Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Behind and Before

Looking for a job certainly has its ups and downs! Very quickly I can feel frustrated and out of sorts. This morning as I was studying Psalm 139 verse 5 jumped out at me. "You have hedged me behind and before, And laid your hand on me." My initial thought was one of God's protection and His surrounding presence.  That is something I must keep in mind! As I continued to read and ponder, I read the note in my Bible which said that God was using circumstances to limit David's actions. This also made me think. Could God be limiting me for a period of time? Those of you who know me know this is not something I enjoy. I like to be on the go. I like to have a plan. I like to be used for the Lord. I find the times of limitation to be difficult. I must learn in these days to trust that God has a perfect plan. He knows best. 

Look at verses 1-4. Would you conclude that He knows us so intimately that He knows exactly what He is doing? In verses 6-10 He reminds us of His presence with us. There is nowhere we can run and hide from Him.  Even in our darkness He is there. There is no difference between light and dark because He is in them both.

Do you feel limited today? Perhaps your health, finances, or season of life is limiting you. Do you feel alone in the darkness of your circumstances? Be assured that He is there. Know that He knows and He is with you. He is behind and before.

Kathy Withers

Kathy leads Higher Ground 2 on Friday mornings, 10 am at America's KESWICK. She is wife to Dave and mom to Michael and Kerri. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The whole truth and nothing but the truth

Galatians 1:6-7: I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.

I'm afraid this warning to the church in Galatia is all too relevant for the church of the 21st Century. We live in an age of so many different "gospels." There are so many who are watering down the gospel, those who are interpreting the Bible and telling us what doesn't belong in the Bible any longer, those who are molding a new gospel to fit into their particular life style. Some of these people are in our churches, some of them are in positions of power in government, and some of them are well-loved people in the entertainment industry. Where do we turn? Who should we listen to?

As I have been reading Scripture over the last month the Lord has been impressing upon my heart...there can be no compromise with the Truth of the Word of God. Over and over again, the Bible tells us to expect persecution, to expect rejection....yet we still seem surprised when it happens. If we just look over the last 2000 years, we see that this is true. The apostle Paul is a great example of no compromise no matter what the consequences.

Just about 2 weeks after being severely beaten with rods and thrown in jail in Phillipi, Paul and Silas arrived in Thessalonica. And the first thing Paul did was go straight to the synagogue and preach the gospel with all his black and blue marks and all his scabbed over wounds...he didn't water the gospel down, leave out the controversial stuff, or even change it so it wouldn't be so offensive to some. Just imagine what Paul and Silas must have looked like! All Paul's beatings just made him bolder and the gospel message stronger, causing it to spread further and further.

1 Thessalonians 2:2-4, 13: We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition. For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts...when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.

What about you? What about me? Will we fall for some "new gospel" being preached by some Johnny-come-lately? Or when we share the gospel message with family, friends, and co-workers will we water it down, leave out the controversial stuff so we won't be ridiculed or worse? As believers in Jesus Christ, as soldiers of the cross, you and I must stand firm on Truth just like Paul and never compromise. 

When we stand up for the Truth, there will be consequences for believers...are we ready?


MaryAnn and John Kiernan have been married for 35 years, have 2 grown/married sons and are the proud grandparents of two grandsons. She serves at America's KESWICK as the Intake Coordinator for the Colony of Mercy. Her life verse is Romans 8:28.

Monday, December 29, 2008

One of your Smiles....

A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones. Proverbs 15:30 

I just love this verse...I think is says it all.  How many of us give a cheerful look?  How many of us bring joy to the heart?

One day as I was texting my son on his cell phone, little did I know that he happened to be coming down the hall.  He walked in and asked... "Did you need something?" He had a smile on his face.  I explained to him..., "you just gave it to me." With a puzzled look on his face, I answered him and said, "I needed one of your smiles."

My youngest son knows when he is being a handful and sometimes, to break the tension between the two of us, instead of getting upset, I look at him and say ...Gavin, give me one of your smiles.  Well, he knows how to make my heart melt and yes, bring joy to my heart.

When you walk in a room, do you bring a cheerful look?  I have walked into church meetings, ladies groups and other situations where a simple smile was not on the agenda of those people.  It just seemed to create a different atmosphere, one where you felt like you didn't want to be there. It is amazing when you walk into a place and you receive a friendly smile....everything can change.

Do we realize how our smiles and countenance show so much of who we are in Christ?  We are all that some people ever read of the Bible.  When they look at us, can they see past us and see Christ?  

