Monday, March 31, 2008

Get in the Gap

Get in the Gap!!

The other night my husband and I were in prayer together and something he sought God for on behalf of our daughter grabbed my attention and encouraged me all the more to get in the gap and stay there. In his talking with God He asked the Lord to guard and protect our daughter even though she resists coming to Him for herself.

As I have been reading the Bible these past few weeks -as I would read a
novel- Moses and his people leapt to the front of my thinking. Over and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again... Moses went to the Lord on behalf of God's children. Children the Lord loved enough to save from captivity in Egypt. God delivered them from bondage and a host of other life threatening predicaments and situations. And still they (just like us) resisted, disobeyed, and longed to return to captivity for the mere taste of leeks, onions and garlic. Rather than humble themselves in the sight of God and seek His face, worship Him, and ask for help to deal with their circumstances, not to mention their flesh, they grumbled and complained.

Praise God for Moses and for the friendship relationship he had with his God. Moses consistently (not perfectly) sought the Lord. He even petitioned God for mercy on their behalf when God had determined to discipline them for their sin(s).

Just as my husband stands in the gap for my daughter, Moses stood in the gap for his people. There was no other like Moses. Just think where God's people would have been if there wasn't one to stand in the gap on their behalf?

Dear ones, we need to GET IN THE GAP!! We must determine to tirelessly go
before the Lord, to make a stand for righteousness and holiness, to seek God's mercies for ourselves and those we love. We must make a stand right now! The lives of our loved ones are at stake!

We need to pray even if it appears nothing is changing or happening. None of us know for sure the moment-by-moment impact or effect our prayers are, or may be, having in the spirit realm. We just don't know.

The enduring faith of one prayer warrior, of one person who is willing to get in the gap, and take a stand for those in our lives who may be ignorantly resisting God can reap generations of blessings. Let's pray for those who wander aimlessly in the dessert to come to an end of all their foolishness, to humble themselves before the Lord, turn from their wicked ways, be healed and step into the blessing of freedom that comes from Christ alone.

And on a personal note, let's repent; let's put to death the deeds or our own flesh -gossiping, slandering tongues, critical judgmental spirits, haughty attitudes, etc., etc. Let's go to God and ask Him to reveal the besetting sins in our own hearts and lives, remembering there is one who stands in the gap for us, lest we like God's people of old be burned up with fire or swallowed up by the very ground that we stand on. Selah


Friday, March 28, 2008

Walking in the Shadows

Walking in the Shadows

John 8:12 tells us that whosoever follows Jesus "shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life."

I got to thinking about that, asking myself how can I follow Jesus and NOT be walking in darkness as it were. Then it dawned on me (no pun intended) that following Him does not mean I am walking in DARKNESS, but walking in His shadow. That makes all the difference in the world. When you are in the shadows, you are not in complete darkness. Rather you are surrounded by light and something or someone is filtering the light. Think of it as reflected light. He surrounds us with His light and it is reflected onto us. Then we, in turn, serve as "Light reflectors" to those with whom we come into contact every day - family, friends, co-workers, and yes, strangers.

Something in our lives - our conduct - should be reflecting Jesus' light to others as we follow in His light. The words we speak, the things we spend our "spare time" doing, the way we dress, the places we go, the things we spend our money on, what we eat (have I hit any nerves yet?) should all be reflections of what would bring Jesus glory and show to others that having Him in our lives is what makes the real difference. When someone leaves after being with us, it should be an opportunity for them to bask in the glorious warmth and light of "the Light of the World."

My prayer for you today - and for me - is that every person I meet will meet Jesus Christ through me, and be drawn to Him because His Light is reflected in my life.

Lynn is the Director of Human Resources at America's KESWICK; is active in her local church; and enjoys serving and encouraging others.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Worry or Trust?

When our son was only nine years old, the ophthalmologist recommended Matthew start wearing contact lens. At that time we were staff members with Campus Crusade for Christ, and our budget was extremely limited. We were blessed to know a Christian optometrist who charged us almost nothing for his services. We had contact lens insurance which included a sizeable deductible. Matthew was very careful of his lens; however, as an active nine year old, he still lost several lens. I became overly protective and almost obsessed about Matt not losing those lens, especially about not having to spend the money we really didn't have for the insurance deductible.

God spoke to me one day about trusting Him with everything in my life, including Matt's lens! After much consideration, I gave the lens to God and to seal the deal, I told Matt what I had done. I told him I would not harass him any more. I could almost see that little guy physically relax and he breathed a sigh of relief.

