Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Be Careful Little Eyes ... Ears

Be careful little eyes what you see....Be careful little ears what you hear.

Here is a warning I just read and want to share with you.

"Strange as it may seem, the danger today is greater for the fervent Christian than for the lukewarm and the self-satisfied. The seeker after God's best things is eager to hear anyone who offers a way by which he can obtain them. He longs for some new experience, some elevated view of truth, some operation of the Spirit that will raise him above the dead level of religious mediocrity he sees all around him, and for this reason he is ready to give a sympathetic ear to the new and the wonderful in religion, particularly if it is presented by someone with an attractive personality and a reputation for superior godliness." (Tozer, "How To Try The Spirits", from chapter 28 of "Man, The Dwelling Place of God")

If you are one of those people, fervent for more of Jesus and His Word, I am thrilled... BUT, be careful! You and I need to sift through what we watch and who we watch and read. In our passion to know Him better it could be easy for us to grasp onto false teachings. False teachings aren't usually obvious but very subtle. I used to think I could read a book and "not throw the baby out with the bath water" but I have become very careful about my choices. I have decided to read THE BOOK and spend as much time in it as I do my other reading. Often when I read my Bible I have little time left for much else. Time in the Word is the only way you will pick up on any falsehoods in other materials. You and I want to gain godly wisdom but we need to be wise in how and from whom we will attain that wisdom.

I am excited that the Keswick bookstore now has a section called "Keswick Classics." These are titles our staff recommends. We want our guests and customers to seek after God's own heart. Need help? Stop in and I will be happy to get you into some great reading!

"(The Bereans)....searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so." Acts 17:11

Kathy is on staff full-time at the Keswick Book and Gift Shop. She is married to her husband, Dave and has two adult children. Her passion is the Word of God and encouraging women to dig deeper into the truths of the Bible.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Christ Himself

Christ Himself

I have been toying with this Victory Call in my mind for a week or so. I hesitate to write it because I don't want you to misunderstand my point. I trust that you will hear my heart and allow God to speak to yours.

I am a Biblical Counselor and have been doing counseling of some sort for 17 years. I started counseling shortly after my first counseling course which was the first of many that eventually led to my Master's degree in Biblical Counseling. Though I have "the credentials" I don't think that matters in what I want to share with you today. You see, I firmly believe we all counsel. Whether you have ever stepped foot in a seminary or not, you counsel. I have never considered counseling as only that which occurs in an office with a professional. Counseling involves teaching, training, encouraging, admonishing, challenging, guiding, sharing, discipling, coming-along-side of another individual. From that view, we all qualify as "counselors." It is that perspective from which I write this VC.

Whether you are chatting with a friend over a cup of steaming hot tea, or discipling a new or not-so-new believer, or parenting, you are pointing people towards something. What is that something? My experience has been that we are prone to point people to read their Bible, pray, serve, fast, confess their sins, etc. THESE ARE ALL GOOD THINGS, even vital things. However, it is Christ Himself that saves; it is Christ Himself that rescues; it is Christ Himself that heals. He may choose to use any one of the above avenues to accomplish His plan, but in what do we trust? Are we trusting the Person of Jesus Christ or are we trusting in those things we do, helpful things, but activities rooted in ourselves, our abilities, and our faithfulness? Dear sister, hear my heart. THESE ARE ALL GOOD THINGS. But our counsel to ourselves and others should point to the person of Jesus Christ. All of those activities are good as tools that point to Christ. Successful counsel results in embracing the One True God rather than doing things in an effort to improve our situation. It is about a Person, not the process.

Philippians 2:13: "for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24: "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it."

These thoughts really convicted me because I know I have been guilty of pointing people to activities, things to do while failing to point them to the only true source of our hope for change, the Person of Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:13: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (NIV)

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

Monday, April 28, 2008

Hearing ... Listening ... Obeying (Part 2)

Hearing....Listening....Obeying (Part 2)

Recently, while preparing to go to an early morning breakfast and long day of meetings, after laying out my clothes I headed from the bedroom to the kitchen for my tea and time with the Lord. At the door, I was stopped in my tracks hearing, "Get dressed first today."