There are so many ways that we can give one of our smiles to a friend today.  Pass a note to them, send an email, send a text, give them a call, give a little gift, or better yet, greet them with a smile on your face.

Bring a cheerful look to someone today and bring the joy of the Lord to their heart.

Lynn W

Friday, December 26, 2008

Coffee Table Books

On my coffee table at home I have a few books for "show." If you know me, you know that I love tea parties! I love to entertain and cook. Having a few close friends over for a special afternoon of tea and goodies is at the top of my list of favorite things to do. My coffee table reflects that interest with a few Tea Party books and magazines. 

Many years ago, after the birth of my son, Daniel, I had a photographer come to the house to take some baby portraits. I ended up buying some package where they would come back year after year. Well, I received a lovely bonus...a very large family Bible (KJV), which promptly became a "coffee table book." I wasn't a Christian, although I was raised in a church...and I never owned a Bible...this was my first one! I thought it was pretty neat and besides it had some great pictures in it...and it looked really good on my coffee table!

As I look back, it is so sad. I guess I thought of that Bible as some kind of a "good luck" charm. I never picked it up to read it. Oh, I might have flipped through it a couple times to look at the pictures but really, it just sat on my coffee table gathering dust.

I wasn't until about 1995 or 96 that I began to read and study the Bible...not the one on my coffee table...but a New Living Translation Bible. Prior to reading and studying the Bible I was very opinionated about it. I would argue about how outdated it was and that it was so full of contradictions. All without ever reading a word!!

When adversity came into my life, I wanted to find out about God and the only way was to read the Bible. I've been reading and studying it ever since. Funny thing I read and studied it...God's TRUTH was revealed to me. In 1998 I accepted Jesus as the Lord and Savior of my life. 

God's Word is Truth, Life, and Food for your soul. It shows the way to salvation, it teaches and convicts us. There is no other Book like it in the world....because it is God's own words! 

2 Timothy 3:16-17: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Hebrews 4:12: 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.

      You can't get to know God and the Truth of the Gospel message from the back of a cereal box. The only way to know God and His son Jesus is to read the book He wrote. Do you have a Bible delegated as the "coffee table" book or is it at the bottom of your closet or up on a shelf? Why don't you dust it off, open it up and read His Story? You'll be amazed at the treasures you'll find!


MaryAnn and John Kiernan have been married for 35 years, have 2 grown/married sons and are the proud grandparents of two grandsons. She serves at America's KESWICK as the Intake Coordinator for the Colony of Mercy. Her life verse is Romans 8:28.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: "They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots." Sitting down, they kept watch over Him there. And they put up over His head the accusation written against Him: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left. And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, "You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross."

Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, "He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, 'I am the Son of God.'" Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.   

Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"  Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, "This Man is calling for Elijah!" Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink. The rest said, "Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him." 

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.  Matthew 27:35-50

I know what you are thinking - that I've gone off my rocker.  Why this excerpt about the death of Jesus Christ?  Because today we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. 

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger. Luke 2:8-12

In the midst of our celebration, let us not lose sight of the truth, that Jesus was born to die. His whole life pointed to His crucifixion and resurrection.  What greater truth do we have to celebrate this day? 

Merry Christmas.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve 2008

Well, it's finally here!! All the packages have been bought and shipped.  The meal has been well thought out.  The hors d'oeuvres are chilling in the refrigerator.  The mouth-watering Christmas cookies are all baked. The house is lit with great care. The gifts are all wrapped waiting to be put under the ornately decorated tree.  The air of anticipation mingles with the distinct fragrance of the tree and the aroma of the mistletoe candle.  

Celebration is soon to begin.  

Did you remember to invite the Guest of Honor?  Have you left room in your heart this Holiday season to meditate on Jesus?  Whether you are celebrating today and tomorrow with family and friends or quietly alone, don't lose sight of the real reason we are celebrating at all.  JESUS HAS COME!! HALLELUJAH!!!


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Are you living the dead life?

When you think about living the dead life does that cause you to pause a moment?  The question itself sounds contradictory.  If you are reading this Victory Call you are alive, living and breathing, physically alive.  If you have received Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you are also spiritually alive.  So where does the dead life come in?  
Romans 6:6-7 "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."

