Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Press On and On -- Day 2

Camp Venango for Jesus 2013

Theme: Press On

Day 2 – Run for the Prize

Read Philippians 3:13-14

13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  (NIV)

Races are easy right? You just jump in, run like the wind, and collect your prize.

Not hardly. To even have a chance at the prize you have to prepare. Get outfitted with the best equipment. A good runner trains, practices, and eats well. They do it for the pure joy of running – and for a prize. But most prizes don’t last long. Fame is fleeting and medals tarnish. The prize Paul is talking about will never fade.

The prize isn’t your ticket to heaven. You aren’t running, striving, or working to win your salvation. That’s a gift, bought and paid for by Jesus when he died on the cross. The day you confessed your sins and accepted God’s forgiveness – your salvation was sealed in heaven. It wasn’t because of anything you did, it’s not because you are worthy; it’s because of Jesus. And that, my friend, is the ticket that got you into this race!

But if God’s Word says there’s a prize, then believe it, there’s a prize!

·         Phil. 3:13-14 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 

·         1st Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

The prize helps us stay focused and gives direction, something to aim for. We’re aiming for heaven and the joy of seeing Jesus face-to-face. The prize will be hearing God say, “Well done.”  That will happen if you prepare for your race. Get some Bible knowledge by reading God’s Word to get it into your heart and mind. Spend time with God in prayer. Hang out with good Christian friends, and worship with other believers – join a church. 

While you’re running the race, don’t steamroll over people along the way. Help anyone in need who crosses your path, and don’t neglect people who believe differently than you.  That’s all part of the golden rule, and the second greatest commandment.

·         Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

·         Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Okay, you’re ready, you’re set…now go.

Prayer Time: Heavenly Father, You are grand, unfathomable, holy, and absolutely awesome! You’ve called me to run the race you’ve stretched out before me. Help me to run it well. While I run, show me how to love you with all my heart and to love others. Teach me to be kind and nice to everyone. Please keep me on course, I’m running for you. I’m running toward you, and I want to bring as many people along with me as I can.

For your glory, Amen.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Press On

Camp Venango for Jesus -- Devotionals 2012

Day 1 – Get in the Race
Read Philippians 3:13-14

13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  (NIV)

There’s your memory verse for camp. That’s how it reads in the NIV Bible. Eons ago God inspired the author to write it down. It was written in a totally foreign language. But in 1611 it was translated into the English language  – The King’s English, with lots of ‘thee’s and ‘thou’s and ‘thus sayeth’s. If God had given this message to someone like you, here and now, it would probably come down something like this:

Hey bros and sisters in the Lord, maybe I don’t fully get it and I don’t have a complete handle on things, but that’s because I haven’t arrived yet. I’m on my way though, and I’ve left all the bad stuff behind. What is in the past is past. I’m going forward! I’m pressing on, going for the gold.  I’m going to cross that finish line like a champ. That’s what God called me for, to run the course of my life as if there’s a prize at the end. And there is – there’s an everlasting heavenly reward in Jesus Christ.

At least that’s how I imagine it would sound today. Either way, it’s pretty clear that Paul was stoked about running the race the very best he could.

Life in Christ is like running a race. So let me ask you, are you in the race? If you’ve already asked Jesus to be part of your life, you’re in it. And on the day you got in it the angels rejoiced. They take notice every time a new runner enters the race, and they celebrate like crazy.

Have the angels thrown a party for you yet? If you’re not sure, talk to one of the CVFJ counselors about it. They will tell you some things you may already know, like: God loves you, and he wants to have a good relationship with you. You’re a sinner. Sorry to break that to you if you didn’t know, but it’s true. You’re a sinner just like the rest of us human beings. And that’s a big problem because God can’t stand sin, yet he loves you, and me. So he sent his son, Jesus, to die for our sins, to cover for us. That’s grace. Claim it. Confess your sins an ask God to forgive you. He will. The Bible says so –  

·         1st John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

God nails that down with a bigger hammer in the next verse…If we claim we have not sinned, we make God out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

So make sure you have that sin business all taken care of… and then...you’re in the race. Now run for the prize.


Prayer Time: Heavenly Father, thanks for inviting me to take part in the race. Thanks for forgiving my sins even before I asked. And thanks for holding out a prize. I don’t have it all together yet, but I’m not looking back. I know there’s a finish line, and I’m going for it. Help me God. I want to do you proud.

