Thursday, January 29, 2015

Finding God's Presence ~ When This Sad, Sick World Gets You Down

by Nan Jones   @NanJonesAuthor
Guest blogger, Lori Hatcher   @LoriHatcher2

I'm excited to introduce my friend, Lori Hatcher to you today. Lori, like me, isn't afraid to ask God the hard questions. I think it takes a lot more faith to question God than to pretend there are no heart issues that hide in the shadows and fester. Hidden issues of the heart will dim the light of faith in our lives if we don't take them to God. Sweet friend, He pursues us with His love. I believe He delights in the trust it requires to have an honest conversation with Him.

Lori has a new book, Hungry for God ... Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women. The following is an excerpt from her book.

Welcome Lori!

Facetime: God, this world is so sick and broken. Where can I find hope?

I knew better than to click on the YouTube video of the cute puppy in the shelter. When my daughters lived at home, they'd run interference for me. "Don't watch that movie," they'd warn when a preview came on. Or they'd say, "It was a good movie, but Mom can't watch it."

They know I'm tenderhearted and have a tendency to carry images around in my mind for a long, long time. That's why they try to protect me from sad animal stories, news reports about neglected children, and tales about the abused elderly.

But sometimes the stories still sneak by. I hear about broken marriages, natural disasters, and suicide bombers. Fighting church members, hungry toddlers, and drug addicted homeless people. Cancer-stricken friends, bankrupt small business owners, and wayward children.

And my heart breaks. It aches for every hurting soul that walks this broken world.

I know the answers - that sin has been wrapping its poison tentacles around our planet since Eve's sin in the garden, and no generation is exempt. That we are engaged in a cosmic battle between good and evil that won't be resolved until Christ returns. That people will continue to hurt, kill, and destroy each other until the Prince of Peace reigns over all.

And while all creation groans to split its death-stained exoskeleton and be clothed in the light and life of its original, sinless skin, we must endure a little while longer.

These nine life preservers of truth comfort me when I am overwhelmed, and I cling to them:

     God never intended mankind to experience sickness, loss, and death. He created the world to be perfect (Genesis 1:31).

     He weeps with us, and we share in his suffering 
(Romans 8:17).

     Where sin increases, grace increases even more 
(Romans 5:20).

     When the burdens get too heavy, we can cast our burdens on him, and he will sustain us (Psalm 55:22).

     The Holy Spirit in us is more powerful than Satan's influence in the world (1 John 4:4).

     Our sorrow won't last forever; one day we will laugh again 
(Psalm 30:5).

     Our present troubles will one day bear eternal fruit 
(2 Corinthians 4:17).

     Eternity is forever and will totally eclipse our present time of earthly sufferings (Romans 8:18).

 And so we cry, crawl up into God's warm embrace, accept the grace he extends to us, and press on.

What truths from Scripture comfort you when you feel overwhelmed? I encourage you to think on them today.

"Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, 
I am he who will sustain you. 
I have made you and I will carry you; 
I will sustain you and I will rescue you." 
~ Isaiah 46:4 
 

A Tweetable to Encourage Others

God, this world is so sick & broken. Where can I find hope?  Guest blogger @LoriHatcher2 shares. (Click to Tweet)


Lori Hatcher is an author, blogger, and women’s ministry speaker. She shares an empty nest in Columbia, South Carolina, with her ministry and marriage partner, David, and best dog ever, Winston. She’s the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine, and has authored two devotional books, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women and  Joy in the Journey – Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time . Connect with her on Facebook (Hungry for God), Twitter (@lorihatcher2) or by email (LoriAHatcher@gmail.com)
 


Hungry for God description:
What if you could look God in the eye and ask him questions? And what if he answered?

You may deeply desire intimacy with God but just don’t have time for extended periods of study and meditation. Between the demands of marriage, family, and work, you can’t figure out how to get it all done and still have a dynamic relationship with God. You may yearn for answers to the challenges you face every day, but the reality is you just aren’t getting them. 

If you need a resource that speaks to you where you are—in break rooms, carpool lines, or wherever you can snatch five minutes of quiet reflection—Hungry for God … Starving for Time: Five-minute Devotions for Busy Women is for you. This book is not one you know you’ll never finish but a brief daily devotion you can carry with you for moments of thoughtful reading.

 “With real-life inspiration and candid wit, these powerful, five-minute devotions will change your life and draw you closer to God.”
Dr. Kevin Leman, New York Times Bestselling Author of “Have a Happy Family by Friday”

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Finding God's Presence ~ Don't Let Me Lose My Wonder

by Nan Jones  @NanJonesAuthor


It was a reflective sort of day. Snowflakes drifted through the gentle breeze of heaven's breath, descending to add stitches to the white comforter covering the barren earth. Stillness. Quiet world. I rested beneath the coziness of my favorite blanket, cuddled in the warmth of God's love.

