YES, LORD!!!!

I’m sure that as you read some of my Victory Calls you find yourself wondering, “How long has this woman been a believer?”  Today may be one of those days.  Sometimes I think I am the only one who is this dense, this slow, and this leaky.  I need constant reminders of what I know is true because so many distractions push what I know is true to my peripheral vision.

I recently had a soul-enriching conversation with my dear friend Stephanie.  She is a woman that I know I can trust with my heart and to speak truth into my spirit, even if it might be difficult to hear.  THAT IS A TRUE FRIEND.

I was sharing with her that I have been struggling with saying “no” to myself, to my flesh.  Rarely a day goes by that I don’t wrestle with wanting what I want, especially in the area of food. There, I said it.  There are other areas of my life this is true as well, but this is one that surfaces most often.  I have been praying that God would show me the ugliness of my sin and He has been answering that prayer.

As Stephanie and I chatted, the conversation had a flow familiar with long-time treasured friends.  In the process, knowingly or unknowingly, she reminded me that I’m not just saying NO to my flesh but I need to redirect my heart to say YES to God.

In that moment, I realized my focus is on saying NO to myself. My focus is on what I need to give up, on the battle and the wrestling.  The NO looms large in my thoughts and my heart.

I am focused on the wrong thing.  Instead of focusing on the battle of NO I need to focus on saying YES, YES, YES, LORD!

I realized again that if I spend every second of every day saying YES to God the NO will happen along the way.  Not perfectly but progressively. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16

PLUS my heart will be filled with a greater vision and greater purpose and my love for my Savior will grow. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8: 6

Where is your focus?  Is it on the wrestling and the battle of denying yourself or is it on the Victor and Lover of your soul?  Or perhaps neither?

How about if today you ask God, over and over again, to empower you to focus saying YES to Him every second of the day?  As you fall into bed tonight, reflect on how different your day was because of your shifted focus.

Let’s dedicate this day to saying YES, LORD.  And then let’s get up tomorrow and do it again.

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.

Take up Your Sword

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As His daughters, we know we are in a battle as we serve our Father, our King. We have an enemy that will fight us every chance he gets. One of the ways he tries to do that is to undermine our faith. Getting us to question the Word of God is one of his favorite tactics. Remember the garden scene? “Has God indeed said…?” were his words to Eve. Why would they be any different to us? He knows if he can get us to question God’s Word, the door is now open for him to substitute a lie. Not a stretch for the father of lies. “The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Eph. 6:17) is our weapon against the continual schemes of Satan.

The more we have the Word of our Father hidden in our hearts and foremost on our minds, the better we know Him. It’s always about our relationship with Him, isn’t it? The time we spend in His company, hearing from Him, learning from Him, walking with Him will ensure that our trust in Him is “safe and secure from all alarms.” The better we know Him, the less opportunity we give to our common enemy to infiltrate our thoughts. The plans of the enemy of our soul can be thwarted once again…til the next time. And there’s always a next time.  Hence, the encouragement from our Father in this verse:

“The Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8).

Be encouraged today sisters, that His Word will stand forever…and that our Father is always for us.

Carol

Carol Tirondola: 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 serve on staff!

There is One…

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Arise, O Lord! Let not man prevail; let the nations be judged before you! Put them in fear, O Lord! Let the nations know that they are but men! Psalm 9:19-20; God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne. Psalm 47:8

In the midst of the turmoil that swirls around us – political division, racial discord and financial uncertainty – There is One that sees clearly.[i]

You don’t have to be a news monger to realize there is a lot going on in this nation and in the world that is confusing, unsettling and disconcerting.  There is One that rules and reigns.[ii]

Biblical truth?  The world believes truth is relative. It’s true for you because you believe it, but it’s not true for me because I don’t believe it.  There is One that is the way, the truth, and the life.[iii]

High value of life from pre-born through aged? We live in a culture that devalues both the pre-born (murdering through abortion) and the aged.  There is One that gives and takes life.

