Friday, December 30, 2005

I Would If I Could

This year I began a new DVD collection of the TV drama "Little House on the Prairie". A couple of nights ago, as I watched for the first time, the following scene played out during one of the episodes. In this scene Mary and Laura have had an encounter with their nemesis Nellie Olson. (She's one of those characters in any drama that you can't stand the moment you lay eyes on her.) Nellie was just plain old mean-spirited and full of herself. She had no problem bragging on or flaunting the fruit of her father's labor in front on anyone unfortunate enough to be within hearing range of her whiny voice. And she seemed to take an extra degree of satisfaction from any distress she could bring upon Mary and Laura Ingalls.
It was after one of these encounters with Nellie that the two girls found themselves sitting on the front steps of the store owned by Nellie's father.
Mary sat in stunned disbelief over the meanness of this character and says to her sister, Laura, "I could never be that mean."
Without missing a beat, pipes right up and say, "Oh I could." After a brief pause she remarks, "If mom and dad would let me."
Right away, I thought to myself, "So could I!"

In fact on any given day, I could do any number of things according to the dictates of my flesh and in my own, stubborn willfulness be as anxious as Laura to slap Nellie silly. What stops me? (What stops you?) In part, yes, it's my mom and dad. They raised me much better than that and I am often conscious of the fact that I don't want to do anything to bring shame down on them.
More than that though, I am stopped cold by the spirit alive and constantly at work within my members. Apart from the saving Gospel, which is to say, -apart from Christ Jesus dying on the cross to save me from the penalty of my sin, there is no telling who or what I would be at this point in my life and just like Laura in this beginning episode, I would if I could.

Oh Lord, thank you for your mercy even when we sin. I ask that we would clearly see when we are wrong and be quick to seek your forgiveness. Show us the way to worship you with true passion and show us how to love the unlovely you have sovereignly placed in our lives.

Stephanie P

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Small Group Leaders Conference

At the end of October I went to a "Small Group Leaders Conference" with a group of people from my church. From beginning to end I was blessed by the hearing of truth; truth spoken by men who are passionate about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and profoundly grateful for their salvation. I was simultaneously awed and humbled by their obvious passion for Holy Scripture. I don't know many people like this. In fact, I am not like this!

What happened? When did I allow complacency to set up house in my life and mediocrity to tend the gardens of my soul? There is no answer that I am all that comfortable in sharing with you at the moment. But I am glad; very glad indeed that, I serve a good God - a God who is faithful and just to forgive me my sins and to cleanse me from all, all, all, all unrighteousness! Glory! If I didn't believe this, what would be the point to anything I say or do in my ministry?

During the entire conference we were continually encouraged to make the Gospel the main thing. Everything else is secondary to:

* passionate pursuit of relationship with the God of scripture
* passion for the application of truth
* passion for the practice of obedience

The last thing on the list stung me very deep because anyone who knows me up close and personal knows that I do not like being told what to do. Ouch! Ouch again! It's true. More often than not I need to go before the Lord before I can obey with the right heart attitude. I wish I could say it ain't so, but, alas I cannot.

But sisters, let me tell you, I thank God over and over again for those never ending moments of grace that He lavishes upon me in the form of remembrance. When I bow my head seeking Him for help, He ever so lovingly reminds me of who He is. He gives me very brief but clear snapshots of who I was and who I am apart from His grace and kindness in my life and apart from His own Sons obedience.

My prayer for you today and always is that you lay yourself out at the feet of Jesus and seek Him for a brand new desire to pursue Him with a passion you haven't know since you first fell in love. Repent of any sin in your life. Allow your heart and mind to be renewed by passionate, vigorous application of truth.

Stephanie P.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A Helping Hand When You re Tired

Exodus 17:10-12 (CEV)
"The Israelites out-fought the Amalekites as long as Moses held up his arms. But they started to lose whenever he had to lower them. Finally, Moses was so tired that Aaron and Hur got a rock for him to sit on. Then the stood beside him and supported his arms in the same position until sunset."

