Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."  St. Luke, Chapter 2, verses 10-11.

This is the message of hope that Christians gather around this time of year.  It is sometimes a difficult promise to remember in the face of all the evil in this world.  From our everyday struggles to wrongs committed in our communities and the greater world, and especially when we learn of horrific acts against children and those trying to protect them.  But that is exactly why we need this reminder every year!  "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  St. John, Chapter 3, verse 16.  

And no matter what darkness tries to shake our faith in God, we must remember that God is ever faithful to us.  If he loves us so much that he was willing to send a sacrifice for us, we can only imagine how utterly sad he is when our lives are touched by grief.  But this we know, for St John tells us in Chapter 1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...In him was life; and the life was the light of men.  And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not...He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.  He came unto his own, and his own received him not. " 

However, it doesn't end there...
"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth."

Will you receive him this Christmas, even when it seems the world is going crazy?
In Pastor Tom's sermon on Sunday, he said that when he and his wife were expecting their first child he was told, "You're life will never be the same!"  I remember being told that too, and being determined that I was not going to let a baby change my life.  Well, she did and so did the other two that eventually came along.  My life was radically and forever changed by these tiny beings!  But, they are each a blessing and have changed my life in such positive and loving ways - ways I could not even imagine before!

So it is with the Christ Child!  This little baby has come into the world to change it - radically & forever!  Will you graciously accept this baby into your life, and allow him to change it for you?  It won't be easy and it won't always be 'smooth sailing', but it will be worth it!

"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." St. Luke, Chapter 2, verses 13-14.  

I pray that you will be blessed this Christmas season and that you will be a blessings to others!

Merry Christmas,

Note: Re: Live is on a break and will resume Jan 11th, at 9:15 with a new book, It's No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know by Rachel Olsen.  Please read and do the questions for Chapters 1 & 2 for the 11th. 
Even if you cannot attend our live meetings, I encourage you to read this book, it is AMAZING!  And I'll be blogging about it so, you won't miss a thing!

Friday, December 14, 2012


"But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law."
- Galatians 5: 22-23

Another wonderful discussion this morning!  In our reading David showed great restraint when faced with the temptation of taking vengeance on Saul, a man who tried to kill him many times.   The author of our study mentions food temptations which can cause us to lose self-control.   As we talked we shared other areas of temptation like shopping, Facebook & e-mail checking, having a knee-jerk reaction to a person or situation or any over indulgence  - all of these areas can cause us to examine our self-control.

Just as it was mentioned in weeks before, self-control is given to each of us, in different strengths, different situations, and we all have our own style of self-control.  Does God want us to be perfect in our self-control?  Can we have self-control in all aspects of our lives?  Personally, I have to believe the answer to that is "NO!"  God knows we are not perfect, which is why He is always with us.  Question #8 asks "If we know God is present to help us in our struggle, how can it be easier to exercise self-control?"  A well said answer: "It's always easier to do things with a partner."  Though sometimes God seems to be a silent partner (my paraphrase of the complete answer).  Our challenge then is to pause, giving us time to hear God's advice and remember His teachings.  Easier said than done, my friends!  I suppose that is why God encourages us to come together to study and worship - so we have each other to help us remember God's presence in our lives.

A few weeks ago my 4-year old had a lesson in Sunday School on Fruit of the Spirit and she brought home a poem that I'd like to include here.  Sometimes children's lessons are the best!

Fruit of the Spirit Poem

Today I learned
Jesus is the Vine
With Him I grow
fruit very fine

Love and Joy and Peace
are three
of the fruits
Jesus wants from me

Patience, Kindness
Goodness too
These are the things
Jesus wants me to do

Faithfulness, Gentleness
These are the fruits
Jesus wants me to grow

I think that sums it up nicely!

IMPORTANT NOTICE:    Our first meeting in 2013 will be on January 11th at 9:15 am.

We will be reading It's No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know by Rachel Olsen. Copies can be purchased on-line at Proverbs 31 website, (please use the portal on the Redeemer website) and at nearby bookstores. 
Read chapters 1 & 2 for the 11th.
We'll be jumping right in to this fantastic study! I can't wait!!

