He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. - Colossians 1:15-16

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Gossip

The words of a gossip should never be trusted
Today they are tearing someone else down
Tomorrow in front of a different audience
You will be the topic of conversation
 
Words spoken in a whisper
Are seldom shared face to face
The person held in judgment
Is never there to offer a defense
 
In the heart of the one listening
There is a nudge
A twinge of their conscience
The knowledge that gossiping is wrong
 
However any objection
Or the courage to speak up is stilled
As the listening audience
Is invited to join in the sin
 

By Susan Bunts Wachtel
September 16, 2010

Washing of the Word

This year I’ve made a concerted effort to memorize scripture.  My aim was to memorize one verse a week. 
 
For a long time…I thought that I couldn’t memorize scripture because my memory seems to get worse with each passing day.  While I may find it a challenge to pull up information lickety split I have been surprised that I have been able to memorize the scripture verses relatively easy.
 
While typically it’s been one verse a week…there’s been a few times that I’ve memorized longer passages.  Though it may take me a couple of weeks on the longer passages I am grateful that I’ve been able to memorize Bible verses.
 
There are all sorts of tips on how best to memorize scripture.  It will vary on what’s most effective for each person.
 
For me I will write out the scripture on a Post It Note and place it on my computer screen and on the bathroom mirror at home.  I’ll read the scripture verse throughout the day and when I’m at my computer, I’ll type that verse several times each day.  If I’m in the bathroom I may speak the verse out loud.  As I add a new verse each week…I’ll go back and recite or retype the previous verses so that I remember them.
 
One thing that’s been neat is being able to incorporate those verses into my prayers.  Having God’s word in my memory bank helps me to pray more boldly because I know what His word says and I can be confident that it’s within the will of God.
 
I’ve also witnessed the Holy Spirit convicting, correcting and washing me with the Word of God.  It’s hard to claim ignorance when I know what God’s word says.  If I attempt to continue to go down that wrong road and disobey God…you can be sure that the Holy Spirit is taking me to the wood shed.  So I find I’m quicker to obey and quicker to repent.
 
How about you...are you memorizing scripture?  Do you hide God’s word in your heart so that you might not sin against Him? 
 
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12

Friday, September 24, 2010

Dead Man Walking

He speaks of living according to his own free will
Yet he is walking in conformity to this world

Controlled by sin, deceived by satan
A son of disobedience

He lives according to the lust of his flesh
Follows every sinful desire of his wicked heart

This child of wrath
Is dead in his trespasses and sin

Thought he thinks he’s alive
He’s a dead man walking


by Susan Bunts Wachtel
September 23, 2010
 
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.  – Ephesians 2:1-3

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Follow Me

It’s not always an easy choice
When I hear God’s command
“Follow Me”

Further instructions are given only after I obey
No itinerary is laid out except the next step
“Follow Me”

The past bids me to stay
Attachments cause me to waver when I hear
“Follow Me”

Will I trust the One who calls
Or will I put others before God’s bid
“Follow Me”

Obedience is the key
Walking in His will the reward when He calls
“Follow Me”


By Susan Bunts Wachtel
September 20, 2010

Dedicated to those who have heard God’s call to “Follow Me”. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Imperfect People

Though it’s unrealistic, as a Christian sometimes I expect other believers to be a whole lot better than what they are.  At the same time…I know that we will never be perfect this side of heaven.
 
When I encounter that person who is a “work in progress” and see something that is unlovely and less than pure…it’s so easy to focus on that.
 
But God’s is challenging me that when I see that imperfection…when I encounter that sin in other believers instead of harping on what’s wrong with them I should bring them before the throne of grace in prayer.  I can pray with confidence when I pray for that person what God has written in His word is His will for them. 
 
Instead of letting something make me embittered or angry…I need to turn it around and pray.  Perhaps that sin that I see in myself and others should be a flag to be in prayer.

Busy for the Lord

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to get off track concerning the Lord?  Something that starts out good and is even intended to be of service can quickly become a distraction from that which is necessary and essential.
 
