Wednesday, August 31, 2005

clothes and accessories

Ladies love to shop for clothes and accessories. They are especially concerned how these enhance their appearance. As a young person I was taught the importance of proper attire for every occasion.

God is concerned as well with our clothing and accessories. He has made His wishes in these areas very clear. His choices for attire will enable us to be the person both inwardly, as well as,
outwardly that will bring honor and glory to Him.

In Proverbs 3:3 we are told of two accessories. He tells us "do not let kindness and truth leave you...bind them around your neck and write them on the tablet of your heart."

The Apostle Paul tells the Colossians in Chapter 3:12..."put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience." The final piece of clothing He tells them to put on is that which pulls all the attire together. It is found in Colossians 3:14, "and beyond all these things put on love."

Ladies check your appearance today and see what you are wearing. Are there any items that God desires for you to have worn that are missing? Ask Him to help you wear a wardrobe that honors Him.


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

the story of the invalid

John 5:1-14 This is one of my favorite miracles recorded in God's Word. It's the story of the invalid of 38 years, lying by the pool, called Bethesda. He was with many who were lame, blind and paralyzed. He was hoping to be helped into the stirred waters to be healed. Someone
always got into the water before him. He had no one to help him and he could not do it himself. Thirty eight years is a long time to have to depend on someone else. I wonder if he could recall when he could do things for himself!

Jesus appeared and asked him something that is almost strange to hear: "Do you want to get well?" It has caused me to really look at the passage.

This May of 2005 I have had a muscle disease, Myasthenia Gravis for 38 years. I know what my answer would be; but do I understand what Jesus was asking? My prayerful study gave me new thoughts to ask myself.

1. Healing? It could be a life-altering event! The cripple's answer was, "But, Lord, I have no one to help me..." We are ready with excuses! We fear the unknown, fear changes. Sometimes we find it frightening to move on.

2. Maybe your healing would send you back to work, or you might be required to return to more responsibility with home and family.

3. Maybe healing would bring a life-altering change or event such as moving on to new surroundings or meeting new people.

My husband and I were married ten years with children just 1, 3 and 5 years old when I was diagnosed with MG. We remained in our home church, in our home town serving in Christian Education. We were surrounded by family and friends, all helping. I stayed close to home depending on others. One day I was asked to come, in my wheelchair, to fill in for the director of the Christian child-care at our church. I had all kinds of excuses, but I thank God I said, "Yes"! I was to stay three weeks, but stayed three years. God knew I would love this ministry and learn
from obedience to Him. You see, it removed the fear of going on years later to a new ministry with my husband at America's KESWICK.

Obedience was the answer for the man at the pool. In verse 13 he didn't even know who Jesus was, but in verse 15 he is telling others about what Jesus did in his life.

What changes does God need to make in your life? He wants obedience first!

I'm asking God to continue to search my heart and let me be satisfied with his choices and changes. Proverbs 3:5&6 - His word to us!


Monday, August 29, 2005

Words that Hurt – Words that Heal

I enjoyed the book “Words that Hurt – Words that Heal” by Carole Mayhill It was my first book that I have read by Carole, and I enjoyed it! I chose this book to do a report, and I pass its message on to you. It was easy to understand and practical for my life. Carole begins by quoting James 3:3, “The tongue is like a bit in a horse’s mouth.” She states if we control the bit, we control the horse! God has much to say in His Word concerning this member of our body, the
tongue, some things positive and some negative. The purpose of our lives should be to know God. Philippians 3:10 is Paul’s desire for this – even deeper at the end of his life! As I read, I had to question myself, “Do I have all the areas of my life under the control of the Holy Spirit?...even my mouth? I’ve learned in sinning with my tongue, it grieves the Holy Spirit. Slander, gossip, and careless, idle speech are sinning in God’s rules. On the other hand, Proverbs 12:25 reads, “Anxious hearts are very heavy, but a word of encouragement does wonders!” I’ve found this true. Carole’s prayer for herself is, “Lord, teach me what it means to have the outh of the righteous.” I would love this, too, but fail so often. In reading the book of Psalms there is great help: 35: 28, “I will praise you all day long”; and 10:11, “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.” I began to think back just to the past few days and thought, “What words could describe my speech, my conversations?” I need a lot of changes with God’s help.

There is a chapter in the book called “Aren’t I Terrific?” It caused me to search my heart. Do I really seek God’s glory, or my own? Proverbs 25:27 and 27:1&2 are good verses. Have I learned to be content in whatever circumstances? –Philippians 4:11-12, or do I sound off “woe is me”, too often?

