Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Law of Love 4

The Law of Love IV

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

As we have been focusing on modesty this week and seeking to love our brothers by not being a stumbling block to them, I can't help but think we need to understand balance. Lest you think I am advocating a return to floor length dresses or face veils I want to communicate the heart of love not law. How do we balance proper dress out of love for our brother without becoming legalistic about it?

The difference is in the heart. There is a world of difference between being modest because 'I gotta', and being modest as an act of relational obedience and love for Christ and our bothers. One is a result of outward compliance the other the result of a heart of love.
I believe we are called by God to bring every area of our life under the authority of God. It's not man's rules or regulations that should be our highest concern but rather the expression of God's heart in our lives.

Are you willing to take your wardrobe to the Lord with an open hand and let Him sort through it and discard those things you believe are not pleasing to Him? If you are holding on to your freedom to wear what you want with a closed's time for a heart check.

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

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


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Law of Love Part 3

The Law of Love III

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

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

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

Ladies, we may not understand how quickly a man can become aroused, how quickly he can be drawn away and tempted to lust, but I believe Jesus calls us to have compassion not contempt. Our lack of understanding does not invalidate the reality of the struggle for men. I know if your husband is involved in pornography, this hurts. Perhaps we can "talk" about that another week.
How does this relate to our theme-the law of love? If we as women seek to understand and to be compassionate, I believe we would be much more mindful of our dress so as to not increase the struggle.

I don't believe that contempt for people is ever the godly response. Let's get angry at the culprit-Satan and pray for his failure in this area.

Your challenge today is to pray for understanding and compassion.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Law of Love Part 2

The Law of Love II

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

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

Yesterday, I suggested some very pointed guidelines regarding modest attire. You may be thinking I'm being legalistic or prudish. Oh sister, hear my heart. Our theme verse this week and several others in Scripture clearly assure us we are free. "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace." Romans 6:14. "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." John 8:36. "I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free." Psalm 119:32.

BUT, we are never to use our freedom as a license to do whatever we want if it causes a brother to stumble. Our theme verse says, " not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love." The law of love constrains the law of freedom, or law of liberty. In other words, we give up our freedom out of love for a brother or sister, if the exercise of our freedom is a stumbling block for them.

You may be thinking, "This isn't fair." I'm not the one that has the problem. Why is modesty such a big deal? I'm not wearing anything too revealing. If a man gawks, that's his problem. As a Christian woman, it is your "problem" because Christ has called you to serve your brother in love. How loving is it to wear clothing that attracts his eye, distracts him, or causes him to stumble? I'm not talking here about within your marriage I'm talking about the men that are not your husband. If your husband likes you to dress less than modestly, I would encourage you to respectfully and gently share with him that you want to honor him by being "for his eyes only."

It takes a woman of strength, conviction and dignity to make such unselfish decisions. Are you willing to be that kind of woman?

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


Monday, May 28, 2007

The Law of Love Part 1

The Law of Love I

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

Warning!!! This week's devotionals are on modesty and sexual purity and are written with frankness and forthrightness. I apologize in advance if my frankness offends anyone. I would not do this if it wasn't a burden on my heart that I think God's wants His daughters to hear. I hope my mother is not reading these!

It's that time of year again, when the weather is hot and humid. For some of you this writing will draw a nod of the head, for others, I'm afraid I'm going to step on your toes. I am going to be bold today, bolder than usual that is.

It is time for Christian women to take a stand with regard to our dress. Hear me clearly; I'm not talking about being dowdy, unstylish or puritanical in our dress. I'm talking about just plain modesty. There are parts of a woman's body that need to be covered, plain and simple. A woman's breasts need to be modestly covered, front, middle and sides. Modestly covered does not mean with see through fabric, tight fitting or exposing the bra underneath. A woman's pubic area, upper thighs, mid-drift and buttocks need to be covered. I'm nervous about being so pointed but I've long since learned forthrightness and frankness minimizes misunderstanding.

I have worked at America's Keswick for almost 8 years. I have had my eyes opened to the sinful struggle of men and women, both which could be qualified as lust. I would venture a guess that the majority of calls I get from women relate to this issue of lust. It may manifest itself in ogling which means: to eye amorously or provocatively or to look at especially with greedy or interested attention (Merriam-Webster On-line Dictionary) or it may involve pornography, infidelity or inappropriate emotional ties.

Statistics show that men are the primary offenders regarding the use of internet pornography sites, but there are a growing number of women falling into the same sinful trap. I did some research on-line to get some statistics regarding this problem - I was amazed. This is what I found: 28% of visitors to pornography sites are female, 1 out of 3 visitors to all adult web sites are women, women, far more than men, are likely to act out their behaviors in real life, such as having multiple partners, casual sex or affairs, 9.4 million women access adult web sites each month. Thirty-four percent of female readers of Today's Christian Women's online newsletter admitted to intentionally accessing Internet porn in a recent poll.