In my fallen sinful nature it’s so easy to let things or people distract me from the Lord.  All too easily I let activity eclipse the need for worship and undistracted study of God’s word alongside the body of Christ. 
 
The Lord has been doing business with me in areas where I have gotten off track.  It would be far better if I were a Mary and not a Martha, which is my natural tendency. 
 
It’s far too tempting for me to desire to be pleasing to people and let them set my schedule rather than go to the Lord and ask what He would have me to do.  When I let other people drive my schedule…it may be filled from morning to night taking care of all sorts of things that the Lord never intended for me to do.  When I know that my schedule is ordered by the Lord…that it’s far easier to say no or yes when and where it’s appropriate, because I’ve already said yes to the Lord.
 
It seems kind of crazy…but if I want to have that time with the Lord…if I want to be obedient and have a Sabbath rest then I need to intentionally and purposely plan for that. 
 
On Sunday as I sat in our Bible study class the Lord spoke clearly to me, “Susan, love Me more!” 
 
What does loving the Lord more look like?  How will that impact my schedule and activities?  How will it affect my attitude?  I liken it loving my husband.  Some of the ways I demonstrate my love for Chris and how my love is manifest will be similar to how I love the Lord. 
 
The one thing that I know is that I can’t even do that on my own.  Instead I need to go to the Lord and ask for Him to guide me and direct my steps.  I need to be still and listen for the Lord. 
 

Isn’t it Funny?

I’ve done many a Bible study over the years.  For a number of years, I was blessed to study God’s word through Bible Study Fellowship and most recently through a women’s study through our church. 
 
But each time I begin a new study, I find myself nervous…but also excited and hopeful that I will build friendships and bond with the women in my study.  I’m prayerful that God will enable me to be faithful in my study…that I will diligently study God’s word.  That I will be open and teachable and let God’s word rebuke, encourage, and conform and transform me. 
 
Last night I began a new study in the book of Ephesians, a Precepts study by Kay Arthur.  Through this study I will learn a new in depth Bible study method.  What a great book to study so that I might walk with confidence of who I am in Christ.
 
When I start feeling nervous…I always remind myself that within a few short weeks the ladies in the study will get to know and love one another.  I need to keep my focus on Jesus Christ and follow where He leads.  
 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Photography by Sherry Hebestreit



While she may be new to blogging, photographer Sherry Hebestreit is not new to photography.

I may be prejudiced…because Sherry was our wedding photographer…but I think she does lovely work.

Sherry has a love and passion for photography that started back when she was in the 4th grade.  Today she is a professional photographer and captures the special moments in people’s lives…weddings, engagements, birth of a child or family photos. 

If you have an event coming up and you need someone to capture those special moments…you may want to have Sherry there with her trust cameras in hand.  You can see some of her work on new blog, Photography by Sherry Hebestreit.

Sherry…thank you for capturing the most important day of our lives so we can relive the memory of that wonderful day for years to come!

Revelation

This year it seems that so many pastors and ministries are going through a study in the book of Revelation   Hearing the studies is exciting, thrilling and horrifying.  Exciting and thrilling for the believer to contemplate what awaits us in heaven and horrifying at the thought of what awaits unbelievers once the church is raptured and the world enters into the seven years of tribulation prophesied in the Bible.
 
When I hear the sermons and Bible studies on Revelation I remember back to the time in my life before I was a believer in Jesus Christ and the fear that I had as I read the book of Revelation.  
 
I came to Christ late in my life at the age of 32.  I had some exposure to Christianity even as an unbeliever…through friends who were Christian and what I had seen on TV or heard on the radio.  I even read the Bible.  But in my unbelief I was blinded to the truth in the Bible.
 
I clearly remember reading Revelation when I was an unbeliever…and I was terrified.  Though I may not have fully comprehended my lost state, there was something in me that knew that if the church were raptured at that time…I would be left behind and face the tribulation. 
 