My heart opened a little, hungry for His touch. Difficulties had chiseled away much of its beauty leaving it beating in a giant heap of broken granite-like stone. I tried to guard it. Really, I did. Some days I found success. Most days I tried only to keep it beating.

But there was something about these snowflakes. The conditions outside were harsh. Cold to the bone. Trees stripped to stand like dark skeletons against the winter's sky. And yet ... yet the snowflakes spoke of beauty. And grace. 

Yes, grace.

That was it.

Beauty can only be found in the surround of anguish because of grace ... grace that drifts on the gentle breeze of heaven's breath; grace that extends from nail-pierced hands. 

I lay captivated by the quiet of the moment as the wonder of Almighty God stirred within me. The wonder. The awe. The grace I take for granted. 

Father, let me rest in the beauty of your grace. You are my Rock. My sure place. You are my shelter in the storm. You are Elohim, the Creator of the Universe and yet You know me by name. There is great wonder in your love. It surpasses all understanding. Open my eyes to see You, Lord.

And Lord, please don't let me lose my wonder of You. Not ever.

 “Who is like you among the gods, O Lord
    glorious in holiness,
awesome in splendor,
    performing great wonders?"
~ Exodus 15:11, NLT

A Tweetable to Encourage Others

Where is God in the winter of my soul? @NanJonesAuthor offers a glimpse. (Click to Tweet)



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Update on my book!!! I've been told that the release date for The Perils of A Pastor's Wife is slated for June 30th, 2015. I'm so excited and so very thankful. I'm praying the Lord will use this book in a mighty way to encourage my sisters who serve on the front lines of battle alongside their husbands. I cherish your prayers for God's anointing on this work. Thanks.

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If you received Morning Glory via email, please visit the Morning Glory  page. I'm featuring an incredible video titled "Don't Lose The Wonder." It's a gentle reminder to return to the faith of a child when Jesus took our breath away. I believe you'll love it.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Where Is God? Sunday Glimpses

by Nan Jones   @NanJonesAuthor

Father, Sometimes my heart feels as though it will burst from the conflict within, but then Your sweet grace flows down and rescues me. My heart becomes saturated with Your love and the aching stills, the devastation abates. I'm so thankful You are near to the brokenhearted - so very thankful.  I could not stand beneath the weight otherwise. Your Presence strengthens me. Your whispers bid me come. Thank You for not leaving me alone in my pain.

I know many others, Lord, who are broken. Their silent screams are unbearable in their own strength and yet You hear and You come. Thank You for Your faithfulness to hold Your child when we are too weak to stand. You are a mighty God, a tender Father. We love you Lord and we give You praise.

A Tweetable to Encourage Others

Where is God when I'm overwhelmed with sorrow? @NanJonesAuthor offers a glimpse. (Click to Tweet)

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I'm featuring Christian authors as guest bloggers on Thursdays. If you'd like to share your story of finding God's Presence in your darkest hours - how He revealed Himself to you, how He cared for and provided for you, please contact me at nan@jubilantlight.com and I'll send you the guidelines.

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Please don't carry your burden alone. I would be so honored to pray with you. You may contact me directly at nan@jubilantlight.com with your prayer request.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Finding God's Presence ~ When God Doesn't Deliver


                                                                
by Nan Jones   @NanJonesAuthor

The Lord has led me to open Morning Glory on Thursdays to other authors who have learned to find evidence of God's Presence in their darkest moments. Isn't it wonderful to know that He is no respecter of persons? The things He shows me, He shows others. When we seek Him we will find Him. I pray that if you're seeking God today, your heart will be awakened to His goodness and His faithfulness to reveal Himself to His children.

I'm excited to introduce Carol Heilman to you. She's a sweetheart. Like me, she's lived long enough to know that what God says He will do, He will do. But He doesn't always answer our prayers the way we expect. I hope the words of Carol's heart will encourage you today. At the end of the post I'll be sharing about her upcoming book, Agnes Hopper Shakes Up Sweetbriar. It's a hoot! Christian fiction at its finest.



Welcome Carol!

Have you ever prayed for what seems like to you a reasonable request, one that you think ought to be a part of God's plan, only to witness your life falling apart like pieces of shattered glass?

You ask yourself what in the world happened? And why? I can become bitter when things don't go my way. Or I can rest (abide) in the Lord and choose His peace and even joy.

