Friday, June 29, 2012

It is finished! It is finished! It is finished!

It really, really, really is finished! There is nothing I can add or take away from what has wholly been accomplished on the Cross by the Crucified One. Obedient to His Father, He accomplished the work He came to do. He began and He finished.

History records no single event to suggest that He did anything other than that which He came to do. His work, His reason for being, was to do the will of the Father who sent Him. Nothing more; Nothing less.

He sought no glory for Himself. He simply came to do as the Father bid Him, for the Father's glory. He never lost sight of the single purpose of His birth. Nor was He distracted or enticed by the world's trinkets, trappings, or delicacies.

Even His food was to do the will of the Father. "Jesus said to them, 'My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work.'"

As daughters, sisters, girlfriends, wives, mothers, grandmothers, friends, caregivers, etc., our reason for being is to be His hands, His arms, His embrace, His image bearers to any and every soul our life encounters.

By now, you may be wondering to yourself, "What is she trying to say?"

No work you or I do today or tomorrow will add one iota of meaning to what our Savior and Lord has already done. If, like me, you have moments where you find yourself sorely tempted to give up the thing that you do, if you find yourself cast down because your laboring appears to be in vain, if you catch yourself wondering - what, oh what, is the point to all of this! - I encourage you as strongly as possible to BE STILL!

Stop and remember your God! The work you do is His and His alone. He owns the seeds and the fruit and by His Spirit, He alone will reap the harvest. No matter how bleak the outcome appears to us, hope to the end! Finish the thing! Pray for increased faith to believe what seems impossible and finish!!

"Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted with me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God." Psalm 41:11

".....Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished." 1 Chronicles 28:20


Stephanie Paul, wife and mother of two grown children. An "instrument of change" in the Redeemer's Hand, in the lives of wounded and hurting women. Currently serving as a part of the Addiction Recovery Team at America's Keswick as Woman of Character Program Director.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Serving With a Clear Conscience

In one of his letters to Timothy, Paul writes Timothy and tells him, "I have served with a clear conscience". As I read this in my devotions this morning, those words jumped out at me. I sat thinking and asking myself, "Am I serving with a clear conscience?" My instant response to myself was, "Of course you are girlfriend." But, as is common for me, I began to work the question again and again, going over the details of my life and I must confess to you, I came up sorely wanting. As I sat and pondered, my mind darted came across a few stones that would likely have remained unexamined and unturned were it not for the Holy Spirit's prompting.

I suspect part of Paul's ability to be secure in his heart and mind lay in His honest assessment of himself. Paul didn't judge himself according to himself. I believe he saw himself clear as day. He never lost sight of who he was apart from relationship with his Redeeming Lord. In fact, Paul's own words were, "chief of sinners". From that humble position Paul did not neglect time with the Lord who saved Him. Night and day he prayed. Night and day! Therein lies one of my own revealed stones.

Pray for me, dear ones, as Father and I do business concerning the stones in my heart and life. Praise God with me for His Word and its ability to consistently lay truth before us in the Person of Jesus, the written WORD of Life.

Praise Him that in this walk of faith, the call to victory is a grace-saturated process and we can all serve Him with a clear conscience.

My Challenge For you Today:

Go before the LORD. Prostrate yourself before Him. Seek Him for anything that may hinder your time with Him and then seek to destroy that thing, no matter what it cost!

May we all be able to say with Paul, "I am not ashamed, I am serving with a clear conscience."


Stephanie Paul, wife and mother of two grown children. An "instrument of change" in the Redeemer's Hand, in the lives of wounded and hurting women. Currently serving as a part of the Addiction Recovery Team at America's Keswick as Woman of Character Program Director.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Social Promotion

Perhaps you have heard of a practice in schools called social promotion. It is a practice of moving students along regardless of whether they do well or not in their studies. Even if a child fails, schools that practice social promotion promote the student to the next grade.

Flunking is a thing of the past in these schools. The problem, of course, is that these schools are graduating students that are fundamentally illiterate, lacking basic math and grammar skills.

I believe the motivation behind the practice of social promotion is the idea that holding a child back would bruise their self-esteem. I'm pretty sure it's been proven that it doesn't work. No surprise there.

What happens to their self-esteem (not a biblical concept by the way) when they get into the work force (if they do) and lack the basic life skills to keep a job?

Anyway, none of that is my point today, but it helps me make my point.

Here's my point: God does not practice social promotion.

His plan is much more effective in preparing His children for a holy, blameless life -- that is -- to be like Jesus. His plan is progressive sanctification.

God is in the process of growing each of His children in the image of His Son. He is committed to the conforming process - in fact, He promises it.

Romans 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

I think there are times I live as if God practices social promotion. Whether I obey or not, He'll move me along towards maturity. I ask for more of God yet I fail to be faithful to what I already have. I ask God to be my wonderful counselor but I don't heed His counsel.

I wonder if I'm not alone. Do you find that when you fail God's test, that somehow He circles around again and again until you get it?

