Monday, June 30, 2008

Quite Time With God


One of the things about becoming a Christian that took me years to understand was the relationship factor. Initially, I saw coming to faith in Christ and receiving salvation; getting saved; being born again as an event. In truth it is much more than that, so much more! It's a relationship! Even more than that it's a growing, transforming, powerful life-changing relationship with the most High God of all creation! The One who is the Great I AM!

"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." ~~ John 3:16

Because of this relationship, morning devotions or put another way, "quiet-time-with-God," is becoming more and more precious to me these days. My longing to be WITH Him grows deeper and deeper. As I care less and less about all "the stuff" and "the nonsense" of my life, I'm discovering more space and time. The desire to hear His voice as He whispers in my ear is growing stronger every day and I sing glory to His name.

"He gives strength to me, as I worship Him
And my mouth is filled with praise.
Jesus breaks the bands
as I lift my handsbringing glorious liberty." ~~ unknown

Like a young bride entering the bridal chamber into the arms of her waiting groom, I enter into His Presence and experience His love - love He waits patiently to lavish on me and you.

"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you..." ~~ James 4:8a I challenge you today to take time to BE WITH GOD. Take time to THINK ABOUT GOD. Take time to TALK TOOOOO GOD. No matter how busy you are, you/I need time alone with God to stay spiritually strong. We must purpose to keep God first in our hearts in order to know Him better and to trust Him more.

Stephanie Paul serves in our women's addiction recovery ministry.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Over burdened, unappreciated, distracted, pulled in too many directions -- yep, that's me. And if truth be told, I'll bet many of you out there are nodding your heads "yes" and thinking "me, too." We all know the story of Mary and Martha, and how Martha wants to do everything to prepare for Jesus and Mary prefers to stay close to Him and hear His words.And my reaction is usually like Martha's - "Jesus, why don't you send someone to help me (like Mary) so I don't have to do this all by myself?"

The pity party begins shortly thereafter - poor me, no one cares, I'm left all alone to handle things. And then Jesus says, "Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things. But one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part..." (Luke 10:40-42). Substitute my name (or yours) for Martha's and you get the picture.

One of things I learned when I came to serve at America's KESWICK is that there is no shortage of work that needs to be done. I picked up on that very quickly. What has taken me much longer to get is that I don't need to do it all myself. In fact, not only do I not NEED to do it all myself, but God doesn't WANT me to do it all myself. Is that a hard lesson for us Type A personalities to learn? You're not kidding. But I am trying to learn that, in the midst of all the busyness, there is only one thing that helps me to keep focused and that is to draw close to Jesus and sit at His feet.

Without making the time to spend with Him, to hear Him speak to me through His Word, to share my anxious thoughts with Him in prayer, and hear Him remind me to rest in Him and His plans, I cannot make it. Without that, I get cranky, filled with self-pity and generally, hot and bothered.That does not mean that the things I may be doing here at KESWICK, or in my church, or other places, are not good things and needful things, but they are not the most IMPORTANT things.

Guarding my time with Jesus and letting Him minister to me is the best preparation for a busy day. How can I expect to be His servant when I haven't consulted Him on what His plans are for me that day? And sometimes, for me anyway, it also means allowing others to help - sharing the opportunities for service with others, and giving them a chance to be blessed for their efforts.My encouragement for you today, ladies, is to be less like Martha and more like Mary, and SIT at Jesus' feet. Lynn Randall is Director of Human Resources at America's KESWICK and is a collector of many things, including Precious Moments figurines.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Early, Late or On Time

Early, Late or On-Time ~~ Four
In yesterday's conclusion, I mentioned the word "FINISH." This word came to me, clear as day, a couple of weeks ago when I had a few days off. I had the grand goal of completing a long list of tasks which I soon discovered I didn't have time in that week to do. In the beginning part of this week, I was attempting to do a number of things all at once, which is my usual mode of operation. It didn't take long for an old familiar feeling to begin creeping in and I knew if I didn't talk to God about it I'd get overwhelmed and put most of it off until later, and thereby accomplish a lot less than I was capable of. Clear as day I heard the word, "FINISH." My spiritual ears perked up and I had this little chat with God. When it was over, I was much calmer and I knew that all I was going to do for the entire week was focus on one task at a time. No matter what the task, my focus was going to be on finishing it for the glory of God and for my mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.Sistas, let me tell ya, it was sweet! While I didn't get everything on my original list done, I did completely finish every task or project that I began. This is freeing me up to give time to other things that God has called to my attention and my plan is to give my time and attention to Him and seek to diligently accomplish whatever it is, and to do it ON TIME.What is God calling you to start or finish? Is He speaking to your heart about anything at all which you have, for a long season, turned a deaf ear to? What is it time for you to do?StephanieEphesians 5:16"See that ye walk circumspectly," says the Apostle in the preceding verse, "not as fools, but as wise men, redeeming the time;" saving all the time you can for the best purposes; buying up every fleeting moment out of the hands of sin and Satan, out of the hands of sloth, ease, pleasure, worldly business; the more diligently, because the present "are evil days," days of the grossest ignorance, immorality, and profaneness."(1)"To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to gain, and a time to lose;a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace." ~~Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Early, Late or On Time

