Thursday, December 31, 2009

These Tents

Death is not a popular topic even among Christians. As a young girl I was afraid of death -- afraid of one of my parents or siblings dying, or dying myself. Why, at 7 or 8 years old, did that concern me? I can only attribute it to my Papa's early death and watching my Nana's and Mother's tears. I could see death caused pain. It wasn't like the game we played when you were killed, you counted to 30 and then got back up and played again, Papa didn't get back up.

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened-not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 5:1-5

As a believer 25+ years, God has grown me, matured me in many ways, and certainly this is one of them. I've heard many Christians say they don't fear death, but the process of dying is another story.

As believers we know God's promises are true, every single one. Although we do not fully understand, we know He has promised "a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" - an eternal dwelling place.

Look around you. Look at the church or Keswick prayer list -- strokes, heart attacks, cancer, accidents, tests, surgeries, miscarriages, tumors, falls, etc., and the list goes on and on.

Does this tent billow and creak in the wind? YES, BUT THIS TENT IS NOT OUR HOME!!!

For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened-not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

I chuckle at the truth For in this tent we groan longing to put on our heavenly dwelling. I can really identify with that, especially when I'm being worked over by my physical therapist after my recent knee surgery. I do groan, or maybe it's more like a whimper. But I know: THIS TENT IS NOT OUR HOME!!!

Our temporary dwelling, our tent, our mortal, finite flesh will one day be swallowed up by life! Swallowed up by our eternal dwelling in the heavens, by eternal, unending LIFE!

And I love this next statement: He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

God has prepared us for our transition from tent to glorious eternal dwelling. He guarantees it by the presence of His very own Spirit dwelling in and with us.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31,32 (NLT)

When is it ever okay to allow an exception to the above Scripture? Surely, there must be times when a harsh word or a slanderous statement is permissible? Surely, the Lord must know that there are people who will come into our lives and hurt us, cause us such pain that we will feel a huge need to express ourselves in not-so-nice ways? When He inspired those words of Scripture He had to have taken into consideration the number of people we would have love/hate relationships with, and toward whom we would find the not-so-odd occasion to be less than tenderhearted or forgiving. He simply had to know that loving a father who would reject and push you away, over and over and over again would provoke a rage, and an anger, bigger than one could imagine. God had to know the longing, the thirst, the hole that would wait years to be filled and yet remain unfilled, unquenched. Didn't He? Didn't He?

Of course we know the answer is, "YES, HE DID!" He knew before we were formed how we would hurt and be hurt. He knew every tear we would shed. He knew the rejection we would experience and He knew how we'd struggle with rage, and bitterness. He knew that in our anger and pain we'd be tempted and give in to the sin of harsh words, slander and evil behavior. He also knew how we'd attempt to justify it all simply because we hurt and ache and long for acceptance and love. HE KNEW.

He knew that being in relationship with other people who are sinners, (just like us) would make or break us, would threaten to hinder our growth and our fellowship with other believers and most importantly with Him.

He knew it all and still He came to earth as a man to offer us redemption, to offer us a way to know love, to know forgiveness and to be known by Perfect Love Personified in the character and person of Jesus.

So, it's safe, no, it's right to say then, that no part of anything that the Lord has asked us to do is impossible, none of it is by accident or a mistake. Therefore, none of us will ever have a legitimate reason to hold on to anger, bitterness and resentment as long as we are called after His name. As long as we are His followers, disciples, children, daughters, we will always know the amazing truth of Calvary's Cross.

The Cross was the answer that saved, redeemed, set us free, no longer to be bound by the yoke of any kind of slavery.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Greater Good

1 Corinthians 6:1-8 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud-even your own brothers!

Now you may read today's Scripture selection and assume it does not apply to you since you have never taken anyone to court or been taken to court but I want to focus on the latter part of the verses because I believe there is a principle that applies to all of us, as difficult as it may be to swallow.

"Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?"

Does this even occur to us when we are in the midst of a conflict? Doesn't the conflict exist because we think differently than another and we believe we are right and they are wrong? Our inward thoughts and outward discussions about the conflict typically try to get them to see their error. In the flesh, there is a self-protection mode that endeavors to guard us from hurt, pain and suffering so the idea to choose to suffer wrong or be defrauded is somewhat foreign to us.

What is the bottom line? Isn't self-protection a form a self-love? What is more important to us; our reputation or Christ's reputation? Who do we love more: ourselves or the person with whom we are in conflict? What is our greater desire: being right or the unity of the body of believers?

Perhaps as you meditate on these truths, you will be as challenged as I have been.

Oh, Father, that we would get outside ourselves to love and serve You and others unabashedly.


Monday, December 28, 2009


This week I have been thinking of all the things I am thankful for. Of course, I could readily list my family, my friends, my health, my precious spouse, my faith, our traveling lifestyle. However, as I recently sat with my son Matt, his wife Deb, and their kids, Kate, Nate, and Caleb, I couldn't help but think of October 24, 1987.

