Never Give Up Hope?

“I will never give up hope or stop praising you.”
Psalm 71:14

David made a bold statement there. I repeat it in my head. But it’s not always true in my heart.

Keeping full of hope doesn’t mean we think everything will turn out great. That people won’t die or that troubles won’t come. They will. We all hurt sometimes. We can hold hope and still ache at the same time.

But “never giving up hope” might mean never doubting God’s goodness. And sometimes, when things look bleak, we’re tempted to wonder.

David’s words are my goal. I want to always believe that God’s plan is best. That I can trust him 100%. That no matter what happens, all will be well.

Most of the time? I believe.

All the time? I’m not there yet.

I will always hope Psalm 71

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This is Day 17 of Practicing Hope.

Another Symbol of Hope – Complete and Unending

This is another symbol of hope, in addition to the anchor and the dove.

Symbol of Hope_Native Americans

I learned the following about the eight-pointed star, a symbol of hope from Native American Indians.

“The 8 pointed star symbolizes hope and guidance. A circle around other Native American symbols signifies protection. The circle has no break and cannot be broken.

The Inner Star pointed to the four cardinal points, east, west, north and south.

The points in the Outer circle led to the summer solstice where the sun path would be at its farthest north, the days are longest. A time of renewal and great potential and hope for the future. The Winter solstice marking the onset of winter. The summer and winter equinox when day and night are of equal length. Each are important times in the forthcoming year and are symbols of hope for the future.

The Hope symbol of the eight pointed star therefore represents the four cardinal points of north, south, east and west and their connection to the outermost points on the horizon where the sun passes through the year – the solstice and equinox points.”

Symbol of Hope

As believers in Christ, we can adopt these meanings as well. We hope in the unbroken protection of our God, surrounding us from every direction, renewing us in every season.

Complete. Unending. Hope.

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This is Day 16 of Practicing Hope.

Battling Between Fear and Hope? Stand on the Rock

Don't give fear a chance

I knew it the first time I heard it.

This song reached down deep. It landed on my anxieties, my fears.

I knew it would be a song that I would listen to again and again. And I have.

It awakens hope.

When darkness tries to roll over your bones, don’t be shaken. Fear doesn’t stand a chance when you stand in Jesus’s love.

Stand on the Rock.

Stand in Your Love

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This is Day 15 of Practicing Hope.

Do you have a favorite song that brings you hope? Please share in the comments.

Hold Hope for One at a Time

Large scope issues like immigration reform often overwhelm us. We don’t know the answers, and don’t feel we could make a difference even if we did.

But when we can’t hold hope for all, can we at least hold hope for one?

Brian finally made it to the U.S. a few months ago. After years of applications, interviews, and waiting, he arrived in Alabama from Vietnam to care for his aging mother here.

But his English skills need improving. As one of the English as a Second Language volunteers, I’ve been assigned to help him improve.

It’s been an interesting journey. For both of us.

Read the rest here:

The Theology of One – When You Can’t Help All, Help One

Theology of the One

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I’m writing today at Do Not Depart for our #PracticalTheology series. What we think about God directly affects how we hope for and serve others.

Will you join me there for the rest of the story?

This is Day 14 of my #Write28Days series on #PracticingHope.

Even Death Is About Hope

“No one gets out of life alive. There’s no such thing as a survival story.
– Matthew McCullough

Maybe that sounds gloomy to you. Even though we know death is inevitable for each of us, it’s not a subject we bring up often. Talking about death can be considered morbid and taboo.

Because we live longer than ever before, we can dismiss death from our thoughts more than at any time in the past. As little as 300 years ago, the average life expectancy was the late thirties. The average life expectancy now? Nearly 80 year olds.

But death is no less inevitable than ever before. It’s simply a timing issue.

Every one of us lives with a death sentence we cannot escape. We’re still waiting our turn.

For the wise, facing death now means greater life now.

Matthew McCullough says that the best way to enjoy your life is to get honest about your death. He’s the author of the new book, Remember Death: The Surprising Path to Living Hope. And while it is a book about death, he frames it more about Jesus and his promises.

And therefore, even death becomes about hope.

Not just hope for life after death, although that is definitely huge. But hope about death also belongs in the present as well.

Remember Death book review

McCullough says that overcoming our detachment from death helps us enjoy a deeper attachment to Jesus. Understanding the gospel in light of death let’s us know that even though no one is too important not to die, we all are important enough for Christ to die for us.

“We are important because we are loved, not loved because we’re important.”

So we are to enjoy the life that God gives us now, as well as look forward to the life we’ll have after we die.

“Jesus’s death and resurrection have purchased freedom to enjoy what you have even when you know you’re going to lose it. Enjoy your vacation even though it’ll be over in a flash.”

The good things of life don’t have to be permanent to bring us joy.

“Of course these things won’t last. Yes, it will hurt when they’re gone. But they don’t have to last to be wonderful. They are delicious, God-given, God-glorifying appetizers for the hearty and satisfying meal that’s still to come.”

The problems we face in life aren’t permanent either. While they bring us pain and they matter, often the problems we focus on most aren’t our biggest problems. When we expect this world to offer us comfort and security, we wrongly see our suffering as abnormal. But McCullough writes that,

“Remembering death helps us stop trying to protect what we can’t protect. And remembering Christ helps us stop trying to protect what we don’t need to protect.”

Don’t waste your time protecting what can’t be protected.

We can place our hope not only in God’s goodness for us down the road, but also in God’s goodness for us now.

Connecting with the certainty of death is a critical step toward connecting with the certainty of hope.”

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My thanks to Crossway
for the review copy of this book

Hope, Not Just FROM Bad, but FOR Good

“Salvation is never just salvation from. It is always also salvation for.”
– John Ortberg

Just as with salvation, so it is with hope.

Hope isn’t just a desire to escape something bad. It’s also something good to look forward to.

Hope for good

This excerpt from Ortberg’s Eternity Is Now in Session explains more on salvation:

“Soter (‘savior’) was a common term in the classical world. It was often used for a military figure or healer or king who bore the hopes of the people. Lots of people had that title. But not in the New Testament. It is used eight times of God and sixteen times of Jesus and of nobody else.

This is because, as much as we look for deliverance from our outward circumstances, the main task of salvation is an inside job. We must be saved from what’s going on inside. And so far as I know, no other candidate for soter ever said, ‘Abide in me.'”

Just as with salvation, hope is an inside job as well. When I grow hopeless, it may appear to be prompted by outward circumstances, but it is actually a lack of trust from the inside out. Hope requires allowing my inner self to abide in Christ.

As I am transformed on the inside, my outside reflects it onto whatever situations arise.

More from Ortberg:

“Our greatest freedom is the freedom to direct what we think of. To be constantly mindful of God is salvation from worry, fear, and regret.

And, I’ll add, to hope in God is also freedom from worry, fear, and regret.

And freedom for peace, courage, and joy.

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What is salvation to you? What is hopefulness? Please share in the comments.

This is Day 12 of Practicing Hope.