Hope Regained.

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Hope is so needed for so many today. A few years ago I was at my lowest point ever. Looking back I’m amazed I had taken so long to regain mental, social, emotional, and spiritual health.

All that happened was due to my own failure to read my gauges. The reality… I had arrived at this low point because of my poor decisions, and my fears.

Rebuilding does take time. Much more time than I had ever imagined. Recovery, I think is sometimes like that. We are complex beings.

In the process, I developed a few practices/tools to help nudge the process along.

I’m not the same person I was even a year ago.

The test provided testimony to God’s grace and His re-establishment of hope in my life.

Some thoughts on regaining hope.

We went through a season ~ two years ~ learning to rebuild our hope. I had lost hope and when you lose hope your heart becomes sick and needs healing. I discovered hope is the connector to Faith and to Love. Hope is the active power that ignites Faith and Love within a heart.

Without hope it is hard to receive or to give love, and to exercise faith.

I began to apply a few principles, leaned into friends, received some counseling, and yes, failed often. Panic attacks, miss-communications, and feelings of loss of identity all had shifted to the negative. Gratefully a few people helped me pick up the pieces.

Here’s how I began to recover.

1. I had to change my thinking.

I had a friend who encouraged me with straight speaking. “Steve you will have a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you don’t change you will crash and burn.”

His gift, Steve Backlund’s book Victorious Mindsets, helped me begin to shift negative thinking. I began to practice positive thinking in spite of anxiety/panic attacks. Bringing thoughts under control helped me realize which thoughts were not mine. Often I’d declare that’s not my thought. Leave in Jesus’ name!

I began to guard my mind as my mindset slowly shifted.

I read the Bible a lot. I also used my journal to write passages which spoke to my heart. I understood I needed the washing of His words.

Ephesians 5:26 NASB Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.

I knew my brain is not just an organ, but part of my make up as a human. Within my body resides my mind, will, spirit, and emotions. We are body, soul, and spirit inter-connected each part assisting or influencing the other. I decided to continue to exercise, eat better, and manage my sleep.

Proverbs 23:7 Says… as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.

Ephesians 4:23 NASB encourages us to be renewed in the spirit of our mind. Sometimes we need to put on a new helmet of Salvation. Acknowledging the reality of our salvation protects our minds. I was saved, I am in the process of being saved, and I will be saved. Also, Sozo means being made new spirit, soul, and body.

Romans 12:1-2 NASB Encourages…Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

I had to repent. Repentance means to change your mind/thinking, which—has the fruit of changed behavior going in a different direction. Walking forward in the best direction.

The night seasons were especially difficult. Psalms 23 and Psalms 27 became my nightly meditation and my confession.

“I would have despaired unless I had believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Psalms 27:13

2. I had to change my speech. I listened to worship and I worshiped more. One man once stated, “If you don’t know what to do… worship!

no whining

I sang from my heart sometimes for hours. I believed I was receiving more than I could ever realize. This required making room in my week to intentionally position myself to worship, read, declare, and pray.

I attempted to watch what I said. Most of the time I had to guard what I said about myself. I had to make new declarations about who I was and who I was becoming. I also had to forgive myself and a few others.

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3. I had to keep myself in the love of God.

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I understood. Pattie, my wife, couldn’t keep me in the love of God. My friends could not keep me in the love of God. No pastor or leader could keep me in the love of God. I had to keep myself in the love of God.

Jude 1:21 NASB keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

I began to read and write passages that spoke of the love of God. I lived in 1 John.

I realized people could splash love upon me, but the love of the Father has greater love, a lavished love.

I often leaned in, positioned myself to receive His love.

4. I realized hope is a person. His name is Jesus.

He is the hope of Glory. He is the anchor within the veil. He is the one who comes to bring the Fathers love and hope.

I wrote a few songs. No one has ever heard the songs except Pattie.

On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. I pour contempt upon all my pride, I run into You and hide.

Jesus is the Hope of the Nations. He is the One Whom I can run into and hide.

When I look to the cross I see His love and His humility. His love for everyone to see. God became man in the flesh. He was crucified. Buried and has risen. He is Jesus the risen One.

This Jesus is our restorer, our redeemer, our peace, our wisdom, our healer, our deliverer.

Jesus is our Hope.

What you see is what you hear.

Spirit-led evangelism. Leaning into practicing hearing the voice of the Lord. Impressions, what we see, what we hear, noticing, being aware, open for business everyday, and a willingness to take risks are part of Spirit-led evangelism.

Blessed is the man who listens to me, Watching daily at my gates, Waiting at my doorposts.” ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭8:34‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Simply put, “Jesus I am open to hear your voice today. Give me eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to believe. Help me to have the wisdom to respond to you as I go about my day. Lead me, guide me empower me. Help me to see what you see and to hear your voice today. Thank you!

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Message the same, method’s change.

Walk in the wisdom of God

as you live before the unbelievers,

and make it your duty to make him known.

Let every word you speak be drenched with grace and tempered with truth and clarity.

For then

you will be prepared to give

a respectful answer

to anyone who asks about your faith.

Paul often asked for prayer. He asked for boldness and wisdom. He wanted to be empowered. He wanted to have wisdom for every opportunity. He wanted to communicate the good news clearly in every situation. Col. 4:4; Eph 6:19-20.

My friend Doug Pollock identifies Paul’s pursuit and practice of reaching people as “Spirit-led evangelism.” Paul prayed, listened, and acted accordingly in every situation.

You can find Doug at www.Godsgps.com. He is the author of God Space. Where spiritual conversations happen naturally. He s a gifted communicator, thinker, and practitioner.

Paul was motivated by his love for Jesus and his love for People.

