Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Spirit of Generosity

The characteristic of the generosity of Christ is an awesome thing to behold—Christ is the visible evidence of the generosity of God. Love and generosity walk hand in hand throughout the scriptures. God’s Word opens with the story of Creation—a world created for and entrusted to humanity. John 3:16, the foundation of our faith, tells us “God so loved…He gave.” Thankfully, God’s generosity flows unmerited--in Hosea we read, “I will heal their backsliding, and I will love them freely…” The generosity of God is His character: nothing we do makes God love us more or give us more. He always loves us perfectly and gives to us all we need. His call is constant and the scriptures close with an invitation for us to drink freely at the river of life. The generosity of God flows eternally and transforms our character when we receive it!

Abundance is a truth woven throughout scriptures! God does all things well and abundantly. Christ came that we might have abundant life. Jesus told His disciples, “Freely you have received, freely give.” So what have we received; what can we give? Exploring the treasures God has given requires all of scripture and the touch of the Spirit.  Our souls rejoice excitedly with even a glimpse of His gifts! The obvious gift to begin with is the redemption of our souls. Though we all have chosen to go our own way, the love of God paid the price to restore us to Him! He has loved us wholly as we have trampled His gifts. Forgiveness, grace and mercy flavor the redemption concept. What treasures those are to share in a hurting world!

Simply considering the sweet impact upon our world through forgiveness, grace and mercy is a breath-taking thought. Imagine ill-timed words and actions covered by a love that forgives the hurt caused! Consider the blessing of giving "Grace:” the beautiful taste of God's Spirit: love, joy, peace, a willingness to suffer, kindness, gentleness and mercy offered to another! Do you know anyone who needs peace today—confidence in God’s love and power? Or perhaps someone who is drowning in the darkness of this world who needs you to sit in the mess with them giving a gentle touch of love? Giving mercy--seeing and meeting a need rather than condemning and punishing would bear precious seed. This world is abundant in need; what need can you meet today by sharing the blessings of Jesus you have received? Some miraculous things precede the command of Christ that we are to give freely: “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils.” When we share Jesus—when we share what we have received—His Spirit is freed to work in and transform more lives…what a privilege to embrace.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Faith Revealed

They that trust in the LORD shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth forever.
Psalms 125:1

The exercise of faith is the common experience of every believer. Life simply does not unfold in orderly, manageable ways over long periods. Zany zigzag patterns weave through every life. Unexpected events lurch into every path. Life in a world broken by sin requires faith. Faith provides stability to life that helps others see the glory of God.

Scripture is a treasure chest of faith examples. Mary’s words after learning she—an unmarried woman—was to give birth to the Savior are not the words of fearful woman focused on the likely condemnation of many. ‘Behold the bond slave of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word.” Words of faith in the midst of potentially dangerous circumstances reveal a heart held fast by faith.

Job’s heart-wrenching commitment, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him,” unveil a man whose security was outside the natural realm. His confident faith remains a beacon for any under assault.

Christ’s words to Pilate, “You would have no authority over me unless it had been given you above,” reveal a spirit trusting in the plans of God. Faith overcomes all evil to fulfill divine purposes.

Each of our lives provides opportunities to exercise faith and display the glory of God. God weaves our challenges into His transformation design. Each exercise of faith moves us closer to the transformation goal: likeness to the incomparably beautiful image of Christ. Perhaps no greater examples of faith—and revelations of Christ—can be found in our world today than in the persecuted church. Every day around the world, believers are hassled, attacked and sometimes killed because they live their faith in Jesus Christ. Giving glory to Him is valued above all. Our prayers on their behalf reach across the miles to provide spiritual strength to them. Contemplating their example magnifies our faith and strengthens us. A spirit of faith grows and unifies the body of Christ as it displays the glory of God.

No less glorious is the way small exercises of faith transform our view of God. Every act of obedient faith allows us to see a larger glimpse of the glory of God. Whether our need for faith stems from a health crisis, financial struggles, broken relationships, losses or some other struggle, trusting in the goodness and power of God brings blessing to others and us. Faith is the evidence of what is NOT seen; we must let faith rise above all that we do see. God cares about the details of every life. He delights in our expressions of confidence in Him and blesses exercises of faith in amazing ways!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Spirit of Faith

There is an aspect of Christ’s character, which is so intrinsically Him, we seldom stop to gaze upon its individual beauty. The character of Christ exemplifies a spirit of faith. Indeed, as 2 Timothy 3:13 says, He is faithful simply because He cannot deny Himself. Yet the faith of Christ is of critical importance. In fact, it is the faith of Christ through which all spiritual blessings flow to humanity. Gazing on the fruit of Christ’s faith is a joyful endeavor.

Personal faith is also of utmost importance—and like the disciples and the father of the ill child, we should ask that our faith be increased. Faith is a gift we receive—part of the blessings Christ secured for us with His faith. We receive those blessings by exercising our faith in Him. The greater our faith, the more Christ’s work is appreciated and revealed!

We catch an early glimpse of Christ’s faith in His confidence in the divine plan of redemption. His faith propelled Him to exchange the glories of heaven for the dark turbulence of the fallen creation. Christ’s trust in the Father—the essence of trust—empowered Him to be unshaken from The Plan: God Himself would be born a baby—that He might die for His unfaithful creation. The entire purpose of His earthly life embraced suffering and sacrifice because of Jesus’ confident trust in the Godhead’s power and love. That faith was the foundation of His life and it is that faith which provides eternal, abundant life to those who believe.

The life of Christ evidences faith in every moment recorded. Complete reliance on the Father’s plan, power and purpose embodied the miracles and ministry of Jesus. From the Divine choice of an unwed teen mother to the cruel horror of crucifixion, Jesus obediently submitted to the sovereignty of the Father. It is that absolute trust which is the spirit of faith we are to emulate in our hearts.

Thankfully, the Father entrusted the “big” parts of His redemption plan to Jesus. While the majority of modern translations replace the phrase “faith of Christ” with “faith in Christ,” the KJV rendition offers a perspective that blesses me! In both Romans 3:22 and Philippians 3:9, we see that Believers receive the righteousness of God based on the faith of Christ. What a courage builder it is to recognize that God’s view of me rests upon the solidness of Jesus, not my sometimes-wobbly faith! Reading Galatians 2 (verses 16 & 20), I rejoice that my justification—that judicial acquittal which gives me life—is founded upon the faithfulness of Jesus. In fact, reading on into Chapter 3 (verse 22), I find that every promise of God is delivered by Jesus’ faith!

The unshakeable faith of Jesus is the believer’s confidence and example. The ‘little foxes’ of life are conquered by faith…as we exercise our faith, it grows. Faith is the propellant of action that fulfills the purposes of God. Let us rejoice in the foundation provided by Christ’s faith and march forward under His victory banner.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Our Anniversary Gift

It is my honor to say that my sister-in-Christ, Hope Flinchbaugh, shared this piece on her blog.  Visit her page and walk into her time with Jesus.

The Youmans Family Lifts Up the Cross!

Posted on November 19, 2011 by Lift the Cross of Jesus!

(For those who love me enough to subscribe to both blogs, please forgive the double posting.  The personal nature of this just 'made' me put in both locations.  :<))
When Craig and I were married nineteen years ago, we jokingly chose a rock ‘n roll song for our wedding, one that glorified drinking. After nineteen years, six homes, two children and half-dozen jobs, the giddy confidence we began with has been replaced with the foundation of Jesus Christ. This year we celebrated our 19th anniversary by putting up the cross of Christ!

The week before our anniversary, I was blessed to attend the Montrose Area Writer’s Conference. The final speaker was C. Hope Flinchbaugh—and indeed, her words and her life help one to focus on seeing the One who is Hope. I came home and shared the challenge with Craig—I wanted to lift up the cross of Jesus on our property. Christ had dramatically changed the lives of my husband, Craig and I, and the idea of a tangible cross for us and others to see delighted my heart.

Since we are contemplating a move, I wanted a cross on the property that was so much a part of the place a new owner would not be able to readily remove it. I had a spot in my mind that I felt God chose, but I asked my husband to pray that we might know if erecting a cross (in this particular spot especially) was truly God’s direction or simply an emotional response on my part.

A few days later, we discussed the idea again, and to my dismay, Craig suggested another location. Probably influenced by the original location of Christ’s Cross, he suggested we place a large cross at the top of the hill behind our home. The Cross would overlook us and still be quite visible from the road. After agreeing to his choice, I shared my thought about placing a cross in the peak above the garage door. Craig started to laugh and said, “I thought of that first but thought you would think it was crazy!”

It is funny how we never thought that our life B.C. (before Christ or before the Cross really) was crazy. We would have told you we were Christians—and invited you to have a drink with us. We often conversed about Christ in the darkness of our favorite bars. Yet now as we live before the Cross-—before the realization that life only has meaning when lived in Christ’s way—we sometimes are more hesitant. The physical Cross hanging on our garage shines forth the Truth to which we cling. While it may serve to prick the minds of passers-by, it effectively serves to remind us to glorify Him more consistently. Our Cross greets us every time we go in or out of our driveway. It greets all who come to our home. And when we move, it will stay as a testament to the One who changed our lives!


