Thursday, October 14, 2010

Butterflies Are Free

If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed! John 8:36
The annual Women’s Retreat hosted by Voice of Joy Ministries was held in September and it was one of my favorites. The theme was Butterflies. We looked at the Christian life as compared to the stages of the life of a Butterfly.

Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides forever. I Peter 1:23
We are born again by the Word of God, and are like the tiny egg planted on a leaf. They say if you look closely you can see inside the egg to what is growing there. A butterfly? Not yet – what you can see is a tiny worm like thing. When we are first born again, we don’t look like Jesus Christ in whose image we are destined to become. But the process has begun!

Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Matt. 4:4
When the egg hatches, a little caterpillar emerges. A very hungry little caterpillar! He eats and eats and eats until he grows to be a big caterpillar. If we are smart, the next stage in our Christian life drives us to hunger for the Word of God. I remember when I first got a revelation that the Word of God was a living thing. I devoured it – read it through, the whole thing – in three days. Later I went back and had meals of the Word on a more regular basis. The Word of God causes us to grow, causes our minds to be transformed.

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Phil. 2:12,13
When the caterpillar is very fat, it forms a cocoon around itself and you can’t see the caterpillar any more. What is happening to it is done in secret. It is changing forms. It is that way with us. When the Word of God has transformed our minds, we are ready to allow the Lord to change us on the inside. He, through His Living Word and His Holy Spirit, works to bring us to increasingly higher levels of likeness to Himself…until we don’t look like our old self but like Him.

…as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4
When the butterfly emerges, its wings are weak and floppy. Then it begins pumping blood into those wings until they are strong and able to fly. So it is with us. The Blood of Jesus strengthens us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness – continually. One of the first things a butterfly does is look for a mate so it can reproduce. And we too, when we are born again and transformed into His image, desire to share the good news about the new life available to every person because of God’s great mercy and love.

Be free!!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Blood

I’ve been studying the Blood of Jesus a lot lately. My understanding has been a progression over decades that took a giant leap recently.
Years ago I knew that His Blood was poured out for us from the Cross of Calvary and then He took some of it and put it on the heavenly Mercy Seat so our sins are covered from the sight of God the Father. I was very grateful. I was glad that the deal between Father and Son included “whosoever will believe.” I had a picture of myself eternally at the lower left hand corner of heaven on my knees scrubbing the floor – but grateful that I was in.

But then I discovered that Jesus and the Father are one. So I had to at least mentally recognize that the Father Himself loved me (for some strange reason). Maybe the blood of Jesus did something more than just cover my sin?

After that I found my favorite scripture verse I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” And then I realized from two verses earlier that it is His blood that does the cleansing. Hmm. The blood still at work for all these years? Literally doing a job? Cleansing away all unrighteousness from my soul when I see sin and confess it?

I’ve always said I don’t like the term ‘plead the blood’ because who are you pleading to? You don’t have to plead to God – He gave us the blood. You certainly don’t plead to the devil – he is overcome by it. They overcame him by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony. Rev. 12:11
But just two weeks ago I found out that the word plead is used in a legal sense. When you go before a judge, he/she says “How do you plead? Guilty or not guilty?” We don’t want to plead guilty. We can’t honestly plead not guilty. But we can plead the Blood of Jesus. It paid the price for what we owe Eternal Justice. What a relief! So before the Judge of the Universe when it comes to sin, ours and others, we plead the Blood. And He smiles because that’s the way He planned it.

But we shouldn’t plead the blood over the schemes of the devil. We should apply the Blood to situations that need redemption. And we should draw a Blood line around anything that needs protecting from the enemy. The Blood of Jesus empowers us beyond what most of us can imagine.

And what I’ve seen recently is that the Blood of Jesus is closely related to the Glory of God. The Bible tells us that the soul life is in the blood.(Lev. 17:14) Jesus’ blood contained His perfect soul life, His will constantly submitted to His Father, His Mind consistantly attuned to the Word of God, His emotions continually brought into harmony with Truth. That soul life is now available to you and me.

The Glory of God is His Presence manifested in and through us. We are changed from glory to glory into His image as we look at Jesus. (II Cor. 3:18) One degree of being like Him to a greater degree of being like Him.

The Glory of God is ours because we chose the Blood of Jesus to give us new life and allow that Blood to cleanse our souls from everything that is not like Jesus.

The Life and the Glory. The Blood and the Presence. Transformation - by spiritual Blood transfusion - until we are the glorious Church, spotless, with no wrinkle or blemish, holy as He is holy. (Ephesians 5:27) Praise the Lord!