Needless to say, it was not long until a neighbor child ran to our door and said, "Mrs. Heavilin, Matt lost a lens on the grass. He asked me to come and tell you because he is hunting for the lens." On grass? As I walked over to the yard where Matt had been playing, I tried to gather my thoughts and compose myself. When I got to Matt, I said, "Matt, remember I told you I had promised God I would trust Him with your lens?" Matt nodded yes. "Well, Matt, can you pray and ask God to help us find your lens?" I have to admit, I wasn't sure I could pray, so I asked Matt if he would. I will always remember as we formed a circle and held hands as Matt prayed. "Dear Lord, It sure would be nice if we could find my lens. But if not, thanks anyway, Lord." After the prayer Matt, his friend and I knelt down and began to comb the grass. Suddenly Matt hollered, "I found it!" It was much easier for all of us to take time to thank the Lord for the miracle of the lens.

As I walked away, I realized God had answered my prayer to make me a kinder, gentler mom. God had taught Matt that God even cared about a tiny, almost invisible, little lens, and more than that, Matt learned God cared about him! We both learned we could pray for anything, in front of anyone.

"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?...But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:27, 33).

Marilyn is a wife and mother, author, and international conference and retreat speaker. She and her husband Glen serve as Counselors-in-Residence at America's KESWICK during the summer months.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My Physical Body Deterioates, But Does My Spiritual Body ...

My Physical Body Deteriorates, But Does My Spiritual Body Have to go with it?

Living in an "over-55 Community" is an interesting phenomenon. Yes, I will admit it (reluctantly) - I am over 55. How that happened is the topic for another time. The fact is that I am getting older and I can't say that I am aging "gracefully." Maybe no one really does, but I do see many that seem to have been able to "cheat" the mirror and look younger than their years.

I was sitting in my office a week or so ago, speaking with one of our volunteers. As we talked, she mentioned her age and I sat up straight in my chair. "You're kidding!" I said. "You can't be that old." Thankfully she took it as the compliment I intended it to be. She seemed to have more stamina than I do, for sure. I must admit, that at that moment, I was a little jealous. Then we talked a little more and I realized that she had some physical challenges of her own. And if am really honest - I felt a little better - it was OK for me to have aches and pains.

But if I took better care of myself - ate a healthier diet (and praise the Lord, chocolate is now considered an anti-oxidant), exercised more often, and rested when I was tired (instead of staying up late to watch something on TV), I would be in better shape physically.

Then I got to thinking about the condition my spiritual body is in. Presumably, as I age in my Christian walk, I should be more mature and wise. But am I? Again, if I am honest, my spiritual body is suffering from aches and pains, just like my physical body.

And the same reasons that my physical body is suffering are the reasons my spiritual body is also not as healthy as it should be. My spiritual diet is too full of things that don't contribute to building it up. "As newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the Word that ye may grow thereby" (I Peter 2:2). My spiritual diet often is too superficial - no real milk - no protein, as it were, to build it up. I spend too much time doing stuff (and even though it is worthwhile stuff), I need to rest and set myself aside to have time to listen to what God wants to say to me through His Word and prayer. Then, and only then, is it time for me to exercise my spiritual body - maybe through volunteer work in my church, maybe through visiting a sick neighbor or friend to share some encouraging thoughts with them, maybe walking around my block and sharing the good news of God's redeeming love and power with some of my unsaved neighbors.

Eventually, however, my physical body will wear out no matter how much good care I take of it, but praise the Lord, that as I feed on His Word, rest in Him and listen to His will for my life, and exercise my spiritual and other gifts for His glory, my spiritual body will grow stronger and healthier with each passing day.

Lynn is the Director of Human Resources at America's KESWICK. She is active in her church and is a gifted planner and organizer. She has a real heart for people as evidenced by her care, concern and practical encouragement.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Matthew 6:19-21
What can I do with a 74 year old check? It's for $6.00, made out to my mother. She never cashed it, and I can't! I've waited too long.

The story is special, worth more to me than the check. You see, my mother sent my picture into a Gimble's Department Store baby contest. I was about one year old. In May I will be 75! I won the contest, and my mom must have been so proud. She hung the photo in a frame with the winning $6.00 check in the corner of the picture. I've been going through some of Mom's "treasures" and there they were. The check was behind the picture. Since Mom is now in Heaven, I can't ask her why she never cashed the check. I do know it was the year of the "Depression" in 1933. Both the bank and Gimble's are gone!

I know my mom loved my sister and me, but I also know how much she loved the Lord. She accepted Him into her heart when she was a child and served Him in many ways. Her life verse was Matthew 5:16 "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven."

All her life, as my sister and I grew up, she taught children in Sunday School and loved them all. I was in her class and learned of Jesus. Her friends, and also our friends, were always welcome in our home. I remember I wanted to be like her! What a witness she was! She also visited a home for pregnant teenage girls, and along with her adult Sunday school class brought them God's Word, love and gifts!

I'm so glad Mom "cashed in" the gift God gave her: John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever beleiveth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life."

