Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Time for a change.

As the New Year approaches, what is running through your mind? For me, it's "time for a change." I am one day away from completing another reading of the whole Bible. It was challenging and rewarding. But for several weeks now, I've been wondering what Bible Reading Plan I'm going to do next year.

Then today, I picked up a copy of the Church of the Nazarene's Sunday School Discipleship Ministry's Connection newsletter. In it, I read about a FREE Mobile App that Back to the Bible has offered to every congregation in the Church of the Nazarene, called go Tandem. As an older gentleman in our church in North Jersey used to say: "God is never late. He's never early, He's right on time."

Here is a short video about it.  http://vimeo.com/87500530

You can use it online: https://www.gotandem.com/ or download the mobile app at Google Play or the Apple App Store.

What interested me is that after answering 6 questions about your spiritual journey, they match messages from the Bible that apply directly to you. I'm going to try it! Stay tuned....

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Advent Week Four: PEACE

This past Sunday we lit the final purple candle of the Advent wreath which represents peace.
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6
Once again we are reminded that all things, including peace, are from God and through God . To God be the glory (Romans 11:36)! Only Jesus Christ can give the peace that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:7) Have you experienced it? I have. In the midst of some of the worst circumstances in my life, there was the Prince of Peace.

Tonight we will light the final candle! The largest, center candle. It is pure white which represents the sinless, spotless, pure Savior that was born in the flesh, lived in the flesh and died in the flesh all to bring us peace by making us pure. But that is not the end of the story! He has become the center in our lives so we may take the very same peace to the people around us. Go tell someone the Good News!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Advent Week Three: JOY

Last Sunday we lit the third, pink candle of the Advent wreath. I had read that this candle represented joy. I understand that joy is a big part of the anticipation of the celebration of the coming Christ child, but I wondered why it is pink. I found an interesting article which you can read if you would like to delve deeper.

Regardless of the color, we all need to take time out this week to ask ourselves if we are experiencing joy as we await Christmas. In the familiar passage in Chapter 2 of Luke, verse 9, angels appear to the shepherds out in the field. They announced "good news of great joy for all the people." The angels were announcing that Christ was born. This is what brought the angels great joy - Christ's birth and all that it meant for us. However, the angels also rejoice over one sinner who repents! (Luke 15:7;10)

We, too, must be announcing this good news of great joy! Then, we will join the angels in rejoicing when one sinner repents!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Advent Week Two: LOVE

This past Sunday we lit another purple candle on the Advent wreath, traditionally called the "Bethlehem Candle." It represents love.

My daughter-in-law gave birth to our first grandson this week. It is wonderful to witness anew the undefiled, passionate love a new mother has for the tiny baby she has carried close to her heart for 9 months. But already in his 2 days out of her womb, her son has experienced hunger and cold and circumcision. When she hears this newborn's cries, it touches a soft spot in her heart and she cries softly too.

That is so much like the God of love that I serve. As I read through the Old Testament, I witness over and over God's compassion on those who suffer. He weeps over the suffering of His people, yet He restrains Himself from stepping in when that suffering has a purpose!

During Advent, we reflect on the time leading up to the birth of Christ. God heard the cries of His people and decided it was time to send them a Savior.
"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:6-8)
Perfect love!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Advent week One: HOPE

This past Sunday the first purple candle was lit on the Advent wreath. The first candle is typically called the "Prophecy Candle" because it represents the foretelling of the coming of Christ by the prophets. The candle represents hope or expectation in the coming of Christ.

But what exactly do we hope for? What or Who do we put our hope in? Most people today put their hope in their doctor or their president or even in their retirement fund to take care of them. The LORD GOD would like us to see another way.

"the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love." Psalm 147:11
This is a LIVING hope, one that is not just in this life, but in the life to come. Life eternal! It is given to us when we are born again. When we truly believe in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:3) 1 Corinthians 15:19 says that if our hope is only in this life, we are to be pitied.

Are we prepared to give the world a reason for the hope we have? (1 Peter 3:15)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Why are you so angry?

It was God who said "Why are you so angry?" to Cain in Chapter 4, verse 6 of Genesis. This verse came to my mind as I thought about the recent Grand Jury decision not to indict Officer Wilson in the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. It's interesting that Michael's parents, their community and the media have all apparently forgotten that Michael had just stolen some cigars. Rather than feel remorse for that theft and the terror the shopkeeper may have felt, they instead chose to be angry at Officer Wilson.

So is this a new problem? Not according to the book of Genesis. Instead of taking responsibility for not offering God the sacrifice he should have, Cain got angry. Not only did he get angry, he went out, attacked his brother and killed him (verse 8).

