Tuesday, May 29, 2012


One of the greatest elements of truly being Jesus' disciple is to know how to properly read, spiritually digest, and accurately apply God's word, the Bible. Jesus gave us a major key to open the Scriptures:

John 5:37 And the Father Who sent Me has Himself testified concerning Me. Not one of you has ever given ear to His voice or seen His form (His face--what He is like). [You have always been deaf to His voice and blind to the vision of Him.]

38 And you have not His word (His thought) living in your hearts, because you do not believe and adhere to and trust in and rely on Him Whom He has sent. [That is why you do not keep His message in you, because you do not believe in the One Whom He has sent.]

39 You search and investigate and pore over the Scriptures diligently, because you suppose and trust that you have eternal life through them. And these [very Scriptures] testify about Me!

40 And still you are not willing [but refuse] to come to Me, so that you might have life.

Jesus wanted His disciples to focus on His word through Himself, the eternal Word of God, personally and relationally by His lifegiving Spirit! Head knowledge of the Scriptures is not what God desires, but true heart knowledge of the Author through reading and meditating on the content of His eternal word is what He has for us. Just before the above text in John 5, Jesus had already shared the vital nature of seeing Him in His fullness and hearing Him in the substance of His word, the Bible:

23 So that all men may give honor (reverence, homage) to the Son just as they give honor to the Father. [In fact] whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, Who has sent Him.

24 I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, the person whose ears are open to My words [who listens to My message] and believes and trust in and clings to and relies on Him Who sent Me has (possesses now) eternal life. And he does not come into judgment [does not incur sentence of judgment, will not come under condemnation], but he has already passed over out of death into life.

This is such a vital point for us to realize, then internalize, and then practice! Seeing Jesus in His word is the starting point of developing our relationship with Him, as well as gaining greater knowledge of Him. These together become true revelation knowledge and wisdom over time. This combination of relationship and knowledge never stands against deep study of the Bible, but flows with it, as Paul reminds us in his 2nd letter to Timothy:

3:12 Indeed all who delight in piety and are determined to live a devoted and godly life in Christ Jesus will meet with persecution [will be made to suffer because of their religious stand].

13 But wicked men and imposters will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and leading astray others and being deceived and led astray themselves.

14 But as for you, continue to hold to the things that you have learned and of which you are convinced, knowing from whom you learned [them].

15 And how from your childhood you have had a knowledge of and been acquainted with the sacred Writings, which are able to instruct you and give you the understanding for salvation which comes through faith in Christ Jesus [through the leaning of the entire human personality on God in Christ Jesus in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness].

16 Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God's will in thought, purpose, and action).

17 So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

4:1 I CHARGE [you] in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, Who is to judge the living and the dead, and by (in the light of) His coming and His kingdom:

2 Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable. [Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong.] And convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching.

3 For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold,

4 And will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions.

3 As for you, be calm and cool and steady, accept and suffer unflinchingly every hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fully perform all the duties of your ministry.

Timothy's development spiritually as a disciple and as a minister of the Lord, always involved growth in knowing and living God's word. Paul recognized the depth and pervasiveness of deception that already flourished in his day, even as the true believers and churches were being persecuted. The apostle described persecution and deception as environmental factors believers must be prepared to face, by being strong in the word of God.

Paul also commended Timothy for the layers and levels of understanding he had gained in his own growth through childhood into his adult years, learning all the Scriptures leading to salvation in Jesus. His proclamation, that the Bible is God-breathed and totally sufficient in every matter pertaining to life and godliness, rings down through the ages.

The great apostle went on to challenge Timothy and all who would lead the flock of God, to become fully equipped and truly proficient in handling God's word in every situation. Paul's challenge to Timothy did not stop with him fully knowing the Scriptures, but he went further to charge him (and us) in the presence of our heavenly Father and His Son, to preach, to correct, to encourage and to warn, with all the patience of a true spiritual parent.

This charge was made by Paul, who knew fully that the people would rather hear errors, things pleasing to their sin natures, and man-made fables! Timothy and all of us who sense God's calling to ministry must heed this charge, not be intimidated or deceived, but be willing to teach in spite of resistance, and to preach even to the most hostile audience, if led by the Holy Spirit!

We must ever be students of God's word, the Bible, willing when it is convenient and when it is quite inconvenient, to speak of, teach, and even preach if called by our Lord to do so!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Things Happen for a Reason

Have you ever had something happen to you and you don't understand why? I don't know about you but this has happened to me multiple times in my life. Everything seems to be going well and then all of a sudden you get blindsided by some catastrophic event. Perhaps it is the death of a loved one, an illness, a stay in the hospital that goes longer than you had hoped for, or a violent act against you.

