Sunday, December 19, 2010

Are You Faced With The Impossible?

Christmas is just six days away! My children are all traveling home to visit so I am planning a menu of favorite foods, Christmas Eve traditions, and tucking a few surprises under the tree for them.
As I think of the preparations: shopping, wrapping, baking, cooking, entertaining, cards to mail...It is easy to get caught up in the busyness and miss the quiet messages of Christmas. The message of hope. The message of Love. The message wrapped in swaddling clothes sent from God to a dark world; God's greatest gift.

When the angel visited Zechariah and then, Mary, the dark silence was broken. The dimmed hope of a Messiah was beginning to shine.

In preparation this month, we looked at the Angel Gabriel's first words to Mary, Hail favored one. The Lord is with you. We can only imagine what she felt as he said she would bear the Son of the Most High and name Him, Jesus. I know how I would have felt! Fearful, just like Mary! Then the angel told Mary, Do not be afraid. Easier said then done when faced with incomprehensible things. But, like Mary, once we get beyond the fear we can begin to believe.

When I need to believe God for something beyond my imagination, questions usually start to fly. Doubt rises and I begin to second guess myself and what I have heard. Mary had questions too. The angel assured her with news that her cousin, Elizabeth who was barren, was also expecting a child. Then Gabriel encouraged her by saying, Nothing will be impossible with God.


I believe these words are true for us too. Whatever we face, whatever our need, not only is God with us, but He is able to accomplish the things He has promised.

What promise are you waiting for? What comfort do you find in the words that Mary heard?

God is with you;
                       Do not be afraid;
                                                 Nothing will be impossible with God.

Believing brings hope to a fearful heart.
As we celebrate the messages of Christmas this week, I pray you will experience Him as Emmanuel, God with us. Savior. Lord. Redeemer. God's greatest gift. And, then believe, just like Mary did.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

I love the simplicity of a single candle in my windows; it reminds me of the Light who came to illuminate a dark world. Before Jesus was born, the voice of God had been silent for over 400 years. Not a prophet spoke. Silence reigned over the earth. Until it was time.

Suddenly angels appeared to Zachariah and then Mary. And Joseph heard in a dream that what Mary said was true. Those who waited for the Promised Messiah had hints of His coming. It was no longer silent and the events began to unfold to those who would believe.

Mary's encounter with the angel filled her with questions yet her final word to him was...”Behold, the servant of the Lord; be it done according to your word.”
Her questions didn't evaporate but His peace descended as she pondered his words,
God is with you;
Do not be afraid;
Nothing will be impossible with God.
As she grappled with the unknown, she journeyed to visit her cousin, Elizabeth. She needed some fresh perspective. She needed some space from the terrifying glares of the village families who didn't understand the truth and only saw a young girl pregnant out of wedlock, an offense punishable by stoning.

Elizabeth and Mary share the amazing events that had befallen both of them. They saw the hand of God accomplish the impossible—in one who was a virgin and in another who was past her child bearing age. Two miracles connected by the power and majesty of God. Two events that would forever change the world.

Mary must have been afraid. Afraid of the consequences. Afraid of what would come about. Afraid of what others would think. Afraid of what Joseph would say. Yet, she says to the angel, “I am God's servant, may it be as you have said.”
She believed God. She trusted Him. Still, it must have taken a lot to surrender herself to His purpose.

Is your world dark right now? What are you afraid of? What unknowns are you facing?

Just like the words of the angel to Mary, God is telling us not to be afraid. He will provide what we need when the time comes. He is asking us to believe and trust Him.

To a young girl who faces chemo treatments, He is saying, Do not be afraid.
To a young man with tumors throughout his body, Do not be afraid.
To a woman overwhelmed by her husband's betrayal, Do not be afraid.
To one with a heavy heart, Do not be afraid.

He is with you through whatever trouble you're facing. He will care for your needs and show you what to do each step of the journey. Trust Him. And, believe. Elizabeth's words to her cousin, Mary in Luke 1:45 are for us too.... “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”

Believing brings about change, in our hearts and in the world as God's power is released to accomplish His purposes in and through us. Power to make a kingdom difference for eternity. So, whatever you face today, don't be afraid. The Lord is with you. 

