Monday, August 31, 2009

Finding Favor

I am sharing a devotional with you which first appeared in Real Victory for Real Life, published by America's Keswick, 2004.

When I was at the height of my speaking career, I generally watched for bargain airfares and often bought my tickets a year in advance. Monetarily, that was a smart move, but if the reservations ever needed to be changed, it could be a nightmare.

I was scheduled to make a trip to the mid-west, but the sudden death of my father mandated I change the reservation. I dreaded making the call to American Airlines, fearing how much it would cost to change my reservation. As I was holding on the phone line, I felt God prompting me to say "I need favor" rather than "I need to change my reservation." The prompting was very explicit. "Do not ask for A favor. Ask for favor." Much to my relief, the agent was very kind and understanding and seemed to respond well to my request for favor. The fee change charge was nominal, and I was thrilled. As I was finishing the transaction, the agent said, "Mrs. Heavilin, the agent at the counter may not understand how I came up with the stated amount. Just tell her I gave you favor."

As I was standing at the ticket counter later that afternoon, the counter agent was busily pushing all kinds of buttons, but finally in exasperation, she said, "I just can't figure out how the telephone agent came up with this fare." I blurted, "Oh, he said to tell you he gave me favor!"

"Oh," the agent exclaimed, "I know what to do with that!" She pushed a few buttons and my ticket began to print. I had found favor with American Airlines. How do we find favor in the eyes of the Lord? First, we become His child, and we stay close to Him and follow His directions. Genesis 6:9 states: "Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God." We are human and thus will never be blameless from a human viewpoint, but when we can find favor with God by confessing our sins and walking with Him day by day He is quite willing to put His favor into action on our behalf.

"But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord." (Genesis 6:8, NIV)


Friday, August 28, 2009

The Sounds of the Pines....

The Sounds of the Pines....

It was a beautiful spring day with the sun shining, birds singing and the smell of spring in the air. A guest walked in and said she just loved the sound of the pine trees in the spring. She said it sounded like "whispers in the pines."
After she left I began staring out the window at the trees and remembered a time that those same trees had a howling sound going through them. The days were colder, the sun was not shining so brightly and the birds seemed to be nestled someplace where I could not hear them singing.

Where are you in life? There are times when we can sit back and feel God's whispers in our lives....we feel the gentle breeze of His hand touching our lives, you can almost feel His warmth on your face like sunshine and instead of the bird are filled with words of song and praise.

Then there are times when the cold howling winds are creeping in your life. Your body feels chilled, cold and empty. The warm touch is gone and the songs have left your mind.

When I was chatting with the guest about the sounds she heard in the trees...she mentioned that she was from the city and ever since she moved here she just loved the sound of the trees. This made me reflect on how, in our own lives, busyness can crowd out the sounds we need to hear. Just like the tall buildings of the city, the large crowds, the loud noises from the cars and buses - these same types of sounds can creep into our lives and deafen the sounds of whispers.

The verse comes to mind....Psalm 46:10 " still and know that I am God." Reflect on this verse for a minute with me.

Be Still - don't move, no movement, freeze.

And know - feel it deep down, to truly know, no doubts.

That I am God - it ends here, He is the only God, He is my God, He is taking care of me.

These are the thoughts that came to my mind when I broke this verse down. To paraphrase this verse according to Lynn.....Don't move, feel it deep down with no doubts, that I am your God and will take care of you. What does this verse mean to you?

If your life is busy with a "city" life style, loud noises, schedules running around you like loud cars and buses, and too many tall buildings crowding your vision or hearing; stop what you are doing and be still. Be still and know. Be still and know that. Be still and know that I am GOD.

Be still for a minute, breath in and out, take one long breath. Prepare yourself to listen for the whispers of God calling your name. Listen to the whispers of Him saying "I love you, my child." Listen to the whispers of Him directing you. Let the springtime of whispers and sounds enter your life today.

Lynn W.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

With all your heart?

Jeremiah 4:29 "But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find Him, if you search after Him with all your heart and with all your soul."1

With all your heart? With all your soul? I have read these words in Scripture many, many times over the years. However, it has only been in the last few years that I have begun to ponder them seriously. And it's only been in the past few months that I have scratched the surface toward more deeply, more fully understanding the profound impact that "seeking with all your heart and all your soul" can and does have on my spirit. Without question I am closely acquainted with how thirsty and dry the spirit becomes when seeking is neglected. But what of this seeking and searching with the whole heart and soul? Who does that? How does one do that?!

