Are We Good Listeners?

Thoughts flitting through our mind while we smile and listen to Mary:

What should I make for dinner?

Did I turn off the stove?

What should we do about Tommy’s “D” in science?

Should we paint the living room honey gold or aspen white?

 

And then it happens. Mary asks “What do you think I should do?”

Umm. What was she saying?  Something about her mother’s failing health.

Are we good listeners?

Do we listen well?  Do you pay attention to what the person is saying?  Are we engaged in what they are sharing?

Robert Cheong says, “Listening is a form of love. You love others when you listen to others.”[i]

Ouch.

It makes sense doesn’t it?  Listening is caring about what the other person is saying and feeling.  Listening well communicates, “I care about you.”

Have you ever been with someone who makes you feel like the house could fall down around you and they wouldn’t notice because they are so intent on what you are saying? They make you feel like you are the only person in the world at that moment.

Then there are the times when you are pouring out your heart to someone and suddenly something or someone catches their eye and you realize they are not listening to you at all.

Which of the two makes you feel more loved and cared for?  The first person.

When I only half-heartedly listen (guilty as charged) I believe that what I am thinking about or what I have to say is more important than what you are thinking about or have to say.  I am loving in that moment but I am loving me rather than you.

Listening well requires I die to what I want so that I can give my undivided attention to the other person so that I may fully engage in what they are saying.

Listening well is one way to fulfill the second great commandment. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. And it models our Father When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. Matthew 22:39; Jeremiah 29:12 (The MSG)

Ask yourself: Do I listen well?  Do I love others enough to listen to them?

It takes practice. So go ahead and start listening with a whole new perspective.

Blessings, Diane

[i] Robert Cheong. Gospel Cares, coming 2017.

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.

 

What Plan B?

A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

“Read His Word. Listen for His voice. Do what He says. Enjoy the journey. He’ll get you where you need to go.” Susie Larson, Blessings for Women

I am writing this a few hours before our Family Freedom Walk. It is raining. Not gray and drizzling… BUT RAINING! We went into “Plan B” mode to make arrangements for the event given the forecast. I have to be reminded it is “we” who go into Plan B mode. God already had His perfect plan for this day. This Nor’easter didn’t take Him by surprise! As usual, it’s another opportunity to trust in His good, perfect plan and will.

How about your day today? Is your “to do” list ready to go? Is your date book full? Are your appointments set? Good! Now, what happens when God’s will upset your plans? How easy it is to try to fix things. How easy it is to get our feathers ruffled because things didn’t work out according to our own plan. How easy is it for frustration to overcome you because you are inconvenienced?

We don’t usually see the very opportunity we have before us. These are the times when we learn to trust. This is when our wills bend to His. These are the moments we cry out because we simply need His help.

I pray your day goes well. I pray that your Plan B is set in place just in case something changes. But, what I really want to pray for you most is that your plan will always be His plan!

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.

 

The Inner Circle

Do you ever get the feeling you are not quite in the “inner circle?” Maybe you feel like I often do – that I’m close, but not actually on the inside.  Or perhaps you feel more distant, feeling that if you stand on your tippy toes and crane your neck, you could see the inner circle off there in the distance. Do any of those describe how you feel?

I meet with a small group of women twice a month whose primary reason is to savor the graciousness and goodness of God, thus the name “Sip and Savor.” “Sip” is for the tea.

Recently, we were discussing what it means to see God with the eyes of our hearts.

…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,  having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you… Ephesians 1:17-18

In the course of our conversation, one of the women mentioned that she had heard a preacher share that most believers live as if they are outside the inner circle, but in reality, when the Spirit regenerated our spirit giving us new life, we were invited into the inner circle of the Trinity.

Perhaps your immediate reaction was similar to mine.  Is that true?  It sounded blasphemous or at the very least heretical.  Me? On the inner circle with the Trinity?

But quickly the Lord brought to mind His word.

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:9

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14

…that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:3

Father (1 John 1:3), Son (1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 John 1:3) and Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14).

Please don’t misunderstand. I am NOT saying we are part of the Trinity, nor am I saying we become gods.  I am simply meditating on the thought that at salvation we were invited into the inner circle.

Let that set and rest upon your heart.

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.

 

SHOCK ABSORBERS

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22

When He stood falsely accused but saying nothing, we see Jesus living out Galatians 5:22. He could have done and said A LOT of things, but He remained in control. Peter would surely tell us there was love in His eyes. The travesty that was happening that day didn’t extract the joy in His heart, knowing He would soon be home again with His Father. Nor did it take His peace. Do we need a better example of longsuffering, faithfulness, gentleness? Dare we say it was His kindness and goodness that did not cause Him to call 10,000 angels and eradicate that whole scene?