He is Emmanuel,


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Does Tomorrow Worry You?

The last few years I've become more aware of the fleetingness of life. My dad went to be with the Lord in July after four years of physical struggle. When he suffered his stroke during his open heart surgery, the lasting effects raised havoc every day. He needed every ounce of mental and physical energy for each step, every trip to the car, and every physical therapy visit. Every motion needed to walk, eat, get out of bed, use the facilities, or take a shower, required more energy than he possessed. 

Then God took him home.

Some may wonder, was it worth the effort? I'm not sure how my dad would answer but I can tell you that the last four years of his life were a gift to us. During that time we came to know a whole different side of him. We became acquainted with the parts of him that were buried under the weight of life's sorrow and hurt. We saw laughter that had been muffled, joy that hid under sorrow, gentleness and tears that had been stifled under a hard shell. Yes, we see those years as a gift.

So, I am more aware that there is no promise for tomorrow—other than God promises to be there with me. I don't know what I'll face—sickness, accident, death, sorrow, unemployment, financial worries...the possibilities are endless. Yet, in the midst of whatever I face God says, “I will be with you.”

As we begin the Advent season, the coming of Christ as a baby and as the Savior we will look at the words that Mary heard at the Angel's visit. In Luke chapter one, we read the story leading up to the birth of Christ. The angel Gabriel visits Mary, a teenage girl in the town of Nazareth and says, “The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28)

Whatever we face today. Whatever we might fear for tomorrow, these words apply to us too.

Today and in whatever tomorrow brings....He is with you!

Till next time and as we prepare our hearts to make room for Him,
(For the next few weeks we will take a look at the Angel's words to Mary and how they apply to our lives today)


Sunday, November 21, 2010

His Grace Is Enough!

My Grace Is Enough
I have had one of those weary weeks. My energy level is low. My to do list seems big. And, when those two things intersect, the enemy has a field day. He knows my places of vulnerability and it seemed as though every fragment of hurt and weakness rose to the surface saying, “Here I am, remember me?” That's when I needed to call an emergency meeting this morning—alone with God.

Unfortunately it isn't always my first reaction. Too often I slide easily into to self-sufficiency mode and try all the harder in my own strength to do it all. Wrong answer. The harder I try, the more that grace is squeezed out of the equation. I can do it. Of course, I don't really say that out loud, but that's what my heart hears as my brain kicks into survival mode.

Well, I can't do it! I can't do anything without Him who empowers me by His Spirit. I don't have any words of wisdom. I don't have any burden bearing capability. Without His life breathing Spirit I am empty inside, like the chaff of wheat that blows away. And when I try to go it alone, it is like becoming my own savior—like that's going to work!!?

Of course, God is so amazing. He timed a local women's retreat for this past weekend that I just 'happened' to sign up for (I truly believe in His sovereignty—He knew about my need before I did). The first thing I needed to do when I arrived was choose from a variety of mugs to use for the weekend. There it was, shades of pink with the word GRACE imprinted on the side. And, inside the rim the words from 2 Corinthians 12:9: My grace is enough. That evening I came face to face with my lackluster heart and knew I needed to surrender the stuff I had been holding onto.

So, as I unpack my baggage this morning, my heart feels a little lighter. I want to rest in His care, knowing that He will see to my needs. And, I want to be sure to kick the enemy in the backside because his condemnations are not valid in the presence of Christ. He is the father of lies and I refuse to be duped by his wily ways.

In Christ, I am forgiven; and so I can forgive. In my weakness, He gives me strength. I am set free by the blood of the Lamb and invited into the presence of God through His righteousness. Because His Grace is enough....


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Resident Woodpecker

I have a resident woodpecker who is making a nuisance of himself! Instead of pecking his heart out on any of the thousands of trees I have surrounding my house (yes, I live in the woods), it has decided that the clapboard siding and painted trim are more attractive. Needless to say I am not happy. It has pecked holes in the cranberry trim and continues to come back for more. Why, you might ask? The bigger question is, what can I do about it? I can't be here 24 hours a day to shoo away lunatic woodpeckers.