I recall a particular occasion when my son misbehaved. He may have been 8 or 9 years old. When I scolded him, he got very angry. I responded by saying "How dare YOU get angry when YOU are the one that disobeyed me!" He thought about it for a while and said "I'm sorry mom, I think I am angry with myself." I will never forget that. It taught me a great lesson. None of like to admit we are wrong, but when we do, we find mercy and grace in our time of need.
"For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:15-16

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The New Covenant

After Jesus says all these wonderful things about the Holy Spirit (see the last 2 blog entries), He suffers, dies, and is taken up to heaven. Then, in the first chapter of the book of Acts, Jesus is back with His disciples. And He has more to tell them!
  1. He says they will be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5).
  2. He says they will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on them (Acts 1:8a).
  3. He says they will be His witnesses (Acts 1: 8b).
This is now the New Covenant! Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the law of the Spirit of life sets me free from the law of sin and death!

According to Galatians 5: 19-21, the law of sin and death looks like this:
"sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like."
And the law of the Spirit of life looks like this:
"love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." 
Why wouldn't I want all that the New Covenant promises? Oh, but Jesus told them one more thing...
"but wait for the gift my Father promised."  Acts 1:4b
"but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." Luke 24:49b 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


After all Jesus says about the Holy Spirit (see last week's blog), in John 16:7 He says "Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you." There was a clear order to things. First, there had to be a death (in this case Jesus') and then the Holy Spirit could be sent.

I think it is the same way with us. There has to be suffering and a death to self - or absolute surrender - in order to receive the Holy Spirit. So I must not resist the suffering if I understand it will lead to future glory! 

As I was writing in my journal one day, I caught myself using the word "frustrated" a lot. Then, I "happened" to turn to Romans 8:20 and read:
"For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God."
You can't make this stuff up! God's Word is so amazing! What if I applied this verse to my situation? What if I was subjected to all the frustration I was experiencing by the will of God because He hoped to bring me to an end of my self - this body of sin, destined to decay - in order that I be brought into glorious freedom!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Who is the Holy Spirit?

I am passionately seeking the third person of the Trinity: The Holy Spirit (or Counselor). This week I want to look at who He is.
  1. The Spirit comes to us when we love Jesus, and obey Him (John 14:15). This is someone who has made Jesus their Savior and LORD.
  2. The Counselor (Holy Spirit) will be with us forever (John 14:16b). No need to fear Him going anywhere.
  3. He is the Spirit of truth (as are the Father and Son) (John 14:17a). He will guide us into all truth (John 16:13a). So if we do something contrary to the Bible, it is not the Spirit leading us.
  4. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him (John 14:17b). Don't bother trying to explain Him to a non-Christ-follower.
  5. The Counselor will teach us all things and will remind us of everything Jesus said to us. (John 14:26). No need to worry - if - you're reading the Bible and meditating on it.
  6. The Spirit will testify about Jesus. (John 15:26). If you have the Spirit, you will be used to testify, whether by word or deed.
  7. He will convict the world of sin (John 16:8). I really don't need to say anything - unless asked.
  8. He will tell us what is to come (John 16:13b). Wow!
  9. He will bring glory to Jesus by taking from Him and making it known to us (John 16:14).

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Some possible side effects may occur

Have you ever been prescribed a new medication and then went and read the list of some possible side effects that may occur? If you're like me, you may hesitate to take the newly prescribed medication. Why would I want to take the chance that I may feel worse?

Have you ever read the 11th Chapter of Hebrews, verses 36-39?
"Some [Christians] faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated-- the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised."
Um...those are some possible side effects that would really make me hesitate to be a Christ-follower! But here's the thing. Others passed through the sea on dry ground, saw the walls of Jericho fall and saw their dead raised backed to life. I don't want to miss great things like that. I also don't want to miss out on getting well. What it comes down to is, do I have faith in my doctor?  Do I have faith in my God?  Without it, it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6).

Thursday, October 23, 2014

True or False?

In his book, Absolute Surrender, Andrew Murray stated that there are many Christians who hardly know that when they believed, they received the Holy Spirit. Is this a true or false statement?

He goes on to say that if you asked someone who called themselves a Christian, they might say that they received forgiveness for their sins and the security of knowing they were going to heaven, but as to the question of receiving the Holy Spirit, they would be unsure. Is this a true or false statement?

He also says that the reason the Church has so little effect on the world around them is because after having begun in the Spirit, we have tried to perfect the work of the Spirit in the flesh, by our own self effort. In other words, we have been serving God in our own strength. Is this a true or false statement? (How do you know if you are living by the Spirit or the flesh? Read Galatians 5:16-26 to see which list you fits you)

I hate to admit it, but I think the above statements are true. I don't know many (including myself) who are walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. (I am not referring to the hyper emotional expressions you see in some churches) I don't know many Christians with hearts full of joy and strength, and living lives that have been radically transformed by divine power, to do the will of God. Do you?

Praise God for His faithfulness in revealing Himself to us. May our prayer be that we will live by the Spirit!

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Fall has always been my favorite time of the year for two main reasons. One, I love color and the red, orange and yellow leaves against the bright green grass and bright blue sky are breathtaking. Second, I'm not one for extremes. I don't like the sweltering hot summer or the bitter cold winter. Fall is perfect.