I think you have had enough frankness for today, but we are not done yet. There is much more to be said this week. I will explain through the week, how our verse relates to this topic.

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


Friday, May 25, 2007


That time is upon us once again. After an interesting winter and spring, with more than a few damp, cold rainy days, are you as ready as I am for the warm days of summer? Monday, we will be celebrating Memorial Day the official kick off of the summer of 2007. In anticipation of that, I believe it is time, once again, to consider the topic of purity. Don't get me wrong, purity is equally important all 365 days of the year; winter, spring, summer and fall. However, I do think that the warmer weather provides additional opportunities to be extra mindful of our attire as women; women of honor, dignity and respect. These are not some code words really meaning older women because I believe that there is nothing more attractive than a young woman who knows her identity in Jesus Christ and lives out grace, honor and dignity in her attitude, actions and attire. I am not, in any way, suggesting we be snobs but I am exhorting us to embrace our identity in Jesus Christ and to live accordi ngly. Next week will be devoted to considering the law of love and how it is to form our perspective regarding our wardrobe choices reflecting our personal commitment to personal purity.

"Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to live and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you."
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8


Thursday, May 24, 2007


"So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us."
1 Thessalonians 2:8

Our desire through Victory Call is to impart the gospel of God, to direct our eyes and hearts to the words and person of Jesus Christ.

"I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."

If at the end of the day we have simply tickled your ears and made you feel good, we have wasted your time.
"See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil." We take seriously the ministry entrusted to us to speak (write) truth. Like Paul, we not only seek to impart the gospel, we also impart our own lives as many of our illustrations are borne out of our personal experiences. You have encouraged us greatly in this ministry and we appreciate your input, you have become dear to us. Thank you for joining us on this journey. June 1st will mark the 2nd anniversary of the inception of the Victory Call ministry.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Magic Kingdom

The Magic Kingdom

Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Genesis 5:1 This is the written account of Adam's line. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.

I recently went on vacation to Disney World in Florida. I was so amazed by all I my eyes could see. It's too much to take in - the acres and acres of land that have been transformed into a "Magic Kingdom."

My first trip there was back in the early 80's when our boys were young. It has changed and grown quite a bit since them. As John and I went from park to park and attraction to attraction - honestly it was mind boggling to see the technology advancement and the creativity of man. We were created in the image of God - but God is the ultimate Creator. We are like our Father in that we too love to create.

No matter how fascinating it was to look around and enjoy what the hands of man have accomplished, I know that without our Creator, none of it would be possible. Man can put flowers of beautiful shapes, colors and fragrances together but it is God who designed and fashioned each one. Man can design the artificial surroundings for animals but it was God who designed each natural surrounding for the millions of different animals. And - what about all those animals - birds, reptiles, fish, bugs! I have to admit, I still wonder why He created some of those pesky mosquito's and flies!

If it was up to man or should I say woman, we would probably leave out the mosquito's, flies, bugs and snakes - to name just a few. We may have been created in God's image but we are not gods. God has a purpose and a plan for everything His hands have made. How awesome is our God!!!!! Exodus 15:11 "Who among the gods is like you, O LORD ? Who is like you- majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?"

And this beautiful and awesome world that God has created, and that we enjoy, is nothing compared to the one He has crated for us in eternity! I have a hard time taking in all of this world. My small brain can't fathom the "Magic Kingdom" yet to come - the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21-22).

All that comes to mind is "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" Psalm 8:3-4. Thank you Lord!

Mary Ann

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Stay the Course

"Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice." ~~

One portion of Scripture I seek to live life by is Philippians Chapter 4:4-8. In the beginning, I stuck to quoting verse 8 exclusively. I'd say the words over and over, letting them roll off my tongue so I could absorb them more deeply. And so they became more than letters and sounds to me, but life itself.

Over time, as life has kicked me around a bit, my meditation has grown to include verses 5-8. So much that I experience is helped by those Scriptures in which the apostle Paul encourages and exhorts us to stand fast in our faith. It is our faith that will enable us to stay the course.
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice." (I love this. The Lord knew that we were stubborn and rebellious, so just in case we didn't get it the first time, He had Paul write it twice.)

"Let your reasonableness be known to everyone." How? "The Lord is at hand." Paul goes further and exhorts us saying, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything (everything, everything) by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."

The result is peace. "And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

And then comes the benefit -the fruit if you will- of our laboring before the Lord in prayers, petition and thanksgiving.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

Paul then ends this portion by telling them to practice doing what they have learned, heard, seen and received in him. And once again he tells them and us that the result will be peace.

I don't know about you but I could sure use some peace, especially the kind that defies my ability to understand, namely God's peace.