Early, Late or On-Time ~~ Three
"To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:" ~~ Ecclesiates 3:11God is never early and never late. He is always on time.Almost daily we write these Victory Calls to encourage you to live in visible victory before the face of God. We never, ever do that from a place of "arrival". After all, we're all in the process of change. The day we arrive is the day we leave our earth suits behind and arrive in Heaven, worshipping at the feet of Jesus.And, as we are in it together, we seek to share with you the variety of ways God by His Spirit challenges us to continue to grow in grace and truth according to who HE is and not according to any standard of living we might erect in our own lives.So, if you are a "time optimist," seek God for how change needs to take place in your life. If you're a "time pessimist," seek God for how change needs to take place in your life. Which ever distinction you have, be it a "TO" or a "TP," keep in mind that a prideful heart does not image the character of Christ in you. There is no honor in being set apart as someone who is always late and neither is there any honor in being a person who is prideful because they are never late.I'm almost fifty years old and, for me, it's time to make a change. The primary reason I'm writing about the topic of lateness is I am no longer content with the same-old-same-old. God has not been silent all these years and a number of things have occurred that require me to wake up and pay attention. In addition, being late adds a level of stress to my life that I would like to eradicate. As I wrote earlier this month, the Word in me is prompting me to move forward in certain areas of my life, and in order to do that I have to pay attention to time. All of us are aware that time is passing quickly. What I used to accomplish in a day, now takes a day and a half because my pace is not as it once was.So, my faithful Father, through His Spirit, is instructing me in very real and tangible ways in how I can redeem the time. In a word, "FINISH." This one word has had a significant impact on my life. I'll share a little bit more on that tomorrow."To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:"(1)Stephanie

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Early, Late or On Time

Early, Late or On-Time ~~ Two Okay, so what does the culture we live in have to say in answer to yesterday's question, "why are some people always on time or early and others always late? Does it really matter?"Here are a few things that I discovered about the different ways people conceptualize time:1. One person described the chronically late as "Time Optimist." I could immediately relate, because the time optimist will always plan to do in 5 minutes what it takes 20 minutes to do. Go figure that one! (1)2. Some "Time Optimists" don't want to miss out on anything and are absolutely convinced they can somehow be here and there at the same time. "They always leave all their options open and squeeze the maximum out of living fully in the moment every minute they've got, THEN make the mad dash to arrive just in time" (2) (Which usually means they're a little bit late). :)3. "It's easy to conclude that the chronically late don't value other people's time as much as their own; however, it's the opposite that's actually a lot closer to the truth. (Or just as true). It's their OWN time they don't value...Being late always starts every meeting, or appointment off on the wrong foot. The late person begins with a handicap, and thus presents themselves as less than who they are. Backpedaling and apologies ensue, or they try and justify or defend their lateness. Shame, ineffectiveness, resentment etc. etc..."(3)4. Opposite of the "Time Optimist" is the "Time Pessimist" She is always on time because she assumes it will always take her longer to do what she has to do than it actually does. They never underestimate the amount of time it takes to do something because they figure it will take longer. They often value their time and the time of others to the extent that they are often early arrivers.I don't want to linger here too long because I have bigger eggs to fry and I think you get the point, so I'll move on. What's the bottom line here? With the big picture in view, does being on time really matter? I absolutely think it does! The Lord established time and everything in time has a season, a place to be, to grow, etc. And there is an order to all of it. Nothing God does or did happened randomly, or accidentally. God has no "oops!" or "I forgot" or "Sorry I'm late, I got stuck in traffic moments." There is purpose and meaning to everything we do and all the choices that we make. Until tomorrow...Stephanie Paul serves on our Addiction Recovery Ministry Team