There are a number of things in these two verses that immediately catch my attention.
* There is a serious battle raging
* Moses depends on the Lord
* With his hands lifted up Moses prays, prays, prays, prays
* Moses' hands get tired
* Moses had two faithful friends who supported his weary hands until the sun went down and the battle was won.

Wow! I have a lump in my throat even now as I think about that last point. The very idea; the thought, of someone standing in the gap with you until...

Sister. Friend. Are you at a place in life where you are weary and wondering how oh how, you are going to get through? Is there a battle raging in your home, heart or life that threatens to undo you? And lest we be too self-focused, I must also ask you to consider the people in your sphere of influence. Is there one among them whose hands are tired and need your support?

Dear sister there are two things I encourage you to do and see.
To do:
* Pray! Pray! Pray and ask for help! Don't allow pride or any other thing to rob your strength for another second!
* I urge you not to be slow in offering that place to sit and rest.
To see:
* See that not a single one of us can get through life without help.
* See that the main thing; the most important thing written in verse 15 is "Moses built and altar and named it, '"The Lord Gives Me Victory'".

Moses explains, "This is because I depended on the Lord...". Our bottom line, now and always - we don't get through on our own. We must press in and remember that God is our banner and shield and it is He alone who sustains us.

Stephanie P.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Who Are YOU?

One of my favorite TV shows is CSI and the big question is usually who are they? What happened? So, that's my question to you ~ Who are YOU? Do you know? Would others be able to tell us?

Maybe those are tough questions for you to think about. Think about this...

You are a child of God (John 1:12)
You are Christ's Friend (John 15:15)
You are a joint heir with Christ, sharing His inheritance with Him (Rom 8:17)
You are a temple - a dwelling place - of God. His Spirit and His life dwells in me (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19)
You are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17)
You are a saint (Eph. 1:1; 1 Cor. 1:2; Phil. 1:1; Col 1:2)
You are a fellow citizen with the rest of God's family (Eph. 2:19)
You are righteous and holy (Eph. 4:24)
You are a citizen of heaven, seated in heaven right now (Phil 3:20)
You are chosen of God, holy and dearly loved (Col. 3:12; 1 Thess 1:4)
You are one of God's living stones, being built up in Christ as a spiritual house (1 Pet. 2:5)

Next time someone wants to know about you or who you are - why don't you answer with one of the above statements.


Monday, December 26, 2005

The Heartbeat of God

Last week we considered God's call for unity within His church. We are
called to live in a community with one heart, one mind, one goal, one
purpose, one Spirit. Oh, sister, can you hear the heartbeat of God? Can
you sense His passion for his Children? For His church?

Unity will require that you and I die to our own agendas, our own
preferences, our own desires. We need to choose to die to self and live for
God. After all, it's not about you and it's not about me. It's about Him.
It's His church. It's His glory that needs to shine forth in a dark,
sin-filled world drawing lost sinners to the Light.

Let me encourage you to make this your prayer, "Now may the God of patience
and comfort grant (us) to be like-minded toward one another, according to
Christ Jesus, that (we) may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 15:5. (parenthetical modifications

I'm going to leave you with this thought: "Behold, how good and how pleasant
it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." Psalm 133:1