In Jesus name and for His sake, Amen

Monday, October 8, 2012

Show and Tell

One of the first bits of writing advice I received was show don't tell. It sounds simple, but it's hard to follow. I'm a writer, for heaven's sake, that's what I do...tell people about stuff through written words. But oh, what's that? It's not the best way to communicate? Rather, you should tell a story that shows what you mean. It took me a long time to get that. And it doesn't just apply to writing. It applies to living. Whatever it is we want to say or to teach comes through in our actions much louder than in our words. "Your actions speak so loudly, I can't hear what you say." True this, thank you, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Rogers and Hammerstein went out on a limb with this song written for South Pacific, Carefully Taught.

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!

Children have to be taught to hate. They love, instinctively they love their mommy, no matter if she is the world's best or the world's worst, her child loves her. Until she teaches him or her to hate. And as a child learns to hate, love begins to wane. Not just love for the different, love for the same, for family, for friends, for God. Love and hate do not and cannot co-exist. So, please, sow seeds of love.

Extreme partisanship and divisivness rule and reign. People my age and older say it's never been this bad. But I suppose they've been saying that for years. It gradually gets worse. A society that isn't getting better is getting worse. I don't believe this can be turned around by imposing our beliefs, convictions, values, morality, or lack there of, on others. It can't be turned around by pointing to the past. We can't go back, nor should we want to. But we can and should learn from the past and move on accordingly. We can live by, and live up to, our own beliefs, convictions and values. We can and must live up to our own sense of morality without judging others.

In fact, if we're Christians, followers of Christ, we have to love and not judge. And I'm here to tell you, that's hard to do. Even as I get upset with racists and bigots who claim to be followers of Jesus, but have not love...there I go, judging them. And just as they would quote me book, chapter, and verse after verse to justify their disdain, to justify their judging and hating (not the sinner of course, just the sin, believe that and they'll tell you another) I will come back with verse after verse about love, grace, living in peace wherever and whenever it is possible. I will come back with the greatest commandment and the second...to love one another.

In the days of South Pacific it was racism. Native Americans and black Americans were still discriminated against and then Japanese Americans were added to the list. Today it is Muslim Americans and GLBT Americans who are discriminated against. All in the name of Jesus. Ooof. That feels like a punch in the gut to me. I wonder how God Almighty feels?

Here's how I imagine it. I am a mother of sons, no daughters, just sons and now some wonderful daughters-in-law and a couple of grandsons. My sons, born to me, share DNA with me and my husband, and each other. I love those boys. Each of them is so different. Each of them is following their own path in life. Who is doing the best? Who do I approve of and love more? Not one. Not one of them is better to me or more loved than the other. Each with his own personality, character traits, ambitions, likes, dislikes -- each of them is fruit of my womb and I love them like, well it defies description, how much I love them.

When someone suggests that one of my boys may be better or worse than another, it hurts me. If someone says you must be so proud of this one over that one, it kills me. I can celebrate one's accomplishment without being less proud of another's. I'm proud of all of them. I love each one.

So, that's how I imagine it is with God and all of us. He made us. He knows us. He loves us. Here's where my love for my sons, and God's love for us differs. God knows us inside out, he knows the good in our hearts and he knows the evil. And his word says we're all sinners, so yes, there is evil in even the best of us. But he loves us anyway. I don't know what my kids hold in their hearts, I don't know what their futures will bring. I just love them and hope for the best. God loves them and knows the worst. How about that? And he loves me and you just the same, too!

Knowing God, loving God, should bring us to this -- what now? What to do with the Bible verses that tell us how we should then live. We should live in obedience to his command in his word. Is that the point of the Bible, to be our personal instruction book? I think not. The Bible tells us all that we must do to please God. And then, in case we can't figure it out, his word tells us it is impossible to please God. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Without atonement, it is impossible to please God. Without the sacrifice of Jesus, it is impossible for us to please God. Furthermore, we don't even get to choose to believe. He has chosen us.

I'll stop there. Mid-thought. Though so much more is going on in my head, but I fear that I'm telling. I'll stop that and listen to my heart and see if there is a way to show. Meanwhile, may God bless me and you with a love for others that keeps us from judging and leads us to encouraging, lifting up, spurring one another on to good works. Amen.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Camp Venango Devotionals 2012

Camp Venango for Jesus 2012 – Devotions Day 1

Theme: Who Am I?...The Beloved!

