Tuesday, March 31, 2009

God is... (part 2)

God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever ~ Psalm 73:26
God is known;his name is great in Israel ~ Psalm 76:1
God is a sun and shield;the LORD bestows favor and honor ~ Psalm 84:11
God is holy ~ Psalm 99:9
God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases ~ Pslam 115:3
God is merciful ~ Psalm 116:5
God is the LORD ~ Psalm 144:15
God is in heaven ~ Ecclesiates 5:2
God is the one you must fear ~ Ecclesiates 5:7
GOD is my strength and my song,and he has become my salvation ~ Isaiah 12:2
GOD is an everlasting rock ~ Isaiah 26:4
GOD is an everlasting rock ~ Daniel 2:47
God is righteous in all the works that he has done ~ Daniel 9:14
God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save ~ Zephaniah 3:17
God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham ~ Matthew 3:9
God is at hand ~ Mark 1:15
God is true ~ John 3:33
God is spirit ~ John 4:24
God is one ~ Romans 3:30
God is for us ~ Romans 8:31
God is faithful ~ 1 Corinthians 1:9
God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men ~ 1 Corinthians 1:25
God is really among you ~ 1 Corinthians 14:25
God is able to make all grace abound to you ~ 2 Corinthains 9:8
God is not unjust ~ Hebrews 6:10
God is treating you as sons ~ Hebrews 12:7
God is a consuming fire ~ Hebrews 12:29
God is light ~ 1 John 1:5
God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything ~ 1 John 3:20
God is love ~ 1 John 4:8

Monday, March 30, 2009

We are ALL in this together

About nine or so years ago, I started to occasionally facilitate a group meeting called Higher Ground which Diane Hunt began and, week after week, usually serves as the primary facilitator/speaker.

Higher Ground is a weekly care and support group for women. The group was started as an outreach to the community for women who may have loved ones struggling with addiction or who, themselves, are in recovery and in need of support as they desire to pursue victory in life.

However, one doesn't need to fit this category to be involved. Any woman seeking an opportunity to grow in her faith walk, and enjoy the added blessing of fellowship with a group of "real women," is welcome. Higher Ground is an avenue that God is using to transform lives.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to begin a six-week series on the topic of prayer. One day my boss (Diane) and I were talking about prayer when I expressed the burden that was/is on my heart to see women get over their fear of praying, and -voila!- I was signed up to teach it!

Well, here I am. I'm not so much teaching as I am working through a book written by Kay Author (a world-renowned Bible teacher) alongside the women who faithfully attend week after week.

While I may be facilitating the group meeting, I make it plain and clear to all, "we are ALL in this together." God is at work in each of our lives and He wants us to be women who are strong in faith. He desires that we grow in wisdom and stature for His glory and honor. He wants us to be beautiful images of His grace and truth to our families, our neighborhoods and the world.

Having said all that, I'll close with this. Throughout the next few weeks I will share with you small vignettes of the story that is unfolding in our midst as the Lord faithfully draws us closer to Himself and helps us get over some of the hurdles that have hindered us in our faith walk.

Why will I do this?

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." ~~Hebrews 12:1-2

With all my heart and soul, I believe prayer is an open door to the Father and He wants us to draw near; He wants us to seek Him and glory, glory, glory, He actually promises that if we seek Him we will find Him. No tricks, no gimmicks. Selah......

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD..." ~~Jeremiah 29:11-14a


Friday, March 27, 2009

Blind Man's Bluff

Did you ever play blind man's bluff as a child? One child is blindfolded and the others call out to the blindfolded child. The blindfolded one tries to catch another child. Or have you ever been blindfolded and had someone lead you through an obstacle course? There are many games children play where one child is blindfolded and must feel his or her way out or trust another to guide them through what lies ahead.

Sometimes as adults we feel blindfolded in the midst of our trials, sorrows or times of important decision making. We may be confused, scared, upset, worried or in deep grief and we can't see our way out of the darkness we are in. You may be feeling that way today. You may be asking a dozen questions, wanting to know the next step, wanting to know how you will ever get out of this mess...perhaps wanting to know if this pain in your heart will ever heal...and no answer comes and you are in the darkest tunnel imaginable.

I remember all too well the days that I felt totally alone and totally in the dark.....until Jesus. I was in that place for a long time and had lost all hope...until Jesus. But Jesus was there right with me all along in the darkness. I needed to trust that He was there even if I didn't see Him or feel Him. Even in our fear and anxiety God asks us to trust Him. Why should we? Because we have His great and precious promises to hold on to, that He is there always.

Deuteronomy 31:8 "Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you." (NLT)

God will not leave us alone; no, not ever...He has even gone ahead and paved the way. Even if I don't know or see what will happen, God knows. What a great comfort when we find ourselves in the darkest pit of pain, sorrow or trials.

Psalm 32:8 The Lord says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you." (NLT)

When everything is pitch black, the Lord is there with His hand guiding us through and not just guiding us to "a" way out but to the "best pathway"...even if sometimes it doesn't exactly "feel" like the best pathway, we can rest in Him, that He has our best interest in His heart. Don't trust "feelings," trust God.