But would I think fall is perfect if I didn't just experience the heat of summer? I doubt it. I need all the seasons. Therefore, I don't want to dread this coming winter - even if everyone keeps talking about how bad it will be. I want to embrace it. I want to find the beauty in it. After God destroyed the earth with a flood, He said: 
"As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." Genesis 8:22
Why would God intentionally keep the seasons after the flood? He could have said "This time I'm not going to do the season thing. It didn't work out well the last time." But He didn't! So I'm guessing there is a purpose for each one.

In the same way, I need all the seasons in my life. The extremes and the "in-betweens". The question is, am I willing to embrace each one? 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

How do I know if it is sin? Part Two

A new home is being built across the street from our house. This week they started digging the basement, but ran into a big problem. They hit rock! And I don't mean a little bit of rock...I mean a HUGE amount of rock. One can't help wonder how long that rock has been there. One night I saw the owner of the construction company, along with two other men, on the job site. I've never seen the owner here before so this must be serious stuff. Until that rock was removed, they could not go further. The owner must have approved the use of heavy equipment, because for two days they broke up the rock with a powerful piece of equipment and now the hole is dug and construction can begin.

My blog posts come from what I observe around me in conjunction with what God is doing in me. As I continue slowly reading Andrew Murray's book, Absolute Surrender, I sense God working in me. This week, He hit rock! I  was working on a design project and wanted to see if I could copy something off the internet to use. Ah ha! I was able to do it...but then a nagging feeling came over me: "Is this wrong?" "Is it stealing?" "How do I know?" I've quoted a friend in a previous blog: "If you have to ask, you already know." He is right again. I did know. However, not only did the Holy Spirit convict me (and keep me from acting on the temptation), He also brought up some design projects I did as a teenager (way before I was a Christian) for my boss, in which I drew some famous characters for bumper stickers (and for which he made a nice profit). Oh! So this "rock" has been there a long time (the Holy Spirit seemed to say to me). If I want the construction on my house to continue, I needed this rock to be removed.

I cannot do this on my own. I need Owner to approve the use of heavy equipment. Luke 18:27 says:
"And He said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." 
 Amen! Blast away LORD!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


In Ephesians 3:19b Paul prayed that we would be filled with all the fullness of God. In Ephesians 4:13, he spoke of us coming to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ and in 5:18 of the same book, he spoke of being filled with the Spirit.

Wow! That's full! I think most of us have experienced a feeling of fullness from overeating. When you are that full, you can't imagine putting one more bite in your mouth, because there just isn't any room. In the same way, when you are full of the power, majesty, wisdom, love, mercy, patience, kindness, and everything else that overflows from the Trinity, you have no room for the self-life.

To bring me to separation, to death of the self-life, to make room for full fellowship with the Trinity, Andrew Murray, in his book Absolute Surrender, says:
"Come and cast this self-life and flesh-life at the feet of Jesus. Then trust Him. Do not worry yourselves with trying to understand all about it, but come in the living faith that Christ will come into you with the power of His death and the power of His life. Then the Holy Spirit will bring the whole Christ-Christ crucified and risen and living in glory-into your heart."
There is deliverance!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

How do I know if it is sin?

On Wednesday evenings, we're studying "Living Holiness." Holiness is not just for the people attending this class. It is the goal of every person who calls himself a follower of Christ. You are either striving to be holy because God is holy (Leviticus 11:44; 19:2; 20:7 and 1 Peter 1:16) or you have determined to live in the self-life - or sin.

But how do you know if something is sin in your life? Well, for one thing what does the Bible say about it? To know this, you have to be reading the Bible. When someone has chosen to live in sin, I can almost guarantee that they've quit reading their Bible. They know, deep down they already know, that their behavior is against God's law. (See Romans 1:18-20)

Susana Wesley, mother of John and Charles Wesley, said this:
"Would you judge the lawfulness of a pleasure, take this rule: whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes away the relish of spiritual things; whatever increases the authority of your body over your mind, that thing is sin."
Well said Susana!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


"The pursuit of life is not to find freedom but to find the right master." Pastor Joe Focht
I have begun reading Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray. The book begins with a passage from
1 Kings 20:1-4:
"And Benhadad the king of Syria gathered all his host together: and there were thirty and two kings with him, and horses, and chariots; and he went up and besieged Samaria, and warred against it. And he sent messengers to Ahab king of Israel into the city, and said unto him, Thus saith Benhadad, Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy wives also and thy children, even the goodliest, are mine. And the king of Israel answered and said, My lord, O king, according to thy saying, I am thine, and all that I have." (emphasis mine)
Ahab gave all that was asked of him. He absolutely surrendered. Murray points out the condition of God's blessing for every child of God is absolute surrender of all into His hands. Everything must be given up to the right Master. What holds us back from absolute surrender? That is different for each of us. Let us start by saying "My God, I am willing that You should make me willing."

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Burdened beyond measure

Sometimes you have to be forced into taking action. A few weeks ago, my smartphone started letting me know when I received an Email in my AOL account. This might appeal to some people, but for me it totally stressed me out! All day long I'd hear the cute "ding" letting me know I received ANOTHER Email. It was out of control. That was it! I got into my Email account and started unsubscribing to every superfluous Email I could find. I should have done that months ago. I'm glad I was forced to do it now.

