Friday, March 31, 2006



Growing up I had a lot of brothers and sisters and mom and dad. My siblings range in age from 62 to 38(that's me). There is six years difference between the sixth child and myself. Most of my playmates as a child were actually my nieces and nephews. It was kind of cool being referred to as Aunt Dee when I was five years old.
Dad and mom both worked, so after school one of my older siblings kept an eye on me, but I spent a lot of time occupying myself (mostly with an extensive Barbie collection).
Obviously I had a lot of time on my little hands. I used to like to sit and ponder things, still do. In our house we had a big mirror that hung behind our couch which I would peer into. I'd get close and stare at myself as long as I possibly could and then ask myself as I looked in the mirror, "Why are you here?" And then as no answer came, I found myself frightened as if I had to go away and do something else to get my mind off the question. It was a deep question, not why am I on this couch, or in this house but why am I in the world, what is my purpose here?
Eventually I stopped doing that. It wasn't until about twenty-eight years later that the answer to the question came. I was in my pastor's office and had been blessed with eyes to see and ears to hear, as I had just received Jesus Christ as my Savior. In the very next moments HE spoke to my heart and said; "You're here for ME." It was God confirming in my heart that what just took place was real and so was HE.
God was there in that room with me as a child, He knew my question and my heart. At the exact moment He ordained before the beginning of time HE answered my question. Later on that evening I took my little boy and cuddled up with him in mommy's big bed and as I laid my head down on the pillow I knew for the first time that I could go to sleep in peace, God was with us and HE was never leaving.

Matthew 1:22-23 (NKJV)
So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," Which is translated, "God with us."


Thursday, March 30, 2006

Is God There?

Is God There?
"After attending church one Sunday morning, a little boy knelt at his bedside that night and prayed, "Dear God, we had a good time at church today--but I wish you had been there." -- Source Unknown
When I read this statement today, it was for me a pause and think moment. Right away I felt something that resonated with that phrase. I can think of countless times when I've sat in church and had the same longing, "I wish God was here!"
I also thought about the dozen or so conversations I've had with people who wish they could stay here at Keswick and never go home. Why? Because they all had a perception about Keswick wherein they concluded that "God was here" and if being here meant I could "feel" God, then why leave.
The older I get in the Lord, the more experiences I have which fit into both of the scenes mentioned above -wishing God was wherever I felt He wasn't, and wishing I could sit still forever where I felt His presence to be.
Praise God for the wisdom and knowledge that only time can bring. Thank God I have learned that He is way bigger than my feelings. Walking closer and closer to God is teaching me that He is never, not near and He is always present in the Holy Spirit who lives and breathes in me. Halleluiah!!!
The surest way that I know that I can feel and know that God is near is to praise Him. He inhabits the praises of His people!!
"But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel" -Psalms 22:3
The truth is we long for heaven. The longing we have to feel Him, to feel nearer to Him, to feel connected to Him can and will never be fully satisfied until we are home with Jesus. What we can do until then is to praise Him in the midst of every triumph and every single trial, no matter how rough it is. Praise Him, not only for what He has done but oh, dear one, praise Him for Who He Is!!

He didn't leave us to settle for a sometimes feeling of His Presence, in church, or at any other place. As sure as He is who He says He is -He, the Lord of the Ages, has left us with a tangible Presence in the Person of the Holy Spirit. In this Presence we can know that we know that we know that He is here.

Whatever trouble is present in your today, trust that He is in it and Praise Him, in spite of it.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

. . . love thinks no evil

. . . love thinks no evil
(I Corinthians.13:5 - NKJ)

Nearly everyone is familiar with the great "love chapter", I Corinthians 13. We've heard it many times at wedding ceremonies, couple's conferences, preached from the pulpit on special occasions, and have read it on plaques and greeting cards in Christian bookstores.

The words become so familiar, that we almost seem to forget that these are words spoken by the Spirit of the Most High God. They are more than mere sentiment or a beautifully written poem. We forget that this chapter is God's instruction to believers about how to love one another; how to love as Christ loves the Church; how to love as Jesus loves.

Are we really being disobedient to the will of the Lord when we violate this teaching, or are we just so familiar with the words, that we overlook the true meaning of God's instruction and life application?

As the Lord began to reveal the importance of Chapter 13 in my life, my focus rested upon verse 5 . . . love thinks no evil. Four simple words presenting themselves to me as a life challenge.

The Lord's example to me was a simple one. My husband met a colleague for lunch. This meeting was in the center of town, at a very popular restaurant, the meeting time was 12:00 noon when the restaurant was filled with customers, the table that he chose to sit at was in the middle of the restaurant. I was aware of the lunch meeting; however, I was unable to attend.

Sometime during that lunch meeting, my husband was observed in the restaurant eating with his colleague (which happened to be a female) . . . the observer never approached my husband to greet him and to be introduced to the unknown woman, if he had, this would have satisfied his curiosity and any possible evil thinking would have been extinguished.

The lunch appointment was innocent enough to me, my husband, and his colleague, however, not so to the observer. It was obvious that the integrity of the meeting was in question as the observer passed the information along to a friend (what happened to verse 5 . . . love thinks no evil) who confronted my husband a few days later.

