Psalm 143, understood that all-consuming desperation… David didn’t spend his time problem solving for himself, taking endless counsel with others, or ignoring the pain until it passed.  David was not waiting on the passing of time to mitigate the pain.

David’s first response was a heartfelt appeal to the God of steadfast love to act.”

Erin then shows us how to come before the Lord, to behold the Lord, to find Bright Hope and to walk in Bright Hope.

On December 1, Giving Tuesday, if you make a donation to Hope Mommies you will receive a copy of the Book.  Not only will you be contributing to a vital ministry, but you will be blest with a gift of the book. Then on January 1, Bright Hope will be available on Amazon.

If you know anyone who has lost a child or is grieving for any reason, Bright Hope would be the perfect gift for them. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

As Erin says, Jesus’ offer to come has no expiration date. Be blessed!

PASSING ON A LEGACY OF FAITH

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening (1 Peter 3:1-6).

It is never too early to start thinking about your legacy.

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What do you want to leave your children and the people who know you? I don’t mean physical things. I mean the things that count. The life and death things. As Christian women, we need to leave our children a legacy of faith.

Genesis 12 through 23 reveals how Sarah lived out her faith and how that translated in a legacy of faith for Isaac.

The Holy Spirit is very gracious in showing this incredible woman’s failings and lapses of faith as well as her successes, so that we don’t think, “Sarah was a superwoman! I can never be like her.” Sarah wasn’t a perfect woman, but her God was.

We all have our lapses of faith. But, like God was gracious to Abraham and Sarah, so he is to us. I think Sarah must have had many quiet repentant moments inside her tent that were wholly between her and God and not recorded for us. But what is recorded leaves us a picture of a faithful, holy woman. That is what Peter called her in 1 Peter 3:5.

Isaac, her son, must have heard the story of God speaking to Abraham and telling him to leave everything, pack up and hit the trail with God as his GPS. He heard how Sarah had downsized and followed his father. How she had gone from a well-supplied home to living in tents.

Isaac must have heard over and over again about her long wait for him. How God had promised and how He had delivered.

He saw her obedience to Abraham and perhaps heard how Abraham had asked her to say she was his sister when he felt threatened and how Sarah had obeyed at great risk to herself. Remember, Isaac did the same in Genesis 26.

She must have lived a fearless life before him knowing that God was able. Isaac was, besides Abraham, closes to his mother and knew her heart; that when the trials and afflictions of life came Sarah demonstrated the “incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4).

Isaac must have been able to see God’s blessings upon his mother because her behavior was precious in the sight of God. And most of all he must have sat at her feet and heard her speak of God and her faith.

A good first step in leaving a faithful legacy would be to pattern ourselves after Sarah.

Peter said we are her daughters “if you do good and are not afraid with any terror” (1 Peter 3:6).

She shows us how to pass on a legacy of faith to our children and our family. Some of you have already raised your children and didn’t pass on a legacy of faith either because you didn’t know Jesus or because you just failed to do so.

It is not too late.

Study 1 Peter 3:1-5. See the different attributes of a “holy woman”. Ask God to create these in you. People will notice. Your children will notice.

So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come. (Psalm 71:18).

HOME — HERE, BUT NOT YET

HOME

Defined: (1) A house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family, or household. (2) The place in which one’s domestic affections are centered.

“There’s no place like home.”
“Home is where the heart is.”
“Home for Christmas.”
“A home away from home.”
“A house is not a home.”
“Charity begins at home.”
“Hearth and home.”
“Home is where you hang your hat.”
“Home sweet home.”
“Keep the home fires burning.”

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Home is a special place.

We all long to belong.

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us (Acts 17: 26-27).

We seek to belong in our allotted periods and the boundaries of our dwelling places. God put that into us that we might seek Him. He is the ultimate answer for our seeking to belong.

Children are born with that longing and it is developed in the home: either for good or for bad.

We long to belong.

That longing drives kids to join gangs, adults to join clubs, and Christians to join churches. Most of all, I think we all long to belong to a home where according to the second definition of home our domestic affections are centered.