Friday, December 23, 2005

A Week of Unity

This week we have been thinking about unity among believers in Jesus Christ.
As I consider the things that hinder unity in our churches three things come to mind, gossip, pride and unforgiveness. Let�s consider each separately:
Gossip �I was visiting my sister�s church one Sunday when the pastor asked everyone that had ever been hurt by gossip to please stand up. Many, many people rose to their feet. As we all stood there for a few minutes feeling somewhat vindicated, Pastor Joe paused a few moments before proceeding. His next statement was, �Those of you standing that have never gossiped against another, please sit down.� WOW! Caught! I couldn�t sit down, neither could the others standing there. Gossip is destructive in many ways and it certainly prevents unity. �Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.� Proverbs 26:20; �A perverse man sows strife, And a whisperer separates the best of friends.� Proverbs 16:28
Your home, relationships and church can be change by your choices. Today, decide to stop gossiping. Don�t gossip personally and refuse to let gossip take place in your presence. As your commitment catches on, it will transform your church. Imagine�a church where gossip does not happen. Our churches should be zero-tolerance zones.
Pride � I have already discussed this in a Victory Call earlier in the week (12.21.05) but let me expand a little more today. Pride is a real hindrance to unity because it sports a �me first� attitude. Unity requires an �others first� attitude. Pride is unbending and self-serving. Unity requires flexibility, willingness to compromise and a body-serving spirit. Pride interferes with the outpouring of God�s grace. Unity requires humility upon which God pours his grace. Pride is about making my name famous. Unity is about making Christ�s name famous. �I� beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.� Ephesians 4:1-3; �Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for �God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.� 1 Peter 5:5.
Unforgiveness -- unforgiveness, not repented of, eventually becomes bitterness and resentment, spiritual cancers. �Bitterness shouldn�t be embraced, worked through, or understood�it needs to be repented of.� (Elyse Fitzpatrick � Women Helping Women). Hebrews 12:14-15, �Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled� Unforgiveness and bitterness are devastating to unity. Bitterness isolates, unity, well, unifies.
Your decision and commitment to unity can make a difference. Take God at His word and, �as much as depends on you, live at peace with all men.� Romans 12:18

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Be kindly affectionate to one

Romans 12:10-11, "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence..."

This week we have been considering God's call to unity among believers and within the body of Christ. How different we would be from the world simply by being like-minded and pursuing unity. Unity should be one characteristic of the Church that draws people in. How can we expect people to be drawn to the Gospel of Jesus Christ if it doesn't appear to make in difference in lives?
Our theme verse this week is Romans 12:4-18. I could write a month's worth of Victory Call's on these verses alone. There are a lot of rich practical truths in this section of Scripture. I see twenty practical insights that, if implemented, facilitate unity. I am only pointing out a few so I want to suggest you take a few minutes and read them for your self.
We are encouraged to not lag in diligence. I'm sure there are other applications of this truth but one I think we need to be reminded of is that we need to be women of our word. When we say we are going to do something, let's do it even when the excitement of the moment has passed.
I have lied to people. It wasn't my intention to lie to them but I told them I was going to do something that I ended up not doing; so the bottom line is I lied to them.
Being women who do not lag in diligence marks us with the character of Jesus Christ and sets us apart from the world. People of integrity, honesty and reliability are building blocks of a church characterized by unity.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Unity in the Body

Unity in the Body
Romans 12: 5, 10, "so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one preference to one another."
Giving preference to one another is vital to unity in the body. When you really think about it, what is the opposite of giving preference to others? Giving preference to ourselves otherwise known as selfishness or pride. "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself." Philippians 2:3.
Giving preference to one another is going to require that we deny self - "Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me." Matthew 16:24. It will also require humility - "Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'"1 Peter 5:5.
We need to be more passionate about God's agenda than our own. Are you willing to put off self preference and put on giving preference to one another so that God's name will be glorified in the unity of the body?
From the pastor/elder/deacon to the person that sits in the last pew, body life is not about us, it is about Jesus Christ the Head of the church.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Unity in the Body

Romans 12:5, 9, "so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another...Let love be without hypocrisy."

God commands us to love one another. "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another." John 13:34. "And above all things have fervent love for one another..." 1 Peter 4:8.
One of the aspects of body unity is being real. Our love for others is not put on, contrived, or hypocritical. Rather it is the love of Christ flowing FROM us as we overflow with His love FOR us. By faith, we can reach out and love one another. Love is an act of our will. Taking a quick look at 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." Every aspect of Biblical love is active, practical and real. Nowhere does it connect loving others with feelings of love. Love may require we act contrary to our emotions.
Unity requires loving others, in faith, by the power the Holy Spirit despite how we feel.