This incident caused me to evaluate my own thinking and obedience before the Lord. It brought up many questions . . . how many times had I misjudged a person's motive and/or behavior? How many times was my thinking in violation of 1 Corinthians 13:5, thinking evil of another brother or sister in Christ? How many times did I gossip about a person who was above reproach . . . "much damage can be done to a person's character with only a little suspicion"? As I continued to meditate on the Corinthians passage, I began to think about the man I meet every week for brunch.
I meet this man at a diner near the end of town, a sort of an out-of-the-way place, but conveniently located between both of our homes. We meet at an off time, when the restaurant is less crowded; we plan this around our working hours. We sit at a booth far from other customers so we can talk and laugh and share what's happened in our lives throughout the week. We greet each other with a kiss, and leave each other with a kiss as well. We are attentive to each other and the expression on our faces shows that we love each other and enjoy our time together. This man is only 18 years younger than myself (I have friends who have husbands the same age), he is someone whom I love spending time with. (Are you starting to get a little nervous . . . well read on!)

This wonderful, intelligent, handsome, blonde-haired, blue-eyed young man (have you guessed yet?) is none other than my beloved son, Jamie, a blessing I received from the Lord almost 35 years ago. How much purer can that be, but yet, the integrity of our mother-son brunches could be questioned by those who violate verse 5 "love thinks no evil". Just like my husband's situation, an observer could avoid greeting me and meeting my son. They could question my character and call their friend and pass that information on to them.

Some might say we are to avoid the appearance of evil, and that is true, we should not intentionally put ourselves in situations that can be easily misinterpreted. However, Titus 1:15 tells us "to the pure all things are pure . . ." are we then living obediently to God's Word when we slander others by thinking evil rather than good?

I say, we as Christians should step up to the plate and be obedient to the Lord. We should be obeying God's Word and love as He instructs us to love. God's Word is alive and it should be living through us, that my friend is the VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN LIFE.

I am practicing to "think no evil" and I'm learning to love the way Jesus loves. How about you?


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Jehovah Jireh ~ "The LORD Will Provide"

Jehovah Jireh ~ "The LORD Will Provide"

Up to this point we have looked at the compound names of God beginning with "EL", the abbreviation for "Elohim". It's time to turn to the compound names of God beginning with "Jehovah" meaning self-existent or ever-present. Jireh is the Hebrew word meaning "will provide".

This name was used in the connection with the ultimate test of Abraham's Faith - the sacrifice of Isaac. Let's look at Genesis 22, because not only is this when we are introduced to Jehovah Jireh, but to a few other words.

1. This is the first time the word "love" is mentioned in the Bible - concerning Abraham's love for Isaac.

2. We are introduced to the words "only son" at the same time in reference to Isaac. This becomes the picture of what event recorded in John 3:16?

3. We are also taught the word "worship" here as Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac is a picture the act of worship. When we worship God, we are acknowledging His important, divine status, as He is revealed through His names.

4. Gen. 22 is also the first mention of the word "obeyed" in the Bible. "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice." (vs. 18) True obedience is when we do what God says when it goes against the grain of our selfish nature. Hebrews 11:19 tells us that Abraham obeyed because he believed God could raise him. This is the first time in the Bible that anyone has faith in the resurrection power of God (John 8:56).

What God did for Abraham and Isaac is available to us through the cross of Calvary. God loved his only son, who obeyed his father and laid down his life for us and was raised again so that we might live. Christ is our sacrifice... God provides! God provided Christ can you trust him to provide "all" your needs? (Phil. 4:19)

God's provision comes when we like Abraham love, sacrifice and obey HIM. When you know God as "Jehovah Jireh" then you can believe in the promises of Matthew 6:33. Then you need not worry (Matt. 6:34) because you trust in the God that will provide.

Do you need to go to your Mount Moriah and say to God that you want to know Him, love Him and obey Him as Jehovah Jireh? Place those things on the altar that are squeezing God out of your life and let Him do what He chooses in your life. I know this is a terribly tough thing to do - you may want to say... Not that LORD! God says obey me and I will more than provide for you. Abraham gave up His Son and God gave Him back to Him. God asks for our love, worship, and obedience... are you ready to totally give those things to Him?


Monday, March 27, 2006

Isn't sorry enough?

Isn't sorry enough?

Sometimes sorry just isn't enough. Have you ever been sorry about something, and tried to make it right and couldn't? When I say make it right I don't mean in the sense of erasing the words or actions but repairing a relationship that has been damaged. I know I have people in my life, one in particular that I have hurt and wish I could have the forgiveness of that person and a restored trust.
Since coming to Christ and receiving the ultimate forgiveness, I am by God's grace able to forgive as I have been forgiven. Don't get me wrong, I do struggle with this from time to time, but I have power that I never had before coming to Christ. I know what it is to be forgiven before I even knew I needed to be! I also realize that my past choices have consequences that could remain for a lifetime. Having someone's forgiveness doesn't guarantee a restored relationship and in some cases it may be wise not to restore a relationship. However, there are some cases that deserve that chance.
A friend recently shared that he was estranged from his sister for some time due to his past. The brother is now living for Christ and is not the same person she once knew. She however is still without Christ, living a very comfortable lifestyle and chooses estrangement. What I find amazing is that this woman seems to have "everything" yet nothing of true value. She has money, a home etc..., it would seem she possess very little.
Not only has God forgiven his sins, HE has also forgotten them. Although the relationship has yet to be restored, God has given my friend eyes to see and ears to hear, a treasure that neither moth nor rust can destroy. He has also given him many brothers and sisters in the Lord. And while we wait for prayers of restoration to be answered, we can rejoice in the perfect love that hopes all things.