Then I got to thinking. Maybe if I hung tin pie plates it would keep him away. So, I put some strategically placed shepherd hooks and tied dental floss from the tin plates. As I write this the plates are waving and clanking against the hooks. And, wonder of all wonders, NO MR. WOODPECKER!

How often do we have those irritating things that we just can't seem to get rid of? We know they are doing damage but we are at a loss for a way to keep them from coming back. Is there a spiritual pie plate that we can put in a strategic spot that will keep them away? I know this is a stretchy metaphor but I think I may have something here. Identify the pesky thing. Set up a flashy signal, one that makes a little ruckus of its own, and maybe we can be free of the ongoing trouble.

What kinds of annoyances do you have? Any that you need a tin plate for?

Being proactive to keep destructive annoyances away is important. It could keep your house from crumbling.

Pass me another tin plate....


Saturday, November 06, 2010

Do-Overs... Editing Life's Blunders

Don't you love cut and paste?!
I've been wearing my editor's hat for the last couple of weeks. I love being able to get articles print-ready. Copy. Paste. Arrange whole paragraphs with a click of a mouse. Do overs are so much easier than when I needed to use Wite Out®.
Makes me wish I could edit my life like that too. As much as I would like to erase things I am not proud of, I can't undo what's been done. Once a word is spoken, I can't delete it. It already reached its intended target. I can apologize and I should, but the wound remains. I can be pretty hard on myself when I blow it. It's not easy to feel forgiven. I need to be willing to learn from my mistakes and move on. I may not be able to do-over, but I can start fresh.

One thing that amazes me is God's willingness to white out past wrongs. He says as far as the east is from the west; that's how far he has removed the junk we have done from us. He tosses them into the depths of the sea and remembers them no more. He washes our dark stains so they become as white as snow. Amazing. No one else in the world has that power. No other religious figure reaches down to us, pulls us out of the muck of our own making and gives us a new Spirit.
And, all the junk we did do, he redeems it, makes it count for something. Our pain is turned into power when we are able to help someone else who struggles. Our heart becomes flesh rather than stone and we begin to see things through God's eyes. He takes the broken shards of what was and creates something new and beautiful and whole from them. And through the scars and cracks, His light shines for others to see.

When we come to Christ, we have the chance of a do-over. A new life. A new heart. A new creation. Amazing!


Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 1:18, 43:25; Jeremiah 31:34; Micah 7:18-19; 2 Corinthians 5:17

Sunday, October 24, 2010


There's a cool nip in the air as falling leaves do their autumn dance. I love the fall but I don't look forward to the cold, gray winter. It won't be long. Temperatures are already dipping into the thirties overnight. We will set the clocks back in a couple of weeks. I will miss the light evening sky as I drive home from work.

I already miss sitting amongst my flowers; they are beginning to wilt in the night time chill.

Though I try to look for the positive things, change is hard. It's inevitable but often not welcome. I face changes everyday and how I embrace them will affect me. Watching my sisters face their divorces and losing my dad has been a huge adjustment. We had his burial service earlier this week, almost three months after his death. It wasn't surprising that today I was a little emotional.

After the burial on Monday and a stressful week at work that didn't allow for any let down, today my emotions are in a tailspin. I know it is never as simple as one thing. Many factors can contribute to my faltering emotions. Yet, I know God is with me. He knows what I struggle with even better than I know myself. He offers comfort in His presence. He knows my frame and He gives me the grace to sort it out as I lean on Him. But, it's important that I give myself the grace too.

This weekend I have extended grace to myself by not fretting about the housework. I took a long nap. And though our church had many things happening this week due to our missions conference, I allowed myself to create some margin in my days. I am not very good at not feeling guilty, but this weekend I knew I needed some down time.

Difficult. Inevitable.