Is this God of ours trustworthy? Can we trust Him in the midst of pain and uncertainty? Today you and I have a choice...to be alone in the midst of blackness, fear and pain or trust that He is there to lead, guide and direct our every step for our good and His glory.

Isaiah 42:16 "I will lead the blind by the ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These things I will do; I will not forsake them."


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 a Biblical Counselor and also as Intake Coordinator for the Colony of Mercy. Her life verse is Romans 8:28.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Discipline vs. Holiness

Visiting my sister one weekend, we had the privilege to attend church with her on Sunday morning. Pastor Brad was speaking on Hebrews 12:14-24 in his sermon titled "Rediscovering Holiness." The entire sermon was helpful but there was one section that made my heart go into double-time. I asked Pastor permission to use it for a Victory Call and he offered to send me his outline. I would like to pass along a portion of the insight I gleaned that morning. This does not represent the totality of Pastor's sermon, only a small section. I take full responsibility if I in any way misrepresent Pastor Brad's intentions, but I give him full credit for his ideas in their original form. Pastor Brad's thoughts are in CAPS.


Hebrews 12:14 "Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord."

SOME PEOPLE ARE BETTER ABLE TO KEEP THE MORAL CODE THAN OTHERS. Some people are naturally disciplined while others are not. Disciplined people can easily become judgmental and critical of less disciplined people and self-righteous to boot.


FAITH-BASED OR GRACE-BASED HOLINESS IS NOT NECESSARILY CENTERED ON THE RESULTS BUT THE PROCESS. This is huge. God is more interested in how we get from point A to point B than that we arrive at point B.




LEGALISTIC OBEDIENCE BASED ON PERSONAL DISCIPLINE IS NOT HOLINESS. Being disciplined does not make a person more godly, or more holy. That which we do in our own strength is merely wood, hay and stubble. 1 Corinthians 3:11-13 "For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw- each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done."

When a person is genuinely obedient by God's grace and power and through the living Christ in her, she will know she has nothing to brag about in herself, in her ability to do right, or in her disciplined life. Ephesians 2:8-9 "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."

DON'T MISS THE GRACE!!! Hebrews 12:15 "See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God"

What is my point? Only this, it is not personal discipline that makes us holy but Christ in us our hope of glory. Colossians 1:27


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

God is...

God is not man ~ Numbers 23:19
God is a consuming fire, a jealous God ~ Deuteronomy 4:24
God is a merciful God ~ Deuteronomy 4:31
God is in your midst, a great and awesome God ~ Deuteronomy 7:21
God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe ~ Deuteronomy 10:17
God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt ~ Deuteronomy 20:1
God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory ~ Deuteronomy 20:4
God is my strong refuge and has made my way blameless ~ 2 Samuel 22:33
God is greater than all gods ~ 2 Chronicals 2:5
God is gracious and merciful ~ 2 Chronicals 30:9
God is for good on all who seek him ~ Ezra 8:22
God is greater than man ~ Job 33:12
God is mighty, and does not despise any; he is mighty in strength of understanding ~ Job 36:5
God is exalted in his power ~ Job 36:22
God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable ~ Job 36:26
God is clothed with awesome majesty ~ Job 37:22
God is a righteous judge ~ Psalm 7:11
God is with the generation of the righteous ~ Psalm 14;5
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble ~ Psalm 46:1
God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! ~ Psalm 47:7
God is my helper;the Lord is the upholder of my life ~ Psalm 54:4
God is for me ~ Psalm 56:9
God is a refuge for us ~ Psalm 62:8
God is our salvation ~ Psalm 68:19
God is a God of salvation, and to GOD, the Lord, belong deliverances from death ~ Psalm 68:20
"God is great!" ~ Psalm 70:4

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Regulations or Relationship

Oh, how many times have I been asked, "What do I need to do? Just tell me what to do." In fact, I have said it myself at times. Often when we are suffering, we want someone to scope out our path to comfort. We want a step-by-step plan that will eliminate our suffering. The problem is that a series of steps are more like regulations based on the principle of the law. Do A and B will happen. Truth is, most of us are more comfortable with the law, rules, and regulations because they are black and white. We know if we are following the rules or not. Additionally, a regulations-based process of healing puts us back in "control." We act as if the return of our comfort is largely up to successfully following and completing a series of steps or rules. The minute we are given the steps we begin to feel better because it makes our suffering seem manageable.
All this may be possible, IN OUR OWN STRENGTH. When we take the regulation approach to our suffering we may FEEL better but most likely we will not BE better.

Suffering has a purpose and if we are driven to eliminate our pain we are most likely short-circuiting that purpose and missing the bigger picture, God's picture.

The most effective path to healing goes right through Calvary. It is through embracing the cross and Jesus Christ that He will accomplish His purposes in your suffering. Over time you will not only FEEL better you will BE better because the issues that underlie your suffering, issues that reside in your own heart, will be taken to task and rendered powerless in the face of Christ suffering on your behalf. That is not to say that there are not powerfully painful situations in life that knock the breath out of us, but Christ is in the midst of those as well. How many times have we heard someone say, "I don't know how people go through this without the Lord?" It is the growth of relationship with Jesus Christ that brings richness, depth, genuineness and longevity to healing.