It was a quiet Saturday morning. I was just finishing my Bible reading and slowly sipping a cup of tea when the phone rang and abruptly ended my reverie.

"The baby's coming!" announced the voice on the other end of the telephone line. I hurried upstairs to tell my husband Glen. "You're going to be a grandpa today!"

Glen and I hurried to get dressed. We gathered up a few personal items in case we had to stay overnight, and we were soon on our way.

During the two-hour drive to our son's town, we silently prayed for our daughter-in-law Debbie and for Matt. Occasionally we talked about the changes that were coming. We were going to be grandparents. What fun!

As we walked into the hospital, Glen proudly asked directions to the maternity waiting room and we were directed to the fourth floor. As we stepped off the elevator, we paused for a moment trying to figure which way to turn, and a young man from our son's church walked up to us.

"Mr. and Mrs. Heavilin, I'm here to take you to Matt. The baby has been born but there were some complications in delivery. Matt is in ICU watching the doctors. They're working with the baby because they're not sure she'll live."

I learned that there was a prolapsed cord which caused our precious little Kate (Katherine Nate') to suffer a great deal. Later that evening as I stood outside the NICU, peering through the glass window, watching Matt stroke that tiny little girl, bits of statements swirled through my head, severe brain damage; may not live through the night; seizures. Mostly I was thinking, How in the world did I get here, and where in the world is God? A woman standing next to me, asked quietly "Do you have a baby in there?"

I answered, "Yes, my granddaughter." Then I asked, "How about you? Do you have a baby in there?"

She answered, "Yes, a little boy. He's going home tomorrow!"

I silently thought, Well, at least some of them get better and they get to go home.

Then the lady asked a surprising question. "You're a Christian, aren't you?"

My answer of "Yeah, I guess so" contained so many hidden thoughts and feelings such as "A lot of good it has done me to be a Christian. I have buried three sons, and now I'm probably going to face another funeral. Does God even care?"

The lady continued the conversation by asking, "Have you prayed for Kate?"

You have got to be kidding! Of course, I have prayed, but a lot of good it has done! I'm outside of an NICU hoping my grandchild will live through the night, but what condition will she be in if she does live?

I answered, "I'm not sure how to pray right now. How did you pray?"

She said, "Oh honey, I just prayed for Mercy. Whatever is merciful; that's what I want for my child. Pray for Mercy for Kate.

As we were driving back to Redlands in the middle of the night, I stumbled on to the verse in Psalm 103 which says something like this, The Lord will show MERCY to the righteous and to their children's children! That verse was MINE. All I could pray was MERCY, Lord, MERCY!

The next morning as we arrived back at the hospital, the report was that Kate seemed to be a little better. MERCY! I asked the nurses to help me find the lady whose little boy was being released that morning. They looked perplexed and stated, "We don't have any little boys, let alone one that is being released today!"

OK, you figure it out. My personal belief is that God saw my broken and confused heart. He reached out to me and allowed an angel to minister to me in my deepest need.

Kate continued to progress. She went home in ten days and it didn't take me long to realize that God had blessed us with a wonderful and brilliant child.

Last night I listened to her talk with her dad about working on her Master's degree in counseling. Kate will graduate from Kansas State University in December, majoring in Psychology with a 3.94 GPA and she will finish her work at Manhattan Christian College in January with a major in Bible and a 4.0 GPA.

The Lord has certainly been merciful to my children's children and I am thankful.

Marilyn Heavilin

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry CHRIST - mas

A mother's view ~

A called woman:
And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Luke 1:30-33

An obedient woman:
And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." Luke 1: 38

A pondering mother:
And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. Luke 2: 18- 19

A rejoicing/suffering mother:
And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed." Luke 2:34-35

A concerned mother:
And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress." And he said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. Luke 2:48-52

An eager mother:
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, "They have no wine." Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it." John 2:1-5

A grieving mother:
"...but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. John 19:25

A prayerful mother:
All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. Acts 1: 14

Merry CHRIST - mas from a mother's view.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

What Do You Want?

It's the time of year when almost everyone in the country is focused on gifts, both giving and receiving. 'Tis the season to be thinking about all the stuff you want, all the goodies to be made, all the treats to buy, etc., etc., etc. We all know how it goes and it seems to go that way whether we want it to or not. Try as we might to keep the main thing the main thing, it can often be very difficult to maintain a steady and focused gaze on the Christ of Christmas.

So, what do you want this year? What about your Christmas will communicate to all that Christ is Christmas?

One of the things I've decided to do is read our church blog which will be posted daily to focus our hearts and minds on the Advent, the season of anticipation and hope. The word itself means "coming" or "arrival."

We know that in the church this refers to the coming, the arrival of the Savior. With great anticipation we prepare and look forward to celebrating His birth and the ways we prepare are as varied and different as our personalities, traditions and culture.