Every day there seems to be Facebook posts, twitter tweets, and news reports about this world leader posturing and that one boasting and a third threatening.  There is One that holds the hearts of Kings and Princes in His hand.[iv]

The ONE is the Triune God: Father, Son and Spirit. Eternal, Infinite, All-knowing, All-powerful, All-wise. The Almighty.

When all is said and done:  every knee will bow and every tongue will confess the Jesus Christ is Lord:

…God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11

Somehow I find that comforting and reassuring today.

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] 1 Chronicles 28:9 the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought; Psalm 147:5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.

[ii] Psalm 99:1 The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!

[iii] John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.

[iv] Proverbs 21:1 The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;   he turns it wherever he will.

What to do with Betrayal?

Upset Teenage Girl With Friends Gossiping In Background

Have you ever had anyone violate your trust or break a commitment or confidence? I mean not just anyone, but one you’ve invested a lot of trust in. I’m sure you have. We all have a portfolio that reflects who, and how much, trust we invest in people. The pain of betrayal can be measured then by the amount of our investment.

Some people have lots of friends and if they lose one, it’s not enough to sink their emotional boat. But, if one or more close friends turns on them, it can be devastating.  If a brother, sister, parent, or spouse betrays us, the potential for long term bitterness is even greater if we are depending on our own strength to hold us up. Nothing shakes us more than being betrayed by the person we put all our trust in. Jesus knows this about us so He asks us to trust in Him.

When trust is broken at the highest level, we don’t only question all other relationships. We may also wonder about our own character. Jesus will allow us to experience betrayal as He did so that all we trust in, even ourselves, is exposed as flawed. Did you ever wonder why Jesus would choose Judas to be one of the 12 disciples?  Jesus always did what the Father asked of Him (John 8:28), so we know that His choice was the will of the Father. Jesus poured Himself into the 12, including Judas. We don’t know if Jesus knew Judas would betray Him when He chose him, but He certainly knew when His betrayer approached Him in the garden like a snake, and chose to finalize his offense with a kiss. (Luke 22:47)

So, how should we respond when we are betrayed? In Matthew 26:50, Jesus addresses Judas as “friend” and asks him a piercing question, “Why have you come?” With all that Jesus was facing, He still was invested in this relationship. Jesus knew He would be betrayed by all men, including Judas. His response to betrayal was to have compassion on the one who succumbed to temptation.  In Matthew 26:23, when making reference to the man who would betray Him, Jesus says, “It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” Jesus’ heart was broken for Judas. Sure, betrayal is ugly, but it is the betrayer that pays a greater price than the betrayed, and Jesus found no comfort in that. His trust was wholly in His Father, alone.

It’s not always easy to forgive, to rise above our hurt, and find compassion for the one who has betrayed us. We are stung when we are betrayed, no doubt about it, but if we see as Jesus did, that it is the betrayer that pays the bigger price, then compassion is easier to give. Because He knows us so well, our King is faithful to help us. In Matthew 5:44-46 Jesus says, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven. If you love those who love you, what reward do you have”?

If you are struggling with forgiving the one who turned on you, let the Holy Spirit soothe your heart, tender your thoughts, and help you to pray for them. You may soon find your heart filled with forgiveness and compassion and free to give His love. The power of His love is a bitterness neutralizer!

Carol

Carol Tirondola: 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 serve on staff!

The Bow and Arrow

Female ginger hair archer shooting targets with her bow and arrow. Concentration, target, success concept

I have the blessing of hosting prayer gatherings.  In preparation, I spend time seeking how and what the Holy Spirit would have us pray and do.  As the New Hebrew year was upon us, I was in prayer seeking God’s plan and I felt the Lord was telling me to get a bow and arrow.  Really??  Well, I won’t tell you the fun story about getting a bow and arrow, just know that I got them.  Next it was time to get back to seeking what I was to do with them.  I found the Bible has the word “arrow” in it 58 times.  Although not listed in Ephesians as one of the weapons of our warfare, it is used throughout scripture in battle.