Romans 6:11a "Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin"

"Is it, reckon yourself to be weak in reference to sin? No, it is lower than that. Is it, reckon yourself to be dying? No, lower still. 'Reckon yourself to be dead (Rom. 6:11) indeed unto sin.' Some believe they are very weak. But what does that imply? That they have some strength. But when a man is dead he has no strength."i

If we live as if we have any life [any of the old wo(man)] at all we are not living the dead life. Are not life and death mutually exclusive? 

The truth, the factual truth, is that our old man is dead.  That is fact, the Bible clearly says so.  If this is so, then why do we continue to struggle with our old nature?  Could it be that it doesn't know it is dead, or perhaps we don't know or believe that part of us is dead?  Don't we live out in our reality what feels true rather than what is true?  
"We must act on the fact that we are dead in reference to sin. We shall not then speak of difficulty as to resisting temptation in reference to ourselves. We shall take the lowest place, and say it is impossible."ii

When we are tempted, our old man doesn't feel dead, it feels very much alive.  When we begin to consider or toy with the temptation, at that moment we are living in unbelief.  We are living as if God's word is not true.  
Sister, let us reckon ourselves to be dead indeed to sin and start living the dead life.


i Miles Stanford, The Complete Green Letters, page 42
ii ibid

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Inconvenient Christmas

Tonight I heard Joseph Bonsall read his story of An Inconvenient Christmas. Have you ever had an inconvenient Christmas? Actually, I suppose the question should be have you ever had a convenient Christmas?

The Christmas my parents forgot to bring my presents to Grandma's house was certainly an inconvenient Christmas. For a ten-year-old, how could it be Christmas without any presents?

The Christmas Eve of 1963, we were traveling to my parents in Michigan from our home in Indiana. Matt was 4 and Mellyn was two. I was great with child; the baby was due in May. Our car broke down and we were stranded about 60 miles from my parents' home. The gas station owner explained he was late for a family dinner and he needed to close up the station. He kindly left the women's restroom open. Even though it was crowded with all of us huddled in there waiting for Grandpa to come, at least it was heated. That Christmas was very inconvenient. We were cold and hungry by the time we got to my parents' home. Christmas definitely did not proceed on schedule.

Christmas eve of 1965, I was sitting in the Lazyboy chair with Glen kneeling beside me, holding my hand. I heard three-year-old Mellyn whisper to five-year-old Matt, "The babies are coming!" She was right. The babies were coming several weeks early. I managed to stay at the house long enough for my mom and dad to arrive from Michigan. I gave my mother instructions about Christmas dinner and where some of the kids' toys were hidden, to be wrapped after they went to sleep. 
Then Glen and I left for the hospital. The timing was certainly inconvenient, but once I got to the hospital I was greeted by those who were prepared to help me deliver my babies. Nathan and Ethan arrived around 3:00 am Christmas morning.

Perhaps we could conclude that the first Christmas was the most inconvenient. Mary certainly didn't plan to become pregnant. Joseph didn't plan to marry a woman who was already pregnant. Neither Mary nor Joseph planned that the baby would be born so far from home, let alone in a stable. For the shepherds, a trip to Bethlehem was not on their schedule for that night.

How about now? Is this an inconvenient Christmas for you? Do you still have so much to do to get ready? Are you wishing you had just a few more days? Would Christmas be more convenient if you could postpone it for a while?

Ah, but the Scriptures say, "In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son...." The time was just right for God to send His Son into our world. Let's strip away all of the trappings of Christmas and make sure we are ready to welcome Christ into our busy lives. Let's make this a convenient Christmas.


Friday, December 19, 2008

The Tongue, Part II

Hebrews 4:12 tells us, "For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (NKJV)   In other words "God means what He says.  What He says goes. His powerful Word is sharper than a surgeon's scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey."1 (The Message)  

The thought of being cut by something so sharp is frightening!  To have my thought-life laid open to reveal all its secret places is something I dread and long for simultaneously.  Yet, in order for me to come to the place of obedience, I know that I must choose exposure to and saturation by the living and powerful Word of God.   Then and only then will any desire I have to "speak the truth in love" be marked by the sincere desire for what is best for the other person, rather than a desire to "speak my mind."
As the writer of Hebrews says, only God's Word has the power to reveal the thoughts and attitudes of my heart or yours.  That means I must be slow, very slow, to speak and pray what the writer of Psalms 12:3-4, so rightly penned, "May the Lord cut off all flattering lips and the tongue that speaks proud things, who have said, 'With our tongues we will prevail.'  Our lips are our own, who is Lord over us?"

Simply put, I do not own me; my lips or my heart!  God owns all of me!  He is Lord over me and He would have my words be seasoned with grace and thus be an instrument for His righteous purpose...not mine.

