Tuesday, May 28, 2013

When Change is Thrust Upon Us

learning to fly
“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”~C. S. Lewis

My son Josh graduates from high school this Friday. Thank God he’s not leaving the nest, as well. I don’t think I could handle that much change all at once. I’m definitely not ready for him to fly away! J

At times I think—if only he could be a toddler again for one day. Sounds like a good plan, but life doesn’t work that way. And would we want it to? Some days I’d answer with a resounding “Yes!” but then I realize God gives us the fortitude to go through life once—not twice. And it’d be pretty selfish to wish someone else’s life would be put on hold to satisfy our longings.

So why is transition so difficult? We know when we have children, their years under our wings are limited. But we often wish for them to “get grown” while trying to slow them down at the same time.

C.S. Lewis has a point. We balk at change and rail at monotony. We can’t have it both ways. But when change is thrust upon us, a practical solution is to stay busy.

Since Josh is graduating and our daughter Lindsay is returning home for an extended weekend, we decided to do a long-overdue deck remodel. Our Australian Shepherd Dixie had claimed the patio chairs as her own, so we replaced the old patio set, our old grill, and added a water feature and deck plants. 

These pics don’t do it justice, but these are the “after” pics. I wasn’t smart enough to think to take “before” pics.


We left Dixie one old chair to keep her off the new set.  
While change is often bittersweet, we can revel in the splendor of the greatest change we could ever experience—when we repent of our old ways and accept rebirth through Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV

Praise God!

I heard this song for the first time this week. It fits well with the theme of change. I hope you're as blessed by it as I was.

I’m all about encouragement, so this week I’m asking you, my readers, to share some. What ideas or favorite scripture passages do you have to encourage others going through transition? Perhaps the change is not as happy as graduation but something that leaves one feeling helpless like the death of a loved one or moving to a new city. If you’ve “been there, done that,” share an encouraging comment for those in the throes of change.

And if you have a prayer request or praise report, I’d love to hear from you. E-mail me any confidential requests. Would you take a moment to visit Sgt. Jesse McCart’s page at the top of the blog (new photos added), as well as the Mission page which has the latest opportunity for you to help out? The biggest way you can help, as always, is prayer.

God bless,

©Laura Hodges Poole

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

South Sudan's Mission Field

Have you ever had such a passion for something that no matter what path your life takes or other projects that occupy your time, your focus keeps returning to it? Writing has been one such passion for me. With God’s help, I’ve been able to enjoy my writing career becoming a reality.

But I’m speaking of a different sort of passion. One on a totally different level. One that God pierced my heart and mind with many years ago. And in His perfect timing, if it is His will, I’ll also see this come into fruition.

The plight of the Sudanese people captured my heart almost fifteen years ago when I read a book written by Canadian missionary and radio host Cal R. Bombay, "Let My People Go." He traveled to Sudan with a group of other missionaries apart from an official affiliate because their mission was illegal in Sudan.

The missionaries secretly purchased slaves' freedom during the 1990s genocide committed in southern Sudan. The book outlines the quest by the Arab Muslims in the north against the predominantly Christian south to wipe out their culture and convert them to Islam. After villages were burned, slave traders sold the women and children into bondage to the north Sudanese landowners. The missionaries risked their lives to travel to Sudan and buy slaves from the Arab kidnappers then return them to the south. I’ve read the book so many times, it’s dog-eared and remains one of my favorite books.

Sudan’s civil war spans decades and rather than try to explain it, which would take thousands of words, it’s easier to share this quote from International Medical Corps website that summarizes the situation well:

Less publicized than the conflict in Darfur to the north, the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan after more than four decades of conflict, is arguably as urgent. The First and Second Sudanese Civil Wars between North and South Sudan spanned most of the last 50 years. The latter claimed nearly two million lives and left four million others homeless. The civil war ended in 2005 with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), giving South Sudan autonomy and its people the right to self-determination through a referendum on independence after six years. The referendum took place in January 2011 and the Republic of South Sudan became a sovereign state on July 9, 2011. However, despite many successes under the CPA, South Sudan remains one of the most underdeveloped areas in the world. (International Medical Corps)
After gaining their independence, South Sudan citizens continue to be attacked by North Sudan forces and the likes of Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) who routinely kidnaps young South Sudanese boys, terrorizes them, and forces them into military service. South Sudan has needs on all fronts—humanitarian, infrastructure, medical, spiritual, safe water, and basic survival.