So dear ones, let us together, rejoice, rejoice, pray, petition and give thanks to the Lord for WHO HE IS. Let's ask Him to fill us with more faith to believe and more strength to stay the course, so we can finish well the race we are in.


Monday, May 21, 2007


Ephesians 2:10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Have you ever visited art museums, admired great art in someone's home or perhaps you've only seen great works of art in art books and been struck by the beauty of the art and the great talent of the person whose brush stokes brought the canvas to "to life?" Each time I have the great privilege to be able to see great paintings or sculptures I'm just awe struck at the work of the artist's hands - artist's like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, or Raphael - just to name a few.

As talented these artists are, as beautiful as their work is, that is nothing compared to our God, the Master Artist of all of creation. I can just see in my minds eye The Master with His color palette (more colors and hues than any mere man can create), His brush, His canvas (the universe), along with His marble, stone, hammer and chisel. All we have to do is open our eyes, especially in springtime (my favorite time of year) and behold the beauty of His creation! And we, you and I, are His workmanship! In His vast universe He has designed and created each one of us - the same yet so very different. None of us are the same totally - not even identical twins.

However unlike the great works of art by men, the works of God - you and me - we were created with a purpose in mind that was in place before the beginning of time. Psalm 139:16 All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. When we come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives, there is purpose for our lives and something that God had in mind for us to do all along. And this is a very important part of His great masterpiece and that is to do "good works." We aren't just made to be new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) to sit there and look pretty, we have something unique for each of us to do! I find that so exciting! God has it all planned out - all I have to do is follow His will for my life and that takes a huge burden from me.

So don't just sit there and look pretty, seek the will of the Master and do the "good works" He has planned for you!

Mary Ann

Friday, May 18, 2007

Sharing Our Trials With Others

"The Lord has given me an instructed tongue to know the word that sustains the weary" Isaiah 50:4, NIV).

When we walk through a trial, I believe God expects us to share our experience with others so that they might have hope that they, too, could survive such an ordeal. I have realized that God not only gives us peace in the midst of our trial, but He also gives us credibility when we are willing to share our story with others. I never asked for the trial of three of my four sons dying, but with the trial has come a confidence that God will always give me strength to share when the opportunity presents itself.

On the rear window of our car is a decal that says "In memory of Nathan, Jimmy, and Ethan" for all the world to see. We have actually had people who parked next to us in a shopping mall sit in their cars and wait for us to come out so that they can ask us about the decal. They often ask, "Do you mean you have survived the deaths of three of your children?" And then they state, "I have a friend who lost a child, and she is not doing well. Do you have any suggestions of how I can help her?" By that time, Glen has reached into the back of the car and retrieved a copy of Roses In December to give to the inquirer. I generally say, "Read this book, and then give it to your friend. I know you will both find help and hope as you read this."

How about you? What trials has God walked you through? Are you prepared to share your story with other hurting people? Remember, God has promised to give you an instructed tongue to know the word that sustains the weary.

Marilyn Heavilin

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Binding Up The Brokenhearted

"He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted," (Isaiah 61:1).

You just received a phone call that your best friend, Mary's daughter was killed in a car crash. Susie was 18, a good girl, but she made an unwise decision to get into a car with teens that had been drinking.

You're still holding the phone as you try to think, What do I do now? First you pray, Oh dear Jesus, please fill Mary with Your strength and peace. Please comfort her and guide those who are closest to her. Help them to listen to Your guidance. Amen, and then you go. If you have food available, you take that, or you buy practical items such as paper plates, tissues, and other paper products, but then you go, as soon as possible.

When you see Mary, you don't need to say anything, in fact, it's best if you say as little as possible. "I'm so sorry," is quite enough. Give Mary a hug and cry with her. Do you tell her that you have confidence that Susie is with Jesus? Yes, but only if Mary brings up that issue. Do you give your opinion on much of anything? Perhaps, but only if Mary brings up that issue and asks for your opinion.

With Isaiah we can know that God wants us to bind up the brokenhearted, not explain why this happened or even evangelize, but at that very moment, He was us to bind up their broken heart and just stay close.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Helping Those Who Grieve

I want to piggy-back on Stephanie's two Victory Calls from Monday and Tuesday of this week. I, too, have a growing list of friends and acquaintances that have lost their life mate in the past 18 months and several others that have lost a parent or other significant person in their life. And I, too, have not walked this path personally yet. But I think I'm on pretty safe ground to encourage us to pray for those in our life that are walking the pathway of grief.

If you are currently in a position of coming alongside one who grieves reach into that one's life and ask the question. "How may I specifically pray for you today?" If you are the one grieving, ask for specific prayer. Help us be most effective in our prayers on your behalf.
Let me go on to say, nights are tough. When sleep escapes you and darkness and solitude become your closest companions, pain, sorrow, loneliness, fear and a myriad of other, less than desirable, emotions intensify.