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love.”     John 15:9

Welcome Camper! It’s Day 1 of CVFJ 2012 and I have to ask…

Who are you?

God’s beloved…that’s who you are. And He’s absolutely crazy about you.

Read: I John 3:1 “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

God loves you. How cool is that? He loves everyone in the whole world. It says so in the Bible: John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

If you believe in God you won’t perish…you won’t die and be separated from God. You’ll live with Him eternally. Forever and ever!

So how can you believe in God and know the awesome love He has for you?

It’s as basic as A-B-C

A – Admit you need a Savior. B – Believe Jesus is God’s Son. C – Confess your sins…and then… Ask God to forgive you, and invite Jesus into your heart. Try it and see…it’ll be the start of a beautiful relationship with God, your Heavenly Father.

If you’ve done that for the first time tell someone. And… Welcome to the family of God! If you’ve done it before, woo-hoo good for you! Either way, have a great time growing strong in your faith at Camp Venango for Jesus.

Pray this:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for loving me so much that you sent Jesus to die for my sins. Please come into my heart, Jesus, and help me follow you. Show me that I am your beloved.


Devotions Day 2

Theme: Who Am I?...The Beloved!

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love.”     John 15:9

Welcome to Day 2 of camp…

You are God’s beloved.

WHAT did you say? You’re not good enough to be God’s beloved?  Read Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Do you get that? While we were still big-time into sinning, Christ died for us.

God made you and He knows everything you have ever done. He knows the good stuff and the bad stuff, but – surprise! – He loves you anyway. Read Psalm 139:1-4

1O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.

2You know when I sit and when I rise: you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

4Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.

He knows that you make good choices, and He knows when you make bad choices. He’s calling you to make the very best choices: to believe in Him, to learn more about Him, and to obey Him. When you do good things and act right, God smiles.  When you make poor choices and behave badly, God still loves you. He loves you like a good Dad, and that means there are consequences for wrong behavior. Ouch! When that happens, when you’ve done something wrong and you know it, tell God you’re sorry. Then thank Him for loving you enough to correct you – so you’ll grow stronger in faith.

Pray this:

Dear Lord,

Sometimes I don’t feel worthy of your love. I’m not always good. I’m sorry for that and I want to do better. With Jesus in me I know I can make good choices and obey you. Please help me to stay close to you, learn more about you, and do what you want me to do.


Devotions Day 3

Theme: Who Am I?...The Beloved!

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love.”     John 15:9

Dear Beloved,

Welcome to Day 3 of Camp.

You are God’s masterpiece. He formed you exactly like He wants you to be, and He thinks you are just right! Pretty enough or handsome enough – that’s you. Smart enough, athletic enough, funny enough, talkative enough, shy enough, outgoing enough – you are just right. You’re just the way your Creator wants you to be.

Well, except for the sin part…but you already know there’s a solution for sin. It’s Jesus! Read I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

 Perfect. That’s what you are in Jesus.

                                                Clean.  When your sin is confessed and forgiven.

 Pure. You are spotless in God’s eyes.

If anyone tries to tell you different you can read them this scripture: Romans 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”  You are a child of God. Romans 8:17 says so! “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”

Don’t criticize and condemn yourself or you are condemning something God says is wonderfully made. Don’t let others criticize you. Whatever label anyone tries to put on you, test it against this: You are God’s masterpiece. Of course you are still a masterpiece in the making, but a masterpiece nonetheless.  And while your Creator is still working on you, use all of who you are – all of your personality, all of your ability – to serve Him.

God made us all different. Discover who you are. Love the person God made you to be and shine for Jesus in all you do. Because…you are His beloved!

Pray This:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for making me just the way I am. Help me to use my personality, all the gifts, talents, and traits you’ve given me to shine for you. Help me to lead others to you by my actions and words. 


Devotions Day 4

Theme: Who Am I?...The Beloved!

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love.”     John 15:9

Dear Beloved Camper,

Are you getting it? God loves you. He doesn’t love you because you’re smart or beautiful, wise or handsome, not even because you are good or bad. He loves you just because. That’s why – just because.

Let me rearrange the words to the song Who Am I by Casting Crowns –

It’s not because of who you are. It’s because of who HE is, a loving, gracious, forgiving Savior.

It’s not because of what you’ve done.  It’s because of what HE did. He died on the cross for your sins.