My question for you: Are the words that you speak to others seasoned with grace and love? Are they instruments for His purposes?




Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Tongue, Part I

Every so often it is necessary to speak truth to someone.  As I prepare to do so, I sometimes think, "this is a good thing" because he or she "needs" to be shown this area of possible blindness in his or her life.  In the past it would be unlikely that I would first, search my own heart and see how that very thing might lurk within me.  

Today, however, the story is different because I know how deceitful sin is and how cleverly our flesh disguises, hides and then denies its existence.  Praise God that He is bigger than my deepest, most hidden sin and that He is committed to nothing less than holiness for His children!

Proverbs 15:33 reads, "The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor." Lately, with each opportunity to go and speak, my gracious Father has shown me a pride in my heart that was lurking just around the corner, out of sight. So before I could attempt to address the speck I had to repent and remove the beam. I had to confess, repent and offer my thoughts and my mouth to God for cleansing and purification.

"Do not offer the parts of your body to sin as instruments of wickedness but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness." Romans 6:13 1 

"Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Matthew 7:5 2

Today, once again, I offered my tongue as an instrument of righteousness rather than for any form of wickedness.  From Hannah's prayer in 1 Samuel 2:3 I read, "Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance - for the Lord is a God who knows and by Him deeds are weighed."3
Who am I to weigh the thoughts, deeds and heart of any other person?  Only God has the power to know the thoughts and intents of my heart or yours and, His call is for us to daily examine our life for anything that exalts itself above the knowledge of Him.

My question for you: Do you see signs in your own life of a prideful heart? What is the fruit that has been produced by it?



2 ibid
3 ibid

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

In Christ Alone

Jesus is our hope - our only hope. Apart from Jesus there is no other hope.  It's Jesus and Jesus only.  Anything else that you hope in or cling to is less than the enduring, sustaining hope found in Christ and Christ alone.

"In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song.
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm."1

Dear sister, are you in a drought or a storm? Regardless of where you are, Jesus is the solid ground. He is your strength, your light and the song your heart beats to sing. Crawl, walk, skip, run to Him who is your hope and rest, knowing that in His presence is where you belong.

"What heights of love, what depths of peace, 
What fears are stilled when strivings cease.
My Comforter, my All in All;
Here in the love of Christ I stand."2

"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,  nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)3

May it be so, in Jesus' name that you know, believe and stand firm in this truth: Christ and Christ alone. In Him and through Him is your hope, your strength, you life, your being.

Selah: Are you persuaded?


1 In Christ Alone by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
2 ibid

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

God with skin on

It's December, once again. For most people, December means presents, parties, preparations, and programs. It also means traditions, meeting expectations, family gatherings, and with all of that there may even be some fun and excitement in the mix. However, for some Christmas means trying to act happy, meeting expectations, going through the motions, when in reality their hearts are breaking. The magic of Christmas seems more like the misery of Christmas. This has been a rough year. A marriage has ended, a relationship has been broken, a job has been lost, the positive financial picture has shattered, a loved one has died. Do you know someone who fits that situation? If so, now is your chance to show the love of Christ to that person or family. 

If a mom is trying to hold the family together after a divorce or death of a spouse, you can reach out to her by offering to sit with the kids while she shops, do some shopping for her, help her put up the Christmas tree, or even buy a tree for her.

Do you know someone whose finances are exhausted? Wouldn't they be surprised if they found a bag of groceries on their porch? I remember the night my daughter and I parked a few houses away from an unemployed friend. We silently crept to the porch and placed a canned ham there and then we ran after we rang the doorbell.

Do you know someone who is facing the holidays for the first time without a loved one? Take them a memento to remind them of their loved one. Buy a special ornament for their tree. Do their shopping for them so they don't have to face all of the holiday shoppers and music.

Most of all with anyone who may be dreading the holidays make sure they are not alone. Let them know you remember their difficulties.

You can be "God with skin on." Now's your chance. Don't let it slip by. Reach out to God's hurting children.

"Comfort ye; comfort ye My people, saith your God," (Isaiah 40:1).


Monday, December 15, 2008

You can run from Christmas...but it will find you

When I think about Christmases gone by, I remember Christmas Eve dinners. Momma always in her apron would have cooked all the traditional Ukrainian foods. My Poppa always had a big smile on his face at seeing his whole family together...four daughters, one son (all with spouses) and 14 grandchildren. Children would be running everywhere, laughter and joy just bursting out of their small home. I'm sure you have similar memories that bring a sense of joy and warmth to your heart.  I remember the last Christmas that my family was all together at my parents' dining room table...Christmas of 1975. Everything would change in November 1976 with the death of my brother Adolf.