My challenge for you is, as far as it is up to you, put on unity and put off division for the Name and Glory of Christ.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Approaching Christmas

This week as we approach Christmas we are going to consider God's call to live in community within the Church. How do we realistically achieve unity in the Body of Christ? Some people are difficult to warm up to, and frankly sometimes we are difficult to warm up to. Yet we are called to pursue unity,"with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to kept the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." Ephesians 4:2-6
I believe one reason God calls us to unity is because is it so contrary to the world. Left to our own devices we express independent, self-serving attitudes and agendas. How do I know that? Because that is what the world does without Christ. Christ is about unity. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28. Satan is about division. "For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?" 1 Corinthians 3:3.
God wants us to stand apart from the rest of the world making His name famous by doing so. God spoke to His people through Moses, "The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you,if you keep the commandments of the Lord Your God and walk in His ways. Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord..." Deuteronomy 28:9-10.
We love and serve the One True God, may it be known through our unity.


Friday, December 16, 2005


So often in life I hear the words... I can't or I'm not able. To me that is equivalent to being bound and tied. If you want to enjoy life to its fullest and be all that God wants you to be - you need to live with an I CAN Attitude.

If Christ is your Savior... then...

You can do all things. (Phil 4:13)
You have no FEAR (2 Tim. 1:7)
God leads you in Triumph (2 Cor. 2:14)
There is no bondage in the Lord. (2 Cor. 3:17; Gal 5:1)
You are not condemned (Rom. 8:1)
No one can be against you because God is with you (Rom 8:31)
You are more than a conqueror in all things (Rom 8:37)
Jesus give you strength to take action (Ps. 27:1; Dan 11:32)
God will supply all your needs (Phil 4:19)
Greater is He that is in you - than He that is in the world (1 John 4:4)
You never walk alone (Matt. 28:20; Heb 13:5)

Remember who HE is and what he gives to you and you can experience the abundant life. I hope you start right now today.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

He is Worthy

Recently in my preparation for Higher Ground, I was reading the lesson in Jerry Bridges book, The Joy of Fearing God. Chapter 14, titled "He is Worthy" is about fearing God through our worship. Bridges makes the distinction between our Sunday morning corporate worship in church and the worship of our daily lives.
We were encouraged to read and meditate on God through His word with such Scriptures as Isaiah 6:1-8, Isaiah 40, Daniel 4:34-35, Psalm 104 and 1 John 4: 8-10 (pg. 235). Let me encourage you to do the same.

Here is another Scripture of worship:

Therefore David blessed the LORD before all the assembly; and David said:

10"Blessed are You, LORD God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever.
11Yours, O LORD, is the greatness,
The power and the glory,
The victory and the majesty;
For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours;
Yours is the kingdom, O LORD,
And You are exalted as head over all.
12 Both riches and honor come from You,
And You reign over all.
In Your hand is power and might;
In Your hand it is to make great
And to give strength to all.
13 "Now therefore, our God,
We thank You
And praise Your glorious name.
14 But who am I, and who are my people,
That we should be able to offer so willingly as this?
For all things come from You,
And of Your own we have given You.
What hinders you from full, free, unabashed, reverent worship of God? Confess it.
What needs to change so that you may worship with all of your life? Change it.
What do you have to be thankful for today? Give thanks.
Join me in a journey to fear God with a life characterized by true worship for HE IS WORTHY.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

What is on your refrigerator?

What is on your refrigerator? I didn't ask what is inside. I mean what is on the outside? When I visit a home, I love to look at all the photos, art work of the children (or grandchildren), or anything and everyone that is "special" to the family. I looked at my own refrigerator and noticed how many items we have. A lot! We have our sons and their families, my only sister and her family, my husband's family, and many children of the friends we love. There are a few missionaries and Bible verses, also. Every photo is held by a magnet of some kind, also special to me. All these photos are of those we love, and we are reminded to pray for each of them by name!