Monday, June 23, 2008

Early, Late or On Time

Early, Late or On-Time ~~ One,For me to write about the topic of time in any capacity is almost funny because, according to the people who are closest to me, I have no concept it. I wish I could say this is a new thing but.... For longer than I care to remember, I've always been running late or just barely on time. In fact, I was even born late at a whopping 9 pounds. Making it anywhere early is just not the norm.My husband says I try to pack more into a space of time than there is time for. My mom has always said, "I dance to the beat of a different drummer"...and keeping time hasn't been a beat I ever learned to play well.Recently I was speaking with someone who shares this 'late trait' and it was really interesting to hear their logic about being early -interesting not because it was odd or strange, but because it actually made sense. In a nutshell, he saw arriving early as wasted time, because the time could be spent doing something, rather than waiting around for whatever.Another friend is also like me and has been for most of her years as well. I would never have guessed her to be so, because she's so meticulously efficeint about everything. And herein is the crux of why I'm writing on this topic. The assumptions and judgements we make about people related to this one aspect of their personality or character. One way or another we all have judgements, and as a late arriver I know that most of those judgements about me or any other late arriver are not positive. What is often felt in the communication is there must be a lack in my character somewhere. Maybe.If I lined up all the people that I know and divided them up according to how they are prone to arrive anywhere they go in life, my guess is the line could be pretty evenly divided. But for the people closest to me the line would be much longer on the side of early and on-time, and most certainly, never, ever, ever late. These are the people you start to call and check on if they don't show up where they're supposed to be, because it simply isn't in their character to be late. People don't call me if I'm late because...well, they just don't.So, here I am today, asking the question, "why are some people always on time or early and others always late...and does it really matter?" I used to jokingly say that I was always late simply because I was born late. The doctors had to induce labor in my mother to get me to come into the world. (I'm sure there is a psycholgy that someone could develop around that.:))Anyway, just because I am who I am, I had to google the question and I discovered some thoughts on this topic which I will share with you tommorow.But for today I leave you with this reminder, keep the main thing, the main thing. Jesus!"Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming." Matthew 25:13Stephanie

Friday, June 20, 2008

To Change or Be Changed

To Change or to be changed: That is the question" out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:12, 13)
Most of us have talked to people who are struggling in a particular area who tell us, "I'm working on that." What that typically means is, "I'm still waiting for God to change me."

If we were honest, we would have to admit we have areas in our lives that still need work. For some of us we can readily name major areas in which we desire change. For others, those areas are more subtle and difficult to identity. However, since our transformation into the image of Jesus Christ will not be complete until we see Him face to face, we know change is still necessary.

Many of us recognize the need for change in our lives and even pray fervently but to no avail. Why is that? Why isn't God changing us in the dramatic ways we desire? Could it be that we are waiting for God to zap us with change so the new behavior or attitude won't be so difficult? We want to BE changed, rather than to change.

The former is something done to us, the later is something we do.Who wouldn't want to wake up one morning changed? Why doesn't it work that way? God is doing a work in us through the process of change that would not be accomplished through instant change.

We are more interested in the end result while God is more interested in the process. Without our commitment and effort combined with the power of the Holy Spirit, change is unlikely.How do we do our part? We make one righteous choice at a time, until we have accumulated numerous righteous choices to have formed a new righteous habit. We are changed one victory at a time.Ephesians 4:22-24, "...that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." Diane Hunt is Director of Addiction Recovery Ministries at America's KESWICK

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Change Two

Change Two

Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." ~~Nehemiah 8:10

Yesterday I began to write about change for the purpose of encouraging you to see the change or changes you may be going through as necessary and good. In order for us to grow and really change, we have to always keep the main thing in view, and the main thing is Jesus.

So, the main thing I want to leave you with is not so much the change itself, but the reason for the change. Simply put, change is taking place because of THE WORD itself and Himself."In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made." ~~John 1:1-3
"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." ~~Hebrews 4:12

It is the sharpness, the exactness of the Word that woos us, calls us and therefore makes real change possible. So many of us are tired of wandering in the desert of the same old, same old. So, let's choose today to lay aside every false way and get the understanding of His way that will lead us into and through changes toward transforming change on this side of heaven.

"Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have sworn and confirmed that I will keep Your righteous judgments." ~~Psalm 119:104-106Selah...Stephanie Paul serves on our women's addiction recovery ministry staff.

1 www.biblegateway.com2 www.biblegateway.com3 www.biblegateway.com4

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Change One

Years ago my kids and I went to the Philadelphia Zoo where we learned a little rhyme during one of the shows the zoo schedules for its many visitors. The rhyme went like this:"Metamorphos is What it means is this. Animals go through different stages. It keeps changing as it ages."Metamorphosis defined means, "A change in the form or function of a living organism, by a natural process of growth or development."(1)

We are all in "form and function" living. So, we are all, therefore, in the natural process of "growth and development."I know we are not animals, nor do any of us morph into being as the butterfly does. However, whether we want to or not, whether we like it or not, change is going to take place in our lives. And it doesn't matter one bit if we bury our heads in the sand - trying not to see it- or resist it kicking and screaming. Change is going to happen. Change IS happening!!

All around us life is changing. Things happening in the world are having a huge impact on our lives and in the lives of practically everyone that we know - among them, the price of gas. Ouch!! The process of change can often be difficult...sometimes painful. Yet, Christ in us, the hope of glory, enables us to do the next thing, to stay the course, to FINISH!

With full confidence, I can tell you this because I am and have been in a process of specific change, and while no part of it is easy, I am learning, even more, to trust His heart and His hand.Many decisions are being made within my soul (prompted by the Spirit) which, though painful, are helping me metamorph from one stage of development or maturity to another. And IT'S ALL GOOD!

The Lord's joy has been and IS my strength. This strength, with which He infuses me (us), frees us to do life, even when we are tempted to run, hoard or hide. We must remember, always and forever, God is sovereign and He, the Holy One of Israel, is our strength!" Then he said to them, 'Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.'" ~~Nehemiah 8:10 Stephanie Paul serves on the team of our Women's Addiction Recovery Program 2

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How Quickly We Forget

How quickly we forget

King Nebuchadnezzar summoned the wise men in his kingdom to reveal his troubling dream to him that gave him a fitful night.(1) Unwilling to reveal the dream, he insisted the wise men tell him what the dream was so he knew he could trust their interpretation of the dream.(2) None of those summoned were up to such a task. So the king declared an edict that all the wise men of Babylon were to be killed.(3) When Daniel became aware of the edict, he approached the king and asked for time to discern the dream. Time was granted and Daniel and his 3 friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah sought the face of God in that He might reveal the secret of the dream. Daniel received the secret in a vision.(4) He was able to tell the king his dream and the interpretation of it. In response, "...King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, prostrate before Daniel, and commanded that they should present an offering and incense to him. The king answered Daniel, and said, 'Truly your God is the God of gods, and the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.'"(5)Sometime later, the king erected an image of gold that his subjects were to fall down and worship at the sound of all kinds of music, with the threat of death for failing to do so.(6) Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah did not bow down and were brought to King Nebuchadnezzar, "...if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?"(7)Wasn't it just a short while prior that he was declaring Daniel's God the God of gods and Lord of kings and the revealer of secrets? How then would he doubt that that same God would be unable to deliver His children out of the king's hands? How soon he forgot. All too often we are no different. Why do we so soon forget the evidences of God's grace and faithfulness in our lives when we face trials anew? Has He not carried us faithfully thus far? We fall into doubt, fearful that somehow THIS time He will cease to be good or faithful. We may not be courageous enough to actually admit it but often that is what lies behind our worry and fear. God is the same yesterday, today and forever.(8) He is the same in the Old Testament as in the New. He is the same in Daniel 2 and Daniel 3. Thank You Lord that You never change and are forever faithful, forever good, forever loving and forever present. Diane Hunt is Director of Addiction Recovery Ministries at America's KESWICK

1 Daniel 2:22 Daniel 2:5-63 Daniel 2:124 Daniel 2:195 Daniel 2:46-476 Daniel 3:4-67 Daniel 3:158 Hebrews 13:8

Monday, June 16, 2008


"Don't get angry. Don't be upset; it only leads to trouble." Psalm 37:8

Max Lucado writes, "Anger. It's easy to define: the noise of the soul. Anger. The unseen irritant of the heart. Anger. The relentless invader of silence..."Have you ever been surprised by the anger that can well up in you and explode when you least expect it? Where does it come from? What can we do about it?