Your Partner in Ministry,

As I type this I have seen the breaking news of the shooting in a CT elementary school and through my sobbing, my heart cries out to the Lord, "WHY"!!!???  I pray for the children, the parents, the community and everyone near and far who is touched by this horrific tragedy. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fruit of the Spirit - Week 9 - Self-Control

"Wise people think before they act; fools don't and even brag about it!"  ~Proverbs 13:16

With only 12 days before Christmas, I think there is a sense of humor in the fact that we are studying "Self-Control"!  During the season of too much shopping, dozens of cookies, plenty of parties and too many commitments, God has asked us to pause and consider the fruit of self-control.

In 1 Samuel 26, David exhibits amazing self-control!  While we may not be able to relate directly to David's situation, if we dial it back a few degrees, we might be able to think of a time when the fruit of self-control was evident in our lives. 

Our author points out a struggle with tempting food, to which I can definitely relate!  Especially with all the cookies I'm baking for Christmas!  But self-control can also be applied to how we react and relate to people and situations.  Do you lose your temper with your loved ones or that driver who's going just under the speed limit?  How about when Facebook seems more important than laundry?  Do you buy that new pair of shoes even when you don't really need them? 

The book of Proverbs gives great advice on the benefits of self-control, including "A person without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls.", Proverbs 25:28.

Take some time today to consider an area of your life where you'd like more self-control.  Feel free to share in the comment section (on the website)!  And most importantly, pray about it. 

I'd like to thank you all for sharing this Bible study with me.  It has been an enlightening journey, delving into the Fruit of the Spirit and discovering what God has given us in this fruit.  It has also inspired me to cultivate the fruit within me and share it with my family, friends, neighbors, and my community.  I hope it has inspired you, too.

IMPORTANT NOTICE:  December 14th will be our last meeting until the new year.  Our first meeting in 2013 will be on January 11th at 9:15 am.  

We will be reading It's No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know by Rachel Olsen.  Copies can be purchased on-line at Proverbs 31 website, and at nearby bookstores.  Read chapters 1 & 2 for the 11th.  We'll be jumping right in to this fantastic study!  I can't wait!!

Have a wonderous Advent Season, a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year! 

Your Partner in Ministry,

"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health."  ~Proverbs 15:30

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

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Sunday, December 9, 2012


"Gentle words bring life and health..."  ~Proverbs 15:4a

Thank you for a wonderful discussion on Gentleness, ladies.  I was excited before I got there and filled to overflowing when I left.

We found 'gentleness' in several passages of the Bible, including the Proverbs verse at the top.  Along with 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12, we read Proverbs 15:1 and 15:4;  Philippians 4:4-9; and 1 Peter 3:13-16.  In each passage we see another way God is gentle with us and how we can be gentle with our friends, family, our Christian family and non-Christians. 

1 Thessalonians spoke to how we can and should be gentle in our evangelism.  No one likes religion shoved in their face!  But when we live and love our faith, encourage and guide others with gentleness, the Word of the Lord will be spread.  We agreed that gentleness rubs-off on one another.  When we are gentle, even with a seemingly gruff person, their attitude softens, their deep hidden kindness surfaces and it is a delight to witness.  Imagine a Gentle Revolution!

1 Peter pointed to the idea that we all have our own unique way of being gentle.  When I think of the word gentle the image of a fuzzy bunny comes to mind.  It's kind of funny, but a bunny is soft to the touch, quiet and leaves little trace of itself in the grass after it hops away.  We shared with the group, people in our lives whom we think of as gentle: a soft spoken mom & wife, an honest leader in the church.  In 1 Peter and our discussion we discovered that "gentle" does not always equal "fuzzy bunny".  It also means being honest, encouraging, not demanding of others time, resources & admiration, guiding.  Each of us has our own unique style of being gentle! 

Like all the Fruit of the Spirit, gentleness is given to each of us.  We all have it, though maybe in different strengths and at different times or in certain areas of our lives.  We may not see gentleness in ourselves, but others do!  It is there, as promised by God. 

Receive the gentleness that God offers, be gentle to those around you, and remember to be gentle with yourself.

Your Partner in Ministry,

"Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God."  ~Philippians 1:3

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fruit of the Spirit - Week 8 - GENTLENESS

"But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law."
- Galatians 5: 22-23
"A gentle answer turns away wrath; but harsh words stir up anger."  ~ Proverbs 15:1

I am so excited to be thinking and talking about Gentleness, especially at this time of year!

Please, please, please, if you don't have time to read and do the study questions, at least read the passages in the Bible for the lesson.  1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 and 1 Peter 3:13-16 (I know, it says 15-16 in the book, but 2 more verses won't cost you more than a second and it seems better to start at 13).