Watching Him absorb the shock of that day should be an encouragement to us that we, too, in all of our frailty, can absorb life’s trials if we walk with Him in the Spirit. When our life is infused with those characteristics of the Holy Spirit, we are enabled to take the hits that life can deal out. We are better, then, to assist another who maybe can’t take those hits as well.  (If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Eccl. 4:10) We can become what the Holy Spirit is: a comforter, a counselor, a “shock absorbing” friend.

When we ask the Father to make us more like Jesus, do we consider the way Jesus exemplified the fruit of the Spirit? As we strive to be more like our Savior, do we ask our Father to grow in us the traits that will cost us something to acquire? People say they would love to teach with the wisdom that Jesus did; heal as He did with power; cast out demons with authority; see miracles. But how often do we hear people pursue those things in life that actually cause us to learn how to walk in peace, longsuffering, self-control? When someone offends us, when a loved one dies, when we are betrayed, we need the fruit of the Spirit as a shock absorber to protect our hearts. Most of us would probably pass on having to learn the mechanics of how to do that…no one wants to deal with any of the above. But without them, how do we become more like Him?

To know the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death (Phil. 3:10) is a high calling. That our Father would want that camaraderie, calling us to be more like His most precious treasure, Jesus, is a privilege. And yes, getting there can be painful, but with the fruit of the Spirit in us we can exercise the wisdom He gives us, absorb life’s shocking offenses, honor our King, and become more like Him each day.

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!

 

Is it “Really Concerning?”

About a year ago, I had to get a new phone number because I had a creepy man calling me from a blocked number every morning at around 6AM… but that’s a story for a different time. After changing my number, I started to get wrong number texts and calls ALL OF THE TIME… like, at least two a week.

It went on like this up until about three weeks ago, when I got a text from the girl who had the phone number. I’ll give you a quick snippet…

Girl: Oh my goodness, hello! I am so sorry… this is the girl who used to have your phone number… I am sorry that you have been getting so many wrong number texts from my friends and family! I don’t know why they won’t put my new number in their phones! You must be so annoyed.

Me: Haha, it’s okay. I’m used to it at this point… I just learned a ton about your life this year LOL!

Girl: LOL That is half hilarious and half really concerning.

Her last text, “that is really concerning”, really stuck with me. Now, I know that her concern was due to the fact that I was a complete stranger who knew many details about her life … but it still made me think. The only things I knew about this girl are what I learned based on some wrong number texts – I knew when her birthday was, that she’d just gotten engaged, and that she was a waitress of some kind. She was really concerned, and rightfully so.

God, on the other hand, knows ALL about our lives… He knows the secret thoughts of our hearts. He knows who our best friends are and who we are not too fond of. He knows our insecurities. He knows what we will think, do, say, and feel in the future.

He knows everything – the good and the bad… and the really, downright ugly… but I’m so thankful that, as a believer, I don’t have to respond to that fact with concern. I know that when God sees me, He sees me as a new creation. He knows all the ugliness that is in my heart, but is still continuously transforming me into the image of His Son. If He were to literally text me and say “I know all about your life.” I wouldn’t have to respond with a “that’s really concerning.” Nope. It’s more of a relief… because I know I don’t have to hide. All I have to do is kneel down in prayer, tell Him my sins, repent, open His word, and humbly ask Him to help me be better.

How are you doing in your walk with Christ? Have you started it? Is the fact that He knows your past, present, and future “really concerning” or is it more of a relief, knowing you don’t have to hide anything at all? He is so good.

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

 

Tests

Remember those school days when tests were used to determine our grades for a class, at least in part? Remember how we prepared and studied for them, at least in part?  Then we graduated high school, college, university, or seminary and thought with relief, “I’m so glad that is over.”  But is it?

I have been reading a book by Erwin Lutzer called “Getting to NO: How to Break a Stubborn Habit.”[i] I’m only a few chapters in, but already my reading is having an impact on me. Lutzer poses the question regarding temptation, “…why doesn’t God keep one step ahead of us, defusing the land mines along our path?” He continues with a few suggestions as to HOW God could do it. God could ban Satan. God could dampen our passions. God could rearrange schedules allowing us to avoid tempting situations. God can do anything so why doesn’t He make temptation easier to overcome?

Yeah!! I thought to myself, why doesn’t God make temptation less, you know … tempting?

Lutzer offers 3 possible reasons for temptation.

  1. To test our loyalty
  2. To develop our character
  3. To display God’s grace and power

The very first one really struck me and prompted me to look up various examples of God’s testing in the Bible – a test of loyalty.

Behold , I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them whether they will walk in my law or not. Ex 16:4

And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. Deuteronomy 8:2

For the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. Deuteronomy 13:3-4

But you, O Lord, know me; you see me, and test my heart toward you.” Jeremiah 12:3

Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind. Psalm 26:2

As I mulled over Lutzer’s premise I took a good look at my life.  Do I pass the test? Am I loyal to the LORD Jesus Christ? Not do I LOOK loyal but am I actually loyal?  Do my choices and obedience declare my loyalty to the One True God? Or not?

