Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Rose or Skunk?

A Rose or a Skunk.

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?

How do we live out our faith in front of our family? Friends? Co-workers? Do we live out our faith and share the gospel in a way that is a beautiful fragrance like that of a rose? When someone sees a beautiful rose they are drawn by its beauty. Sometimes a person is drawn by its beautiful fragrance before their eyes ever behold its beauty.

What about the smell of lets say...a skunk? You can smell a skunk a mile away before you ever see it! If you weren't familiar with skunks you might think it was cute and want to pet it. But very quickly you would find out that you didn't want to be any where near a skunk and run as fast as you could in the other direction!

I recently spoke with someone who was somewhat offended when I asked if she was "born again." She had a few "born again" believers at her office that were skunks rather than roses. They were judgmental, condemning and self-righteous. Their lives did not reflect the love of Christ and obedience to the Word.

I have to admit I've been a skunk on a few occasions and even been around a few skunks. I know I have grieved my Lord when I've been a skunk. But this is not my desire. I want to always have the fragrance of Christ through my life and my testimony to draw others to the gospel not send them running away.

Paul asks the question "Who is equal to such a task?" Are you? Think about how you represent our Savior. Strive to always be a rose.

Mary Ann

Monday, July 30, 2007

God Put A Rainbow in the Sky

God put a rainbow in the sky...

God put a rainbow in the sky
When the sun came shinning though
Then we knew the storm was through
God put a rainbow in the clouds....

This is a silly little song that we sing in our Sunday School with the kids. Sometimes life can be a bit stormy. There are days I will sit at my kitchen table with my coffee in hand and wonder what is going on.

For a few weeks my family has been hit with one storm after another. My oldest son said to me, "What in the world is going on with our family". Not only me and my husband but my two sons were feeling it too.

It seems at times that you can really feel rain drops hitting your life and storms racing through your soul. That day when he said this to me this song popped in my head and I decided to sing it all day. It did bring a smile to my face.

I had to remind both my son and my self to stop looking at the storm and complaining but to turn the complaints into prayer. I decided to thank the Lord for all he has done in my life and is doing even through the storms.

The rainbows are in the sky of our life again and the storms are settling down but I know they will return at another time.

Sing this song with me and we can weather the storms together. May the Lord continue to bring us all a rainbow to show us His love and guidance in our lives.

God put a rainbow in the sky
When the sun came shinning though
Then we knew the storm was through
God put a rainbow in the clouds....

Lynn W

Friday, July 27, 2007

Which Ones?

Which Ones?

“Now behold, one came and said to Him, ‘Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?’ So He said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ He said to Him, ‘Which ones?’ Matthew 19:16-18

Which ones? I have read this Scripture many times but I never saw the rich man’s question to Jesus until yesterday. ‘If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments’. ‘Which ones?’ What a silly question. Which ones? If we can pick and choose which commandments to obey then they are not commandments, they are suggestions. A commandment is something that is commanded, that is, an authoritative direction, a required action, a non-negotiable.
Before we laugh too hard at the silliness of this man’s question, we need to stop and reflect how our attitude betrays the same question.
In reality, don’t we pick and choose which commandments we are going to obey? Oh, sure, we may not be consciously asking ourselves the question but the way we live our life betrays a heart that wonders, “Which ones?”
I may not consider stealing from a store, but do I steal time at work doing personal things? I may not physically harm my children, but do I harm them with my words or attitude? I may not be willing to lie, but do I leave out some details so as to leave a less than accurate impression? I may not be willing to miss church on Sunday, but do I watch more TV during the week than I spend reading God’s word?
Lest I leave the impression that it is keeping all of God’s commandments that gains us eternal life, Jesus also told the young man to “…come, follow Me.” (vs. 21) It is only God’s grace through faith that any are saved. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Eph 2:8-9.