Billie Jo Youmans has been married to her husband, Craig, for 19 years, and they have two teenage children, Rusty and Riesa. Homemaking, including homeschooling, has been her primary ministry for the past 13 years. Prior to home educating their children, Billie Jo worked in the secular human services world, including as the Director of the Voluntary Action Center for her community. She also has learned and served in various service capacities, including mediator, hospice volunteer, Sunday school teacher, writer, and event coordinator. Her passion for the love of Jesus and His transforming work motivates her to serve and see Him at work in the lives of others.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thankfulness & Praise

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, let us make a determination to embrace ‘thanks giving’ every day! We have a beautiful ‘word picture’ to consider today from Psalm 24:3…our God inhabits the praises of His people! Farther along in the Psalms (100:4), we are told we enter in His gates with thanksgiving. Isn’t that exciting? Our great and mighty God has provided us an audience with Him through the simple act of praise. Far too often, though, we fail to enter into the Lord’s presence. We mouth words that give us a little hint of pleasure but when difficulties come, the truths are not deep in our hearts. We think we have worshipped but we have only gone through the motions.

The presence of God brings peace in the midst of storms; entering into His presence is a privilege and a necessity for living victoriously. Praise lifts us above our circumstances and reminds us of the nature of our awesome God. Often we equate worship and praise with songs; we must not forget singing is simply a tool to use in worship. Often the words we sing were born in hearts that knew great pain; the writer’s poured out their hearts in worship. That does not mean we worship as we sing. We must learn to discipline our hearts to hear the words we sing; we must teach our own hearts to pour out truths when we are facing troubles.

Our hearts can not pour out what they do not know. Throughout scripture God encourages ‘deep knowing. True knowing means allowing truths to penetrate our very being and be a part of our essence. We must seek Him all the time and seek to know Him more. Then we are to be disciples who put into practice the facts we have learned. True heart worship, truly praising God, is an ultimate act of knowing God and will bring us into His presence. The words of truth about the character and nature of God flowing from our hearts will bring us into His transforming light. Even with heartache facing us, knowing who God is will allow us to enjoy the love that casts out all fear. He is in control; He is all-powerful and He is loving us at every moment. We need to practice praise all the time so that it will be our first reaction in a storm. Try it today…look at the greatness all around and offer praise to God. Dig into His Word, learn more truths to store in your heart. Enjoy His presence…don’t settle for anything less!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Character: A Spirit of Prayer

The prayerful spirit of Christ offers a shining facet to our transformed character! Christ’s commitment to communing with the Father is a design we must emulate. Despite being God incarnate, Jesus Christ demonstrated a high priority on prayer fellowship with God, the Father.

Scriptural accounts show Christ seeking private prayer time throughout His earthly life. He arose before down and climbed mountains to be alone with the Father. He walked away from crowds of seekers to commune with God in heaven. He chose fellowship with His father over sleep on some nights. Private times of intimate communion with the heavenly Father under-girded the earthly walk of Christ. Such an example by the One who creates and sustains all life should impress on us our desperate need. Prayer must have a higher priority in our lives than our comfort, our service and our physical needs.

The communion of Jesus and the Father was not restricted to private times, though. Prayer was an integral part of Christ’s every day. He instructed His disciples on ‘how’ to pray. He prayed for His followers through the ages. Sometimes He prayed for the benefit of listeners. The scripture records indicate a prayer life that was as ‘real’ and natural as the human conversations in which He engaged. Indeed, Christ’s prayers are often in the midst of human dialogues. Clearly, the presence of the Father was as much a reality to Jesus as the people with whom He walked each day. This reality of continual prayer must thread throughout our own lives.

In the Garden of Gethsemane prayers, Jesus reveals communion in the deepest sense. The Son’s cries enter directly into the Father’s love. God’s love answers with angelic delivery of divine strength that enables Jesus to complete the purposes of His life. Prayer is not a divine wishing well. Prayer is entering the integral essence of God. Prayer is receiving the Father’s love and power to accomplish His plans and purposes for our lives.

Science and illusions of self-sufficiency often veil miraculous answers to prayer in the western world. Our unchanging God was—and is—a miracle worker. When you seek the Lord in prayer, expect Him to reveal Himself in you and through you.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Character: Integrity Revealed

People are looking. They are looking for meaning in life. They are looking for sincere altruism. They are looking for something to believe in. They are looking for truth and doubting it exists. Sin’s fingerprints stain every strata of society--from religion to politics to entertainment to finances. Life in this fallen world generates skepticism naturally. Life in Christ produces abundance supernaturally! The world needs to see Christians living with integrity—because we have what they are looking for! God has blessed us that we will bless others. When Christians live the Truth received, the glory of God becomes visible. People find what they are looking for only in Christ. We all must live in such a way that leads them to Him!

College campuses are filled with “lookers.” Students are seeking truths to build their lives on. Among those walking alongside local students are Dave & Elizabeth Mayner, Campus Bible Fellowship missionaries. Whether leading a bible study, planning an activity or just enjoying a meal with students, Dave & Elizabeth live their lives open to the scrutiny of others. On secular campuses—as in much of this post-modern world—absolute truth is highly suspect, if not outright rejected. The perception is that universal truth is simply intolerant, small-minded ideology. Truth becomes little more than personal opinion. In such a chaotic thought environment, seizing every opportunity to shine light and truth into minds is necessary! A recent invitation to the CBF ministry opened a wide door of opportunity for which the Mayners invite our prayers.

The college has launched a weekly radio show to educate students on the tenets of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Dave joins two other religious persons on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WHRW (90.5 FM) to share insights about the foundations of their individual faith. Let us join in prayer that Dave will speak clearly the integral truths of Christianity. Only Truth can withstand intense scrutiny. Let us pray that this show will reveal Truth will in mighty ways.

A building that lacks structural integrity collapses--and causes devastation to those in proximity to it; the same is true when a Christian life lacks authenticity and dissolves under scrutiny or pressure. We need to stand with the Mayners in this endeavor that their lives will stand in the integrity of Christ and others will know the Savior. As we pray for their ministry, might we be reminded that living with integrity as a Christ-follower has eternal implications for each and every one of us. Scripture admonishes and encourages each of us to walk worthy of our calling and take care not to cause another to stumble. Living without integrity is antithesis of the Word’s instruction. Let us pray for one another to follow the example Christ gave:

• Seek and do the desires of the Father

• Speak words that convey His Truths

• Live fully trusting in the goodness of God.

One Christian at a time, we can stand strong in Christ and reveal His glory to those we encounter. America needs us each to stand!


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Character: A Spirit of Adoption Revealed

Sorry for the double posts today!  I missed putting this up last week.  Wonderful story from the persecuted church included here.

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Romans 8:15

Though we have received a Spirit of Adoption, our humanity remains. Our Sonship—our adoption in Christ—frees us from the captivity of fear but not the experience of fear. In fact, only embracing those earthly experiences that expose our human limits will reveal the glorious power of our adoption. The victory of Sonship is choosing to reject the control of earthly concerns. The story of Maryam Rostampour and Marzieh Amizzadeh, two young women from Iran witnesses to the Spirit of adoption in a powerful way.

Both ladies understood the potential consequences of holding fast to Christ in Iran. Prior to their imprisonment in 2009, Maryam and Marzieh had discussed how they might feel or react if faced with imprisonment or execution. With regard to life imprisonment, Maryam said, “I just thought this was something we would have to bear.” Marzieh felt giving her life for the Lord would be a privilege. Though their faith was real, imprisonment was a test that would reveal the true preciousness of ‘adoption.’ Solitary confinement, harsh living conditions, debilitating illness and the worst—a roommate’s execution—produced a terror beyond theoretical discussion. Marzieh’s words help us feel a bit of their experience:

“Before prison we talked about execution but when we got to prison and experienced the fear of it, our way of talk changed. We never imagined we would be so frightened. We were…paralyzed with fear. We could see it in each other’s faces. We prayed and what calmed us was the presence of God and the peace He gave us…it is easy to say that I gave my life for the Lord…But human fears gripped us. The power the Lord gave us helped us to overcome these fears.”

The freedom from fear’s paralyzing captivity was a powerful revelation of Sonship in Maryam and Marzieh’s life. It can be in ours as well. Deliberating choosing faith—and refusing fear’s captivity—is not just for the imprisoned and persecuted. In our world, fear often goes unrecognized because it is deceitful. Fear’s companions are more easily identified: striving, planning, conniving—a determination to get one’s own way at all costs. Fear drives us to do things to avoid a consequence, to avenge our honor or gain some desired profit. Sonship reigns victorious when faith in our good God controls our actions instead. When a Christian restrains a defensive angry retort and offers blessing for an unkind act, God is glorified. When a contractor refuses to pad a bill going to the insurance company and insists upon integrity, God is glorified. Our Spirit of adoption can be revealed countless ways every day. May we remember Maryam and Marzieh’s example and trust that the power of God will help us overcome!

If you would like to know more of Maryam and Marzieh’s story, visit

Character: A Spirit of Integrity

Jesus saith unto him, “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.”

Integrity of character is the essence of the One who is Truth, but it is a fading attribute in this sin-damaged world. Disposable marriages, bankruptcies in Fortune 500 companies and situational ethics make the concept of intrinsic, lasting value increasingly elusive. The Greek word for Truth encompasses the concept beautifully: ‘unveiled reality lying at the basis of and agreeing with an appearance.” Jesus Christ is the expression of God’s character in all He says and does. The alignment of our lives with the Word produces a Spirit of Integrity in our character as well. A Christian demonstrating Christ’s spirit will be inherently trustworthy: a person who says what they mean and means what they say!