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Presence of The Person

In 1967 as I sat in the choir loft of South Frankfort Presbyterian Church during the moment of meditation preceding the pastor’s morning prayer, I was mentally presenting my list of sins to the Lord and acknowledging what a horrible person I was. The next thing I knew, the church building and pastor and congregation had all disappeared and I was in the Presence of a Person. That Person was holy, pure, uncomfortably sacred. I was more aware than ever of my unholy, dirty self. And yet…

The Person said to me – not in audible words but in a communication that burned words into my heart that cannot be erased, “You and I do not see sin alike. You must learn to love and when you learn to love, those things you consider big, bad, sins will melt away as if they never existed.” The Person’s Being was absolute unconditional Love and what He conveyed to me was Love so huge and unthinkable, so intimate and overwhelming that I’d never even suspected that it could exist. Especially for me.

Then the church building and pastor and congregation slowly materialized into my consciousness and I didn’t know whether to be relieved or bereaved. I felt that The Person was so holy that if I had stayed in The Presence one more second I would have ceased to exist. And yet it was as though I had always been in The Presence or I would not have ever existed at all. And I knew that He loved everyone else in the same way He loved me. From that moment on, I couldn’t hate anyone.

I never quite knew how to tell anyone about the encounter because I knew that it wasn’t Jesus Himself but it didn’t seem like the Father on His throne either. HE just WAS.

It was twenty six years later in 1993 that I was reading a book about the Holy Spirit and laid down the book and said “Holy Spirit, I don’t have any understanding of You except as a force that works through me and others in the Body of Christ.” Suddenly there was a flashback and I saw myself in The Presence of The Person and re-experienced the LOVE. Then I heard three words, again not with an audible voice but with words that burned themselves into my heart.
“That was me.”

The Holy Spirit IS a Person, not a blind force, not just the Power of God but the Person of God, the Person of Love, that is poured out into this space/time realm upon all flesh and within all that will allow Him. No wonder Jesus said that it was better for His own that He go away because if He didn’t go to the Father, He couldn’t send the Holy Spirit. (John 16:7)

Whenever I hear the Holy Spirit referred to as “it” I want to cry. He is not an IT but a PERSON, actually the only part of God we have ever really experienced. He is the one who shows us Jesus and ministers Father Love to us. He is the Intimacy Link to the Godhead. And He never exalts Himself; He exalts Jesus.

Jesus said, “When he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father has are mine; therefore I said that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.” John 16:13-15

My prayer is that every one of us experience more intimately the Holy Spirit, the Presence of The Person.

Friday, April 16, 2010

One Adventure At a Time

Last weekend we had a visitor. Victoria Suzanne Smith, age three, came to spend the night with her Grammy and Grampy for the first time. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would she cry for her parents who were celebrating their wedding anniversary in Nashville? Would she get bored with no cousins around to play with?
Tori informed me shortly after her arrival that she likes adventures. The first adventure began when Grampy gave her a $10 roll of quarters to spend as she liked. Then Grammy took her to the library where we had lots of adventures with books and puzzles. Afterwards we went to Baskin Robbins where Tori bought herself and Grammy some ice cream.
Later we went for a walk, not a long one. Grampy went rolling in his wheelchair and let Tori walk and hold the leash for his dog Grover. Grammy walked with them. Our goal was just to walk around the high school campus which is right across the street from our house. All went well until we got to the back near the parking garage for busses. Suddenly Grampy had no power in his wheelchair and there was a fairly steep hill in front of us in the last block before home.
Tori and Grover and Grammy walked back to the house and, leaving Grover inside, Grammy managed to back out Grampy’s fourwheeler scooter leaving only one chunk of the fender lost and the front door miraculously intact. When I was safely on the sidewalk I let Tori join me from the edge of the porch where I had sent her to stay safely away from me and the ‘monster’. Then Tori got on my lap and, rachet strap in hand, we drove back over the hill to where Grampy sat waiting. He attached the strap and we took off. We towed Grampy back to the house without further mishaps.
After Grampy’s chair was safely plugged in, Tori looked up at us beaming. “I liked that adventure,” she said. “Let’s do it again!”
We declined.
Jesus says we are to become as little children in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. During Tori’s visit I got a deeper glimpse of His meaning. I remembered back on the fun I used to have with her sister and older cousins. Children live in the ‘now’. They are not fretting over the past or worrying about the future. And when I am with them, neither do I. I become like them and live in the ‘now.’ And the ‘now’ is always interesting.
Children don’t wonder where their next meal is coming from. They don’t even think about their next meal until their stomachs demand one. They don’t worry about delays or changes in their plans; they just go with the next step that presents itself.
Children don’t have to be taught to ‘count it all joy’ when different tests come. They just enjoy the adventure, secure in the knowledge that those who are bigger than they will cause everything to work out okay.
I want to be like that. And I think our heavenly Father wants that for us…that no matter what happens on our walk we can rest in the knowledge that He can handle it and it will all turn out all right. And somewhere along the way we find quarters and ice cream and books and puzzles – fun stuff – because we are loved. We won't worry about tomorrow because we can relax and just take one adventure at a time.