It is not in doing all the right things that will bring us through our suffering, but rather it is a deep, abiding relationship with the One True God, the author and perfecter of our faith.(1) For He is absolutely committed to your good and His glory.(2)


(1) Hebrews 12:1b-3 ...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

(2) Romans 8:16-18 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:28 and we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Biblical Fellowship

"...that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us..." 1 John 1:3

Fellowship. Sadly, in many circles, fellowship has come to mean food. Who would think of having a fellowship time without homemade brownies and fresh fruit, coffee and tea? These are great times to get together and enjoy friendship and getting to know new people. When the church bulletin announces an evening of fellowship, let's be honest, we think food and fun. People gather and share life. Or do they?

Biblical fellowship does not preclude food; however, it includes something we don't often think about. "...that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us..." 1 John 1:3 Genuine, meaningful biblical fellowship includes sharing life with one another in a below-the-surface way. It is proclaiming, retelling, testifying of the work of grace we have experienced in our life and/or that we have witnessed in the lives of others. Biblical fellowship forces us to pay attention and to be more aware of the evidences of God's grace that are all around us.

We are called into fellowship with one another. Some people become fast friends, while others are people we would not be naturally drawn to. Yet, by God's grace and because of His grace we have a great deal in common. When our focus is on Him and the evidences of His grace rather than the apple pie, we can enjoy sweet fellowship together.

Pay attention, and then share with others the evidences of grace you see in them and in you.


Friday, March 20, 2009


I found the following in my potential Victory Call file. God is always speaking to us and sometimes I take the nuggets I hear and store them away to ruminate over at a later time. Well, true to His nature and perfect time, one of my "laters" came today. I share it with you for you to ponder.

"God allows all the pain and the trials that we go through in order to force us to cry out. Victory always begins with the cry for help. 'Lord, my plan is not working.'  God wants us to know the reason we continue to be oppressed [I am doing exactly what He told me not to do.]

Why? So the next time we will make different choices.  Satan can presume no authority over us! Am I hiding from an enemy that God would gladly defeat?  Am I sick of defeat and ready to live like a might warrior?"(1)

Judges 6:19-25
Gideon went in, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak. 

The angel of God said to him, "Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth." And Gideon did so. With the tip of the staff that was in his hand, the angel of the LORD touched the meat and the unleavened bread. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the LORD disappeared. When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the LORD, he exclaimed, "Ah, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!" 

But the LORD said to him, "Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die." 

So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. 

That same night the LORD said to him, "Take the second bull from your father's herd, the one seven years old.  Tear down your father's altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.

Dear sisters, we ALL need to daily choose TODAY whom we will obey and serve. May it be God and God alone NO MATTER WHAT!(2)

1 Source unknown
2 www.biblegateway.com

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Safe and Secure

The Lord is Jehovah-Shammah He is the Lord who is present. He is always here for me, for you to lean on.

"A Chinese zoo has given an orphan monkey its own guard dog to stop it from being bullied by bigger primates. Keepers at Jiaozuo City Zoo said the monkey was always being bullied and they had intervened to save his life several times. So we put a dog in the monkey cage, hoping he can protect the orphan," a zoo spokesman told the China News Network. The zoo said the dog, Sai Hu, does his job very well. "Whenever the baby monkey gets bullied, he dashes up and drives the others away. And the baby monkey is also very smart. Each time he smells danger he runs to jump on the dog's back and holds on tight. The alpha male monkey has been really unhappy since we sent in Sai Hu. He tried to organize several ambushes on the little monkey, but they all failed because of the dog," added the spokesman."(1)

When I first read this story and saw the accompanying photo, I cracked up. It was so funny! This little baby monkey up on the back of its protector, who obviously took his job as guardian very seriously.

A few moments later I was deep in thought pondering the spiritual relevance.  I thought, "Wow! Imagine if every one of us had that response to danger." Meaning, every time we sensed the enemy lurking or prowling about, we would choose to run to "Abba Father" for protection and know beyond any doubting, that He is our Banner and Shield, our Strong Tower, Healer and Deliverer. 

He's always there, you know? Are you doubting that today? Have you forgotten that He is present and near?

Dear sisters, may today's VC be a simple reminder that we have a God who is not asleep. He sees, He hears, He knows. Run to Him and allow Him to keep you safe and secure from the evil one. There is safety and security found under the shadow of His wing.

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust." Psalm 91:1-2


1 http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_3050333.html
2 www.biblegateway.com

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The deafening silence

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard... 1 John 1:1


Was from the from the beginning.

Which we have heard.