"But Lord, I'm going to have my time with you." Going back I made sure my shoes were out and everything ready to get dressed quickly later and started to the kitchen again, but turned back to do a couple other things. After repeating this for the third time, not willing to obey, I kept questioning "why"?

Finally getting to the kitchen, I started my tea and said to Stan, "I didn't know what to do first, get dressed or come out to read." I had thought on my way, "if he tells me to get dressed first, then I will." No response. While my tea was brewing, I was still discussing this with the Lord asking, "Why"? Very clearly I heard the answer in my head and heart, "You always wanted your children to obey you without questioning. And you always wanted your kids in school to obey whatever you told them to do. If for no other reason than that, you obey Me."

So I covered my cup of tea, thinking it would be cold when I got back, and said to Stan, "I need to go and get dressed first." He replied, "That's what I would have told you, but you usually do the opposite of what I think, so I didn't say anything." "But I wanted you to say this time."

So obediently, trustingly, I went and got dressed first, and coming back 20-25 minutes later, I was amazed that my tea was still hot!! I went to my time with the Lord knowing all was well. That was God's grace and love poured out to my heart, as He taught me more about not only hearing, but listening and obeying!! (And not questioning the Whys of His ways.)

"'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,' says the LORD. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.'" Isaiah 55:8, 9 NKJV

"A man's (or woman's) heart plans his (her) way, But the LORD directs his (her) steps." Proverbs 16:9

DeEtta Marsh is presently serving as Women's Ministry Assistant P/T, and with her husband, Stan, as Coordinators for Families For Christ ministry to Colony of Mercy residents and wives, and Colony Graduate Couples. Serving the Lord on Staff at America's KESWICK since summer, 1995. Wife, mother, teacher, grandmother of 8.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Hearing... Listening ... Obeying (Part 1)

Hearing....Listening....Obeying (Part 1)

During the study, "Grace Walk Experience," Dr. Steve McVey taught that in our personal walk of grace with the Lord we need to stop "trying" to do everything in our own strength and begin "trusting" Christ to be our strength and to guide, direct, and lead us to experience His grace and peace evident daily in our lives. I have found that the constant "trying" becomes so very tiring and frustrating and, like gravity, just pulls me down! Since the Scripture tells us that as believers we have the "mind of Christ," we can live "trusting" the Holy Spirit to give us the thoughts to make life so much more calm and peaceful. But then there are those times when I hear the prompting from the Lord, but think I don't need to listen, and choose my way. When it doesn't turn out well, I'm reminded of my poor choice, my "willful sin," and must ask His forgiveness for hearing Him prompting me, but not really listening and obeying.

During the month of December, I experienced an incredibly peaceful month in the midst of all the busyness and preparations before Christmas as I allowed the Lord to direct my time moment by moment-the promptings to "do this first; leave that until later," just kept me peacefully trusting, listening, and obeying, prayerfully leaving the timing of the many enjoyable celebrations of remembering Christ's birth to His direction.

I am grateful to have experienced the joy and peace of trusting and obeying Jesus, the All-sufficient One, "El Shaddai," in a life-changing way during this past Christmas season making it memorably calm and blessed.

"I will hear what God the LORD will speak, for He will speak peace to His people and to His saints." Psalm 85:8 NKJV

"...In quietness and confidence shall be your strength." Isaiah 30:15 NKJV

DeEtta Marsh is on the Women's Addiction Recovery Team and also serves with her husband, Stan, as Coordinator for Families for Christ and Host at the Keswick Campground

Thursday, April 24, 2008

If I Told You Once

If I told you once...

I heard those words on more that one occasion growing up. As a mom, I said them more than once. "If I told you once, I've told you a thousand times" are often the words of an exasperated parent. It communicates to the child: you should have this by now.

As I have been working my way through two of the major prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah, I can't help but notice that it seems as if God is repeating Himself over and over warning Judah to return to Him. I asked myself why God committed 118 chapters of Scripture to say basically the same thing. Could the message not have been given in 10 or 20? Then it dawned on me, what I am reading in weeks, was written over a span of 107 years! It is believed that Isaiah was written around 740-680 B.C. and Jeremiah to have been written around 627-580 B.C. What evidence of God's patience and longsuffering. As I read what is recorded by the pen of these men of God, I can hear the passion of God calling His children to return to Him. He pursues them with great purpose and intent. He repeatedly warns them of the coming destruction if they refuse Him. If Anyone could say, "If I told you once, I told you a thousand times," it is God. And it would be literally true.