I've heard the word soul defined as "mind, will and emotions." Webster's Dictionary defines soul as "the central or integral part; the vital core." From the same resource, heart is defined as "the vital center and source of one's being, emotions, and sensibilities." So, in essence, anyone, anywhere, anytime can and will find God! If, if, if we do what we are being encouraged to do over and over and over and over again in the Word of our Lord. If and when, I commit myself to - seeking, locating, obtaining or reaching - God, with all my mind, will and emotions; and with all that is the source of my being. I, we, are promised to find Him

My question for you today:
When is the last time you sought and found God? When was the last time that you knew, that you knew, that you knew, that God was present tense, with you?

"When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. When you come looking for me, you'll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed."
Jeremiah 29:12-14 (The Message)2


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rules - Were they really made to be broken?

I recently saw a sign hanging in a store that shared this little piece of wisdom - "If you always follow the rules you don't have any fun." My sister-in-law would agree. We love to play games when the family gets together but one sister-in-law, who will remain nameless, enjoys breaking the rules or, as she would say - stretching the rules a bit.

It seems we live in a society where rules are bad and made to be broken, or at least stretched. Today we see so much compromise in the lives of believers. The same was true in Malachi's day. God clearly had given the Israelites rules regarding many areas of life. In chapter 2:10-16 they are breaking God's rules by how they deal with one another. God said, "Do not intermarry" but they did. God said, "Do not follow after foreign gods" but they did. God said, "Do not divorce" yet they did for no reason.

We live in a time when people want to update Jesus and put His words into a new context. They want to make up new rules. It is not just making new rules but it is compromising the rules already given.. We hear little of "thus says the Lord" these days. Kathy Howard, in her study "Before His Throne," says this, "Did you notice that God's expectations for His people did not change over the centuries? God declares, "I am the Lord, and I do not change." (Malachi 3:6 NLT) Yet how many of God's commands would we like to see updated with the times?" She also remarks "It seems like a no-brainer. Yet even with the ready availability of God's Word to guide and warn, many Christians today fall into the trap of compromise."

What have you and I heard God say through the Word yet we have chosen to change that rule and compromise? How can we keep ourselves from compromising the unchanging Word of God? Malachi 2:16 holds the key-"Therefore take heed to your spirit." Heed means "to guard." We usually compromise when our guard is down. Our guard is up and strong when we are walking with the Lord, undistracted. If you have let your guard down and now find yourself compromising on truth, ponder these "rules" for dealing with sin:

Recognize your sin.
Remove the revealed sin.
Restore and renew your relationship with God.

Kathy Withers

Kathy serves at America's KESWICK in Guest Services. She is married to Dave and has 2 adult children.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Burger Bites

By now I guess you have figured out from the way I write, that I am a plain and practical person. Many times when I read the works from other writers I feel like meat and potatoes and they are either a chocolate covered dessert or filet mignon.

Well, for those of you who feel a hamburger on a bun....guess what is the number one favorite of many people in America. With life spinning out of control, the stock market going up and down and just feeling like everything is out of whack, I need some simple burger bites about you?

For years, my husband, when things go crazy in our home, reminds me that the Bible says....God is not the author of confusion. We need to take a minute and remind ourselves of this very principle. The Lord knew there would be times and days like these; and that these little bites of wisdom would be just what we would need to remind ourselves of. He is not the author of confusion, disorganization or fear, AMEN!

The discussion I hear from people across the board is the cost of living, the rising cost of everything, the fear of disease, the fear of what is to come and so on.

Let's take a minute and think about a few things the Lord tells us....Cast all your cares upon Him; God has not given us the spirit of fear; God is not the author of confusion; the Lord is my shepherd and I shall not want.

So what has changed in your life that makes you feel anxious, fearful, confused? We are at a time in our country and lives where we need to rethink how we do things, some practical changes are in order. A new budget might be needed, a look at how and what we spend, update our schedules, take some time to reorganize. These little things seem so small but in the big picture they can make a huge difference.

I find that when things are crazy I need to take the time and reflect on what changed and then come up with a new fresh game plan. Change in life is not easy for most people. It makes us feel unsettled and fearful. I like all my ducks in a row, but in my life with 2 boys at opposite ages, one being in his twenties and one in grade school and with disabilities, and a husband with a disability, and working full time and still trying to retain a life for Lynn as well...a new game plan is sometimes a daily task that needs to be done.

Looking at some practical things such as, having twenty four hours in each day and making sure we are using it wisely can make a difference. Many days it does not seem to be enough time....on those days I decide what is really important in life and what is not. Dishes can wait but spending time with our kids or taking time for the Lord is important and cannot wait. Reorganizing our homes, our cars, even our pocketbooks can make life a little simpler. I find that just by clearing out a closet and putting things in place... makes it easier each time I need to go into it. It saves time, keep things organized and less stress.