May the evidence of our life not reflect a “Which ones?” attitude but rather that we are fully devoted to the One True God and earnestly yearn to obey Him.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

God Said, God Did, God Rested

God Said, God Did, God Rested
Then God said,
"Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them,
"Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
Then God said,
"I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food."
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
And there was evening, and there was morning-the sixth day.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all his work.
And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. "1 Most of the sisters I am blessed to know have a problem. It is in fact, the same problem that I have. We don't know how to rest. Busyness is so entrenched in us; so pervasive that to some extent we have grown to accept it as "just the way it is". Thus, we continue to "be busy".
I don't think any of us would be so grossly bold as to think or say our busyness is different from God's. So my challenge...no, my encouragement to all of us "busy sistas" is simply this. REST.
We are body, soul and spirit and we all need to rest. Yes even you! Rest! And what better place than at the feet of Jesus?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

God Said It and It Was So

God Said It and It Was So
"Then God said,
"Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds."
And it was so.
The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds.
And God saw that it was good.
And God said,
"Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, God made two great lights-the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness.
And God saw that it was good.
And God said,
"Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky."
So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind.
And God saw that it was good.
God blessed them and said,
"Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth."
And God said,
"Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind."
And it was so." 1
For our benefit, God took the time to impart the Genesis account so we could some day, open a Bible and read about what He said and all that happened after He said it.
I believe that one of the reasons He did this was to encourage us to trust, believe and obey Him -by faith. We need to know Him in His Word, most especially in the moments when doubt is tempting us to surrender His Will and His Way for our own way.
Dear one, cling to Him! Pursue Him with all the hope He has already placed within you!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

God Said ... And it was so ...

God Said...And it Was So
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
And God said,
"Let there be light,"
and there was light.
God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.
God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night."
And there was evening, and there was morning~ ~the first day.
And God said,
"Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water."
So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it.
And it was so.
God called the expanse "sky."
And there was evening, and there was morning~ ~the second day.
And God said,
"Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear."
And it was so.
God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas."
And God saw that it was good.
Then God said,
"Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds."
And it was so.
Genesis 1
I've been thinking a lot about God lately...more so than usual. In these troubled days that surround me there is great, great comfort for my soul and my spirit in reading anew about God...from the beginning.
Knowing and believing that He, God said it...and...it was so, allows be to lay my head down at night and receive His rest.
Dear one, whatever it is you're doubting, about your Redeemer today, I encourage you to stand fast; don't lose heart; draw near to Him and listen for His voice.
He said he will never leave you or forsake you...and it-is-so!!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Spiritual Giant -- Spiritual Weakling

Spiritual Giant Spiritual Weakling

Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." Then He said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you." So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son...and went to the place of which God had told him." Genesis 22:1-3

Can you imagine such a request? How could God ask such a thing? I imagine a thousand questions swirled through Abraham's mind, yet Abraham obeyed, and he obeyed immediately.

He believed God.

He trusted God.

When Isaac asked the obvious question, "Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" Abraham responded, "My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering."

What faith!

What trust!

Before we canonize Abraham, let us consider another story that appears a few chapters earlier in Genesis (Ch 20), the story of Abraham and Abimelech. When Abraham and Sarah stayed in Gerar, Abraham instructed Sarah his wife to say that she was his sister (which was half true since she was his half-sister) believing that this would protect him from being killed on account of his wife at the hands of Abimelech king of Gerar. (Genesis 20:1-13). So where is the evidence of Abraham's faith now?

He feared man!

He trusted himself!

How is it that he was a spiritual giant, full of faith obeying God to sacrifice his own son, but a spiritual weakling when he has to trust God with his wife and life?
I am by no means pointing a finger at Abraham as if I couldn't imagine doing the same thing. (I will apologize to Abraham when I see him for using him to illustrate my point.)
One moment we can be walking by faith, obediently following Jesus, and the next moment walking by sight, doing our own thing. Moment by moment we must choose, faith or fear, obedience or disobedience, trust or distrust, belief or unbelief. This is true whether you have been a believer for 50 years, 10 years or 10 days. It is a choice, moment by moment.
What is your choice today? Will you have faith or fear? Will you trust God or trust yourself?

Will you live as a spiritual weakling or a spiritual giant?


Friday, July 20, 2007

Are You Using God as A Vitamin Supplement?

Are you using God as a vitamin supplement?

