What’s so wrong with…?

whats-so-wrong-with

I just finished a slow read/investigation through Exodus. Interestingly, at the same time I am preparing for a 24-hour class that requires reading a book by Mike Wilkerson, “Redemption”[i], in which the author uses the Israelite people’s Exodus and wilderness wanderings as his primary theme and illustration.  This was totally unplanned by me but certainly planned by God.

Perhaps you recall the manna that God provided for the Israelites on their journey.  He gave very clear instructions that they were to gather just enough for their family for five days a week and enough for two days on the day before Sabbath, and none on Sabbath.  Yet some did not heed God’s command and gathered more than they needed and tried to store it overnight.  But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank, Exodus 16:20.

Wilkerson writes: “If we could interview one of those Israelites trying to gather a little too much manna, what do you suppose he’d say? I think he would say something like this: ‘What’s so wrong with providing for my family, with protecting them against starvation?’ … But here’s the problem. The Israelites didn’t have just a natural desire for food; they wanted food, and they wanted it on their terms, and they disbelieved God would provide. So they tried to take matters into their own hands…As subtle as their grumbling and hoarding may seem, God’s test revealed their truly significant sinfulness. He was concerned not only to fill their stomachs but also to expose their hearts.” (pg. 107).

What’s so wrong with… natural desires?  Nothing.  There is nothing wrong with natural desires. But, as Wilkerson reminds us “We live moment by moment—thought, word, and deed—coram Deo, before the face of God.”(pg. 110). Are we seeking to fulfill our natural desires our own way or do we trust God to fulfill them in a way that glorifies Him?

Sometimes we can reason our way to an answer to get what we want, when we want it, the way we want it and it seems perfectly normal and natural. What’s wrong with that?

Maybe nothing or maybe we are just seeking to fulfill our desires on our terms with little or no thought to Almighty God.  If we live coram Deo, and we do, believer and unbeliever alike, then every choice, every thought, every decision, every action, every attitude – expressed or not – is seen by God.  But it’s not just seen by God, everything we do, think, and say is an expression of our hearts before God.  It speaks of what we believe to be true about God.

Blessings,

Diane

[i] Mike Wilkerson. Redemption: Freed by Jesus from the idols we worship and the wounds we carry. Published by Crossway. 2011.

Diane Hunt serves part time on the staff of America’s Keswick providing ministry support from her home in North Carolina. She is also a Biblical Counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at dhunt@americaskeswick.org.

Looking From a Different Perspective

Old Testament List of Books

Dave and I just began a Bible study on the Torah – the first five books of the Bible. What is new and different to us is that we will be studying the books from a Jewish perspective. We just went to the introductory class and we are really excited to see how this perspective will open up the Word of God.  Our leaders explained some of the connections that will be made to the New Testament when you have studied the Torah in this way.

I am reminded that the Old Testament can be a hard read, let alone to study it deeply. It is a challenge. However, don’t ever neglect the study of these Books of the Law or any portion of the Old Testament. It is deep and rich with treasure well worth digging for.

While there may be plenty of times you can declare, “Out with the old and in with the new”, when it comes to Bible study – PLEASE don’t throw out the Old Testament and only concentrate on the New Testament! Both the Old and New are worth studying and will deepen your faith and relationship with Jesus.

Blessings,

Kathy

Kathy Withers is on staff at America’s Keswick and serves as Director of Partner Care. Kathy has been married to her husband Dave for 30 years. They have two adult children. Kathy is active in her local Church and teaches a Bible Study for women. Her passion is to encourage women to deepen their walk with Jesus Christ by finding and living out the truths of God’s Word.

 

Empty-Handed

Female politician with open palms of her hands asking for something

The Old Testament regales the formation and the journey of the nation of Israel.  The Israelites were up and down. Committed, not committed.  Worshipping God, worshipping idols.  Patient, impatient.  Sounds about like us, doesn’t it?

After the LORD admonished Israel for worshipping a golden calf graven by Aaron, He called them a stiff-necked people and told Moses He would not go up with them on their journey because He would consume them along the way (Ex 33).

Moses pleads with God, interceding for the people.

God reiterates His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and renews His covenant with His people.  He instructs them to redeem all the first-born males from cows and sheep to first-born sons with a lamb (Ex 34: 18-20).