How will you prepare this year? What is the main thing that you want this year as it relates to the one true and only meaning of Christmas? How will we avoid the lure of all the packaging, trappings and dare I say the "sales" of Christmas?

What do you want? What do I want? On the surface, I can't really think of anything right now, but on a deeper level, what instantly comes to mind is 1 Corinthians 2:2-5 where Paul says:

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

In a nutshell then, what I want is wisdom, boldness of speech and more love, by which I may more fully love those whom God loves.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Heart of Praise

My husband graduated the Colony of Mercy(1) approximately 8 years ago and came home a changed man, one who no longer relied upon alcohol to get him through the day, but rather the Lord Jesus Christ. He also came home with a servant's heart. He wanted to help those less fortunate and began to buy things to give away. The only problem was that he didn't stop buying and soon our home was filled to the brim with "things" that might be used to help others. I found myself depressed, angry and helpless as I watched rooms being filled with no space to move. I began to bargain and plead with my husband to get rid of things; however this was done in vain and nothing was accomplished.

About six months ago, I finally gave up and guess where I turned? That's right, to the Scriptures. You cannot go wrong when praying with a right heart. I asked God to forgive my anger and went to the Scripture for answers. "For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding." ~ Proverbs 2:62 NIV

In Isaiah 32:18, it says, My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. (NIV) I went from room to room giving everything in the room to the Lord for His bidding and started praising God for each and every item to be used for God's glory.

Recently a contractor came to our home to assess some work we needed to have done and told my husband that we needed to remove all the "things" which had accumulated for him to do the work.

After having a season of prayer with the Lord setting my heart right, I found myself thanking my husband for things he accomplished within the home. I began to notice all the little things he was doing and thanking him. "God blesses over and beyond what our expectations are when we become involved in the need to show God cares for us because He wants our heart." That is what God did in our home. God worked in my heart and in my husband's heart. Today, our home is being transformed to a home where God takes precedence, both in our actions, words and deeds.

"We never walk away unsatisfied when we delight in the things of God."(2)

Patsy Foley, Women of Character Graduate

1 The Colony of Mercy is a 120-day men's residential Addiction Recovery program at America's KESWICK. For more information go to or call 732.350.1187 ext. 46.
2 Pastor Randy Smith of Grace Tabernacle, Lake Como, NJ

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

This Christmas

In addition to the rumblings of my own soul and spirit a song I learned as a child is the inspiration for today's Victory Call. The song is as follows:

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on Earth, the peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father, brothers all are we,
Let me walk with my brother, in perfect harmony.
Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now.
With every step I take, let this be my solemn vow,
To take each moment and live each moment in peace, eternally.
Let there be Peace on Earth, and let it begin with me."1
~~Words and Music by Jill Jackson and Sy Miller, Circa 1955~~

Peace, however, is not what occupies my thinking today. It is truth. What if the song read, let there be TRUTH on earth? Would we be able to say that truth resides in us?

What is truth? From John chapter 14 we know that Jesus Himself is truth. In verse 6 Jesus responds to Thomas's question by telling him, "I am the way, the truth and the life..."

We are fast approaching a Christmas and I, for one, have no idea where the time went. In spite of that we are here and for many of us the hustle and bustle is about to begin. Today is a brand new day, sisters. My deepest, truest longing for us all, this season, is that we remember what is true about this and keep it always in focus.

So to paraphrase the song: Let there be truth on earth and let it begin with me. Let there be truth on earth, the truth that was meant to me. With God as our Father, sisters all are we.

Let us walk with each other in truth and let the moment we decide to do so be NOW and not later. With every step we take let us vow to BE ABOUT truth this holiday season the world is in, taking and living each moment with eternity in view.

Let's begin with remembering to keep the main thing the main thing this Christmas. There is no tradition, or custom or practice that comes close to depicting the truth of Christmas, so may we be ever so intentional to remember the Christ in Christmas!

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. ~ John 3:16



Monday, December 21, 2009

Who Are You?

Few Christians answer that question any differently then an unbeliever would. Yes, I am married to Dave. Yes, I have two children. Yes, I work at America's KESWICK. Yes, I have lived in New Jersey all my life. That is not who I am. At the core of who I am must be an identity that is given to me because of Jesus Christ. At the core we are either sinners and enemies of God, or we are sinners who recognized our need for Jesus to save us from our sin and sure death. If you have been saved then there is a tendency to struggle with the "before" Christ and "after" Christ identity. How little you and I probably ponder on who we are in Christ.

Maybe this is not the right illustration to use but I think it will lead to my point. Since I have been back to KESWICK this past January guests have commented that I "have the look" for my job. Now, I admit I like to have a nice appearance but I hope there is more to me than that. So it is with who we believe we are. It is nice to be someone's wife, mother, have a career, be good at what we do but that is not who we are in Christ. I am sure for most of us ladies we have been taught not to brag or be conceited. Certainly Scripture does not teach us to be so. Maybe that causes us discomfort when we think of who Colossians 1:21-22 and Colossians 2:10, 13 says we are.