His newborn baby cries. Luke 2:1-7

Teaching in the temple at the age of 12. Luke 2:41-50

Refuting Satan when tempted in the desert.  Matthew 4:1-11

Calling His disciples. John 1:35-49

Instructing the stewards to fill the water jars. John 2:1-11

Teaching on the mount. Matthew 5-7

Speaking in parables. Luke 12-19

Explaining the parables. Matthew 15:15-20

Calming the storm. Mark 4:37-41

Rebuking demons. Mark 5:1-20

Foretelling His own death. Matthew 17:22-23

Blessing young children. Matthew 19:13-15

Healing the sick.  John 9:1-41

Praying in the Garden. Matthew 26:36-46

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard... 1 John 1:1

Jesus spoke.  The people around Him heard his voice.  In His 33 years, He squealed as a child, taught, rebuked, comforted, pleaded, corrected, encouraged, prayed, blessed, predicted, challenged, healed, and explained.


At the most critical point in history, He became silent.  

"He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth." Isaiah 53:7

"And the high priest stood up and said, "Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?"  But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, "I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God."  Matthew 26:62-63

 "Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, 'You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.' So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 'He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.  He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, "I am the Son of God."'  And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way." Matthew 27:38-44

Though He was condemned, mocked, whipped, beaten and nailed to the cross He remained silent. Not accusing, not defending, not arguing, not condemning, not angry. No rather, He remained silent in submission to the will of the Father in perfect obedience.  

"...looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2

The silence that was deafening. 

Quiet your spirit today, and listen to that silence.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I sin

Why do we so tenaciously guard our reputations?  In one sense it is almost humorous that we act as if others donít know we that we sin.  There are 6 billion people in the world and it should be no surprise to any of us that all 6 billion people sin every day, multiple times a day, whether in attitude, unexpressed thought, action or inaction. 

Why is it when we sin, so often we try to explain it away with some excuse that waters down our responsibility?  I was tired. I was confused.  I was hurt.  I didnít know.  All of those things may wear down our resistance to sin, but none of them cause us to sin.  

Why do we have such a difficult time saying, I was wrong?  Please forgive me.

Recently, I made a too quick comment that I knew was overheard by someone that would be hurt by it.  It was not my intention for them to hear but I was aware of it as it happened. That evening I knew I needed to go back to that person and ask forgiveness but how would I explain why I made the comment?  Nothing sounded as forthright and honest as what I finally said to her the next morning, ìIím sorry for what I said; my best explanation is that I have a sinful heart. In reality that was the bottom line.  At that moment I chose to love and serve myself rather than God or the other person.  At that moment I failed to keep the two greatest commandments.(1) 

A few days ago as I was reading in what has become one of my favorite books, A Gospel Primer(2), I was reminded of the foolishness of trying to cover up, hide, dress up my sinful heart, the foolishness of trying to protect my reputation because I am not a little sinner, I am a big sinner.  My sin is so grievous that it required a blood sacrifice to satisfy the wrath of a Holy, Righteous and Pure God.  

Here are some excerpts from the Primer:

The Cross also exposes me before the eyes of other people, informing them of the depth of my depravity. If I wanted others to think highly of me, I would conceal the fact that a shameful slaughter of the perfect Son of God was required that I might be saved.the more exposed I see that I am by the Cross, the more I find myself opening up to others about the ongoing issues of sin in my life. (Why would anyone be shocked to hear of my struggles with past and present sin when the Cross already told them I am a desperately sinful person?) And the more open I am in confessing my sins to fellow-Christians, the more I enjoy the healing of the Lord in response to their grace-filled counsel and prayers(3)  I give thanks for the gospelís role in forcing my hand toward self-disclosure and the freedom that follows.(4) 

This explains a work of Godís grace that I have been experiencing in my life over the past several months.  Because of the gospel, I am less inclined to hide what everyone already knows about me.  I sin. 


1 Matthew 22:36-40 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" 37And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38This is the great and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."

2 By Milton Vincent

3 James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

4 Ecclesiastes 4: 9,10,12 Two are better than one, For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!... 12And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand himóa threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Cup of Cool Water

Matthew 25:35-36 "I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."

Jesus tells us that when we reach out with the love of Christ and minister into the lives of others, it is as if we are doing it for Him. In this parable, Jesus talks about feeding the hungry, inviting a stranger in, clothing the naked, showing kindness to the sick and even visiting prisoners in jail. 

This is very important to our Lord and Savior... that we "be" His hands, His feet and His heart here on earth. I think we would all scramble to do anything at all if we knew we were doing it directly for Jesus. But Jesus tells us that the ones who know Him and love Him will do all these things and more for anyone in need and it is the same as doing it for Jesus.

      Once we know the love of God and have been a recipient of His free gift of grace, we are not to greedily hold on to it, but are to pass it on.  Once you come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior there is an inner transformation that takes place. If you truly understand the depth of the love that God has for you and the magnitude of His sacrifice so that you could spend eternity with Him in heaven, then the natural outpouring should be to reach out to others with the love of Jesus. That outpouring of love to others is manifested in many ways. 