Do not despair for "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire" 2 Peter 1:3-4.


Diane Hunt is part of the ministry team at America's Keswick. She is a regular writer for Victory Call and one of the authors of Crossing the Jordan Bible Study. Diane has been married to her husband John over 27 years. She has 2 adult children and 3 grandchildren and 3 adult step-children with 7 grandchildren making 10 in all. She delights reading and teaching, but mostly laughing at the funny things her grandchildren say and do.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

He Knows It All

Is it possible that there is anything about you that God -- Father,; Creator, who is everywhere present, all the time -- doesn't know about you? Sisters, embrace and believe the truest thing. There is nothing about you that God does not know. No matter how much yuck or muck there is in your life which may hold you captive, God sees, hears and knows!

O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there were none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!

In the words of Betsy Ten Boom as quoted by her sister Corrie, 'The Hiding Place', "There is no pit so deep that God's love is not greater still."

Dear sisters see Him, hear Him and know Him!


Stephanie Paul, wife and mother of two grown children. An "instrument of change" in the Redeemer's Hand, in the lives of wounded and hurting women. Currently serving as a part of the Addiction Recovery Team at America's Keswick as Woman of Character Program Director.

Monday, June 25, 2012

God's Plan is ALWAYS Perfect

Recently, I spent some time on the Jersey beach. My plan was to take some time out to relax and read. Thinking of Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God"......isn't so easy, especially when my type personality is "A" driven. So, what does that mean, "Type A"? Well, it means I can always find something that needs attention, so for me to get some R&R I need a place where I can go where no interruptions are calling me. I'm not saying that things that need attention at home should be left undone or office responsibilities should be set-aside. But, can you really get some R&R at home, or at work? I suggest you find a place where there are no interruptions. Jesus is our best example on getting some R&R. He took time out to rest!!!

My trip to the beach was planned so I could have some time with the Lord: sitting by the ocean is very relaxing for me, and it gives me the sense of God's presence as I observe the ripping and roaring of the raging sea. Only God can control that body of water. As I planned this day, I packed a lunch, chair, umbrella and my Kindle so I could read. When I arrived I realized "how will I carry all this" - no husband or grandkids with me....well, needless to say it all worked out. The next hurdle was "who will put my umbrella in the sand"? Well, ask and you will receive - there were some teen boys and girls walking by and I asked for help.....the young men were very helpful while the young ladies told them how to put the umbrella in the sand. Just like a woman, gotta tell the man!

The beach was full of laughter from children; moms chasing the little tikes to spray them with sunscreen. Ah, like any other day at the beach it was windy - so the sunscreen went by the wayside and maybe a little on their skin. Umm, I wonder how many times did the Lord want my attention but it dropped by the wayside. Imagine God chasing us down to tell us to take some time with a friend to encourage her in her walk with Him, or to "just be there". For me to keep the lines open I must take time in the morning to pray and ask for His direction in my life for the day. I may have a plan but am I willing to let God interrupt my plan and yield to whatever He calls me to do? How do I handle interruptions? Sometimes I miss opportunities from the Lord because I think my plan is the best. As I said before, I am a "Type A" personality whereas I am driven to get whatever I've planned done. My plan may be good, but God's plan is ALWAYS perfect. This brings me to the story of Abram and Sarai. Sarai may have had a good plan, but God had the perfect plan. But, Sarai acted on her plan. Sarai didn't wait on the Lord - I'm guilty sometimes of not waiting on God. Genesis 16 & 17 tells the story of Abram & Sarai waiting for a child.

Genesis 16: 1-6 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. 2 So Sarai said to Abram, "The LORD has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her." And Abram agreed with Sarai's proposal. 3 So Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian servant and gave her to Abram as a wife. (This happened ten years after Abram had settled in the land of Canaan.) 4 So Abram had sexual relations with Hagar, and she became pregnant. But when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress, Sarai, with contempt. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, "This is all your fault! I put my servant into your arms, but now that she's pregnant she treats me with contempt. The LORD will show who's wrong-you or me!" 6 Abram replied, "Look, she is your servant, so deal with her as you see fit." Then Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away.

Oh, Lord, keep me mindful of you so that I don't miss your perfect plan.

God's plan is ALWAYS perfect.


Pat Spies
Women's Ministry Volunteer

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fearing God's Warnings

As I was looking for some material to use as a pop quiz I came across a few questions based on 2 Chronicles 7 & 8. One of the application questions was in reference to the promise and warning stated in 2 Chronicles 7:12-22. The promise - "If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14). The warning - "But if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you and go and serve other gods, and worship them, then I will uproot them from My land which I have given them; and this house which I have sanctified for My name I will cast out of My sight, and will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples" (2 Chronicles 7:19-20).

And here is the application question - "Do I fear the the fulfillment of God's warnings as I desire the fulfillments of His promise?"

