by Susan TuttleAt our church’s mid-week Bible study this week we spoke about our lives and how they’ve been changed since meeting Christ. We were asked to fill in this blank: Since meeting Christ, the one word I’d use to describe my life is____________ One woman at our table said, “found”. I love it! Found. We once were lost and now we’re found. It means He sees us. We’re not invisible. It means He sought after us. We are valuable. It means He has a place for us. We belong. And this is the best part. Have you ever lost something incredibly valuable to you? Torn places apart looking for it? Worried and grieved over the loss, only to find it later? What did you do? I bet you celebrated. Well, Beloved, God and all of heaven throw a crazy party, rejoicing, singing, dancing, feasting…all over YOU being found. Don’t believe me? Read Luke 15. The chapter is filled with three parables telling the story over things lost and now found. In the first two parables when the item is found, here’s what it says: “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10 (see also Luke 15:7) And then they move on to the final parable of the lost son which paints a picture of what heaven looks like when YOU are found. Go ahead, read it, and see yourself. They party! So today, if you’re feeling lost, call out to Jesus…He’s only waiting to hear your voice. Call on Him. You will be found. And then they’ll party in Heaven--all because of you.Your Turn: What would YOU fill in the blank with above?
(If you are a new Christian, we’d love it if you contact one of us so we can celebrate with you, pray for you, and get you some information. Or if you have more questions about Christ, we’d love to chat.)
By Marie Wells Coutu
While driving to Kentucky for my mother's funeral a few days ago, many memories and thoughts swirled in my head.
She would have been 101 in 30 days. Our family has been blessed to have her with us long as we did. And we are grateful to know that she is now in the arms of Jesus, and with Daddy, who went on ahead of her seven years ago.
My sister said, "I can see Daddy with his lopsided grin saying to her, 'It's about time you got here.'"
For her 100th birthday last year, we held a huge celebration. As a family, we had talked of having another party this year, though on a smaller scale. We even hoped she could be made an honorary member of the 101st Airborne Battalion at nearby Fort Campbell, as her mother had been when she turned 101.
But now, after a slow decline over the past few months and a difficult two weeks, she was no longer with us.
As I drove, I listened to a novel on audio, and one of the characters said, "God's plans don't always make sense to us, but that's when we learn to trust."
As I pondered that, I realized that it not only summed up the current situation, but also the way Mother lived her life. Her faith and the way she raised us reflected Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
While our plans were not God's plans for Mother, we know that she has a future with Him. And until we see her again, we trust in God's plans.
By Marie Wells Coutu
Some people listen to music, some read, others play games on their tablet computers or watch a movie on a DVD player.
Then there are those few of us who write.
But as much as I'd like to work on my novel en route to the American Fiction Writers Conference, I find it difficult to focus with all the activity going on. There's the soldier across the aisle listening to music (which I can hear despite his earbuds) and playing electronic solitaire. The guy next to me is playing Sodoku on his iPad, and the little boy behind me is talking, as 2-year-olds are wont to do.
How can I think about my own plot and characters when so many other interesting characters and conversations swirl around me?
Then I wonder, how does God focus on my prayers, my needs, while at the same time hearing and answering billions of other prayers all over the world? I guess that's why He is God and I am not.
And that makes my day.
I have called on you because you answer me, O God.turn your ear toward me. Hear what I have to say. (Psalm 17:6 GWT)
By Marie Wells Coutu
The first verses of the Bible tell us that when God spoke, He created.
He said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
If you or I walk into a dark room and say, “Let there be light,” nothing will happen. We don’t have the power or the authority to create light. But God does.
Unless we flip the switch—or someone else does it for us—we will not get light. And unless there is a power source behind the switch, we will remain in the dark.
But when God speaks, things happen.
He spoke, and He created you. He spoke your children into existence. He spoke the world into existence.
The Hebrew word for the verb “to create” never has a human subject. The Jewish people understood that creation is a work that is unique to God. We can take the talents He gives us and the substances He has created and make new objects, but only He can create something from nothing.
The Gospel of John tells us:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5, NIV)
If God’s Word is that powerful, shouldn’t we pay attention?