Lest we think the people of Judah were thick-headed and slow to listen, I believe the very same could be said of us. I know in my life, if it were not for the longsuffering of God, I would already have been consumed. For without a doubt He has told me things, the same things, more times than I care to count, yet I still refuse to listen.
Thank you, Lord, that you plead with your people over hundreds of years to repent and return, and forgive me for my own stubborn heart.

Diane Hunt is the Director of Addiction Recovery Ministries at America's KESWICK.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

If Life Is Just A Bowl of Cherries ... Why Am I in the Pits?


Erma Bombeck wrote a book with this title a number of years ago, and if truth be known, some parts of it are really very funny. I was sitting in my office this morning thinking about, well, stuff and my eye caught the cover of our new summer brochure, The Thrill of Victory. The cover shows the silhouette of a man with upraised and outstretched arms and the word I immediately thought of when I saw it was "exuberance." The thrill of something so exciting that he cannot restrain his joy.

My life this week bears no resemblance to that man. I am tired physically and emotionally, so tired that I am on the verge of crying if someone even looks at me the wrong way. If I had time, I'd throw myself a pity party except that I feel like I have no time, money, or energy to do even that. So here I sit - defeated and depressed.

But, you say, you work at America's KESWICK, where God speaks to hearts and transforms lives. You have the opportunity to see God work in so many ways every single day. What have you got to be depressed or defeated about? What, indeed??

And that is my point. I had made plans for a special couple of days off that got cancelled this morning. Instead of taking that change as from God and seeking His direction as to what to do instead, I allowed myself to slip into "the pits." I let my self-pity get the best of me and forgot that my plans were just that - MINE. God had other things He wanted me to do for Him.

And you know what? The funny thing is that those two days were nothing "special" in terms of my life at KESWICK. It was ordinary stuff - the sort of things I deal with every day. Surely God didn't cause my plans to change to stay home and do ordinary things. But the problem here is that I was looking at it from MY perspective, and not HIS. Whatever I do here is not about me, or what I want; it is about Him and what He desires to have me do - for Him. And that, my friends, makes even the "ordinary" special indeed.

Jeremiah 29:11 tells us "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'" And His plans for me do not include being defeated and dwelling in "the pits." His plans for me are to be thrilled and exuberant with what He is accomplishing in me and will continue to accomplish in me. I just need to keep out of His way and allow Him to fill me so full of joy and hope that pity and depression have no room at all.

And so today, I say "Thank you, dear Lord, that when I can't, You can!"

Lynn Randall 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, April 22, 2008

A Step is Not a Walk

"A step is not a walk"

This simple statement was made by Pastor Bill Raws one Sunday morning at chapel service. A step is not a walk. Sometimes the simplest statements can have such profound meaning. A step is not a walk. If you have been a believer for any significant length of time you are probably familiar with the verses about our walk.

"Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him...But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul...For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly...Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life...There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit...For we walk by faith, not by sight...If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."1

A step is not a walk. How we wish a single step constituted a walk. A single step in the right direction is just that, a single step. It isn't until we string a lot of steps together in the right direction that we could say we are walking in the right direction.

I appreciated the reminder that day in chapel, because if truth be told, I often live as if a step is enough, but a step is not a walk.

Diane Hunt is Director of Addiction Recovery Ministries at America's KESWICK.

1 Deuteronomy 8:6; Joshua 22:5; Psalm 84:11; Romans 6:4; Romans 8:1; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Galatians 5:25

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Best of TImes and the Worst of Times

The Best of Times and the Worst of Times

I recently had lunch with a dear friend. I looked forward to catching up on the kids, family and career. Mostly, we just love to find out what God is doing in each others lives.