Don't wait until it's too late. Claim that verse, too; accept Jesus into your heart and receive the treasure He promised you - everlasting life!

Dottie is the bride of Chaplain Jack Noel (50 years), mother of 3 married sons, and grandmother to 8. She is a genuine prayer warrior and her love for Jesus Christ is evident to all who know her.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Psalm 139:16: All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

You can imagine my amazement when I heard the following information presented on the Christian radio station I was listening to. It was reported that survey results indicated that the worst age to be is 44. On average, people indicated the most difficult year for them was the year they were 44. I'm sure you understand my relief when I realized I was past the worst year of my life by a few years (perhaps more than a few). The announcer went on to say that the reason the pollsters believed this was true was because 44 is smack dab in the middle of middle age!! Horror or horrors. MIDDLE AGE? My heart sank. I was under the impression all this time that I was gearing up to ENTER middle age, only to discover that I'm probably on my way past middle age!! What comes after middle age? I dare ask.

As I was driving home from work that day, hearing for the first time that I am not only not middle age I'm likely past it, my mind started to go where none of us want our minds to go, "to infinity and beyond" (it sounds better when Buzz Lightyear says it). A panic started to creep into my heart. Am I old? Absolutely nothing about that sounds right to me. I don't feel old, in fact a good amount of the time I don't even act my age. Before the panic could take root, I reminded myself of a few simple truths. I was only seconds older than I was before I heard the report of this survey, not years older. Nothing really had changed just my knowledge of what some define as middle age. Age is relative. We are all growing older at the same rate, one second at a time.

As a young child I had an inordinate fear of death, most likely triggered by the death of my Papa when I was about 7. As I have counseled some 17 years now, I have had the opportunity to speak to more than one adult who struggles with the fear of old age and death. For many it is the fear of the unknown. Can we trust God with the unknown?

Isn't that really the bottom line? Do we trust God? Whether we are young, middle-age or elderly, do we trust God with our life and breath? Do we rest in His provision and care? Whatever lies ahead of us or around the corner, do we trust that God will be sufficient in those moments?

Whether you are 18 or 88, God holds your days in His hands, every single one of them.

Psalm 139:16: All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Diane Hunt is the Director of Addiction Recovery Ministries at America's KESWICK, Biblical Counselor, Conference and retreat speaker, Victory Call editor, wife, mother, grandmother, and nut.

Friday, March 21, 2008

True to the Word

True To The Word

Years ago, when I was a small group leader, I was challenged to have a Jehovah's Witness attend the Bible Study I was serving in. Frankly, it scared me to death to have a very strong, vocal woman with differing views in my group. I had many other leaders offer me materials on Jehovah's Witness' so I would be informed of their beliefs. My Teaching Director very wisely stated, "Kathy already has everything she needs. She has the truth of God's Word."

I am growing increasingly concerned that believers remain true to the Word of God. I have seen the distorted views some are taking when it comes to the Bible. If you have yet to hear of the Emerging Church or the direction some churches are taking to market themselves to the world, you will. Recently, a gentleman came into the Bookstore and we began to chat. He stressed his "spirituality" but did not use the Bible as his standard for living. I have heard "Jesus was a nice guy" and "The Bible is a good narrative" from others. How can we be prepared when truth is under attack or considered unimportant?

I have personally had to get an education on the Emerging Church in order to know the ideology of this movement. I don't want to encourage you to fill your mind with the other worldly views. I want to encourage you to remain faithful to the truth found in the Word! Simply- know your Bible! Over the last year or more I have dug into the Word more then I ever have. I am seeking truth over legalism, truth over tradition and truth over the deceit of this world.

In these last days the Bible tells us that false christs and false prophets would deceive even the elect (believers) if possible (Matt.24:24). Do you see it happening? I do! Satan's tactics are the same. Remember the Garden of Eden? Satan asked Eve "has God indeed said...". He caused doubt and he deceived Eve. You and I need to know what God has indeed in the Word...know TRUTH!

My prayer is Psalm 119. The title in my Bible says "Meditations on the Excellencies of the Word of God". Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm but; read it; pray it, and even memorize it! May God find us faithful!

Kathy is on staff fulltime at the Keswick Book and Gift Shop. She is married to her husband, Dave and has two adult children. Kathy is active in her local church and has previously served as a Teaching Director for Community Bible Study. Her passion is the Word of God and encouraging women to dig deeper into the truths of the Bible.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Have you ever had a blah moment? You know, those days when you don't want to know or be known by anyone? Every once in a while I have one (some) and while I am spiritually aware of the darkness that surrounds such moments, I am also aware of how subtly my flesh enjoys that darkness.

My soul (my mind, my will and, my emotions) can sink in to the mist of my darkness and before I know it, set up camp. Like sticks gathered for a nice warm fire, my mind gathers all of its stinky thoughts and along with my will and emotions have a grand ol' time rehashing the injustices, the pains, the slights, and the unfairness of it all.