The dictionary says gentleness is: considerate, a kindly disposition, amiable, not harsh or severe, docile, of good family, noble.  The passage in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 agrees with that, but takes it a little further, I think.  Jot down some ways gentleness is described in the reading.

My habit is to sit down and do the readings & questions all at once. That's how it works for me; but the thing I really like is that the scripture rolls around in my head all week.  As I go through my daily chores and running around, God's word is working in my heart and head.  Sometimes, study questions that stumped me come to light - sometimes not :)  But I go through my week with His teachings close to the surface.

I encourage you to read the passages as soon as possible, so they are with you.  When you have your quiet time with God, reflect on them, even do the study questions.  And when you do, pay particular attention to #5, how can we share "not only the gospel of God but our lives as well" with those around us and what might this mean in terms of time, energy, and vulnerability? and #8, how are the themes of evangelism and gentleness related?  Then consider some practical ways to do #8 (question #9).

Questions #8 & #9 are what got me so excited!!!  When is there a better time to be gentle in our evangelism than when we are talking about a baby?!  The birth of a baby, the meager setting, the gathering of animals & shepherd boys, the total lack of fanfare among society just oozes gentleness.  And then, the giving of gifts to a child from foreign kings and the fact that their giving has remained an important role in our celebration.  The whole idea of giving to others and giving glory to God for His gift to us, is one way to be a gentle evangelist!  

Even as we are hounded with "Buy-Buy-Buy", the true Spirit of Christmas remains.  Look for it and encourage it.   How do you or will you spread the Word this Advent season? 

I encourage you to share how you do 'gentle evangelism' in the Comment section.  You just might inspire someone with your words :)  Remember, if you are reading this in e-mail, you have to go to the website (click the title to go there or type into your browser).  I look forward to reading them!

Your Partner in Ministry,

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body"  ~Proverbs 16:24

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fruit of the Spirit - Week 7 - FAITHFULNESS

"But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law."
Galatians 5: 22-23

First, I want to say a belated Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!  I hope it was wonderfully full of good company, beautiful memories, and delicious food! 

It was a crazy week for me last week and blogging was not something that I was able to do.  Besides our regular packing and getting ready for Thanksgiving and visiting family in Pennsylvania, we added a Wednesday afternoon Powder Puff football game and another family member.  Last Monday night we welcomed a foreign exchange student from France into our home!  We are so blessed with the opportunity to have her, and a special treat to introduce her to Thanksgiving (and 100 more family members) and American Christmas.  Please keep her in your prayers, as it is very difficult to be away from family & friends, especially at the holidays.

Faith - Faithful - Faithfulness

How often do I use these words?  How do I use them?  What does "faithfulness" mean to me?  These are some of the questions I ask myself before I even begin the study.

This week's reading, 2 Chronicles 20:1-30, gives us one example of how God is faithful to his people.  There are many examples in the Bible of his faithfulness to his followers.  Do you have a favorite story of God's faithfulness?  How has God been faithful to you?  You can share your example / story in the Comment section (if you are reading this in your e-mail, you'll have to click on the title above to go to the website to leave your Comment).

As we read 2 Chronicles 20, we realize this is not the full story of King Jehoshaphat.  I strongly encourage you to read 2 Chronicles 17-19 to find out what led up to this.  It's a great story and a quick read! It fills in some of the blanks and gives even more hope to those of us who make mistakes or wrong decisions in our lives.  

In the study, questions 1-6 are leading us through the reading and pointing out some things which we should pay special attention to.  On Friday morning, please be prepared to talk mostly about the Group Discussion, Personal Reflection, questions 7, 8, 10, 11 and the question in the "Now and Later" section.  

I know we are all very busy and may not have time to sit and do the whole study at once.  One method I use, is to do the reading when I have a few minutes, then when I find another few minutes I work on the questions.  "Chuncking" is the term some people like to use for this method!  I like it because it reminds me of the candy bar and anything associated with chocolate is good ;)  This method may take me all week, but that's okay.  One of my personal goals, and something God calls us to do, is to spend time in His word everyday: this is one way to spend 5 or 10 minutes everyday, reading and reflecting on what God has done and is doing for us.  And while I am still working on my personal goal of a daily time with God, I always come back to the idea that He does so very much for me, I should be able to take a few minutes everyday and listen to His advice and thank and praise Him.  How do you spend time with God? 