To the one grieving let me share this quote from H. Norman Wright:

"Reflecting on the Word of God at times when sleep is difficult can comfort you.
"If I'm sleepless at midnight, I spend the hours in grateful reflection. (Ps. 63:6 The Message)
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. (Ps. 94:19) Your mind is at work while you sleep. You probably wish it would shut down and rest so your body and emotions could rest. But it's working the night shift, processing the pain and loss in your life right now with memories both accurate and bizarre. You'd just like some relief. But someone else is well aware of your dreams. There is another who is working the night shift.

The psalmist described what occurs as you sleep, 'He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep' (121:3-4)" Experiencing Grief pg. 21-22

To the one coming alongside one that grieves, let me encourage you to use those wakeful moments at night to uphold your loved one in prayer before the throne of grace. Having trouble getting to sleep? Pray. Waking too early? Pray. Getting up to go to the bathroom? Pray. Sick child have you up? Pray. Thunderstorm awakens you? Pray. Then send a note or a card and let that person know they can count on your prayers even through the night watches.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Rejoice With Those Who Mourn

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. -- Romans 12:15

Recently I was listening to a "Focus on the Family" broadcast "Preparing for Widowhood." Several widows shared their hearts. As I listened, I waited to hear from them the practical things that we could do for the ones we are closest to who mourn in silence because they don't want to bother us or worse, they mourn in silence to avoid being hurt by us.
Most of us are simply ill-equipped; we don't have a clue as to what to do or say or when to do or say it.

Therefore, I offer these thoughts as shared by this small group of widows.

"LISTEN! If there is anything that a widow wants to talk about it's her loved one that is gone.
Let her talk.
That is the only way she is going to release her grief.
Talking about death doesn't mean it's going to happen to you.
Don't pretend it didn't happen and make the whole experience go away.
Stop saying the wrong things.
"God took them away." "God knows best." "It's for the best."
Just say, I love you. I know you're hurting. You're gonna make it."

These dear women shared the above statements and much more. If you are so inclined, I'd encourage you to go the Focus on the Family website at and listen to this series of broadcasts that did much to expand my thinking on grief.

One other thing that I gleaned from each of them was the need that existed for help in handling their affairs. Life goes on and everything that had to be handled before must still get done. On top of the grief every day is the business of handling finances, etc., related to death, when all you really want to do is go to bed and cry.
And the final thing I heard from them was an encouragement not to be afraid to reach in.

Sisters, let us be mindful of those in our midst who through the death of a loved one or who through the death of a marriage are left alone, on their own for the first time in years. They need us and we need them. None of us are in this alone. We need each other. Today it may be our friend or neighbor and tomorrow it may be you or me. Let us be faithful to see these dear ones and be unafraid to go and...just be there.


Monday, May 14, 2007

Lessons on Widowhood

"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. ~~Romans 12:15

Today I want to unapologetically talk about widowhood. I'm not a widow but one day I certainly could be. Or maybe I will precede my husband and he will become the one left alone. But regardless of whether my own experience has yet to encompasses this part of life, it's a sure thing, that day will ultimately arrive should the Lord tarry.

At the present time I have a handful of acquaintances/friends who are grieving. Over the past year each has, expectedly or unexpectedly, become a widow. They are alone and so desperately do not want to be. One seems to have moved a bit past the extreme weight of loneliness, or so it appears. But others, well for them, the gaping hole that remains is an ever-present, constantly chafing reality. It is something I can not fathom.

I'd be lying if I said I could imagine what it is like for them. As much as I want to speak some truth to them, that comforts and consoles their hearts, I know there is nothing I can say to replace their mourning with gladness. All I can hope to do for these loved ones is "be there."
There simply are no words that suffice.I think and pray for them often. And I sometimes wonder how we, those of us that are their family and friends, can come alongside and be a source of strength in their time of sorrow.

Until recently I had no concrete answers then I came across a "Focus on the Family" broadcast "Preparing for Widowhood." I figured this was a God-provided opportunity, so I listened and within moments, I heard a group of dear women share their hearts regarding the death of their husbands.

One thing that struck me as they spoke, even after much time had passed, there existed in them this sweet sorrow; sorrowful joy that has found its place in their everyday life. A type of mourning, you could say which they are very much aware of yet no longer afraid of either. It's simply there as an indication that they are alive and well and deeply missing the love of their lives. And more importantly, their sorrow provides them with an abundance of time, sitting at the feet of Jesus, the only one who can rightly and perfectly absorb the ache in their hearts and give them comfort.

For many of us, who have not walked on this pathway of grief, we do not know how to best minister into the lives of grieving family and friends. We desire to be a comfort but are often at a loss as to what to do. Tomorrow I will share some to the practical insights I gleaned from the program. Stephanie