Saturday, December 8, 2012

Wait, Don't Panic!

In this Season of Great Joy there can also be times of Great Panic!

How do you balance extremely busy schedules with the desire to stay sane and get enough sleep?

How do you deal with loneliness and grief among shiny happy faces and Santa's ringing bells at the mall?

How do you find Peace in these days celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace when inside, underneath your festive mask, you are dealing with real hurts, worries, and anxiety?

How do you keep from panicking???

Hit the pause button.

Take a moment to just stop.
Pause for a bit.

Then, Pray.

Ask God, your loving Father, to show you what your priorities should be.
Ask Him to help you feel what you need to feel so that you can face your hurts honestly instead of pushing them down.
Ask Him to heal you of those hurts and give Him the worries and anxieties that are weighing you down.
Tell Him that you love Him, and honor Him.
Tell Him that you surrender everything to Him!

Our Awesome and Amazing Father God will wrap you in His loving arms and shelter you from the rushing time table of the season while He leads you gently in each step that you should take.

After you have paused and prayed, sit quietly in His presence and listen.
Allow Him to tug at your spirit and quicken to you your next move.

He will give you the healing you need.
He will bring up His joy that has been lying dormant in the depths of your soul.
He will strengthen you.

Finally, after you have Paused and Prayed, Pursue His plans for you.

These plans may differ from your own preset plans and responsibilities.
That is okay!
Trust Him and go with it!

Instead of letting your calendar or your emotions dictate what you will be doing between now and Christmas, allow God, who knows what is best for us all, to gently lead and guide you.

"All things work together for good to those who love the Lord." 
Romans 8:28

Remember that the purpose of this blessed time of year is not to stress over gifts, or parties, or relationships, or outfits, or money, or anything else.

The Purpose of Christmas is to Remember, and Celebrate; to Thank our Heavenly Father for Loving Us So Much that He would send His Son Jesus here to Earth to live and to die and to resurrect from the grave for us!

He Gave Us Salvation not just from our sins but from ALL the cares of this world!

So, don't let those cares weigh you down.

Give yourself a break today to stop and seek God about what things He would have you do to enjoy this beautiful Christmas time.

Then, allow yourself the flexibility to change your plans accordingly.

By surrendering everything to God, especially your time, you will find that you have more quality time to actually enjoy the many events you take in.

You never know how many people you may help just by being in line with God's plan for you this Holiday Season.

Remember, there is no need to panic!

Just pause, pray, and pursue.

As Always, Remember:

God Loves You!
God Created You!
God Accepts You!

Until next time,


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A House Divided

"A house divided against itself cannot stand."- Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln is often credited for this quote but did you know that he was himself quoting someone else?

President Lincoln, in referring to the United States before the civil war, quoted Jesus Christ (Mark 3:25) to prove a point that the Union could not exist as half slave and half free.

"A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South."

Mr. Lincoln gave this address as part of a campaign speech for the U.S. Senate in 1858.

In today's eyes we can look back on slavery and see what a horrible injustice the entire institution was and how much harm it did to every victim as well as the nation as a whole.

During 1858, however, the country was torn apart on the issue.

Entire Christian denominations split over the issue with some preachers heralding the scriptures that seemingly speak to allowing slavery while others pointed to scriptures that shined a light on the horrific practice of owning another human being.

The issue divided families, friendships, churches, and eventually the entire United States of America.

War became the only solution that many saw that would allow them to cling to their own deeply held, traditionally rooted, and  "scripturally based" positions on slavery.

Brother fought against brother.
State fought against state.
Christian fought against Christian.

On April 12, 1861 at Fort Sumter in South Carolina, shots rang out beginning the Civil War and bringing about the deadliest war in US History.

It is estimated that 750,000 soldiers were killed during the civil war.

It was Insanity.

Today, over 150 years later, we find ourselves involved in another war; a culture war.

Today the issue of equality in the Church and society as a whole for Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, and Transgendered people divides families, friendships, churches, and yes, the entire United States of America.

We watch in the news as Christian denominations split over the issue.

Good Christian leaders, trusted men and women in the Body of Christ, take positions that are deeply held, rooted in their traditions, and based in scripture.

Christian brothers are fighting Christian brothers, valiantly displaying their pride and ego instead of reason and prayer.