Lord, help me to think before I speak. Proverbs 12:18, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Concerning gossip or the love of finding fault was covered by an example given by Carole. “Criticizing is like climbing up on the Judgment Seat on
which god alone has the right to sit and to publish judgment upon others which He alone has the right to pronounce!” I ask myself if I am guilty? – are you?

In closing, Carole’s prayer is, “If I dwell deep with you, God, the overflow is going to consistently seep into my conversation. Soon I will be speaking more words that heal –and less that hurt!” We all need to learn His words and speak them.

Study and pray!


Friday, August 26, 2005

Remove your mask.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NIV)

One Sunday I was called to the church lobby to help a woman who had fled from service and was out in the parking lot crying. When I approached her and asked what the problem was she said, “I don’t fit here. I have so many problems. These people don’t have problems, how can they ever understand.” Problems? These people had problems coming out of their ears, but their Church masks covered them nicely. How deceived this woman was! I have heard Bill Welte mention more than once, the uniqueness of the Colony of Mercy. Unlike most churches, the Colony is a safe place to be real. The Colony men stand up and share how they are struggling and are embraced by their fellow residents. Why is it the exception rather than the norm for
people to share with their church that they are struggling? Why is it rare for people to feel safe in the one environment where they should be able to experience total acceptance and the support of the brethren?

Let me share with you an excerpt from The Teacher’s Commentary (pg. 877-878) regarding our passage today: “What Paul was referring to was the Old Testament description of Moses,
entering the tabernacle of God and returning to speak with the Israelites, transfused with a radiance and splendor…But then Moses noticed that the splendor faded. The glow went away! And ‘Moses…put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at tit while the radiance was fading away’ (v. 13). A process of deterioration was taking place, and Moses could not bear to have others see it.

But ah, the contrast! Paul said, ‘We are not like Moses’; instead, ‘We are very bold.’ And Paul explained: ‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory,
which comes form the Lord, who is the Spirit.’ 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

What did Paul mean? Simply this: I unveil and reveal myself in order that you might see Jesus in me. Jesus is not revealed in some supposed human ‘perfection,’ but rather in our progressive transformation. It is not, ‘See how good I am,’ that witnesses to the reality of Jesus, but, ‘See
what God is doing in such a sinner.’”It’s time. It’s time to remove our masks and get real, to the glory of God.

Your challenge today is to ask God where you are prone to wear a mask and rob Him of His glory.


1 Richards, Lawrence O. The Teacher’s Commentary, Scripture Press Publications, 1987

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Time for a facelift.

"A man's wisdom makes his face shine, and the sternness of his face is changed."

Have you ever met someone or seen them in the supermarket, and their face is so set with sternness that it took you aback? This week we have been sharing about a quiet and gentle spirit and its roots that run heart-deep. Yet, what is in our hearts is often betrayed on our faces.
You know with a look we can stop our children mid-sentence, we can set our spouse off or get ourselves in trouble with our boss.

When I first heard this verse referred to in a Bible study, my spirit quickened. There is hope of change. "The sternness of his face is changed...through the wisdom that makes his face shine." What kind of wisdom makes a face shine?

"When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD." Exodus 34:29

Moses' face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. One key to having the heart change necessary to have the sternness of our face changed is spending time with Jesus. The wisdom of the gospel, God's truth and relationship with Jesus Christ softens a heart. It may not
happen in a moment, or after one day with Jesus, or one week, or one year, but just like with any relationship as it grows deep in your soul, there is a settledness that begins to surround you like when you slip into a hot bath and every muscle in your body relaxes. When you become
so at peace with Jesus, it shows all over your face and your face will be radiant. No need for that expensive face cream.

Your challenge today is to look in the mirror and ask the Lord, if there are lines of sternness or if He is reflected there.


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Control your Face

1 Peter 3:3, "Do not let your adornment be merely outward - arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel-rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God."

There are times when the hidden person of the heart is not so hidden. As I have been learning to be quiet, sometimes silent, sometimes not, I realized that my face betrays my heart. That which I think I'm hiding, by being silent, is all over my face. Perhaps you have the same problem.

About 3 years ago, before I was going on vacation, I asked Stephanie to pray for me that I would not blow our trip. I shared with her that I tended to have wonderful expectations of family bonding time, and when it didn't turn out the way I expected or wanted, I would get an attitude, sometimes with my words, but often with my face. You'll never guess what her godly counsel was. She suggested that when I was able to keep my mouth shut but unable to control my face, I put a paper bag over my head until I could have a better attitude. As silly as it sounds, I got myself a paper bag and drew a smiley face on it and tucked it in our RV, just in case.