Circumstances can arouse our anger. When my son was killed by a drunk driver, I experienced more than anger. I experienced absolute a man who would drink and drive; at a justice system that never sentenced him to prison; at well-meaning, but ill-advised friends who told me I needed to "get over it!" But that anger was different. It was explainable. But what about anger that just seems to pop up at the strangest and totally unexplainable times?

Many years ago I heard a minister say when we experienced anger, we needed to face it; trace it; and erase it. Face the fact that you get angry and that's wrong. Trace the anger back, perhaps even to childhood. What triggers the anger? Did something happen to you as a child that planted that seed of anger in you? Do you get angry when you feel out of control, victimized, or abused? Ask God to put His finger on the origin of your anger. Once we have identified the root of our anger then we can ask God to Erase it. I don't mean that we should pretend the damage never happened. I mean we can ask God to remove the emotional reaction to our pain. God may show us forgiveness is needed, and we need to act on that immediately.Sometimes we may need professional help to lead us in unlocking the door to the root of our anger.

Counseling with another knowledgeable person can be extremely helpful in guiding us to the truth. Lucado continues, "Yesterday you can't alter, but your reaction to yesterday you can. The past you cannot change, but your response to your past you can."Listen as God speaks to your heart."I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you." Ephesians 1:1

Marilyn Heavilin is a speaker, author, and counselor. She will be at America's KESWICK during the months of July and August.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Even with GPS the Israelites would have wandered for 40 years.Recently, I was at a speaking engagement in South Jersey and I needed to go into Philadelphia to pick up a friend. The only thing I knew was that I needed to head north. My son had loaned me his GPS (Global Positioning System) and gave me a few quick lessons on how to use it. It seemed pretty simple. I got into the car turned on the GPS and got started. The first thing it told me to me was turn left out of the parking lot. WHAT? No way! That is south; I know I need to head north. So I ignored it and turned right. Within moments I heard, 'recalculating' which, by the way, was the first of several times I would hear that in the first 5 minutes of my trip. Since it didn't make sense to me to head south, I ignored the instructions and headed in the general direction I 'knew' I needed to go. I found the GPS is only really effective if you actually follow its instructions. I couldn't help but chuckle at the picture in my mind of Moses with a GPS. I could just hear it. Moses instructs the people that they needed to break camp and head north. The murmuring rippled through the camp, "not north, we need to head south, do you know where you are taking us?" Then I realized they had GPS - God Positioning System. "And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night."(1) Even with GPS it took the Israelites 40 years to arrive at their destination, the Promised Land. Why? Because they wanted to 'go their own way.' They choose disobedience over obedience over and over and over again. "So the LORD's anger was aroused against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the LORD was gone."(2)On several occasions, God has shown me how very much like the Israelites I really am. Not only did I want to go my own way that Saturday afternoon, but far too often I want to go my own way in life. I want to choose my own direction but when I do, I find myself miserably lost. It seems I can always find my way back to my God Positioning System. He leads and guides me to the destination He already knows. "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye."(3) Diane Hunt is the Director of Addiction Recovery Ministries

1 Exodus 13:212 Numbers 32:133 Psalm 32:8

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Growing Deeper

Growing deeper
In 2000, a team of women began a project to write a Bible Study. When we began to write this study, it was our intention that it would be used here at America's KESWICK for the women in the Women of Character program, but apparently that was not God's intention.

We have received numerous requests to use it in women's Bible studies and recovery support groups. To our knowledge it has been translated into Russian and Spanish. God has taken our meager 'loaves and fishes' offering and has multiplied it a thousand-fold. Definitely God!The light at the end of the tunnel is growing brighter. We are putting the finishing touches on a Bible Study we wrote for wives of the men in the Colony of Mercy, preparing it for printing. We have been using this 14-chapter topical study for 4 or 5 years and are now ready to print and bind it.

In the process of rereading almost 200 pages of text for editing, proofing, and correction, I have found myself chuckling about ways I chose to say things when I wrote them 5 or 6 years ago. I made the comment to Steph, "I'm not even sure I agree with myself." It's not that what we wrote was wrong, but as evidence of God's work of grace and sanctification in our lives, we have grown. We understand at a deeper, richer level the truths of which we wrote. I want to stand up and shout, "Hallelujah!"