We have become very familiar with the verse containing the promise but how many of us could have recalled the warning? Throughout the years I have worked in Christian bookstores, I have seen many Promise Books: Promises for Men, Promises for Women, Promises for Teens, paperback and leather edition. Yet, I have never seen a book of God's Warnings. We love to be reminded of God's great promises but do we notice when He extends a warning for us to follow? Faithful are His promises but faithful are the consequences of disobedience as well. Promises make us "feel" good. Warnings make us squirm because we often want our own way. Like the children that we are we desire to rebel against our Father who is warning us for our own good, and from the purest motivation of love.

Here is the challenge - Can you and I trust not only great and precious promises, but also trust His many warnings and guidelines?


Kathy Withers

Kathy's on staff at America's KESWICK in the Development Department. Kathy has been married to her husband Dave for 26 years. They have two adult children. Kathy is active in her local Church and has previously served as a Teaching Director for Community Bible Study. Her passion is to encourage women to deepen their walk with Jesus Christ by finding and living out the truths of God's Word.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


"These things I have spoken to you that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer I have overcome the world." John 16:33

As we all know, we will go through some degree of affliction or distress, pain or sorrow in our Christian life. Our Lord doesn't want us to deny the pain or try to hide our sorrow; He knows what we are going through. "My heart is stricken and withered like grass, So that I forget to eat my bread" Psalm 102:4. God gives scripture so that we may learn to be different from our old ways of the world. My reaction to tribulation is really what is important, to live the word of our Lord to be true. I have to rely on His promises even when I can't understand the situation and my emotions are weak. It's vital for me to seek God and live out His instruction, trusting Him, anticipating the joy that is set before me. In my most painful moments I cry out to God. He reveals His holiness and quiets my cries, His faithfulness strengthens me to wait on Him. I reflect on how much He suffered to save my soul. I begin to worship Him and praise Him for all His love and realize the holiness of almighty God. I comprehend His sovereignty; with prayer He calms my soul to be still, to see His wondrous work. As I go through the most difficult times with God, God reveals Himself, gives me His strength, teaches me the intimacy of His love and changes me.

The people that don't know Christ will also go through tribulation. As Christians we have the opportunity to live God's word to be true or not. That makes the difference from the world's perspective. When I choose to pray and obey I can walk by faith and continuously trust in God. "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him" (Job 13:15). Let's see what God has to say regarding tribulation:

"And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;" (Romans 5: 3). We are to rejoice in triumph, to be steadfast with our Lord.

"Who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God" (2 Cor.1:4). We can understand and relate to others that are going through similar afflictions and give them comfort.

"Strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying" "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). God gives us strength, encouragement and admonition.

"And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall" (Matthew 7: 25). That we don't fall away from God.

My precious Lord, I can do all things through Him who strengthens me; thank you, Lord, I can do nothing without You. I need Your continuous help and guidance for my faith to grow and may the lost see Christ in my life.

Glory to God

Sandra Valdes
Staff Member, WOC Graduate

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Women on the Front Lines

Women, God has given women many incredibly wonderful assignments throughout time. From the beginning God created woman because it was not good for man to go it alone. He needed a helpmate. (Gen. 2:18) God blessed THEM and said to THEM "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it and rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Gen. 2:28).

I want to share with you critical times when God used women on the earth. I submit to you He chose a woman at those times because He wanted a woman on that assignment. It was not because there wasn't a man around. God uses all of His people to accomplish His assignment to "rule all that moves on the earth". He used a woman held in captivity, Esther, to save her nation (Esther 1-10). A woman, Jael, killed Sisera, a military leader with 900 chariots and a huge army (Judges 5:21). God used Deborah to judge His nation Israel (Judges 4-5). When Jesus revealed Himself to the Samaritan woman she likely became one of the first evangelists and told her whole city about Jesus, the Christ (John 4:39-42). When Jesus rose from the dead He appeared first to two women (Matthew 28:1). He had those women go and tell the others (Matthew 28:10). It was a businesswoman, Lydia, who was known as a worshiper of God whose home was a place of prayer in her community (Acts 16:14-16a).

The Word tells us that a woman builds her house up or tears it down (Prov. 14:1). And last, but surely not least, the Proverbs 31 woman is one amazing woman. What is her secret, and likely the "secret" of all the women God finds He is able to use to bless His people? It is fear of the Lord, which is not fear as in afraid of a snake. Rather it is an awesome reverence of our God. You see, "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised, Give her the product of her hands, and let her works, praise her in the gates" (Proverbs 31:30-31).

Ladies, lets not hold back.....get to the front lines......and in obedience, reverence and praise of our Lord.....tend the garden where you have been planted; build up your household, never tear it down; take down the enemy who comes against the destiny God has prepared for those you love; evangelize a nation; start a prayer movement; tell all those you can find that.........Jesus is alive!!


Patricia L. Wenzel
WOC graduate

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


That's what my little, and I do mean little, (not quite 2) neighbor says as he escapes from his yard. (Although, I have yet to hear it from him in person.) Those little feet are on a mission...a mission for an Oreo cookie. Preferably split apart for his enjoyment, and double stuffed, of course. He's always accompanied by his two older siblings who have trained him well. He associates me with cookies. Actually, before he could say my name, he'd just look out his front door, point to my place, and say, cookie! What can I say; I'm a sucker for these kids. They use me for sweets! That's fine with me. I'm happy to sweeten them up.