      As joyous as Christmas can be, it can also be a very difficult time of year for those who are in grief over the death of a loved one. And out of all the holidays, it seems that the first Christmas without a spouse, parent, sibling, or child is the most difficult. Most of us want to just pull the covers over our heads and hide from seems just too painful. A dear friend of mine, Debbie, recently lost her husband, Bob, after a painful bout with pancreatic cancer. Although I haven't experienced the loss of husband, I have experienced the loss of my brother and my parents and I know how difficult that first Christmas can be. 

      Debbie shared this story with me, and with her permission, I share it with you. Debbie's pain and sadness is so fresh and still raw. Every year Debbie has prepared for Christmas and decorated almost every room. But this year is different; her husband of 30 plus years won't be by her side. Debbie told her sister that she just wanted to bypass Christmas. She didn't want to decorate and do all the things she had done in the past because the pain and sadness are too great. "You can run from Christmas but Christmas will find you, Deb" was her sister's reply.

      As Debbie was out shopping, there on a shelf at eye level...Christmas found her by way of a precious nativity set. There before her eyes was the baby Jesus in a manger...a reminder that it's all about Jesus. It didn't take away the sadness, pain or grief she felt, but there in baby Jesus is hope and the reason for the season.

Luke 2:8-15 "That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. 'Don't be afraid!' he said. 'I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior-yes, the Messiah, the Lord-has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.' Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others-the armies of heaven-praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.' When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, 'Let's go to Bethlehem! Let's see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.'"1

      Debbie bought that nativity set and has placed it in a prominent place at eye level for all to see as they enter her home and a place she walks by continually. You can try to run from Christmas....but Jesus will find you.


1 accessed 12-11-07 The New Living Translation

Friday, December 12, 2008

He Orders My Steps

A few weeks ago I was told that the decision had been made to close the Keswick Book and Gift Shop and that I did not have a job. I have a job for the Christmas season but after that I have no idea what I will be doing! While discussing the uncertainty of the days ahead a friend reminded me that God orders my steps. Last night I got a card from another friend and in it she wrote, "He has ordered your steps." Job certainly didn't know why difficulty and suffering came his way but God ordered his steps. David was anointed king yet he ran for his life while Saul sought to kill him. God had ordered his steps. 

Ruth followed Naomi to a people and country that she took as her own. God was ordering her steps. Abram was told to leave his country with no idea where he was going. Wasn't God still ordering his steps? Corrie and Betsie Ten Boom walked into Ravensbruck concentration camp.  Could they have trusted that God was ordering their steps?

I don't know exactly where God is ordering my steps but of this I am sure- He knows the way! I want to faithfully and obediently trust Him each step of the way. My challenge and yours may be to just keep holding tight, letting Him lead and taking the next step!

"A mans heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." Proverbs 16:9 NKJV
"A mans steps are of the Lord; How then can a man understand his own way?" Proverbs 20:24 NKJV

Kathy Withers

Kathy is married to her husband Dave; she has two adult children, Michael and Kerri. Kathy is currently teaching Higher Ground II at America's KESWICK on Fridays at 10 am. 

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Where will you be......?

A co-worker and I were joking if we knew the rapture were to happen next week what would we do.  She joked and said she would spend her money and go to Hawaii....then she said, "I guess I should evangelize."

I also found myself talking to my dad about the same thing the other night.  We were talking about the elections and how life could and probably will change after this election.  Our conversation was so encouraging because we sensed the same thing.  You know how they say, "there is calm before the storm."  Well, we were talking about how we each noticed that in both life and in the Christian circles we sensed a quiet like we have never felt before.  It is not something that you can really explain but we can both feel it.  It is not a feeling of fear, or stress, not a feeling to be worried about or anything like that.  It is a quiet sense of peace and a sense that the Lord's return is coming soon.
Now, I know we have heard this before, that He is coming soon.  You are maybe thinking that I am just going on a feeling or a sense of something.   Although I will go on that feeling...I am not selling all of my goods and standing on a roof top to wait as some have done.

I can tell you that life is sweeter now at that thought, my focus has changed and my goals for the years to come have shifted.  My family has become even more precious to me, especially when you know that we are going to spend eternity together.