Increasingly the  image of the Church is becoming one of hate and intolerance instead of love and grace.

We may never know how many young men and women we have lost during this war.

Everyday the casualties mount as another child of God is wounded and falls victim to hopelessness, depression, addiction, spiritual despair, and too often, even physical death.

Whether intentional or not, the message the majority of young GLBT Americans hear from the Church is one of ridicule and despair; of infighting and condemnation.

The divided Body of Christ is so involved in fighting the culture war, so focused on making sure that their side is winning, that they are forgetting to actually love their neighbor.

I say this not to point a finger at anyone, but out of my own conviction.
There have been too many times that I have chosen to fight, to take up my sword, and use my words against another believer instead of reaching out in love.

It is time that we as Christians throw off the messages of division and focus on our common ground.

We have within our grasp the greatest tool the world has ever known.

It is the Good News that we were once taught in Sunday School.
It is the Grace that Saves Any Whosoever that Believes.
It is the Unconditional Love, the Agape Love, of our Heavenly Father!

What we all as Christians have in common at the end of the day, no matter where you fall on the issue of equality for GLBT people, is that we are ALL Prodigal Sons and Daughter being welcomed back home by our Loving Father who sees us from afar.
He runs to us and places His finest robes on our shoulders and rings on our fingers.
He prepares a feast for us all at His table and says, "Come and Dine!"

This is our common ground!

The answer to ending the insanity that is this tragic and deadly culture war is to communicate with each other out of love from the points that we have in common instead of dividing over our differences.

Matthew 22: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’"

I hope that you will join me in praying for all of our Christian brothers and sisters; for all of the leaders in the Church, and for those who agree and disagree with you on the issue of GLBT equality.

Loving each other from the place of our common ground will open the door to healing in our Body of Believers.

Moreover, by answering this challenge from Jesus, living the greatest commandment, we will break the cycle and keep history from once again repeating itself.

This blog is a part of a Synchroblog regarding the discussion of the cultural debate about homosexuality and Christianity.

Many bloggers are writing about this issue today and I encourage you to take some time and read what all the others have to say.

Follow this link to read other blogs on this issue:

Also, I encourage all of my reader's to read Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs. Christians Debate, a book written by Justin Lee, the founder of the Gay Christian Network.

Follow this link to read more about Torn:

I look forward to hearing your feedback in the coming days.

As always, remember:

God Loves You!
God Created You!
God Accepts You!

Until next time,


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Beautiful Ashes

Have you ever used a wood burning fireplace?

There is nothing quite like curling up in front of a fire on a cool evening watching the flames dance around and feeling the warmth caress your face.

As beautiful as the fire is when it is lit, the pile of ashes that are left behind are very dirty.

Long after the flame has gone out, they remain only as a reminder of the glistening glow that once illumined them.

There are times when this is an accurate analogy for life.

Have you ever felt like everything has disintegrated into a pile of soot and ashes?

Maybe the flame has relinquished long ago and you feel like there just isn't much of you left to catch fire.

If that sounds familiar, you are not alone!

There have been several times in my life when I felt the same way.

Thankfully, God looks at those ashes of our fears and failures, mistakes and misfortunes, trials and tribulations, and He sees something entirely different.

He sees Beauty!

Romans 8:28 says, "ALL things work together for Good for them who love God..." (KJV)

We serve a God who turns our broken, used up, dirty ashes into our new, refreshed, beautiful testimony!

What might seem useless and ugly to you appears as a beautiful life full of promise and possibilities to God.

He looks into the dried up ashes and sees a flame that is ready to ignite and burn brightly once again!

There have been so many times in my life when my future looked dim.

It seemed like the destiny I had envisioned was over.

It is in those darkest times that I found myself genuinely vulnerable before God.

Being vulnerable is not comfortable.

It doesn't come naturally in human nature to put yourself out there.

We go through pain staking lengths just to raise walls around our heart on a daily basis.
That is our defense mechanism.

I have learned that in those times when I feel raw emotionally that God does His greatest work!

After my mom passed away with Lung Cancer I was at this place of brokenness.

It was a time of crushing sadness and heartache.
I felt utterly destroyed.
Some times I was numb with pain and other times I was raging with anger.

Through her death I lost my mom, my best friend, and my spiritual mentor all at once. 