On the other side of the yard, two new little friends popped up last summer. As you might imagine, they got in on the act pretty quickly. They use me for sweets, too! Or do they? I don't think any of them "use me" in the sense the world might define that term. They don't take advantage of it; in fact, they are all very thankful. I do think the Lord is using me in their little lives. They're not just dropping by for a cookie, they're sharing their little hearts too, and boy, is it fun to listen...

"Hey, Miss Dina...guess what?" Then they proceed to share with me all kinds of sweet little tidbits that are happening in their lives. Who's had a sibling, who's got new shoes, who just woke up from a nap and is grumpy, who found a snake (keep that at home). They are so funny! Especially when I'm not at home and they question me with, "Miss Dina, where were you? We came and you weren't here." All that to say, last week they really surprised me when two of them brought me cupcakes. "Hi, Miss Dina, we made you cupcakes, thanks for everything you've done for us."

Precious babies. I wonder if they know how much fun it is for me? I'll never tell...and don't you either.

Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, "Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me." Mark 9:36-37 (NKJV)

Dina Seaton
Marketing Assistant, Staff Writer

P.S. By the's not just me that spoils the little ones...when my son was their age, our Keswick neighbor (she shall remain nameless, but her initials are S.M.!) used to hang a whole package of Oreos from our door knob for him to find. He loved it, and still remembers her for it.

Monday, June 18, 2012

At a distance...

A couple of months ago we came through the Easter season. On Good Friday morning I was reading again the account recorded on those last days and hours of Jesus' earthly life. Like you I am very familiar with the account so it would be easy to gloss over the details.

I came upon this statement, "And Peter was following him at a distance..." Matthew 26:58.

As others look on, would they say I follow Jesus at a distance?

Before I became a Christian, I heard some friends say they were "closet Christians." "It's private and personal" they said. I passed it off as making sense because, after all, what did I know, I wasn't a Christian.

But now, nearly 30 years later, I realize that is not faith -- not genuine, vibrant, living faith.

I am reminded of 2 verses:

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. Luke 9:26

If I am a Christ-follower - then may my walk look like it, up close and personal!



Diane Hunt is part of the ministry team at America's Keswick. She is a regular writer for Victory Call and one of the authors of Crossing the Jordan Bible Study. Diane has been married to her husband John over 27 years. She has 2 adult children and 3 grandchildren and 3 adult step-children with 7 grandchildren making 10 in all. She delights reading and teaching, but mostly laughing at the funny things her grandchildren say and do.

Friday, June 15, 2012


Recently I was listening to the book of Nehemiah on CD. Nehemiah is one of my favorite books of the Bible. Nehemiah had been taken into captivity and was serving as cupbearer to the King Artaxerxes. He must have taken his job very seriously and did it to the best of his ability. He clearly developed a relationship of respect with the king whom he served, for the king was concerned when Nehemiah appeared sad in his presence (Nehemiah 2:1).

Now Nehemiah was not supposed to appear sad before the king. He was there to serve the king, so when the king asked him why he was sad, he was afraid. Nehemiah did not let fear overtake him. He prayed to the God of heaven (Neh.2:4).

Fear, in this case, can be defined as distressing negative sensation induced by a perceived threat, or impending danger.

Despite the presence of fear, Nehemiah never lost sight of his God or his homeland. He was concerned for the city of Jerusalem, which was lying desolate and the gates destroyed. He did his job and he honored the king whom he served, but he still had his eyes fixed on what I believe the Lord had put on his heart, to go home and rebuild the city. He had thought about it so much he had a plan prepared and ready to release as soon as the king asked, "What can I do for you?" (Neh. 2: 6-9).

But the enemy of all who love God was not happy with the favor on Nehemiah or the plan to rebuild. He did all he could to stop this work. The one thing that stood out to me over and over was the fact that the enemy tried to stop the work from the very beginning through fear. But each time Nehemiah met that fear and quite literally refused to receive it. He prayed and he pressed on in another kind of fear, Fear of Lord. Fear of the Lord means to be in awe or reverence of God.

He quietly did his inspections (Neh. 2:12-13), he would not give in to the fear that the wall was not sturdy enough (Neh. 3-4), and he would not give in to fear when the enemy was planning to fight against them (Neh. 4:8-9). Over and over the pattern repeats itself, the enemy tries to raise fear and Nehemiah responds in prayer and pressing on toward the goal. Because the leader was so confident of the work God had for them and would not give in to fear and intimidation, the people did not give in to fear either. Of course he did have to encourage them and address the fears by preparing for war, but he also reminded the people that they did not need to be afraid but rather "remember the Lord who is great and awesome". The result of all of this was the people had a mind to work (Neh. 4:6), the wall was rebuilt (Neh. 7:15) and God was honored as the people read His word, repented and recommitted themselves unto the Lord (Neh. 8-10).