I am coming to understand that God allows us to be pushed to the breaking point to force us to make a change, step up to the plate or crucify a bad habit. This morning I read 2 Corinthians 1: 8-10:
"For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us,"
 When I am burdened it is because I am in charge. I am trusting in my own ability, not God's. May God grant that we would take action and decide to trust in Him, the One who has the power over death itself!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Am I prepared to die?

The most recent beheading of a second American journalist makes me recall the slaying of 5 American Missionaries at the hands of the Huaorani warriors back on January 8, 1956.

There is, however, a key difference in their stories. Jim Elliot and his 4 friends were prepared to die to see the Quechua Indians in Ecuador brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Jim's journal entry for October 28, 1949, expresses his belief that work dedicated to Jesus was more important than his life (see Luke 9:24 in the Bible). "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." 

One of the most amazing facts of the account of their slaying was that the missionaries had guns with them when they were attacked and speared to death. They had decided beforehand that they would not use them on the people they were trying to reach. Why? They stated that they knew they were going to heaven, but these Indians would not, unless they were saved.

I cannot help but ask myself "Am I prepared to die?"

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


I finished re-reading the book of Job in the MacArthur Daily Bible. John MacArthur's note from Day 23 was powerful. I quote part of it here.

Why doesn't God answer all of Job's (and our) questions?
"This question assumes that if God answered all our questions, it would be easier to believe. This is not true. Trust goes beyond answers. Sometimes, questions become a way to avoid trust. (emphasis mine)
Take, for example, a little girl invited to jump off the stairs into her father's waiting hands. She asks, "Will you catch me daddy?" He answers, "Yes, I will!" She may jump or she may proceed to ask endless versions of her first question. If she does jump, it will be more because of whom she knows her father to be than because of his answer to one of her questions. The fact that she jumps does not mean that she has run out of fears or questions; it means that her trust is greater than her fears or questions."
How I agree with this! I know that I have thought that if only I had some answers, I would be able to trust God. In avoiding trusting God, I missed out on the peace and joy that comes from jumping into my daddy's arms. Perhaps instead of asking God why He allows things to happen, I need to spend time getting to know His character. Trust will follow.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What changed my mind?

I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior in college at age 19. Prior to becoming a born again believer, I lived as most of the people my age did. I was in the world and I was of the world. Therefore, when I heard what the world said about a particular "hot button" issue, I accepted it as truth.

When I became a Christ follower, more mature Christians bought me a Bible and explained the importance of reading it. So I read it. Then I read it again and again. I read it so much that it fell apart and there wasn't much to highlight anymore! (I still have that special Bible) And what happened? I began to change my thinking on certain issues. I began to adopt a Christian Worldview. My husband has been saying it over and over lately: "you cannot change someone's mind or actions if they have not given their life to Jesus Christ and have not left their nets to follow Him."

I believe a Christ follower reads the Word of God and accepts all of it as Truth. I am not saying that we won't struggle to accept some of it, for there are many mysteries in it, but I am saying that it will become a strong foundation for the believer. Jesus Christ is the Word. Therefore, to know the living Christ, you must know the written Word. Change begins in the mind, therefore I encourage everyone who calls themselves a Christ follower to read the Word. A lot of people I know are reading it "together" through a cool Bible App. Check it out at https://www.youversion.com/

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


I suppose many people are blogging about the death of comedian Robin Williams. Are they blogging about suicide or depression? What can I add to the conversation?

Well, for one thing, I have experienced depression firsthand. As a follower of Christ, I believe there is another whole dimension of depression. In addition to the typical symptoms, you often experience a crisis of faith or "a dark night of the soul" as many refer to it. The book Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light reveals that this saint experienced her own dark night. During it, God is silent, leaving you to feel as if He has abandoned you. It is not a fun place to be, trust me. My own dark night (which lasted years) began as grief after the death of two of my children. No one understood my pain. Some scriptures helped me to understand that I was not alone (see Psalm 13:1-4), others horrified me (see Lamentations 3:1-20). The whole time God refused to answer any of my questions.

The turning point came when I gave up trying to understand and I surrendered myself to His plan, no matter what. It was then that I began to move back into the light. Later I found this poem written by Amy Carmichael that I now refer to over and over again, especially when I am tempted to despair again. I hope it brings someone help.
In Acceptance Lieth Peace by Amy Carmichael

He said, “I will forget the dying faces;
The empty places—
They shall be filled again;
O voices mourning deep within me, cease.”
Vain, vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in forgetting lieth peace.

He said, “I will crowd action upon action,
The strife of faction
Shall stir my spirit to flame;
O tears that drown the fire of manhood, cease.”
Vain, vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in endeavour lieth peace.

He said, “I will withdraw me and be quiet,
Why meddle in life’s riot?
Shut be my door to pain.
Desire, thou dost befool me, thou shalt cease.”
Vain, vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in aloofness lieth peace.