Since my heart has been stirred for the Sudanese, it’s been my desire to travel to Sudan as part of a mission effort. And though I feel God gave me this desire, He has to make it happen. My effort would never succeed on its own. So many obstacles have to be supernaturally overcome, not the least of which are my own human weaknesses. We’re working on those. J

Meanwhile, I support others the door has opened for, which brings me to the Gonzalez family who’ve become special friends in the last two years. Dawn is a fellow Christian writer and mother who I share many things in common. Her husband Mike pastors Columbia World Outreach Church in Columbia, SC, and their son Adrian is a Christian singer. Mike and Adrian will travel to Sudan and then to Kenya in August to participate in pastor training conferences. One of the many things sorely lacking in South Sudan is training for Christian pastors. Among Adrian's music is Christian rap, which is well received in African countries. 

Please pray for their mission work, as well as their spiritual and physical health. The Missions page listed at the top of the blog has more detailed information about their trip. If you would like to prayerfully consider giving a financial donation to help pay for this costly trip, please click on this link to make an online donation. They have roughly half of the trip’s expense left to raise.

And most of all, please pray for the South Sudanese people whose needs are many.

Our worship song is “My Hope Is In You,” by Aaron Shust, dedicated to the Oklahoma City victims and their families in this difficult time of mourning and rebuilding. Aaron sings from a place of his own pain. His toddler son suffered a rare, life threatening illness God healed him of. Then Aaron’s wife gave birth to a baby boy with Down’s Syndrome who’s had major health problems. This video is heart-wrenching, but it speaks well to where our hope is found—in the comforting arms of our Savior.

If you have a need, I’d love to pray for you. Leave a comment or e-mail me confidential requests. Would you please take a moment to pray for others who leave comments, as well as those listed on the prayer list at the top of the blog? I’d sure appreciate it. J

God bless,

©Laura Hodges Poole

Other resources:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sitting In The Company of Mockers

Choosing the right path
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. Psalm 1:1-2

Corrie Ten Boom once remarked there were times when she examined the print in the Bible to see if the ink were dry. The more I listen to the news, the more I commiserate with Corrie’s perspective. Evil and hardships were abundant in Biblical times, much like today, and certainly in Corrie’s era when she spent time in a Nazi concentration camp. But there is also encouragement in Scripture that supported her (and us) during evil times.

Everywhere you look, wickedness is rampant. Values are skewed, and absolute right and wrong tossed aside. Each person feels entitled to create their own moral compass, following their own man-made god. So it’s not difficult to see how the “good” people of this country, in an attempt to bring “safe” abortions to women, would scoff at abortion as murder and pass Roe v. Wade as “choice” decades ago.

Abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s first degree murder convictions highlight the horror of the 3,000 souls in this country who return to heaven daily by the hands of “doctors” and “mothers” who choose to end babies’ lives. No matter how sterile or anesthetic the procedure, it still amounts to murder. It appears Gosnell’s willing to forfeit his right to appeal in exchange for life sentences instead of death. Kind of ironic that he was given a choice between life and death.

Many people shrug when the subject of abortion comes up. They’ve grown numb to the subject and instinctively look the other way when details of abortion horrors emerge. After all, what can we do about it?

The Bible is clear that in all we do, even when sin surrounds us, we’re not to “go along” by our actions, whether it’s walking, standing, or sitting in that environment. In other words, don’t endorse by implication or complicity. We don’t have to succumb to the belief there’s no hope for change or the “What can you do about it?” mentality that seems to have sapped people’s resolve.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8

Talk about choice! God created choice.

It’s clear from Scripture we have two paths to choose from. As Christians, we’re to strive to live in a way pleasing to the Spirit. When we don’t, the destructive consequences show up in our lives. If we don’t fight against evil’s tide, our nation will get sucked into the undertow of an immoral abyss.

Can you imagine, just for a moment, what it would be like if God were to totally remove his hand from this country? It sends a shudder through me to contemplate. Praise God for his patience with all of us, though the day will come when this patience will end.

