Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fun for you. Hope for others.

Summer schedules open up wide for possibilities of fun.  From simple days at the park or pool to extravagant luxury on exotic beaches, the hope of relaxation and enjoyment permeates summer plans. 

Hope--an expected outcome of good as Wikipedia says--sweetens even the most blessed  life.  Can you pause with me for a moment, though, and consider the the impact when hope shines into a life bleak with despair?  We all know those lives abound; sometimes we choose to turn away in our own despair of making any difference.  Will you spare a few minutes to consider putting a party with purpose into your summer plans?

BUT...did you know our accessories can provide for others' necessities?

Trades of Hope is a missional-business providing a market for hand-made items from around the world.  The Trades of Hope organization connects with mission partners in such countries as Guatemala, Bangladesh, Uganda and America to identify tangible ways to offer hope in lives darkened with despair.  The situations are all different.  In Cambodia, the life may have been devastated by an acid attack.  In Bangladesh, sexual slavery may have eclipsed hope.  AIDS, prostitution, disabilities, intense poverty...crippling challenges that we can impact simply by caring action!

Organized in a manner most American women are familiar with, Trades of Hope uses home parties to bring these hand-made items into your world.  Offering an income source to desperate individuals, hope beams into their world.  Basic necessities, health care and education for their children suddenly become possibilities simply because individuals in America have a party.  That opportunity to give hope is a blessing not to be missed!  The team of 'Compassion Entrepreneurs' who bring these parties to homes are passionate about their work. 

In fact, it is that passion that prompted this blog entry.  My friend, Tina Crandall, is offering chances to win a beautiful hand-made silk scarf as a prize to those who will simply take the time to learn more about this incredible opportunity.  Check out these details below--and know that this scarf is far more lovely than the picture shows!

Contest ends July 15th--so don't delay!!

For one chance to win, simply visit her website (
Share her website on your facebook, twitter, and/or blog for another entry.
Purchase from her website for another two chances to win!
Host a catalog party for two more entries (book before July 15).
Join her team for FIVE extra chances and bring the joy of hope to lives as your business!
Post a note back here about how you will act to bring hope...let's spur one another on for good works!

Contests are fun.  Parties are fun.  Giving hope is what we are called to do!


Friday, June 7, 2013


All week long God seems to have been showing me pieces relating to relationships and unity.  There is not reason in particular that I am aware of, but it has been fascinating.  My prayer is this will bless someone.  This is a rather broad treatment of a very complex topic.  It is not an exhaustive treatment of the concept or the passages referenced (primarily Matthew 18).  I encourage comments, thoughts or direct emails.  Let's delve into it deeper and learn together!  presented with love, Billie Jo
Conflicts are common to life.  That Christ left us with a ministry of reconciliation testifies to a competing truth:  Our God is all about relationships.  Christians seeking to understand how to respond when in conflict often find themselves contemplating the process outlined in Matthew.  Make a personal contact, progress to witnesses including the church, if necessary and finally, if restoration of the relationship still eludes you, treat the offending brother as a heathen.  While that process is powerful, it is not the primary focus of this piece.  Our focus will be how the passages surrounding the reconciliation instructions fit with it and provide us a beautiful picture of God’s design for relationships.  Our triune God exhibits diversity in unity--and He wants us to do the same.

Prior to the reconciliation passage, we find Christ delivering the parable of the lost sheep.  Emphasizing God’s passion for every single lost soul, Christ follows up with the process for restoring relationships.  He then moves into teaching how relationships bring the heavenly economy to bear on earth with the power of unity.  Very appropriately following those teachings are Peter’s questions on forgiveness and the parable of the unmerciful servant.  Relationships are challenging, but unity is inherent to God.  He wants us to value it as well.  In this context, the concept of Christ’s passion for lost souls expands into the deeper purpose of unity in our relationships.

In the reconciliation process,“treat as a heathen” is not a hands-off, you live your life, I’ll live mine approach.  It is a living, breathing testimony of heaven’s economy!  Throughout the Old Testament, the chosen people of God bore the responsibility of being a witness for God; we still bear that responsibility.  It flows into verses seldom brought into the context.  While 'wherever two or more are gathered in my name' is typically used as a 'success formula in prayer,' it is more appropriately considered to be teaching on the powerful testimony of unity.  Agreement on God's will is powerfully unifying.  ‘Binding and loosing on heaven/earth’ relates to bringing God's determinations on what is to be bound and loosed to bear in our lives.  It is living out the will of God on earth as it is in heaven—just as Christ taught His disciples to pray.  In the context of this passage of reconciliation, living as God designed is revealed as the key to wholeness in relationship!

All that adds an entirely new dimension to relationship struggles for me, and I hope for you as well.  With reconciliations as a tool for pointing others to the glory of God, the cost pales in contrast to the value.  The amazing love of Christ that took Him to the Cross, while I was still actively opposed to Him, provides me with powerful purpose in every relationship.  Reconciling with others is an obedience that brings eternity into view for all.  . 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Reason for the Dark

I enjoy using different translations of the scriptures for reading.  The alternate phrasings help me pay attention to the ‘old’ stories; sometimes differing words prod me to dig a bit deeper.  My mind has been drawn to the purpose of suffering lately, and a thought from my Spurgeon devotion took me to the Creation story.
Genesis 1:2 The earth was barren, with no form of life; it was under a roaring ocean covered with darkness. But the Spirit of God was moving over the water.

Verses four and five go on saying, “God separated between the light and darkness.  And God called the light, Day. And He called the darkness, Night.” God chose to include night in this world.  He could have banished the darkness but here we see He allowed it to remain. 
God entered the dark, roaring emptiness and spoke light into it.  He did not eliminate the dark; He illuminated the dark and called it day.  He enjoys doing that same creative work in our lives every day—if we let Him! 
One day there will be no darkness remaining, but for now, it is part of the earthly experience.  We can rejoice because we know He does all things perfectly.  Our human sight helps us glimpse some beauty in darkness.  Shadows create depth in scenery; dark lines bring things into clearer focus.  Truly, darkness delineates God’s grandeur in a way nothing else could.  For another exciting perspective on darkness, consider these ‘bizarre’ words from Paul:
Philippians 3:10 and 11:   All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised him to life. I want to suffer and die as he did, so that somehow I also may be raised to life.

Paul was not seeking suffering.  He simply was saying that the encounter with suffering and death allows us to enter into the power and life Christ exhibited. 

We don’t need to seek out problems; this life simply includes them.  When we do hit the dark spots, the valley of the shadow of death, there need be no fear.  That valley pops up in more ways than physical concerns.  Sometimes the death we fear is the death of our hopes and dreams.  We reach the limits of those things in which we have trusted and suddenly realize there is no life in them.  And that is the purpose of darkness--to move us toward seeking the light.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  In Him there is no shadow or darkness, He is Light. 

If you are in a valley today or facing a dark time, it really is okay.  It does not mean you are failing in your Christian walk.  It does not mean God is not with you, loving you.  In fact, it means there is a new dimension of Christ ready for you to explore.  One of my favorite verses is in the book of Nahum, and it says “clouds are the dust of His feet.”  In the dark, Jesus is incredibly near!  Accept the dark as the entry point of God’s creative work in your life—and watch with awe!

The fellowship of suffering is a path to know Him more. Be honest in your pain, but take your grief to Him.  Let Him show you how He truly meets every need.  He will give you the Light you need to take the next step.  As you walk in that Light, you can know that God is surrounding you with His power and life.  With Him working in your life, you will bring life to others on the pathway and never even realize it.  There is a reason for the dark.  Trust Him and let Him use it for your good, for the good of those around you and for His glory!