My problem was not a face problem; my problem was a heart problem. What is in our hearts can be read all over our faces. Having a gentle and quiet spirit is a heart issue not a face issue.

So if you have a face problem, it's time to do business in your heart. Your challenge today is to ask God to change your heart and let your face show it.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Inner Beauty

1 Peter 3:3, "Do not let your adornment be merely outward - arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel-rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God."

What exactly does it mean to have a gentle and quiet spirit? As the Lord began working in this area of my life, I learned it doesn't mean just being quiet. I realized I could have a quiet and very ungentle spirit. I think you know what I'm talking about, when our silence is screaming at the top of our lungs? For me it is the set of my jaw, and the 'hairy eyeball' (as we call it in my family).

I remember a number of year's back we had Zach over to visit. He and my son were spending the afternoon together. That following weekend, Zach had to draw a family picture in Sunday school. His mother told me he had added me to his drawing. I was so touched. I leaned over to Zach and said how special it was that he did that. He looked and me and said, "YUP, I drew you with the angry eyes". I was so startled. I didn't quite know what to say. We can speak volumes without ever opening our mouths. Are you gentle in spirit?

'Gentle', according to the on-line Merriam-Webster dictionary, is: "free from harshness, sternness, or violence"You'll notice this is not just about our behavior. It is about a deep residing spirit of quietness and gentleness. You see it is what is in our heart that shows up on our face, in our attitude and our behavior. Peter says it is the "incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit" Incorruptible: not subject to decay or dissolution (on-line dictionary).

Ladies, the beauty that is precious in the sight of God is the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit... very Precious. Your challenge for today is to ask God to show you ways in which you are not gentle and seek his power to change.


Monday, August 22, 2005

Heart Adornment

1 Peter 3:3, “Do not let your adornment be merely outward – arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”

A quiet and gentle spirit? Ouch. For years, I didn’t particularly care for this verse of Scripture. Those of you, who know me, know I am anything but quiet. I talk loud. I laugh loud. I sing loud (much to the embarrassment of my children). I clap loud. I even walk loud. I’m just loud. Sometimes I try to be quiet, but as soon as I forget, I’m back being loud. This verse, which encourages women to have a quiet and gentle spirit seemed very illusive to me. Can’t I be loud and godly? My loud sisters know exactly what I’m talking about. I think the key here is “the hidden person of the heart”. There is not much hidden about a loud woman. Everyone knows what’s up with her – even those that don’t want to know or don’t care. Think about what hidden means. When you played hide-and-seek as a kid, did you make noise and draw attention to yourself? NO. You did everything to be as quiet as possible. You didn’t want to draw any attention in your direction.

Loud women draw attention to themselves and not in the positive way they think. It takes the Holy Spirit and practice to have a quiet spirit. Quiet does not necessarily mean silent. Sometimes silence is warranted. Sometimes speaking up is warranted. I am not talking here about speaking with the squeaks of a mouse so no one can hear you either. This has more to do with the heart than the volume of your voice. A quiet spirit is borne out of a quiet, settled heart.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a discussion of the gentle spirit.

Your challenge for today is to observe your interactions with others. Are you exhibiting a quiet spirit?


Friday, August 19, 2005

“When People are Big and God is Small”

Can I highly recommend a book to you that I was required to read in Bible School? It is, “When People are Big and God is Small” by Edward Welch. It is easy to read and convicting. You should pass it on to another after reading it yourself.

Mr. Welch writes that many people know God loves them, but they think they need love or approval from other people. They are controlled by whomever or whatever they believe can give them what they think they need. Their fear of man includes not only being afraid of someone, but it goes farther—holding someone in awe! They are controlled or mastered by people, maybe worshipping them, putting all their trust in needing people!

As I read this, I had to admit to these things of myself (a lot of times). There are three categories mentioned that we claim. In our teens we call it “peer-pressure”; next we fall into “people-pleasing”; and as we get older we seek “co-dependency”. Where does God fit in? I read that Scripture shows us we shouldn’t put a need or want on people; we should love them. Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trust in the Lord is kept safe.” Great verse! Why do we have to have someone (even Jesus) think we are great?
One whole chapter of Ed Welch’s book deals with a problem many have; it covers self-esteem, low esteem, etc. Not only do we worry about how people see us; but will they reject us? We want acceptance, love and to get rid of worthlessness. We have all that in Christ! We have love and salvation, and He liberates us form sin and guilt. The ‘gaze of God” should be our first concern, not the gaze of people!