He said, “I will submit; I am defeated;
God hath depleted
My life of its rich gain.
O futile murmurings; why will ye not cease?”
Vain, vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in submission lieth peace.

He said, “I will accept the breaking sorrow
Which God to-morrow
Will to His son explain.”
Then did the turmoil deep within him cease.
Not vain the word, not vain;
For in acceptance lieth peace.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

No fear

This is a quote by Albert Barnes, theologian (December 1, 1798 – December 24, 1870)
"If a man had perfect love to God, he would have no fear of anything - for what would he have to dread? He would have no fear of death, for he would have nothing to dread beyond the grave. It is guilt that makes people fear what is to come; but he whose sins are pardoned, and whose heart is filled with the love of God, has nothing to dread in this world or the world to come."

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Rebuilding is possible.

I am currently reading through Ezra and Nehemiah in the Old Testament. Much of it centers around the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the 70 year exile in Babylon. This topic of rebuilding is especially interesting to me as I navigate a season of rebuilding in many different areas of my own life. One of those areas is the rebuilding of a lost relationship. As with the Israelites, I was responsible for the break in the relationship. Therefore, although the separation was difficult, it was not a surprise. But what is more surprising is the methodical, merciful way God orchestrates rebuilding.

Here is what I am learning.

  1. God usually gives you a promise regarding the restoration. (Jeremiah 29:10)
  2. Well meaning family & friends will want to see your relationship repaired quickly so they might make suggestions that you must ignore. (Jeremiah 28) Stay focused in prayer and wait on God!
  3. God will move the heart of the one you've offended toward you! (This happened to me!)
  4. The enemy will not be happy about the rebuilding. (Ezra 4; Nehemiah 4) He uses fear and lies to weaken and intimidate us. (Nehemiah 6)
  5. The relationship will not be the same (the temple was never the same as when Solomon built it), but it will still be a blessing to God.
  6. Give thanks!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


A few months ago, our leadership decided that it was time for our church to put into action the second half of our motto, "Out to love." They decided that we would do a service project on the last Sunday of every month that has 5 Sundays. June 29th was our first such Sunday. 50 people showed up at an elementary school in the city of Reading. Our mission? To show God's love by helping to make this a clean place for the children of that neighborhood.

The principal of that school anticipated some push-back from her superiors, but it did not come from them. Instead, it came from some of the people who attend our church! They refused to come because we were working on the Sabbath. In Matthew 12:11-12 Jesus makes Himself very clear when He said to the Pharisees:
"If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath."
And in Mark 2:27 Jesus says:
 "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."
Perhaps we have not taught these people that The Sabbath was a sign of the Mosaic Covenant, whereas Christians are under the New Covenant (2 Cor. 3; Heb. 8). Perhaps they don't realize that there is no New Testament command to keep the Sabbath. Or do they not realize that neither the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) nor Paul cautioned Christians about breaking the Sabbath. Finally, perhaps they missed Colossians 2:16:
"Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath Day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however is found in Christ."
So, we don't find Christ just by going to church on Sunday, we find Him by doing His will too! The next "fifth Sunday" falls on Labor Day weekend so we may go out at a different time. We'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


In Acts 19:15 there is a fascinating account of some Jewish itinerant exorcists who were trying to drive out evil spirits using the name of Jesus. The evil spirits recognized that they had no authority to do this. One evil spirit actually spoke out and said to the exorcist:
"Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?"
This is powerful and sobering. In Titus 2: 15, Paul says to Titus:
"These, then are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you."
Only true believers in Christ have the right to encourage and rebuke with authority. One way to exercise that right is in the home. I often said to our son while he was growing up that if he learned to obey us while under our authority, then, when he left our home, he would be more likely to obey God's authority. There is also a lot more weight using the authority of God's Word to rebuke a child for lying than just telling him that you don't like him doing it or worse "because you said so!"

As a child gets older, it is preferable to lead him to the Word of God and have him discover himself what God says about lying. Of course this is only effective if, as parents, you have already established the authority of God's Word in your own lives and in your home. If your child sees you lying, with no fear of God's discipline, why would he fear yours? If you delay obedience to a command, don't be surprised when your child does not pay attention to you the first time.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Two ways to deal with fear

I am in 2 Chronicles this week. I love to study the lives of the kings of Israel and Judah because their lives are such great examples to me of what I should or shouldn't do. They deal with some of the very same things I deal with. Take fear. It is very real, but how we respond to it is what God looks at.