And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:22-23 .to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:19

Pastor Mark Wiley was preaching on the 7 deadliest sins, those sins that are root to so many other sins when he made this statement: "Are you using God as a vitamin supplement?"
God is not seeking to be a part of your life. He is your life. He is your all-in-all. So often we do not live as if this is true and we take daily doses of God and sometimes we even miss doses, much like our multi-vitamin.
A vitamin supplement is often taken as just that, a supplement. It is taken in addition to our main diet to fill in what may be lacking, where there are deficiencies. What we fail to see is that we don't have some deficiencies, but rather we are totally empty and void of anything of eternal value apart from Jesus Christ.
We try to fill our lives with so much stuff: people, things, activities none of which will endure or fully satisfy. It's kind of like eating cookies for lunch. They taste great but won't hold us until dinner because they lack good nutritional value.
When we stop using God as a vitamin supplement to a poor diet and start being filled by Him we will be fully satisfied with Him.
Our hearts will sing with delight and fullness. He is our All-in-All.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Think Victory! His Yoke is Easy

His Yoke is Easy
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." ~~Matthew 11:28-30~~NKJV

In Christ alone we can, will and do find rest; we will obtain peace and comfort for our heart and soul. Jesus tells us that His yoke is easy. HIS YOKE IS EASY! What an amazing thought. As one who counsels many hurting people, I can say (with confidence) that many labor under heavy burdens; they carry yokes that are not easy or light. Are you such a one? Is your soul bent from the effects of an unlovely yoke?

Come to Him, whose yoke is easy and receive rest as His gift. Lay aside any other yoke whether devised by man or the evil one. Lay it aside; cast it off and receive His. Take His yoke. Submit to His authority. His yoke is easy and His burden is light and there is much freedom to be found in it.

Learn of Him. Add more and more and more to what you think you know about Him and find comfort in obedience to His Will and His Word and His Way. No matter how imperfect you are; no matter whose box or mold you don't fit in; no matter how flawed, invaluable or messed up you think you are COME TO HIM! His yoke is easy.

"It is a yoke that is lined with love. So powerful are the assistances He gives us, so suitable the encouragements, and so strong the consolations to be found in the way of duty, that we may truly say, it is a yoke of pleasantness. The way of duty is the way of rest. The truths Christ teaches are such as we may venture our souls upon. Such is the Redeemer's mercy; and why should the laboring and burdened sinner seek for rest from any other quarter? Let us come to him daily, for deliverance from wrath" (1) Sistas, I'm right there with you. Let us go together and find rest in the safe and gentle hands of our Redeemer.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Come To Me

Come to Me
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
~~Matthew 11:28-30~~NKJV

This verse of Scripture has been drifting in and out of my head and heart for a few days now. It has been and is a soothing balm for my weary soul.
Rightly defined, soul as a noun is "the immaterial part of a person; the actuating cause of an individual life."(1) In other words, we could say our soul is our mind, will and emotions.

As a woman, wife, mom, counselor etc., there are a variety of ways that I give myself (my soul) away daily, sometimes to the point of emptiness. Because I am surrounded by women; because I write to women, I want to ask; I must ask, "How is it with your soul? If you answered a resounding "Yes!" with me, then let's do what the Master's Word draws us, compels us to do. Let's come to Him! Let's pursue Him as if our lives depend on it!

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
~~Matthew11:28-30~~ The Message

God is not a God who is unwilling to be found. He will be found by us when we pursue with all our heart soul mind and strength.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What Kind of Garden Are You Growing?

What kind of Garden are you growing?

Years ago, when I was working as a Systems Engineer, our department secretary was facing a health crisis. I distinctly remember my conversation with her as I shared I was praying for her. Her reply unsettled me. She said she was praying too. She was praying to God, to Jesus, to Allah, and to Buddha because she wasn't sure who could help so she was praying to all of them.

As believers in Jesus Christ we cringe at such theology knowing there is One True God; but I wonder if we do much the same thing in our own walk with God.

Who are you listening to? In the counseling office, I hear people share who they are gleaning "wisdom" from: Dr. Phil, Oprah, Joel Olsten, James Dobson, Beth Moore, Joyce Myers, the internet, a radio speaker, a pastor, a book, or a magazine article. These things can be good but we must remember they are not the inspired word of God.

I believe a lot of confusion comes from listening to too many different sources, too many different voices.

It reminds me of a garden. When planting a tulip garden you plant all tulip bulbs, one at a time each in its own hole. When planting a wildflower garden you scatter a variety of seeds on the surface and rake over them to cover them with a thin layer of dirt.
"...for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap."
Galatians 6:7

What kind of garden are you sowing? Are you indiscriminately scattering seeds from a plethora of sources? Are you intentionally planting the seeds of truth from God's word, watering and caring for them, allowing them to take root and grow deep? Are you keeping your garden well weeded to keep it clear of anything that does not meet the test of God's word?
All those other things will come and go, but God's word will stand forever.

"Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven."
Psalm 119:89


Friday, July 13, 2007

It's Only a House

It is only a House.....