By Marie Wells Coutu
A high school football coach we know has a habit of saying, "Look at me now," to his players when he's telling them something important. Sometimes this habit carries over to his conversations with my husband. Apparently he believes you will hear what he's saying if you are looking at him.
Maybe he is onto something. I could always tell my children were listening to me if they looked at me. When they looked in another direction while I was talking, I had reason to believe they were not paying attention to what I said. And later their actions would prove I was right.
Seems to me that's a lesson we can apply to our relationship with God. When we focus on ourselves, our troubles, or our desires, it becomes harder to hear what God might be saying. But when we spend time in God's Word and focus on who He is, we can better understand and pay attention to what He wants to tell us. And later, our actions will demonstrate that we have heard what God said.
Like the old hymn says, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus...and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."
Can you recall a time when you found that looking at God helped you gain better perspective on your circumstances? Comment and join the conversation!
Sometimes our burdens—or worries—get out of control.
Today I chatted with a dear friend I don’t see very often, and as we shared events and concerns in our lives, she told me about her “burden basket.”
Since the beginning of this year, she said, life had begun to overwhelm her. She worried about many things: learning to use some new technology for work, her bills, decisions her boss needed to make, her brother’s finances, an overseas trip she would like to make, her boss’s wife, her own health, her elderly mother, needing to shop for new clothes but not wanting to, updating her will, and the list grew and grew. My friend realized that she had become concerned about so many things that her worries began to multiply, as described in Psalm 94:19: “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul
Looking for a way to break the cycle, she remembered Psalm 55:22, “Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you
She decided to write each of her concerns on a separate slip of paper and put the papers in a basket on her table. She kept writing until she had listed every issue that she had been fretting over. When she ran out of things to list, she figuratively and literally lifted her “burden basket” to God and let Him take care of them.
She told me the process gave her a feeling of release and relief, knowing that the Lord is faithful.
The burden basket continues to be a tangible reminder to her of God’s faithfulness and His willingness to take her burdens. “I know that once I’ve given it to Him, I don’t have to worry or think about that problem again,” she said.
I like the idea of using a “burden basket” to give my problems to the Lord. How about you?Photo by Kittikun Atsawintarangkul/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
by Susan Tuttle
Ever experience that?
Ever wonder why bad things happen to you?
But when bad things happen to us, does that change who God is? It certainly has the potential to change how we see Him. But make no mistake, it does not change Him. Hebrews 13:8 tells us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”
The circumstances around us do not change Him. No matter what, “He faithful in all He does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love." (Psalm 33:4-5)
Even in pain, God is faithful.
Just look at Joseph’s story. Sold into slavery by his brothers. Wrongly accused of a crime and thrown in jail. Left there after he helped a fellow prisoner who promised to remember him but didn’t. Read his story. It starts in Genesis 37—you get a little interlude in chapter 38, but it returns to Joseph in 39—and you’ll see, though we follow God, things are not always perfect. However, God is good.
He never left Joseph’s side. He restored him to a place of honor. He sowed healing into Joseph’s heart through forgiveness. And through all the bad things that happened, God was following His plan for Joseph’s life. Growing Joseph even while keeping Joseph in His hand. In the end what does Joseph say to his brothers who set the whole ball in motion when they sold him? “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.”
Looking back (hindsight offers us so much, doesn’t it?) Joseph could see God’s plan for his life. He could connect the dots and understand why there were moments of pain. How it shaped him. How it brought him to where God wanted him to be. Did Joseph struggle during those moments? You bet. But he never let go of his grip on God, and ultimately he could look and see that God is good. And he could testify to that, even with all the awful things that had happened to him.
I don’t now what you’re going through at the moment, but I do know this. God is good. Cling to that. Repeat it. Believe it. And each morning, wake up and praise Him—the devil hates that! Don’t let satan take what is harming your life and use it for evil. Grab it back, and let God use it for good.
By Marie Wells Coutu
A favorite game for many children is to step on someone else's shadow. They like to sneak up, step on the shadow, and run away.