I am reconciled, holy, blameless, above reproach, complete, made alive together with Him, and forgiven.

Are you comfortable with that description of yourself? I would not want to be just a description of my outward appearance. I want to know and believe that who I am in Christ is truth and to be comfortable, not in my own skin, but in who I am in Christ. Who I believe I am is not about vanity or love of self. Who I am depends on who Christ is and who He says that I am. Who He says I am is not vain conceit but truth.

Kathy Withers

Kathy serves at America's KESWICK in the Development Department. She is reconciled, holy, blameless, above reproach, complete, made alive together with Him and forgiven!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Greater Good

1 Corinthians 6:1-8 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud-even your own brothers!

Now you may read today's Scripture selection and assume it does not apply to you since you have never taken anyone to court or been taken to court but I want to focus on the latter part of the verses because I believe there is a principle that applies to all of us, as difficult as it may be to swallow.

"Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?"

Does this even occur to us when we are in the midst of a conflict? Doesn't the conflict exist because we think differently than another and we believe we are right and they are wrong? Our inward thoughts and outward discussions about the conflict typically try to get them to see their error. In the flesh, there is a self-protection mode that endeavors to guard us from hurt, pain and suffering so the idea to choose to suffer wrong or be defrauded is somewhat foreign to us.

What is the bottom line? Isn't self-protection a form a self-love? What is more important to us; our reputation or Christ's reputation? Who do we love more: ourselves or the person with whom we are in conflict? What is our greater desire: being right or the unity of the body of believers?

Perhaps as you meditate on these truths, you will be as challenged as I have been.

Oh, Father, that we would get outside ourselves to love and serve You and others unabashedly.


Friday, December 18, 2009

He Is Safe

I am always deeply touched by the timelessness of God and the way He can and does use all of life to teach us, maybe even chastise us, yet, always to draw us closer and deeper into relationship with Himself. I thank Him and I praise Him for seeing, hearing and knowing our deepest inmost heart and for seeing the vision of all that we are and all that we have not yet been.

I know that in spite of the deadness that we/I may sometimes feel, my mouth is open wide to feed from the bounty of His table. How well He does know that I often...too often... settle for the crumbs that fall to the floor...and yet He continually calls and says, "Come."

Today...contrary to how I feel, I purpose to rejoice in His ineffable Name. Today, I take the time I am given to draw near and be fed, nourished, taught, loved and cared for by the One who is our Comforter.

One of the things I plan to do today is a brain dump or a data dump. However, as much as I'd like to do that before anything else, I find I must do something greater and that is devote some time to sit with the Savior. The thing I love about devotions or time with Him is I get to sing, shout, talk, listen, cry and when I'm feeling better, I even get to dance.

Without holding back, I get to give God my everything, and in the midst of it know beyond any doubt that I won't be rejected, laughed at or scorned by my Father because I am accepted in the Beloved.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. ~ Ephesians 1:3-61

Dear sisters, Father's arms are open wide and His lap is as deep as the oceans and we are 100% safe. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." ~ Psalm 91:1-2 NKJV

Sisters, time with the Lord ~ with Father ~ is time when we can all take our masks off and get real, knowing He is a refuge, a safe place.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Laziness and Procrastination

"In laziness and procrastination there is an assumption and a presumption of time that is not promised." ~source unknown

Matthew 25:1-13 is "The Parable of the Ten Virgins" and it's one of those Scriptures that I could only dimly understand every time I heard it preached on, or read for myself.

I got the basic message of the importance and seriousness of being watchful. That part was pretty clear. One of the questions that came to me was, "Why couldn't the ones who were prepared share their oil?" Perhaps a silly question to some, but nonetheless, it was one that sprang to my mind often.

That might be because I am a procrastinator - which really means, I am lazy. I hate to think of myself as such, but if I have a habit of procrastinating, the truth is I am capable of laziness, by virtue of the fact that I am willing to delay a future responsibility for the present pleasure of comfort and ease.

The message clearly imbedded in the parable is "the unprepared cannot participate in the joy of the Second Coming," simply because it is too late, (personalized to mean, I would be too late.)

A very sobering thought to say the least. One thing I know for sure, I want to be ready when Jesus comes. So in addition to being watchful there is a need for me, for you, for all of us to be faithful in the discharge of our responsibilities.

We need to always keep the bigger picture in view; Jesus, the Bridegroom is coming again to receive His bride.

And at midnight a cry was heard: Behold, the bridegroom is coming, go out to meet him! Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise answered, saying, 'No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and but for yourselves.' And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in to him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!' But he answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.' Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. ~ Matthew 25:6-13

Like I said before, I WANT TO BE READY!