Where am I going with all this?  When I went to a church ladies meeting about 15 years ago one of my old Sunday School teachers, in conversation, said to me...."I want to be serving Him when he calls me home."  She went on to say, "even if I am washing the dishes from my family dinner, I keep a card posted by my sink so I can be praying for His people."  This stirred up my soul; what would I be doing when He returns?  Better yet.....did I really ever stop and think about it?  Have you thought about it?

If He returns now or in 100 years from now, every day counts, every moment and every second.  What will you be doing when the trumpet sounds?  Listen might hear them sound soon.  Ladies, get out there and serve the King of kings and Lord of Lords today.  Days are numbered and short and there is much work to be done.  "The King is coming, the King is coming!  I just heard the trumpet sounds, And now His face I see; O the king is coming, the King is coming! Praise God, He's coming for ME!" (Copyright 1970 by William J Gaither) 

Lynn W

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Instruct or Imitate

"For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore I urge you, imitate me. " 1 Corinthians 4:15-16

There is a distinction between those that instruct the truth and those that reveal the truth.There is a distinction between those that teach others and those that lead others.There is a distinction between those that tell others and those that show others.There is a distinction between those that explain and those that express.Are we telling others the truth or are we living the truth? Are we instructing others in the gospel or are we imitating the gospel? Father, give me the genuine depth of relationship with You that exudes from my life so that to the degree that I imitate Christ, others will imitate Christ as we together love and follow You.


Tuesday, December 09, 2008



Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. Psalm 86:11Yesterday, I shared about the first half of this verse, "Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth;" Today, I want to consider the second part of the verse, "give me an undivided heart..."When I read this verse that day in my friend's home, 15 years ago, this is the part of the verse that immediately struck me. An undivided heart - yes, Lord, yes that is what I want. I suffer from a divided heart. So many things vie for my attention and time that I find I am "multi-minded" rather than "single-minded".

If we had a single focus, a single purpose, a united heart that is totally devoted to The Lord Jesus Christ oh, how glorious that would be. You may ask, "How can that be? How would we get anything done? Isn't that going a little overboard? Do we have to be so fanatical?" Oh, sister, dear sister, having an undivided heart will not hinder us from getting things accomplished that are part of God's agenda. It will not render us useless to our family or to the world. We won't be sitting on a cloud playing the harp. No, rather is will cause us to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty with the things of God. It will help us prioritize those things that are of greatest importance and eliminate those things that serve to distract us. It will intensify our focus and bring clarity of purpose. It will actually simplify life as we filter everything, every decision, every action, every choice through the grid "will this unite my heart or divide my heart?" Psalm 86:11b

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name... NIVPut me together, one heart and mind; then, undivided, I'll worship in joyful fear ... The MsgDirect and unite my heart [solely, reverently] to fear and honor Your name... AmplifiedGrant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you.. New Living TranslationUnite my heart to fear thy name... King James Version

Unite my heart to fear your name... English Standard Version

Diane Hunt

Monday, December 08, 2008

Walking in Truth

Walking in truth

One day, many years ago, I was visiting a dear godly woman I have long since considered a mentor in my life. There was an open Bible in her bathroom. In the brief time I was in there my eyes fell upon this verse and I instantly memorized it: "Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name." Psalm 86:11 (NIV)

Of late, this is the cry of my heart. As I was thinking about this verse recently I had to stop and ask myself, is this really my desire? Sure I want God to teach me His way, but will I walk in His truth? Will I respond to His truth with obedience, or do I want to know His truth and do my own thing anyway? I think far too often, I live as if the verse says, "Teach me Your way, O LORD, and I will think about it;" or "Teach me Your way, O LORD, and I will decide if I want to walk in Your truth'" or "Teach me Your way, O LORD, and I walk in Your truth if it's not too difficult;" or "Teach me Your way, O LORD, and I will tell others to walk in Your truth." How about you?

When God teaches you His way, how are you most likely to respond? Will you walk in His truth, or your own? When God teaches you to forgive, do you forgive? When God teaches you to be silent, are your silent? When God teaches you to speak the truth in love, do you speak up? When God teaches you to submit to authority, do you submit? When God teaches you to serve another, do you serve? When God teaches you to encourage, do you encourage? When God teaches you to love your enemy, do you love? When God teaches you to humble yourself, do you respond with humility? When God teaches you to share the Gospel truth with that difficult person in your life, do you share? How am I doing?