In moments like these, I allow my flesh to rise up and wander down corridors and into doors long since closed and sealed...along with all their dirty little secrets. I feel emotions long since surrendered and I feel the draw of dread, despair or hopelessness.

Even though everything in me knows better, I still do it. I allow myself to be sucked in and I make a conscious choice to do nothing. At its worst, in moments like these I begin to identify myself with all that I am feeling. Ugly, fat, stupid, unwanted, unloved, worthless...

Though it seems like hours have passed, the reality is, it has only been moments. Mere moments and I have been swallowed up; dragged deep down into a pit of my own making.

And then, and then I hear the sweetest sound. Oh how I love that sound! Only He; the One who is Hope; who speaks to my deepest inmost parts can make this sound; a sound that is barely a whisper, but it's enough to capture my attention. I wish I could put it in a word but I can't. All I know is I hear it and it causes me to lift my eyes upward, thus breaking hold of the downward spiral.

Tears begin to flow, and with each stream of tears; with each cleansing breath the blah simply vanishes. It's just gone! With my voice I cry out and the Comforter is there to counsel me and remind me who I am and who I am not.
I am not my bad feelings. I am not my worst moments. I am not my mistakes. I am not defined by any of that. I am who Father says that I am!

How are you feeling today? Are you having a blah moment? Stop, look up, listen and remember whose you are! You are a daughter or The King; the Most High God! The One Who Is Holy! He, Christ Alone is our hope; our comfort; our peace; our sanity; our every, everything. Together, let's kick blah to the curb and stand in the power of Christ, fully persuaded that nothing can or will ever be able to separate us from Him or His love.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Bondage. We all know it in some form. What area of sin in your life keeps rearing its ugly head? Is it anger? Gossip? Is it worry, anxiety or fear? Gluttony? Pride? How am I doing? Have I stepped on your toes yet? If you are not walking in total freedom, then by definition, you continue to have areas of bondage.
Bondage is not easily thwarted. It is an area of life in which we have yielded ground to the enemy which he continues to have a strangle hold on and will not release without a fight. He is not going to just turn it over to us; we are going to have to reclaim it. That would be a frightening thing if we had to enter battle on our own, but alas, we do not. For truly the battle is the Lord's and He has already won the victory. Satan is a defeated foe. It is by His grace that we will experience the fresh breeze of freedom blowing in our faces. Can you feel it? Stop just a moment and imagine it. New life, a new beginning, freedom. Pure, unadulterated freedom. Yours, without condemnation.

"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." (John 8:36)

How can this be? How does this happen? How do we go from bondage to freedom? The tentacles of bondage will loose their grip when we discover something more powerful, more delightful, more intriguing to set our affections upon, when we fall in love with something, Someone else As we grow in our understanding, knowledge, love and passion for Jesus Christ, those things which hold us bound will fade in comparison to the all-surpassing greatness of our Lord Jesus Christ.

"The idols of Egypt will totter at His presence, and the heart of Egypt will melt in its midst." Isaiah 19:1

Egypt is a picture of bondage. The idols, false gods, will not be able to stand in the presence of the One True God. Neither will the idols of our hearts be able to stand in the presence of the Almighty.

Diane Hunt is the Director of Addiction Recovery Ministries

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Encourage Someone Today

Proverbs 12:25 reads: "Anxiety in a man's heart weighs it down, but an encouraging word makes it glad."

This was my devotional reading for today, given by the writer, Joyce Meyer. She writes about the struggle we might have with worry, anxiety or just a feeling of fear with no specific cause of source.

I thought to myself, "That has been me this last year of 2007!" I read the end of this verse and realized that the word "encouraging" is so important to all of us - yes, even Christians. We need each other. God tells us this in John 13:34-35.

Looking back to the start of 2007 I was enjoying life with my family in Lancaster when I fell. I had to return home earlier than planned to visit a specialist. A broken bone in my foot added to my muscle disease (41 years, now) brought discouragement! The "black boot" I had to wear would discourage anyone! However, my husband, family, friends and especially my sister brought encouragement. God's Word was given to me in cards and phone calls, and prayers of many were my strength. My special encouragement came from two Keswick staff children who drew pictures and wrote uplifting words. I will never forget the words written on one picture: "I'm glad you are in my life." You know I've kept it in my "treasure folder".

The whole year seemed to be pain and treatments, and then at the end of 2007 I fell and hit my rib cage. I won't give you the details, but I can even laugh at myself for this accident (not dizzy or fainting - just a dumb mistake)

In my devotion today Joyce said, "Find something to be happy about; think about all the good things God has done for you." Of course, John 10:10 explains His love! I've been thinking of just this. You see, 2007 brought great blessings, too. In June my sister and husband celebrated 50 years of marriage, and in September Jack and I celebrated the same. We had such a great party given by our children - seeing all our former friends, young people we worked with at a former church for 30 years, and even our new friends made these past years. Encouraging words given just as we needed them, and given in love! We have read and reread the cards several times.

