Christy
#AtoZChallenge

H Is for Hope

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

 

We tend to think of hope as a thought-wish, something we want to believe could happen. This “wishful thinking” weakens the value of hope because the source of our hope is more certain than a mere wish.

God is the source of hope. Whenever I keep my eyes on my circumstances, I begin to feel hopeless. When I remember to look to God, He restores my hope. God is able to do all the things He promises to do. There is no wishful thinking involved. God’s promises are secure and I can hope they will come true because they will. They may not come true in the way I expect. They may not even come true in my lifetime. But I can die in faith believing they will come true because God never fails.

 

H is for Hope

 


Get This Series as a Free PDF

Transformed by God: An A to Z Guide to Experiencing Change from the Inside Out

 

Transformed by God: An A to Z Guide to Experiencing Change from the Inside Out

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Christy
Squeezing Good Out of Bad by James N. Watkins

Squeezing Good Out of Bad by James N. Watkins

For many years I have been a fan of the wit and wisdom of James N. Watkins. He weaves his natural sense of humor into serious subjects with seamless ease. And trust me, his sense of humor is warped like mine! Check out this “stand up” routine Moses could have given with his back against the Red Sea:

“Hey, how’s everybody tonight? Well ‘shofar,’ so good (rim shot). So, how ‘bout that Passover meal? Great menu if you have to be on the lamb (rim shot). Tough room. I’m dying like a firstborn in Egypt (rim shot).”

-James N. Watkins, Squeezing Good Out of Bad

 

Having lived through many “lemons” in life, his words are also rich with the wisdom of personal experience and the compassion that grows out of it.

“But we often ask, “How could a God of love and compassion let one of His children experience such sinful actions?” Perhaps in the same way He let His one and only Son experience such sinful actions. It is only because He knows there is a much greater good . . . “the saving of many lives.””

-James N. Watkins, Squeezing Good Out of Bad

 

Despite his funny chapter titles (below), the contents have significant helpful content for those of us in the puckering problems of life. When life gives you lemons:

  1. Don’t confuse them with hand grenades (Identify the problem)
  2. Check the delivery slip (Determine if it’s your problem)
  3. Sell them on eBay (Profit from the problem)
  4. Paint similey faces on them (Laugh at the problem)
  5. Join a citrus support group (Share your problem)
  6. Use as an all-natural organic astringent (Grow from the problem)
  7. Don’t shoot the delivery driver (Forgive the problem-maker)
  8. Call in the Master Gardener (Take the problem to a higher level)
  9. Grow your own orchard (Live a fruitful life despite—or because of—the problem)
  10. Give off a refreshing fragrance (Live a lemon-fresh life)

I’d encourage you to pucker up for a fun read because we all need to laugh more and find fresh perspective to help us through difficult times. Pick up Squeezing Good Out of Bad at a sweet price right now.

“If I can do something about it, it’s my problem. If I can’t do anything about it, it’s simply a fact of life.”

-James N. Watkins, Squeezing Good Out of Bad

 


Squeezing Good Out of Bad: 10 Ways to Squeeze Good Out of Those Lemon of a Life, Lip Puckering, Time Sucking Situations

James N. Watkins

2016

101 pages

 


 

Christy
Hope Stands by Samuel Kee

Hope Stands by Samuel Kee

Hope Stands

Ten Reasons Why You Must Not Give Up

Samuel Kee

2010

182 pages

 

Samuel Kee was preparing to speak at a youth retreat when he felt a burden to speak on suicide. He prepared his message and the day before the event, the youth pastor called to tell him one of the students in the group had just committed suicide. Understandably, his message struck a nerve. He told the kids “they are never without hope so long as one person is standing up for them.” That person is Jesus. Because Jesus is standing up for us, we are never without hope.

Kee began sharing this message other places and experiencing the same results. His message, based on the resurrection as told in John 20-21, is “Hope Stands.”