I should have known that something was wrong. Her voice sounded strange when I called. I even asked her if she was okay but her reply was that she was fine. A few days later I sat across the table to find out everything was not fine. Her husband had been diagnosed with colon cancer, a dear friend was also very ill, among numerous other circumstances. Clearly her plate was overflowing! In time our conversation changed from topic to topic. We were crying one minute and laughing the next. We cried about the painful circumstances in our lives but we laughed at how amazing our Lord Jesus Christ is. At one point I said, "These are the worst of times and the best of times." Don't you find that to be true? We are all struggling. Some days we hope to just hang on moment by moment. Other days we feel God's presence so near and dear that we can't believe it! These days, even if our plate is overflowing, we need to see that our cup is overflowing in spite of it all!

You and I can not choose to always focus on the worst times. We also need to choose to look for the best of times. In the midst of it all we need to be a thankful people, remembering the goodness of God at ALL times. May I share with you a very familiar Psalm? Please read slowly, ponder long and take heart. David was living in the worst of times and the best of times... just like you and me.

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For you are with me; Your rod and Your staff, They comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Psalm 23 NKJV

Today, your cup is running over! Don't miss it because your plate is overflowing!

Kathy Withers is on staff full-time 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. Her passion is the Word of God and encouraging women to dig deeper into the truths of the Bible.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Where Did the Joy Go?

Where did the joy go?

I had my day all planned. In the morning I was going to write; then, in the afternoon I would do some shopping and make some phone calls. I was feeling joyful. I had spent time with God early in the morning and I was set to face the day....the day I had planned.

However, before I could start writing, the doorbell rang. Company. They brought donuts. All we needed was some coffee. I fixed coffee. Then the doorbell rang again. More company! They knew my other guests and they began to chat, and chat, and chat. Suddenly it was lunch time. Let's all go out to lunch! What fun! By the time I got home, it was time to fix supper. No writing, no shopping, and I was depressed. My joy was gone.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever been living a day feeling joyful and content, but suddenly something disrupts your joy? Perhaps someone spoke a derogatory word or your plans were sidetracked. Something earthly happened but it seems to have robbed you of your joy. You are still a Christian. Christ still loves you. Your eternal destiny is settled. What changed? You didn't get your way. It is up to us to decide if this change in our plans is going to be a robber of our joy. When our emotions seem vulnerable to external circumstances, we can make the choice to keep our joy constant in the Lord.

1 Cor 15:58 "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."

Marilyn Heavilin is a speaker and writer, and a friend to the ministry of America's KESWICK.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Snakes and Sin

Snakes and Sin

It would not be much of a stretch to say I hate snakes. Something inside me recoils in the presence of a snake even if it is neatly tucked inside a cage at the zoo.

The other morning I was out walking on a particularly beautiful, spring-like day. I happened to step over a coiled piece of rope that made me take a second glance to make sure it wasn't a small snake. Immediately my mind wandered off to a Victory Call.

Dead snakes are somewhat less threatening to me. I imagined myself handling (with gloves, of course) a small dead snake. I thought I'd be somewhat okay with that.

As I continued my walk I recalled a Canadian camping trip as a teen. Someone had struck and killed a VERY LARGE snake. My 35 year memory recalls it to have been about 5 or 6 feet long and about 4 inches in diameter, yech! So I had to ask myself, would I be willing to handle that LARGE dead snake even with gloves on. I don't think so. No, I know so. I would not be willing to handle a large dead snake. Why? If it's dead, what's the big deal? Because if I was honest, though I could see it is dead, and intellectually believe it is dead, there is something deep within me that fears it springing back to life in my hands. That's when it hit me the similarity between dead snakes and our sin nature.

"...knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin...Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:6-7, 11

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live..." Galatians 2:20

We are dead to sin. Our old man is dead, dead, dead. We intellectually know it is dead but it seems as if deep down we fear it isn't. That is how many of us live, knowing that our sin nature is dead but keeping our eye on it just in case. In so doing we grant it credence and act as if it has the potential to overpower us. If in the deepest recesses of our heart we fear that it might spring back to life at any moment, then in many subtle ways we will live as if it can.

We are dead to sin, reckon it so. Whether it feels true or not, reckon it so. Fully embrace this truth without fear that somehow we might be mistaken.

Diane Hunt is Director of Addiction Recovery Ministries and would love to speak for your next ladies event. To schedule Diane, contact Ruth Schmidt at 732-350-1187 ext. 21

Wednesday, April 16, 2008



I read this recently, "Empathy is the capacity for and action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another without necessarily communicating those feelings, thoughts, and experience in an explicit manner."