For those of us meeting in person on Friday morning - and remember you are always welcome, even if it's your first time - please bring your favorite scissors!  We are going to multi-task by talking and cutting and helping prepare for Christmas.  Don't worry, I'll bring the band-aids - hee, hee!

I love you all and can't wait to see you on Friday morning!

Your Partner in Ministry,

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fruit of the Spirit - week 6 - GOODNESS

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!  His faithful love endures forever."  Psalm 107:1

How do you define "goodness"?  Psalm 107 tells us "God is good" and then goes on to give us several examples of his goodness. 

This Psalm offers us two views of God's goodness.  We can read the Psalm from the point of view of those in need.  The need can be real or a metaphor for something like depression, addiction, or spiritual wandering.  Can you relate to those in need?

In each scenario, the people in need did the same thing.  Think about a time when you were in need.  What did you do?  How do you respond to difficulties or trouble in your life?

We can also read the Psalm from the point of view of what God did.  In each situation, God responded the same way.  What does this mean for you in your life?  This is not only a promise of what God will do when we cry out to him in our trouble, it is also an example of how we should respond to those in need.  Matthew 5:16 speaks more of this example, "In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father."

So, is being good all that difficult?  Most of us are moved to action when we see friends, family, even strangers or animals who are in need.  We make meals, we offer shelter, we pray, we donate, we volunteer: something to ease the burdens or suffering of those we love and the innocent.  But is that the Goodness that the Spirit gives us?  Luke 6:27-36 offers up a more challenging form of Goodness!  It is this scripture where Jesus tells us to "... love your enemies.  Do good to those who hate you." (Luke 6: 27b).   I can't help but think that this is the "goodness" that God displayed in Psalm 107:11, "They rebelled against the words of God, scorning the counsel of the Most High", yet he still saved them.  Now that's the kind of goodness that comes from the Holy Spirit!  I can only speak for myself, but if Jesus wants me to do good to those who hate me, I will definitely need His help!

Your Partner in Ministry,

Sunday, November 11, 2012


A huge 'Thank You' to Rhonda, for opening her home to our group on Friday!  Your generous hospitality was a blessing to all of us!

Sometimes a Bible study is more than just reading and discussing scripture.   A Bible study group can offer real help, emotional support, and spiritual togetherness in times of need.

That's what we needed this past Friday, as we gathered in the home of our friend Rhonda, because the power was still out at our church.  We had a shortened session due to other obligations, delayed school openings, school closings, and some still without power.  But an hour together was just what we needed!

We talked of the patience that Jesus says we should have and agreed that sometimes, Patience is difficult!  It's something we have to pray for and practice.  It is a fruit of the spirit that can manifest itself differently in each of us and even change throughout our lives.  The example shared was that of patience with small children - not all of us are blessed with patience with small children, until we have our own children.  That was certainly a familiar one for me!  And now that I have teens, I see my patience changing again. 

In Matthew 18:21-35, patience is closely linked to forgiveness.  Although forgiveness is not a fruit of the spirit, it is something we are called to do as Christians.  And how can we forgive "seventy times seven!" (Matt 18:22) if we have not received the fruit of patience?  It would be very difficult, if not impossible, to practice that kind of forgiveness without the fruit of patience from the Holy Spirit. 

A good question was asked during our discussion: since the forgiven servant, who withheld forgiveness from the servant who owed him money, was then thrown into jail until his original debt to the king was paid, does that mean that the forgiveness is conditional (on his forgiveness of others)?   What do you think?  Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts.  I will share what we discussed, later in the week in the comment section.

We briefly talked of Kindness, as it was related in 2 Samuel 9, the story of King David's kindness to Mephibosheth, one of Jonathan's sons.  We shared how these past few weeks of suffering through a natural disaster can bring out both the worse and best in people.  And while some people can be especially difficult, cruel, and unkind many more display heroic acts of kindness to friends & strangers alike. 

And while I still struggle with 'kindness' as a fruit of the spirit, I think being kind when it is difficult to be kind can come only from "when the Holy Spirit controls our lives..." (Galatians 5:22a).  I look to Galatians 6: 8b-10, to remind me to practice patience & kindness in order that I will "harvest everlasting life from the Spirit" (Gal 6:8b). 