Winter comes. Yet, in the bleak times there is hope. It may seem like we are hidden in a dark tomb but He promises the resurrection. Spring for the soul.

Do life's changes put you into a tailspin? How can you give yourself grace, knowing that God knows everything you are facing?

Thankful that He knows my frame (what I am made of),


“Just as a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.”
Psalm 103:13-14 (NAS)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Enjoy What Is....

We anticipated our vacation to Acadia National Park for months. We found a great looking cottage online and began to plan our first ever rent-a-cottage-where-you-can-really-relax vacation. After driving about six hours we pulled into the driveway and beheld our home away for home for the next week. The cottage was overlooking the most beautiful scenery. Nestled in Gull Cove, we could see Mount Desert Island from the deck and side lawn. The sunrises brought the promise of each new day. The rocky shore was just steps down from the lawn and when the tide was out we sat on huge boulders and took in the beauty around us. Yet, when we first arrived, I was a little disappointed in the deck—how petty.

While I was sitting on the deck the next morning with my steaming cup of PG Tips, the early morning sun streamed through the branches and warmed me. As I sat in the Lord's presence, the words, Enjoy what is, don't imagine what could be , came to mind. Heart check!! Here we had found this perfect spot for a quiet vacation surrounded by God's masterful handiwork and I was wishing the deck could be a little bigger...

I do this so often. I envision something and get disappointed when it doesn't fit the image I conjure up in my mind. Truthfully, I have missed out on what God has planned because I am thinking about what could be, rather than what is. I immediately thought of the passage in Philippians 4...think on these things. Whatever is true, whatever is lovely....these are the best tools for contentment and peace.

Once I allowed myself to get past my ungratefulness to focus on God's goodness, I enjoyed our vacation so much more. The trip to Acadia turned out to be the best vacation ever. I just needed to be willing for God to do a little heart check to clear my vision.

How about you? Are you thankful for what is, or thinking about what could be?

Saturday, October 09, 2010

My Spin on Philippians 4:6-9

My spin on Philippians 4:6-9

Telling someone not to be anxious is like asking them not to breathe. It is certainly true of me. Worry just seems to be the natural response to anything I fear or lack knowledge about. 

You might as well give me the middle name, Fear, because it's been such a big part of my life since I can remember.

I was a little girl who was afraid of Santa Claus, floral arrangements, cemeteries and music. It took me forty years to figure out the roots of those fears. Not that it took away my fear of things, but I began to understand how intrinsic fears are to humanity. It's no wonder then, that the words 'fear not' appear 365 times in Scripture. 

My spin of Philippians 4:6-9

One for every day of the year.

So passages like this one in Philippians begin to be life-verses for people like me. The words and truths roll around in my mind so much that I begin to paraphrase them by heart. My spin on these verses in Philippians goes something like this:

I won't worry and fret about things; instead, I'll talk to God about them - a lot.

Every time I start to worry again, instead of letting it get to me, I'll bring it to God because He is the one who takes care of everything I need. He knows what the trouble is and He knows how to fix it.

When I start to worry, I'll think about all the amazing things he has done for me in the past—I know there are plenty of them. It will help to focus on the ways He has answered prayer and come through for me before. That's why the Bible tells about setting up memorial stones; they are markers to help me remember everything that He has done in my life.

My spin on Philippians 6:6-9

When I find myself getting overwhelmed by all the darkness and worries, I think about the things that are true; the good and pure things; the silver lining things; the things I have praised Him for, and I'm thankful for them.

Because I know deep down that He will take care of this stuff - Because He has come through for me in the past. When I do these things, I have God's peace even when it is hard for others to understand especially with everything going on around me. Because whatever is going on, He promises to be with me. And if He is with me, I will not be afraid.

What are you afraid of? What do you worry about?

He says, "Fear not. I am with you. I am your peace. I will accomplish everything that concerns you" (Psalm 57:2, Psalm 138:8)

Fear is the opposite of faith so my prayer is that I can grow stronger in my faith and my trust in Him so that my fear will become less.