Why do I share all of this? As I reflected upon this I realized the enemy does the same thing to us. We can be at the forefront of a blessing or in the midst of what we know is a God assignment and we allow fear to overtake us. We fall into doubt, unbelief and we lack faith. I am challenged as I review this book to look fear in the eye and refuse to allow it to rule me, distract me or discourage me. Rather I am challenged to seek the Holy Spirit as to how I should respond, in other words first of all PRAY. Perhaps God would have me speak and press on toward the goal. Perhaps He will reveal something I did not know or He may tell me to be still and wait on Him. Whatever the next step is I know it is NOT to give in to fear and give up. The God we serve is the same God Nehemiah served. Dear ones, He is GREAT and AWESOME, He is FAITHFUL!!

Be blessed as you serve Him, with your sword (Bible) in one hand and with your other do the work the Lord has set before you.

Patricia Wenzel
WOC Graduate

Thursday, June 14, 2012

In Need of Help

In the midst of trial and suffering a dear sister-friend sent me an article titled: "In Need of Help". Why? Because I am in need of help! I'm one who typically (according to my flesh) forgets to ask for least initially I tend to go it alone...until. I decided to share this article with you for your own heart to glean and hopefully grow.

"It's hard to admit your need of help. It's hard to admit that there are things you do not know and do not understand. It's hard to admit that there are things that you cannot do. It's hard to reach out and cry out for help. It's hard to confess to weakness and ignorance. It's hard to have to depend on another for what you think you should be able to supply for yourself. It's hard to talk about what you do not know and what you cannot do. It's difficult to admit to poor judgment and wrong responses. It's hard to receive correction and to confess to sin.

Why are these things so hard? Because we all like to buy into two very seductive lies. These lies argue against any need to be dependent and they bolster the independence that tends to attract us all. The first lie is the lie of AUTONOMY. Autonomy tells me that I am an independent being, with the right to do what I want to do, when, where, and how I want to do it. Now you may say, "Paul, I know well enough not to believe that!" Yet, every time you defend yourself against the correction of another or tell someone not to tell you what to do, you buy into this lie. The second lie is the lie of SELF-SUFFICIENCY. This lie tells me I have everything within myself to be what I am supposed to be and to do what I am supposed to do. Perhaps you're thinking, "Okay, I do occasionally buy into my autonomy, but I definitely don't think I'm self-sufficient!" Yet, each time you resist reaching out for help or each time you act like you're okay when, in fact you're not, you have bought into this lie.

Why are these two lies so wrong and so dangerous? Because the Bible clearly tells us that we are people who have been made for COMMUNITY. We were designed to live in worshipful community with God and humble community with people. We were never constructed to live all by ourselves. Even Adam and Eve needed God and one another. Think about this. They were perfect people, living in a perfect world, yet they were still needy because they were not created to live life on their own.

Remember, there are few people more influential in your life than you are because no one talks to you more than you do. You spend each day in constant conversation with you! And the things that you tell yourself shape what you do and say each day. Do you constantly remind yourself of your need of God and others? Do you tell yourself that it is good to admit weakness and to reach out for help? If you do, it is not a sign that something is wrong. No, by God's definition, that kind of self-talk is a sign that something is very right.

How about beginning to pray these three prayers every morning:

1. "Lord, I am a person in desperate need of help today."

2. "Lord, won't you, in your grace, send your helpers my way."

3. "And please give me the humility to receive the help when it comes."

Are you intimidated by your weaknesses? Are you afraid to bare your needs to God and others? Don't forget that Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He came so that we would be able to experience peace with God and with others. He came so that we would no longer have to seduce ourselves with the delusions of autonomy and self-sufficiency. He came so that we could be the kind of people we were created to be, living in humble worship of him and humble dependency on others, right here, right now."1

Stephanie Paul

Stephanie, wife and mother of two grown children. An "instrument of change" in the Redeemer's Hand, in the lives of wounded and hurting women. Currently serving as a part of the Addiction Recovery Team at America's Keswick as Woman of Character Program Director.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Jesus Breaks ALL Barriers!

John 4 tells the story of the Samaritan woman and Jesus' ministry to her. I still have notes in the margin of my Bible that point out all the barriers that Jesus crossed in order to bring living water to this one thirsty soul. Let's look at the barriers that Jesus dared to cross.

The National Barrier- "Now he had to go through Samaria" John 4:4. Jews often would avoid traveling through Samaria. Samaritans were not thought of highly and were considered to be beneath them. Many can't cross the street let alone cross a border.

The Gender Barrier- "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman" John 4: 9. Women in Jesus' time were not thought of very highly either. Have we really come a long way? I recently went to a Human Trafficking Awareness event. Women, children and men are still being used and abused. They have become a commodity for labor, sex and military slavery. Today, regardless of gender, evil still exists against mankind.