Genesis to Revelation speaks to this aspect of Christ’s character for His is the nature of the eternal, unchanging God. The character of Christ is unadulterated; it is the way to the Father. Christ reveals God in His manner of living: seek to know and do the will of the Father. Every account of Christ’s words and works found both their root and expression in the desire of God. The integrity of the pathway to God is clear in the character of Christ.

Christ’s character speaks of truth in the same manner. Just as Jesus commended Nathanael for his forthright speech, the words of Christ are not always politically correct or syrupy sweet. Jesus’ words ‘simply’ conveyed truth. Every word He spoke flowed directly from the Father’s desire to redeem a dying world. On the other hand, Satan’s words are often tempting and appealing for he masquerades as an Angel of Light. The father of lies used words to deceive people--to obscure truth. Jesus lived with authenticity that truth could be seen, heard and felt.

Completing the picture of integrity in Christ’s character is intrinsic life. As Creator and Sustainer of life, Jesus is life. Simple fleshly life is an incredible gift but only a shadow of the truth of real life! In an incomprehensible truth, God became man that He might die the deserved death of man. That sacrificial death on the Cross opened the doorway for the fullness of life God always planned for mankind. Jesus Christ is life through and through. The life of Christ dwells within every believer--true, eternal, holy life!

The transformation of our character into the likeness of Christ allows His glory to flow into every mundane aspect of earthly life. Integrity is beautiful when the core is Christ. Integrity matters--and it will make us look different from the world!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Character: A Spirit of Adoption

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Romans 8:14, 15

This is an exciting aspect of the journey to Christ-likeness. Even the doorway of adoption is glorious; what Christ inherently was and is becomes ours as we are adopted as children of God. The heavenly Father, though, is abundantly generous and the transformation from ‘child’ to ‘son’ is magnificent.

In the book of John, the author states that receiving Jesus allows Him to give us the authority to become a child of God. Adoption into the family of God is the Father’s will for every human being! Christ employed His position as Son solely to accomplish the will of the Father. Indeed, all of Jesus’ earthly life fed upon the will of God. From childhood, the sovereign Savior focused on the work of the Father. Scripture tells us that the eternal Son grew in wisdom, stature and favor with God and man during His earthly life. It is the Father’s intention that we pursue a similar path!

Examining Jesus’ life gives us clues to aid us on our journey. As a child, Jesus clearly understood the necessity of being about the Father’s business. He was not constrained by expectations nor deterred by rejection or persecution. Christ’s insistence on traveling through Samaria--inappropriate by Jewish standards—is one revelation of His tenacious focus on the plan of the Father. Jesus emphasized in that passage that He found nourishment in doing the will of the Father and completing His work. Our earthly comfort, acceptance and enjoyment must fall in place behind the purposes of God. The will of God is abundant, fulfilling nourishment.

Woven throughout scripture is a theme of growth from infancy to sonship. Godly love is the antithesis of childishness. Child-like faith is beautiful and child-like innocence of evil precious, but understanding the truths of God takes us beyond childhood. Our desire for the milk of God’s word will propel us to growth. The ultimate aim is that we, like Christ, will mature to being sustained by the meat of God’s will. Our growth in Christ produces the quality of character that ‘son’ implies. Might we all fix our eyes on Jesus, that we, too, will be able to set our faces as flint toward Jerusalem.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Servanthood Revealed

Servant hearts are God-focused, never self focused. Much of the time, true servants never see the incredible ways God uses their service. Their eyes are focused on Him and nothing else! God blesses every church--every life--with His servants. We know when we have been in their presence because they help us see Jesus. They show us how to live well and carry the name of Christ to the world.

Our brothers and sisters in the persecuted church offer a pure example of servanthood. They serve God with their lives because they have seen Him. They certainly do not seek glory or fame, for attracting attention brings the risk of death. Yet, these saints serve by simply loving Jesus and bearing the consequences of doing so. In America, loving Jesus whole-heartedly has different costs but the heart is the same:

And whatever ye do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Colossians 3:17

Marilyn Davis exemplified servanthood in this rural community. Looking on her life allows us to see an American servant in action. A Sunday school teacher for 69 years, Miss Marilyn was the picture of servant we hold in our minds. Her life demonstrated even more of the servant heart. All that she did testified to her love of Jesus Christ. She followed the Word with faithfulness and fervor. She kept her word--even to the point of living without electricity or running water because of a promise to her dad before his death. She was a diligent, faithful worker--at her job, in her home, in her community and in her church--for the glory of God. She was generous with her time, her skills and her possessions. She lived with confidence in God’s plans and provisions--and in doing so, encouraged others to do the same. Everywhere she went, she was a testimony of Jesus Christ. Her life was lived as a servant of the most High God.
As Miss Marilyn’s life revealed, God never intended to confine servanthood to church work. Servanthood opportunities are in every word and deed spoken by the ones who bear Christ‘s name. Servants produce a vision of God for those who are touched by their lives. The Christian word of encouragement given to the mom who is frazzled and discouraged can lift her eyes to the glorious purposes of God. The restrained word when a co-worker shifts the blame for shoddy work onto you offers a taste of mercy. The care given to a body or soul in need because Jesus has met your own need inspires more than just the recipient. Servanthood is a lifestyle that is to be lived in every circumstance…motherhood, workplace, nursing home or prison.

Servanthood is not about an activity or a project; it is about a heart totally sold out to Jesus Christ. Are you His servant or a slave to something much less?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Broken Trust

1 John 4:16-21

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Perfect love casts out all fear (1John 4:18a)

The van roared to life and lurched backwards. Just a toddler, my folks had left me in the front of our concession van while they served customers from the rear. Why I decided to turn the ignition key is a lost memory. Regardless, panic resulted. Customers scattered and my parents flew to the front of the van. Clearly, I was in big trouble!

Dad’s gentle love often protected me from mom’s harshness, so I scuttled across the seats to him. His swift, harsh spanking devastated my little heart. I felt publicly shamed. My trust in his love to protect and defend me--even from my own actions--was crushed. Dad’s fear had overshadowed his love.

Human love is like that--powerful to shelter but also to damage and always susceptible to distortion. The love of God is never like that: nothing ever clouds His love, His purposes or His understanding. Even when we were enemies of God, His love sought us out. Running to Him is always safe and wise!

PRAYER: Father, heal our broken hearts and teach us what love really looks like. Help us love like you love and bring healing to others. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Character of Christ - Servanthood

Philippians 2:7

Who, being in very nature god, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

Humility and servant hood are unquestionably linked; in fact, Christ’s servant heart preceded the humility that led Him to the cross. Servant-hood is not for the faint of heart. However, it has a counterfeit in natural man, which sometimes makes us think this is an easier character trait to obtain. As Christians, we must never mistake volunteerism for servant hood. Needs abounded then and now. While Jesus met needs (and meets them), He was neither needs-driven nor needs-focused. The incredible beauty of Christ’s attitude of service rests upon the truth that He acted purely out of obedience to the will of God. True servant hood exemplifies such focus. The servant heart finds the answer to all of its needs in Christ and simply serves as a conduit to the world for the great Need-Meeter!

The desire to do good for others is not necessarily Christ-like. Alleviating suffering is Christ-like, and we are created in Christ to do good works. However, the Spirit of servant hood exhibited by Christ is far more challenging than simply doing good. Self seeks the spotlight in our lives; sometimes serving allows us to be noticed. Examining Christ’s life shows us that such service is not the servant hood He displayed.

Satan tempted Jesus to serve Himself…to use His power to meet His needs, to reveal His power and claim His inheritance. Jesus refused to rush the Father’s plan and gave glory to God in His refusal to lift up Himself. The disciples encouraged Jesus to pity Himself…to insist on His Kingship and demand the honor and glory He deserved. Jesus rebuked their suggestions and pressed on toward the Father’s will. Those who personally knew Jesus questioned His identity and said ‘show yourself.’ Christ refused the temptation to defend Himself and stayed firmly focused upon the will of God.

Each of those victories strengthened Jesus for His blood-wrenching night of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is that night of prayer that reveals the heart of servant hood: ‘Not my will but thine.’ Those words are the heart-cry of pure service. As Christ’s earthly life neared its end on the cross, the crowds mocked Him with the words ‘Save Yourself.’ They, like many today, failed to understand that the focus on self never brings deliverance. Self steps aside in the heart of the servant to allow the purposes and plans of God to enter.

The King of Kings forfeited the blessings of heaven to wash the dirty feet of His most beloved creation: humankind. He endured betrayal, deceit, anger, disrespect, humiliation, torture, cruelty, injustice and death at the hands of those He came to serve. Not only did He endure it, Christ absorbed it and all of its consequences to accomplish the purpose--the will--of the Father. The heart of the servant is willing to do the same. Servant hood is not volunteering. It is life-giving sacrifice that costs all of self.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Spirit of Humility – Revealed in Humanity

The most recent stop on our tour of Christ’s character allowed us to gaze on the beauty of humility He exhibits. Glimpsing humility in humanity is rare. Pride rears its head in subtle, diverse ways. We are often unaware of pride's presence in our hearts until we fall flat on our face. Anytime we trust in ourselves--our strength, our knowledge, our experience, our efforts--instead of God, lethal pride is lurking. Humble awareness of the need for divine intervention ushers in victory. Prideful perseverance in the face of need guarantees a fall.