Sorrow is meant to lead us to repentance. And that is enough for the Lord.

Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
2 Corinthians 6:10 (NIV)

Friday, March 24, 2006

Words to Bless

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes it's boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together!
Psalms 34:1-3

The subject of words has been the topic of many conversations of late and I don't think it's by accident that I read about words in my morning study. I'm going to share a bit of that with you for the purpose of prayer and Holy Spirit examination. But first, I humbly ask you to purposefully commit the area of your words to prayer, and ask God to show you the stark reality of your own mouth speak and then set about taking your soul to task to bring your words under the submission of Christ Jesus. Why do I say this so emphatically? Because I know that my own harshly spoken words have been cutting instruments far too many times. And were it not for God's compassionate grace and the Spirit's changing work in my life I would not be here, doing what I do to encourage others to hope for better; to pursue change, trusting in the transforming work of Perfect Grace.
What I was reading this morning referred to a study done by marital researchers in order to uncover the processes that destroy marital unions. Couples were studied over the course of years, even decades to retrace their steps all the way back to their wedding day. What happened different in those who stayed together over those who did not? The researchers were surprised by their findings.
It was not how much they loved each other or how much they fought or what they fought about that determined their durability. What they were surprised to discover had the most significant impact was the use of words. Yep, you read correctly - WORDS.
And I quote, "Among those who would ultimately stay together, 5 out of every 100 comments made about each other were putdowns. Among couples who would later split, 10 of every 100 comments were insults. That gap magnified over the following decade, until couples heading downhill were flinging five times as many cruel and invalidating comments at each other as the happy couples. Hostile putdowns act as cancerous cells that, if unchecked, erode the relationship over time...In the end, relentless unremitting negativity takes control and the couple can't get through a week without major blowups." (U.S. News & World Report, February 21, 1994, Page 67.)

Oh sisters, let the mouth that we open to bless the Lord, be a mouth that uses words to bless each and every one God gives us opportunity to use our words on. May we all be stunned silent before we open our mouths ever again to utter any form of put down -even the ones that are so pervasively common that we tend to excuse as "just kidding" comments. You know what I'm talking about.
I guarantee you this is going to be hard to do. But as God is sanctifying you and refining you, others will see, and God will be glorified.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

El Olam ~ "Everlasting or Eternal God"

El Olam ~ "Everlasting or Eternal God"

This name for God suggests the permanence of Deity - He is God of Past, Present, or Future. Malachi 3:6 fully confirms this name where we read that "I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O Sons of Jacob." I could end the devotional here and we could just ponder the statement: "I do not change". See, we as humans we are constantly changing our thoughts and actions. Abraham first declared God as Eternal.

Genesis 21:33, "Then, Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there called on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God."

This name was used to sum up what Abraham had learned about God in Genesis 21. Genesis 21 tells the story of Sarah's request to have Hagar and Ishmael sent away. Abraham is shocked to have God confirm this request and ask him to send away his son. Why did God make such a request?

1. It is the preparation for the Sacrifice request of Isaac in chapter 22. If Abraham still had Ishmael when asked to sacrifice Isaac, it would not have required so much faith - he would have still had another son.

2. It is a revelation about God that some things cannot be fully understood at the time the request is made by God. We later learn the understanding in Galatians 4. At that time it is explained to us that it is not natural birth that makes us God's people, it is a miraculous birth. "We are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free." (Galatians 4:31) Abraham knew none of this - he just had to trust in the eternal God. Abraham came to know that as long as he did right for today, he could trust in El Olam for tomorrow.

The most recognized passage that we know regarding El Olam is Isaiah 40:28-31. Take time to read that passage again now. If you know God as El Olam, you can wait on Him or trust Him with tomorrow. This means that through prayer you can turn the future over to Him and then you can live (soar) above life.

Are you living as if God is Everlasting and In Charge? What do you need to turn over to him about your future? You can experience God's peace (Phil. 4:7) by turning over your life to El Olam.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Embrace your pain?

Embrace your pain?

As I was reading Stephanie's Victory Call from yesterday, it recalled to my mind a counseling conversation I had with Marilyn Heavilin (author of Roses in December) this past summer. Marilyn and I had teamed up to counsel a woman who had recently lost her husband in a tragic accident. I figured I would call in the big gun to help and at the same time take the opportunity to glean from Marilyn's experience (having lost 3 sons), insight and wisdom. I was able to observe Marilyn in action.
I mostly listened as Marilyn counseled, comforted and spoke truth into this young woman's life. Periodically, I would ask a question on behalf of the woman to get greater clarification. I remember Marilyn saying to her, "Embrace your pain". After a few moments of trying to envision what that looked like, to no avail, I asked just what exactly did that mean.
I so appreciated Marilyn's answer. I believe that it has value to all of us that are or have experienced suffering. Her answer basically was to not avoid things that remind you of your loss. Now, I don't think that is to say you should seek out those things that remind you of your loss, but by avoiding them it prolongs the process of healing. We tend to avoid those memories because they cause our heart to hurt. In other words, it causes pain. By avoiding those areas of pain, we can create areas of bondage in our lives.
As flesh and blood humans our natural instinct is to flee or avoid suffering. When we find ourselves in a season of suffering, we tend to focus our mental energy and efforts to get out of it as fast as possible.
As Stephanie said yesterday, in our suffering God is at work. He is up to something in your life. He is never malicious nor without a purpose. Your suffering may be due to your own choices and decisions or perhaps through no fault of your own. Either way God does not waste your suffering.

