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:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Character: A Spirt of Sensitivity

Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spoke against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the LORD.   (2 Kings 22:19)

In the passage above, young King Josiah wept as he heard the Word of God read.  He wept for the failures of himself and his people to obey the LORD God.  That passion for obedience to God is founded upon confidence in His goodness--the 'rightness' of God's commands.  Jesus' words as translated in the New Living Translation convey the idea well:  "I know that His commands will bring eternal life..." (John 12:50).  Jesus came that those who believed on Him would have abundant, unending life.  Obedience to God and abundant living are integrally entwined!
Despite Jesus' passion for obedience, He says He did not come to judge.  He Himself wept at the stubbornness and unbelief of those He came to save.  In Isaiah it was prophesied that the Messiah would be despised and rejected--yet would not open His mouth.  Jesus simply stayed focused on the Father's will and completed His task--deliverance of all who would believe to abundant, eternal life!  King Josiah offers us a similar example:  he mourned his own failures as well as those of his people, and he set out to obey all that was made known to him.  We will do well to imitate their examples.
There is much to mourn in this our world today:  false gods abound (wealth, prestige, pleasure); pagan religions are flourishing; immorality is glorified.  When we allow the Spirit to convict us of our own shortcomings, we will be awed by His mercy.  When we worship Him, the heartbreak of the damage of sin to the world around us will move us to tears.  Harsh judgment and criticism of others will not soften hearts to the mercy of God; however, confession of our own shortcomings, repentance and determined obedience will witness to God's glory.  Weeping for the lives damaged and destroyed by sin prepares us to serve those who are held captive in darkness.  Sorrow for sin aligns our hearts with God's own heart. 

May our hearts be broken for the damage to lives darkened by sin;  may we be so awed by God's glory that we will lift Jesus up for all to see!
Family Chat
What do you see in the world around you that makes you sad...makes your heart break?
What does God have to say about it? 
How can you help others to see God's sorrow and His solution for the problem?
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. (John 12:32)

Saturday, April 9, 2011


I am opting for lazy this morning and sharing something I wrote yesterday.  Each week I have the joy of preparing a column on 'Victories' in Christ.  I haven't posted them here yet simply because they are for the Baptist Voice newspaper.  Since this one is about 'me' I feel a bit more ownership and am sharing it.  I suspect we all cave into expectations a bit.  May it bless you.  AND would you consider sharing some of your battle stories--and Christ's victories?  He is busy every day; when we give Him the glory His purposes are fulfilled.  The columns are anonymous--usually (little hard in this case!).  Blessings to you, all.  bj

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10

Expectations—sometimes real, sometimes perceived, sometimes mine, sometimes others—are an effective tool of the enemy in my life. Freedom for an abundant, victorious life is mine when I bring it all back to Jesus.

Rebellion was my youthful response to expectations. The guy with a jail record or a tattoo was more interesting than the hard-working student. An apartment and work as a waitress more appealing than college. Riding a motorcycle was a contradictory expectation to embrace. Gradually fierce independence became an iron chain; its lock closed tight with my dad’s death and my subsequent rejection of anything expected by God.

Rejecting existing expectations necessitates establishing our own. So, I set out to be the ‘best’ human being I could conjure up. God simply waited for me to realize my best was not too impressive. In His love and mercy, He even blessed me along the way. God provided a perfect man for me: raised in a conservative Baptist home but wandering far away in chains of his own, Craig was (and is) a treasure from God. While God’s hand was unseen by all, He was at work in the midst of our chains of alcohol and faulty expectations. In the workplace, I found success and joy in serving others…secular humanism was an appealing, deceptive chain. A decade of band-aid service began to reveal the hopelessness of striving to live within its expectations.

Then, my loving God gave the ultimate blessing: pregnancy. Pregnancy comes with a list of ‘to dos’ that I was faithful to follow. A high-risk pregnancy and premature birth were the unexpected results. Mothering a premature baby quickly revealed that my best would never be enough; my self-created expectations and desires were a waste of time. The need for a greater planner than me was the key that unlocked my heaviest chain: self-reliance. Every chain unlocked when I accepted God’s expectations; but He allows each chain to remain until I see the faulty expectation I have accepted and choose to embrace His perfect plan.

The persistent love of God, life itself and my inadequacies continue to expose new chains—and give greater blessings. A second baby arrived with a passionate temperament-- and colic. She joined her toddler sibling, a terrier puppy, and our two-careers to exhaust all remaining reserves of self-reliance. Aggressive cancer created nursing needs for my mother that I could not meet. Daily, the weight of high school home education crushes me if I seek to meet my expectations—or those of friends or even college recruiters. The list could go on but the answer is always the same: take the yoke of Jesus. His only expectation is that I look to Him and trust Him. Accepting God’s expectations frees me to see that His love and power are sufficient for every situation.

What expectations are choking off the abundant life in you? The eternal paradox of freedom as a slave to the King of Kings is the key to joyful, abundant living. Please share your glimpse of the freeing ways of Christ. Give God the glory that others will see Him and long for Him.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Character: A Spirit of Service

There are multiple admonitions in scripture to encourage us to serve and remind us of the blessings of serving.  The heart of service, though, is strikingly conveyed with Christ's own words:

"...Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."

The fact that Christ said 'peace be with you' twice before sending His disciples out makes great sense to me.  When we truly contemplate Christ's own sending, the enthusiasm for serving is quite likely to be drowned with our fear.  God sent Jesus from the very glories of heaven to a cavern-stable...from the perfect Father God to an adolescent mother...from a kingdom with eternal perspective to an earthly world with perversions of power.  Simply serving outside of my comfort zone or failing to realize the results I intended in a service project can waylay me.  Christ's spirit of service was undaunted by any of the challenges He faced. 

Immediately after informing the disciples they were being sent out, Christ said 'Receive the Holy Spirit,'--The unconquerable Spirit of Service evidenced by Christ requires much more than human initiative.  Nothing done in our power will produce eternal results.  Our character must be transformed by the very touch of God before we can serve His purposes.  Great sacrifice was included in Christ's sending and service; He is our example and true service will cost us as well.  Christ's service was to give His very life as a ransom for many.  Though He was born to die, we are called to be 'living sacrifices.'  Our service involves placing God's purposes above our pleasures; we must sacrifice 'self' for service. 

Like Jesus, we are to be an example for others--to call others to Christ by the joy we have in serving.  Joy and self-sacrifice seem to be mutually exclusive but they are so compatible when we serve in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Scripture tells us that for the joy set before Him, Christ endured the cross; obviously the cross was not the joy.  The beautiful purposes of God rejoiced His heart--and will rejoice ours as well when we seek to know them.  That is the joy which will flow out of our service; God loves cheerful givers.  We must never be sour saints but have our spirits sweetened by Him. 

Family Chat:

Discuss what might it be like to move from a mansion to a homeless shelter?

What kind of luxuries do we enjoy that we don't think about?

Do our comforts ever keep us from serving?  What things (not material things but personal things) keep us from serving?

Who is an example of a servant for you?

Is there a way God might be calling you to serve?

Other scriptures:  Titus 2:7; 1 Timothy 6:18; Matthew 5:16; John 13:4,5; Philippians 2:7