As I was reading the book, "The Glory of Christmas", by Charles Swindoll, Max Lucado and Chuck Colson, I couldn't believe what was written for that day by Max Lucado. He said, "God saves you to bring glory to Himself. If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it!" John 3:16 tells us how special we are to Him! Max brought out that God's Christmas gift was sent to you in Bethlehem - Jesus, His Son - Matthew 2:1. Although He could live anywhere in the universe, He chooses to live in your heart - that's how special you are! Have you asked Him to come in?

Many Christmas cards come to our house each year, and I love each one. We will receive many new photos in them. I'll update some old and add the new to our refrigerator, and continue to pray. We need to upgrade our spiritual growth as we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives. God's word gives us the fruit of the Spirit to apply to our daily growing - Galatians 5:22-24. He prays for us - Romans 8:26. The Holy Spirit pours God's love into our hearts - Romans 5:5 and John 14:16-17. When others look as us, not just our refrigerator, but where ever we go and whatever we do, are they seeing us glorify God?
Remember you are special to God, you are His family, His friend, and He loves you and wants others to see that you are His child. Glorify Him today!

May I add - His love is the strong magnet that holds us to Him.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Decisions, Decisions..

I can't make up my mind; I don't know what to do. I will have to think about this. I need more time. There are too many choices. There aren't enough choices. What if I choose the wrong one? What if?... just reading this paragraph could make somebody nervous!
Every day life is full of decisions, we've got them ranging in importance from what do I make for breakfast to what kind of car should I buy to which course of medical treatment should I use, to is this person "the One".
Some of us are quick to make some decisions, some slow. Some of us like to stay on the fence and act like we've made a decision but in fact we're ready to go either way with the wind. (The bible calls that being a double-minded person, unstable in their ways, doubters. James 1:8)
I, at one moment or another, could fall into any of the above descriptions. I do have a bent toward being one to decide quickly, especially the small stuff. It's funny though, sometimes deciding how I want my hair cut can be well, a hair-raising experience for me (pardon the pun)!
When it comes to the big stuff, I will tend to take more time even though I already have some thoughts on which way I "want" to go. I will pray, ask a close friend, maybe seek advice from my pastor, maybe even professional counsel. But the first thing I always find myself doing is searching the scriptures for a word and praying for Him to speak to my heart. That is crucial to me, I feel totally lost if I have no direction which way He wants me to go. I feel empowered when I KNOW what He wants, because I KNOW it's right. He makes no mistakes and I can trust Him. Now I admit I don't always "want" to do it, and I struggle, but I am always doing the right thing when I yield and do it. It's amazing the power the Lord gives us to do His will, I sometimes look back at a situation and say "well Lord it was all you", because I know it's not something I alone could have accomplished.
Now it's the stuff in the middle that can be a little confusing, it's not a big decision, it's not a minor one either, it's sort of somewhere in the so called gray area. (I don't believe in gray areas by the way.) So how do we make these middle of the line decisions? I believe God's word is full of discernment and wisdom, when we study it the Lord hides it in our hearts so that, by faith, at just the moment we need it,He will bring His direction and wisdom to mind, and we will know what to do. He will teach us His ways, line upon line precept upon precept. (Isaiah 28:13)
In Exodus 28 there is a description of the garments worn by the high priest, one of the items was called the breastplate for making decisions and on it were symbols of light and integrity (called Urim and Thummim), it is believed to signify that the high priest, having on him this breast-plate, and asking counsel of God in any emergency relating to the public, should be directed to take those measures, and give that advice, which God would own. But now through Jesus Christ we have direct access to His light and integrity and advice which He will own.

Dina Seaton

Monday, December 12, 2005

Diffuse Your Fuse

James 1:19-20 "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring the righteous life that God desires."