Isaiah 61:1-3, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of or God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified."


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Learning Through Suffering

Learning Through Suffering

For a few days we are going to pitch our tent on the subject of suffering -in and through- trials and tribulations.
I'll begin by sharing a phrase I read today. The author is encouraging us to learn from our trials and writes, "Don't waste your pain." The idea conveyed is to invest it rather than waste it. Hmm? Not a new lesson, but a way of saying it that I'd never heard before. "Don't waste your pain. The encouragement is for us to invest our pain in personal/spiritual growth and then, moving beyond ourselves, help someone else who may be struggling through suffering in their own life.
I had the privilege, recently of gathering with a group of people to pray. Some of us were indeed suffering in spirit over circumstances occurring in our lives that were having a significant impact, spiritually, emotionally and physically.
The question on my mind is "what is God up to?

Elizabeth Elliot calls suffering a gift.
Paul says, "Unto us it is given, not only to believe, but to suffer."
In my little brain, suffering is one of those words that I am not all that comfortable with. That might be true for most of us. For sure, we don't want to experience it on any level -especially not the kind that strips away all our defenses, all our arguments, all our self-righteous thinking, all our comfort and ease.
Suffering forces us to the only place we can or will grow from -The Cross. Suffering like this is not really on the register of our conscious thinking. Who imagines or dwells on that kind of suffering?

As believers we all encounter it at least once at the moment of salvation. In that moment we saw ourselves as sinners deserving of death, deserving eternal separation from a Holy God and we catch a glimpse of the suffering sinless Savior.

The movie released last year, "The Passion of the Christ", was as close as most of us have ever come to viewing a fraction of His true suffering.
What was the point of all that suffering? The simple point was and is to restore us to right relationship with a Sovereign Holy God; relationship which He designed for us from the beginning.
So again, I ask the question, "What is God up to?" He's up to the same thing He always is. It is in our suffering that God gets our attention. It is in our suffering that we cry out to Him with fervor and passion. "Lord, rescue us! Lord save us; deliver us!" Lord, release us from this trial and restore us to our former days when everything felt so much better and all was right in our world."
Sisters, are any among you suffering? You can be sure that God has something He wants to say to you. Something, that is for your good. As I shared in a previous Victory Call, God showed me through a recent season of suffering that it was time to let go of my hopes and dreams for my children and let Him be God in their lives. Big Mama had to decrease wanting to be all and everything and trust God to be Father.
Slow down, stop and listen. Don't waste your pain!

Monday, March 20, 2006

A Preacher's Wife

A Preacher's Wife

I recently had the privilege of joining some ladies for dinner who happen to hold the above title. I really enjoyed being with them. They all were very different yet in some ways very much alike. It's interesting to see them with their hair down, so to speak. Now I'm not a pastor's wife, or even a wife at the moment; but I am in ministry and I understand there are times when it can be difficult to just relax. The funny thing is they were the ones telling us Keswick ladies it was ok to let our hair down with them! Ironic, they usually hold the position of ministering and yet here we were doing that for them. They were very gracious and appreciative.
I couldn't help but think of my own Pastor and his wife, how great they have treated me all these years. How many times I have asked for prayer or have needed them in some way and there they were. Not that they could fix everything but for support, prayer, encouragement, teaching and love. That's what I picked up on that night; they loved what they do for Jesus.
As usual I had a very loaded question rolling around in my mind. So of course I posed it to them: What is the best thing about being a pastor's wife? In essence they all gave the same two answers!
First: it was their husbands. Being able to minister beside them, work with them toward the same goal, and spend their time together not just at home but often at work. What was really cool was the look on their faces when they spoke of their husbands; I saw adoration, appreciation, love, pride, thankfulness and above all respect. One of the ladies put it this way; she said; "When I watch him preaching and he's really going for it and giving it his all, it's just the best." I was really pleased to hear that and I told her to make sure she often tells him that, she said; "Oh, I do." They said the second best thing is when they pour their hearts out to someone and love them in Christ and they respond, and lives are changed. However, the other side of that coin when they pour out their hearts and it is not fruitful. Or when someone they have tried to love returns that love with unkindness, gossip or turning away.
I was sharing a special story with them about my own pastor and his wife and how good it makes me feel that they are so much in love and it shows. I would be discouraged if they had difficulty there. But one of these wise pastor's wives reminded me of something very true, she said; "just remember they are not perfect, only human." So true! I can sometimes forget that we are all works in progress, me included. I do believe in holding each other accountable especially if you have been called to lead. The enemy works hard at attacking those in leadership, and we need to pray for them. How quick we are to call on them for help and should when we need to but how often we do we neglect to encourage our pastors and their wives as they serve. When was the last time I prayed for them, brought them a meal, sent them a card or called just to say hi or ask, "how are you guys doing"? When was the last time you did? Today would be a good day to let them know they are appreciated.

Romans 10: 14-15,
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
"How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!"