Like a child who cries for his mommy I reached my hands up toward Heaven in surrender and cried for mine.

I laid my life simply and honestly before God and said,
"Please help me. Only you can!"

And.....He did.

The God who created all of the universe reached down His hands to meet mine.
He came to where I was hurting and held me like a loving father comforting his troubled son.

Over time, when I grew stronger, He picked me up.
As my strength grew He walked with me, carrying me when I could not take a step on my own.

In the months that followed, the presence of God became tangible in my life.

I learned that He was not a judge sitting on high waiting to punish me for my misdeeds.

God became my loving Papa who was gently healing and strengthening me.

My entire vision of God was changing as I stayed vulnerable and allowed Him to work in my life.

I began to speak with Him in conversation throughout my day and night, not just in prayer or at church.

I traded my weakness for His strength day after day.

It was during this period of healing that I started this blog.

The seeds for what has become Radical Hope Ministries were planted at a time when I could not see hope for myself, much less for others.

But, God Saw Hope.
God Gave Me Hope.
God Sees Hope in YOU!

When my walls were down, when I was vulnerable before God, He gave me His Strength.

I had nothing to offer Him but He offered me Hope, Peace, Joy, and Healing!

1 Corinthians 12:9 says it best, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my Strength is made Perfect in Weakness."

If you are at this place in your life now or ever find yourself here, remember:

When you are weak, He is strong!

I challenge you to pray to God in your own words, as humbly and honestly as you can.
Tell Him how you feel.

Be genuinely vulnerable with Him.
Let down your walls and allow God to be your papa, not your judge.

God is Love.

He longs to have this loving relationship with you!

Trust Him to reach down and hold you.
Trust Him to pick you up.
Trust Him to carry you and walk with you.

You have no idea how beautiful your ashes are.
What you see as a life in ruins may be a ministry to others of Radical Hope!

As always remember,

God Loves You!
God Created You!
God Accepts You!

Until Next Time,


Beautiful Things - Gungor

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Love Has Power

A good friend of mine shared a story at our last prayer meeting about losing everything.

She said that it was when she was at the bottom rung of the ladder that she first truly encountered Jesus.

"If you are looking for Jesus," she said, "He is hanging out at the bottom.  That is where I found Him.  That is where I fell in Love with Him.  When I lost everything, there He was waiting with open arms."

There is so much power in that statement!

Jesus is hanging out on the bottom rung of the ladder!

Where do you see yourself on the ladder of life today?
Have you slipped and fallen a few rungs?

Have you almost fallen off completely, barely hanging on to that bottom rung?

If that is you, don't be ashamed.

You are just where you need to be for God to do a breakthrough in your life.

When God is All you have, you realize that God is All you need!

I am a living, breathing testament to how far our Father God's arms can reach!

Why is Jesus hanging out on the bottom rung of the ladder?
Because, He is waiting on you there!

You see, no matter how hopeless your situation may look at this very moment, God IS your hope.

No matter how alone you might feel, you are never alone in God's presence. 
He will never leave you nor forsake you!

Do you ever feel unlovable?
Allow God to love on you with His Perfect Love!

1 John 4:18 says, "There is NO fear in LOVE. Perfect Love casts out fear!"

God Is Perfect Love!

By accepting that our Father God is reaching out to us in Love, we are getting to know His nature.
We are accepting His unconditional Love for us!

Let's look closer at the scripture above knowing that God is Love:

"There is no fear in Love (God). Perfect Love (God) casts out fear!"

Fear binds you in chains.
Whether it be chains of addition, or worry, or self loathing, or anger, all of it stems from Fear.

Fear is the opposite of faith.

Now let's look at 1 John 4:18 one more time knowing that God is Love and that fear is something that binds or hinders us.

"There is No fear (Things that bind us) in Love (God). Perfect Love (God) casts out fear! (Things that bind us)"

God casts out the things that bind us...through his Perfect Love for us!

Love (God) Never Fails!

Whatever has knocked you down to the bottom rung, His Love Is Stronger!

To break chains of addiction in your life, accept God's perfect, grace filled, non-judgemental love for you!
He loves you so much that He wants to see you set free!
He will cast out those addictions that bind you!