How about your spending, do you need to have a fresh game plan? At times we have complained that the cost of gas was at $4.00 per gallon but yet we spend $4.00 on a cup of coffee at the coffee shop that we don't even finish. We complain we have no money since the cost of living is so much. But if you watch the home shopping channels, people spend $1500 on a ring or another items and they sell out of these things before the show ends. Again, what is important? The Lord tells us in Proverbs to figure the cost and to see if we have enough money. Money is tight for every one of us and will continue to refresh your budget and decide what is really important.

We are fearful when we watch the spread of the flu, etc....across the world. We worry that this could affect us. Again, take the time to prepare the best you can. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating correctly, taking vitamins, etc....keeping up with your health and not getting run down is not fool-proof that you will not get sick, but it can prevent many situations. Again, the Lord tells us to take care of ourselves.

These little bites or practical reminders might just be as simple as a burger on a bun and not filet mignon, but today is a good day to get practical. Take some time to reflect on God's practical verses and simplify your life.

Remember, He did not create confusion, fear and crazy life styles in our lives, we did. Yet the Lord is there to help take these feelings away and provide for us in so many ways. Ask Him today to be part of your practical life and to help show you the changes you need to make.

Lynn W.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Who are you living for?

2 Corinthians 5:15 "...and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised."

The alarm clock clicks on and the morning weather report becomes audible. More rain. Yuk. DO DEVOTIONS. I'm too tired. I got to bed late last night and I didn't sleep well. I'm sure God understands. I'll get to them later. I doze off.

The hot shower feels good. PRAY. Father, thank You for another day.. I pray for Dana and her family as they go through this difficult time... Dinner - What should I take out of the freezer for dinner? I remember that recipe I wanted to try from Joan. Joan, I wonder how her niece is doing. Niece!? Saturday is little Elizabeth's birthday, I better get a gift.

The drive to work. PRAY. I turn on the radio instead. The music is soothing and after all it is Christian. What could be bad about that?

Lunch with a godly friend is enjoyable. She shares about how God is blessing her life through her Bible reading and study. Pangs of guilt and longing. Tonight, I'll spend time in the Word after dinner.

Driving home from work- daydreaming about mostly nothing. I'll call Mom - HANDHELD DEVICES ARE ILLEGAL WHEN DRIVING - oh, I'll be careful.

Dinner dishes are dried and put away. I'll read my Bible now, I mean right after I put that load of towels in the dryer, then I'll read my Bible.

On my way upstairs, I notice my husband is watching the ball game. I'm sure God wants me to spend time with my husband. COME SPEND TIME WITH ME. I'll read and pray before I go to bed.

Bedtime - I'm too tired to read the Bible, I wouldn't get much out of it. I'll read something else for a few minutes. In minutes, I'm asleep.

The alarm clock clicks on and the morning weather report becomes audible...

2 Corinthians 5:15 "...and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised."

The choices you make today - are they evidence that you are living for yourself, or for HIM?


Friday, August 21, 2009

Father of Mercies

2 Corinthians 1:3 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort..."

Life without mercy would be a world hard to imagine. We often say or think "life is not fair" somehow imagining fairness is a good thing, and of course, in one sense it is. But, if all of life was fair, not just a few parts - the parts WE want to be fair - that would be a world painfully difficult to endure, IF we survived at all.

To begin with, redemption would not be a part of the picture. Salvation would not be available. Hope would evaporate completely. There would be no forgiveness of sins; our sins would not be cast into the deepest part of the sea or as far as the east is from the west. Instead, our sins would be a constant, increasing burden that would be unbearable. Guilt and shame would be our constant companions.

A world without mercy would be a world without justification; there would be no declaration of righteousness and we would not experience being a new creation nor enjoy the newness of life.

NO MERCY? None would be called because God's purpose would not be to express His gracious mercy in and to us.
Without mercy, no one would experience conversion, regeneration, sanctification or life transformation.

If life was fair, it would be a life void of mercy. Without God's mercy, the world and life would be....death.


Thursday, August 20, 2009


Have you noticed how many "makeover" shows there are on television lately? There are home makeovers, body makeovers, style makeovers, children discipline seems that everyone is trying to take what they have and have someone else make it better or make it totally new. Everyone is searching for the perfect makeover to make their life complete or perfect. I'm just wondering how long it takes after the makeover is complete and the cameras are no longer rolling when the realization that the new look may have made a more attractive appearance or a more comfortable life but that it is all just the "faƁade" that had been altered. The hole is still there and dissatisfaction with self or circumstances still exist even if the outside package looks prettier. The heart is still empty. There is a longing for true change from the inside out...the kind of true change that only comes from a heart transformed by Jesus Christ.