The Ethnic Barrier- "For Jews do not associate with Samaritans" John 4:9. Is this barrier prevalent in our day? Before all that has been done to breakdown this barrier in our country, Jesus already was tearing down this wall.

The Sin Barrier- "The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband" John 4:18. Jesus did not consider this woman's sin worse than others but don't we tend to think the sin of others is somehow worse than our own? Considering the event I attended last week, it is easy to feel for the victim. Yet, is there grace and mercy for the pimp, the abuser, the one who is just as lost in sin but happens to be on the other side of the equation?

The Religious Barrier- "You Samaritans worship what you do not know, we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews" John 4:22. Those who are deceived by false religions are those whom Christ died for. His heart is for all who are lost. Whatever the "ism", Jesus is still the Way and the Truth.

Jesus is still crossing these barriers today. Perhaps some of these barriers were crossed to bring you to Him? Aren't you glad that He reached across to you and offered you living water?

Kathy Withers

Kathy's on staff at America's KESWICK in the Development Department. Kathy has been married to her husband Dave for 26 years. They have two adult children. Kathy is active in her local Church and has previously served as a Teaching Director for Community Bible Study. Her passion is to encourage women to deepen their walk with Jesus Christ by finding and living out the truths of God's Word.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"You are the man!" or maybe You are the woman?

Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: "There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds.  But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him.  And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him."

 So David's anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, "As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die!  And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity."

 Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man!" 2 Samuel 12: 1-7 (NKJV)

Quick. David was quick to be judge, jury and in this case, executioner. I can just imagine the expression on his face when Nathan told him he was the man in the story. Righteous indignation quickly became recognition of guilt.

Have you ever been the woman in the story? Quick to make a judgment only to realize you are or have been in fact guilty yourself?

Two men went up into the temple [enclosure] to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee took his stand ostentatiously and began to pray thus before and with himself: God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men-extortioners (robbers), swindlers [unrighteous in heart and life], adulterers-or even like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I gain. But the tax collector, [merely] standing at a distance, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, saying, O God, be favorable (be gracious, be merciful) to me, the especially wicked sinner that I am!  I tell you, this man went down to his home justified (forgiven and made upright and in right standing with God), rather than the other man; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted. Luke 18:9-14 (AMP)

David, Bathsheba and their baby all suffered painful consequences. But even in that, God is good. He would cease to be good if He were not also just. Amen?

There but for the grace of God go any one of us. Be careful. God judges, but He is also merciful.

Dina Seaton
Marketing Assistant, Staff Writer

Monday, June 11, 2012

Concern for His Name

Ezekiel 36:21 But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came.

I wrote in the margin of my Bible: "Lord, do you have concern for Your Name in my life?"

As others look on, your family, your friends, your co-workers and your neighbors, does the Lord have any concern for His Name in your life?

Do we represent Him well? Do we magnify and reflect His reputation well or do we tarnish it in the eyes of others?

How about among strangers? When someone cuts you off on the expressway or is rude to you at the store or whispers behind your back, do you give God reason to be concerned for His holy Name?

I hope you understand what I am saying and what I am NOT saying. I am NOT saying God is up in heaven wringing His hands, worrying about what to do. I am NOT saying that our areas of failure do not fall under the cleansing blood of our Savior. THEY DO.

If those around you were to describe your God, how close would they be to the truth?

Ezekiel 39:7 And my holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel, and I will not let my holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.

Ezekiel 39:25 ...I will be jealous for my holy name.

My simple point is ...

Do you represent the Savior well? Is His name beautiful and wonderful and glorious in your life?


Friday, June 08, 2012

Why Do They Wait?

Would you take a moment and read Luke 13:23-35? This scripture gives us some thoughts to ponder regarding salvation. So I thought that Warren Wiersbe's comments might shed some light on this passage and also help us to pray for those who have yet to come to Jesus. For the sake of space and to be brief I have condensed his thoughts a bit.

"Many ...will seek to enter in, and shall not be able" (Luke 13:24). Why? The parable tells us why, and it focuses primarily on the Jewish people of the day. However, it has a personal application to all of us today. I hope each of you have responded to the call of Christ and have been saved. Yet, many who were invited to the great feast (kingdom) waited too long to respond, and, when they arrived at the banquet hall, it was too late and the door was shut.

But why did they wait so long? The parable suggests several reasons:

1. Salvation is not easy - the sinner must enter a narrow gate and walk a narrow way;
2. They have a false sense of security;
3. Pride - they do not humble themselves before the Lord;
4. They depend on religion.
5. But the major reason is found in verse 34- Jesus said "you were not willing."

As you and I pray for those who have yet to give their hearts and lives to Jesus, we can us these points to pray. We can pray for the Holy Spirit to draw our loved ones from the ways of this world and give them the desire to make the hard choice of giving ALL to follow Christ. Pray that whatever they may find security in will come to nothing and they will know that only in Christ will they truly be secure. Pray that they would be humbled. We need to pray for God to work in His ways to break their pride. It's not an easy prayer but we are talking about eternity with or without Christ- so whatever it takes! Pray that our loved ones will not depend on religion - not just a denomination but also the worship and religion of self, which brings us back to #3. And let's pray that hearts would be softened and receptive to the Spirit's working and that they would be willing and able to hear, that scales would fall from eyes so they could see and knees would bow in humble and simple faith!