Will you be ready?

Lord, help us to have a deeper sense of our calling and responsibility.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Subtle Slip

Lord, how have I allowed myself to ever-so-subtly slip into a negative mind set? A place I don't desire to be, nor that honors You?

I've allowed myself to practice more my version of the truth rather than Truth itself. I have rehearsed more self-pity than the Gospel. The predictable result is that I am teary lately and bothered by things I would not ordinarily be bothered by. I need to, want to, shift my eyes and my heart from me to Thee.

Right after writing the above meditation in my journal, I opened "The Seeking Heart" by Fenelon. The pen was dropped where I left off weeks or even months ago in the pages titled: "Help for Discouragement and Depression." I smiled to myself. Then I read these words: "Love God and stay still before Him. You would rather punish yourself, and stir up commotion, than forget yourself and look to God. Mourning your weakness will not make you better. It will only contribute to a good case of self-pity. The slightest glance toward God will calm you far more."

Once again, I smiled to myself. How gracious is God to lead me to a book I haven't picked up in weeks to speak words that my heart needed to hear this very day.

Have you experienced the subtle slip lately? Perhaps you like me, need to take that slightest glance toward God...and then another....and another until we are not glancing but gazing at our Savior.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Responding Biblically Today

Everywhere we look today there are people, “Christian people,” struggling with the problems of living life. Maybe you’re one of those people whose life is greatly impacted by someone who is or has been caught in the strangling grip of some life-dominating behavior.

So, the question is, “What does responding biblically mean?" How are we, as Christians, to think about these things? With all my heart, I believe that God’s Word alone is sufficient to meet any and every challenge we face. His Word – spoken or written - has the power to change lives today!

My hope today is to encourage you with the fact that there is a "how." God has a way for all of us to do this!

Of all the things, the tools we have been given, I believe there are three which are of utmost importance: faith, God’s Word, and prayer.

Without faith we know it is impossible to please God and therefore impossible to do anything He may call us to do in dealing with our sin, or anyone else’s. Faith will lead us to prayer. In prayer we will dialog with God. We will talk to Him. And then we'll listen for Him to talk to us. When He speaks, we then have His Word as the measuring tool for all that we think we hear.

The Holy Spirit will provide every ounce of strength, power, wisdom, knowledge, understanding and creativity necessary for us to know how to respond biblically in all of life’s situations and conflicts.

In 2 Corinthians 1, the Apostle Paul pens the following words to encourage the church at Corinth and to encourage us today. I share them so you may know that every Victory Call we write to you we write in faith. Each one of us goes through our own battles and it is through Christ in us that we are all enabled to demonstrate grace above and beyond our own doing.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble, with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

Dear sisters, as much as we’d like to think that Christmas is a happy time for all, a time where there is no conflict or strife, the simple truth is that for many of us this time of year is sad, depressing and filled with pain.

So, let’s purpose to do two things this season:
1. Remember to keep the main thing the main thing and choose to respond to all situations in a manner pleasing to the Lord, no matter how tempted you maybe to do otherwise.
2. Be aware of the people around you who may be suffering, alone and silent. Reach out to them and give them Jesus, the Christ in Christmas.


Monday, December 14, 2009

The Imperfect

"Only imperfection is bothered by the imperfect."1

I have been thinking about this quote for 2 days. To me it stands alone as a Victory Call, but I'm sure I'd get comments about its brevity.

"Only imperfection is bothered by the imperfect."2

Really. Stop and think about it. Why do the idiosyncrasies and foibles of other people irritate me so? Because I, too, am imperfect. It is the imperfection in me that is so bothered by the imperfection of others.

Think about the last conflict you had with a friend or family member or perhaps a disagreement with a co-worker. Don't we often get irritated because we think we are right and they are wrong? We act like we are perfect and they are imperfect. Now, we don't SAY that, but we ACT like it is true. Consider those thoughts racing around inside your head that others may never hear. In our minds don't we often build our case against their imperfection? We build ourselves up as the blameless one or at least the most blameless one, more blameless than the other person.

"Only imperfection is bothered by the imperfect."3

The fact that we are bothered by the imperfections of others is just further evidence that we ourselves are imperfect.

Won't you ponder this quote: "Only imperfection is bothered by the imperfect."4 Perhaps we will see conflict in a whole new light.

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

1 The Seeking Heart by Fenelon, pg. 149

Friday, December 11, 2009


"I know God has forgiven me, but I simply can't forgive myself." Have you heard statements similar to that? Have you made statements similar to that? I imagine we have all committed an act that requires God's forgiveness....and ours. Have you ever said to yourself, "I can't believe I did that"? I have dealt with many people who have committed a sin they simply can't let go of. They know God has forgiven them, but they are still carrying around the burden of what they did. So what do we do to free ourselves? I had a conversation with God a few years ago, and I will share it with you.