Humility matters so much to God, that all of life functions as a classroom for pride and humility lessons. As you read, ask the Spirit to reveal areas in your life where pride is lurking and threatening a fall.

• Relationships are a priority to God that offer university-level instruction on humility. Without Christ, meeting our own needs and securing our ‘rights’ drives every relationship. Unity demands humility; without it, marriages disintegrate, parents and children fight, churches split and friendships end. Humility trusts God to meet our needs and direct our interactions.

• The workplace, too, teaches humility. As employees become sacrifices on the altar of greed, profit-driven administrations shred pride in preparation and performance. Humility trusts that God orchestrates both the present and the future. Humility gives victory over unpleasant working conditions and even unemployment.

• Working for the Lord is especially fraught with pitfalls of pride. God calls us only to the work of faith. The service we do is simply scaffolding on which to observe the work of God. Pride confuses our efforts with His work and interferes with eternal fruit. Humility rejoices at God’s handiwork and the immense privilege of working for the King of Kings!

• Trust in our physical bodies begins in childhood but wanes in aging. The human body is a marvelous machine; yet its design includes wearing out! Even those who exercise and eat right experience illness, disease and ultimately death. Humble acceptance of the aging process exhibits trust in God to work within our limits; prideful resistance hampers His work and dampens our spirit.

• Personal tragedies and natural disasters provide brutal lessons in humility. Mistakes, carelessness, the unavoidable presence of evil in the world and even accidents devastate our prideful assumption of control. Humility frees us from the need to be perfect. It acknowledges that God is greater than our mistakes and greater than the evil that is in the world. God trusts God can and will bring good from the most horrid events. Humility accepts a loss of control to receive total security from Christ.

Recognizing need is the key that opens the door to humility and its faithful companions: joy and contentment. When needs confront us, let us reject our natural, prideful responses of whining demands or childish independence and humbly, jubilantly praise God for His powerful promises of provision!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sweet Fruit

We'll revisit the humility theme next week...this is an account of a walk Riesa and I took a couple weeks ago.  It has been accepted for publication for an internet ministry...but won't appear till next spring.  If I remember, I'll share the weblink in April 2012.  Blessings, my friends.  bj

(Song of Solomon 2:3) As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.

Some tasty observations on a short morning walk and a simple grade school science fact have me rethinking a lifelong practice of early-morning berry picking. Better yet, my newly found berry fact reminds me of a God-truth. Time in the presence of the Son is sweet, and it sweetens the fruit of the Spirit dwelling in me!

The sun's warmth persistently penetrated the morning fog as I walked along the wooded path toward town. The thorns of the blackberry bushes at trailside tugged on my jeans, and my delight in fresh berries tempted me to munch. Yielding to the lure, I popped a berry in my mouth. It was cool and juicy, but the sweetness that had enticed me was absent. I snacked my way to town never finding a sweet berry. A couple hours later, errands complete, I made my way back up the now sun-drenched path. In the mid-day heat, the glistening berries tempted me with a promise of juiciness. Surprisingly, this time the berries were delightfully sweet.

At the end of the trail, our neighbor--the caretaker of the bushes--happened to be working outside. He chuckled as I shared my puzzling observation, and said, “Of course. The sunlight draws the sugars up into the plant. Berries in the sunshine are always sweeter.” Photosynthesis, of course, I should have known!

Out of that simple, natural-world truth, the Spirit reminded me of a more important truth: it is the warmth of the Son that draws wandering souls! There is sweetness in the Son’s powerful, persistent love that exists nowhere else. When I walk in the Son’s Light, my thoughts, words and actions fill with the sweetness of the indwelling Spirit! Just as the berries grow sweeter in the sun, I grow sweeter in the Son too!

Are you getting enough time in the Son? Are you walking within His light? He loves to share His sweetness. Soak in the Son and let His sweet Spirit ooze out of you.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

On the road to transformation: Spirit of Humility

Continuing on our journey of examining the character of Christ, and appropriating its beauty, we stop to gaze upon humility. This sweet spirit permeates the character of Christ and offers some remarkable points to consider. First, there is the seemingly bizarre contradiction of a fallen humanity, which puffs itself up, and the King of Kings, who lays His life down. Then, there is a rather incongruent truth in the fact that humility is both a foundational entry point and a pinnacle in the Kingdom of God. Humility is as simple as a child and as complex as our Lord.

The essence of humility emanates from a child-like faith. Unfortunately, instead of child-like trust, we tend to exhibit childish independence rejecting God’s help and substituting our own do-it-yourself plans. No amount of fruit gathered from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil diminishes the need for God. No amount of ‘pull yourself up by the bootstraps’ attitude shrinks our desperation for the power of God. Jesus demonstrated a completely different spirit. From childhood, He reminded even his own parents that His purpose was the Father’s business. Jesus clearly stated that His words and actions were those the Father gave to Him. Jesus came to do only the will of the Father; He never preferred his own plans or desires above the purposes of the Father. The spirit of humility acknowledges the right of God to one’s life with complete trust that whatever God deems will be best.

Growing in faith also necessitates continued awareness of our need for God’s perspective, plans and power. The pride of self-initiative hampers our Christian journey; only a humble spirit ascends the greatest heights in the Kingdom. The agony of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane passionately—gloriously--displays humility. Jesus poured out His anguish in tears, blood and words as He sought, verified and accepted the will of His Father. Jesus’ words to Peter during the arrest are the pinnacle of humility: “Shall I not drink the cup which my Father has given me?” The will of the Father was for Jesus to drink the cup of poison--the cup of our sins. Jesus drank so that we, His enemies, might live eternally as a co-heir with Him! His Spirit of Humility in us will show a willingness to drink the cup presented in our lives that we, too, might share in bringing life to undeserving sinners like ourselves. It is a glorious responsibility that demands exchanging our personal plans and purposes for the eternal, glorious plans of the Father! Let us beg Him to show us how to empty ourselves and let His fullness overflow!

Friday, August 19, 2011

On the road to transformation: Spirit of Wisdom in action

The lofty ideas of scripture may make our hearts soar in the pews on Sunday morning or in our morning devotion times, but those ideas brought into the trenches do even more: they allow the glory of God to blaze. Jesus did not come to delight our hearts; He came to give us abundant life! Last week we considered the Spirit of wisdom and revelation that infuses Christ’s character. Let’s walk today with a sister-in-Christ who allowed that Spirit to sustain her in the trenches of life.

The circumstances of our days can either block our view of Christ or lift us closer to Him. Elizabeth, a home school mother, felt overwhelmed as she faced the many tasks a new school year brought. Each responsibility felt weighty on its own: educating her own children, meeting her missionary responsibilities through Campus Bible Fellowship, editing a discipleship course, caring for the needs of family and serving in their church. All of us know the all-consuming weariness and despair the ‘simple’ tasks of life can bring. Sometimes it feels that survival is the best we can hope for in life: that is the lie of the enemy thrown up to block our vision of the risen Christ!

Early in the year, Elizabeth encountered a quote that God used to lift her eyes to the possibilities placed before her: “We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” Throughout the year, Elizabeth embraced the challenge to view her ‘impossible situations’ as opportunities for God. Mid-way through the year, her pastor quoted a verse she had known for years: ‘Without me, ye can do nothing.’ The Spirit grabbed that truth and immediately brought another to mind: ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me.’ Listen to how Elizabeth describes the ‘Spirit of wisdom and revelation’ that infused her with those words:

“For the first time I noticed the identical words in those two verses I had memorized years earlier. Without Christ I CAN DO nothing, but by His strength I CAN DO everything He wants me to do--even what seems humanly impossible.”

Elizabeth gives us a great example of the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation instilling confidence and hope for her earthly walk! Often, our minds know truths but our hearts fail to connect the realities of our life with the spiritual truths of Christ. God has plans and purposes for each of us; we need only to look to Him to have those plans fulfilled. In our faith walk, as we grow more like Christ, the Spirit continually uses the circumstances of life to highlight the truths we have hidden in our hearts and reveal the glory of God. What truths are you storing up for the Spirit‘s use in your heart and for the revelation of His glory?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

On the road to transformation: Spirit of Wisdom

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father most glorious, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation through knowing Christ fully. (Ephesians 1:17)

Christ’s spirit of wisdom and revelation infuses the Christian’s character. Christ demonstrated this spirit in all of His human interactions. He saw, listened and comprehended from His Father's viewpoint. Jesus looked beyond the circumstances presented by those who came to Him and focused on their spiritual needs. He shared the Father's interests in individuals --and a character built on Him will evidence that same association.

As Ambassadors for Christ, our natural reactions to those we encounter--whether sweet compassion or abrasive frustration--should never be the source that motivates us to action. We are not to be amateur Providences and change people's lives according to our feelings. God's ways are not our own; He has measured the weight He puts upon every person. What may seem excessive and unfair from the human perspective may be just the weight needed to save their eternal soul. Alternatively, what may appear to be tremendous blessing in a person's life may be a curse blinding them to their need for Jesus. As Christ's Ambassador, we need to share the reason for the hope with which we live and allow Him to guide in every interaction!

We need His Spirit to give us deep understanding of situations and the Truths of God that will speak to hearts. We receive discernment to help us intercede for others--never to judge them. The wisdom of God is pure, peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere (James 3:17). As we listen to the hearts of others through the Spirit, He will give us words that encourage others and reveal His beauty. He may impress upon our hearts the need to provide direct help or He may simply burden us to pray and love. As we heed His guidance, we will learn more about Him ourselves and grow ever closer to His likeness! Might we each increasingly embrace the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation He offers so freely!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pre-destined: to be like Christ!