When I read chapters 4 through 19 in the book of Revelation, it is amazing that anyone can survive the disasters that will come upon the earth.  These are not natural disasters and calamity that just happen in a small area of the country, but rather the wrath of God being poured out upon the earth and sinful man who have rejected His Son.
 
Amazingly enough…during the time of the tribulation some people will survive and some will even come to a saving faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ.  But the price for their faith will likely be execution.  The destruction and horror that is forthcoming is beyond comprehension. 
 
Praise God that those who chose to believe today will be saved.  Those who repent of their sins, ask for forgiveness and have been cleansed by the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross will be saved.  Saved from their sins and saved from the wrath to come.
 
These days when I read the book of Revelation…I find comfort in the knowledge that whether I die now or if I am raptured with the church that I will be in heaven with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I am saved…and nothing can snatch me from His hand. 
 

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Just Thinking

If I take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, if I guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus, if I hide God’s word in my heart so that I won’t sin against Him…how will that change how I live? 
 
If I truly choose to think on that which is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy…how will that change what I choose to think about?  How will that change my speech?  How will the impact what I read, listen to or watch on TV or in the movies?  How will that influence my conversations with both believers and unbelievers?  Will it motivate me to choose to keep company with people who love the Lord with all their heart, mind, soul and strength? 
 
Is my love for the Lord be manifest in my thoughts and my words?

Finally brethren whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things. – Philippians 4:8
 

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

It’s About Time


Have you ever noticed that when the Lord wants to get a point across…He keep bringing that subject into your path over and over again, from different sources.

Recently our Pastor has preached several sermons about the importance of keeping the Sabbath, about being too busy and not getting enough rest.  In addition to the sermons…I’ve encountered a similar messages in John Eldredge’s book, “Walking with God”, in a magazine article and on the radio. 

All right, all right already…I get it!  But do I really?

These well timed messages come in the middle of some very busy weeks filled with lots of activity but precious little rest.  It’s a bad combination that leaves me exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  I’m operating on no reserves and have nothing left to give.  That’s not a good way to start or end the day. 

All of this got me to thinking about being too busy, not getting sufficient rest or spending enough time with the Lord. 

It’s easier to say no to God than it is to the person standing in front of me.

It’s hard to be patient when I’m tired.

It’s hard to slow down when I’m constantly on the go.

It’s hard to know when to say “No” even though I’m already overwhelmed.

There’s nothing in me that reflects the joy of the Lord. 

When I’m constantly on the go…I’m not listening to the Lord or able to discern what He would have me to do.

Do I use busyness to keep from hearing from God?

My schedule and activities are ordered by other people instead of by God.

I sacrifice that which is essential, important and eternal for that which is temporal, meaningless and of no consequence.

When tired, I’m self absorbed and care less about others.

I’m not loving when exhausted and stressed.

I’m uncompassionate when running on empty.

When I feel the pressing need to get things done I’m impatient…even with God.  I want everyone to “get to the point”. 

I can’t hear God clearly because my mind won’t settle down and listen.

When I’m not listening to God and seeking His direction…how can I obey Him?

When I’m not spending time with God…how to I know and love Him more?

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Friday, September 03, 2010

Go and Sin No More


Why is it that it’s so easy to tell people that God loves them and that they should turn to Him so that they can go to heaven, but it’s so very hard to tell them that they are a sinner?  It’s hard to tell people…family, friends and neighbors that they need to repent of their sin and believe in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross for their sin and be saved?
 
Jesus loved the sinner, but He wasn’t soft on sin.  He didn’t try to make people feel better in their sin.  He didn’t say that it was all okay because God loved them.  Instead He had the perfect blend of repentance from sin and the message of salvation provided by God and motivated by His perfect love for them.  (John 3:14-18)
 
Think of the woman caught in adultery…after her accusers left one by one…Jesus asked her, “Where are your accusers?  Has no one condemned you?”  (John 8:4-11)  She responded, “There are none.”  The only One who could rightfully condemn her because of her sin, said, “Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more.”  The reason Jesus could do that is because He knew that He would bear her sin on Calvary’s cross.  That His blood would be shed to pay the penalty for her sin.  That her sin would be removed as far as the east is from the west.  He came to pay the penalty for her sin and mine.
 