Then God told Moses in His instructions for the people, “none shall appear before me empty-handed.” Ex. 34:20

That simple phrase really struck me because that is the opposite of what we tell people now, “to come to the LORD you must come empty-handed.” What we mean by that is that NOTHING we bring can gain us favor, forgiveness or salvation.  Not our generous church support, not our ministry service, not our missions trips, not all our hard works, not a goat, not a lamb, not a pigeon.  NOTHING we bring gains us an audience.  When the Spirit of God tugs on your heart, come with empty hands, outstretched ready to embrace Him on the merits of Christ not on our own.

Too often people want to “clean up their act” before coming to God as if they could possibly clean it up enough to deserve approaching Him.  We can never clean up our act enough to pay for our sins and appease His wrath.

Let me go back to a previous statement I made: “Nothing we bring can gain us favor, forgiveness or salvation…not a lamb….” That is not entirely true.  Our only hope for salvation actually rests on Jesus Christ, THE Lamb of God Who was sacrificed to redeem His children.  Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!…And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth…“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (John 1:29; Rev 5:6; Rev 5:12)

So we come empty-handed and trust in HIS merit alone.

Blessings, Diane

Diane Hunt serves part time on the staff of America’s Keswick providing ministry support from her home in North Carolina. She is also a Biblical Counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at dhunt@americaskeswick.org.

Pain

Young African woman suffering from a terrible headache.

Recently, I tried a new weight training workout – all lower body.  When I got up the next morning I was SORE. I could barely move my legs and when I did, there was much pain.

I knew that my legs still worked just fine… but the pain made me NOT want to move them.  The pain was the limiting factor, not my legs.  If I could tolerate the pain, my legs would still have taken me on a mountain hike.  BUT the pain was screaming, “No, no, no. Don’t move.”

This reminded me of something I have told many counselees.  We want to be healed. We want to change and we will move along the journey right up to the door that says PAIN in big bold letters and then typically we stop.  Emotional pain, much like physical pain, causes us to shrink back, freeze, or run the other way.  We are far too often content to do all the changing we can right up to the door, but not go through the door.

It is not natural, humanly speaking, to move toward pain. Our natural inclination is to move away from pain.

I could have sat on the couch for a few days till the muscle pain in my legs passed, but what value would the workout have been if I allowed the pain to make me a couch potato?  Instead I continued to get out walking and hiking and then back to my weight training work out.  I’m not saying that to impress you – believe me – I look anything BUT impressive when I work out.

I tell you this to demonstrate that when facing that door that says PAIN – Keep moving forward. Trust God to walk that journey with you.  Turn the door knob and keep moving forward. Trust God to give you whatever portion He deems appropriate AND that with the pain He also pours out HIS GRACE, POWER, COMFORT, and STRENGTH.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 2:9

For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 2 Corinthians 1:5

Just keep moving forward even if you look like I did the day after my work out.  KEEP MOVING. It may help to solicit godly counsel from your pastor or a godly woman that you know.

Over time, you will find that the pain begins to ease and peace begins to grow.

Blessings, Diane

Diane Hunt serves part time on the staff of America’s Keswick providing ministry support from her home in North Carolina. She is also a Biblical Counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at dhunt@americaskeswick.org.

 

Hello, My Name Is…

Photo of a

Identity is a major topic that a lot of people struggle with. If I were to ask you who you are, how might you respond?

You might say something along the lines of, “I am a retired mother of 2 who has 7 beautiful grandkids.” Or “I am a senior business major in college.” Or “I am a single, working mom of three.”

A lot of people define themselves by their mistakes, their past, their family, their job, or their friends. But what is your real name? What does it mean to have your identity be in Christ?

In my office, I have a big poster up on my wall that is titled “I AM.” As  someone who struggles with anxiety and concern a lot, I often find myself feeling discouraged or disheartened (that’s not how I define myself, but it’s something I struggle with.) So I have this poster hanging on my wall for those moments of anxiety, worry, or just feeling down. It is a reminder of who I am in Christ and what my name TRULY is. It brightens my mood every time I see it.  I think it’s something a lot of people would benefit from reading. I want to use this Victory Call to share it:

I AM

I am alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:5).

I am free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).

I am far from oppression, and fear does not come near me (Isaiah 54:14).

I am born of God, and the evil one does not touch me (1 John 5:18).

I am holy and without blame before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:16).

I am God’s child, for I am born again of the incorruptible seed of the Word of God, which lives and abides forever (1 Peter 1:23).