Have I hit close to home yet? If not, fill in the blank yourself: When God teaches me to ______________ do I _________________? Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth... Psalm 86:11a Diane Hunt is Director of Addiction Recovery Ministries at America's KESWICK

Friday, December 05, 2008

A Moose Moment


Several years ago, the Youth Pastor in my church took a number of our young people to Canada on a "Wilderness" trip. God did some awesome things in their lives, including Pastor Jason's. Shortly after he returned, he spoke at a Sunday morning worship service. He talked about the first moose he saw while he was in Canada. Never having seen one "in the flesh," so to speak, he was awed by how magnificent a creature the moose was.

During that week, every time he saw a moose he felt the same thrill and amazement as he did at that first encounter. However, others on the trip were kind of the opinion, "seen one moose, seen 'em all." His message that Sunday morning was taken from Ephesians 2. While he had several "points" to his sermon, the one to which he kept returning was the amazement and thrill he had experienced when he first came to know Christ as his Savior. And what had happened to it? His reaction to his salvation was very much like that of the group's to the appearances of the moose (or might it be mooses?) all week. Ho-hum. No longer did Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection, nor the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in his life day by day, cause him to stop in amazement and reflect on the greatness of God and our salvation.

Now, lest you think that our Youth Pastor is totally off base, be honest with yourself. How many times do you thank God for the gift of His Son and His ever-present work in your life as a matter of fact? Something that we -- I -- take for granted. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works lest any man should boast." Now those verses are AMAZING. Think about it - nothing, nothing at all about our salvation has to do with what we say or do. God gives us the greatest gift ever conceived, and all we need to do is say "yes." But once that takes place, how easy it is for us to slip back into our ruts and take His work of grace for granted. My prayer for you - and for me - today is that we will encounter Jesus Christ in a "moose moment." Recapture the thrill of that first time we responded to His love and grace, fall in love with Him all over again and never, ever take His grace for granted. -- Lynn Randall is Director of Human Resources at America's KESWICK

Thursday, December 04, 2008

How God Uses Our Own Words to Remind Us

How God uses our own Words to remind us......

Yesterday in the whirlwind of events through out the day, I received several emails and a few stop by's in my office regarding a devotion I wrote. I almost had forgotten this one called..."For this Child I prayed." It was printed in our Keswick devotional.

My day was filled with many tasks at work, our van needed to go in the shop, my oldest son needed to spend some time with me to review his plans and at my feet was this little bright-eyed young man. My mom was at our home helping to watch Gavin so that I could do all of these miscellaneous things. Gavin's reply to my mom was "did she leave again," as I was running around doing all these things. Well, that hit hard with me. When I looked in his backpack there was a note from his teacher that Gavin had a hard day at school.

This devotion was meant for me to read again on this particular day.What a great reminder from the Lord....a devotion I wrote a few years ago would come around again to remind me of what was really important. How soon we forget the lessons we have learned. Though the daily tasks in life are needed and important, these young lives we touch will have an eternal impact. I needed to sit down with my younger son and spend the time with him he needed that day. I can confess the day ran out of time and I did not spend the time I believe he really needed.

In my prayer time that night I had to give him back to the Lord and ask the Lord to guide my steps better the next day to be the mom Gavin needed. The Lord knew that my work schedule would be busy, that our van does need to be repaired and that I am a mom to another young man, too. It is refreshing me to know that even on the days when I find myself committed to many things, that I know that I can remember that the Lord is with my kids all the time, and that I cannot do it all. I can not always be there but what a lesson for me to learn and remember and to teach them both that HE is there for them always.

Moms out there remember... these lives have been entrusted to us for only a few short years. Some days will be busy and filled with many tasks that we do need to take care of. Let us start our day off in prayer and ask the Lord to guide our steps...He knows what we really need to take care of. Let us also remember the blessings we have in knowing that these kids really belong to the Lord and to direct our children to Him. Love your kids each day in a special way and tell them that you love them, but also share daily with them salvation and the love of our Lord.