One reasons that I have a hard time telling people that they are a sinner in need of a Savior is because of my own sin.  Not only am I not perfect…there are times when I willfully choose to sin.  I may have a wrong sinful attitude and don’t want to repent.  Or I may have a good faith walk with the Lord these days…but never far from my memory is a past sin…a big fall.  I’m afraid to bring up someone else’s sin because they may call me a hypocrite. 

When I’m focused on my sin, instead of my Savior and the forgiveness that He wrought on the cross, I’m walking in unbelief.  Doubt and unbelief is a sin too.  It’s the sin that kept the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years. 
 
While sin is wrong and horrible it may be something that the Lord can use in my testimony with others.  I can be tender and delicate in helping them remove the spec from their eye because I had to remove a log from my own eye.
 
God is so good at redeeming things…and even using my past to help me gently but directly deal with someone else who is sinning.  To let them know that there is forgiveness in Jesus Christ and they can have peace with God and know with assurance that they have been forgiven and will go to heaven.
 
What a sobering reminder that I need to be a clean vessel.  I must be quick to repent from sin…ready to die to my own self will, directed by my sinful selfish nature. 
 
If I can’t tell people the bad news that of sin and the eternal consequences of hell, how will they understand and appreciate their need for a Savior and the good news of forgiveness and salvation found in Jesus Christ.
 

Thy Kingdome Come

It seems like each day God continues to work on me and challenge me.  It’s easy for me to pray the Lord’s Prayer…and say “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  But the real work starts in my heart.  Am I ready, willing and able to let God’s will be done in my heart, my mind and even my mouth?
 
One area that God has challenged me is when I see something unlovely in the life of another Christian.  When that unattractiveness is displayed towards me or others….I find it so easy to want to go to God and complain about them.  But God is challenging me, instead of complaining or building a case against a brother or sister in Christ…I need to remember that this side of heaven, none of us is perfect…that includes me. 
 
Instead of complaining…God is challenging me to be in prayer for them.  That God would reveal to them an area of weakness or sin or an attitude that He would have them to repent of.  That they would have a heart that is tender and yielded to the Lord.  That they would have the ears to hear Him and a heart that responds in loving obedience and repentance.
 
When I see that area of weakness in another Christian…it should be a reminder for me to be praying for them.  That neither they nor I will give the devil a foothold by having a wrong attitude or response.
 
We are on the same team…I need to help build up the body of Christ, not tear them down and pray that they will do the same for me. 

Thy Word

Thy Word
Brings peace to my restless heart
Comfort to my hurting soul
Joy in the midst of sorrow
Lifts my head when I am downcast
Fosters courage when I am fearful
Strengthens me when I am weak
Instills confidence when I feel uncertain
Dispenses mercy when I deserve judgment
Gives grace to help me endure
Builds my faith when I am tempted to doubt
Brought life when I was dead in my sins
Is truth in a world filled with lies
 

by Susan Bunts Wachtel
September 2, 2010

VIP 2 GOD


One of the things I enjoy seeing is personalized license plates.  I’ve even been known to snap a photo if my camera is handy.  I especially like the plates that reflect a person’s faith.
 
Last night when I was driving home in front of me was a driver whose license plate said VIP2GOD.  When I read that…it got me to thinking.  Who doesn’t want to feel that God loves them and they are important to Him?  We all do…and praise God that in His word He tells us that He so loved the world that He sent His Only Begotten Son to pay our sin debt so that we might be forgiven.
 
I was also challenged by the Holy Spirit to ask…more importantly is God a VIP to me.  Is He very important to me?  Do I love the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul and strength?  How is that attitude reflected in my life?  Am I quick to listen and quick to obey?  Do I put God first?  Is my heart moldable, teachable and yielded unto the Lord?
 
Do I have a proper perspective of God?  When I do, then I will fall into the right place.