Asa, king of Judah, had a heart that was loyal to God (2 Chron. 15:17). When Zerah the Ethiopian came out against him and he cried out to God, he was victorious. (2 Chron. 14:11-15) God blessed Asa with peace and rest until his 36th year as king. But then, when Baasha, king of Israel came up against him, Asa turned to another king for help instead of calling on God. God, through the seer Hanani, rebuked Asa and told him that from then on he would have wars. (16:9). What not to do? Rely on man. What to do? Cry out to God! Look at Asa's prayer of faith before his victory in Chapter 14:
"LORD, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O LORD our God, for we rest on You, and in Your Name we go against the multitude. O LORD, You are God; do not let man prevail against You!" 2 Chron. 14:11
King Jehosophat, the son of Asa, had similar problems to his father. Even though he "took delight in the ways of the LORD" (17: 6) Jehosophat aligned himself with Ahab, the wicked king of Israel. He too was rebuked by a seer (19:2). However, in 2 Chron. 20, he had learned his lesson. Instead of turning to man for help, Jehosophat "set himeself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So all Judah gathered together to ask help from the LORD." (2 Chron 20:3-4) Read Jehosophat's incredible prayer in verses 5-12 of Chapter 20. My favorite line from that prayer is in verse 12:
"For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You."

Friday, July 4, 2014

Dead men don't struggle

The above title is said to be a saying of D.L. Moody. I've thought about it a lot this past week because I am in the middle of a struggle. Most often we perceive struggle as a negative thing, but in reality it is not negative at all. It shows that we are alive! If I were not alive in Christ, I would not care about temptation. I would not even give a thought to leaving my past behind and fighting to enter a new "Life Gate*."
"Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to yet taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14
*"Life Gate" is a term used by Tom Paterson in his extremely powerful, inspired book Living the Life You Were Meant to Live 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Keep us from temptation

I'm taking a break from the principles that shape the Christian family because another subject has come up over and over again this week. Temptation.
Dictionary definition of temptation: something that causes a strong urge or desire to have or do something and especially something that is bad, wrong or unwise. 
I have spoken with people who are trying to quit smoking and give up video games. And I find myself struggling with food - again. So what are we to do? Can any of us overcome temptation just by self-discipline? I don't think so. An error most of us make is that we don't regularly pray "so that we won't fall into temptation" in the first place. (Matt 26:41) Once we have fallen though, it is imperative that we find out why we did so. We can rule out that it's God's fault. (James 1:13). James makes it clear that it is by our "own evil desire that we are dragged away and enticed." (James 1:14) So, what is the evil desire inside me? Control? And what is enticing me? James goes on in verses 16-17a to say "Don't be deceived, my dear brothers (so he is talking to us Christians). Every good and perfect gift is from above." Could it be that when I indulge or overindulge in something that I know I shouldn't, that I am giving myself a gift that I am afraid God won't give me? The things we try to reward ourselves with here on earth will not satisfy like the gifts from above.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Twelve Rules for Raising Delinquent Children

A fourth principle in the shaping of a Christian home is discipline. Before looking at the discipline of children, we must take a sober look at ourselves as parents. Self-discipline is a pre-requisite to disciplining children and most people struggle with self-discipline. When we don't say "No" to the abuse of alcohol, food, sex and other pleasures in our life, not only are we setting an example for our children, but we also tend to be more lenient on them. After all, how can we hold them accountable for something we ourselves aren't able to do? So how is self-discipline accomplished? Elisabeth Elliot says:
"The discipline of an adult Christian means gladly surrendering himself to the authority of Jesus Christ."
I heard John MacArthur on the radio last week and he mentioned this little leaflet with the above title that The Houston, Texas police department used to distribute back in the late 1950's.  It was a satire on parents who don’t control their children.

What the Houston Police department finds are the causes of delinquent children.

1.   GIVE THE CHILD EVERYTHING HE WANTS. In this way, he will grow up to believe that the world owes him a living.

2.  WHEN HE PICKS UP BAD WORDS, LAUGH AT HIM.  This will make him think he’s cute.  It will also encourage him to pick up cuter phrases that will blow off the top of your head later.

3.  NEVER GIVE HIM ANY SPIRITUAL TRAINING.  Let him wait until he is 21 when he can “decide for himself.”

4.  AVOID USING THE WORD “WRONG.”  It may develop in him a guilt complex.  This will condition him to believe later when he is arrested for stealing that society is against him and he is being persecuted.

5.  DO EVERYTHING FOR HIM so that he will be experienced in throwing responsibility for others.

6.  LET HIM READ AND WACTH ANYTHING HE WANTS TO.  Be careful that the silverware and drinking glasses are sterilized, but let his mind feast on garbage.

7.  QUARREL FREQUENTLY IN HIS PRESENCE. In this way he will not be too shocked when his own home is broken up later.

8.  GIVE A CHILD ALL THE SPENDING MONEY HE WANTS.  Never let him earn his own.  Why should he have things as tough as you had them?