For it is Christ’s love that fuels our passion and motivates us because we are absolutely convinced that he has given his life for all of us. 2 Cor 5:14 TPT

Love is patient and love is kind. 1Cor 13NAS

Paul’s method changed in different situations, contexts, cultural settings, and opportunities.

How he communicated also changed in different situations, contexts, and cultural settings. (He stated this was his… delightful assignment, the stewardship entrusted to him. Col. 4:4 TPT; 1 Cor. 9;17NASB

His message was always the same. Jesus. Him crucified, buried, and resurrected. Jesus is both Lord and Christ.

Here are a few thoughts gleaned from Paul’s outward focused life style:

He often used reason.

He used the power of explanation to reason.

Reason: the power of the mind to think, and form judgments by a process using logic to understand. (This process implies: Seeking to understand the culture, the positions, and the roles of the people he was speaking to. Having conversations and dialogue. Showing respect, and honor. Living a Christ-centered life-style.}

Many times he used Scripture to reason with people. In this context, the people knew Scripture. They were in religious culture.

And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures,

explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”

And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women. Acts 17 NAS

Mars Hill

He used his understanding of a cultural context to explain the gospel within the cultural context. He did not use scripture with the philosophers, he proclaimed Jesus.

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present.

And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him.

Some were saying, “What would this idle babbler wish to say?” Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.

And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming?

For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean.

Check out his amazing message on Mars Hill.

So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.

The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’

Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.”

So Paul went out of their midst.

But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

Sometimes he told his story. When Paul was confronted by skeptics or the rulers of his day he did not begin a theological debate. He simply told his story. (See Acts 22 and 26.)

And for this hope, O King, I am being accused by Jews. Why is it considered incredible among you people if God does raise the dead?

“So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth… (His story continues. Note the conclusion and the power of story upon the governing authorities.)

Agrippa replied to Paul, “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.” And Paul said, “I would wish to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains.” Acts 26

Sometimes he demonstrated the power of the Holy Spirit through healing, signs, and wonders. He also spoke about receiving the Power of the Holy Spirit. Acts 19:1-10

In Iconium they entered the synagogue of the Jews together, and spoke in such a manner that a large number of people believed, both of Jews and of Greeks. But the Jews who disbelieved stirred up the minds of the Gentiles and embittered them against the brethren. Therefore they spent a long time there speaking boldly with reliance upon the Lord, who was testifying to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands.

At Lystra a man was sitting who had no strength in his feet, lame from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. This man was listening to Paul as he spoke, who, when he had fixed his gaze on him and had seen that he had faith to be made well, said with a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he leaped up and began to walk. Acts 14

God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out. Acts 19

All of the time he was serving people, being a living example of following Jesus. For Paul, the messenger was the message.

He defined himself as a servant.

In writing to the Corinthians he made the following statements about Apollos and himself.

“What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:5-6, NIV

Paul had a confident understanding of both his position and his role in bringing the Corinthians to faith. He, like Apollos, saw himself as a servant of the gospel through whom people came to believe. Their role was to clearly present the gospel in such a way the people of the city could have the opportunity to enter into a relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ.
Secondly, they shared their faith as the Lord enabled them. God assigned to each a task.

Paul served as the planter of the seed through preaching, testifying, signs and wonders, and serving for eighteen months. He also lived among them and represented Jesus by his actions, his attitudes, and his words.

Many of Paul’s letters speak of serving with or serving among the people. In Philippians 2 he speaks of the attitude all believers were to have… the attitude of a servant.

Sometimes it’s refreshing to study key characters in the Bible and how they encouraged people toward believing. Paul wasn’t perfect. However, he did lay down his life for Jesus as he sought to be both spiritually intelligent and culturally aware.

Walk in the wisdom of God as you live before the unbelievers, and make it your duty to make him known. Let every word you speak be drenched with grace and tempered with truth and clarity.

For then you will be prepared to give a respectful answer to anyone who asks about your faith.

News Pandemic News

Many of us are staying at home. We are limited in our movement and venture out to purchase supplies and are taking every precaution. If you are wired like I am you will notice even taking all advice to distance and clean it seems impossible. We clean everything, change gloves, wear masks and have a plan in place to clean every item we bring into our home. I mentioned this to Pattie and stated, “We need God to help us. We need His protection. He is our only hope.” So we’ve been seeking to stay safe the best we can and lean into His promises for He is faithful and true.

A song we have been singing.
You are Faithful and true.
Our eyes are upon you.
You are Faithful and true.
Your promises are true.

Coming up to Passover several of my friends are encouraging us to lean in. Kick up our prayer life.  Change our thinking and our lifestyle. Let go of small things that really in the light of what’s going on mean little.

Paul the Apostle once stated, “Having food and clothing we are content.” In view of all that is happening among the poor and countries who have little food, hygiene, or clean water, we have little to be ungrateful for. We live so much higher than most of the people in our world.

Gratitude is an antidote.

I’ve worked in communities where people are grateful for just having an opportunity to live another day.
One lady I know just finished battling cancer. During her battle she often stated on her Facebook page, “Jesus I thank you for another day.” No complaining just gratitude. It’s interesting she continues to say the same every day. She understands and practices thankfulness. It’s who she is and what flows out of her life.

Taking our advantage of facing every day with gratitude helps us to refocus and to embrace what really matters: our relationship with God, family, and friends.

This season of pause is here for a reason.

I’d encourage you to take advantage of your advantage. Take time to pray, read, worship, ponder and be grateful.

If you have embraced the good news, I’d also encourage you to be a messenger of hope. Pray for those you meet. Offer a listening ear. Figure out how to serve and connect safely with others. Your neighbors, friends and your family need to hear from you. Make that call. Offer assistance to the poor. Give to your church and missionaries.

Thanks for your prayers and continued support.

Steve and Pattie

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