Our pastor recently gave some examples of unanswered prayers. Paul prayed he could travel to Spain with the Gospel message. Instead, he lived out the last years of his life in Rome under house arrest and tethered to a guard. Does that make any sense? If you examine the facts, it does.

Paul's guards were changed every six hours, and they held high positions in the Roman government. Did Paul lament his situation and pine for Spain? No, he talked to these men about Jesus - for hours on end. And that became one reason Christianity spread to people from all walks of life.

Take a look in your Bible at the lives of Peter, Moses, Joseph, or David, just to name a few. God used them in mighty ways, but they didn't exactly live on easy street in the process.

In Gates of Splendor you can read about Jim Elliot who didn't get what he prayed for - to witness to the Auca Indians of Ecuador. Also read Living Like Lions by J.R. Duren to learn about twenty men, past and present who gave up everything to God in complete submission. What became the most important thing in their lives? Not their own happiness or what might make them comfortable on this earth, but to live close to God. Duren included Jim Elliot as one of twenty men who lived like lions.

Another example comes from Haiti and Steve and Judy Revis, missionaries who have served there for over twenty-five years. In addition to his drilling wells for clean water, they ran a school for deaf children outside Port au Prince, a daunting task, but one they loved and bathed in prayers. Then one day they found themselves in the middle of a "takeover."

Some of the teachers wanted the school for themselves and they enlisted some of the older students to join them. An ugly situation developed, threats ensued, and this missionary couple fled for their lives.

The school has since dissolved and is no more. But God had a plan. Now teachers, those who had no part in the uprising as well as new, godly teachers, go out to the surrounding villages to teach the deaf children. And because they do, the families are learning along with their children and there is far greater acceptance of the deaf ones by the community. This could have never happened if the school had continued to operate.

You or I may not always understand, but if we can trust our heavenly Father that is a huge step forward. He does have a plan, but delivering happiness to my doorstep may not be a part of that.

"And we know that all things 
work together for good 
to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." 
~ Romans 8:28 

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A Tweetable to Encourage Others

What happens when God doesn't deliver? Guest blogger @CarolHeilman offers insight. (Click to Tweet)




Carol Heilman, a coal miner's daughter, married her high school sweetheart, a farmer's son. She began writing family stories, especially about her dad's Appalachian humor, for newspapers and magazines. One day her mother said, "We don't have any secrets any more!"

Carol's book, Agnes Hopper Shakes Up Sweetbriar, was inspired by her mother's spunky spirit and her dad's humor.
She lives in the mountains of NC with her husband of fifty-plus years. They love to play cards, go antiquing, hike, and visit grandsons on the east and west coasts.
Agnes Hopper Shakes Up Sweetbriar (The Adventures of Agnes Series) (Volume 1) 
Visit Carol at  www.carolheilman.com 

Agnes Hopper Shakes Up Sweetbriar releases January 29th. Check out all the details at
                                                                           

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Finding God's Presence ~ While It's Still Dark

by Nan Jones   @NanJonesAuthor

I tugged on my robe, snuggling beneath it's warmth on this cold January Sunday. On the television, songs of praise streamed from Elevation Church's live worship service, preparing our hearts to receive from the Lord.

My heart awakened to the words of Pastor Steven Furtick. He quoted from John 20:1, "Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb."

While. It. Was. Still. Dark.

Pastor Steven was exhorting us to not discount the "while" times, those times of waiting. I absorbed all I could from his message, but the Lord kept niggling me with the phrase, "while it was still dark."

Mary's world had turned upside down. Jesus - the One in whom she had believed - was dead. How could it be? She had trusted Him. She had believed all that He had told her and now He was dead. Most of us are familiar with this passage of Scripture, but, like me, have you ever noticed when Mary sought the Lord? She came to Him "while it was still dark." 

And in the darkness, Mary discovered Jesus was still alive.

I'm learning to seek the Lord even while it's dark. The dark clouds of brokenness shroud my life right now. I don't know what my future holds. Fear and anxiety lurk in every shadow I encounter. My thoughts torment me with what-ifs.

But still I seek Him. Even while it's still dark.

It seems like the dark places are where we find the most remarkable miracles. In the dark places the Lord rolls away the stone so we can behold our miracle - the miracle of His resurrection power in our broken places. His restoration. His provision. His tender care.

But we have to seek Him to find Him. 

We must remain loyal to Him even when it's dark because that's what faith is all about. Faith is the evidence of things not seen. Faith is the stone rolled away to reveal the trustworthiness of God.

Faith is knowing that the darkness I'm in is the shadow of His Presence because He loves me.

His shadow.

Yes, Lord, I will seek You while it's still dark.