9.  SATISFY HIS EVERY CRAVING.  Denial may lead to harmful frustration.

10. TAKE HIS PART AGAINST NEIGHBORS, TEACHERS, POLICEMEN.  They are all just prejudiced against your child.

11. WHEN HE GETS INTO REAL TROUBLE, APOLOGIZE FOR YOURSELF by saying, ”I never could do anything with him.”

12. PREPARE FOR A LIFE OF GRIEF. You will be likely to have it. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Spring Cleaning

Hudson Taylor, missionary to China for 51 years, was said to have gone through ALL his earthly possessions each year. Whatever he had not used that year, he got rid of. Now that's spring cleaning! It is also responsible use of God's gifts, another principle which is important in the shaping of a Christian family. (See previous blog posts)

I have a friend who is a missionary today. She is in Africa because of the generous support of others. She once remarked that she was very careful about each thing she purchased because she wanted to be a good steward of all those gifts. It makes me think - am I a good steward of the gifts given to me by God? Not just material gifts like food and clothes, but time, talents and relationships too.

In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells the parable of the talents. It's a sobering parable, a reminder of how seriously God will judge how well we used His gifts. We would do well to teach this principle to our children.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Why work?

Another principle set forth in The Shaping of a Christian Family is work. I happened to catch an episode of Celebrity Wife Swap last night which was quite amusing. The producers select wives that are completely opposite and then have them switch homes (and husbands) for a week. In this episode, Dweezil Zappa's wife ended up in the home of baseball star, David Justice. Megan Zappa was horrified to learn that the Justice children have no chores, unlike her daughter, Mia. When Megan questions David as to why he doesn't make his children do chores, he replies that he feels they learn responsibility from playing sports. Sad to say that Megan didn't know how to respond to that. It almost looked as if she wasn't so sure anymore why she gave her daughter chores. After all, the Justice children did seem well behaved.

So why do we want our children to work? I think a good place to start is to say God worked (read Genesis). He is a pretty good example. 1 Thess. 4:11 says "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you." Another good authority.

Not only should we all work for the good of the family, but we should do it cheerfully, without arguing and complaining. Phil. 2:14 This will teach our children responsibility and maturity. For age-appropriate chores: see this article on Family Life:

Finally, check out Dr. James Dobson's view at:

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My life for yours.

This week I was reminded of one of the principles that shape a Christian home and family. I read this principle "My life for yours" in Elisabeth Elliot's book The Shaping of a Christian Family.

The simplest form of this principle may be referred to as courtesy. An act of courtesy says in effect, "You matter more than I do."  I don't hear the word courtesy much anymore. Is it being taught in homes? Is it being modeled by parents? It begins by doing small things like a husband opening a car door for his wife or one sibling letting the other have the last of the ice cream. But as one matures, the principle may become more complex and costlier.

Jesus says "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep." John 10:11
"The price of the salvation of a home and family is sacrifice." Elisabeth Elliot 
Do I want to see the salvation of my home? As a Christ follower, am I willing to pay that price?
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy" Ephesians 5:25-26

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How are you doing Spiritually?

Has anyone asked you this question lately? I found the following assessment in Dr. Walt Larimore's book The Highly Healthy Child, which is, unfortunately, now out of print. Since our church's motto is "In to heal. Out to love," it is important that we be moving toward health so we can go out to love. Take the test. If you are not healthy, why not? What are some changes you need to make? If you're not sure, make an appointment with your pastor. That's what he is there for!

Barna Spiritual Journey Assessment
How true is this characteristic of you?
1 = Not at all or never
2 = Not much or rarely
3 = Somewhat or occasionally
4 = Often or usually
5 = Completely or always

1. You maintain an intense level of respect, awe, humility, and gratitude toward God-in acknowledgement of his superiority and perfection. _____
2. You effectively share the substance of your faith with people who have an interest in it. _____
3.You pray for the needs and future of others. _____
4. The choices and decisions you make are based on spiritual principles and values. _____
5. Your speech and behavior pleases God. _____
6. When you pray, you both speak and listen to God. _____
7. Worship is not just an event you attend-you try to live your life as an act of worship to God. _____
8. You are held morally and spiritually accountable by others who know and care for you. _____
9. You give away your time, abilities, and money sacrificially for the benefit of the needy. _____
10. You fight injustice and inequality. _____
11. You strive to live out the "Golden Rule"-to love other people as you want them to love you. _____
12. Your attitudes, values, and thoughts please God. _____

Add up your score. A score of forty-eight or higher indicates you are likely to be spiritually healthy; a score of twenty-four or lower indicates you may not be spiritually healthy.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

I'm the one doing this to me.

My small group leader has said that we all really know what to do in any given situation. When we struggle with something it's because we really don't want to do what we know we should. When I felt prompted (by God) to give more money to the church, I prayed about it (how silly, when it was God who told me what to do in the first place), I asked my husband what he thought (he was no help - he told me to do what I thought God wanted and I already knew that) and then I put it off for a while (hoping God would forget). My SELF did not want to give the extra money. The struggle against my own will, my pride, is real. I am not saying that we don't struggle. Jesus struggled so strongly (over what He already knew to do) that He sweated drops of blood. (Luke 22:44) However, "The demanding of my own will is the singular force that smothers out joy-nothing else." "I'm the one doing this to me."1 So what's the answer? What did Jesus do? He died to His own will and He trusted the Father's will, no matter how bad it looked at that moment.  "Fullness of joy is discovered only in the emptying of will."2 And trusting God. Whether we are 13 or 30.
1One Thousand Gifts page 177
2One Thousand Gifts page 179