Forgive me, Lord.
I have sinned.
I've confessed this before,
But here I am again.
You are forgiven, dear one.
I heard your confession years ago.
But Lord, it was such a terrible sin,
I just can't seem to let go.
Stand here at the cross with Me.
Here your deeds were paid for.
Forgive yourself and see.
I will remember your sin no more.
Walk away from the cross with Me.
Your sins are forgiven.
You are free!

For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more (Jeremiah 31:34).


Thursday, December 10, 2009


OK - quick. What flowers do you associate with Easter? If you're like me, the answer is lilies. How about Christmas? If your answer is like mine, it's poinsettias.

I recently took a bus trip to Longwood Gardens to enjoy the Christmas flowers and lighting displays. I have been to the Gardens a number of times in all seasons, but the Christmas colors and lights always give me real pleasure and joy. On this particular day I was remarking to a friend of mine that the arrangements were unusual in that the gardeners had placed various types of flowers, not usually associated with Christmas, in with all of the evergreens and poinsettias. We saw daisies and narcissus, for instance, and beautiful white lilies.

And then it struck me. The message of Christmas and the resurrection were presented right there together for all of us to behold. The flowers we most associate with the Christmas season are those beautiful scarlet poinsettias. They become the precursor of Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross for us, the shedding of his red blood on our behalf. And in the same flower bed with the red poinsettias, there were planted snow white lilies - that flower we most associate with the season of Easter as we focus on the resurrection. Those pure white lilies which symbolize our sinless and spotless state before God because of Jesus' death and His victorious resurrection.

Come now, and reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool (Isaiah 1:18).

Now I don't have any idea how the decision was reached to plant the lilies and poinsettias together. Maybe the gardener or designer of the plantings was a Christian and was thinking of Jesus' birth, death and resurrection when he made his choice. Maybe he just liked the color and arrangement together. I'll probably never know that. But what I DO know is that our Master Designer knew exactly what He was doing when He set out the plan for our salvation. The incarnation and the atonement have an inescapable relationship to each other. So each Christmas season from now on, I will remember those flowers together and thank God once again that He provides these demonstrations to remind us of His great love for us.

Lynn Randall

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


Oh, I know - immediately you were thinking of those wrinkles on our faces as we age. What I am referring to is the wrinkles in our clothes, the ones we iron out or in (as the case may be). I am amazed at the number of people I know that don't even own an iron. I'm envious.

It has occurred to me numerous times as I iron that the wrinkles I accidently iron in are a lot more difficult to iron out. A single mis-swipe of the iron creates a wrinkle that is very difficult to get rid of. It takes significant steam and attention to make the surface smooth again.

It's not unlike sin.

Did you ever notice how easy it is to start a bad habit or sinful pattern? It doesn't take much effort at all. But try to break that habit or sin pattern and it will take significant "effort" to overcome it.

Perhaps, like me, you have been aware at times in your life when you stood at the edge of a cliff, tempted to do something that may seem the least painful choice at the moment but once that last step is taken, the free fall into that pattern of choice ensues.

Let me give you a few examples from my own life 15-20 years ago.

I distinctly remember the evening I could have slid into the devastation of bulimic purging had I given in to the tempation to rid myself of the calories I had injested.

I remember the weekend I could have started down the road to agoraphobic isolation and ended up unwilling to leave my home had I not chosen to purpose to go out even when I didn't want to.

Perhaps you can identify with these or similar examples or maybe something more subtle like getting immersed in a soap opera or televsion program that you know is not filling your mind with good and godly things, or maybe the time you gave yourself permission to give full vent to your anger and now your anger is gaining ground in your life.

What wrinkles have you accidently ironed into your life that now you are working to smooth out?

Daily we make choices. We need to make the godly choice, the holy choice, the obedient choice rather than the least painful choice. It often takes just once to begin the insidious decline.

Praise God that daily, by His Spirit, He empowers us to walk, to run away from the lure to destruction and to walk in victory.


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Using our Five Senses

You know what they are: Taste, Smell, Hear, See, and Touch. We learn all about them as kids in school, but how much do you think about them on a regular basis as you interact with the world? God gave us our senses as our Creator and I have to believe that there is a reason for each one. Recently, I have been challenged by my brother to interact with the world I'm in using all 5 of my senses. He would write me about an event and tell me about it through the five senses. I have started a Bible study on each of them to see how they were used in Scripture. I'll begin this devotional with the sense of TOUCH.

Touch: This is the way we physically interact with the world. It is in touch that we fully experience our lives. Christ did not have to heal through touch, but everyone believed that it was necessary to touch or fully interact with Christ to receive healing (Matt 14:36). David in the Psalms asks God to come down and touch the earth (Psalms 144:5). After His death and prior to his ascension, Christ told them not to touch him because he was not physical at that point in time (John 20:17).

