Do Me a Favor

Looking for Speaking Hope Ministry's blog? For the moment, it has combined with Miscellaneous Ramblings. Please click here and be sure to sign up for e-mail notices. Thanks. Carol

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


I feel differently now than I did then.

It’s because God is drawing me in another, different direction.
As usual, God has intervened with something I never would have thought of.

Which, I realize, wouldn’t take a lot – but still…
So I’m closing down this blog, Speaking Hope, and concentrating on my other blog Miscellaneous Ramblings.

I feel that that blog will be changing at some point, too.
But in the meantime, if you could check out Miscellaneous Ramblings and sign up for e-mail notification, I would probably be your friend for life (just kidding – sorta).

I’ll continue to post on Fridays over on Miscellaneous Ramblings, so stay tuned.  You just never know what God has in store.  It will be a surprise for us all…
Self Portrait

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

But This Time...

Well, it happened again.  It probably happens a lot, and I’m just not aware of it.  But this time…

A friend’s name just kept coming to me for over a month.  And every time I thought of her name, I also felt that I needed to go over to her house and pray for her.  I saw her over this period of time, but I never told her of the promptings.
You know how it is.  Life interferes with our good intentions.  Or maybe I was just lazy and didn’t get over there.  I’d like to believe the former, but I’m pretty sure it was the latter.

Between the holidays, a little traveling, bronchitis and extremely cold weather, I kept putting it on the back burner.  When things calm down, I told myself, I’ll get right on over there.
Finally, this past week, I called her and invited myself over.  I usually don’t do that, but, frankly, I was tired of this feeling that I needed to pray for her.  I just wanted get it over with. It was really in self-defense way more than any spiritual connection.

My strategy was to ask her how she was doing and how her family was doing, then tell her about this nudge I was getting, pray for her, and go on about my business.  In my mind, it was much more about me than it was about her.
So I asked my two polite questions so that I could get on to the praying part.  Forty-five minutes later, the praying began.  In between, she told me what had happened in her family’s life in just the last few days. 

Family problems are always the worst, aren’t they?  It’s a very hard thing when family lets us down.
It just so happens that I had gone through something similar decades ago.  She already knew some of it, but now she knows most of it.  She knows the parts that can help her the most now.  But not because I was oh, so wonderful to show up on her doorstep and listen to her, share with her and pray with her.

No, it wasn’t because of me at all.  It was because God loves her in a very profound way. 
And even though I believe it wasn’t because of me, the crazy thing is that I got a blessing out of it even if she didn’t.  Because I felt that God had used little old me in His great big plan.

Mercy!  His blessings come showering down upon us.  Even when we’re just looking out for ourselves. 
Especially when we’re just looking out for ourselves. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Devil of a Time

I once had a t-shirt that said:

The next time the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.

I got more comments on that t-shirt than any I had ever worn. It definitely touched a nerve with a lot of folks.
Strangers would say, “Love your shirt,” “Good words,” or “Where did you get that t-shirt?”

I would watch people as they approached me on a sidewalk or in the mall, watch as they read the words, marvel at the light that came into their eyes and the smile that followed.
And I really don’t think it was the thought of revenge for most of them.  I think it was the realization that the things in the past don’t really matter as long as we have our Messiah, our Savior.

It was, after all, Jesus who said to those who were questioning His authority,
Your father is the devil, and you do exactly what he wants. He has always been a murderer and a liar. There is nothing truthful about him. He speaks on his own, and everything he says is a lie. Not only is he a liar himself, but he is also the father of all lies.   John 8:44

You can’t get much clearer than that. 
We have suspicions, doubts, fears – The devil is a liar.

He brings up our past and tells us we can’t change – There is nothing truthful about him.
He knows our insecurities, our weaknesses and our fears – Everything he says is a lie.

He knows what bothers us most – He is a liar himself.
He uses our past to depress us, hold us down, hold us back – He is also the father of all lies.

On my t-shirt, in smaller print and just below the main sentence, it said: 
The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.   Revelation 20:10

In our own lives, we’ve got to remember that Satan has somehow made evil things in our world appealing.  Sometimes it seems like there are more gray areas than black and white ones.
But at some point in the future, Satan will land in that lake of fire and brimstone, finally unable to do anymore damage.

In the meantime, we can be about God’s business of being the light of this world.  It sure does need it.  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Message From Jesus for 2014

Happy New Year!