Friday, March 17, 2006

Sweeter than honey to my mouth

Psalm 119:103, "How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth!"
Do you yearn for the word? Do you immerse yourself in it as often and as long as possible? For some of us that might be moments stolen through the day, for others we have the freedom to sit for extended periods of time and read to our hearts content. Do you look forward to being in the word as much as you look forward to that sticky bun?
I remember as a kid, more than a few years ago, when I knew mom had made her famous caramel buns; I found it easier to get out of bed in the morning. In fact, you couldn't keep me in bed when I knew one of mom's sticky, gooey caramel rolls was waiting for me. I have long since given up eating sticky buns, but I still remember being motivated to get up because of them.
Are God's words sweet to your taste? Do you sit and savor every bite? Are you enticed to get out of bed, or to forgo television or your favorite novel to nourish your soul with the very words of God? Do you find your endeavor satisfying even satiating to your soul hunger?
Jeremiah 31:14, "I will satiate the soul of the priests with abundance, and My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the LORD."
Deuteronomy 8:3, " does not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD."
Psalm 34:8, "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;"
Psalm 63:1, "O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land where there is no water."
I have found that the more time I spend in the Word, the more time I want to spend in the Word and the less time I spend in the Word, the less time I want to spend in the Word.
How are you doing with your pursuit of Christ through the Word?

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5b

Are you going through a season of suffering in which you find your heart weeping? One of the difficulties when we are in the midst of suffering is that we begin to believe the lie that it will never end. Every day seems just like the day before and tomorrow is sure to be more of the same. Is that about where you find yourself today? Do not lose hope.
Suffering always has a purpose. Whether you brought it on yourself or it is through no fault of your own, God can redeem it. God's timing is perfect and you will not be in this season one week longer, nay one moment longer that God determines.
If you are a child of God, redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb, your suffering is temporary. One day, either on this side of heaven or the other, joy will rise in your heart and overwhelm you with its delight. On the other hand, for those that have not yet surrendered their heart and life to Jesus Christ, this suffering will pale in comparison to the eternal suffering that awaits those who through refusal or neglect fail to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved.
In some 15 years counseling, I have found that, that which breaks our hearts is for a season and either through a change of circumstance or a change of heart, our weeping turns to joy. I have walked through my own time of suffering and through suffering with many, many others (that the nature of my call to ministry); and without exception, those that submitted to the Hand of God in their life, found that joy came in the morning.
Typically when we are suffering we are looking for a way out. We want delivered. I like what Beth Moore says in her book: Praying God's Word, "Never forget that God is far more interested in our getting to know the Deliverer than simply being delivered." (pg. 128)
Can you look forward with hope, that the time will come that your heart will sing and soar with joy, once again, if only because of Jesus?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places

"The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance." Psalm 16:6
I was going through a season of sinful discontentment in my life when God used this very verse to redirect my thinking.
It is so easy, natural and fleshly to see and focus on the negative things in life. Let's face it, we all have those things. After a while, it can become all we think about and surely it affects our entire attitude and behavior. We process all of life's events through the grid of discontentment. It becomes a burden that robs us of our joy.
I remember reading Psalm 16:6, "The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance." As I sat back in my chair, it occurred to me that truly I had a good life with many positive and good things to be thankful for.
I have not met a person yet that didn't have something to be thankful for; in fact, many things to be thankful for. However, I have met many people who were discontent. I think for most of us, it is a matter of where or what we choose to set our thoughts on.
Discontentment is not only dissatisfaction with our situation or circumstance; it is ultimately displeasure with God's provision for you.
Our focus can change in a moment when we call to mind God's abundant provision on our behalf. "I will sing to the LORD, because He Has dealt bountifully with me." Psalm 13:6; "He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me."
Where is your focus today? Can you believe together with me that our boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places?


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Recall the Gentle Guiding Hand of Jesus

"Show me Your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long." (NIV)
Psalm 25:4-5

I don't even remember setting out to commit these verses to memory but over the years it has some how become one in my repertoire of verses. I find myself praying them frequently, sometimes without even realizing it. I love these two verses. They express my hearts desire, in my spirit.
Why is it then that far too often I live contrary to that longing? Why do I often seek my own ways and try to get others to get on my path? Why do I know God's truth but fail to apply it and hear God's teaching but prefer my own way of doing things? Why do, at times, I act like I had anything to do with my salvation? Perhaps worst of all, to outside observers, it is likely to appear at times as if my hope is in myself all day long? See, in my flesh, I do not seek God, I do not desire His way, His will or His salvation. In my flesh, I want what all of us want and that is my own way.
I am so thankful that Jesus came and things can be different. "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." Romans 8:5

It is my heart's desire to know and follow the ways of God. I eagerly seek Him for the guidance of His truth. He is a wonderful, gentle teacher. "Come to me, all you who are wary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30
Oh, how my heart soars when I recall the gentle guiding hand of Jesus. I remember asking Jesus over and over again, "What lesson do you have for me today?" He is always faithful, always gentle, and always true. I truly have found that my hope is in Him all day long.