Praying for you too,


Sunday, October 03, 2010

Sea Glass - IN Everything by Prayer...

Sea Glass - "In Everything by prayer..." Philippians 4:6

A getaway week at the ocean; I could hardly wait to beach-comb for shells and sea glass. During our time away, I found plenty of shells but not one piece of sea glass. As I thought about these evasive sea gems, it made me think of all of the troubles I have been through in the last several years. Just like the sharp pieces of glass, I have been rolled and tumbled about, being scraped across the rocky things in life and caught up in the swirling sea of emotional turmoil. And, like the sea glass, over time my edges have become a little less sharp and hurtful. The more tumbling and swirling, the more beautiful the sea glass becomes. I guess I hope that after all of the tumult I have been through, I am coming out a little more beautiful and useful to God, the master-craftsman. In His words, He is conforming me to the image of His Son. This happens when I surrender to Him even in the midst of the anxious times.

When Paul says in Philippians 4:6, “...but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”, I take some comfort knowing that there will be a good result in the end. Notice that Paul says IN everything, not FOR everything. It is hard to feel thankful FOR my trials. But IN the midst of them I can pray and be thankful for His provision, protection and presence, knowing that He will meet me in the midst of whatever I am going through. I need not be anxious.

I noticed the two words, prayer and supplication and wondered, What's the difference? As I looked, they are similar but supplication includes earnestness and continued prayer out of a deep need. Bringing my concerns and anxieties to the Lord gives me a place to practice my trust in the One who promises to provide all of my needs. And, there is always something I can be thankful for in the midst of it all.

As for the couples I know that are divorcing, IN these awful situations I have found a fresh appreciation for my husband and our relationship. He has shown a special care for me over the last several weeks, I think to demonstrate and assure me of his love and commitment. And, I have found ways to show him how much he means to me. We have both sought out ways to spend time together and appreciate one another.

I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to find any sea glass on our vacation. But, IN this, I am glad that people aren't littering glass on the shore. (Then I realized, we don't use much glass any more; most everything is packaged and bottled in plastic.) It feels like the end of an era of treasure hunting by the sea!

Do you have an 'IN everything' story? I would love to hear about it. I know these testimonies will encourage us in our relationship with Christ and walk through the times of trial.

My you sense His provision IN everything today,


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hurdling Over Anxiety

Can I trust that God only wants what is best for me? If something bad happens, can I see beyond the circumstances to focus on the good? Do trials make me a stronger person? Is my character more important to God than my comfort? There are so many questions. Good questions.

I thought I had done a good job of settling this fear/anxiety debate a number of years ago. My husband, John used to travel quite a bit and I was home alone with three toddlers. My fear had risen to new heights as I lay awake every night planning escape routes in case of fire or a break-in. As soon as darkness fell, the doors got locked and I didn't venture outside till the next day. Till the Lord whispered deep within, “Who is your protector, Me or John?” Profound!! It started me thinking so I delved into the Word to see what God says about fear and His protection. Soon I was sleeping at night again.

The funny thing about God's lessons is that as soon as we learn it, He stretches us further. I began to enjoy being home during the trips my husband made. Easy dinners. Time to myself in the evening after the kids settled into bed. Then, boom—the traveling stopped. I guess I passed.

The thing is, there is always a new hurdle of anxiety to scale. And, our gracious God is a patient teacher. The funny thing about being anxious is that most often we never experience what we are afraid of. It is such a joy robber and a time waster.

What circumstances are you anxious about? How are they robbing you of living to the fullest?

I look forward to hearing from you,


Sunday, September 19, 2010

“Be anxious for nothing...” Philippians 4:6-9

Anxious, who me? Well, okay, maybe just a tad!

Be anxious for nothing Philippians 4:6-9

As much as I say I trust God and know He has things under control, I do feel anxious. I have children who live in other states. I worry about my mom after my father's passing. I worry about my sisters who are both dealing with divorce and rejection. I worry about my to-do list. I worry about change. There are times when I can seem to let go, but most of the time, if I am honest, anxiety just simmers slowly on the burner of life.