The author continues, "The key words here are capacity and action. You must have room for empathy in your mind and heart before you can feel, respond to, and act upon it. And the aim of empathy is action more than words. Empathy is something you demonstrate in how you treat people more than something to be explained."

How often have we seen someone in a situation to which we can relate: a mom overwhelmed by the job of being a mother; a parent numbed by the truth that their child is not following God; a Christian who feels they are the only one who has failed the Lord; a man who is unemployed and feels he has let his family down; a friend frozen in their grief because of a terminal illness or the death of a precious loved one. Have you ever been in any of these dilemmas? If so, you can put your arm around that hurting person and say, "I've been where you are right now, but I made it out of that hole. Take my hand. We can walk together." That's empathy.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Marilyn Heavilin is a dear friend of the ministry of America's KESWICK. She and husband Glen, serve as counselors-in-residence each summer at America's KESWICK.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Friendship II

Friendship II

"The four-year-old watched it all in silence.

One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, "What are you making?"
Just as sweetly, the boy responded, "Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up." The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.

The words so struck the parents so that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.

That evening the husband took Grandfather's hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled."

Dear sisters, I received the above story in one of those forwarded emails that come and go, often unread because I simply don't have the time. However today, I took the time and after reading it thought I'd share it with you. This story happened to be one I'd read before and the impact was the same.

Clear as day I can see the person who might be this old man, sitting alone in the corner, feeling rejected, abandoned and unwanted...simply forgotten. It could be any one of us or any number of people we know -a friend, neighbor or loved one- who is in a loveless marriage or one who has simply allowed the hard knocks of life to draw them into isolation and lonliness.

Today the challenge is for us to be that one that sticks closer than a brother; to open our eyes and see the one who has been relegated to the "wooden bowl." Let's invite them to sit at our table and partake in the bread of friendship.

Trust me when I say, I know it's not easy. And, I know that sometimes extending a hand in friendship involves vulnerability and risk. Let's take the risk anyway and trust God to do the work in us and through us to touch a heart, a life, a soul in need of care. Let's remember, we are not alone.

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Luke 4:18-19

Stephanie Paul serves on the women's ministry team at America's KESWICK.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Friendship I

Friendship I

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend. unknown

"A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year old grandson. The old man's hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather's shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.

The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. "We must do something about father," said the son. "I've had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor."

So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl!

When the family glanced in Grandfather's direction, sometime he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.

The four-year-old watched it all in silence.

One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, "What are you making?"
Just as sweetly, the boy responded, "Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up." The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.

The words so struck the parents so that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done..." continued tomorrow...

As I ponder friendship I think of our Old Testament brothers and sisters who, just like us, sometimes struggled to believe that God was really there for them; that He was their friend; for them and not against them. Even though He was literally in the midst of them (as Christ is now in us), they had all the same very human thoughts and feelings, especially in the midst of trial and trouble.

Maybe in the midst of their own dark days they felt the heavy sadness experienced by the Grandfather above. They felt separate, alone and in need of a friend to remind them of their worth and value, to help them remember the dignity of being born of God.

Sister, friend, are you that one who needs reminding or are you the one who needs to go. Whichever one it is, ask, seek, knock, go, receive the Lord's favor.

"And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.'" ~~Luke 4:17-19

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.

According the Urban Legend reference page, Leo Tolstoy is the author of the story and his rendition, "The Old Grandfather and the Grandson" derives from an even older story written by The Brothers Grimm.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Fear of Man

Fear of man...

You may be more familiar with the world's term for this very common problem the Bible calls 'fear of man'. Perhaps you have heard it called "people pleasing" or "co-dependency" or "approval addiction." At its root, it is placing an inordinate value in what other people think, especially about us. Inordinate? How much would be considered inordinate? Well, for sure, if we value what others think more than what our Creator thinks. Exactly who are we listening to? Whose opinion are we valuing?