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In other words, where those we love are. Where we find acceptance, peace, warmth, safety, rest, forgiveness, redemption, restoration, and humor. In other words, where there is a Jesus atmosphere.

Some of us have had that and some of us have not. No home on this planet has all the above all the time. Our homes are imperfect, as we are. Dear Christian Sister, we should long for our homes to foreshadow the city and home our maker has prepared for us.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God (Hebrews 11: 8-10).

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland (Hebrews 11:13-14).

But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city (Hebrews 11:16).

I have lived in many different homes in my life time, too many to number! In the last thirty years, I have tried to create a Jesus atmosphere in each of them, but … I get restless.

Dear Sister, there should always be a restlessness in our souls. We dare not become too comfortable in this temporal world. Yes, I love my carpet and my patio and I love when my children come to visit and find rest there, but this is not my home. It is not yours.

Don’t get too comfortable. God doesn’t favor complacency. (Isaiah 32:9, 11).

Home is where we, through the Holy Spirit, create a Jesus atmosphere, which means as we snuggle into the sofa with a good cup of coffee and a fascinating book or a spine-tingling thriller on TV — inside we feel the stirring of restlessness. We know the Kingdom is here now in our hearts and is coming in its fullness and when it does the Jesus atmosphere we love will burst forth in such glory, power, and majesty, and in such wrath, justice, and mercy, and in such affection, compassion, and love that all our earthly trappings will fall absolutely away and we will be with Jesus. Forever and ever! Amen!

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:2-5).

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God (Revelation 21:10).

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb (Revelation 21:22-23).

So, like Abraham and Sarah, direct your longing toward the new heavens and new earth while spreading a Jesus atmosphere here.

“For behold, I create new heavens
and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
or come into mind (Isaiah 65:17).

For Jesus said,

“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:2-3).

Jesus is preparing the perfect home for us.

If you don’t know Jesus, but long for a perfect home call on him. At the end of Revelation there is a beautiful invitation to belong.

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. (Revelation 22:17).

Come to Jesus. Belong.

You are loved!

MAMA’S MISSION

Hey Mama! Boy! Do I admire you! Compared to you I raised my kids in a quiet time in history. Of course, now, it is their kids causing most of the trouble. Let me clarify that. Not my grandkids, but other peoples’ grandkids.

Where the adult is made or lost is in the home — as a child. I know. I know. The perfect parents can raise a bad apple, and the worst of parents can raise a saint. I believe that has more to do with God than parenting skills.

God created us to be in families. Children need their mother and father. Nothing can take the place of a nurturing home life.

Mama, you already know this, but children are sponges and parrots. They hear and absorb everything their parents say and they mimic what their parents do.

Wow! Do you feel that weight of responsibility? You are a shaper, former, teacher, and the most important thing you will teach your child is the Gospel.

“It is at home where living in light of the gospel counts the most, but for too many this is where it matters the least.” – Pastor Juan Sanchaz

Alas, from the state of the Union and Church today, I am afraid, Pastor Juan is right. If you are the mama of a small child today you are probably raising Gen Z or if they are under 5 they haven’t been named yet.

You have a big job ahead of you. I want to encourage you, dear Christian Mama, God has placed you exactly where you are and given you the skills needed to raise that little rug-rat, or as Jonathan Edward called children, vipers. Vipers was a term of endearment. After all, he had eleven children. But, he was also describing their born into fallen state.

So, God has given you babies to raise into adulthood. Babies born sinners and in need of a Savior. Your job, dear Mama, is to raise them in the light of the Gospel of grace and leave the rest to God.

Here is the greatest encouragement I can leave you with, you can be absolutely sure you are not alone in this. Jesus said, I will never leave you nor forsake you. He knows exactly what you are going through and will go through.

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Jesus knows the path your little viper will follow to get to the foot of the cross.

Pray, model, preach (yes, preach) the Gospel to them and yourself, bestow grace, discipline, and love, love, love, them.

And lastly find a community of like-minded mothers. There is power in shared faith.

Heaven is looking on. Jesus is on the move.

You are loved!