My heart overflows with gratitude that, every day, God continues to groom us, teach us, change us, and mold us into the image of His Son (2 Corinthians 18; Romans 8:29). At the moment of our salvation, God began the work of sanctification in our lives which will not be complete until the day we see Him face-to-face. God used the process of editing the Bible Study to demonstrate that truth in our lives. We have and continue to grow up in Him."As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving." Colossians 2:6-7

Stay tuned for more information about how and when you can obtain your own copy of the Bible Study. When we know, we'll let you know.

Diane Hunt is the Director of Addiction Recovery Ministries

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What We Once Were

What we once were

There are times we look at our lives and wonder if we are changing at all; but every so often, God gives us a glimpse of what we once were. It is usually when we look at our 'progress' over years, not days or weeks, that we see the change God has accomplished in our lives. I know there have been times when I desperately wanted to change and be changed but progress seemed painfully slow or on-existent altogether. Yet, as months and even years passed, when I look back I see change has indeed occurred. "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me." Philippians 3:12

I know, all too well, that there are times we just have to take God at His word because we can't see it, feel it, taste it, or smell it. Trust He is at work!! "...being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;" Philippians 1:6"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." 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24" out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." Philippians 2:12-13

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

Monday, June 09, 2008

Genuine Care

Genuine Care

I recently was inundated with e-mails telling me of a celebrity who had wandered off the path of solid Christian teaching. These e-mails warned the reader that they should disassociate themselves from the straying celebrity. These warnings were not sitting well with me.

As the e-mails increased, my burden and concern for this person increased. I challenged others to pray; I wrote letters to the celebrity; God woke me up in the night to pray for her. I actually shed tears over this person. I thought I was losing my mind. Finally, I cried out to God and asked Him to help me know if I had gone over the edge. I needed direction.

The next morning, as I was reading my daily Bible devotions from The Message, I read these verses: My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God's truth, don't write them off. Go after them. Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God. James 5:19-20

Sooo... I wrote another letter. I have no idea if my letters will ever reach the intended recipient or not, but I do know that someone will read them, and I am confident that God is in charge. All I need to do is be obedient.As I am writing this, God is speaking very clearly to my heart.

The person who has strayed doesn't have to be a celebrity. When you hear a Christian has fallen, what have you done? Does that person know how much you love them and how their straying has hurt the cause of Christ? What are you doing about it?I am reminded that when Christ was facing the cross for us, He sweat drops of blood.Dear Jesus, while I doubt that I will ever have as deep a concern for souls as you do, just let me care enough to pray and maybe write or reach out in another way. JUST LET ME CARE. -- Marilyn Heavilin is a speaker and author, and serves with her husband each summer at America's KESWICK as a counselor-in-residence.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Hold All Things Loosely

Hold All Things Loosely

I have been challenged within my own heart to hold loosely the things of this world. I am ashamed and embarrassed to look down and see such tightly clenched fists. And what is it I am holding onto so tightly? If I peer into my hands, just opening them slightly, I see my husband, my children, my house and all my "stuff." Maybe it is the economics of our day. Maybe it is the politics of our time. Mostly it is just Jesus asking for all of me.

As I examine my heart and my fists I am disappointed in myself. As I shared these things with a good friend she put it this way..."We hold onto our little peanuts in our fists. Jesus wants to give us so much more but like little children we hold onto our peanuts and refuse to let them go. We don't trust or believe that if we just let go of our peanuts God has better things for us. He says "I have something good for you." We respond, "No thank you. I want my peanuts." Again, He says "I have greater things for you if you will open your hand and give me your peanuts." And again we say, "No, they are MY PEANUTS!""Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world." 1 John 2:15, 16 NASB"But examine everything carefully, hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil." I Thess. 5:21, 22 NASB

Look at your hands. Do you have a hand full of peanuts? Oh, if we could relinquish our peanuts and trust that God will fill them with more and greater than what we are clinging to. Will you open your hands with me and let God take your peanuts one by one?

KathyWithers 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.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Do All to the Glory of God

"Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do ALL to the GLORY of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31"

Whatever you do..." "do ALL to the GLORY of God"Whenever God speaks, He doesn't let you go until you listen! He has been pressing this hard into me for the past few weeks.

I've just had the privilege of doing a study, Living Free by Beth Moore. Week three's chapter title is: "To Glorify God." I can't go into great detail but one sentence cuts me to the quick. "We were created for the purpose of giving God's invisible character a glimpse of visibility."!!To give glory to God is to make Him known, to show WHO He IS!