God knew we’d have need in this area. He records many men in Scripture who had thoughts and words for us. Deuteronomy 1:17 – Moses said, ‘Do not fear any man, for judgment belongs to God.’ King Saul feared rejection; Peter battled as he feared man and denied Christ three times. Imagine Peter as Jesus gazed into His eyes! Read 1 Peter 3:13-14 to see how Peter changed
whom he served. Mr. Welch’s book ends by telling us we do have a need for people – for the
body of Christ. We need each other. One can’t do it alone, so we work together, love each other, and serve for the glory of the Lord. The “gaze of God” is in His Word. I need to read it, fear Him and do all for His glory, not for people. God is big, people are small. Best of all, God is love!


Thursday, August 18, 2005

Miss Martha 3

Today is the final chapter of Martha’s vignette. What we’ve been given is a glimpse into the possible life of many a believer –maybe even you. For me, this snapshot has been a serious hug from God. Only a loving Father cares enough to teach us, rebuke or correct us and then draw near enough to allow us to lean way, way in and rest our weary repentant and sorrowful heads in and under the shadow of His Wings.

Psalms 36:6-8 speaks to us of God from history pasts, “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your delights.” The Message, -a Scripture paraphrase- sets the pen to paper in a way that is full of description.
“God's love is meteoric, his loyalty astronomic, His purpose titanic, his verdicts oceanic. Yet in his largeness nothing gets lost. Not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks. How exquisite your love, O God! How eager we are to run under your wings, to eat our fill at the banquet you spread as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water. Psalms 36:5-8

Dear sisters we don’t have to be thirsty or hungry! Let’s invite Him who is the Bread of Life into our day. Let’s taste and see that He, the Lord, is good.

Who but God is big enough to be all and everything we need…to…be? Who but God can take our time and somehow multiply it, to enable us to accomplish all that He will impress upon us as important? “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”

Psalms 19:23-24
“Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about; see for Yourself whether I've done anything wrong then guide me on the road to eternal life.” The Message Paraphrase

Remember we serve a God who is, “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power in us.” Ephesians 3:20

My Question For You:

Will you allow God to try you concerning the time you are given?


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Miss Martha 2

Yesterday we left Martha with 4.5 hours, to be all that she could and would be to all the people in her life that she is lovingly attempting to serve, in a godly manner. Now let's fast forward a few years in Martha's life. She's still attempting the same pace and yet she is no longer all that happy with herself or with life. Something isn't right. She can't remember the last time she felt good about her faith walk and she sometimes wonders if her faith is even real. After all if it was,
wouldn't she have more time to sit at the feet of Jesus? She can't seem to find any time for herself, let alone more time for her Lord. And if and when she does think about setting time aside for herself (which would include time with the Savior) she tends to feel a bit guilty.

Now, let me say right here and now-whether Martha should or should not feel the way she does is not relevant. The fact is - she does!

This puts us right back where we started, with my phone conversation. After examining an average day in my friend's life, she was actually relieved. She took a deep breath, exhaled loudly, and in so many words said, "Then it's okay for me to take time off in my day for me?" Of
course it is. But...let's not forget what the Holy Spirit revealed to us. Remember what He said, He told us that our guilt or put another way, our sorrow was due to our need for Him; a very real need which was not being met by the busyness that characterized our existence. So, while it is good to schedule yourself into your day, it is better still to schedule Him, Who Is above all earthly things into your day. And do it in such a way that you experience His Presence. Dare we take a new step of faith and cease from our activity long enough to experience a true rest? Dare we call upon Him, seek Him and actually wait to find Him right there where we are?

"Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart..."Jeremiah 29:13

My Question For You?

When is the last time you laid at the feet of Jesus?


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

busy Miss Martha

Let's begin today by examining an average day in the life of busy Miss Martha. Martha's average day begins at 6:45 a.m. Now Martha is not a morning person, so getting up at 6:45 is, in itself a challenge. But, nonetheless, she is up and ready to invest herself in the life of her day. By 7:45 Miss M has managed to wash her face, brush her teeth, make her bed, start a load of laundry, fold the load from the night before, open all her window blinds, make her morning protein drink and drink it, take her medicine and maybe even her vitamins. All of this with her
eyes only half opened. Okay, I know it doesn't sound like much, but hey, she's moving.