But Jesus said, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Matthew 19:14 NLT

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Present Risenness

I loved Resurrection Day this year. I enjoyed church and then family get-together, visiting with friends. But I think what I enjoyed most was that night when I picked up Brennan Manning’s “Abba’s Child” and discovered that I had stopped in my reading exactly before the part on the “Present Risenness” of Jesus Christ. Wow! A God-incidence to pick that up on Easter. I was glad that I’d changed the traditional responses in the bulletin that morning to: Christ is risen. He is risen indeed! Christ is risen. He is risen in me!

There is nothing more exciting for a Christian than to get a revelation of His present risenness in us...those times when you find yourself doing something you know you wouldn’t choose to do but you do it anyway because it seems right – and later you find out that it was His Spirit within you ministering to one or more of His other beloved children.

Easter afternoon, Gary and I went by to pray for a good friend before his heart surgery on Monday. (He is doing fine, Praise the Lord!) and the friend introduced me to a lady I’d never met by telling this story:
He went to a “Christians in Government” group to hear a woman who had left her position in state government to go into the housing projects to minister on a regular basis. She had a passion for helping the poor – not by just giving them things but by helping them become all God created them to be. He liked everything the woman said because it matched his own thinking and he knew she would be a good person to head up a pilot project he had in mind.
He asked the person who invited her to speak at their meeting if they would invite the speaker to her house along with him and several other Christians. To God he said, “Okay, Lord, I think I’ve heard you saying “XYZ” (private message) to me. If that is you and not just my imagination, have that woman confirm it by saying it to me also."
When the time for the meeting at his friend’s home came, he got there a few minutes early and when the woman arrived, she spotted him and immediately came over and handed him an envelope. “God told me to give this to you,” she said. He put the envelope in his coat pocket. It was a wonderful meeting and at the end, the woman agreed to come back to work for state government and head up the pilot project.
When he went home, he pulled out the letter which began “ I have said to you “XYZ” and again I say to you “XYZ”.

I was the woman and after he finished, I went on to tell his guest the other part of the story. The night before the meeting I felt a strong leading to listen to the Lord on his behalf. “XYZ” came to me over and over, so finally I prayed and then obeyed. I felt silly. Here was this important man – a Commissioner – and I was writing him this long letter that opened with something that could have made him think I was crazy…if God had not said “XYZ” to him before. But I knew I had to leave it as it was.

What if I had let the fear of being wrong, the feeling of silliness, cause me to stifle the ministry of the Lord Jesus? There would probably have been no close thirty year friendship. Our pilot project was only for a year and we couldn’t get additional funding – but we did reach some people with life changing concepts. And at least one county in Kentucky is still holding meetings for government, church, and private programs to come together and share insights and help. Those things could have been missed if feelings were bigger than faith.

The Present Risenness of Christ, it’s the most exciting thing in the earth. I confessed to my congregation Easter Sunday morning that sometimes still I am tempted to put duct tape over Him who lives inside me. Sometimes I bind His hands. Oh, but when we don’t! When we let Him speak and give and love through us…that is Glory in all it’s meanings – honor, praise, manifestation of God in this physical realm.

…the mystery…which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27
He is risen indeed.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope:
It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:21-23

I’ve thought so much about the Lord’s faithfulness lately that I’ve determined to let that part of HIM live in and through me. After all, all ministry – all true ministry – is His. It is He that moves in us to purify us and through us to reach out with love to others.

I’m writing this on Palm Sunday. The first message I ever preached in a church was on Palm Sunday and the title of my sermon was “The Cheers of the Children.” Each year since then, I’ve mentioned the concept of that first one in the current message. In Matthew 21: 1-17, we read the story of Jesus coming to Jerusalem and the crowd that lay their garments and branches from trees down on the path before him and cried out “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” They were excited because of this healer and miracle worker. But something happened that changed everything. Jesus went into the temple.

When he was in the temple he cast out all the sellers and moneychangers. Uh Oh. That kind of thing was likely to make the religious rulers angry. Then the blind and lame came to Jesus there in the temple and He healed them. Uh Oh again.

Sure enough “When the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple and saying ‘Hosanna to the son of David’, they were sore displeased.”