Joshua 24:15 b
..as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Recently, I had an Aunt and Uncle move close to where I live. Most of my life they lived far enough away that we would see each other on holidays, weddings and all that other fun family stuff.

I knew of my aunt in a much different way than I am getting to know her now. There was one thing that always stood out in my mind, and now I see it even more clearly. This was the aunt that at Christmas time would give us Bible story books, Bible games and pretty much every gift was Bible related. My father always spoke of her with such respect and referred to her and her husband as two people that walked with God.

As a child this just stuck with me. She always held a special spot in my heart, even though I rarely got to see her. I remember her enthusiasm and spunk that she always had for the Lord. It was not a Sunday only thing; my Aunt and Uncle lived life daily, as full time Christian workers, but had ordinary jobs. Their daily life reflected their love for the Lord and His work.

Now that they are down here and closer to me, I have been able to spend time with them. Their love for the Lord, His people and their service to Him is still evident in their lives. They are older now and can not get around as much as they used to but WOW, how they still serve Him!

In spending one night at their new apartment they told me a little story....

When selling their house they decided to pray about it. The house was built many years ago by my Uncle's parents, who built it for the purpose of using it for the Lord and His people. When my Uncle got married he took over the house for his family and that original purpose remained; this house must be used for the Lord. There has been close to four generations from this family in the house and it is still standing firm; it was built to serve the Lord. Their desire and prayer was to sell the house to a Christian family who would maintain the original purpose and use it to serve the Lord.

They had several offers and the one chosen was not the highest bidder but the family that were Christians and said they needed a house where they could serve God's people.

My aunt and uncle needed to think through whether or not to sell high or low; they still had their needs to consider financially once they moved. But the Lord was leading them to sell to the lower bidder and know that this house would still be a place where the Lord would be served. They just knew God would honor this decision and their needs would be met by Him not the sale of the house.

Even in the apartment they are in now....the verse, "As for me and my house we will serve the Lord" still lives on.

I can truly say I have seen this verse exemplified in the lives of my Aunt and Uncle and I praise the Lord for such Godly examples.

May I always remember that for me and my house we will serve the Lord, too.

Lynn W

Thursday, July 12, 2007



In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength (Isa. 30:15)

Be still and know that I am God (Psa. 46:10)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul... (Psa. 23:1-3)

These verses speak - shall I say it - LOUDLY to us about quieting ourselves before the Lord. Yes, He created us with the ability to sing (well at least some of us) and shout for joy and worship Him in that way. And He delights when we call out His name in joyful praise and thanksgiving for who He is and for all He has done for us.

But there is a time and place for quietness and solitude where we draw close to Him and hear Him whisper His instructions, His love, and His concern for our concerns.

I don't know about you, but I am a people person. I love being around people and I get energized from their energy. But - sometimes - I have a day when I have had too much of people, of listening and talking to others. It is then that I feel the need most keenly to listen and let my God talk to me. I truly appreciate the solitude of being by myself with my Lord and instead of me doing the talking, allowing Him to speak to me in quiet words, or even no spoken words at all. It is then that I open my Bible and find strength and comfort in just reading the words and letting the Holy Spirit calm me and minister to me in quietness and confidence. It is then that I find my strength renewed for the coming activities of the next day.

We live in an age when we are surrounded by all kinds of noise - traffic and honking horns, too loud radios and TVs, but also loud cries of despair and hopelessness as we hear about war, and crime and devastating tragedies all around us. And it is the quiet solitude and peace that only comes from knowing Jesus and the assurance that He is in control that keeps us going.

I pray that as we experience that blessed quiet and solitude in our lives that it will be obvious to those we encounter who are suffering from too much noise in their lives, too many loud distractions placed there by Satan that they will truly be drawn to the only One who can calm the din and bring peace to their lives.

May our family, friends, and others we meet during our day, come face to face with the quiet confidence we not only share with them, but SHOW them, that comes from knowing Jesus Christ and His power to bring rest to our souls.