With only an earthly perspective, Jesus life is not one of victory. His public career lasted only three years and ended with an unjust death in the prime of life. Obviously, the earthly perspective is woefully inadequate! The eternal perspective reveals Christ’s life as one of total victory. Christ brought to completion the Father’s plan implemented at Creation! Christ’s life is an example for all who wish to live victoriously. Deliberately seeking God will transform us into His image.

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Examining Christ’s character as revealed in scripture helps us see the goal God has for each of us. Character is a critical aspect of each individual. It bears stating that character exists outside of Christ. Human character, even at its most beautiful and powerful, is bound to earthly dimensions. Christ-like character transcends time and space; it is the essence of eternal victory.

The world in which we live encourages us to indulge ourselves with little thought to our inner character. Pleasing ‘self’ is a constant temptation. Unfortunately, a soil of pleasure never develops Christian character. Furthermore, neither church pews nor bible studies produce the character God desires. Christ-like character requires the work of the Holy Spirit and personal sacrifice. God’s Word also tells us that perseverance develops character. As we trace the source of perseverance, our hearts will tremble—for the source of perseverance is suffering. Pressing on in the face of discomfort is critical to character. Thankfully, for the Christian, suffering can be a source of joy BECAUSE the hope of God is a certainty that sustains. Just as the changeless nature of God is a rock-solid foundation, so our transformation is a glorious promise.

The entry point to transformation into Christ-likeness is repentance. Jesus said that He came to call us to repentance: to exercise a change of mind--a turning from personal motivations to His revealed truth. Undoubtedly, this is a most unnatural characteristic. In fact, repentance is actually a gift much like faith. Repentance is not simply recognizing sin or regret for the results of sin. A Spirit of Repentance recognizes that the choice to walk apart from God's revealed truth is the underlying problem. Repentance recognizes that God's ways are not situational or conditional; His truth has an integrity that makes His ways work ALL the time. Repentance propels us back to His ways and prepares us for transformation into the image of Christ.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Blog Plans

Friday, August 5, 2011

Blog Plans

My mind has been whirring this past week about how I could best use my blogs. I am so thankful for folks who are interested in reading anything I happen to write :<)! Each blog has its own set of subscribers, so this is the most effective way to share the overall plans. If the other blog interests you more, just unsubscribe and go that site to subscribe. Or do both! Whatever will bless you.

So here goes:

Lives Under Construction will focus on serving Christ. I will write devotions on the topic but will also highlight opportunities (generic, local and national). Please consider submitting information or topics you might like to know about. I anticipate 2-3 posts per week max on this blog. This site address is:

Learning and Growing Together will remain my devotional blog and includes the weekly Baptist Voice column. I anticipate posting on this blog 1-2 times per week and it is located at:

Thanks for walking with me as we seek Jesus!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Victories: Parkinsons

Parkinson’s disease is relentless and destructive. It attacks the body in a myriad of ways: hand tremors, walking impairments, speech, and even involuntary movements such as blinking. Seldom is Parkinson’s linked to the concept of a blessing. Our victory report today, though, is somehow who sees eternal victories in this earthly curse.

Perhaps you have unknowingly enjoyed some of the victory yourself through attendance at one of the Southern Gospel concerts at First Baptist Church of Port Crane. Dave Samson, the concert organizer, is God’s victorious soldier of today’s column. His victory report is not without the reality of damage inflicted through Parkinson’s. The loss of his job and its income; increased difficulties with basic and necessary daily tasks: speaking, writing, typing, buttoning a shirt, driving, walking; impairment of his carpentry hobby; and greater burdens on his wife and family are all part of Dave’s battlefield losses. Nevertheless, Dave also sees a field of sowing and harvesting created by the Parkinson’s because it narrowed his options and increased his focus!

Dave had long enjoyed listening to Southern Gospel Concerts. He and his wife, Terri traveled to area performances as their schedules permitted, but never dreamed of organizing local events. As Dave’s disease progressed, his sales career in Christian resources became difficult to the point of danger. His driving ability impacted by the disease, Dave accepted the need to apply for disability. The debilitation to Dave’s overall motor function sped the disability process along and financial worries were somewhat eased. However, Dave officially became ‘disabled’ rather rapidly, and he felt at loose ends. Though all of his movements had slowed, he still wanted to live fully!

Much to his frustration, the diagnosis generated such sympathy from those who cared that others often restrained him from doing even what he could. In fact, the kind intentions began to make him feel not like an invalid but as if he were simply in-valid—of no apparent use anymore. Fortunately, Dave believed (and believes) that when God allows one door to close, it is so He can clear the path to a better doorway. Such was the case in this situation.

It began when Dave agreed to the simple task of making a phone call to find out about the availability of a gospel group. It has grown to a Southern Gospel concert ministry with hundreds who attend at a tiny country church in rural New York. Every concert touches hearts for Jesus; many times, there are professions of salvation or rededication.

Dave willingly pays the physical costs for this labor of love. He says his illness has given him time; the ministry provides him purpose. He sees victories that are eternal because he accepts the disease as filtered through by the loving hand of the Sovereign Father. Is there something in your life that needs a new perspective? Ask God to show you how He can transform your roadblock into a doorway to blessing!

Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Victories: Held fast in Heartbreak

Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

Psalms 37:5

The devil specializes in sneak attacks. A deacon, a Sunday school teacher and husband to a faithful women’s leader, Gary never saw the battle line forming. In fact, his plans included only rejoicing and celebrating. Having renewed their vows at a recent anniversary celebration, marriage woes seemed the last of his worries. Returning from a spiritually uplifting Men’s Retreat, Gary thought the weekend only held a celebration of his 50th birthday. Instead, it marked the beginning of a very fierce, painful battle.

Years of unresolved heart issues exploded for Gary’s wife; she left their marriage to begin a new life with Gary’s co-worker. Devastation, depression and desperate confusion marked Gary’s days. Victory in the early days of the battle was simply mustering the courage to face a new day. The promises of God seemed distant, but they were his lifeline. Gary says of that time, “I clung to the promise in Psalms 37 that if I committed my way to God, He would act. He has; but not in the ways I wanted Him to and not at the speed I wanted. I would never have chosen this, but without it, I would never have known God as I do. He has kept His promises.”

His wife’s decision irrevocably altered the structure of Gary’s life. An empty home, strained family relations and gatherings, difficulty with continually encountering the co-worker and disruption in the church family all followed her choice. Gary stepped down from leadership in the church and eventually sought a job that kept him from the loneliness of home more consistently. The scriptures he had taught for so long sometimes seemed to mock him…the promises felt empty and the heartache overwhelming. Yet, Gary faithfully sought biblical counsel from pastors, family and friends’ and he pressed on. Time passed bringing new understandings, but not the deeply desired restoration of the marriage. Throughout the battle, Gary sought and shared glimpses of God’s hand; he was a faithful, albeit broken, witness for God.

In marriage, Gary had been controlling; the concept of forgiving infidelity beyond the scope of his world. Yet in his heartache, he came face-to-face with the reality of the pain of love willing to forgive. He felt, too, the pain of that willingness rejected. Gradually Gary began to see the glory of Jesus Christ in an entirely new dimension. Recognizing the cost of forgiveness and the pain of rejection, he could not help but be awed at the marvelous, perseverant love of God. His heart bowed in humble victory before God’s incredible love.

Understanding in such a personal way is a suffering that Gary does not wish on anyone, but grasping the preciousness of Christ is a privilege he does not dismiss. His victory did not look like he expected; he thought that his initial commitment to God would be the key to restoring his marriage. Instead, it was the key to expanding his experience of God. The victories in our Christian life do not transform us into picture-perfect Normal Rockwell prints. Sin, broken-ness and rejection wound souls…both those who hurt and those who are hurt suffer. Healing in Christ is one person at a time, one life at a time. We cannot be healed for another but we can encourage another to seek healing. Victory stories are not about perfect people; they are about our perfect God. Give Him the glory, great things He has done and will do!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Book To Consider

Just a mid-week post to share some thoughts on a short bible study I had the opportunity to review.  While the title targets 'writers,' the content is much broader.  For any who have ever had dreams that did not fit God's time table, this is a sweet little study.  While we know in our heads that God's ways are higher and better than our own, sometimes we lose focus.  Even beyond our dreams, those niggling doubts that 'nothing' we do matters all that much assault everyone.  Brooke is a young lady who shares from the heart and redirects the eyes to God's perspective.  This is a wonderful, short study on a topic that touches all of us at one time or another.  It is a good summer afternoon project.  Give it a try!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Victories: Restored

Now may God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace as you believe, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

What does it take to come to Jesus for healing? When we see the heartaches around us, it is obvious that although Jesus is the answer for every struggle, all too often He is the last resort. Our reaction to suffering is to find a way to end it. Sometimes perhaps we even lift the very weight that may have pressed a hurting soul to Christ. While scripture calls us to be the hands and feet of Christ, our loving must always point only to Jesus Christ. As I wait for a personal, 21st century victory story, I thought perhaps a visit to a first century victory would encourage all of us.