Wait a minute. When this passage began there were “great multitudes” cheering for Jesus. What happened to them? Why, by the time the religious leaders were made angry, were there only the children left to cheer Jesus on?

If you and I had been part of that crowd on the road to Jerusalem, how would we have responded? Would we have left when He reached the city for fear of being thought a fanatic?
Would we have slipped away from the temple when Jesus began ridding it of the greedy and dishonest merchants? Would we have stepped into the shadows when Jesus started healing people right there in the domain of the religious establishment?

Or would we have become one of the children who praised Him no matter what was happening?

In the book of the prophet Hosea 2:19,20 there is a wonderful promise from God to us. “And I will betroth you unto myself forever. Yes, I will betroth you unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness and in mercies. I will even betroth you unto me in faithfulness…”

Wow, the One who is the same yesterday, today, and forever promised He would make us one with Him in faithfulness. No wonder that His mercies need to be renewed every morning as Jeremiah wrote in the book of Lamentations.
I’m going to take the opportunity of this celebration of Jesus’ triumphant entry into the Holy City to open myself further to the Lord in this area and ask Him to make me more fully one with Him in faithfulness.

Perhaps He will even do that when it comes to writing blogs . Have a wonderful and Holy Week! Have a wonderful and Holy Forever.

Friday, February 12, 2010

One At A Time

I’ve been extremely busy for the past 3 months. So busy that my bedroom began to resemble the inside of a Dempster Dumpster. Clean clothes, dirty clothes, mail I had no time to peruse and decide whether to keep or toss, mail I need to throw away but should maybe look one last time, mail I want to keep but don’t know where, books I’ve finished reading, books I want to read, books I have no intention of reading, books I need to return to their owner, books I want to put in a prominent place to loan to someone else. The list goes on.
I’ve been saying for a month I’m going to clean it. But it’s easier to just stay out of the room or sit at my computer where my back is turned to the mess except what is on my desk, easier later to turn out the light and stumble over baskets of clothes as I make my way to bed.
Two days ago was the target date to begin cleaning the room but I stood in dismay surveying the chaos and praying “Lord, how am I going to do this?” Immediately my eyes fell on a book that needed to be taken to the parlor and put in the bookshelf there and the Lord spoke clearly to my heart, “One book at a time.” Relief flooded me and instead of waiting around to see if another book needed to go to my parlor I picked it up and went and put it away.
Not only has the principle worked as “one piece of clothing at a time” and “one paper at a time,” it’s flooding over to the rest of my life.
I was tempted to pass on some gossip and I heard “One word at a time,” and I shut my mouth. I was attacked by a fear and I heard “one thought at a time” and I quoted God’s Word of promise aloud. I wanted to do something that would help me but somebody else needed it more than I did, and I heard “One sacrifice at a time.”

I've seen that my soul, the souls of most of us, get like my bedroom, cluttered with unneccessary stuff, stuff we try to ignore, stuff that is good but just needs to be put in it's proper place.
I’m beginning to realize that “Give us this day our daily bread.” is more than just a request for provision; it’s a principle of life. I remember that song, “One day at a time, sweet Jesus. That’s all I’m asking of you.” I think the person who wrote that is farther on the journey than I am because for me it’s “One second at a time, sweet Jesus. That’s how much I always need you!”
And aren't we glad that He promised, "I will never leave you or forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Yes, I'm finally posting again. It's been an amazing few months since October and I'll tell you about it some day. But today I want to post an article my oldest daughter wrote. It's about my three biological daughters and I may be prejudiced but I think it's a wonderful article and will be enjoyed by anyone, whether they are, or have, a sister or not!

The Awesome Bond of Sisters
By Virginia Smith

Having a sister is like having a best friend you can't get rid of. You know whatever you do, they'll still be there. --Amy Li

My middle sister and I fought like wildcats when we were growing up. One of my most vivid childhood memories is of being forcibly separated during an argument and banished to sit together on the living room couch with orders not to get up until we could get along. I huddled against one arm and resigned myself to living on that two-foot square cushion for the next eleven years, when I would turn eighteen and could get my own apartment. After an eternity, Mom entered the room to mediate. “Girls,” she said, “you are sisters. There will never be another person in the world more closely related to you than your sister. So you’d better learn to get along, because someday one of you might need a kidney.” Not, perhaps, the most convincing argument for reconciliation ever presented, but it worked. For the moment, anyway.