Now ever-present, all the time on Martha's mind is she needs and wants to spend some time with the Lord in praise, prayer, and in His Word seeking to know Him better. So, maybe, as much out of desire as out of duty, she sits and does a quick, 5-20 minute devotion. She bows her head in prayer (ever mindful of the ticking of the clock) says a quick, Amen and she's up and running to get through the rest of her morning routine to get out the door on off to work on time. By now it's around 8:00 a.m. and she has to leave the house by 8:35 at the latest to arrive
at work on time. Before we go on, let's do a quick time scan of the possible hours she has in her day to accomplish all that she believes is required of her. If we begin with the given 24, and minus 8 for sleeping, 9 for work, 1 for driving time to and from work, and the time she has used already to get going in her day, she is left with 4.5 potential hours to do everything else. And we all know that the, everything else -her husband, kids, dinner preparation, church meeting, choir practice, exercise, etc. - is not going to fit into 4.5 hours. But that won't stop Martha from trying. To be continued tomorrow...

My Question For You:

Are you catching a glimpse of why Martha isn't enjoying more Mary moments? What would you say to Martha to encourage her heart?


Monday, August 15, 2005

Time with God

Recently in conversation with someone regarding the use of our time, God, by His Holy Spirit infused some very practical wisdom into our session. My friend shared with me how she often feels guilty if she takes time off to “just do nothing”. I can’t remember how many times I have heard those words spoken over the years, and often by some of the busiest women I know. As my friend and I talked about this guilt and why we seem to feel it regardless of our best intentions, the Holy Spirit stepped in and gave us an unmistakable answer. His words –not mine- were as follows: “The reason you feel guilt is because we, Father, Son and Holy Spirit have been absent from your day.” We were both stunned by this revelation. However, we both
had to admit to each other the extreme truth of it. Yes, we were both given to having many “mini” devotions and yet, peace was definitely lacking. There just didn’t seem to be enough time in a day to accomplish all the tasks that we set for ourselves and still have time for more meaningful moments of repose before the God of our salvation. I’m sure at this point God chuckled at our silliness. We all get 24 hours, no more-no less. If this is what God has given us, then surely it is sufficient. As our conversation continued, the Holy Spirit led me in a very
practical way to “get real” about the time that we have. Since it will be impossible to share all of this with you in one edition of Victory Call, I will spread it out over a few days, so as to do justice to what God shared with us. I believe with all my heart that this is applicable to so many of us and my sincere hope is that we are challenged to draw near and nearer still, to God. I pray that we be unafraid to do as the Preacher in Ecclesiastes 1:13 –“seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven”, as it relates to pursuing communion with God. If it means I get disciplined and organized in the use of my time, then I am willing.

My Question For You Today:
What does time with God look like in your daily life?


Friday, August 12, 2005

The Law of Love V

“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.” Galatians 5:13

I know this week of Victory Call have been straight forward talk on a sensitive subject. I need to warn you today’s will be the toughest yet. For many of you reading this, the topic may be foreign to your thinking but I assure you it is a very real issue. I want to talk today about the power a woman has via her body. Some women dress to attract attention. For a few, it is perfectly innocent but I am going to suggest (and you may choose to disagree) that for the
majority of these women they are dressing with intention. I don’t mean that every day they get up and say, “Today, I’m going to turn heads”, but rather the selection of clothes in their closet betrays their heart. I gave very little thought to this whole area before I came to AK. Through
the ministry to hundreds of wives, I have made some observations and offer this conclusion: Women enjoy the sense of power they get from turning heads of men. It feels good to be noticed. Now, I’m not talking about all women, I talking about women in general. You may be quite offended by my conclusion but in the world of counseling I live in, it is very real. Is it really power? Whatever you want to call it, men react to women. God made men visual. They are wired to be sexually aroused through what they take in through their eyes. But Satan has taken that which is good and twisted it so that men (in general) are confronted with the temptation to lust.
Let me share a quote from “Every Man’s Battle” by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker (this is written by men to men): “Males Receive Sexual Gratification Through the Eyes: … We have our eyes and can draw sexual gratification through them at any time. We’re turned on by female nudity in any way, shape, or form. … We have a visual ignition switch when it comes to viewing the female anatomy. … Visual sexual gratification is no laughing matter in your fight for sexual purity. Given what the sight of nudity does to the pleasure centers of our brain, and these days it’s pretty easy to see many naked or near-naked women, it’s no wonder our eyes and mind resist control.” As I am writing this the thought occurred to me that lust may look different
in women than in men. I’m going to throw this thought out for your consideration. Is it possible that lust in women is manifested through their dress and the sense power to entice? Could it be, women lust through their body –body language, flirting, the way they walk, dressing to accent
(through tight clothes) or expose (through minimal clothes) their figure? Just a thought.