Lynn Randall

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I Have A Face Like Flint

I Have Set My Face Like Flint

Have you ever heard someone use a phrase and wonder what does that really mean?
Recently this phrase- I have set my face like flint- had me wondering not only what it meant but how does one set their face like flint? I must begin with the word flint. Flint literally means rock. Well, that is helpful for me. It means I have to understand that I must set my face like rock towards the difficult tasks in front of me. For Jesus it was the Cross. He was determined to fulfill ALL that the Father had told him to do. For me right now I need to set my face like flint as I struggle to exercise, as I pray for our prodigal and as I constantly see the deceit in my own heart that I need to deal with. Setting our face like flint will mean that we are determined to be unmovable. We will remain strong. We will finish ALL that God has told us to do even when it seems impossible! But how did Jesus and how will you and I be able to remain strong like flint? Isaiah 50:7 says " For the Lord God will help me; Therefore I will not be disgraced; Therefore I have set my face like a flint , and I know that I will not be ashamed." We have a strong, powerful God who is ready, willing and able to keep us strong regardless of what difficulties seem to be in our way. 1 Corinthians 15:58 also says "be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain." What is before you today? What tasks are heavy on your heart? Set your face like flint! Be a rock of Gods strength knowing for certain that He is for you in all you do! And remember- The task ahead of us is never as great as the power behind us!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lessons from Esau -- Part 2

Genesis 25:34, "And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright."

Despise: to look down on with contempt or aversion; to regard as negligible, worthless, or distasteful1

At that moment, Esau despised his birthright, or regarded it as negligible or worthless. He regarded the stew as more important than his birthright. We may scratch our heads and wonder what kind of fool is this? The question that immediately came to mind was, "In what ways have I despised my birthright?"

I am not George and Martha's first-born, I'm actually fifth-born, so I'm not referring to a human birthright. However, I am born of God. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." John 1:12-13 As a child of God, we have a birthright.

Birthright: a right, privilege, or possession to which a person is entitled by birth2

We have privileges and possessions which become ours by the virtue of being born from above.
* We are adopted into the family of God - John 1:12-13, Ephesians 1:5
* We are friends of God. John 15:14-15
* We are His delight. Psalm 18:19
* We are heirs of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ. Romans 8:17
* We are more than conquerors. Romans 8:37
* We have been given garments of salvation and robes of righteousness. Isaiah 61:10
* We are the bride of Christ. Isaiah 54:5
* We have been set free from the power of sin. Romans 6:14
* We have been forgiven. Colossians 2:13
* We bear His name. Acts 11:26
* We have been set free. John 8:36
* He is our provider. Genesis 22:14
* He is our healer. Exodus 15:26
* He is our peace. John 14:27

This is just a very small sampling of the truths in Scripture about our spiritual birthright. As we consider Esau, what lesson can we learn from him? Are there ways in which we despise our birthright, exchanging the rights and privileges as His child, for anything that is more important to us at that moment?


Monday, July 09, 2007

Lessons from Esau

Reading through the book of Genesis, it is easy to really wonder about this man Esau. He doesn't strike me as the brightest guy. The saying, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach" is demonstrated through his actions in Genesis 25:29-34. He surrenders his inheritance, his birthright for a pot of stew. That had to be a powerful hunger. It is also a perfect illustration of the short-sightedness and the desire for immediate gratification (sounds like a lot of the younger generation, well, to be honest, it sounds like me sometimes).

It comes time for his father Isaac to give the blessing (See Genesis 27) so he calls his oldest son into his tent and gives him instructions regarding the preparation of a special meal. You know the story how Rebekah (Isaac's wife) convinces Jacob (Esau's younger brother) to trick Isaac into giving him the blessing instead. When Esau returned, he discovered that Jacob had indeed received the blessing of the firstborn - the birthright. Esau was angry. When he heard Isaac share that he had blessed Jacob thinking it was Esau, "he cried with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, "Bless me-me also, O my father." (Genesis 27:34). "So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him and Esau said in his heart, 'The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob." (Genesis 27:41) Jacob fled for his own safety and stays in the land of his mother's family for many years.

When the time came for Jacob to return to his homeland, he knew he had to face Esau. Jacob sent messengers before him to announce his arrival. He sent multiple people with herds and flocks to placate Esau. It did not work, because Esau did not need placated.

What happened? Esau was exceedingly angry when Jacob left. But when he returned many years later, he received Jacob with open arms. "Then Esau said, 'What do you mean by all this company which I met?' and he said, 'These are to find favor in the sight of my lord.' But Esau said, 'I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.' (Genesis 33:8-9) Then Esau said, 'Let us take our journey' let us go, and I will go before you.'" (Genesis 33:12) Esau even offered to leave some of his men to help Jacob complete the journey.