As I read the scriptures, God seemed to stop me at was 2 Kings 13:14-17 and
Zech 9:14. I read those verses over and over.

“Elisha had become sick with the illness of which he would die. Then Joash the king of Israel came down to him, and wept over his face, and said, ‘O my father, my father, the chariots of Israel and their horsemen!’ And Elisha said to him, ‘Take a bow and some arrows.’ So he took himself a bow and some arrows. Then he said to the king of Israel, ‘Put your hand on the bow.’ So he put his hand on it, and Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands.  And he said, ‘Open the east window’; and he opened it. Then Elisha said, ‘Shoot’; and he shot. And he said, ‘The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance and the arrow of deliverance from Syria; for you must strike the Syrians at Aphek till you have destroyed them.’ ”  2 Kings 13:14-17 (NKJ)

“Then the Lord will be seen over them,
And His arrow will go forth like lightning.
The Lord God will blow the trumpet,
And go with whirlwinds from the south.” (Zech. 9:14)

In this year, as in every year, there will be trials.  But just as Joash the king went to the man of God for strategy in his time of facing a trial, we have to go to our helper, Holy Spirit and seek strategy.  God’s ways are not my ways.  His thoughts are not my thoughts (Is. 55:8-9). I want His way, His thoughts.  I believe what God was revealing to me, and I share with you now, is that He will give us the strategy when we face trials this year.  He will be just like the arrow I place in the bow.  This is a new weapon for me in this New Year.  Dear one, the bow is mine to hold, but the arrow goes forth.  I release the arrow but it is the arrow in battle that does the hard work to deliver the one carrying the bow.  The bow sets us free from the enemy.  I believe the Lord was telling me to trust Him, release Him to be my arrow.  I am not to fight the battles of life on my own or in my own strength.  He will bring the victory; He will go forth like lightning.  What He did for Joash and the Macabees He will do that and more for you and I if we will let Him be Lord over our situation and put our trust and hope in Him.  Let faith arise in you and the enemy scattered. (Ps. 68:1-2)

Blessings,

Pat

Patricia Wenzel Rev. Patricia Wenzel is the founder and director of a state-wide prayer ministry, PRAY New Jersey Inc., since 2002.  The ministry is committed to praying for and blessing those serving in authority positions in our state, particularly in government.  The ministry is also committed to equipping the saints to pray for those serving in government.  The vision and ministry is guided by the Word of God, in particular, 1 Tim. 2:1-4 and Is. 61:11.  Pat is thankful for the ministry of America’s Keswick.  She graduated from Women of Character in July 2008.

 

Diverse, but not Divided (Part 2)

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There are over 300,000 churches in America, each with their own culture, service times, and size… what is your church like? Does yours have hymn books or worship lyrics on a screen? What kind of small groups does it have? Does it have a band or a church choir? Do people come dressed in suits and ties or jeans and T-Shirts?

Do you see a mix of both young and older people in your church, or is one generation more prominent? Some churches have better ministry to specific age groups, and that’s great and that’s healthy! …Usually. But what about when it’s not healthy? What about when some churches are too focused on getting millennials and forget about the older generation, or when churches are unwilling to step out of their comfort zones and subsequently don’t see growth? What about when the age gap between older and younger believers causes segregation and hostility within the church community?

I hate seeing the division the age gap often causes, and Satan loves it. He wants Christ’s church to be divided. He wants the older members of the church to be frustrated with the younger generation, and vice versa. He would love to see the church fall apart from the inside out. But if we look at God’s word, he paints a beautiful picture of how the older believers and the younger believers should interact. Here are a few examples:

1 Timothy 5:1-2 – Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers. Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters.

1 Timothy 4:12 – Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

Titus 2:3-5 – Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

I am so, so, so thankful to have older believers in my own life who have poured into me, invested in me, and discipled me. I look up to these people so much. Generational differences could have easily caused disunity, but I have been able to learn so much from mature Christian brothers and sisters in my own community. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). The younger generation truly craves the older generation’s wisdom and leadership, and when those relationships of guidance-and-learning are pursued, it can create a beautiful picture of discipleship.