Ladies, knowing that men are prone to lustful temptation, the law of love warrants that we as women, seek to love them by being mindful of our attire so as to be a blessing rather than a temptation. Phew!! I’m glad this week is over.


Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Law of Love IV

“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.” Galatians 5:13

As we have been focusing on modesty this week and seeking to love our brothers by not being a stumbling block to them, I can’t help but think we need to understand balance. Lest you think I am advocating a return to floor length dresses or face veils I want to communicate the heart of love not law. How do we balance proper dress out of love for our brother without becoming legalistic about it? The difference is in the heart. There is a world of difference between being modest because ‘I gotta’, and being modest as an act of relational obedience and love for Christ and our bothers. One is a result of outward compliance the other the result of a heart of love.
I believe we are called by God to bring every area of our life under the authority of God. It’s not man’s rules or regulations that should be our highest concern but rather the expression of God’s heart in our lives. Are you willing to take your wardrobe to the Lord with an open hand and let
Him sort through it and discard those things you believe are not pleasing to Him? If you are holding on to your freedom to wear what you want with a closed fist…it’s time for a heart check.

We’re almost done, one more day on this very sensitive and difficult topic. Tomorrow is the hardest yet.

Your challenge today is to ask yourself if you are willing to change if God expresses His desire for you to do so. Are you willing or are you dismissing those nagging thoughts? Are you willing?


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Law of Love III

"You, my bothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love."

This week we have been having a frank discussion (more like a monologue) about modesty. Today I want to briefly discuss the difference between men and women and the lack of understanding of each other and for each other. If you are single, hang in there because this is just as important for you to understand as for us "old married women".

Men are visual. Women are tactile and relational. Men can be aroused by someone they don't even know simply by the way she looks or dresses. Women are not so much aroused by the way a man looks but more by the way he looks at her. Sexual purity for men involves discipline with their eyes first and foremost. Sexual purity for women involves discipline with their hearts.

Ladies, we may not understand how quickly a man can become aroused, how quickly he can be drawn away and tempted to lust, but I believe Jesus calls us to have compassion not contempt. Our lack of understanding does not invalidate the reality of the struggle for men. I know if your
husband is involved in pornography, this hurts. Perhaps we can "talk" about that another week.

How does this relate to our theme-the law of love? If we as women seek to understand and to be compassionate, I believe we would be much more mindful of our dress so as to not increase the struggle.I don't believe that contempt for people is ever the godly response. Let's get angry at the culprit-Satan and pray for his failure in this area.

Your challenge today is to pray for understanding and compassion.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Law of Love II

"You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love." Galatians 5:13

We started off yesterday with a call to modesty. The standards of dress have changed so drastically over time that things that we don't think twice about today would have not have only raised eyebrows a hundred years ago but probably earned us a name we would not like.

Yesterday, I suggested some very pointed guidelines regarding modest attire. You may be thinking I'm being legalistic or prudish. Oh sister, hear my heart. Our theme verse this week and several others in Scripture clearly assure us we are free. "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace." Romans 6:14. "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." John 8:36. "I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free." Psalm 119:32. BUT, we are never to use our freedom as a license to do whatever we want if it causes a brother to stumble. Our theme verse says, " not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love." The law of love constrains the law of freedom, or law of liberty. In other words, we give up our freedom out of love for a brother or sister, if the exercise of our freedom is a stumbling block for them.

You may be thinking, "This isn't fair." I'm not the one that has the problem. Why is modesty such a big deal? I'm not wearing anything too revealing. If a man gawks, that's his problem. As a
Christian woman, it is your "problem" because Christ has called you to serve your brother in love. How loving is it to wear clothing that attracts his eye, distracts him, or causes him to stumble? I'm not talking here about within your marriage I'm talking about the men that
are not your husband. It takes a woman of strength, conviction and dignity to make
such unselfish decision. Are you willing to be that kind of woman?

No challenge today, I think we have been challenged enough.


Monday, August 08, 2005

The Law of Love I

“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.” Galatians 5:13

Warning!!! This week’s devotionals are on modesty and sexual purity and are written with frankness and forthrightness. I apologize in advance if my frankness offends anyone. I would not do this if it wasn’t a burden on my heart that I think God’s wants His daughters to hear. I hope my mother is not reading these. It’s that time of year again, when the weather is hot and humid. For some of you this writing will draw a nod of the head, for others, I’m afraid I’m going to step on your toes. I am going to be bold today, bolder than usual that is. It is time for Christian women to take a stand with regard to our dress. Hear me clearly; I’m not talking about being dowdy, unstylish or puritanical in our dress. I’m talking about just plain modesty. There are parts of a woman’s body that need to be covered, plain and simple. A woman’s breasts need to be modestly covered, front, middle and sides. Modestly covered does not mean with see through fabric, or exposing the bra underneath. A woman’s abdomen, upper thighs, mid-drift and buttocks need to be covered. I’m nervous about being so pointed but I’ve long since learned forthrightness and frankness minimizes misunderstanding.

