Thursday, May 29, 2014

How to Become Rooted and Established

Josh and me at the park
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” Ephesians 3:14-18

The Apostle Paul prayed often and was greatly burdened by the responsibility of not only winning souls to Christ, but teaching followers about Christ. He spent hours in the temple and teaching halls, once preaching so long a parishioner fell asleep and tumbled out of a window (Acts 20:7-12).

Paul’s prayers emphasize the urgency with which he wanted new Christians to be “rooted and established” in the love and knowledge of Christ. He knew firsthand how difficult the road of the cross is and what it took to be strengthened for the journey.

One way we can do this is to read our Bibles and pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance for discernment. I’ve heard many people say they don’t understand or wish they had a better grasp of the historical setting of the Bible or a deeper intellectual understanding of the basis of the Bible. Or they don’t know how to follow a particular topic thread through several books of the Bible. They yearn for answers, yet sadly, some Christians aren’t taught directly from the Bible in the churches they attend. Even when they are, time constraints of worship services don’t always allow for in-depth study to answer all of our questions.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 1 Peter 3:15a

While Peter’s admonition mainly refers to a Christian’s testimony, being able to have a dialogue with a non-believer or fellow Christian about the Bible’s origin or history or answer questions about our faith is imperative. We live in difficult times, as have most believers, and being saturated in God’s Word and having a clear understanding of it is not optional, if our faith is challenged.  It also leads to a deeper relationship with God.

I’d like to share two reliable, time proven resources I’ve utilized in Bible study.  These will take you deeper than many contemporary Bible studies. Think of these like having access to a Bible seminary on your computer.

J. Vernon McGee was a leading authority on the Bible during the mid to late 20th century. His program “Thru The Bible” is still heard worldwide and can be accessed through their website. The program methodically goes through the entire Bible in five years. That will give you an indication as to the depth of his teaching. Tons of free downloads including Bible book notes and outlines, study guides, and audio programs are available. All of his materials are designed in such a way that you can go through them on your own or along with his radio broadcasts. For years, I’ve listened to Dr. McGee, and his passion for Christ shines through all his teaching. His program can still be heard on some Christian radio stations including the Bible Broadcasting Network (BBN) out of Charlotte, NC. And speaking of BBN…

It’s my other recommended resource. Several years ago, this nationwide radio network added a Bible Institute to their website. Click here to access, then click "browse courses." I’ve taken a few of their courses after consulting my pastor as to their credibility. (I really had no doubt, but his endorsement made me feel better.) Whether it’s studying individual books, Bible characters, doctrine, end times, discipleship, relationships, leadership, etc., BBN Bible Institute has dozens of free classes to choose from, and you work at your own pace.

Please let me know if you decide to use one of these resources to deepen your Bible knowledge and how you liked it.

What Bible study have you participated in that you would recommend to others?

While you’re here, if you have a prayer request, I’d love to pray for you. Leave a comment or e-mail me confidential requests. There’s also a prayer list at the top of the blog if you’d like to join me in prayer for these needs.

God bless,

© Laura Hodges Poole
Bible image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman/

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Taking A Step Back

“A flash of harmless lightning, a mist of rainbow dyes, the burnished sunbeams brightening, from flower to flower he flies.” John Banister Tabb

Last summer, I walked through my garage and heard a noise coming from behind the window blinds. It sounded like an oversized bumblebee—or a miniature power tool. Along with the hum, I heard a tap, tap, tap. The little creature was beating itself to death against the closed window, when he only needed to back up and exit the way he came in—through the open garage door.

We have this problem every summer. No doubt, hummingbirds are attracted by anything red in the garage. They hover around my van’s taillight trying to discern if it’s a food source.

Hummingbirds are the only bird that can fly backwards. I could list many amazing attributes about this beautiful creature, but no matter how magnificent, its design is also limiting. One trait in particular—fear—causes the hummingbird to ignore its God-given instinct to simply back out of a situation it shouldn’t be in.

Horrified that the bird would tap the window until it died, I grabbed a rake. After several careful attempts to free the bird without stressing or injuring it, I guided it away from the closed window back to the open garage door. Was it relieved? I doubt a bird has the capacity to feel relief, but it went on its merry way, to the next red bloom or taillight that caught its attention.

Sounds familiar. How often do we insist on following a path in pursuit of something that turns out to be a counterfeit blessing, much like the taillight is to a hummingbird? We see the end of the path—the objective we’re after—so we keep beating our head against the invisible wall to reach it. Though we could take a step back and reassess our objective and the means to achieve it, we refuse to do so.

God grabs our shirttails and tries to rein us in. We try to wriggle out of His grasp.

“But, God, I see the prize. If I try hard enough, work hard enough, sacrifice enough, I’ll get there. Don’t pull me back. Here’s a better solution—Remove the invisible wall.”

Because we know best, right? And removing the barrier would be best.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

If you're in a tough situation that seems to have no solution, or you're pushing too hard to make something work, challenge yourself to take that step back into the arms of God—then trust Him for the answer.

“God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him.” Jim Elliot

What have you had to completely trust God for that you’ve found difficult to have faith about?