Have you every asked yourself, "What have I learned from these life experiences and what will I do with this new found knowledge?" God has given us "free will" to make choices. When we make choices on our own without God's guidance we sometimes make good choices while other times our choices can turn out to be less than desirable. This is not a new concept as the Bible is full of stories of those who tried to make choices on their own and ended up with not the best of circumstances.

Paul talks about examples from history that are valuable for us to learn from. All these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition ~ I Corinthians 10:11 NIV. We don't often stop and think about how history gives us examples and lessons to learn by. In a recent devotion that I read, Bill Crowder wrote the following:

God has given us the Bible, partly to help us learn from the history of His people. Biblical lessons contain both examples and warnings to guard us against our worst inclinations and to lead us into wiser living. The question is whether we will learn from the lessons of the past or repeat the mistakes of those who came before us.

Things that happen to us happen for a reason. It is how we choose to deal with them and what we learn from them that will determine the outcome. God encourages us to walk and talk with him each day and seek His guidance from His Word. The next time something bad happens to you consider taking the time to determine what you will learn from this experience and how you will proceed. This is not an easy task but you may be surprised what you learn about yourself!

Elaine Campbell, MA

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dear Mommy...

On Sunday, May 13, we again celebrated Mother's Day. I paused to reflect about my own mother who has been with the Lord for almost five years. I was reminded about the importance of telling our mothers how much we love and appreciate them. Yes, for what they do. But even more importantly, because of WHO THEY ARE.

I was reading Psalm 31 and in verse 30 it says: "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." I feel blessed that I had a mother who truly feared the Lord. I tried to take every opportunity to praise her. I want to share a poem with you that I wrote to my mother on November 18, 2000:

Dear Mommy...

Dear Mommy, these words are coming your way,
As we pause to honor you on this day,
You've been such a blessing over the years,
Together we have shared smiles and tears.

You have taught us how to walk with the Lord,
You've showed us how to live in one accord,
You have been there through the good times and bad,
You've comforted us when our hearts were sad.

We praise God for a dear mother like you,
You are so gentle, loving, kind and true,
God bless you as you continue this race,
Your love has made this world a better place.

Being a mother myself, I desire to follow the example that mine gave me. May we take the time to priase our mothers, not just on Mother's Day, but every day.

Ann L. Gantt, Ph.D., LCSW
New Hope Counselor

Saturday, May 5, 2012


I've been thinking a lot about my mother. Yes, Mother's Day is coming up very soon, but I don't only think of my mother on that special day. I guess I think a lot about her because she's now 90 years of age and I wonder sometimes just how long my mom will be with us. Here are some reflections on how I feel about my mother.

It's such a blessing to have her still be able to come to family events. On Easter Sunday she and my dad came to our home for dinner, along with other family members. When I called earlier that week to invite Mom and Dad to come, Dad asked: "Is there anything we can bring?" And I said, "Well, Mom sure can make some good pies! Is she up to baking this week?" Dad said, "I'd better let her speak to that." So Mom got on the phone, and in her halting voice (she had a stroke 11 years ago) she asked: "What kind of pies would you like?" "Well," I replied, "one has to be pumpkin, for sure, and the other one, well, Mom, you can decide." I think she brought a cherry crumb pie along with the pumpkin pie! Point is, the pies were so good, and baked with the same meticulous care as Mom has always given to her cooking and baking specialties.

Mom's been a great mother. Not perfect, but great, none the less. She and Dad raised seven of us and Mom's been such a part of our lives. I recall the times she took care of me when I was sick, helped with school projects, encouraged me in my life with the Lord, traveled to visit me, along with Dad, when I was far from home, serving in missions in Costa Rica in the 1970s. I remember the handwritten letters she would send, keeping me up to date with home-happenings, encouraging me when the work was difficult, and signing her letters with love.

Mom has also been a great example of how a husband and wife can journey through life together. Along with Dad, she has been a great role model of love, service, communication, respect and honor, and dedication in marriage. This is a gift she has given to our family.

I believe I am in the place I am today, enjoying a fulfilling life, a great marriage, and three wonderful sons, a lovely daughter-in-law (and 2 sweet grandchildren), partly because of the godly mother God gave me. I know some are not blessed with the kind of mother I have, but I want to take this time to say, "Thanks, Mom. You're the best and a wonderful gift from God. Thanks for allowing God to use you to bless my life, the life of my wife and family, and the lives of my sisters and their families. Happy Mother's Day!"

Tom Horst, MA
Marriage and Family Therapist