Then Jack's mom passed away that summer, and the sorrow returned. Seeing the friends and hearing the encouraging words again brought comfort. Mom had prayed for many that were at the funeral - and had led many of them to the Lord in Bible school, Sunday school, and, yes, even here at Keswick as a counselor during youth week.

So, encourage someone - not for me, but for the Lord! It is a blessing to them - and to you. You'll be glad you did! Proverbs 12:25 tells you so. Talk with God today and give Him thanks - for everything! I did. That's why I can write again for Victory Call.

Dottie Noel is the wife of Chaplain Jack Noel. One of her many loves is praying for people. She has prayed for thousands of our KESWICK friends.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I Only Want What I Deserve


How many times have we heard that phrase - or something very much like it? "I want what is coming to me" or "I want what I am owed." Worse yet, how many times have we said that or thought it? In my case, I am forced to admit - waaaay too often.

We live in an age of entitlement. It is our right to say something, do something, or have something. No one has the right to tell us what to do. Our television screens, newspapers and magazines, and other media sources all scream out the message "Do whatever you like whenever you like." It's all about our personal rights - we should get what we deserve.

And we, as Christian women, buy into that philosophy. Oh, not deliberately. It creeps up on us very subtly. But it is there nonetheless. Many of us work outside the home, so we deserve to have a nice place to live, nice clothes, vacations. Many of us are "retired" and worked hard all our lives, so don't we deserve to be able to live comfortably in our old age? Many of us carry the entitlement attitude to our children. They have the right to a good education, etc. I think you can see where I am going.

And then I am pulled back by the voice of my Savior saying to me, if it weren't for my sacrificial death for you on the cross, you WOULD get what you deserve. Eternity in hell, separated from God, never having the opportunity to worship and praise Him in glory. Ephesians 1:7 tells us, "In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His glory." Because the result of my sin is death as I am reminded in Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord."

So the next time I am tempted to ask for what I "deserve" let me remember that what I deserve is death and a God-less eternity, but what I receive because of God's mercy is life and joy and peace and eternity with Him.

Thank you Lord every day of my life that I don't ever receive what I am owed, nut what I have been given.

Lynn is the Director of Human Resources at America's KESWICK; is active in her local church; and enjoys serving and encouraging others.

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Prayer of Jabez Lesson

The Prayer of Jabez tells us that Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, "Oh that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain! So God granted Him what he requested."

Recently we (the staff) at America's Keswick were issued a challenge. A sincere heartfelt challenge to pray this prayer daily for 31 days and to then share with one another the fruit; the various answers to prayer. The challenge was issued on December 4th and right away I decided, "Yep, I'll do this." And that day, I did. I came back to my office and tacked the prayer card to my office wall.

The very next day I received a package in the mail from my Keswick penpal and enclosed was a 2008 calendar. Not just any calendar, but a Jabez prayer calendar covering a varity of topics: faith, dignity, grace, dedication, discernment, surrender, etc. Hmm, that was an interesting coincidence.

It would be seven more days before I'd pray the prayer again. (Sure, I'd read it a few times in between, but I'd yet to pray it from my heart.) It has been two days now that I have sat in my car (after arriving at work) and talked to God through this prayer. From my inmost heart I have asked the Lord to bless me indeed, to enlarge the territory of my heart. I've asked that His hand would be with me to keep me from evil speaking, evil thinking, or any other evil, that I may cause no pain to others or to myself.

"Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.
Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you."
~~ Proverbs 4:23-24 ~~

Dear ones, God has demonstarted His faithfulness and the heart that seemed to be shrinking is being enlarged by grace and oh how sweet it is! Once again I am learning that I (we) do not have the luxury of forgetting. Above all the other ways that any one of us could or would seek to guard something which is precious to us, WE MUST GUARD OUR HEARTS!! ~Selah, Selah~

Stephanie Paul, child of the Most High God, is a wife and mother of two grown children. She currently serves as part of the Addiction Recovery Ministry at America's Keswick as Women's Ministry Assistant. Her passion is to be an instrument of change in the lives of wounded, hurting people.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Beyond Our Understanding

Beyond our understanding

One evening in our small group we got into a discussion about some of the more difficult ways of God. If we were honest, I think we would all have to admit we don't understand why God chooses some and not others.

Why God choose Israel and not Assyria? Why God choose Jacob rather than Esau. Why God choose David rather than any of his brothers. Whether it is this concept or another, we do not understand God's ways.