      Most often we think we can't do all that the Lord wants us to do, that we don't have the talent or ability or time. But all it takes is just to be aware of your surroundings, asking the Lord to open your eyes to see "Jesus" in those who cross your path. Perhaps go and serve at the local soup kitchen once in a while: "I was hungry and you gave me something to eat." Be kind to a stranger. Invite the new family at your church to your home: "I was a stranger and you invited me in." If the Lord has blessed you with four winter coats, pass one on to the one who has none: "I needed clothes and you clothed me." Maybe you can bring a pot of soup to a sick friend and instead of doing a drop and run, stay and keep them company for a while: "I was sick and you looked after me." You could even really stretch the envelope by being a part of a prison ministry and visiting prisoners in jail! "I was in prison and you came to visit me." Or you could simply offer a cup of cool water to the parched lips of another: "I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink."

      Each one of us is capable of being "Jesus" to another in a hundred ways and most of those ways wouldn't take us to serve in China! Go ahead.....Reach out and touch someone in Jesus' name.


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 a Biblical Counselor and also as Intake Coordinator for the Colony of Mercy. Her life verse is Romans 8:28.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Opportunity of Conflict 1

God has seen fit, of late, to give me some serious hands-on opportunities to learn biblical conflict resolution.  We teach the men in the Colony of Mercy that conflict is not as much a problem as it is an opportunity.  "An opportunity?" You ask.  Yes, an opportunity to experience God's grace for God's glory.  "Oh, that!" You say.  "Yes, that!" I say. 
Conflicts are all around us, almost all the time.  It is easy, in one sense, to turn a blind eye if we are not directly involved.  But when it comes knocking on our door it's time to step up and consider how God would have us glorify Him in this situation.  

In the past several months, there have been marital conflicts, familial conflicts, church conflicts, ministry conflicts, co-worker conflicts, parental conflicts, sibling conflicts, and the list can go on and on.  Lest you think I'm some kind of ogre, most of these conflicts have not been with me, but around me; but to be honest, some have been with me.  

How do we deal with conflict when it taps at our door? Or perhaps it is kicking in your door.  

1. Remember God is in the midst of it.  It doesn't matter if it is little or huge, you can be absolutely certain God is in the midst of it working for your good and His glory.

2. Conflict is an opportunity to glorify God by relying on His strength in your weakness.  What better evidence of God's grace in your life than for you to walk according to His Spirit rather than according to your flesh?

3. The conflict is an opportunity to examine your own heart.  Typically, conflict arises when the idols of one person's heart clash with the idols of the other person's heart.(1) You'll notice I said it is an opportunity to examine YOUR OWN HEART.(2) Our typical response in conflict is to try to examine the other person's heart because after all they are the one in error, right? You can always assume you bear at least some portion of responsibility for the conflict. What percentage doesn't really matter, because whatever it is, you are responsible for it.   

4. Conflict is an opportunity to learn humility, the real kind, not the false humility we put on to win supporters.  Don't just be content to put on humility, allow God to make you humble. If anything has great occasion to humble us it is conflict. 

First, submit yourself to the hand of God in the situation.  Know for sure, God has a much bigger purpose in the conflict than you can see.  Trust that He will work in hearts not you.  Second, humble yourself to go to the person or persons with whom you are in conflict.  Don't sit around expecting them to seek you out.  GO!(3)  

That's enough for today.  Next week we'll continue to consider some practical thoughts to resolving conflict.  


1 James 4:1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?
2 Matthew 7:3-5 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
3 Matthew 5:23-24 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Years ago, as a homeschooler, one of my favorite things to do with my children was to read and to tell them stories. Using different voices, I'd often give the character(s) personality just to get them laughing and add character to the story. Stories have a way of bringing a thought or an idea to life and giving it meaning and sometimes a greater degree of understanding.

One of our favorite storytellers (authors) during that time was Gary Richmond. He used stories about animals in the zoo to teach us about ourselves and deepen our understanding of God. The book from which I read to them had been lost until I stumbled across it a few months ago in the Thrift Store here at Keswick. I was so excited I couldn't wait to open it and scan the once familiar pages.

The first story I came across was a perfect fit for a seminar I was to do on the topic of "Enabling." I meant to share the story during that seminar session, but unfortunately I wasn't able to, due to time constraints.

Today, I'm going to share the heart of a particular story depicting one facet of love, and hopefully give you a picture of LOVE, which is the most compelling facet of enabling. 

L.O.V.E! Love is what moves us; stirs us; compels us; to do the hard thing(s) that we must at times, in order to save the life of a loved one.

The gist of the story is a mother giraffe that is about to give birth while she is standing up! The distance from where the baby will fall to the ground is a whopping ten feet. Yep - ten feet from the womb to the solid, hard earth below! Once this newborn plummets to earth, within seconds he is on his shaky, wobbly feet. Mama takes a brief look and then does the unthinkable; she kicks her baby and sends him "sprawling head over heels."  Baby giraffe struggles to his feet, likely wondering, "What's up with Mom?  Why, in the world did she do that?!"  With barely any time to stand up, baby giraffe is kicked again and falls back to the ground.  The process was repeated again and again!

Now in our finite thinking it doesn't make a lick of sense. What possible reason could there be for Mama to appear to do harm to her struggling calf while he was down? While the reason is really quite simple, it is nonetheless difficult to imagine...especially as it relates to us as human mothers; mothers made in the image of God; mothers whose every thought will be to guard and protect our babies -young or old- from harm.