To destroy diseases and receive healing in your life, accept that God loves you with a love that is more powerful then your sickness!
He sent Jesus to bare your diseases so that you don't have to!
He Loves you so much that He wants you to be in good health!

To excel financially in life, accept that His Love for you is so great that He wants you to prosper!
He is Jehovah Jireh, your provider!
He loves you so much that He wants to provide for you in abundance!

Our God is not some uncaring stoic judge sitting in Heaven just waiting for you to screw up so He can punish you!

He is our Loving Father waiting for us on the bottom rung with arms outstretched to meet all of our needs!

He is our Rescuer!

For years we have been taught that we have to earn God's Love.

Many of us have been taught that His love is only for certain people.

Some have even heard that He only Loves those who keep every rule and commandment of the Bible.

That is simply not true!

Nothing in the Kingdom of God is based on OUR works!

Everything in the Kingdom of God is given to us by His Promises, through His Grace, because HE LOVES US!

He has already completed the work for us through Jesus!

Salvation is not earned.
It is freely given to ANYONE who believes in Jesus as their Savior.

Healing is not earned. 
We are promised healing from God because of the sacrifices that Jesus paid on the cross.
He bore our diseases!

Freedom from Addiction is not earned.
The word says, "He whom the Son set's free is free indeed."
We are Set Free through Jesus!

We are a new creation through Christ not because of our struggling to live perfectly, but because of the free gift that He has Promised us!

God's Promises are Yes and Amen!

You can trust and count on the Promises of God!
All you have to do is accept them.

Accept that no matter who you are or what you have done, 


His Love is the Power to cast out the things that bind you!

Accept these promises today and trust God to honor His word for you.

He is waiting for you with His arms open wide.
Run to Him and let Him carry you back up the ladder of life.

He will restore EVERYTHING you have lost.

Because, He Loves You and His Love Has Power!

As Always, Remember:

God LOVES You!
God Created You!
God Accepts You!

Until Next Time,


What Love Really Means- JJ Heller

Monday, August 20, 2012

Just Surrender

I remember one warm summer day when I was swimming at my parent's house and a friend of my brothers was there with his daughter.

She was only about five years old at the time and didn't know how to swim.

Without warning, before they placed the water wing floaties on her little arms, she darted towards the pool and jumped in.

She landed not far from me.
While I was reaching out for her she panicked and started thrashing her arms rapidly.

Because of her violent and sudden movement I had trouble grabbing her into my arms.

Finally, I was able to take hold of her and we got her out of the pool.
She is fine today but still remembers that afternoon that could have ended much more tragically.

How many times in life do we get in over our heads?

Are you at a place today where you feel battered by the waves of worry and heart ache?

Does it look like things may end tragically for you?

Instead of panicking and thrashing around in the situation, this is the time for you to surrender!

There is a big difference between surrendering and giving up.

Giving up means you choose to drown in those waves.

Surrendering means you choose to stop fighting and allow God, the Great Rescuer, to swoop in and bring you out!

Surrender is the key to your rescue.

God longs to meet your needs.
He longs to be the loving Father who jumps into the deepest part of your ocean of troubles and save you!

He can only do that if you stop panicking, stop pushing Him away, and start surrendering to Him.

If you are being battered about by waves of addiction or old habits that you cannot break, stop living in shame, fighting in your own strength, and start letting God have them.

If you battle depression so bad that at times you feel like you will drown in it, let go of that anchor that is weighing you down.
Surrender that depression to God and allow Him to bring you to shore.
He wants to hold you in His arms, give you His CPR, and breathe New Life into you!

If you hold anger and resentment toward someone, stop swimming in it until you are too tired to swim anymore.
Instead, pray for God, your Rescue, to come take it from you and give you freedom.

"But John, I don't read my Bible enough to get rescued by God."
"I don't pray enough."
"I don't keep all of the Laws and Rules of being a Christian!"
"God won't rescue me!"

In Alabama we have two words for that type of thinking:

Our Father God wants nothing more then to be your rescue TODAY!

He longs to be near you and provide for you.
He longs to meet your needs and heal your diseases.

Our loving God wants to see you excel in every area of your life and Stop Drowning!

That's the very reason He sent His Son Jesus in the first place, to give You the Victory!

The battle is already won, my friend.

God's rescue in your situations has nothing to do with your works!
His rescue has Everything to do with your Surrender!