He is surely knowable through His word and our personal relationship with Him, but we cannot comprehend Him. There was a time when that would have caused me great distress. I have come to realize that my distress was a result of my own prideful heart, trying to understand the things of God that were not given to me to understand. In my effort to comprehend God I was attempting to bring Him down to the human level so that His ways would make sense to me. If I had been able to succeed, God would not truly be God; rather He would have been no greater than I.

In many ways, that is what our society has done. They argue that since His ways do not make sense to them, either He does not exist or they will not follow Him. "I cannot accept a God that allows..."

"Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from the LORD, and their works are in the dark; They say, "Who sees us?" and , "Who knows us?" Surely you have things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; for shall the thing made say of him who made it, "He did not make me"? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, "He has no understanding"? Isaiah 29:15-16

Accepting and acknowledging that we do not understand God's ways is not a sign of resignation or weakness but rather a sign of faith embracing truth. Personally, when I accepted this truth I found that out of it flows praise of the One True God.

Is it wrong to ask why? Or How? I don't think so; it is a natural question of our hearts in an effort to bring order and sense to our world. When we allow the truth that His ways are not our ways and yet they make sense in His economy, and that everything makes sense without compromising a single one of His attributes or marring any part of His character, I believe the most natural response of a humble heart is praise and worship.

"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 'For who has known he mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?' For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things to whom be glory forever, Amen.

Diane Hunt is the Director of Addiction Recovery Ministries at America's KESWICK, Biblical Counselor, Conference and retreat speaker, Victory Call editor, wife, mother, grandmother, and nut and not necessarily in that order.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Whose Counsel Are You Listening To?

Whose counsel are you listening to?

"Woe to the rebellious children," says the LORD, "Who take counsel, but not of Me, And who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, That they may add sin to sin" Isaiah 30:1

We all receive counsel every day form a variety of sources, ourselves (how we choose to interpret events and things we read and hear); TV, radio, friends, pastors, books, etc. How careful are we to filter everything through the grid of Scripture allowing its lens to expose the truth or error of everything. When we listen to anything that does not meet the truth test we accept a lie and will heap sin upon sin.

Who walk to go down to Egypt, And have not asked My advice... Isaiah 30:2a

God is interested in the details of our lives. Too often we ask God's advice on the big stuff assuming we can handle the "small" stuff on our own. This prayerless approach evidences a prideful heart and often results in our bondage.

To strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, And to trust in the shadow of Egypt! Isaiah 30:2b

We seek to find comfort and confidence in people and things we can see, touch and hear-things of this world. It lulls us into thinking we are doing something tangible but in the end we are walking away from God not towards Him.

Therefore the strength of Pharaoh Shall be your shame, And trust in the shadow of Egypt Shall be your humiliation. Isaiah 30:3

When we trust in things of this world we attempt to orchestrate and control our own lives. This short-sighted and fleshly approach to life will fail and leave us grasping after the wind and repeatedly coming up empty. Only that which is of God truly satisfies.

How much of you does God have ownership of? How much of your life do you trust God to direct? What part of you do you withhold from His Lordship? Whose counsel are you listening to today?

Diane Hunt is the Director of Addiction Recovery Ministries at America's KESWICK, Biblical Counselor, Conference and retreat speaker, Victory Call editor, wife, mother, grandmother, and nut and not necessarily in that order.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

How Committed Are We?

How committed are we?

Isaiah received his calling recorded in Isaiah 6:8, "Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?' Then I said, 'Here am I! Send me.'" I would venture to guess that Isaiah had no idea what lie ahead for him or how God would use him to reveal His message to the people. Isaiah 20:2, " the same time the LORD spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, 'Go, and remove the sackcloth from your body, and take your sandals off your feet.' And he did so, walking naked and barefoot. Then the Lord said, 'Just as My servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and a wonder against Egypt and Ethiopia, so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians as prisoners and the Ethiopians as captives..."

Can you image how Isaiah probably felt when he received the word from God that he was to disrobe and walk around naked for 3 years? The shame he would feel was a picture of the shame Egypt and Ethiopia were going to experience. I wonder if Isaiah hesitated. I wonder if he considered other options or tried to convince himself that surely God would not ask so much. We don't know from the text, but I'm just trying to imagine Isaiah's reaction, after all he was human like you and I. Yet, in spite of what he might have felt, Scripture indicates that he indeed walked around naked and barefoot 3 years, 3 years!!

In comparison, what have you been asked to do by God lately? Perhaps God has been convicting you regarding your tongue, gossip, pride, anger, or self-control. Perhaps He has been prompting you to spend less time watching TV and more time in His word, or to get more involved in Church or share the gospel with your neighbor who keeps asking questions. What is God asking of you? How committed are you to obey God?
If Isaiah, a man like us, obeyed God and walked in shame for 3 years can we not cease gossiping, overspending or overeating?

How committed are we?

