Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent - Waiting

The season of Advent began on Sunday, (Nov 27). Advent is defined by the arrival of something that was awaited, something we were waiting for. The world was waiting for a Savior who arrived on Christmas, and we Christians are waiting now for his second coming.

Waiting…what does that word mean to you? Sometimes it can be nerve-wracking; in a small way - like waiting in line in the grocery store when you're in a hurry, or in a big way - like waiting for that phone call with the test results. Sometimes it can be exciting like waiting for your vacation or birthday. The Bible says we should be ready, waiting for Jesus to come again. What exactly does that mean - - waiting? offers several different definitions to the word wait. Which definition expresses how you are WAITING for Jesus to return? The first definition is “to remain inactive until something expected happens.” Like waiting for a bus. So are you inactive, just living your life the way you want, until Jesus comes?

Another definition is “to remain neglected for a time,” like a matter that can wait. Are you neglecting Jesus, not giving a thought to him or his second coming?

The third definition is “to look forward to eagerly.” That is a great definition of the attitude we should have as we wait for Christ.

But, if you dig deeper, you’ll find some archaic or ancient definitions of the word wait. One is “to be in readiness for”…we are to be ready for the return of Christ. Do you think you’re ready? If you knew Jesus was returning tomorrow, what would you do today? Why aren’t you doing it?

Finally comes the definition “attend upon, as a sign of respect.” We should be attentive to Jesus. How? By reading his word (the Bible), praying, and following his will as a sign of our respect. That is the real meaning of waiting for Jesus to come again. So which definition of wait will you use?

And how will it define you?

"Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return…. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not
expect him." Luke 12:35-36a, 40


Monday, November 28, 2011


"We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth." 3 John 8

Not long ago, a girlfriend of mine, who is especially generous, presented me with a bag. It had pretty tissue in it and proclaimed on the front, "laugh!". Enclosed in the bag was a gift. It was not a huge gift, but it was a meaningful one. How beautiful, my friend knows me well enough to pick up some special things just for me. As she shops or runs errands for her precious family, she remembers me, picking up and item here or there to bless my days. She called the bag..."Our Boomerang Bag", wherein we place special gifts to bless the other. We trade the bag back and forth. Such an amazing tradition, I feel fortunate to be part of an incredibly hospitable kindess.

With our boomerang bag being a conscious effort of exhibiting great love for a friend, I think of all the events that clearly show us our Heavenly Boomerangs. We may hear folks conveniently say, "Wow, that was a coincidence." But, I strongly hold fast to the truth and the hope of God's providence rather than subscribe to the notion of coincidences.

Four years ago, God set in motion a chain reaction of loving gestures that did not see the boundaries of time, finances or location. My husband and I needed a friend to accompany my husband to China to receive the magnificent gift of our younger daughter. My girlfriend, Gerry, understood well our need and she and her husband, Jim prayed about "who" would make the stressful trip. Her husband, never having met us, offered without hesitation. We were so grateful! We came to learn that Jim's scheduled vacation time fell directly over the time of our trip. That is no is none other than the mighty hand of God.

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.Hebrews 13:2

This year, Gerry and Jim's daughter and son-in-law have had the joy of becoming parents, mixed with the fear and reality of special needs their son was born with. Friends from our China travel group joined us in praying for Jim's entire family. One friend even worked with me to try to surprise the young couple with plane tickets for a trip they are taking to have a procedure done. We learned quickly that the Lord did not want us to take care of the tickets. He did, however, orchestrate a way we could help. That same friend has a dear friend who lives very close to the hospital performing the procedure. This gentleman and his wife offered, without pause, to pick up our friends, guide them to their hotel and bring them dinner. often a kindess we wish to extend bounces out there, only to scoop up a blessing and bring it carefully home. If we are unwilling to make our needs known or if we keep hidden that which others require, we may miss the gift of boomerang blessings.

"Freely you have received. Freely you have given. "

How many of us have been blessed only to return the blessing, without even thinking? I pray I boomerrang in the daily of everyday life. God calls us to that kind of love. I learned that important truth when we accepted the unthinkable, serendiptious response of a virtual stranger to travel around the world. That man, now, a treasured friend, entertained angels. Sometimes, we will do the entertaining and sometimes we will be entertained. It is the nature and very essence of the boomerang blessing. It may be as simple as a phone call or as complex as clearing a calendar to meet the needs of another. Regardless, when God speaks to our hearts boldly to bless and be blessed, He knows our need to experience both. Created in His likeness, each moment should be an attempt to live out His Word in our relationships.