So how do Christians go about exacting change? What does choosing the path that pleases the Spirit look like in a practical sense?

      ·        Pray for guidance on where and how God can use you.
      ·         Get involved.
      ·         If you’re physically unable to participate in activities, speak out about social and spiritual issues that matter—abortion, human trafficking, human rights abuses, persecution against Christian beliefs in this nation and worldwide. The list is endless. And give encouragement, prayer, and possibly financial support to those physically participating.
      ·        Defend the sanctity of life—whether physical or spiritual.

Jim Elliot, martyred missionary of the 20th century said it best:

We [Christians] are so utterly ordinary, so commonplace, while we profess to know a Power the Twentieth Century does not reckon with. But we are "harmless," and therefore unharmed. We are spiritual pacifists, non-militants, conscientious objectors in this battle-to-the-death with principalities and powers in high places. Meekness must be had for contact with men, but brass, outspoken boldness is required to take part in the comradeship of the Cross. We are "sideliners" -- coaching and criticizing the real wrestlers while content to sit by and leave the enemies of God unchallenged.
So the question is: Are you a sideliner or a wrestler?

I refuse
To sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
Oh, I could choose
Not to move, but I refuse

While there is little good to be gleaned from the tragic and morally corrupt news cycles that constantly bombard us, I want to leave you not only spiritually empowered but encouraged, as well. I did a search this week to see, aside from Christian news sites, if any good news networks exist. And there actually is one called Good News Network. Check it out.   

If you have a prayer need, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or e-mail me confidential requests. Share your praise reports, as well. J Would you take a few moments to lift up those who leave comments or are on the prayer list above? Several folks are battling cancer, depression, and other health issues. Along with injured American soldier Sgt. Jesse McCart, who we’ve been praying for as he rehabs, is news of more U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan this week. Please continue to lift up our military and their families in prayer.


©Laura Hodges Poole 

For a more in-depth discussion on our country’s spiritual and moral condition, click here to go to my other blog, Count the Cost, to read "The Devaluing of Life and Death." The permanent link is in the top right column of this blog. 


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

God's Beautiful Design

“…be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11b NIV

One of my favorite childhood toys was a small, inexpensive kaleidoscope. I would press one end of the kaleidoscope to my eye and marvel at the red, green, blue, and yellow colors morphing into different designs as I turned the tube. No matter how long I looked, I never grew tired of it. I played with this toy until it fell apart.

Oftentimes, we get caught up in the differences in Christian worship, whether it is within a church, between denominations, or within the Christianity community as a whole. The Apostle Paul admonishes us to put aside our differences and be of one mind for the sake of peace. No matter what our personalities, tastes in worship, or how we envision our particular church progressing into the future, we’re all part of the same fabric, woven together as the body of Christ.

The fascination of the kaleidoscope was the way the colors worked together to form a pattern and then changed into another beautiful design. My brothers and sisters in Christ are just as beautiful when they pull together to accomplish good for the Kingdom. Equally important is our willingness to transform for necessary progress.

Imagine my childish disappointment when I peered into the end of my kaleidoscope one day and it no longer worked. No matter how much I turned the tube, the colors were askew as the little broken lenses didn’t come together anymore to form a beautiful design. We’ve all seen this happen within the body of Christ, as well.

Are you part of the peaceful work in your church, striving to be of one mind, meshing with those around you in a beautiful godly design? If so, you’ve experienced the peace and love that God showers on His believers.

Prayer: Father God, guide me to be a fruitful part of your design within the body of believers of which I belong. Help me to keep my focus on You and not the differences amongst my brothers and sisters in Christ, so that we may do Your Kingdom work effectively. In Jesus' name, amen.

Please pray for our overseas U.S. personnel including our ambassadors, our military, and their families. Several military personnel have been killed in the past few weeks including five soldiers from Fort Bliss who died when their vehicle hit an IED in Afghanistan. Please continue to lift up those on our prayer list and Sgt. Jesse McCart, who was injured by an IED in Afghanistan last summer, and his wife and children as he continues his rehab.

If you have a prayer request, I’d love to hear from you. Share in the comments section so others can pray or e-mail me confidential requests. I’d also love to hear your praise reports!


©Laura Hodges Poole

Originally published by Christian Devotions in 2012.