Diane Hunt is Director of Addiction Recovery Ministries and a proud grandma!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Choose to Obey

Choose to obey.

We are living in the era of "reality" television programs. My husband and I have become intrigued with the Super Nanny program. We are amazed that parents now need someone to come in and explain to them that they are the parents, and it's OK to tell your children no. Somehow we knew that children needed consistency and order. How have people known these things in the past generations? First, in all of scripture we see order and consistency. Scripture verifies we can depend on God. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
This week take time to look at the book of Jonah. Try to read through this little, four chapter, book in the Living Bible translation or some other modern day translation.
First God gives Jonah a specific request: "Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are." That direction is very clear. Jonah didn't have to wonder what God wanted him to do. But Jonah decided to ignore the very clear and precise direction from God. He threw a huge temper tantrum. "But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction in order to get away from the Lord." Jonah committed a deliberate act of disobedience.
So what did God do? Did He yell and scream and threaten Jonah? No. First, when Jonah realized the ship he was on was destined to sink, he knew exactly why. The crew asked, "What have you done to bring this awful storm down on us?" Jonah answered, "I am a Hebrew, and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land. Then he told them that he was running away from the Lord." When the crew threw Jonah overboard, the storm subsided and all was well with them, but not for Jonah. God gave him a time out. God didn't put Jonah in the naughty room or the naughty chair; He put him in the belly of a large fish that had been created just for Jonah! During that time out, Jonah came to his senses. When the fish dumped Jonah on the beach, Jonah was ready to say, "I am sorry." So what did God do? Did He belittle Jonah or constantly remind him of his disobedience? No. "Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time: Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message of judgment I have given you." God did not get sidetracked by Jonah's disobedience. He just made sure Jonah followed through on what God had told him to do in the first place. As we read further in Jonah, we even see God gave Jonah time to pout once he had been obedient.
In this book we have a wonderful description of God's plan for raising children, Give them clear directions; provide a time out if necessary; after the time out make sure they do what you asked them to do in the first place; don't get sidetracked. We also see that we serve a wonderful, dependable, consistent, forgiving God. Aren't you glad He does not keep a record of wrongs, and He loves us no matter how many times we throw our own style of temper tantrums? No matter how much we run, the requests remain consistent and predictable.
I saw a license frame that said, "God sent me to Nineveh, but I went to Nordstrom's instead." No wonder we have trouble giving our children directions. We don't want to follow directions ourselves.
God's word has given us clear directions for life long before we ever heard of a Super Nanny.

"Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your principles" (Psalm 119:12).

Marilyn is a wife and mother, author, and international conference and retreat speaker. She and her husband Glen serve as Counselors-in-Residence at America's KESWICK during the summer months.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Set Free to Be!

Set Free to Be!!
He who the Son sets free is free indeed! It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

One of the most freeing things I am experiencing of late is the freedom from "the fear of man." You know what I mean. Freedom from the barage of thoughts that seek to beat you up from the inside out as you spend minutes, sometimes hours of time consumed with wondering; with asking yourself silly questions regarding what other people do or don't think about you; why they did or did not speak; what they REALLY meant when they said this or that; why they always say things to you a certain way or different than they speak to anyone else; why they talk down to you or seem to speak in a condescending way. I could go on and on...but, really what's the point? I AM FREE! This freedom is almost palpable and oh so extremely satisfying!

Another benefit is that now my life isn't full of so much life-choking debris and my mind is clear and free to think FOR, rather than against something or someone.
Over the past few months my mind has been captured by myraid thoughts based on life-long insecurities that suddenly resurfaced and threatened to do harm. I cried many tears and expressed my anger to the Lord and did a number of seemingly self-protecting things. My husband (God bless him) spent hours listening to me. He sympathized, empathized, encouraged...even rebuked and exhorted.

None of this was by accident. God simply wanted healing to take place in my life. He wants the areas of my heart that are scarred by sin and shame to receive the treatment, the surgery and/or the cure so that I can move on.
Now why would He take the time to do that for me? Why would HE love me so?
He just does!! And, He is committed to my care and development as a believer, as His child, to enable me to more fully love those whom He loves. He wants me to grow up and stop sweatin' so much of the small stuff.

Dear sisters, why do I share this with you? Because I know that I am not alone and I know that in a variety of ways many of us are trapped by "STUFF." Stuff that daily renders us less effective in and for the call that God has placed on our life.

Join me in continual, fervent prayer seeking God for wholeness and freedom from whatever IT is that is binding you up. Take your soul in hand. Wrestle it to the ground if you have to! Allow yourself to be set free to be who God has called you to be. Allow yourself to be defined by His Spirit and not by any label man can put on you...good or bad. Who does God say you are? That alone is the truest thing!!