What happened? Forgiveness is what happened. Esau forgave Jacob. The scripture does not tell us this directly, but it is proven through the actions of Esau.

Forgiveness is not just words spoken; it is borne out in our attitudes and actions.
Is your forgiveness evident to others? Are you living out forgiveness in your actions towards others? Let's not sell Esau short. He did a great thing or rather He allowed God to do a great thing through him.


Friday, July 06, 2007

Have You Hugged Your Mom Today?

Have you hugged your Mom today?

Although I didn't know it at the time I believe I began my "Hug Ministry" in my early twenties. As a child of immigrant parents from the Ukraine, I wasn't accustomed to many displays of affection through "I love you's" and hugs....especially from my Poppa. That just wasn't the way he or Momma was raised. However, I must have observed affection displayed to children through television because I craved it.
After I married at nineteen, I began to tell my parents that I loved them and began to give hugs on a regular basis. Poppa took to the idea and began to hug back (big bear hugs) and say "I love you too." I really enjoyed those hugs until his death in 1990.
Momma learned to hug too but the "I love you's" were a little tough so she would always answer with "I know you love me." And that was okay.
When my sons were born, I made a conscience decision to give them lots of hugs and "I love you's."
Perhaps you remember a television commercial from many years ago that stated "Its 10:00 do you know where your children are?" Because I believed showing affection was so important, I changed the words and would always ask my boys, "Have you hugged your Mom today?" We would hug and laugh...what sweet memories.
When, as teens they spiraled out of control in drug addiction and there was so much anger, pain and hurt, the hugs and "I love you's" dwindled down to almost non-existent. My pain blinded me to the fact that they needed my hugs and "I love you's" more than ever. After a time I began to attend Families Anonymous. At that time I didn't know Jesus as my Savior. One thing of great importance I learned in those meetings is the importance of sharing my love for my sons in the midst of the craziness and finding one thing each day to affirm each of my sons. Let me tell you, there were times that I was really reaching with things like "That's a great hair cut." I began to force myself, through my pain, to say "I love you". I desperately needed to reconnect and love my sons through it all.

1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
Colossians 3:13-14 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

So have you hugged your spouse, child, mom, dad, friend today??

Mary Ann

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Ministry of a Hug

The Ministry of a Hug

During the 2006 summer conference season an elderly women came into my office and asked for counseling. After meeting with her and praying with her, my heart was deeply impacted by the pain this women carried. When our session ended I felt the Lord prompting me to ask her if I could give her a hug. She said yes, and I gave her a hug that indicated to her that I cared about her and what she was going through. To my amazement she said this was the first time in 10 years that she had received a hug! I just had to give her a second hug. I couldn't imagine not having that personal touch in such a long time.

Have you ever thought that a hug could be a ministry? I've been thinking seriously about this very idea. Sometimes a listening ear is enough and sometimes it isn't and although a hug is not appropriate in all circumstances, there is times when a hug is very much what the person needs. It conveys so much to the woman receiving a hug. It expresses our sisterly love for one another and our compassion. It can convey to a hurting sister more than words ever could.

Have you ever been so deep in a pit that you couldn't imagine anyone caring about you? Or have you ever been so full of despair and pain that you felt unworthy of a hug? Maybe it's been a long time since someone gave you a hug or even a gentle touch of a hand. Perhaps there's a woman you know who is going through a very difficult time, illness or is in grief over the loss of a loved one. Maybe you've sat with a friend or a stranger, and have listened to her share her heart with you. You prayed with her and felt God prompting you to give her a hug. Ask permission and then give them their hug from God. I haven't met a woman yet who has turned a hug down or told me she didn't need the hug.

Matthew 22:37-39 "...Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself."

Ephesians 4:2 "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."
"Lord, when I learn that someone is hurting, Help me to know what to do and say; Speak to my heart and give me compassion; Let your great love flow through me today." Kurt De Haan

Mary Ann

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Helping God Out

Do you ever find yourself helping God along? Perhaps He doesn't seem to be moving according to your time table as with Abraham and Sarah. God made a promise that Abraham would be the father of many nations but he had no offspring of his own.

"I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great" Genesis 12:1 "Look, You have give me no offspring; indeed on born in my house is my heir? And behold the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 'This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from you own body shall be your heir. Then He brought him outside and said, 'Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.' And he said to him, 'So shall your descendants be.' Genesis 15:3-5

Although Abraham and Sarah believed God, no pregnancy resulted. So Sarah took things into her own hands and gave her handmaiden Hagar to Abraham as his wife. A child was conceived from their union, however he was a child born of the flesh he was not God's promised child.