If you have a prayer need, I’d love to pray for you. Please leave a comment or e-mail me confidential requests.

God bless,

© Laura Hodges Poole

Post shared from archives.

Hummingbird image courtesy of Christian Meyn/

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Leaving A Legacy

“I look back on my life like a good day's work, it was done and I am satisfied with it.” Grandma Moses (American folk artist)

One of the writing hats I wear is ghostwriter/collaborator. I’m in the process of helping two wonderful Christian ladies write their life stories that will bring encouragement to all who read them. You might characterize this as part of their legacy. I also keep two journals of reflections for my son and daughter to enjoy after I’m gone. I pray the work I do will inspire and encourage many for years to come.

If you were given paper and pen to write a final statement about your life before your death, what would you write? The Apostle Paul wrote this passage in the shadow of impending execution.

“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time of my departure is near.  I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8 

Paul had committed egregious sins prior to becoming a Christian. Formerly a Jewish zealot who persecuted Christians, he was equally fervent in leading people to the Christ he knew intimately. He instructed the early Christians, not only in behavior but in their life’s purpose.

One might say this final recorded statement reflected Paul’s legacy. Yet nothing in his closing remarks mentions punishment for past sins.


Because he’d been forgiven. And once we’re forgiven, the only direction to go is forward. Paul’s ministry was the best example we have of the Christian faith manifested through works—bringing action to his testimony.

So, back to the piece of paper in front of you—the one that will hold your legacy. Can you write that you’ve fought the good fight? Finished the race? Kept the faith?

Very few Christians can measure up to Paul’s accomplishments, but do we earnestly try? The first step of leaving a legacy is creating one. Regardless of man’s assessment, when we stand before God, will we hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant?”

Our legacy before God and man is created by living a life worthy of being remembered.

What do you hope to be remembered for when your life is over?

If you have a prayer request, please leave a comment or e-mail me confidential requests. I’d love to pray for you.

God bless,

©Laura Hodges Poole

Book image courtesy of Nuttapong/
Silhouette of Man image courtesy of Chaiwat/

Thursday, May 8, 2014

When You Walk Through The Fire

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2 NIV 

I’d spent the morning alternating between worry and prayer. My son Josh is enrolled in a Fire Science degree at a local college and was participating in a dangerous training exercise.

As a volunteer firefighter, he’s been in dangerous situations before—real world and training. A couple of months ago, he went to the fire academy in Columbia, SC, to participate in live propane tank fire training. Yes, these are the large ones—train car size. My nerves were shot that day, as well.

But this particular training day involved a flashover simulator. In the real world, firefighters don’t survive flashovers, so learning the warning signs of one is imperative. In the simulator, firefighters train to detect the conditions and environment that precipitate a flashover. The only way to do this is to create an actual flashover as close to real world conditions as possible. Though the trainees wore special protective gear, the instructors had cautioned them not to touch anything or each other because it would leave a burn where they touched.

So when Josh pulled into the driveway that afternoon, my heart leapt with joy and thankfulness that God had protected him and the other trainees. He was sooty and exhausted, but as I plied him with Powerade, I couldn’t help but ask questions. He hadn’t been burned, so I was excited to hear the details of his day.

“Mom, the thermometer inside the simulator read 1200 degrees. It was the hottest thing I’ve ever felt. Even the air coming through my mask was hot!”  His eyes shone with excitement as he recounted the experience. He said it was the coolest thing ever. J I thanked God that Josh had come through it with the knowledge, hopefully, to recognize the warning signs of a flashover.

Ironically, I awoke that morning anticipating this training would be the most dangerous situation Josh would face that day. But all kinds of danger exist for firefighters.

Later that evening, he worked a call where a motorist had somehow failed to see a fire truck with lights flashing on the interstate working a scene and crashed into it. I’m not sure how the driver or his passenger survived hitting something that big at full speed, but Josh was among the crew who cut the guy out of his vehicle before he was airlifted to a nearby hospital. The firefighters in the truck sustained only minor injuries.

Dangers and trials ensnare all of us throughout life. On any given day, we awake with hope for what the day holds. We have no idea if our anticipation will come into fruition or if disaster will strike us or a loved one. So, how do we go about living our fragile, earthly lives with no assurance of a good outcome?

Because of the One who provides eternal assurance.

What an encouraging picture Isaiah created in the verse above to show the faithfulness of our Lord. Isaiah wasn’t referring to physical fire, though we read an account of such in Daniel 3. Rather, his words invoke safety we only experience through a relationship with Christ. Trials are going to come. There will be rivers filled with rapids and waterfalls. There will be fires. Yet, through it all, God never leaves our side. His grace is sufficient to see us through anything. He promises this (2 Corinthians 12:9). The safest place for any Christian is inside the will of God.

What trial are you walking through today? Do you feel as though you can barely keep your head above the raging waters? Or flames are nipping at the hem of your garment as you try to stay one step ahead? I’d love to pray for you. Please leave a comment or e-mail me confidential requests.

Have you recently walked through a trial with God’s help? What did you learn about His faithfulness?

God bless,

© Laura Hodges Poole

Fire image courtesy of think4photop/
Waterfall image courtesy of manostphoto/