Don't get me wrong... I'm not against makeovers per se, but if it is only the outside that is changed then what is rotten on the inside will eventually make its way back to the outside.

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because they were so concerned about outward appearances. And from that perspective, the outside, they looked great. Jesus was much more concerned with what was on the inside.

Matthew 23:25-26."Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean."

Jesus could see the "inside." He could see their hearts and from that perspective it was pretty ugly in there. All Jesus could see was self-centeredness and greed. All they could think about was "self" and how they could get more of whatever their hearts desired. Jesus had the answer for making the inside beautiful, clean and satisfied. I remember all too well how I used to be only concerned with the "outside," with the appearance of things, yet my insides were so disgusting....until I invited Jesus in to occupy my heart. Therein is the true "makeover," the only "makeover" that really matters. This "makeover" is not a temporary fix or window dressing but a change from the inside and lasts for eternity.

2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old had gone, the new has come."


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.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Good Life

I have personally been attempting to read Proverbs on a daily basis, and I admit that I am fluctuating in my faithfulness to that task. My goal is to read daily the Proverb that matches the day of the month. Each time I read one of the Proverbs I am challenged in a new way. It would be great if I could do this to the point that I actually had them memorized. Having to admit my lack of discipline at times, I doubt that I can get to that place. So, I just continue to challenge myself to read them and receive my lesson for the day from Solomon. Let me share some thoughts from Proverbs 19 with you today.

Today, the media and Hollywood regularly attempt to define the "good life" philosophy and push it on each of us. Scripture has a whole different approach to living the "good life." Solomon had it all, but that's not what he attributed to the "good life."

Proverbs 19

1. Listen to instruction: vs. 16, 20, 27
2. Be kind to those less fortunate: v. 17
3. Discipline your children - help them stay on the right path: v. 18
4. Don't hang around with those that have no personal discipline in their lives: v. 19
5. Follow in God's ways, contrary to the view of finding your own path and making your own destiny: v. 21
6. Kindness and honesty are to be the norm in our lives rather than the exception: v. 22
7. Walking in the "fear" of the Lord leads to the "good life" and keeps us from evil: v. 23
8. Be diligent in all you do: vs. 15, 24

Are you experiencing the "good life?" Often we think or believe that the "good life" should just come to us, yet that is not what Scripture says... it tells us basically "if you do this... then you will know the 'good life'." Many of us are well acquainted with the verse in Romans 12, but repetition is good for us... it constantly reminds us that if we want to know what is "good" then we need to not follow the way of the world, but follow the ways of God.

Romans 12:1-2 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

Lynne Jahns

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Importance of God's Name

One thing that makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck is how often Christians will say "Oh, my God." And they aren't praying or talking to Him either. It is so common today for God's name to be used flippantly and in casual conversations. I hear callers on Christian radio who learn they have won a prize just scream these words. I hear the mis-use of God's name in this way from so many Christians and I have to wonder if we realize what we are saying. The last straw for me was seeing a necklace in a local department store with a charm that reads "OMG." Are you kidding me? I know that if I were to use the name of some other religious gods or leaders like this I would offend others and certainly would hear about it. Christians and non-Christians are getting into this habit of misusing God's name and few seem offended. Why is it OK to misuse the name of God?

Malachi 1:6 says the priests of Israel treated God's name with no honor or reverence and they even went so far as to despise the name of God. The third commandment reads: "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain" Exodus 20:7 (KJV). Our English word for "vain" is the Hebrew word "shaw." It means "emptiness, nothingness, or vanity, in the sense of being ineffective or lacking in purpose." The English word "take" is the Hebrew word "nasa." This means "lift, lift up, to bear, carry support, sustain (can be literal or figurative)." To lift up the name of God in an empty manner or without purpose is taking God's name in vain.

If we want to develop a healthy fear of God we need to understand that God's name is not to be used as empty slang. He will hold us accountable. Malachi 1:14 ends on how God's name is to be treated - "For I am a great King" says the Lord of hosts, "And my name is to be feared among the nations."

Taking God's name in vain can be even broader then just our speech. As servants and representatives of Jesus Christ everything we do is a reflection of God's name. Every action and attitude represents the name of God. "Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed" 1 Timothy 6:1 (NKJV).

Is God worthy of your honor? Today will you and I work on honoring His name in speech, thought and action?