Do you ever find that it is almost easier to "minister" for the Lord OUTSIDE of your home?? I have been finding that I've been drawn to others' needs instead of my family's. Maybe because our needs are too complex and very weighty that others' seem to be solved in an easier way. However, God keeps drawing me back to my family and my heart is heavy with conviction in that I am not giving God glory in some of the things I do here in my home.

I am nowhere near showing who God is when I lose my temper or want to do what I want to do! Do I show patience to my children when they want something from me....again! Oh Lord, forgive me!It is my heart's cry that I (we) glorify my (our) Lord and Savior here IN my (our) home(s).

Let us encourage one another in this area."Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which GOD supplies; so that in ALL things GOD may be glorified through Jesus Christ; to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:11

Sue Mercer is a wife, mother of 5 and women's ministry leader at her church. Sue has a heart for women to experience deep, Biblical fellowship with Jesus Christ and each other. She and her husband, Matt, graduated from the Colony of Mercy and Women of Character programs at America's Keswick in 2002.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Crucible of Conflict

The Crucible of Conflict

God is teaching me a great deal about myself through conflict. I can see that leadership is easy when everyone agrees and cooperates. But a true leader is formed and refined in the crucible of conflict, where every thing doesn't fit into nice boxes.

It's not so much that I don't like people to disagree, I welcome it because there have been many times I have overlooked something and another person's viewpoint has been very beneficial. I don't see disagreement as conflict as much as an exchange of ideas that challenges us to move from good, to better, to best. Conflict, as it were, is a disagreement in which one or both of the individuals is unwilling to compromise or yield their viewpoint to the other.

James 4:1-2, "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it..."

Conflict reveals the heart issues of both individuals involved. God has been teaching me the issues of my own heart through recent conflicts. For one thing, pride: I want to be right. For another, fear of man: I want to be liked. And yet another, self-righteousness: I want to be respected. God has also shown me how these very same issues impacted my parenting as my children grew up. I often backed down from conflict out of a sinful response on my part and in so doing I failed to follow-through with what I knew was the right thing.

God has shown me that to be an effective, godly leader I must learn to love and lead in the midst of conflict, in spite of conflict. Being aware of this area of weakness, it will only be the power of Christ in me that will grow me up in Him, our perfect leader. 2 Corinthians 12:9, ""My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

I truly am grateful for the recent conflict in my life because God is using it to reveal areas of weakness in me and I believe He is preparing me for the work in my life that only He can accomplish. Diane Hunt is Director of Addiction Recovery Ministries at America's KESWICK

Monday, June 02, 2008

Through the Eyes of Grace or the Eyes of the Law

Through the Eyes of Grace or the Eyes of the Law

A little while ago, after completing an errand, I exited the main building on the Keswick property and my eyes were confronted by a dark image. Walking in, as I was walking out, was a very young couple who were walking so close together, they were moving in complete unison with one another. On top of that they were dressed head to toe in black; they were pierced in too many places for me to count without staring and appearing rude. It was obvious the sun was not their friend as they were both very pale in complexion.

Now hear me on this okay? I saw them! Everything I just described was observed in a matter of seconds and in that moment I had a decision to make. I know me very, very, very well and that means I know before anyone ever needs to tell me that I can be a critical judgmental person. I praise my God and Father for His patient, teaching, counseling, affirming grace. I thank Him for the freedom that I have (we have) in Christ every moment of every day to see others through His eyes.

As I walked past that young couple the Spirit of Christ in me rose up and something happened -or should I say, didn't happen- that was simply sweet. I found myself NOT judging them. They were two people made in the image of God, JUST LIKE ME, whom He loves, JUST LIKE ME, and cares for JUST LIKE ME, and loves, JUST LIKE ME and forgives, JUST LIKE ME and YOU!In that moment I chose to see them through the eyes of grace rather than the eyes of whatever law I think they are breaking.

As I write this Victory Call I am praying for me, for all of us to see everyone we come in contact with through new eyes; eyes that have been set free from the yoke of slavery to old stinky thinking that has nothing to do with grace; nothing to do with love and therefore, nothing to do with Christ in us and through us, the hope of glory."It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." ~~ Galatians 5:1 (NIV)"But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." ~~ 2 Corinthians 3:16-18


Stephanie (originally appeared September 10, 2007) Paul is a member of the Women's Addiction Recovery Team at America's KESWICK