“When Jesus Christ stood up from the grave on the third day, he released a power to all those who would follow him. The resurrection releases us from the emotional conditions that trap us. Once we are released, the resurrection gives us a purpose in life and a mission.”

–Samuel Kee, Hope Stands

Many people struggle with hopelessness. Jesus is willing to stand up for us, giving us hope. Hope Stands offers ten reasons we must not give up. Kee doesn’t offer shallow, fashionable hope full of feel-good platitudes. Rather, he offers solid reasons to have hope.

“Hope is not the product of a cleverly argued thesis; it is a historical event—a real story in real life. Hope is not uncertain but certain. We are not waiting for something good to happen, hope has already happened.”

–Samuel Kee, Hope Stands

When I began reading Hope Stands, I was thrilled by the premise set forth in the introduction, but I felt disappointed in the first few chapters. There were too many stories and I wanted to get down to the good stuff. After having a difficult time getting into the first few chapters, the writing gained momentum and by the second half of the book, I was fully engaged. Perhaps the first few chapters didn’t resonate for me personally, but I found greater application in the second half. In all, it’s worth a read because I think everyone can find some gems that apply to them in these pages.

“Resurrection happens at a cemetery, not a party. When God chooses to unleash a victory, the backdrop he selects looks more like pain than power.”

–Samuel Kee, Hope Stands

Christy
Bags of Hope for the Homeless

Bags of Hope for the Homeless

I want to make a difference and I bet you do, too. So when I find meaningful ways to take simple actions that make a difference, I want to share them with you.

I recently read about a young girl who wanted to make a difference and her story impressed me so much, I’ve followed up on her ministry and decided to follow her lead:

 

There are all sorts of ways to begin this lifestyle of reckless generosity and living with open hands. My niece Clara made a decision to be a person who shares, and she did this in a big way when she was only seven years old. Sometimes she would see people living on the streets, in need or begging for change. She wanted to do something to help. Her compassionate little mind began to ponder her options, and she came up with “Bags of Hope.” Clara made these little bags that contain the following items: a dollar, a lifesaver mint, a granola bar, and a little note telling people about the love of Jesus. She put her siblings to work assembling the bags. Clara’s dad and mom keep these in the car so that whenever they travel and see someone in need, Clara can share. Since she started this little ministry, others have asked her to provide bags for them so they can share too. What an example of getting the heart of God at a young age! Now, I keep a few Bags of Hope in my glove box and share them whenever I have a chance.

–Kevin G. Harney, Reckless Faith: Embracing a Life without Limits, page 74.

 

How many times have I passed a homeless person on a street corner without doing anything to help? Only God knows. Unfortunately I’ve become cynical because I’ve heard many of these people make a couple hundred dollars a day and aren’t really homeless; it’s just easy money. Occasionally, if I have food in the car, I’ll give someone an apple or whatever I have on hand. But having a few Bags of Hope in my glove box would give me something to hand out to anyone on a street corner.

Give what you have, even an apple.

What Does a Bag of Hope Contain?

Clara has her own blog for her Bags of Hope ministry. She uses a clear zip bag and places a label on the front with a Bible verse and her website. Then she includes a dollar, a Lifesaver (for symbolic reasons), a granola bar, and a brief note about Jesus. Here’s how she words her note:

Hello, Jesus Loves You!

This gift for you is from someone who wants you to be okay. They have given you this in the name of Jesus. It is because of His love that we are saved, and He inspired this gift.

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed are those who take refuge in him.

-Psalms 34:8(NIV)

You are special and very important to God. The person who gave you this is praying for you. Blessings!

 

Bags of Hope are easy to prepare and assemble. You can adapt the contents of the bag as you see fit and you can create your own message of hope to include in the bag.

I could see even filling a gallon-sized bag to accommodate other sundries: a toothbrush, comb, small bar of soap, and maybe a small New Testament or a bottle of water.

The possibilities are endless, really, but it took the faith of a child to think of how she could meet a need. What an inspiring example–and one we can all follow with a minimal investment of money and time.