And from God’s Word: Jesus came to find you and save you. -- Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

If you’ve been saved you’ll be living like you never lived before. You aren’t like you used to be. You are new! -- II Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Will there be times that you forget? Probably. Will there be times that you lose your way? Certainly.  Can you get back? Oh, you betcha! Our God is always waiting with open arms to draw us close again, to comfort, to help, to set us back on the right path.

Why would He do that for you? Because you are His beloved, just like Jesus is God’s Beloved! –Jesus says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love.”     John 15:9

There is no better place to be than in the arms of Jesus, on the lap of your Dad in Heaven. Get there. Stay there. Remain in His love! I’m not going to remind you again, but God will remind you over and over and over… read your Bible, you’ll see.

Pray this:

Dear God,

It’s me, your beloved. Thank you for loving me, saving me, and keeping me close to you. Thank you for giving us your Word, the Bible, where I can find all the help I need to walk close to you and to remain in your love.


Friday, April 6, 2012


Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy...the fifth book of the Bible. That's what I'm up to. And Matthew, Mark, Luke...the third gospel, that's what I'm up to in the New Testament. My devotional throws in a Psalm and a Proverb daily too, as well as one of Oswald Chamber's writings. His devotional writings are excerpts from his books published back in the 1950's, back when I was a little baby. He was a brilliant theologian and a deep thinker. Some days I'm left encouraged and uplifted, somedays exhorted, and somedays I ponder and wonder and scratch my head. Those are the days I'm humbled by my lack of understanding...on so many levels.

Recently I read this: We may say what we like, but God does allow the devil, He does allow sin, He does allow bad men to triumph and tyrants to rule, and these things either make us fiends or they make us saints, it depends entirely on our relationship with God. If we say "Your will be done," we get the tremendous consolation of knowing that our Father is working everything according to His own wisdom. If we understand what God is after, we shall be saved from being mean and cynical. From If Ye Shall Ask 1958.

And earlier I read this: There is nothing more impertinent than our crass infidelity in God. If He does not make us plowers and sowers, and reapers all at once, we lose faith in Him. From The Servant as His Lord 1957. (I don't even know that that title is saying.)

Sometimes I get a dose of inspiration from facebook. For example, don't find fault, find a remedy.  I liked that, and I like that. That's good advice, huh?  Or how 'bout this, Christians are tempted to fight like the devil to please the Lord. Isn't that sadly oxymoronic?

There are two great commandments that trump all the others. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. When we get good at those two maybe it will be okay to move on to telling others how they should live. But I don't see that happening this side of heaven. Let's live the best we can in obedience to God, and let others figure out how they should be living in obedience to God.


Sunday, February 26, 2012


Forging ahead in my quest to read the Bible in a year, I'm in the book of Leviticus, and I'll tell you what, it's going to be mighty hard to find a spiritual high reading this. Such detail about sacrifices -- involving blood, entrails, fat and all that -- ugh. Although I must admit I can almost relate, as I imagine the enticing aromas from burning fatty portions of meat on the altar of sacrifice. I've been known to burn a thing or two in my life...and when it's meat, outdoors on the grill, mmm-mm, it smells mighty fine...for a while. Once it's totally blackened it smells like something charred, something on fire. Quick, call 911!

My burnt offerings are not intentional, and probably are not a sweet aroma to the Lord, but still. In the days of Biblical antiquity a burnt offering pleased the Sovereign Lord God. Today, it's not necessary to bring offerings of that sort to God. He made the final offering for us, sacrificing Jesus, His son, Himself. All we need to do is confess our sins, call out to Jesus and be forgiven, cleansed. Then our name will be written in the Lamb's book of life. Hallelujah!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How To Go On

Jesus disciples forsook him. Even Simon Peter, who vowed that he would never -- did indeed, deny knowing Jesus. He and his comrades didn't turn and flee because they wanted to, it was only because they didn't know how to go on. And we, like Peter, who call ourselves disciples, followers of Jesus, react when we face crisis. Sometimes the reaction is to run. Sometimes we are paralyzed. But eventually we fall at Jesus' feet...and he lifts us...and he shows us how to go on.

And for that,
I love you O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;

So shall I be saved from my enemies.  (Psalm 18:1-2)

Our enemies?
                  depression, anxiety, stress
              shortcomings, weaknesses, sin
              poverty, hunger, desires, needs
     acqauintances, neighbors, friends, family, foes 

Too often we make enemies because of misunderstanding. The tower of Babel looms large, but, as for me, I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; and I will be saved from my enemies...real and imagined. Amen.