How are you interacting with your world? Are you really experiencing it? How about your relationship with God - are you truly letting Him "touch" your life? Or are you experiencing life from a distance?

Do you know the song, "The Touch of the Master's Hand"? The story goes that an old violin was worthless until the creator/maker came up and began to play it most magnificently. It was then that the violin had value and worth beyond measure.

Are you letting Him touch you? Are you touching the world recognizing it as His handiwork? Or, are you running through life missing what is really there?

ONE Warning... God clearly tells us in Scripture that in the process of our lives touching the world, that we are to "not touch" evil (Isaiah 52:11; 2 Cor. 6:17). God wants us to fully experience all good things that He bestows, but avoid those things that Satan lures us with that appear to be good. Remember the garden? God gives us so much... and warns us against some things...

Question... Can you walk daily experiencing the world, but not touching those things God warns us against? I think sometimes my struggle is that I take for granted many experiences that God wants me to enjoy so I miss out on the greater experience. On the other hand - I'm too easily tempted to want to experience that which God calls me not to.

Challenge... Daily walk truly letting the good things of God and His creation fully touch you. For instance, the feel of the leaves in the fall, the softness of the breeze on your cheek, the coolness of the air as the seasons change, the smoothness of your blankets as you sleep, and maybe the hardness of the ground as it begins to freeze for the winter. There is also the touch of a hand, the warmth or squeeze of a hug and the coolness or warmth of lips with a kiss.

Lynne Jahns

Monday, December 07, 2009


Genesis 2:2 God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

For six days God created the heavens, the earth, plants, animals and finally He created man and from the man...woman. All this in six days! No wonder God rested on the seventh day....but wait ...was God tired? How could that be? If He was tired wouldn't that mean there was something lacking in God?

It wasn't that God was "exhausted" because He worked too much...God's rest didn't mean He was inactive. God ceased "creating." He had created everything that He had intended to create. And when He observed all that He had created, He called it "very good" (Genesis 1:31). God's "rest" was only that His work of creation was complete. God then began the work of sustaining all that He had created. At the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, God's work of redemption began (John 3:16).

In these days in which we live, there is only one new thing that is created and only one way to create it. That new creation is any man, woman or child who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.

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

God has provided the way for you and me to become a totally new creation when we accept His Son Jesus as the Lord of our lives. Who I was no longer exists; today I am a child of the King. My eternal life began the day I asked Jesus into my heart. I am a new creation!

God no longer "creates" new creations...He has provided the Gift...Jesus...the means...and all we have to do is accept it and our lives are forever transformed for eternity!

What an awesome Gift given to us over 2000 years ago. That Gift came wrapped in a bundle, and has never gone out of date or expired. Every year at Christmas time we are reminded of the Gift and the promise of new life it holds. It is a gift we can share with others any time of year, not just December 25th. But do we? This year let's take the Gift of Jesus out from under the tree and share it 365 days a year.


MaryAnn and John Kiernan have been married for 35 years, have 2 grown/married sons and are the proud grandparents of three 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, December 04, 2009

Unblocked Arteries

Paul's opening verse to the Christians in Colosse are words of prayer. Often I hear of, and I also experience, the difficulties of developing and maintaining a consistent prayer life. There are many methods that are taught but to keep it simple we should remember that we are not about religion, but about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Relationships are maintained by communication. We have all kinds of ways to communicate - phone, email, face book, etc. - but if we are not actually using the tools and communicating, relationships suffer. The same would be true of our relationship with Christ. In Colossians 1:1-12 Paul gives us a great lesson on prayer. We learn from these verses how to pray for ourselves and for others as well. Take a moment to read these verses and see what instructions are given on how and what to pray for.

We can pray for grace and peace (Colossians 1:2). Pray always with thanks (1:3). Do not cease to pray (1:19). Walk worthy of the Lord, bearing fruit and increasing in knowledge (1:10). Strengthened with all might, for all patience and longsuffering with joy (1:11). Giving thanks to the Father (1:12). What wonderful instructions for prayer! As we pray, these are wonderful portions of Scripture to follow.

"Most Christians receive great joy as they talk to the Father. But have you ever thought that prayer pleases God? The Lord wants to hear from His children. Though He already knows our thoughts and desire, God loves for us to voice our hearts to Him. One prescription for spiritual wellness is prayer. Believers cannot grow in their faith without communicating with God. Prayer is an essential ingredient for spiritual growth. Jesus Himself commanded us to pray, but He didn't ask us to pray without teaching us how." *

If you have begun to care for your spiritual wellness, communication with Jesus is essential. Beware of blocked arteries that squeeze out communication. Prayer is what will keep the arteries of your communication with Jesus open and healthy.

Kathy Withers

*Rhonda H. Kelley- A Women's Guide to Spiritual Wellness, pg 16

Kathy Withers serves in the Development Department at America's Keswick. She is married to Dave and has two adult children, Michael and Kerri.