When we consider enabling in the context of the giraffe story, we have to see a bigger picture. Just like the giraffe calf, our children, our loved ones, have a very real enemy who has one goal in mind and only one. His goal is to seek, devour, and destroy; to render those who are God's useless and ineffective for Kingdom work. He doesn't care how he does it. 

In the context of ministry here at America's KESWICK, he (the enemy) has used drugs, alcohol, and every conceivable form of chemical and behavioral dependence to accomplish his goal. As mothers, sisters, etc., we have to choose to be willing to do whatever it takes to help our loved ones stand on their feet...even if it means doing the hard thing.

So, to answer the question why the mama giraffe knocks her baby down is this: she knocks him down so he remembers how to get up. "In the wild (in the world) baby would need to get up as soon as possible to follow the herd. The mother needs the herd, too. Lions, hyenas, leopards, and hunting dogs would all enjoy young giraffe flesh. They'd get it, too, if the mother didn't teach her baby to quickly get up and get with it."

No time for babying and making excuses, or "enabling" him to stay down because it's oh, so hard to get up and stand on his own two feet. It was and is - do or die.

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." James 1: 2-3


"A View From the Zoo" - Gary Richmond

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Invitation

An invitation arrives in the mail and it invites you to "come." Most of the time when one arrives there is anticipation and excitement...who is it from? What is it for? We tear open the envelope and it invites you to come to...a wedding, a baby shower, a party, a fellowship night at the church or a hundred other events. I've noticed the Lord just loves sending out invitations to "come" as well. You know, He just loves us so much that He just keeps sending out those invitations to "come" even though too often the invitation is turned down.

In Isaiah 1:8 God gives an invitation for personal cleansing...come.
"Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool."

What an invitation this is! All we have to do is "come" and the Lord promises to bleach our "dirty laundry" (sins) whiter than snow, just as if they never were!

In Isaiah 55:1, 3 God promises to supply and satisfy...come.
"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money...Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live."

Now this is some invitation! God says, "Come" and leave your wallets and credit cards at home because the price has been paid by God. These are top of the line, premium goods! There isn't even a price tag that could be placed on it....it's priceless, a picture of His grace!

In Matthew 11:28 Jesus promises rest for the weary soul...come.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

Many of us tend to overload ourselves with worries, anxieties, things that we don't have to carry but do...and there is Jesus, the perfect gentleman, offering to carry all that baggage and all we have to do is answer the call to "come."

In Revelation 22:17 the Bible even ends with one final invitation...come.
"The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life."

God doesn't wish for any to perish and through the apostle John makes this final appeal to "come." God continually calls to the lost "come" and He does so over and over in His Word.

The Lord's door is always open and the invitation stands...come.

He is ready to receive any...come.

The Lord accepts all who respond to His invitation...come.

You hold His invitation in your hand...come. What will you do?


Mary Ann

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Banner Truths

Suddenly it's dark. The doctor calls with bad news, a child goes astray, a husband comes home drunk again. That darkness closes in and you feel like you are stumbling around. Knowing landmarks for your journey will guide you until light dawns again. What is true in the light is still true in the dark. Do not lose your grasp of those immovable pillars that well define life. Look up and see the banner truths that continue to tower overhead, unchanged, undaunted, and sufficiently powerful to pierce the remotest depth of darkness.


Remember Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

Yesterday, today and forever - God is Sovereign - today, this moment - God is in control-there is never a second in which He ceases to be orchestrating all of life and death. Exodus 15:18

Yesterday, today and forever - God is good - He never ceases to be good. Because He is sovereign and good, He forces all of life's circumstances to ultimately work good in our lives to His glory. Psalm 27:13

Yesterday, today and forever - God is all-knowing - He knows all things and never misses those few little details that would have changed everything. He does not overlook or lose sight of you for even a single moment. Though life may not make sense to us at times because we can't see the bigger picture, it always makes sense in Heaven because God not only sees but created and sustains the biggest picture.

Yesterday, today and forever - God is all powerful. There is nothing beyond His power to control. Not even, and especially not, Satan.

Yesterday, today and forever - God is everywhere-present - He is equally present, everywhere, all the time. You are never alone.

Yesterday, today and forever - God is your God. If you know Christ as your personal Savior, if the Holy Spirit has done the work of regeneration in your heart and life, then God was, is and will always be your God. No matter what happens, He will never, ever cease to be God and He will never, ever cease to be your God.

When life closes in, we need to settle our spirits long enough to go to that place in our hearts where we know, that we know, that we know......... GOD IS... When everything feels like it is sinking or lost, cling to what you know is true.......GOD IS FOREVER AND ALWAYS THE SAME.


Monday, March 09, 2009


Today is the day of freedom!
Today is the day of your salvation!
Today is the day that the Lord has made!
Today is the day to rejoice and be glad in Him!
Do you know that you are free...today?
Do you, by faith, believe that you are saved, redeemed, born again?
Are you rejoicing and glad in the Lord?
For the believer, the disciple of Christ, the one who is redeemed and set free from the bondage, deception, and deserved cost of sin (that would be you and me), being glad in the Lord is a joy and a privilege.
Has life got you down today? Do you feel out of sorts and insignificant? My challenge to you today and to myself is to REMEMBER!