No matter how rough those waves are around you; no matter how dire your situation looks; throw your arms up and say out loud, "God, I give it ALL to you! I Surrender!"

At the very moment when you stop trying to make things work in your own strength, God starts working them out for you in His!

Believe me, His strength is much greater then yours, mine, and every Olympic Athlete combined!

Your battles are already won.
Now is the time to accept the victory!

Surrender to our Daddy God and watch Him come to your rescue!

As Always Remember:

God Loves You!
God Created You!
God Accepts You!

Until Next Time,


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Glorious Freedom!

"Once I was bound by sin’s galling fetters;
Chained like a slave, I struggled in vain.
But I received a glorious freedom,
When Jesus broke my fetters in twain.

Glorious freedom! Wonderful freedom!
No more in chains of sin I repine!
Jesus the glorious Emancipator—
Now and forever He shall be mine."

(Glorious Freedom, Circa 1917, Author- Haldor Lillenas)

We sang this old hymn at church last Sunday and I have not been able to shake it out of my head.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful to have it playing over and over again in my brain, not only because it finally replaced the endless repetition of "Somebody that I used to know," by Gotye, but also because it has served as a constant reminder this week that I Do Have Glorious Freedom!

Glorious Freedom From Sin!

Do you find yourself "bound by sin's galling fetters; chained like a slave, struggling in vain?"

It is okay to answer this question honestly.
Every Christian I have ever known deals with sin and the temptation of sin.

Many friends that I know fight addictions and habits that they struggle to break.

If this is you today, remember that you have Glorious Freedom in Christ!

2 Corinthians 12:9 says, "...My grace is enough; it's all you need. 
   My strength comes into its own in your weakness."- (Message Bible)

Don't try to hide your weaknesses from God.  
He already knows about them.
He has already forgiven you.
Our loving Father God wants to use His strength to help you overcome the unhealthy areas of your life.

Surrender your weaknesses over to our Daddy God so that His strength can replace your weakness!

Glorious Freedom From Fear!

There are times in our lives where we battle fear and anxiety.

The enemy uses everything he can to make us worry.

Whether it is your job, or finances, your relationships, or your health; nothing is off limits to worrying!

If you let this fear and anxiety become a habit it can destroy your life by stealing your joy!

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life ?"- Matthew 6:25-34 (N.I.V.)

By worrying, which is a type of fear, you are taking the control out of God's hands and placing it back into your own.

Stand in the promise of God in Luke 10:19 that says we have the power to tread on serpents and scorpians!

Psalms 91 tells us that we dwell in the secret place of the Most High God and NO evil shall befall us!

"God has not given us a spirit of fear but of Power, and of Love, and of a Sound Mind!"- 2 Timothy 1:7 (K.J.V)

Trust God by learning to live in a place of Rest in His refuge and let Him protect you!

Then you will find Glorious Freedom!

Glorious Freedom From Shame!

If you are Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, Transgendered or any other type of lifestyle that is seen as non-traditional, then you probably know what it's like to battle shame in your life.

There is shame that comes from people's words and actions.
People you have known for many years may have cut you off.
Other Christians may be throwing stones of judgement against you right this very moment.

When you find yourself battling feelings of shame remember this,

"There is therefore noNO CONDEMNATION to them which are in Christ Jesus!"

You are beautifully and wonderfully made!
You are made in the image of Almighty God!
You have a destiny, a future, a reason for living that is far greater then you can comprehend!

Our Father God loves you so much, UNCONDITIONALLY, to the point that He would sacrifice His Only Son just to eliminate the barrier of sin between you and He.

Don't let anybody tell you that you are wrong for being gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgendered, straight, asexual, queer, questioning, or inter-sex!

Be true to who you are and live as the person God created you to be!

You have NO reason for Shame!

"Glorious freedom! Wonderful freedom!
No more in chains of sin I repine!
Jesus the glorious Emancipator—

Now and forever He shall be mine." 

Now that you have seen the amazing and Glorious Freedom that is offered in Christ Jesus I pray you will share this message with others around you.

This truly is the Good News!

Share it with your friends and family so that they too can shake off their chains and live in Glorious Freedom.

As always remember:

God Loves You!
God Created You!
God Accepts You!

Until next time,