Kathy Withers

Kathy serves in Guest Services. She is married to Dave and mom to Michael and Kerri.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I'm proud of you

Sitting under the teaching of Dr. Steve McVey is always refreshing and often startling. This year as he spoke for Victory Week 4 it was no different. *

Monday evening, 8.10.09, Dr. McVey said he had a word for us (the audience), seriously, a word from our Father for each one of us. There were snickers and chuckles and shifting in the seats. He said, "I'm serious. I believe God wants me to tell you this. Are you listening?" Pause.


That truth struck me at my very core. My heavenly Father is proud of me. WOW. I was startled. Could it be? Is He proud of me? I immediately thought of my earthly father - they were not words I remember hearing from his lips to my ears but oh, how he told others, who would tell me, "Your father is so proud of you." I distinctly remember coming home from school one day after being surprised to receive an award for soccer that season to find a poster prepared by my parents sitting on the kitchen table. The only statement I remember seeing (among the others) was: "We are proud of you." That is the one time I ever remember "hearing" those words from either of my parents. Don't get me wrong, I grew up in a great loving and supporting "normal" family. No complaints. But I do not recall having those words in particular spoken to me.

Fast forward to my time at America's KESWICK. Pastor Bill Raws bore a striking resemblance to my dad. He "adopted" me, in a manner of speaking, and would come up to me after I spoke during a service, give me a hug and say, "I'm proud of you." It brought tears to my eyes every time.

Pastor Bill has graduated to glory and my own dad continues his ongoing struggle with Alzheimer's BUT MY HEAVENLY FATHER IS PROUD OF ME. Dr. McVey's words struck a cord in my heart. As I retold a friend of McVey's word from God, tears instantly sprung to her eyes for she, too, needed to hear, "YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER IS PROUD OF YOU."

How about you today - as you consider the truth that God is proud of you - does it minister to your soul?

As you go through your day today, allow this thought to marinate in your mind: My Heavenly Father is proud of me.


*All of the speakers during our summer conference season are excellent and well worth the time to join us in person or watch live on-line. To watch on-line, log into our website at 7:00 pm (Sunday-Thursday), or 9:30 am (Monday-Thursday) and scroll about half-way down the page in the center column and select the WATCH LIVE button.

Friday, August 14, 2009

More of God

O Lord, My God, How my heart yearns for more of You...or at least that's what I say. I believe I do and yet, my actions speak otherwise. I understand that to reap the benefits of a strong devotional life, I must actually have one. Though I read the Bible pretty regularly, I often fail to get much out of it. Yet I do not tarry until I do.

Lord, I know only the Holy Spirit can illumine Your Word to my heart and mind but I honestly must ask, do I give Him opportunity to do so? I fail to exercise the discipline necessary to drink of the sweet nectar of Your Word.

O Lord, change me.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Growing in Grace

"He who grows in grace remembers that he is but dust, and he therefore does not expect his fellow Christians to be anything more. He overlooks ten thousand of their faults, because he knows his God overlooks twenty thousand in his own case. He does not expect perfection in the creature, and, therefore, he is not disappointed when he does not find it. When our virtues become more mature, we shall not be more tolerant of evil; but we shall be more tolerant of infirmity, more hopeful for the people of God, and certainly less arrogant in our criticisms." - C.H. Spurgeon

I read the above quote today, immediately after entering my office in a huff over the glaring fault of another Christian. His flesh and my flesh had collided (in my head) and I found myself angrier than I have been in a long time.

It's just like Father God to use that occasion to teach me something about me and to remind me - once again - that IT AIN'T ABOUT ME! Now surely we all agree that is a no-brainer. Of course it's not about me. Yet, here I am, annoyed, irritated and hindered by policies and/or procedures that don't make sense. Top that off with here is Father reminding me that I am but dust, dust in need of a spiritual, Holy Spirit vacuum.

So what is today's encouragement toward living in visible victory? Simply this:

"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." ~~ Philippians 2:1-131

"But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, 'God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.' Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you." ~~James 4:6-102


1 (bolded emphasis mine)
2 (bolded emphasis mine)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Fool

A "fool" isn't something we are supposed to strive to be. It's not something that I want to be called. The online dictionary defines a fool as: 1: a person lacking in judgment or b: one who is victimized or made to appear foolish ...3 a: a harmlessly deranged person or one lacking in common powers of understanding 1

This certainly is not very flattering. The Bible has much to say about fools as well...and 99% of what it has to say is not complimentary either. Here are a few examples from scripture:

Psalm 14:1 "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good."

Proverbs 10:14 "Wise men store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin."