Lynn Wilson serves in the Guest Services Department at America's KESWICK.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Forgiven Much

Forgiven Much

"It is when I am aware of sin that I appreciate grace the most."1 ~~ CJ Mahaney

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8 (NKJV)

Are you today, right now, in this present-tense moment aware of how much you are and have been forgiven? Do you appreciate grace? Are you daily convicted of sin in your life? Are you passionate for God and His glory? Is your love for God evident? Growing? Increasing in its intensity? When you stand in church on Sunday morning, singing songs to the glory of God, are you affected? Do you daily express your appreciation to/for the Savior who hung as your substitute, receiving the wrath that you and I deserve? Do you lift up your voice and express your gratefulness to the One who not only hung on the Cross...but who rose again from the dead...who has ascended, who is seated at the Right Hand of the Father...who by His generous hand of mercy has regenerated your heart? 2

These are the questions on my mind (for all of us to consider) as I conclude listening to part two of a three-part teaching by CJ Mahaney titled, The Idol Factory 3. I couldn't begin to do justice to the richness of this teaching, so I encourage you to click onto the links at the bottom of the page and listen (be sure to listen to them in order). Your heart will be blessed and your soul convicted of sin... and that is a really, really good thing.

We have been forgiven much by the Holy One, and this one true fact alone ought to humble our hearts before the Lord and cause us to lay down our idols and surrender all the things, the ways of being, which we cling to, and/or justify as "just the way I am" or "just the way I've always been."God forbid that we should settle for less than His best for us. He was good enough to have mercy on all of us and He didn't have to."He paid a debt he did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay.I needed someone to wash my sins away.And now I sing a brand new song: "Amazing Grace."Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay." ~~Unknown Selah

Stephanie Paul is the Director of Women's Addiction Recovery Ministries

1 ibid

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Are You Willing to Pray?

Are You Willing to Pray?

Today I was humbled by a couple who asked if they could pray for me. I didn't ask them to. I didn't share anything with them. They could obviously see that the bookstore was closing and knew I would be moving on. They asked me if they could pray for me! There have been many customers in the store bargain hunting, giving hugs and saying good-byes but this couple took the time to pray for me! I have tried to make a habit of praying with people when a need arises.

I have embarrassed myself too many times by telling people I would pray for them or their need and then forgotten. If I take a moment to pray when asked "Will you pray for...?" I find I remember it easier and the Lord puts that need on my heart in the days ahead. I am now challenged to be more discerning at what might be going on in someone else's life and be willing to ask "Can I pray for you?" This may be easy to do within your church or even with someone you don't know well but believe they know the Lord. But what would happen if you and I saw the need of the cashier at the grocery store, the elderly woman sitting by herself as you drink your coffee, or the person sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's office?

I know this can be a challenge but would you ask the Lord to show you who needs you to pray for them? Just ask someone today if you can pray for them and be willing to follow through. I imagine God will supply us with a number of divine appointments if we would just ask to pray for another's need. Kathy Withers is married to her husband Dave; she has two adult children, Michael and Kerri. Kathy is currently teaching Higher Ground II at America's Keswick on Fridays at 10 AM.

Monday, December 01, 2008

We're All Just People

We're all just people

Driving down the road the other day, I got behind a car that was going "too slow" for my tastes. I wasn't in a hurry and they were driving the speed limit but I found it slightly irritating. As I was musing, I realized the two people in the car in front of me reminded me of two dear friends from Keswick. I knew it wasn't them - it wasn't their car - but he was tall and she barely could be seen above the seat. Immediately, my heart softened towards the couple in the car in front of me. It occurred to me that if it were my friends I would not be irritated with them at all. I know them as people. I love them.

Rewind about 3 weeks. The Lord has been working on my heart to be real, open, honest, transparent, etc. To press in for greater intimacy with other believers and with Him. I have a friend who is ever so longsuffering with me. She has tried to tell me on numerous occasions how other people see me. Others, especially women, have repeatedly indicated that I am intimidating, and they guard themselves around me. Frankly, I am befuddled, very befuddled. I keep thinking that if they knew me as a person, they wouldn't feel that way.

Rewind about 8 weeks. In a recent, long-standing conflict with a friend, we were discussing our differences. My friend asked me why I didn't just come tell them when I disagreed. I said, "I do, but I come with fear and trembling. I lose sleep over it, my heart races and I get knots in my stomach." In that instant, the other person's face changed and they sat back in the chair. My friend said, "That changes everything - I never realized that is how you felt, I haven't been seeing you as a person." Since that time, we have had no conflict.

Fast forward to today. I was sharing with a co-worker this 'revelation,' that if we saw each other as people, perhaps we would be less likely to be irritated frustrated, etc., with one another. He abruptly got up, in jest said, "you need to stop talking," and as he left my office said, "Thanks a lot, I need to go make something right." The next time you are irritated, frustrated, etc. - Stop. Take a moment and consider the other person really is a person, and choose to make things right."You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:39 -- Diane Hunt is Director of Addiction Recovery Ministries at America's KESWICK