That must be why Paul says in Philippians 4:6-9, “be anxious for nothing...” I guess things haven't changed much since the first century. They had worries then too. 

So, if the Word is living and active, sharper than a two-edged sword, then Paul's admonishments are for me too. So how do I make these words my own? How do they become my prayer, sinking deep, bringing me to a place of contentment? How do I live beyond the simmering anxiety, abundantly as Christ says in John 10:10?

Be anxious for nothing Philippians 4:6-9

A few times in my life I have conquered the worry for a few moments and experienced peace as I made Paul's 'whatever is...” list take over my thoughts. Yet, it is something that I don't seem to learn naturally. It doesn't stick and become the default thought path. I need to relearn the lesson every time anxiousness gets the upper hand. 

My desire is to have the hope of this passage root deep into my heart, soul, and mind so that the peace that Jesus offers is real everyday.

Do you have worries that have been tamed by the truths of this passage? I would love to hear your stories. I know they would encourage others too. So, please post your thoughts and over the next few messages we can try to unpack these verses to find the timeless treasure they offer.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Restoring Beauty - After The Locusts Eat

When I was a teen, I got an old chest of drawers from a family member who passed away. The oak dresser had brass handles, small drawers and a cubbie door above and full size drawers below. It was in dire need of some T.L.C., airing out and a new finish. So, I set to work, sanding and brushing on coats of finish until it didn't look half bad. I really enjoyed bringing it back to life and found satisfaction in restoring its beauty.

To restore means to bring to its original state or intent. To relate this to spiritual terms, when we come to Christ, He restores us to our relationship to the Father, one of fellowship and community, just as it was in the Garden of Eden. Scripture says we were made in God's image; Adam and Eve had fellowship with God in the garden. But, sin broke that connection.

The good news is He promises to restore what the locust has eaten (Joel 2:25). I can't imagine what it looks like after a swarm of locusts blows through; pretty bleak. Yet, I know there are many with stories of how God restored and redeemed what they thought was lost. God restores our relationship in Christ and then begins our life-long restoration process to become more like Him.

My locusts have been fear and discouragement. They ate away at everything, it was really hard to have hope. I have been living with the effects of locusts for the past few years—so many changes, the death of dreams, and discouragement with a capital 'D'. I struggled with the restoration process because it hurt. My natural tendency was to escape, to do anything to cut it short. But in the end I see how it was necessary in order to bring forth beauty and His intent. God is faithful. I feel the anchor of hope held fast and I am starting to dream again.

My old dresser couldn't be restored without first stripping away the old finish. The same holds true in my life. God is in the business of restoring lives. He specializes in broken people, marriages, families, health, loss of hope and so much more. Yet, our restoration always begins with Himself.

What are your locusts? Has God begun to restore what has been stripped away?
Discover what Scripture says about pruning—how are these topics related in your life?

May He bring forth beauty in you,


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Three R's - Part Two - "Are We Okay?"

As I mentioned, I have been anxious for three couples in marital difficulties. Upon hearing the news of marriage #3 being in danger I looked at my husband and asked, “Are we okay?”
Everything that felt sure and safe suddenly felt wobbly and weak. I needed his assurance that our relationship was strong because of the shocking news. After all if it could happen to other Christian couples maybe it could sneak up on us as well.

In the past several weeks I find myself appreciating my husband more than ever. I think he must be thinking similar things because he has been even more attentive and showing his love in lots of little ways. One thing I have learned in watching these other relationships is that I should take nothing for granted. Marriage is hard work—it is something we have to strive to keep healthy by communicating with one another and putting one another first.

I wonder how I can put into practice the messages in the letter to Philemon as I watch these marriage relationships disintegrate. One's divorce is already final—I don't believe God is done there—but I know it can seem like hope has died. The other two are spiraling fast. Can God restore them? Absolutely! But, the people involved need to be willing. Paul shows this in verses eight and nine when he writes to Philemon about doing the right thing in regard to Onesimus.