I don't know about you, but I do get angry and sometimes I do the right thing and other times I let it get the best of me. Many of us only struggle occasionally with anger issues, but for others it is continuous problem. We know from Christ that anger itself is not bad; in fact, it can be very healthy as it can move us to action. As a counselor I know is that often the underlying issue for many is anger, either suppressed or expressed.

Here are a few steps that can help you Diffuse Your Fuse.

1. Resolve to manage it. (Proverbs 29:11)
A fool gives vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.
2. Remember the Cost.
An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot tempered man commits many sins. (Proverbs 29:22)
The fool who provokes his family to anger and resentment will finally have nothing worthwhile left. (Proverbs 11:29)
3. Reflect before you React (Quick to Listen)
4. Restrain your Remarks (Slow to Speak)
If you want to stay out of trouble, be careful what you say. Proverbs 21:23
A gentle answer quiets anger, but a harsh one stirs it up. Prov. 15:1
5. Release your anger appropriately (Slow to Anger)
Gal 5:22 ~ The fruit of the spirit is... patience
6. Rely on Christ help daily.

Jesus wants to heal your hurt with His love, He wants to replace your frustrations with His peace and He wants to calm your fear with His power.


Friday, December 09, 2005

God is faithful

1 Corinthians 1:9, "God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."

Plain and simple, sometimes it is difficult to make time to spend time with the Lord. Sometimes when we make the time, we read the Bible and pray but don't feel like we got anything out of it. I find when I am reading Scripture, a dozen things are vying for my attention, nothing that can't wait but none-the-less my mind wanders. This morning I decided that every time I found my mind wandering I would restart the section I was reading. I must have restarted 8-12 times!!!
I think we often approach our quiet times as a necessary discipline for our personal spiritual growth. Is it vital to our relationship with Jesus Christ? Absolutely! But there is another aspect we rarely consider. In the little booklet, "My Heart Christ's Home" Robert Boyd Munger writes as if Jesus is speaking,
"He (Jesus) said, 'The trouble with you is this: You have been thinking of the quiet time, of the Bible Study and prayer time, as a factor in your own spiritual progress, but you have forgotten that this hour mean something to me also. Remember, I love you. I have redeemed you at a great cost. I desire your fellowship. Now,' he said, 'do no neglect this hour if only for my sake. Whatever else may be your desire, remember I want your fellowship.'"
Stop and consider that a moment. God wants fellowship with you. The Creator of the universe, the All-sufficient, Almighty, and Sustainer of that universe desires fellowship with you. Savor that thought. I mean it, close your eyes and drink in the love of Jesus that causes Him to desire fellowship with you.

Are you going to leave Him waiting?


Thursday, December 08, 2005

One Sent

That's what a guest here once told me, she came up to the front desk and asked me for fifty pennies in exchange for two quarters for the children's ministry meeting. She said I need one cent for each child, because that's what a missionary is; it is "One Sent".
She also showed me a very worn Italian Bible, and on the cover it read; La Sacra Bibbia, The Holy Bible. She and her husband were here that week sharing about their work as you guessed it, missionaries in Italy. I thought it was interesting how the Lord just "happened" to send this lady here, and I just "happened" to be the one to help her and she just "happened" to live in Italy. When she said those words; "one sent" it made me want to hear her say more. I never did have the opportunity to do that while she was here.
For me it was a reminder of something the Lord told me to do that I put on the back burner for a while. (Can you imagine, He speaks to my heart and I put it on the back burner. Sometimes I make myself so mad!) He simply said this: "I want you to learn how to speak Italian". My first response was Why? And to who? I have always wanted to go to Italy, actually to Sicily, which is where my family is originally from.
My parents did speak Italian to each other once in a while and some other relatives as well. They played a lot of Italian opera in our house, and as I remember it was really a beautiful sound. I started researching the area and talking to my mom about what she might remember (which was a lot), and I began to have a burden for them and a passion to learn this language so I started to pray about it. Once while in prayer I asked the Lord; "Lord I know you want me to learn this, but if I do I would soon loose it because I have no one to speak it to." And to that He said, "I wouldn't have you learn it and then give you no one to speak it to." It was like a light went on, of course how silly of me, His patience with us never ceases to amaze me!
Since then I have found what I hope to be a really good language program and hope to be well on the way to learning Italian. My first goal would be to learn how to give my testimony in Italian. I still don't know why, where or when He intends to use that but I want to be ready when He does. How thankful we can be that
God's truth is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow in any language!