If anyone gives even a bottle of cold water in Jesus' name...

A Word of Hope

I want to close with an inspiring example in the Bible. I often feel like I have nothing to give, so it’s encouraging to read about Peter and John who had no money to give, but they had something better to give than money. Sometimes just engaging with someone in need can encourage them and open doors for God to work. A word of hope goes a long way.

One day at three o’clock in the afternoon, Peter and John were on their way into the Temple for prayer meeting. At the same time there was a man crippled from birth being carried up. Every day he was set down at the Temple gate, the one named Beautiful, to beg from those going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter the Temple, he asked for a handout. Peter, with John at his side, looked him straight in the eye and said, “Look here.” He looked up, expecting to get something from them.

Peter said, “I don’t have a nickel to my name, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!” He grabbed him by the right hand and pulled him up. In an instant his feet and ankles became firm. He jumped to his feet and walked.

The man went into the Temple with them, walking back and forth, dancing and praising God.

Acts 3:1-8, The Message

Bags of Hope for the Homeless

Christy
Gregory L Jantz Speaks to Those Who Have Been Wounded by Hope

Gregory L. Jantz (@GregoryJantzPHD) Speaks to Those Who Have Been Wounded by Hope

We’ve all experienced a hope that was unfulfilled. Waiting is never easy. Hope begins to wane as we realize our hopes will not be realized. But for some people, unrealized hopes have become a wound and a prison that keeps them from hoping in God. The worst kind of pain comes from being afraid to hope in God because He seems to have disappointed us in the past.

Dr. Gregory L. Jantz wants to speak to those who have been wounded by hope and feel they can no longer trust God. His book, Gotta Have It!: Freedom from Wanting Everything Right Here, Right Now, deals with our excessities—the things, even necessities like food, that we turn to in excess (excess + necessities = excessities) to help us cope with the various voids in our lives. One of these voids people can try to fill is the loss of hope.

If that’s you, check out the message Dr. Jantz has for you.

Book Excerpt

Prisoners of Hope

I want to speak to those who have been wounded by hope. Maybe you have hoped desperately for something that didn’t come. Maybe you hoped that God would provide something or remove something or enable something that didn’t take place. You are wounded, and the easy promises of an excessity seem so much more compelling than a God you think has stopped caring about you. You have been battered and bruised by life and circumstances and feel abandoned by others and by God.

To you I would say that no matter what has happened, God is still your refuge. Don’t give up on Him because what you so desperately wanted didn’t happen. The loss of what you wanted does not mean a loss of His love. A “no” to your plea is not the same as “I don’t love you.” The hope for what you wanted to happen may have died, but your hope and faith in God’s love don’t need to die along with it. While God may have said no to what you asked for, He will never say no to you.

In the book of Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah was told a very big “no” by God. No, God would not step back from the destruction coming to Jerusalem and Judah. After coming to grips with this reality, Jeremiah wrote: “So I say, ‘My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord.’ I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail” (2:18-22). As with Jeremiah, your hope for something may be gone, but hope itself still lives on because of how much God loves you.

Listen to this God who loves you, your Father in heaven, who has always planned for your hope in Him to be fulfilled: “Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you” (Zech. 9:12). If you are a prisoner of hope because of some trauma, tragedy, disappointment, or defeat, return to God, your fortress. Your excessities cannot protect you from the pain. Only God can comfort you and restore your hope through His unfailing love.

–Gregory L. Jantz, Gotta Have It!, quote from Chapter 12: God Provides Hope.

 

I’ll admit I was touched by this passage. It struck something deep within me that resonated as a truth I needed to hear. Let’s talk about hope in the comments section today.

Is hope difficult for you because of disappointments in the past? Or are you confident in the hope you place in God, even if your hopes go unfulfilled? Also, if you have ever felt disappointed by God, tell us how you got over it.


 

You can connect with Dr. Gregory L. Jantz on Twitter (@GregoryJantzPhD) or visit his website at: http://www.drgregoryjantz.com/.