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Empty to Fill

Empty to Fill is the title of the tenth chapter in the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Of that phrase she says "It's the fundamental, lavish, radical nature of the upside-down economy of God." This only confirms what my husband has been preaching for years. "Go be a blessing" he would say (referencing God's command to Abraham). We are not to just take the blessings from God, but we are to be the blessing. Why? Because God knows that when we hold onto the blessings we are given, joy within us dies. Look at this promise from Isaiah 58:10-11: "Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring." So what does this look like in my life? This week it is giving financially...even though my faith is weak and I can't see beforehand how this upside-down economy of God works. Ann says "God extravagantly pays back everything we give away and exactly in the currency that is not of this world but the one we yearn for: Joy in Him."

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Expectations Kill Relationships

Author Ann Voskamp, in her book, One Thousand Gifts, says "Expectations kill relationships-especially with God." Today, my second-born son, Stephen would have been 22 years old. He was born on April 30th and he died the same day. I, like any mother-to-be, had expectations. God shattered them all that day in the finality of death. But these were my expectations, not based on any promise of God. I had a choice then; to either sever this relationship with God (based on what I perceived to be His inability to fulfill my expectations) or relinquish those same expectations in acceptance and find not only peace, but joy in that relationship. Each time, in any and every relationship, the choice is the same: demand my will be done and kill the relationship or die to my will (and expectations) and be surprised by joy.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Is the problem Hollywood?

Years ago I read that Christians are just 5 years behind the world in accepting what they accept. At first I thought the author was ridiculous, but as I really began to think about it, and watch the people I knew to be professing Christians (including myself), I saw that he was right. The problem is not Hollywood and all the trash they produce. Why are we surprised that non Christians are producing non Christian entertainment? Rather, the problem is us, the church of Jesus Christ. We are not being who we are called to be. Holy as God Himself is holy. We are called to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). We are called to meditate on things that are true, noble, just, pure and lovely (Philippians 4:8). Are we? Or are we "entertaining ourselves to death" as the following article by Franklin Graham suggests?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Yesterday, as I drove around town, I saw Forsythia bushes in all their glorious bloom! I felt such joy because it was evidence that spring is indeed here. The calendar had announced spring weeks ago, but this yellow flower was unmistakable evidence that it is spring. What was once dormant is now alive!

The calendar is also telling me that Easter is this coming Sunday. A celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The One who was in the tomb is now alive and living inside me. Like the Forsythia bush, I was once dormant. When the seed of God was planted in me, I sprang to life. But what evidence is there?  The following article speaks of persecuted Christians. What impacted me was the common characteristics that the persecuted believers share. One is that there is no fear left in them and the other is joy. Joy is the mark - or evidence of the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Genesis 1:26 "Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
This verse tells us that we were created in the image of God. The inference of "Our" means that we were created in the image of the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). This is beyond our comprehension. We struggle to see our lives reflecting the level of holiness, love and wisdom displayed in the Word. Often, we see our lives through the cloudy lens of our own judgmental legalism, preventing us from seeing ourselves clearly the way God intended.

How are we to understand our holy, creative position if we are born in sin (rebellion, disobedience, lawlessness)? We were created for love, joy, peace, patience...etc. (Galatians 5:22-23), but sin twists and distorts our perspective. We must return to the fact, that at the center of history, Jesus Christ was sent by God to do everything necessary to restore us to His original, creative essence. He suffered, died and rose again to accomplish (finish) everything necessary to pour eternal life into our mortal bodies and position us for eternal life (relationship) with Him. It is only in relationship to Him that re-creation takes place.

The question is not whether Christ accomplished what He set out to do, rather it is will we choose to believe and incorporate the healing, empowering work of the cross and resurrection into our real and eternal lives? Will we allow the person of God's Holy Spirit to dwell in every area of our lives with all the power, healing and transformation (change) necessary to re-create our lives into His image once again?

Thursday, January 2, 2014


We were created in the image (likeness, shadow) of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In the image of the holy fellowship called the Trinity. This fellowship works together in perfect harmony, to accomplish their eternal will, and to exalt and please each other. They are an awesome balance: the Father gives gifts and brings discipline. The Son accomplishes our eternal salvation and brings final judgement. The Holy Spirit leads us to all truth and convinces us of sin. So what does their image look like?

We are generous people. We bring positive-proactive discipline to the world God created us to cultivate. We all love Christmas since we get to share blessings with others; and we love to help hurting people get on their feet.

We are people who love to do for others what they could never do for themselves. We help people understand their are consequences for their decisions and actions.

We are people who love to invest in others the wisdom God has invested in us, and show people the error of their ways.

It is God's will and passion to re-create us in the image we were created in. For many it seems beyond hope that we could walk in that image. Others have failed, and struggle to believe it could happen in their lives. But on Sunday mornings over the next weeks, we will identify God's promises and define how we might be re-created in this awesome image.