How’s it going so far?  Mine is starting off on kind of a bummer.  I’ve had what we locally call the Sand Mountain Creeping Crud.  This malady attacks every single person around here at least once a year.
I’m feeling better, so maybe it will just go away in a couple more days.  The wonderful cough will stay for a while, because, as we all know on Sand Mountain, the cough is the last thing to go.

Today I know that things are getting better and that I have the ability to function on a higher level.  Instead of just staring at the TV and thinking I’ll never get better, I’m taking interest in what I’m watching, which is why I turned the TV off.  Progress!
It’s easy for almost anyone to relate to feeling so sick that you know you’ve got to get better just to die.  It’s a low spot to be in.  Nothing seems to be right, but the energy is just not there to change anything.

I’ve been studying John the Baptist, and I read about him being imprisoned by Herod.  The king had sort of a love/hate relationship going on with John.  He respected him and knew he was a righteous man, but John had told Herod that it was wrong for him to have his brother’s wife.  So Herod had him thrown in jail for speaking against him.
This was a low point in John’s life.  He was probably imprisoned under ground with either nothing to do or mind-numbing busy work for hours a day.  For an active, intelligent man, this had to be very hard.  Mostly likely, depression followed.

We can see his mental state when he sends two of his disciples to ask Jesus if He is the One they were looking for, or should they look for another. 
Think of it:  John had preached to thousands of repentance and the Savior Who was coming.  He baptized thousands in the Jordan River, pointing them always to their Messiah.  He baptized Jesus Himself and saw a dove, representing the Holy Spirit, descend from Heaven to Jesus.  And he heard God’s voice saying that this was His Son, in whom He was well pleased.

But in that dank, dark prison, John had a time of doubting – doubting himself and doubting God.  Was it possible that John had somehow misread all those signs of the Savior’s coming?  Were the passions that he felt to baptize and preach really coming from God? 
So he sent two of his disciples to ask straight out --  Are you or are you not our Messiah?

It’s interesting that Jesus didn’t get mad about it.  He just suggested that the disciples tell John “…what you have seen and heard; how the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the Gospel is preached to the poor. And blessed are all who won’t be offended in me.”  Luke 7:23 (CEV)
Jesus gives John something no one else could – assurance that Jesus is
Who He says He is.

I can’t think of a better message for us as we start a new year. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Groundhogs!

Merry Christmas!

Who’s ready for Spring?
Winter hasn’t even gotten a good start, and we’re already wishing for warmer weather.

We talk about it all winter long, all through the cold, the rain, and the occasional ice storm or snow.  Winter in the South can be quite miserable.
We’re looking for some encouragement during the long dreary days of winter, and one such boost comes on February 2, Groundhog Day.

The folklore says that if it is cloudy when a groundhog steps out of its burrow on this particular day, Spring will come early; if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, while winter weather continues for six more weeks.
The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where Phil, the “official” Groundhog of the day, makes his annual appearance. 

No matter that he is more wrong than he is right.  We need a little hope that Spring will come once again, that trees will grow new branches and new leaves, that flowers will pop out of the ground like magic, and birds will sing their lovely songs.
Spring means a reawakening of nature, a transformation of roots thought dead, a restoration of our weary souls, worn down by the drab days of winter. 

So why am I talking about Spring on Christmas Day?
Because, like Spring, Christmas represents a new beginning for Christians, the greatest new beginning since the creation of the world.  Without Christ, there would be no Christians.  And not just that, there would also be no hope, little love for anything but ourselves, no sympathy, no empathy, a drab and dreary world far beyond our imaginings. 

I know we just had Thanksgiving and thought about things we were thankful for, but I think it’s appropriate to intentionally be thankful again today, thinking of the small baby that was Christ Jesus and all that He became and is for us in our lives.
Christ fits perfectly within us, whether we’re celebrating Christmas, Groundhog Day or the 4th of July. 

And today, of all days, we really should invite Him in and see Spring through His eyes.
Merry Christmas from David and I!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Taste and See!

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Psalm 34:8
 "Oh, taste…" Well, I don't need anyone to tell me twice.  I'm right in there, tasting away. 