Gotta Have It!: Freedom from Wanting Everything Right Here, Right Now is available from Amazon for Kindle or from Christianbook.com for ePub. Read my review of Gotta Have It!

 


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14020EB: Gotta Have It! - eBook Gotta Have It! – eBook

By Gregg Jantz with Ann McMurray / David C. Cook


Christian Authors A to Z Virtual Book Fair, April 1-30

This post is part of the Virtual Book Fair: Christian Authors A to Z. See the list of other authors featured in the Virtual Book Fair.

 


 

Christy
John Eldredge on Hopeless Christianity

John Eldredge (@johneldredge) on Hopeless Christianity

Have you ever wished it was easier to share your faith? Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to muster the courage to approach someone? Wouldn’t it be great if people just walked up to you to ask about what makes you different or what happened that changed your life so much?

Actually, the Bible says that’s exactly what we should expect. People should be asking us to explain why we have so much hope. But no one is asking. Perhaps it’s because we are living hopeless lives. John Eldredge, in his book, The Journey of Desire: Searching for the Life We Always Dreamed of, explains why.

Book Excerpt

A curious warning is given to us in Peter’s first epistle. There he tells us to be ready to give the reason for the hope that lies within us to everyone who asks (3:15). Now, what’s strange about that passage is this: no one ever asks. When was the last time someone stopped you to inquire about the reason for the hope that lies within you? You’re at the market, say, in the frozen food section. A friend you haven’t seen for some times comes up to you, grasps you by both shoulders, and pleads, “Please, you’ve got to tell me. Be honest now. How can you live with such hope? Where does it come from? I must know the reason.” In talking with hundreds of Christians, I’ve met only one or two who have experienced something like this.

Yet God tells us to be ready, so what’s wrong? To be blunt, nothing about our lives is worth asking about. There’s nothing intriguing about our hopes, nothing to make anyone curious. Not that we don’t have hopes; we do. We hope we’ll have enough after taxes this year to take a summer vacation. We hope our kids don’t wreck the car. We hope our favorite team goes to the World Series. We hope our health doesn’t give out, and so on. Nothing wrong with any of these hopes; nothing unusual, either. Everyone has hopes like that, so why bother asking us? It’s life as usual. Sanctified resignation has become the new abiding place of contemporary Christians. No wonder nobody asks. Do you want the life of any Christians you know?

Having abandoned desire, we have lost hope. C.S. Lewis summed it up: “We can only hope for what we desire.” No desire, no hope. Now, desire doesn’t always translate into hope. There are many things I desire that I have little hope for. I desire to have lots more money than I do, but I see little reason to think it will come. But there isn’t one thing I hope for that I don’t also desire. This is Lewis’s point. Bland assurances of the sweet by-and-by don’t inflame the soul. Our hopes are deeply tied to our real desires, and so killing desire has meant a hopeless life for too many. It’s as if we’ve already entered Dante’s Inferno, where the sign over hell reads, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”

The effect has been disastrous, not only for individual Christians, but also for the message of the gospel as a whole. People aren’t exactly ripping the roofs off churches to get inside. We see the enemy’s ploy: drain all the life and beauty and adventure away from the gospel, bury Christians in duty and nobody will want to take a closer look. It’s so very unappealing.

–John Eldredge, The Journey of Desire, page 64.

 

What we really need is to surrender fully to Christ until our lives are absolutely transformed. There should be a visible, incredible difference between those who belong to Christ and those who don’t. When your face glows with the glory of God, when your life is characterized by inconceivably loving actions, then people will take notice. Then we might experience what it is like to have others inquire about our faith.

Close your eyes. Imagine what your life could look like if you lived in the hope of Christ and people wanted to know what you have that they don’t have. Now pray that God would show you how to surrender your life so He can live His life through you.

 

Have you seen someone who practically glowed of Christ? Describe what that person was like.