I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do good works (Ephesians 2:10).

I am a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I am a believer, and the light of the Gospel shines in my mind (2 Corinthians 4:4).

I am a doer of the Word and blessed in my actions (James 1:22, 25).

I am a joint-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17).

I am more than a conqueror through Him Who loves me (Romans 8:37).

I am an overcomer by the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony (Revelation 12:11)

I am a partaker of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:3,4).

I am an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).

I am part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people (1 Peter 2:9).

I am the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

I am the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).

I am His elect, full of mercy, kindness, humility, and longsuffering (Romans 8:33, Colossians 3:12).

I am forgiven of all my sins and washed in the Blood (Ephesians 1:7).

I am redeemed from the curse of sin, sickness, and poverty (Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Galatians 3:13).

I am called of God to be the voice of His praise (Psalm 66:8; 2 Timothy 1:9).

I am healed by the stripes of Jesus (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24).

I am raised up with Christ and seated in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 2:12).

I am greatly loved by God (Romans 1:7; Ephesians 2:4; Colossians 3:12; Thessalonians 1:4).  

I am strengthened with all might according to His glorious power (Colossians 1:11).

Erin Culleny serves as a Marketing Assistant and Staff Writer. She loves encouraging women through her Victory Calls and finds such joy in praying for her sisters in Christ. Her favorite activities include reading her Bible, encouraging others with scripture, buying new dresses, and eating at the Cheesecake Factory… In that order!

 

Your Five Senses Don’t Tell the Whole Story

5-senses

The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon. When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. Exodus 14:9-10

When Israel left Egypt they did so defiantly, (Ex 14:8) laden with plunder (Ex 12:36). But very soon after their exodus from Egypt – Pharaoh pursued them with fervor:

What the Israelites saw/heard:

  • The thunderous sound of hundreds of horses racing towards them.
  • The cloud of dust that rose from their hooves pounding the earth drawing ever closer.
  • My guess is there was some screaming and children crying. Fear pressed in on every side.

Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?  Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: “Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians”? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness. Ex 14:11-12

They seem convinced that death was the only possible outcome.

What God knew and purposed:

And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen.  And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen. Ex 14:17-18

God knew that although Pharaoh would release Israel, he would soon pursue them.  In fact, Scripture said that God would harden Pharaoh’s and the Egyptian’s hearts.  And God also said, in the end, the Egyptians would know He was the LORD and that He would get the glory.

It’s easy and natural for us to be gripped by what our senses tell us – what we can see, what we can hear, what we can smell, what we can feel and taste.  In life circumstances, we can too quickly be inclined to focus on our circumstances.  Above our circumstances there is a Mighty, Powerful, Loving God Who is accomplishing His plan and His purpose for His glory and our good.

Moses wrote of the God who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Deut 8:15-16

My point?  My point is this… In the midst of your trials, suffering and difficulties…don’t be fooled by your five senses. In the midst of your circumstances, lift your eyes beyond what you can see and know with certainty that God is working His plan and purpose in your life despite and through your circumstances.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2

There is always a bigger picture.

Blessings, Diane

Diane Hunt serves part time on the staff of America’s Keswick providing ministry support from her home in North Carolina. She is also a Biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at dhunt@americaskeswick.org.

 

Dis-Assembly Required

Worker building masonry house wall with bricks

“Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing, were not the right man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing. Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is he; 
Lord Sabaoth, his name, from age to age the same, and he must win the battle.” A Mighty Fortress is Our God, 2nd stanza 

I’ve built a wall that the Lord needs to tear down. A wall I built to protect my heart.  The Lord used a message on a recent radio program to convict me of what I have built. The wall I constructed was for my own protection, or so I thought.  The Lord used this message to show me truth. Rather than building a wall to guard my heart, it has become a wall of pride and self-preservation. This structure has been controlling who and what comes within my wall. It needs to come down, but it is frightening to me.

By building this wall I have allowed myself to rule my world. I have attempted to keep control. I have taken a role that is not mine to have – a role only Jesus can fill. My wall went up brick by brick and now it’s time to have the courage to allow Him to take it down. It wasn’t built in a day and it isn’t going to come down any faster, but the process needs to begin.

Perhaps you’re finding yourself behind a wall of pride. Maybe you’re constructing one or needing to tear it down.  Walls may be great for cities, but not for our hearts. Walls don’t belong if you desire intimacy with Jesus or others. Walls make you the king of your castle but they don’t allow Jesus to be King over your life.