Throughout scripture, we find instruction on needs—and God’s solutions. The woman with the issue of blood in the New Testament offers great insights. The life is in the blood…and her life was continually seeping away. Ostracized from society—a source of contamination for all she contacted--even going to the market would have been impossible. A spouse—even a close friend—who would share her pain was but a distant memory. The isolation and shame of her circumstances were clearly intense. As we consider her experience—the realities of her life, the emotions she would likely have felt and the reactions of others—we can readily see that same reality played out around us daily. Eternal life ebbs away daily in souls held captive by the disease of sin.

Hidden diseases exist long before they grow into life-destroyers; the progression of disease is step-by-step. Chains wrap around souls unseen and unfelt until the prisoner is tightly bound. Shame from self-incrimination and the judgment of others hold the chains fast. Unhealed hurts are especially painful for Christians who fall prey to Satan’s arrows of guilt that they are not trusting Jesus enough. They know all about desperately seeking solutions—usually self-initiated to-do lists, self-powered solutions; and sometimes superstitious, even ridiculous efforts. Research indicates the woman in scripture would probably have followed the Talmudic instructions to find healing: instructions such as locating a barleycorn from the feces of a white, female donkey or carrying the ashes of an ostrich egg. Our modern-day desperate souls have tried equally futile solutions.

In our heroine, underlying the disease and its results of loneliness, fear, shame and guilt was hope-filled courage. Only someone with courageous hope would risk the humiliation of public rejection that was probable for an unclean person daring to enter a crowd and touch a revered teacher. The burden of her situation propelled her to risk it all in an audacious attempt for healing. Whether her faith was in Christ or his clothes is a moot point—Jesus met her where she was at and gave her more than she sought. Ignoring the discomfort she felt with His insistence on coming forward, Jesus called her into relationship with Him. Physical healing was accompanied by restored fellowship—with Himself and others. That is our God: the one who does immeasurably more than we can ask or think!

Courage and hope were necessities for our heroine—necessities for any who would seek victory through Christ. It is that hope we must continually seek to instill in hearts—our own and others. Healing is often uncomfortable; but every victory inspires more courage and more victories. How has Jesus drawn you closer? Encourage another by sharing your victory.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Victories: Garden of Life

I love to garden: bringing order and beauty to a plot of dirt reminds me of the blessings of cultivating spiritual life. A healthy, vibrant garden--earthly or spiritual--requires persistent effort: cultivating, sowing, weeding, pruning.

Our home gardens are a testimony to the blessings God has used to decorate our lives. We use flowers and colors our parents loved along side perennials from friends, family and previous homes. Before new gardens are created, we ’redeem’ the plot from its previous purpose…usually lawn. The intertwined roots of lawn grasses and buried rocks make cultivation difficult. That work reminds me of the persistent love of God which reaches out to every soul piercing the barriers life creates. Decisions instantly change destinies but the transformation takes place in daily details.

The perpetual growth of weeds reminds me of two ever-present dangers to my spiritual garden: endless activity and plain old sin. Both are capable of overshadowing any vision of God’s touch on my life. The busyness of life joins with natural sin tendencies creating disorder and waylaying the purposes of God. It is my privilege and responsibility to pluck out sin and pointless activity so that the view of God in my life is unobstructed.

Some of the weeds in my gardens produce tiny flowers; their deceptive attraction sometimes persuades me to let them stay. Inevitably, they overtake my intentional plantings. Similarly, sometimes I hold fast to habitual sins that I perceive as adding to my life. Their produce, though, is more deadly than my garden weeds for the fruit of every sin is always death. The only results of my natural tendencies--let alone my sins--are earthly and temporary. Eternally beautiful life gardens require intentional cultivation of the life of Christ within.

Also in my garden are some extremely productive perennials. As much as I like them, pruning their fruitfulness protects other blessings of God from being crowded out. These prolific beauties remind me of the truth that too much of a good thing is still too much. God has granted me passions and interests--but serving those passions will leave my life unbalanced and His purposes for me stunted.

Finally, both of our dads loved ’bulb’ flowers. Our tulips and irises do most of their growing out of sight, but attentively nurturing the bulbs produces results as well. Likewise, not all of our spiritual life is visible, but the Holy Spirit produces great growth as He searches our depths, convicting us and calling us to fellowship with God.

The purpose of life is to know God: His greatness and His goodness. He provides the nourishment and care we need because of His love; our right response to that love is to seek Him and obey Him. The presence and participation of others in our life gardens is part of His design. We are to be both blessed and a blessing as we journey through life. May each of our lives be a garden that reflects His glory for all to enjoy.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Victories: Health and Relationships Restored

Miraculous, out-of-the blue happenings are a reality, but oftentimes the Lord has been at work while we simply looked elsewhere. Today, you will peek in on victories won and a battle in progress. We have the opportunity to become warriors in the battle with our prayers.

Our families are always a revelation of the truth that God’s ways are not our own, aren’t they? God weaves us together in our families—using our strengths, our weaknesses and our needs—to accomplish His great purposes. Eighteen years ago, David saved his sister’s earthly life. Today, she chooses to serve and bless him in thankfulness and trusting God for eternal victories.

The Lord chose to use a life-threatening illness to restore her to fellowship with Him—and with her brother. The illness also brought transformation to her marriage; other amazing results of the crisis continue to unfold! The solid ground of God’s Word called to her then and sustains her now. May the glimpse of Jesus’ intricate work in these lives obscure any awkwardness created by omitting the sister’s name; the goal is to protect family privacy.
Despite six siblings, only David was a perfect bone marrow match. An unlikely hero in his own eyes—and in the eyes of those who judged only the externals—God had another perspective. A war injury resulting in a lifetime disability had launched David into a debilitating drug problem. Supported by a loving but enabling mother, David’s life had spiraled down until darkness dominated his world. Living in filth with unkempt hair and clothes, David only left his bedroom for the dark, dankness of barrooms and nightlife activities. As his mother’s health declined and nursing home placement became a necessity, homelessness loomed. God wove together the needs of David’s sister and mother to penetrate his hopelessness. His willingness to give life to his sister opened doors David could not have imagined.

The desperation of David’s situation and thankfulness for his gift of life propelled his sister to action. She invited him to move into an apartment above her own. Inspired by her own new lease on life, she suggested changes for him, and in God’s divine timing, David agreed! A haircut, regular laundering and home-cooked meals have lifted David into a world with light and cleanliness. It has brought him into contact with others and opened his world. The dramatic changes in David’s life brought his self-esteem to new heights; it also deeply touched the lives of his family members. God continues to use David to touch others and inspire hope. His sister’s devotion to him and God is a source of seed planting from which she trusts God to produce a harvest.

God has given many victories in this story already: cancer conquered, addiction chains unbound, fellowship restored! Let us praise God for our hero, Jesus! The great miracle of redemption for David is a victory yet to be gained, though. Let us storm the gates of heaven and seek this victory for our story hero, David!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Victories: Shirley

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 1John 4:18

Greetings a day early!  I will be taking a 'fast' from internet and email for a week, so wanted to do this tonight and say, see you next week.  Blessings to you all.  Enjoy this story--the 'one' that got me started on this theme.  Neat place to remind you all of a good acronomy for FEAR:  False Evidence Appearing Real.  We can reject FEAR because of Jesus!

Today's Victory Report is from Shirley who has found a freedom in God’s love she describes as a miracle! In her early fifties, failing health forced Shirley into a nursing home. Her long-time battle against depression seemed even more hopeless. Shirley blamed her difficulties on herself and felt worthless. She had felt that a little more time in the Word—a little more effort on her part—would produce the peace she desired. Her harsh indictment of herself held her captive. God’s love has set her free!

Enjoy her words: “I feel like a new creature who can come out from hiding! I feel like the confident, loveable person God has created me to be! I never realized I was bound with so much fear.”

Can you relate to Shirley’s exciting discovery?! Fear keeps us focused on our problems and our inadequacy; God’s love allows us to face every circumstance with confidence because He loves us! We are free to be imperfect, free to be wrong and free to love (and be loved) even when we disagree with others. Our worth is in Him, not ourselves, and that makes us a priceless, useful vessel for the glory of God. May we each learn from Shirley’s experience and soak in His love that we, too, can be free!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Glimpsing God's Glory

Good Saturday morning!  I am convinced that unveiling God in the details of our days is both a privilege and a responsibility.  Every child of God is blessed by His presence; it is challenging to fix our eyes on the victories in our lives though.  Today's column is a request for YOU to consider how God has worked in the battles you have faced.  If you do that, would you share your glimpse?  You do not have to write in detail, just jot me some notes about the experience and I will draft a piece for your review and approval (or not) prior to printing.  Our stories of blessing are to be shared to encourage others!

The battles of life are as diverse as our own individual personalities. A battle against alcohol may have no greater spiritual significance than another saint’s battle against critical speaking. Self-mutilation, lies, murder, unforgiveness, slander—all are sins which, when grown, produce death and destruction. Jesus came to set us free from sin’s captivity. Giving Him the glory for chains released is our glorious privilege. It has been said that our battles are our unique opportunities to give a victory to Jesus that only we can give!


We love to recite Romans 8:28 but too often we present Christianity as a future hope more than a present reality. People need to know faith in Jesus Christ can make a difference when:

• The children are sick and the boss insists on your presence at the meeting.

• Your frail and aging parents have more needs than you can meet.

• Your spouse chooses to end the marriage.

• Your child loses their way and continues to spin farther from God.