"This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God." 2 Corinthians 9:12


Friday, November 25, 2011

Can I Be Thankful for This?

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18


It's Thanksgiving week once again and time to give thanks to God for your life.

When I'm healthy and money is flowing and my kids are making good grades, it's easy to give thanks. But when someone in my house is sick, and bills are piling up, and the kids bring home a bad grade, it's not natural to be thankful.

But God doesn't ask us to do what's "natural". Instead He asks us to act out of faith and a knowledge of His word. The verse above clearly states when I'm supposed to give thanks - and for what. Give thanks in every circumstance.

It's one thing to just accept a bad circumstance, but to actually give thanks for it is quite another thing.

All across the internet, people are doing this giving thanks thing. It's on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc... But not once have I seen one of them give thanks for a bad circumstance. I'm not judging them, after all, just this morning I realized I'm guilty of falling into the same pattern of giving thanks.

Today, I will begin with a conscious effort to give thanks for all circumstances.

Today, one of my kids woke up with a fever, tummy ache and headache. I had to stay home from Bible study, and miss play practice at school (I'm directing a Christmas play at my kids school). Today, I thank you, God for my sick child, and your plans for me to stay at home to love on her and focus on YOU.

Wow, giving thanks in all circumstances really causes you to release control of your life to God. It's really an admission that He alone is in control. You should try it.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

are we a mixture?

Are we guilty of being a mixture? A mixture of the Holy and the profane? Do our lips profess to be something that our hearts declare otherwise?

God has called us, His children, to purity. He desires for us to be completely holy. Completely righteous. Pure and undefiled. God's Word tells us over and over to be separate from that which is unholy and unclean. 

We who have been sealed with the Holy Spirit are set apart to be different. Sanctified. Holy. The Word tells us to guard our hearts and our minds. To walk worthy of our calling. To be Holy as He is Holy.

When we allow the world to lord over our thoughts and actions, we are guilty of becoming a mixture. We can't be half world and half Christ. We can't be mostly Christ with a little of the world mixed in. We have to be all or nothing. All in or all out. Pure and Holy. Unmixed.

The only way we can keep ourselves from being a mixture is to keep ourselves grounded in the scriptures. We must spend time every day at His feet and in His Word. Seeking to know Him deeper. Striving to be more like Him. Desiring to walk closer to His side. Allowing God to be Lord over our thoughts and actions and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Allowing Him to purify and sanctify us and make us Holy.

"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved,
let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the 
flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God"
(2 Corinthians 7:1)


Friday, November 18, 2011

New Contributing Author on Marriage Matters

Hello everyone! My name is Amanda Beth. I am the new bi-weekly guest contributor for “Marriage Matters” here at Titus 2. My husband, Jason, and I have been married for 15 years. We have four beautiful children, ages two to ten.

My husband and I had a rough relationship for the first half of our married life. Ten years ago, I was buried in sin and desperate for change. I was in a pit and had no clue how to get out. That’s when I turned to God. He lifted me out of my pit and slowly began to transform me, my marriage, and my family.

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.
—Psalm 18:16-19

Two and a half years ago, God called me to write my first book about my journey to find contentment in my marriage and my family. I am still amazed how God used my testimony and turned it into a teaching tool to help other families find healing and contentment in their homes.

The book is titled “You Can Have a Happy Family – Steps to Enjoying Your Marriage and Children.” It is available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and CreateSpace. It is also available on my website and my blog

Even though God has done an amazing work in my family, we still have our struggles and He is still working. My prayer is that God would use my upcoming posts to encourage you that you are not alone.

I want to thank all the contributors here at Titus for inviting me to be part of their wonderful blogging family. I am looking forward to this opportunity to share what God has taught me in my marriage.

God bless you,

Monday, November 14, 2011

In this season of thanks...

"Enter God's gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise, give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." Psalm 100:4-5

There was a girl who came to our wedding with her hair tied in bright pink knots. The wife of my husband's dear friend, she became known adoringly among my friends as "Pink Knots". It would have been easy to judge Pink Knots or misunderstand her, but to know her is to love her. She posesses a boldness and honesty hard to find in our culture. Pink Knots is the perfect combination of candor and compassion, she is usually the first to volunteer when there is a need or someone is hurting. Ten years have passed since our wedding and just last year, she and her husband and their two children moved quite a distance away. Fortunately, social media allows us to be closer in distance than perhaps we were living just around the corner.