And here’s a bit of encouragement! There’s an article on bibleresources.org that has a quote I love: “Even as Satan is attempting to create outright warfare among the generations, the Lord is restoring unity to them, and He is beginning this work inside the church. Within our families, ministries, churches, jobs, schools, etc., God is knitting together multi-generational teams that will fulfill various purposes for His kingdom.”

“Church” isn’t confined to 4 walls or 2 services. The church is the body, so if we are divided within the four walls of a building, we will also be divided outside of those four walls. So let’s make it a priority today to be united, regardless of age, as brothers and sisters in Christ and fight the good fight together!

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 makeup, buying dresses, and eating at the Cheesecake Factory… In that order!

 

Our Eyes are on You

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“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 2 Chronicles 20:12

I’m driving through very heavy traffic in an unknown area. I don’t know where I am but the driver I’m following does. But as typical, cars start to squeeze in between me and the one I am following.  First one, then two then 5 and then I can barely see my guide.  I’m craning my neck to keep my eye on that white truck so I don’t get lost. I have no idea where I am or where I need to go. Every time I lose track of the vehicle I’m following, I feel rather helpless.

This is how Jehoshaphat seemed to be feeling.  Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir came to Israel in an effort to push them out of the Promise Land. (See 2 Chronicles 20:5-11)

Jehoshaphat knew where to turn, “O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 2 Chronicles 20:12

Ever feel like that?  Like the odds are against you?  That, humanly speaking, there doesn’t seem to be a clear answer?  See, we are never really helpless – though we may feel like we are, and Jehoshaphat knew that.

Do you know that?  When the horde coming against you will easily overpower you, and you don’t know what to do – keep your eyes on Jesus.  Crane your neck if you have to, but keep your eyes on your Guide. He knows exactly where you are and how to safely get you to the right destination protecting you from enemy attacks along the way.

I appreciated God’s reminder this morning through Jehoshaphat.

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.

Tending Your Garden

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“As workers who tend a fig tree are allowed to eat the fruit, so workers who protect their employer’s interests will be rewarded”.  Proverbs 27:18 NLT

This year I actually planted a garden of my own. Dave and I have always had a deal- he would take care of the outside of the house and I would take care of the inside. But this summer I found a new interest in succulents. Pinterest gave me inspiration and motivation and I desired to take a small area and see if I could create a succulent garden. The small area became bigger and bigger taking up the side and back of our three season room and around a tree in the side yard.  It did very well! I was pleased that what the deer didn’t nibble on grew and flourished. I was pleased with the outcome and delighted in the fruit of my labor.

Today we are all in a garden of sorts. As Proverbs 27:18 says, maybe your garden is your office and your job. Others are in the garden of nurturing a new marriage, raising babies, caring for aging parents, or finding life in your own aging process. A garden well-tended will bear fruit and reap rewards of satisfaction and fulfillment.

Gardens need constant care. Is yours over grown with weeds? Do you need some good soil to be transplanted in? Do you need a drink of water or even a dose of fertilizer? You will find ALL you need as you open the Word and take it in deeply!

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.

Rose Colored Glasses

 

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Did you ever look at a sunset with your sunglasses on and then take them off and see a very different picture?  I have, and it never ceases to amaze me how different the sunset looks.  It is especially beautiful with sunglasses.

The other day, I had the blessing of sitting on the beach in the middle of the day.  The ocean was rough and the sky was filled with layers of clouds moving at different speeds, or at least that is how it looked.  As I was looking toward the sun there was suddenly this most beautiful sight.  It seemed like the sun was pouring out a rainbow.  It was bubbling like a waterfall.  I tried to take a picture, but could not capture it.  As I took my sunglasses off, the rainbow was gone.  There was a beautiful sky before me but absent all the colors.  It didn’t seem to bubble either.