"And you will seek Me and find Me, 
when you search for Me with all your heart." 
~ Jeremiah 29:11

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A Tweetable to Encourage Others




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The Lord has led me to open my blog to guest bloggers on Thursdays who desire to share how God has revealed Himself to them in their darkest hours. Many are searching. Many love the Lord but feel abandoned. It's my prayer that the testimonies of others will give you strength for the journey as you realize that the Lord is no respecter of persons. The first guest post is coming soon!
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If you received Morning Glory via email, please visit the Morning Glory  page. I'm featuring a powerful song by Kari Jobe titled, "Find You on my Knees." A few minutes of worship today will help to lift you above the fray.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Where Is God? Sunday Glimpses

by Nan Jones   @NanJonesAuthor

Father, You are my Rock. You, O Lord, are my anchor when I feel tossed and thrown about by the unexpected. You are my sure place, my constant in an ever-changing world. I am so thankful for You. How wonderful to know that I can depend on You. Even when things make no sense, I can still trust You and know that You are by my side. Thank You, Lord. 

You are teaching me the lessons of a thankful heart - how a thankful heart defeats anxiety and depression. You are teaching me that a thankful heart guards my spirit with Your perfect peace. Please help my friends learn the lesson of a thankful heart too. Stir that truth within them and help them make that choice daily. It really is all about choice, isn't it Lord? You have so many keys to the kingdom to help us navigate the stresses in our life, but we have to choose to use them, especially when we don't want to. 

Why are we so stubborn, Lord? Please forgive us for being a stiff-necked people. Soften our hearts to do Your will, to submit to Your authority, to be pliable in Your hands. Mold us Lord. Shape us into vessels for Your glory. Open our eyes to see You in our midst. Let us feel the touch of Your hand on ours when we can't find our way. Thank You for Your love, Your grace, Your mercy, and Your provision. When we can't praise You for our circumstances, we can always praise You for who You are. Bless You Lord. We exalt Your Holy Name!

A Tweetable to Encourage Others

Where is God when the road gets hard? @NanJonesAuthor offers a glimpse. (Click to Tweet)

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Please don't carry your burdens alone. I would be honored to pray for you. You may contact me at nan@jubilantlight.com

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Finding God's Presence ~ Talk About Upheaval!

by Nan Jones   @NanJonesAuthor


When life strips us bare and grinds us in a blender of upheaval, how do we survive? How do we face tomorrow when all earthly resources have dried up and the cavalry is nowhere in sight? How do we survive?

I wonder if Abraham felt that way.

"Now the Lord had said to Abram: 'Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you.'" ~ Genesis 12:1

A sovereign God instructed Abram [Abraham] to, in no uncertain terms, leave everything he held dear. ... his country, his extended family, his father's house and wealth. Talk about upheaval. Abram was stepping into an unknown tomorrow. The only assurance he had was that God would go with him.

Not only did God go with Abram, but it was on this journey of upheaval that the Lord God revealed His covenant love to Abram. Did you know that in the covenant the Lord gave part of Himself to Abram? Yes! Abram became Abraham. The letter "h" is a letter from God's name, Yahweh. It was similar to taking on his Father's name - God's declaration that Abraham belonged to Him, much like a son. The name change also signaled a new purpose for Abram - a purpose born from the upheaval:  Abraham would become the father of many nations. He would begin the bloodline for Jesus.

But not without the upheaval.

God always has a plan.

He reveals Himself to us in our times of upheaval ... if we let Him.

He is near to the brokenhearted ... but we must open our eyes to see.

His eyes roam to and fro throughout the earth looking for those who need to be encouraged ... but we must call upon His name, even when we'd rather pout.

He will shelter us beneath the shadow of His wing until the difficulty passes ... if we run to Him.

When life strips us bare and grinds us in a blender of upheaval, how do we survive? We go with God, even though we don't know where we're going.

With Him. That's the key.

"Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, 
show me now Your way, 
that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight ... 
And He said, 'My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.'" 
~ Exodus 33:14-15

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A Tweetable to Encourage Others 

How do we face tomorrow when all earthly resources have dried up? @NanJonesAuthor has a suggestion. (Click to Tweet)



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I have EXCITING news!! At last, my first book, "The Perils of A Pastor's Wife" has gone into production. Yay God!! My publisher says we'll get to hold it sometime between March and July. I can't wait to share it with you. Keep a heads-up for announcements.

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If you received Morning Glory via email, please visit the Morning Glory  page to spend a few minutes in worship. I'm featuring a glorious song called "Sovereign Over Us", sung by Aaron Keyes. If you're looking for peace, this might do the trick.