You and I know that when Jesus is in His rightful place there is no need for walls of protection, control, or fear.  He is our fortress and our guard. Today I challenge myself and you to let Him reign victorious and allow the Lord to free you from the walls you have built…. one brick at a time.

Blessings, Kathy

Kathy Withers is on staff at America’s Keswick and serves as Director of Partner Care. Kathy has been married to her husband Dave for 30 years. They have two adult children. Kathy is active in her local church and teaches a Bible study for women. Her passion is to encourage women to deepen their walk with Jesus Christ by finding and living out the truths of God’s Word.

 

 

Opposing Affections

woman try to grab the sun

I am currently reading a great book by Mike Wilkerson, Redemption[i], in preparation for a seminar/class I am taking soon.  I came across this quote that was so good I just had to pass it along.

“The Puritan preacher Thomas Chalmers, in his sermon The Expulsive Power of a New Affection,[ii] said that desires for God and desires for sin cannot coexist in the human heart. They are two opposing ‘affections’–one will always push out the other. So, he said, ‘the only way to dispossess [the heart] of an old affection, is by the expulsive power of a new one’ (see Gal. 5:16-17). You can’t just ‘stop it,’ because the it is always more than behavior. It is always rooted in your affections, in what you love—what you worship. Chalmers points the way forward: we worshipped our way into this mess, and by God’s grace we’ll worship our way out.”

I don’t know about you, but this pierced my heart.  Are you battling sin?  Does a besetting sin or perhaps multiple besetting sins have you feeling bound in chains and irons?  Or perhaps you have long since given up the battle and just succumbed to the temptation so many times that you don’t even recognize it any more, or if you do you have ceased to put up any fight at all.

It all comes down to worship.  We have been created worshipful beings. We will worship something.  We never stop worshipping.  What is your object of worship? Not just Sunday mornings surrounded by smiling faces, hugs, a congregation lifting their voices in unison to the One True God; No, I’m asking what are you worshipping the rest of the week?  Every choice, every decision, every action reveals our true affections.

Have you ever tried to overcome a sinful pattern by trying to just stop it?  You may even successfully stop that pattern of sin, but unless the root affections are repented of, it will find satisfaction in some other way.  You will have succeeded in changing the object of worship from one idol to another.

Our affections will find their way to be satisfied.  Unless our grandest affections are rooted in Jesus Christ, we will bounce from lesser thing to lesser thing, bound in the worship of idols.

I have been profoundly impacted by the paragraph I quoted.  I love the depth of truth in the statement: “We worshipped our way into this mess, and by God’s grace we’ll worship our way out.”  That statement has come to my mind over and over again.

We need to recognize that regardless of what we think or say, to truly worship the One True God we must forgo all other gods (that which fuels our affections – those things that tempt us most to sin).  It is not the temptation itself but rather the temptations that we are most inclined to succumb to – and sin.

What is it for you?  What vies for your affections?  It is this misplaced worship that has paved the way to our besetting sins or bondage.  The ONLY way out – by God’s grace – is to LOVE JESUS MOMENT BY MOMENT MORE –THAN ANYTHING ELSE – MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE.

Oh, Lord.  I want that to be true in my life.  I pray for myself and my sisters that we will be true worshippers of YOU and YOU alone.

Blessings, Diane

Diane Hunt serves part time on the staff of America’s Keswick providing ministry support from her home in North Carolina. She is also a Biblical Counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at dhunt@americaskeswick.org.

[i] Mike Wilkerson, Redemption[i]: Freed by Jesus from the idols we worship and the wounds we carry.”

[ii] https://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/Chalmers,%20Thomas%20-%20The%20Exlpulsive%20Power%20of%20a%20New%20Af.pdf

 

True Love

true-love

But love covers all sins.  Proverbs 10:12b

Did Peter think of himself as “that” guy?  He dropped his nets and followed Jesus from the first time he met Him. He was in the inner circle with John and James, privy to Jesus’ thoughts and teachings. He loved Him. He emphatically told the Lord that the night of the last supper. Jesus had just said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’” (Matthew 26:31). Peter’s response sounds true to form: “Even if all are made to stumble because of you, I will never be made to stumble.”