Remember to look up to the hills where our help comes from. Remember that God is for you and not ever against you.

KNOW that He has a plan for you and no matter how hopeless you may feel, His plan involves a future and a hope designed for good, YOUR GOOD and not for evil.

God is with you and God is for you TODAY. Today is the day that He is not leaving you or forsaking you.
Dear ones, will you remember that today, and choose joy, choose to be glad in who He is...TODAY.
So, if the Son sets you free you are free indeed. ~John 8:36
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

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Gospel for my life 2

"...the gospel...of first importance..." 1 Corinthians 5:1, 3

Oh, for the glorious gospel, I DO NOT GET WHAT I DESERVE!!
I deserve to be an illegal alien, but You give me citizenship in heaven. Phil 3:20
I deserve to be forgotten, but You have written my name on the palm of You hand. Isaiah 49:16
I deserve to be left wanting, but You supply all my need. Philippians 4:19
I deserve condemnation, but You redeemed me. John 3:18
I deserve Your wrath, but You exhausted Your wrath on Jesus in my place. Romans 5:9
I deserve to be deceived, but You give me Truth. John 17:17
I deserve blindness, but You give me sight. Luke 4:18
I deserve loneliness, but You give me Your Spirit. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
I deserve fear, but You give me perfect love. 1 John 4:18
I deserve sadness, but You give me joy. John 15; 11
I deserve my sin, but You give me Christ's righteousness. Romans 3:21-22
I deserve confusion, but You give me clarity. 1 Corinthians 14:33; James 3:13-18
I deserve cursing, but You give me blessing. Galatians 3:13
I deserve to be shunned, but You embrace me. John 6:37
I deserve to be abandoned, but You call me your own. Hebrews 8:10
I deserve separation, but You give me unity. Ephesians 4:3
I deserve nothing, but You give me Yourself. John 14:20-21

As I consider and meditate upon the rich and glorious truths of the gospel, I am reminded, over and over and over, of His grace to me and in me. This empowers me by His grace to extend grace to others because all these truths are also true for every one of my brothers and sisters in Christ. The ground at the foot of the cross is level. As we meditate on the gospel daily, let us allow it to make a difference in our daily lives and these truths to radically change us.


Thursday, March 05, 2009

The gospel for my life 1

"...the gospel...of first importance..." 1 Corinthians 5:1, 3

"If there's anything in life that we should be passionate about, it's the gospel. And I don't mean passionate only about sharing it with others. I mean passionate about thinking about it, dwelling on it, rejoicing in it, allowing it to color the way we look at the world. Only one thing can be of first importance to each of us. And only the gospel ought to be." C.J. Mahaney, The Cross Centered Life, 20-21.

These two quotes comprise one of the opening pages in Milton Vincent's book: The Gospel Primer for Christians. This skillfully composed treatise of gospel truths has become a very good friend. The truths penned on its pages have guided my thinking, changed my mind and adjusted my heart over and over again. Is it new? Not at all. Though the book was only published in 2008, the principle goes all the way back to the Bible as 1 Corinthians 5 records. The gospel is of first importance. "...the gospel...of first importance..." 1 Corinthians 5:1, 3

If you are like me, you understand the role the gospel plays in your personal conversion story. No one will be saved apart from embracing the truths of the gospel. A beautiful, wonderful, glorious truth. However, the gospel cannot be relegated to a purpose solely for salvation. It has great value and purpose as the gospel is applied in practical ways to daily life. That is the purpose of Vincent's book. A good read and I recommend it highly.

Allow me to share with you my meager offerings of how I think about the gospel daily:
I am reminded that:

I deserve death, but You give me life. Romans 5:20-21
I deserve hell, but You give me heaven. John 14:1-3
I deserve bondage, but You give me freedom. John 8:36
I deserve anxiety, but You give me peace. Philippians 4:6-7
I deserve crucifixion, but You provided a substitute. 1 John 2:2
I deserve punishment, but You punished another in my place. Psalm 89:30-32; Galatians 3:13
I deserve isolation, but You give me fellowship. 1 Corinthians 1:9
I deserve the law, but You give me grace. Romans 6:14
I deserve darkness, but You give me light. 1 Peter 2:9
I deserve despair, but You give me hope. Romans 15:13
I deserve to be orphaned, but You adopted me. John 14:18
I deserve to wander, but You guide me. Luke 1:79

As I consider and meditate upon the rich and glorious truths of the gospel, I am reminded, over and over and over, of His grace to me and in me. This empowers me by His grace to extend grace to others because all these truths are also true for every one of my brothers and sisters in Christ. The ground at the foot of the cross is level. Let us allow the gospel to make a difference in our daily lives and these truths to radically change us.

Tomorrow, we'll pick up where we left off....


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

People of our word

Numbers 30:2 If a man vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.