Monday, March 13, 2006


Many years ago, I was in a women's Bible study with my friend, mentor and instructor Joann. She was sharing about a woman friend of hers that was in her 80's that she had recently visited in a nursing home. This dear woman's health was failing and she wasn't able to do much but Joann shared how she delighted in reading and having the Psalms read to her. They brought her such peace and comfort. It was Joann's next statement that I never forgot. She said, "My friend did not develop her delight in the Psalms in her 80's, she started cultivating that comfort in her much younger years so that now in her 80's they are her delight." I remember making a mental post-it note, "cultivate a delight in Psalms early." Well, not much happened for about 15 years. In 2003, during a year of preparation to do a retreat on "Intimacy with God: Delighting in our Heavenly Husband" I immersed myself in the Psalms. That entire weekend retreat was taught out of Psalms except for 2 verses.
Just recently I was back reading through the book of Psalms and was reminded once again the depth of meaning, truth, and relationship nestled within. So, we are going to meander through the Psalms this week.
Psalm 119 is one of my favorite Psalms. Let me just share a few excerpts from the longest Psalm with 176 verses. "I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches."(119:14); "Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors." (119:24); "Behold, I long for Your precepts; revive me in Your righteousness." (119:40); "And I will delight myself in Your commandments, which I love." (119:47); "Remember the word to Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life." (119:49-50); "Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live; for Your law is my delight." (119:77); "Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day." (119:97); "how sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (119:103); "Your testimonies I have taken as a heritage forever, for they are the rejoicing of my heart." (119:111); "Therefore I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold!" (119:127); "Consider how I love Your precepts; revive me, O LORD, according to Your lovingkindness."(119:159); "I rejoice at Your word as on who finds great treasure." (119:162); "My soul keeps Your testimonies, and I love them exceedingly." (119:167);

Let us join the Psalmist in delighting in God and His word.


Friday, March 10, 2006

The Church with the Lighthouse

The Church with the Lighthouse

Isaiah 42:6
"I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness,
And will hold Your hand;
I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people,
As a light to the Gentiles,
Last month we celebrated Valentine's Day. I really like this holiday because it reminds me of so many people I love. Growing up in my family all the kids got boxes of chocolates shaped like hearts and usually a stuffed animal. I knew I was loved but the outward signs are still nice. Nothing wrong with affirming your love for someone, whether it is your kids, parents, friends or spouse, but maybe especially your spouse. Recently a pastor's wife shared with me that she loved lighthouses and that her husband had the steeple removed from their church and built a lighthouse in its place. How cool is that! Talk about an affirmation of love!
It turns out that the Lord not only used this in their lives but in the lives of the community they live in. People who never attend the church comment often on how nice it looks, how they look out their window from home and can see "The Church with the Lighthouse." They hope to one day renovate the foyer so that people can see up into the lighthouse from inside the church and how awesome it would be to actually have a beacon of light in there.
You never know what will draw a person to Christ. One thing that drew me to my church was the sign they had out front; it read "No Jesus No Peace, Know Jesus Know Peace." I'd been reading that sign as I drove by for weeks but when it came time to choose a place for help I remembered the church with the sign outside. I was saved there five years ago and I can say the sign was true! If the lost can be drawn in by a symbol of light imagine when they see the True Light in the eyes of a believer how great that light will be! I'm sure the Lord is using "The Church with the Lighthouse" to be as the Word says; "As a light to the Gentiles."

Thursday, March 09, 2006

EL Shaddai - The God who can do anything

EL Shaddai - The God who can do anything

Genesis 17:1 "When Abram was ninety-nine years old; the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, I am Almighty God; walk before me and be blameless."

He God must introduce himself as the God who can do anything because he is about ready to tell him that He would give them a child and that Abram would be the father of a nation. You must believe that God can do anything to believe that! And they did - when the finally trusted in God he gave them Jacob. Yes, they tried to do it their own way through Hagar, but when we fall, God does not fail. See God holds us His promises even when we don't hold up our end. We have to quit trusting in ourselves too and trust our lives with the God who can do anything.

As long as we depend on our own skills, abilities, and intellect, we will never know the power of "El Shaddai". But when we do completely depend upon God, we can experience the truth of 2 Corinthians 12:9 - we can have "the Power of Christ".

I know in my life I have often relied on my own strength, my own knowledge and figured I could get through life just fine because of my abilities. Unfortunately God taught me through some tough times, even literally taking away my "physical" strength that I needed Him. No matter how much I think I know - I don't know enough to make it through life without "El Shaddai" working in my life. Note in Genesis God tells Abraham to walk before Him - remember El Roy? This is a direct reminder that you are never out of His sight and therefore He can take care of anything. Then God says "be blameless" - living a life above reproach. That is all that is required if you can the power of God in your life.

God blessed Abraham with a son - Isaac, who had a son Jacob. It is through Jacob's sons that God established his Nation. In Genesis 35:10-11 God changed Jacob's name to Israel because the name Israel means "having power with God". Could God call you Israel? Do you have the power of God in YOU? You can - just get out of the way and let him be the strength and power in your life.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

EL Roy - "The God Who Sees"

EL Roy - "The God Who Sees"

Genesis 16:13 "Then she (Hagar) called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You are the God Who Sees; for she said, "Have I also here seen Him who sees me?"

We read in Job 34:21 that His eyes are on us and He sees our steps. In Psalms 33:13-14 we are told that He looks from Heaven. God is looking at US! He sees you every minute of everyday. He knows what is going on in your life. Most of all He knows what life is doing to you. Please note that God sees everyone - not just those people that are noticed by the world. God sees the lowly, the insignificant, the nobodies, the ordinary, the plain - no one is missed by God. You may feel unnoticed or unimportant in your job, your family, your community - but not to God - HE NOTICES YOU!
The most exciting thing about Him noticing me is that He can then care for me.