** If you received "Sheer Grace" as yesterday's email, duplicating Tuesday's, please check the website for the intended Victory Call.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


OK - we all go through it. There comes that period during the first couple of weeks in December (or even later for the "last minute" folks - and you all know who you are) when we are in search of the "perfect gift" - you know the one that when you see it you go "that is just perfect for____________."

I started thinking about this over the weekend while flipping through a ladies' magazine (Good Housekeeping - although apparently reading it faithfully for many years has certainly not fulfilled its title in MY house - but that is another story). There was an article about a mother who was "frantic" to find the perfect gift for her daughter - a three-story, condo dollhouse. And as happens at this time of year, it was sold out - everywhere. The e-Bay price was twice the store price, etc., etc. Her upset was that her daughter wasn't going to get her perfect gift.

And I found myself saying right out loud, "The perfect gift has already been given, and it doesn't cost you retail or double on e-Bay." You see, Jesus Christ is that perfect gift. He fills EVERY longing, EVERY need, EVERY desire - even the ones we don't even know we have. NO gift was, is or ever will be more perfect than His greatest gift to us - His life for our sins. And if that weren't enough, He continues to bless, cheer, encourage, heal, bring joy and peace and the list goes on and on. All of the things that the world thinks is important, holds dear and searches for year after year - it is already part of the same package.

So, as you begin to stress out or become anxious about disappointing someone this Christmas because you can't find the perfect gift, remind yourself that you do have the perfect gift to give - share the story of that blessed night over 2000 years ago when Christ came to earth as the perfect gift to each of us who will say "Thank you for your gift to me. I receive it with all my heart."

Eph. 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God...

Lynn Randall

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Sheer Grace

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. Ephesians 2:8-9

Salvation is by grace through faith alone. Over and over again I've heard that we have nothing to do with our salvation. If we did it would not be grace. Ephesians 2 clearly says, "it is not your own doing." But don't I play a part? After all, I prayed a prayer of commitment or "the sinner's prayer." Is regeneration a result of our prayer or is our prayer a result of regeneration? Please hear me, there are wonderful, godly men and women that fall into both camps. I never considered this before. That is before I read the following in John Piper's book: FINALLY ALIVE.

"...teaching about the new birth is unsettling because it refers to something that is done to us, not something we do...God causes the new birth; we don't...Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again (1 Pet. 1:3).

We do not cause the new birth. God causes the new birth. Any spiritually good thing that we do is a result of the new birth, not the cause of new birth. This means that the new birth is taken out of our hands. It is not in our control...

...Therefore if we are going to be born again, it will rely decisively and ultimately on God. His decision to make us alive will not be a response to what we as spiritual corpses do, but what we do will be a response to his making us alive." (John Piper, Finally Alive, pgs. 26-27).

WOW!!!! This made so much sense to me. After being a believer 25 years, I finally understand how my salvation as a "good, religious" girl is just as underserved, unearned and amazing as another who was running hard and fast away from God and was saved in the midst of a drug-induced high. Neither of us did one single thing to warrant salvation.

I believe that God did not respond to my cry of faith, but that I responded to God's regeneration of my spirit with a cry of faith. For the first time, I understand how salvation is on the basis of sheer grace.

I know there are some out there that will disagree with Piper's words, but for me, they have given me a whole new appreciation for my own salvation and a new perspective on sharing the gospel.


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Thank you Therapy

Thanksgiving is a GREAT time to give thanks, and it is the time we tend to really get into the mood and it almost seems natural. BUT, thanksgiving is to be done all the time ... not just because the government has assigned a date...

We are to be Thankful:

All the time: I Thess. 5:16-18, Eph. 5:4, 18-20, Phil 4:6, Col. 2:6-7, 3:15,

In the Morning and Evening: Psalms 92:1-2

There are two types of thanks...

Natural Gratitude: It is giving thanks for blessings received...
Life, health, home, family, freedom, a warm bed, cool drinks on hot days - it is the mindset of appreciation for all good gifts of any size or shape.

What things have you been given that you can be thankful for?

Problem is... this type of thanksgiving does not come naturally when things are tough...

Gracious Gratitude: It is giving thanks for WHO God is. It is giving thanks for His Character - His goodness, love, power, and His excellencies. It is evidence of the Holy Spirit in one's life. It can grow in the midst of pain, trouble and distress.

Gratitude Motivators:
The Lord is Sovereign
God loves unconditionally
God forgives
The Lord abides
We have been sealed with the Holy spirit
God hears and answers prayers
God has a purpose for our lives

Gracious Gratitude for who God is stems from our heart and who we are in CHRIST. It is relational rather than conditional. We need nothing in life but to have gracious gratitude.

For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. (2 Cor. 4:15)

Gratitude is a response of the believer to the work of the Spirit in their lives (Eph. 5:18-21 ESV).