In that Quiet Place

We all know that life is busy. Priorities shift, and we often don’t make room for the most important things.

 

This has definitely been the case with me. In fact, this is the first blog post I have written since April. I have made more time for work, working out, traveling, family, summer fun, projects, and more—although even some of those things have not gotten the necessary time either. But I have done a horrible job of leaving some margins in my life, and have instead packed it full.

 

The one thing that I have not made time for at all is having that quiet time, in that quiet place, to just think, pray, read, and be still. A time to cut out all the noise and clutter, pick up the Bible, and just be.

 

This morning was the first time in months that I have done it. And even though it was short, it felt good.

 

If I don’t make time for that quiet place, how can I possibly fill myself with the peace and knowledge that will carry me though the busyness of life? How will I have the security of hope when the crap hits the fan? While I may have filled up other cisterns the last few months, I have left my reserve for peace and comfort empty to draw from.

 

I encourage you, now more then ever, to take ten minutes and make room for your quiet place. However little or much time you can give it, you need it. 

 

I know I do, and I am done failing at making room for it. It’s time to reprioritize to ensure that the most important things—the things that I need and that will have eternal impact—get done.

 

Keith Sampson

Executive Coordinator – God of Hope



The Best of Intentions

Sometimes we can get so excited about sharing or doing what we think we are supposed to do that we forget how those around us are affected. Hope is an easy thing to want to bring into the lives of others or even ourselves. We can jump in with both feet and run toward what looks “right.”

 

At times we think we are doing the right thing, when in fact we are not. I do this in all kinds of relationships, not just with Jesus. It is so easy to get caught up in what we want, even if it comes from a good place or with good intentions.

 

I remember a story of King Saul when he was supposed to go into battle and kill everyone and every thing. He went into battle, but he kept the king alive and the best of the animals for sacrifice because HE thought that would make God happy. He had good intentions—but he was wrong. What would’ve pleased God was if Saul had followed his instructions.

 

I am guilty of this over and over again. I “think” I am doing the right thing. I “think” that something would make God or someone else happy. I have the best of intentions at heart. But I miss the mark.

In the process, we also do things that Jesus has told us not to. Maybe it’s judging someone, or not extending patience, or even holding onto pride and selfishness. It may not seem to be a “bad” thing, but it can still hurt others.

 

Sometimes it’s following the Lord in the details that creates obedience. In those details, we please God and others, even if we don’t fully understand in the moment.

 

Hope comes in many forms. Tonight, the reminder of that hope came through a conversation. I was reminded that the people that God prepares our lives for can bring hope when we least expect it. When that happens, we must consider more before we act. We must make sure that we are doing not what we want or think is the right thing, but what we have truly been instructed to do. 

 

Keith Sampson

Executive Coordinator – God of Hope



Trusting Can Hurt

Trust is supposed to be one of those “happy feelings” or good vibes. It’s a term that gets thrown around easily. I know I am guilty of the, “just trust me…” approach.

 

What do you mean trusting can hurt?

 

There are many stories and quotes about pain making people stronger or building character. One of my favorite quotes is from Batman Begins: “Why do we fall down? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

 

But doesn’t it sometimes feel like enough is enough? We think we go through things that build us up, so we pick ourselves up, but then comes something else. You think you might be there, that you are finally walking on the greener grass, but there is always something more to learn.

 

One of those things is trust. Trusting God and others can hurt. Not because it actually may hurt, or create hurt in the way of doing something insensitive, but because it is uncomfortable. It can create a place where we don’t want to go mentally or emotionally, but we must in order to trust. 

 

I have written in the past about my divorce and life as a single dad, but the last couple years have brought much more into my life than that. God brought a special girl back into my life who I hadn’t seen in more than 11 years. What started as friendship turned into much more over two years. During that time, I had to trust her, trust in my abilities to love another, trust emotions, and trust the process of being with someone again. It was hard! It was what I wanted, but that doesn’t mean that it came easily. I had to question myself, deal with uncomfortable fears, and push past the hurt that can resurface in those places.