Do you sometimes get discouraged in the ministry? Are you a faithful behind-the-scenes worker? Do you wonder if anyone really knows what is going on in your life? Do you sometimes wish you could be an "upfront" person? Remember 1 Samuel 16:7; God sees the heart, not the outward appearance.

Have you been hurt or struggle with being abused - He knows. Nothing we do is missed by Him, even if no one else sees. We are introduced to these verses by Hagar who was hurt by Sarai. God saw, God responded and God took care of Hagar. He will do the same for you. Deut. 32:10 reminds us that God guards and protects us with His eyes.

If you need a reminder of all God does for you read Psalms 18 - Our God misses nothing in our lives - He is there for us, because He is the "God who Sees".


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Letting Go and Letting God

Letting Go and Letting God

To "let go and let God" is a phrase that you either have said, or may be likely to hear at some point in your faith walk. "Just let go and let God". When I first heard it, I had some inkling of what it meant and on occasion I even heard myself using it. More often than not it irritated me because it always came across as sounding smug or trite to my ears. It's been many years now and I can't even remember the occasions I would have shared those words. But for today I have found new meaning in them.

On the way to work today I was listening to a brief radio broadcast about a particular family of birds. I was instantly struck by the imagery of my own home/nest and how similar yet different the process of nesting is.
The bird spoken of in the story built her nest once and she built it well, her goal being to provide a safe place to lay her eggs and raise her babies. Any of us who are moms can relate to that. Most of us are nesters. We've taken great effort to provide an environment of safety and care for our children and a place for our husbands to come home to, night after night. It's a great feeling.
One big difference between me and the bird however, is that she didn't continue to keep her nest a comfy, cozy, welcoming place. Nature takes its course and she follows that course as she was designed to. Her grown birds have to go. She has to allow them to get pushed out of the nest, up on to the edge, where they either fly or die. Sounds harsh, doesn't it?
Nonetheless, from the moment she laid her eggs she was preparing them to leave it. She nestled, nourished and nurtured them to maturity. And since she hadn't moved bigger and better, the nest was soon way too crowded. And one by one, the birdies hop up on the edge to be pushed off the edge or fly away. Well, all, that is, except one. This one decided to linger in all that extra space for a few extra days, after his siblings "flew the coup" and let his mom continue feeding him.
But instead, "Mama got disgusted with her nest-addicted child and she quit feeding him. First, there was a lot of squawking and fussing, and then even he abandoned the nest to finally touch the sky."
What's the point of this story? For me it was a loud and clear confirmation to "let go and let God". There comes a time when the nest needs to not be so comfortable, that to keep it so, is to cripple the one you are trying to care for. It's okay to let them go, to release them to the Father's care. There is tremendous comfort in knowing that as my Father cares for the sparrows, He cares tenfold for His children and He will care for the ones He has given me. So as hard as it is, I will "let go and let God".

My question for you today:
Is there anything you are holding on to that God is asking you to hand over to Him?


Monday, March 06, 2006

Making Music Again

Making Music Again,

I was having lunch with a much loved girlfriend of mine and what a good time we had! It�s amazing to me how much two women can talk and eat at the same time! We chatted about our kids, our health, our work etc� and before your knew it lunch was over and it was time to head back home. But not before she gave me a �Victory Call�! Boy was this ever a true Victory! First let me say I was honored that she trusted me yet again with something so personal, but I�m glad she knows she can do that and I in turn feel that I can do the same with her and have, it�s a safe place to open our hearts. She said; �Hey, Guess what I got for Christmas?� I gave two smart mouth guesses and was wrong on both! What she got was a clarinet. Well, I started cracking up because I had no clue she could carry a note in a bag let alone play an instrument! She went on to explain that she had played for a very long time starting out as a child and on into young adulthood and apparently was really good at it. She tried to tell me something about first, second and third chair positions; it could be musical chairs that�s how much I know about this stuff! But never the less the girl was good! I don�t think I have seen her face light up about anything in this way before. She was truly passionate about her music. It was like an old friend that had gone away was back in her life again. She said how much she just loved to play. Sadly, she had stopped years ago and her passion to play and love for the art had been temporarily buried. There was unfortunately and awful experience for her that prevented her from continuing to play. In essence through no fault of her own she had been, to use her words; robbed. Jesus says in John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Are you ready for the Victory! Here it is-
To her delight and amazement her memory of the skills to play had come right back! When picking up the instrument the sleeping gift was awakened again and her hands and fingers took their rightful place on the instrument and she began to make music again. She also found in storage her old music books. She hopes to look into spending some time sharpening her gift. It truly is a gift from the Lord to be able to make beautiful music. The greater gift is the joy it can fill her heart and spirit with. And although it may have had a brief intermission, she can have that joy back in her life and have it to the full. I look forward to hearing her play.

1 Samuel 2: 1b
�My heart rejoices in the LORD; in the LORD my horn is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance.


Friday, March 03, 2006

Where are you today?