A woman has many relationships in her life, but the bond between sisters is unique. There is the biological link, but the connection goes beyond that. Sisters enjoy a shared past. They experienced many of the same events that molded their personalities, and therefore they understand one another in a way no one else can. They speak the same shorthand. If one of my sisters says, “I know! Let’s put on a show!” we all laugh, because we remember the first time one of us said that, and the resulting spectacle that has become family legend.

Sisters “get” each other without having to go into all the background. When I’ve had an argument with my husband, I can call my sisters and say, “He doesn’t want a puppy. I think I may divorce him.” My sisters understand my reaction immediately, because they remember witnessing our parents’ argument over the same subject. They can talk me down from the ledge, and away from the divorce attorneys. And they will do this even if I call them at three o’clock in the morning, with only a minimum amount of grumbling about the loss of sleep.
Psychologist Marcia Millman, author of The Perfect Sister, said during an interview, “I think sisters can help repair the injuries of childhood.” That’s certainly been true in my family. Whenever we get together, our husbands cover yawns and eventually slip away to the other room to watch a ballgame while we rehash events of our childhood, and discuss how they have impacted us as adults. Often I come away with a new perspective and a better attitude, so gatherings with my sisters are sort of like group therapy sessions. Only less expensive.

While it’s true that we share a common past, even sisters experience different events while growing up in the same household. I like to remind both of my sisters that, being the oldest, I blazed the trail for them. They both got their ears pierced sooner than I did, and wore lipstick, and shaved their legs. They were both allowed to date at an earlier age than I was, and stay out later. There are ten years between my youngest sister and me, so by the time she became a teenager, I had successfully driven our parents into a state of exhausted stupor, and she got to do pretty much whatever she wanted. (Which I still think is totally unfair, but that’s the way it is in most families, I’ve learned.) I think she owes me big-time.

My sisters and I do still have the occasional conflict. Author Linda Sunshine said, “If you don’t understand how a woman could both love her sister dearly and want to wring her neck at the same time, then you were probably an only child.” Our arguments don’t become physical anymore (we all understand the importance of good hair now, so we are no longer tempted to grab a handful), but these days, being at odds with one of my sisters is far more painful than our childhood brawls. Several years ago, my middle sister and I had a disagreement and didn’t speak to each other for a few days. I was miserable without her, but we both stubbornly refused to back down. While cooking dinner one evening, I dropped a glass measuring cup she had given me, and it shattered. When it did, my stubbornness broke into a million pieces. My husband brought the phone to me where I sat sobbing on the floor, surrounded by shards of glass, and said sternly, “Call your sister.” Never has a reunion been so sweet.
Someone once said that relationships between siblings are the most long-lasting and influential of all. My sisters have been a part of my life longer than my husband or my children, and they will be part of my life even after our parents are gone. They know me, and understand me, and they like me anyway. They’re one of the best blessings God has given me. And as Mom said, if I ever do need a kidney, I know who to call.


Eight Tips for Maintaining a Relationship with your Sister

In today’s busy world, it’s easy to let a relationship slide. That’s true regardless of whether you live nearby or far apart. Here are some tips for maintaining a strong relationship with your sister.

Scheduled Phone Calls – Communication is the key to any relationship, so don’t leave it to chance. Select a specific day each week for an uninterrupted phone call. Put your sister on your cell phone “Favorites” so you can talk free.

Text Messages – Texting is the preferred method of communication for one of my sisters. Be sure you have unlimited texts on your cell phone plan.

Utilize the Internet – Email and social networking sites like Facebook are wonderful ways to stay connected. On Goodreads and LibraryThing you can keep track of what your sister is reading, too.

Skype – If you both have a computer with a camera, this software allows you see each other while you talk – and it’s free.

Letters – Email is wonderful, but there’s nothing like reading your sister’s words in her own handwriting.

Cards – Next time you browse the card shelves, pick up several funny ones and tuck them away in a drawer. Send one every so often to surprise your sister with a laugh.

Sister Sleepovers – Even if you live near one another, there’s nothing like getting away from it all with your sister. Schedule an annual sleepover at a lodge, or hotel, or even at someone’s house. Leave the kids at home, and focus on having fun with each other.

Start a Tradition – Create a tradition you share only with your sister. For instance, one sister and I exchange ugly ornaments at Christmas every year. We spend months shopping for the ugliest ornament we can find, and love the competition of seeing who “wins” that year.



Virginia Smith is the author of a dozen Christian novels including the Sister-to-Sister Series, which is based in large part on her relationship with her own sisters. Stuck in the Middle was a finalist for the 2009 ACFW Book of the Year award. Her newest book, Third Time’s a Charm, the third and final book in the series, is now available wherever books are sold. Learn more about Ginny and her books, and enter a Prize Bonanza Giveaway, at