I don't believe it's important to have 'all the answers' in order to practice our faith.  I do think it's okay to search for clarity and answers through Scripture, prayers, discussions, meditation on the Word, and being the hands & feet of God by serving others.  Keep this in mind as we continue to learn about the Fruit of the Spirit.  It was once explained to me that all Christians receive the Fruit of the Spirit, but in the proportions we need, when we need it. 

I pray that as we continue to learn about the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control - you will start to recognize their abundance in your life.

Your Partner in Ministry,

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fruit of the Spirit - weeks 4 & 5 - PATIENCE & KINDNESS

"But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law."
- Galatians 5: 22-23

What a crazy few weeks!  And how appropriate that we would find ourselves facing a Bible study about Patience during a hurricane and Kindness during the aftermath.

Hazel Offner directs us to Matthew 18: 21 - 35 to learn about Patience.  Overall, the passage seems to be about forgiveness.  But can one practice the kind of forgiveness that Jesus says we should, without patience?  In verse 22 Jesus replies to Peter's question of 'how often to forgive?', with "seventy times seven!"  That's a lot of forgiving and probably gave Peter and the Disciples pause, so Jesus explains his response with a parable. 

How does this parable of having patience and forgiving AND not having patience and not forgiving relate to our lives?  If God is represented by the king in this parable, who are we?  Are we the unforgiving servant?  In what ways? 
On a personal level, can you think of a specific time when you were like the king and when you were like the unforgiving servant? 

For me, this is a reminder of how patient God is with me and how impatient I am with my own children.  Knowing that God is so very patient with my forgetfulness, doubt, and stubbornness makes me stop and take a moment before I lose my patience my children.  If God can forgive me all those times, than surely I can forgive my own children the times that they display the same behaviors?!  And if my impatience and unforgiving prevail, I can expect that, like the king in the parable, God will decide to remove his patience and mercy from me.  How devastating that would be!  And then I realize that must be how my children feel when I remove my patience and forgiveness from them and am heartbroken.  Praise be that God is far more patient and forgiving!  And gives such a perfect example for my behavior!

An extraordinary example of Kindness is found in 2 Samuel 9!  If you are not familiar with the story of David, he's the young shepherd boy who killed Goliath, which made him a hero!  But the story of Saul's jealousy and David's friendship with Johathan, Saul's son, begins in 1 Samuel 18.  It is a great story and a quick read!  A further testament to David's kindness can be found in 1 Samuel 24:18-21.

Although we are not faced with exactly the same circumstances as David was: I can't remember the last time I had to worry about my predecessors' family rising up to overthrow my Queen-ship; showing kindness is still not something that is easily or often done during the ordinary day.  There is still jealousy, deceit, and selfishness - all things that prevent kindness.  An impatient customer is not kind to the sales clerk and others waiting in line; the impatient driver cuts off cars and flies down the highway; the frustrated parent yells at her children.  Why is it that being unkind comes so easy?

Yet, in times of difficulty, like the hurricane many of us suffered through and many are still recovering from, we see an outpouring of kindness for those in need.  Often, when kindness is extended to a person, that person extends kindness in return.  It is a lovely circle, if we can keep it going :)

How does it feel to receive kindness (Mephibosheth)?  How does it feel to be kind (David)?  What are some practical ways we can practice Kindness in our everyday lives?  How can we be an example of kindness to others?  How can we be intentional in teaching kindness to younger generations?

I pray that during these natural disasters (Sandy and the snow storm) that you are healthy and warm.  I pray that you have received and practiced Patience and Kindness, for it is these mercies that can make even the most difficult and trying times a little easier to bear.

Your Partner in Ministry,

Monday, October 29, 2012


"Be strong and courageous!  Do not be afraid of them!  The Lord your God will go ahead of you.  He will neither fail you nor forsake you."   Deuteronomy 31:6

Awaiting the coming storm is a good time to reflect on last week's study of PEACE. 

As we read in Isaiah 43:1-7, we will not be free from adversity because of His Peace.  As children of God we will have His Peace even when we face "great trouble" and "walk through the fire of oppression" (v2).  Through the hurricanes in our life, actual and metaphorical, we can rest assure that God is there with us.  His promise is that no matter what we do, if we claim Him as our God, He will protect us and He loves us (v4).  We are never alone in our circumstances!