I wonder how he sounded when he said those words to Jesus. Did he sound proud? Speak softly? Raise his voice so the other guys could be certain to hear him? All in all, it appears that he felt pretty sure of his love for Jesus. We know some of his character by what we read in Scripture. Not a shy guy, it seems. So, we wouldn’t be surprised to know that when he said those words, he may have spoken them with confidence… but with confidence in whom?

We know what happened next. Jesus tells Peter that he will deny Him. I can see Peter’s hurt/astonished countenance. “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” Sounds passionate. I can feel what Peter is saying. I can grab onto his emotion. I can even relate.

But here’s the thing: how did Peter later feel when he realized Jesus’ words came to fore and his words did not? “That” guy just changed. He was crushed by his selfishness. He was devastated by his own cowardice.  He was broken in anguish. As he cried in penitence, did he think he’d ever hear His Lord’s voice again, speaking to him in the tones of love he had come to know?

Jump over to Mark 16:7. There is an angel sitting at the empty tomb. He says to the women, “go tell the disciples…and PETER.” Peter is specifically mentioned, singled out. When word got back to him, the truth of Who Jesus is must have conquered Peter’s fearful spirit. Acceptance, encouragement, and unconditional, true love, were wrapped up in those 2 words… “and Peter.” His now contrite heart experienced the assurance of Jesus’ forgiveness, friendship, hope, and TRUE LOVE. We see that as we then watch Peter…affectionate, loyal, bold, impulsive Peter…become the rock and shepherd that Jesus foretold him he would become.

Trust had been restored in the most important relationship Peter would ever have.

It’s the same most important relationship we will ever have. That same account is as true for us as it was for our brother, Peter. We can put our name in the place of the one that betrayed Him, yet fell on His mercy. No matter how far we’ve gone, how low we’ve sunk, to ever think we could be accepted again by our Creator, there is always room in His heart for love…true love.

What a God! What a Savior!

Carol

Carol Tirondola is on staff with the Partner Care team at America’s Keswick. She and her best friend, Mario, have been married for 35 years. They have 2 sons and 2 daughters-in-law that they call their “BFFs”. They also have 7 precious gems called grandchildren. Her family has savored many memories of the heart made at Keswick over the last 35+ years and she is thrilled to now be serving on staff!

 

Who Are You?

Portrait of a young woman on a white background. http://s3.amazonaws.com/drbimages/m/an.jpg

This question has been rolling around in my brain for several days, kind of like that song that gets stuck in your head.  “Who are you without trying?” The question is not original with me, I heard it at a women’s group I attended recently.  I immediately had a sunken feeling.  Ugh – I hate to think of who I am without trying.

Who am I without trying?

  1. I am selfish
  2. I am proud
  3. I am self-centered
  4. I like to be in control
  5. I think my way is best
  6. I think my opinion is right
  7. I often feed my flesh, literally.

And the list could go on and on…. A bleak picture.

But then I got to thinking….

Who did I used to be without trying?

  1. I was fearful
  2. I was a worrier
  3. I was anxious
  4. I was quick to speak

By God’s grace these are things that I no longer am without trying… most of the time.  This is evidence of God’s grace of sanctification.

Then I’m back to: who am I without trying?

Because of the efforts of Jesus Christ and His redeeming work on the cross, without my trying …

  1. I am redeemed by the blood of the Lamb– Gal 3:13
  2. My spirit has been regenerated –Eph 2:13
  3. I am saved –Eph 2:8-9
  4. I am precious in His sight– Is 43:4
  5. I am justified– Romans 5:1
  6. I am being sanctified –1 Cor 6:11
  7. I am a child of the One True God John — 1:12
  8. I am a joint heir with Jesus Christ–Romans 8:17
  9. I am forgiven — Eph 1:7
  10. I am delighted in — Psalm 16:3
  11. My name is written in the Lamb’s book of life –Rev 21:17
  12. I am destined for heaven –Heb 11:16
  13. I have new life –Gal 2:20
  14. I am adopted –Eph 1:5
  15. I am chosen– Eph 1:4
  16. I am loved– 1 Thess 1:4
  17. I am filled with the Holy Spirit– Romans 8:11
  18. I have grace poured out on me– John 1:16
  19. I am a work in progress– Phil 1:6

THAT IS WHO I AM WITHOUT TRYING. ALL BECAUSE OF HIM.

Blessings, Diane

Diane serves part time on the staff of America’s Keswick providing ministry support from her home in North Carolina. She is also a Biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at dhunt@americaskeswick.org.