Wednesday, January 31, 2018

See, Hear, Speak

   A Wounded Soul

Today I met a wounded soul,
His eyes with pain were full.
He told a story of life that’s hard,
Of choices badly made.
His shoulders slumped, his voice was low,
Despair was in his thoughts.
Where could he turn?
What could he do?
He looked at me,
And I knew I must speak.
“I know a man who changes lives,”
I shared the hope I have.
God’s precious Word I passed along
To give new strength and life.
Today I met a wounded soul.
I gave him healing truth.
I pray by grace next time we meet,
This man will be made whole.

I wrote this poem many years ago, but I still remember looking into the man's eyes and seeing the pain that was there. In spite of the happy front he tried to put up, he was hurting deeply. I had a few brief moments to share about Jesus with him. Then life moved on, and I didn't see him again. I prayed for him many times, and oh, how I hope I'll see him in heaven one day! How I hope that one brief moment of seeing, listening, and sharing truth was used by God to change his life.

For most people today, life is so busy, so stressful, and so fast-paced. Yet there are wounded souls all around us.

Sometimes I'm too preoccupied to see them.
Sometimes I see them, but I don't take the time to ask a question and listen to their story.
Sometimes I listen to their story, but I don't know how to share the truth they need.
Other times, by God's grace - I see, I hear, and I speak.

I want to be the kind of person who looks past the outward facade and sees the reality inside.
I want to be someone who will stop, ask a thoughtful question and then listen.
And I want to be a person who kindly, yet boldly, shares truth and grace - the hope I have for eternal life and for today's trials.

Life is hard. This we know.

But Jesus is good! This truth we can share.

Would you pray for me to be someone who sees wounded souls, hears their stories, and speaks the truth they need? And I'll pray the same for you. May Jesus fill us, may He live through us, and may He use us to help others find hope in Him. Amen.

Note - My dear friend Martha, who has graciously translated these blog posts into Spanish for years, recently had a stroke and has been in the hospital. Please pray for her - that she would feel God's presence with her, for healing and recovery as God wills, and for comfort and peace for her friends and family. Thank you so much!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

He Sought Me – Guest Post

I asked my mom to share a post with us this week. I know you’ll be blessed by what she’s written.

God — The Great Initiator
By Jan Harris

Let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad (1 Chron. 16:10b).

Note: The song quoted below, I Sought The Lord, And Afterward I Knew, was written in 1878, author unknown. It's been a blessing to me for over 36 years.
Verse 1:
I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me.
It was not I that found, O Savior true,
No I was found by Thee.

Have you ever thought of God as the Great Initiator?

Initiator: One who starts things—the contact, the conversation, the relationship; One who reaches out; One who calls you by name.

Remember Adam and Eve hiding in the garden? God called out to them. Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:9). Of course, God already knew where they were. Yet He came seeking them—moving them to seek Him.

Jesus called the disciples: Come, follow me (Matt. 4:19a). They had seen Him. They had heard Him teach. But they went back to fishing. He was the One who sought them out. Come, follow me.

One of my favorite stories is about the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:3-30). Jesus went to a lot of trouble to find her. He took the road through Samaria—a road Jews normally avoided. He sat by the well while His disciples went into town to buy food. When she arrived at the well, as He knew she would, He initiated the conversation. There are many things to learn about Jesus from this story. But I love most to ponder: how far will Jesus go to seek out a single soul?

God calls to us, too. When I’m too busy, or so tired I just want to collapse, or when—like Adam and Eve—I’m reluctant to face God because I feel guilty…He moves my soul to seek Him, seeking me. He reminds me that He wants—He longs—to spend time with me. With me! So I lay my excuses, and my guilt, at His feet. I worship Him and marvel at His love.

Verse 2:
Thou didst reach forth thy hand and mine enfold;
I walked and sank not on the storm-tossed sea.
'Twas not so much that I on thee took hold,
As thou, dear Lord, on me.

In 1994 when we were forced out of our home in Colombia by the guerrillas, the storm seemed wild and furious. Some days I felt like I couldn’t hold on any longer. But in every storm, Jesus comes. He takes my hand in His. We walk together. I don’t have to hold on to His hand, because He will never let go of mine (Josh. 1:5b).

Verse 3:
I find, I walk, I love, but oh, the whole
Of love is but my answer, Lord, to thee!
For thou wert long beforehand with my soul,
Always thou lovest me!

Often, I tell God how much I love Him. But I know that the love in my heart is what He puts there. John wrote: We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19) Left on my own, I never would’ve chosen Jesus. He’s the one who initiated. He chose me—loved me, pursued me, and wooed me. The love I feel for Him is my “answer” to the love He has lavished on me (1 John 3:1).

Father God, You loved me always! I didn’t earn your love. I never could. I never will. I don’t have to! Instead, You have chosen to “freely bestow” your grace on me through Jesus (Eph. 1:6).

In this truth my heart rejoices!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Courageous New Year!

Welcome to January 2018! Can you believe it's a new year already?

For me 2017 was both ridiculously hard and full of amazing blessings at the same time. I'm learning not to expect life to be all awful or all wonderful. Most of the time life is a mix of good things and trials, heartache and beautiful moments.

While I really hope 2018 is mostly filled with good things and wonderful moments, I realize there will probably be challenges, difficulties, and struggle.

So how do we begin a new year recognizing both hope and reality?

God's word to me this week was from Joshua 1.

“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
-Joshua 1:6-9

God gave Joshua amazing promises! God declared that the land was theirs (vv. 2-3). He said no one would be able to stand against them (v. 5). He promised to be with them (v. 5).

But Joshua and the Israelites still had to fight the battles. So God gave Joshua a repeated phrase - be strong and courageous.

There was no need to fear. But there was need to be courageous. Interesting thought.

That's what I've heard God speaking to me. Courage.

Courage comes from knowing the truth about who God is and who He says we are.
Courage operates by faith, not sight.
Courage is willingness to do the hard things in every step of obedience.
Courage knows there are battles to fight, but the victory is already assured.

It's only January 3, and I've already been fighting my share of battles. In the midst of one, I received this text message from a friend:

"There is no victory without a fight. The fiercer the battle, the sweeter the victory. Courage, dear one!"

As I read it, I began to cry. God knows the battles I'm fighting. And He sent me the words I needed in that moment, the words of en-couragement - to give me courage once again. Courage grows in the presence of Jesus.

Joshua did live with courage. He did see the faithfulness of God one battle at a time. He did see victory after victory. He did see God's promises fulfilled!

As we begin 2018, I pray that whatever happens this year, our lives would be filled with supernatural courage. Jesus has already won every victory for us! I believe my friend is right, that over the fiercest battles, God will give victories sweeter than we believed possible. Glory to His name!

So courageous new year to you, my friends!

And don't forget to share sometime about the victories God gives you. I'd love to rejoice and celebrate with you! =)