I have worked at America’s Keswick for almost 6 years. I have had my eyes opened to the sinful struggle of women and men, both which could be qualified as lust. I would venture a guess that the majority of calls I get from women relate to this issue of lust. It may manifest itself in ogling which means: to eye amorously or provocatively or to look at especially with greedy or interested attention (Merriam-Webster On-line Dictionary) or it may involve pornography, infidelity or inappropriate emotional ties. Statistics show that men are the primary offenders regarding the use of internet pornography sites, but there are a growing number of women falling into the same sinful trap. Bill Welte gave a statistic recently from a Christian Woman’s magazine survey that 34% of the women responding to the survey has been on a pornographic website within the last 24 hours. I think you have had enough frankness for today, but we are not done yet. There is much more to be said this week. I will explain through the week, how
our verse relates to this topic.

Your challenge for today is to ask God if there is any outfits in your closet that HE would like you to get rid of. If you’re courageous enough, ask your spouse or a close friend for an honest evaluation of how you dress.


Friday, August 05, 2005

Wisdom comes from On High!

I once read, “We can get information on-line but wisdom comes from on High!” Proverbs 2:6 reads, “The Lord gives wisdom…” He gave us His word to read, study and apply to our life.
A great Bible study for you is to choose one topic, record as many verses in God’s Word on that subject and ask for wisdom to apply it to your life. I chose love. There are several columns of recorded verses on ‘Love’, ‘Loved’ and ‘Loving’ in the concordance of my Bible. I marveled at His love for me and saw my need to do my best to love as He loved. May I share some of the verses revealed to me? You can find others.

1. John 3:16--(My favorite) God so loved the world He gave His only son (for me!).
2. Romans 5:8--God loved us even when we were sinners.
3. Galatians 5:22-- the fruit of the spirit is love…
4. 1 John 4:16--God is love.
5. Romans 8:28--All things work together for good to those that love God.
6. John 13:36—(God commands) Love one another as I have loved you.
7. John 14:15-- If you love Me, keep my commandments.
8. John 15:13—There is no greater love than to lay down your life (Christ did this for me and you!)
9. Romans 8:38-39 – Nothing can separate us from the love of God.
10. John 15:9—Continue in His love.
11. 1 John 3:1—Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us!
12. John 5:42—The love of God is in you!
13. Matthew 5:19—Love your neighbor.
14. Matthew 5:44—Love your enemies.
15. Ephesians 5:2—Walk in love as Christ loved us.

You can add to the list of verses or do your own study. Maybe select ‘joy’ or ‘self-control’. Remember, He gives wisdom. Pray before you study.


Thursday, August 04, 2005

Spiritual Exercises

Physical exercise keeps us healthy, strong, and running smoothly. Spiritual exercises help strengthen and develop our Christian walk and faith.

"Study to show yourselves approved unto God, a workman that needs not be ashamed." 2 Tim. 2:15

Just the word exercise can send us all into a tizzy. It means hard work, dedication and usually that fresh pain when we start using muscles we have not used in quite some time. "No exercise 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." Heb. 12:10. God has given us the exercises of the Spiritual life as a means of receiving His grace. The exercises allow us to place ourselves before God so that He can transform us. Richard Foster in his book "Celebration of Discipline" challenges us to "be among those who believe that the inner transformation of our lives is a goal worthy of our best efforts."

The rewards of physical exercise especially for women are often a slimmer waist, better health and possibly looking better in our clothes. I know I have persevered through physical exercise so I could achieve better health and a toner body. I have learned that I needed to put the same or more effort into my spiritual exercises.

The rewards of practicing the spiritual exercises are many and can be summed up by saying: We will have FREEDOM to know scripture to do God's Will, to express the Character of Christ, and FREEDOM from ourselves (our sinful nature).

Are you ready to develop your walk and devotion to Christ? You may already participate in some of the exercises, are you open to learning new ones? Come along for a great journey as you "taste and see that the Lord is good" Psalms 34:8


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Be Transformed:

Here at KESWICK our motto is: Where God Transforms Lives. Oh, how true that is and what amazing transformations we see. Not only does God do mighty things in the lives of the colony men, but we also see it in conference guests and staff alike.