VOW: a solemn promise or assertion ; specifically: one by which a person is bound to an act, service, or condition(1)

PROMISE: a declaration that one will do or refrain from doing something specified b: a legally binding declaration that gives the person to whom it is made a right to expect or to claim the performance or forbearance of a specified act(2)

I wonder what the difference is between a promise and a solemn promise. If I make a promise to someone is that less binding than if I make a solemn promise? I think the very nature of the word promise implies a guarantee of execution or refrain.

Let's go one step farther. If I say I am going to do something but don't actually use the word promise in my statement, is that statement any less trustworthy? It shouldn't be. As Christ-followers, we need to be men and women of our word. I have failed miserably many times. I tell someone I am going to do something which, in the moment, I genuinely mean but as time passes it becomes less important to me and it gets bumped down my to-do list. Meanwhile, the other person either is waiting with expectation for me to do what I said, or writes it off because it's to be expected that people will not keep their word.

What happened to integrity? If we were more intentional in our speech, committing to fewer things and following through on those things, we would make great progress in being people of our word, people of integrity.

Matthew 5:37 Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil.


1 www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vow[1] accessed 3/3/09

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

God Changes Lives

I'm in the business of ministry here at Americas KESWICK doing what God alone has equipped me to do (no matter how ill-equipped I feel or think I am). The work here is not about me. It is ALL ABOUT HIM!! It is in Him that I live and breathe and move and have my being. It is by His strength; His power; His might; His wisdom...His everything that there is an iota of ability, etc., and so, everything here is ALL ABOUT HIM, His glory and His kingdom. [Zechariah 4:6, Acts 17:28]

Never, no never, will it on any level be about me! It is God alone who changes willing, submissive hearts and lives. He alone is the burden bearer, the restorer of sight to the blind. He is the One who, in Christ, abides in us as hope and love and joy and kindness. It is He, in His extreme grace, that has gifted us to be and do His will in the earth. He has enabled us to be "Jesus with skin" to the hurting, afflicted, wounded, lost and dying. He is the balm of Gilead and we are the tube through which the salve is applied so that through Him hope will come and then healing change begin to take place in the lives of those to whom we minister grace and truth. [1 Peter 5:7, Luke 4:18]

It is this knowledge, this true thing, that God alone is the One who does the work in the heart using us to touch the soul, which enables me to go home at night and sleep in peace. He is God, the everlasting God, and I am not. He is the One who lifts up the hurting (that includes me) on eagles wings so that we might soar high and higher still, safe and secure in the knowledge that He is everywhere present all the time, never asleep and always loving us as He seeks to perfect in us His plan and purpose that the world may know Him and glorify His name. [Isaiah 40:31-32]

What business, work, field of service, etc., has Father God called you to? Are you imaging the Son in that place?

Our encouragement for today is to remember that God is God and we are not. He alone knows the beginning from the ending, the start from the finish and everything in between. If you are walking around today feeling down and blue, or feeling like a failure because someone you have been and are praying for, just isn't getting it, may I remind you that it is God and God alone who changes hearts and transforms lives.


Monday, March 02, 2009

"I Love you.......God."

1 John 3:1 "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"

As you read this I know that Valentine's Day has come and gone. I hope you remembered all those you love dearly with a note or a card. I hope you received at least one note or card from someone who loves you, too. It certainly is nice to remember someone you hold dear but we don't have to save it all up for only one day out of 365! I must say that I'm so grateful that my Abba Father doesn't save up His "I love you's" for one day of the year, but in His mercy and grace continually sends me love notes through His Word, through His creation and through ordinary people just like you and me. The question is, will we keep our eyes open in anticipation?

Those love notes are there. Our Heavenly Father, of course, showed His love for us with the ultimate gift of grace through Jesus; but He doesn't stop there. The verse in 1 John tells us about His love for us and that He lavishes us with His love! I can't comprehend this but I'm a recipient of it without a doubt!

Have you ever felt downcast, then received a "thinking of you" card, or a phone call from a friend you haven't heard from in a while, or a thoughtful little gift...or even better yet...an unexpected hug? Maybe there has been a time that the Lord brought someone to your mind and you reached out to that person in any number of ways and they told you how much that little gesture meant to them. I call these "love notes" from God.

I recently received one of those love notes at a time when my heart was heavy. In the midst of it my daughter-in-law Liza called to tell me my grandson was in his room packing his suitcase. When she asked why he was packing and where he was going, he answered with a definitive "I'm going to Baba's house!" Right then and there my heavy heart was lightened and you bet I went straight over to pick him up, work night or not! That was the Lord lavishing His love on me through Elijah! You bet I heard an "I love you...love God" in that precious gift.
In turn we are meant to listen when God places someone on our hearts so He can use us as His messengers of love. I had an opportunity to do just that today. A friend came to mind that I had not spoken to in a while so I sent a short email. Do you know, a reply came back saying that they had been praying for someone to reach out to them and my note was just what they had prayed for!

Those lavish "love notes" from God are all around not only for us to receive (so keep your eyes open) but also to be given away (so keep your ears open to God's leading).

Aren't you glad God doesn't save His "I love you's" for just one day?

Mary Ann

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 a Biblical Counselor and also as Intake Coordinator for the Colony of Mercy. Her life verse is Romans 8:28.