When we know that someone has influenced the lives of many people, we might say she cast a long shadow. Like a child, we may want to touch the shadow of that person, as if something about her would rub off on us.
The thing about shadows, though, is that they are not real. There is no substance that we can feel. A shadow is only an image or representation caused by another object that partially blocks the light.
Shadows always seem bigger than life. Yet without a source of light, no shadow can exist.
Someone pointed out recently that the beloved 23rd Psalm talks about walking through, not the "valley of death," but "the valley of the shadow of death." The distinction, I think, is significant.
Your shadow of death may involve grief over losing a loved one, failure in your marriage or job, or even facing your own mortality. The valley is painful emotionally, but the Bible promises that it is not permanent. Whatever blocks the light will move on and the shadow will pass, eventually.
Sometimes a shadow actually provides protection. On a scorching summer day, we look for the shade where we can be protected from the sun's rays.
God says, "I have... covered you with the shadow of my hand
” (Isaiah 51:16, NIV). Even the shadow of His hand is enough to protect us from evil, fear, or worry if we seek the shelter He offers.
As Christians, we seek to walk in God’s Light. When we are afraid or upset, we can find comfort and rest in the shadow of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Allow His shadow to pass over you today and receive His healing comfort.
By Marie Wells Coutu
Words have power.
The familiar children’s adage proclaims, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
But that is a lie. No doubt the saying has been used by well-meaning mothers and teachers to make children feel better about being taunted and teased, but the truth is that words can hurt.
They can also soothe and heal.
The way that we make a friend is by sharing our thoughts and feelings and lives—especially through our words. God wants us to know Him because He loves us. Perhaps that is why He chose to write His Word on our hearts. Just as a potter might put her signature on the bottom of a vase, so God our Maker signs each life with His unseen mark. By inscribing his name on us, He has given us a sign of His love. We have only to look for His imprint in our lives, and we can begin to know Him.
When Jesus came into the world, the Word became visible. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us
” (John 1:1, 14, NIV). His physical body provided us a way to see and relate to God. It’s much easier to communicate with God through the man Jesus than if we only knew Him as Spirit. Similarly, we can converse with one who is the Word more easily than if He were only “thoughts.” Words have substance and shape. They have identifiable characteristics. They represent order.
Finally, God gave us His Word, the Bible. In it, we learn about His plan for humanity, His eternal truths, and the laws He provided for our benefit. These laws form the basis for all of civilized society.
In giving us His Word, God showed us every aspect of His love. He wrote this love letter to us with the blood of His only Son.
Any message that contradicts His declaration of love for you is false as that children’s rhyme. Such lies do more than break bones; they break hearts and spirits. But the Word of God can heal and restore. Stop listening to the falsehoods that devalue you. Listen only to His Words of love.
What words of deception have you listened to, and what truth will you believe instead?
by Susan Tuttle
Do you know that you are loved? Before we can talk about healing, we need a foundation. One to build on. Love is a great place to start.
Don’t allow yourself to believe that your sin is too big for Him. Christ knew we were sinners and yet He took on the cross for us. I love Romans 5:8, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
He knew we could not do it alone. He knew we were imperfect people…sinners. Yet His love was bigger than our sins. He died so His blood could cover our sins, and we could step into His presence. All He asks is that we acknowledge Him as Lord and invite Him into our lives.
And here’s the best part, when you do that—believe in Him—nothing can separate you from Him. Once you call on His name, ask Him into your life, nothing will ever separate you from God. Romans 8:38 & 39 says “…neither death, nor life, neither angels or demons, neither present or future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I want you to notice something in that passage. Among the things listed is “neither present or future”. Why doesn’t it mention our past? Well, I want to give you one more scripture that always helps me. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; the old is gone, the new is here!”
The moment you accept Christ, your past is wiped clean, covered with His blood, seen no more. We struggle with that as humans, but let’s be clear—God doesn’t. It is over. Finished. No more. He doesn’t need to mention our past because it’s gone.
Beloved, this world is a tough place. But God is bigger. And He loves you. Believe in that love today. Fall into it, find comfort in it. It’s where the healing can begin.