Here are some ways we fear (wo)man.
~~ We pass a person in the hall and they don't say "hi" and we worry about it for 3 days.
~~ We seek the praise of people.
~~ Our world crashes when someone criticizes or questions us.
~~ Our world revolves around another individual, such as our husband, child or best friend. They are the one we go to to get our world set in order, to alleviate negative emotions.
There are many other ways. But, what they all have in common is that in some way we value what another person thinks or says above what God thinks or says.

"Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, you people in whose heart is My law: Do not fear the reproach of men, Nor be afraid of their insults. For the moth will eat them up like a garment, And the worm will eat them like wool; But My righteousness will be forever, And My salvation from generation to generation." Isaiah 51:7-8

"I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid of a man who will die, and of the son of a man who will be made like grass? And you forget the LORD your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth." Isaiah 51:12-13

This is a common issue for us. Christians are not exempt. We want to be accepted, we want people to like us, and we want to be well thought of. Whether it is ever true of another living human being or not, it will always be true of God. He accepts us; He not only loves us but He likes us, and He thinks well of us, in fact, He delights in us.

Who will you listen to? The created or the Creator?

Diane Hunt is the Director of Addiction Recovery Ministries

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Refusing to Go

Refusing to Go

Recently, a request for prayer was sent out for someone who was in very serious need of medical care. So critical was their situation that emergency services were sent for. Qualified personnel arrived, fully prepared, intending to perform the duties they were specifically trained to do, but were met by a less than willing individual. In spite of his huge need for medical attention, this person was able to offer sufficient resistance to the capable and willing care givers, who were there for one single purpose -TO HELP.

Before any possible thoughts of judgment could surface, the spiritual application was instantly visible and a thought followed by a question popped right out of my head. (Well, not really like that. But you know what I mean.) My thought was, "Lord you know I am just like that!" and my question was "Lord, will you please show me the areas of my life where I am stubbornly resisting Your sovereign care and attention?

There isn't one of us who, at one time or another has not been guilty of the same thing. Maybe our reason is fear, as it was for the person mentioned above. Perhaps it could be the sin of pride or a simple willfulness, which means "I'm going to do what I want, when I want and how I want."

The "Why" is irrelevant though, isn't it? What matters most is that by refusing to go or to do the "whatever it is," we are missing an opportunity to experience the grace and mercy of our loving Father. The One we forget will discipline and chasten us if He has to because He loves us. Sometimes going through the painful thing is required in order to experience the healing or the deliverance which lies beyond.

If I could speak to this one whose fear is so all-consuming, I would attempt to comfort his heart as I do my own with Jeremiah 29:11, which says, "'I know the plans I have for you' says the Lord, 'plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.'"

We must know and believe that Father God is for us, and not against us; that He can, and will, get us around, over and through our most difficult, painful and serious moments, to the better side, safely tucked under the shadow of His wing.

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.' Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence." ~~ Psalms 91:1-3a¹

Stephanie, 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.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Oh How We Quickly Forget ...

Oh how quickly we forget...

Lately, I've been reading "Sitting in God's Sunshine: Resting in His Love" by Alicia Britt Chole. This morning I was reading the chapter "Facing a Problem." It is an illustration from Matthew 15 when Jesus tells the disciples He wants the crowd of people to have some food as "they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat." Imagine being so enthralled with what was going on that they did not eat. I can't imagine that happening. I rarely miss meals by accident, and when I do, you bet I know it.

The response of the disciples to Jesus' request was, "Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?"
Chole offers three hindrances to recognizing God's provision:
1. "The disciples failed to recall God's past faithfulness."
2. "The disciples isolated God's current provision."
3. "The disciples neglected to consider the size of their source."

I don't know what challenge you face today. Have you lost your job or your health? Do you have a wayward child that is running fast and hard into darkness? Are you facing your retirement with insufficient savings? Are you struggling to pay your bills each month? Is your parent's health failing? Does your church have dividing factions? Have you recently lost a spouse or loved one? All these things and many more too numerous to list prompt the question, "Lord, where shall we get what we need for such a large problem? How will we meet our bills? How can we stay at that church? What shall we do for our parents? Children? How shall we make it through the pain today?"