Giovanni 3:16
Poiche` Dio ha tanto amato il mondo, che ha dato il suo unigenito Figlio, affinche` chiunque crede in lui non perisca, ma abbia vita eterna.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Therefore encourage one another

1 Thessalonians 5:11 "Therefore encourage one another."

I have been going through boxes of memories! I am a saver, today I'm glad I was (still am). What I did save was what I needed today - words of encouragement.
1 Thessalonians was recorded in God's Word for a reason.

God knew we would need to be reminded to 'encourage one another". Whom have you encouraged lately? It is a gift to someone who needs to hear from you; and it's free! It might cost a stamp or a phone call, but its value can't be priced. What about a family member, your pastor, a friend, or perhaps a stranger who has influenced your life in some way?

Recently we had visitors in our home that we haven't seen for over 25 years. They were teen-agers in 1990, and now are moms and serving the Lord. They were part of our former ministry to youth. Their encouragement to my husband, and me was better than medicine for our lives. God is good! I just purchased another "Real Victory for Real Life" at our Keswick bookstore. It is a daily meditation for Victorious Living. I know I'm a little late in my purchases, since we only have the months of November and December left for the year. However, this is my tenth copy. It seems after each purchase, I find someone to whom I pass it on, who loves it. If I can keep this one, I can continue to use it in 2006 (must tell you - it's gone too!).

A devotional does not take the place of your Bible; it's added daily help. I opened to the words written by a friend, Rev. Gary Dickenson. It read, "Everybody in your life today: family, friends, co-workers, even total strangers, need encouragement!" Wow, just what God had revealed to me! God had that planned.

I have written to three people and have called two. I trust God has used you today as He had reminded me in His Word and the Keswick devotional, "Encourage one another". Guess what! It will encourage you too, I know it just did!


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Check the Source

"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world." 1 John 4:1

Today there are so many doctrines and beliefs out there that may appear to come from God, but they are distorted and actually draw us away from the true God. A family member is involved in a cult church that does not accept all of scripture and has bought into a false prophet and view of God and Christ. My husband and I know that it is very important to follow the command of 2 Timothy 2:15 "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." See, we know how much Satan would really like to draw us away from the truth, so we need to know the Word. Unless we are students of the Word and Truth we will in no way be able to communicate the true gospel to our family member. There are no verses in scripture that tells us that there will be additional revelations by Jesus himself. The best way to test any alleged teaching is to compare what it says about the person and work of Jesus against what Jesus reveals about himself in the Bible. Staying grounded in Scripture and looking only to scripture keeps Satan at bay and we become untouchable.

1 Timothy 4:1 "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;"

Matt 24:24 "For these shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if possible, they shall deceive the very elect."

2 Tim 3:15 "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Al scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; That the man of God may be perfect thoroughly furnished unto all good works."

1 Peter 5:8 "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour"

Are you grounded or are you vulnerable to the deceptions of Satan?


Monday, December 05, 2005

The "S" word can make most of us stumble.

"Submission". Now girls, don't stop reading here! Diane and I were joking back and forth with emails one day and the above statement she made had me thinking. It really is so true, as a woman I want to be all that God wants me to be, but... I don't always want to submit to Him. In thinking about that it's not a very wise choice for me to make, I mean why wouldn't I want to submit myself to the Lord in all things? I've submitted my very soul to His eternal care, so what's the problem with my time, my money, my work, my relationships, my thoughts, my words, my dreams, my plans...wait a minute this is starting to sound like He wants my whole life! And He does.
The problem is that sometimes I stumble. It's interesting to read the definition of the word:
stum-ble: to miss one's step in walking or running; trip and almost fall, to proceed unsteadily, flounder, to act or speak falteringly or clumsily, to make a mistake, blunder, to fall into evil ways. Ok, none of that sounds appealing.

