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!