Then it came to my mind that our God looks upon us with rose-colored glasses.  If Jesus is our Savior, in essence, God looks at us through the blood of Jesus that paid the price for sins.   That blood makes us look pure and holy.  We are children of God with all the blessings of being an heir with Jesus.  Amazing.  We are beautiful in His sight.  WOW!!

He says:
For you are My offspring. (Acts 17:28)

I am your Father, and I love you even as I love My son, Jesus. (John 17:23)

And it is my desire to lavish My love on you, simply because you are My child and I am your Father. (1John 3:1)

I love you with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)

Nothing can separate you from My love. (Romans 8:38-39)

Be blessed as you consider so great a love God has for you and I.  The next time you wear your sunglasses on a sunny day look up.  See colors in the sky and thank the Father for the gift of those rose colored glasses He wears when He looks on you and I.

Blessings,

Pat

Patricia Wenzel Rev. Patricia Wenzel is the founder and director of a state-wide prayer ministry, PRAY New Jersey Inc., since 2002.  The ministry is committed to praying for and blessing those serving in authority positions in our state, particularly in government.  The ministry is also committed to equipping the saints to pray for those serving in government.  The vision and ministry is guided by the Word of God, in particular, 1 Tim. 2:1-4 and Is. 61:11.  Pat is thankful for the ministry of America’s Keswick.  She graduated from Women of Character in July 2008.

Tower of Babel 2017 Style

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“Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” Genesis 11:4

In reading through the account in Genesis 11 of the attitude of the people, I see similarities with our world-wide culture today.

The attitude of the people was in some ways to make themselves like gods – in this 34-word sentence – a reference to self appears 5 times: us, ourselves, and we.  It is an attitude of independence or autonomy, “let us make a name for ourselves.”

“The Babel enterprise is all about human independence and self-sufficiency apart from God. The builders believe that they have no need of God. Their technology and social unity give them confidence in their own ability…”[i]

Paul saw similar attitude during his time as well. “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” Philippians 3:18-19

Step back and think about the world’s scene today. Everywhere we turn that is exactly what nations, groups with a cause and individuals are doing – living to make a name for themselves with confidence in their own ability and minds set on earthly things.  The pursuit of technology, knowledge and causes is evident across the globe.  In many ways man is seeking to define his world relative to self without God.

Here is a brief example of a belief system I believe pervades our culture today:

“Belief in any of the Gods defined by major religions is a major intellectual copout…Philosophy is, in my opinion, the most important aspect of any person’s being. It is literally a collection of the guiding principles by which a person chooses to live. How can I respect the intelligence of someone who chooses to just not think about it for themselves? Who chooses to let an ancient text with uncertain authorship or a hierarchy of clergy dictate their philosophy to them? This isn’t even about whether or not God exists. It’s just about how mentally weak I believe a person has to be to let their philosophy be dictated to them.”[ii]

This is one of many that can be found with a simple Google search but I use it to illustrate one example of a world with self at its center – similar to the people in Genesis 11.

Yet…

As children of the One True God this is not our home[iii] and we live in the midst of “enemies of the cross.”[iv]  God’s very presence and testimony through His children will not and cannot be squelched.  He will make Himself known.

Even is a seemingly chaotic world (God is still in control), let us not be ashamed[v] or shrink back[vi]  from fulfilling the great mission, commission given to us.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you… But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 20:24

What difference can I make in a world with its own version of the Tower of Babel in the 21st century?  As we remain true to God and His Word, God provides a plumb line of truth as a witness in the world.

Enjoy your blessings today,

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] ESV study note Genesis 11:4; ESV Study Bible page 69

[ii] https://www.reddit.com/r/changemyview/comments/1mku3z/i_see_belief_in_god_as_a_major_intellectual/

[iii] Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ

[iv] Philippians 3:18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.

[v] 2 Timothy 1:12 But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me

[vi] Hebrews 10:39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those have faith and preserve their souls.