We have to eat, right?  If you have gained a few (or a lot) of pounds by eating too much, then you've got a whole nuther set of problems.
I had gastric-bypass surgery in 2004 and lost 90 pounds.  I can't eat the same things I used to eat.  I can't tolerate much sugar, so I'm constantly checking the labels to see how many sugar grams there are.  It's absolutely astounding how much sugar can be in one granola bar!  I don't know, maybe I was addicted to sugar before my surgery.  I couldn't eat very much of anything for months afterward, certainly not sugary stuff, so that forced abstinence may have broken the sugar addiction.  I'm just speculating here.

One thing that's kind of funny about it is that I don't crave sugar.  I don't miss it at all.  If something sugary looks good to me, I'm just hungry and a little food that I can tolerate will take care of that.  
When I eat, I have to pick and choose what I can eat.  If I don't choose wisely, I can end up very physically sick.  It's so bad, I'd have to feel better to die!  Sometimes pain is the best motivator we've got.

So I look over my options of what will work.  I try to eat slowly and chew every bite very well.  I have to remember that if things don't go down right, they will rebel at some point in my body. 
Because I have only so much space to fill, I reach for the stuff I like best first.  I'll see how things are going and then add something else if I feel I can handle it.  All this took years of practice and hit-or-miss methods of getting what my body needs to function.

So, yeah, I know something about tasting.  But how do you "taste" the Lord?  Our need for Him is even more basic than our need for food.  And yet we look all around Him for things to satisfy us in any way we can.
When we want to know what something tastes like, we take a small bite or spoonful to get a sample of the whole.  We can usually tell by the sample how good or bad the whole will be.

What if we "sampled" God's goodness by giving Him a chance to show us how good He is?  What if we took a sample of His goodness and meditated on it and thought about it.  I'm not particularly thinking of scripture here.  I'm talking about asking the Lord to give you a sample of His goodness and then watch what He does.  And then from His holy "sample," we will know how good the Whole really is.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

John the Baptist

I have always admired John the Baptist for the way he handled Jesus’ arrival.  I know, I know – John had the Holy Spirit to guide him and all of that.  But still, given human nature, it could have been a real problem.

Think about people you work with now or have worked with in the past.  How many times has someone in your classification, someone doing the same things you do, get a promotion to supervisor and become a completely different person? 
And I don’t mean that in a nice way.  I mean they become bossy and arrogant, ordering people around just because they can.  Of course, resentment runs high so the workplace becomes tense, people become stressed, and the work doesn’t get done as smoothly and as timely as it should.

All because somebody gets, what we call in the South, the big head.
It’s just another form of greed.

Look at all those celebrities that have money out the wazoo and yet they constantly want their names known, their accomplishments known.  When their popularity goes down, they show up on game shows and reality TV. 
Because they still want that spotlight and the power that goes with it.  People fawn all over celebrities, which is something I guess I don’t understand.  From what I can tell, some of these people are popular just being themselves on a TV show. 

I think they should be paying us to watch them, not them getting paid extravagant amounts to be watched.
John the Baptist had disciples, he had followers, he baptized countless people.  The Bible says all the country of Judea and everyone who lived in Jerusalem came to him to be baptized. 

He was the center of attention and probably could have asked for just about anything from his followers and he would have gotten it.  They admired him, they looked up to him, they believed in him and his message.
Pretty heady stuff.

But when Jesus came, John stepped back.
He still had disciples because the Bible tells us that John sent some of them to ask Jesus if He was the One they had been waiting for.  He probably still had some folks that followed him around and listened to him.  But it couldn’t have been on the same scale as before Jesus came.

And yet he still preached, he still pointed people to Christ, just as he had done his whole ministry.
So I have admired John the Baptist for the way he stepped away from center stage.

Recently, I realized that this was not the first time someone in John’s family had done that very thing.
I had read many times the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus, going to visit her cousin Elizabeth.  Elizabeth was old and barren when God decided she should be the mother of John the Baptist.  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice, baby John jumped in his mother’s womb.

Here was Elizabeth, old, barren for years and now pregnant, talking to her young cousin whom she had not seen for at least 5 or 6 months.  Don’t you think the first words out of her mouth would have been about her own baby?
Elizabeth uttered 5 sentences to Mary.  The 4th was about her baby leaping for joy.

Like mother, like son.  Elizabeth recognized that Mary’s news was much greater than her own and she stepped back.
John recognized the Lamb of God and he stepped back.

It’s important to recognize that sometimes we just need to get out of the way so the Holy Spirit can do His work.
The next time you’re feeling frustrated, stop and look around.  Your answer could be just a step away.