I don't know if I can be like Paul and somehow share just the right words to cause a change of heart in another person. But, if given the chance I will try. Paul's message of redemption, restoration and reconciliation is really the message of the Gospel. It isn't new, but it is fresh for every situation. And, I believe with my whole heart that His Word holds fresh truth for today's messes. That's why it is called daily bread. Fresh bread to meet the needs of hungry hearts.

I would love to hear your stories of hope. Have the Three R's made a difference in your life and heart?

Till next time,


Saturday, September 04, 2010

Restoration - Are You Willing?

All around me, marriages are crumbling—long standing marriages of friends and family members. I feel blindsided by the news and watch as divorces become final, and couples crumble. I keep thinking, God can restore these relationships, and He can. But, people need to be willing in order for Him to step in and begin the process of mending. Relationships are complicated and love must be cultivated in order to survive the onslaught of enemy fire. Make no mistake, Satan wants to destroy families. He wants to see relationships die—he chortles in victory every time he successfully darkens the hearts and deadens the minds of God's people.

I need you to know that I am grappling with my next blog post, dealing with restoration and reconciliation. God wants us to be reconciled with Himself and one another. And, humanly, that is a very tricky business. Ultimately it means dying to self.

The question is, are we willing?
Marriages are only one little aspect to this topic, but it is one that is on my mind and heart.

More to the meantime, pray for those who need to experience the restoring power of God.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Three R's - Part One - Redemption

When I hear the word redemption I think of coupons and bottle deposits, neither of which I do very often. Yet, it's much more than that; it's an important key to our faith. But, as Christians do we really understand that we have been redeemed by the blood of Christ; freed from the power and penalty of sin? The dictionary defines it this way,

Redeem is a verb that means to buy back, to obtain release or restoration, as from captivity, by paying a ransom. To deliver from sin and its consequences by means of a sacrifice offered for the sinner (

Throughout scripture we see evidence of the transforming power of the cross. Lives are changed, sometimes dramatically leaving no doubt that something amazing has taken place.

Since Adam and Eve's fall, there has been a need for redemption. Jesus' death, shed blood and resurrection accomplished it for everyone and for all time; it is available when we recognize our own shortcomings in the light of God's perfect holiness. No one else can do it for us; it is between ourselves and God. Whatever we have done, Jesus died so we can be forgiven and be restored to a right relationship with the Father. Scripture says there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), so we can't allow the enemy to bring up the junk. It is forgiven, forgotten, finished and cast into the depth of the sea with NO FISHING!!

In Christ, both Paul and Onesimus were redeemed and so it is with everyone who receives the Savior. We are rescued from the power that sin and death have over us. It is important to know that Satan is already defeated, but he will try to bring down as many with him in the time he has left. He knows his fate is doomed. But like any other arch enemy, he will fight till the end. It is a daily battle; don't allow him any victory by his dredging up of past failings.

I am thankful for Jesus Christ's redemption in my life. I asked Him to be my Savior at the age of sixteen. Who knows where I would be if I had never made that decision to follow Him.

As we think about His redemption this week, recall His promises about forgiveness. God wants us to live in victory not in the shadow of our past.

Is there someone you know who hasn't found redemption yet? There are many who still need to hear. Like Paul, you may be the one to share the message of forgiveness with them.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Useful or Useless?

Are you feeling useful or useless?

The book of Philemon mentions that Onesimus' name meant 'useful' but because he ran away, he was seen as useless to his master. This got me thinking about how God sees us in the light of his kingdom. I find it interesting that Paul mentions that he led Onesimus to Christ and how useful he was to Him during his imprisonment.

Throughout history people have made themselves available to God – willing to do what was needed. I think of Mother Teresa, Billy Graham and others who have accomplished amazing things with kingdom impact just by saying yes. Every one of us has a purpose in God's plan – a useful place to bring glory to Him by saying 'yes' to His call.