 


 

You can connect with John Eldredge on Twitter (@johneldredge) or visit his blog: http://www.ransomedheart.com/blogs/john.

The Journey of Desire is available from Amazon for Kindle or from Christianbook.com in ePub.

 


Order from the link below and you'll help me earn a few cents. I like the jingle of coins in my cup.

5912EB: The Journey of Desire: Searching for the Life We Always Dreamed of - eBook The Journey of Desire: Searching for the Life We Always Dreamed of – eBookBy John Eldredge / Thomas NelsonIn The Journey of Desire, John Eldridge writes, “We all share the same dilemma – we long for life and we’re not sure where to find it. Our days come to us as a riddle, and the answers aren’t handed out with our birth certificates. We must journey to find the life we prize. In this follow-up book to The Sacred Romance, Eldridge invites you to rediscover your God-given desire and to search again for the life you once dreamed of.

Christian Authors A to Z Virtual Book Fair, April 1-30

This post is part of the Virtual Book Fair: Christian Authors A to Z. See the list of other authors featured in the Virtual Book Fair.

 


 

Christy
Gotta Have It by Gregory Jantz

Gotta Have It! by Gregory L. Jantz (@GregoryJantzPhD)

Gotta Have It!

Freedom from Wanting Everything Right Here, Right Now

Gregory L. Jantz (@GregoryJantzPhD)

2010

275 pages

Available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

Available from Christianbook.com for ePub.

I read the Kindle edition.


 

When I first picked up Gotta Have It!: Freedom from Wanting Everything Right Here, Right Now, I thought it was going to be one of those stop-buying-1,000-pairs-of-shoes kind of books. And it was, but it was different than I expected. Instead of being philosophical about getting rid of stuff, it turned out to be a Christian psychology book focused on overcoming our personal addictions, or excessities, as the author calls them because they are often necessities taken to the excess.

As it turned out, it was a good mistake for me to make because I got a number of things out of it just by reading it. At the end of each chapter there are several pages of exercises and Bible study to help you apply the content to your life directly. I never seem to be able to do these from the places I read my Kindle, so I just read it for now. Later I can intentionally sit at my desk to answer the questions because they look like they’d be beneficial (and a little challenging).

Here’s a brief sample of the good stuff in the book. This portion deals with our impatience with waiting when God makes us wait.

I take comfort in Deuteronomy 7:22, which says, “The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you.” Sometimes “little by little” is the way to proceed. In my line of work, we call it by several names—“process,” “journey,” “recovery.” Over the years I’ve come to call it “baby steps.” Little by little allows things to adjust to each new reality. Little by little does involve waiting, but it also very much involves growing, changing, adapting, accepting. When placed in this context, little by little—another way of saying waiting—has tremendous benefit.

–Gregory L. Jantz, Gotta Have It!, quote from Chapter 12: God Provides Hope.

When God has us in a holding pattern, it can seem like we’re not making any progress so I like the idea of thinking of waiting as taking “baby steps.” We can’t jump from here to the future, but we can take baby steps while we wait for God to work things toward that end.

The book covers our need for comfort, reassurance, security, validation, and control. It goes on to show how God provides patience, endurance, contentment, wisdom, hope, help, and answers. So often when we misunderstand these things in our lives, we try to fill the void with something else—coffee, exercise, shopping, or whatever.

I don’t know a single person who wouldn’t admit to at least one area of addiction or excessity so this is a book every Christian could benefit from.

You can connect with Dr. Gregory L. Jantz on Twitter (@GregoryJantzPhD) or visit his website at: http://www.drgregoryjantz.com/.

 

I give Gotta Have It! by Dr. Jantz five cups of love.

Cups of Love Cups of Love Cups of Love Cups of Love Cups of Love


Order from the link below and you'll help me earn a few cents. I like the jingle of coins in my cup.

14020EB: Gotta Have It! - eBook Gotta Have It! – eBook

By Gregg Jantz with Ann McMurray / David C. Cook