Just like the disciples we so quickly forget God's past faithfulness. In Matthew 14, just a short time earlier, Jesus fed five thousand with five loaves and two fish. Why did they question how He was going to feed four thousand? Do we not do the very same thing? Every one of us, without exception, has experienced God's faithfulness, mercy and abundant provision in our life. Yet, as we face today's challenges we tend to forget His faithful provision in the past. "How easy it is for our memory of God's faithfulness to be erased by the loud grumbling of today's need." (Chole pg. 56)

"When facing a problem, disciplining our minds to remember God's past faithfulness quiets our hearts to receive God's direction." (pg. 56) As you face life today, stop. Take a few moments to recall God's past faithfulness and provision in your life. There is no problem in your life that is beyond the care and provision of our Lord, not one. Wrap your arms around that truth today and never, never, never let go.

Diane Hunt is the Director of Addiction Recovery Ministries

Monday, April 07, 2008

My God

My God

My God. Those two simple words are strikingly profound. Meditating on them almost creates a conflict in my mind.

God, Creator, Sustainer of all things. He is almighty and powerful. He is all-knowing and all-wise. He is equally everywhere all the time. He is Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End. He is the Great I AM. He is our environment. In Him we live and breathe and have our being. He is the giver and taker of life. He is sovereignly in control of all things. He is the redeemer of His people. He calls the stars into place each by name. He is love and truth. He is holy and pure. He is righteous and just. There is none like Him, there is no other.

To say "He is my God" takes all those things, and more, that faintly describe the One True God and says He is not just a God, nor that He is the God, nor that He is God, but that He is my God. Personal and intimately known by my finite heart and mind.

Meditate on that simple phrase today -- My God -- and feel your heart swell with the reality of this truth. Hallelujah!!

Diane Hunt is the Director of Addiction Recovery Ministries and is available to speak for your ladies or missions conferences.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Has God Gotten Your Attention?

My reading through the Bible in a year program has me reading in Numbers. This book basically follows the daily lives of the Israelites as they are wandering in the wilderness, waiting for God and Moses to lead them into the Promised Land. In Numbers 11, God becomes so frustrated with the Israelites' constant complaining about what God hasn't done for them, and seeming ungratefulness for what God has done for them, that He sent fire down from heaven which consumed the outskirts of the camp. Apparently His action got their attention, but not for long. In verse 4 of chapter 11, the NIV states "The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing...."

Do you have rabble around you? Has God gotten your attention and you have determined to follow Him only to be sidetracked by the distractions around you? Rabble could be anything that causes us to take our eyes off of Jesus: comments of a friend, new psychological theories, television programs, problems and traumas in our lives.

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith...." (Hebrews 12:2).

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

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Watching God at Work

Watching God at Work

Recently, while attending a church meeting, I heard an interesting story that just stirred up my soul. YES, GOD IS AT WORK!!! It was about a little town that needed the Lord.

In Almolonga, Guatemala, a very small town....where there once were bars on each corner we now find churches on each corner. I checked with our speaker to confirm where he had heard or read about this account. He found it in David E. Garland's recent NIV Application Commentary on Mark, commenting how Peter Wagner corresponded with Walter Wink talking of the effect the gospel had on the town. I will quote it for you.

A "center of human misery: disease, poverty, strife, alcoholism, marital infidelity and violence" was changed into a community of prosperity, health, harmony and peace with over 90% of the inhabitants born again Christians with churches instead of bar rooms on every street."

Just imagine.....they probably said, "there is no hope for this town." A town filled with sin, drugs, sex, alcohol, darkness, no light; but God knew that there were souls seeking Him. God sent His servants into this place to clear it out and clean it up; to, in fact, help save this town. What a joy it must be for those missionaries that were a part of that work. Imagine being in heaven someday and chatting with all the believers that came from that town, knowing that you helped them find salvation.

What joy and encouragement should fill our hearts when we hear how God is working. When I was a little girl, I can remember some adults always making life seem like there was no hope with the "doom and gloom" way they talked about how things were in the world. We need to remember little ears are always listening....don't paint a dark picture. Let them know that sin is alive and wrong. Share Scripture with them to help them stay away from sin but always, always let them know that God is ALIVE. His power is all we need to make a difference in this world. His work is still going on all around us. Share the wonderful things we see happening in the work of the Lord, so that their hearts, too, can be encouraged to keep going on for Him.