When I suffered my first stillbirth, Pink Knots cried for our baby and came in the middle of the night leaving food on our doorstep and prayers in our hearts. Many did not know what to do, but Pink Knots reached out in a way I will never forget. It remains indellibly etched in my heart the kindness she showed during great sadness. I know I have learned priceless lessons from her about not serving man and about being thankful. She lives in a rural area where she and her husband hunt and enjoy the beauty of the vast expanse of land they have been blessed with. Hard workers, she and her husband take nothing for granted. Her attitude of gratitude has blessed me.

A few years ago, Pink Knots began on her Face*book page a series of Thanksgivings she titled "100 days of Gratitude" where she consciously found reasons to give thanks instead of complain or allow herself to be burdened with the heaviness or hardship of life. I loved this idea and so, about 75 days ago, I embarked on this journey myself. It is hard to place into words what this experience has done for my own relationship with the Lord. I find my prayers have changed, my quiet time has changed, my days are brighter, my service more meaningful, relationships are deeper, the little things look little and the big ones get prayed for more frequently. Why? Simply because in each and every circumstance, there is reason to give thanks.

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:18

The consistency of looking for the blessing rather than focusing on the hardship is a constant reminder of God's goodness as the author and perfector of our faith and our lives. Sarah Young writes of the Lord's longing desire for us to seek Him and chat with Him in the book, Jesus Lives "Whenever you are tempted to grumble, come to Me (the Lord) and talk it out. Trust me by opening up consistently. Do not wait until you are already discouraged. As we talk about these matters, remember to thank Me. Your communion with me will bless you in another way also: You will find in my presence irrepressible joy. Whether or not I (the Lord) change your circumstances, you will discover I have given you a new song - a hymn of praise."

Could you be more purposeful in giving thanks everyday and in every situation? I have found so many opportunities I was missing to thank God for His grace, mercy, teaching, and for His love. Even in the hardest times, I can thank Him for being right there in my hour of need, for meeting me where I am, and for being the Alpha and the Omega when I am simply his little child.

What are you thankful for today?


Friday, November 11, 2011

Sticks and Stones

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me!

Bullying is a current day issue - one that's been around for a long time. Even in Biblical times bullying played out.  Many people bullied Jesus.  Luke 22:63-65 tells of one such incident:

"The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, 'Prophesy! Who hit you?' And they said many other insulting things to him."

These were painful words unjustly spoken to a perfect savior.

How did He handle it? Even in the midst of persecution, Jesus asked His father to forgive them, stating how they didn't know what they were doing (Luke 23:34).

I've been bullied. In the 7th grade, I became the object of bullying on my bus. Every day before and after school, I endured relentless verbal abuse.

I thought of the above phrase, but having lived it, knew that it wasn't true. Their words did hurt. They ended up having an effect on my psyche for years to come. I didn't find complete healing from the pain of my childhood until I went to counseling and allowed God to teach me how to truly forgive. But the scars of those wounds will always be there.

This week, a 9th grader at our public school had her arm sprained by a school bully. According to the news, she has been enduring verbal abuse for two years now.

Should we teach her the above phrase and expect her to move on, unscathed by the event?


Proverbs 18:21a says, "The tongue has the power of life and death."

Romans 10:10 says, "For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."

Our words are filled with power. Words will either edify or destroy the listener.

When we know of someone who is being bullied, we need to acknowledge the pain they've experienced and direct them to God. He is the only one who can heal the wounds of the soul.

And to the bully, we need to teach them the power of words, too. They need Jesus just as much as the one being bullied. The real reason people bully is because they are hurting inside.

Be careful to choose your words wisely, and teach these truths to our children. There's great power in the tongue.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

do you need revival?

Does anybody need a revival in their hearts? Could you use a little reviving in your spirit? God's Word gives us the perfect antidote to our dead spiritual lives.

"If my people, which are called by name, shall humble
themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from 
their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven and 
will forgive their sin, and will heal their land"
(2 Chronicles 7:14)

Everyone who is reading this could use some reviving in their spiritual walk. We will never outgrow the need for going deeper with our Lord. God knew that our journey with Him would be ongoing and that we would need a little spiritual CPR along the way! His precious Word gives us the formula and a promise to go along with it.

First, we have to humble ourselves. Fall on our faces in raw humility of who we are and come to terms with our great depravity of spirit.

Second, we have to pray. While we are on our faces, we cry out to God and pour out all that is within us. All that he already knows, but is waiting for us to confess.