On Friday morning, we talked about ways to become close to God, which will help us to trust Him and believe His promises, especially the promise of Peace.  First, we thought of a person with whom we share love, trust, and understanding.  Then we talked about how we can get to know God in similar ways.  We agreed that spending time with God, inviting Him into our lives daily, especially through prayer and reading His Word, is very important.  Honesty is also essential.

I don't know about you, but doing this daily is a challenge for me!  Life is crazy, and although I try to pray every day, it's usually at the end of the day, as a list of 'thank yous' and requests for people who are in need.  I'd like to be able to start my day or incorporate prayer into my day, but I'm just not sure how to get into the habit.  And, just like He promises, "Yes, ask anything in my name, and I will do it!" John 14:14, I found a way to add prayer to my daily life! 

In an article in the September 2012 issue of P31 Women entitled "A New Way to Pray" by Kathi Lipp, the author relates how she always responded with panic and preparation to anxious times in her life.  Until she discovered a better response: prayer.  She has a verse "locked and loaded in my brain so I'm ready to go when panic strikes." ~Kathy Lipp.  She explains all the ways she uses a verse and the benefits of "Praying God's own words back to Him" ~Kathy Lipp.  She concludes with this thought, "And every time I turned to God, I felt the peace that comes only from knowing that He is in complete control - of Roger's job, of our finances, of my future, of everything." ~Kathy Lipp.

The verse at the top of this post is my Confirmation verse and one that I have come to rely on in times of need!  I often wondered how my pastor knew this verse would be just what I needed throughout my life.  But then, I know he prayed about it and listened for God's guidance in giving us our verses.  Deuteronomy 31:6 is a verse that reminds me of God's Peace, that I am never alone, no matter how much I feel alone, and that God 'has my back'.  This verse gives me strength, courage, & peace every time I pray it.

Do you have a verse "locked & loaded" or a favorite verse about Peace?  Click 'Comment' below and share it :)  If you don't yet have a verse, perhaps one that someone has shared will inspire you.  Pray that God leads you to a verse that you can rely on in anxious times.

Your Partner in Ministry,

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fruit of the Spirit - Week 3 - PEACE

"But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law."
 - Galatians 5: 22-23

To try to read about Peace today, after the discovery of Autumn Pasquale's body, is difficult.  It is with questions of 'WHY!' that I approached our reading of Isaiah 43:1-7. 

And it is in the pages of the Bible that my pleading was acknowledged.  It does not promise that life will be easy or free from trouble.  In fact, it almost guarantees that life will, at times, be difficult with the repetitive use of the word "when" in verse 2.  In this passage that I thought, at first, didn't address Peace (as I thought it should), there is a promise for "All who claim me as their God..." (Isaiah 43:7) .

Your assignment this week is to read Isaiah 43:1-7 and write out your answers to the questions in the study guide.  I know some of the questions seem obvious & easy, but it will be a great help to you if you can see them written out.  This week the passage and your answers to Ms. Offner's questions will combine to get a full picture of Peace.

If you are still unsure how Isaiah 43 relates to Peace, read the Psalms she mentions on pg. 20 (though I'm still not sure how Psalm 46 fits) and Psalm 34.  If you have access to an Index, Dictionary, and/or Concordance (mine are in the back of my Bible), look up Peace and read some of the passages.

Do you have a favorite passage about Peace?  Please leave a comment and share it with the group!  If you are reading this in an e-mail, click on the title at the top, to go to the web page so that you can leave a comment.

Every week in church we are encouraged to greet each other with the Peace of the Lord.  Many of us use the phrase, "Peace be with you".  Jewish people sometimes greet each other (or say good-bye) with the Hebrew word "Shalom", which translates "Peace".  After reading Isaiah 43:1-7 and doing the study guide questions, has the meaning of that exercise changed for you?  Share in the comment section :)

May the Peace of the Lord be with you!

Your Partner in Ministry,


Sunday, October 21, 2012



That one little word holds big meaning.  Joy is more than happiness.  It's smiling so hard it hurts, it's a twinkle in the eye, it's a glow that surrounds you.   It is a complex emotion that cannot be easily described.  It is something that has to be experienced. 

On Friday morning we went 'off book' for a bit to talk about what Joy is, where it comes from, and discuss some times when we experienced Joy in our own lives.

We agreed that joyful experiences include the arrival of a baby, weddings, birthdays, and reunions, especially the reunion between loved ones.  But it can also be an individual experience, like giving soccer balls to children who don't have any, your son making you oatmeal when he's home for a visit, like hearing a song on the radio that reminds you of your loved one, like cooking and serving a meal to those in need, and being proud of your child's accomplishment because they have worked so hard!