• Failure seems to be the only thing you are capable of…

Jesus meets us in our battles in ways and times perfect for our needs. He uses all we encounter to help us learn who we are and to reveal to us that He is the great “I am.” God reveals Himself in His people (in the details of our lives) so that others can see Him and know who He is too! We have the joy of helping people glimpse new dimensions of our awesome God as we share the victories that walking in the light of Christ’s presence.

God’s Word enlightens our path and reveals ways we can obediently follow Him as we face hard times. Sharing the instructions and victories we receive helps others see Truth as well. Consider the glimpses of God from the battles above:

• A parent learns God still provides as she prays and shares her dilemma.
• The overwhelmed caregiver finds new understanding about God’s ability to meet needs and learns to rest in Him rather than ‘do it all.’

• The abandoned wife realizes more of Christ’s passion for people who have rejected Him as she confronts her own emotions.
• A parent feels the depth of comfort there is in knowing the Shepherd who searches relentlessly for the lost.
• One focused on perfection finds the peace of knowing that the love of God does not depend on performance.

Those of us who walk with God must tell the difference He makes in our day-to-day lives—and what lies we have to release to receive Him. Please consider sharing the details of how you have glimpsed Christ in your life. The Master Weaver entwines the thread of our lives in amazing ways. We need each other to broaden our view:

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Victories: Negativity

A spirit of negativity is a nasty opponent. As New Yorkers who have weathered a tough winter and are drowning in a wet spring, so we all are prone to complaining these days! More difficult, though, is the truth that victory over negative thoughts is often a generational battle with deep, tangled roots. To add to the challenge, negativity is deceptive and always insinuates that it is ‘justified.’ Complaining and criticism, though, give no glory to God. They are of no use in the Christian walk; they are the antithesis of doing all for the glory of God! We must have victory over the spirit of negativity!

The results of negative words and thoughts are everywhere, but we often hide behind our unrighteous words with self-righteous indignation. “He deserved it!” “She had that coming for a long time!” We excuse our poor behavior while condemning another. God’s Word exhorts us to use our words to build others up. Furthermore, scripture warns that we are accountable for every word that comes out of our mouths. Ouch! Speaking against others—and even things—makes us co-workers with the Destroyer. We darken the lives of others and callous our own hearts with our negative thoughts and words.

Victory is possible! The Word is, of course, our primary weapon. Obedience to the instructions such as those in 2 Corinthians 10:5 and Philippians 4:8 will do much to vanquish darkness. Our minds are the primary battleground with negativity. We must insist that our thoughts obey God’s direction. We must focus on what is lovely, pure, noble and good. Trusting that God is truthful when He says all things are for the good of those committed to Him allows us to be courageous and hopeful. Our loving heavenly Father filters all that comes to our lives; we must not complain against His permissive will. If we focus on the things that bring despair and darkness, we will fall prey to darkness. Our minds must heed God’s instructions.

Sometimes obedience is hard to muster up, though, is it not? When my spirit is not willing, it helps me to consider the consequences of disobedience. While our hearts ‘should’ always desire to obey, the reality is that they do not. Scripture never sugarcoats the reality of disobedience. The book of Numbers particularly emphasizes the contamination of complaining. It is a pervasive sin, which destroys lives, squashes hope and delays God’s purposes. When we truly understand the damage our disobedience causes, our hearts soften enough to heed God’s instruction.

Yet even when our heads hear truth, our hearts still refuse to believe. If we know that complaining is wrong, if we understand that disobedience brings consequences to ourselves and others and we remain hard, it is time to sit at the cross. We need to spend time in prayer contemplating Christ’s suffering for us. We must remember that while we were still His enemies, He went to the cross for us. We have no grounds to complain about any person or any circumstance in the light of what Christ has done for us. Our hearts, humbled and broken, by His sacrificial love will not complain and criticize. Victory, as always, is in the cross of Christ. Let us triumph over negativity in our own lives and trust Jesus to use that marked difference to draw others to Himself!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Victories: Forgiveness

Greetings!  Our little community has evidently had its electric restored (we never lost electric, praise God but our phone, internet & cable have been gone since Thursday!).  This is another one of the 'victory' columns from our local paper.  Hope you enjoy.

And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Matthew 16:19

Seeds of bitterness are common to this earthly life; the sources are diverse but misunderstandings, harsh judgments and unloving actions are typical culprits. Those we love are the ones most able to sow seeds of bitterness into our hearts. To the delight of the enemy of our soul, we often allow the seeds to sink roots into our hearts, which simply produces more bitter seeds for others. The cycle is vicious but Jesus offers us a better way—a difficult way. Walk along with Dotty as she shares the blessing of the power of freeing grace and forgiveness into the life of another.

The experience is so common to each of us that perhaps the details do not even matter. As every mother knows, hurts imposed on our children are more grievous to us than anything directed at ourselves. Dotty’s daughters were the recipients of a harsh, unfair judgment that came with painful consequences. Her mother’s heart was furious; the emotion of wrath overwhelming. The seeds of bitterness sown took root, and vengeful words spewed forth—to the offender and all who would listen.

As the emotions settled in her heart and her girls, the light of Christ gently shone upon the results of those bitter roots. She covered the roots in her heart with justification: the offender needed to be accountable for her cruelty. Holding onto her grudge ‘excused’ her actions and gave Dotty comfort. Yes, she prayed, but she refused to release the event wholly to Christ’s control. It was more satisfying to retain her ‘power’ and refuse forgiveness.

The Holy Spirit was unrelenting and true peace unavailable. Four years after the event, Dotty finally submitted to what she knew was the Lord’s desire: a humble apology for her own actions without the covering of justification or blame. Humbly sharing her sorrow at missing the mark Jesus sets for each of His followers produced an immediate freedom for herself, a similar apology from the offender and ultimately, unexpected results through the restored relationship.

Freeing the Spirit of Christ to work through us requires ‘dying’ to our own rights and opinions. It is not pain-free but neither is holding onto anger. In Dotty’s case, the restored relationship led to an amazing ministry opportunity for her youngest daughter, which allows her to pursue her God-given passion for music.

Apologies do not always produce a complete reconciliation but they always free the one who releases anger! “Unforgiveness is the rat poison you drink hoping the other person will die,” says Ken Sande, author of The Peacemaker. Today, consider if the Spirit is asking you to allow Him to flow through you into the life of another. Do not delay—obey and see what great things He has planned!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Victories: Anger and Emptiness

Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.  (Isaiah 55:7)

Anger that grew to hate; loneliness that drove to the bottle; emptiness that nearly sucked a life away…those are the enemies defeated in today’s victory report! Join Tim as he praises God and rejoice with him as he marvels at God’s grace!

The devastation of divorce joined forces with the hardships of single parenting to blind Tim to the goodness of God. Raised in the church, a torrent of difficulties swept Tim away from church for nearly a decade and a half. Held captive by his own anger and bitterness, Tim raged at the injustices of his life—and nearly destroyed himself in the process. Though Tim had left the church, the relentless love of God had never been separate from him.

Proverbs tells us that without vision, the people perish: God used some interesting lenses to help Tim regain his vision. A long harsh winter, the financial stress of unemployment, a deadening lack of purpose and funerals were some of God’s magnifiers. As his own hope dwindled and he contemplated suicide, God used the deaths of some friends to speak to Tim’s own heart. The contrast between the hopeless wakes of those who lived only for this life and the life-honoring celebrations of home-going saints worked in Tim’s heart. The common end of all focused his eyes on his own responsibility to live well—to leave a legacy of life and hope for those who would come behind.

With that desire in place, Tim was again ready and able to feel the love of God. After one funeral, Tim stopped by his brother’s home and mentioned that it had been some time since he had made it a point to go to a church for any reason. His brother replied ‘it’s been 14 years’, and then went on to tell Tim he had been praying all that time for Tim to return to God. It was a prayer heard by God and now by Tim’s own heart. Shortly after, some Christian friends sought Tim’s help with some home repair projects. Their lives were their testimony: the true concern they had for Tim broke through the hard defenses he had built. Their genuine concern had a profound effect. God’s love was having its way.

During a walk with his dogs one morning, the Spirit broke through and called Tim to humble himself before God, agree with God about his mistakes and turn back to God. The beauty and blessing of Tim’s obedience is best in his own words: “The words were hard—not because of confessing, but because I was weeping uncontrollably. Weeping and thanking God for more than one chance; weeping for the years lost and behind me for the waste they had been…when the prayer was finished, the burden lifted. It was a relief I hadn’t had in years…not just figuratively or spiritually but physically as well.’ Today Tim is a beloved part of a local church…actively living and loving in Jesus’ name.

God’s promises are real. Forgiveness and cleansing restore us. Our prayers and our love for others matter. Sit at the feet of Jesus and soak in His goodness…let us join Tim in embracing the blessing of confession and rejoicing in God’s gracious presence!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Victories: FEAR conquered

For many years, fear was a dominating force of Lorrie’s life. Even a childhood sleepover at a neighbor-friend was a painful concept. The loss of both parents to cancer within months spun her into greater emotional disarray. Just as God intends, though, salvation brought eternal life to her earthly days! From the day of salvation, Lorrie was a passionate disciple, longing to know God and His power more and more. Freedom from fear was not without struggle; come, walk with her on a portion of God’s victory path!