Stephanie Paul, child of the Most High God, is a wife and mother of two grown children. She currently serves as part of the Addiction Recovery Ministry at America's Keswick as Women's Ministry Assistant. Her passion is to be an instrument of change in the lives of wounded, hurting people.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Rash Talk

Rash talk...

Ecclesiastes 5:6, "Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin..."

Perhaps you are like me in that the most immediate response we have in a negative situation is to say things we will later regret. I know from experience, I have had to go back to individuals (often my husband or children) and ask for forgiveness for my hurtful words.
I am learning to keep my mouth shut if my inclination is to reply too quickly, too rashly, or too emotionally. I first started to practice this about 5 years ago. I was very offended by an incident that took place in my home that was an affront to my children. The individuals that witnessed the incident immediately came to me to talk about it, to assure me the other individual was way out of line, etc. I kept silent. One particular person kept pushing me and herself became offended by my silence, so I learned at that moment to say, "I'm sorry. I know my heart right now and I know that if I speak now I will sin in my words so I just need some time to think and pray through this before I talk about it." This phrase has come in handy and kept me out of trouble on multiple occasions.
Sometimes we are better off keeping our thoughts to ourselves until we can speak gently, truthfully, and carefully.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Monotonous Ritual or Rewarding Joy


Let's face it. There are some things we do in our daily lives that are just that - monotonous rituals. Start with the alarm clock (we hit the snooze button once - or maybe twice), start the coffee pot perking, hit the shower, take our various and assorted medications and vitamins, grab a piece of toast or, if you're lucky, an ooey, gooey cinnamon roll, brush your teeth and head for the door. And so the day will go. These are routines that we perform almost without thinking about them because they are routine, albeit important and needing to be done.

And there is nothing wrong with those kinds of things. No one is going to try and convince you that there is any real joy in brushing your teeth (your own or those acquired at some time in your life). But there are things we do during the course of our day that can become monotonous rituals that should NEVER be allowed to become so.

Is your prayer life taking on a certain monotonous character? How about your personal devotions? Or your Bible study? Or your church attendance?

I will confess that all too often I find myself sitting down to pray or have my devotions because I need to do that, and it's "that time of day" when I usually do it. And when I finish, how do I feel? Frequently the answer is "OK, that's done. Now I can move on to the next thing on my list of things to do."

And I have robbed myself of the rewarding joy that should be a part of every part of my prayer life, my Bible reading, my church attendance. Joy in being in God's presence, joy in being able to speak to and be heard by the sovereign God of the universe, joy in experiencing the Holy Spirit speak back to me God's words of love, wisdom and teaching.

So, I say, God, keep me from falling into monotonous routines when it comes to praying, reading Your Word, or joining with fellow believers in worship, and fill my days - every one of them -- with the rewarding joy of Your very presence in my life.

Lynn is the Director of Human Resources at America's KESWICK; is active in her local church; enjoys serving and encouraging others.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Agape: God is Love

Agape: God is love
I have been studying a simple yet so, so deep topic- the love of God. Do you understand the agape/ love of God? Here are a few thoughts to help you and I put such an awesome love in perspective. First, we must understand that God doesn't just love but HE IS LOVE! Think about that and if you are like me it is hard to wrap your mind around that great truth. It is hard to fully understand because no one can fully comprehend God. Since God is love what can we understand? Secondly, 1 Corinthians 13 tells us what love (agape) is and is not. Love is long suffering, kind, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, and never FAILS. Love is not envious, proud, puffed up, rude, self-seeking, easily provoked, thinking evil nor rejoices in iniquity. Please don't turn this agape love into something small and common. Don't think that the way we love is the way God loves. Heaven forbid! He can love this way and never fail. We, on the other hand, fail to agape all the time. For this very reason we must understand our helplessness to love this way. You and I can't! But God can through us. We need to make clear distinctions that this agape love is not of ourselves but it is love that is of God flowing through us. If you are trying to love the unlovely or love the one who is a thorn in your side right now you won't. You can't muster up this kind of love. Stop trying and focus on the agape of God and let Him work through you. Agape love is a supernatural love. Agape is foundational to the fruit of the Spirit. Agape love comes from the Holy Spirit, who knows the deep things of God. To love with the agape of God is a choice, one we cannot just choose to do apart from Him. Take the time to reflect on our God who is love and ask Him today to bring to your heart that kind of agape; for God first and then for others!
"Agape is not so much a feeling but a response. God commands us to agape. He is commanding us to surrender to an act of His Spirit which results in obedience."- pg 59, Living Beyond Yourself by Beth Moore

Kathy Withers Kathy is on staff fulltime at the Keswick Book and Gift Shop. She is married to her husband, Dave and has two adult children. Kathy is active in her local church and has previously served as a Teaching Director for Community Bible Study. Her passion is the Word of God and encouraging women to dig deeper into the truths of the Bible.