How are you doing? Are you passing the tests? Are you loyal to the King?

Blessings, Diane

[i] Erwin W. Lutzer, Getting to NO: How to Break a Stubborn Habit, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association with permission from David C. Cook, 2007.

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.

 

Taste and See

How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103

I fell into a trap, and I am sure you have, too. We open our Bibles to read and find ourselves just reading to get through our reading plan or to claim we did our devotions for the day. We check a task off of our “To-Do List” and move on.

David Jeremiah, in his devotional ‘Turning Points’, suggests that we are to read as if we really are reading a love letter. God’s Word is His love letter to us, after all! Take into consideration the context, words, phrases, punctuation and style. The scriptures are a disclosure of His love, a record of His sacrifice for His beloved bride, a promise of His faithfulness and fidelity. He then asked, how many of us have a love letter that we occasional pull out and read?  All our emotions are stirred once again. Shouldn’t it be the same when we read the Word of God?

The next time you and I are tempted to read for the sake of reading it would be good to remember that we are reading a love letter written to us that we should read over and over again….slowly. It is easy to pass over familiar passages and verses that seem too hard to understand, but make the time to savor the words. Take your time to read one line and let it sink into the depths of your heart.  Take the time to taste and see His love and goodness to us.

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.

 

 

 

 

What are You Looking At?

When you consider your future, what are you looking at? Are you looking back at the past, with every disappointment, pain, or failed attempt?  Are you looking forward to the destiny God has prepared for you, the one that has a future and a hope?  Do you believe that Jesus came that you may have an abundant life?

I would like to suggest that you cast your eyes forward to the destiny God has prepared for you.  For if you look forward to that future, every pain of the past becomes a lesson to enhance your future.  Every disappointment can be shed like an old worn out garment.  Every failed attempt can break open a new pathway with greater expectations and hope.

For today, let me encourage you to believe the Word of God and look forward not back.  Speak words of life, going toward the destiny God has prepared for you.  Shed the old, put on the new with great expectations of a future abundant life.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10 (NKJV)

 Blessings,

 Patricia L. 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.
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Life Without Jesus

All of us know someone who has gone through some difficult times but does not have a relationship with Jesus. We wonder how they go through life without Jesus. I was recently thinking this and I was reminded about how often I try to do life without Jesus. If I were to really look at one day of my life and answer the following questions would it look like I lived for and with Jesus?

How many times did I ignore His voice?

How often did I stop to pray?

Did I take control or let Jesus have free reign?

How much time did I spend thinking about Him?

Did I give Him praise?

Did I recognize anything that He provided just for me?

Did I say thank you?

I fear we would admit to ourselves that we go through good days, calm days, and bad days ignoring the very One who desires to be part of our lives. Today what can you and I do to live with Jesus? How can our faith be more active regardless of what our day may bring? Let us walk with Jesus and pay attention! Don’t do life on your own. Invite Him in!

Let’s remember-

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. Revelation 3:20

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.

 

 

 

None Like Him

I have started writing and rewriting this Victory Call all day long.  I kept coming back to it asking myself what is it I’m trying to say.  I realized I was taking us down one bunny trail after another when what I really wanted to say is this: the God of Israel was unique amongst the gods of all the nations of the world during their time. Moses pointed out to them:

“Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard and still live?  Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nations, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him.” Deuteronomy 4:33-35

Around 2:30 AM one morning when I was unable to sleep, I was reading Deuteronomy 4 and it struck me how things have so drastically changed, yet not.  Thousands of years later – our God is still unique amongst the all the “gods” of the world. Our God is the eternal God Who was the God of Israel and Who is orchestrating world events today.

If Moses was here speaking to the Church today he may say something like this:

Did any people in all the world ever have a god who humbled himself and became a man like us only to die on our behalf? Or has any other god been raised from the dead to bring new life? Has any god paid the penalty for the sins of his followers so they would enjoy his presence forever? Did any other god so utterly love his creation so as to carry their burdens and guide and direct their steps personally? 

I did a little research about other gods of the world and let me start by saying there are A LOT of them. As I reviewed the major religious views and the gods they worship, I was impressed again and again that there is none like our God.  No other God even comes close to our God, which of course is no surprise since we worship the One True God.  I don’t say that with an ounce of arrogance because unless He had revealed Himself to me and unless His Spirit regenerated my spirit, I would still be in darkness myself.

…know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.”Deuteronomy 4:39

…that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other. 1 Kings 8:60

There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. 1 Samuel 2:2

Therefore you are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. 2 Samuel 7:22

for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me Isaiah 46:9

There is none like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is great in might. Who would not fear you, O King of the nations? For this is your due; for among all the wise ones of the nations and in all their kingdoms there is none like you. Jeremiah 10:6-7

Can you rejoice together with me today that we belong to the One True God and there is none like Him in all the universe?

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.