Proverbs 24:7 "Wisdom is too high for a fool; in the assembly at the gate he has nothing to say."

I read many verses in regard to the "fool" and the Bible has many warnings against fools and foolishness. And then I came across the Apostle Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 4:10: "We are fools for Christ..." In this verse Paul is proud of being a "fool" but not just any old fool but a "fool for Christ." It may have appeared to the "world" that Paul and the followers of Jesus were fools. They were made to be "spectacles" or jokes to the world (vs. 9). They appeared to be "weak," and without honor (vs. 10). They were homeless, starving, thirsty and wore rags for clothing (vs. 11). They had been mistreated and tortured. What was their response to their circumstances and the way were treated?
They worked hard, blessed those who cursed them, they endured hardship and answered cruelty with kindness (vs. 12,13). Yes, to the world it would appear that these followers of Jesus Christ were indeed fools to continue in their faith. But for Paul, it was a badge of honor to be called "a fool for Christ."

When I think about it, there are some non-Christian friends and family members of mine who may not have spoken the words "you are a fool!" to me but have conveyed it in other ways. I have not endured the hardships that the early Christians endured and hopefully I never will. I don't want to be known as a fool but....

If I'm known as a "FOOL FOR CHRIST" I will wear it as a badge of honor following in the footsteps in a long line of "fools."


I think that would make a great bumper sticker! Don't you?


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.

1 retrieved 7/9/09

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The SEVEN C's of Living

I love to camp and hang out in the outdoors. Recently, I was cleaning out my trailer and I found a flyer from a campground in Florida. It was apparently left there from the previous owner, since I haven't been to Florida with my RV yet. To be honest, it's old and I don't know if it would make it there and back. Anyway, that's a whole other subject...

I was reading this flyer and noticed that they listed "The Seven C's of Camping." As I was reading them, it dawned on me that although they applied to camping, they really applied to all aspects of our life. So, I share them with you along with Bible Verses that give them credibility and application to our lives.

Care: "Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall." (Psalm 55:22) "After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church." (Ephesians 5:29)

Caution: "Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15-16)

Courtesy: "Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;" (1 Peter 3:8)

Cleanliness: "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes." (Isaiah 1:16)

Cooperation: "for as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of the one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.... that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another" (1 Corinthians 12:12 &25).

Conservation: "Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow." (Exodus 23:10-11) - Creation praises God (Psalm 148)

Common Sense: God created people with a natural ability to make sound judgments based on facts. It's a form of wisdom that's part of God's grace to humans everywhere (Prov. 1:1-3; 3:5-6; 4:11). "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of Truth." (2 Tim. 2:15)
So how are you doing? Is there a "C" you need to work on?

Don't forget the most important "C" in our lives...

"But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." John 20:31

Lynne Jahns

Monday, August 10, 2009

How Much Do I Love You?

My husband, Dave, is always freely telling me that he loves me. I don't know when it began but I started to reply to his "I love you" with "How much do you love me?" I just wanted sweet and creative answers but after awhile he would just roll his eyes because he had nothing new to say and it would frustrate him to have to try to come up with another clever response. I still like to ask just to pick on him!

Malachi 1:2 says this: "I have loved you," says the Lord, "Yet you say, 'In what way have you loved us?'"(NKJV). I began to wonder had I ever presented this question to the Lord myself? I know that I have. Especially when trials and tribulations have come my way it is a question that, if not spoken, I certainly have thought. How can you love me and let _____ happen? If you loved me then you would do ____? I also know that the love of God is easy for me to take for granted. I can also minimize His love by defining love by the standards of this world. (God's love is based on action and fact. Is Christ's shed blood and death for you and I not enough for us to know how much He loves us?)

Sometimes hearing "Jesus loves you" has become so familiar I have to question whether you and I hear it or know it anymore. For example, in my Bible study of Malachi I was asked to note the nature of God revealed in a series of verses. The first verse was John 3:16. I hate to admit that the first thing that went through my head was - I have read that a million times! But I opened to John 3:16 and in line with the question found out several things about God's nature and character. John 3:16 revealed to me that God is love. He is giving, a redeemer, Savior, and provider of eternal life. WOW! That was a sweet way for God to remind me of all He is to me and all He has done for me! In this familiar verse I found a new way of seeing God's magnificent love and He told me just how much He loves me! I just needed to come to that verse asking a new question. Approaching a verse while questioning who, what, where, when and how often will reveal new insights.