Kathy Withers

Kathy's on staff at America's KESWICK in the Development Department. Kathy has been married to her husband Dave for 26 years. They have two adult children. Kathy is active in her local Church and has previously served as a Teaching Director for Community Bible Study. Her passion is to encourage women to deepen their walk with Jesus Christ by finding and living out the truths of God's Word.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

When There Are No Words

Have you ever been involved in such a complex situation that you didn't even know exactly how to pray about it? Have you ever felt so grieved in your spirit that you felt like you couldn't pray? Have you ever prayed for something for so long that you felt like you just couldn't pray about it anymore?

We have probably all felt this way at one time or another during this journey called life. When I have felt this way, there are a few verses that the Lord used to encourage and comfort me.

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." Romans 8:26-27

"Therefore He (Jesus) is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them." (Hebrews 7:25)

"But I (Jesus) have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail." (Luke 22:32)

The Holy Spirit AND Jesus both intercede for us before the Father! How amazing is that!

There have been times when I felt I didn't know what or how to pray, or that I just didn't even have the strength to pray. In those times, the Lord showed me to ask the Holy Spirit and Jesus to intercede for me. And then, as He has promised, His peace which transcends all understanding, would guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:7)

Sisters, I encourage you - in those times when you feel you cannot pray, don't turn away from Him. But rather, press in closer, and ask your perfect, holy Advocates to pray and intercede for you. As you do this, even though your answer may not come right away, it will come, in His perfect timing, and you will have His perfect peace in the meantime.

Stacey Poplawski
WOC Graduate

Wednesday, June 06, 2012


Psalm 18:1  "I will love you, LORD. In you I am strong."

Many of you know that I run the grief groups at Keswick. Currently we are studying some of the Psalms in the second level group. Often we can avoid reading a Psalm because it may seem beyond our "understanding". I love what Phillip Yancey* wrote about the Psalms, when he said:

"The book of Psalms comprises a sampling of spiritual journals, much like personal letters to God... I must read them as an 'over the shoulder' reader since the intended audience was not other people, but God."

Psalm 18 is a special psalm in that it is also found in 2 Samuel 22, and is believed to be one of the last psalms written by David. It is about David's reflection on his life, as he is looking back on his life and describing all the ways in which God has faithfully been present in his life. It is the story of God's deliverance and work in David's life. Check out this basic outline of Psalm 18:

Part 1: Who God is to David (vs. 1-3)

Part 2: David needed God's help and God heard him (vs. 4-6)

Part 3: God's Answer (vs. 7-19)

Part 4: David reviews what he has learned about who God helps and why (vs. 20-27)

Part 5: David remembers that everything he has came from God alone (vs. 28-42)

Part 6: David knows that only God could have made Him King (vs. 43-50)

Read Psalm 18 and then reflect on my questions to you.

1. Do you love God, in the deepest sense of the word? Who has God been to you?

2. When you are overwhelmed, lost, feeling like a victim, do you cry out to God, or do you try to face life on your own?

3. How has God led you out of your storms?

4. How does your life stand before God's rules? Are you righteous before God?

5. What have you received from God? Can you make a list?

6. What has God done for you that no one else could - even you? What can God still do in your life?

The Psalms were meant to be sung... Maybe you know this song - sing it now to the Lord.

I will call upon the Lord,
who is worthy to be praised;
so shall I be saved from my enemies...
The Lord liveth; and blessed be my rock;
and let the God of my salvation be exalted. (Psalm 18:3, 46 KJV)

Lynne Jahns
Christian Counselor
Director, KESWICK Institute of Biblical Studies

*Phillip Yancey, The Bible Jesus Read (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 112.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Praying for Your Pastor

Years ago a Pastor who I knew and had great respect for fell into sin. Once that sin became exposed he and his family went through a great deal of pain. This was a man who knew the Word, was an excellent teacher and cared very deeply for the flock God had given him to shepherd. The shock of what happened went very deep. Although his marriage was preserved, they lost so much. Pastor lost the respect of his flock and his family. He lost his ministry and his home. It was as if a fire of pain spread quickly throughout the entire body of believers. The enemy of God had his way. I remember feeling incredibly convicted about the need to pray, as Jesus directs us, for leaders and those in authority (1 Tim. 2:1-2).

Since that time I have read many sad statistics about pastors who fall into sin. Could it be that God's people are not praying for their pastor?? I can't even begin to imagine the temptation that presents itself to ministers of the gospel on a daily basis. I am sure the Lord is faithful to make a way of escape (1 Cor.10:13).

