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,