Third, we have to seek His face. As we are pouring out to Him our deep confession, we need to be seeking His will and His way for our lives. We need to hungering and thirsting for more of Him.

Now, this fourth step is where most people fail to go. If we are to be completely revived in Him, we must turn from our wicked ways. That means, whatever it is that we poured out to Him while on our faces, we have to turn from. We have to put it down. Place it at His feet and never pick it up again.

Revival will never happen in our lives if we aren't willing to do these four things. All four of these are necessary if we want to revive our spirits and grow closer to our Lord. We have to dig deeper and seek higher and He will reveal Himself to us. He will heal our land..

"Seek the LORD and his strength,
seek His face continually"
(1 Chronicles 16:11)


Monday, November 7, 2011

Family Time


A college professor told us about the rigors of his routine as a Ph.D. student. He was in the library early in the morning, staying all day. After supper he either returned to the library or studied at home for hours. This routine continued for several years.

One of the students in our class asked him, "Did you have a family then?" "Yes," the professor replied. "How and when did you get to spend any time with them?" The professor smiled and said, "It’s not quantity time that counts, it’s quality time."

Quantity versus quality time is a tension for all families. There is a difference between the two. Quantity time refers to the minutes and hours we spend in each other’s presence. Quality time refers to the significance and importance of that time together.

Both quantity and quality of time is important. Quantity is important because it is the incubator of opportunity for meaningful conversation and events to occur. The eight hours working together boxing fund raising items in our garage prepared Cheryl and me to relax and reflect on what we appreciated about each other. The four hours of chasing a diapered kid around the house nurtured the moment when he or she threw their arms your neck and squealed, "I love you mommy, I love you daddy." The threads of quantity and quality intertwine. Unravel them, and you lose both quantity and quality.

I question if you can ever have much quality time without quantity. Quantity prepares and incubates the birth of the meaningful.

The holiday season is coming upon us, and beckons us to spend both quality and quantity time with our families. Let's not scrimp on either one!

Warren Baldwin

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Widow Next Door

I notice my husband, Jeff, standing very still at the living room window. At the moment, however, I am busy chasing our two-year-old son. On my second pass through the living room, I see Jeff putting his shoes back on.

He had only been home from work a few minutes.

“Where are you going?”

“The garbage trucks came by two days ago, but Kay’s trashcans are still on the curb.”

Jeff says this with a sense of urgency that I fail to understand.

“That’s nice, Honey, but could you bring them in for her after you help me get this boy into the bathtub?”

“Denise, she has M.S., remember? Maybe the cans are still out there because she’s having one of those spells. Maybe she needs help.”

I feel silly. Here I am, the person who is in this house every minute of every day, yet I am not the one who notices our neighbor’s trashcans still sitting on the street.

Jeff knocks on her door.

After a few minutes of no response, I assume she’s not home – even though her car is in the driveway.

“Come on, Jeff. Let’s get her cans for her and go home.”

But Jeff insists on giving Kay more time.

“She has to move slowly,” he says, “so we have to give her extra time to answer the door.”

I realize he’s right. Again.

A moment later, Kay opens her door. She looks tired, but she assures us that she’s fine. She’s just having a rough couple of days, physically speaking. We exchange numbers, though, so she can call us if she ever needs anything.

* * * * *

This happened more than five years ago. Everything was okay, but I learned an important lesson. We have a responsibility to our neighbor, in a real and tangible sense. And Jeff was much more attuned to this need than I was.

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:
to look after orphans and widows." – James 1:27a

God calls His people to care for widows and orphans.

Over the years, I have observed Jeff, on more than one occasion, caring for widows and orphans. Because Jeff is an orphan himself, he has an expanded heart for those who have lost someone through death. Kay is a widow in her mid-fifties. She lives alone, and she lives with Multiple Sclerosis.

Through my husband, God has opened my eyes to see needs around me that I previously couldn’t see.

This past Sunday night, our doorbell rang. Kay brought over a large bag of candy and asked us to pass it out to trick-or-treaters. She doesn’t have the strength to get up and answer the door every few minutes when more kids come by, but she wanted to participate in the neighborhood’s festivities in some way.

So on Halloween night, she kept her porch light on, and she posted a sign on her door that directed foot-traffic to our house, where we dispersed candy from two different bowls: hers and ours.

It was such a small thing. But it made me smile.

Our relationship with our neighbor is due to my husband noticing something everyone on our cul-de-sac, including myself, missed. But Jeff realized its larger significance. And he took the time to care.

Is there someone on your street you could reach out to?
Do you know a widow who your family could include?