I am also certain that there is likely no man or woman who has always taken that way of escape. We must remember that a person may have a calling to be a pastor but he or she is still carrying around the same flesh we carry. We are all sinners who fall short of the glory of God.(Rom. 3:23). God knew that and I believe it is why He calls us to pray for our leaders. They need a faithful prayer shield round about them.

There are two helpful guides written by Terry Teykl titled "Scripture-Based Prayers to Pray for your Pastor". I would encourage you to consider going on line and copy the one prayer guide at: You could also go to: and purchase the other guide in a package of 50 prayer cards for less than $8.00.

Below are five suggested prayers you can use this week to pray for your pastor plus one more. You can take one each day and begin to bring your pastor before the throne of grace.

1. Jesus, I pray that my pastor will daily put on the full armor of God that he/she may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.(Ephesians 6:11).

2. Lord, I pray that my pastor will be blessed with a passion to worship You in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24).

3. Jesus, I pray that my pastor will delight himself/herself in Your Word and upon Your Word he/she will meditate day and night. I thank you that he/she will then be as a tree firmly planted by streams of water which yield fruit and will not wither; and in whatever he/she does, he/she will prosper ( Psalm 1:2-3).

4. Jesus, I pray that my pastor will live with his/her spouse as you have directed, husband loving his wife as Christ loves the church, wife honoring her husband all the days of her life (Ephesians 5:25-33).

5. Jesus, I pray that you would create in my pastor a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit in him/her. Do not cast him/her away from your presence, and do not take Thy Holy Spirit from him/her. Restore to him/her the joy of Thy salvation and sustain him/her with a willing spirit. Then I know he/she will teach transgressors Your ways, oh Lord, and sinners will be converted to Thee (Psalm 51:10-13).

Holy Spirit, teach me how to honor and pray effectively for my pastor and his/her family (James 5:16 b); Raise up a faithful prayer shield round about him/her.

Patricia L. Wenzel
WOC Graduate

Monday, June 04, 2012


There is a children's song that says "Input Output, our mind is a computer whose Input/Output daily we must choose." Our minds are computers and what we put into them, is what will come out in our attitude and our actions.

When I was pregnant with my son Carter 4 years ago, I was getting extra care due to the fact that I was
considered "AMA" ( Advanced Maternal Age). The nurse took my blood pressure during one office visit and it was a little high, so they wanted to take it again. They told me to relax, and of course, you can't because now I'm anxious about my blood pressure being too high. I sat there and tried to think of a scripture verse to meditate on or a scripture song. Out of the archives of my brain up popped a happy, Jewish style song:

"My God shall supply all my needs according to his riches in glory; he will give his angels charge of me, Jehovah Jirah Cares for Me, for Me, for Me, Jehovah Jirah Cares for me."

I thought, "This up-beat tune is not going to relax me, I should think of something else." But nothing else would come, and so I sang it again in my head. It worked, my blood pressure went down. Through that simple little song, God gave me verses from Phil 4:19 My God shall supply all my needs according to his riches in Glory and Psalm 91:1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. 91:11: He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go." By putting into my brain Christian music, and Scripture memory, my brain can call to mind just what I needed when I needed it.

Lamentations 3:21 "This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease. For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, Great is Your faithfulness. The LORD is my portion," says my soul, therefore I have hope in Him." NASB

Philippians 4:8,9 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. NASB

Joyce Hayes
Artist-in-residence at America's Keswick

Friday, June 01, 2012


Mark 11:2-6 Go your way into the village that is over against you: and straightway as ye enter into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon no man ever yet sat; loose him, and bring him. And if any one say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye, The Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him back hither.  And they went away, and found a colt tied at the door without in the open street; and they loose him. And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt? And they said unto them even as Jesus had said: and they let them go.

Now can you imagine that you saw someone untying a colt, at least setting it loose, perhaps even stealing it? What would you do? I think I would yell, "Hey what are you doing?" And then when I got the answer, "The Lord has need of Him," I would probably respond by asking, "Do you have a release form or some way you can prove it?" I am so intrigued by the people who let the Lord's men take the animal. Did they have some 'in' to God or were they simply obedient?

My personal opinion is that they lived close enough to the Lord to hear His voice. They obviously had received word previously AND they responded to it. They expected something to happen!

I am reminded of the long-awaited pregnancy of our daughter; she was married 7 years, and no baby. A pastor visited my daughter and son-in-law and promised to pray that my daughter would have a child. Each time the pastor saw my daughter, he asked if she had any news! He expected something to happen. He was like the farmer who prayed for rain and carried an umbrella. I don't think the pastor was surprised when my daughter told him she was pregnant. Pleased...yes. My grandson is now 22 years old!

How about you? Are you surprised when God keeps His Word. Are you walking close enough to Him that you prepare for the answer the minute you speak the request or when He gives you directions, you start following them immediately?

Isa 6:8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

Marilyn Willett Heavilin

Marilyn is a wife and mother, author, and international conference and retreat speaker. She and her husband Glen serve as Counselors-in-Residence at America's KESWICK during the summer months.