Are you deep in the midst of trials and tribulations and questioning God's love for you? Has your quiet time and Scripture reading become dry and dull? Have you forgotten your First Love? Let me encourage you to read a verse or two that mentions God's love. Go ahead and ask Him, "How much do you love me?" but then also ask "What does this verse tell me about God's love for me?" "How is God's love revealed to me in this verse?" "Who is God showing Himself to be in this verse?" God has never been stingy about telling us how much He loves us. He never tires of telling you just how much He loves you. AND He can be very creative with His answers!


Kathy Withers serves in Guest Services at America's KESWICK. She is married to Dave and has 2 adult children, Michael and Kerri.

Friday, August 07, 2009


Recently, in a small group leaders meeting, one of the men confessed that he often coasts in his Christian walk. Rather than gasps and tongue-clucks, most of us nodded our heads in agreement. How about you? Are you prone to coast in your Christian walk? I am certainly guilty, guilty, guilty.

You ask, what is coasting?
Coast: "to move along without or as if without further application of propulsive power... : to proceed easily without special application of effort or concern."1 To move along without further propulsive power... assuming the initial push is sufficient.

What does that look like in our Christian walk? Haphazard devotions, short or insignificant prayer times, half-hearted church participation or service, distracted by life, going through the motions, looking good on the outside but knowing on the inside there is a superficial walk at best, doing just enough to get by and look good doing it. Perhaps you take the lily pad approach, hopping from one spiritual experience to another with very little substance in between. I cannot deny that all too often, I coast. What makes us think we can maintain a vibrant, life-giving, life-sustaining, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ apart from significant, dedicated, intentional time, attention and devotion to Him?
How intentional are you about deepening your relationship with Jesus Christ? Are you regularly, daily applying fresh propulsive power? If we coast on flat ground, we immediately begin to lose momentum and eventually stop. And that is on flat ground. How about the uphill road of sanctification and holiness? If we coast, we immediately lose momentum, stop ever so briefly, right before we begin plummeting down the hill.

Let me encourage you not to push your Christian walk into the category of, "when I have time," because you never will have time. When you make it a priority, you will find time to spend with Jesus, memorize Scripture, meditate on the Word, pray, and worship. Go to Him daily, moment-by-moment for a fresh supply of His power.


1[2] accessed 07.23.09

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Time Three

Today is the final chapter of Martha's vignette. What we've been given is a glimpse into the possible life of many a believer - maybe even you. For me, this snapshot has been a serious hug from God. Only a loving Father cares enough to teach us, rebuke or correct us and then draw near enough to allow us to lean way, way in and rest our weary, repentant and sorrowful heads in and under the shadow of His wings.

Psalm 36:6-8 speaks to us of God from history past, "How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your delights."1

The Message, -a Scripture paraphrase- sets the pen to paper in a way that is full of description. "God's love is meteoric, his loyalty astronomic, His purpose titanic, his verdicts oceanic. Yet in his largeness nothing gets lost. Not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks. How exquisite your love, O God! How eager we are to run under your wings, to eat our fill at the banquet you spread as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water." Psalm 36:5-8

Dear sisters, we don't have to be thirsty or hungry! Let's invite Him who is the Bread of Life into our day. Let's taste and see that He, the Lord, is good.

Who but God is big enough to be all and everything we need Him to be? Who but God can take our time and somehow multiply it, enabling us to accomplish all that He calls us to?

"Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!" Psalm 19:23-24
"Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about; see for Yourself whether I've done anything wrong then guide me on the road to eternal life." The Message Paraphrase

Remember we serve a God who is, "able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power in us." Ephesians 3:2

My Question for You: Will you allow God to try you concerning the time you are given?


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Time Two

Yesterday we left Martha with 4.5 hours, to be all that she could and would be to all the people in her life that she was lovingly attempting to serve, in a godly manner. Now let's fast forward a few years in Martha's life. She's still attempting the same pace and yet she is no longer all that happy with herself or with life. Something isn't right. She can't remember the last time she felt good about her faith walk and she sometimes wonders if her faith is even real. After all, if it was, wouldn't she have more time to sit at the feet of Jesus? She can't seem to find any time for herself, let alone more time for her Lord. And if and when she does think about setting time aside for herself (which would include time with the Savior) she tends to feel a bit guilty.

Now, let me say right here and now - whether Martha should or should not feel the way she does is not relevant. The fact is - she does!

This puts us right back where we started, with my phone conversation. After examining an average day in my friend's life, she was actually relieved. She took a deep breath, exhaled loudly, and in so many words said, "Then it's okay for me to take time off in my day for me?" Of course it is. But...let's not forget what the Holy Spirit revealed to us. Remember what He said? He told us that our guilt, or put another way, our sorrow was due to our need for Him; a very real need which was not being met by the busyness that characterized our existence. So, while it is good to schedule yourself into your day, it is better still to schedule Him, Who Is above all earthly things, into your day. And do it in such a way that you experience His Presence. Dare we take a new step of faith and cease from our activity long enough to experience a true rest? Dare we call upon Him, seek Him and actually wait to find Him right there where we are?

"Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13

My Question For You? When is the last time you rested at the feet of Jesus?

Stephanie Paul

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Time One

Today and for the next day or so I want to revisit a series of Victory Calls written a few years ago, as I believe the topic to be something that may well serve some of us in the present tense.

Recently, in conversation with someone regarding the use of our time, God by His Holy Spirit infused some very practical wisdom into our session. My friend shared with me how she often feels guilty if she takes time off to "just do nothing." I can't remember how many times I have heard those words spoken over the years, and often by some of the busiest women I know. As my friend and I talked about this guilt and why we seem to feel it regardless of our best intentions, the Holy Spirit stepped in and gave us an unmistakable answer. His words - not mine - were as follows: "The reason you feel guilt is because we, Father, Son and Holy Spirit have been absent from your day." We were both stunned by this revelation. However, we both had to admit to each other the extreme truth of it. Yes, we were both given to having many "mini" devotions and yet, peace was definitely lacking. There just didn't seem to be enough time in a day to accomplish all the tasks that we set for ourselves and still have time for more meaningful moments of repose before the God of our salvation.
I'm sure at this point God chuckled at our silliness. We all get 24 hours, no more, no less. If this is what God has given us, then surely it is sufficient. As our conversation continued, the Holy Spirit led me in a very practical way to "get real" about the time that we have.

Since it will be impossible to share all of this with you in one Victory Call, I'll spread it out over a few days, so as to do justice to what God shared with us. I believe with all my heart that this is applicable to so many of us and my sincere hope is that we are challenged to draw near, and nearer still, to God.

I pray that we will be unafraid to do as the Preacher in Ecclesiastes 1:13, to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven, as it relates to pursuing communion with God. If it means I get disciplined and organized in the use of my time, then I am willing.

My Question For You Today: What does time with God look like in your daily life?

Stephanie Paul

Monday, August 03, 2009

Another Loss

I recently lost a nephew. Whenever you lose a loved one, your heart is in pain. This loss was a particularly difficult one. My nephew, Steve, was 49 years old and an addict for over 3/4 of his life. He was found dead behind a warehouse with a bottle of booze in his hand. He died helpless and hopeless. This just breaks my heart....

I spoke to Steve a little over a year ago. I had hoped to get him to come to the Colony of Mercy. He had been to dozens of rehabs over his lifetime and was kicked out of more than he could remember. I shared with him that Jesus was the only one that could set him free from his addiction but he never called me back. He felt hopeless and I guess my words failed to reach his hopeless heart.

My position at the Colony of Mercy is as the Intake Coordinator. I speak to hundreds of who want to come to the Colony, family members hoping to have their dad, husband, son or brother come to the Colony. I share the hope of victory and freedom through Christ; I pray with them, I give them hope from the Word of God. I can help others but my own family members reject the hope of Christ. Perhaps you know the feeling of trying to share the love of Jesus, the gospel message with those who are closest and dearest to your heart only to have them reject it or think you're out of your mind.

Chaplain Jim reminded me that my Savior was rejected by his own family. They thought He was out of his mind.

Mark 3:20-21 "Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, 'He is out of his mind.'"

How sad, how the heart of Jesus must have been broken...this was His mother Mary, His brothers and sisters and they thought He was crazy! He was fully human and fully God. And in His humanness I can imagine how deeply this hurt Him. I don't dare compare my pain of family rejection to His, but my Jesus knows how I feel.

The attitudes of Jesus' friends and relatives in His hometown even limited what He could do there. I'm sure He wanted to help each one in His hometown, yet couldn't.

Mark 6:4-5 "Jesus said to them, 'Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house, is a prophet without honor.' He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them."

Jesus could have taken the rejection to heart and allowed it to affect His ministry. Yet Jesus knew that there was much work to be accomplished in the short time He had. So He continued to spend time with His Father in prayer and receive the strength and power to do His Father's will. So that when His ministry on earth was done and He hung on the cross, Jesus was able to say "it is finished."

I want to be found faithful for the task the Lord has for me as well....but it's difficult and at times discouraging. So I can do no less than follow the example that Jesus left for me. I, too, need to seek the Lord through prayer and spend time with God...I can't do what God has called me to do except for Jesus who lives in me.

Praise the Lord for the promise in Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."


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.