 

In the end, the hope that trust produces is worth the discomfort. We truly do get to pick ourselves back up, but when you do it through trust in God or in someone else, there is a hand extended to help you get back up. That is the HOPE that comforts us.



High Jump

“Throw your heart over the bar.”

 

A young athlete was having trouble jumping over a high bar. The track coach put his arm around the boy’s shoulder and said, “Son, you can do it, and this is how. Throw your heart over the bar, and your body will follow.”

 

The heart is the center of all things. Putting fire in your heart will allow you to go where you want to go and be who you want to be. Throw your trust in God over the bar and your life will follow, taking you places you had never dreamed and accomplishing things you thought impossible.

 

“Love the LORD your God, walk in his ways, obey his commands, hold firmly to him, and serve him with all your heart.” Joshua 22:5



Because I Can

Recently I watched the movie Everest. It was absolutely incredible, yet hard to watch at times. Without spoiling an incredible movie made from a true story, I want to share a particular scene that I found very thought-provoking and inspiring.

At one point, a climber and writer for an outdoor magazine asks the climbers why they do it. Why risk and give so much to climb Everest?

That question and the climbers’ answers opened up a dialog of thought…

Why do we do the hard things? Why do we face the “impossible” and take it on? Why do some people not try to tackle the difficult things?

It was the climbers’ answers that got me. They bounced around a few reasons until one climber, Doug, answered the question. I’m going to summarize his response.

“Because it’s there. Because I can.”

Wow. There is even more behind that answer…Doug had tried and failed the previous year to reach the summit of Everest. The mountain didn’t move; it was still there. So was his deep belief in himself that he was capable of climbing Everest.

This challenged me.

I often face “Everests” in life. They are there, not moving, not going away. I choose to climb or not climb. I choose to believe in my ability to climb. Those are my choices.

The challenge of the Hope Circle can often be seen as an Everest to people. I know it can be to me at times. But I have to decide to do it. Sharing Jesus with others is hard. We put ourselves out there. There is risk of what people will think about us, rejection. There is also the fear of failure. But just like the climbers of Mount Everest, we are fully equipped. We have to believe in ourselves as well.

Why do I believe so strongly in providing hope to others? Why do I do what I do? Because it is there. Because I can.



DePauw

Getting it wrong: Signs to students at DePauw University reading, “YOU DESERVE HELL!”

Getting it right: “Judge not, lest you be judged.”

Buzzfeed.com reported that a group of young Christians representing The Campus Ministry USA arrived at DePauw University in Greencastle, IN carrying signs protesting college students committing sins. The protesters shouted at female students that they were whores, asking them if they had STDs, judging the students as porno freaks, feminists, excessive partiers, and accusing them of unholy behavior. The signs read, “YOU DERSERVE HELL” and “HELL AWAITS YOU.” Twenty-year-old protester Kristen Brochert from Lafayette, IN stated, “I’m here to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

DePauw Student Body President Craig Carter reacted swiftly and took a stand against the protesters. Christian students reacted by countering the protesters that this is not what Jesus taught. Non-believers denounced religion saying this is what Christianity is all about: judging others, divisiveness, and hate.

Christopher Wells, the Vice President of Student Life Ministry on the campus, said, “It’s uplifting to me how many people reacted with love. It’s easy to respond with hate but that’s what they want.”

Jesus said, “Judge not least you be judged or you will treated as you treat others.” Matthew 7:1

Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” John 13:34



What is it Like to Have a Relationship with the Savior?

Many times we meet people who say they are Christians, but don’t really walk the walk. They do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Sadly, these are some of the very people Jesus will deny. Matthew 7:21-23 says:


“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (NKJV)


So, what is it really like to have a relationship with our Savior? You should always talk to God as your father, and your best friend. You cannot rely on others for help or happiness. Only God can give you happiness.