God uses at least 3 different catalysts to change us.

1. PEOPLE: "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Prov. 27:17 Colony men help colony men, staff helps colony men, colony men grow and challenge staff, staff challenges each other and the dynamics go on. So it is in all other avenues of life - people either help us grow or they can be negative influence on our lives. Are you placing yourself around those Christians that can help you grow? Do you have a mentor or accountability partner? Are you surrounded by Christian friends that can help you through the ups and downs of life?

2. CIRCUMSTANCES: "And we know that all things work for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Rom. 8:28 Another very true and powerful statement even if we don't believe it when we are going through trials. I have a college friend that has lost 10 babies to miscarriages, still births, and twins in the first 2 days of their precious lives. No one knows why and at the time it was very tough, but in turn she has taken in special need foster children, has had 3 of her own and now has an amazing ministry to women going through the same trials. The circumstances were not good, but God turned them into good as she ministers to others.

3. EXERCISE: "Have nothing to do with Godless myths and old wives' tales; rather exercise yourself to be godly. For physical exercise is of some value, but Godliness has value for all things." 1 Tim. 4:7 As an athlete hardens their body, testing it to the limits, so that it will respond under stress; our bodies must be kept in Spiritual bounds to effectively serve our faith and be fruitful. I'd like to follow up on this devotional with several more on the various ways that we can exercise ourselves unto Godliness.


Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Zipity do Dah!

Do you remember that song? It has become rather famous over the years. The great thing about that song is that it is very hard to sing it with a frown on your face. It is all about enjoying life and celebrating all those beautiful things in our lives. In the 80's we had a song called "Celebrate" not so profound and it only talked about the good times.

God asks us to have Zipity do Dah days every day. He calls us to celebration and joy. Not just in the good times, but at all times. Phil. 4:4 "Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoice". Do we really apply that verse or just quote it? It is one of those easier said than done type of verses. I know personally it can be a real struggle when calling life joyful is rather difficult. The great thing about God is that he knows that so he tells us that it's his joy that can be our joy when we need it. "The Joy of the Lord is our Strength" Neh. 8:10

St. Augustine wrote:

"A Christian should be an alleluia from head to foot."

Check out these verses:

"Our mouth was filled with laugher, and our tongue with shouts of joy."
Psalms 126.2a

"...continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name."
Hebrews 13:15

"These things I have written to you that you Joy may be full."
John 15:1

Are you filled with joy? Do people know that you have the joy of the Lord, or are you strung out from life's pressures and struggle to experience joy? In Christ, we have so much to be joyful about. Remember that nothing happens today that God is not in control of and that nothing compares with the eternity we will spend with Him if Christ is our Lord and Savior.


Monday, August 01, 2005

The Goodness in Suffering

Quite awhile ago I was diagnosed with a muscle disorder that has changed my lifestyle and my reliance on God. I do not say this for sympathy, but until this came about in my life I was not in tuned to how much God works through our personal sufferings and struggles.

2 Corinthians 1:3-11 are great verses which lay out some of the biblical reasons for suffering.

Vs 4: “who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” When we go through troubles it prepares and enables us to help others through their struggles. God is the God of all comfort; he provides all that we need to get through any storm. Rest in Him and Look to Him!

Vs. 5: “For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” All consolation comes through Christ’s suffering for us. Thorough his pain
he understands our pain. The power he had to deal with his suffering, ridicule, rejection is totally available to us through our relationship with Him.

Vs. 6: “If we are distressed it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.” Oh the benefits we enjoy because we suffer. First we can find God and a deeper relationship with him. We also learn how to endure and it develops in us a greater level of patience. We do not learn these things unless we are put into situations that teach us to be patient and to look to Him instead of ourselves.

Vs. 9: “Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. Are you ready to fully rely on God, who has the power to bring people back from the dead? We surely can not do that, so why not rely on Him. Once I realized that I could only face my struggles and pain to Him I was able to focus on what to do, how to respond and how to rest in Him.

Vs. 10-11: “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”
Through sufferings we learn the value of prayer, see the answer to prayers and can then give glorious thanks to God for what He has done. Answers do not always have the result we want, but they always have the result God wants for us and that is so much better. I know that God may always choose to give me my physical pain and limitations; however I have learned that God is using it for new service and ministry to others in chronic pain or even temporary pain.

It does not matter how or what you suffer – God will comfort and sustain you and you can grow through the experience if you choose to rely on Him.