As we have been gathering together the last few days of this week, I have invited you to join me in the throne room that together we may just sit and enjoy being the very presence of God. I have been challenged and hopefully have passed that challenge on to you to set my affections upon Christ.
I was recently spending my morning Bible reading time when it struck me that I needed to confess to the Lord, that far too many days that is exactly what I am doing. I am spending time reading the Bible. I have often referred to that time as my devotions. Honestly, that doesn't really describe what I am doing. To me if I was having devotions, my time would be characterized with heart-felt devotion to Jesus Christ, with sitting and gazing into the eyes of My Lord. I have also referred to my morning time as "spending time with God". Well, that doesn't really describe my time either. I have to confess that far too many days; "reading my Bible" best describes my activity during that time.
I found myself praying that morning, "Lord, I really want to experience You during this time. I want to spend this time in pure, unadulterated heart-devotion to You. When I walk away from my desk, I want to know I have spent time with You. Teach me Lord. Show me Lord."
I was touched that very week by a selection in Halliday and Travis' devotional book, How Great Thou Art.
"Hearts that are 'fit to break' with love for the Godhead are those who have been in the Presence and have looked with opened eye upon the majesty of Deity...They had been in the Presence of God, and they reported what they saw there. They were prophets, not scribes, for the scribe tells us what he has read, and the prophet tells what he has seen.
The distinction is not an imaginary one. Between the scribe who has read and the prophet who has seen, there is a difference as wide as the sea. We are today overrun with orthodox scribes, but the prophets, where are they? ...the church waits for the tender voice of the saint who has penetrated the veil and has gazed with inward eye upon the Wonder that is God..." A.W. Tozer
I want to be a prophet as Tozer describes here. I want to gaze upon the beauty of God and experience Him in my inner man, so that I may go and share with others what I have seen, the One True Living God.

Where are you today? Are you 'reading your Bible" or "Spending time with God"?
Are you a scribe sharing with others what you have read or a prophet sharing what you have seen? May we all pursue the Presence of God.


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Set your affections upon Jesus Christ

Yesterday, we considered what it meant to set our affections upon Jesus Christ. I shared this recently with a woman who looked at me quizzically, "What does that mean, to set my affections upon Jesus Christ?" I tried various descriptions but none were really getting my point across. Then it occurred to me. I said, "Let's put it in a framework that I can, and perhaps you can identify with. Food. Imagine that I invited you out for a juicy steak dinner for Friday night. My guess is you would think about that steak on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Come Thursday, you would probably think about our night out a couple of times during the day with a little excitement about that steak. By Friday, chances are you would begin to anticipate our going out to have that steak and really look forward to it." In a sense, you have set your affections upon that meal. You look forward to it. You anticipate it. You spend time thinking about it. Forgive my somewhat primitive illustration - but you know what? She understood what I meant when I said, "we need to set our affections upon Jesus Christ."
I was recently reading in a devotional by A.J. Russell, God Calling. Since my initial reading of this text, I have read, and reread this selection several times. It challenged my heart and hope it encourages yours. It is written as if Christ Himself is speaking to us.
"...Think of the multitudes, who thronged Me, when I was on earth, all eager for something. Eager to be healed, or taught, or fed.
Think as I supplied their many wants, and granted their manifold requests, what it meant to Me, to find amid the crowd, some one or two, who followed Me just to be near Me, just to dwell in my Presence. How some longing of the Eternal Hart was satisfied thereby.
Comfort Me, awhile by letting Me know that you would seek Me just to dwell in My presence, to be near Me, not even for teaching, not for material gain, not even for a message-but for Me. The longing of the human heart to be loved for itself is a something caught from the Great Divine Heart." (February 6, Pg. 38-39)
Set your affections upon Jesus Christ, simply because of who He is. Come and tarry a while just to spend time in His presence. Don't ask for anything, just sit a spell with Him and delight to be in His presence.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Where have you set your affections?

I was a fairly new Christian back in the late 1980's when I was having
a conversation with my sister about what it meant to be saved or born-again.
These words were foreign to our childhood denominational background. I did
my best (meager attempts) to explain God's plan of salvation to her. The
conversation went on for close to an hour and she stopped me dead in my
tracks when she said, "I believe all that you are telling me. I believe
that Jesus is the Son of God. I believe He died on the cross for my sins.
I believe His death paid the penalty for my sins. Etc. I believe all that
you believe. So what makes you different from me? Why are you saved and
I'm not?" In my new found faith, I knew in my head the difference but
could not sufficiently explain it to her. It was one of those rare moments
in my life that I was speechless.

At this point I have been a Christian for almost 23 years and I have
had multiple opportunities to share the gospel with individuals and groups
of people. On one hand we desire for people to "make a commitment"; "Ask
Jesus into their hearts"; "Receive Christ"; "make a decision"; or "pray the
sinner's prayer". We have so many ways of describing the moment of
regeneration in the heart of a sinner. On the other hand, have we not all
met people who have "made a commitment, received Christ, made a decision or
prayed the sinner's prayer" that have absolutely no evidence in their life
that they have been changed one iota?

One day, John Piper and I were chatting. Okay, not really chatting, I
was reading his book, The Dangerous Duty of Delight. The light went on for
me when he said, "Perhaps you can see why it is astonishing to me that so
many people try to define true Christianity in terms of decision and not
affections. Not that decisions are unessential. The problem is that they
require so little transformation. Mere decisions are no sure evidence of a
true work of grace in the heart. People can make 'decisions' about the
truth of God while their hearts are far from Him."

So the answer to my sister's question and to those individual's that
have "made professions" but have no evidence in their life of transformation
is this: A person that is truly born-again has set her affections upon
Jesus Christ. It is not a commitment of the head, but rather a commitment
of the heart.

Today's Question: Where have you set your affections? In what ways have
you demonstrated THIS WEEK that you have set your affections upon Jesus