Be encouraged to know that this little town was won over by one person touching the life of one person. Be that one person today in your own town and touch one life for Christ today so they can touch another.

Lynn Wilson, a wife and a mother of two boys, is currently on Staff at America's Keswick. For several years she has been involved in her local church and hosts her own women's ministry in her home, called Thumb Print Ministries.
Her mission statement would be to touch one life so in turn they can touch a life for eternity. Her greatest joy is to go home at the end of her work day and cook up soups from scratch and other homemade goodies for her family.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Best Book Ever

The best book ever...

Do you like to read? I do. I enjoy love stories, mysteries, children's books, medical writings (especially healings), and I love stories of new babies! I love true stories, well written and interesting. Guess what? I have found them all in one book - it's God's Word, the Bible.

First of all, I think it is great that God knew He would want His Bible to be enjoyed by all ages, even children. Think of the story of Noah and the ark found in Genesis 6-8; or Jonah and the whale, Jonah 1-4. The favorite of many boys and girls, and even adults, is David and Goliath. All exciting and true!

What about love stories? Jacob choosing a wife, Rachel, in Genesis 29, or Isaac picking Rebekah. In the book of Ruth is the love story of Ruth and Boaz; and even the life and love of Abraham and Sarah becoming parents in their old age. Their faith was tested many times. Love is all through the Old and New Testaments, including God's precious love for us.
..that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19.

There are the miracles and healings - they bring encouragement and lessons for all of us. Think of the Good Samaritan story, the healing of the blind and the lame. Remember the woman who was healed as she touched the hem of Jesus' robe - in faith?

We love stories of children and babies. Read how Jesus loved children; His words were, "Let the children come to me." Read of the baby Moses hid in a basket-boat by his sister for protection of his life by God. What about Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist or her cousin Mary's beautiful story of baby Jesus? We read it over and over especially at the Christmas season. How special God made Jesus' birth to us!

I would love to go on and on, but no - YOU read and find YOUR favorite stories. However, please take special time to read the book of John. It is the most wonderful story of Jesus' life, His death and His resurrection - for you and for me. Especially:

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name John 1:12

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:16-17

Pick up your Bible, read, enjoy, and share it with someone else!

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.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April Fool's Day

April fool's Day

Ah, what fond memories I have a various practical jokes I have played and have seen played upon unsuspecting recipients over the years. Some people are certainly more easily duped than others.
Recently, as my family awaited the arrival of two sisters with newly adopted twins from Guatemala- we were all lined up along a row of seats in the airport reception area. A quick trip to the restroom was in order just minutes before the flight was scheduled to land. I made haste and returned quickly to a few chuckles which raised my curiosity. Mom told me my brother-in-law suggested they all move around the corner and hide so I would think they left me there. I laughed as I told him he had been around our family too long. He replied, "You would have done it in a heartbeat to us." I snickered, "Yup, in half-a-heartbeat." The thing is, along with the fun of playing jokes on others comes the reputation of being a jokester.
Years ago, my sister-in-law was absolutely certain that I was the one responsible for switching her hard-boiled eggs for raw ones. She ended up dying the raw eggs for Easter. What a great idea, but honestly, it wasn't my doing. Oddly enough, no one believed me.
It can be great fun to play appropriate jokes on friends and family especially on April Fools day. It's okay to have the reputation of being a jokester, but may it never be said that we are a fool. I'm sure we have all been guilty of doing foolish things, but we don't want to be classified, a fool: "a person lacking in judgment or prudence."1

Psalm 14:1 The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, They have done abominable works, There is none who does good.

Psalm 92:5-6 O LORD, how great are Your works! Your thoughts are very deep. A senseless man does not know, Nor does a fool understand this.
Proverbs 10:18 And whoever spreads slander is a fool.
Proverbs 10:23 To do evil is like sport to a fool, But a man of understanding has wisdom.
Proverbs 11:29 He who troubles his own house will inherit the wind, And the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.
Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise.
Proverbs 13:16 Every prudent man acts with knowledge, But a fool lays open his folly.

When others look at you do they see a fool or a wise person: characterized by wisdom: marked by deep understanding, keen discernment, and a capacity for sound judgment?2

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.