Joy's complexity is one of the things that sets it apart from happiness.  We've all heard of the saying "tears of joy".  We shed those tears of joy because, besides the happiness we are feeling at the time, there are contradictory feelings of worry, anxiety, concern, disbelief, or doubt leading up to that moment.  Just like in verse 41 of Luke 24, "Still they [disciples] stood there doubting, filled with joy and wonder.". 

How is it that we can experience such great happiness at the same time or in such quick succession as these negative or ambivalent emotions


Joy is a fruit of the Spirit.  It comes from God.  It is our belief in God that gives us Hope.  Hope is the bridge that moves us from 'negative' emotion to Joy.  It can be a big occasion or an intimate moment.  It can come at the culmination of lots of planning and hard work or it can sneak up on us when we least expect it.  Joy can cause us to laugh & cry, to want to shout to the world or hold it deep in our hearts. 

Joy!  It's a big gift wrapped in a tiny box!  How will you share this fruit of the spirit with others?

Your Partner in Ministry,

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fruit of the Spirit - Week 2 - JOY

"But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Here there is no conflict with the law."  Galatians 5: 22-23

JOY!  This is one of my favorite words!  I use it almost as much as I use 'Love' to express happiness & excitement.  I often wish people joy on their birthday, anniversary, or other special occasions. 

Joy, according to the dictionary: The condition, feeling, expression or manifestation of great pleasure or happiness; delight.   Our reading this week in Luke 24:33-53, seems to support that definition.  

Unlike the revelation that Love can be a choice rather than an emotion, we discover that Joy is an emotion!  And we can be filled with it, even when we are also experiencing other, seemingly contradictory emotions, "Still they stood there doubting, filled with joy and wonder." Luke 24: 41a  How is that possible?! Have you ever experienced this?  Take a minute to jot down that experience in your study guide or journal or share with the Re: community.

As you work through the study guide this week, try to picture & hear the disciples.  Imagine, if you can, all that they were feeling after Jesus was crucified and buried, and at the news the women brought back that his body was not in the tomb!  (Read Luke 24: 13-32 for background and events leading up to our reading).  They had put themselves 'out there' by following Jesus and proclaiming Him the Messiah.  They had big dreams of what the future held for them as followers of Jesus!  Those dreams seemed to vanish with His death.  But could there be hope in this news that the women brought?  It seemed too good to be true.  How could their dreams come true with their leader dead & missing?

Throughout the reading, Jesus takes many steps to prove He is risen, not a ghost or impostor.  In Acts 1:1-3, Luke says that Jesus spent 40 days appearing to the apostles from time to time proving that He was actually alive.  This proof upon proof fills His followers with Joy!  How would you feel if you had been there to see, hear, and feel what they did? Many of Ms. Offner's questions help you work through this.  When you get to questions #9 & #10, I strongly recommend checking in the back of the book where the "answers" are, pg. 48.  She refers to many more passages in Scripture to help give a fuller understanding of her questions.

Finally, read John 15-16 at some point during the week.  Here, Jesus speaks plainly about Fruit, Love, Joy, and the Holy Spirit.  Allow His words to sink into your heart and mind.  Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand His words and show you how to experience Christian Joy and share it with others.

I am so excited to talk with you about Joy, in person and here on the blog!!

Your Partner in Ministry,

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Love Is...

1 John 4: 7-16

It was wonderful to see so many of you on Friday morning!  We had an informative and reformative talk about LOVE.

In today's language, we often use the word 'love' to strongly agree with someone or some idea, to express gratitude, to express how much we like something or someone, as in 'loving a song, a pop star, an activity, I love my new TV', etc.  We use the word 'love' a lot!  But are these emotional responses really Love?

In 1 John 4:7-16, we learn that love is not necessarily an emotion.  Through our discussion of the passage and the questions in the study guide, we came to the idea that Love is a choice, a decision that we make to think and act a certain way.  It is sacrifice, it is unconditional, it is never-ending, it is freely given.  I trust those of you following along on your own via the blog came to that same conclusion.  How do you feel about about this definition of Love?

