Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 1 comments

I saw the beginning of a movie called "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" last night. It appeared to be an action/adventure movie (think Indiana Jones) and featured the oddest conglomeration of characters I've ever seen assembled: Alan Quatermain, Dorian Gray, Tom Sawyer, Captain Nemo, Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde, and an Invisible Man, among others.

The character of the Invisible Man got me thinking about feeling invisible. Have you ever felt that way, like you're flying under everyone's radar? Have you ever felt like no one listens to what you have to say until someone else says it? Have you worked hard with barely an acknowledgement that you're doing anything? Perhaps your hard work doesn't leave any visible results. You clean the house, do the laundry and cook the meals, only to get up the next morning and clean the house, do the laundry, and cook the meals. Have you ever felt trapped in a never-ending cycle that seems to be leading nowhere?

Our society tells us that if we don't have anything to show for our efforts, we must not be doing anything. Our human nature tells us to take matters into our own hands - to let others know that we are doing something. We want to tell everyone exactly what that something is and why it matters.

I'm reading a book by John Bevere called "The Bait of Satan." The introduction begins by saying, "Anyone who has trapped animals knows a trap needs one of two things to be successful. It must be hidden, in the hope that an animal will stumble upon it, and it must be baited to lure the animal into the trap's deadly jaws. Satan, the enemy of our souls, incorporates both of these strategies as he lays out his most deceptive and deadly traps. They are both hidden and baited."

He goes on to say, "One of [Satan's] most deceptive and insidious kinds of bait is something that [everyone] has encountered - offense. Actually, offense itself is not deadly - if it stays in the trap. But if we pick it up and consume it and feed on it in our hearts, then we have become offended. Offended people produce much fruit, such as hurt, anger, outrage, jealousy, resentment, strife, bitterness, hatred, and envy."

What I've read in this book so far has been very eye-opening. It had never occurred to me that being offended is a choice, but now that I am aware of this, I see the opportunity presenting itself with great frequency. I think recognizing this is a good thing. Now I can see the bait for what it is and choose not to pick it up and be offended. However, I'm also seeing areas in my life where I have picked it up. One of these areas is where I'm feeling "invisible." I've taken offense to my efforts going unacknowledged. Sometimes this offense is directed at an individual or group, but sometimes I think it's directed at the world in general. Like that makes sense, being offended by the world! What was even more shocking to me was the realization that I was ultimately offended by God for allowing these circumstances I find myself in.

We only need to look at Scripture to see life doesn't take us directly from where we are to where we want to be. God gave Joseph dreams of his family bowing down to him, but he didn't expect to be abused, wrongly accused and imprisoned before ruling over them and all of Egypt. God told Abraham he'd be the father of many nations, but Abraham couldn't have imagined that at age 75, he'd wait another 25 years before the birth of his only child, and then later be asked to sacrifice him. God anointed David as King of Israel, but I'm sure he never dreamed he'd be fleeing for his life before ascending to the throne.

What's striking about these men is that they didn't take matters into their own hands, and they didn't blame God. They continued to believe Him even when His promises didn't make any sense. Joseph even said to the brothers who abused him, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good." (Genesis 50:20)

The lives of these men help me to make sense of my own life. I did hear God's promise to me correctly; He will make it happen, and all the events that seem to be heading in the wrong direction are all part of His perfect plan.

Yesterday someone said something to me, and for a moment I didn't feel invisible. They said they spoke to me because I "happened" to be in the right place at the right time, but I know better. God was sending a message to me, as I'm sure He did to Joseph, Abraham, David, and so many others who've strived to follow Him. He was saying, "I'm here and I'm in control."

Really, what more do I need to know?
Father, forgive me for the times when I've doubted you. Forgive me for wanting things to go my way and taking offense at what is part of your perfect plan. Open my eyes to offense and help me to refrain from taking the bait. Thank you for making it possible to avoid this trap.
Photo: The Invisible Man by DagsDownunder/all rights reserved
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 0 comments

It was January, and we were using frequent flyer miles for the first time, escaping frigid Michigan to take a much needed break in sunny California. While checking in at the airport, we discovered that Bob's driver's license had expired. Thankfully, they let us on the plane, though he was "marked" and had to be checked by security at every checkpoint (which I probably enjoyed watching a bit too much!)

How can one be so negligent as to let their driver's license expire? We send those things in as soon as we get them, so how did this happen? (Translation: How could Bob be so negligent as to let this happen?) I have to admit that my reaction was less than stellar. Maybe it was my vacation passing away before my eyes, but still, that's no excuse. After all, I was the one who insisted we didn't need our passports, but that our driver's licenses would be adequate ID.

Fast forward to July. I wrote my first check in a long time, and I was told MY driver's license had expired. (Beware all you Michigan residents - I don't think they send out reminders anymore.) At this point, a plethora of Scripture verses were assaulting my brain:

"You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things." Romans 2:1

I did do exactly the same thing, given time.

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" Matthew 7:3

I seem to be quite good at that, unfortunately.

"Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." James 1:19

I'm memorizing the book of James right now, and I have to say that committing Scripture to memory gives you a whole new perspective. It's like God holding a mirror up and saying, "You are who I'm talking about here!" It's easy to miss those messages just reading through Scripture once. Especially when it's a message I don't particularly want to hear.


Today I start memorizing James chapter 3. I see a lot more verses on the tongue coming my way, and a lot more messages for me, I'm sure!

Dear Father, Thank you for the infinite patience You show to me. Forgive me for the times I don't show that patience to others. Thank you for loving me enough to correct me when I'm wrong. Help me to accept your correction and become more like You. I love You so much!


Lisa


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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 0 comments

My Utmost for His Highest devotional mentioned "God's Surgical Procedures," which were defined as "His use of external circumstances to bring about internal purification." This got me thinking about surgery on the physical body.

When we undergo surgery it's a planned procedure, whether it's physical or spiritual. The only question is, "Who's doing the planning?" I'm the one to plan a physical surgery. It may not be something I want to experience, but I get to decide whether or not to undergo it and when. On the other hand, God is the one who plans any spiritual surgery, and it occurs when I need it. Quite often, I don't even see it coming, and I'm usually not given any choice in the matter. (Although, to be honest, God's surgical procedures in my life have mainly taken place only after I've failed to respond to His promptings to make necessary changes in my life.)

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." ~ Hebrews 12:11
Surgery is painful. At least with physical surgery, we're numbed and unconscious. If you've had surgery on your body, you know how it feels when the pain meds wear off. Imagine what it would feel like if you were alert when you went under the knife! I've never received anesthesia for spiritual "surgery", though I admit asking for it on several occasions. It's painful to be opened up and have something I've grown attached to removed from my life, but it's necessary if I'm going to be less like a sinful human and more like my sinless Father.

Surgery has its benefits. If all goes as planned (which it always does with God), we're better off for it. As God removes impurities from my life, He replaces them with things far more beneficial. He removes fear and replaces it with trust in Him. He removes anxiety and replaces it with peace. He removes animosity and replaces it with love. He removes sorrow and replaces it with joy, and so on...

Successful surgery requires cooperation. Recovery is much swifter when we follow the surgeon's instructions. Our "shortcuts" tend to extend the process rather than get us through it more quickly, and repeating previous behaviors often erases any benefits we may have received.

I've learned to trust my Surgeon, knowing that after all is said and done, it will be so worth it. God wants to give me more than I could ever ask or imagine. I just need to be willing to allow Him to do His work in my life, rather than hinder it.

Father, I thank you for performing surgery in my life, especially in those times when I don't want it or think I need it. Thank you for your faithfulness. Your joy and peace has more than made up for any pain I've experienced. I love you!
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 2 comments

I would have never guessed I'd be writing a blog, but then again, since beginning my adventure with God, I've done a lot of things I could've never imagined!

Why the name "True Hope and a Future"?

I was trying to come up with a name that would be intriguing to Christians and non-Christians alike, and I think the desire for hope and a future is universal. This comes from the Bible, Jeremiah 29:11-14 ~ "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (:11)

The Lord first brought this verse to my attention many years ago, while studying Scripture with my children, just before a major period of growth and change in my life. He has truly sustained me with these words. How comforting to know that God has a plan for my life, especially during the times when I feel like I'm in the midst of chaos. I sincerely believe that God wants what's best for me, and I'm so thankful that He knows exactly what that is, because most of the time I have no idea.

"Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you." (:12)

I don't know what's more amazing, the fact that I can approach the one, true God, or the fact that He listens to me. Notice he doesn't say "hear," a word used when perceiving a sound. He uses the word "listen," a word used to show that He's paying attention to what is being said. God cares about what I have to say! It's important to Him because it's important to me! Isn't that amazing? Think of all the people who have no interest whatsoever in what you have to say, then try to wrap your head around the fact that the Creator of the universe listens intently to everything you say. Astounding!

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (:13)

God has made my heart His home and given me a burning desire to spend time with Him and come to know Him ever more deeply. I seek Him because everything worth having resides in Him, and because I earnestly seek Him, He has allowed me to find Him.

"I will be found by you...and bring you back from captivity." (:14)


I have lived far too much of my life in captivity - captive to fears, captive to emotions, you name it! The good news is, God says it doesn't have to be that way! God, in His grace, has set me free. No matter where we wander, God will always "bring us back" when we seek Him.
I first pondered these words over twelve years ago, and I'm so thankful that God, in His infinite mercy, waited years before bringing verse 10 to my attention. "When seventy years are completed...I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise..." In other words, "I will do these things for you after a long period of discipline." While it didn't last seventy years for me, (thank you Jesus!) it was a very long time. In the process I lost almost everything familiar to me - friends, work, health...but what God has replaced it with is infinitely better than anything I lost. While I don't ever want to go through that again, I wouldn't trade the life I have now for anything!

Father, thank you for choosing me to be one of your children and allowing me to have a relationship with you. Thank you for always listening to me, even when I have no idea of the work you want to accomplish in my life. Thank you for refusing to give me what I wanted, but instead giving me what you knew I needed. I love you so much!

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