In the Bible, Joseph overcame being sold into slavery by his jealous brothers and imprisonment from the false accusations of Potipher's wife, to become Pharoah's #1 man. Esther was chosen as queen just in time to save her people from Haman's annihilation plot. Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt despite the many obstacles Pharoah designed. Moses' rod divided the Red Sea so the people could escape the pursuing Egyptian army. He drew water from a rock when the people complained of thirst. And, he led the grumbling people through the wilderness for forty years and eventually to the Promised Land. None of these could have been accomplished without surrendering to God when He prompted them to obedience.

We, like Moses and so many others make excuses for our weakness and suggest someone else more suitable for the job; But, just as God saw not just a shepherd-boy in the heart of David – but a shepherd-king to lead a nation, God sees something useful in us – by his design and for His purpose.

Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." NASB

What is God asking of you? What simple 'yes' could be the start of something amazing for His kingdom? It may be that God sees beyond your idea of uselessness and is asking that you trust Him for what you cannot see. May you be willing to say yes to His call, and understand that He sees you as chosen and useful. The ripple effect will be amazing!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Coming Alongside

Reading the book of Philemon gives me so much to think about. There is so much I can relate to.

Has anyone come alongside to be with you through a difficult time? It may have been just a kind word or a quick hug, but their presence made all the difference. Or maybe they stuck with you through thick and thin, when everyone else seemed absent.

Just knowing that someone believes in me, gives me a feeling of hope. Hope is contagious.

I think both Paul and Onesimus felt hopeful. Barnabas gave Paul hope in Acts chapter nine when no one trusted him. Paul believed in Onesimus when he wrote the letter to Philemon.
We can all receive hope when we come face to face with Jesus Christ.

If someone was there for you, send them a note or email this week. Tell them how much you appreciate them. And, if you are needing a touch of hope from Jesus – His forgiveness and hope of redemption, just ask Him. He promises to come alongside.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Discoveries in Philemon

Paul wrote this letter to Philemon, a leader in the church at Colossae. It's intimacy shines through his words of encouragement, greetings to Philemon's family, and his detailed care and concern. Then Paul gets to the point of his letter...a slave that ran away from Philemon's household.

Paul shared how when his path crossed with a slave called, Onesimus (his name means 'Useful”), he shared the gospel with him and he became not only a follower of Christ but a comforter to Paul. He remarked that even though Philemon thought Onesimus to be 'useless', Paul found him to be useful to him while in prison. Paul writes to ask Philemon to receive Onesimus with forgiveness, and restore him not as a slave but as a brother in Christ.

Paul's earnest support reminds me of his earlier experience as a new believer in Acts 9; he encountered Jesus on the Damascas Road and his life (and his name) were forever changed. Jesus told Paul to proclaim the good news, yet believers knew him only as Saul, the one who savagely persecuted Christians. They didn't trust him. Then, Barnabas came alongside Paul to encourage him and assured skeptical believers of Paul's change of heart and genuine faith.

In the letter to Philemon, Paul was able to return the favor and intercede on behalf of Onesimus to his former master.

This is how God works in the lives of His children; we can't help to pass on what we have received because our gratitude compels us. When our encounter with the Living Christ has made a difference; we want to share that hope with others.

Another message I see embedded in this letter is one of forgiveness and redemption, mirroring the gospel of Christ. Jesus finds us while we are lost, redeems us from our sin, pays what is owed on our behalf and then restores us, not as slaves, but as sisters and brothers in Christ. Then, He makes sure that others see us as He does—useful to His ministry.

The final thing I discovered was Paul's Three-R's of the Gospel. . . no, not Reading, 'Riting and 'Rithmetic. Rather, Paul shows us Redemption, Restoration and Reconciliation. Everyday we meet people that God brings across our path and they need to encounter the Living God and hear His message of hope. Together we can experience redemption, restoration and reconciliation with our Heavenly Father and with one another. Paul's example inspires and convicts me that I need to stand in the gap for those who we meet on the road to eternity.

I discovered a lot in this little book. In the past it's one that I tended to skip right past, maybe because it didn't look like much. I am glad the Lord led me here to find His nourishment and a fresh understanding of community relationships.

May you dig deep and find His rich blessings,

Jeanne Doyon