"Love comes from God.... for God is love" 1 John 4:7-8.  God is our example of how we should love others.  And when we love each other, God lives in us (1 John 4:11).  I think this is one of the best ways to evangelize in our everyday lives.  When others are closed to hearing the Gospel with their ears, they can't help but see how we love and live in love.  For those who cannot understand the concept of what God had done for them  (1 John 4:9), a door may be opened when we love them with the same love that God shows us: sacrificial, unconditional, never-ending love.  

When we cook for others, we show God's love.  When we help those in need, we show God's love.  When we love our families and friends unconditionally, we show God's love.  When we show kindness to a stranger, we show God's love.  When we welcome everyone, we show God's love.  When we pray, we show God's love.   When we choose to follow God's example of Love, "his love has been brought to full expression through us." (1 John 4:12).

How will you show God's love in your life?

Your Partner in Ministry,

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fruit of the Spirit - Week 1 - LOVE

"But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Here there is no conflict with the law."  Galatians 5: 22-23

This passage in Galatians is the basis for the next 9 weeks of study!  When I read it, I can't help but think, "Oh, I want that!  I want to be filled with love, joy, peace; to be patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and oh please, give me some self-control!"

Unfortunately, this isn't a menu.  There's no ordering up some kindness appetizers, with a hearty serving of faithfulness & self-control as an entree and a triple helping of dessert: love, joy, & peace - with a cherry on top.  But, we also don't have to work for or earn this fruit of the Spirit through good deeds and obeying the law.  It is a gift of the Holy Spirit - something the Holy Spirit produces in us.

Our first fruit is LOVE!  We tend of over use this word and in today's English it has a wide range of meanings.  But 1 John 4:7-16 gives us the definition of Love according to John, Jesus' disciple and close friend.   The example he uses for us is God, how God loves us, and how God shows us His love.

For those who will not have their book before Friday morning, here are some questions from the study:

Based on verses 7-16, write a one-sentence description of love.  Think Snoopy's "Love Is..." and fill in the rest, if you're having a hard time getting started.

After you describe love, think about and list how you have seen God's love demonstrated through other Christians.

Finally, think of someone you find it difficult to feel warm toward, especially someone you are thrown together with regularly.  Why is it difficult to love that person?  Recognizing that love is not based on feelings, list some practical ways you can show the fruit of love to that person.

To further think about the kind of Love we see in Jesus, Ms. Offner points us to additional Scripture. What is Jesus' tone of voice in Matt 19:13-15; John 8:2-11; and John 19:25-30?  What expression do you see on His face in Mark 5:25-34 and John 19:25-27?  How would you have felt if you had been touched by Jesus in Luke 5:12-13 and Luke 13:10-13?

I encourage you to share your responses to one or all the questions, in the 'Comment' button, so that others may be supported and encouraged by your words.

I thank God for all the people He has put in my life who have shown me this kind of Love.  I pray that I am able to show His love to others, even those I find it difficult to love.

Your Partner in Ministry,


Monday, October 1, 2012


Re: will not meet at Redeemer Lutheran Church on Friday, October 5th!

This week we will meet completely online, here on the blog!  So grab your favorite beverage, your Bible, & study guide, and meet with the whole Re: community on your own time on your computer!

I look forward to reading every one's comments on Sapphira, a woman who was dishonest with the Holy Spirit and paid dearly for it!!  It reminds me of a scene from "The Godfather"!  I've only seen bits and pieces of that movie, but it scares me and the actions of God in this passage are scary!  Shocking, really!!

Read Act 4:32-5:11 and work through the questions in chapter 7 of the study guide.
Do you identify with anyone in this story: Barnabas, Ananias, Sapphira, Peter?   Before you say 'no', let me direct you to Ms. LePeau's phrasing in question 6, "In what ways are you tempted to lie to the Holy Spirit, other believers or yourself?"  Oh, ouch!  I'm guilty for sure.

It is a shocking story, but I don't think fear and shock is what Luke, the writer of Acts, intends for us to take away from it.  He's telling us about a situation that happened in the early church.  What do you think his purpose is in telling us this particular tale?

Is it really so difficult to be honest to ourselves, each other, and the Holy Spirit?  Who's up for trying it this week?!

In the comment section share your reaction to this story and if you'd like to share your thoughts on any particular question from the study guide, we'd love to read them!

Re: will meet live on Friday, October 12 at 9:15 am!  We will start a new study, Fruit of the Spirit.  Contact me for a study guide or get one on your own.  I can't wait to get started!! 

Your Partner in Ministy,