Personally, having God as my best friend and father is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I know I can tell Him anything, and He always listens. When I ask for something, He follows through, even if the results do not come out exactly how I expect. No matter what happens, God always has my back and loves me unconditionally. In the end, a relationship with Jesus is one of true friendship and trust.


“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)



Religion is Nothing More Than a Distraction

By: Keith Sampson

 

Lately, the threat of terror has risen back to the top of conversations and thoughts. Paris and more recently San Bernardino have brought these concerns to our country, to our cities…

 

Following these attacks, I have read posts, articles, and conversations about religion, culture, guns, and more. Religion is blamed and often vilified. As a believer in Jesus, and as someone who desperately tries to spread the hope that only He can provide, I’ve encountered many questions and obstacles.

 

A few weeks ago at church, the pastor made a very good point that both answered questions and created more: “Religion is man-made, and Satan uses religion to keep people from entering into a relationship with Jesus.”

 

This summed up what I believe in one statement. I have always said that my hope comes from a relationship with Jesus, not a religion. I don’t even like to call myself “religious” because, by definition, that has everything to do with what I do, not what Jesus did for me.

 

Some of the questions this raised were:

  • “How do we combat this deception with the love of Jesus?” Not one situation that I know of has been a case of someone killing another human being “in the name of the love of Jesus!” So how do we extend Jesus’ love while disavowing religion?
  • “Where do we draw the line, and how do we address defending ourselves lovingly?”
  • “In this crazy world that we live in, how do I continue to be a person of peace?”

 

The only solution that I can come up with for now is to filter my thoughts and actions through the life that Jesus led, and what He taught in the Bible. People who truly understand this don’t shoot up abortion clinics, don’t blow up planes, and don’t spew hatred for one another.

 

How long will we continue to let religion be a distraction from Jesus? How long will I continue to allow myself to be lumped into those “religious” people?

 

I have a relationship, not a religion…I follow Jesus.

 



It’s Not a Scarlet Letter

By: Keith Sampson

I’m assuming many of you grew up knowing there were “things that you just don’t do”—things that, depending on your upbringing, would change the way people look at you. Because of (fill-in-the-blank) you are viewed differently; you are judged.

 

Ah, there it is: “judgment.” The word can bring so much unnecessary pain, drama, or excuses, depending on your side of the fence. Today I want to share how I dealt with one of the “scarlet letter” issues that faces many people who follow Jesus: divorce.

 

If you have read any of my previous blog posts, you know that I am divorced. That experience pushed me into complete dependence on God and a renewed image of myself. It was hard enough going through it, but then it dawned on me that I was now divorced, one of those things that (growing up) “just shouldn’t happen.”

 

How do I answer all of the questions? What about people who don’t know the situation? Those who would immediately judge me? Those who would see a “scarlet letter” on my forehead?

 

Here are a few of my thoughts on that…(please filter this with the understanding that divorce is never God’s desire; I know that):

  1. I had to take a hard look at what marriage is, even between two Christians. I saw that it’s a union of two imperfect people, two sinners. It only takes one to break that union. I decided not to let choices made by someone else define me.
  2. Judgment from others is man-made. Jesus would not judge me in that way; He knew the condition of my heart. I only had to answer to Him, and I knew what was going on when I looked at myself in the mirror. I didn’t see a scarlet letter on my forehead.
  3. God is bigger than any situation that we face. While it may not have been His desire, He can certainly work through it. He sure did!

 
All of us are imperfect. All of us have been in bad situations by our own choices and by those of others. The hope that Jesus brings into our lives is bigger than all of that, from the worst form of judgment by others to actions of our own making. While Jesus hung on the cross next to two criminals, one had faith in that hope. While he hung, judged for his own actions, he had hope in Christ and found peace in the face of death.

Three Crosses

We are encouraged to show Jesus to others—keep this in mind as you meet people from all kinds of backgrounds. They have their own stories, choices, and moments. All need the love that we can show. Jesus’ love never sees a scarlet letter.



Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

As you spend time with family and reflect on your blessings, take a moment to watch Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation on Thanksgiving. Have a blessed day.