Now for the other definition:
Submission: the act of submitting to the power of another.

The biblical perspective of course is the act of submitting all things to the power of the Almighty God who loves me, who died for me, who rose for me, who sings over me, who delights in me, who chastens me, who goes before me, who prepares a place for me in His house, who listens for my cry, who hears me, who answers me, who knitted me together in my mother's womb, who knew my name before He laid the foundations of the earth, who numbers the hairs of my head, who knows I am but a breath, who separated my sins from me as far as the east is from the west and remembers them no more, whose thoughts toward me number more than all the grains of sand, thoughts of good and not of evil with plans for a future and a hope, who I can trust.
Now does "Submission" sound good? I think so too. And I think I will remind myself of His love for me every time I have to choose between the "S" words.

James 4:6-7,
But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.



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Friday, December 02, 2005

In the evening, before going to sleep

In the evening, before going to sleep, I periodically read, Streams in the Dessert by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman. The devotional for November 15th concludes with the following paragraph:
Difficulties and obstacles are God's challenges to faith.
When hindrances confront us in the path of duty, we
are to recognize them as vessels for faith to fill with
the fullness and all-sufficiency of Jesus; and as we go
forward, simply and fully trusting Him, we may be
tested, we may have to wait and let patience have her
perfect work; but we shall surely find at last the stone
rolled away, and the Lord waiting to render unto us
double for our time of testing" (A.B. Simpson, pg. 335).

When I read this that evening, my mind immediately went to the Victory Calls I wrote for November (7-11) "When God Shows Up". What Simpson is saying here, in a much more powerful way, is that when we press through the trials, press through the testings, when we wait patiently for God, He shows up. He rolls away the stone and renders us double blessings for the time of testing. Amen and Amen.
When we wait upon God, however long it takes, we are doubly blessed for having done so. Don't rush ahead of God and try to roll the stone away on your own, all it will get you is exhausted. The stone is there for a reason. Ask God to help you embrace it as His will for your life, today. By tomorrow it may be gone, with glorious rays of Son warming your face once again.


Thursday, December 01, 2005

always be ready to give a defense

"Sanctify the Lord God in you hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear." 1 Peter 3:15

Let me begin with the premise that I support our president. If you do not, please read on anyway because my point is much more significant (I hope) that who is in the Whitehouse.

I have a confession to make..... In the past two weeks as I have been out and about doing errands, I have been appalled at the boldness of the anti-Bush proponents. Just yesterday, I was the post office. A man was entering at the same time as I was and he made a comment about the beautiful weather to which I responded in kind mentioning that it was supposed to be cold by tomorrow. Without skipping a beat, this man said, "When are they going to get us out of the mess in Iraq? The country is broke, 500 billion in debt. Bush sure has made a mess of things." I wish I could say I responded by saying, "Well, actually sir, I am thankful we have a man in the Whitehouse with integrity, honesty, humility and morality." Or even a simple, "You're talking to the wrong person. I support Bush." But instead, I said, ..................................nothing. Nothing! I clammed right up. I know there are a few Bush supporters out there that would speak up and perhaps you are one of them but most of us act like we are mute. At least I do.
My confession ... I'm a wimp.
As I am writing this Victory Call, I am reminded of a Sunday school class I was in about 8 or 10 years ago. We were discussing whether we would deny Christ if we were persecuted or if our family would come to harm if we did not. I was shocked that most of the men and women said they would deny Christ because He knew their hearts and would forgive them.
Sitting here at my keyboard, I realize I am no different than they. I didn't even stand up for our president and neither my family nor I was in any danger. If I clam up when someone disagrees with my politics what will I do when someone challenges my faith?

"Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven." Matthew 10-32-33.