"For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic." Galatians 4:22-24

Abraham and Sarah helped God out and it resulted in two peoples that have been warring factions through the generations.

Abraham's son and daughter-in-law, Isaac and Rebekah conceived twins after twenty years of marriage.
"But the children struggled together within her; and she said,
"If all is well, why am I like this?" So she went to inquire of the Lord.
And the Lord said to her: "Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from you body; One people shall be stronger than the other,
and the older shall serve the younger." Genesis 25:22-23

When time came for Isaac to bless his firstborn, Esau, Rebekah convinced Jacob to deceive Isaac and receive the blessing of the firstborn. She was helping God keep His promise. Sound silly? Don't we do the same thing?

I do the same thing. I clearly have this promise from God's word:

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light and your justice as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him...
Psalm 37: 5-7

Oh, I do okay for a while trusting, dwelling, feeding, delighting, committing, and resting. But when I decide that God is taking too long bringing it to pass, I make efforts to try to help Him along. I have yet to push Him into responding to my timetable. It is another life lesson being fleshed out in the reality of my experience.

So, are you helping God along? Are you trying to get God to operate on your timetable or do you trust God to keep His promises in His perfect timing?


Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Food For Thought

My Doctor looked at me over her eyeglasses and said "You need to watch your weight".
I knew I had been buying clothes in bigger sizes. But was food really a problem?

As I began to understand what my body needs versus what my body wants I found out how much I was eating. I realized that over the last year I had been eating more for various reasons. Food was a comfort when I was stressed, angry or needed a little consolation. Food was a friend when I was lonely or bored. Food was what I was using to fill voids in my life. Food was not only filling my stomach but filling areas of my life that Jesus wanted to fill. He desires to be my comfort. He desires to be my friend. He desires to fill all the empty spaces in my heart. Food had taken places that are rightfully His. In those times of stress, anger, boredom and loneliness I turned to something other then Jesus Christ.

Okay, let's be real! Turning to anything but Christ to fill our needs would be? Yes, an idol! I admit it! How did this little monster begin to grow? Easy. Whenever we focus on ourselves rather then Chris t we lose sight of our Helper, our Comforter, our Friend and we begin to take care of things our own way.

Now, I needed to slay the little monster by re-focusing. I needed to focus again on God's Word and as I did I began to have verses about food jump from the pages. Things like God providing manna for the Israelites spoke to me of God's provision for my sustenance not my gluttony. Just as the Israelites had struggled for all the goodies back in Egypt, I struggled with the desire for a bag of Lays Leek and Garlic potato chips and had to fight off my own desire to be in bondage once again (Numbers 11). Then I read about Adam and Eve and realized in a new way that the fall of mankind took place over a piece of fruit! (Gen. 3) I found good company with the disciples who seemed to always be worrying about food and where to find it. (John 6:7) Then there is the crowd that knew Jesus fed thousands and so they came to Him to fill their stomachs but really didn't want anything else He had to offer. (John 6:22-26)

But what stopped me in my tracks is found in Job 23:12b - "I have treasured the words of His mouth more then my necessary food." Wow! That got to the heart of the matter in a hurry! I began to ponder how important food can be to me. Think for a moment about all that encompasses food. How much time we spend food shopping, planning and preparing food, cooking food, eating food, waiting for a table to get into our favorite restaurant and watching the Food Network.

Now think about the amount of time you and I treasure God's Word more then our necessary food? Ouch! I have skipped meals for many reasons but I don't recall ever missing a meal because the Word tasted so good that I could not bear leaving it. When was the last time you got so caught up in reading and pondering God's Word you forgot to eat? God's Word is an awesome feast and often we grab some crumbs on the go and run. Maybe Jesus is looking at you and me saying "You need to spend more time with me." Or "You need to allow me to fill you with Living Water and provide you with your daily bread." Or "I wo uld like you to add some "meat" to your diet."

A healthy way of eating is to have small meals through out the day. Why not keep a Bible in your desk or purse and have a little more necessary food before you eat! "How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter then honey to my mouth!" Psalm119:103

Kathy Withers serves at the Keswick Bookstore and is a speaker available to speak at your next ladies function. For information, contact Ruth Schmidt at 732-350-1187 ext. 21