Fully convinced early on of the sufficiency of God’s Word for meeting every need of life, Lorrie trained to become a biblical counselor. Fulfilling work at a Christian Counseling Center allowed Lorrie to bless and build God’s kingdom. An unexpected intrusion to her life work was announced by a seizure during a birthday dinner celebration. An orange-sized tumor was growing near the front of Lorrie’s skull. The logical earthly response would have been fear, but God provided an unearthly response: peace. From the moment of the seizure, He provided in amazing ways. An EMT passing by the dinner table, surgery scheduling, the growth path of the tumor, transportation concerns—all perfectly arranged by God. Lorrie soared through this dark period with the truths of Isaiah 41:10 holding her fast!

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.  (Isaiah 41:10)

Another unexpected wilderness loomed in Lorrie’s path, though. From her earliest days of walking with the Lord, it had been Lorrie’s desire to serve God in His kingdom. The medications necessary following brain surgery began to cloud her thinking. Unable to confidently counsel, Lorrie broken-heartedly resigned. God provided work for her in a most undesirable location: corporate America. Recognizing God’s hand, Lorrie entered what was, for her, a desert. Financially stable, gainfully employed but longing to serve God, she waited. Nearly a decade into her wilderness experience an opportunity arose to coordinate a short-term mission trip. Lorrie’s eyes finally rested upon the land God had prepared her for—and the land He had prepared for her.

Eastern Germany was (is) a spiritual desert desperately awaiting the seeds of confident hope God had planted and nurtured in Lorrie’s own life. Just as the sufficiency of God’s Word had propelled her into Biblical Counseling, the sufficiency of God’s power has propelled her to missions. This formerly fear-filled child is now a faith-filled kid of the King. Forsaking the assurances of American medicine, the comforts of family, financial security and retirement, Lorrie is launching out as a single, (almost) senior saint to disciple the women of the formerly communist land of East German. Reasons to fear abound, but Lorrie’s desire is to encourage each of us to reject fears for confidence in Christ! (Hebrews 10:23-25).

If you would like to know more about her mission, contact her at or visit her mission agency online at

Friday, May 6, 2011

Victory Story

James 2:13b (NIV) “…Mercy triumphs over judgment!”

Every war involves battle wounds and scars…even when you are on the winning side. The names in this battle—and victory—report are changed to protect the dignity and honor of souls. Some of the souls have gone to eternity and some are still on their journey.

It all began with good intentions. An aging couple reached out to help a middle-aged Christian brother, Allen, who was struggling with mental health issues, divorce and unemployment. Mae and Jim eventually took him into their home providing food, clothing and encouragement. Gradually Mae began to rearrange their home and their lives to accommodate the needs of Allen. Uneasy with what seemed to be an unhealthy relationship, family members began to complain and cajole Mae to see the situation from their viewpoint. Unable to see beyond Allen’s needs and the joy she felt in helping him, Mae became defensive.

Family concern, contention and chatter increased. Feeling victimized by misjudgment and gossip, Mae lashed out. Accusing her youngest daughter of slanderous lies, she demanded an apology. Stubborn pride and self-righteousness prevented Jessie from anything other than an expression of sympathy for her mother’s anger. It was not enough. Mae refused any further contact with Jessie—except phone calls to Jessie’s preschool daughter. Often those calls became Mae’s opportunity to defend herself with accusations against Jessie.

Deeply grieved but unable to see beyond ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, Jessie sought God’s perspective. The Spirit returned her to the cross to find the answer to the conflict. The Peacemaker, by Ken Sande, helped Jessie understand how to apply the blood of Christ for cleansing and healing. She began to see the necessity and blessing of mercy for her own well-intentioned mis-steps that had contributed to the broken relationship. As she embraced the love of Christ that extends forgiveness for intentional—and unintentional—sins, she saw her mother’s need for the same. In Jessie’s words, “I finally understood that both she and I had tried our best—but our best is never enough. It was not about who was right and who was wrong; it was all about living IN Jesus.” Armed with prayer and humility, Jessie sought to reconcile with her mother.

Mae, too, was longing to restore her family and the relationship—shaky and fragile—was able to begin building. The blood of Jesus wrought a great victory…a victory that soon took on even greater proportions. While unconditional love had paved the way for family connections, the underlying problems that spawned the conflict remained. The damage from the unhealthy situation with Allen propelled Mae and Jim into angry, potentially violent conflict. Mae briefly stayed with Jessie and her family until Jim could move out of their home; they would never speak again. He has found peace mingled with sorrow in his new community and church. More importantly those he moved in with began attending church with him! The victories there are still unfolding.

Within a year, Mae found herself in a battle with advanced cancer. The earlier victory with her daughter allowed Mae to walk with her children and grandchildren through the valley of the shadow of death. The peace that came in walking together is nearly incalculable: love reigned in a dark place; Jessie faces the future without hopeless regrets; the impact of the victory on the grandchildren and other observers is known only in heaven; the knowledge that there was peace between Mae and Jesus is priceless.

None of us leaves our earthly walks unscarred but Jesus gives us strength for each step and ‘bright hope for tomorrow.’ May you be inspired to apply the blood and reconcile any broken relationships in your life…in honor of Mae and her loved ones.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


Good morning!  At least for a bit, I will be sharing another weekly writing on this blog.  The Baptist Voice in Conklin graciously agreed to accept a weekly column on the victories Jesus gives His children.  I will share one of those stories today but next week will include an appeal for you to consider sharing YOUR stor(ies).  We all have freedoms that God has crafted just for us--and we can encourage others by telling the stories.  Consider this story:

Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. (Psalms 91:14)

Our victory report today is of a devoted young Christian who came face-to-face with sacrificing her dreams to make a stand for Jesus Christ. Her personal courage and convictions join with the Lord’s work to provide us with an opportunity to rejoice.

The legality of abortion in America has created a dilemma for pro-life medical professionals. In many instances, the law requires one to set aside personal moral convictions. Jane understood the situation and actually chose a medical university located in a state with what is known as a ‘conscience law.’ This is a law that protects pro-life medical staff from being required to assist with any procedure they personally find morally objectionable (e.g. abortion). Sadly, Jane learned that the law is not necessarily extended to Christian medical students.

Well into her graduate studies, Jane was assigned to work in a family planning clinic. Recognizing that the stated requirement of ‘abortion counseling’ did not mean offering a pro-life viewpoint, Jane approached the Dean. He informed her that she was the only student who had ever objected based on moral concerns, and that the requirement would not be altered to accommodate her views. She was informed that failure to perform the duties assigned would result in a failing grade. Completing her education would be impossible. Praise God, He deals with the impossible perfectly!

With great trepidation, Jane prepared to work at the clinic—and to face the spiritual battlefield. Her family engaged prayer support through their church and internet chains; prayer for her courage to stand strong and for God to orchestrate the details perfectly. As Jane began her rotation, the dean firmly told her “leave your (moral) baggage at the door when you see patients...”

Jane’s plan was to approach the supervising physician directly with her concerns; however, the busyness of the clinic prevented any such private conversation. The first week passed in a whirl with no abortion-counseling situation arising. Rather than simply hope for the best for the duration of the rotation, Jane made the difficult decision to contact her Supervisor at home. Despite his reputation as a rather irascible individual, the doctor was gracious and supportive. A former Catholic, he respected her convictions and protected her from the obligation to provide abortion counseling! God provided the requested courage for Jane, managed the caseload she was assigned and worked in the heart of the supervising physician. God is faithful!

As Americans, we know our country was founded by individuals who were willing to sacrifice for their personal beliefs. What a joy to know the same depth of conviction lives on in a young American. Might we all support one another in prayers and by living with such integrity. We do not want a world that believes moral convictions can be ‘checked at the door.’ We need courage like Jane’s—we need to be prayer warriors!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Character: A Spirit of Integrity

Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.   Romans 12:17

That 'Truth' is synonymous with Christ is clear from scripture; Jesus even said He is the Truth.  As a trait, integrity is integral to the Christian's character.  The poverty of integrity in the lives of Christians is heartbreaking--and devastating.  Satan is the father of lies, and we contribute to his work when we fall for his lies and when we promote his lies by living in their darkness.  Lies Young Women Believe asserts that the best way to spot a fake is to know the original:  we must have a passion to know Jesus above all else!

Never did Christ say one thing and do another; the Christian must not either.  In Colossians 3:9 we are admonished not to lie to one another with acts of the old nature:  bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk (Message phrasing).  Too often we hear people say they just cannot put off a habit or ignore their grumpy feelings--they assert that it is just 'them.'  God's Word sees it differently; as Christians we are deceiving others when we live out of our deadness.  We are cooperating with the devil and hiding Truth!  Integrity remembers that we are Christ's and our life is hidden with Him!

In Romans, Paul reminds us that anything not of faith is sin:  phew!  God tells us one of His names is Jehovah-Jireh:  the Lord will provide.  If we say we believe in God, yet deny His identity by providing for ourselves in our own ways, we are not living with integrity.  When we call Jesus, LORD, and then refuse His call to obedience, we are living a lie.  The Christian character must be like Christ's in integrity and truthfulness.  As we celebrate Easter, we celebrate new life in Christ.  Let us not cover up His glory but proclaim with every word and action the One who is TRUTH!

Family Chat:

Has anyone ever lied to you?  How did you feel? 

What if the truth hurts...should it be shared?  Do you want to know truth?

If you prefer a lie, what will be the results?

Consider the names of Jesus (here's one resource: and ask the Spirit to reveal whether you are living in the light of a specificTruth?

Consider the who you are in Christ and ask the same thing: